Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2 months!

2 months yesterday, on 3/12/12! I didn't take pictures until today because he got his shots yesterday :( so he was a little grumpy and sleepy all day! Here's a few good ones:

2 month 2

2 month 3

2 month 1

Dear Eli,
You are two months old! So much has happened in the past two months as you have continued to grow and experience the world around you. You have changed our lives so much-by making them so much better. Some nights your dad and I turn to each other in bed and question if we're lame because we're excited to be in bed by 9:30-because honestly, you kind of wear us out! But we just laugh and talk about how much we love sharing our lives with you, and how much better you've made our day to day routine.

Since the weather's getting nicer, we've been able to take you on walks-and we think that you love them. Although you usually sleep through them, it's funny to see you experience the elements-squint when the sun hits your face and we aren't quick enough to pull up the shade on your stroller; try to eat the wind when it hits your face because you don't quite know what that feeling is.

You talk all the time-and it's the cutest thing ever (and yes, I know every month there will be a new "cutest thing ever")-but seriously, it's very cute. You have a sign over your changing table that your "Aunt" Skye made for you and it's truly your favorite thing to look at-no matter what mood you're in, whenever we lay you down to change you, you have a good long conversation with that sign, and it usually includes lots of smiles, so we think you're happy with what you see.

You've started smiling-but just a little! It's hard to get you to smile and when you do smile at us it seems to be at the most random times, but I think you're just saving them up to make them extra special. There have been a few times when you've been fussy and one of us picks you up, and after a minute or two of staring at us you just smile this huge, toothless grin (I think I see a dimple or two!) that seriously melts. my. heart.

We started using cloth diapers on you this month and so far, so good! Eli, we care a lot about the world we live in and we hope that you do, too. It's not always the best place because a lot of people don't care about or respect our planet, but we want to do our part to help raise you to always be kind to this planet you live on. We hope this is just the start of your environmentally-conscious way of living!

As much fun as this past month has been while we watch you continue to grow and develop (you now enjoy your play mat and the toys that hang off of it; you track us with your eyes; you learned how to suck on your fist and your thumb; and your head and legs seem to get stronger by the day!) this month I also had to do a very hard thing: go back to work. Today was my first day back and it was a day of mixed emotions. Eli, my sweet boy, I want you to know how very much I have cherished the past two months I've been able to spend with you. And today, as I was away from you the longest I ever have been, my heart yearned to be back home with you. BUT. You get to hang out with your grandparents this week, which they love and I'm pretty sure you do too. And it makes me feel better knowing that you're spending good quality time with people that love you so much. And that made heading back to work at a job that I do love a little bit easier. I think it would have been even harder if I didn't enjoy my job so much and find it so fulfilling-I pray that when you're older and ready to work, you can find a job that makes your heart sing as you go through the day to day.

Eli, we love you so so so very much, and can't wait to see what the next month brings!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


So my friend Skye at Neathering our Fest tagged me in a getting to know you type thing. It has rules and all but like Skye I can be on occasion a rule breaker...this is what I'm supposed to do:

here are the rules:

you must post the rules.
answer the 11 questions that the tagger posted for you
then create 11 questions to ask the people you've tagged.
tag 11 people and link them in your post.
let them know you have tagged them.

but I'll be honest...I don't have it in me to create more questions and tag more people, so I'm answering Skye's questions and that's about it!! Sorry, but I'm only pooping on half of the party, so that doesn't seem so bad...

Questions from Skye:
1. have you ever gone back and read your very first blog post? what is one thing that makes you cringe and one thing that makes you smile?
I started my blog when we spent two weeks in Ireland a few summers ago as a way to share pictures and notes about our travel with family and friends. It wasn't until much later that I tried to be better about regularly blogging about our life! I would say that I had a lot of passion in those first few posts-that makes me smile :) but I still cringe at the fact that I never had much of an identity for this blog, it was just a place to share a few thoughts and experiences! I am in awe of all my fun blogger friends who have a much better direction and are much regular posters than I am.

2. tell us all about your favorite pair of shoes. where did you get them? what did you buy them for? what is your favorite memory while wearing them?

My absolutely favorite, go-to pair of shoes are a pair of Teva flip flops (they are green and black). I know that I got them at an REI store but I can't remember where! I bought them thinking ahead to summer and I've worn them many summers since...I would say my favorite memories from those shoes are the first summer we spent a week at Possum Kingdom Lake!

3. if you could go back and do one thing you didn't do, what would it be?
Call my grandmother the week before she passed away. I had been telling myself all week to call and I never did, and then I got the call that she'd had a brain aneurism.

4. what is your go-to beverage first thing in the morning?
COFFEE. no question. Pregnancy only changed me from fully caffeinated to half-caff. Now, I'm back to the full-strength stuff, especially after a long night with several wake-up calls!

5. do you sleep with the fan on or off?
On in the summer, off during the winter.

6. what is your favorite thing about the home you currently reside in?
Our nursery! It was the first room I feel like I've really been able to put together!

7. money aside, you get to plan the absolutely perfect date. spill the details.
dinner at a swanky restaurant (a la Abacus in Dallas), a night at a bed and breakfast, followed by a day at a winery. Sorry I don't have great details, I'm super bad at planning things like this.

8. do you get nervous pulling your car into the bay when you get your oil changed? or is that just me?
heck YES I do! I never trust the guy when he tells me to keep pulling forward either!

9. the eternal debate: mac or pc?
I've been a pc all my life, then when I started my job I was forced to work on a Mac. It's now my preference and as soon as the new Macbook Air comes out (rumors are it's on its way...) I will finally get to purchase my Christmas gift!!!

10. what habit do you have that you would pay someone to help you get rid of?
Always questioning how others view me. As a people pleaser, this is a daily struggle!

11. what is one habit you wish you could naturally pick up and have for the rest of your life?
The ability to hop out of bed when the alarm goes off-no more snooze button!

I had fun answering these questions, so if you want to go ahead and answer these or come up with some new ones, let me know and I'll update this post with your info! that's my lazy response! Thanks Skye!

Who does Eli look like?

As soon as you have a baby, everyone has an opinion on who your child looks like! I would have to say that overwhelmingly we hear that Eli looks just like his daddy, but a few have said he looks like the perfect combination of the two of us, and fewer still have pointed out his features that seem to resemble mine.

When I was pregnant, as I thought ahead to meeting our baby boy, I thought for sure I'd be able to pinpoint right away who's eyes, nose, mouth, etc he has...but I still don't always see what people point out! I just see Eli.

We pulled out our baby pictures to do some comparisons.

What do you think? Here's some of my baby pictures:

Mara sleeping

Mara 6 weeks
We only have a couple of Jon's, and only one that I could get a decent picture of:
Jon 6 weeks

I think the pictures of me sleeping look a lot like Eli.

Here's a 6 week and a sleeping picture of Eli, for comparison...
Eli 6 weeks

Eli sleeping
I know for sure Eli has his dad's hair (dark and curly) and his dad's feet! I think he has my nose, inherited from the LeHew family (my mom's family).
Eli feet
I love these little feet.
Who do you see in Eli?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Adventures in Sleep

I wanted to take some time to write about what we've been working on with Eli's sleep schedule-mostly because I was initially really overwhelmed by the process and it's way easier than I expected it to be! I have lots of new mom and mom to be friends so if this is helpful to anyone, great!

Most of what we're doing is based on the practices of a book called "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Mark Weissbluth. When I babysat in Dallas the family I babysat for recommended this book and her two boys were champion sleepers! This is by no means a book review but rather what I have gotten out of the practices this book suggests, what's worked for us and what I've learned, and what we're still working on. The idea is that the ability to fall asleep is a learned process, and many children don't sleep well through the night because they never learned how to fall back asleep on their own as they wake up throughout the night.

I would say that there are three principles from this book that have been the most helpful: 1. Never wake a sleeping baby! (sometimes Eli naps for so long I wonder if I should wake him up...) 2. Learn to notice your baby's tired signs (like you do their hunger signs) and 3. Put baby in bed drowsy, but awake. Of course there's way more that Dr. Weissbluth has to say (it's a whole book for God's sake) but without being overwhelmed by everything else (including a ton of information on soothing collicky/fussy babies and other troubleshooting for older kids) this is what's been easiest for me to operate with.

We just started this process this week (when Eli was 6.5 weeks old). Many people choose to start later but because I will be going back to work in a week and a half, I wanted to see if we could get him into a good sleeping routine before then since we'll have parents and then Jon staying with Eli at home until mid-May when I can work from home.

We've started a simple bedtime routine that includes a bath (because Eli LOVES them-but if your baby is not relaxed by a bath, don't use this as part of your routine!), sometimes infant massage, reading a book or two, feeding, and then singing a song or two (he usually gets serenaded by a selection from the United Methodist Hymnal!). We haven't established a true bedtime yet since his days aren't on a real schedule yet-but we'll get there I'm sure! After he is nursed, we swaddle him, use a pacifier, sing him a song or two and once his eyes are heavy (he usually closes and opens them several times while we sing) I lay him in bed, turn out all the lights, and close the door. He usually sleeps 4-4.5 hours for the first stretch before waking up to eat. After his first feeding we are putting him back in the sleeper in our room for the rest of the night because it's just easier.

For naps, it's the same process, though he doesn't always eat before a nap (if he ate right when he woke up and goes down for another nap 1-1.5 hours later, he isn't hungry). We change his diaper, maybe read a book, swaddle, then sing/rock until he's drowsy again.

If he starts to fuss after laying him down, I give him 5 minutes. If his crying really starts to escalate, then I will go in and either soothe him while he's in the crib (give him a pacifier, rub his tummy, talk/sing to him) or pick him up and sing/rock until he's drowsy again, then put him in the crib. I've never had to repeat this process twice (I probably just cursed myself...). As he gets older, we may have to be more disciplined about how long we take before going in to soothe him, but I feel like he's too young to cry it out right now. Sometimes, after fussing for a few minutes (even full-out crying) he stops and goes to sleep. The key, I've learned, is give him 5 minutes, no matter what.

What I've Learned:
During the day for naps, Eli rarely makes it more than 1.5 hours before needing another nap. This has changed my perspective of taking him out and about when he can't fall asleep and stay asleep in his car seat (we're going somewhere where we have to take him out, people want to hold him, etc). I used to think on these outings he was just having a fussy day-but no the poor kid was worn out because he hadn't had the chance to have a good nap for several hours!

I've also become much better at learning his tired signs, and am starting to be able to distinguish them from his hunger signs. The early ones can be hard to catch: decreased movement/more quiet while playing especially. Usually when he starts to get fussy, it's because he's tired, not hungry. He also wrings his hands in front of him and that's when we start the downhill slide of super tired, hard to calm down baby.

Most of his naps are a good 2-3 hours long. If he wakes up before an hour and I can't soothe him back to a drowsy state, he gets up and will go down for a nap again sooner rather than later. When he wakes up from a good nap, his awake time is so much more fun-he is interactive, happy, and more alert rather than having to be held all the time.

What's Worked For Us:
I was so doubtful that after putting Eli in his bed still awake, he would fall asleep on his own. But it worked the first time! I had to get over my guilt the first couple of times he was fussy because I felt like he felt abandoned. But since I never go more than 5 minutes without going in there I just try to distract myself by doing something else for those 5 minutes, and telling myself that he is safe and fine. And sometimes he doesn't fuss at all, just rolls his head to the side, eyes open, and he eventually falls asleep without a peep!

While I feel like my days are a little more restricted in terms of being able to get out of the house, it's really for the better for our little guy. And I know as he gets older we'll be able to do that easier (run errands, etc).

Swaddling has also been a huge benefit-I'm not going to try to go without it to see otherwise :) but I feel like it calms him down sooner, and it helps him sleep longer. We also use a pacifier to help him get to sleep/calm down, but he doesn't require it to sleep (as in, if it falls out of his mouth he doesn't wake up). Oftentimes he spits it out before he's ready to be in the crib anyway. Eli has always had a strong need to suck (like many babies) and I felt like this was one way to help him with that-especially since he's swaddled, he can't suck on his hand/thumb.

What We're Still Working On:
Obviously, sleeping through the night :) but since he's still so little, I expect him to be waking up for at least 1 feeding for awhile. His first stretch of the night has gotten longer little by little, so I'm hopeful he'll be at 5-6 hours over the next few weeks.

We're still working on determining a schedule, both during the day and the night-but over the next few weeks/months according to the book is when a more consistent, earlier bedtime, longer nighttime sleep periods, and the morning nap develop.

The other thing that's been the hardest is the temptation to let him sleep in places other than his crib/pack n play. Some afternoons, when he's had several short naps in a row, it's so tempting to just lay him on my chest and lay with him on the couch. And sometimes, we still do-because I know he won't be this little for much longer and I cherish those moments. But overall I try to be disciplined about where and when he naps, because I've seen how much better it's made both of our days. I know when I can get things done (or take a nap if I need it) because he's napping so much longer at a time when he's in a place where he's not disturbed by noise around him. And as I said before, he seems more happy when he's awake. Some evenings especially, he ends up taking a nap in the Moby because it's the only way I can make dinner or get something to eat. But, I'm okay with that-because he's still responding so well to the times we put him to sleep in his crib.

I can't say how this process works for others, but it's worked for us. If you're interested in learning more about this theory and the process of teaching your child to go to sleep, then please check out this book! It has a ton of great information about sleep for children from newborns through school age, case studies, etc and is very easy to read. It's broken down by age and so it's easy to follow as well. I'm so glad I decided to start trying this when I did, and have been pleasantly surprised!

The sweet sweet face that greeted me when Eli woke up from his nap the other day...