A guilty Thanksgiving, first foods, and Christmas with (no) Santa Claus.

It’s hard to believe we’re already in the middle of our first holiday season en famille! Arthur is going to be six months old next Wednesday (just writing that has me shaking my head in denial), and just one week after that will be his first Christmas.

Of course, we kicked it all off with a three-part Thanksgiving. Brian has two siblings, and since we are all coupled up that means there are a lot more family obligations to meet when the holidays rolled around. To compromise, my mother-in-law proposed a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with everyone in attendance – conveniently scheduled for the same day we met for family portraits. It was a fun evening, and Arthur enjoyed sitting in his high chair in the middle of the crowd. What he didn’t enjoy was being oh so close to all of the food without being able to eat it.

This photo session went MUCH more smoothly.

This photo session went MUCH more smoothly.

But guilty Thanksgiving wasn’t over.

We split Thanksgiving Day, spending the first half with my mom at her house and then traveling all together to my in-laws’ for Thanksgiving Part Deux. Both meals were delicious, but between noon and five that day we learned an important lesson:

It’s incredibly difficult to eat when a five-month-old is staring at your plate.

Poor Artie. Every time one of us lifted a bite to our mouths he would stare, and gape, and lean ever so slightly toward the table as if pleading for a taste. He wasn’t hungry, per se – he had a bottle right before we sat down – but he wanted that food more than he’s probably wanted anything in his half a year on the planet.

I had a somewhat difficult decision to make over the next couple of days. I read all of the books and listened to all of the advice that said “No food until six months!” but here was my baby, only weeks away from this threshold and clearly interested in trying the scrumptious goodies on our plate. I could stick to my guns and watch him grow progressively more upset, or I could pull out my blender and my baby food books and give him his first taste.

So, I fed him.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I went to the store and picked up half a batch of pears. I made enough for a few days and fed him the small remainder to gauge his reaction. To say he loved them would be a horrible understatement; I think if I had given him the entire batch that night he would have inhaled it before a long tummyaching night. That was all the response I needed to know that for us, this was the right decision.

We’re following the 3-day rule for introducing new foods. So far, Artie eats Bartlett pears, roasted sweet potatoes, and Honeycrisp apples in addition to a serving of single-grain oatmeal every morning. I don’t want to brag, but he is SUCH a good eater – not yet messy, very excited for each bite (he does try to help a little much sometimes!), and clear about being finished. Tomorrow night we are going to start peas, and I hope he likes them as much as I do.

Onward to Christmas. Everybody is thrilled to have a new baby to experience the magic of the season, though I’m sure a few pocketbooks are moaning at the extra outlay for presents. Fortunately, we were clear from the beginning that we don’t want to surround Arthur with piles of toys higher than he stands (with assistance), so this year we will have a few extra-special gifts with a handful of toys that I know he will use.

None of those gifts, though, will be from Santa.

Of all the parenting decisions we’ve made, this is the one that actually inspired pushback from a grandparent. See, I don’t remember a time when I ever believed there was a jolly old man who lived in the North Pole and delivered gifts to all the children in the world in one night. I understood “Santa” as the spirit of Christmas, giving and loving and joyful but not a real person. That is what I want to instill in my children, and to do that I want to avoid falling into the “presents from Santa” trap. It may become more difficult when he is old enough to ask questions, and if he expresses a belief in the persona of Santa then we will obviously tread lightly, but to me it feels inauthentic and dishonest to perpetuate the myth in that way – and one thing I never want to do is outright lie to my children.

So there will be no gifts from Santa to Arthur under our tree, and no explanations of how Santa knew at which house we would be celebrating Christmas this year. Instead there will only be love, and a few special toys from the real people who love him.

Merry whatever to whomever, wherever! Celebrate the season with love, joy, and openness.

 

Don’t grow up too fast…

For all the writing I do, I don’t seem to have stopped in here recently. So brace yourselves kids, it may be a long one.

Arthur is already 4.5 months old. I blink my eyes and he’s growing out of clothes, rolling himself over, and jabbering with a smile on his face that I swear wasn’t there the last time we woke up. It’s amazing to watch his eyes light up, whether it’s first thing in the morning or when I walk in after a long day of work. He’s started reaching out too, and sometimes I think I’m going to cry all the tears because it melts my heart.

Other things have changed, of course. For one, he’s no longer interested in more than the most random nursing. He’s almost exclusively on a bottle, though yesterday he was rather insistent that he nurse (I think for comfort), so for 10 wonderful minutes we went back to the way we were before. He grips the bottle and pulls it to him, and when he watches us eat he mimics our chewing with an eager gleam in his eye. I don’t think this boy will have any problems eating food.

…which, we sort of tried already. I was adamant that we not introduce food of any kind until 6 months, but once he started waking up in the middle of the night and showing such an interest in food I decided that a little bit of oatmeal cereal wouldn’t be terrible for him. (I chose oatmeal over rice because of the constipation factor, even though the rice is otherwise milder.) I put a teaspoon in his 4-oz bottle and he drank it right down, so the other night we tried a slightly thicker mix that I spoon-fed him. He didn’t spit up…though that’s because he didn’t swallow any of it.

At first I thought it was because he just isn’t ready to guide food to the back of his mouth, but now that I’ve had some time I think it might be more that he was uncomfortable with the spoons we’re using. The little plastic feeding spoons are super cute (and cheap!) but they’re deeper than a traditional baby feeding spoon and the hard plastic can’t feel as good as rubber coating in his mouth. I’m going to pick up some different spoons this weekend and maybe try again. We’re also going to begin switching him over to sippy cups soon (using Avent’s awesome interchangeable caps), which will undoubtedly be fun.

***

Being a parent just astounds me more every day. Arthur’s personality shines through more and more, and it’s just amazing to watch him explore and comprehend his toys and observe the world around him. I’ve already decided that he’s probably going to be a southpaw, which everyone sort of goes with because Brian is and as he said, “mother’s intuition is usually right”. But it’s more than that – he favors his left hand when he’s lifting, chewing, or doing anything. It’s just one more part of this little person who is developing in front of my eyes. I thrive on moments when he just settles in to cuddle with me, moments that are happening more and more as we go but that will one day begin to dwindle until he inevitably argues that he isn’t a baby anymore.

We’re doing family portraits next weekend with Brian’s family, which we’re also using as a holiday card shoot. Yes, we’re those people. I love that we have the ability to chronicle his growth and the changes our family has gone through with regular photos, and I love even more that Arthur seems to really enjoy the camera. (Just like his mommy…) I’ll share once we have them, I’m so excited!

That’s it for now; back to my latte and articles and counting down the hours until I get to see Artie’s face light up again.

Small moment, huge joy

Sometimes all it takes to change my day is a moment.

Today, I walked in the door after a loooooong day at work. I’m a writer and social media manager, and the beginning of the government shutdown last week pushed my entire project roster for the last two weeks back in favor of shutdown coverage on our three Web sites. I feel good about it – I’m still writing, and now using that political science background I have – but it means that I am busting tail to get the rest of my scheduled work up by Friday so I can plan out the second half of the month.

So anyway, the door.

As I was unlocking the deadbolt I heard Brian talking to Arthur. They must have come into the kitchen to disengage the alarm so I wouldn’t have to. When I opened the door I was greeted by a cat, a man, and a baby. I set my stuff down as I went, and with arms empty I turned to Brian…

…and Arthur’s face lit up. 

I can’t possibly exaggerate his expression. The pure joy in his eyes and the huge grin on his face filled my heart and melted it all at once. I saw home, and I learned for the eight millionth time in 113 days that my heart has still not reached its growth limit.

He’s sleeping now with the stuffed dragon his Grandma and Grandpa bought for him at Disney World, and my world is complete.

As a bonus, here’s what our rock star looked like at his first large gathering, at only 12 days old.

My future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.

My future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.

So. Much. Joy.

Time flies…

It’s amazing how fast babies change and grow. So, so much has happened and sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to keep up.

Portraits

We took Arthur for his three-month portraits a few weeks ago, and last week I dropped by to pick them up. Sweet holy mother of God, they are beautiful.

Isn't he gorgeous?

Isn’t he gorgeous?

That’s not a stock photo, but let’s face it, it should be.

We’re planning to take him back for family photos in November (Christmas cards, y’all!), and we’ve even discussed his six-month portraits. Someone stop the train, I want off for awhile.

 

The Doctor

Last week was also our first non-planned visit to the doctor – I have a sinus and ear infection, which sadly (but obviously) passed to the kid. He was a trooper during his exam and has been a star patient for his thrice-daily doses of Amoxicillin. (Lucky kid gets the liquid; Mom was stuck with caplets. Adulthood sometimes blows.) Dare I say he likes it? At the very least, he isn’t allergic! I’ll chalk that up to a win.

Unfortunately, we’ve had some rough evenings while his poor little body fights off the infection. Extreme fussiness, sweating, and resistance to nursing have all been the norm for the last week. I checked in on him today from work and the Best Nanny In The World (TM) told me he’s having a stellar day so far. Here’s hoping that the worst of it has broken.

 

Feeding…

*le sigh*

I haven’t given up, even though Arthur only seems to want to nurse first thing in the morning and last thing at night. He takes the breast for short bursts during the day and evening, but before long (within 5 minutes) he starts crying for a bottle. It’s hard not to see this as a personal failure, even though I know A) I am definitely producing enough, and B) I can’t force the kid to nurse. He’s eating well, and that’s the important thing. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to build up a large supply by pumping so the amount of breast milk he’s been getting has gone way down.

I will not give up, even if I end up hand-expressing into a cup for the next eight months. I just want him to have some, even if he can’t (or won’t) EBF.

In the meantime, I have to admit I’m pretty excited for him to start trying real food! I already found an excellent food processor (which we need anyway to replace our old one that somehow never made it to the new house) and have a couple of books with puree recipes to get us through the first several months! Before long he’ll be eating my favorite stews…(okay, rein it in.)

 

Overnights

I know some parents who at nearly four months have never left their child with someone else overnight. Arthur has already stayed with my mom twice, and it looks like he’ll be back there for another overnight in a couple of weeks. I’m happy that we are close enough to our families (geographically and emotionally) that we have this as an option. Still, I miss him like crazy when he’s gone… If it didn’t make so much logistical sense to do it every once in awhile, I’d be tempted to keep him all to myself.

*just breathe…* It’s important for him to get used to sleeping at his grandparents’ houses.

 

Round and round the wheel turns…