Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How Jack spent Christmas ...

Jack's First Christmas!

We've just returned from a wonderful/exciting/beautiful/fun/exhausting 10 days in Pennsylvania for Christmas (with additional trips to NJ and NY). Jon and I love our families and we were really looking forward to sharing this special time with the new little guy. It turns out that Jack is a fairly excellent traveler. He slept nearly the entire trip which is typically around 7-8, but now takes at least 9 with our sweet, hungry little cargo.
Jack dressed for cold PA winters!

I love to book the calendar when we're home visiting, but I'm learning over and over again that having a baby changes things whether you want it to or not. So we arrived around midnight the Friday before Christmas, not long after a big snowstorm that left the whole area in a layer of white! We then left the next morning for New Jersey and celebrations with my mother-in-laws side of the family. We were back again that night and in church for Jack's dedication and spent that evening at a dinner for old Tillman-family friends - the Douglass's. My friend Megan just had a baby a few weeks after me, so Jack and Edie were able to get some quality cuddle time in over the holidays.

On Monday night Jack spent the evening with Marmie and Poppa while we all went out for Jon's birthday. On Tuesday I took Jack in to meet my mom's students and fellow teachers, and we also stopped by my dad's office to meet his co-workers. Then that night we were off for pizza and bowling. We spent Christmas Eve at the Tillman's where Jack got to experience the craziness of 4 little boys opening presents and then we were off again to my family's house for our annual opening of one present on Christmas Eve. The Wineberg's made history the next day when our Christmas didn't officially start until sometime after 10am!! It wasn't Jack's fault though, he was up and ready to go early that morning! I've finally reached the point in my life where even Christmas morning is fair game for sleeping in ... at least we still have a few more years before Jack is bouncing on our bed ready to open presents as early as possible!
Jon has a hard time keeping up with the pace of a Wineberg family Christmas, I know the secret - caffeine!

We spent that evening at my Grandma's house for ham dinner and a few more presents, and then Jack got to meet my high-school friend Jori before she jetted off on a trip to Spain! The next day we drove up to New York so Jack could finally meet his great-grandparents. Jon ended up getting sick on the way there and we had to do two emergency pull-offs! Then I got sick a few hours later after we reached their house. I was able to still enjoy the standing rib roast, at least for the first round. :) Jon recovered fairly quickly, I was still feeling queasy the next morning but Jack had a booked schedule shaking hands and kissing ladies. He got to hang out with my old friend Jill and meet up with my friends Erin and Melody. That night we played games at his Aunt Rachel and Uncle Matt's house, and he finally got to meet Jenn and Nate in the flesh (the couple that visited in August that we're still trying to convince to have a baby). All I can say is that if adorable little Jack and Edie aren't compelling enough on their own, I don't know what is! The next day was church, which Jack managed to sleep through entirely, despite sitting close to the vibrating speakers, then lunch at Nonnie and Poppie's and finally a stop to visit Jon's friends from high school (in this couple's case I think Jack may have convinced them to fetch him a friend for next year.) The next day Jon meticulously packed the car and managed to fit all of our Christmas goodies in and still leave room for the baby (much to Marmie's disappointment). And we were off on another 9 hour trip back home. And that was Christmas!
Nonnie dressing Jack up for Christmas.

Suffice it to say, things were a little hectic. I'm so proud of my little boy for being such a trooper amidst all the fun, games, noise, hands, long car drives, strange beds and crazy feeding schedule. He still gave us his signature smile during every diaper change, even when they took place in less-than-desirable rest stops and suspicious looking restrooms. We're happy to be home and able to spread out in our cozy little love nest, with Jack back to sound naps in his crib but we definitely miss all of our friends and family back home. No matter how long we're in town, there's just never enough time to accomplish everything we hoped. But in the end it's the unplanned, untimed moments of just being together that are the most special. Jack is such a blessing and a joy in our lives, we love to share him with everyone else. But on the same note it's so hard to leave and take him away from those who love him almost as much as we do. And while the drive has only gotten longer and more difficult, we're already looking forward to another trip back to the great state of Pennsylvania!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Straight A's

So the Tillman Trio is excelling left and right this week! Jon got an A on his final paper for the semester, I got an A on my final project, which means I've earned my M.Ed. degree this month with a 3.9 GPA, and Jack scored a 97% on his weight check! Okay so vitals aren't exactly graded. What that really means is my "little" 15 pounder is bigger than 97% of his peers. Geesh, how in the world did I end up with such a big baby? Some mothers make milk, apparently I make heavy cream...

Daddy reading Jack a bedtime story - his final paper entitled "The Fiscal and Strategic Unsustainability of the National Security Policy." Jack was so amped he never got to sleep...

In addition to his 2-month well baby check-up, Jack also had his shots today, an experience that was fun for neither of us. I've heard a lot about foregoing vaccinations due to potential side effects. We decided Jack would get his full vaccinations, but ideally I had wanted to space them out a little bit. Well the military doesn't offer a lot of fancy options. So today my "widdle" baby got 3 shots in the thigh and one oral dose. I was hoping that Jack would be assigned to a civilian doctor like I am, but no such luck. So I carted him into what one of my friends has described as the "DMV" of medical facilities, recited his father's social security number and we were led back to an examination room. Although I was happy to see that Jack's pediatrician is everything I imagined my obstrecian to be - an kind-looking, grandfatherly-like fellow - I also noticed that there were no pastel colors on the walls, no cute animals posters hanging up, and no colorful stethescopes to play with. Then, when it was time for shots, the same nurse who was busy stabbing 300 pound Marines about to be deployed was also going to vaccinate my beautiful baby boy. Thankfully she was pretty fast. Jack cried for a few seconds, and immediately settled down once I picked him up. He cuddled on my shoulder and was fast asleep within 3 minutes. I was afraid that he'd either be uncommonly cranky or sleep the day away, but was pleased to encounter neither. Jack ate like a champ when we got home, slept soundly for his nap, and was all smiles when he woke up again. Phew! At least it will be another two months before we have to go through that again! He's one tough cookie!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And he sleeps ...

A lot! During Thanksgiving we suffered a setback, after things settled down Jack had gone back to sleeping 4,-5, sometimes 6, hours a night. Now I know that some "experts" consider 5-6 hours "sleeping through the night," but really, do they spend their summers in Alaska?? I generally like my "nights" to last 8 hours.

Jack was also really fussy while nursing and would cry through his entire nap times, throughout the whole day. It was pretty stressful around here! Finally, I emailed Growing Families International (the creators of one of the "methods" we're following) and they set me up with a contact mom. "Kim" responded right away. She said Jack was overstimulated and needed to be sleeping more during the day. I completely agreed but my problem was that he wouldn't sleep during the day. Apparently, my problem was also me. While I have no qualms letting Jack get in a good cry, I would always go in and check on him after a while, rub his belly, hold him for a few minutes, whisper sweet nothings in his ear, etc., etc. It would seem my 8-week old was smarter than I thought! Obviously nothing was ever wrong, he just wanted to see mommy, because as soon as I went in he'd be fine.

So basically I had to buckle down and get serious if I wanted results. That was Monday. Tuesday was HORRIBLE! I put him down one hour after each feeding, for a two hour nap, then would get him for his next feeding. He cried and cried and cried for nearly the ENTIRE nap time. I felt like the worst mom. By the end of the day Jack wasn't the only one "crying it out." That night was even worse than the day and by 5am both Jack and I needed a good cuddle. But something must've clicked. Because ever since then Jack has been sleeping beautifully for 5 two-hour naps a day, and has been sleeping 7-8 hours at night!

Now some people say you shouldn't base your "success" on whether or not your baby is sleeping through the night, or even that babies this young shouldn't be sleeping that long. But honestly, it's not the 7-8 hours of sleep that make my day, it's how much more calm and content we BOTH are. Jack has been such a delight this past week! Both Daddy and Mommy are enjoying every waking second (there seems to be less of them with all these naps). And Jack has been tossing out smiles and giggles like they're going out of style!
The only bad thing is that I seem to see less of him throughout the day. He literally spends 18 hours sleeping in his crib, but then I thought about how we used to spend our days - me trying to keep him happy, balanced on my arm while typing emails, doing laundry or making dinner. Now, because I know I get a 2 hour break every 3 hours, I can give Jack my full attention during the one hour he's awake. Currently, his favorite activities are bopping to music and working out his calves. This kid really likes to stand! Sometimes, when my hands get tired from holding up Chubba-Wubba, he kicks his little feet against my belly until I stand him back up again. And mommy's lap just isn't good enough anymore. Now Jack likes to practice standing on the floor, like big people do. It's cute, but so sad to see my little baby growing up so fast!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Who needs TV?

... when you can stare at a Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The many faces of Jack Jack

Our little baby is so entertaining! Especially when he makes his adorable faces. Here's a few of our favorites:

The furrowed brow
My one friend calls this the "Mr. Magoo" look. He definitely resembles an old man when he does this. Usually he pulls this one out when we're burping him. He's a very focused burper.

The crooked lip
Jack's lips are under debate. We're pretty sure he has Jon's lower lip, and my upper one. :) Which is probably why they don't always line up straight. Usually, when he's sleeping and utterly relaxed, he lets the "crooked lip" slide. It's a personal favorite!

The Praise-the-Lord poseThis is how Jack sleeps, much to his father's chagrin, who is constantly concerned with his cold hands. It doesn't matter how many times Jon places them back under the covers, Jack pops them out again a few minutes later. This is also how you can tell if he's really sleeping. If, after you put Jack down for his nap, he doesn't soon assume the "Praise-the-Lord" pose, then you can be sure he'll be up again in a very short while.
The spy eyeJack's Nonnie loves this one. He tends to give me the wink when I'm holding him as he's falling asleep. I think he's trying to sneak a peak to make sure I'm still there and haven't dropped him off in his bed.
The I'm-holding-my-leftover-dinner-in-my-cheeks-in-case-you-forget-to-feed-me look
Haha, sometimes Jack's cheeks are so big they flop out over his chest! When you couple the big cheeks with extra-wide eyes, it makes me wonder just what he's holding back...

The almost-smile
Jack has been giving us some genuine smiles lately, the kind that make his eyes light up and his little feet kick. Sometimes it takes a good minute or two of his dad or I acting crazy, but we're just excited that he's excited. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to capture these incredible moments on camera yet. So here is a photo of Jack's almost-smile. If this face melts my heart, you can imagine what a real smile does!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Boys' Night

Last night I had to attend an Open House for work. So I left my baby for the longest amount of time yet (3.5 hours!), and for the first time over a feeding. Armed with a bottle, freezer stocked full of frozen milk, and explicit instructions on diaper changing and nap times, Jon was ready to spend quality time with his son. I was a little apprehensive as Jon was still recovering from his baby-bathing experience from the night before. It included two pees and one poop, all ocurring before Jon was able to get the diaper on. But both Jon and Jack seemed to recover quickly and were ready for a fun evening of chillin' in the easy-chair watching the military channel.

I only called twice to check on things, and was promptly told to stop interrupting boys' night. Apparently things went really well, maybe a little too well. I find it hard to believe that my son could fare so well without me. :( I was hoping it would be another 20 years before he realized he didn't need me around all the time. Then again, now that Jon has established himself as a more-than-capable baby daddy, I'm planning on there being many more boys' nights to come. And boys' afternoons, and boys' mornings ... For instance, I'd like to get back to grocery shopping. Somehow, in the craziness that occured since October 12, Jon took over the grocery shopping task as well as a lot of the vacumming and laundry. It seemed nice at first, but I soon realized that his helpfulness was allowing him to miss out on some prime baby time, and as much as I love housework, I have to admit it is a nice break from baby stuff. Not to mention that money we save when I'm the one monitoring what goes in the grocery cart. So after last night's success Dad has no more excuses! Besides, someone's got to teach Jack how to be a man!

Monday, December 1, 2008

So much to be thankful for ...

Jon and I weren't up to making an 8 hour trip with a baby twice in one month, so this year, for the third year in a row, my family came down to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. And I have to admit, Virginia Beach is a very nice place to celebrate Thanksgiving. Almost as good as Central PA, or say, Plymouth Rock. There's the annual after Thanksgiving dinner beach walk, the creepy guy down the street who sells Christmas trees (and who also hangs dirty, old stuffed animals around his house), fabulous Black Friday shopping, and Christmas lights at the boardwalk and Botanical Gardens. This year was extra special with baby Jack around, and it was also the first time Uncle Micah and Uncle Jared (who prefers to be called Sir Jared) were able to see the baby.
Jack was the center of attention the whole weekend. Both Uncles tried their hand at changing diapers, Marmie got to feed Jack a bottle and give him a bath, and Poppa got to carry him all over the mall. Actually, there weren't too many moments over those 4 days when someone wasn't holding Jack. I was afraid he was going to get used to it!

As Jack gets older, I feel like I'm understanding him a little better each day. It must be very difficult to be new to this world and only have one form of communication, especially when that form of communication is something that most people don't want to hear. As a mom, it's also hard to distinguish the "I'm hungry!" cry from the "I'm tired" cry from the "It's too loud in here" or "I'm too hot" or "Change my diaper now!!" cries. One thing I did learn over this holiday weekend was that Jack needs his quiet time. After being held for nearly 3 days straight, spending several hours at two malls over two days, touring Old Towne Portsmouth, sitting through family movie nights, getting his picture taken several hundred times, and having 6 different people ogling over his every smile, frown, wink and grunt, I think Jack was suffering from a little "over-stimulation." Throw in some delicious broccoli that his mom ate and having to sleep in the pack 'n play in the same room as his snoring dad, and Jack had a tough weekend - to the point of crying through his feedings and eventually not even wanting to participate in that activity. You know Jack's had enough when he buries his little face in your armpit and covers his eyes with his hand.

Like his mom and dad, Jack appreciates the predictability of a routine. It's taken us a few days to get back on track, but I think we're starting to pick up where we left off sleep-wise and his appetite has more than returned. I think the weekend has better prepared us for our upcoming Christmas break. It's going to be a crazy, busy 10 days with lots of traveling for the little tyke. At least we know what to look for now, and hopefully the three of us can work together to make this a good experience for everyone!

We really did have a fun time over Thanksgiving. My mom, in her usual fashion, went overboard in planning several large meals. We're still working on the leftovers. The house is all decorated for Christmas. And although Jack slept through the entire tree-picking experience, I think he enjoys staring at the lights and ornaments. It's always hard to say goodbye to family, especially when we know Jack will probably be wearing a whole new sized wardrobe when they see him again. But Thanksgiving is always the easiest because we know there's less than a month until we see each other again!
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