Packing for China

We leave for China today!

Packing for this trip has seemed overly complicated. We will be gone for 18 days and so want to pack light, but we also want to make sure we have everything we need that will be harder to find there—like medicine, for instance.

Then there are complications like, well, all the paperwork we need to bring, the gifts for officials (small, practical items as a token of appreciation—this is important in Chinese culture) oh and clothes and items our son Haddon will need.

We don’t really know Haddon’s size. We have measurements, but they seem a bit unreliable. But toddler sizes are forgiving, so 3T clothes with a few 2Ts will do. We have his shoe size, but again, there is some question there, so I’m bringing two pairs of Crocs in two different sizes (they are forgiving shoes anyway). Thankfully I have a whole bin of cute shoes that Corban wore when he was younger so I just picked through it and didn’t have to buy any. I did end up buying some new shirts for Haddon because I just couldn’t resist.


I’m also bringing a few of our favorite books to read to him (unfortunately some are board books, so heavy and bulky), stickers, balloons, a couple small balls, race cars and stuffed animal for him.

The gifts are something we were told not to stress about. We decided to buy Wisconsin ginseng tea (Wisconsin ginseng is high quality and prized in China) to put in small red gift bags for officials. My friend we are staying with in Beijing will get tea and whole ginseng, and Haddon’s foster parents will get whole ginseng. I also made a locket with Haddon’s picture in it to give to his foster mom. Made one for myself too!


As far as my clothes go, I’m pretty happy with how much and what I packed (at least from my room pre-trip, ha). The weather will be warm (on some days HOT) so no need for bulky items or jackets.

I’m bringing three pairs of shoes: tennis shoes, Teva sandals and nude ballet flats. Three dresses, including one that is quick dry fabric so I can hand wash it easily. Two pairs of pants: leggings and quick-dry joggers for our four flights (there, back and two in country). Two pairs of shorts: running shorts if I decide to work out at hotels and quick-dry shorts I can wash easily.

The rest of my clothes are tank tops and a couple T-shirts,  light sweaters and workout tops. I did splurge and pack light sweatpants and a light zip-up for lounging in the hotel room, because I know after a long day I’ll want those comforts.


I think I could have pared back even further and planned to wash more tops, but I’m guessing I won’t want to spend too much time doing that, and my tops are mostly light tanks that don’t take up much space.

The biggest weight in our suitcase and stressor to pack was all the meds we are bringing. Pain relievers, Pepto Bismol, Tums, Immodium (it’s common to get sick from the food or water so we are trying to be REALLY prepared!), child medicine, mini first aid kit, lice remover, hydrocortisone cream, vitamins, cold medicine, Sudafed, nasal spray… and more I’m sure. I put them all in a plastic shoebox that we can later use to back breakable souvenirs on the way home.


Toilet paper too! We’ve been warned about the public bathrooms there.

One other key to our packing sanity—packing cubes! They’re those green and blue zipper containers, and I’m so thankful they exist. They will help us keep everything organized (we will be staying in three different cities while there) and help crunch things down so you can fit more.


We fit everything into two large suitcases, two backpacks and a medium-size purse. We are also packing a large duffel bag in the suitcase so we can fit anything we buy while there in the suitcases and check the duffel filled with dirty clothes on the way home. Just under the 50 pound weight limit for both bags (phew!).

So why am I blogging about suitcases when we are leaving on the most exciting trip of our lives today? Nervous energy, I guess! 

I’m finishing this post up from the airport where we are munching on some Mexican (thanks, Rick Bayless) and awaiting our flight to Beijing. I will try to update throughout our trip, wifi and VPN-dependent, but for quicker and more reliable updates, subscribe to my email list I’ll be keeping in touch with hopefully: tinylettter.com/alisherwood

China, here we come!

9 lovely views from Seattle

I had the privilege of visiting Seattle for the first time this past week. It was for a food journalism conference, which is just about the greatest work-related reason to travel.

Of course the food and drink were excellent. The conference sessions were enlightening. I met some very charming and interesting people and got to spend time with my Seattle-based cousin and his wife.

But one unexpected highlight of the trip was this:

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Two wheels borrowed from my cousin that provided me free and fun transportation (and exercise to burn off some of the aforementioned food and drink) around a most bike-friendly city.

There is a lot of beauty in the Pacific Northwest, and between bike rides and conference events I packed in some memorable views in my four days there. Here are nine memorable views of and from Seattle.

  1. Magnolia Park

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After getting off the plane and catching up over dim sum with my cousin Spencer and his wife, Allison, we jumped on bikes and headed 7-8 miles north for some hiking. On our way up a particularly long and painful hill, we stopped for a break and were met with the above view of Puget Sound from Magnolia Park.

And turning to the left… hello, city.

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2. Discovery Park

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Our hiking destination was Discovery Park. It was a nice maybe 3-mile loop with a section along the beach and a section up into the rainforest. Pretty foliage and more lovely water views. With blue skies!

My awesome guides.

My awesome guides.

3. Gas Works Park

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On day two I ventured out on bike by myself to visit Gas Works Park. Above is the… gas works. But the real view is of the city, seen across Lake Union.

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See the Space Needle?

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The photos don’t really do it justice. You’re standing on the top of a very green hill with the city around you in every direction. The lake is quite active with boats and rowers.

4. Pike Place Market

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Pike Place Market is a far more impressive place than I realized. That’s another story, but I’m including it in my list of views because if you glance up out shop windows or in alleys you might be surprised to see something like this:

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There’s also the gum wall, which was completely cleaned off in November, but is back and once again quite a sight to see (and smell).

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5. Out my hotel window

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I enjoyed several sunrises and sunsets out this window at the Sheraton in downtown Seattle. But up 25 more floors was our conference room, which had this view of Elliott Bay that same night:

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(Corban’s earnest reaction when I showed him this picture: “Wow! Look at that construction!”)

6. Rooftop of an Amazon building

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Spencer took me up to the roof of one of many buildings owned by his employer, Amazon. Above is a view of Lake Union from the side opposite of Gas Works Park.

Another side of that rooftop looks out to the Space Needle.

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7. The Space Needle

Speaking of the Space Needle, that night we had a cocktail hour there followed by a food and drink tasting event at Chihuly Garden and Glass, just below.

Based on my knowledge of Seattle weather, I think this view from the bottom with blue skies above is probably noteworthy.

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The view from the top was spectacular. I was not expecting it to take my breath away like it did.

Here is downtown and Elliott Bay.

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Below is Lake Union again. Watching the traffic flow from this vantage point was mesmerizing.

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And on the other side… mountains.

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From inside the glass atrium where our dinner/tasting event was held, we had another nice view looking up through some Chihuly artwork to the Space Needle.

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8. Elliott Bay Trail

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The next morning, I was up early enough for a solo ride along the Elliott Bay Trail. Once I got past Pike Place Market and the cruise ship docks, the view was peaceful. We finally got some real Seattle weather—misty and gray. No complaints though.

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Their fall colors are quite a bit ahead of us here in Wisconsin, so this ombré wall was a treat along part of the ride.

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9. Woodinville/Chateau Ste. Michelle

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I only got a quick glance at winery-laden Woodinville as we headed into Chateau Ste. Michelle for a wine tasting dinner, but the scenery was lush. The grapes are all grown in eastern Washington, but this area 30 minutes outside Seattle is where many of Washington’s hundreds of wineries make the wine.

The view inside at our dinner was fabulous—or at least the food and wine was! It was the perfect end to my trip.

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After that I was off to the airport for a miserable red-eye home. But these two faces that greeted my sleep-deprived face made me grin more than any sweeping sight from the previous days.

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It was good to be gone and it’s good to be home.

*Side rant: WordPress really degrades the image quality once I hit publish!

Corban’s 15- and 16-month update

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I started writing this about a month ago, as a 15-month update, but never finished or posted it. Such is life. That update was written while I was in the throes of morning sickness and emotional stress/sadness while Pa was sick, so it started like this:

This past month or so has been a challenge for all sorts of reasons. But through the ups and downs Corban continues to be a bright, beaming light to me every day. And even though I’ve felt at times like I’m coasting through as a mom and not giving him 100%, he continues to learn, grow, impress us and make us smile.

Thankfully, I am feeling much more like myself now, so I’ve been able to enjoy the fun of having a sweet toddler this month. He has changed so much since the last update I wrote, at 13.5 months! Here are some of the adventures and milestones he’s experienced in that time:

  • Started walking
  • Said his first word (well, sort of…)
  • Started understanding and following directions
  • Weaned completely from breastmilk/nursing
  • Switched to a convertible car seat
  • Had his first haircut
  • Learned how to open doors
  • Learned to walk (not crawl) up very small steps
  • Flew on an airplane for the second time in his life

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Busy few months, I guess. Each new skill so naturally builds upon every other that these milestones just keep creeping up on us.

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Walking

C took his first steps at almost 14 months, and now he walks all over like a pro. When he’s tired or overexcited he might get clumsy and falls on his big diapered butt, but he gets right back up again like nothing happened. He tries to run if you pretend to chase him, but usually gets too giggly and trips. It still makes me smile to see him toddling all over the house like a little busybody.

Talking

He has absolutely mastered the point, gesture and grunt to communicate his desires to us. He used to consistently sign things like all done, more and eat, and he sometimes does that still, but now is more apt to use sounds and facial expressions to communicate. He is surprisingly effective at telling us what he wants – but without using real words.

I have been eagerly awaiting a “mama” or “dada” (which we reinforce constantly to him), but instead I think Corban’s first official word is “dog.”

No, we don’t have a dog. We have cats. But Corban still thinks almost every four-legged creature says “woof woof” and, starting about three weeks ago, will point at them and bark and occasionally say “dah,” which I interpret as dog.

For a while he would constantly point at things and says “dis,” but I think “dog” is more of a real first word than “this” since “this” can refer to anything.

Over the past few days he has been saying “bah,” a lot, sometimes possibly in reference to a banana, but several times when I pointed to a picture of a sheep and asked him what sound it makes. Another new one is “aaarrr,” like a lion roaring. Yes, our child makes lots of animal noises (see video at end of post).

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Listening

Although he hasn’t done much talking yet, it’s been amazing to see Corban’s language comprehension really take off these past couple months. He understands and obeys when we ask him to go get a book off the shelf, put something away, go give something to mama or dada, find a diaper, go get his blocks, throw something in the garbage, go find Biggles/Basil, get his blanket and various other simple instructions. Every time he hears a phone ring, he puts his hand to his ear like he is holding a phone. It’s so much fun seeing the things he picks up just by observation.

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Eating

Corban is generally a good eater, but I feel like I bore him with the same rotation of foods in his diet. His nanny and I try to ensure he gets a good balance of grains, fruits, veggies, protein and dairy, but because of a combination of his preferences and my shopping habits, that means he eats some combination of eggs, plain yogurt, peanut butter, toast, bananas, cooked carrots, cheese, hummus and a few other fruits and veggies almost every day. It’s easy, healthy and he likes it, so I guess I shouldn’t worry, but other ideas would be welcome. He rejects most meat I have tried to feed him recently. Green smoothies are my new favorite way to get some extra veggies in him.

He went through a phase where he was obsessed with eating whole apples. He would spend a good 45 minutes working his way (partially) through one in tiny bites, with a huge grin on his face the entire time.

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Sleeping

Happy to report we are at a REALLY good place with sleeping! Corban naps for usually 1.5 to 2 hours right after lunch (usually asleep around noon). Bedtime is 7:30 p.m. He goes down without a problem and sleeps until the early morning, when Peter may go in and replace his pacifier to get him to go back to sleep. Up for the day between 7 and 7:30 a.m.*  I’d better hurry up and enjoy this before we start all over with #2!

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He has become attached to a blanket my friend Jess crocheted for him last Easter. He threads his fingers through the holes and picks fuzz off of it for comfort.

*Of course… I typed this two days ago and the past two mornings he has woken up in the 6 a.m. hour. Grr!

Fun

Current obsessions:

Being outside. This really took off when we were on vacation in South Carolina two weeks ago. He was fascinated by the snowless ground, filled with sticks, leaves, pine cones and other exciting things to pick up and carry around.

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But even before that, he enjoyed playing in the snow.

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He loves walking around outside and going to the park.

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This past week has been cold and rainy almost every day, and Corban doesn’t understand why we aren’t taking him outside. A few times he carried his and Peter’s coats over to Peter, his way of asking to go out. One time he even carried both of Peter’s big shoes over to him. Don’t worry, C, we aren’t fans of this weather either.

Balls. Corban loves to play catch (though he can’t catch yet) with tennis balls, a beach ball or balloons.

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Climbing. We are his human jungle gym and climbing on us while we’re lying down can entertain him for a long time.

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When Peter and I hug or kiss. This is highly amusing to Corban. He grins and laughs hysterically. I’m sure someday he will have the opposite reaction…

Jumperoo. We still have the Jumperoo out (even though I am sick of seeing it in our family room) because our nanny’s son uses it while she is putting Corban down for naps. Surprisingly, Corban still asks to go in it sometimes and has an absolute ball bouncing around. I never would have guessed he would still be into that thing at 16 months.

Stairs. Ugh. He doesn’t get to climb stairs very often because we have a one-story house, so you bet that the first thing he runs for at church or someone else’s house is the staircase. He has never fallen, but still needs supervision, which is the inconvenient part because he would be happy climbing up and down stairs for hours.

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Touch screens. He thinks every screen is a touch screen, and tried swiping at a friend’s TV the other weekend. I let him hold my phone and play with it, usually only while it’s locked, and he is usually sufficiently entertained by pressing the home button to reveal a photo of himself at one day old. A couple months ago I showed him the Gangnam Style music video on my phone and he was riveted. Eventually he started dancing, and then bent down to kiss the screen and put his face/ear on it.

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Humidifiers. This love has subsided quite a bit, but for a long time he was really into playing with humidifiers. We turn one on at night in his room, for white noise and to keep the air from getting too dry in the winter, and he used to freak out over it — squealing, clapping, putting his face over the vent.

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Stickers. A cheap thrill, but now I find them in unexpected places all over the house.

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“Cooking.” I designated a plastic spatula for him to play with and he likes to get a mixing bowl out of the cabinet and sit and stir the bowl while I’m cooking. It will be fun to try actual cooking with him when he’s a little older!

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“Helping.” Unloading the dishwasher, sweeping, doing laundry… these are all exciting activities in Corban’s world. He loved the Swiffer in the house we rented in South Carolina, so I’m thinking we should get one. Productive playtime!

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Brushing his teeth. If he sees you brushing his teeth, he tries to grab your toothbrush and put it in his mouth. He smiles while I brush his teeth with his apparently very yummy toddler toothpaste.

Whew. It’s daunting catching up on 2.5 months of changes. And these are just the highlights. I keep thinking I’ll focus these updates more on my thoughts as a parent, but I like recording the details of Corban’s development (with photos) for both myself and far-away family and friends. I’ll leave you with some quick stats:

Height: 32 inches at 15-month appointment (80th percentile)
Weight: 24 pounds 4 ounces at 15-month appointment (75th percentile)
Clothes size: 18 months
Diaper size: 3 during the day, 4 at night (in Target brand — other brands tend to run smaller)
Shoe size: 5
Teeth: 14, I think, including 4 molars
Words: Woof woof, baah, dah (dog), aaarrr (roar)

And here he is yesterday showing off some of his animal noises. All but woof woof are recent developments within the past week.

Ode to the pump

Oh, breast pump. You have served me well.

You aren’t much to look at. Your black leather case has a broken latch and a mysterious white stain. Your knobs have some dust and dirt.

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You’re old – I’m not quite sure just how old. Your instruction manual says copyright 1996. I know you’ve had at least two previous owners: the friend who gave you to me and the woman she purchased you from on Craigslist six years ago.

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I would assume the woman in the photo was fashionable when this was printed.

But you’ve done your job well for the past year.

You’ve been by my side almost every day.  You’ve accompanied me to Washington, D.C., Chicago, Virginia Beach, Las Vegas and St. Louis. You’ve made it through airport security a half-dozen times – mostly without incident. You’ve allowed me to be with my best friends to celebrate weddings and bachelorette parties. You’ve allowed me to feed my baby bottles of nothing but breast milk for the first year (and counting) of his life.

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You’ve stayed by my side in loud hotel rooms filled with girlfriends, creepy airport bathrooms, tiny hotel bathrooms, a retreat center, the Chicago History Museum during a wedding reception and Corban’s dark nursery after each middle-of-the-night feeding while I was on maternity leave. How many times have I listened to your rhythmic ruuu-uuum, ruuu-uuum, ruuu-uuum while perched on a recliner in the lactation room at work? (Twice a day for about six months and once a day for another couple months.)

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um, yeah, I totally panorama-ed the lactation room*

 

You’ve helped me pump 2,561.6 ounces of milk (and that’s just what I’ve recorded in the Baby Connect app). That’s 320.2 cups, or more than 20 gallons of milk.

Despite your age, you’re a hardworking pump. You deserve a break.

Two days before Corban’s first birthday, we had our last fling (at least until Baby #2). I admit, I already kind of miss those calm moments when I could zone out to your whirring motor in the middle of my workday. But I don’t miss carrying you around with me, worrying about milk refrigeration, hunting for private electrical outlets in public spaces and hand washing your plastic parts.

So until next time, old friend, take it easy.

*There used to be this sweet 1970s-era (I’m guessing?) TV in the lactation room, but then we got someone new in HR (a mom) who cleaned the room up and cleared it out:

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Separation

My oh my, these past two-and-a-half weeks have been full! They’ve been full of fun and love and excitement, but there’s been another theme as well: separation from my baby.

After my first week back at work, in which I spent two long workdays away from Corban, I then proceeded to spend my first night away from him. That Friday I headed down to Chicago to celebrate my friend’s bachelorette party. The next week, due to some unavoidable scheduling issues, I worked three days in a row, Monday through Wednesday, then Friday night I flew off to Washington, D.C. for another friend’s bachelorette party. That was two whole days apart. And of course this week I was back to work – only two days, Tuesday and Thursday.

Yeah, quick transition from being together pretty much 100% of the time to being separated for workdays, then nights, then consecutive workdays and then consecutive nights!

As far as work goes, I have to admit that despite that first day of bittersweet nostalgia, I am loving being back. It took me about two days to get back into the groove, but now I am rocking out again with lots of fun projects on the horizon. Back in December in those final weeks of work, I was so ready for the break. The combination of the approaching holidays, the winter weather, my intense workload and being very pregnant caused a bit of burnout. But after nearly four months off, I am once again excited about my job. Surprisingly, when I’m at work, I can’t help but think part time isn’t enough. Then, of course, on my days off I find myself thinking being home part time isn’t enough. I guess I couldn’t ask for anything more if I’m happy doing what I’m doing when I’m doing it.

It is hard to leave these sweet cheeks every morning though.

As for my overnight soirees, I was really nervous about leaving Corban overnight the first time. I worried that I’d be thinking too much about him and feeling too guilty to have fun with my friend for her bachelorette bonanza. Fortunately, I was way too distracted by all the fun we had to be able to think too much about it. The worst part, however, was pumping – especially after leaving the hotel at 6:30 p.m. and not returning till 4 a.m. Not exactly comfortable (but a fun night).

The whole pumping issue made me even more nervous to be away for 48 hours the following weekend. I was convinced I had made a huge mistake in choosing to leave Corban at the wee age of four months. Thankfully, once again my fears were eased once I arrived in D.C. and enjoyed a really fun weekend with my college BFF and her friends.

Pumping was inconvenient, but didn’t really put a damper on anything. I’ll write more on that in another post.

Corban was fine with Daddy (though there was some bedtime drama both nights… bottle just doesn’t soothe like the breast does).

While being away overnight wasn’t ideal (and I don’t plan on doing again anytime soon), I’m glad I was able to celebrate my friends’ special milestones with them. I’m also finding that being away from C during work can be a good thing. It’s tiring spending all day taking care of a baby! Work provides a productive break and makes me excited to get to spend time with him when I get home.

This definitely is a new stage, but it’s one I’m enjoying so far.

Parenting these days…

Last night we made it home from our first significant road trip with Corban: a 5.5-hour drive to Missouri to visit Peter’s parents and family.

On the trip down, we left close enough to Corban’s bedtime that he slept almost the entire way (and so did I).

The drive back yesterday got a bit more challenging when after four hours of snoozing and playing in his car seat, C decided he was over it and just wanted out. Not going to happen while cruising down the interstate!

He cried inconsolably for over an hour – longer than he ever has before. Corban is generally a happy baby – thankfully – so we’re not used to this kind of crying! Every time we got to a breaking point and pulled into a rest area, he would calm down immediately, but as soon as he would go back in his seat and we would hit the road, the pouty lip would return and the sobbing would start.

After trying all the singing, shushing, hand holding, toy dangling, toe grabbing, smiling, talking and even mimicking we could muster (we each took a turn in the backseat with him), I finally pulled my phone out and put on the Rockabye Baby Pandora station while holding the glowing phone in front of him.

And he stopped. And stared. And listened. At least for a few minutes.

When he started to fuss again, Peter asked if I had any apps or screensavers with moving colors to get his attention. I pulled up Angry Birds and started to play on front of him.

And with that, he quieted for good, fascinated by the bright, moving colors. It kept his attention long enough for him to pass out, probably exhausted from all the crying. When we got home, I fed him, put him in his crib and he slept straight through from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.!

I am not one to promote phone apps for 3.5-month-olds, but hey – in a situation like that, it’s whatever works!

3-month update

Oh dear, blog, I’ve missed you! It’s been a whirlwind past month (wow, does the time fly) with lots of out-of-town visitors and out-of-town visiting as my maternity leave continues and I continue to maximize my time off.

Some stats on our favorite little man:

Age: 3 months, 10 days
Weight: Over 15 pounds
Diapers: Size 2
Clothes: Outgrew 3-month before he even wore all his outfits; it’s all 6-month now
Hair: Starting to thin
Eyes: Still blue!
Swaddle: One-armed, since he could roll over any day, but still needs some arm-taming
Sleep: 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. with usually two feedings during that time (one if it’s a good night)
Smiles: Lots, on visual cues in addition to auditory cues
Laughs: No real ones yet
Coos: More and more (love this)
Nursing: Going great, eating 6-7 times a day
Pumping: Goal is 10 ounces a day (usually pumped after middle-of-the-night feeding because I’m crazy)
Tummy Time: Getting better at it, but still not liking it
Essential item: Mamaroo – for naps and hanging out when we need to put him down during the day

Yay 10-second increments of serious head-holding-up!

Since my last update, Corban has…

…worn that cute swim outfit I bought him

…and liked it.

…and gone swimming in it.

…been to the beach.

…watched a Florida sunset (or at least has been present for one).

…met lots of new family and friends.

(Great-grandparents Nanie and Pops)

(Great Aunt Kathy and Great Uncle Jim)

(Friend Bill)

(Friends Jay and Leslie)

(Friend Patrick)

…cheered for his parents’ alma mater during a very sad exhibit of March Madness.

…and celebrated his first St. Patrick’s Day with a festive outfit and a smile.

We were blessed with one laid back little guy. He just loves to be talked to, smiled at, fed when he’s hungry and given a pacifier when he’s sleepy. I’m content just to smell his silky smooth hair and rub his velvety skin, and my goal is to take advantage of every opportunity to do so. This means some days I don’t get a whole lot done, but I’m OK with that for now.

Flying with a 2-and-a-half-month-old

Hi from Florida!

They say it’s easiest to travel with kids when they’re really little, before they start needing to be entertained and are content to just sleep in mama’s arms. Makes sense, right?

Thinking we should take advantage of Corban’s itty bitty-ness and my maternity leave, we decided about a month ago to plan a visit to my grandparents here on Marco Island, who had yet to meet their first great-grandchild.

I wasn’t nervous about flying with Corban — he’s easygoing and I have no problem nursing him on the plane — but flying with all the stuff we needed to bring for him freaked me out.

First and foremost was his car seat and car seat base – absolutely essential for obvious reasons. We didn’t buy a separate plane seat for him, so it would have to be either checked (for free on AirTran and presumably other airlines) or gate checked. I read about how car seats are only designed to take one big impact, and how a rough throw by an airline baggage handler could hurt the safety of the seat with no visible signs of mangling. This really made me nervous.

The other big item we had to bring was our stroller. My grandparents love to walk, so of course we wanted them to be able to take him along. If Corban were another couple months older, we would have just bought a cheap stroller here or rented one, but because his neck isn’t yet strong enough for him to sit up in a stroller, we needed to bring ours with the car seat attachment. Message board discussions of strollers being ripped, dirtied and broken in transit made me paranoid about this.

There was no way we were going to bring the Pack N Play, so the original plan was for C to sleep on a thin mattress on the floor, or in bed with us. My grandma was able to borrow a Pack N Play from her friend, so this ended up not being an issue.

In the end, I am happy to report that my travel fears were unwarranted and everything went smoothly. Here’s what we did (hopefully someone out there planning a trip with a baby will find this helpful!):

Peter dropped Corban and me off at the ticketing area and parked the car (this way we wouldn’t have to lug all our stuff on the shuttle and Corban wouldn’t have to ride without being properly strapped in). He sat in the car seat, attached to the stroller, and I packed the car seat base in our big suitcase.

I checked our bag and asked the woman at the counter for plastic bags to put our stroller and car seat in at the gate. She tried to convince me to check the car seat there but I told her Corban couldn’t ride in the stroller without it (even if that weren’t the case, I felt more comfortable gate checking it so it would have less chance of being damaged).

Peter met up with us and we wheeled up to the long security line with C still in the stroller. A TSA agent directed us into the VIP line – score! Everything had to go through the X-ray machine, including the stroller. Thankfully the City Mini is super easy to fold up. Peter carried Corban through the metal detector.

I fed C while we waited at the gate, then when it was time to board we moved him into the Baby Bjorn, bagged up the stroller (folded up) and car seat (with the carrying handle down to make it less bulky) and gate checked them.

Corban ate a little more at take off (I wanted him to be sucking to relieve ear pressure, but he ended up not being very hungry and still not having any issues). He promptly filled his diaper, so I changed one of the dirtiest diapers I’ve ever seen — in my lap! It wasn’t too difficult — I just laid the changing pad in my lap with him facing me. We put the dirty diaper in a ziplock bag to dispose of later.

When we landed, our things were at the gate, undamaged (though the stroller’s bag was ripped, so I’m glad we bagged it). After another diaper change in the bathroom, we retrieved our checked bag and met my grandparents in the pick up line. Piece of cake!

There was no lack of crying babies on our flight, but thankfully ours wasn’t one of them. Corban didn’t fuss for a second the whole trip, and he was even super smiley a lot of the time (who smiles for no reason while waiting in the TSA line??)

Let’s hope our trip home goes just as smoothly as the trip here, and in between we continue to relax and enjoy moments like this:

Corban was neither bothered nor excited by his first dip in a swimming pool. The water was really warm so it probably just seemed like a bath minus all the prodding!

10 weeks old and the key to better sleep

Corban is nearly two and a half months old and life is good.

Right at the two month mark everything seemed to get drastically easier. Up until that point, nights were a gamble at best, and a huge sleepless struggle at worst. He was sleeping in a Pack ‘N’ Play in our bedroom and waking up every 2 to 3 hours, sometimes more often than that. In the wee hours, usually around 3 or 4, it would get harder to get him to fall back to sleep, so I couldn’t count on much good sleep at all for half the night.

Based on the fact that he was growing at superspeed and definitely at the size and age when they shouldn’t need to nurse every 2 hours, I figured he just really liked sucking for comfort, so I tried more diligently with the pacifier (which before he could never seem to keep in his mouth). Success! He actually liked the Nuk brand pacifiers I had gotten with some coupon package when I was pregnant. That definitely helped comfort him when he was just wanting to suck.

I was also sensing that it was time for a nighttime change — time for Little C to move into his own room.

At our two-month appointment, our pediatrician confirmed those thoughts and said it was definitely time to move him to his crib in the nursery and that at his size — a hefty 12 pounds 13 ounces and 24 inches (the 70th and 85th percentiles respectively) — he is probably not getting too hungry in the middle of the night, so if he wakes up after only two hours it’s fine to offer the pacifier.

The first night we put Corban in his crib was magical! I swaddled him, fed him and read to him, then put down our sleepy little man. He fussed for a couple minutes, but then passed out for a good five hours!

Not every night is that easy, but we can usually get him to sleep within 10 minutes of putting him in his crib. We’re sort of taking a modified cry it out approach, where we never let him fuss for more than five minutes. After five minutes, we go it, soothe him, give him the pacifier if he’ll take it and turn on soothing music (a removable attachment from the Pack ‘N’ Play that we moved to the crib).

On a good night, he’s in bed by 7 p.m., then wakes up twice in the middle of the night to eat (usually around midnight and 4:30 a.m.) and is up for the day at 7 a.m. on the dot. Sometimes then Peter will bring him into our bed and he’ll be happy or sleepy enough to lie there another hour or so while I nap or cuddle with him.

I think the fact that we don’t wake up at his every noise really helps. If he’s crying, we hear it on the monitor, but if he’s just making baby noises, it’s not loud enough to wake us up anymore. It’s also a good thing that I have to get out of bed and walk across the house to feed him. It helps me stay awake while feeding, which makes everything much more efficient.

Our evenings feel so free now that I’m not confined to the couch with a baby wanting to nurse incessantly. It’s refreshing! (Although sometimes around 10 p.m. I’ll see a picture of him and miss his warm little body that is glued to me during the day. I just have to remember he’ll be awake all too soon enough and I can snuggle him then…)

It’s amazing what a huge difference the simple act of moving him into the nursery has made! We went from unpredictable and waking 4+ times per night to a fairly reliable sleep pattern. I never thought that would happen!

In other 10-week (actually 10.5-week) news, he is smiling more and more and I cannot get enough of it! Now if he’s in a good mood (fed, rested and with a clean diaper) all it takes is someone talking to him in an overly excited voice or even making funny faces and noises and he’ll bust out a grin. Peter is trying to train him to smile at the sight of a clean diaper, and he often does, though I think it’s more because the changing table is comfortable and at the perfect height to get a good view of mom or dad.

He is definitely more visually stimulated these days, and we’ve even caught him smiling at the mobile over his swing with no other stimulation. His eyes follow us around and he loves – LOVES – to stare at lights. Anything bright and shiny, his eyes will find it and never want to turn away.

He also recently started sticking his tongue out. It is pretty cute, and I’ve been working on getting him to stick his tongue out when I stick mine out at him. I think he’s slowly starting to catch on. It’s amazing to watch his little brain develop!

Napping is the next issue that needs to be tackled. He is fine falling asleep in his crib at night, but it’s really hit or miss for naps. He prefers to nap on peoples’ chests. This is a good thing for weekends like this past one, filled with family lined up to hold him, but not so good for days like today when I need to pack for our trip to Florida and he will only sleep in his crib for a short time before getting fussy.

Side note, I think he was dreaming about flying for the 30 minutes he slept in his crib this afternoon:

I sometimes swaddle him for naps, but it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference.

As I type, he’s sleeping peacefully while I wear him in the Baby Bjorn and I’m OK with that as a short-term fix. But after our trip, naps is the next order of business.

On that note, time to get some more packing done! We will be spending the week relaxing with my grandparents and enjoying some pool and beach time. I can’t wait to dip Corban’s toes in the ocean! (Well, Gulf.)

First (and second) public acknowledgment

I stood in the hotel lobby Saturday afternoon clad only in my bikini, turquoise cover up dress and my most comfortable flip flops. Bored and tired of waiting for an answer, I slouched against the front desk and eyed the bustling lobby. A tall, gangly man wearing nothing but a red speedo strutted up to the front desk. A young mom rested in a blue, leather chair and rocked a stroller back and forth. Hotel cleaning staff burst out of an elevator, Windex and rags in hand.

“Celeste, Tucson, AZ” her nametag read. The young, efficient brunette was the most helpful person I had talked to since my cell phone charger got cleared out of our previous hotel room right along with the dirty sheets. She rapped her fingers on the chest-high granite counter while apparently on hold with the person she was trying to reach, who presumably would help me locate my charger.

I glanced at her and we made eye contact before I diverted my attention to the elevators again.

“Do you know what you’re having?” Celeste asked.

I looked up at her, momentarily confused. Then it hit me.

“No, we’re not going to find out. We’ll keep it a surprise,” I answered and hopefully smiled despite the shock of this question out of the blue.

“Wow! I could never do that! I’d want to know too bad,” she smiled, twirling the phone cord between her fingers. I stammered something about being excited for the surprise. I guess I really do look pregnant, I thought.

She asked if I wanted a boy or a girl and I told her I had no preference. She asked if it was my first and I said yes. She told me she has two boys, but wanted a girl. I offered that she could always try again for a girl, then slyly attempted to see the status of her ring finger; it was bare. No, her two boys are more than enough to handle, she assured me.

The person on the other line picked up and Celeste switched back into work mode. They’d leave me a message by the end of the night with the final word on my phone charger. I thanked her and walked back out to the pool, trying to decide the whole way if she was being presumptuous by asking about my pregnancy or if it really is 100% obvious I’m expecting. I probably would have played it safe in that situation and not said anything unless it was crazy obvious, but I was giddy at the thought of my first public acknowledgment. This is real.

—–

Sunday morning, we rolled out of bed just as the sun was peeking above the horizon and headed downstairs to meet our guide for a desert hike. Five others joined us: a mother/daughter pair and a set of middle aged, but fit, parents with their college-age daughter.

When we reached a suitable photo destination, I offered to take a photo of the family of three all together. The bouncy, blonde mom then returned the favor for us.

As she handed me the camera back, she smiled and said, “This will be a nice memory to have. You know, doing the hike while pregnant.”

I thanked her and agreed. Then proceeded to wonder just how huge my belly looked in my tank top.

—–

I must really be coming along if two complete strangers in one 24-hour period assumed I was pregnant and said something to me about it. I do think they were both a little presumptuous, and could have gotten into some deep water if I was just rockin’ a weekend of indulgent eating. But I wasn’t – or, not entirely – so I’m happy they said something to me. It certainly surprised me and made my day(s).