Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Kenyons!

If you didn't get a Christmas card from us, don't feel slighted. No one did. We decided that since our family portrait would so soon be outdated we'd save our postage for a birth announcement soon after the new year. Plus, we didn't get this picture taken until Sunday. But really, it's the first reason. This photo should also satisfy those wanting to see a profile pregnancy shot. This is my most form-fitting sweater and since there is ZERO chance of me in a (insert pregnant celebrity here) bare-belly pose, this is as close as you'll get to seeing it all. People are generally surprised when I say I have two weeks left, but I'm not always in the mood to explain that it's two weeks until a forced 36-week delivery. Some things are just on a need-to-know basis. I already find the "why a C-section" questions intrusive and occasionally judgemental.

As John noted, our Christmas/birthday celebration started early with a visit from my parents and sister Saturday and Sunday. Nora was also supposed to come, but she was home-bound recovering from her doctor's first documented case of the flu this year. It was quite a knock-out, but luckily she's recovering well. This will just make her even more eager (if such a thing is possible) to come after the baby arrives.

We continued celebrating with John's parents on Christmas Eve--a wonderfully delicious meal, which Ed absolutely inhaled and demanded "MORE" of (why doesn't he do that at home?) followed by some spectacular presents. Ed's personal highlight was his new wagon--he didn't even care that it didn't have the wheels or handle attached. He climbed in and out over and over and practically had to be forced to open the rest of his pile of presents. He put on a cheerful face, but our gift of mittens and slippers really doesn't even register in comparison. The wagon stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's though--they have more room for indoor use until spring, when we can bring it home. It's a two-seater, but I'm guessing he won't need to share until fall or even next year. We'll have to see how squirmy his sibling is and whether the seat belts can contain either of them.

The downer came when we got home and got stuck in the alley behind our house--mere feet from the safety of our garage, but still in a position to block alley access, so we couldn't just leave it for the light of day. We tried having John push with me at the wheel, but got nowhere. Ed kept asking to get out, and I explained that we were stuck in the snow. This became his phrase of the evening, along with "Help!" Then, to distract him, I had him sing "Row, row, row your boat" since it went with the rocking motion we were trying to create with the car. We eventually took him out and put him to bed so we could call for professional assistance. We were blessed by a kind-hearted tow guy who, in the spirit of the holiday, did not charge extra when the job grew more complicated as he worked. We only had five inches of snow, but the layer of ice from our previous storms made things more difficult. All told, John was outside digging, waiting for the tow truck, and working with the tow guy for about three hours. Brutal! He is sore today and opted to stay home from church while Grandpa, Ed and I went.

Santa "arrived" while we were at church (anyone think I'll ever get away with this again?) so we had more presents when we got home. Given his insistence on opening each box and fully exploring each new item, I knew we'd never get out the door if we did presents before church. Santa brought Ed his first Brio train set (homage to Uncle Joe.) He is quite enthralled, though he doesn't fully understand that pulling the track apart inhibits train movement. He is used to the train at the library, which is glued to the table.

The festivities will end this evening with birthday dinner and presents with Grandma and Grandpa. I'm not sure what Ed will think tomorrow when there's nothing more to unwrap. Then again, he'll probably be thrilled to get back to his daily routine, a break from constant Mom and Dad.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Edward had a good start to the Christmas weekend with a visit from Gram, Pop Pop and Aunt Bridget. They braved the fog to drive in Saturday, then braved the snow -- we received five inches according to the National Weather Service -- to head home on Sunday. Edward had a lot of fun playing with his visitors, and with the new toys they brought him for Christmas and his birthday.

One of his gifts was a very stylish engineer's hat, which he took to right away. Pop Pop caught some great candid shots of Edward, who has evolved from avoiding the camera to making goofy faces for the camera to, as those who witnesses his last video can attest, attacking the photographer to stop the picture taking. So, it's nice to get a few shots of our little boy unaware of the camera.

He'll celebrate even more today and tomorrow, with some Christmas gifts tonight and a lot of birthday celebration tomorrow after church. Then it's back to simply being the center of his own universe... for a couple more weeks, anyway.

Meanwhile, he is getting more clever by the day. His first sentence was "No Daddy belly tickle" (I have no idea where that came from), and he is stringing multiple words together more and more every day. He also is getting crafty about bedtime. We have made a reading of Goodnight Moon a ritual of sorts, and he showed last night that he's onto us. I had him on my lap in a chair in the living room, Goodnight Moon in hand. He said, "No!" took the book from my hands, got down and went over to the couch where he put the book on the cushion and then covered it with another book. He came back over to me with other books and climbed back up, clearly not ready for bed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Edward sailed through his two-year check up today, demonstrating all the appropriate milestones for his age as well as his attention-grabbing tactics (he threw the chalk at us when we were talking too much to the doctor and not paying enough attention to him.) He's up to 28 pounds (no surprise to anyone who has carried him over ice and snow these last few weeks!) and almost 34 inches, which keeps him in the 50th and 36th percentile, respectively. His head circumference, just shy of 20 inches, is in the 82nd percentile. Lots of room for that big brain! One of the developmental milestones our doctor asked about was whether his vocabulary was at least 50 words. She thought she'd heard at least that many in the first 10 minutes she was with us. It got us thinking about quantifying his vocabulary and during an after-dinner game of chase, John stopped at the desk long enough on each lap around to jot down a few words. Without even breaking stride he came up with more than 100. What a little chatterbox!

Yesterday the sun was shining for the first time in quite a while and Edward actually woke up from his nap in time to enjoy it a bit. As soon as he was fully awake (he usually takes a few minutes to snuggle before hopping down to his afternoon activities) I said, "Let's go outside!" He willingly donned his jacket and boots (not always the case) and followed me out. At first he wanted me to carry him, but I persuaded him to follow me down the walk to look for the moon. Thankfully it was visible, so that kept him going all the way around the block. He shouted "Moon!" over and over and pointed to it. I told him it was his lucky day so he started saying "Lucky day, lucky day." He suggested the park, but when we got there he decided he didn't want to walk across the snowy expanse. So I suggested we look for "Randy's bunny" (our neighbors have a rabbit in a cage on their porch and generously allow Edward access.)

It is difficult to pull him away from the bunny for the last leg of the journey around the block, but the chance for another look at the moon was incentive enough. I tried to capture a bit of video, but he was not in the mood, as you'll see below. We particularly enjoyed the paparazzi response at the end. By the way, the round-the-block journey took about 40 minutes!

In other health news, my appointment was much the same this week with low blood pressure and an active baby thwarting attempts to establish a baseline heart rate for the non-stress test. This is not a problem except in that it makes the test last longer.

John and I have been getting down to some serious business in trying to come up with possible names for the baby. For a long time (until just this week actually) we had nothing on our "mutual" list for a girl. I suggested names and he rejected them. One of John's colleagues suggested that John, Mary, William and Edward are all "pilgrim names," and she and her husband came up with some pilgrim options for both boys and girls. I thought this was hilarious, but then I did a Google search for "pilgrim names" and found a list of all the passengers on the Mayflower: 15 Johns, 8 Williams, 6 Edwards and 6 Marys among the 104 passengers.

Sunday over lunch we had our longest brainstorming session to date and agreed that we'd each come to dinner with suggestions every night until we had at least one contender. Then a friend of mine counted 24 days until January 10--24 days, 26 letters in the alphabet, we decided to start with A and work though to the end (skipping Q and X). We actually have never had a solid choice for a girl's name, even though we didn't know Will and Edward would be boys. There are differing opinions on what this means. Some say not having a girl's name ensures we'll have a girl. Others say it's a sign that we just know we'll have a boy. Either way, we want to be prepared to introduce the child shortly after he/she makes an official entrance to the world.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Edward spent Saturday night at Grandma and Grandpa's house--his first night away from us--and apparently it was a big hit for all involved. They came with us to visit Santa at the mall and then took him home with them while we went to a holiday party hosted by some friends. He thinks it's a major treat to ride in Grandpa's car, so he went off with no objection. In fact the only objection came this morning when he realized he was getting in OUR car, not Grandpa's to come home. He cried until we reached the interstate and then squeaked out "truck?!" through the tears.

He was pretty serene regarding the Santa situation as well--neither excited nor scared. He just sat there while we all danced around trying to get him to register some expression other than, "What's next?" He actually was more excited about the big fish tank he saw when we first came in the door. We had to pull him away to get him headed toward Santa's chair. As we did last year, we opted for our second-tier mall for the Santa excursion and were not disappointed. This was quite a jolly Santa with a low-key staff who let us take our own photos with absolutely no pressure to buy one of theirs. That's what I call holiday spirit!

As mentioned in the last post, we did have an ice storm that kept us home again on Tuesday. It actually wasn't terrible out, but the outlook was very tenuous all day--another degree or two cooler and we might have had more trouble. Many people stayed home, including enough of the daycare staff that they had to close it. John came home mid-afternoon, just to hedge against the possibility of getting stuck out in a deteriorating situation. He took the camera along with the bag of salt he spread all over our walks and captured some of the beauty, which we could appreciate mostly because we never lost power or had any other major inconvenience due to this particular natural event. Others may have seen those ice-covered branches and been cursing the skies. This is one of the bushes in front of our house, which I have decorated with white Christmas lights. They looked really cool shining through the ice.

The day at home plus the storm offered the opportunity for Edward to learn two new words, which he promptly confused. He was making a fuss about something when I noticed the recycling truck pull up out front. I called for him to come quick to see the action and he came racing in. Then he chattered "re-cy-cle" over and over. (He already knew "cycle" because our neighbor has a motorcycle--"Ryan's cycle.") Then the next morning when we went out we pointed out the icicles on the house and trees. "I-ci-cle" he proclaimed. But later when we came home he pointed to the icicles and said "recycle?" So I added "truck" when talking about recycle and I think he's got it straight now. Of course it means one more truck he asks for on every car excursion. The fact that it's only in our neighborhood once a week is beyond his comprehension so he's always on the look out.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Edward was practicing for Christmas last week, "helping" John with his birthday presents. We think he's ready, but expect he'll be a lot more excited about the contents of his own packages. Books without pictures and wool sweaters are not the stuff of toddler glee.

We're not sure if it was the cold he's fighting or the approaching terrible two's (probably some combination), but Edward had quite an ornery weekend with lots of deliberate defiance and resulting time-outs. Maybe he was mad because he figured out he was missing his Gram and PopPop time as they had to cancel plans to visit when they woke up to an ice-encrusted Chicagoland on Sunday morning. He even got to the point where he was about to do something naughty (like throwing a puzzle board or opening the stereo cabinet) and he'd look at us and say "No time out." It's hard to be the bad guy, but we know it's necessary in the long run. This was a moment of levity however, as the dry air enhanced some horseplay on the couch.

In any event, none of us is at the top of our game right now with colds all around and another ice storm expected tonight. Edward and I stayed home sick today after a poor night's sleep. It's possible tomorrow will be a repeat, but this time due to ice. Could be a real test of my toddler entertainment abilities. My mom, usually the queen of the worst case scenario, said we should cheer the bad weather this month in hopes that it will mean a dry January for safe and frequent travel from Evanston to Iowa City.

Today's doctor appointment gave continuing reason to believe we'll actually make it to January. All good reports--my blood pressure was nice and low, Baby Kenyon is the master of the non-stress test, and an ultrasound showed proper development and an estimated weight of 4 lbs. 15 oz. That's quite amazing to me given that this is at 32 weeks and Edward, born at 35, weighed 5 lbs. 7 oz. The ultrasound also showed BK in a transverse position, with the head on my right. This is a change from just last week when the nurse and midwife examined us and declared the baby head down. Since I'm having a c-section regardless, it's not a concern and actually a welcome relief from the pressure I'd been feeling over the weekend.

With John's birthday behind us, we've been doing some Christmas decorating. Our outdoor lights are now shining each night (having been on the bushes unlit since the last 60 degree day in November) and Will's memory tree is decorated and lit in the living room. Edward is learning about the tradition this year as you can see in this short video. It's a little dark, but we think the sound is clear. If you can't tell what he's saying, email me and I'll translate.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Let the countdown begin! No, not 'til Christmas...you have retail America to help you with that. I'm talking about the countdown to January 10, 2008, which has now been set as the anticipated arrival date of Baby Kenyon. Use of pencils in tracking this momentous occasion is recommended, however. Recall that we expected Edward in January 2006, but welcomed him 12 days earlier than scheduled.

Everything depends on our continued health and so far we're looking good. I had a non-stress test today, which went very well. This measures the baby's heart rate over at least a 20 minute period, watching for it to rise and fall from the established "baseline." About 2/3 of the way through the test, I started feeling a kick at a regular interval, low in my abdomen on the left side. This is also recorded in the test. The nurse came over, listened for a moment, and said, "Oh, hiccups!"

Sunday, December 02, 2007

An ice storm kept us captive inside all day yesterday. Edward got up at 6 a.m. and went to bed at about 7:45 p.m. In between we had the enormous task of keeping him entertained within these four walls. (Luckily he did take a 3-hour nap in the afternoon.) Our new bedroom configuration allows access to a full circle path from the living room through the kitchen, office and bedrooms and back to the living room. John introduced this variation on their usual chase game around the kitchen table one night this week while I was finishing dinner prep. Now Ed points to the door from the kitchen to the office and demands "chase" at every opportunity. He tried to get me to play one afternoon after his nap, but I told him we had to wait for Dad to come home from work.

To get a break from chase, we closed the bedroom and office doors reducing play space to the living room and kitchen. This met with considerable resistance until I brought out the tunnel, which had been "off rotation" for quite some time. Worked like a charm--Ed thought it was a whole new toy and it entertained him for a good portion of the morning. (While he was distracted with his afternoon snack, some of his other toys were spirited away to the tunnel's former hiding place. I'm sure we'll need to repeat this trick to survive the winter months!) He especially liked it when John crawled in and he could "chase" him out. Not a high-speed chase, mind you. This tunnel definitely does not have an adult-friendly circumference. I did not venture in, afraid I might not have the flexibility to wiggle out.

I had been to the grocery store on Friday night to ensure we had provisions for the day at home. I used to scoff at those who raced to the store in a panic at the slightest hint of an oncoming storm. But the prospect of being cooped up in the house with a toddler AND nothing to eat sent me scurrying with the rest of the panic-prone. So at least we had our beef stew simmering on the stove all afternoon, filling the house with a warm and cozy aroma. And we survived the day. No doubt there will be others before this season is over. I actually have no problem taking Ed out in cold/snow, but ice is a different story. I've had quite a few falls in my day and don't want to risk another at this point in pregnancy and certainly wouldn't want to put Ed in danger, either in the yard or in the car.

The mention above of the three-hour nap reminds me to offer an update on his new sleeping arrangement. Actually, there's little to report. After the first night he has not had any trouble. He sleeps all night and naps in the afternoon as if nothing had changed. We are almost afraid to talk about it for fear of jinxing things. We may see some difficulty when the crib reappears and is inhabited by a tiny creature who demands more parental attention than Ed is willing to cede, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Also this week I had another doctor appointment with all good reports. The baby was kicking vigorously, making it harder to capture a heart rate, but eventually we got one in the 150 range, which is where it's been all along. My BP was fine and despite the Thanksgiving gorge, I did not gain weight in the two weeks between appointments. This caused some astonishment, but no worries. I'm on track for proper weight gain and the baby is measuring in the expected size range. From now on I'll be seen weekly, sort of. Because my doctor is on maternity leave, I'll see a couple of different doctors who have clinic hours on different days of the week. So sometimes there will be more than a full week between appointments and sometimes less. The holidays also complicate the schedule as the clinic is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. I'll try to post reports as I get them.

Signing off with Edward's "cabin fever" video. Note John's considerable videography skills in maintaining his shot even as Edward uses him as his personal jungle-gym.