Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ander's Seventh Month

Turning right around from posting Ander's 6 month update, to starting the 7 month update!
The struggle is so very, very real.

Awkwardly, considering Ander's half birthday is on Christmas Day, we have to broach the topic of Christmas in this post as well even though the holiday was over a month ago. Apologies. I would have included this in his last post just to keep with the Christmas theme, but then I would have had to publish the post as an actual novella.
We had Mark's mom's side over at our house the day after Christmas for some holiday festivities and it was a great time! Everybody fit in our cozy sitting room (suspected Weasley Triwizard tent shenanigans) and we enjoyed probably the longest White Elephant exchange I've ever been a part of, simply because stuff kept getting stolen.
We ended up with exactly what I wanted, though. Some DVD racks, which are now filled with our alphabetized movie collection (then sings my soul), and the game Boggle! I forced Mark to steal that one. Blessed human that he is.
Then it was high time for pie, and family photos using our fancy new camera with the tripod and remote clicker.
Ander had such a good time being loved on by everyone, he was such a peach the whole party.

Then of course it was New Years', but I didn't get a single photo of the events from that night/day. We spent it with, of course, our second families, the McHardy's (Jr. and Sr. plus Archaic) (love you, Gregor) and the Davis'. Board and party games galore, all kinds of snackage, and one party animal baby that refused to go down for any sort of decent nap let alone a good night's sleep.
We finally packed up and trucked the 10 minutes home at around 2 am, but Ander had an awful night. We attempted to give him some homeopathic cough medicine hoping it would knock him out, but I spent the better part of those wee morning hours rocking him in the nursery, feeling him twitch restlessly and worrying about the pitter-patter of his accelerated heart rate. Around 7 in the morning I finally went and got Mark up and asked him to come check Ander and tell me whether I was just being crazy. We officially took his heart rate and it was well over 200 beats per minute. Mark stayed with him while I went to get some sleep, and eventually he drifted off to sleep and we didn't have any more issues.
He's since had that same medicine again (a smaller dosage, to be sure) and he didn't have any side effects, so we're thinking it was just a bizarre, terrifying coincidence.
Ander also had his 6 month vaccinations, the week after Christmas, and all was well until the day after when he picked off one of his bandaids, ATE it, as well as some scraps of Christmas wrapping paper, and I had no idea until he started gagging and choking as he was vomiting it back up.
Little Man is barely over half a year old and already giving me heart attacks with his mischievous shenanigans. Lord give me strength.
New Years' day we spent the morning letting Ander sleep as long as he would and then we crashed the shooting party out in the desert with Allie and Alex and her family. Ander was happy to chill with Grandma Karen and Abby in the truck since there were no hearing protection options for his tiny little ears.
We rode in the Rhino, Ander all cozied up in a soft, fuzzy blanket and was totally wiped out after a minute or so of riding around. Rocked him right to sleep.

He's so incredibly strong, and cannot abide being laid down on his back now that he can crawl and sit up and get around. Diaper and wardrobe changes are the stuff of nightmares. I can almost trust him with a squeeze pouch of food by himself, until I give him the empty leftover packet and see him chewing on the bottom of it. Not quite there, yet.
Sadly, the dogs aren't sure what to do with this newly mobile claw machine. The minute he starts purposefully dragging himself in their direction they shoot off into another room. I've been very careful to not let him be overly rough with them, redirecting his grabbing hands from their soft ears. But they still don't seem to be very enthused with his presence. Which slightly kinda totally breaks my heart. There's still time, though. I'm holding out for the chance that Mor'du just wants someone who can run around and play fetch with him.

He's curious about everything, wants to touch and hold and taste anything he can get his hands on. Especially our dvds or my sheet music and books. I'm thrilled that he's so into books, but would prefer if he'd stick to board books for now. Looking into cheap shelving options thanks to Explorer Man. He's also teasing me with being adorably cute around the piano. We sit in front of it and play around and he gets all excited. Too excited, probably, the keys get a bit drooly.
Twenty-two pounds, at least twenty-seven inches, he's my happy, go-lucky, crazy about life nutjob and there's no one I'd rather bunk with in this asylum.


He's obsessed with that scrolled table.
Which is worrisome when it's made of 
hard cold metal
and your boy has a habit of tipping over.

Can I EVEN with those rolls?
No. I can't.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ander's Sixth Month

I feel like I've had a little glance into our future. At the very end of November, our stake (aka religious community in the Mormon church) had it's annual musical fireside and I tagged along to play piano for our ward's choir as well as performing on harp in the stakewide youth musical number (I could almost hear my anonymity fluttering out the window).
But that's not the point. Mark and Ander came along with me, and while we were sitting in our pew waiting for the event to start, two adorable primary-age girls sitting in front of us were peering over the back of their bench, engaged in entertaining Andy. He was smiling and playing and being a general charmer. Then suddenly the older sister sighs heavily and says, "Oh, he is just so handsome," and the little sister chimed in, "oh yes, so handsome."
I about died laughing. 
Gonna have to start dressing this kid in burlap sacks to keep down that ego. I don't know where he gets his social skills from, it's certainly not I or his father, but I hope he always loves people the way he does now.

Since I didn't have choir rehearsal on the third, we took the free evening and went to the Mekong Plaza, a literal ten minute walk from our house, to try out some pho for the first time. Mark wasn't in the mood for soup, so he got a regular combo platter, whereas I am always in the mood for soup. I took it slow for my first time and just got plain chicken with the rice noodles. We loved their condiment sauces and I hesitated to drink any water for fear I wouldn't have room to down all the delicious broth.

I think I did a decent job of using the utensils correctly and not making a fool out of myself...
The menu was a tad overwhelming. I need to go back with somebody that knows their stuff so they can give me recommendations. That or I just want an excuse to go back for more soup.
After our meal, we swung by home again for the stroller, then made our way uptown to the Mesa Temple for the annual christmas lights! I was particularly excited since this would be Andy's first experience and he was actually quite awake and alert even though it was nearing his bedtime.
He did seem more interested in the actual foliage adorned by the glowing baubles rather than the lights themselves, but still. He had a fabulous time, was a charming angel baby, and so many people were delighted by his presence.

We eyed Haven Burger as we left for home, craving some of their delicious fries. But we knew we'd be going out the next night after my choir concert, so we smothered the fry-craving for later. 
It was a special experience, getting to introduce my baby to the temple grounds and the Christus. We walked into the visitors center and Ander looked up at Jesus' face, smiled so brightly, and flapped his arms in excitement. We tried to film it the second time around but I guess Ander just gets to hang out with Jesus so often, it's kind of old news to see his face.
I remember going to the Salt Lake temple as a kid and going to see the Christus there was always a mandatory part of the trip. I was always disappointed when the line was just too long and we wouldn't be able to get up there to see Him. I don't think I attributed it to the feeling of peace and security then, but I can sure recognize it now. Christmas is just great, isn't it?

I am almost convinced that Ander is going through a major growth spurt this month. It seems like I'm putting him down for another nap just minutes after he gets up, although that could definitely be due to how quickly the hours fly from the business of the season. He eats almost constantly. I marvel to think what our lives would be like and how our house would look if I were still exclusively breastfeeding. Ander is nearly a pro at holding his own bottle. He's a completely self-sufficient eater--until he drops the bottle and it rolls away from him, or it flops up by his head. He can bring it back to his mouth if it stays balanced on his chest, but anywhere else and he cries for me to come fix it. Which I am happy to do. 
I don't know if he's simply getting better at eating or if he just really loves his peas. We tried out peas for the first time recently and he gobbled them right up so easily, there wasn't a speck of food on his clothes. The bib was nasty cuz he kept wiping his face with it, but his clothes escaped unscathed. One morning, he had two helpings before it was even noon. One plain pea, one peas and carrots and spinach. I throw in probably close to a fourth cup of rice oatmeal to thicken up the purees, and I have to fight to keep the spoon constantly filled and in his mouth, or else I get a talkin' to. 
I have to feed him in his walker, he can't concentrate if he's up on the table in the kitchen. But then he's up on his feet, wobbling around like one of those bowling pin shaped clown punching bags that never get knocked down and I'm waving the food about trying to catch his gaping mouth rather than his eyeball, or up his nose.

If it were possible to predict a person's career by their 6th month of life, this kid would be destined for gymnastics, or body building, or a sport of some sort. No matter where we go, if he spends any time on the floor we always get comments about his backbend. He's been doing it for, well, basically ever, and he obviously thinks it's the normal way to get around. To explain, he arches his back so much, he ends up balancing only on the crown of his head and his two heels. Everything else, bum, shoulders, everything, is up off the ground. He wobbles around, looks at whatever it was he's craning to see, and then flops to one side of the other and continues rolling to get where he wishes to go.
Although, about the middle of December, I finished off a water bottle that he was eyeing and proffered it to him for a toy. And he chased it all over the floor. Scootching along like a little inchworm. His crawling is definitely going to be coming along very soon here.

We had quite the busy evening on the 12th. Our ward Christmas party was that evening; a delicious dinner of home-smoked brisket and baked potatoes and scrumptious goodies, excellent company, and a short musical program organized by myself and the event director.
So naturally I played harp and my dad came to sing "Let Him In" from The Forgotten Carols. #divatastic

I swear, it wasn't my idea. It's that odd, undefined line between "I have this talent and I should use it" and "LOOK GAIZ, I'M COOL" and still after so many years I don't know how to walk it.
It was a blast though. And my baby handled being in the Nursery service like a champ.
He went home with my parents to spend the night while Mark and I sped off to the GoDaddy Holiday party. We giggled at the fact that normally, as previous years have proved, normally we would be the ones hustling out to our car by 9pm yet this year we were just arriving by that time. Granted, the giggling probably stunted our cool factor.

We had been looking forward to finding out who the headliner was this year for weeks, since the hints the company had dropped all pointed to it being an alternative rock group. So, presumably, we would actually enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely an interesting experience, getting to see people like Ke$ha, Snoop Dogg (sp?), and Pitbull perform (we won't talk about the B52's though.../shudder) it's just not exactly the atmosphere and language we want to be subjected to for any amount of time.
However, "Sugar, We're Going Down"? "Dance, Dance" and "Immortals"? Now that, we can get down to. And by "get down" I mean sit in our nice comfy spot far, far away from the deafening speakers and smile, singing along mostly quietly.

We were more than stoked with the choice of Fallout Boy, and Mark's favorite, "Centuries" ended up being the last song they played, and my favorite, that I'd been crossing my fingers for since the minute they took the stage, "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark", was their encore! It couldn't have been more perfect.

[artist unknown, image via google]

I came away from that concert with a teensy tiny little baby crush on their drummer. It's the beards, man. Can't help it.

The day before Star Wars came out, Ander sprouted his first tooth! My mom and I were in line at Ross buying some christmas/birthday things, and I spotted a suspicious white speck on his bottom gum line during one of his flashy grins at an innocent bystander. This kid is a serious flirt, and he'll flash his dimples at anyone who looks his way.
But with teeth come the dark days. I didn't even know teething was happening until after the tooth popped up, he'd been just as slobbery and chewy as he has been since the beginning. But after it showed up, he got a teensy cold and started sleeping less due to being unable to self-soothe away the hurt in his mouth. Or, you know, breathe cuz of the gunk in his nose. I'd come in to get him in the morning and find the boogers had traveled all the way up into his hairline, crusting into his eyebrows along the way. Delicious.
Thankfully, our fairy godparents, Allie and Alex, had some numbing gel q-tips that they hadn't used already and allowed us to take them home and they've been a LIFESAVER. We had my parents party the week of Christmas and all evening long I could not get Andy to nap and he was incredibly cranky when we drove home. He wouldn't go down to sleep anywhere other than on my shoulder, so we slathered his mouth with the q-tip and he was out in seconds.

Speaking of Star Wars...we had, hands down, the best experience getting to see Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Months ago, our dear friends Thomas and Taylor, approached us asking if we were interested in purchasing tickets to the showing that they had personally bought out, along with their family. The theatre was minutes away from our home, our tickets were purchased so far ahead of time, and our seats reserved, there was literally NO stress revolving the event. Not to mention it was at the cinemark, so our physical seats were dang comfy. I'm basically ruined for theatre-going the rest of my life.

We saw it Thursday the 17th, and then again on Saturday for my birthday. I am loathe to admit that I was that obnoxious, vocal person, but luckily I was amongst a similarly excited crowd. We got our yelps out and went back to watching, so I didn't feel like I was going to get lynched afterwards.

My birthday was joyous and wonderful and a sweet memory I will cherish of time spent with my dear husband. We ate food, watched a movie, and ate more food. Simple, and just how I wanted it.
Earlier in the week our best friends, Allie and Alex, took us out to Teharu, a local sushi place, that we hadn't been to yet and, again, I am ruined. My wallet is ruined. Our sushi budget is ruined. It was amazing and we racked up an impressive pile of plates that I'm still feeling guilty over. No pictures though. You know it's a great time when you don't stop for a moment long enough to even think of pulling out a camera to snap a quick photo.
We're pretty blessed in the friend department.

I mentioned that Ander had a bit of a cold, and during that cold he learned about coughing. The entire week of Christmas, he would sit in his room and hack out the fakest cough you ever did hear until I would either come get him or shout from the other room, "you dying in there?!" He's the hammiest ham and I love it, dearly.
Ever since getting him on real foods his spitting up has lowered drastically. It's merely a struggle now to schedule the day in such a way that he is in good enough moods to be spoonfed rather than given a bottle. And, of course, to have the real food available.

It's January 7th and I just finished taking his 6 month photos. Imagine me facepalming, because that's how I feel.
This post is already absurdly long, bless you for making it through. Here are those pictures, without further ado.
I lied. With small ado. I had a cute little Christmas-y setup all prepared with the last of our decor but that required that Ander sit on the couch nice and proper. As you will notice, he is exceedingly mobile and nearly kamikaze-d off the couch like, five times. So, no couch pictures.

You kidding me with them eyeballs??!

I was unsuccessful at getting any usable shot 
with the both of them.
And Mor'du was outside in the rain.
Are we really surprised?

I am just smitten with how much he
suddenly looks like a regular ole little kid.
It really takes a turn once the
Sitting Up starts. 

If I could be so bold as to get "real" for a moment, near the end of this month I've really started to sharpen my hindsight and discovered some things. It seems as if, at least as a new mother, I never understood just how bad it got until things started to get better. Or you could say I never understood how bad I got until it got better. "Better" being completely subjective and arbitrary.
I'm angry now at what I don't wish to legitimize as PPD, but have no other word for, for essentially robbing me of the first few months of my baby's life. For stealing away the joys I could have been feeling. I read every well-meaning plea in every blog I ran across that begged me to not judge myself too harshly, that so many other mothers also feel this way, etc etc. And consciously I could remind myself that I did love this new role, and that I didn't regret our decision to have a baby.
But emotionally, it was a bit of a different story. I nearly constantly wanted to give up. Which was an exhausting fight in and of itself, never mind the normal and expected tolls of becoming a parent.
And now that I'm so incredibly overjoyed by Ander every day, even the tiny, meaningless things that he does, it's so transparent how overshadowed I was by that gross black cloud that gave my perspective that awful tint. I hear his little voice over the monitor now, whether it's crying "mamamama" or making those tiny, playful mewls that melt me into a glowing puddle, and I'm absolutely smitten by him.
And it breaks my heart that I didn't feel like this from the get-go.
I can only be grateful that I have this awareness now, and that I get to love and squeeze and cherish my angel baby for the sweet hunk of love that he is.
I love you, Ander, and you are worth every struggle I have now and have yet to experience.