Dear Connor: Month Nine

This was the month of being social with friends and family!

Connor and Grammy

Grammy came to visit in May, for the first time since you were just two weeks old. She showed up before Mommy got home from work, and Daddy said that you were excited to hear her voice — until you realized that she wasn’t me! Then you got confused and freaked out for a minute, but were plenty happy by the time Mommy got home.

We went out and had plenty of fun times — at the zoo, at the park, and at restaurants — but Mommy should really write more about that some other time, in detail, with lots of pictures.

Mommy and Connor at the Zoo

Jason and AaronMommy and Daddy took you up to Michigan to meet our friend Jason and his fiancee Colette. They live in New York City, but were visiting Jason’s family in Michigan over Memorial Day weekend, so we made sure to get together, since they hadn’t met you yet, and we hadn’t met Colette. We all had lunch at the Cracker Barrel, and had fun catching up about everything from babies to Japan trips to jobs to restaurants in NYC. It was a good time!

That same weekend, Mommy and Daddy went on their second-ever date night without Connor! You fell asleep for Missy at 8:00pm, which is really early, so she got to hang out and read books until Mommy and Daddy got home at 10:30pm. For the two hours you were awake, though, you loved hanging out with Missy as much as last time. And Mommy and Daddy enjoyed getting to go out for sushi and then watch The Avengers.

Mommy and Daddy also took you to your first Old West End Festival this month. Actually, Mommy and Daddy only really go to the garage sales, not the festival itself, so you got to go garage saleing for the first time, too. You got to meet our friend Traeonna, who hadn’t seen you since you’d been born, so that was fun for everyone. She’s a redhead, too, so Mommy asked her some stupid questions like, “Do you think he’ll stay a redhead?!” Since, you know, all redheaded people are experts in genetics. Mommy’s silly.

You love being in your stroller and seeing the world around you… but, as usual, you eventually fell asleep.

Connor asleep by the records Connor asleep while Daddy buys us water

After your stroller nap, we hung out on a bench outside the Art Museum, where you got to crawl and stand on grass for the first time. You always love being outside, but you especially loved being on the grass.

Connor outside the Art Museum

After dinner that evening, we all went to The Sheets’ house for a Baby S’mores Party! You and Daddy had gotten to have a Baby Taco Party with Mark and Harper at San Marco’s earlier this month, so we continued the baby party theme. All the babies and all the grown-ups (and even the doggie) had a good time!

Baby S'mores Party!

Other stuff that happened this month…

Mommy had her first Mother’s Day! You and Daddy got Mommy a gift certificate to a local spa. Mommy’s planning to get her nails done and her feet all sparkly soon.

We’re introducing you to new foods slowly but surely. Tilapia and sweet potatoes, plus some organic pre-packaged foods like cherry/apple and broccoli/apple purees. You seem to like them, for the most part.

Still no teeth, and you’re still not crawling yet. You love to stand up while holding on to Mommy or Daddy’s fingers, though, and you roll around like crazy, and you rock back and forth on all fours. The doctor says we shouldn’t worry about the crawling unless you haven’t started moving around on your own somehow by 10½ months, and that we shouldn’t worry about the lack of teeth until you’re a year and a half old. So, plenty of time for both. No worries!

Your favorite toy right now seems to be the Totoro rattle that Erika got you for your baby shower. Mommy and Daddy like to give it to you while we’re changing your diaper, since another of your favorite things is to roll over while you’re on the changing table, so we need to distract you from doing that.

You love to meet new people, and everyone always comments about how happy and talkative you are. You’re not saying any real words yet, but you love to babble and smile and giggle. We have the feeling you’re going to be quite the talker once you have some words…

You’re such a cutie, and we love you so much, little dude.

Connor Closeup

Breastfeeding Is Hard

When I was reading up on breastfeeding before Connor was born, the general gist I got was that breastfeeding is hard. Or it can be. Sure, it seems like it should be straightforward — whip out boob, baby eats — but there are so many things that can go wrong. I knew moms who had trouble breastfeeding, but I also I knew moms who loved nursing and did it with barely any problems at all. I was convinced that, since it’s such a natural thing, I would take right to it. I wouldn’t have any latching or supply or dietary issues. It couldn’t possibly be that hard.

I was wrong. Breastfeeding is hard.

Mommy and Connor in recovery

(more…)

My First Mothers Day

I’ve had this tendency lately to let somewhat notable days pass by without blogging about them. Once upon a time, I would have blogged every mildly interesting day in painstaking detail; now, though, I find that I’d rather use my free time to read a magazine or watch TV than write. If I’m not careful, though, these days will slip by undocumented, and when I look back on these early months and years of motherhood, the details will be vague and fuzzy.

So, my first Mothers Day:

Connor was a sweetie and let me sleep in until almost 7:00am. Usually, he’ll get me up around 6:30, but sometimes as early as 5:30. This morning, he woke up happy — actually a pretty normal thing for Connor, but still a pleasant start to the day. (Sometimes he wakes up upset, but not often.)

When I went into Connor’s room to fetch him from his crib, I found that he (and his Daddy) had gotten me a Mothers Day present!

Mother's Day Gift Certificate

This was actually pretty amusing to me because we’d just driven past this place yesterday evening, on our way to dinner, and had been making jokes about how we should have gone to the Beauty Bar when we were looking for someplace to have a drink after our last date night. Because, you know, it’s gotta be pretty in that bar.

Anyway.

Connor and I had some breakfast, and we hung out for a while before I put him down for his morning nap (sort of an extension of his night’s sleep, but in his swing). I read some of the latest Runner’s World magazine — a treat, since I am WAY backed out on my magazine reading — then indulged myself in a relatively lengthy shower, during which I shaved my legs and scrubbed my feet. Yes, that’s an indulgence; usually I rush through a hair-washing and pit-shaving and call it good enough.

Connor still hadn’t woken up yet after my shower, so I read some more of my Runner’s World until he decided he was done with his nap. Pretty standard Sunday morning stuff after that: gave Connor his morning snack, played for a while, then went upstairs to get Daddy out of bed. I got dressed while Aaron was in the shower: slightly gussied up in my new maxi halter and Skechers sandals from Zulily and my black cardigan (which is actually a maternity piece, but you can’t tell).

Me in my halter maxi dress with cardigan and sandals

(Incidentally, I LOVE this dress. It fits and drapes perfectly, is super comfortable, and is made of a nice light and stretchy material that’s perfect for a spring or summer day. I might hunt down another few dresses like this one.)

Aaron had said that I could pick the restaurant for lunch — and, if I chose our normal dim sum lunch, I could pick the items we got. So, I got a little fancy with the dim sum and ordered some stuff we don’t get all the time: baked pork buns, sticky rice wraps; nothing too “out there,” like tripe or chicken feet, but things we usually reserve as “sometimes foods.”

The restaurant was packed when we got there around 1pm, so the New Empire Connor Schnuth Fan Club (i.e. all the servers) didn’t get to stop by and say hello as often as they usually do. That was actually a bit of a treat in itself, I’m a little ashamed to admit. Sometimes, we’re just not in the mood to have our child fawned over. Sometimes, we just want to eat our lunch. I love that they love his cute little self, don’t get me wrong, but we’re not always keen on the attention. So, the busy-ness of the restaurant was a nice change of pace. Our food came out plenty quick, too, which was also nice.

After lunch came our standard Sunday Starbucks run. Nothing special there, but it’s always nice to have a little time to chill and feel like normal adults. Our Starbucks trips are like a tie back to our pre-Connor days to me, and a reminder that not everything has to change now that we’re parents. We’re still us, just like we were before, and just like we will continue to be. We still like the things we’ve always liked, including chilling out at Starbucks.

Connor playing with a Starbucks paper bag

At least, until Connor gets tired and hungry and cranky and bored. Then it’s time to go home. Such was it today.

The rest of the day was normal Sunday responsible-type stuff. Aaron dusted and vacuumed, and I sorted laundry and wrangled Connor. Then we sat down and got the grocery list together while I fed Connor. Then Connor fell asleep in time for Aaron to go to the store and for me to do laundry and do some blogging (i.e. start this entry).

The remainder of the evening involved us eating a dinner of falafel lettuce wraps and fruit salad while watching the episode of No Reservations I’d taped (yes, taped, as in VCR) from last Monday. Like I said, typical Sunday night.

As I finish writing this, Aaron is upstairs in the living room, rocking Connor to sleep. All in all, it’s been a good Mothers Day, and a pleasant Sunday, and I’m happy.

Dear Connor: Month Eight

It’s been a month of firsts — but, then, at your age, every month is a month of firsts, I guess!

Connor napping in the strollerYou took your first shopping trip at the mall! Fake Aunt Sheryl was pretty much Mommy’s personal shopper for an afternoon. All three of us hit up several stores at one of the local outdoor malls. You were pretty chill for most of it, until you got bored and hungry. After we fed you, though, you took a short nap in your stroller while Sheryl and Mommy hung out at Starbucks.

You got to meet your Auntie Amy for the first time! Amy hadn’t come to visit since your baby shower (one week before you were born), so it was super fun to introduce you. She’s used to being a baby roadie for her friends with babies, so it was fun to go out to lunch with both you and with her, and have her playing the part I usually play when you and Daddy and I go out.

You took your first ride in a shopping cart! Mommy and Daddy and Auntie Amy went shopping at Big Lots while Amy was visiting, and you got to ride in the cart, since you’re getting to be a big boy. You loved it, mostly, but you did get bored for a while, so Mommy carried you on her hip. You loved looking around the store, though, and not being stuck in your carseat. You also are a big fan of the wind and the outside in general, so you enjoyed the cart ride to and from the store.

You also spent your first evening with a babysitter! Mommy and Daddy spent a long time figuring out who to watch you, and we weren’t sure who would be the best choice. We had several options in mind, but then Uncle Mark said that his sister Missy would love to watch you. Perfect! The two of you got to meet each other a few days before Mommy and Daddy went out, and you got along smashingly. When that Saturday evening finally came and Mommy and Daddy went out for grown-up time to celebrate Mommy’s 36th birthday, you and Missy had a great time. Mommy and Daddy thought for sure that you’d be tired and cranky and upset when we got home, but you were sitting in the chair with Missy, reading a book, looking a little tired but not cranky yet. You seemed surprised to see us! Mommy and Daddy are hoping to go out once a month, so you’ll get to see Missy again.

You ate in your high chair for the first time! Mommy bought you a Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chair that straps into a dining room chair. It works out really well in our small dining room, and you seem to like it. You like smacking your hands on the tray, and it’s easier to get you to eat when you can’t see the TV (yes, Mommy has the news on while she’s feeding you).

You have quite a few new tricks, too: you’re rolling around like crazy, for one. Even though you’ve only tried the military-style belly crawl once, you’re plenty mobile. We really can’t leave you alone on the floor like we used to — you might end up with your head stuck sideways under the couch!

You’ve also started copying Mommy and Daddy when we stick out our tongue at you or make raspberry noises or cluck our tongue. Just the other day, you figured how to clap your hands, and now you love to copy us when we do that, too. That’s an improvement on you smacking your one hand onto your head!

Your clear plastic beach ball is one of your favorite things to play with, since it’s just the right size for you to hold with both hands, and you can wiggle it around to move the little yellow ball inside. You’re also a big fan of your bunny head and your catbus — the catbus lives in the diaper bag to keep you occupied while we’re out to eat or chilling at Starbucks.

You’re becoming a little 19.2-pound person with a personality and likes and dislikes.

It’s kind of cool.

Rolling on the Floor

Dear Connor: Month Seven

Every day, it seems, my little baby boy gets bigger. Learns something new. Outgrows something else from his babyhood, whether it’s the shirt he wore to Thanksgiving or something as basic as breastfeeding.

Mommy’s milk supply had been dropping for a while, ever since we had to start supplementing with formula at four months, but the final straw coincided with a week of training in Ann Arbor. Mommy wasn’t able to take her proper morning and afternoon pump breaks for four days straight, and things were never the same after that. Mommy used to pump about three ounces every time; this month, it dropped down to just one ounce, and then even less.

The final partial bottle of pumped milk in the fridgeA couple of weeks ago, you started crying for a bottle after nursing in the mornings before Mommy went to work, and that (combined with the half-ounce pumping sessions) was when Mommy knew it was time to finish weaning you from the breast. You weaned yourself, really — if nothing comes out, you’re not going to stick around just for the comfort-suck. You want food, and if Mommy’s boob won’t provide it, you know the bottle will.

Mommy had planned to pump in the evenings before bed, to get you a full four-ounce bottle to eat one last time, but I think we’re done. Maybe you can eat the last couple of ounces as a snack, or mixed in with some solid food. The nursing bras are already in a bag to be donated to Goodwill, and there’s something wrong with the AC adapter on the breast pump, anyway. It’s just so sad to bid this part of our relationship goodbye.

Got my boy to eat his peas! Parenting win!But as one phase ends, another begins: you’re getting used to eating purees and mushy foods for dinner. Sometimes Mommy is lazy and doesn’t feed you your solid dinner, but she’s getting better with it. And so are you! You’re learning how to eat the food off of the spoon without Mommy having to cajole you into opening your mouth, then pretty much wiping the food off onto your palate. No, now you open your mouth like a little baby bird, and sometimes you even close your mouth a little too soon, because you’re so excited to get the food in.

This month, you’ve tried green beans, peas, bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocado. You’re never a fan of the veggies right off the bat, but everything is good when it’s mixed with just a little fruit. Mommy’s still making all your food herself, milling it with the food mill (or, with the banana and avocado, mooshing it with a fork).

In Daddy's La-Z-BoyWe’ve got some acorn and butternut squash hanging out at home, so you might get to try those soon. And chicken! Mommy and Daddy rarely cook meat at home anymore, so we bought some frozen chicken tenders especially for you, although you’re supposed to try a few more fruits and vegetables before we introduce meat.

Between the formula and the solid foods, you’re gaining plenty of weight. At seven months, you weigh 18 pounds even! You’re wearing sleepers in size 9 months, and are quickly outgrowing all your six-month clothes. We’re pulling out all the clothes we’ve been saving for when you get bigger, just to be sure we don’t miss out on the narrow window when you can wear them.

Mommy and Daddy bought you a Jumperoo, and you love it. It’s nice to let you occupy yourself for a few minutes — sometimes for up to an hour! — so we can get some grown-up things done, like cleaning the house. Now, when Mommy stands you up on her lap, you like to jump instead of just standing there.

Jumperoo!

You’re also much more likely to just chill out in your Pack-N-Play for more than five minutes before you get fussy. Now that you can grab stuff that’s around you, and now that you can roll around a bit, you can keep yourself busy for a good fifteen or twenty minutes in the playpen if we need to leave you there.

Having Tummy Time

You’re getting to be a mobile little guy! You roll from your back to your tummy every time we put you on the floor (or in your crib), and you’ve only just figured out how to roll from your tummy onto your back. You used to be super upset about waking up on your belly in the middle of the night, but you don’t seem to mind as much now. In fact, Mommy finds you sleeping on your tummy most of the time now — either that, or on your left side, facing your crib mirror.

Your bedtime routine looks a little something like this:

Side Sleeper5:45pm – Daddy leaves for work. Mommy feeds Mei Kitty.
6:00pm – Mommy puts you on the floor and makes herself dinner during the local news.
6:30pm – Mommy puts you in your Bumbo on the floor and feeds you dinner during the national news.
7:00pm – Chill/play time. Jumperoo or floor time.
7:30pm – Mommy will read you a book and give you one last bottle.
8:00pm – Time to rock Connor until he falls asleep. Sometimes Mommy watches a TV show while she rocks you.
9:00pm – Time to put Connor into his crib for the night.

We still don’t bathe you very often — about once a week, usually on Fridays — but when we do, you’ve been tolerating it a lot better than you used to. You’re usually pretty keen on it until the water starts to get chilly, and then you get upset.

Sometimes you’ll wake up in the middle of the night, especially when Daddy comes home early from work. Mommy needs to make sure you’re fed and changed before she leaves for work in the morning, or you’ll wake Daddy bright and early as soon as Mommy shuts the door behind her. As long as you take a nice, long morning nap, Daddy doesn’t mind too much. If you don’t, though, Daddy goes crazy from sleep deprivation, and that’s not good for anybody. Especially Daddy.

You’ve discovered your feet: they’re fun to grab and fun to gnaw on. In fact, you have a tendency to lean all the way forward and grab them when we’re trying to get you to sit up on your own.

Just in the past week or so, you’ve started mimicking Mommy and Daddy’s noises, which is super cute. One of us will cluck our tongue at you, or blow a raspberry, and you’ll try to do it back. You can usually do it pretty well. If we make a letter noise, though, like da-da-da or ba-ba-ba, you stare at our mouth. Sometimes you’ll try to make the sound back at us, but usually you just laugh at the funny sound.

Sadly, you got to go to your second funeral this month. Your Great-Aunt Elaine passed away after several years with dementia. She hadn’t been well enough to come to holidays in Cleveland for some time, and you never got to meet her. I guess the positive side is that you got to be the happy, smiling baby at the funeral, which always helps people to remember that life goes on.

Aunt Dee with ConnorCousin Nate with ConnorConnor asleep on the way home

As always, there’s so much more I could tell you about this month: you laugh when I sing and sign the ABCs to you, and you love being outside in the sunshine and the breeze, and you’re getting better about going to sleep at night, and you still have a big gummy toothless grin.

You’re growing so fast, and learning so much, that I’m afraid all this will slip by before I know it.

Closeup

Dear Connor: Month Six

Dear Connor,

Happy half-birthday! You’re getting so big and developing into your own person; sometimes it’s hard to believe that you’re the same little squigglebug we brought home from the hospital in the fall.

You’re big enough now that you can wear most of the clothes that have been too big for you until recently: Boba Fett from Uncle Phil, Green Lantern and Star Trek from Fake Aunt Sheryl, plus all kinds of other stuff that Mommy and Daddy picked up at sales and clearances before you were born. Your waist is still super skinny, though, so even though you’re in 6-month onesies, you’re still rocking 3-month pants.

(more…)

Dear Connor: Month Five

First, Connor, I want to address something I mentioned in your last update: Mommy and Daddy decided that we’re not moving to Swanton, after all. So, the downside is that you won’t get to live in Uncle Matt’s old room, or Daddy’s childhood home. The upside is that you’ll get to live much closer to interesting restaurants and things to do, and not live way out in the country. Mommy and Daddy are much happier when we have places to go and things to do, and we think you will be, too.

By the time you can read this, we will have moved to another house, anyway — one in a better school district, and with stuff that our current house doesn’t have, like central air and a dishwasher, and your very first home will exist to you only in stories and pictures (and drive-bys, if you really want to see the old neighborhood).

But back to focusing on the present! This time is flying by so fast, I don’t want to even think about wishing it away.

You still don’t seem to have any teeth coming in yet, but you certainly have most of the symptoms: drooling, chewing on your hand(s), tugging on your ear, and being occasionally fussy.

 

Mommy tried feeding you rice cereal a couple of times this past month, but you don’t seem to be interested yet. Maybe February will be the month that you decide that you’d like to try something outside your liquid diet.

 

About that… Mommy hasn’t been pumping often enough to keep up with how hungry little Connor has been, so we’ve had to start supplementing your breastmilk diet with formula. You don’t seem to mind. Sometimes Mommy feels guilty for not trying harder to keep up with your demand, but usually I realize that I’m doing the best I can. I can’t take another pump break at work without my productivity taking an even bigger hit than it already has, and you drain me so much at normal feedings that I can’t usually pump more than an ounce total after you’ve eaten from both sides. The doctor says you’ll continue to get the benefits of breastmilk, though, even if we’re supplementing, so that’s a good thing.

Mommy and Daddy bought you a used Bumbo seat from Once Upon A Child, then got a seat cover for it from Amazon. You hang out in it sometimes, and Mommy puts you in it when she tries to feed you cereal, since we don’t have a high chair for you yet. You like your Bumbo well enough for a little while, but we can’t keep you in it for long, or you get fussy. That’s true of just about anything, though: your floor gym, your Pack-N-Play…

Jealous Kitty

As you can tell from the picture, Mei Kitty is extremely jealous of all the attention you get from Mommy and Daddy. If Mommy is feeding you, Mei will go try to get Daddy to pet her. If Daddy’s home alone feeding you, she’ll rub up against his legs. We try to pay her as much attention as we can whenever we can, but we feel a little guilty for neglecting her sometimes. She’s used to being an only kitty.

You’ve had a few firsts this month, besides your first taste of rice cereal. You’ve also had your first bath where you didn’t cry! Grammy said to try putting a towel in the bathtub, so your back wouldn’t be up against the funny-feeling plastic. You loved it!

You also had your first piggyback ride and slept for your first night unswaddled:

 

Your biggest first, though — and it would technically go in next month’s post, if this one weren’t a couple of days late — is that you rolled over from your back to your tummy last night! While you were swaddled, no less:

You’ve been trying to make this happen all week now. Maybe now that you’ve done it once, you’ll be able to do it again without the swaddle to help you figure out what to do with that bottom arm…

You’re such a sweetie. Mommy and Daddy love you so much.

Smile!

Dear Connor: Month Four

Dear Connor,

This month’s update is a little late because Mommy has had to deal with some other things. Your Fake Aunt Sheryl came over to visit today, though, and she’s watching you as a gift to Mommy, so Mommy can write this note to you.

Your Grandpa — Daddy’s father — died right before Christmas, and that’s been hard. We’ve been very sad about it, but we’ve also been taking care of his funeral and what to do with his belongings.

Right now, it looks like we’ll all be moving out to Swanton eventually, into the house where Daddy grew up. The plan, if we do it, is to move you into Uncle Matt’s old bedroom. You’d have your own bathroom upstairs, too. The schools out there are much nicer than in Toledo, and the neighborhood is friendlier, even though there’s not as much to do.

But let’s talk about what you’re doing!

Connor and his Snugabunny

You’re so interactive now! You love to smile and giggle and babble, and you’ll “talk” with whoever will talk to you. All we have to do is smile at you, and you smile back and squeal. We’re really starting to see some personality in you: happy, mostly, and easy-going. You’re generally either calm or happy, and rarely fussy unless you’re hungry or overtired.

Connor likes to hold his hands together now

You hold your head up really steady now (although you still hate tummy time), and you like to sit upright on Mommy or Daddy’s lap and face out into the room so you can see what’s going on. You’ve discovered your hands, and you like to bring them together in front of you or gnaw on your fingers. That, along with your drooling, makes us think you’re getting ready to cut some teeth, but the doctor can’t see any coming in quite yet.

bathtime!

We don’t bathe you very often — every few weeks, although we should be bathing you at least every few days — but you seem to hate bath time a little less than you used to.

Mommy's little bear

You’re eating like crazy — Mommy’s breastmilk stash is finally gone, and Daddy had to start supplementing with formula today. You didn’t seem to mind, although you could definitely tell that it wasn’t what you were used to. The doctor says we can start feeding you rice cereal as soon as we want to try, then start giving you strained vegetables after that. Mommy’s looking forward to seeing what kinds of food you like!

Connor with Uncle Pete at Christmas

Mommy and Daddy hadn’t realized until Christmas that you definitely recognize our voices. It’s hard to tell when we’re the only voices around. Aunt Dee was holding you, though, and you turned your head when Mommy said something. It was kind of fun to see.

Sith in training

I hope this note doesn’t seem too rushed — Mommy just wants to be sure to get it written and posted, so it’s not much later than it already is. You’ve changed so much this month, I could write so much more about you and your cuteness.

It’s not a lie what I tell people: you do get cuter every day!

Before Connor's Four-Month Doctor Visit

Connor’s First Christmas

Connor's First Christmas

We almost didn’t go.

Our annual family celebration was moved from the usual Christmas Day to Christmas Eve, for various reasons, and we were all fine with that. For us, it only meant that we’d get to open presents at home on Christmas Day rather than Christmas Eve, and that perhaps we’d enjoy some Chinese for lunch, too.

Aaron had been making the plum pudding the day before Christmas Eve when he got the call that his father had died. It was stunning, shocking, totally unexpected, especially since Aaron had just talked to his Dad on the phone the day before. I hurried home from work early and watched Connor while Aaron and his brother dealt with the immediate issues out at their Dad’s house.

The next morning, Aaron managed to get some more administrative-type tasks done (like selecting a funeral home and providing the information for the death certificate) before we headed out to Cleveland. We considered staying home, but all we would have done would be to mourn and be angry and confused; better to do all those things around people who love us, rather than alone. So, we packed up the diaper bag and left, just a little later than we’d originally planned. (Aaron’s brother had thrown his back out a couple days prior, so he did stay home.)

Connor wore his Old Navy guayabera with his new jeans (he’s finally out of newborn pants!). It’s so rare that we take him somewhere that he’ll be out of his car seat and his outfit will be visible — when we do, when I know he’ll be passed around, I make sure to dress him up in his cutest outfit (that won’t fit him for long and should really be seen before we trade it in to the secondhand shop).

And passed around he was! Upon realizing that Connor’s Grandpa had never once held him, and that we didn’t have one photo of them together, I was adamant about photographing everyone as they held Connor.

Everyone loved holding Connor!

Dinner was pretty standard (but delicious) Christmas fare at the Bura household: chicken paprikash with spaetzles, a ham, roasted vegetables, and cheesy potatoes (which hadn’t been on the menu for years — everyone welcomed the triumphant return of Peggy’s potatoes).

My step-brother Philip was in the area, visiting from Oklahoma, so he made a special trip to Uncle Pete’s to see us and to meet Connor. It was great to see him, since we hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years. He managed to show up between dinner and dessert, so he got to try Aaron’s plum pudding, amongst other desserts. Phil didn’t stay long, but it was enough, and it was greatly appreciated.

Andrew loved his book!Aaron’s cousin Nate brought his two kids with him. His youngest, Andrew, is three years old, and it was fun for me to watch Aaron interact with him, especially during the gift-passing game that Aunt Dee organized (and that I so wanted to photograph or video, had I not been in the middle of playing along!). It was also fun to watch both Andrew and his sister Caitlin react to our presents for them; they genuinely liked their gifts, so score two points for Aaron and me! I had no idea that Andrew was into Cars, so the play-along Cars book with the toy tools was an even bigger hit than I’d thought it would be. And with the Muppets having a bit of a resurgence with their new movie, Caitlin was super excited to get a copy of The Great Muppet Caper to watch on her new laptop.

For everyone else, we gifted them framed photos of Connor at one day old. He doesn’t look anything like that anymore, but everyone loved getting a picture of Connor. We also got a lot of positive feedback on the Christmas cards we sent out, with Connor screaming his fool head off and the cat trying her hardest to escape.

Aaron had made sure to load up his iPhone with photos of Connor’s birth, so he could sit down with Dee and show them to her, since he he’d forgotten to load them up for Thanksgiving. It’s the modern equivalent of bringing the photo album, I suppose.

Connor nappingThe actual logistics of bringing Connor to Christmas at Uncle Pete’s wasn’t so bad. We didn’t bring any bottles this time, since our freezer stash is all but gone now, so I nursed Connor in one of the bedrooms three times during our visit. We also brought the bouncy seat, which was awesome for when he decided he wanted to take a nap right after Phil left and before we started the gift-passing game. We used up the last two newborn-size diapers we had stashed in the diaper bag, so he’s officially in Size Ones now. (They claim to go up to 14 pounds, but Connor is a seriously skinny dude, so we’ll probably rock these for quite a while.) Luckily, he didn’t need the extra outfit we brought, and Dee had set aside the burp cloth we accidentally left behind at Thanksgiving, so us forgetting one at Christmas was no big deal.

On Christmas Day proper, the three of us went out to New Empire for Christmas Day dim sum — and so did the entire Chinese population of Toledo. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a table, which is highly unusual on any normal day, but probably not so unusual for Christmas.

Presents!

After lunch, we came home and opened presents. Aaron got me a Nikon D90 DSLR (not a huge surprise, since he’d asked me what camera I wanted); an adapter to use my manual-focus Minolta lenses on my Nikon DSLRs; Civilization: the board game; and the Steve Jobs biography. The big gifts I got Aaron were an iCade (a miniature arcade cabinet for his iPad) and Absolute Sandman Volume 5, although I rounded things out with a couple of books and a couple of blu-rays. I got Connor some wrist rattles and a mini piano rattle that plays short snippets of classical music, and the Abtses got Connor a food mill for making baby food (so, it’s more of a present for us, but Connor will enjoy the results). Dee also got Connor a Baby’s First Christmas ornament, which I unboxed and put on the tree on Christmas Day.

Shortly after the present-opening, Aaron’s brother came over with their Dad’s important papers, including the will. The two of them sorted through all that, while I took Connor upstairs and fed him and got him down for a nap.

It’s so sad that the memories of Connor’s first Christmas are going to be forever associated with his Grandpa’s death. It’s hard to separate the happiness from the sorrow, and hard to reconcile one with the other. Eventually, it may become yet another sad footnote in our family history, but we’re just too close to it right now.

Dear Connor: Month Three

Dear Connor,

Smiley ConnorYou’ve grown and changed so much this month! You’re smiling more often — when we change your diaper, when we pinch your chubby little cheeks, and sometimes just because. You can hold your head steady most of the time, and you like Mommy to sit you on her lap and hold you up under your armpits so you can look around. Your little arms tend to make contact with whatever you’re trying to swat at (usually in your play gym), and you’ve discovered that your little fists are fun to gnaw and drool on.

Mommy went back to work earlier this month, so Daddy takes care of you during the day. You’ll usually wake Mommy up around 5:45am, then you’ll eat and go back to bed. Mommy pumps some breastmilk after that, and puts it in a bottle for the morning feeding with Daddy. Then she gets herself ready and goes to work. After that, you let Daddy sleep for another few hours, then he feeds you and puts you in your swing so you can both sleep a little longer — you in your swing, and him on the couch. During the day, you’ll hang out in your bouncy seat or your play gym, and you’ll take another nap in the afternoon before Mommy gets home from work.

After Daddy leaves for work, Mommy makes herself dinner if you’re still content in your swing. Then Mommy feeds you, and you’ll usually hang out in the bouncy seat for a while — if Mommy had to feed you first, this is when Mommy gets to eat. Connor and Mommy spend the evening chilling out and watching TV (a habit Mommy will have to break once you’re old enough to actually be watching the TV, and not just seeing its pretty light), until you get tired and cranky, usually around 8:30 or 9pm. Then Mommy swaddles you up and rocks or jiggles you to sleep. Mommy needs to come up with a better bedtime routine than all that, like a bath and a book, but sometimes Mommy is just too tired to wrangle little Connor beyond swaddling and shushing until he falls to sleep. Usually, you’re asleep in your crib around 10pm, and you tend to sleep through the night until you get Mommy up the next morning. Sometimes you get up around 3 or 4am, though, when Daddy’s home from work and about to go to bed, and that’s a little challenging for all of us now that Mommy has to go to work in the morning. Luckily, you don’t do that very often anymore.

Since Mommy’s gone back to work, Daddy has been feeding you bottles of Mommy’s milk. That’s made things a lot better for Mommy, since Daddy will give you a bottle late at night on the weekends if you’re still hungry after Mommy’s gone to bed. Mommy’s a little worried about having enough breastmilk stash in the freezer, though, and is going to start pumping more often on the weekends to make up for extra feedings while she’s at work or asleep.

Aunt Dee and Connor at ThanksgivingLast week was your first Thanksgiving, and your first trip out of Toledo. Mommy’s going to write about that at length soon, but the short version is that you were a Very Good Boy the whole time. Everybody loved you, and Aunt Dee especially liked holding you, just like Grammy did back when you were only a few weeks old. The bottle-feeding came in handy at Thanksgiving, too; Mommy nursed you when we first arrived, then Daddy (and Aunt Dee) fed you by bottle while we visited, so Mommy wouldn’t have to whisk you away to Cousin Joey’s room every couple of hours to feed. You’ll get to see everybody again soon, at Christmas, and Mommy’s looking forward to it.

Mommy and Daddy still take you out on weekends, although it’s usually only for lunch, Starbucks, and a few errands. We’re just not energetic or motivated enough to pack you up and take you out for dinner after having already done it once that day. We can keep you out a little longer now, though, since Mommy and Daddy got to try changing you and feeding you away from home with our Thanksgiving visit. Last weekend, Mommy changed you in the bathroom of a Thai restaurant, and nursed you in the car in a Starbucks parking lot. Slowly but surely, Mommy and Daddy are learning how to fit baby Connor into their normal lives — or discovering “the new normal,” anyway.

Mommy and Daddy love you, little guy.

Santa Connor