Monday, December 31, 2007

A very merry Christmas

Just before the holidays, Jack started to babble. He had been groaning and grunting for a while, but something clicked in his head, and the boy figured out that if he moved his lips and tongue, new sounds would result. Apparently, Jack knew he was about to embark on a social whirlwind of a Christmas trip to Ohio, and he wanted to communicate his thoughts to all the family members he'd be seeing.

Oh, and did I mention that he is super-smiley, too? Between the chattiness and big grins, this kid was a lot of fun over the holiday.

Our trip started in Vermilion and Lorain-- west of Cleveland-- with Jen's family. Grandma Debbie and Aunt Niki took Jack to see Santa (see previous post) and I'd say that Santa got this boy everything he could possibly want.

Thanks to a pair of parties, Jack got to see a bunch of family members, including his cousin Alexandria who already had her passport and was on her way to London! Jack isn't a jet-setter just yet, but he is thinking about some summer travel that will put him in his first airplane.

On Christmas Eve, we set off around 8:30p for Centerville-- south of Dayton-- to see my family. Jack was worn out from all the parties and, since it was his bedtime anyway, slept the entire 200 miles. We took advantage of this rare in-car sleepytime and blitzed straight through without a stop.

Just like up north, there was a long parade of people for Jack to see in Dayton. Jack turned 6 months old on Dec. 26th, and it turns out this was a great age for him to be during the holidays. Not only was he very verbal and smiley, he also engaged people by looking them in the eye.

The long ride home was a small price to pay for a memorable first Christmas. Be sure to click the album below for pictures.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Hey Santa!

Our annual Christmas adventure started on Friday. The drive to Vermilion (west of Cleveland) began around 11:30am after a morning of packing the wagon. Aunt Niki always rides the first leg of the big Ohio trip with us and then flies home when we continue down to Dayton, so we had three adults with luggage and presents plus Jack and all the stuff that he needs (Jack has two suitcases!) I picked up a rooftop carrier over the summer and put it to good use on this trip.

We made good time on dry roads. Jack was in fine spirits until about the last half-hour of the 400 mile drive, when he decided "enough is enough." Fortunately, we were able to settle him down right away. Grandma Debbie swooped Jack up and he immediately drenched her with smiles and coos. The boy is extremely social right now!

Yesterday, Grandma and Niki took Jack to the mall to get his picture taken with Santa while Jen and I enjoyed a nice date at the movies. As you can see in the photo, Jack didn't panic like other kids when he sat on the big guy's lap. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Floor exercises

For a while, Jack was fairly content laying there like 2nd base (my dad's expression) and making some grunting and groaning sounds. Things changed since Thanksgiving, however, and our boy has decided he wants to get his groove on and make small-talk.

Jack's got a big ol' head. I call him Charlie Brown from time to time (such a blockhead). Naturally, we assume he's a genius. But while he's a baby, he's got a fair amount of weight at the top of his little body. Lifting himself up is more work for him than the average baby. Despite early protestations, Jack has gotten plenty of "tummy time" and we're starting to see the results.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Big Sleep

Pop quiz: When you hear the phrase, "The Big Sleep," what is the most appropriate reference?
  1. A 1939 murder-mystery novel by Raymond Chandler
  2. The 1946 film adaptation featuring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
  3. The 1978 re-make with Robert Mitchum and Joan Collins
  4. The first full night of sleep Michael and Jen have had in the 168 days since Jack was born (but who's counting?)
There are innumerable books on the topic of how to help your baby acquire better sleeping habits. The methods out there vary dramatically-- from "Let your baby cry for 12 hours" to "Keep your baby in bed with you until he's 5 years old." Jen has been exploring this literature with her trademark research analyst's approach and established a very sensible routine. Starting at 7 o'clock, the "wind-down" occurs with a bath (or just a warm soak-- we don't want to dry his skin out with too much soap) and then a night-time bottle. Right around 8 o'clock, Jack is in his crib, down for the count.

The routine has been going great and we feel like the kid really knows "bedtime," but stretching through the night has been his big challenge. Some babies (especially, we have learned, cesarean, breech, reflux...) have more trouble getting through the night than the average baby. Jack habitually woke up between 1-3 in the morning, often for extended periods. Not fun for mom and dad, especially after 5 1/2 months.

The latest modification to our routine is what the books call a "dream feed." This is an additional bottle that you give the boy between 10-11 o'clock. Basically, you scoop him up while he is still asleep and put the bottle to his lips. With eyes closed (and maybe a little annoyed at the disturbance), he eventually starts eating his late-night snack-- without ever becoming fully awake.

After the dream feed, the little guy goes back down, "tanked up" for the night. Our first dream feed on Wednesday night got us to 3:30 (better than 1 AM, but still not great), but last night Jack slept all the way through from 8 PM until 6 AM. At six, Jen fed him and he slept for another hour and forty-five minutes after that.

We're obviously not going to get too optimistic about last night's result because it could be an isolated event. Nonetheless, it seems that no matter what approach you take, consistency is the key. Kids do better with routines than without. Hopefully our routine will help Jack establish solid sleep habits.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Just like everybody else, we're pretty busy this holiday season. I put up the outdoor decorations and lights, and over the weekend, we trimmed the Christmas tree. Hooray, it's Jack's first Christmas!

Last night, Jeff & Kathleen brought Ellie over for a holiday photo shoot and then dinner at our favorite local joint, Los Tios. The babies were extremely cute and very well-behaved, although Jack crashed early when we got home and then was wide awake for an hour in the middle of the night. His sleep habits have been improving steadily-- he typically goes down around 8 o'clock-- but we still haven't made it all the way through the night without interruption. When he does, I'll call it the Mircale on 34th Street.
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Monday, December 3, 2007

The future in-laws

Following our return from Thanksgiving in Ohio, we had the pleasure of catching Shannon & Steve in town with their twins, Wil and Fiona. Steve's mother lives in Bethesda, so we dropped in on Sunday before they headed back to Pennsylvania.

Previously, I gave "WiFi" a shout-out when they turned 1 earlier in November. Seeing them in action is really wild, especially now that they're both motoring around like big kids! Oh the adventures we will have with Jack...

Jack has a few girlfriends in the neighborhood. There's Ellie (Jeff & Kathleen's girl), Sonja (Danna & Sanjay-- our nannyshare neighbors) and #3 is on her way-- Kurt and Courtney are due on Valentine's Day. But Fiona is not "the girl next door."

What does the future hold in store for these little ones? Well, let's just say that the concept of an "arranged marriage" doesn't sound so absurd all of the sudden.