Wednesday, December 11, 2013

35 and 36 Weeks

Arlo is 36 weeks and 2 days old, and I need to get caught up around here. A lot has happened these last two weeks.
First and foremost, like I've said, my mother-in-law had a bad stroke on Thanksgiving, which has changed our lives immensely. She's still paralyzed on the left, but she's more or less "with it" mentally, which is a miracle in itself. The day after Thanksgiving, Danny and I hugged each other in the parking lot of the hospital, bawling hysterically because we were terrified she was wasn't going to live.
She'll be in a rehabilitation facility for at least a few more weeks, and we don't know where we'll proceed from there yet. It all depends on how much she improves. I should mention that she's an only child, Danny's dad died years ago, and Danny's an only child—so we're all she has. This means we probably won't be trying to make a baby brother or sister for Arlo any time soon.
How about a picture to break up a giant wall of text?
This whole nightmare has reminded us how lucky we are to have so many wonderful friends in our lives. My mother-in-law's neighbors cooked us the turkey she had in her fridge so it wouldn't go to waste. A dozen people dropped off dinner for us or watched Arlo while Danny and I went to the hospital or to work. I keep catching myself wondering what kind of terrible shit Danny and I must've done in our past lives to deserve catastrophe after catastrophe after catastrophe in this life, but our friends are proof that we must've done something so, so right, too.
Anyway, we hired a nanny, and she'll be starting this Friday. Arlo hasn't seen his Grammy in two weeks, and his little world has already been disturbed so much that Danny and I couldn't bear the thought of sending him to daycare yet. The nanny obviously costs more than daycare would have, but we'll feel better knowing he's in his own house, with his own toys and dog, receiving the one-on-one attention that he's used to. Eventually, we'll probably transition him to daycare, but we wanted to avoid too much change for him at once.       
Now, let's let some photos do the talking. My 30th birthday was five days after my mother-in-law's stroke, and our hearts were still heavy (they still are), but we did our best to celebrate.

Oh, that's what a person looks like after crying non-stop and not sleeping for 5 days.

We kept Arlo up to celebrate. He's was tired.

Arlo tried to eat my presents.
Let's see... Arlo had his first mini-cold, as well as his first boo-boo—courtesy of Scooter (but it was actually Danny's fault).
I kept trying to hide the boo-boo in pictures, but in retrospect, I wish I had a better photo of it. His left eye was a little bruised and scratched. (You can see it better in the candle-blowing photo above.)

He's still sprouting teeth like it's his job, and I don't even know what's going on in his mouth right now. I do know that he's always chewing on something, and he's already destroyed his crib rails.
Speaking of the crib, Danny and I are feeling confident enough that the reflux is gone that we ditched the bouncy seat, and Arlo is finally sleeping in his crib now, instead of in his bouncy seat in his crib. He wasn't too thrilled the first couple of nights, which made me wonder if his reflux was acting up, but his sleep is improving, so I guess he just didn't know what to do with all that space at first. Unfortunately, he enjoys sleeping flat on his face, which is unsettling, to say the least.
He's getting tired of crawling, so he's been "walking" with his hands and feet on the floor (you know, with his butt up in the air), and I can't even handle how hilarious it is. He's also mastered doing this to things:
Loves his Roomba.
He's become a pro at using his thumb and forefinger to guide food into his mouth, and he really loves that he can feed himself his own snacks. Danny and I love it, too, because it keeps him occupied while we eat. Needless to say, Scooter loves it, too—for other reasons. 

Lastly, we visited Santa, and my little elf couldn't have been more cooperative (which really wasn't a huge surprise).

Oh, and here's my favorite recent photo of Arlo:

Can't even tell you how much that smile does for me.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy Eight Months: A Letter to Arlo

Dear Arlo,

You're 8 months and 1 week old today, and you took off crawling just four days after I wrote you your last letter. We're not surprised you started crawling relatively early. You've always been so strong, so determined—even when you were in my belly. You love being able to get where you want to go, and already, crawling just isn't enough for you. Here and there, you'll take a few steps like a wobbly baby deer—hands and feet shuffling along on the floor, fat little butt up in the air—before eventually toppling over. It's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. You can pull yourself up onto things, too, and we had to lower your crib so you wouldn't flip out of it and break that pretty little head of yours.

You're starting to mimic actions and sounds, like if I show you how to do something, such as roll your toy truck across the floor, you'll be doing it yourself five seconds later; and if I say "aah" or "puh" or some other short "word," you'll occasionally say it back to me. My potty-mouth days are numbered, I'm afraid.

I don't even know how many teeth you have because you won't let me look at the top ones, but I think you have 9—six on the top and three on the bottom. We've been putting all those teeth to work by letting you try crunchier foods. You're able to use your thumb and forefinger to guide food into your mouth, and you clearly enjoy feeding yourself. Scooter loves that you've mastered this skill, too, and he sits next to your high chair while you eat, drooling like a maniac and waiting for you to drop something. You two are already partners in crime.

I know there was more I wanted to tell you this month, but Thanksgiving has eclipsed everything. Our whole world was turned upside down that morning, when your daddy walked into your grammy's house to discover she'd had a bad stroke. We were terrified that she wasn't going to be okay—that we were going to lose her, and you'd never get to hear, firsthand, that you mean the world to her—but 10 days have passed, and she's gotten a little better every day. She still completely paralyzed on her left side, and she has a lot of skills to relearn—but for the most part, her mind has come back to us. Only time will tell if she'll be able to hug you with both arms again, or walk, or eat solid food—but she's determined to improve. She tells us every day that you are her motivation. She wants to get better for you.

Grammy has a contagious infection, so you haven't been able to visit her in her rehab facility. She misses you terribly, and I swear you miss her, too. You've been unusually fussy and needy lately, and I know you're too young to know that anything major is going on, but I do think you're aware that your schedule has been changed. Of course you'd wonder why you aren't going to Grammy's house every day. It breaks my heart that she can't watch you while your daddy and I are at work anymore, but we hired a nanny yesterday, with the intent of keeping things as normal for you as possible for a while. She'll come to our house every day and give you her undivided, one-on-one attention. She's not Grammy, but I know she'll grow to adore you, too.

It's impossible not to fall in love with you, Arlo. The fact that you're so, so handsome is just the icing on the cake. Your personality is really starting to emerge, and you're smart, curious, strong-willed, and so happy. You might be the first baby in the history of the world to smile for your picture with Santa. It doesn't take much effort to get a laugh out of you, either. Earlier today, you were cracking up because one of the cats was wagging his tail. Once in a while, I can't even figure out why you're laughing, and I've decided that sometimes, you laugh just to laugh. You are inherently happy, and I can think of no better quality for a person to possess. You really are an inspiration.

We all love you so much,

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Grammy's Stroke

Thirty-two years ago, my mother-in-law didn't have enough money to take Baby Danny to have his pictures taken, so one of her neighbors brought over a sailor suit for him and hauled him to a department store to have his first and only professional baby photo taken.

Pardon the quality. It's a picture of a framed picture.

An 8x10 of this picture is still displayed in my mother-in-law's dining room, and it's her favorite picture in the world because it's a reminder that a little kindness goes a long way, and because, well, c'mon! Look at that cute kid and his crazy sailor suit!

When Arlo was born, my mother-in-law gave us the sailor suit--the original sailor suit that Danny wore in 1981 that she kept--and told us to try it on Arlo when he was around 8 months old or so. You can guess where this is going, so I'll just cut to the chase.

Behold! Arlo in his daddy's sailor suit! We couldn't wait to give my mother-in-law an 8x10 of her sweet boy in her other sweet boy's sailor suit. Little did we know that we'd be picking up her print and bringing it to her in a hospital bed.

My mother-in-law had a major stroke on Thanksgiving. She's still paralyzed on the left, but she's come a long way in a week. Five days ago, we were preparing to say our goodbyes, so the fact that she's able to hold a conversation now is a miracle in itself. We can't bring Arlo when we visit her because she has a bad infection--but her nightstand is filled with photos of her "big boy" because she says his smile makes her feel better.

I hate seeing that crazy, ambitious woman confined to a hospital bed, and it rips my heart out that she'll never be the same again. She certainly won't be taking care of Arlo anymore, but with a lot of luck and a lot of drive, maybe she can be close to who she was before the stroke took so much away from her. She said that one of Arlo's hugs is worth a thousand hours of physical therapy, so thank God we have him to keep her determined. He really is a miracle, that kid.

Monday, November 25, 2013

34 Weeks

Arlo is 34 weeks old today. Some weeks, there are so many great photos on my phone that I can't decide which ones to share with you. Then, there are weeks like this one, where I have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with these:

Gnawing on a roll.
Gnawing on some keys.
Gnawing on a gift from a friend. (I caught a glimse of what Christmas is going to be like—Arlo eating wrapping paper and Scooter shitting himself, trying to figure out what's in the package.)
Arlo's still spoiling us on the teething front. Two more top ones popped through over the weekend, putting him at six total—and he's still himself. No crazy horror stories to report. He has been waking up during the night, though, and we don't know if it's because of the teeth or a growth spurt or what. Either way, he hasn't been giving us his typical 11 1/2 solid hours.
A few mornings ago, he woke me up too early, so I brought him into bed with me for some snuggles. I ended up being late for work because I absolutely couldn't tear myself away from this face:  

And I know you can't blame me.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

33 Weeks

Arlo is 33 weeks and 2 days old, and he's looking more like a toddler every day.

He's in love with the maracas Danny found when he was cleaning the basement.

You wouldn't believe how well he's crawling now—and he can't quite do it alone yet, but he's been trying to use furniture to pull himself into a standing position. Where is my tiny baby??

That face gives me butterflies.

He also sprouted two top teeth about (okay, exactly) 4 days ago. Again, where is my tiny baby?? I tried to do a top-toof photo shoot, but nobody was cooperating. I did end up with these two gems, though:

No modestly.

Did you notice I cut Arlo's bangs? He looked so much cuter with them hanging in his face, but I know that had to be annoying as hell. Oh, and yes, they're as jacked up and crooked as they appear.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

32 Weeks

Arlo is 32 weeks and 1 day old, and he's a crawling machine. Life has become much more hectic (but exciting!) now that he's mobile. I love watching that fat little rump crawl around, but gone are the days of plunking Arlo on the living room floor while I load the dishwasher. If I do this now, he's gnawing on either a dog toy or a pile of cords before I've even left the room.  
Go, Arlo, go!

It was a pretty uneventful week, I suppose. It's officially cold outside (snow and the whole shebang), so we prefer to stay in. This gives us lots of opportunities to play dress-up. Here's Arlo as a skater boy:

I think you can see his 1/4 Filipino-ness shining through here.
I used to hate putting hats on him because they covered up his pretty hair, but I discovered that his hair is so long now that it pokes out all around the hat—so there's no mistaking him for a bald baby (not that there's anything wrong with that).
But he is so not bald.
Piles and piles of hair on that head.
We did venture out a few times, though—did a little shopping and went to a first birthday party. It seems Arlo is getting a little leery of strangers and doesn't automatically flash everybody his giant grins anymore. Instead, he takes a few minutes to warm up to people he doesn't know well. This certainly doesn't deter people from passing him around, though. I've said it before, and I'll probably say it a million more times, but I am so proud to be his mama.
I don't have a picture to represent this, but for the past couple of weeks, Arlo's been raising his arms above his head when he wants to be picked up. He'll be jumping in his jumperoo, and I'll walk by, and he'll throw his arms in the air—telling me he wants me to get him out of that thing and hold him. I've obviously known all along that he needs me, but now, he's able to communicate this sentiment, and it kills me every time. I am so crazy for this kid.

My boy.

And here's my favorite photo of the week:
He loves when Daddy plays guitar.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

31 Weeks

Arlo is 31 weeks and 2 days old, and while I feel like I have a lot to say about this past week, I'm going to keep this short because my computer is still jacked, and I can't even tell you how much I hate blogging on my Kindle.
Most importantly, as of yesterday, we officially have a little crawler on our hands. He's not ready to win any races, and he still randomly collapses here and there, but he can do it, and it might be the cutest thing in the world. He looks too tiny to be crawling around like that!

This is supposed to serve as documentation that Arlo's crawling, but all it really proves is that we need to vacuum.

Sunday, we went to Danny's work for a clam bake, and we took advantage of a couple photo ops. First, Danny put us in jail:

Behind bars with my mini-me.

Then, Arlo took the cruiser for a spin:
Not really. Duh.

And then, both my handsomes posed in the cruiser:

How would ya like to get pulled over by these two? Yes, please.
Halloween happened, too. The weather was total crap (Not "carp," Kindle! Leave me alone!), which was a huge bummer because I had all kinds of outdoor photo ideas planned that couldn't happen. We did brave the weather for 10 minutes and have our friend Frank come over for a super-fast photo shoot. I shouldn't even have to tell you that my fox didn't cooperate. He only smiles for cell phone photos. Here's the best we could do, considering the wind and rain and the grumpy boy (pretend they're all centered):

He was in a much better mood for our earlier cell phone photo shoot.

I also had about a thousand photos of Arlo and Scooter to share with you, but I'm one weird formatting issue or autocorrect away from slamming my Kindle against the wall, so maybe I'll share those this weekend. I also want to show you a video of Arlo riding the Roomba, but for now, here he is in a crate:

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Happy Seven Months: A Letter to Arlo

Dear Arlo,

You're seven months old today, and while you haven't quite figured out the crawling thing, you're always on the go. You roll, scoot, and army crawl all over the place now—and if you see something across the room that you want, you will get it. You may not take the easiest or most direct route, but you always make it to your destination eventually. I have never seen you throw in the towel, and I'm so proud of your determination.

When you aren't playing on the living room floor, you're jumping around in your jumperoo. You're such a hilarious maniac in that thing! Sometimes, you jump with such intensity that I swear you're going to go airborne. Usually, a grin is plastered on your face, but once in awhile, you're clearly on some kind of serious jumping mission, and you stare straight ahead, stone faced, and jump like nobody's business—usually hooting and hollering up a storm.

You love the sound of your own voice, and I can't really blame you. I love it, too. A couple days ago, while you shouted at the top of your lungs, I thought of the first tiny coos you made all those months ago. I remembered your daddy and me recording your sweet little "oohs," actual tears streaming down our faces—because we'd never heard a sweeter sound. Your voice was so soft then that if we'd been in another room, we wouldn't have been able to hear it. That certainly isn't the case now. You were so loud a couple weeks ago that your daddy had to go to Grammy's house to sleep before he went to work because your babbles were bouncing off every wall in the house. I smile every time I think of this.

Your daddy forgot to mention it in last month's letter, but you sprouted a bottom tooth a couple days before you turned 6 months old. There was never a change in your mood, so we didn't even realize you were teething. About 10 days later, your second front bottom tooth came in, and your ultra-rosy cheeks were the only indication that anything was going on in there. I hope you remain this unfazed by the teething process, even when your bigger teeth start to come in. I'm in no rush for that, by the way. You look adorable sporting just those two bottom teeth.

We had a nice month. October was always my favorite, but in recent years, it's become so riddled with sad milestones and memories that I've come to dread it. You breathed a breath of fresh air back into it, though. We went to a local farm to pet goats and pick out a pumpkin—and you found the pumpkins much more entertaining than the animals. We dressed you up as a fox and celebrated your first Halloween. You and I cozied up under a blanket in the evenings after your daddy went to work, staring at each other's faces and keeping each other warm. During the first half of the month, before the temperatures dropped so low, I bundled you up and took you for walks. I intentionally rolled your stroller over piles of leaves because you liked the sound of them crunching beneath us. Or maybe I did it because I liked the sound. Either way, you gave me back my October.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

30 Weeks

Arlo hit 30 weeks yesterday, and I apparently didn't take many photos this week—most likely because he usually looks like this:

Everything is delicious. 

If he's awake, there's a good chance he's shoving something into his mouth. My finest moment this week was leaving him unattended so I could pee, and returning to the living room to find him rolling around in a corner, gnawing on a cord. He hadn't been alone long enough to do any damage, but good Lord! Step aside, mamas—the Mother of the Year Award is clearly mine.

In case that doesn't clinch the deal, I also allowed Danny to put a temporary police badge tattoo on our unsuspecting child's calf.

Love that little leg.

Anyway. No major developments this week. Arlo's still rocking back and forth on his hands and knees, and we've seen him do two legit crawl-steps (you know what I mean) on two separate occasions. 

We're loving letting him try different foods, and I broke down and bought him some baby cookies (that taste like a melty piece of cardboard) that he seems to enjoy. He somehow makes such a mess with them that, by the time he's finished, you'd swear he'd just devoured a rack of BBQ ribs, not an innocent-looking little cookie. 

Pre-mess. You don't wanna see the aftermath, believe me.

Oh, wait, here's one of him not stuffing something into his face:

But he totally ate that blanket 2 seconds after I took this photo.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

29 Weeks

Arlo is 29 weeks and 2 days old, and at his 6-month appointment 8 days ago, he was 19 pounds (68th percentile) and just shy of 27" long (52nd percentile). His head circumference has reached the 93rd percentile, which might be concerning if Danny's head weren't also quite a bit larger than average. 

At the doctor's office, all noggin.

I've been a naughty mama, and I've been sneaking Arlo hunks of fruits and vegetables here and there. We definitely didn't mention this to his old-school doctor last week. He doesn't actually take any bites (okay, he did with the banana), but he loves gnawing on them, and it's fun to watch him genuinely enjoy the flavors. So far, the crazy plum-apricot hybrid that we got from a produce stand has been his favorite—and we'll probably never be able to find it again. Go figure. I almost cried happy tears while I watched him chew on that thing, smiling and smacking his lips. 
Loving his plumricot.
There are a whole bunch of crazy rogue people like me who feed their babes "real" food. My sister did it with my niece, and that awesome girl will eat anything now. The practice is called baby-led weaning, and the theory is that this technique encourages babies to explore different tastes and textures—and to get used to chewing before swallowing. Pureed baby food teaches babies that they don't have to chew food, which, when you really think about it, does seem a little strange. Don't get me wrong, though—we still love baby food around our house, and we only offer chunks of food once in a while (and we're smart about it. I'm not handing him bowls of grapes or anything). Can we add this to that big list I've mentioned before? The one I'm keeping in my head of all the things I swore I'd never do?  
Tooth update: I've heard nightmares about teething—and I know the bottom front ones are the least painful to cut through—but if it weren't for his ultra-rosy cheeks, we'd never even know when this kid's working on a tooth. He's such a trouper, and I hope my story doesn't change when the bigger teeth start to come in.

Look at those cheeks!
And look at those teeth!

Arlo spends half of his life rolling around on the living room floor, surrounded by toys. He isn't crawling, but he does all kinds of wild maneuvers to get to a toy that's a few feet out of reach. I saw him rock back and forth on his hands and knees last night while he looked at a toy, and I could tell that he just knew he could make something happen if he moved just right—so I don't imagine it'll be much longer until he's mobile. Sorry in advance, cats.