Friday, January 28, 2011

One month old!

Our little Eleanor turns one month old today! Already it’s hard to imagine our family without her sweet, cuddly self. As she grows and changes so quickly in these early months, I thought I’d write a little snapshot of her now.

Her likes/dislikes

Eleanor loves her carseat! We strap her in and cover the seat with its pink cover and it sends her into dreamland for hours on end. She also loves to be held and carried around. She does not enjoy being cold, making baths and diaper/clothing changes low on her list.

She isn’t especially fond of being swaddled either. Swaddling seems to help her sleep by preventing her from inadvertently swatting her face with her hands, but she does her best to wiggle her arms out and then spends several minutes stretching and arching her head back when she is finally freed.

Our favorite Eleanor moments

Smiles! She’s had a number of smiles that seem to be a response to our interaction with her. Of course it’s hard to be certain of their origin, but nonetheless we melt for each precious one. We also love to hold her and the sweet way she seems most content when cuddled close after being fed.

Sibling report

Eleanor remains peaceful amidst Luke’s boisterous play, even when it comes alarmingly close to her head (fortunately no injuries yet). Luke errs in the opposite direction, still a little spooked by her mild squawks and cries. But when she’s content he loves to give her kisses and check up on her. Sometimes his desire to ‘help’ by giving her the pacifier makes my heart race -- I need to find safer ways for him to enjoy helping!

Our routine

Almost immediately we established a great nighttime routine with Eleanor . We wake her up to eat one last time around 11 just before we go to bed. Then I feed her around 3 am (and usually help Luke settle down around then too since Eleanor’s slight sounds seem to rouse him) and Erik kindly gets up for the ~6 am feeding before starting work. This past week though, several times she’s eaten around 4 am and then slept in until 7 or later which has been terrific!

I sometimes feel a little guilty because Luke takes most of my attention when he’s awake, but Eleanor and I enjoy some precious snuggle time during Luke’s nap and Erik and I love to dote on her when Luke goes down for the night.

This month’s milestones

Lots of firsts already! First smiles; first trips to the zoo/aquarium/botanic gardens; and first mini hike at Tent Rocks National Monument. Hopefully we plan a little better for her second hike though… Eleanor stayed warm snuggled in the moby wrap, but the rest of us lacked sufficient layers for the chilly winds. Luke wouldn’t admit he was cold because he was so enthralled by all the big rocks, but his red nose and goosebumps wouldn’t deny it! Eleanor must know that it’s in her interest to toughen up fast and has filled out some these last few weeks. She already feels a little heftier to hold and seems stronger and more coordinated. We’re so thankful for the smooth transition into the world you’ve had, sweet girl!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Holding babies: a cautionary tale by Luke

Well, it seems that even though I can run at toddler-warp-speed, my baby sister has already beat me on something! How come she got to write her own blog post before me? Shouldn’t she have been excluded by some sort of age restriction?!

So, I’ve decided to level the playing field with a post of my own. I know there are some toddlers out there with baby siblings on the way who must be wondering what it’s like to hold a newborn. Read on for the big bro straight scoop by Luke! Okay, this is the position to shoot for. Don’t be too concerned about the baby, they’re used to being contorted in all sorts of strange positions in the womb so really any position is fine for them. Just be sure that your hands are free – you’ll need those later. And a seat with good lumbar support is nice too.

Then take a moment to appreciate how small and sweet your sibling is. I hear that before you know it they can pursue and chew your toys, so this stage should be savored.

Now you’ve done enough savoring. You want to go play with those toys before your sibling starts crawling toward them! Raise your hands to flag down your closest attendant.

What, no service?! Amp up the waving and add a few whines. That should draw some attention.

Now give that baby a parting smooch. The paparazzi love that shot and it’s been shown to improve your odds of getting dessert.

Whew, this baby-holding can wear a person out! Good thing we toddlers are so low-maintenance. Okay, gotta go – it’s about time Dad gave me another horsie-ride and Mom needs to make more play-dough fire trucks… catch you later!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bear attack, by Eleanor

Hello fan club, Eleanor here! I’d like you to meet my Snuffles bear. He came a little bigger than expected, but this gives me the perfect opportunity to teach some of you other babies out there how to survive a bear attack, stuffed or otherwise.

So let’s get right to it. Keep in mind that bears can smell fear… and many other things, like dirty diapers. So it’s very important to keep calm and sweet-smelling. And if that’s not possible I recommend Pampers Pepper-boomTM diapers for newborns.* While not a favorite among parents, the powerful spray of eye-burning pepper released when these diapers are bitten has saved lives.

When attacked by a bear, the first thing to do is protect your precious baby eyes, particularly in the event of a butt-bite.

At this point, the bear may close in on your head, so I recommend periodically jabbing his nose with your fist to hold him at bay. Another good strategy would be to roll over and protect your soft underbelly. But since we’re such little babies we can’t do that yet.

If he fails to relent after several rounds of nose pounding, this would be a good time to throw up your hands and scream like a girl (don’t worry boys, I won’t tell anyone).

Please keep in mind these are only demonstrations – Snuffles and I are really good friends. And if he does act up, I can always pull out a little baby jujitsu on him – so long as I’m propped up like this.

Well that’s all for now!  Stay tuned for more practical defense techniques; I’m thinking we’ll cover rabid raccoons and chipmunks next, or perhaps the fiercest predator of all – the toddler sibling.

* If these diapers are unavailable near you, I’m told that eating lots of peppery foods has similar results.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lions & duplos & scissors, oh my!

Eleanor’s first trip to the zoo cemented our reclassification as a family of four. With the double stroller out, two kiddos strapped in, and several bags of gear stashed in the cargo pockets, there was no question that our kid to parent ratio had doubled. Wheeling the stroller’s bulky profile down the zoo paths, it felt as if even the zoo’s fiercer residents (if freed) might pause to let us pass given the width of our berth.

Last summer I did my research on double strollers and settled upon the Baby Jogger City Mini (double) as my wheels of choice. One never showed up on ABQ’s Craig’s List, but during our August trip to NC, serendipity struck and we left with the perfect gently used City Mini double. Erik calls me a Craig’s List fiend since I buy things there even 1700 miles from home. But on its first few uses it’s already proven itself worth the extra baggage hassle, maneuvering dreamily and keeping our kiddos super comfy.

The zoo’s attractions couldn’t compete with the smooth ride for Eleanor and she spent her first zoo trip peacefully asleep. Luke would sweetly peek in at her from time to time to make sure she was still there, and so would we!

Luke was even happier when we took him OUT of the stroller and let him run around. A fallen tree trunk to climb on might have been his favorite zoo ‘exhibit’.

Albuquerque’s Craig’s List may be limited in the stroller category, but not so in the toy department! We used it to buy Luke a Duplo collection last weekend and he has been playing with it nonstop since. All of the sudden he can put the pieces together on his own, a perfect activity when Mom is busy with the baby. He still gets frustrated sometimes and brings them to me for ‘elp’ (help) but he is making major progress! He now has almost as much fun creating structures with them as Daddy does. (:

Our final news item is a little emotional. It involves one of our son’s most charming features. And scissors. On Friday we took him to Jungle Cuts Kids’ Salon and he went from this:

to this:

Dramatic, right? I learned that Disney movies are the secret weapon for children’s haircuts and that while I know how to describe a cut for myself, I don’t yet have the vocabulary or precise enough opinions for boys’ cuts. Thanks to my inability to articulate what I wanted, it didn’t come out exactly as I’d intended. Plus I miss the blond highlights that showed up when it was longer. But I do love the way it is so neatly cut and it is wonderful not to have hair in his eyes anymore. I’m hoping that in a month or so it will grow out to become the perfect cut and in the meantime I’m enjoying the way it eliminates his tangles problem!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Backtrack to Christmas

This Christmas was a particularly magical one for all of us. Luke, almost two, fell in love for the first time with the excitement of presents and Christmas decorations. For Erik and me, the story of our Savior’s birth held a new poignancy as an expecting parent’s wonder and concern centered in our minds because of Eleanor’s 12/28 due date. For all of us, it was a change from our pattern of traveling to visit family for the winter holidays, giving it an unfamiliar quiet and unstructured feel. Somehow it felt strangely grown-up and parental to be having Christmas on our own!

Christmas morning, Erik and I gave Luke his first holiday hint by taking him out of his crib wearing Santa hats. I don’t think he knew what to make of that, but no explanation was needed when he came out and saw our tree transformed by a bounty of gifts! He gleefully ran to the toddler-sized wheelbarrow that my parents had sent and commenced pushing it in laps around the house, loading it with gifts as he went.

Next we opened stockings, including one for Eleanor, and headed next door for breakfast with our neighbors. At the neighbors’ and during our Christmas skype conversations with our families, Luke showed off his two holiday party tricks:

1) an imitation of a reindeer lawn ornament

2) answering the question ‘what does Santa say?’ with an adorable ‘o, o, o!’

We took our time between presents, helping Luke set up and play with each toy as it was received.

It was especially sweet to include Eleanor in the family festivities by opening a few presents for her. Luke did an admirable job unwrapping her gifts and seemed to at least partly understand that they were for his soon-to-arrive baby sister. Though that didn’t stop him from trying them out himself!

Then we made paninis, an easy family favorite, and watched part of The Muppets Christmas Carol a tradition from Erik’s childhood. Erik and I finished the evening with Christmas music playing and a fire in our fireplace, counting our many blessings together.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Lessons from Eleanor’s first week

Well, time is flying by with Eleanor! Before it gets too distant, I wanted to write up a few notes from our first week with our little girl.

Lesson #1: Cloth diapering with a newborn – it can last about 4 hours when you only have 6 extra-small diapers. The continuous soundtrack to our home is the laundry machine. But before I know it I’m sure she’ll fit size small diapers, which we have plenty of.

Lesson #2: Eleanor is a serene child, peacefully accepting the chaos of her big brother’s antics and occasional delays in her food or changing. Luke is more of an intense child, whole-heartedly expressing his emotions, whether they be hunger, frustration, or (thankfully most often) happy excitement! It’s amazing how having a sibling to compare with makes both of their personalities more evident.

Lesson #3: While generally serene, our little girl isn’t fond of clothing changes. She must be thinking – “this would never happen in the womb” – as Erik likes to say.

Lesson #4: We’re second-timers at the newborn drill, but for Luke it’s all brand new. So Erik and I have been much less unnerved by the sound of newborn crying this time, especially since Eleanor is so easy to soothe. But Luke can’t tolerate the crying. One little squawk and he is sprinting away from her as if it were a war cry. And if she lets out a wail he quickly joins in with very distressed crying of his own. I don’t appreciate the added chaos of a second crying baby, but my heart is warmed by the brotherly sympathy it seems to show!

Lesson #5: A crazy day can get crazier! The day after Eleanor was born, we had a somewhat hectic time getting discharged at the hospital, and then rushed home so Erik could head back out to pick up my parents from the airport. Just five minutes into that trip he braked for a car stuck in his lane and he was rear-ended! Thankfully there were no real injuries and our car is still driveable, but trying to straighten that out (we still don’t have insurance info from the other driver) has been a bit of a headache this past week.

Lesson #6: A confession about life with two: it isn’t really double the work. No matter how many kids you have they take up most of your time. With two, you just give your attention to whoever most urgently needs it at the moment. And then there are times when they have simultaneous super-poops or Eleanor’s crying sets off Luke and it can be hard to choose, but ultimately someone is prioritized and someone has to wait. I can still only care for one child emergency at a time!

For us right now, it’s Luke who needs attention more often than Eleanor. She is content to sleep or spectate in her bouncy seat most of the time, while Luke clamors for a playmate fairly constantly. So I have to be careful to carve out time to just focus on Eleanor so that Luke doesn’t dominate all of our attention with his more vocal requests for it. Plus she is such a sweet cuddlebug to sit and love on. She definitely makes it worthwhile by sweetly looking into my eyes as her tiny precious frame snuggles in my arms. What a joy our first week and a half with her has been. She truly is the perfect addition to our family!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A family tradition

After Luke was born, our first family outing was to a garden center. This past Monday, we decided to repeat that trip with our little Eleanor, making her first destination a nursery named ‘Plants of the Southwest’.  My concern for germs far outweighs my concern for cool temps, so even in the winter months a garden center is super newborn-friendly in my book. As soon as Luke glimpsed their collection of wagons, he heartily approved of our new tradition as well.

Of course a wagon isn’t complete without someone to push in it. We just needed a ‘baby on board’ bumper sticker to complete the scene:

The tradition suits Erik and me well too since my parents have visited soon after both children’s births and we always love to get their expert advice on what to plant in our yard. This time, they helped us collect ideas for our side yard which we’d like to one day reclaim from the wild and for our front yard which we have aspirations to xeriscape.

But of course we didn’t just talk plants with my parents. Here are a few pics of them with our munchkins. Luke is still making a racecar version of ‘vroom, vroom’ noises the way my dad did with him…

and he hasn’t forgotten making brownies with Nika! I hope he remembers that for a long time because this level of participation won’t be permitted again until she comes back!

Papi and Nika were also wooed by their newest grandchild – little Eleanor! They helped put on her hat fashion show (photos here), ran errands, helped take care of both kiddos, and cooked marvelous meals. Here you see Eleanor posing with Papi in her cow outfit in honor of his dairy farm roots. Luke did the same thing as a newborn here!

Today we’re thinking of taking our second family outing since Eleanor’s birth. Poor Luke has been confined to the house mostly, because I suspect that Eleanor’s first sickness will be a gift from her big brother. So our plan is to stick with outdoor destinations and head to the biopark, double stroller and blankets in tow!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Luke meets Eleanor!

Luke’s curiosity about Eleanor is a little bit tentative. He always wants to know where she is and likes to peer in at her, but he’s a little skittish when asked about holding her and has yet to take that plunge. Maybe he knows himself better than his parents do, because just an hour after we came home from the hospital, Eleanor had a narrow escape from his foot. When we lie down on the floor, it’s an invitation for our energetic Luke-boy to jump on us. So when we all sat on the floor, with Eleanor lying in the middle, first Luke was very doting, bringing blanket after blanket to place on his baby. But then his role suddenly changed from nurturing to playful and he started barreling toward Eleanor’s blanket. Erik swept him up just as his foot planted on her forehead. Thankfully he hadn’t placed any weight on it yet! He seemed to instantly realize that he could have hurt her, and both children started crying at the same time. Eleanor calmed down before Luke did, but neither were distressed for long, and now after a few days without any further incidents, Erik and I can laugh about it too.

Mostly though, Luke has a tender sweetness toward his little sis. When he sees her, he always wants to give her a gentle kiss. Usually he doesn’t even plant it on her skin but kisses the air just above her head. When we hold her, he points to her bouncy seat saying ‘it’ – requesting that she sit there so he can see her better and sometimes bounce her. He knows her name is Eleanor, but opts to cutely call her ‘baby’ instead.

Much of the time though, Luke’s interest in his sister is quickly outmatched by the appeal of his new Christmas toys and his visiting grandparents. With them here, he seems to be adjusting relatively easily to sharing his parents with a little sister. But more striking has been the smoothness of Eleanor’s adjustment to the world outside the womb. She seems to be a wonderfully patient, contented baby, rarely crying and quickly consoled. Caring for her puts our memory of Luke as a baby in a new light – maybe he was a colicky child after all! Here’s hoping the relatively peaceful transition continues…

Click here for a cute video of Luke & Eleanor and find lots more baby pics here.