Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holding his own

These days it feels more and more like we're a family of three, rather than a couple with a baby. Luke can join in with our activities in all kinds of settings. Mealtime is probably the best example, as we often feed him parts of our dinner and we even ordered off the kids' menu at a restaurant for him once. He loved the blueberry pancakes he was served there, though I'm not sure the waitstaff appreciated the portion of them that he 'fed' to the floor! He has begun babbling in his own dialect of baby gibberish, seemingly thinking he is adding his thoughts to the conversation. He also notices what is happening around him much more now and it's fun to experience new things with him, be it the Christmas tree aisle in Home Depot, another child at the supermarket, or falling snow. I've been establishing a ritual of having Erik call us before he bikes home from work, and then Luke and I watch for him from the front window. It's fun to see Luke look for his Daddy!

One standby of wintertime little kid-hood that we haven't been enjoying is a frequent runny nose. This child does not like having it wiped and it pains me to see him have difficulty taking his bottle or sleeping because of congestion. But we just tell ourselves that his immune system is doing its job and try to keep the humidifier going and the germs at bay.

He is getting closer and closer to walking, standing on his own for several seconds before sitting down and taking a couple steps before losing his balance. Erik and I are excited and reluctant to see him enter this new stage. It's so much fun to delight with him in these triumphs, but I'm dreading the constant chasing and painful tumbles walking will bring. In the meantime he is also very content to be held as long as we comply with his mistaken assumption that his parents are Segways. He leans in whichever direction he wishes to travel and expects transport!

In other news, our house is feeling more and more like our home as we come to the close of this stage of updates. Below you can see the new tile we put up around our fireplace and the stockings for our little family of three!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Parent-er

This weekend Erik and I were driving back from the tile store (for surely no less than the 20th time in the past few months!) and the new Pearl Jam song The Fixer came on the radio. What would it be like if Eddie Vedder had written the lyrics from a parent's perspective, we wondered. Here is our take, with the lyrics below and our music video here! Do you think we capture a bit of Pearl Jam and parenting?


Yeah, hey, hey

When something smells, I wanna put a little diaper on it

When something runs, let me put a little tissue on it

If somethings loud, I wanna put a little bottle in it

If there’s no nap, I wanna call the babysitter then

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, call the babysitter then

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

When somethings sore, let me put some neosporin on it

If somethings bored, I wanna put a little Elmo on it

When something smiles, I wanna point my Canon camera at it

If there’s a fire, I wanna call the babysitter then

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, call the babysitter then

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

When somethings sad, let me put some hugs & kisses on it

If there’s no wipes, I wanna head right to the store

I’ll say you’re cute, I’ll make you treats

I’ll find us a way to get to sleep

I’ll make up games, we’ll dance and sing

What’s made could be a great family

Hey, hey, hey
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, makes a happy family
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Makes a happy family, yeah, yeah, yeah
Makes a happy family, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where the wild things are

Predator daddy is a favorite past time for both Luke and Erik. Since Luke was a tiny babe, Erik has enjoyed growling and sneaking up to 'get' Luke with a tickle and kisses attack. At first Erik just used it to prove the point that this child could not survive in the wild, but it's been fun to see Luke grow into delighting in the game himself. Now when he hears Daddy's prowling noises from behind the couch, he gives joyful shrieks and is torn between crawling toward Erik (impatient for the tickling attack to begin) and crawling away for the thrill of being chased.

Their chasing antics make me laugh too, as does Erik's determination to avoid the word 'no' with Luke. The books say that Luke should be able to understand this simple command, but Erik hopes to avoid teaching him to overuse this two-letter word of toddler rebellion and tantrums. So instead of telling him, 'no, you can't chew on the laptop cord', he says 'not for you, Luke' in a very stern voice.

Erik also uses his serious voice to say 'bathroom, Luke, you need to go to the bathroom' in an attempt to jumpstart potty-training when Luke is making a present, as we call it, in his diaper. Luke doesn't yet associate this activity with the bathroom but he has managed to link it to his high chair, and it's not uncommon for this incident to interrupt our meals. Something about how Erik says this -- begging the question from Luke: why do I need to go to the bathroom? I'm fine right here! -- never fails to send me into peals of laughter. More than once I've swallowed my food the wrong way thanks to Erik's pre-potty-training. Erik is now under strict orders not to give his lesson just after I take bites or drinks!

Once out of his high chair, Luke is ever more on-the-move. He now constantly pulls up to standing and can even cruise between furniture pieces and large toys. He prefers to hold your hands and walk around the house to crawling, so I find myself spending a fair amount of the day as a baby prop or a baby spotter, trying to keep his little head from clunking on furniture. He's also become a pretty speedy crawler and is showing the beginnings of mommy clingyness. When I leave him for a moment to get something from another room, he immediately follows behind, like a loyal puppy crawling after me. Once I stop he crawls onto my feet and pulls himself up so that he's standing clinging to my legs. How can I resist reaching down to pick up the little pup!

But the bending over and separation anxiety can't dim the joy of life with our little Luke-um. I just love this stage of babyhood. When I get a picture book out, he crawls over to sit in my lap and have me read to him. He's been making the muh-muh sound for a while now and sometimes seems to associate it with me, but he certainly isn't doing that clearly or consistently yet. It's fun to listen for when that first-word breakthrough will emerge. Erik and I have been working with him on catching a little ball, and now he catches it successfully about 1/3 of the time. Erik said that he'll surpass my ball-handling skills soon, and he was only partly kidding... I better start practicing too!

For Luke, catching with his hands is the exception as his first instinct remains tasting and chewing objects. When he's on the rug launching himself mouth-open at stuffed animals this works fine, but the other day he tried it in the tub. The mouthful of water that came along with the tasting experience caught him by surprise and brought a few wails. But he seems to have learned that lesson for the moment and has been markedly more cautious in going after bath toys since then. Thankfully it didn't lessen his love for bathtime, during the day if he gets the chance he makes a beeline for the tub, pulls up, and peers in longingly. We all enjoy bathtime more now that Luke likes to play and splash in the water. Baths also offer the added benefit of tiring him out for a good night's sleep. It feels luxurious to have him sleeping through the night so consistently, and I love walking into his room the next morning and seeing a happy, well-rested little boy smiling up at me!

PS: Here's a Halloween pic -- our little Luke-osaur in a homemade costume!

Friday, October 16, 2009

'Round, 'round, get around, I get around!

The Luke man has been ever more on-the-go these days. When we place him on the floor in the living room, he reliably makes a beeline for the toy bin (crawling), pulls up on it to his knees, and peers in! We call this rummaging, as he then sticks in his hand to retrieve a toy of choice.

Besides improving his crawling skills, he's been picking up speed in his walker. He grins wider upon banging into furniture and Erik thinks we should make bumper stickers. Here are a few of my favorites: "I brake for no one", "My other ride is Mommy", "Baby on board", "Caution: Infant driver", and "Nielsen for Gerber Baby". Luke's driving course was recently extended as we finished the final section of laminate wood installation - hurray!

His dining domain has also expanded with the exciting introduction of finger foods. Fear of the baby heimlich maneuver kept me exclusively in the puree stage for a few extra weeks, but I was delighted to discover the 'Mum-mum' rice rusk crackers that are sold at Walmart. They dissolve so quickly that choking really isn't a concern. We've since added a few other baby snacks and now we all love finger foods as well as the ever expanding variety of pureed foods that I keep adding to our freezer in portion-size cubes for convenient thawing.

Luke has added a new game to his repertoire: classic peek-a-boo! He initiates it himself, pulling a blanket up in front of his face and beaming at our exclamations when he lowers it. My mom visited recently and she loved his peek-a-boo, and she also began to teach him to wave, kiss, and identify eyes and noses. I hadn't even attempted any of these, but she truly has a gift for teaching children! I've tried to continue where she left off and we think he may have even waved and kissed on command a few times (identifying facial features definitely seems like a more distant goal). Below is a picture of what we think is his version of an air-kiss. He only does air-kisses, kissing against your skin or blowing it off his hand add way too much complexity!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A week in the wild

"Is that the baby from Angel's Landing?" A couple asked as we wound between hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park. After just a few days camping and hiking in Utah's parks, it seemed that Luke had become a little celebrity. He had indeed traversed the Angels Landing trail in Zion the previous day and now was being recognized in a park several hours away! It must have been his young age for such a daunting hike and of course his unmistakable cuteness (or cries!) that made him memorable. I loved having a celebrity baby, but it did make me wonder if we were overly ambitious in our hike selection. Were we reckless parents?

My guilt was assuaged the next day when we met a couple who were also hiking with their son. We crossed paths on the most strenuous hike of our trip and they seemed happy and responsible. Maximus was almost exactly Luke's age and we let the two babies greet each other and compare hiking carriers. All things considered, hiking is pretty well-suited to babies. Luke enjoys being outside, new sights to study, and eventually falling asleep in a hiking pack. The real question was, is it reckless for Erik's shoulder muscles? Luke wasn't as comfortable in the backpack carrier and so Erik mostly held him in the much less ergonomic front carrier.

Nonetheless, we continued to explore the park the next day, this time with a watery route. The 'Narrows' trail follows the winding Virgin River as the steep faces of Zion Canyon close in from either side. Soon the river fills the entire base of the canyon and you are forced to wade through it. At times the cold water rose as high as our waists, but Erik held Luke high and dry and didn't slip and fall in (like I quickly did). It seemed that the sounds and sights of water pleased the little munchkin and his smiles, giggles, and gleeful kicks made it clear that this was his favorite hike.

We were visited on the narrows trail by ravens and songbirds overhead and two adult mule deer and a fawn. Because of the narrow river passage and soaring canyon walls, the deer swam through the river right next to us. On another trail we encountered a much smaller and rarer local resident - a tarantula! I expected a tarantula to be a frightening sight, but actually the brown hairy fellow looked rather peaceable and intriguing as he slowly crossed the trail in front of us.

To better enjoy the park and economize, we camped in Zion for our week away. From our campsite we could take in gorgeous vistas and plug in the two essential electric devices that traveled with us -- Luke's shushing machine and a coffeemaker! The little buckaroo took pretty well to camping and very much enjoyed visiting with his grandpa and Aunt Colleen who flew out to join us in Utah. Erik and I agree that Zion is the most majestic part of God's creation that we have yet to see, and we would love to go back one day when Luke can more fully enjoy it and travel the trails on his own two feet!

For more pics from our trip click here. There are a few videos on the last page of that gallery.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Luke lightning -- coming soon?

A sorely undervalued consideration in choosing a baby's name is the nickname-ability factor. Like many other expecting parents, we didn't consciously make this a priority. But we happened to select what I must say is a 5-star name in the nickname-ability department. At home, baby Luke goes by a rainbow of variants, each expressing a different mood or facet of personality, his or ours. Some favorites include Luke-a-duke (energetic, punchy), Luke-osaur (fearsome), Luke-aroo (cute), and Luke-opotamus (heavy, immobile). The adjective 'Lukan' is also useful, as in 'Lukan super smile', 'Lukan swamp gas', 'Lukan laugh', and 'is this the Lukan cup?' (the cup of water Luke backwashed in). I also find that Luke inserts very nicely into songs, such as 'La-la-la-la-la Luke-O!'

I'm not sure if this aspect of his name will serve him quite as well in middle school, but the foundation of fun, creativity and self-esteem that it provides now will surely outweigh any future bumps it might bring. Moreover his Uncle Jack, whose name is a 5+ in nickname-ability, was accepted into a terrific college with an essay about the 53 nicknames that have been posted on his facebook page. Nickname-ability is an investment in a child's higher education!

These days we need to be beefing up our selection of locomotion nicknames as it seems the little man is on the cusp of mobility. For more than a week he has been persistently lifting himself up onto his hands and knees. He rocks forward and backward and has even begun to inch his knees forward too. The hands seem to be the sticking point, perhaps his arms are weaker than his legs or they hold more of his weight? We are watching his efforts closely though, eager to catch his first-ever crawling!

Bittersweetly, I'll be away this weekend on a women's retreat with ladies from our church. It will be refreshing, spiritually, socially and physically I'm sure, but I'll miss my Luke-a-love. He better not do any of that first-time crawling while I'm gone -- maybe Daddy should intervene if he gets too close!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Menacing motorboat?

Minor hunger pangs strike, scooching across the floor isn't going fast enough, or sleepiness starts to set in, and... what is that I hear??? B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-uhhhhh!!!! The motorboat noise!

Luke has somehow gravitated to the blowing-through-your-lips motorboat noise in moments of frustration. The context tells us that he's trying to communicate. "Hey! I'm not happy. Come fix this now!!" But it's hard to take demands seriously when they sound like a little motorboat. Fortunately, his use of this noise for whining doesn't detract from his delight when we make the sound. He smiles and laughs gleefully when we do it, and especially when Uncle Travis does his version. For Luke though, eventually the motorboat frustration crescendoes into real cries and yells, which are much more effective at prompting the service he desires!

Another favorite Luke-ism is his second game. In the first game that Luke latched onto, he repeatedly looks at you and then hides his face when you smile at him. In his second game, he sits on the floor and leans back toward you until he falls on your leg. Then he smiles as you make a funny face at him and sit him back up. Once seated he immediately falls back again and loves to have the sequence repeated. I don't know who enjoys his games more, him or me!

Finally, I want to give an update on his teething progress for all of you who have feared for his well-being with a little piranha-tooth in his mouth. It has now been joined by a second bottom tooth and we think the top ones aren't too far behind. The razor edges don't seem to cause Luke pain, but the other night it was cute to see him sucking on the edge of his high chair, as if his pureed squash hadn't been quite enough for dinner. Later when I was wiping the chair down I noticed what looked like caked-on baby cereal in that spot -- aha! I thought, he must have been sucking on food there after all. But when it didn't come off, I looked closer and saw that it wasn't food. The marks were gouged bite marks! I wonder what other furniture our little puppy will be chewing on next.

Speaking of our home, we are thankful that the end of this stage of re-flooring is in sight. Today we moved our appliances back in from the garage, after two weeks without laundry, dishwashing, oven, or even kitchen sink capabilities! We just have a little flooring left and need to finish the edges. We don't know how we could have accomplished the job without the help of our dream team of flooring and baby charming pros, Grandma and Grandpa Nielsen and Uncle Travis! Here's a pic of Luke giving them a smile of approval and appreciation for their instrumental help in installing the lovely new floors for him to play on.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Buckaroo with bite!

Luke's first tooth arrived this morning! Of course I knew it was coming -- his drool deluges and nonstop gnawing never let teething slip too far from mind. But nonetheless it astonished me to look in and find a scraggly white protrusion from his cute little gums. Once the shock settled, it was interesting to check out this new development and even inspired pride in the little guy for hurdling a difficult milestone. But I miss the total little baby gummyness; the scraggly tooth just looks so out of place. And what a sharp ridge it is! I hear that this helps it to cut to the surface and that use will dull it. In the meantime it must be uncomfortable on his tongue and upper gums. Maybe if he keeps up the gnawing he can speed up the dulling process!

At the moment, the babe is sleeping off this latest accomplishment against all odds. Erik is using a demolition hammer to remove mortar that previously held tiles to the entryway floor -- just a few feet from Luke's bedroom! We turned up his shushing machine and placed pillows at the base of his door, and somehow Luke is snoozing away. We are almost finished with renovation stage 1, removing the flooring in our entire house except for the bedrooms and bathrooms. The result is that the whole place feels like a garage, with concrete floors and empty space. Meanwhile our garage is looking like a storage unit, filled with our furniture and kitchen appliances. As the re-flooring project looms larger and larger in the scope of work it requires, we're thankful for the reinforcements that are on the way. Erik's parents and brother arrive tomorrow, and plan to help us move forward with installing tile and laminate wood. We can't wait to see how it turns out and to have our storage unit back to a garage and our garage back to a home!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A first for Mom & Dad

Our first night out with a babysitter! Last night Erik and I went to a wonderful play while Luke stayed home with friends of ours. We had been out for an evening without him only once before when Erik's parents were in town; this was the first time with a non-family member taking care of him. We knew he was in very good hands and greatly enjoyed an evening without a diaper bag, car seat, and sometimes squirmy babe to cart around. We also appreciated being away from home just the two of us, a little encore of pre-Luke life. Upon returning we were glad to hear that the little guy had been on his best behavior. Our friends don't have children yet and so this was a little window into parenthood for them. Luke proved a stellar representative for the baby population!

Riding on the wave of such a successful evening, we left the little one in the church nursery this morning for the first time. He did pretty well for a while, but after a bottle he had some digestion issues which led to the need for a new outfit, which led to much trauma and crying over a clothing change. Lesson learned -- always leave the lad with a bib on so that if he spits up he doesn't necessarily need new clothes. And always dress him in easy-to-change outfits when we leave him! The poor little guy is not a fan of getting dressed.

Yesterday afternoon, minimal clothing was the goal as we took Luke for his first visit to the Albuquerque Zoo. It was toasty out, with the southwestern sun beating down and no arctic exhibits we could enter for refuge. Luke rose to the occasion and toughed it out by... falling fast asleep in his stroller. To keep him cool, we soaked a cloth in cold water and draped it on his head underneath his Yankee hat. Quite a fashion statement with his zoo-appropriate elephant shirt!

It has been a busy weekend for the little guy, so we decided that we wouldn't send him with his dad to yesterday morning's tiling workshop... but someday he'll make a great home repair assistant we hope! In the meantime we're checking out flooring options, motivated by the need to have something other than wall-to-wall carpeting underneath our only dining area. Today we're enjoying a quiet afternoon researching tile and laminate wood with the little boy, and we're also looking forward to our next opportunity for a baby-free night on the town!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sitting up!

You would think that since I'm with Luke all day and his newborn stage was only a few months ago, there would be no reason for me to pour over his newborn pics. But it isn't uncommon for me to put him down for a nap and then go online or thumb through photographs just to see his brand-new baby self again. Not only do I love to see his little baby face and marvel at how much he's changed, it reminds me that this baby season goes quickly and to savor it! Check out his little face here when he was less than a week old. Don't you want to squeeze him? He still gives us that slightly worried look sometimes, communicating "Are you sure you know what you're doing? Where did you get your baby training?"

On Sunday, Luke turned five months old and in the preceding week he began to sit on his own! It's fun to practice sitting on our bed, but he's been successful in a range of locations. I just set him on his behind and hold his hands until he's steady. When I let go, he sways back and forth, looking like he's going to flop over each time, but somehow he usually manages to pull himself back into balance, allowing him to sit for up to a minute or so. He doesn't seem especially motivated to sit, so anything mildly interesting can cause him to lose focus and his balance. The key to making him sit for longer periods is to remove distractions. Here's proof of our little sitter, and we also posted a video yesterday.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Enfamil Light - because your baby is huge

We recently noticed that Enfamil is coming out with a new line of baby formula, Enfamil Premium. What other lines of formula might Enfamil offer the public?, we asked ourselves. As Luke finished his second bottle in under an hour, the idea dawned on us -- Enfamil Light. Across the top of regular Enfamil cans it says 'because it's your baby'. Enfamil Light could read 'because your baby is huge'.

Retailers could offer combination discounts on purchases of Enfamil Light with...

- the Home Depot back brace
- hydraulic lift high chairs
- strollers compatible with a 2" ball hitch
- a universal shopping cart wheel bearing replacement kit
- a super-size bumbo baby seat
- the baby bjorn equine package: baby carrier straps to hooved animals for easier transportation
- a hooved animal
- extension tabs for Pampers diapers

Now we don't seriously believe that any baby should be fed Enfamil Light. But we are pretty sure that at some point most parents feel their babies are stretching their physical limitations in terms of arm, back, and/or wrist strength and stamina. We certainly have felt that way at times! In those moments, you might find yourself contemplating the merits of Enfamil Light and whatever corresponding products you dream up.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Water baby

For the first time Erik, Luke and I took a swim together! After a prematurely attempted departure we put Luke down for a nap since he didn't seem quite ready for the excitement of the pool. When he awoke, I found him avidly licking his arm. Clearly the foretaste of poolside -- sunscreened limbs -- was already a thrill.

The water felt wonderfully refreshing after a hot Albuquerque afternoon, but Luke didn't quite surrender to the relaxation of being towed back and forth by Dad. Mostly he looked a little uncertain and gazed alertly at the water lapping up against him and the people swimming around him.

But when Xinmei and Jingwen swam up to him, his face would burst into a big smile and he'd even laugh. We knew the girls and their parents in Princeton but hadn't seen them since they moved to Indiana two years ago. So when we bumped into them in the lobby of our church, we were delighted to hear that they're in Albuquerque for the summer!

Everyone enjoyed our first pool toy -- a baby float! It met all of Luke's lounging needs, gave him a safe space to splash, and a new surface to try to chew. Erik and I enjoyed the freedom to move our arms a little more freely. It was recommended for children age 9 mos-2 yrs, but Luke didn't seem to have any trouble filling it up!

View our most recent gallery for more swimming pics and check out this video!

Friday, July 3, 2009

leaping into cyberspace!

This past week has been filled with so many 'firsts' for Luke that I just can't put off setting up a way to formally chronicle them any longer! His baby book is already filled with fun memories from his first few months, so this recent spurt of development requires a new method of documentation. We decided to leap aboard the blogging bandwagon and journal Luke's stories this way.

To get caught up on all the recent Luke news without making this entry too long, I'll just give you a list...

- His widow's peak, a signature feature for a month or so, is becoming less distinct.
- He's been rolling both ways (front to back & back to front) for some time, but he just started rolling multiple times in a row a few days ago. We're not sure if he consciously does this for transportation, or if he just enjoys rolling and likes to do it successively!
- He can sit up for a few seconds at a time unsupported. But you have to keep in mind that this isn't prim and proper upright sitting but rather a slouched over toward his feet position. Being near his feet, he soon decides to reach for them in an effort to place them in his mouth, thus undermining his ability to sit!
- He's begun baby-talking to himself. For example, when he's awake and in a nice mood in the car, he'll babble away in the backseat trying out different sounds.
- Solid foods! We think he's quite an impressive eater, polishing off one jar of baby food over the course of 2 feedings in a day. At first solid food frustrated him because he didn't like the time between mouthfuls (in contrast to liquid food which offers continuous eating) but now he seems to be gaining patience and skill in eating from a spoon. In fact when he's in his high chair and he sees one of us coming toward him with his spoon and baby food, he gets excited!
- More snuggles. He more consistently plays a sweet game that he came up with a few weeks ago. When you look at him with a silly smile, he'll flash a big grin and then hide by tucking his head down. He soon looks back up at you and repeats the game.
- First camping trip! Last Friday we enjoyed a fun campout with Princeton friends, Erik & Andrea. We went to Montosa campground near the Magdalena mountains, about 2 hours SW of ABQ. We brought a travel baby bed but we were without the faithful 'shushing machine' which lulls the little boy off to dreamland each night. To our delight, Luke slept fine and didn't seem at all fazed by tent accommodations.
- Which brings us to another exciting change, sleeping through the night (sometimes)! The doctor told us he should be able to sleep from 10 pm to 6 am, and while we haven't had him go that far, we have begun putting him back to sleep without feeding him when he wakes up around 3 or 4 am. We always wake him up to feed him around midnight when we go to bed, and a few times he's slept through until 6 or 7 am. It's a wonderful feeling to get so many hours of zzz's in a row!

A blog also gives us a way to alert you when when we upload new pics to our photosite. Visit our recent pics tab to see many new photos and four videos all uploaded last night! Next post, I'll work on adding links to the photopages in the blog entry. I also thought it would be fun to try to include a favorite recent photo in each blog entry, so here you go... Luke enjoying carrots!

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