Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shortly after Daniel's birth we were boasting of his luscious locks. Now the chicken is coming home to roost as it seems there is less and less of it every day. Top, sides, back--it's all thinning and in some cases disappearing. We were pretty sure this would happen, and, frankly, I'm not sad to see it go. I love bald babies! Plus, look how much it saved us in shampoo and haircuts for Edward to be bald for his first two years.

This week I ventured out into the world again as Daniel and I reached that six-week milestone. I started taking Ed to daycare and even ran a few errands with Daniel during the morning hours. After the first day, when I was ready for bed by 8 p.m., I sighed to John, "It's exhausting to leave the house!" Well, not just leave the house, but to do so with an infant and toddler in tow and a thick layer of snow and ice over every walking surface.

Today it's above freezing and the sun in shining, so we're seeing quite a bit of melting. We're not dancing a spring dance though as three to seven more inches are possible by Tuesday morning. That could vault us into the top five or even top three snowiest winters of all time for our area. Daniel believes the only way to survive is to stay home and fatten up. He hit his six-week growth spurt right on schedule and has been eating nearly every two hours during the day for the last few days. Luckily he does not deem it necessary to maintain such a schedule overnight. In fact he occasionally has gone as long as five hours between his evening meal and his middle-of-the-night snack. Usually it's closer to three and a half or four though.

Yesterday the timing worked out that I was able to feed Daniel and then leave him home with John while I took Edward to burn off some energy at the mall play area, all before the mall even opened for business. (It's open for mall walkers before the stores open and I believe this is the only time the play area can be tolerated.) He is so active there, constantly running, jumping, sliding, swinging (from the handrail on the wheelchair access ramp!) It will be so fun to see how his park play has changed since fall. That is, once we can get back to the park!

Daniel isn't quite up to that level of activity, but I took some video this week just for our archives. This is about a minute of baby grunting and arm waving--not exactly Oscar material--but we know how easy it is to forget these early days and want to be sure we can jog our memories in the years to come.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In this photo Edward is responding to instructions to "play peek-a-boo" in the book Just like Mr. Croc--a Christmas present from Uncle Joe and Aunt Brenda. However, he could just as well have been trying to shield himself from the impending doom of this forecast, with which we greeted my brothers visiting from D.C. and Phoenix this weekend:

Saturday night: A chance of freezing rain and sleet before midnight, then periods of rain or freezing rain. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total nighttime ice accumulation of 0.3 to 0.5 of an inch possible. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Sunday: Periods of rain before 9am, then periods of snow and freezing rain between 9am and noon, then periods of snow after noon. Widespread blowing snow after noon. Temperature falling to around 27 by 5pm. Breezy, with a north wind between 16 and 22 mph, with gusts as high as 36 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Little or no ice accumulation expected. New snow accumulation of around 7 inches.

Sunday Night: Areas of blowing snow and scattered snow showers. Cloudy, with a low around 12. Wind chill values as low as -2. Blustery, with a northwest wind between 20 and 23 mph, with gusts as high as 37 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

The only silver lining was that they weren't trying to travel in or out during the worst weather, however the roads were still in such poor condition on Monday that they had trouble getting to the airport and almost missed their flight to Chicago. I think maybe we should restrict ourselves to three seasons for guests. Iowa in the winter just doesn't hold a lot of appeal.

Despite being confined to the house, it was great to see both of them and we're so glad they braved the forces of nature to spend time with us. Edward loved the extra attention and is still asking, "Where Joe go? Where PJ go?" Geography is a tricky concept! Daniel also benefited from extra arms for cuddling. Both PJ and Joe put in some "chest time"--that is, sitting in a chair or laying on the couch with Daniel asleep on their chests, an extra layer of warmth.

Edward also got a Brio train lesson from the master. The inspiration for this Christmas gift was my brother Joe, who spent endless childhood hours constructing elaborate transportation systems with train tracks and blocks. I was hoping Edward would also enjoy that spark of creativity. I think he's still a little young, but we'll see what happens as the collection grows over the years.

On Sunday I asked Edward if he wanted mac 'n' cheese for lunch, and he responded enthusiastically...until it was in the bowl in front of him. Then he acted as if I were trying to make him eat a dish of mud-covered worms. He threw a fit and refused to take even a single bite. Reminding him that he liked it and had asked for it did no good. (He does like it--he recently ate four helpings when it was served at daycare.) I finally asked him what he wanted, and he said "I want broccoli." Huh??? I pursued this further and he insisted that he wanted broccoli so I heated some up and sure enough, he scooped it up with puzzling gusto. Can't wait to pull that out of the archives some day when he refuses to eat his vegetables at dinner!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

In recognition of his expanding girth, Daniel graduated from "newborn" to size 1 Huggies this week. Concurrent with this shift, though most likely unrelated, he has decided that such business is best handled without a diaper, having peed on John three times (including at midnight and 3 a.m.) in the last 24 hours and on me twice. When this happens there is quite a bit of collateral damage in the form of laundry since the changing pad cover and all his clothes generally need to be changed. He also is spitting up a lot more lately, adding to the laundry mound. Looking at him now, peacefully sleeping away the afternoon, it's hard to fathom the damage potential, but let me tell you, he packs a punch.

This morning, John grabbed a sweatshirt for Edward, who rejected it saying he needed his "red sweatshirt." I don't think he has any conception of today being Valentine's day, but it's interesting since he almost never registers an opinion regarding his wardrobe. I didn't even make the connection until my sister sent a photo of her girls in matching Valentine pink. A photo so cute, by the way, that it prompted me to look for something red for Daniel to wear in an attempt to capture a sibling moment of our own. Unfortunately, our photo session didn't go very well. Each boy's best shot was an awkward moment for the other. The first photo here is sort of a compromise.

I should also report that Daniel is doing very well with the bottle. The last three nights he's sucked down four ounces without a fuss and so far has had no trouble going back and forth between bottle and breast feeding. Hooray!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Check out the cheeks in the one-month photo in the last post. Daniel comes by those honestly, through dedicated effort in milk gulping. He weighed in at 9 lbs. at yesterday's doctor's appointment, two ounces short of two full pounds growth in the first month, boosting him to the 30th percentile in weight. He also gained about an inch and a half in length, which puts him in the 44th percentile. Strangely for a Kenyon with half Geraghty genes, he remains in the 12th percentile for head circumference. I expect that to change in the months ahead!

He is awake more these days, usually a few hours first thing in the morning and then again in the late afternoon/early evening. This timing works well because it means I get some one-on-one time with him in the morning and then he's also alert when Edward is playing after his nap and when John comes home from work. In between he takes some power naps and packs in some power meals. In the next few days, we'll see how adaptable he is when John introduces the bottle as an alternate feeding method. This is essential to lengthening the tether between mom and baby.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

As Mary reported earlier this week, we received a lot of snow on Wednesday, and that, coupled with some cold temperatures (it's 3 degrees as I write this) has meant a lot of inside time for the Kenyons. Mary and I can find things to do, and Daniel mostly sleeps, but Edward is a restless ball of toddlerhood. That has meant a lot of diversions, creative ways to play and other ways to kill time and burn energy.

On Saturday, that meant a trip to the mall for Edward's first real haircut. Some might remember our "de-mulleting" of Edward last fall, but things had gotten beyond our parent-with-scissors capabilities. So, we took him to the cheap haircut place at the mall for his first time in the chair. He did great, sitting patiently while his hair was sprayed with water, combed and cut. The only time he caused problems was when the stylist was cutting the hair in the back because Edward kept wanting to turn around to watch, a physical impossibility that made it somewhat difficult. Overall, he was declared one of the best first haircuts ever and sent on his way.

He was rewarded with an hour at the soft toy playland, where he and about 50 other kids ran around like crazy, jumped and slid on the various big, plastic toys there. He absolutely loves the place (it's a free, open spot at the mall where parents can let kids burn off steam during a shopping trip), and while it's noisy and a bit nerve-wracking, I think I could sit and watch him play there all day. The video at the end of this post has a clip of him there.

From there it was home for a quiet day. I spent an hour shoveling out our driveway so we could use our garage for the first time in a week, and that proved to be the extent of the Kenyons' time outside for the weekend. Today, we've tried many different things to keep Ed occupied, from an improvised game that involved him carrying his various balls across the room to drop in a laundry basket to breaking out some Play-doh (that smell is primal... I felt like a preschooler again just taking a whiff) to make animal shapes (both documented in the video). Then again, the most fun we had was in watching Edward acting silly while carrying a ball through a game of "chase," making strange sounds as he made his way through the living room.

Through all of this, Daniel quietly celebrated his one-month birthday today. It's hard to believe a month has passed already, though in some ways, we've settled in so well as a family that it feels as if it has been longer. We're steadily figuring out how to balance the needs of both boys and still have some time for ourselves, and having a lot of fun watch Edward love (though at times "maul" might be a better word) his baby brother.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Eleven inches of new snow yesterday brought Iowa to a near stand-still yesterday with schools and many businesses closed. Even the university canceled classes, which is a rarity, though it's the second time this winter. John had to work or there wouldn't have been a newspaper for readers come Monday morning, so the boys and I saw him off and then had a whole day ahead of us. Normally I would have been prepared for a day off from school with ideas for things to do and perhaps even a field trip planned. But my limited activity log and Daniel's unpredictable schedule left me without the proper resources for toddler entertainment. We spent the morning alternating between happy playtime and total meltdown. We sang verses to "The Wheels on the Bus" that I didn't even know existed. Edward practiced his "ABCs" (he liberally edits the 26 letters, skipping from L to P in one incoherent mumble.) He dumped toys all through the living room and kitchen. He was happy to watch "Thomas the Tank Engine" while I was feeding Daniel. But four times before noon he was in hysterics, laying on the floor to scream about some perceived difficulty. At least once, I didn't even know what set him off.

I hate to admit I was counting the minutes until lunch time, since that immediately precedes nap time. But even after he went down for a nap, there was a looming dread, since I knew he hadn't had nearly enough morning activity to sustain his usual three-hour nap. Luckily, John came home early from work, arriving just as Ed was waking (an hour earlier than usual) and the two of them were able to go outside to shovel and play.

By dinner time, having heard his sassy "NnnnnO!" more than I could tolerate, I actually turned his chair upside down and told him he couldn't sit in it for dinner until he picked up all the bowls and other plastic containers he'd strewn about the kitchen. This achieved the desired action, whereas asking him five times and even getting down to "help," showing him what I wanted done, had not.

In contrast to our whole day of togetherness, today he went from daycare to Grandma and Grandpa's and didn't get home until 6 p.m. when John picked him up after work. I really missed him and was grateful that my halftime work schedule allows us more time together than just post-work until bedtime.

So I'm not winning any parenting awards this week, but I don't think I've created any permanent psychological scars either.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

After being lavished with attention from Gram and PopPop this weekend, Edward and Daniel were supposed to bask in even more with a "Superbowl party" at Grandma and Grandpa's. (Daniel was clearly ready for the occasion--check out his "Heisman" pose!) I use quotes because the game was actually not the central reason for our plans, as it would have been for most people planning parties for this evening. But alas, more snow kept us from making even the short cross-town trip to their house. The forecast called for the possibility of two inches this afternoon. Instead it looks like we got about five or six and we were right in the thick of it when we tried to leave for Grandma and Grandpa's. We only got three blocks from our house when we realized we were being fools and turned around to head home. Cars were slipping and sliding all over the snowy streets, snow plows on Sunday being few and far between. We were even bigger fools for braving the snowy alley again in an attempt to get the car back to the garage. Once again we ended up crosswise and had to get help. Luckily, our neighbors were home and willingly came out to help John push. I steered the car onto our neighbor's blacktop where it now sits awaiting the freezing rain that is due to follow our afternoon snow. We've never had so much trouble with our alley in winter. The problem seems to be that those three ice storms we had in December created such a thick layer that it remains despite several different thawing days. When the tires spin the snow away they meet the ice and that's the end of the story.

Someone once told me that people should only be allowed to complain about one weather extreme--either excessive heat or cold, but not both. I've always been on the heat end of the weather hatred spectrum, but this winter is challenging my long-held belief that heat is more paralyzing than cold. I must remember that this has been a record-breaker both for cold temperatures and snow and that if we make it through, we likely won't see another like this for five to seven years. (This year is being compared frequently with the winter of 2000-01, the last time we saw so much snow and cold.)

The snow did bring good things for Edward though. Gram and PopPop got him a sled and took him out to play this morning. Yesterday's fresh inch provided the perfect new layer on our old accumulation and he defined glee as he "sped" down the mild slope at our neighborhood park. After each trip he proclaimed "I like it!" as PopPop caught him and then turned back to the top of the hill to shout, "I like it, Gram!" When they got home he and PopPop "threw" snowballs for a while and we could tell from inside how hard Ed was laughing. Wish we had an audio track of that one. PopPop made the snowballs and handed them to Ed who then basically just dropped them, but with a slight throwing motion. Not sure who had more fun, but they stayed out more than an hour.

Today is Daniel's official 40-week due date. Although we know he would have benefited from a full gestation, we're just as happy to have had him with us these last three-plus weeks and to have some of the initial hurdles behind us. And given that he was more than seven pounds at 36 weeks, I'm not sorry that I didn't have to carry him while he gained up to a half pound a week for four more weeks!

Will's early birth established that we would always be parents of premature children. The c-section I had with him required that all subsequent births be c-sections scheduled around 36 weeks to avoid the dangerous possibility of going into labor. Of course prematurity has meant different things for each our three boys, from Will's medical roller coaster to Edward's surprise Christmas arrival to Daniel's eating and jaundice issues. Other families we know have had different experiences with prematurity. We remain active with our local March of Dimes chapter and hope that in some way our efforts will lead to answers to the many questions we all have. Right now spring seems eons away, but I just received notice this week that Iowa City's March for Babies (the new name for the March of Dimes annual walk) is Saturday, April 19. We'll be there with a double stroller this year celebrating life and cherishing our memories of Will. We'll have more details later this month and next for those who would like to join Team Kenyon.