Back to the grind

Dear Alex,

Now that I have a little more time to myself, I think I might be able to write more frequently than just one letter per month! The reason I have this time to myself, ironically, is because I’ve gone back to work. This is my third week back and we’re finally settling into a nice little routine… but it took some time to get there!

We started by sending you for some “transition” time at daycare in the weeks leading up to my return to work. Luckily your daycare provider, a very nice lady named Karen who watches a few children out of her home, is really great and we feel very comfortable leaving you with her. Unfortunately that didn’t make your first day at daycare any easier for me! I managed to hold it together for the drop-off, but then I came home and cried for about an hour. Being with you day in & day out was something I’d become very accustomed to, and as I sat in your room crying I mourned all the time with you that I’m going to miss out on…. even though I know it’s what’s best for both of us. Anyway, you did great on your first day & every other day so far! You and Karen seem to really enjoy each other, and she tells me that the other little boy she watches full time, a 1-year-old named James, really enjoys you too. She’s been very accommodating of all our requests/schedules/etc, and lives right around the corner from us. Definitely a good fit so far! I took a picture of the two of you together on your first day, but she asked me not to put it on Facebook… which I’m going to assume means I can’t post it here either.

Anyway, I’m glad we did the “transition” days because it made my first real day of work so much easier. My biggest concern was actually the time Daddy has you by himself in the afternoons, since he’d never had to watch you for that long by himself before. The first couple of days were admittedly rough for him. He called & texted me quite a few times with questions and concerns (“Alex won’t stop crying, I don’t know what to do with him!”)… and it was really hard for me to watch the two of you struggle. But it really needed to happen that way so that Dad could learn on his own, and now the two of you have your own little rhythm established. I think all the one-on-one time has brought the two of you much closer together as well. Watching you guys play is one of my favorite things to do; it’s just too adorable for words. πŸ™‚ Dad even treats me to cute pictures of you playing with him– he sends them to cheer me up when I’m away at work:

I am very blessed with a job that is extremely flexible– not only do I get to work longer days so that I’m off every Friday, but I also get to work from home on Tuesdays & Thursdays… so I only have to make the trek into the office on Mondays & Wednesdays. Those days are REALLY long though, and on those days I don’t get to see you much at all since you’ve already gone to bed by the time I get home. 😦 But every other day I get to at least see you (even if I’m busy teleworking & can’t interact with you much) from when Dad picks you up at 3:30 until you go to bed at 7. Our main “Mommy and Alex” time, though, is in the early morning. You’ve gotten to where you sleep a solid 10 hours every night, from 7pm-5am (glorious! haha), then I get up and feed you. You always fall asleep in my arms as soon as you’re done with the bottle, and stay asleep while until it’s time to get up for daycare. Once you’re back down I usually go back to sleep myself for a bit, then get ready for work.

I have to say… I live for those few minutes after your first bottle every morning. You’re becoming so independent that you very rarely sleep in my arms anymore. So even though I don’t need to, I sit there and hold you in the rocking chair for awhile after you eat. I’m trying my best to remember how it all feels so that I’ll be able recall it in the months and years to come: the sweet smell of your skin, the feeling of your weight on my chest, your hands tangled up in my hair & your soft little cheek resting against mine, the sound of the deep relaxed breathing as well as the cute little coos and sighs you make as you’re falling back asleep, the smell of your stinky baby formula breath (haha), and just that overall feeling of complete love and trust I get from you whenever you allow yourself to sleep in my arms like that. There’s just nothing else like it, and I want to soak up every little detail now, while I still can. πŸ™‚ Watching you grow up is so very bittersweet that way. And now I’m tearing up as I write this! Sigh.

So that is the routine our little family has settled into: mornings with Mommy, days with Karen, afternoons with Daddy, and long restful nights for our sweet baby boy. It seems to be working well for everyone, and honestly it’s been nice for me to be back at work where I get to have adult conversations on a more frequent basis. Working at my “day job” is surprisingly so much easier than when I was at home caring for you all day… not as fun of course, but at least I get to take breaks! πŸ˜‰ Haha. And like I said, the time I am with you is that much more special, as cheesy as my description of it may have sounded. I feel like I’ve said this so many times but I’ll keep saying it until I get blue in the face: you are such a blessing and a joy to us. Dad & I love you so much and truly enjoy being your parents. Alex, you are the light of our lives! πŸ™‚

All my love,Mom

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Alex’s (and Mommy’s!) Favorite Things

Dear Alex,

As I begin to write this, you’re just under 4 months old. This past month has been one of major growth & development for you, both physically and emotionally. To pick up where I left off, as of last week I can say that you’re officially sleeping through the night now! We put you to bed around 7pm and you sleep until somewhere between 3-5am now. It is glorious! Hahaha. This was not only just in time for Mother’s Day, but also just in time for me to go back to work. I think I’ll write more about the going back to work experience in my next letter, after we’ve all had a chance to get used to “the grind.” Our first Mother’s Day was great though! You and Dad served me breakfast in bed:

And gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a mold of your footprint. So cute! I think I’m going to paint the mold, just not sure what color yet.

We had a fun, lazy afternoon together. The day before we went to a Nats game & had a ball (pun intended!), even though the Nats lost. You did pretty well over all, except sometimes the louder noises would bother you… especially when you were trying to sleep in my lap!

So as I mentioned before, this month has been a month of big changes! Physically, you have grown a LOT– we had your 4 month checkup recently and you were over 17 lbs! You can roll over both ways, and almost always roll onto your tummy to sleep. I think that is part of why you started sleeping so much better at night. You can hold your head up pretty much all the time now, and can sit up quite well when we support your back a bit.

Overall you’re so much more alert and taking a keener interest in the world around you. You enjoy “playing” with toys, which at this point is just attempting to grab them and put them in your mouth! πŸ˜‰ Speaking of toys, I thought this would be a good time to do a “favorite things” post– all of the items that you (and I) have really enjoyed and have made life during these first few months so much easier for us… these are in no particular order, just listing them as I think of them.

1. Ergo Baby Carrier
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it a million times more: I greatly underestimated the importance of having a good, quality baby carrier. This one is so easy to use, quite sturdy and extremely versatile… it can be used in a variety of positions and has inserts so that babies as little as 8 lbs. can go in it. It also has a sun/wind shade that can go over your head and a nice big pocket in the front to store pacis, my cell phone, etc. Anyway, when nothing else will calm you… wearing you always does the trick. And in many situations it’s so much easier to wear your around vs. hauling a stroller/car seat/etc. Here’s a picture of me carrying you around Nationals Stadium in it:

2. MAM Pacifiers
For some reason you really only like this type of pacifier. You will use others in a pinch, but don’t keep them in as long for some reason. I think it has to do with the nipple shape. Anyway, we probably have at least a dozen of these, placed strategically all over the house, car, diaper bags, strollers, etc!

paci

3. Sleep Sheep, “Relax & Sleep” Mobile App
I’ve mentioned that white noise really soothes you– these are our top two sources of white noise. The sleep sheep is attached to your crib, but in a pinch (particularly when we go on overnight trips) I just take the sound box out of it and bring that along. Out & about, Dad and I both use the app on our phones. I love the wide variety of noises it has, and how you can mix & match different noises together. I usually play a combination of “brown noise” and “beating of a heart” for you. πŸ™‚ Another thing we do, particularly in the car, is just turn the radio on a blank station… it has the same effect without wearing out our phone batteries!

sleepappsleepsheep

4. BumGenius 4.0 Cloth Diapers, Bummis BioSoft Flushable Diaper Liners
You know, so many people were (and are) really skeptical when they heard we planned to use cloth diapers. I think when people hear cloth diapers they think of those rags with pins people used back in the day. These are nothing like that… they go on easily just like “regular” diapers, are super cute & absorbent. We’ve NEVER had a blowout in these, but you almost always blowout of disposable diapers (yuck). The size is adjustable and should last you all through your diapering years… and if we take good care of them, we can use them for future siblings as well. πŸ˜‰ The liners make it even easier because it catches all the solids, then we just pull off the liner & flush it or throw it out. The diapers were a bit of an expensive investment, but in the long run it saves us SOOOO much money. Actually according to my calculations, we recooped the cost compared to disposable diapers from Costco within the first few months. Totally worth it! And laundry is not a big deal either… we do a load every 2-3 days and it takes a couple hours, with maybe 5-10 minutes of actual “hands on time” folding the diapers after they’re clean.

diaper

5. SwaddleMe & Halo Sleep Sacks
Dad was an expert swaddler from the start, but personally I was thankful for these swaddle sacks that velcro into place. So much easier and it would actually stay put for more than 5 minutes! You slept in these for the first 2-3 months of your life, so they were a big hit in our house. Here’s a picture of you sleeping in one of the SwaddleMe’s when you were about a month old. You look like a littleΒ caterpillar!

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6. Graco 2-in-1 Swing/Bouncy Seat
Other than the baby carrier, this has been the most unexpected saving grace we’ve had. I’m really glad we got such a nice one… It vibrates, plays music or nature sounds, has toys/mirrors to entertain you, and the swing chair pulls offΒ  which can be used alone as a bouncy seat. Your first week or so of life, it was the only place you’d sleep. It’s so important that we haul it with us on weekend trips (although the swing part folds flat, so it really isn’t a big deal to bring). Having a safe place to put you down, that you enjoy, is CRUCIAL. I even bought a smaller second-hand swing off of Craigslist to keep at daycare so that you could enjoy swing time while you’re there. I’ve already posted a ton of pictures of you in both the swing and the detached seat, since you use it so much!

7. Kick & Play Keyboard/Activity Gym
This is a relatively recent purchase… and OMG I wish I’d bought it sooner! We’ve always had a little activity gym for you, because it’s one of the first ways babies “play” before they can really grab toys. You love to lay there & stare up at the stuff hanging down. But this thing has all the bells & whistles– toys to grab, a mirror to check yourself out in, and a keyboard that you can kick to play (you love kicking it) or it can be adjusted to play it more “traditionally” once you can sit up on your own. The bar with the toys/mirror also adjusts down to be used for tummy time as well. We’ve only had it for a couple weeks & already had to change the batteries out! Here’s a video of your first “concert”:

8. Dumbbell Rattle
This was actually a gag gift from your Aunt Christin, but it’s turned out to be one of your favorite toys. You have a couple other little rattles that you like, but this one was the first thing you learned how to grab onto really well (I think because the bar is very small & easy for you to wrap your fingers around), and more recently you’ve started to make the connection between your movements and the rattle’s sounds. You’ve started to smile when you hold it up in front of your face. And of course, you think it’s fun to munch on the ends. πŸ˜‰ Here’s a picture of you playing with it that I took last month:

9. Crinkle-y Elephant
This is probably your favorite soft toy. In general, you have a thing for elephants, giraffes and bunnies. This one is pretty small and, again, easy for you to grab. You like to gnaw on the elephant’s nose and give him big, crinkle-y hugs.

elephant

10. Colic Calm medicine
Even though this stuff likes like the drought of death (it is thick & black, LOL), it does work really well for gas pain/upset tummy issues. I tried a couple different brands of “gripe water” and gas medicine; for you this was by far the most effective. It works almost instantly!

colic calm

11. Zip-up Footie PJ’s
I really hate snaps. It still baffles me as to why the majority of baby clothes use snaps. Perhaps they stand the test of time better than velcro and zippers, but you grow out of things so fast that personally I don’t think they really need to stand the test of time… they need to work quickly, and conveniently, especially when you’re trying to change a squirmy/fussy baby. Therefore, you pretty much lived in various zip-up pj’s for those first couple months, before we started taking you out & about. Simple and cozy… all those little outfits you see are cute, but a bit pointless and kind of a hassle when you’re bumming around the house. Now that you’re out & about more I save PJ’s for night and lazy days, but I still love them. Sometimes I wish I had some adult footie PJ’s! Haha

12. Bubble Guppies
This is our favorite TV show! It comes on Nick Jr. and is so cute & catchy. We learn about all sorts of neat things, sing and dance to all the songs. If only it was available on Netflix…

bubble guppies

13. Cuddle-U Pillow
This is actually a cheaper knock-off version of the more popular “Boppy” pillow, but I like it so much more because it has the little harness thing sewn into the cover. This keeps you from squirming down off the pillow. We use this a lot when you’re in our bed with us, but we also use it around the house, traveling, etc. I’m actually thinking of buying another one to use when we’re out & about… I think it might work well for helping you sit in shopping carts until you can sit up unassisted. I’ve already posted several pictures of you in this pillow since we use it so much… here’s one I got recently while I was tickling you. Your face is priceless!

14. Wifi Baby Camera
This was not one of my favorite things until recently, to be honest… I got it because it connects with a mobile app so that it can be viewed anywhere, anytime. Since your grandparents live far away, I thought it would be nice for them to get to look at you as much as they want. The first couple months of your life, we spent the majority of our time downstairs in the den, so that was where the camera was. Dad & I didn’t always love giving up our privacy, but turning the sound off helped and the grandparents definitely appreciated it. When you started napping and sleeping in your crib, we moved the camera to your room and now I love having it! It’s so helpful to be able to check on you & see if you’re awake or not without having to go in the room. And yes, the grandparents still get a huge kick out of it! Haha. Actually, Papa caught this gem of a picture on the camera when you were just a few weeks old. I was walking around holding you because you were being fussy, and you’d just calmed down & gone to sleep:

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I could probably go on & on, but those are some of the major items that have helped get us through these first few months. And as always, here are some of my favorite pictures from this month! The rest can be found at http://s1169.photobucket.com/user/laurapachec0/library/Alex%20Month%204.

Playing with Daddy… you love to touch his face, especially his goatee!

Asleep in my arms… this is actually getting to be quite rare now. 😦 But I suppose it makes me appreciate those sleepy cuddles that much more!

Doing two of your favorite things: blowing spit bubbles and playing in your exersaucer!

Hiding smiles behind your paci πŸ™‚

Checking out your dog Cody! As you can see from the photo, he is still too fast for you to pet him yet. He likes to sniff you and even give you “kisses” sometimes, but backs away when you try to pet him.

Having a lazy morning in bed with Mommy. πŸ˜€

Playing in your new swing! Now that the weather is warm, we’re taking advantage of the opportunities for you to spend time outside.

Our first dinner out together as a family! We went to Bertucci’s with Grump, Nana & Uncle Robbie.

While waiting in line at the grocery store, I was ticking your feet & caught this face! LOL

Call the WAAAAAAAmbulance! πŸ˜‰ This might seem mean, but I realized I didn’t have any pictures of your sad face… and it is actually pretty darn cute, so I thought I’d want to remember it some day. I only let you cry for a second, I swear!

Nap time with Daddy. πŸ™‚ Seeing sweet moments between the two of you like this totally melts my heart!

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Whenever I take these monthly growth/progress photos, it always takes me several takes to get a few that I like. The problem then becomes narrowing it down to only one! This month I just couldn’t do it, so here are some of my favorite faces. πŸ™‚

And as I wrap this up, you are 4 months old today! It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the time is going by, how quickly you’re growing, and how much more I love you every day. πŸ™‚ You are such a blessing, and honestly my life before you were born seems like such a distant memory, another lifetime ago… now Dad & I just can’t imagine our lives without you!

All my love,
Mom