Monday, March 30, 2009

Awesome Blossoms

For years I've wanted to visit DC during the Cherry Blossom Festival, but we've never been able to fit it into our schedule ... until now! This past weekend the three of us took a mini-vacation in Washington, DC. Partly to celebrate our third anniversary, and partly to visit with my parents and give them some much-needed Jack time! Unfortunately, the weather was somewhat dreary on Saturday. Thankfully it didn't rain that day, but it was misty and chilly out. Of course, it was also much less crowded than it would have been if the weather had been nice so that was a plus.
We spent most of Saturday meandering around the blossoms, visiting a few monuments and checking out the Museum of American History and the Musuem of Natural History. Jack was such a trooper. The rain did nothing to dampen his spirits, and he took everthing in stride. He's been a little fickle lately about "eating out." I think I've fed him too many times in the same place (left cushion of the living room couch) and he's starting to develop a preference. So I was grateful to see him happily snacking in the drizzle of a park, in a few museum cafes and in the car during a traffic jam.
Our hotel was just a few blocks from the White House, so we were able to walk wherever we wanted to go. Jack especially enjoyed the king-sized bed which made "snuggle-in Saturday" (and in this case Sunday too) extra enjoyable! Jon and I were able to escape for one evening while Marmie and Poppa watched Jack. Apparently "he didn't cry once" which is good news since this event overlapped Jack's daily 5:30-7:30 fussy-fest. They took him to the pool where everyone commented them on their big grandbaby (although Marmie is positive some people thought he was her child) and Jack had his first "swimming" experience. I missed out but from what I heard he handled it much like any other new occurence - with complete apathy. I'm beginning to think my son's stoicism will serve him well should he choose a military future like his father. :)

I'm somewhat embarassed to admit that this was Jon's and my first alone date since before the baby was born. There's no reason why we should have waited until he was over 5 months old to get some much-needed one-on-one time, but I'm determined to make it more of a priority in the future. We had a delicious dinner at Ruth's Chris, it was our first trip there and well worth the wait! Jon makes fun of me for serving dinner HOT, lately he's made it a habit to wait 5-10 minutes after I announce dinner is ready before coming to the table. I'm getting smarter and I now announce dinner 5-10 minutes before it's ready. But my food doesn't sizzle on a 500 degree plate like Ruth's. I've got a new standard to work towards now!
Sunday ended up being beautiful! Much to my disappointment, Jon had a pile of homework to do that night, so we had to leave after visiting the Spy Museum that morning. My parents stayed on and had a great time while I enjoyed the sunny blossom fest from the rearview mirror. :(

All and all it was nice to get away for the weekend and extra nice for Jack to spend some time with his grandparents. It's been 3 months since we saw them over Christmas and we've determined that is entirely too long to go between visits, especially with a boy who is growing and changing every day ... and just learning to give kisses! We're going to try to schedule more trips more often over the next year or so ... at least until Jack is old enough to attend Summer Camp at Marmie and Poppa's.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Better Late Than Never

Last week I got a call from our church secretary:
"Janine, I saw you in church yesterday and noticed that you were skinny and holding a baby. Did you have your baby?"
"(laughing) Yes, about 5 months ago!"
Apparently, Jon and I should have notified the church office about our son's birth. We weren't really sure of the baby birth policy, and since we weren't in a Life Group at the time, Jack's arrival went by noticed only by whoever was lucky enough to sit behind us each Sunday. I do feel slightly guilty about keeping Jack with us during the service. He tends to divert our neighbors' attention from the pastor's sermon. But it's usually 10-15 minutes into the speaking when he wants Mommy to stand and hold him, so I head to the back of the church where no one can be distracted by those chubby cheeks.
Two days after the phone call there was a knock on the door and a lovely bouquet of flowers from our church family congratulating us on our baby boy.

And despite being 5 months older and double the size, Jack's birth announcement made it into the church bulletin the next week. Better late than never!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Today is Jon's and my third anniversary! I love to look back on our "dating" experience and wedding and try to remember what life was like before we were an "old married couple." :) Having a baby has definitely changed the dynamics of our marriage. On one hand it's so fun to watch this little person that we created together and our raising together, but on the other hand a baby is exhausting and time consuming. Sometimes I have to remind myself that my relationship as a wife is top priority, even with a needy, sometimes demanding, 5-month old. Jon is a great husband and an excellent father. But I knew he would be before we were married. He's always been great with kids and I know he's going to raise some strong, competent, FUN sons. (But I haven't quite figured out what kind of daughters he'll raise yet.) The life we've created over the past 3 years isn't exactly perfect, but we're enjoying each passing year more and more, and anticipating many future anniversaries with a growing family and in all sorts of different locations!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Almost There

We've been telling Jack he needs to work on his "rolling over" skill before his Nonnie-the-personal-trainer gets here in April, or she'll make sure he's figured it out by the time she leaves! So he's been practicing. He's halfway there, but that's a lot of weight to shift so we'll keep working!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

5 Month Update

The little tyke formally known as Baby J is now a 5 month old!! And I have officially determined that this is my new "favorite age." Jack is SO MUCH FUN! He's such a happy baby, but I guess most babies are. Come to think of it I can't remember ever meeting an unhappy baby. But I'm sure they exist.
Jon and I love to hear him laugh. Jack usually has a very short laugh, almost like it got cut off at the end. Unless he's getting his diaper changed. Last week at Life Group I decided I'd just take Jack behind the chairs to change his diaper quick rather than leave the room and miss out on the study. Wrong move. The moment I put him down on the diaper mat he started laughing hysterically and couldn't stop. Discussions on last week's sermon were suspended for a few moments until I could finish up and get him back in my lap. Jack is also becoming quite the conversationalist. Although it seems like almost every sentence ends with a raspberry and some baby spit. Sometimes he'd rather tell me about his day than eat, which makes feeding times a little longer lately.

And the baby keeps growing! After a few days of trying to squeeze Tank into his 6-month clothes, we realized it was time to move on. It's always a little sad to pack up the little clothes. Who know when we'll get to see them again. Thankfully Marmie and Poppa's care package arrived just in time, and Jack has a whole new 9-month sized wardrobe to sport!
We've found that we can't go anywhere without getting comments on Jack's cheeks. Yes they are big! And yes, to answer many peoples' question, they are fun to kiss! Trust me, we do it all the time. :) As Jon says, Jack is a nice ice-breaker. We use him to meet our neighbors when we're out on walks, and he's also an expert at initiating conversations during "greet you neighbor" time at church. Thankfully, I haven't had any weird experiences where strangers asked to hold my baby. And I don't mind people stopping to check him out. He's cute, and I want to show him off!

Jack also likes to give kisses. He doesn't realize what he's doing yet, but he knows it's good because it always makes him smile. Someday I'm going to catch it on video so you can all see what I'm talking about. He's grabbing toys, tearing apart his colorful activity mat (boys!), and is halfway to rolling over. He gets stuck on his side, but that's okay with me. I'm afraid once he starts rolling over and scootching around we're going to have nap issues. He's also getting better at grabbing and has figured out mommy has lots of hair to play with.

We're now back to 9.5 hours between feedings at night. Jack goes to bed at 7:30, and I feed him one more time at 10:00. This is one of my favorite moments of the day, he usually stays asleep through this feeding and watching him lie there so peacefully reminds me of when he was just a tiny baby. After that he sleeps through 'til around 7:30am. Ahhhh, so nice! I love having a few of hours of free time in the evenings to pick up the house, finish dishes, and get things ready for the next day. Or maybe to just sit on the couch and watch home renovation shows. :) The beginning of our day together is also a sweet time for me. Jack loves to snuggle when he first gets up, and he always takes a few "time outs" during breakfast to look at mommy with those big blue eyes and give me a toothless grin. I love it!

So 5 months into this thing called parenthood and things are going well. We still have the occasional "off" day, the day when nothing seems to go like it's supposed to and all 3 of us just want to crash by nighttime. But afterwards is a new day. And then a new week. And then a new month. And it all goes by too fast!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unsolved Mysteries: The Nursing Strike

I've read about nursing strikes before, but always with that cavalier attitude of "It will never happen to me." I mean, I can't imagine Jack not interested in eating. But alas, it did. One day Jack just decided he didn't want to eat. He wasn't fussy, he wasn't acting strange, he just wasn't having it. He wouldn't even take a bottle, which has never been a problem before. After two feedings, or six hours, of not eating much I began to get a little worried. After one day, I was starting to panic. At first, he seemed to be favoring only one side, so I thought it was a teething issue. But then at night, when he was really tired, he'd eat off either side without any trouble. I began to wonder if I was feeding him too much but he didn't seem ready to extend his routine yet. I was pumping on schedule to keep my supply up, so I knew it wasn't a milk issue. I decided to call the doctor - easier said than done. Apparently, in the military, you can't just ask your pediatrician a question. You have to call the appointment center, to make an appointment for who knows when, so you can score a few minutes to talk to the doctor. "That's crazy!" I told the lady on the phone. I think she secretly agreed.

After going through all my baby books and massive amounts of Googling, I figured it was just a phase and if it hadn't passed after a few days of negotiating with Jack, I'd take him to the doctor. Thankfully, after about 3 days, the nursing strike ended as quickly as it began. I'm still a little confused, and not sure what exactly happened, but things appear to be back to normal. Jack's back to 6 full feedings a day and handing out wet and dirty diapers like its his job. And it is. And its my job to make sure it stays that way!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Et Tu Brute

That's what we call the new look that Jack gave us when he had his first taste of carrots this week.

It's not that he doesn't like his new veggie, because he keeps opening his mouth for more. But he's just not sure what to think of it. I tried some myself. Definitely more exciting than rice cereal!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wise Up

King Solmon has always been one of my favorite Bible characters. In Sunday School I loved hearing the story of the two women fighting over one baby. I've always thought that was a genius solution! So as a child I determined that I wanted to be wise too, and every night I'd pray that God would give me wisdom like Solomon. Fifteen-some years later, I'm still saying that prayer, and as a new mom I've never prayed for wisdom more fervently than I do now. Sometimes there just never seems to be a right answer.

Before we got pregnant, I had no idea there were different methods to bringing up a baby, nor that they were so controversial. And so began my 9-month crash course involving several trips to the library and hours of online research. Our midwife told our class to never tell people how we decided to raise our baby, there will always be someone who disagrees. I think this is good advice, and in my personal experience very true, but I'm going to go ahead and talk about it anyway.

I don't think there is necessarily one "right" way to parent, but there was a way that was right for us. So while I have a number of recommendations, that is all they are. Every parent needs to analyze their own personal situation and decide what works best for them. But some people have asked about what we do with Jack, so I thought I'd share what we've found to be the best choice for our family.

Early on in our pregnancy a couple at church gave us a copy of Preparation for Parenting, this book is also known as On Becoming Babywise. If this were a speaking engagement I'm sure I'd hear a few gasps around the room. And if you don't know why they're gasping a simple Google search should suffice. Personally, I was shocked to read what I did about Babywise on the Internet. I didn't realize it was that popular, or that so many people were passionate about hating it. I've also read Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, which promotes a similar parenting method but with a slightly softer approach. I think both of these books offer a good balance between the attachment parenting/demand feeding and detached parenting/hyper-scheduling extremes. I'm not interested in debating so all I will say is do your research ... but don't do it all on Google. :) I've read both Babywise and SotBW several times, and consult them weekly (almost daily during those first few weeks) but I've also read several Sears books and talked to parents from all different camps. We are more than happy with what we chose, and Jack seems pretty content too.

Ultimately, parents have to choose a method that they're most comfortable with, because confidence is the key to a positive parenting experience. Confidence in your wisdom as a parent can make even the most difficult situations manageable. So pick what works for you and pray for the wisdom of Solomon!

Also helpful: and

Friday, March 6, 2009

A prince on his throne

Ever since the falling-off-the-couch incident I've been playing it safe with Jack. Although he's not really interested in the whole mobility thing, he has started reaching for toys, and the shifting of weight has caused more than one topple.

So we now create a buffer zone for him during playtime. This is the Jack-throne. It's so soft and cushy, he usually doesn't even notice he's tipped over, until Mommy comes set him right again.

But it doesn't look like he'll need my rescuing for much longer. Last night I stepped out into the kitchen, and when I came back my little boy was practically sitting up on his own. Granted these moments are short-lived, but it won't be long before those baby abs are working overtime to support one curious little torso. Long live poised Prince Jack!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Unsolved Mysteries: When Good Milk Goes Bad

Mama is slightly annoyed. About 6 weeks ago, we were giving Jack a bottle. For the first time ever he wouldn't take it and was starting to get a little frustrated with the whole situation. Finally I gave up. Since Jack refusing to eat is a little odd, I decided to check the milk out for myself. NASTY!! It had gone bad. :( I thought maybe it was a fluke thing, a bad batch. But over the next few days, as I started going through my stacks and stacks frozen milk, it seemed like a growing problem. Everytime I wanted to give Jack a bottle, I had to thaw and test the milk myself first. Ew! First off, normal breastmilk looks and smells weird anyway. So I couldn't trust my sight and smell senses, no, I had to taste each bag. Normal breastmilk also kinda tastes weird. The only difference between normal breastmilk and bad breastmilk is if it makes me gag, burns the whole way down my throat, and sticks to my tongue after several glasses of water. Imagine my delight, standing over the kitchen sink, taste-testing bag after bag of this mom-made beverage. If motherhood was a paid job, I'd deserve a raise!
Sadly, I soon discovered that every bag of frozen milk in my freezer that was older than one week (the normal life span of unfrozen milk) was rotten. A mommy's nightmare! We joke, very seriously of course, that breastmilk is "liquid gold." You really can't put a price on it. Personally, I don't think that formula is even a close second, and I'm happy that I haven't had to supplement, thanks to my extensive supply of stored milk. So much for that source. On this day, I was down to one bag of milk, one hungry boy going through a growth spurt and using up every spare drop I had, and an upcoming day at the babysitter's. Fortunately, he only needs a bottle of extra milk one or two times a week when he's at the sitter's or when I need a shopping break. :) But staring into the now-empty corner of my freezer was like staring into the unknown. Forget those blessed mommy-needs-to-get-out-of-the-house sprees, how in the world was I going to continue working and still get Jack his food?

Somehow that one bag got us through. I went out and bought a bottle of Fenugreek (I highly recommend this for anyone having milk supply issues) and started pumping like a crazy women. We're back in the flow :) and I've built up a small supply once again. Plus plenty of extra to mix with the rice cereal that we started the other week. But the milk mystery remains. I still can't use milk that's been frozen for more than a week, which makes me think it's a freezer issue. But my husband disagrees, since all of our ice and food are still good and frozen. I've Googled every form of "bad frozen milk" I can think of with no good resuls. I've called Le Leche, they have no idea, never heard of such a thing. None of my friends know either. I am one miffed mama, but at least my boy is still happy!
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