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Hi. I'm Esther Aardsma!



Esther's Diary, 2013


(The newest diary entries are at the top.)



December 8, 2013

And Ger is ONE YEAR OLD!!

We didn't really celebrate his birthday yesterday; we're planning to have a big family party for him on Christmas Eve at his Grandma Aardsma's house, so his Auntie Rachel and Uncle Joey and cousin Emma can be there too. It's going to be completely lost on him, but totally fun for the rest of us!!

It's hard to believe that Ger's been with us for a whole year now, but it also feels like he's always been with us. The last year has been incredibly tough, fulfilling, and amazing. Some days I am still in awe of the fact that I'm married and have a child and a home of my own.







Ger enjoyed watching Auntie Beka play the guitar. He was uncharacteristically mesmerized, sitting and watching her for probably about fifteen minutes before getting bored.

Ger's standing record for walking on his own is eight steps! He currently prefers to crawl, but he is definitely getting faster at walking along walls and couches. He gets bored super quickly with his toys, so Matt and I went to a dollar store yesterday morning and found a bunch of cheap toys that we're intending to start on a rotational basis, to try to keep him more entertained. We'll see!




His turn to play! He was really shy about it!



Ger was mistaken as a girl (even in overalls! How's that for your birthday?) by an elderly man yesterday at the dollar store! Maybe it's really time to cut his hair now? I've been saying that for three months now, but the issue of practicality comes up. How do you really do that? Do I really want to be using sharp scissors around his face while he's trying to see what I'm doing? Electric clippers would terrify him. Plus, he hates restraint, and his attention span is usually about five seconds...sooo maybe not yet. Long hair never killed a boy, right?

Love you all,
Esther




Auntie Rachel, baby Emma, Auntie 'Beka and Little Ger.
Ger's first Thanksgiving! He met his cousin Emma for the first time and was absolutely fascinated with her.


November 7, 2013

Hi everybody,

Today Ger is 11 months old. Ai-yi-yi! Is he ever the trouble maker! Trash cans, toilet paper rolls, kleenex boxes, the fridge...he has a sixth sense for a potential mess and does his best to make one at every possible opportunity!








Last week I tried something new and cooked up a copycat Little Caesar's pizza. I learned that one of the tricks for good pizza is to heat up a pizza stone really hot, and then transfer the completely made pizza to the stone in the oven. I don't think my pizza turned out identical to Little Caesar's, but Matt said it was the best pizza I had ever made. High praise! I had a little trouble getting the thin, floppy dough onto the pizza stone which accounts for the funny shape, but it didn't affect the taste! I also tried some copy cat crazy bread, but I thought it was a little bland and could have used five times the seasonings.

Recipes I used:

Little Caesar's Pizza Dough




De.Lish!



Pizza Sauce

Crazy Bread



Then last Sunday Matt and I ended up canning applesauce. It kind of just happened; I had given up on doing so this year. Then Saturday night, after a visit to Mom Aardsma's farm, we ended up with six(!!! Matt didn't really know how much applesauce that would make!!!) trash bags full of apples, a borrowed saucer, and several flats of new jars. (Thanks again, Mom!) eighty full quart jars and one half-full jar of delicious applesauce. Whew!




Here I am filling jars.



To be enjoyed all year long!



Then Ger caught a cold earlier this week and he couldn't breathe one night. He would fall asleep for a couple minutes, then start complaining and tossing around, then conk back out for a couple minutes. THAT night was rough. Matt set up the humidifier next to the rocking chair, and we took turns rocking the poor miserable guy, literally falling asleep in the rocking chair with him. He finally seemed to be able to breathe easier at about 3 am and we all crashed.

We had our water tested recently and just got the results back early this week: coliform bacteria present, water UNSAFE to drink. So our landlord just brought by a water dispenser with four of those huge bottles of water, to last us until the well company and the water company get our water safety figured out. I just try not to think about all the water we've drunk over the past 18 months...and I think I've found out why it tastes bad. (We do appreciate Mike's thoughtfulness with the dispenser--he was careful to get one with the bottle on the bottom to increase its safety around little kids. It also has a safety mechanism with the hot dispense, to prevent accidental burns.)




Hmmmm....something new to investigate!



I tried a turtle cookie recipe last night and they are sooo good.

Chocolate Turtle Cookies




Got milk?




I didn't have the caramel bits to put in, so I just left those out and made up for it with some homemade caramel sauce on top. I had to look for quite a while to find a caramel sauce recipe that used all ingredients that I had on hand already, but I did find it:

Caramel Sauce

I'm amazed my caramel sauce worked...it crystallized when it wasn't supposed to, and I managed to save it by stirring when I wasn't supposed to. Then it flash-crystallized when I put the evaporated milk in (cool into really hot?) and I was afraid the whole mess was done for. Having nothing to lose, I put it back on the stove and heated it up again, giving all my hard lumps of sugar a chance to melt down. After boiling and stirring for a while, it did actually caramelize and made a very nice sauce. I had it today with some apples...mmmmm good.

Still no first steps over here, but getting so close! Ger now walks back and forth using the couch as a support, and will stand on his own quite often. The other day he stood up next to a chair and let go. I held out my arms for him to walk to me. He reeeeeeached and fell forward into my hands. I guess he's just a little too scared yet!

Love,
Esther

November 1, 2013

Itís cuddly. Itís warm. I made it out of scraps left over from other projects, thrifted fabric, and an old fleece blanket that nobody wanted anymore.

Meet Gerald Johnís baby blanket.




Show and Tell with some friends and family.



I wanted to make something special for my baby before he was born. After some searching online for a perfect pattern, I found the Hugs and Kisses quilt.




Hugs And Kisses Baby Quilt



Since Matt and I had decided to wait until the baby was born to find out whether it was a boy or a girl, I needed something that could work for either sex. I decided to use fabric that I had in my stash (and ended up raiding Mom Aardsmaís stash too) and make every square different, for a ďscrappyĒ look.

I started the quilt sometime mid-pregnancy, and did a square or two a day. I would occasionally bring the pieces for a square with me to sew by hand in the car or a waiting room. (I particularly remember one instance when Matt and I were waiting for my OB checkup. I was piecing a square by hand and a complete stranger--may I point out it was a man?-- piped up about his experiences with an old sewing machine and how heíd made pillowcases for their pillows, but his wife couldnít figure out how to work them. End funny story.)

I didnít sew all the squares by hand. Impatience got the best of me and I finished the last ten or so squares by machine, just wanting to get on to the next step.

I was so excited when I put all the squares together to make the top. I remember myself, very pregnant, on a dark night, playing with all those bits of bright color on our bed, until I was happy with the arrangement.

Sewing the squares together went very quickly. Then I casted about for a backing, and settled on a fleece blanket that had come as a hand-me-down. It was a little long and a little narrow, so I cut off the long part and sewed it to the narrow side, forming a square. Using a fleece blanket removed the necessity for batting between, shortening my task. (Always a welcome thing!)

I pinned the quilt top to the fleece blanket with big quilt basting pins, placing them in the centers and corners of the squares. I found a quilting hoop and began quilting in the center, working my way out. I quilted by hand, with plain white quilting thread. I desperately needed a thimbleóIím sure my fingers still have holes in their tips from that experience. But by the time I finally managed to acquire the needed thimble, Iíd already nearly finished the quilting.

I quilted diagonally across all the "X"s, just making big long lines across the quilt. When Iíd finished that, I decided to just do small diamonds in the center of each "O" square.

I asked my amazing husband for some advice on the quilt binding. I had some white and some darker green bindings in my stash, and I couldnít make up my mind between them. We decided on the darker greenóit framed the bright colors of the top very nicely, while the white just seemed to make the edges of the quilt disappear.




He likes the bright colors!



I just sewed on the quilt binding by machine, the lazy way. No self-respecting, verging-on-professional seamstress should ever just take the lazy way, but I just wanted to have the quilt DONE. So I think it took me all of half-an-hour to put the binding on. Itís not perfectly flat, but I donít really care. I donít notice when I use the blanket.

(Oh yes, I use it all the time. :) Itís the perfect size for a lap blanket.)

I wrote this note when I had finished the quilt, save the embroidering of his name and birthdate:

December 2, 2012
My dear little one,
I just finished your baby quilt. Itís not perfect, but I wanted it to be done and ready for you.
I wanted to make something special for you. I might not make anything else before you come, so I am very glad the quilt is ready. Itíll be yours to keep when you are older.
Love,
Mommy

And, as he came the following Friday, I never did get a chance to make anything else. :)




First day home from the hospital.



I embroidered his name on it a week or two after he was born.



Since Gerís quilt was such a success, when Rachel told me she was expecting a baby, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I waited until they announced that they were having a girl, then planned accordingly. I actually meant to have Rachel pick out the colors, then forgot about it until too lateÖRachel forgave me and said she trusted my judgment anyway. :)




A sneak peek I sent out while it was in progress.



I used the same pattern that I used for Gerís quilt. I had more of a color scheme, though: pink and green. I used a pink and white gingham for all the "X" blocks, then mixed in other fabrics for the "O" blocks.

I actually quilted it with embroidery floss. I used two strands and a slightly larger needle than I wouldíve otherwise used, and this time I had a thimble.

I quilted on the diagonal on the pink squares in the "X" blocks. After some deliberation, I finally decided to also quilt on the diagonal in the colored squares on the "O" blocks, and then add a little something in the center of each "O" block. I left one square blank in which to embroider Emma's name and birthdate, at a later date when I have access to the quilt again for a few minutes.




My motif in the center of the "O" squares.



I used a green cuddly fabric for the backing that I got at Joannís. I went in knowing exactly what I wanted, and then got more and more discouraged when I couldnít find what I was looking for. I finally found it, on the shelf farthest back.




Doesn't it look soft?



I used a light pink quilt binding. I had originally thought maybe a dark pink since a dark color worked well for Gerís quilt, but after buying it decided I really didnít like it, and went back to the store. I again put the binding on the lazy way, just wanting to get the quilt DONE!







I sewed all the construction seams by machine, trying to make the quilt as machine-washable as possible.




Finished Quilt!



I sent the baby quilt to Rachel for a "Virtual Shower" that several other people participated in as well. Since Rachel lives a number of hours away, we boxed up some gifts and sent them off to arrive during a specific week. I was a little sad that I couldn't see her reaction in person, but I was very glad that I was able to help make her week special.




I felt very honored that Emma was welcomed with the quilt I made for her!



October 29, 2013

Hello,

I've been on a creative roll this week! Matthew keeps telling me I need to post the things I've been doing, so I decided to start with the washable wipes I made.

I made these baby wipes from a 100% white cotton sheet that was in that last box of hand-me-down fabric from Mom Aardsma. (Love those boxes, Mom!) It's a pretty soft fabric--almost a flannel, but not quite. I wanted to make them white so that I could bleach them along with my diapers if necessary and not worry about discoloring the diapers.

I don't have to worry about separating out the wipes from the diapers when I wash them now--the disposable ones will actually shred in the wash (like kleenexes do). They're cheaper, too!

These were super easy to make. I cut out a rectangle for each wipe that was twice as wide as it was tall (about 9"x18"), then folded it in half to make a double-layered wipe. I used a short stitch length on my serger (more stitches closer together around the edge = less fraying) and just ran it around the edge. For the first couple wipes I did, I would stop and turn the corner, keeping the square shape. I got smarter (lazier?) after that and took advantage of the knife on the serger, and just rounded the corners on the wipes as I went. I overlapped the serging where I began just a little, then ran the chain off of the wipe and snipped it. I ended up having some thread tails after I washed the wipes, so if I were to re-sew them, I'd probably tie a knot in the thread chain up close to the wipe before trimming the threads close.




Step 1: cutting it out






Step 2: fold it in half






Step 3: what the serger cut off






Step 4: overlapping the serging



They work great! I have already run one batch through the wash with Ger's diapers!

Love,
Esther


The finished product!



October 16, 2013

Hello dear ones,

Well, we all know that a certain little girl has replaced Ger's standing as most interesting and fascinating news subject. (See Rachel's Diary.)

Ger definitely doesn't seem to mind his plight, though, as he continues to eat stuff off the floor and chase Buddy (our dog) and put his head over the register to feel the warm air coming out, and "ba, ba, ba" away to his heart's desire.







Ger is on the verge of walking! He can now pull himself up on a bare wall and can stand on his own two feet for up to a minute or so.







He is just as cute as ever, though he is really starting to look grown up. His hair is begging for a trim, but I'm managing to keep it presentable so far by combing it with some water. Doing so really brings out the curl!

Ger climbed all the way up the stairs last night, trying to get to Buddy at the top. Sorry, no pictures because the usual photographer had to turn spotter instead.

Little Ger has a newfound fascination with the refrigerator. Every time I open it I have to see where Ger is, then open the door really fast, grab what I need, and close it again before he climbs into it. For a little guy, he sure can move! He succeeds fairly frequently in getting at least a hand into the door, then cries when I pull him back and close it in his face. I broke down and let him play in it for a couple minutes this morning, which almost ended up with tortilla packages and baby carrots all over the floor!







Ger has also learned very clear body language for "pick me up". When something majorly interesting is going on, like sorting the mail, or turning on the microwave, or washing my hands, he will crawl over to where I am, pull himself up on my pant legs, and then stand there ever-so-subtly until I pick him up. Then he dives for his real object. I'm starting to feel like just a means to an end...

Love,
Esther

October 16, 2013

Hi all,

Ger is sleeping away at the moment, so I thought I'd send a short update.

Little Ger has learned how to turn the pages of the big thick board-books that I will occasionally read to him. Also, the other day I was reading him a story and he really looked at the picture on the page for the first time. He started touching an illustration of a girl and "talking" in that adorable gibberish of his. It was too cute!

Even though he has drastically increased in his book appreciation skills, he still has a loooong way to go. He loves books, that's not the problem! He just doesn't differentiate between "appreciating" a book and "eating" a book. I finally gave up on having books in accessible places in certain rooms. Currently the backs of the couches are loaded with books and other "untouchable" items, and the table in the office has a pile on it that is two feet tall!


Any man can be a father; it takes someone special to be a dad.



Ger had his first solid food last night! I was working on making supper, and my son crawled around under where I was working and found a piece of a cracker that I had dropped. He promptly ate it, and then started choking on it and turned all red in the face. Thank goodness crackers dissolve!

He is constantly eating everything he can find--I just can't keep up with him! Since it's fall now, leaves get tracked in with every trip outside, and for some reason dried leaves just seem to be the most irresistably appetizing snack. It's all too common now to have to brave those sharp teeth to retrieve a slimy mass of something, and still wonder if I got it all.

I introduced him to the small collection of toy animals that we have, complete with the sounds each one makes. He thought the rooster noise was particularly funny!

With love,
Esther


What is it about babies and shoes?



October 7, 2013

Hello,

Ger is ten months old today! How is that possible?

Ger has begun pulling himself up. On everything. He also takes advantage of every opportunity possible to try to climb up the stairs--and is actually getting pretty good at it. He got up to the fourth step yesterday. (I was right there in case of any wrong moves.) I think our rate of head-bumps per day ranges from three to five on average. Some days are better, other days it feels like all I do is calm a crying child.

While visiting Matt's folks this past weekend, (great fishing trip for the guys and garage saling for the ladies!) Ger loved watching Jack, the cat, drink his milk. Ger kept trying to grab Jack's swishing tail and would laugh with delight each time his tail wiggled.


"How come I can't do that?"



Ger has also learned how to crawl on his knees. With our slippery hardwood floors, he still has to use his toes for propulsion, but he has more than tripled his speed. He is delighted with his newfound ability to keep up with Buddy and me. This morning he followed me from room to room while I vacuumed.

Today his fear of the vacuum wasn't as bad, but he definitely is scared easily by loud noises these days. He seems to be going through a sort of fear period, needing a lot of reassurance and security. Our last trip up to Mom and Dad Aardsma's didn't start out well--Ger took one look at his Grandpa and burst into tears! Poor Grandpa! By the end of the visit, though, Ger had warmed up significantly. I guess it just means we need to see Grandpa and Grandma more often!




Little Ger loves his Auntie 'Beka.
I caught this unique shadow of the two of them playing together.



Ger is eating EVERYTHING he can find off the floor! [Excuse me while I fish some paper out of his mouth.] He seems to take great joy in finding a little piece of paper, leaf, or dirt, and exercising his skills of fine motor coordination by picking it up very delicately with his first finger and thumb. Then it automatically goes into his mouth. Delay time gets shorter and shorter; it's not rare anymore to look up just in time to see something disappear...

He's begun venting his frustration. When he can't do something he wants to, or I take something away from him that he really wanted to keep, he will throw himself forward--onto the ground, usually-- and bite at whatever is in front of him. The floor (or his nose) tends to receive the brunt of it, unless a foot, arm, or hand of a parent happens to be in the way. With those eight teeth, he's definitely keeping me on my toes!!

How do I catch you up on everything? He's constantly changing, growing, learning. I'm positive he's gained two inches in the last month. His hair is needing a trim; it's starting to fall into his eyes, though it's also got quite a bit of sweet curl at the ends. He now fits into 12-month clothes; he's working on getting that clapping together; he's fascinated by rubber bands; and he still has that insatiable curiosity about electrical cords. Diaper changes verge on the impossible with his increased mobility...he's so much fun, but sometimes he makes me want to scream, or cry, or laugh all at the same time.

With love,
Esther

I believe the powers of observation in numbers of very young children
to be quite wonderful for its closeness and accuracy.
Indeed, I think that most grown people who are remarkable in this respect,
may with greater propriety be said not to have lost the faculty, than to have acquired it;
the rather, as I generally observe such people to retain a certain freshness,
and gentleness, and capacity of being pleased,
which are also an inheritance they have preserved from their childhood.

Charles Dickens



September 10, 2013

Hello,

It has been fascinating and exciting watching Ger pick up more skills this week! 9 months old now, he's learning by leaps and bounds!

A week ago Sunday he learned how to wave for the first time. We went up to Loda for church at Grandpa and Grandma Aardsma's, and when we arrived everyone began waving to the little guy. And he waved back! It was so precious; you had to be there! Now he waves to Daddy when Daddy comes home from work.




First wave ever!
Matt's family enjoyed being the one waved to!
You can see how startled Little Ger is
by all the commotion over one simple wave!



On Monday I noticed this funny little pat-pat-pat-pat thing he was doing. I would pick Ger up and carry him while doing something, and he would pat my arm or shoulder. I don't know why or where it started, but it's a huge step forward as far as "gentle" goes. We just won't talk about the biting right now.

He continues to shriek at very high pitches when he's happy, but is starting to experiment more with new sounds.




He loved Uncle Caleb's keyboard!
See those "new" shoes?



I bought him his first shoes last week! A little pair of tennis shoes I found at Salvation Army (great girls day out with Mom Aardsma, 'Beka & Rachel!) for $1.50--perfect for getting used to shoes. Which, as a child that dislikes even the restraint necessary to try to show him how to clap his hands, didn't go over well when I first put them on. No complaining exactly, just that famous nose-wrinkle of his. Auntie Rachel got him his second pair of shoes, an adorable set of scaled-down work boots. Thank you, Rach!




Ger playing with his tractor,
a gift from Pam U.
Notice those adorable work boots; and the one off, one on effect!



Gerald is definitely taking shape as a very independent, "thanks-but-I'll-do-it-myself" personality. It gets laughable when he stands while I'm holding onto his hands, and then he tries to pull his hands away from mine. He can't even pull himself up on his own to a standing position, but already he wants to walk on his own!

Tooth number seven seems to be working its way in. Very soon...

Ever the explorer, Ger has developed a fascination for trash cans. Now you know why they're all up on tables! He's also fascinated with water, light switches, the tub drain pull, cords(!), camera straps, my hair, dog hair (more so on the dog than not), paper(!), and grass(!). Which usually includes putting some part of the fascinating object in the mouth, swallowing it only if Mom's not fast enough.

Ger is definitely working on trying to walk now. He is constantly attempting to pull himself up, with varied degrees of success. He will make little steps when someone is hanging onto his arms and assisting his balance. And boy, does he love to "cruise"--walking around while holding onto furniture. He's not very good at it yet, but just you wait!!

With love,
Esther

August 27, 2013

It has begun! Though Ger isn't yet up on his hands and knees, yesterday for the first time he showed consistent, repeated forward movements. At eight and a half months, Ger is solidly in the exploration stage.

Yesterday he knocked the broom over and the dustpan fell off the handle where it had been clipped and tumbled onto his head. (Thank goodness it's lightweight!) Then he headed for the stepstool...is he ever going to keep me on my toes!

It has been entertaining watching the stages of his learning to crawl. First he just did pushups and cried when a toy got away from him. Then he figured out how to spin in circles. Then he ended up moving backward (what could be more frustrating than moving away from a toy when you were trying to go toward it?). Then he tried to do toe pushups, thinking that would help. Then he could barely pull himself forward, an inch at a time, using only his hands. Now he seems to have a method effectively down, and it's only a matter of refining and reworking for more efficiency.

Did I tell you about the time when he was in the stage of moving backward and got himself stuck under the couch?







Ger is rapidly growing a full set of dentures! You can now see his top two teeth when he smiles and definitely feel those and his two bottom ones when he bites your finger!!





He's got two or three more that will cut within the next week or so. He's going to go from 0 to 8 teeth in 8 weeks! For a teething baby, he's been pretty happy. Some nights he complains a lot and is restless, but daytimes usually don't have more than a touch of crabbiness. Ger has learned the magic of ice on sore gums--he loves to chew ice cubes. I will put one in a ziploc bag (hoping to minimize leakage) and use a rubberband to secure it in a corner (so he can hold onto it better). This trick helps a lot when he's more uncomfortable than usual.




Matt and Ger at the Arboretum.
That's Ger's 25 cent cap from Salvation Army.



Ger is growing into quite the comedian! Last night he had me in stitches while we were trying to eat supper. He was in the high chair with his toys, getting fed up with the whole suppertime thing. He swept both toys off his tray onto the floor, then sat leaning over the edge, watching them, until Matt picked them back up. Five seconds later both toys were on the floor again. Ger leaned back into his highchair, made a very expressive dissatisfied noise, then contorted his face into a very pouty, bottom-lip-sticking-out-and-nose-wrinkled-up face. He was just the picture of misery! When I started laughing he smiled and made little squeals of high pitch, pleased that finally someone had taken notice!! Many people have said that he is the most expressive baby they've ever met. Too true!

He woke up yesterday morning with a single curl over his ear. Ger has inherited my hair--brown with hints of red and lots of gold, wavy as a norm, curly when it's wet, and crazy in the morning!





Friends have also said he is the most active baby they've ever met too. Yikes!! It's also true! He just doesn't stop wiggling! Cuddly moments are very few and far between, and only when he's sleepy and not fighting to not give in to the sleepiness.

With love,
Esther

August 8, 2013

Hello,

At eight months old yesterday, Ger is growing into his Y chromosome. Tell me a girl goes "RAH!!" when you ask her how she's doing!!

Ger is getting very good at turning himself around when he's on his stomach. However, he hasn't quite figured out how to crawl yet. As of two days ago, he thinks that maybe he has to be up on his hands and tiptoes...

And a second tooth is coming in! His other top middle tooth is very visible just below the gum, and will be cutting through any day now. So far nights have been pretty good; I'm hoping that maybe this time around more sleep will be on the itinerary than last time.







Ger's current favorite toys (or would be, if the powers that be thought that teeth + that certain toy wasn't a health hazard), in order of favoritism:

1. Plastic bags. Any sort, though tortilla chip bags remain near the top of the list. We caved and have on duty a heavy-duty freezer quart ziploc bag with a teething ring inside of it. Least expensive Christmas ever ahead!

2. Paper!! Mail, recipes fresh off the printer, toilet paper, wrapping paper, tissue paper, sewing patterns, to-do lists...he hears a crinkle and he'll drop whatever toy he has to come "help". Unless what he has is a plastic bag.

Yeah, we don't need a shredder. We just give our bills and junk mail to the kid.

3. Doorknobs. They're bright, they're shiny, they rattle when you shake them. (Do yours?) Funny thing is that the door comes with them when you pull on them to try to chew on---.....I thought that sounded like it hurt.

4. Buddy. Ger's getting to the point where he starts hyperventilating and jumping up and down on your lap when you say the dog's name. As Daddy commented, "I didn't know fetch was a spectator sport!" Just please...don't let the baby get his hands on that slimey, slobbery ball.

5. Buddy's tail. I'll leave the details to your imagination. (Mom Aardsma; it's ok. We have it under control.)

6. Human hair. I thought I had a tough skull...until he figured out he could grab one strand at a time and yank on it. Does anybody know any tricks to teach him to pull on his own hair instead of ours?

7,8,9,10,11,12,13... Did I mention that we keep an empty soda bottle by our bed to keep the child occupied while we read together at night? Oh, and how about the lanolin bottle on the changing table? And the plastic cup and bowl on the living room floor? And the metal canning lid ring on the high chair? Not to mention the things he can't have, like the bathroom rug by the tub (seriously, did you learn how to pull up the edges of rugs and chew on them as a baby?) and the strings to the shade (or the shade itself!!) by the changing table. (We have that one under control too, Mom Aardsma.)

Love,
Esther


"Mom, these toys are soooo boring.
Can I just have a plastic bag?"



July 29, 2013

Hello,

Now that I'm finally on the upswing from this cold, I thought I'd send a short update on us.

The big news: Ger has his first tooth! I first noticed it coming in on last Wednesday, and it has completely cut through now. It is a top tooth; I have read that bottom teeth usually come in first, so he's a little out of the ordinary. But we all knew that already!

From this cold, and a growth spurt, and the teething, the last week has been pretty un-fun. Last night was the sixth out of seven nights that were pretty disturbed. Ger has been pretty restless at night, especially between two and four a.m. I can't seem to sleep much during the day, so I am holding my breath for when nights become more restful again...

Gerald discovered shadows this week! I had taken us two sickies outside to get some sunlight, and he was very fascinated with the dark moving thing on the ground as we walked. I had a really cute moment (sadly, no camera) with him sitting on the ground looking at his shadow (between tasting grass and leaves, of course.)




I made my first (and second, and third)
French bread the last couple weeks!
In a word...fantastic!



Have I told you the whole story of Ger's doorway bouncer? It's really pretty crazy...

About a month ago now, Ger started having trouble sleeping. He would fuss when it was time to go to bed, no matter how tired he was. He would kick and toss and turn in the middle of the night, no matter how asleep he was. And he would wake up raring to go in the morning, no matter how early he woke up.

Our conclusion? This poor baby needed a way to relieve his restless-leg syndrome. If willpower alone could get him crawling, he would be zooming all over the house, but as yet he hasn't managed it yet, and so is still pretty immobile. We were given an ExerSaucer by a friend, and it has a little bounce in its legs, but not enough to keep this superactive child occupied for longer than five minutes. He loved to bounce if Matt or I were holding him, but there was only so much twenty-pound-impact-with-arms-fully-extended either of us could take.

So I started looking into bouncers, since one could possibly mean the survival of my sleeping schedule, sore arms, and sanity.

I looked at on-the-floor ones, briefly. I found I could pay 5 to 10 times my budget for a monstrous space-eater.

So I looked up doorway jumpers. They range from $20-$80 new. I read a million reviews, several online users' manuals, measured doorways, thought about it a ton, and discussed and rediscussed it with Matt until he finally told me to make up my mind and he'd be happy with whatever I chose. I looked on craigslist but didn't find anything feasible.

I narrowed it down to two options, then made my decision, all while nursing Ger to sleep for a nap one morning. I was waiting for him to stop nursing, and then I was going to get my credit card and order...and the phone rang.

Ger's wonderful auntie Rachel was on the other end and said she was at a garage sale looking at kid's items....did we want a doorway bouncer? It was in really good shape, and Ger was at just about the right age for it...and asking price was $15.




"Is it ok if I keep jumping, Mom, pleeeaaase?"



It wasn't my first choice, but rather my second, since there was some doubt as to whether the spring clamp would fit over our old-home-doorway-molding. But, the opportunity to save $20, not to mention the incredible timing, sold me--on the chance that it would fit over our doorways.

Auntie Rachel brought it down on her next visit, and we tried it as soon as we could, while still at Matt's parents. Ger figured it out very quickly and was soon bouncing away! It needed a tad of Pam spray on the swivel to keep the main support strap from twisting up...but it fits over our doorways and we've been using it almost daily ever since!

With love,
Esther


Ah...sweet peace.



July 2, 2013

Hello,

I thought you might like to hear a little bit about what we've been doing recently....

Several weeks ago I made my first strawberry-rhubarb pie. Heavenly! I used this recipe:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie






It turned out fantastic! The H's gave us some ice cream (perfect timing!) and the pie was just sooo good. It stored amazingly, too...leftovers were in the fridge for up to five days (we got ill and and pie didn't sound great, believe it or not) and the crust never got soggy!

I got the itch to do a little sewing for Ger. My pattern for baby clothes says that the largest size it has fits 18-21 lbs, and Ger is about 18 lbs. So I thought that I'd better get a move on if my pattern was going to be any good for this baby. I decided to make a pair of overalls, but couldn't find any suitable fabric--until I remembered the last batch of leftover-hand-me-downs that were waiting to head to Goodwill. I didn't think to take a before photo, but you can see below an after photo of what was left of the skirt when I was done with it.





Here is the finished product...but sadly it is far too big for my poor babe. It reaches down almost to his ankles (it was supposed to be more like shorts) and is wide enough to fit two of him inside it. Sigh. A couple more months or so...





Sneak peek of a certain something in progress for a certain little girl, my niece, to be born in October, 2013. You can read all about her here:
Rachel's Diary

Matthew says this quilt making may become a family tradition.





Matt went out fishing early Sunday morning and caught about 70 bluegill. No brag, just fact. We estimated he got about 7 lbs of filets--after cleaning fish for almost two hours.





And now, my first real candy-making experience! I decided to try to make fudge. I used this recipe:

Vanilla Fudge

I learned quite a bit in a hurry! When my pot started boiling over I took the preemptive strike of taking the battery out of the smoke alarm (the baby was sleeping!) and it's a good thing I did. When sugar burns, it makes quite a mess and a lot of smoke! Barring the boiling over, it really turned out well! I learned that when fudge sets, it sets REALLY fast. I tried doing dipped pretzels but only had enough time to dip two before I knew if I didn't put it in the baking pan I was going to have a solid block of fudge in the pot!

Here is my attempt. All those pretzels were dipped in the space of about thirty seconds!

The fudge is good, but very sweet. There's no way we're going to be able to eat it all! I have a feeling it may join the Fourth of July festivities over at Matt's parents...(it did and my, it was eaten in a flash!)

Happy homemaking!
Love,
Esther








July 1, 2013

Whew! Looking at the older posts, it's been quite awhile since I last posted! Ger is growing up so fast that it's going to be difficult to keep this update of reasonable length.

Matt's graduation pulled off nicely. Mommy and Gerald (including Matt's family) cheered for Daddy as he walked across the stage; we were so proud of him! We were exhausted after all the excitement of the weekend!




Only dads do these kinds of stunts.



However, our three-weeks of R & R after graduation didn't exactly go as planned; we had a rather big surprise two days after graduation when we came out of Wal-Mart to find a steaming, blackened crater that had replaced our car's engine during our fifteen minutes of shopping. The firemen had been able to respond quickly to the scene and douse the fire before it spread to the back of the vehicle (no gas explosion, thank goodness!), but our car was completely totaled. We have so much to be thankful for--that Ger and I weren't in the backseat, that our camera and GPS in the vehicle were unharmed, that the fire didn't occur during finals week, that it did happen in the Wal-Mart parking lot and not out in the middle of the countryside where response time would have been much slower, that no other vehicles were harmed...the list is really quite long.

So, we found ourselves dazedly scrambling (if it sounds like a bad combination, it probably is!) to find a new vehicle. We found a used vehicle and purchased it, only to have more scares and stress when the new car's oil pressure gauge and the voltmeter decided to show how flaky they really were. The question of whether we just made a large purchase that would repeat the dramatics of the week before was one that neither of us dared to even think about. It has since become clearer that the instrument panel seems to just have a lot of personality. (Did anyone hear that sigh of relief?)




On the baby quilt (all hand sewn) I made for Little Ger.



Our plans for our vacation did change majorly after the car incident, which was a little disappointing. However, we did have some real relaxation after we finally de-stressed a little. Ger enjoyed his first campfire, we had some family fishing times, we slept a lot, we rented the movie Cars online, we went on lots of walks at the local park...we did have fun.

Matt has now started back into work/school; life is back to normal again. (With the exception of the occasional attack of walmartparkinglotphobia.) Ger is starting to be more predictable with two naps a day, about an hour and a half each, and then (a highly encouraged) bedtime around 8. He is showing himself to be, at this stage, very much a night person and would rather sleep in till 9 am and stay up till 10:30 pm than wake up earlier and go to bed earlier. Several times late at night Matt and I have looked at each other with nearly-crossed eyes from exhaustion and jokingly said, "I'm going to bed. You are too? I guess the baby will have to stay up by himself!" I've started to try to manage his naps a little more in order to be in bed by a reasonable time. This usually consists of not letting him sleep past 4:30 in the afternoon, and waking him up a little earlier from a nap if necessary.




A whole new world at this height!



The big news around here: Little Ger is now sitting up! He is just starting to hold things with his thumb and first finger. He also grabs and chews on EVERYTHING (ziploc or potato chip bags are his favorite!), says "ba-ba-ba!" and other noises frequently, smiles when we play peekaboo with him, not only laughs but squeals and screams when he is tickled, and is fascinated when Mommy waves bye-bye to Daddy. It's not rare anymore for him to stay awake in the car, though if he's really tired, car rides will put him to sleep faster than anything else. Still no crawling or teeth yet, but we're patient...

Ger's six-month doctor's visit went well; he weighed in at 17 lbs 14.5 ozs and is 2' 2" tall. We saw a nurse practitioner instead of our regular doctor and absolutely loved her! When I asked about a funny red spot on the nape of Ger's neck, she told us, "Oh, that's a birthmark...around here we call them storkbites!"




Grandma Aardsma copying Ger's position.



June 15, 2013

Well, it's 11:30 pm and I can't sleep. The baby and I brought home a cold this week and though I think Ger is finally on the mend, I think I'm in the worst of it right now. I've tried three times now to fall asleep and still no success.




He can't be graduating already?
Trying on Daddy's cap!



Ger is now just over six months old. We had scheduled his six-month vaccinations for today, but decided to reschedule because he was sick. I am so glad we did; he became very miserable in the later afternoon. Nursing has been very difficult because his nose is all stuffed up, which makes him even more unhappy. We tried giving him some infant tylenol to help, but I think he inherited the Aardsma weak stomach--he lost his entire last meal upon swallowing only a taste of the stuff. Poor baby!




Enjoy nature and family time.



Ger is sitting up pretty well now. He still has some issues with balance, especially side-to-side. He definitely has a scoot method for when he's on his back; he will often try to scoot off my lap or wriggle away while I'm changing his diaper. Though he's getting closer to crawling, not a whole lot of groundbreaking progress in that area yet...

Little Ger continues to love baths, now splashing and a little more interested in the rubber duckies. (Isn't it interesting how a baby's entire viewpoint while working on teeth consists of "Is it chewable?") Speaking of, he has found his newest favorite pastime--chewing on his toes. Which he now does whenever he can, usually in the middle of diaper changes. It's pretty adorable.

Ger loves our "mirror game". While holding him, I will stand in front of a mirror and say, "Who's that in the mirror?" Ger will look at his reflection and smile, sometimes reaching out a hand to touch the mirror. I answer my own question with "That's baby Gerald in the mirror!" to which he will smile and duck his head into my shoulder. If we are looking in the bathroom mirror above the sink, he tends to get distracted very quickly by the toothbrushes and soap and other things--but it is fun while it lasts.

I've also taught him another, similar game. When I put him on his tummy, he will often get tired after a little while and put his head down. I ask, "Where's baby Gerald? Where did he go?" and he will usually lift his head up and look at me and smile, then duck his head down again, waiting for me to ask again. Very fun!




Learning to draw with Daddy



We're currently working on "gentle", which is proving itself to be a difficult task! Ger will often grab at a face, or arm (supersensitive areas, if you catch my drift) and pinch REALLY hard. There have been multiple occasions where I am very near tears from the pain of being pinched. (How about the inside of your nose, with a tad-too-long fingernail? I never knew it was that sensitive!) Ger seems to think it's just another game; it hasn't clicked yet that he's hurting me.

Another difficult thing has been that Ger will often get very clingy right about the time I need to make supper. Since I am usually working with hot stoves, ovens, etc, putting him in a sling or carrier is not usually practical. I usually end up juggling the baby and the food, and feel pretty stressed by the time I'm done. There's nothing like a kind-of-whiny child to put my nerves on edge! I am usually so relieved when Matt gets home and can play with the kiddo while I finish getting the food ready.

Enjoy! Happy Saturday! Hopefully I can fall asleep now...

Love,
Esther

May 30, 2013

Hello friends and family,

I am pleased and excited to announce that, as of May 12th, Matthew has graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with his Bachelor's of Science in Animal Sciences. I could not have been more proud of him when he walked across the stage! He has worked so long and hard for his degree that it is difficult to believe we are walking into the next era of life and leaving this one behind us.




Matt's graduation.
We did it...together!



Matthew will be starting his Master's program in June; he will be concentrating on Poultry Nutrition. Since he is staying at the university here, he already knows the people he will be working with, a big bonus!

We are enjoying a little bit of break and family time before we plunge in headlong again. (Though we are hoping that the Master's program will be a little less crazy than the undergrad was. Wishful thinking?) Our little man is growing like a weed, giving us lots of laughs and smiles these days. He's caught right up with the average weight and height--you could never tell by looking at him that he was a preemie! He's our little joy and delight...he kept Daddy going through that last final exam week!

With love,
Esther (for Matt and Little Ger, too)

May 6, 2013

Hello dear family,

Well, Matthew is in his last Spanish exam. What a relief it will be when it is over! No more Spanish! Matt then has two exams on Wednesday, the last of his undergrad. It is hard to believe that he is really graduating!

Once all the festivities [Ger is determined to press the Ctrl key.] of next weekend have passed, we are planning to take a little family vacation time until the first of June.

[After putting the baby to sleep]

During this three-week period we are hoping to accomplish a couple jobs around the house, spend lots of time fishing, take the boat out for a spin [swim? :) ], take lots of walks, etc. You know, romantic kind of things. Our biggest adventure we will attempt will be a three-day trip to St. Louis to see some sights. We are pretty excited about it, but I must say I am a little afraid of how Ger will handle being in new surroundings for such a long time.




"How far down do you suppose the water is?"



Speaking of the little man, Matt and I have been subject to much parent-abuse these days. Ger learned how to hit and how to pinch this last week and has been utilizing his new skills with no mercy. He still is scratching and biting as much as ever. Oh, and he seemed to realize also this week that he has a voice...he has been employing that mercilessly also.

[After nursing the baby back to sleep]

On the brighter side, Gerald is a goofball, and seems to know that he is, and enjoy being one. His expressive noises often have a smile at the end, and a laugh if you tell him he's silly. He is laughing more and more each successive day. Daddy has been enjoying it immensely!!




The laughter of a child
is the most beautiful sound on earth.



And our big news of the week: Gerald held himself up this week! He stood at the edge of the tub while Daddy was taking a bath and steadied himself against the tub with his arms. Mommy wasn't holding him at all (!), although she was really close by in order to prevent potential chin-bumps. Mommy thought a photo of his new accomplishment would be cute, so she attempted to reenact it later...very quickly to prevent mishaps!

With love,
Esther

April 29, 2013

Hello, This last week has been relatively uneventful, save for a scare on Tuesday night when Gerald would not stop crying for unexplained reasons. We were visiting "Grandma and Grandpa Aardsma's" and out of the blue Gerald started screaming. Nothing could make it better, though I tried nursing him, rocking him, singing and talking to him, checking him from head to foot to see if he was in pain, walking with him, and even giving him a bath. I got very scared, afraid that something was desperately wrong and we needed to take him to the ER. Matt and I finally decided to leave even though he was crying. We weren't driving for ten minutes before Gerald fell asleep. The baby woke up as happy as usual the next morning. I'm still clueless as to why exactly it happened, but it was a different environment, our routines were mixed up, there were strange people holding him, etc, so I am sure now that his upset was emotional rather than physical.




My pretty spring tulips.



Ger and I are doing pretty well. Nursing is going great, Ger is a lively fifteen-pound bundle of squirm and bounce, and I? Well...I'm struggling a little with my weight. Even though I have the opposite problem most women complain of, it is a problem nonetheless: I can't keep weight on. I am currently hovering at 135, which is on the low end of healthy for my weight and frame. At the end of my pregnancy I weighed about 160, when I came home from the hospital with the baby I weighed a little under 150, and I've been slowly but steadily losing weight ever since. I felt like 140-145 was an ideal weight for me --I felt great during that time!!--but I didn't stay there long.

I guess it boils down to I just have a hard time eating. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy food just as much as anyone else would, but it's the effort of eating that I find difficult. Especially when I am alone, it is difficult to make myself eat, and even more so when I have to put in effort to make food for myself. I learned a couple weeks ago that I would rather eat something I didn't particularly care for that was in the fridge than go to the trouble to make something I did like. I know, I know, I'm terribly abnormal.

I've been having some occasional muscle cramps recently, and have been trying to take more calcium supplements. The drain on my caloric and mineral resources is huge!

Gerald is pretty close to rolling over from his back to his tummy, though I don't think he knows it yet. He will arch his back and roll over to his side to get a better view of a fascinating object...and one of these times he will just roll right over!

Ger's been very clingy the last couple days, meaning a bit more difficulty even accomplishing small tasks like laundry. He will complain, even cry, the moment I put him down. If I pick him up again, he's as happy as a clam. It gets frustrating at times; I can feel pretty hampered. Yesterday he was happy in his little chair for the first time in days, and I took full advantage of it! I vacuumed four rooms and the stairs!

Esther


Yes, it is a dog's tail and it moves!



April 21, 2013

Hi there!

The school year is wrapping up! Matt's workload is starting to diminish and exam time is ramping up, and with that we are pulling into the familiar final-exam-and-class-wrap-up home stretch. Matthew will graduate in May from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science degree. I am so proud of Matthew for all the work he has put into school, and for growing through the difficulties school has presented.

Gerald is transitioning into a three-naps-a-day schedule, but in the meantime it's kind of all up in the air. Friday night he stayed up until after nine. Yesterday he only took two naps, but his morning nap was two and a half hours long, and his afternoon nap was three hours long, and he fell asleep at about 6:30 for the night. It's a little hard keeping up with all the changes!




Ger's head strength is getting better and better!



Little Ger has been pretty clingy this week; I think we are beginning a phase of refusal to be put down. Most times when I try to put him in his little rocking chair or the swing, he will arch his back and begin to cry. Occasionally he will be okay with it, but making meals and washing dishes has suddenly become more difficult. Ger also has begun to not like being put down on his back without his head being supported-- apparently he is now aware that he can hurt his head on any hard surface he is being put down on.

Ger's favorite word is "ooh!" and now I hear it a lot. When I manage to get away with putting him down while I wash dishes, I will hear "ooh! ooh! ooh! ooh! ooh-ooh! oooh-oo-oo-oooo-ooh!...."

Gerald's official weight and length from his four-month visit: 14lb, 15oz and 25" long. It's truly amazing that a baby can nearly triple in weight and add a quarter again in height in only a short four months!



Grandma Aardsma enjoying a visit
from her grandson last Sunday.



We decided to keep the eye appointment for Gerald after all; at Ger's four-month visit the pediatrician assured us that since there was a history of strabismus in the family there wasn't any reason to not get the baby's eyes checked out, even if Gerald's vision appeared to be fine. Dr. M said that this was serious business and if there were any issues, the sooner we knew about them the better. The eye appointment went well; Ger was able to sit in my lap the whole time, which kept him happy. The eye doctor thoroughly checked for any crossing of the eyes and told us that we have nothing to worry about, that everything looks really good. Yay!

Update on the sickness I had a couple weeks ago: it seems to have actually been a foodborne illness. Matt has been studying and working with some bacteria that cause food borne illnesses in his microbiology class. One day I found his lab textbook open next to the computer and was glancing over a table of different illnesses caused by bacteria...and happened upon a description that matched very, very closely with what I had: headache, backache, fever, chills, upset stomach and diarrhea. It would also make sense why neither Matthew nor Ger got it. Apparently I need to be just a little more careful with food safety?

Before the spring rain storms rolled in Matt planted our little garden out in front of our house. Gerald joined us outside and really enjoyed the warm breezes!

With love,
Esther


I love the outdoors!



Grandma Aardsma watched my sleeping baby
while Matthew and I had a little boat trip!
I know I had fun!



April 13, 2013

Hello,

After a rough weekend, God sent me a little bit of comic relief. We had a miserable dentist appointment for me on Thursday, a fairly miserable doctor's appointment with vaccinations for Gerald on Friday, and an even more miserable morning today with Gerald's reaction to the vaccines (fever and just general miserableness). Plus, Little Ger is teething, and there were some pretty miserable moments of teething desperation.

Then, when I was eating supper and talking to Matthew while rocking Little Ger's chair with one foot, I felt a bump in the rocking chair and looked down to see this.






I finally cracked and could not stop laughing. Little Ger had scooted himself four inches lower into the chair and was waving his feet above his head. He had quite a self-satisfied expression on his face at his cleverness. What could I do but laugh? Not only was he funny, but I think the mommy inside was relieved that her little man was finally feeling better.

Esther

April 10,

Hi there!

At long last I have a chance to write again! Little Ger is now eighteen weeks old.

Last week started out rather traumatically. I had nursed the baby to sleep, then joined Matthew downstairs for supper, leaving the baby in the bedroom. (This is not a rare thing to do; we can hear the baby cry from the kitchen or the dining room, and run to pick him up.) When we were done eating supper, Matthew began working in our attached garage, and when I had finished clearing the table, I joined him for a few minutes. We left the door to the house open, and turned off the radio...you can tell where this is going, can't you? We both assumed we would be able to hear the baby, as sound tends to carry well in our house.

After keeping Matthew company for ten or fifteen minutes, I decided to check on the baby-- what if we couldn't hear him after all? Sure enough, as I neared the foot of the steps, I could hear Little Ger crying--no, screaming. I flew up the stairs--how long it took!--and scooped my little one up. He was more worked up than I had ever seen him before; even after I picked him up he did not stop crying. I don't know how long he had been crying alone; it took over a half-hour to calm him down completely. I felt absolutely awful about the whole thing; I was crying too.

When we woke up the next morning, I felt pretty bruised and battered by the experience. To my relief and amazement, Gerald seemed to be completely unaffected. He seemed to have no memory of crying alone in the dark; it did not dampen his normally happy spirits. Maybe God designed babies with short-term memory for foolish parents when they make mistakes?



Wearing the hat Grandma Aardsma bought for him.


The experience has made me appreciate what it would be like to leave a baby to "cry-it-out". Normally anti-cryitout, hearing my baby actually wail as though his heart were in his cries, waiting and calling for someone to come and find him...well, if someone tried to put my crying baby behind a closed door, I'd knock the person down and then the door. And I'm not normally a violent person.I couldn't leave my child to cry and cry and cry until he couldn't cry anymore. I couldn't bear the strain of not being able to go to my baby, who desperately needed me. As the experience happened, what made me so upset was that my baby cried and cried for someone to come and no-one came...

But the end of the story was someone DID hear, and someone DID come. It was, and is, very reassuring to me that Ger crying alone is not the norm, but the exception.



There are no adequate substitutes for
father, mother, and children
bound together in a loving commitment
to nurture and protect.
No government, no matter how well-intentioned,
can take the place of the family in the scheme of things.
Gerald R. Ford


Little Gerald has been drooling and chewing on his hand almost nonstop for the last several days. Today I was holding him while trying to do something else, and I suddenly felt these little jaws clamp--hard!--on my hand. More chewing ensued. Apparently chewing on fabric feels good, too, because he will grab the bedsheet or a clean diaper or my shirt and chew on that, too. Still no visible tooth, but I think any day now.

Oh, yes, he's becoming quite the little grabber these days. His fine motor skills continue to improve daily. Holding him while eating has already become a challenge; even though he isn't quite at the point of grabbing everything, he still thinks the tablecloth and my plate are fascinating items.

He's just starting to discover his feet; if I take his socks off and sit him up, he will wiggle his fat little toes and stare at them in shocked disbelief. It won't be long now before he starts putting them in his mouth...I remember my little sister as a baby biting her toes, then screaming, then biting her toes again, not realizing that she was causing her own pain. (Though she may have been acting it up a little bit. It's amazing what kids will do to get a reaction sometimes!)



Easter, 2013.


His eye problem (strabismus) seems to have solved itself; I have not noticed it at all in the last month or so. I did read while doing some research into it that it isn't entirely uncommon for a baby's eyes to appear crossed occasionally while his brain is still ironing out the processes of vision and coordination. There appears to be no concern at this point; I think I will be cancelling his eye appointment.

He is also laughing more, and very quick on the smiles these days. He plays a cute little game sometimes when I'm holding him in which he will wait for me to smile at him, and then he'll give me a great big smile and duck his head really fast and hide for a second, only to repeat it. He also loves being put on my tummy. And boy! is he ticklish! He will get bored with laughing at being tickled very quickly, but I'll get a couple laughs out of him now and then from a well-placed tickle.

Last Thursday we went for our first walk with the baby in the Ergobaby carrier. He's still a little small for it, but it went very well! He was pretty quiet through the whole thing, just staring wide-eyed with those big blue eyes at everything, taking in the sounds and sights. At the end of the walk I started feeling a backache, though, and began to worry about whether or not the carrier really was going to be okay for my back.

As the evening progressed, my back got more and more sore, and I began to feel a little nauseous too. No big deal, occasionally I just don't feel tops. After not being able to fall asleep because my back hurt so much, and then not being able to warm up from a series of uncontrollably shivering chills, it was official: I was getting sick. For the next 24 hours or so, I was pretty miserable, felt weak, had a fever...all symptoms of some sort of flu (our best guess). Including the backache. My suspicions were confirmed that the backache was due to the sickness when I woke up the morning I felt better and the back pain was almost completely gone. Phew! Not the carrier after all.



Aunty 'Beka and Gerald, Easter 2013.


I am very glad that neither the baby nor Matthew got sick; I was pretty miserable as it was and I really did not want to see the baby as miserable as I had been. He never did come down with it, but he (the baby, that is) still was stuck in bed with me during the (almost) entire episode. He hated it!! He is not one for sitting still (lying still?) and was pretty bored, even though I attempted to bait his curiosity with multiple toys. Matthew was great through my being sick; he took the baby a lot to give me breaks and was as helpful and understanding as he could be. How blessed I am to have such a husband! He will admit he was pretty glad when I started making food again, though...

There was some question at first whether several of the symptoms I experienced while sick were due to not taking vitamins. Matthew discovered that I had stopped taking my calcium when I had stopped taking my prenatal vitamins, and very sternly but lovingly reprimanded me for my carelessness (forgetfulness?). Since the iron in the prenatal vitamin was most likely the cause of the baby's issues, Matthew got me a plain B complex supplement to take. Although it is unlikely that the lack of vitamins had caused or were related to my getting sick, it is good that I am taking some again.

On Sunday we celebrated a wonderful Easter with my in-laws, the baby's first Easter! He slept through the entire Easter egg hunt, but enjoyed playing with his aunts and uncles.

Talk to you again soon!

Esther



March 24, 2013.

Hi there!

Little Ger has learned to laugh! Auntie Beka was playing with him this last week while she was at my home visiting and I heard him really laugh for the first time. Since then he has laughed for me several times. I have waited so long for this!

At 16 weeks Gerald is becoming more and more animated these days. He now keys in very quickly on faces, and has an incredible attention span for just taking in people. He seems to be a very intense personality--he's either really sad, or really happy. In between = really bored!

The little one is learning how to reach. He hasn't completely connected the "grabbing" part yet, but he will put his arms out at full length and practice opening and closing his hands, watching them the entire time. He is making inroads on being coordinated enough to grab; I think by three weeks' time he will be grabbing at everything he can.



At this point I am 99% certain that the prenatal vitamins were causing the fussiness. Since I have stopped taking them, he has been quite the happy baby, and his diapers have returned to completely normal. My diet is back to normal, too, and so far we aren't experiencing any major drawbacks.

I have started to experience some back trouble recently. I have had a history with pretty severe lower-lumbar back pain, and it's starting to flare up again. Ger is about fourteen pounds now; I am needing to be more careful with how I hold him, carry him, pick him up, and set him down. I think that most of the discomfort I am experiencing is due to just not being careful with my posture, and now the weight of the baby is enough that it's really aggravating the issue. I looked online for some suggestions, which basically boiled down to: get as close as you can to the baby to pick him up (kneel if on the floor or in a stroller, pull baby closer to you if in the middle of a bed), bend at knees and not waist when possible, hold baby close to you to minimize bodily counterbalancing, and don't slouch while nursing. Working on keeping an eye on these things!

I've been thinking a bit more about priorities, and one thought that I had was that just because you may do one thing after another doesn't mean that it is necessarily lower priority, or of less importance. For instance, just because I change the baby and feed him for the morning and wait for him to take a nap before I spend time with God doesn't mean that God is less important than my baby. There is a time appropriate for each thing. This idea carries over into the priorities I mentioned last week: 1) God, 2) Little Ger, and 3) Matthew. Just because I mention my son before my husband doesn't necessarily mean the one is more important than the other. I love both as much as I can, and although I love them differently, I don't think I love one more than the other. Why, then, did I place the baby before the man? I did this because the baby's needs are not more important than Matthew's, but because they are more immediate. When Gerald gets hungry, he's hungry NOW. When he begins crying, he needs me NOW. He is not capable of deceit; what he "says" he needs is what he needs--in the immediate. Furthermore, my child cannot understand the gnawing in his tummy, nor the need he innately possesses to be loved and cared for. No more could he understand if the means to fill those needs was to be denied him, if even for a short time. He functions, innocently, in the moment. My husband, although he does need me, in ways varied and many, is capable of understanding if the baby needs me first. He is capable of "delayed gratification", and of putting off his own needs until I am free to meet them. Does this mean I care any less about him? Not on your life!! Does this mean I do not need to strive in every way possible to meet his needs? Absolutely not! Does this mean I am trying to control and/or manipulate him? Ha. Positively ridiculous. Does this mean I am trying to push my husband away in order to "put my baby first", and ignoring the importance of my relationship with my man? Um. Talk to Matthew and ask him if he feels neglected.

It is a common mistake of many to pit the child against the husband...or maybe it's the other way around. I like this quote from The Heart Has Its Own Reasons (a La Leche League book): "Some people may caution you...telling you that by giving of yourself in this way you're...shortchanging your marriage. Turn a deaf ear to them. It's misleading advice since it creates a conflict where there really isn't one, between the roles of spouse and parent. Children don't shortchange their parents' marriage; only the married partners can do that. It is not a matter of choosing in favor of spouse or children, but of accommodating both and building a family." I am very glad that I am blessed with a husband that does not feel like he has to grasp at what he "needs", nor put himself before his child, nor be jealous of the attention his child receives. I am so relieved that I do not have to fight an inward battle every time the baby cries over whether to choose my baby or my husband. I am so blessed that my husband would be more upset if I failed to tend a crying child than he would be if I failed to have everything he may want just so at the expense of a crying child. We both know the sacrifices we are personally making, though difficult, are worth it all; they are the mere cost of building and developing the fundamentals of emotional security for a new person.

I'm still working on the meals side of priorities and trying to figure out a system that works for us. One thing I am trying to change is have more ready-to-warm-up-and-eat food in the freezer at any given time. Also, since there are only the two of us, leftovers that neither of us want to eat --though perfectly good food!-- tend to get pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten about until maybe a week later, when even if no mold is visible, the smells and taste of the questionable item are doubtful indeed. My new idea: if leftovers don't get eaten within two days, freeze them! Then when I'm in a pinch or need some inspiration, I can pull out the leftovers. This is a rather radical shift in my mindset, but I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before!

In my efforts to get some order and organization into my (nonexistent) meal-planning, I asked Mom Aardsma for some help.

Here was my question:

I would appreciate any food advice on menu planning, etc. I've been struggling to get suppers on the table recently; it's difficult to come up with things that I can make in between periods of taking care of the baby. Matthew doesn't really like having the same things over and over, which is also a contributing factor. I'm trying to be a little more purposeful about it, and I think that will solve most of the issues, but I would still appreciate hearing about what you've done and found helpful.





Dear Esther,

Good for you for working on this issue. Being aware of the problem means 90% of the problem is already solved!

You need to feed your hungry husband or you will end up with a crabby husband! Make it a priority every day to think about your main meal for the next day and take out the meat you need, etc. Then first thing after breakfast is to plan and get the main meal going. Do as much as you can while the baby is happy playing and then as soon as he gets to sleep, do the main meal work. This is how you show your husband that he is important to you.

Cooking comes first before house work, laundry, sewing, surfing on the web or talking on the phone, etc. If you wait until 4 o'clock and the baby is tired and you are tired and wondering what in the world to make for supper, it just won't work.

Here is basically how we eat.

Each main meal should have a meat, starch (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta), and vegetable. Add a sweet something twice a week or so, and then fruit on the table for after a meal if desired.

Chicken:

Once a week (Sunday lunch for me) I try to cook a couple of chickens and lots of potatoes in the oven. That makes one meal.

Then I use the chicken meat for leftovers for another two meals. Like hot chicken sandwiches with gravy, or cut up chicken and gravy over rice, or chicken pot pie (needs lots of time!), chicken and gravy over mashed potatoes, club sandwiches, etc. Yesterday, I made whole wheat fresh pita bread and then stuffed them with cold chicken, spinach, black olives, different shredded cheeses, cut up celery and carrots and then mixed all of this together with a tablespoon or two of ranch dressing. This was a hit and delicious and healthy. I served them warm. Kind of like a gyro.





Eggs:

I use the leftover potatoes from the Sunday lunch and make pan fried potatoes goes great with an egg meal; scrambled eggs, poached eggs, fried eggs, french toast, waffles, etc. Add sausage, and fresh salad and you have a nice easy meal.





Italian:

Another meal per week can be Italian like pizza, spaghetti, hot meat ball subs on fresh french bread, lasagna. I make a large pan of lasagne and freeze leftovers for a quick meal later. I defrost and add a bit of water and put it in a frying pan to reheat. Add garlic bread or sticks and fresh salad for a wonderful filling meal.





Beef:

Meat loaf with rice, mashed potatoes or baked potatoes is a quick meal. Hamburgers with fresh rolls, chips or prezels. Chili in the crock pot. Scrambled cooked hamburger over rice. Spaghetti and meatballs.

Roast beef is another quick meal and you can use the leftovers for sandwiches, stir fry with cut up cooked beef, gravy and beef over mashed potatoes and rice or noodles.

Fish: I know Matthew isn't a fish person, but tuna and salmon sandwiches can work for a main meal if you have a vegetable and fruit with it. Maybe chips or pretzels added.

Vegetable:

A vegetable hot or cold should be with each meal. Carrots sticks with dressing, green beans, corn, fresh salad (every other day; great with fresh spinach and spring leaf lettuce!). You can also make a meal of a salad by having lots of fresh vegetables in the salad as well as strips of leftover chicken. Just make sure you have some fresh bread for filler. We eat a lot of black olives (healthy and try to have some on the table every other day or so. Frozen or canned peas are great with lots of fiber.

Mexican can be another meal. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas (again freeze one for another quick meal.)

Starch:

I use the leftover potatoes for fried potatoes (delicious!) to add to another meal that needs a starch. Make big batches of rice and then reheat for fried rice when in a pinch. Macaroni and cheese can be made in big batches and reheated. Noodles with butter and Parmesan cheese is quick and easy. Scalloped potatoes in the crock pot is easy as well as putting tin wrapped potatoes in the crock pot. Having fresh bread every other day is always a great filler. Chips and pretzels are great for sandwich meals.

Soup:

This is good to add for a sandwich main meal. Tomato, chicken noodle, clam chowder and a beef base soup. My husband doesn't feel like he has had a real meal unless there is something hot. As a young mom with a little one to care for (it only takes one baby on your lap to keep you busy!) just buy the soups for now and don't worry about it, unless you can fit it in now.





Desserts:

When you end up with a free moment, (ha!), cook big batches of cookies and freeze them in freezer zip locks. You can pop a couple out of the freezer an hour or so before dinner. If you want your husband to "feel" extra special, freeze the dough in dough balls and then cook one sheet of cookies just before he comes home. If you make a variety (choc. chip, snickerdoodles, peanut butter, etc.) your husband will think you have been slaving away in the kitchen all day! Fruit is always a good touch and is great for fiber and good health. We've been buying fresh pineapple lately. Cheap and so delicious. Having a few canned fruits is nice too. Pineapple, peaches, pears, fruit cocktail adds a nice touch to a more skimpy meal. Add a cookie and you will have a very happy husband!





Menus:

You should try to make a basic meal plan for the week and then make sure you have on hand the ingredients you need. Since you are close to town, shopping once a week is possible and then you can add your fresh fruits and vegetables each week. Add variety to the menu, (egg rolls!) when you can but don't worry too much about that. That will come with time.

Paper products:

Don't feel guilty about using paper plates, paper cups and paper napkins. Just buy them and use them. Since it is just the two adults you are feeding, it won't be expensive. Food for your husband is more important at this stage in your motherhood. Try to have at least one special meal a week (Sunday?) when you use nice dishes and glasses and a candle or two.

By the way, I love your wonderful explanation about priorities in regards to Matthew and/vs the baby. Very well stated Esther! I am so very proud of you and love you bunches and bunches!

Hugs,
Mom Aardsma

I found Mom Aardsma's ideas very helpful, but I am still working on coming up with my own system that will work for my little family. My meal-planning needs to have a measure of flexibility included, because some of our supplies (chicken in particular) tend to be on a feast-or-famine cycle. Somehow I have a feeling that I will always be working on something....

Bye for now!
Esther





March 16, 2013.

Hello all,

Little Ger has the bluest eyes I have ever seen! They are more blue than either Matthew's or mine, which tend toward green or grey, respectively. But Ger's? Blue as blue can be!

This week I noticed that I seemed to have less milk than usual. Growth spurt coming on? The next day I seemed to have still less milk...was I drinking enough? Eating enough? I hadn't done the greatest keeping up with drinking my quota (13 cups a day? You try it!), but I thought I hadn't done THAT poorly. And the third day Little Ger was constantly nursing, frustrated that I was so empty. It was a very disconcerting and scary feeling to not have enough milk to satisfy the poor babe, but by this time I was pretty certain my first guess was correct: growth spurt. I'm happy to say my milk production seems to have caught up and is doing better.

Little Ger continues to be a lot to keep up with. He now will keep up a full-blown conversation with me, with lots of "ooh"s and "ah"s and "ah-goo!"s. Still no consistent laughing. He has started to be more interested in objects--he is quite fascinated with the blue toy elephant that I keep on the changing table. He really likes pushing himself up with his legs when I am holding him on my lap; he is quite strong for his age, I think. Gerald seems to have either forgotten how to roll over or lost interest for the time being; he has not rolled over recently. He has started a new thing during diaper changes, where he will push with his feet on the changing pad and scoot his head and shoulders closer to the end of the table. Changing diapers has become more of a challenge!

The hand-chewing and hair loss continue.

Babies need a Daylight Savings timer. Gerald and I had finally (!) settled into a workable routine, and we were getting good at it, when the time changed! Now we're struggling all over again to find our balance and rhythm. Now Daddy's alarm clock goes off an hour earlier, the sun rises an hour later, meals are eaten earlier, the sun shines an hour later, and bedtime comes too soon. Last night Ger didn't fall asleep for the night until 9:30!

A little while ago I found myself really struggling, emotionally and spiritually. I thought I had been doing great, thought I had everything all together, but upon closer inspection of my actions, my priorities read something like: (1) Whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it, (2) the baby, (3) my husband, and somewhere down the line, God. It is tempting to spin the story as if I got it all straightened out then, and now I have everything all together, and therefore this will never be a problem for me again, but I don't, and it will become an issue again. This is supposed to be an accurate representation of what motherhood is really like, and as such, I will do my best to not pretty it up.

The first symptom of the priorities-mixed-up malady that I noticed was feeling very aimless and purposeless. Countless times Matthew would come home from work, ask what we were having for supper, and my response would be "I don't know!" I hadn't even thought as far ahead as supper. [Matthew has been very patient through it all, never complaining. I really don't deserve him!] My dear husband would help me, and I was grateful...but it still kept happening. On some of these days I would genuinely need help; the baby had been fussy and I truly hadn't had time. I began to feel pretty discouraged, knowing that it is my responsibility to provide food, and one of my primary responsibilities!

Other symptoms included too much aimless time on the computer, not accomplishing anything; not picking the baby up immediately when he would be first unhappy, and being annoyed with him when he was fussy; feeling worthless and upset with myself; not taking proper care of myself; and not doing things that were high priority (like food prep) while lower priority things (like house decorating) were being done.

Finally, after a day of feeling particularly like a failure, Matthew and I had a long talk. It was extremely painful to admit that I had gotten priorities mixed up, especially since I had believed they were just fine. It was excruciatingly painful to have all my actions drawn out and examined. Yes, somehow self had crept up to top of the list, while I wasn't looking. And then, my particularly close-to-home temptation hit: "I've blown it. I'm worthless. I messed up--how could I be loved? How can God love me anymore? I'm such a failure." This is where running to my Daddy in heaven became critical, and I'm so glad I did. I shed many a tear, and more threaten now, but the beauty of God's love is that I can fail, but He loves me yet as much as He always has.

Now that I had discovered and dealt with the root issue, how to go about practically making steps toward my priorities showing in my actions? I figured I had two areas specifically to address: (1) facing the general purposelessness of how I was using my time and (2) making meals--supper in particular. I'm going to save the meals topic for the next update.





I decided to write out a schedule, though I suppose it's more of a guideline than a rigid rule. The baby predictably takes four naps throughout the day, this is what my routine is based from. By patterning my day, I would not be just living moment by moment, but looking ahead at how my whole day would flow. I have found this very useful, and my productivity has gone up tenfold. I've done more cleaning of the house in the last week than I have in the two months prior!

Bare Bones of My Day (as written in my little notebook):

Approximate times (before time change!)

6-6:30 am: Baby wakes up. Get up, change baby, eat breakfast, and send husband off to work or school

7:30 am: Baby takes a nap. Devotional time, and prioritizing for the day.

9:00 am: Baby wakes up. Change baby, dress myself. [my rules for dressing: Dress (attractively), Deodorant, Brush hair, Brush teeth, Wash face if needed, Makeup. Making it into a routine has been immensely helpful--it can be so tempting to never get out of the sweatpants!] Clear the table of dishes, start washing dishes, start laundry.

10:00 am: Baby takes a nap. Read, write, plan, or listen to something. If possible, leave baby and start lunch or finish washing dishes.

11:00 am: Baby wakes up. Change baby. Lunch high priority.

1:00 pm: Baby nap. Nap with him.

2:30 pm: Get up, change baby. Start working on supper if needed. Limit computer time to <1 hr.

3:30-4 pm: Baby nap. Work on supper. Remake bed before leaving baby.

5:30 pm: Supper

6:30-7:30: Baby bedtime.

9:00 pm: Bedtime.

This is just the basic outline; when I've finished the things I have set out to do, then the extra time is open to house clean, sew, etc. I've been amazed to find out how much time I really have when I manage it!

I have found that the morning devotional and prioritizing is critical to my schedule really working. (Almost) every morning I take time to read in a devotional book, read in my Bible, and write out my plans, prayers, goals, and priorities for the day. Some days, like this morning, I am so tired that I decide to sleep with the baby instead. The only problem with that is that usually I wake up even more tired and have an even harder time waking up.

In my little book I use, usually my priorities read:

1) God
2) Little Ger
3) Matthew

and goals:

4) Dress, attractively

5) Wash dishes, clear table, clean countertops

6) Laundry move along ( I usually find that putting a load of laundry in the washer flows nicely with putting a different load of laundry in the dryer, and then sorting a load already dried)

7) Drink 13 cups water

8) Make supper

and after that I add cleaning jobs, computer work, and other items.

And one last tip I've found helps me: making an itemized list of the things I need to accomplish on the computer helps me to minimize purposeless time online!

Of course, I by no means have it all down. I am very much imperfect, make mistakes, and have a hard time keeping to the good and the right...I'm human. But I'm sharing these things in an effort to encourage and to show that my motherhood is just as much of a work in progress as I am.

Thanks for listening,

Esther



A recent visit to Grandma Aardsma's house;
both baby and Grandma are worn out!


March 9, 2013

Hi there!

With Little Ger's three-month mark (have we already survived a quarter of a year?!) just passed, it seemed appropriate to me to write up a few reflections on his birth:

Little Ger's arrival rather took me--and I think all of us--by surprise. One day I was counting on three or four more weeks to get ready, and the next day I was very glad that I'd packed our bags early, because we were on our way to the hospital.



Labor at the hospital.
'Beka brushing my hair and Matthew having a snack.


Why did we choose a hospital birth? The answer is simple: legality. It is a common misbelief that home births are illegal in Illinois; this isn't quite the case. Home births are not banned in Illinois, but it is the certified attendant that poses the problem. According to my understanding, a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM), who holds the equivalent of a Doctorate in Midwifery, is allowed to attend a home birth, but a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM, also called a direct-entry midwife) is not allowed to obtain a license or practice midwifery for home births in Illinois. It is much quicker and easier to become a CPM, and because of this (to my understanding) there is a thriving underground network of illegally practicing midwives even in our area. These women will deliver your baby if you pay out of pocket a certain sum, and they may even be good midwives, but if something were to go wrong, there is no legal protection for them or for you. As for finding a CNM who would attend home births--this is nearly impossible in Illinois. I think there are somewhere between six and ten in the whole state of Illinois--most of these are up in the Chicago area. According to my research, the nearest CNM who would attend a home birth lived about two hours away and refused to travel even an hour to a client's birth. Matthew commented to me that, after going to the expense, trouble, and time to achieve the CNM status, the midwife would most likely want to be associated with a hospital, where she would be delivering babies all the time to make it worth her while.

So, not wanting to either be left without an attendant or stuck with an illegal one, we scrapped the home birth idea, and turned to the hospitals instead. We tried one group of midwives, but after finding that they only delivered five days a week during business hours, we tried a different route. We were thrilled with the midwife team we found, and though we didn't even meet the midwife that attended Ger's birth until we checked into Labor and Delivery, she was wonderful and did an awesome job.



The long awaited moment. Bliss!


When I first knew for sure I was in labor, I was concerned about the baby's early arrival. I knew he was alive and kicking (though we didn't know it was a he yet) between contractions, which relieved me immensely on that count, but I was a little worried that his coming early would cause health complications. It was a little bit of a struggle to trust God with my baby's health at first, but after praying a lot and Matthew's reminding me that God knew the right time, I was able to let my worry go. Hearing the baby's heartbeat over the monitor once in the hospital was also hugely reassuring.

My labor and birth went very smoothly, as far as it could. I was in labor for about twenty hours, with contractions every three to five minutes...and no breaks. I had decided long before labor to do the best I could to do the best thing for me and my baby, so I refused any offers of pain medications, knowing that an epidural posed risks to me, and opiate medications could have affected the baby. I'm not going to lie: labor was hard, one of the hardest things I've ever done. Toward the end I thought I still had hours left of labor, and not having been through the experience before, didn't recognize transition fully for what it was, except for being extremely hard. Pain during contractions was excruciatingly intense, and I felt like I couldn't do it anymore. I remember crying and just feeling hopeless. Matthew told me I could do it, and to take it one contraction at a time. He was right: I could do it, and I did. With his support, and with God's strength, I did it. The sense of accomplishment and achievement now is huge; I am proud of how I did.

If it had been just for me, I wouldn't have gone through the pain. I wouldn't have taken those walks beforehand to get in shape, nor take the childbirth education class, nor refuse pain meds, nor even breastfeed the baby. If I had been in it for only me, I probably would have asked to be knocked out immediately after the first contractions and have the baby delivered by C-section. I would have chosen the easy way, not the best way. But I wasn't doing it for me; I was doing it for the baby. My little one who deserved the best chance at good health possible, who was innocent and unable to speak for himself--this was my purpose for every pain.



Mom Aardsma and Matthew helping me with nursing.


Matthew was there the entire time. He told me he wouldn't have been anywhere else, and I clung desperately to him throughout labor. I don't think I could have followed through with no pain meds if he hadn't been there to support, to encourage me and remind me of the purpose for the pain, to offer me hope, to remind me to rely on God's strength, to attempt to bring humor to the situation (BETWEEN contractions, mind you!!), to keep me hydrated, and to promise me that it would end, we would have our baby, and the pain wouldn't last forever. Our marriage had been growing and deepening before we had our baby, but during that period in the hospital, it deepened in incredible ways. We were so much closer after having held onto each other so strongly during the difficulty. The emotions were so deep during that time, the joy and delight and disbelief so poignant when we at last met our tiny little son, the pain so intense, the exhaustion so extreme--and we shared it all, every last bit of it. Even when the baby was taken away for a little while right after he was born, Matthew stayed with me, to support me in the aftermath of birth.



'Beka stayed for the entire labor.
Her extra hands were so appreciated!


That little short hour during which newborn baby Ger was taken to the nursery for observation was the hardest and longest hour during our entire stay in the hospital. After all that hard, hard work and pain, I only had a few short seconds with him and then he was whisked away. Physically he was fine, the nurses and midwife told me, but just because he was born a little early--just a couple days short of "full-term", so technically a preemie-- they needed to make sure that his transition into the world went okay. I was very relieved that Mom Aardsma was there to go with the baby and watch over him--I didn't need to worry about him--but the pain of a few stitches and cleanup procedures was so much more pronounced without my purpose for it present. My arms felt so empty during that period. I was glad that Matthew was able to stay with me; it would have been much harder if he'd have had to leave me to keep an eye on our son.

At long last the little bassinet was wheeled in, and our journey into parenthood began. Our joy abounded and our hearts overflowed. I was ecstatic and on an emotional high--I just could not stop talking for a quite a while. The reality of having been awake for 24 hours--the longest day I've ever had--finally set in, and Matthew and I both crashed.



Exhausted but so happy!


Looking back, the rest of our time in the hospital was pretty difficult. The transition into having a baby relying on us wasn't easy -- is it ever easy?--the sleeplessness and exhaustion were intense, but we were pretty stressed too. Baby Gerald was tiny, skinny, and born without an ounce of fat on his frame. We weren't really concerned for his overall health, but we were concerned that he not lose so much weight before learning to nurse that we be detained at the hospital any longer than absolutely necessary. Add to that a sleepy baby that was hungry, but not awake enough to eat or hungry enough to wake up. It took him 36 hours from birth to learn how to nurse, and in the meantime almost every time a nurse came in to check on us, am or pm, we were once again trying to get him latched on well enough to get a little colostrum down. When he finally did figure it out, he nursed for a half-hour before he finally crashed and slept like...well, a baby.

It is amazing to me the people God sent us at just the right times. I can think of two women in particular, both nurses. The first woman, a labor and delivery nurse named S., relieved our first nurse after several hours into labor at the hospital. She was very encouraging, telling me that if I wanted to have the baby without any pain meds, then, well, I could do it. She didn't pressure me to think about pain medications, unlike the first nurse. She herself had had one or several babies with no pain medications. Every time she checked on us, she had a word or two to offer to encourage us: we were doing great, we were making progress, we were naturals at this. It was she who gave me the five seconds of instructions needed to improve my pushing technique, and she who coached me through the pushing period--her on one side of me, with Matthew on the other. Both she and the midwife were very supportive of our choices, and did their best to help make our vision for the birth a reality.



One tired Dad!


The second person was a postpartum nurse named M. A night nurse, it was she that kept checking in on us to find that every time we were again attempting to coax our tiny little one to eat a little. Somewhere in the twilight zone between 2 am and 4 am Matthew and I both were desperately tired. I was more sleep-deprived than I had ever been before, literally at the point of falling asleep while sitting up. The baby was crying because he was hungry, frustrated that he could not nurse, and so tired that he too kept falling asleep and jerking back awake. Matthew and I were trying our best, but it just didn't seem to be enough. It was this situation that M. happened upon on her third time checking in on us, and she timidly offered her help. She clarified that she wasn't a lactation expert, and she had never nursed a baby, but nonetheless offered her limited expertise. We gratefully accepted her help and all of us breathed a sigh of relief when baby Gerald nursed for just several minutes on both sides. Just a couple minutes--but it was enough. He sank into a deeper sleep, his hunger satisfied at last, and Matthew and I collapsed for a couple hours of blessed, needed sleep. I remember one thing that the nurse said, that was so encouraging in that difficult hour: "You know, it can be difficult to teach even full-term babies to nurse." Only that, that simple sentence, offered us so much hope-- it wasn't that Gerald was early that was making it hard for him to nurse; this was part of a normal learning curve. It wasn't that we were doing something wrong; we were just like every other pair of new parents learning to cope. And, most importantly, that it would get easier; my milk would come in and the baby would catch on quickly. M.'s quiet words were my beacon of hope: I could nurse this baby. The next day, even the lactation consultant that came to talk to me was not nearly as encouraging. Her message was that things would probably be difficult because the baby was early and I should get a breast pump--just in case. But that one young nurse's comment in the dead of the night stuck with me, and I still have not needed that suggested pump. Baby Gerald and I made it through the tough learning curve, and I think his rolls of fat speak to how well we're currently doing.



Mom Aardsma attended the birth
as well as stayed overnight at the hospital.
She held the baby as well as "intercepted" the night nurses
so Matthew and I could get some much needed sleep.


Overall we had a pretty positive birth experience, even though there were difficult parts and some unnecessary rigamarole. The nurses were for the most part kind, sensitive, supportive, and good at their jobs. Most had an encouraging, "You're a trooper!" ready to offer at our difficult moments. No one attempted to overrule our choices; we were trusted with the decisions that we were making for little Ger, whether it was labor and delivery choices, shots or no shots for him, rooming-in, or breastfeeding exclusively. Matt told me after he brought me a promotional diaper bag with sample formula that the nurses had discussed which formula brand's promotional bag to give me, since I wasn't planning to formula feed at all. "Give her the nicest one," was the consensus, "she deserves it." [As reported by Matthew.] This little touch of support was much appreciated at the time. (We threw the formula samples out first chance we got, though...)



My joy and delight.


As I was wheeled out of the hospital with my infant son in the car seat on my lap, I must say that I was very ready to go home. It felt like we had been at the hospital a long, long time. Surprisingly, it was a fairly warm day--especially for December--and I remember how green the grass was, how foggy the sky was, and how very alive life seemed. The moment of waiting by the driveup for Matthew to appear in our little blue Nissan stretches on in my mind...I was happy, life was sweet, I was going home, and the little life I was clutching on my lap had already changed my life forever.

Esther



Dad Aardsma visiting his name sake at the hospital.


March 3, 2013

Hi there!

I'm going to try to quickly send this off before the baby wakes up...though I doubt I can do it.

Our new shipment of diapers came in last week. With their arrival, Ger officially outgrew the NB size and upgraded to the Smalls. Two dozen diapers works pretty well for me; I usually go two days or so between washing a load of them.

And...he woke up. I'll try to get a few more minutes in with him on the floor next to me.

I did a rough cost analysis of cloth diapering versus disposable diapering:

Cloth

$361 (for 5 diaper covers and 2 dozen of each cloth diaper size from NB to XL) + $438 [for 2 loads of laundry (rinse, wash, and dry) every 5 days for 2 years (costs per load from thesmartdollar.com)] = $799 for two years of cloth diapering

Disposable

I used a Pampers pack of 234 diapers for $47.19 as my starting point. $47.19/234 = 20.2 cents per diaper. At 10 diapers a day X 365 days a year X 2 years X $0.202 per diaper, I come up with $1474.60 for two years of disposable diapering.

[Over the course of the rest of the afternoon]

There are other pros and cons that I've discovered. Cloth diapers can be used for more than just diapers--they make great burp cloths, portable changing pads, and the smaller ones make great doublers inside the larger ones for super-absorbent night diapers. Cloth diapers can be reused for subsequent children, saving the initial investment in the diapers themselves the second time around. While disposable diapers are more compact and cleanup is easier--you can just throw them away instead of having to deal with dirty cloth diapers that will need to be washed--cloth diapers still have superior absorbency, hands down. We found very quickly with our smaller-than-average baby that disposable diapers have to fit just so or they leak. Add to this that if the infant outgrows a particular size of disposable diapers more quickly than anticipated, you easily could be stuck with half a large box of diapers that have no immediate use anymore. Even for traveling (though not long-term travel), we found cloth diapers to be much more reliable--yes, you do have to carry a wet bag, but the fewer changes of clothes necessary makes it worth it.

Our conclusion? Disposables make nice emergency backups, but cloth diapers are the way to go for us.

On a totally different note, last week I reintroduced the last factor that could have possibly affected the baby through my diet: my prenatal vitamin. Midweek Little Ger's diapers once again turned green and very mucousy, and are continuing so to the present. Coincidence? I don't think so. Though he seemed to have initial reactions to both the milk and the wheat when I reintroduced those, his diapers cleared up within a day or two, and the foods didn't seem to bother him anymore. After going strong with bright yellow and orange healthy-looking diapers for several weeks...I have a feeling we have found our culprit. Especially since he's been uncharacteristically fussy this week. I'm once again going off the vitamin, and in a week or so we should know for sure.

Little Ger is picking up a habit that is pretty annoying at times. When he's put in his swing (usually it shows up most in his swing, but other times and places too) he will usually stuff his hand as far into his mouth as it will go, and suck quite determinedly at it. Reading this as "hungry", I will try to pick him up and nurse him, only to find that he will cry and push me away, very clearly saying "NOT hungry!!" And he'll put his hand back in his mouth and start it all over. We think it's mostly boredom and a lack of new exciting things to do, though I still have to check to make sure he's not hungry...occasionally he really is. Matthew thinks this mannerism will basically disappear once he starts to crawl and discover new things...to which my response was "He'll put everything else in his mouth!"

Ger is still not really laughing recognizably, though he has managed to find ways to express when he's happy--great big adorable smiles. He adds his "ah-goo!" noises to those pretty frequently. When he gets excited, his entire body wiggles and he sounds like he's about to hyperventilate. It's pretty cute to watch. One morning this past week I woke him up in the wee hours of the morning to change his diaper--I was fighting the worst diaper rash I'd seen on him yet--and he was so adorably irresistible that I couldn't help but play with him for a few minutes before heading back to bed.

Several years ago I had a chipped front tooth partially reconstructed; this week out of the blue a chip came off again. I'm working on setting up a dentist's appointment for it now. I'm really not looking forward to it, not so much because of my dislike of having my teeth worked on, but if Ger needs me during the appointment, I won't be able to take care of him. I hope he'll sleep through the entire thing.

Little Ger loves baths! He was so cute in his bath wrap last night while drying off that I couldn't resist a photo opportunity!

Talk to you again soon.

Esther



February 15 - 27, 2013

Hi there,

[From February 15th]

Little Ger now has enough head control to sit up while on someone's lap--which is where he is right now. I'm typing with one hand while he squirms and wiggles, legs and arms going everywhere...I think his patience will run out soon.

He rolled over last night! I put him down on his tummy on a blanket in the kitchen (these days so much more preferable to the swing!) and he pushed himself up with his arms and fell over to one side. He wasn't quite sure what to do then, but he was all smiley because he could tell I was excited by my tone. After a couple more minutes, he pushed himself over and completed the roll! Matthew was even there to see it.





Ger's smiles have been my delight this week, ever since he learned what a smile is: a way to communicate. He smiles a lot now, and almost seems to be a happier baby because he can smile. Matthew says that he's heard me laugh a lot more in the past couple days than he's heard me laugh in a long time.

[From about Feb 20th, with Ger once again on my lap.]

He's rolled over a couple more times now, bringing his rolls up to a total of four. He can lift his head up pretty high now, along with a part of his chest. Tummy time usually doesn't last very long at one go, though, because this kiddo is so much dying to crawl that he gets super frustrated very quickly that he can't.





[February 27th]

On Monday, Little Ger learned that he could make himself roll over instead of only accidentally occasionally while trying to crawl. He promptly rolled over about nine times in fifteen minutes. See attached photos!

I am starting to become a little more ambitious (read: motivated, recovered from birth and adjustment of newborn, then very fussy baby) these days. Before Ger was born, I was working on slowly improving the house--making curtains, etc. I had numerous plans of things I wanted to do, and even cut out a curtain for the door in the sunroom while babysitting L. Well, Ger was born, and I didn't even so much as think about any of these things for several months. I couldn't have cared less, with a new baby to love, but I also was (am still, just not to the same extent, I guess) constantly exhausted. Now that Ger is a little less needy and will either be happier while holding him longer or entertain himself a little longer, I've been able to not only pick up meals and dishes again, but also work little by little on the improvements I want to make happen. "I'm going to turn this house on its head--twenty minutes at a time!" I told Matthew when I first wrote up a plan and began implementing it, and since then I've been able to make several curtains, go thrift store shopping with Beka and find a couple things for the house, cut down a bath rug to a toilet-base rug and with its matching toilet-lid cover make that ugly cow in the downstairs bathroom disappear, hang a couple things on the walls, rearrange some curtains upstairs so they matched in the rooms, make a pillow cover for a pillow for the living room (with another one almost done), and fix up a couple other loose odds and ends. Admittedly, I have kind of traded my perfectionistic tendencies for just plain getting the job done. I think another key to accomplishing anything is being able to break up what I want to do into very small chunks of time, and then doing one small thing when I have five, or ten, or maybe even twenty minutes to spare.





One thing I've learned in all of this is that I'm not a very good gear-changer. I find it very difficult to switch back and forth between slow-down-the-baby-needs-you and get-some-things-done-while-he-doesn't-need-you modes. When I'm in the middle of a project, it's difficult to lay it down unfinished, not knowing when I'll be able to come back to it. This is especially the case when I only have a couple more minutes to go, and it will be done. There are times when the baby needs and wants some plain old cuddling and talking to and--dare I say it--undivided attention? When that is the case, it can be so easy to get frustrated with the small amount I feel I am accomplishing, especially if he isn't exactly crying for my attention and the dishes are. There are also times when there isn't anything I need to do pressing, although plenty of things I could do, and the baby's happy. On these occasions, sometimes I choose to just spend time enjoying the baby, sometimes keeping my husband company while he's studying or working, sometimes both. My "vision" can come in handy here: in the years to come, when Ger is grown up, when we no longer live in this house, what will I remember? What will I wish I had done more of? I'm guessing that I will wish that I had focused less on all I had to do, and more on enjoying my husband's company, more on enjoying Ger's baby smiles and first rolls and first steps and first words....and so, I'm doing my best to enjoy them now.

He's also fallen asleep without me multiple times recently...on the floor, in the swing, just yesterday while his Aunt 'Beka was holding him.

The poor kid is losing all his hair! He now has a growing bare spot on the back of his head along with his receding hairline in the front. I can't wait until his hair starts to come back in--losing his hair is emphasizing how unsymmetrical his head is! Adorably cute as always, though, of course. :)

More later!

Esther



February 12, 2013

Hello,

Last night Little Ger learned that tickling is funny! No real laughing yet (though so close!) but he gave me these big goofy smiles pretty consistently. Since then, I've been having, as Matthew put it, "more fun than should be allowed." See for yourself!

Esther





February 10, 2013

Hi again,

Well, I think I can safely say that we survived Gerald's two-month doctor's visit Friday. Positives: He officially weighs more than double his birthweight (a whopping 11 lbs, 8 oz!) and has grown a good inch and a half in height (length?) since a month ago. Dr. M's opinion on the fussiness was that it was pretty unlikely that it was directly caused by my diet and that we should just do our best to hold out until Ger is 3 months old. He promised us that things should get better then; the baby's systems just seem to equilibrate (I think that's a word!) and most of the issues will work themselves out. Negatives: The pediatrician noticed that Ger's left eye appears to turn in a little bit, making him look cross-eyed. (We'd noticed it too, but it only happens some of the time and we weren't all that concerned about it. Still aren't, until we have reason to be.) He referred us to the Ophthalmology department and said we should get it checked out just to make sure there isn't a real problem. And, of course, the poor little guy got majorly immunized. That part was so not fun. For any of us. He got immunizations for diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (of which C-U had an outbreak in December, and the doctor said there's a smaller outbreak going on now), Haemophilus influenzae type b and pneumococcal disease (main causes of meningitis), hepatitis B, polio, and rotavirus--all of these packed into three intramuscular injections and an oral medicine.

I hadn't realized how close I had become to my baby. As I stood there, holding him, looking down into his face as he started to cry harder and with more tears than I have ever seen him cry before, I couldn't keep my own tears from coming. I hated seeing him in pain. I hated it. I hated it even more knowing that I had been part of the cause of his being in pain, even if it was for his own good. I wished so much that I could take the pain for him. Even now, when he seems to have recovered pretty well and forgotten it, still tears threaten to well up deep inside me when I think of his distress. That's my baby. I love him more than I have ever loved before, and want absolutely nothing to hurt him.

So, take a hint and don't come near him with any ill intent, ok? Because that's my baby. [This doesn't really seem to bode well for my emotional state when the time comes that discipline is necessary to be meted out. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.]

On a brighter note, I purchased some baby clothes from Wal-Mart on the way home from the doctor's office. I got some onesies, a couple pairs of pants, and a sleeper in the 3-6 month size. They did end up being too big, but the clothes he has that are marked 0-3 month and 3 months are on just the brink of being outgrown. I was at the point where he had few enough sleepers and wearable, warm enough things that I literally had to do the laundry in order to fish out something to put him in. Tell me that keeping up with a baby that grew an entire 1-1/2 inches in a month (repeat: a month) is easy!

The little guy is super close to rolling over one of these days, by accident, while he's trying to figure out the crawling thing. He's also just at the edge of laughing, giving so much as a "heh-heh" when his Aunt 'Beka came to visit this past week. Even for all his unpredictable fussiness, he is as adorable and as sweet as can be when he is happy. No email can do him justice, sorry!

The past couple weeks I've been thinking a little bit about the kind of mother I want to be. Yes, I know, I'm already a mother, but hang on a minute and let me explain a little. I've been thinking about the difference between vision and focus. If vision is the long-term goal of who I want to be and what I want to be like in the future, then focus is the short-term goal of what I want to do, who I am, and the little choices I make today. It can be dangerous to get lost in one of these without the other's tempering influence: too much up-close focus and the general direction of my path has no guidance; too much far-off vision and there is no practical application in the life I'm living now. Both are necessary; it is critical to be aware of the daily choices I am making and conscious of how each one fits into God's vision for me. Where I end up at the end of life won't be because of one great big choice, but because of the sum of all the little ones I made in the now. In order to not go the wrong direction--which is very easy--I have to hold up what God says I should be as my vision, and match up my focus--the choices I make today-- against that vision. Here, brutal honesty about my motives, my heart, my real actions and not my imagined ones, is necessary in order to keep me from becoming self-deceived as to where I really am and where I'm really headed. Without the guidance of a vision of where I'm headed, without the action of my focus in the now, and without the honesty to match the two up, it's hopeless. Even so, with all that, it can be so easy to try to start doing it on my own, instead of relying on God's strength, and from my experience that's hopeless too. (Then why is it so easy to fall into that trap?) It's more than just my actions--for my human effort focuses on my actions--it's my heart. It's my heart and my priorities that will direct my actions in the here and now to grow toward the perfection of Christ, and only by the repeated examination of those will I grow.

Talk to you again soon!

Esther



February 5, 2013

Hi there, dear family,

I would like to thank you all for the enjoyable time on Saturday night, all your love and care over my birthday, and for your very thoughtful gifts. I am very blessed to have such a family surrounding me.

I'm going to keep it short, but I did want to send a photo out. He's getting so big and strong, and dying to start crawling. He is now nine weeks old!

More later!

Esther





January 29, 2013

Hi there! I'm rocking the little man with one foot while I type. He seems pretty happy, at least for the moment.

Gerald is outgrowing his clothes at a scarily fast-paced rate. What fit him last week, he literally outgrew in the time it took to do the laundry. He is now eight weeks old.





Notice how much he has grown. He was swimming in that blue onesie when he was six days old!

His socks were refusing to stay on his little feet, mostly because they were just plain too small (though they had a little help.) I kept seeing baby socks on the floor everywhere I went, and never on the baby feet! It wasn't until I found one of the little socks somewhat suspiciously chewed up that I realized that it was also suspicious that I was finding them everywhere. And the same ones.

We solved that issue by getting bigger socks. And they've been working great since.

[He's sleeping now.]

The cloth diapers we bought online have been working just great. I have so little faith in the disposables now. For a disposable to work, the diaper has to fit just so, and if you hold the baby at different angles, you might still get a leak. We still may use disposables for trips, etc, but even then, we are increasing our chances of needing more clothing and needing to wash the carseat cover when we get home. The only times I have had the cloth diapers leak is when I don't change him frequently enough--usually because I forget to change him before he falls asleep, and I don't want to wake him up, and he ends up sleeping a looooong time. Although I thought initially that I would dislike the Econobum diaper covers, I actually have grown to like them more and more. They do work well. The idea is that we won't have to buy more as the baby grows, because they snap down to effectively adjust sizes.

Little Ger's fussiness has improved since I have started to limit my diet. He still will get somewhat fussy, but instead of a WHAAAAAA!!! it's more of a wha! wha-a. wha? and I think some of that may even be normal boredom/tiredness. The duration and intensity has definitely decreased. I've been keeping a little diary of what I eat, when I change his diapers and what color and consistency they are, when he eats, when he's fussy, etc. The experiment is still ongoing, and so we're not yet at the stage of reintroducing what we think are the issue foods. Stay tuned...





I've definitely been tried to the utmost some days. There is nothing like exhaustion mixed with a constantly crying baby to set my own self into tears. I guess God is reminding me that I still need His help...and that the only patience I really have is that which I allow Him to give me. I'm kind of like a leaky pitcher...as soon as I keep God from filling me back up with patience and love, I run out really fast.

I'm amazed, thinking back to before I had our baby, how long ago it seems. Yes, life was easier then, and incredibly so (no waking up every morning feeling like you could just sleep for days longer), but it seems so much emptier, too. It wasn't as full somehow; it wasn't as purposeful. I have a feeling that if I were to return to that state now, I would feel like something was missing, and terribly so. There wouldn't be any waking up in the early morning to a warm wiggling body just as awake and happy as can be, and so unready to go back to sleep (how can you be upset with someone so adorable?). There wouldn't be any of the closeness of his eyes looking up into mine as he eats his meals. There wouldn't be the wonderment at his smiles and newest accomplishments. There wouldn't be listening for his little noises to pick him up after a nap, nor the snuggly times when he just wants to be close to Mommy. Sure, life would be easier without a very dependent little person looking solely to me to provide his every need, but somehow in giving up my own rights--even though it's not easy--life becomes sweeter.

[Much later. He's sleeping again.]

My Ergobaby baby carrier just came! I'm so excited! I'll have to wait a little while until he gets big enough to put him in it. It's specifically designed to be easier on the back than a shoulder(s) only carrier, including a sling. My sling is working for now (he loves it! I put him in it and he's out in ten minutes!), and is very well made, but it's still all that weight and stress on one shoulder. I'm also excited about the carrier because Matthew should be able to wear it too...I can just envision walks in the park now, straying from the paths like only Matthew can...with a little guy in tow!! :) [I think Matthew would agree with me that strollers can be very limiting.]

Speaking of, we had our first walk in the park together since before we had the baby last Saturday! Little Ger enjoyed being pushed in the stroller, and I enjoyed the much-needed exercise!

More later!

Esther

January 27, 2013

Hi there!

As per Mom Aardsma's desperate plea to please send a photo.... :)

"Little Ger" is seven weeks old now. He is currently sleeping.

Out of desperation--all of his warmer clothes that fit him were in the laundry [how does he manage to spit up on something only five minutes after i put it on?]--I put him in a 6-month sleeper that Mom Aardsma gave me for Christmas...and was surprised at how well it actually fit. It's a tad long, but give it another two weeks or so...

This is not looking good for trying to keep up with him in clothes.

This past week has been kind of rough. The poor little guy has been fussy/crying every single day this week, sometimes in the evening, sometimes during the day, and sometimes both. It has become somewhat unpredictable (for a little while it was only evenings, and usually starting around 5:30), and more often than not, he wakes up happy but ten minutes later he is crying. Our best guess at this point is that something I have been eating is bothering him--the fussiness does seem to be stomach-related. Soooo...I'm currently doing my best to not eat dairy, and to not eat wheat, among other things. The first time I've ever really had to watch what I eat, and 85% or more of my normal diet is off-limits!!

More later!

Esther



January 21, 2013

Hi there!

While he's sleeping, I'll start the next update rolling...





At six weeks old Gerald is becoming more and more cuddly these days; it's still occasional rather than regular, but just unbelievably precious all the same. He'll be quiet and just taking life in with those big blue eyes, safe in Mommy's or Daddy's arms. At the same time, when he's not being cuddly, he is extremely active. Increased head control would be a really good thing, and soon, because holding him is becoming a hazard to both the holder and the holdee. Especially when he gets hungry or upset--he will suddenly dive off to one side or the other with no warning.

Mornings are super special times for us, my son and I. When he first wakes up he is so happy and content with the world (that is, once he's changed and in the process of being fed...). His eyes flit around, looking at the colorful dresses on the wall above the rocking chair, Mommy's face, and the world in general. He is just as sweet as can be, and I find myself falling more and more in love with him and those great big deep blue eyes.

We've seen little smiles here and there since his initial one, but he's still not consistent in responding to a smile with a smile. Sometimes he will furrow his eyebrows and look straight at me when I smile at him, thinking really hard, trying to figure out why I'm looking at him in such an odd way.

The past week has been rough, with crying periods for about two hours almost every evening. This has been hard on both Matthew and me; we're currently exploring different theories as to what may be causing it, with hopes of eliminating our baby's unhappiness/discomfort.

Our days in general are starting to take on a certain predictability, which is rather nice. Little Ger will wake up between 7 and 8 and nurse for awhile. He'll be awake for around an hour to an hour and a half, then take a nap for about the same. From there the predictability isn't as great, but he'll nap after lunch, and he tends to sleep a lot in the later afternoons. Recently we've had the added routine of inconsolableness starting between 4 and 8 pm, usually lasting a long while, until he's persuaded to fall asleep for the night. (Hoping to remove this item from the itinerary before too long.) He's starting to sleep longer at night between his initial bedtime and his first night-time nurse, which is nice for catching up on sleep a little, because on toward morning (5:30 am, anyone?) he will start to make a lot of noise in his sleep--this is every morning, folks!--and doesn't really stop until he wakes up for the day.

I wouldn't say that mothering is easy. It's truly incredible the things that can, and will, annoy a constantly sleep-deprived woman in the middle of the night. Feeling like the bed is slanting toward the middle and you're about to roll over one way while attempting to keep a baby nursing in his sleep on the other side? Check. A baby that refuses to wake up despite rubbing his tummy, rubbing his back, rolling him over, pulling the covers off, and even desperate measures of changing his diaper-- yet still continues to make very loud, complainy groans and moans? Check. Trying to feed the same baby in same situation when he's convinced only his thumb will do [at 2 am, no less!]? Check. Waking up and feeling like you just can't lie still any longer, your legs are so incredibly restless, but to crawl out of bed will mean said baby rolling toward the middle of said slanted bed, further meaning possibility of waking said baby up, or worse yet, inducing said baby into said state of somniac vocalization? Check, check and check. Waking up to sleeping husband's elbow in the back of your neck? Check. How about waking up from a dream in which said husband was upset with you for not attending to crying baby, only to find that both said husband and said baby are sound asleep, neither making a single noise....

Being a mother is very sanctifying.

But, I don't think I'd trade where I am for anything in the world.

Esther




My husband, Matthew, comforting "Little Ger".


January 14, 2013

Hi there!

The little guy has been sleeping away most of the morning...we must have tired him out last night with some of our friends coming over for a much belated Christmas party. The friend's children still hadn't seen Little Ger even after a month, so he was the star of the party.

Oh dear. I think he's finally waking up.





[Over two hours later, after changing a diaper; attempting to feed a fairly-unhappy-but-smiling-between-fits-of-complaining, very sleepy baby that decided he really wasn't that hungry after all, he just wanted Mama to lie down next to him so he could nurse while falling asleep; and ending up taking a long nap myself...he's asleep still. We'll see how long this lasts.]

We have basically mastered nursing while lying down, which has been wonderful. The last several nights I haven't needed to sit up to nurse him, though I still occasionally get up to change a diaper to wake him up enough to really nurse. I think he's starting to get better at waking himself up, at least some of the time.

Little Ger at five weeks old has officially outgrown newborn size --most of it, that is. Three sleepers and a shirt currently still fit him from that tiny size category, probably only for the next couple days. For the most part he is now into 3 month size, although sizing varies so much that some 3-6 month sized items would still swallow him up. It's happy to see him grow into cute things, but it's also sad to see him grow out of cute things that he will never, ever be able to fit into again. Especially the adorable little frog sleeper that he wore for a number of times that I could count on one hand.

This morning...

[After having picked up and changed a very squirmy, wide-awake, voraciously hungry (but still adorable) little guy. Currently typing with one hand while he nurses. I think the email just got shorter.]

[Ahem.] This morning I decided to try the sling again. I put my son in it and got him settled. He didn't seem to like [comforting unhappy baby and now nursing again] the feeling of being a little squished and not being able to kick his feet, but he did seem to like the movement of my walking around. He fell asleep and slept through putting dishes away, starting a load of diapers in the washing machine, my stuffing a washcloth under his shoulders because I was concerned about his breathing, washing dishes, bringing a load of dry laundry upstairs and folding it and putting it away, and starting a pizza for lunch. I finally took him out of the sling after an hour (first time longer than ten minutes!!) because my shoulder and neck were starting to feel the strain.[ burping baby] He slept through that too, [paying him a little attention...][After welcoming husband home and enjoying both a few minutes...]





[Next morning while holding a squirmy, increasingly sleepy little bundle. Typing with one hand again.]

Little Ger did sleep through being taken out of the sling and being put into the swing so I could finish making the pizza. First real cooking I've done in awhile! He woke up to nurse after awhile, and was all smiley and sleepy.







He's holding his head up for seconds at a time more and more now (record this morning of 8 seconds! Twice!). This makes it slightly more dangerous to hold him when he's upset and all over the place with his very limited control--he's already bumped his head on my chin once. The little guy is also starting to occasionally make noises with a conversational tone now, too.

Esther

January 9, 2013

Hi there!

This is a trial in patience as I type with one hand while holding a very squirmy kiddo. I have a feeling this may be kept short...

Find attached the proof of Little Ger's (four weeks old) getting bigger, filling out his sleepers, filling out the car seat, filling out the swing and sling, and focusing his eyes. Enjoy!

Esther


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