Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Eight Months, Lucas!

Happy eight months, Lucas!

I'm a little weepy writing this, knowing that another month has flown by and you are growing up so fast.

You no longer are my itty-bitty baby. Several people lately have commented that you look much older than your actual age. You are a big guy! I can't wait to learn your height and weight at your nine-month checkup in early January. I think you're a little over 20 pounds now, and almost 30 inches tall! (Oh, and you're ridiculously cute, too, but of course I think that.)

Lucas LOVES eating! (Click the image to watch.)
You really pack away the food. Daycare asked us to bring a third meal for you, because your appetite is so gigantic. You're up to four five-ounce bottles at daycare, I nurse you three times a day (and full time on the weekends), and you eat about eight ounces of solid food. You get so excited when you see us coming with a bowl and spoon — you squirm in your chair, kick your legs and shout at us to hurry up! And I think you're mainlining it into those long legs, because it certainly isn't going into your belly. Your legs are so long that any pants with adequate length are absolutely huge in the waist. I have yet to find a baby belt, but you desperately are in need of one! You obviously take after your tall daddy, not your short mommy.

We spent your first Thanksgiving visiting grandpa and nana Smith. You sat at the table in your highchair and let mommy and daddy have a nice meal while you munched on your puffs and entertained everyone with shouts and giggles. I can remember just a few months ago when we never thought we'd enjoy another calm meal again, and it's remarkable to see how much things have changed since then. I'm sure mealtime will get wild again once you get a little older, but for now, things are just about perfect. I never have felt as grateful and surrounded by love as I did this Thanksgiving. My life is so rich, and looking at you, daddy, and the rest of our family had me feeling incredibly blessed.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we went with grandpa and farmor Omdal to find a Christmas tree at a u-cut farm in Stanwood, Wash. I carried you in a front pack, and you were so happy walking through the woods. You had a huge smile on your face and squealed with delight when we let you touch the trees. Our decorated tree seems to be the best thing you've ever seen. You light up with wonder and awe whenever we hold you up to it and let you grab an ornament or branch.

You're very eager to crawl, but haven't quite figured it out yet. We've seen you get up on your knees a few times, only to immediately crash back to the floor and kick your legs vigorously in frustration. Most of the other babies at school crawl around you, and sometimes steal your binky and toys. Your teacher tells us you don't like this very much, so hopefully you'll be able to hang with the mobile kids soon. On second thought, since we've done absolutely no child proofing, perhaps you can hold off on moving around for a little while longer!

This past Sunday was a little crazy. We stopped by the flu clinic at your pediatrician's office and got your booster shot. You didn't even cry — it was pretty remarkable and the nurse thought you were awesome. (She no doubt tells all parents their babies are awesome. I ate it up, nonetheless.) But by that night, your nose was running and your second cold was in full swing. Ah, the endless mommy guilt of having you in daycare and exposed to every cold virus known to man. You were full-blown screaming by early evening, which really is unlike you, and we realized that you also had cut your third tooth (one of your lower lateral incisors). Shots, buckets of snot, and a new tooth. It was the golden cranky-baby trifecta. Part of me expected a large trophy to materialize, congratulating us on having this all happen at once.

Within an hour, daddy and I threw our entire parenting arsenal at you: milk, food, ibuprofen, a clean diaper, a bath, and the incredibly disgusting, yet tremendously effective Nosefrida(which you recognize now, and immediately sets off a complete meltdown). It semi-worked, but you've continued to be stuffy all week and have a yucky-sounding cough in the evenings, particularly when you lie down at night. Your eye was really watery yesterday when I picked you up from daycare, and I had a sick feeling that we could be in for our first case of pink eye. It looked much better when you woke up, but has gone back downhill today, so daddy is taking you to the doctor in the morning.

You need to get better soon, because daddy and I can't wait to celebrate your first Christmas. You are such a blessing to us, baby boy. My cup truly runneth over.

I love you,
Mommy

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy Seven Months, Lucas!

Happy seven months, little Boo!

When you are a grown up and read my messages, please don’t think that daddy and I neglected you for three months because there is not a five- or six-month letter. The recurring theme of “no time” since you entered our lives may be getting a bit stale, but this new pace still is throwing me for a loop.
I am kicking myself for not writing to you since August, afraid that I’ve already forgotten some of your milestones. I’m still working on striking the balance between being your mommy, having a full-time office job, being daddy’s wife, and occasionally finding a few moments for myself. I know it will all work out, though. It always does. We’re blessed like that, our family. I try to count those blessings every day. Sometimes I just look at you and stare, thinking, “Are you really my baby?! I actually get to keep you?!” It always fills me with such happiness knowing you’re mine.

Here’s a little play-by-play of where we’re at:
  • You are a sturdy little guy, and can sit up beautifully. You’ve been able to do this pretty well since you were about five-and-a-half-months old.
  • You have been eating solids since you were about five-and-a-half-months old, too. We were going to wait until six months, but you were eyeing our food with so much longing, that we caved. “Cooking” for you has been a ton of fun, and I make all of your food from scratch. So far you’ve tried oatmeal, sweet potatoes, bananas, pears, green beans, avocado, peas, butternut squash and puffed cereal.
  • You eat almost everything with an incredible amount of gusto. You easily put away an entire half of a large Haas avocado or pear for dinner on a regular basis. Sometimes you pound on your high chair and shout for more food in between each bite. And you reject butternut squash with nearly the same amount of passion. You hate it. You throw your head back, scream, and spit it back at us as if your life depended on it. I keep trying to feed it to you, because everything I read says you may change your mind after 15 or so tries. I’m not so sure. It’s hard to calm you down after you taste it, too, and help you realize that we’re moving on to something you actually like. It’s a little ridiculous, really!
  • We give you a sippy cup filled with water at each meal, but you don’t really drink out of it, yet. You mostly just chew on the handles.
  • Even though you really chow down on the solids, your sleep still is hit-and-miss. Some days you sleep for eight- or nine-hours straight. Other nights you’re up every three hours. A little more consistency in this area would be greatly appreciated.
  • Your two bottom teeth cut through right as you turned six-months-old. (One the day before, and one the day after.) This was pretty traumatic for all of us and there were a lot of tears and buckets of drool. Once they were in, though, you calmed down.
  • You vigorously chew on absolutely everything you can grasp. There must be more teeth on the immediate horizon.
  • You are starting to pay more attention when we read to you, and like to turn the pages of the books by yourself. Your favorite book right now is Peek-a-Baby. (Of course, I’m just guessing, but your attention is completely undivided when we read it.)
  • You like to sit independently, grab at your books and play with your own toys. You can do this for about 15 minutes before getting too bored and needing someone to pay more attention to you.
  • You are beginning to consistently use sign language for milk. I didn’t think it was true when daycare told us you could do this, but now it happens almost every time you want to nurse or have a bottle. It’s very cool and I love it! I can’t wait until we can communicate more with you.
  • When you use your voice, it often is in the form of a very, very high pitched squeal or scream. You smile and giggle after you make these screechy noises, so we don’t think you’re upset, although you nearly take out our eardrums with each outburst. We like the soft, sweet babbling you do much better.
  • Daddy and I dressed you as a very adorable monkey for Halloween. I went as a snow leopard, and daddy was our zookeeper. We had a small party at our house and let you stay up much later than usual (it was just too noisy with all the other kids for you to go to sleep). You also got to wear your costume at school in a parade, and have fun with your friends painting pumpkins in your classroom. The other babies got really messy, but daddy had to encourage you to really dive into the paint. You don’t like to be very messy. When you get food on your hands while you’re eating, it seems to bother you a bit, too. In this sense, you are just like your daddy, who I affectionately refer to as Colonel Clean.
  • This past week marked your first real sickness and fever. Daycare called and had us pick you up on Tuesday. You have to be fever-free for 24 hours with no medication before you can go back. It’s Saturday morning now, and your fever finally was gone as of last night. Daddy and I alternated staying home with you and it has not been fun for any of us. You felt so miserable. All I wanted to do was make you feel better, but my bag of magical mommy tricks kept coming up empty. You cried a lot and just wanted to be held, but soon that stopped working and you were inconsolable. In fact, you were so fussy that you bit me twice while nursing. I almost went through the roof because it hurt so bad, and when I yelped, you melted down worse than I’ve ever seen. I hope you get over this behavior quickly.
  • This morning you woke up and seemed back to your regular, smiley self. It is such a relief to see you feeling better. You fill our house with a tremendous amount of joy and laughter, and daddy and I can’t imagine life without you. Watching you grow is just awesome, and we can’t wait to see what you do next.
I love you,
Mommy

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy Four Months, Lucas!

My Boo,

Happy four months, sweet boy! I'm a week late with your letter because, well, our lives have been pretty crazy during this last little stretch. I went back to work on Thursday and you started daycare. Leaving you with someone else during the day was the most difficult thing I've done in my entire life. I barely can write about it without bawling my eyes out. I'm quite certain that I've shed more tears in the last week than the entire rest of my days combined.
Your daddy drops you off in the mornings, since your "school" (makes me feel better than calling it daycare), is right next to his office. He comes and sees you at lunchtime, too, to feed you a bottle and play with you. It's kind of ironic that he now gets to see you more often, since I'm back in the office each day. It's good for you both to spend extra time together, but I still feel like someone has ripped my heart out of my chest when I leave each morning. And no, I'm not being dramatic, it really is that intense.

Everyone tells me that going to work will get easier, but I'm not completely convinced. I just keep telling myself that I'm working to provide a better life for you, which includes a financially stable household, but it's gut wrenching to say goodbye to you. These past 20 weeks have been the most amazing, special time. I cannot explain the love I have for you, because it's still so new, intense, and simply overwhelming.

I want to continue nursing you until you're at least a year old, because I think it's the best thing for your health and development. And pumping at work, well, it just sucks. Something about this whole situation seems inherently wrong to me — that I can't be with you during the time in your life you need me most. I really think American maternity leave laws need to be reformed to look a little more like they do in Scandinavia. I could go on about this for days, but let's just say I've become a bit of a "lactivist." It's amazing how one's views about something they never gave so much as a second thought can become so incredibly strong once they've had a personal experience. The nursing bond – for me at least – is so much more meaningful, special and emotion-invoking than I ever could have fathomed. But alas ... it is what it is, and I'm doing my best to deal.

You are changing and growing so much, and you're just plain fun right now. Your personality is starting to shine and we're getting a glimpse of the little boy you're becoming. Your laughter and squeals fill our house with joy, and your smiles are endless. You love to twirl around with us, be sung to (even though your daddy and I both are completely tone-deaf), and occasionally will pay a little attention to your books during story time. Your hand-eye coordination is skyrocketing, and you can trade your binky back-and-forth between hands, but you can't consistently get it back in your mouth yet. The day that finally happens, your daddy and I are going to do cartwheels and open an expensive bottle of champagne. (We spend a lot of time "binky fetching.") You've also figured out how to arch your back during diaper changes, which is a new challenge for us, and you love to "dance" on your playmat by kicking your legs and pounding your belly. We laugh so hard at your antics, which in turn makes you crack up, too.

You are such an easygoing kiddo, and there are only a handful of things that wipe the near-constant grin off your face: (1) hunger, (2) naps, (3) possible early teething, and (4) a week of backed-up poop. Now, I know most people don't care to read about your bowel habits, but one purpose of these letters is to help me remember things about your childhood that I may otherwise forget (be that intentional or not). And hey, I may want to reference these events for a future sibling. We're a little concerned that you've started pooping so infrequently this month – we had a five-day stretch and a seven–day stretch, but you always seem to "work in out" in the end. And when you do, it is the most wretched of wretched events. I hope this pattern soon ceases. I suppose that's one upside to daycare, though, considering you may someday choose to unleash on them instead of your daddy and me.

You've really kicked up the drooling and have started to bite down on things instead of just sucking on them. It seems a little early to be teething, but a few people have pointed out that they think you've started the process. You've woken up screaming in the night a few times lately, too, which is a new thing for you (and yes, to the other parents of young babies reading this, I do know how lucky we are). I'm still in denial about the teething, but we have your four-month checkup this coming week, so we'll ask your pediatrician what she thinks.

Your naps still are pretty irregular. They're developing into an every-other-day pattern. At the same time, you're not cranky on the days you don't want to go down – it just seems like you're trying to say, "Hey lady, I'm not tired, so stop trying to put me in this crib!!" But the following day will be filled with a couple two-hour stretches. I'm still of the mindset that as long as you continue sleeping so well at night, I don't really care what you do during the day. We put you down around 7 p.m. each evening, and generally you sleep until about 6 a.m. Now that I'm back at work – I'm trying to work 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. – I have to wake you up to eat earlier than normal and I feel really guilty about it. You don't seem to mind, though, and usually go right back to sleep after you're done eating, so I'm trying to let myself off the hook.

I suspect you'll be able to roll onto your tummy within the next week or so – you're so very close. I think it may be one of your first "firsts" that I miss because I'm at work. It just kills me. Do you see the recurring theme this month? It's mommy guilt, and I sure have a lot of it. I'm doing my best to work through it, but it certainly is not easy.

My entire being is filled with love for you, baby boy. It gets stronger every day, and I am so looking forward to watching you grow. You mean the absolute world to me, and I promise to try and make the very most of the time we're together.

I love you,
Mommy

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vote for Lucas!

Several people suggested I find a photo contest to enter Lucas' "unhappy troll" photo. I sent it in to Parents Magazine last Thursday, and got an email this morning letting me know that it's a finalist in this week's Photo Faves contest.

Click on the link below (and share it with your friends, if you like) to vote for him and help him earn $250 for his college fund!

 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy Three Months, Lucas!

My Sweet Lucas Boy,

It’s 7 p.m. on your three-month birthday and I just laid you down to sleep. We’ve been taking a picture of you on the seventh of each month, but this month we'll be one day late. The little photo shoot I planned for this evening was derailed by a hysterical milk meltdown after your bath. And then, once your belly was full, you were so sleepy that I couldn’t keep your eyes open for photos. You’re happiest in the mornings, so we’ll just try again after you wake up tomorrow.
Hooray! We had a happy and awake boy this morning. July 8, 2011
Daddy and Lucas hanging out before work. July 6, 2011
You’ve really started to show your personality this month. You are such a vocal little boy and love to laugh, babble, and squeal at anyone who will listen. You can deliberately grasp the dangling rings on your playmat now, and we watch your hand-eye coordination increase exponentially each day. You are very proud whenever you get your fingers around something and look at us with a huge grin as if to say, “Check out what I can do!”
Chatting with auntie Em at the cabin. July 5, 2011
At your two-month check-up, you could already flip from your front to your back and even showed off your trick to the pediatrician. Now you’re working on flipping from your back to your front. You actually enjoy tummy time now and are happiest spending it on mommy or daddy’s chest and making silly faces at us. We love to make silly faces back at you, too.

Your salivary glands have found their “on” switch. You drool -- a lot. Your daddy and I were caught a little off guard by this, because it happened so suddenly. You were a dry, clean baby one day, and a spit monster the next. You have figured out how to blow raspberries through your sea of slobber and it’s pretty funny to watch you crack yourself up. You have a true laugh now and hearing your giggle completely lights up my world. I love watching you delight in your own antics.

You’re still exclusively breast fed and I hope to be able to continue this until you’re six months old -- and beyond that, too, but in combination with solid food. We found a daycare for you next to daddy’s office, so when I go back to work in five weeks, I’ll be pumping milk for you during the day. I’m glad we found a safe and loving place for you to be while we’re at work, but it makes me very sad to not be able to stay with you myself. For now, I’m trying to soak up every minute of every day. Sometimes I just look at you and feel so overwhelmed with love that I burst into tears at the thought of someone else taking care of you. I know it will get easier with time, but right now that’s really hard to imagine. I’ve never felt so protective over something or someone -- and never could even have closely imagined these feelings until you arrived. Having you has made me realize how much my own parents love me. You’ve already taught me an amazing amount about life in your short three months.

We spent Fourth of July weekend at Samish Island with auntie Emily, uncle Peter, and the Cole and Keeton families. Watching all the homemade floats and classic cars in the annual parade was so much fun. I can’t wait until you’re big enough to scramble after the candy along with all of the other kids. As usual, the entire island was under siege with an abundance of highly illegal, ridiculously loud, and very scary (to me, at least) homemade bombs and, thankfully, some incredibly beautiful fireworks. For the most part, you slept through the entire night, with just a few startles. We were counting our blessings, to say the least.

Yesterday, July 6, was one of the warmest days of the year, topping out in the low 80s (we haven’t had much of a summer). You were so hot and uncomfortable, and the only place you wanted to be was in my arms. I had you stripped down to your diaper, which made things a little better. Every time I needed to get something done, though, and set you down in your bouncy chair or swing, you started crying. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but the second I would turn to pick you up, you’d flash a huge grin, blow a raspberry at me, and start laughing. I immediately was butter in your hands and did whatever you wanted. You finally fell asleep on my chest, laying on the couch. I stole a few extra minutes of snuggle time because I figure those special times are limited and I should eat them all up before they disappear.

But even when you’re grown and don’t want to snuggle with me anymore, you’ll still be my baby. You’ll always be my baby. No matter what.

I love you,
Mommy

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Our Unhappy Little Troll ...

We had a great time watching the majstån (the Swedish version of a maypole) be hoisted at today's local midsommar festival. The sun was out and everyone was in a great mood ... well, almost everyone. Fortunately, the bottom lip only came out for a few minutes and he was very happy during the rest of our outing! It's really, really hard not to laugh when he makes this face. He's so sad, but it just cracks us up!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sleeeeeepy Boy

Someone can't seem to stay awake long enough to do anything but eat this week. Playtime is just too much work! Makes sense, considering his loooong legs are barely fitting into any of his three month pajamas. I swear he has doubled in size since June 1. It takes a lot of energy to grow so much!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15" -- Pesticide-Laden Fruits and Veggies

I'm on kick to get back in shape / lose the baby weight / be a happy, healthy mommy for Lucas / and fit into my work clothes so I don't have to buy a new "fat" professional wardrobe by Aug. 11.

I recently read Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels and it really opened my eyes to the chemicals we put in our bodies that screw with our hormones and mess with our overall health and well being. It's not so much a diet book as it is a healthy living chronicle. This is especially important to me now that I'm a nursing mother and need to be vigilant about what I put into my body and pass along to my son.

Along these lines, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) just published its 2011 guide to the most and least pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. Check out the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15." The "dirtiest"? Apples. The remedy? Buy from the EWG "clean 15″ list or buy organic.

Check out the list and get started on the roader to a healthier, happier, more environmentally-friendly "you" along with me!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Two Months, Lucas!

Our Little Boo Boo (I should start calling you Lucas, but "Boo Boo" really has stuck. Even daddy uses it.),

Today you turn two months old. It seems like I just was writing your first month's letter and here we are, four weeks later ... I'm going to blink, and you and I will be dancing at your wedding. Before I get too ahead of myself, though, I'm trying to soak up every moment of your infancy. Everyone says it goes fast, but until you're really living it, it's impossible to truly understand. I feel like I just found out that you were growing in my belly! So if you can, Boo, slow it down. You're just too cute and sweet right now, and I want to keep you as my tiny baby for a little longer!

We hit some big milestones this month with your first real smiles, giggles, coos, and insanely high-pitched squeals of elation (I hope). Nothing makes you happier than the light-up musical star on your Baby Einstein activity mat. Not even daddy, and he makes you smile A LOT. Daddy loves to hold you out in front of him and "twirl" in your bedroom. I'm afraid that one of these days you're going to get very dizzy and puke everywhere, but so far we're in the clear. And you seem to really get a kick of out of it, so who am I to quash your fun? I'll save that card until you're a teenager. We give you time on the mat each day and never get tired of watching you smile and laugh at that silly star.

You sleep a continuous seven to eight hours each night (knock, knock, knock on wood). When I tell this to other parents with infants, they look at me like either a) I'm a liar, or b) they're going to kill me with the invisible daggers shooting from their eyes. You are such an easy baby that sometimes I just sit around waiting for our entire world to crumble, for you to stop sleeping, and for everything to go horribly awry. I should just relax and take more time to enjoy it, but on most days, life with a baby like you really does seem too good to be true. You sometimes fuss at naptime — we're still working on that one a bit — but if you keep sleeping so well at night, I don't really mind.

You give us absolutely NO time to meet your needs before going into full meltdown mode. Whenever you wake up, you immediately start screaming bloody murder for food. I cannot possibly get you to the boob fast enough. You also are doing a great job at keeping your butt clean. I don't know if this is normal, but daddy and I rarely change a poopy diaper. You start fussing and have a very particular cry when you want to be changed. Your diaper always is wet, but you have a magical knack of waiting until we unfasten it to poop. And poop. And poop. Yesterday, you shot a "power poop" clear off the changing table and it splattered all over the carpet. I had no idea little babies could do this sort of thing, but you're very, very good at it. It's disgusting and I wish you would stop.

You HATE tummy time. Dr. Howson, your pediatrician, wants you to spend 20 to 30 minutes each day on your tummy, to relieve pressure on the back of your head, and to build your muscles. I know it's important and try to incorporate it throughout the day. It's really hard for me to take your screaming, though. I feel like I'm completely torturing you, so we only manage to get in a few minutes at a time.

When you were seven weeks old, we took your first trip to Samish Island for the long Memorial Day weekend. The Cook family joined us, and we stayed at the cabin your great-great grandpa bought in the early 1900s. Daddy is just dying to take you on a boat ride, but we're going to wait until you're a little older and it's more safe for you to be on the water. We took a long walk on the beach with you in a carrier on daddy's chest and you were so peaceful and happy. The beach is a very special place for our family and I know you're going to grow to love it there.

Each night, I pray that you remain as happy throughout your entire life as you seem to be now. You really are a delightful little guy to be around, and I look forward to each day I am blessed to spend with you.

Love,
Mommy

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy One Month, Lucas!

My Sweet Lucas,

You are one month old today. The past four weeks have been the most overwhelming, difficult, emotional and yet amazing and best of my life. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I am so proud and excited to celebrate being your mommy. You are everything your daddy and I could ever have hoped, dreamed and prayed for -- our baby boy.
http://jenniferfinchphotography.blogspot.com/
You came into this world slowly. Very slowly. You were born two weeks past your due date, and yet still managed to take an entire 42 hours to make your entrance after my first contraction. Your head was lodged sideways in my pelvis and a vacuum was required to realign your body and help you descend. It wasn’t the most comfortable experience of my life and caused me some physical trauma. I’ve spent a lot of the past month recovering from your birth, but my body has bounced back incredibly well and you absolutely are worth every stitch, ache and pain.

Your birth wasn’t a very comfortable experience for you, either. “This baby has a very bad headache and you need to be incredibly gentle with his head,” our nurse said as she laid you on my chest.

You had quite the hematoma and lopsided conehead from being stuck for so many hours. Your skull resumed a normal shape after about a day, but your big bruise did cause a bit of jaundice. Thankfully, you were able to resolve this on your own by chowing down on supplemental formula and pooping a lot, and didn’t need any light therapy. Your jaundice made you very sleepy. To this day, you’re still zonking out for a good 18 or so hours out of each day. You wake up just long enough to eat, get your diaper changed, look around for about 15 minutes and then start fussing before going back to sleep.

You like to eat. You really like to eat. At birth, you weighed seven pounds, six ounces. When we were discharged from the hospital, you were two days old and had dropped to seven pounds, .05 ounces (normal weight loss for a newborn). At four days old, you weighed seven pounds, 1.5 ounces; and at one week, you weighed seven pounds, 2.5 ounces. Your doctor was concerned that you only had gained one ounce in three days at your first checkup, so she told me to nurse you every two and a half hours for the next week. She wanted you to gain at least seven more ounces by the time you were two weeks old.

Well, Piglet, you did us proud. We both got major kudos at your two week weigh-in. You definitely met your seven-ounce goal … and then some. You gained 18.5 ounces in one week!! We also visited with a lactation consultant who weighed you before and after a feeding. She expected you to eat about 60 ccs – you took down 108! Your appetite amazes and exhausts me, but I know the days of you waking me for milk at 3 a.m. are fleeting, and I’m trying to enjoy every minute with you while you’re still my itty bitty baby. Even the ones that involve you screaming in my ear.

The way your daddy looks at you makes my heart melt. He takes such good care of our family and we’re very lucky that he’s ours. There have been times during the past month where he’s had to soothe both of us while we simultaneously cried. I’m not sure where his patience and grace comes from, but it seems to be bottomless. My love for him grows each day, and I’m pretty sure that yours does, too. Your favorite place to snuggle is on his chest, and you’ve saved the few little grins you’ve flashed almost exclusively for him.

Before you were born, I always thought I would speak to you like an adult and avoid the baby talk. Something happened to me when you were born, though, and I started saying things like, “Oh, Buster Boo, do you need a new dipe-dipe?” And I never thought I was much for nicknames, but I find myself calling you “Lovey,” “Mister Man,” “Buster Boo-Hoo (when you’re crying),” “Boo Bird,” “Piglet,” and “Poopy Pooperson,” among others. Not to mention the other goo-goo-gaa-gaa-ness that my newly-minted mama mouth uncontrollably utters. Your infinite cuteness apparently has a major influence on my language center.

You’ve already shown me how to love in a way that I never knew was in me. My hopes and dreams for you can’t be put into words, baby boy. My cup runneth over and I’m so glad you’re here.

I love you,
Mommy

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lucas James Omdal

Morgan and I proudly announce the birth of our son, Lucas James Omdal. Lucas was born at 9:54 p.m., Thursday, April 7. He weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and was 20.25 inches long, with a head circumfrence of 13.25 inches.

He is such a joy and we are beyond blessed to have him in our lives.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So Blessed

My little boy,

This is the last letter I will write to you before I see your face. We had a doctor's appointment this afternoon (Tuesday) and you're going to be helped along on Thursday morning (April 7) if I don't go into labor on my own tomorrow. The doctor thinks it's best that you not stay in there past 42 weeks. I'm a little nervous about going the medical intervention route to get you here, but at the end of the day I really just care that you and I are happy, healthy, and home together with daddy. We are so excited to become a family of three!
Mommy at 41 weeks, five days pregnant
I have been praying a lot for your delivery to be as healthy and non-eventful as this pregnancy. Our cousin Christy shared a Bible verse with me the other day that has brought me a lot of peace while we wait for you. I recite it at night as I fall asleep and it has helped ease my fears and remind me that this isn't in my hands.

Psalm 130: "I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning."

I have put my trust in God and know He's looking out for us -- you'll be in my arms before I know it. I can't wait to meet you.

Love,
Mommy

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Baby O: Punctuality is the Virtue of the Bored

My little one,

Early on during this journey, I was so afraid you would arrive early. I know my fears were just first-time pregnancy jitters, and as the weeks went on, they subsided. I grew more and more pregnant, and each doctor's appointment showed you to be very healthy and growing like a weed. I really could not have had a more smooth or healthy pregnancy, for which I will be eternally grateful.

Your original due date was March 27, but the doctor bumped it back a few days to March 24, since you looked a little big in there. Um ... today is April 2 and you're still not here! I already love you more than anything, and know you'll come when the time is right (I don't want to rush you if you're not quite ready), but if you want to make that time today, I would really, really appreciate it. 
Mommy at 40-weeks pregnant.
These past nine days have had me on pins and needles, wondering if every cramp, tingle or twitch meant you were on your way. I'm tired and achy, but it's not completely unbearable. It's the waiting and uncertainty that are making me crazy. I just want to know when you'll be here in our arms! (And to know when I don't have to be pregnant anymore and pee 20 times every night -- really looking forward to that one.)

I also am not sure how many more times I can hear "be patient," "enjoy this time with Morgan," and "just relax," without responding in a very rude manner. It's all I can do at this point to say, "Thanks for the advice, we're hanging in there ..."

One thing this "overdueness" has taught me is that unless you've been 41-plus weeks pregnant, never, never, ever, tell a woman in that state to "just relax and be patient." It's ridiculous advice. A better option would be, "I'm thinking about you and hoping you have a smooth and healthy delivery," or something along those lines. For me, sitting around waiting for my body to go through such a significant event is the most nerve-wracking experience of my life. The good news is that I already know you're more than worth it.

Now hurry up and get here!

Love,
Mommy

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Waiting Game

Baby Boy,

It’s March. The month you’re expected to enter the world. Turning the calendar was so exciting, frightening, and hopeful. All at the same time.

“Only a few more weeks,” I squealed to daddy. “We’re going to meet our little boy this month!”

But as the great John Lennon once said (and how poignant that this line comes from his song, Beautiful Boy), “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”

I went to the doctor and he said you appear to be in no hurry to make an appearance — that you look much more like an April baby than a March baby. I have suspected this, considering you enjoy using my ribs as monkey bars, and my stomach has settled into its second home somewhere between my heart and collar bone. I hope you know that you can’t head north to make your escape, but some days that’s exactly what it feels like you’re attempting.

Each morning I wake up and stretch a little before crawling out of bed, anxiously waiting to feel that you have “dropped.” All of my books say this should happen sometime soon. The old rule of thumb is that lightening occurs with a first baby about four weeks prior to birth. But as of this morning … nada. And my heartburn is rivaling the Great Yellowstone Fire, which also lets me know you’re perfectly content for the near time being.

I know that a lot can happen in three weeks, though, and you very well could get this show on the road. But if you don’t, that’s OK. You’re welcome to stay in there as long as you feel like it (within reason). Although I’m beyond excited to see your face and hold you in my arms, I also get a little weepy when I think about our special time together coming to an end. I will miss feeling your kicks and wiggles, and having you with me at all times, knowing you’re safe and sound. But I know I have to share you. And your daddy is just about ready to explode waiting for you to show up. There’s a lot of love waiting for you, little one.

We’re ready when you are!

Love,
Mommy

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Consumer Reports’ Newborn Necessities

With this little baby expected to make his appearance in a mere five weeks, we’re furiously tying up loose ends and putting finishing touches on the nursery. There are a ton of items left on our registry, and the sensible part of me knows that we won’t need most of them. I scoured the Internet to find a good checklist of what we really need to have on-hand when the little one arrives.
Consumer Reports put together this seemingly-fantastic checklist (we’ll find out how fantastic it really is once the baby gets here) intended to prevent new parents from buying-out Babies “R” Us and filling their house with a ton of unnecessary “stuff.”

I am the first to admit that I’m a list fanatic and compulsive planner, so this instantly provided me with a tremendous sense of calm. I also have a lot of faith in Consumer Reports, which we heavily relied on when car shopping a few years ago. They have a well-earned reputation for steering their readers in the right direction and have provided our family with some great advice.

If you’re a parent, take a look and leave a comment sharing your thoughts about their suggested inventory. Anything missing? Anything unnecessary?

Consumer Reports’ Newborn Necessities

Tooling around

_____Car seat.

_____Stroller.

Beds and linens

_____Crib.

_____Crib mattress.

_____Bassinet/cradle (if you don't want to put your baby in a crib right away).

_____Two to three fitted crib sheets.

_____Four or more waffle-weave cotton receiving blankets for swaddling baby

_____Two mattress pads.

_____One to two waterproof liners (for crib or bassinet).

Diaper duty

_____Diapers. Disposables: One 40-count package of newborn (birth weight under 8 pounds) or of size 1 (birth weight over 8 pounds). Cloth: Two to three dozen, plus six to 10 snap-on, waterproof outer pants, and two to three sets of diaper pins, eight to 10 all-in-ones or diaper system covers; two to three dozen diaper system inserts.

_____Diaper pail (with refills or bags as needed).

_____Diaper bag.

Dressing baby

_____Four sleeping outfits or one-piece sleepers with attached feet.

_____Six side-snap T-shirts.

_____Four to six one-piece undershirts that snap around the crotch.

_____A small baby cap (although the hospital will probably give you one).

_____Six pairs socks/booties.

_____Two to three soft, comfortable daytime outfits. Get only a few items in newborn size. Then, go for clothing in the 6-month size--your baby will grow into it quickly. But don't buy baby sleepwear that's too big--it's a safety hazard.

_____Cotton sweater or light jacket.

Summer babies

_____Brimmed hat.

Winter babies

_____Snowsuit with attached mittens or fold-over cuffs, or heavy bunting.

_____Heavy stroller blanket.

_____Warm knit hat.

Feeding time (Breastfeeding)

_____Three to five nursing bras.

_____A box of washable or disposable breast pads.

_____Breast pump if you expect to use one (manual or electric).

_____Four small baby bottles with newborn nipples for storing expressed breast milk.

_____Bottle-drying tree.

_____Bottle brush.

_____Insulated bottle holder for diaper bag (the hospital may give you one).

_____Three packs of cloth diapers or burp cloths.

Bathing/Grooming

_____Plastic infant bathtub.

_____Three soft hooded towels.

_____Two packs of baby washcloths.

_____Baby body wash that doubles as shampoo.

_____Pair of blunt-tip scissors or baby-sized nail clippers.

_____Zinc-oxide-based diaper rash ointment.

_____Soft brush and comb.

_____Mild laundry detergent.

Medicine chest essentials

_____A pain-and-fever reducer recommended by your baby's doctor, such as Infant's Tylenol.

_____Cotton pads/swabs.

_____Nasal aspirator.

_____Digital rectal thermometer.

_____Rubbing alcohol.

_____Petroleum jelly.

Keeping baby happy

_____Pacifiers.

Extras: Nice but optional

_____Baby monitor.

_____Changing table.

_____A rocker or glider.

_____Sling or strap-on soft carrier.

_____Boppy, a doughnut-shape pillow designed to make holding baby during breastfeeding or bottlefeeding easier.

_____Nursing coverup. Attaches at your neck and allows for private breastfeeding when you and your baby are in public.

_____Infant swing.

_____Bouncy seat.

_____Night-light.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found a picture kicking around on my camera from early autumn and can't believe I haven't yet shared this with you! My favorite cookbook these days is The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition, from the editors of Cook's Illustrated. I have yet to have a recipe turn out anything less than perfect. Seriously, the roasted chicken, pesto sauce, pork chops -- they all have become my go-to recipes for those dishes. But this one, my-oh-my, it takes the cake. Or the cookie, rather.  
The Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies are the best I've ever tasted. Their texture, density and chocolate-to-dough ratio (I don't like too many chips) are beyond compare. And this is even more amazing considering I am the one who made them.

Chocolate chip cookies and I have a long and tortured history. I have searched for a good recipe for years, and even when they come from my best-baker friends, they always fall flat, literally, in my kitchen. These cookies, though, are true to their name. Perfectly thick and chewy, and when topped with a light grind of sea salt à la my brilliant friend, Emily, strike the perfect balance of sweet-and-salty to satisfy any craving. I also followed my auntie Karen's advice and chilled the dough for a few hours before forming the cookies to help them hold their form. 

While you're at it, cruise on over to Sweet as Sugar Cookies, to check out some more fabulous goodies. They're having quite the cookie party right now! 
Cook's Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

"These truly chewy chocolate chip cookies are delicious served warm from the oven or cooled. To ensure a chewy texture, leave the cookies on the cookie sheet to cool. You can substitute white, milk chocolate, or peanut butter chips for the semi- or bittersweet chips called for in the recipe. In addition to chips, you can flavor the dough with one cup of nuts, raisins, or shredded coconut."
-Cook's Illustrated


2 1/8 cups bleached all-purpose flour (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark), 7 ounces
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (semi or bittersweet)
Plain sea salt or fleur de sel

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips.

3. Form scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball using fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves. Rotate halves ninety degrees and, with jagged surfaces exposed, join halves together at their base, again forming a single cookie, being careful not to smooth dough’s uneven surface. Place formed dough onto one of two parchment paper-lined 20-by-14-inch lipless cookie sheets, about nine dough balls per sheet. Smaller cookie sheets can be used, but fewer cookies can be baked at one time and baking time may need to be adjusted. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt or fleur de sel. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month—shaped or not.)

4. Bake, reversing cookie sheets’ positions halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes (start checking at 13 minutes). (Frozen dough requires an extra 1 to 2 minutes baking time.) Cool cookies on cookie sheets. Serve or store in airtight container.

Eagle Eye

For Christmas, Santa spoiled me with a new Canon EOS Rebel T2i. My package also came with a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM telephoto zoom lens, which I finally took for a little test drive this afternoon.

Morgan asked me shortly after we got the camera what I would be using this particular lens for, and I said, "Oh, you know, eagles and spy assignments ..." Just so happens that one of those two things (in multiples) showed up right outside our house today.
Special thanks to Jane Maynard, who writes one of my very favorite blogs, This Week for Dinner, for the camera recommendation. Her photography is second to none and I knew she wouldn't steer her readers wrong.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Baby O Show ... Make a Guess Today!

With six weeks to go (my official due date is March 27), I thought it would be fun to start an online due date pool. The winner will receive a lifetime supply of bragging rights. Make a guess today by clicking on the banner below!  

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hiccups, Heartburn, and Huge Bellies

My sweet little boy,

You are due to make your arrival in seven short weeks. I’m not quite sure where these past 33 weeks went, but I seem to have blinked and ended up very, very pregnant.
I only can dream that you will be as easy a baby on the outside as you have been on the inside. I am slowing down a little and feeling pretty tired these days, but it would be odd if I weren’t. Other than some intense heartburn, you have caused me absolutely no problems. I think you may be a “trick” first baby, though. You have convinced me that pregnancy is a cinch, but I suspect that when I go to have a brother or sister for you, I probably will be barfing up everything but the baby!

I took the “glucose challenge” a few weeks ago and only passed it by one point. The doctor said that I may be a little more sensitive to sugar than others during pregnancy, and that I should watch my carbs so you don’t get too chunky. So, for your benefit and mine, I have eliminated most sweets from our diet. I don’t think it will be very fun for either of us if you weigh 10 pounds when you’re born. Cutting down the carbs hasn’t been that bad, but you’ve kicked me extra hard a few times in what I’m pretty sure have been attempts to get some ice cream. As a special treat, I did let you have a cupcake at our baby shower, since it was such a special day. Oh, and a couple other random pieces of cake ... Hey, I said most sweets.

Our friend Kim. She loves you a lot!
Our friend, Kim, threw us an amazing party to celebrate your arrival. We were showered with fantastic gifts and surrounded by the love of our friends and family. It really was special and you’re certainly going to be one well-dressed kiddo!

We also received a huge surprise — an alphabet wall for your nursery. This was something I really, really wanted to do when I first found out you were going to join our family, but I got a little overwhelmed by the size of the project and decided to go another route with the decorating. Thankfully, we have the most amazing friends and family in the entire world and they surprised us with a set of letters for your wall. I was beyond touched and can't wait to get them all in place. Each letter is unique and was made with love, which makes them even more special.
Me and your grandmas.
What a surprise!
We also had an ultrasound last week to make sure you’re in “dive position” (good job — you’re all lined up to make a perfect entrance) and that you don’t look too big. They’re currently estimating your birth weight at 8.5 pounds and everything checked out just fine. We’re ticking along like clockwork. You were sucking your thumb while we looked at you and it just melted my heart. You also get hiccups several times a day, which feel so funny in my belly. They're remarkably similar to an eye twitch, but in my belly button. They almost tickle, and they always make me giggle a little. It makes me happy to know you’re working so hard on getting those lungs developed. Just please don’t use them too much for screaming once you get here. Pretty, pretty, please.

Daddy says the day you’re born is going to be like Christmas morning times 100, and I’m sure he’s right. We love you so much and can’t wait for you to get here!

Love,
Mommy