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Friday, December 31, 2010

Surprise Christmas

I know, I know. Christmas was last weekend and I'm posting now. Its been a "nap when you can" kind of week. ;-)

Charlie opening his presents before we left
Anyway, this past weekend wasn't just Christmas, it was Charlie's first Christmas! Yay! Our original plans were to cozy up at home, make a big breakfast, open presents, Skype with the family, and watch the parade. Sounds pretty good, huh? Yeah, we wouldn't get to see family, but there just wasn't time with Jeff's busy work schedule. Ya know, with the holidays and all. Well, thanks to a scheduling change at the BN, we were able to mix things up a bit.

This year, Christmas was being held at Jeff's Aunt and Uncle's house so on Tuesday, Jeff called them to set up our big surprise. We figured, since we weren't supposed to be coming for Christmas, surprising Paula would be a wonderful Christmas present. We left Blacksburg on Christmas Eve around 4pm and arrived at our destination around 10:30pm. As usual, Charlie was wonderful on the ride there! Thank goodness that kid likes the car.

Keith explaining our master plan to Paula when we arrived

When we got there, the surprise and joy were overwhelming! When we walked through the door, Paula looked at us in disbelief. After a few seconds it sunk in that we were really there and there were hugs and kisses galore.

The weekend was wonderful. Charlie got to meet the rest of the family and we all got to spend a cozy few days just hanging out, watching various Christmas specials, and getting our butts kicked in Skip-Bo by Althea. :-) I'm so glad we got the chance to visit.

Charlie with Great Uncle Keith and Great Aunt Deb

As predicted, Charlie looked simply adorable in his Christmas get up and to my surprise, he lasted in it all day without incident (read explosion of some bodily fluid). I bought the pattern for it months ago, but hadn't had a chance to make it. At first, that wasn't a big deal since we weren't going anywhere. By the time plans were in place to head to PA, I had two days to throw it together. By some Christmas miracle, Charlie napped wonderfully those two days and I was able to bang it out in time.

The ride home was equally pleasant and Charlie slept most of the way. It sure was a lot of driving, but it was completely worth it. Though surprising family for Christmas was pretty epic, hopefully, when next year rolls around we'll be much closer. :-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Road Trippin'

This past weekend, Charlie and I embarked on his first road trip! Our mission? To see some good friends, attend Doug's college graduation, and introduce Charlie to his aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandpa. 1,100 miles later and we've both made it home in one piece (and me with my sanity). Though it was a little nutty to drive that far with a 7 week old alone, it turned out to be a great weekend!

We left on Friday morning around 8am and made our way to Lock Haven. I fed Charlie right before we left (I literally had my coat and shoes on) to make sure we got in as much driving as possible before stopping. To my surprise we made it almost to Winchester, VA (about 3 hours away) before having to stop. Tip #1 for traveling with a baby. Whenever the baby needs to stop to eat, gas up and grab a snack. I learned this the hard way. When we stopped around Winchester, I fed Charlie and then got back on the road. About 40 minutes later, as Charlie was happily snoozing in the back, I needed gas. Only problem was that he wasn't due to eat for another 2 hours or so and I knew stopping would wake him up. I didn't really have a choice and had to stop. He eventually calmed back down and fell asleep, but only after 20 minutes of crying. Lesson learned.

Stopping to feed Charlie only added about an hour to our trip, which wasn't too bad. We arrived in Lock Haven around 4:30pm and hung out with George, Lisa, Katie, Emmy, and Danielle for a while. It was so good to see everyone and finally see George and Lisa's cute new house. It had been years since I had been in Lock Haven and being back there really felt like home. :-) After some chatting and dinner, we were back on the road headed for Indiana, PA. Tip #2 for traveling with a baby. Regardless of how well you prepare, a baby stuck in a car seat all day long WILL eventually cry for no reason other than crankiness. With the exception of staying calm and focusing on the road, there is nothing you can do about this. Its heartbreaking, but trying to reach into the back of the car to tend to them is just plain dangerous.

Landon inspecting his new baby cousin
We arrived in Indiana around midnight, checked into the hotel, and met up with Doug. Thankfully, he was there to help me bring in all of our stuff. Tip #3 for traveling with a baby. Don't over pack. Seriously, babies need enough stuff as it is. Chris, Mike, and Landon arrived shortly after us and they got to meet Charlie for the first time! Thankfully, both boys slept really well that night and didn't keep each other (or us poor parents) up all night.

Saturday, we spent time with Doug, saw his dog's adorable new puppies, and went shopping in Pittsburgh. Most important of all, we got Bob's Pizza!!! The best pizza outside of New York, if you ask me. Though the traffic sucked into and out of the city, it was fun to get out and do something different. The Pittsburgh Mills is gigantic and kept us busy for most of the evening. While we were there, I found Charlie a new friend. After all, every boy named Charlie needs a Snoopy. <3 If you sit Snoopy on the bed next to him, he stares at him and babbles. I think its because he can see him better than many other toys since he is black and white. It is ridiculously adorable.

Sunday, my Dad and Nick came out from eastern PA for Doug's graduation later that afternoon. It was so good to see everyone and spend the day together. We had breakfast at Eat n Park, then headed to campus for the ceremony. It was so strange to be back on campus, especially since it looks so drastically different from when I was there last (about 2 years ago). That's what happens when they knock down all of the residence halls and built completely new ones.

The ceremony was really nice and the speakers were good. Slightly long winded, but good. There were about 300 students graduating from the various colleges represented, but Doug's college was dead last, so he spent much of the ceremony texting Chris and I ridiculous things. What else was there to do? :-) Charlie did surprisingly well during the ceremony and slept the whole time. We were sitting in the bleachers, however, which was not the most comfortable seating arrangement for holding a baby. Thankfully, we were able to pass him back and forth between Chris, my Dad, and me. He slept the best for Chris, but I'm not sure why. Something about a sleeper hold?

I can't believe how fast time has gone by. I remember when Doug was a freshmen! Now he's a college graduate and I'm so proud of him! :-)

Nick is next to go, which is even crazier. I remember changing his diapers. Haha

After the ceremony, we headed back to our hotel to hang out and exchange gifts. Since Jeff, Charlie, and I are unable to come back up to visit for Christmas, we decided to have our own pseudo Christmas when we came to visit for graduation. Landon and Charlie made out like bandits! Charlie got such wonderful presents from Aunt Chris, Uncle Mike, and Landon, Uncle Nick, Uncle Doug and Chelsie, and Grandpa. He got adorable outfits, toys, Baby Einstein CDs, a Christmas ornament, a doorway bouncer seat, a cozy blanket for his car seat, Steelers sippy cups, and a beautiful cross stitch of his name made by Aunt Chris. He is one loved little boy.

Charlie wasn't the only one who got awesome gifts. My Dad bought me the most thoughtful gift I've gotten in a very long time. He bought me a birthstone charm for Charlie that matches mine from my Mom's necklace. <3 Now I can wear them together. 
Landon and Charlie ready for bed
Though we didn't get a ton of time together, the weekend was wonderful. We really do need to move back north closer to family. I don't want Charlie growing up with only the occasional visit during the holidays, especially since him and Landon are so close in age. We'll see what the job search turns up in the spring! In the meantime, more visits between VA and PA are in order.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Due Date, Charlie!

Happy due date, my sweet boy. Not all Mommies are as lucky as I am; most need to wait and wait to meet their little one and I got to meet you almost six weeks early. Thank you for being the light of my life every single day. <3

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Drank the Baby Wearin' Kool Aid

I had been trying to juggle Charlie's desire to be held with things like showering, cleaning up, and getting something to eat, but there is only so much you can do with one hand. There had to be a better way.

A few months ago, we had registered for and received a Moby wrap as a gift, but returned it when we couldn't figure it out for the life of us and instead got an Infantino Back to Front carrier. We like the Infantino, but its more of an out and about carrier, not an around the house type of thing. Plus, its super hard to get Charlie in and out of - especially if he's sleeping. After seeing a video on YouTube about using a baby wrap and getting a little in person help it suddenly all made sense and I had to have one! It was exactly what we needed! Luckily, a friend of mine had one on hand that she was no longer using and lent it to me. I can't believe I was confused by this before. I guess I'm just a visual learner. I'm able to get Charlie in and out by myself, so there's no need to have someone else around to help.

I really enjoy having him so close and he really seems to enjoy being snuggled up (he's in the newborn hug hold in the pictures). It helps me cuddle with him while still being able to have my hands free to do other things. Since its just one long piece of fabric, when he gets older there are other ways to tie the wrap to continue carrying him either on the front or back. And for those of you thinking it, no - carrying him around will not spoil him. You can't spoil someone by giving them what they need! Think of all the times a parent either struggles to push a stroller through a crowded place or over rocky ground or ends up carrying a child in their arms, on their hip, or up on their shoulders...those are all perfect times to use a wrap!

So lets see, we've got breastfeeding, cloth diapering, the occasional bed sharing, and now baby wearing. Yup, I think I'm a hippie Mom. Ya know what though, I absolutely love it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Crying Chronicles

I should preface this post by saying that in general, Charlie is a very, very good baby. He doesn't mind his car seat, he sleeps when we go out, etc. I must also add that I absolutely love that breastfeeding is working for us and that we get to bond in that way. There's just this one little issue...

For the past week or so, Mr. Charlie has taken to dominating my evenings with freak out after freak out. From about 6pm until 11pm is one long witching hour. At first, his red faced screaming resulted in me running around the apartment trying everything I could think of. Dirty diaper? No. Swing? No. Bouncer seat? No. Bounce and walk? No. The only fix was nursing him...sort of. When I would try to nurse him, he would eat for a bit, but then doze off and half halfheartedly suck as if I were a pacifier. When I tried to wake him up to eat more, another freak out would start. What was going on with this kid?! After reading an article on, however, I learned that quite often babies this age want to cluster feed and comfort nurse to settle down from the day and prepare for the night ahead. It also could have to do with the numerous growth spurts that newborns go through during their first few months of life. Often this kind of behavior is diagnosed as colic or another digestive issue, not the need for comfort. The resulting good news? After his 11pm feeding, he calms down and goes to sleep until about 3am, then sleeps again from about 4am until 7:30am. Further good news? He'll grow out of it. Guess I can't complain about that!

Since my little discovery, Charlie is happier and I'm less crazy. Yes, he still wants to nurse almost every hour, but now I know to just let him nurse, sleep, and relax instead of trying to rush him off the breast so I could go get something done. Its natures way of slowing me down too, I suppose. Not a bad lesson to learn.

In a further attempt to help calm him, we got him a Wubbanub. Overall, Charlie isn't a binkie kind of kid, but he does like it when he's in need of comforting. The only problem was he couldn't hold the binkie in his mouth for more than a few minutes. He's got a strong suck, just not a lot of stamina. The minute he'd doze off, there went the binkie. In comes the Wubbanub; basically a little beanie baby attached to a newborn Soothie binkie. The baby can cuddle with the animal and hold in their binkie. Thank goodness for random inventions.

Charlie's froggy friend

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One Month Old!

Well, two days ago anyway. That's the trouble with a baby born on the 31st - there isn't a 31st every month and things get confusing! Either way, Charlie is a month old now and getting big. At his check up yesterday, he weighed 6 pounds 15 1/2 ounces (soooo close to seven pounds!) and was 21 1/2 inches long. On the regular growth percentile charts, he's doing well for head circumference and length, but isn't even on the chart yet for weight. Technically, he should be measured on the adjusted preemie growth chart, but the doctor didn't have one on hand. The chart aside, the doctor is very happy with his weight gain and overall growth.

Sitting with Mickey in our new comfy glider.