Chatting Up & Chowing Down

Dear Alex,

You are a little over 5 months now! The time continues to fly by way too fast and the lightning pace of your growth and development continues to amaze me. You’ve been up to so much lately that I’m not sure where to start! Dad got to celebrate his first Father’s day with you a last week:

We had a fun day together, hanging out with Papa & Grandma, cheering Dad on at his baseball playoff game (unfortunately they lost… whomp whomp), taking Dad out to lunch after the game, then spending a quiet afternoon together as a family. We gave Dad his Father’s Day gifts… you made him a handprinted baseball & I made him a cool book for you guys to read:

It’s all about your Super Dad, there’s great pictures of him throughout the whole book! I think Dad got a big kick out of all his gifts. πŸ™‚ In honor of Father’s Day, I thought we’d do our first post-birth interview with Dad:

1. What was the labor/birth process like from your perspective? What stands out most in your mind about it?
Dad said he felt pretty helpless throughout the process, since there wasn’t much he could do to make me more comfortable or to make things go more smoothly (although bless his heart, he tried his best & I still say he did a phenomenal job helping me through it all). He said that he knew it must be time to go to the hospital as soon as I got the call from my midwife because of the face I was making while on the phone with her. Obviously I was pretty petrified at that point; really we both were… but Dad says he tried his best to stay calm for my sake. The moment that stood out the most for him was when the midwife decided to go ahead and break my water. It was sudden change of pace– we went from a bunch of “wait & see” to moving ahead at warp speed! That part of it stands out the most in my memory as well. He says that looking back, the whole experience seemed very surreal, like he was just watching it happen rather than actually experiencing it.

2. What was your first thought when you saw & heard Alex for the first time?
β€œHoly sh$t I hope his head goes back to normal!” Dad explained that when they first pulled you out your head was super elongated from going through the birth canal (β€œLike an alien”… LOL).

3. When did you start to feel a paternal β€œbond” with Alex?
Dad said he felt this bond with you immediately, from the first moment he saw you. πŸ™‚ Based on my discussions with other mommy friends, that is not necessarily the case with all new Dads.

4. What were those first few weeks & months like?
Dad said it was hands-down the hardest thing he’d ever been through (and I agree!). He said that while we were in the hospital he was so proud of how much he was contributing to your care, but then not long after we came home he got sick & had to limit contact with you… so he felt like he was useless. When he finally got better he had to sort of re-learn the ins & outs of caring for you all over again. Honestly I don’t think he ever really felt 100% comfortable with that sort of stuff until after I went back to work.

5. How do you like fatherhood so far?
Dad said that he of course likes it a lot, but admits that he never envisioned this stage of fatherhood. In his mind’s eye when we were planning to have kids you were already a toddler, and he never really thought about what being a Dad during the infant stage would be like.

6. Biggest Challenge so far? Biggest Joy? Favorite memory with Alex since we came home from the hospital?
According to Dad, becoming your primary caregiver after I went back to work was the biggest challenge (I’m thinking he’s forgotten what the colic stage was like already! LOL). He added that those first few days when you two were on your own together were especially challenging. Honestly though, I think that time together in the afternoons has been a great thing for both of you. As I said before it’s forced Dad to become more comfortable with baby care tasks, and given you two more one-on-one time to bond together. πŸ™‚ He says that his biggest joy is making you smile, and that his favorite memory is the first time he made you laugh (which was one of those afternoons while I was at work… I actually have not heard a full-on laugh from you yet, just a couple short giggles here & there).

πŸ™‚ You guys are two peas in a pod, and watching you two together brings me such joy. Anyway, you’ve been a lot more interactive this month. You love “chatting” with us… your baby talk consists of mostly “oooohs” & “aaaahs” at this point:

But you have lots to say on many subjects! Dad & I can’t wait until you start talking for real. Β  When we’re watching you take things in, your eyes are so soulful and we can tell you must have all sorts of thoughts going through your head. It will be great when you can express those thoughts a little better!

The other “big thing” this month was introducing you to “solid” foods. By “solid” foods I mean just rice cereal, oatmeal & pureed veggies. We haven’t started any fruit yet, in the hopes that going through all the vegetables first will make you more likely to enjoy veggies in the long-term. Here was your first reaction to solids, with the rice cereal:

Obviously the first time more of it ended up on your bib then in your mouth, which is to be expected. We noticed that the rice cereal seemed to be making you spit up more, so we switched to oatmeal and you LOVED it. We haven’t gone back to rice cereal since. Right now you get oatmeal in the late morning/early afternoon and your veggies in the evening. The first veggie we tried was green beans:

We didn’t take video of every new food, but I wanted to get your first bites of rice cereal, of veggies and eventually we’ll record your first fruit too. After green beans we moved on to carrots:

AlexTriesCarrots

I think for the most part, the pictures convey your thoughts on the matter… you were not a fan! You kept spitting them back out & flinging the carrots back at us! LOL. But we were persistent, and started mixing it with oatmeal. You ate them mixed with oatmeal no problem, so we gradually decreased the oatmeal-to-carrot ratio until we got you eating 100% carrots with gusto. πŸ˜‰ Next we tried peas:

AlexTriesPeas

You didn’t seem to mind peas, but I don’t think you liked them as much as the green beans. After that we tried avocado:

AlexTriesAvocado

Making the avocado was a little different… up til that point I’d made all your baby foods by boiling them & then blending them up until smooth with a little water or formula, but I’d read that since avocado is so soft you can essentially just mash it up with a spoon & feed it to babies that way. So that is what we tried, but you did not like the texture of that at all! You would sort of gag on it & spit it back out, no matter how much I mashed it up with the spoon. So the next night we added some water & blended it to make it smoother, and that did the trick. We are still on avocado & you’re loving it now! Next on the list will be squash, then sweet potatoes, then on to the yummy world of fruit. πŸ™‚

Feeding you with a spoon is an entertaining experience. You picked up on it like a champ after the first day or two, and now you down your food with gusto. We do things like the “airplane” to get you to open your mouth for stuff you aren’t sure about… that & me smacking my lips in an exaggerated chewing motion gets you smiling & giggling every time! The not so fun part of starting solids has been the “surprises” we get in your diapers. GROSS. Haha. I’ll spare you the gory details. πŸ˜‰

This is getting long, and there’s still so much more I want to share! Recently we stopped giving you baths in the kitchen sink & moved your tub up to the bathroom. Once you can sit up independently we’ll be putting the baby tub away altogether… right now you barely still fit in it:

The fun thing about being up in the bathroom is that now we have space to break out all your bath toys! This Cookie Monster is your favorite, I think because he’s so squishy and easy to hold.

Another recent development is “The Lip” … you’ve perfected your pouting skills and pull them out on occasion when you’re not getting your way! It is terrible, adorable and hilarious all at the same time:

You’ve also recently discovered your thumb! Although you’d been sucking on your hands/fist/fingers for quite some time now, all of a sudden you figured out how to suck just your thumb and have developed a preference for it. I caught it on camera while attempting to get your 5 month photo:

In general I had a heck of a time getting the monthly photo this time, because you prefer to be on your tummy pretty much all the time now. You like scooting around on your tummy and have even started getting up on your hands & knees… I suspect crawling to be in the very near future for you! But that’s another letter for another day. Anyway, you kept flipping on your tummy every few seconds, so after awhile I gave up & put the 5 month sticker on your back. LOL

Thankfully I did manage to get one decent shot on your back! As always, you can find a LOT more photos from the month at http://s1169.photobucket.com/user/laurapachec0/library/Alex%20Month%205, including a TON more of you trying new foods & a bunch of us playing around the house.Β Happy 5 months big guy, we love you so much! Can’t wait to see what the next month brings. πŸ™‚

All my love,
Mom

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Fun in the Sun

Dear Alex,

It’s been so much fun taking you out after what seemed like an endless winter! For some reason it seems to me that we pretty much skipped spring around here this year, and the days are already getting pretty hot. We spent Memorial Day weekend at your first of many many family reunions. Dad’s side of the family has this reunion in WV every year. It was the first chance you’ve had to meet that side of the family, and I think everyone enjoyed it!

Here’s the whole clan. As my generation starts to have kids, the group is getting bigger & bigger. We also got a great photo of our little family:

There was a lot of good food… here you are sitting up at the table, probably thinking about how you can’t wait to chow down into everything next year! I love this little portable seat, it folds flat & hooks onto any table.

Me, you & Nanna sat together and watched the annual cornhole tournament. Dad & Uncle Robbie won for the 2nd year running!

The night before we all went out to dinner. Grump took you around & introduced you to everyone.

Then the following week, we ended up having to go to Hampton for my Uncle Bob’s funeral. Your first funeral… quite a sad milestone. Other than the bugle scaring you at the end (my uncle was a marine, so they did the flag folding ceremony complete with playing taps), you did pretty well. I’m glad my uncle got a chance to meet you at Easter this year. Anyway, while we were down, Grandma & I took you for a quick trip to the beach!

This was your first beach trip, and overall you seemed to enjoy it. You snuggled with Grandma and enjoyed the soothing sounds of the ocean… we play ocean sounds for you at night, so naturally the real life sounds lulled you to sleep. When you woke up we put your toes in the sand, and you seemed to enjoy it:

And you posed for a couple of cute (and funny!) pictures:

Then at the very end of our trip, I took you down to the water’s edge to let you try playing in the water… you did NOT like that one bit!

Man, you cried & cried after that little “dip” in the water, for a solid 10 minutes straight! It was worse than when you got your first shots! I think the cool water temperature (it wasn’t super cold, but cool compared to how your bath water usually is), plus the suddenness of the waves splashing up probably scared you. needless to say, we decided it was time to go at that point, which was okay since we’d already been there about 2 hours. We’ll try the water again next time! πŸ˜‰

Some other fun we had earlier in the month (although it was not in the sun), was an outing with the January 2013 moms & babies! We’d planned to go to the botanical gardens, but it ended up being a rainy day so we met in the mall.

Of course you were napping when it was time for the group photo! One of the moms (Danna, second from the right) is a photographer & got this great photo of you when you woke up. It’s my new favorite Alex picture!

You are so handsome. πŸ™‚ Anyway, can’t wait to have some more outdoor adventures with you this summer! I’d better wrap this up, it’s almost time to get you up & ready for daycare.

All my love,
Mom