Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Fun

Happy Easter!
Wesley was visited by the Easter Bunny at home and then we spent the day at Grandma D & Grandpa Don's house. They were fresh back from their trip to Europe. It was great to see them again and to spend the beautiful day in Napa. Uncle Jesse, Aunt Lisa, and the dogs were there, too. We had a great time.

New French Shades

Sharing his rocks

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Month 9

Month Nine was like this.....
A month of Wesley-initiated play. A month of warmer weather with fun on the balcony and in the garden.

Teeth: Wesley's two top teeth came in! Teething has taken up a lot of energy, especially in the first half of the month. When he's teething, Wesley is a little more fussy and generally takes it a little easy (this is very relative). I can see the strain of teething in his face in some of his pictures this month, even when he's having a good time. But by the end of the month, he is a very toothy looking boy, and much more at ease.

Awareness: Wesley's awareness of events in the external world has taken on a new dynamic. He notices and gets excited about new things. He loves the dogs and birds he sees on walks or from our balcony. He is transfixed on them, flaps his arms and stiffins his legs and goes "mmmmmm" loudly. He starts looking back and forth and all around if he hears the jingle of a dog collar.
Watching people below

Waving ByeBye and Hi: He does this by putting one arm out straight with a fist at the end and waving it up and down. Apparently this is not how other people teach their babies to wave, but rather, they use only their fingers or hand to wave. I didn't know, so this is how he does it. He waves to his grandparents on Skype, which I love.

I love floss

Playing Catch: He likes to play catch. If you toss him the ball, he throws it and laughs and smiles and immediately wants it back so he can do it again. Often it actually goes in your direction. Often he misses his release and throws it down straight into his lap. He throws with both his left and right hands.

Catch me/Catch you: I love this game. You just get down on your hands and knees, look Wesley in the eyes and indicate that either you want him to chase you or that you're going to catch him, and the chase is off. Lots of laughter and tumbling around at the end. So fun. Sometimes he starts the game by giving a mischievious look and dashing off to the shoe rack or toward his favorite "I hit and almost break it" lamp. He wants us to catch him right before he reaches his destination, take him back across the room, so he can crawl off again. He is happy to play this game for as long as we're willing...15-20 minutes is my max. He will also chase his duck-on-a-string toy.

Peek-a-boo: One morning after waking up, I set Wes down on the ground so he could investigate something. Then up popped a little head over the end of the bed. I said "oh, hello". Then he crouched down out of sight, and popped back up with a smile on his face. I could not contain my laughter. He continued to play this game 20 or so more times with varying lengths of time in crouched hiding position. We were laughing so hard, I couldn't get over how fun it was to see that tiny head popping back up over the end of the bed. I kept laughing all morning thinking about it. Now it is our morning routine. What a wonderful way to start the day. He also plays peekaboo by turning away from people or buring his head in our shoulder and then turning around quickly to flash a smile before hiding again.

Playing Peeakaboo behind the doorframe

Take things Out/Off, putting things in: He opens our kitchen drawers and one by one takes things out and throws them on the floor. He takes things out of his toy basket one at a time, he takes things off of tables, one at a time. At the very end of the month he has started playing putting things "in". He puts his little ball in cups, or in his favorite trashcan.

Solo time (supervised): Wesley is now content to go to a part of the room away from where we are, pull up on a piece of furniture, and play by himself for longer periods of time. He talks his talk (ba-ba-ba or da-da-da, depending on the week) as he works, engrossed in whatever he's doing.

Separation Worries: He still gets upset and cries loudly often when Casey leaves the room. Now he has started howling when Casey leaves for work. He's increasingly getting upset if I leave the room and go anywhere with a closed door, even momentarily. Also, he cries when dogs walk away from him.

I want that teacup

Favorite Toys: Tiny plastic balls and the floss container. He carries both of these around with him while he plays. He has become quite adept at pulling up with them clenched in his hand. But now that he has started playing throwing, he can no longer take them to town. The first half of the month blocks were a big hit, but not so much anymore. Grass is his other favorite toy. He loves to pick through it, pull some, examine it, and so on. He loves things he can push across the floor or climb onto (such as our plant stand, the garbage can, and his little toy walker).

Vocalizing: Wesley is sometimes quite loud as we walk down the street. He projects his "ba-ba-ba" outward with force. When he is sleepy or fussy, he is more vocal as he tries to tell me that something is wrong.

Adventuring and Play: Wesley is a little adventurer. He explores, he crawls fast, he pulls up effortlessly, and he works on climbing whenever possible. He is less focused on every tiny crevice of the house than last month, and is more interested in initiating interactive play this month. But he is still everywhere. Also, he is getting to be a good little wrestler.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Inside and Out

Wesley is nine months old.

He has been on the outside as long as he was on the inside. It's strange to think about. So much has happened in those two sets of nine months and it's interesting to realize they were both the same length, and that after a year and a half, life is in such a very different place.

These have been the first counted weeks and months of my life, where each week seemed so important I counted it individually...4 weeks pregnant...12 weeks...tell people...40 weeks...hope he comes in time for birth at the birth center...will he come on his grandmas' birthday?...indeed, 40 weeks 6 days, hello little one.

Then after his birth, we counted weeks until so many months went by it stopped making sense. We are still counting months and seeing rapid changes from week to week.

Clicking time off in this manner, and being so focused on the nuances of Wesley's development has had a strange effect on time. It seems like worlds ago that I was pregnant. Even further back, I found out I was pregnant, yet it was not so long ago. I can remember so clearly what it felt like to live in Fairfield, but at the same time it feels like a faraway land.  I remember being suprised by how long pregnancy felt. We packed a lot of change into those nine months. The past nine months has gone by somewhat more quickly, though things are quite different now than from when Wesley was born.

During my final month of pregnancy, I transitioned into feeling ready for the baby, excited to have the experience of birthing and to share it with Casey. Similarly, as this nine month period comes to a close, my mind has recently shifted and I feel at home. I feel comfortable with our little family. I feel ready and excited for the transitions and transformations to come. 

Playoffs 2010, Season Start 2011
In the past nine months we have gelled as a family. I am finally in synch not only with being a mom, but with being a fellow parent. The second part was in some ways harder for me. I knew we were both doing well as parents, and we worked well as a team, but I felt strange. It was foreign to be so connected to someone else when I was used to being so closely in synch with only Casey. It was shocking how little time there was for Casey and me to have focused attention on one another, it felt odd. But recently, my feeling of strangeness just disappeared. I feel a synergy among us which gives me a feeling of vitality. I am part of both a dynamic duo and a dynamic trio. Maybe that's what it means to be a family.

When we first found out I was pregnant I was an MBA student in a small Iowa town. We held our special secret privately for three months and then shared it with family and friends at Christmas time. We ventured across America and lived at Casey's Mom & Step Dad's house for nearly five months while we lined up a new setup for our little family. By the end of the nine months we were living in Petaluma, I was 40ish pounds heavier than at the start, and I was excited to give birth and meet our baby.

The past nine months has been a continual process of rapid growth and change for Wesley and for us. So many roles and perspectives shifted. My body shrunk back. My mind cocooned with an infant and then opened back up again with new inspiration.

It baffles me how much Wesley has accomplished in his nine months in the womb and nine months out. In the first nine he went from tiny cells to a functional human. In the past nine he's gone from a sleepy fragile newborn to a vibrant baby who pushes furniture across our room, who decimates chard in the garden, and who loves to play.

I can see that having a child has altered my perception of time. Though at some point I will start counting in years and not months, these past eighteen months have shown me how time passes quickly when you have children. Perhaps it is because they, in their rapid development, are clear demonstrations of the ever-changing, transient nature of life. Perhaps it is because as a parent I have begun to reach the age of the adults from my childhood, that my parents are now grandparents, and that the generations shift more quickly than one imagines as a child.

Nine months in, nine months out. The mirror of these two spans of time amazes me...My mind keeps reflecting back and forth over my pregnancy and over the time since Wesley's birth...precious spans of time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First Garden Days

Wesley and I went to the work day at our local community garden in hopes of getting a garden plot. We are on the waitlist, but I think Wesley won them over, so they are going to let us have some space. The garden is very beautiful and well-tended with many raised beds. It is three blocks from our house and borders on the Dog Park which is ideal for Wesley's current fascination with canines.

Wesley loves the garden. I set him down in the children's tepee area and he went at it. He dug a hole in the dirt, spent a lot of time time picking up and throwing down straw, investigated the tepee itself, and tried to eat the leaves off some young pea plants. He was one happy kid. There are so many exciting things to explore outside on the ground, and Wesley is ecstatic when we bring him to the garden or the park.

I love the idea of Wesley eating fresh, organic vegetables out of the garden. I like that from a young age he will be connected to growing food, playing in the dirt, and tasting the freshness of the season. I look forward to having the freshest produce possible.

He may be too young this summer to entirely understand the concept of gardening, but he already enjoys being outside, exploring the interesting landscape, and watching us weed. He thought pulling weeds and shaking the dirt off the roots was hilarious.

I have never been much of a gardener, but I love the community garden and it felt great to be out there with Casey and Wesley. I am already salivating for homegrown heirloom tomatoes and massive amounts of basil. Yum!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Like Fetus Like Baby

After Wesley's birth, we were talking with the midwife when she asked if the baby had been an active or calm fetus. I replied that he had been extremely active and responsive in the womb. She smiled a knowing smile and said something to the effect of "expect a struggle at first, but once he gains control of his body and movements, you'll have an easier time while other parents begin pulling out their hair".

I smiled, not knowing whether to believe this woman or put the info in the same category of those who knew what gender the baby would be prior to birth. She had cared for many babies in the womb and then come to know them afterward, so perhaps she had some special knowledge. Certainly fetuses behave differently from one another, but how could she know what he'd be like on the outside?

The idea of him mastering locomotion beyond rooting for milk pointed to a distant future far away from the tiny creature in my arms. A future I couldn't yet imagine.

But we have arrived. It seems she may have been right. Wesley was not the easiest newborn. He wasn't the Buddha Baby snuggle in your arms fall asleep at the drop of a hat kinda guy. He needed a lot of assistance as he strained, trying to master his body and falling short. He wanted to stand not sit, to move not stay, and to touch not see the world, and he wanted it all so badly. He was often frustrated with his limitations.

Emptying the tea drawer
Now, much of the tension has dissipated. He scampers across the room, he adventures, and he is on the go. It feels like a pressure valve was released. He seems more joyful and happy. Even as he pushes the boundaries of his current capabilities by letting go when standing, pushing toys back and forth, climbing on top of objects and pulling onto other objects, he is more at ease.
I love this new phase. I love watching how happy he is to play independently and occasionally glance over at me with a smile of accomplishment, or to flash a mischievous look as he dashes away to the shoe rack, hoping I will catch him so we can do it all over again. And with his new capabilities he has also become more snugly. He spends more time out of our arms, but comes over and takes quick snuggles more frequently. He has taken to putting his cheek next to our cheeks, so very sweet.

This is a very fun stage. Wesley enthusiastically loves the work that he does all day long--climbing, and pulling things, and crawling with his tiny ball in his hand which he raps on various furniture items, knocking down block towers, and ripping magazines, emptying drawers and surfaces of their contents, playing chase and be chased, playing catch, babbling and dog watching.

Of course there are some new frustrations that come with Wesley's increased mobility. He is more frequently redirected from things he can't have and this leads to upset. Wes has started breaking down in loud screams when the dogs on the street begin to walk away from him. And diaper changes, well, they're reeeeaaaally hard for everyone.

But he is generally a happy adventurer, providing plenty of entertainment to his onlookers. I am so pleased to see him enjoying himself so much. Parenting has entered a new level of fun.
Watching the landscaper
The midwife was right. I am happy that Wesley reached certain physical milestones early, because it has brought him comfort. His struggle and will to persevere and overcome the limitations of his body has paid off.