Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Results Are In!

I know you have been up all night in anticipation of the Halloween 2008 Pumpkin Design winner. The election was tight and by a margin of only one vote, I'm pleased to announce that Boo! received the most votes. (And no I didn't rig the voting because that was the pumpkin Mike and I did) Guess this proves that every vote counts!

Regardless of winning, I have to admit it was a lot of fun just getting together and carving pumpkins. I think Grayson had a fun time as well. As I was scooping out the goop from inside our pumpkin, it made me think that next year Grayson will likely be having even more fun playing in all of the mess.

The evening also reminded me of how blessed we are to be surrounded by great friends and family, particularly with the upcoming holiday season. It's a lot of fun to celebrate Grayson's "firsts" with everyone. Although he doesn't realize it yet, Grayson has so many wonderful people that he can turn to and will influence his life during times when his parents seem like squares.

Another blessing is the diversity of the people in this support system. This is evident in how some of our friends chose to plan (or not plan) their pumpkin design. Take for example the Carr family. Rob and Michelle shared a pumpkin and combed through stencil books strategically selecting their skeleton design.

The Clays went a different route. Matt and Gina came with Obama stencils in hand, but decided to each carve a pumpkin so they could do their own thing.

Hosts Rob and Courtney Green also went the two pumpkin route. Courtney was so busy entertaining us that she quickly selected the scary skeleton stencil and got to work. Rob on the other hand focused on proper protection like a plastic bag smock and gloves to execute his intricately planned pumpkin diorama complete with an octopus, seahorse, dry ice and more. Although he didn't finish it that evening, I have no doubt it will be a masterpiece.
Then there is Michael and myself. We elected to share a pumpkin as well. I took on the job of cleaning out the insides and Michael was in charge of the design. He freehanded the Boo! without a stencil and also did the carving work. Regardless of the approach, all of the pumpkins came out great and we had a blast.
(FYI: No, my husband is not capable of taking a normal picture)

I hope you've all enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 Halloween Pumpkin election. Let it serve as a reminder to get out and vote next week!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cast Your (Pumpkin) Vote!

All we seem to hear about these days are the presidential campaigns, so in honor of the upcoming election I've decided to host a vote of my own. Check out the poll on the left margin of this blog and cast your vote for favorite pumpkin design of Halloween 2008.

Voting will close tomorrow at noon so come back to find out the winner and see pictures of our friends throughout the carving process. Here are the worthy candidates:


Scary Skeleton

Boo! (freehanded without a stencil might I add)


Obama head

Octopus diorama (not totally finished, but detailed plans include a seahorse and dry ice)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Grayson's World at Two Months

This Saturday Grayson will be two months old so I thought it would be a good time to note what he's up to these days. Overall, he is a very sweet baby and seems to have a laid back personality. He does get fussy around 5:30-6 p.m. everyday (just in time for daddy to walk through the door to a crying baby), but I'd take this over a colicky baby that screams all night and day (not that you can choose these things).     

He still loves to cup his ear in comfort. Either side will do, he doesn't seem to have a preference. Other favorite pastimes include lying on the changing table and smiling up at the picture hanging above, watching the mobiles over his swing or crib, "talking" to us, and taking a bath. 

Tummy time continues to involve a lot of crying when done on the floor, but if you lay him on his stomach on your chest he exercises his little heart out. His neck is really getting strong and he can partially roll over on his side. 

During his waking hours, Grayson's arms and legs seem to be moving constantly. He can't always control what they are doing, but that doesn't stop him from wiggling and kicking all over the place. Roxy has been on the receiving end of some of that movement and suffice it to say she's not a fan. 

Like his mama and his Pappa Steve, Grayson never misses a meal and is doing pretty well sticking to a schedule. He eats every three hours and goes 7 1/2 hours at night between meals. This sounds like he's sleeping through the night, but although it's getting a lot better, this isn't the case just yet. He typically wakes up around 4 a.m. wanting you to stick the pacifier in his mouth and he falls right back to sleep. He wakes up again around 6:15 a.m. due to gas and usually just fusses for a few minutes and then falls back to sleep until our "official" wake up time of 7 a.m. I've tried giving him gas drops before bed to help him sleep more comfortably, but that doesn't seem to make a difference. 

His latest new trick is to start crying when you go to burp him. I think this is because he's in a little pain until the air is burped out, but what he doesn't realize is that it takes longer to get relief if you're busy crying instead of burping. Of course, I've explained this to him logically several times to no avail. Imagine that! Fingers crossed this phase passes soon. 

In other news, Grayson's baby acne has cleared up and now he has a peely scalp instead which I think is cradle cap. There's really nothing you can do to treat it other than wait for it to clear up on its own. Luckily, he enjoys wearing hats so that's in our favor. 

Looking ahead it's hard to believe that in two weeks I'll be back to work and he'll be adjusting to a new routine at daycare. Between the time change this weekend and then starting daycare, I think we're in for some disrupted schedules and nights over the next few weeks. Guess we'll just hang on for the ride and see what happens. 

For now, I'm focused on enjoying the time I have with Grayson and the short naps I get to sneak in here and there. My job may be flexible for new moms, but I doubt they accommodate a mid-morning nap. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Test Kitchen

One of my favorite pastimes is reading food magazines and trying out new recipes, particularly desserts (mmm) but really I'm up for anything as long as I can pronounce all of the ingredients. Michael is typically a good sport about it as long as the meal doesn't contain things he's allergic to (chicken/turkey/all poultry) or something he really doesn't like (such as raw tomatoes or onions).

Part of why I love searching out new meals is because it can be challenging to find new variations on beef and pork since he can't eat poultry. We do like seafood, but really great, fresh seafood can be hard to come by at times in a landlocked state. We have dabbled in the vegetarian world of soy/meat substitutes a little just to change it up a bit.

Well this hobby has been "kicked up a notch" (as Emeril would say) now that I have more time to plan and cook meals instead of rushing home from work in a mood to just get dinner over with as soon as possible. Recently I've made a corn casserole that was a bit odd but tasty nonetheless and breaded pork chops with spinach fritters.

This week I tried out teriyaki burgers with a grilled corn and scallion relish, as well as homemade french onion soup. I've come to realize if I balance out the experimental recipes with traditional ones throughout the week Michael doesn't seem as concerned when he sits down at the table. For example, Monday night I made the teriyaki burgers which meant Tuesday required a familiar dish -- spaghetti. You get the idea.

Although he's come to admit liking several of the new meals, I think Michael is ready for me to go back to work so he can get back to eating comfort food. Lucky for me I still have several more weeks of testing out meals from my large stack of recipes I've torn out of magazines. If one happens to bomb, I'll just pull out the frozen pizza I have stashed as plan B and no one will go hungry.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Mommy Confession

I've discovered an area of motherhood where I could use some serious improvement. (Only one, you're thinking?) It's stain removal. I know this seems random, but Grayson has had several diaper blowouts which require wardrobe changes. I've tried a few different stain treatments, but the onesies still come out of the washer with light mustard-like stains.

I feel like a lot of moms, and females in general, have some kind of stain fighting DNA that I lack. This is a problem I don't think will be going away anytime soon since having a boy means stains are inevitable, so I need help building an arsenal of stain fighting tactics.

Any advice is more than welcome because at this rate, Grayson is either going to look like the dirty kid in class or I won't be able to pass down any of his clothes to other babies because they will all be stained. Help!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two Month Check up

Today, Grayson and I paid a visit to the pediatrician for a check up and next round of immunizations. He's technically not quite two months old yet, but the doctor will be out of town then so we went early.

I ran into a girl from our child birth class in the waiting room. She was bringing her daughter Ella in for her check up as well. For only being three days older than Grayson she is quite the chunker, weighing in close to 12 lbs. She was really cute (of course, not as cute as our baby) but I have to admit I was jealous when the mom said she consistently sleeps 7 hours at night and sometimes as many as 9 hours. Since Grayson is a bit on the smaller side I don't expect him to sleep through the night just yet, but it would be nice to get more than 4-5 hours.

Once they called us back, I undressed Grayson and he proceeded to go to the bathroom on each and every surface he touched -- the exam table, the scales, the table again a second time, etc. Several diapers and another outfit later, the doctor came in and said that Grayson now weighs 9 lbs 11.2 oz and is 22 1/2 inches long.

His weight is a little small (in the 15-20th percentile), but his percentage of weight gain since birth is great. He is in the 50th percentile for length and the doctor was pleased at how Grayson is thriving. Then came the not-so-fun part...the immunizations.

Grayson had to have one by mouth and three shots in his legs. He gulped up the liquid like a champ, but his cries during the shots made my heart break. As Michael can attest, I've always been a baby about shots for Roxy and this was worse not only because of the cries, but also the bright red face and tiny little tears.

I've never heard Grayson let out a cry of pain before and it sounds so completely different than his other cries. Next time I'm going to make Michael go with me so there is someone to comfort me afterward.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Waking up on the Right Side of the Bed

For the last 6+ weeks, I've been anxiously awaiting a sign that Grayson has taken after me in some way, even if it's small. He looks so much like Michael overall and we've matched other characteristics to our family members:

Face: mostly Michael
Eyes/long lashes: Grandmother Carol (my mom)
Long fingers/nails: Michael's maternal grandfather
Strong burping ability: Aunt Amy (my sister...sorry Aim-O but it's true, you should hear how this kid can belch. It reminds me of you right after drinking a Coke. You would be proud.)
Long, skinny limbs: Pappa Steve (my dad)

You get the idea. Lots of traits...nothing from mama. It's a good thing I carried the child, because otherwise I might question if he's mine. But that all changed this morning when I got a little glimpse of me.

As a baby and toddler, I woke up from naps with a smile and in a generally happy mood. This morning Grayson not only woke up happy and stretching, but he flashed his first real smile. The smile alone melted my heart, and now I am also clinging to the hope that he'll have my sunny disposition. I wanted so badly to capture his adorable stretches and cooing on video, but I couldn't risk running into the living room to get the camera and miss the fleeting moment.

So I've spent the rest of today trying to at least capture a smile on camera. This has resulted in a lot of weird, close-up pictures (like the one above where Grayson is thinking to himself, "what is this crazy woman doing?"), none of which accurately capture his new expression.

I'll keep the camera handy and continue to work on recreating the moment, but for now you get to enjoy today's unsuccessful paparazzi-fest.
P.S. There are more new pictures uploaded on the Grayson photo website. See the link in the left margin. Be sure to scroll through both pages because they didn't get posted in order for some reason.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Our Little Pumpkin

Last Sunday we took Grayson to his first pumpkin patch. He got decked out for the occasion in his Happy Halloween outfit, pumpkin hat and knit booties. Doesn't he look like such a big boy in his carrier?

Even though he had no idea where we were or what we were doing, Michael, Nana, Popper and I enjoyed picking out pumpkins and taking advantage of the adorable photo opportunities.

The farm we go to isn't just full of also has a hay maze, hay slide, petting zoo and several other fun agricultural experiences. I'm hoping this becomes an annual event and am excited to see him enjoy the other activities over the years.

It amazes me that many children don't realize where pumpkins come from or that they grow on a vine along the ground. Grayson will be one of the first to know that they don't come from a bin at the supermarket.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back to the Grind...and I need a nap

Over the last two days I temporarily returned to the workforce for a conference. It was nice to catch up with my coworkers and remember bits of my pre-baby life, but man am I tired. This may have something to do with the fact that Monday alone was a 14+ hour day which was a shock to the system, compounded by the fact that Grayson isn't quite sleeping through the night yet. 

It's not like I haven't been working around the clock at home over these last six weeks, but this was a different kind of exhaustion. Plus, being away from Grayson for so long required a lot of planning in terms of a milk supply. It was a relief to have Nana and Popper (Michael's parents) in town to babysit and they thoughtfully provided update phone calls and pictures throughout the day to reassure me that things were under control. 

This experience was a good trial run for when I go back to work full time. I learned it can be very difficult to work in time for pumping while still getting things done on a schedule. Part of the issue was finding a comfortable place to pump at the convention center, but I also had to work around a set conference agenda that required me to be in certain workshops at certain times. When I was able to break away, I would return to find out I missed out on a great speaker or something else I wanted to see. Hopefully pumping will be a little easier when I'm back at my office and can shut my door and work meetings around my needs a little easier than these last few days. 

I was also reminded how much I love coming home to my family. Seeing Grayson recognize (and need) me is the best feeling ever. He's getting very close to flashing his first real social smile and I'm so thankful I didn't miss it. I'm looking forward to having Grayson all to myself tomorrow and we may even stay in our pajamas all day together just to celebrate. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Boomer Sooner


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Reality Check-up

This morning I had my six week check up with the OBGYN. Technically next Monday marks six weeks, but I had to go early since I'm temporarily venturing back into the work world for a two-day conference. 

As Grayson and I were hanging out in the waiting room, I enjoyed people watching the eclectic group around me. There were several pregnant women there which made me reflect on how much has changed in these last few weeks. Not only do I now have a child, but it's kind of incredible to think about everything my body has gone through in that short amount of time. 

My uterus shrank from the size of a watermelon to a pear, and I went from carrying around 25 extra pounds with lots of  heartburn, waddling and lower back pain to sitting in the waiting room in a pair of real jeans that don't have a maternity waistband (whohoo!). While everything isn't exactly back where it was pre-pregnancy, I am thankful to no longer be dealing with the pains of a pregnant body.

There was a bit of bad news when I asked the doctor if the dark stripe on my stomach and the loose belly skin would ever go away. In her blunt, honest way that I somehow found endearing while pregnant, she explained how sometimes they do go away, but it often takes up to a year and a lot of women have these marks of motherhood forever. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I have genes like Heidi Klum when it comes to a post-baby body, but somehow I doubt this will be the case since Victoria's Secret hasn't come calling. 

At any rate, I just need to stay focused on Grayson's adorable face instead of the mirror and it will all be okay. He's worth having to do a few extra sit-ups. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Turn up your speakers

...and get ready to hear the most adorable snoring EVER!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One Month & Counting

Grayson has changed so much in just a month. He is starting to look less like a newborn and more like a boy. Overall, I still think he favors Michael except for maybe his eyes.

For the most part, Grayson is a pretty laid back baby. He doesn't fuss much unless he is ready to eat, has gas or needs a diaper change. He is starting to vocalize in other ways besides crying and is able to focus his eyes on your face or other things like lights and ceiling fans.

There are still a few times he goes cross-eyed or gets that deer in the headlights look like in this picture. It really cracks me up how wide he can open his eyes. Makes me wonder what thoughts are going through his head when this happens.

He's also doing well with both breastfeeding and taking a bottle. Here is daddy feeding him his first bottle a few weeks ago. As a sign he is eating well, Grayson is up to 8 lbs. and 20 1/2 inches long and is beginning to fill in the excess skin around his knees and elbows.

Other things Grayson currently enjoys include his pacifier, the adorable booties our friend Michelle knitted, and goofy hats. Here are some photos of him with a few of his favorite things:

This picture and video pretty much sum up how Grayson feels about tummy time.