8 Months, 3 Weeks/ 2 Years, 8 Months

Henry has been cracking us up lately with his references to people. "Who's that white guy?" "What's that big red guy do-ing?" are familiar refrains around these parts, and it took awhile to figure out that he generally describes people by the color of their clothes. Pretty much everyone is a "guy"-- from the car in front of us to the frosty the snowman inflatable in someone's yard. He has been experimenting a bit with "girl" and "boy" but they haven't made it into everyday speech yet.

The new thing i think he's actively working on are the days of the week and time sequencing. He has been using the all-purpose "last week" or sometimes "last night" to mean anything that happened more than 10 minutes ago. Sometimes it's in the range and sometimes its a gross overestimate, but after all, the key aspect of indicating something happened in the past is being communicated. Now he's moving up to using actual days of the week and some percentage of the time he a) gets it right and b) knows which day comes next-- very impressive in my book!

Henry was so excited to host all of our friends for a Christmas party on Saturday. JT made a buffet feast and Santa Claus even made an appearance. Henry wasn't scared at all and was pretty excited with the Christmas monkey and coloring book and crayons that Santa gave him. He asked repeatedly "where the red guy go" after he was gone and he showed some big excitement at the prospect of writing him a letter.

We're counting down the days until our families start arriving this Friday!


Remind me next time...

So next time i start to tell you that Silas is sick and then "oh my god, he isn't sleeping, what do we do?!" that this is just what Silas does. Frankly it sucks, but he gets sick and then sleeps erratically for 3-5 days. Then he re-emerges and reverts back to his happy-go-lucky pretty good sleeping self. This doesn't make it any easier when we're in the throes of the wailing, but if i could just keep front and center that it will get better, and typically in just a few days, i think i wouldn't freak out so much. So i'm harnessing the power of my readership (small as that may be) to remind me of this important trend.

Whew, now that we have sleep troubles out of the way for awhile i wanted to finally update you on the fun we had last weekend. Kerala came over to play for a few hours on Saturday and the kids were all happy to play together during the 20 minutes they were all awake at the same time, and happy to oblige us with naps so that we were mostly fielding the two kids we're used to.

Sunday we headed to the Pendletons and the kids (and Tabitha!) made gingerbread houses. We've done this for two years with graham crackers. With the little ones getting older and more capable, (who knew how well they could wield a pastry bag) we might just have to step it up to real gingerbread next year. I've never witnessed so much candy inhalation in such a short time. I don't care what the experts say, Henry was literally running from one end of the house to the other by the time we got home, trying to come down from the sugar high.

We've been enjoying opening a few gifts that have arrived this week. Of course we're saving most of the gifts (and all from family that will be with us) for actual Christmas. I'm pretty sure however, that the boys will have more than their share of presents on Christmas morning. Doing one or so a day is fun because Henry gets completely excited, but also has time to absorb and integrate the new toy into collection. Plus, it allows us time to work on thank-you cards little by little. (Kai you did say thank-yous were okay once they came from Henry right :)



The full effect of being a full-time working mother of two small children hit this week. I have a work deadline this week for a written report which is a great professional opportunity for me but which requires chunks of time that i can sit down, concentrate and write. Those chunks have been in short supply since Silas was home sick with me Monday and Tuesday.

He went back to daycare today and i *think* he's better. He just has a bad cold and a cough that at least is improving. Although he gets tired pretty easily he's pretty good during the day-- little cough, clear mucus, etc. He also goes to sleep really easily and quite early. Then about 30 minutes after he sweetly drifted off to sleep, he wakes up screaming and is largely inconsolable for the next hour. He'll calm down momentarily if you pick him up, sing to him, turn on his birds, etc. But it just seems to take about an hour until he can calm down enough to go back to sleep. It's definitely breaking my cool and making me feel so badly for him all at the same time.

I don't know if it's just that he's particularly miserable and I should try to console him no matter what (even though he drifted off to sleep easily less than half an hour before), or if he's gotten into a bad habit of not being able to get back to sleep at this time (the overnights have been going okay without too much intervention from me.) It's always hard to hear your baby cry, but it's absolutely gut wrenching when you know he's not feeling better and you don't know if you're doing the right thing.

I think if someone put this question to my hypothetically i would say it's a no-brainer; if the baby is sick you comfort them and don't let them cry. But in reality it doesn't seem that simple. If sleep is the best thing for him and when i'm holding him he doesn't fall asleep and continues to periodically cry, is it better to just leave him in the crib to cry really hard but fall asleep quickly? This is the stuff that isn't in the parenting books and gives rise to the whole "every child is different" adage.

This post has largely been for me but it's helped me realize i need to put a call in to our Pediatrician. I don't think he needs a sick appointment, but i need guidance on how to handle this situation.

Otherwise we're just trying to keep the adults healthy (JT and I are both dealing with a mild cold), keep the house from total disintegration, prepare for a Christmas dinner party for 8 adults on Saturday, and march through the scrolling Christmas check-list. "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"


8 Mos, 1 Week/ 2 Years 7 Months

Little Silas is sick. He and Henry were both congested over the weekend and Silas had a pretty rough night last night. Everything was running clear and he actually seemed happy and normal this morning so i bundled everyone off to school. Around 11:30 i got a call from Brenda that Silas was clearly not feeling well and had been inconsolable for about 30 minutes.

He fell asleep in the car on the way home and fell right back to sleep when i transferred him to his bed. He slept about an hour, and when he woke-up i was wondering if maybe Brenda was being overly cautious-- he was smiley and happy and didn't have a fever. But, after even just a little time wore on, it's clear he's not feeling well. He's cranky and snotty and doesn't have a great appetite. He's back to bed for another nap which hopefully will be a long one and i think we're shooting for an early bedtime as well.



My Father talks frequently about how i was constantly asking why as a child. I remember this actually but associate it with being a little older-- at least old enough to have memories. Perhaps i started my career even earlier which is what young Henry is doing. As are most things, it's much harder to deal with his incessant requests now that we're living it rather than hearing a tale about our distant childhood.

The issue is that i want to give Henry answers that attempt to quell his original question. I don't want to speak down to him but i don't want to give too much more information than he's able to comprehend. I want to be reflective about my answers instead of just saying "because that's how things are." At root i want to encourage this questioning and not squelch his curiosity or have him just accept everything as presented. The problem is that Henry doesn't always follow-along in this same congenial spirit.

A recent exchange:

H: I want to play outside in the snow.
T: It's too cold tonight Henry. We'll play outside later when it's warmer.
H: Why?
T: Because now that it's winter it can get very cold and if you're out in the cold too much you can get sick.
H: Why?
T: (attempts to explain how while germs make you sick being cold can lower your resistance)
H: Why?
T: We don't know why, but we know it happens.
H: Why?
T: Because Doctors study these things and tell us the answers.
H: Why?
T: Let's sing a song.
H: I want to play outside in the snow...


First REAL Snow

Today we trumped the little bit of snow we got over the weekend with a couple of inches of very fluffy snow that Henry had a ball playing in yesterday evening in front of our house. He's been excited for snow ever since it started getting cold and i told him that now that it was winter we might have snow. Unfortunately tonight there is more snow, but it's so cold that he couldn't stay out more than a few minutes. I saw a family down the street packing up sleds and kids into the car and i was thankful that i don't know where the local sledding hill is and my kids aren't old enough to ask to go sledding-- all in due time of course.

We're excitedly counting down the days until Christmas and our family comes to visit us in Chicago. I'm making an advent calendar and have managed to stay within a day of the actual date on the calendar. I have to double-up tonight since JT and i enjoyed an awesome dinner out last night and i didn't get my assigned ornament in for the day.

Henry has been periodically making art projects at school and bringing them home. We've started displaying them in the kitchen and i thought i'd share a few with you, as well as some random "toy arrangements" i've happened on and been impressed with.


First Snow-- and Ice

This weekend we had the first snow (and ice) of the season. It didn't snow a whole lot-- probably about 1/2 in. But it did stick, and it was snowing while i was trying to get all the leaves vacuumed and mulched up. I got the majority done and discovered that our leaf blower acts as an underpowered snow blower in a pinch. By about 4:30 the snow turned to ice and then somewhere around midnight it turned to rain. We did go over to Corey and Troys' in the evening and had to let Henry experience first hand why the ice storm wasn't great weather for playing outside.

We've talked about snow and how we will be able to play in it this winter so he was excited and then disappointed when actually he couldn't play in it this time. I didn't feel too badly for him though because he enjoyed playing hide-n-seek with Troy (who he calls "Troy-ee") and getting to play Troy's piano as well. That night was amazing because both boys went down to sleep effortlessly at there house and didn't make a peep until we woke them to go home.

Speaking of sleep, i haven't mentioned it because i'm afraid i'll jinx the phenomenon, but we're going to have to start setting an alarm. Since Henry was born we've only set an alarm the handful of times one of us had to get up really early in order to make a flight. Otherwise, you were guaranteed that somebody would wake you up. For the past several weeks though, both kids have been sleeping until 8. Silas usually wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30 but after i feed him he generally goes back to sleep until 8. It's actually made the mornings crazy though because we wind up just not having enough time to get everything done. So, while i hate to look the cosmic gifthorse in the mouth that has bestowed children on me that enjoy sleeping in, i fear tonight an alarm must be set. A moment of silence will be set at bedtime in our household tonight.


Time Management

Recently a friend of mine that currently doesn't have children asked how i manage to accomplish what i do with kids, when she feels super busy without them. I've been mulling this over some and thinking about how to respond and then decided that this would actually make a great blog post if i could just find time to write :) So excuse me Renee if you read this before i write back to you, but i think others might be interested as well.

Life is organized around four general areas: work, chores, extracurricular fun, and family. Each pushes and pulls on each other, but i've found some things that work for us in each category.

With work, something has to give. If both of you are corporate attorneys you're going to be outsourcing a lot of all the other areas. That might not be a big deal when it comes to chores, but you might start to really miss giving your child a bath or watching as she learns to say please and thank you. If you don't have a safety net in place, setting emotional concerns aside, you can also wind up stuck when your child gets sick and you both have important client meetings. So, generally one of you needs some flexibility in your schedule. This allows for someone to take off when little one needs to get to the Doctor, when your daycare provider is closed for the Federal holidays that you don't get, and to accompany said child on their first field trip.

We're blessed by the fact that i work remotely for a very family-friendly non-profit. My hours are pretty strictly 9-5, unless i'm travelling, and i work from home so there is no commute to factor into my day. Daycare is 15 minutes away. Even if you work longer hours and/or commute, working a few days from home can really make a difference. Obviously you don't have the commute to eat into your day and you can use the 4 minutes while you're waiting for your lunch to heat up to pick up the Lego's in the living room, throw last night's pajamas in the hamper, and take out the trash.

Which brings me to chores. I think the most important thing is to figure out what you can afford to outsource, and then looking at what's left, decide which items are crucial, and who can best tolerate/keep up with those key items. Much to the rest of my family's chagrin-- ironing has just never made it on to that list. We pay someone to clean our house every other week and divide the laundry/cooking/finances along our interest level and availability.

Assuming you have a spouse or partner, you need to figure out how to find a balance which leaves both of you feeling like you're invested in and responsible for the life you're living. In our house JT's the homebody. This means that he stays home on weekends while i toodle around Target and pick up cat litter. I actually kinda enjoy running errands, especially when i'm not toting two wee ones around.

One small thing which i wouldn't think would be much of a revelation is that i'm purposeful about my movements through the house. If i'm on my way downstairs i look at my desk and see what needs to be relocated-- a coffee mug, a water cup, the rechargeable batteries. After putting the dishes in the dishwasher and the batteries by the basement stairs i see the mail has arrived. I put 90% directly in the recycle bin and put the things that i need to do something about by the stairs to go into my financial folder-- you get the idea.

Then there's extracurricular fun. I think first and foremost, *what* and *how often* you do extracurricular activities changes once kids are on the scene. The trite "children change your life" is true but not like the soundbite makes it seem. It's not like you go from being an avid outdoorsman to a homebody Betty Crocker-type just because you have children-- at least not if you're going about things in a healthy way. But, your monthly overnight backcountry camping trips will most likely turn into long walks with your little one bundled into a back-pack carrier and a handful of camping trips to a site easily accessible by car. If your pre-baby days were spent logging late nights at local music clubs, you'll be scouring the area for music festivals that are child-friendly and happen during daytime hours. It's not that you're giving up your interests or hobbies, but they do tend to compete with the other responsibilities and priorities that children bring.

I used to workout five days a week, and attend ballet class and quilting group one night a week. I still try to fit in at least 3 workouts a week but i dropped ballet and attend quilting group once a month. Children are really great for helping you clarify your priorities and this level of activity helps me feel like i still have a life outside of being a Mom, but isn't so onerous that it's burdening JT or the kids.

One upside to kids is that they thrive on predictable schedules filled with sleep (or at least as they get older and stop waking up 6 times a night, ahem Silas!). So when you do activities changes, but can actually leave you with plenty of downtime if you're willing to take advantage of it. Our kids go to sleep by 7:30 (8 at the latest for Henry). Assuming a 10:30/11:00 bedtime, that leaves a decent chunk of time to eat a grown-up dinner if we haven't already eaten with the kids, spend a little time bonding as a couple, doing some chores and clean-up and maybe even working on a special project (a blog, a basement revamp, a baby quilt, etc.)

During the day (weekends for working parents) we have a solid 2-hour nap in the afternoon to work undisturbed on these types of projects as well. In a nutshell it's pretty simple, you have to pare down, be willing to adjust your expectations, and be flexible about when you get everything scheduled. In general we've found that these arrangements give us enough routine family time to feel like every one's needs are met.

All this said i'm adding a disclaimer that it took me about 6 weeks to do an imprint of Silas' hand for his memory book so clearly i'm not just crossing everything off my list as soon as i put it on there. In fact, i've moved to keeping my list in journals rather than on scraps of paper to emphasize that they are often long-term lists rather than immediate to-dos.


7 Months, 4 Weeks/ 2 Years, 7 Months

I know it's been very, very slow around these parts lately and i hope to remedy that in the next couple of weeks. As of last night, or early this morning, we returned from our thanksgiving jaunt to congregate with my entire extended family in Houston. We had a great time catching up with family we don't see enough, and watching our younguns entertain the group. Silas and Henry travelled there very well-- especially considering we flew for two hours and then drove an additional four. It was awesome to watch Henry interact and build on the bond he has with my Mother, Father, Aunt and Grandmother (that's Nonna, Gran, Tammie and GG for those in the know). And, it was amazing to see my 17 and 23 year-old cousins engage both boys. I don't think i would have known what to do with a 2 year old and 7 month old at their age-- especially at 17. High points of the trip included making turkey cookies; Henry's cool "monkey bed" and new monkey friend, Sid; driving the remote control digger all over the house; and riding a people-powered bike that will soon be gracing our Christmas tree as a gift-- although Henry doesn't know that yet!

Here was a beautiful shot from one of our photoshoots. This one is of my cousin Caroline and the boys. Next up-- the photo corps which did a stand-up job.

We wound up cutting our trip a few days short because of a case JT is working on. The last minute change left us with the choice of an Saturday early-morning flight or the 8 pm flight we took last night. Silas slept off and on during the flight, but Henry didn't fall asleep until the wheels were coming down to land. Both boys were wide-eyed the whole baggage-train-bus-car circuit but seemed genuinely welcoming of their own beds. Silas' sleep was impacted a bit on the trip and i think we're in the process of wading through some bad nights, but it was nothing like the Thanksgiving trip to Houston that Henry took 2 years ago. Those 30 minute naps and waking 4-6 times a night scared me off travel for quite awhile with him.

Since we didn't all get to bed until after midnight, having the boys miraculously sleep until 9 am was a true gift. Now that we're back, i'm working on Christmas shopping in earnest, and i've started to get our decorations up. Henry is excited to help me tomorrow night with the tree. JT never has been much for Christmas prep, so i'm excited to have a little helper that isn't wearing a grinch hat.


Baby Things

I took the gift ideas litany down. It started out as a simple list and before long i feel like it was taking up the entire right side of the page. I'm pretty sure that if Emily Post had a blog guide a gift list would not be acceptable practice.

I did want to let people know that if you are trying to buy gifts for a baby in your life and you're worried about all the recent recalls, i found a wonderful online store that carries wooden and organic baby toys. The store is called Montana's Diaper Store and they were highly recommended as a source of cloth diapers. I was pleasently amazed when i visited that in addition to cloth diapers and a lovely site layout, they also have beautiful baby toys.

So clearly i should get a commission, but i just thought i'd share because i know that finding cute and fun baby toys that you feel secure about is more and more challenging.



Anyone that has tried a blog or some kind of similar journaling experiment will tell you that the key to regularity is to integrate your writing into your normal routine. If posting is to happen often, it has to be a normal event. When i travel i don't post as often. It makes sense, since i'm off my normal routine and i don't have direct access to my inspiration subjects. But, i find that once i'm out of the habit, even when i return home, it takes a little while to get back in the posting groove. I feel like i'm hitting my stride again, but we leave this week for Thanksgiving so i'm going to ask people to bear with me a little bit longer.

Although we spent a good deal of the weekend trying to get the house and our belongings in shape for the upcoming trip, we managed to squeeze in an awesome Saturday at Tiffany and Mike's house. We dubbed the gathering "chili fest" and all three families came with different types of chili. Tiffany made various corn bread and JT made an apple cranberry pie. It was good and very abundant eating.

It's always fun to get together with the Pendletons because Henry, Helen and Carys have grown up together thier entire (short) lives. Now that they're 2.5 up to 4, they are forging more relationships with one another. Their direct interactions are fleeting, but it's a hoot to watch. Carys led Henry and Helen in circles around the house making up a nonsensical call and return.

Later in the evening we retired to the basement where Henry was absolutely obsessed with the fish tank that Tiff and Mike have. Not even the born leader Carys could get Henry to come and play. Instead Henry just stood transfixed at the fish tank talking about all the different fish and deciding the yellow goldfish was his favorite.

I was only gone 4 days, but i swear i got back and Henry is now speaking in complete sentences. They're not always grammatically correct, but his language skills just seem to have exploded. Not to be outdone, i think Silas might have secretly sent away for Rogaine because his hair is suddenly thicker and laying down flat. The thicker part is great but i'm a little sad all of his hair isn't standing on end anymore.



I haven't posted lately as i've been in Boston for the past several days for a work meeting. It's been a good opportunity, but i'm tired and missing my family, and now i have another case of mastitis to boot. My Dr. called in a prescription for me tonight so hopefully i'll get that started tomorrow morning and start to get better. I head home tomorrow afternoon and will promise to recover some lost ground with posts before thanksgiving travels.

For now, here's a few pictures to enjoy.


Ears Clear, I ♥ Dr. Papacek

I'm happy to report that Silas does not have another ear infection, which i was concerned about because he has been showing some of the same symptoms that made me suspect an ear infection a few weeks ago. Fortunately no infection, unfortunately we're dealing with sleep disturbance issues for somewhat unknown reasons. He and Henry both are quite congested, which is probably a big part of it, but our Pediatrician verified he doesn't show any signs of actual teeth and otherwise we're stumped as to why he's waking up so frequently and not able to get himself back to sleep.

That said, our visit yesterday reminded me what a difference having an amazing Pediatrician makes. Long-time readers will remember that we started out with a Pediatrician so far to the right of the scale that i would almost call him a quack, or at least negligent in his standard of care. When we moved to our new Pediatric group practice, the Dr. we saw was and is a stellar Doctor, but her bedside manner isn't great. She tends to be extremely hyperactive on various issues which is what we needed with Henry, but as the major issues have been worked out, she can come off as a little "doomsdayish."

We ultimately found Dr. Papacek, and it's just a perfect fit. She's warm and efficient and a good listener and a great Doctor and she remembers us and understands why we/me have certain concerns after going through all of Henry's medical events. She helps figure out the medical issues as well as the behavioral/developmental issues and makes you feel like that's exactly what a Pediatrician is there to do. She reiterated that Silas' growth looks like it's doing well, no need for any more weigh-ins until his regularly scheduled 9 month appointment. We talked about how he's scooting backwards and pivoting on his stomach (both of which he's been doing for awhile) but not pushing to all fours yet or even army-crawling. She said that if he wasn't dragging himself around somehow by 9 months she might want to take a closer look but that based on his sitting, extreme reaching ability, tolerance (actually love) of tummy time, and bearing weight on his legs, there didn't seem to be any concern.

I wanted to re-iterate that i had NOTHING to do with both the pig head cooking project nor the picture taking. Imagine the good times when that picture popped up among my downloaded Halloween pictures! If either Henry or Silas develop JT's prankster sense of humor, i'm going to have to take more frequent momcations.


7 Months, 2 Years, 6 Months

A day late, but here's the promised update.

Henry is going through quite the little testing phase. I'm reminded of a mime doing their "trapped in a box" routine. You can almost see him searching for the borders and testing to see how far away those corners of expected behavior are. Henry winds up having about 1 time-out a day but generally he will do something he knows is wrong until you tell him that it's his second and last warning and that next he'll get a time-out. Then he'll tell you that he doesn't want a time-out and will give you a big hug and either say sorry or correct what he was saying or doing, i.e. "No, i LIKE mommy" or "that not right" (referring to hitting, kicking or other disallowed actions.) He's big right now on figuring out what you can and can't say to people. I can see why it can be confusing that we talk a lot about discussing your feelings and emotions, especially when you're upset, but that saying you don't like someone or that they aren't your friend is NOT okay and hurts the other persons feeling. Empathy is an evolving concept for Henry so this is tricky stuff. Still, it never hurts to set the bar high and even at his most trying the kid is just sweet at heart.

Silas is sitting and scooting backwards but not much more at this point. We're doing our best to keep him on his stomach to encourage crawling attempts but so far he's pretty happy getting what he can and pivoting around to expand his reach. He's generally happier on his stomach than any other position, so i think he'll move when he's ready-- he certainly seems strong enough for it.

Halloween was a blast. Henry was a monkey and Silas was a banana. I decided after Henry's ill-fated first Halloween that i was going to go with a simple (homemade) costume for Silas and channel more of my energies into Henry who had a blast with Halloween in general and trick-or-treating specifically. Silas was quite the trooper though. Tabitha pushed him around in his stroller and he was wide-eyed but quiet the whole time. I admit that sometimes i can forget he's there he's so quiet. Henry on the other hand was having a blast, running to keep up with Carys and Helen and get "MORE CANDY." He maneuvered his costume pretty well and loved being around all the other kidlets at Tiff and Mike's house. What a difference a year makes though, last Halloween Henry was completely fearful and almost in tears every time the doorbell rang and the dogs barked. This time he said hello to the dogs at the beginning and then didn't give them a second thought.

Oh, by the way. Although things chug along without me just fine while i'm away-- JT saves the crazier projects for my absences:


Preliminary Photos...

Just fine without me

I'm back after a great work trip and it was so nice to make it home in time last night to see both boys before they headed off to bed. They do just fine without me, which certainly makes it easier to go, but i also know they were very happy to see me which of course makes the homecoming that much sweeter.

So, just a quick post to say that i've been gone which is why things have been quiet. Today is Halloween so we're off to our friends for their annual trick-or-treat hosting. They live by the Mars Candy Factory so their neighborhood goes all out for Halloween and is quite the destination for trick-or-treating. I promise to return tomorrow with a full-update, an account of Halloween 07 and pictures!


6 Months, 3 Weeks/ 2 Years 6 Months

First, a short PSA. I recently had a scare with a small spot that had developed on my nose. It wasn't a pimple but it an unidentified sore that came out of nowhere and kept scabbing over and then bleeding again at the slightest provocation. I was terrified it was skin cancer, which thankfully it's not-- but it is actinic keratosis which is considered a pre-cancercerous skin condition. It doesn't surprise me that i have this, growing up on Guam with the fairness of skin that i have. But, i encourage you to wear your sunblock and keep your mocking comments to a minimum when my children are covered head to toe in Victorian bathing costumes.

Now for the good stuff. Thankfully for both you and I, Silas has decided to return to his good sleeping habits after our two-week rough patch. He didn't cry at all when he went to sleep last night and only woke-up once very briefly. Of course this means he wakes up earlier in the morning, but i'll take that anyday over the extended crying bouts we've been trying to cope with.

If you've been glancing over at the "Henry's Expressions" segment of the blog, you might have wondered about his comment related to homework. At target the other day he picked out a pre-school workbook that is all about tracing and learning uppercase letters. He was excited to look through it at the store and when we got home and he discovered it at his little table, he was VERY excited to sit there and "trace" his letters. Even though we've shown him how it's supposed to work, he takes great pride in merely scribbling on top of each letter. Still, you can tell he's very impressed with himself and so excited to be "do-ing homework."

I've made some progress on the basement. Not as much as i would have liked to, but i got the carpeting down and curtains up to hide the things that just aren't going to be improved. I'm hoping to put in some false walls to further section some things off but that's probably not going to happen until November at this point. I'm also working on upping the lighting quotient down there-- for now the flash at least helps illuminate things. Here are some "in-progress" pictures of the steps to the basement and the various play "centers."


Caught Up

I think we are just about caught-up after getting behind due to all the sickness. However, somehow we've found ourself back in sleep battles with Silas, which frankly has me stumped. He still has a cold and we go back Thursday to make sure his ear infection is gone but he's started being a sleep menace in the early evening.

Saturday we went over the the Pendleton's for some family fun and Khyber Pass take-out. Henry had a wonderful time playing with the girls as usual and Carys was particularly excited to play with Silas now that he's sitting up. Unfortunately, when it was time for bed Silas began what will go down in the baby book as THE WORST NIGHT EVER. Right around 6:45, after he had his pajamas on and had nursed, he was acting very sleepy and tired. We had a pack-n-play set up for him and the sound machine going. He would have none of it, and after resting quietly for about, oh maybe 90 seconds, he started crying and continued to cry off and on until we finally left around 8:30. I tried to soothe him, Tiffany tried to soothe him, and although he calmed down some he didn't go to sleep.

He was awake but calm during the car ride home and seemed very drowsy. He nursed again when we got home and went straight to sleep-- for around 45 minutes. Then he woke up and truly screamed bloody murder for a full hour. At that point we were all exhausted and although i suspected he was just tired and fighting sleep i was also afraid his ear infection hadn't really gone away or he was otherwise sick (no temp though.) So, i rocked him until he was solidly asleep before putting him down-- something i've NEVER had to do with Silas and which brought back lots of memories of Henry's infancy.

I'd like to say it was a one-time thing but yesterday after taking 3 great naps and going to sleep without a peep for all of them-- he cried like a banshee last night for an hour and 45 minutes. At least once he went to sleep he stayed asleep except for brief wakeups. I'm still nervous about the possible ear angle, but my suspicion is that somehow he developed some bad habits while he was sick that now we have to work to disabuse him of.

Henry had fun playing with Corey and Troy on Sunday when they came over to help us carve our pumpkins.


6 mos, 3 weeks/ 2 years 6 months

Go figure, the sweetest thing Silas has had to eat so far he wasn't very fond of- bananas. I think he's not crazy about the thicker texture because when i mixed some banana into his squash he was okay with it-- unless he got a clump of banana and then he literally did the gag/yucky face. I sent him to Brenda's with sweet potatoes today and i'll be curious to hear how he liked them. I can't remember if i mentioned that last week he started sitting up really well. He went from basically not sitting up at all to being pretty masterful in the space of about a day. Now he topples over occasionally, but it's generally when he's reaching for a toy.

Henry has been bowling me over with all the stuff he's learning. At gym class the other day during circle time at the end, he proved that he knows circles, squares and triangles-- which was news to me. He's known his colors for awhile, and he's been counting in his own way for months (1,2,3,8,9,3!) but now i hear him counting more consistently in the usual way-- sometimes all the way to 10. He's also working on left and right and often correctly anticipates which way i'm going to turn on the way home. This freaks me out a bit, because i still don't have a great grasp on left and right!

Thanks to Sinin for the picture of me and Jack while i was visiting the office a few weeks ago. Jack and Silas are about the same age but Jack was born VERY early-- about 2 months early in fact. Despite his rush to join us on the outside (and his initial birth weight of just over 1 lb.) he's doing amazing as you can see in the picture! He's possibly even more cuddly than Silas which is hard to believe.


Helluva weekend

At least everyone has now paid their dues. First it was Henry waking up in the middle of the night Friday, having vomited. Then the stomach flu made it's way to me and then on to JT. The only saving grace was that it was a 24-hourish kind of bug. Silas' cold was getting worse and worse and his sleeping patterns at night were terrible-- and confusing. I kept him home from daycare yesterday and got him in to the Doctor and he has ear infections in both ears. Henry has thus far escaped ear infections so i was baffled and a little sad that Silas ruined our perfect record-- and of course that he was feeling so rotten. He's had three doses of antibiotics now and it seems to really be helping. The worst part was that they had to hold him down and pull out lots of sticky ear wax in order to look in his ears and determine that he did have an infection.

Some how we managed to largely stay on track with our "potty-training bootcamp" for Henry. He did amazing, especially considering everyone was under the weather. He's in underwear all day both at daycare and home and stays dry as long as you both remind him to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes, and don't take "no" for an answer when he tells you he doesn't need to go (usually when he's involved in something a lot more fun!)

Not to sound ungrateful for your interest, but i'm swamped now with work so i haven't had a second to download pictures. I wanted to give you an update on where we stand and hopefully by the end of the week i'll have caught back up enough to get back on track-- just before i go out of town on another work-trip next week and throw things into chaos again!


Silas sleep machinations

You guys haven't had a sleep update in awhile and although it isn't necessarily the most riveting topic for my general readers, it's really helpful for me to document where we are on the sleep continuum at any given age.

Because of Silas' growth concerns, i was told to continue the "dream feed" that i was doing around 10 pm each night. The way this is supposed to work, involves picking the baby up and feeding them while they are awake enough to eat, but don't fully awaken. For several weeks this worked like a charm. Around the time the Dr. told me i needed to keep doing it, Silas started waking up on his own and not being comforted by just a pacifier. I would have to feed him to get him back to sleep. He's started doing this earlier and earlier to the point that we've gone from a 10 pm dream feed to one around 8:45.

I'm not entirely sure if i should just keep feeding him at whatever time he wakes up or if at some point soon i should let him break the habit and re-set the feeding clock closer to 10.

Also, Silas alternates nights where he sleeps either all night or with only one brief wake-up with nights like last night where he was awake 2-3 times and then around 5 wouldn't go back to sleep until he was fed. I get the sense on those nights that he's hungry and stymied from going back to sleep for good because of the rumblings in his tummy. I've periodically offered him an extra bottle of milk before bed, but maybe i need to make that part of our standard practice now.

Other than sleep details, we've given the boys baths together twice in the past week. Silas still goes to bed really early so Henry winds up having a bath before dinner. It's not completely ideal because he can still get fairly messy at dinner, but that way they both get a bath and Henry is more likely to get into bed closer to 7:30 than 8:00 which is often too late for him. Lest you think Henry is already bored with his little brother-- i thought i'd post two pictures so you can see they're BOTH having a good time-- just not in the same photo.



With the shift in weather i've been digging into my cooler weather pre-pregnancy clothes. Am i able to put on my old jeans-- yes. Would i wear them out in public-- no. But i CAN zip them and that seems newsworthy in it's own right.


2 Years, 5 Months/ 6 Months, 1 Week

Pshew, the heat has finally broken! Unfortunately my parents visit coincided with a serious heat wave, but we still got out quite a bit and enjoyed some outings with the boys. We got to celebrate my mom's birthday with her which was wonderful-- especially because Henry gets excited to color people cards and to "help" them with their cake and gifts. He was a little peevish this weekend-- i had to take him out of a restaurant for the first time since he was tiny and couldn't help it. But, he loved spending time with Gran and Nonna reading tons of books, "cleaning" his bowls in the sink, and playing with all his new toys-- including his very first watch.

He's been pretty interested in JT's watch recently and asks to wear it all the time. He was paying close attention to my Mom and Dad's watches as well and Nonna told him that they'd have to find him a watch. Contrary to what i said, he remembered that and brought it up repeatedly until we took him out to choose a watch just for him. He had several selections, including two spiderman ones (which he identified by name) and something hot wheels related, but he went for a non-licensed one with footballs, basketballs and baseballs. He let me take it off for his bath last night but otherwise he's been wearing it 24-7 since he got it. If you ask him what time it is, he'll tell you "8:14" no matter what time it is and regardless of the fact that he can't count past 10.

I think we may have glimpsed a little bit of the sibling rivalry to come. Yesterday afternoon Silas, Henry and I were playing in the basement. I got out some toys for Silas to play with and some that Henry requested. Silas sat up (!) for several minutes at a time playing, but Henry basically wanted to play with whatever Silas had and even yanked his stuff away a few times or told Silas he wasn't playing with it correctly. He's generally very considerate towards Silas and often gets toys just for Silas, so i think it's normal stuff we're dealing with. Although what would i know, being an only child?

I just have to mention that Silas' sleep has not been great the past few days. Frequent night-time wake-ups and a 5:00 am start to the day this morning are taking their toll. I'm hoping to make it to bed super-early tonight to try to catch-up a little bit. Also, i sent formula for the first time for Silas to day-care. I still have pumped milk stored, but my stock is dwindling and i decided that we were going to have to introduce formula soon and it was probably better to start giving him some little by little. I'm a little sad that i can't exclusively breast feed him as long as i did Henry, but i also want him to get all the nutrients he needs to grow as big and strong as he's meant to be.


First Bites

Silas has done VERY well with this solids stuff. We started him out with yellow squash and after a slightly puzzled look after the first bite, he proceeded to gobble down 3/4 squash on his very first sitting. Yesterday we sent an entire squash's worth to Brenda's (thinking it would last two sittings) and he ate the entire thing. He's also been downing an extra 6 oz. of milk per day so i can only imagine we're going to be headed in the right direction at the weigh-in in 6 weeks.

Silas is still working on sitting unassisted, but he did stand on his own while holding onto/leaning on the coffee table the other day. His favorite activity was trying to grab onto things on the table and then shoving them off to the floor. This was a prime occupation of Henry well into his second year so it's a good thing we don't store much on the coffee table.

Henry is really looking forward to his Gran and Nonna's visit this weekend. We started talking about it a few days ago and every time we say "Gran and Nonna will be here in X days" he says "No RIGHT NOW." I'm sure he is ready to see his grandparents, but RIGHT NOW is the phrase of the day. It's funny to hear all the things he applies it to.


2 Years, 5 Months/ 6 Months

I'll just come out with it-- Silas had his 6 month check-up and it wasn't great. We're back to worrying about the weight of our baby, which i thought we had escaped with Silas. He gained about a pound, but he's down to the 10-25% percentile for weight and is down for height and head circumference as well. I don't think it's dire, thankfully the term "flatlining" was not used with Silas, but it's NOT what we hoped to hear at his appointment. We're supposed to start solids stat and see about increasing his milk intake. We have a weight check scheduled in 6 weeks which helps me stay somewhat calm about this development-- with Henry we were practically there every week to make sure he was on the right track.

Otherwise the appointment went well. He barely cried at all for his shots-- calming down before i even picked him up. He's sitting enough to keep the Dr. happy, bearing weight no problem, displaying great grabbing and passing from hand to hand and other fine motor skills. He's rolling and scooting backwards and in general getting strong. She said that it's not uncommon for babies to have trouble gaining around this time because they're so much more active, but with two kids that have gone through this (and this one that started off so big) i can't help but worry i'm part of the problem. We're not planning to do anything drastic, but here's hoping tonight's introduction of solid foods goes well. If so, we're supposed to pretty quickly ramp that up as an additional way to get calories into the boy.


Catching up

Excuse my posting lapse. I was away for a few days on my first post-Silas business trip, and when i got home last night, i wanted nothing more than to enjoy every second i could with my boys. My trip went well, JT did a great job of holding down the fort, and i managed to make it home with almost all of the milk i pumped. All in all it was successful, but i'm looking forward to staying put for a bit.

While i was away, Henry started asking for things "right now!" JT taught him to at least add please on to the end of the request so you get the juxtaposition of immediacy with politeness-- "mommy milk right now, please." Henry's continuing to work on counting, but now he's trying to get the finger actions down as well. 1 is no problem and once he realized 5 was the same as "high five" he had that one down, 2 and 3 generate lots of requests for help though. Henry stayed up a little late last night (about 8:30), so that i could see him when i got home. I don't know if that's the explanation or what, but he slept until after 8 this morning. Sometimes if he's sleeping in late, you'll open his door and he'll pop his head right up. In those instances it's pretty clear he's been drowsing or just enjoying some alone time rather than sleeping. This morning though, i came downstairs to get everyone ready to go and JT told me Henry was still asleep. We opened his door and there he was, splayed out across his bed in deep sleep. Needless to say, we got a bit of a late start, but it was nice to enjoy the extra time with Silas.

After i picked Henry and Silas up from Brenda's this afternoon we ran over to the green grocer. I just needed a few things and Silas is getting so heavy that i decided just to pop him in the sling rather than lug his infant seat around. That way Henry could be contained in the cart. What i didn't anticipate was that Silas has entered the "must reach out and grab everything i see" phase. Signing the credit card slip involved contortions i last saw in the circus.

Aligned with the grabby phase is the complementary "mouth phase." You can see the intensity in their face, their overwhelming need to explore something new by putting it in their mouth. Like Henry, Silas is easily entertained with junk mail and random paper. It easily gets away from baby hands, so Silas has to work really hard to keep it under control and near his mouth.



Something i forgot to mention yesterday-- Henry seems to be learning his letters! I know he's not the only 2 year-old on the planet to do this, but i'm astounded and for a long time just chalked it up to dumb luck. But, he's clearly known the letter 'B' for several months and can now recognize most of the letters in his name. In fact now when we read books he wants to find "H for Henry" on every page. Unfortunately he doesn't recognize lower case letters so he gets frustrated some.

But seriously, isn't this amazing?

Here's Henry concentrating on a puzzle while the other kids go nuts with the musical instruments behind him at his gym class.


Bedtime dallying

Henry has always been a good sleeper-- well okay, definitely not ALWAYS, but since around 6-8 months he's been a reliably good little sleeper. He pretty much never puts up a fight about taking naps or going to bed, but we've noticed in the last week or so that he seems to be fighting bedtime. At first i thought it was because he was having so much fun with his Oma and Opa that he didn't want to miss out by going to bed.

Several nights while they were here he would tell me he didn't want to go to sleep and he wanted to play with Oma and Opa and then agree and seem fine when i said it was time for rest and after he woke up the next day he'd be able to play with them and have lots of fun. A few seconds or minutes later he would completely melt down about something seemingly unrelated, i.e. no snacks in bed! It's almost like he's overtired, but he's going to bed at the same time and waking up later now that the sun is rising later, so i just don't know. The behavior has continued after Oma and Opa left so i think he might be finally entering fully the "another glass of water" phase.

An upshot is that i've been able to put my music classes with Silas to good use. Henry seems to approve/deal with my voice and now i have at least a few more songs in my repertoire.


5 Months, 3 Weeks/ 2 Years, 5 Months

What a wonderful visit we had with Henry and Silas' Oma and Opa! We enjoyed some crisp fall weather, visits to the park, playing in the back-yard and jumping on Henry's new trampoline. Unfortunately Silas' music class was cancelled this Saturday, but Oma did get to accompany us to Henry's gym class.

JT was out of town on business, so i brought Silas with us even though the class coincided with his normal bedtime. I figured he would probably at least cat nap in his car seat and then maybe fuss some but go to bed after we got home.

Silas surprised me by being completely awake and alert throughout the entire hour long class. After it was clear he wasn't going to sleep anytime soon, Sheree put him so he could watch the class too. You'd think his car seat had a motor on it with all the rocking he was doing. He was blowing non-stop bubbles as well and in general loving the class. So, we might have to look into a gym class for Silas sooner rather than later.

Henry had another great class and Sheree got to witness how well he does at listening and how brave he is with most things even if you can tell he's not completely psyched for them-- witness the rings.

Henry also expanded his horizons this weekend by riding his first Pony and getting up close and personal with all manner of animals in the petting zoo. There was a kind of mini county fair that we took the boys to and Henry had a blast-- not so much on the inflatable bouncer, but everything else was a hit.


5 Months, 2 Weeks/ 2 Years, 4 Months

September has meant back to school for Henry and Silas, in the form of their very-own enrichment classes. Silas had a great first music class and enjoyed looking at Corey and the teacher very much. Of course the class is supposed to be all about mom/dad-baby interaction, but they didn't specify which mom so i guess Silas is technically in the clear. We got a cd that goes along with the class and i have to confess i've been playing it frequently in the car, so that i've got a jump on any musical pop-quizzes we might have.

Henry started his gym class Monday night and it was an amazing success. I really didn't know what to expect. Even though he's come a long way in the past 6 months, he's still not the most physically confident kid. He had an absolute blast. From the moment we walked in he wanted to start exploring all the cool things he could see in the play area. He had so much fun figuring out what everything was, crawling through tunnels, jumping on the trampoline, climbing the stairs and lowering himself into the ball pit, etc. There were a few things that just a month or two ago would have sent him into paroxysms of fear and meltdown that he took in stride-- albeit with a frightened look on his face. I felt like i caught a glimpse of Henry in the school-years to come. He was good at following directions and observing the other kids and teachers, and also excited to interact with them and follow-along. It's a particularly good thing he enjoyed it, because this particular class lasts 20 weeks!

This weekend Tabitha and the girls and the Smerrys came over and Troy and JT and Tabitha cooked up quite a feast. Tabitha and the girls stayed over, and we put on Curious George to help the kids wind down together after a rambunctious game of hide-n-seek. Even Kerala got in on the act although unfortunately Silas was already fast asleep, it was past his self-imposed 6:30 bedtime.

JT's parents, Oma and Opa are visiting for the next several days, so we're looking forward to Henry re-developing those relationships.


Music Appreciation

Somewhere around 7th grade, music started to take on a central role in my life. Around that time i started to enter the "angsty" years, and my favorite bands seemed to really know me, and be able to express what i was feeling but didn't really understand. Thus, i would listen to the same tape every day after school while i did my homework, literally for weeks. I knew the words to every song, and i could anticipate which song was coming next in the pauses between tracks. I didn't have much of an outlet for this interest because i lived on Guam, where the bands i favored did not venture.

When i started 10th grade, we moved back to the States and i discovered a whole world of young-people that revolved around music. Positive Force was a loosely organized group that primarily put on punk rock benefit shows. These seemed to happen around once a month and were held in the basement of DC churches. From this point through college, going to see bands at cheap $5 shows-- most of which were all-ages, became one of the primary ways i socialized. In addition to filling my social life, music was something that i lavished time and money on. It takes a certain amount of effort to stay current, ferret out what you actually like, and make it yours-- keep in mind this was at a time when the computer lab still had mainframe terminals and not personal computers, thus no itunes, playlists, or internet to speak of.

While negotiating the path to adulthood, music provided a visceral boost to those thrilling moments of feeling in-control and free. Driving home in the quiet dusk with a car full of friends after a full day on the river listening to James Taylor's "You've got a friend" or positively exploding with promise when "These are Days" by the 10,000 manics came on the radio as i drove home from high school graduation.

Somewhere after college music dropped a bit in my priority list. Somehow, at least for me, the freedom and independence that music provided wasn't as crucial the more i came into them by my own right. Which isn't to say that i don't care about music anymore, it's just that my tastes tend to be shaped more by what's in front of me, than by what i seek out and make my own. That's why a decent chunk of the music i've bought in the last several years i've heard about on NPR, and why my current favorite song (Cyril the Karaoke Squirrel) is from one of Henry's cds.

I'm assuming this new music class i'm taking with Silas will usher in another music phase, as i'm told i have to sing along, and sometimes solo, as well as make up rhythms and beats.. Clearly music will now be less about my independence and more about providing joy for my offspring. How fitting.


2 Years, 4 Months/ 5 Months, 1 Week

I've made a few tweaks to the blog lately-- i'm including my latest signature on the right hand sidebar. I'm also including an automatic age counter at the bottom of the page so i don't have to manually track Henry and Silas' age. I like to title one post per week with their ages, so that when i read back over the posts i can be reminded when the boys did things for the first time or went through various phases.

Silas and i have our first music class on Saturday, and Henry has gym for the first time on Monday. We're looking forward to upcoming visits from both sets of grandparents and trying to make sure we keep taking advantage of the good weather-- albeit hot.

Here are a few more pictures from the zoo this past weekend (thanks Corey) Henry and Rollie are rocking the hippest toddler color for this season-- orange!


Official end of Summer-- boo, hoo

I think we did a pretty good job sending summer out. Saturday we bought a new tv and JT re-taught Henry how to do the "touchdown" sign after spending most of the day relaxing in front of college football. Yesterday we went back out to Tabitha's pool and Henry had another great time. He seemed even more comfortable in the water this weekend than last weekend. Tabitha and i talked about trying to get the kids to the pool during the winter months-- even just for some free swim. It will be an additional option for outings during the long winter months.

Today we met 3 other families at the zoo and Henry definitely enjoyed seeing all the "aminals." He saw giraffes, and elephants, lots of monkeys and even an otter. I think his favorite might have been the polar bears. Both days we were home by early afternoon, which was nice to have time to accomplish all the weekend chores that need doing.

Silas has had a fairly eventful weekend as well even though all the outings weren't exactly targeted at him. He has been rolling over sporadically for the past several weeks but this weekend he pretty much non-stop started rolling. Unfortunately he has been exercising his legs when it's time for sleep, so naptimes have been pretty rough.