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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Adventures of a (Former) Stay at Home Dad

Big T got a job this week. We are all excited, yet a little bit sad about it. His stay at home dad days are over for now. He's excited to get out of the house and have some adult interaction, but he really misses Baby T. And Baby T really misses him. I miss the fun stories and emails and pictures I would get while working. In honor of this end of an era, I've included the best and funniest stay at home dad anecdotes below. These are different emails that I've gotten at work while Big T and Baby T were at home living it up.

At the park, when Baby T tried out the swing for the first time:
Ummmm dad? I don't mean to alarm you, but I think someone is following me.

This one made me laugh so hard I was crying:
Subject: My inner monologue of the past 5 minutes

Holy hell we have an explosion! This is not a drill people! Code BROWN. I need all hands on the poop deck. This job is too big for wipes we need to put the subject in the decontamination tub stat. Oh jesus he's peeing on the floor. Wait is that poop on my hand? Oh god its spreading. Now its on the shower curtain. Its worse then I thought we need a containment unit now! The subject is escaping unclothed. Don't worry about that now I have shit everywhere. Put a diaper on him for christs sake. Situation is resolved.

Shortly after we started Baby T on solids:
So I could just smell what was going on in your sons pants from across the room. Isn't there anyway we could keep him on just breast milk for 4 or 5 more years?

After a growth spurt:
And its officially time to retire the vibrating chair. I think its funny that he's still trying to watch Sid [the Science Kid on TV]

Bath Time Fun:
So I was using that little green frog and suctioning it to his knees and tummy and when he would grab it it would un-suction and would squeak and he would giggle. But once again Daddy took it a little too far.

Soon after learning to crawl:
The kid just crawled head first straight into the corner of a wall. So don't be shocked by a little bump/ bruise when you get home.

During Baby T's nursing strike when I made Big T feed him with a cup instead of the bottle:
He has done half bottle half cup. I start with the cup but once he either starts to fall asleep or grabs the cup and pours it on his head I know its time to lie down with a bottle. 

And this one requires me to give you a little background.
Background: In the middle of the night one night, Big T suddenly woke me up, saying, "What was that noise?" I hadn't heard anything, so I told him not to worry about it and to go to sleep. But he seemed a little freaked out. I rolled over and went back to sleep. Ten minutes later, I heard the biggest crash I have ever heard in my life. I mean, the entire house shook. The only thought racing through my mind was that Baby T's crib had imploded on him. I jumped up, fumbling for my glasses on the nightstand while Big T jumped over the bed in one fell swoop. I was yelling, "What the F, what the F what the F" (or something to that effect.) We raced to the front of the house and into the nursery, where Baby T was sleeping safe and sound. I scooped him up and hugged him to me, relieved, but Big T was still freaking out. I told him everything was ok, Baby T is fine, but he said we had to figure out what the noise was.

It turns out it was the big green frog that was suction cupped to the side of the tub holding up the tub toys. The suction cups had let loose and the frog and all the toys had fallen into the tub, echoing through the house. Big T later told me that #1). He thought someone was living in our attic and had crashed through the ceiling and #2). All he could understand of what I was saying after we heard the crash was MULUAH MULUAH MULUAH!

So one day, he emails me:

"I wish you would have told me when we were trying to get pregnant that there was a good chance you would give birth to the anti christ. Ooops wait his head just spun around and he spewed asparagus soup. He's definitely possessed. Actually I think I just figured it out. On the first Sunday of the winter solstice at midnight if you scream MULUHA MULUHA MULUHA! Your offspring becomes a liquid leaking fang growing nocturnal demon child. Damn you and your wiccaness."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Diary of a Nursing Strike - A Conclusion (Hopefully)

What NOT to do when your baby is going through a nursing strike

Well, I think Baby T's nursing strike is ending. At least I hope so. The past few days have been a little bit iffy and a little bit promising.

With a little help from my friends, and the information about nursing strikes on, I was able to keep my cool and coax Baby T back to the boob. Here are some of the tricks that worked for me:

Do not starve your baby into nursing
Oops. I am guilty of this. Since he doesn't really eat solids yet, and I didn't want him to get accustomed to drinking from the bottle over me, and I thought "when he is hungry, he will eat." Apparently, when he is hungry, he will turn into an irritable little monster and refuse all offers of food, nurturing, singing or kisses. Which will make mommy even more frustrated.

Don't continue trying to get baby to take the breast after major frustration (either mom's or baby's) sets in
Oops. I am guilty of this. I knew I wasn't supposed to continue, but there were a couple of nights when, after apparently starving my baby, I thought, "he HAS to be hungry. Come on--NURSE already!!" and tried jamming my boob into his mouth. It appears that this is not the most effective approach.

Kellymom says: Sometimes it can be helpful to offer a little supplement at the beginning of a feeding; this can take the edge off baby's hunger so he has more patience to work on the breastfeeding. If you've been working on latching and hunger is getting in baby's way, go quickly to whatever alternative feeding you're using. If you're both totally frustrated, give a whole feed, but if you think your baby is up for it (and you are too), only offer enough supplement to calm him and go back to working on breastfeeding.
Oops. I am guilty of not doing this. Sometimes I would have Baby T eat some solids before nursing, but he never eats much solid food anyway. Going back to the hungry thing, I always figured if he was hungry enough, he would nurse, so I didn't offer a supplement before nursing. However, when we would get totally frustrated, I would leave his nursery in a huff, hand him to Big T, and say, "just give him a bottle." At which time he would not take the bottle or eat anything because by then he would be too upset.

Maintain your milk supply when the baby is not nursing
Yay! I did this. Usually after handing Baby T to Big T and saying "just give him a bottle," I would say--add pissy, dissapointed attitude--"I have to pump." The day I forgot to bring my double electric pump home from work sucked, and my forearms got a workout from using 2 hand pumps at the same time. If your baby is having nursing issues, make sure you have your electric pump with you at all times.

Your goal is to coax baby to the breast. Do not attempt to force your baby to breastfeed. Avoid pressuring baby to nurse. Offer in an ultra-casual way and pretend you don't mind if he refuses.
Yeah. Oops--but only for the first 2 days or so. We got a lot better at this. During Baby T's nursing strike, he also became quite adept at giving high fives, so after he would pop off the breast and get a little fussy, the routine would go as follows:
Mom: Pretend sneeze (this is pretty much a guaranteed tension breaker)
Baby T: laugh
Mom: Pretend cough
Baby T: giggle
Mom: *Puts out hand* High five!
Baby T: laughs while hitting my hand over and over again.
Note: This only worked for a few days. After that, he became privy to the intention behind my games, and would only calm down if we got up out of the nursing chair. So off we would go.

"Wear," carry, hold and cuddle your baby as much as possible
All RIGHT!! Two points. We did this too. A lot. For some reason, my active and squirmy baby always calms down when I wear him on my chest in the wrap. We had a lot of babywearing sessions during the strike.

Lots of skin-to-skin contact
This was hard to do since it's winter and our electric bill went up $100 last month, so we're trying not to keep it too warm in the house. But when I wore him in the wrap, I would try to keep him skin-to-skin with me.

Drip expressed breastmilk (if you have it) or formula onto the tip of the nipple as you're latching (use an eyedropper or a bottle). You can continue this while you're breastfeeding
This was my go-to method for a while. But deep in the throes of the strike, even this didn't work. I would suggest it as a very effective instant fix, though. I used a medicine dropper that came with one of his gripe waters to drip milk down my breast and into his mouth while his mouth waited under my nipple. Instant latch! I would also squirt milk into the corner of his mouth if he was about to get fussy in between letdowns.

This involves getting into a warm tub with baby, and placing baby on mom's tummy in the bath, and just stroking and talking quietly to baby. Baby may eventually work himself up to the breasts, where he will suckle. This is a nice idea, but you try getting into a bathtub with a slippery 8 month old little worm who is trying to pull himself up on the edge of the tub and continually splashing you with water. However, maybe this explains why he nursed so readily after his swimming lesson last week.

Try different nursing positions, or try nursing while moving
I did notice that Baby T was trying to rearrange himself across my chest, and on his tummy, a lot while nursing. I tried to put him in this position to begin with. I tried feeding him while walking around, just pulling up and offering the breast. One thing that did work was, after calming him down by bouncing on the exercise ball and holding him in a cradle position, he started sucking on my shirt. I offered him the breast while still bouncing, and he was all for it.

 Monday night he nursed all night. He was up every 2 hours, and wouldn't unlatch. So I pulled him into bed with me, and he nursed for hours on end. Once  he was up for the day, he was a little more hesitant. He would want to nurse every hour or so, but just for a few minutes at a time. When I put him down for his first morning nap, he pulled the old "freak out on the boob." Chill relaxed mommy said, "Ok, I guess you're done eating for now" and wrapped him up in his swaddle blanket on the floor. Well... he still seemed hungry. So I kneeled over him and offered the boob. He took it right away and nursed for another 5-10 minutes. When I told Big T about my success with a new position, he said, "Like an udder?" Yup. Like an udder. Once he took the breast that way, I was able to move into a side-lying position.

We tried the udder position again tonight. I got a giggle out of him, and then he latched on. I think I'm onto something!

This morning, he was acting hungry and sucking away on my shoulder, but refused to nurse in his bedroom. So we moved to my bedroom, waving to Big T along the way, and he had no problems when laying next to me on my big bed.

In conclusion
The hardest part of this experience was keeping my cool. Let's face it, that is the hardest part of every situation for me. This has been a good lesson. Parenting in general is a good lesson. Let's hope this makes me a better person. (Just as long as you keep nursing, Baby T).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Diary of a Nursing Strike - Milestones

One of my friends suggested to me that maybe Baby T is just changing his patterns. He's getting older... she asked me, "Is he going through any milestones?"

Ha. Is he ever.

He is teething, pulling up on things, saying new sounds every day, learning hand signals. He is waving 'hi' and giving high fives. The kid is on fire. So maybe he's too busy to nurse.

Witness the magic:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Diary of a Nursing Strike Part Deux

Take a chill pill and call me in the morning

How do you handle a nursing strike when your child is teething? I know I have read about this on the internet, but I have yet to meet someone in real life who has had their baby go on a nursing strike while teething. Well, I'm real life. This is happening to me.

January 10-16, 2010
No sign of teeth yet, but Baby T is in a MOOD this week. He is being a little fink. (Direct quote). We can't figure it out. I swear this is how he acted when his bottom teeth appeared, but his upper gums are smooth and slimy. No sign of the daggers yet. He can't sit still.

The baby who once went to sleep without a sound at 6:30PM now cries from the crib. I have to go in and lay a hand on his back and whisper "shhhhhh" to get him to sleep. He falls asleep around 7:30 every night.

Nursing is becoming difficult. Baby T writhes and kicks and pats and swats incessantly. He rearranges himself onto his stomach and draws his knees up to his chest underneath his body. He is basically doing child's pose across my chest. He pops off the nipple periodically with a loud slurping pop. Nursing is taking 2 separate sessions. The first is comprised of this wrestling match. I put him in his crib. He cries. During session 2 he is chill. He falls asleep.

Sunday, January 17, 2010
Baby T is laughing on the changing table. As he throws back his head and smiles, I catch a glimpse of something on his upper gums. I shove my finger in his mouth and draw in my breath quickly. Teeth! Two of em! I can feel the sharp ridge about to come through. We excitedly tell Big T and show Mom-Mom that night at dinner. Mom-Mom is going on a week long trip. I tell her next time she sees Baby T he'll have 2 buck teeth. Ha. Little did I know.

Monday-Tuesday, January 18-19, 2010
Monday and Tuesday go without a hitch, for the most part. Continuing to feed the wrestling (he is no longer a nursling). I tell Big T he seems like he is writhing in pain. He hasn't been napping well and he is cranky.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I come home from work. Big T looks exhausted. Baby T's usual "throw yourself at mom's chest with your mouth open" ensues. He is tired. He hasn't slept well today. I bring him to his room at 6, which is earlier than usual, but he is Tired with a capital T. He bobs hungrily at my shoulder. We sit on the chair in the nursery. He bobs hungrily at my chest. I undo my nursing bra. All hell breaks loose. He screams, he cries, he writhes. He freaks.

We take a break and read some books. Mr. Hyde returns. He laughs at "Little Puppy" and pats the fire in "Goodnight Moon." He starts to fuss. He's hungry. Bobs at the chest. I undo my nursing bra. Hell. Loose.

I put him in the Arm's Reach Cocoon to rock him. Sometimes it's better when he can't smell me. He cries gutterally.

I give up. Back in the living room, Big T looks up, surprised. Baby T gives him his best smile. We eat dinner while Baby T plays and rubs his eyes. We try nursing in different places. In the living room, laying in the bedroom, in the guest room. Hell. Around 8:30, we go back into the nursery. Repeat previous sequence. Hell.

O-KAY. Baby T goes into my wrap, and, snuggled against my chest, falls fast asleep. He is limp like a rag doll when I finally take him out and put him in his cocoon. He is exhausted and fast asleep. He wakes that night at midnight. I try to nurse him. Hell. He snuggles in my arms and falls back to sleep quickly. Repeat at 3AM, at which time he goes back to sleep in the wrap on my chest.

Thursday, January 21, 2010
We were supposed to go to the pediatrician this morning for Baby T's 6 month vaccinations, which we had cancelled at his 6 month appointment because he had a cold. But Baby T is so fussy I wouldn't be able to tell if he were having a reaction to his vaccinations or not, and that scares me. So I call and cancel. The girl at the front desk is sympathetic. I'm sure she has heard this all before. She probably knows exactly what I'm in for.

Tieren hasn't eaten in over 16 hours. I use the medicine dropper during Baby T's first feeding at 7AM to coax him to nurse. Score. He falls for the bait. Although he is hungrily trying to push my boob out of the way and grab the medicine dropper with his hand, I succeed by dribbling milk down my nipple and into Baby T's mouth. Latch. I relax and Baby T nurses to sleep.

I stay home from work this morning until Baby T's next feeding time. Try again with the medicine dropper. Score again. He's back. Phew.

Fast forward to Thursday afternoon. Come home from work, Baby T throws himself at my chest, go to the nursery, undo my nursing bra, all hell breaks loose. I am now fully equipped, however, and I offer him milk from the medicine dropper. It squirts into his eye. Oops. Then into his mouth. He stubbornly keeps his mouth shut. Then, "oh, what's this?" I can see him smacking his lips a little. He relaxes and opens his mouth for more. I try the old milk on the nipple trick. Hell breaks loose again.

In between breaks for reading books, trying to give him some milk directly from a cup (he takes maybe an ounce), playing in the living room, trying to feed him banana (which he refuses, but that's not unusual. He's not really into solids yet), I try to nurse him. He eventually is giving me the tight lipped head shake when I offer him the breast, the medicine dropper, the bottle, and the cup. He's onto me.

I'm angry. I am angry and hurt. I don't understand why my baby is the only one who doesn't nurse for comfort. Why is he so stubborn? Doesn't he understand that mama wants him to feel better? He's starving. But every time he so much as looks at the breast, I can see the wheels in his head spinning, and he will close his mouth and shake his head ever so slightly, as if he's telling himself, "no, that's gonna hurt." I am taking it personally, and I'm getting frustrated. Baby T knows it. Big T tells me I have to relax. I know I shouldn't be angry at my baby. This hurts him  more than it hurts me. I should be sympathetic. But as my efforts fall flat, I become less and less sympathetic.

I am angry that he takes a bottle with no problem from his dad all day long, and rejects me when I come home. Most of all, I am afraid that Baby T will never nurse again. I keep repeating a story that I read on the internet in my mind, where the baby nursed one last time, and that was the last time the baby ever nursed. I want to nurse Baby T as long as he wants, of course. I don't want to push him, but I also know that babies normally don't wean themselves until they are at least 18-24 months (according to Mr. Google and friends.) I want to nurse Baby T until at LEAST then. He's only 8 months old, and not really eating solids. He is going to need breastmilk as his main source of  nutrition for a while. And I don't want to have to pump for this main source of nutrition all the time. I pump 3 times a day at work, and it is so nice to come home and nurse Baby T. It's my meditation, my calm after a long annoying day. It's for me as much as it is for him. Breastfeeding is like a drug. Crazy hormones are driving me at this point, but I am adamant that I will fix this. I just don't know how.

He falls asleep in my wrap that night. Wakes up twice during the night. I am up with him for a while. He nurses, but quickly, and doesn't fall back to sleep. We lay around on the guest room bed. He falls back asleep in my wrap.

Friday, January 22, 2010
Hallelujah, I have the day off. Baby T nurses fine in the morning (although I am prepared now, and don't even offer him the boob without a milk squirt, medicine dropper in hand.) As the day progresses, he wants to nurse less and less. Friday evening is much of the same as the previous evenings. Frustration, anger, and refusal. By now, Baby T has learned that shaking his head means no. I am not happy with this new development. I'm so frustrated by the end of the night, that Big T  has to put Baby T to bed. Sometimes I think that Baby T becomes more frustrated when he can smell me, and is hungry, but isn't able to eat because it hurts.

I google nursing strikes that night. The common thread in all of the advice is that I need to keep my cool. Don't show your baby frustration. Don't even feel the frustration, because your baby will feel it too. Easier said and done. I am not a calm type of person. If I hold in my frustration, it only gets worse. I can practically hear the steam pouring from my ears. I am like a hot kettle, and my whistle is about to go off.

Baby T sleeps well during the night, but doesn't nurse well. Grrrrr.... I am upset and exhausted. But it's cool.

Saturday, January 23, 2010
Swimming lessons at the Y this morning! Baby T loves the water. We have a great time. After the juggling act of trying to get both him and myself back into dry clothes in the women's locker room, Baby T is bobbing at my shoulder. There are naked old ladies walking around us, one of whom is asking about Baby T's outfit. I'm chatting with her. I lift up my shirt and undo my nursing bra. Baby T latches on, and drinks hungrily.


This is the baby who never nurses anywhere but in his nursery in the dark because he is too easily distracted. I continue my conversation with the woman in the locker room as Baby T continues to nurse. Huh.

The rest of the day, Baby T continues to latch on without yelling at me (but of course I preempt all my nursing sessions with a medicine dropper squirt). But he pops off halfway through each session and arches away, refusing to come back. This newly independent and stubborn shaking of the head, cute as it is, is frustrating. But I keep my resolve. After he pops off, we play. I sneeze and cough for him. He loves that. We giggle together and play peekaboo. More giggling. This is alright. Maybe he ate more than I thought.

This continues throughout the day. Baby T nurses more often than usual, but keeps popping off mid-session. Baby T is exhausted though. The power goes out at 5PM, and we decide to put him down for a nap, thinking he will wake up at 6 and we can buy a few more hours out of him and go out to dinner.

Baby T sleeps for 9 and a half hours. He wakes up at 2:30 PM and I'm totally engorged. He nurses. He nurses wonderfully and hungrily and for a long time. I am so relieved. He wakes again at 5:30 and nurses, this time in bed. Sigh. Maybe this nursing strike is over.

Baby T has already nursed three times after waking for the day. No medicine dropper in sight. The second time, he popped off halfway through, and I swaddled him and rocked him in the cocoon while he fell asleep. I have just returned from the third time. Again, when he was done, he was done. I don't know when he will ever fall asleep in my arms again. I don't see any more of these damn teeth than I did 5 days ago. They are taking a lot longer to come out than his bottom teeth did. I don't know if I should go to work tomorrow. I'm afraid for him to take a bottle again. In my mind, a nursing mother should not have to work full time. I wish this was the way society saw it as well. I hope all is well, but I really don't know.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baby Burritos

How to swaddle your baby - a demonstration

No, this is not about the new Anne Geddes calendar. This is about how to swaddle your baby so that you don't walk into the room 25 minutes into his nap to find him smiling and waving at you, or kicking around in the crib with his swaddle blanket up around his neck.

Baby T has quite a history with the swaddle. When he was first born, he was content to lay in his little cocoon, wrapped up all nice and tight. He was so tiny, the hospital blanket went around and around, tucked in front... perfect. About a week after we brought him home, we thought it might be a little too hot to swaddle him, so he was free. For about a week. He was a gassy kid. He was constantly drawing up his legs while he slept, and it would wake him up. I decided that maybe he didn't need his arms swaddled, but I would certainly wrap that blanket tight around his legs. During this time, our main form of amusement was watching his moro reflex as he fell asleep and threw his arms out wide over and over again.  Then we decided it was about time we actually got some sleep. Goodbye late night laugh fest, hello Taco Bell. We wrapped up our baby like a little burrito and we were all able to get some sleep.

Until about a month later, when Baby T began to get bigger and stronger. The hospital blanket didn't wrap all the way around him anymore, and I certainly couldn't tuck it in the front. He was so squirmy that his weight didn't hold the end down in the back, and he was constantly wriggling free. Off to the Amazon to get myself some bigger swaddle blankets. (, that is.) I ordered a pack of Aden and Anais muslin blankets, which are 3? 4? feet square. That was the ticket. For about another month.

Then, we would walk into the room when Baby T was supposed to be sleeping, and he'd be smiling and waving. Or hitting himself incessantly in the face. Or flailing all 4 limbs while his face was covered by the entire 16 square feet of the blanket. It was time for more drastic measures.

We tried the swaddle method in The Happiest Baby on the Block, but that totally didn't work for us. Plus, Baby T was getting longer, so we couldn't really wrap up the end of the swaddle blanket anymore. A friend told me about her Super Straitjacket Swaddle method, and it totally clicked with me. One of the older nurses in the hospital had used 2 hospital blankets to do something similar. This method is obviously tried and true. The best thing about it is you can finally put your receiving blankets to good use, since they were too small for anything but a burp cloth once your baby hit 10 pounds. There were VERY few times that Baby T managed to get himself out of this one. In fact, once he started rolling over, he would do it in the swaddle, and then get stuck facedown, unable to move his arms, and unable to roll back over. (This was when we stopped swaddling at night). But little Mr. NoNap still needs to be swaddled at naptime. He is quite the active little fellow, so these swaddling methods are invaluable to us now.

Here's a demonstration of the Super Straitjacket Swaddle:

Big T was not a fan of the Super Straitjacket Swaddle, though. He thought it was mean. But he was an expert swaddler, so he had his own method. I could not figure out how he did it. I would watch him carefully each time and try to replicate his method, failing miserably. Then I finally figured out what was different. On the first pass under the body, Big T was picking up Baby T's legs and passing the blanket underneath. I was picking up his upper body, because I thought picking up his legs looked like it would put strain on his neck. Apparently this made all the difference. Don't ask me why. I am now an expert swaddler as well.

Here is a demonstration of Big T's Super Swaddle:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sundried Tomato and Spinach Pesto Recipe

I've been doing a lot of grocery shopping at Costco. I can get organic food there for really great prices. And it helps me eat more vegetables, because I get such a huge amount of them and I hate for them to go bad. So it's veggies veggies veggies at every meal.

Last night I was looking for an easy, quick meal, and this one came to me. I basically threw what I had left of a giant pack of baby spinach, the last of a bag of pine nuts, some sundried tomatoes, and kalamata olives into the food processor and used it as a sauce for spaghetti. Oh, and I topped it all with goat cheese. Yum. It was amazing.

Now, I don't normally measure ingredients when I cook. Even when I use a recipe, I just eyeball it or use what I have available. But I know that freaks some people out, so I've attempted to write the recipe using exact measures. But feel free to go off-roading, if you will.

Sundried Tomato and Spinach Pesto with Spaghetti
3 cups baby spinach leaves
3/4-1 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil
1/8 cup pine nuts
1/8-1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives (that means pits removed. Confusing, I  know.)
salt to taste
basil and oregano to taste (I used dried, but wish I had fresh)
squeeze of 1/2 a lime
any kind of pasta
1 tbsp butter
goat cheese

Put sun dried tomatoes and kalamata olives in food processor and pulse a few times. Add spinach leaves and pine nuts, and process until it has a paste-like consistency. There was enough olive oil in the sun dried tomatoes that I didn't feel the need to add any more. It melts a bit once you add it to the hot pasta. I would wait until you have added it to your pasta to add more oil. Taste it and add salt if you want to. At this point, I felt like it needed some kick, so I squeezed about half a lime into it. It added some bite without tasting limey at all.

Cook your pasta (I combined spaghetti and penne). After draining, add butter to pot and heat until slightly browned, and then add the pasta back into the pot and toss. Add pesto mixture (I only used about 1/2 of the pesto and froze the other 1/2 in a plastic baggie). Toss on low heat until pasta is coated.

Serve in bowls with goat cheese crumbled on top.

I couldn't take a picture because I ate it too quickly. Sorry.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy Holidays!

*Sigh* So I am finally able to sit down at the computer now that the holiday season is drawing to a close. We were busy: traveling to Memphis for Thanksgiving, preparing for Baby T's first Christmas, and trying to get some sleep on New Year's Eve.

There is something magical about this season when you're a kid. Your whole family is together, you wake up early on Christmas morning, and you spend the day cozy inside your childhood home. Once you're older, you're busy visiting different family members or wishing you could all be together. You try to sleep as late as possible, and you pack up the car several times--with presents to give, and later, presents to bring home. It's different than it used to be.

On Christmas Eve Big T and I were scrambling to decide where Santa would leave the presents. Our stockings were hung on the entertainment center above the TV. We don't have a fireplace. We decided that we didn't want Baby T thinking Santa comes in through the TV, so we decided to leave the presents by the back door. Thus begins the tradition. Who needs a fireplace anyway? We made it easier for Santa.

Baby T opening his first Christmas present ever:

A little overwhelmed by all of the presents:

My little elf:

And our little Christmas miracle--Even though we had been waiting for Baby T to start crawling on Thanksgiving, since he had been dragging himself around the room on his elbows for several weeks now, he finally did start crawling on Christmas day:

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