Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas with Family, and the Onslaught of Dirty Diapers

BJ, Shepherd, and I just returned from Christmas with the Gensics. We had a wonderful week passing Shepherd around and playing cards.

On Christmas Day, we went to my mother-in-law's mother's house and spent time with the other side of the family. I don't know what it was about Christmas day, but Shepherd dirtied more diapers in a day than I thought was possible. To make matters worse, the diapers weren't containing the poo very well, so he also went through three outfits. On our way back to the Gensics that night, he wet another diaper only minutes after we had hit the road. The minivan was packed, so his Nana had to change his diaper while he was in his car seat. It took a lot of maneuvering, but he got cleaned up. My favorite part of Christmas day was probably when he looked up at his Nana with a look that clearly said, "Are you seriously going to change my diaper like this?" See below.

My parents are having some pretty serious Shep-withdrawals, so yesterday I made them a video of Shepherd smiling and playing. I decided to post it here if for no other reason than to prove just how stupid a parent will act in the pursuit of a smile from a two-month old.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and just in case I don't post again before Saturday, Happy New Years!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twas the week before Christmas...

BJ, Shepherd, and I are currently gearing up for our first Christmas together. We will be leaving in about 3 hours to spend the week with BJ's family.

The house looks mostly the same as always as far as decorations go. The only difference is the third stocking. It is actually a pretty big difference.

Friday, Kayla and Darby came to see Shepherd on their way to a family Christmas in Arkansas (I am under no allusions; When people come to our house, it is to see Shepherd). It was so good to see them. As you can tell, Shepherd thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

I had to work three days this week for insurance purposes. By the end of the week, I was having pretty serious Shepherd withdrawals. So this is how I spent Saturday.

Monday night, we had our little just-the-three-of-us Christmas. Shepherd got his first Christmas present from us. It was Runaway Bunny by Margaret Brown Wise. I don't know what he thought about the book, but the crinkly sound the wrapping paper made was awesome!
We will be returning next Monday, so hopefully I'll have a blogpost going up detailing Shepherd's first Christmas. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Year of Shepherd

My good friend Kayla did a blogpost this week about the one word that she feels best encapsulates 2010 for her. This got me to thinking about how I would define 2010, and it didn't take me long to come to the conclusion that my word of the year is 'Shepherd.'

BJ and I started the year with fertility tests. After a year of disappointment, it seemed like something must be wrong. Sure enough, the test showed a few issues, but before we could get to the follow up appointments, we found ourselves gawking at a plus sign on Valentine's Day.

From there, it was eight months of anticipation. Of course, it included nausea, extreme fatigue, crazy swollen feet, and lots and lots of contractions (I was in labor for months!). But it also included celebrating with family and friends at showers, me and BJ getting our home ready, and washing and folding all the new baby clothes while trying to wrap my mind around the fact that a baby would actually fill them one day.

And then came the delivery. Every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. for the past 7 weeks, I've thought to myself, "This is when I was driving home from work and started really feeling contractions." Then at around 10:00, I think about how I went to bed hoping I could catch some sleep in between contractions. If I were awake at 3:00 in the morning, I'd think about how BJ and I got up and watched an episode of Battlestar Gallactica while timing contractions. After a few clocked in over 5 minutes apart, we decided it wasn't worth going to the hospital and went back to bed. On Friday mornings, I think about how we went to Taco John's for breakfast and then stopped by Walmart to buy BJ deoderant and Lowe's to get a light bulb. Mainly, I had wanted to keep walking around to help with the pain. At 10:30 on Friday mornings, I think about how I called a nurse to tell her everything I just put here, and she said in a shocked voice, "Sweety, you better come in. It's time." And then at 11:30, I mark the time I went to the hospital and the nurse there started laughing when she discovered I was already 7 centimeters. Oops, probably waited a bit long. But for the best moment of them all, I remember holding Shepherd for the first time at 1:12 in the afternoon. I know a week is going to come when I don't think about all of this, but right now I'm still living it over and over again.

The past 8 weeks have been without a doubt the happiest of my life. I love being at home and taking care of my son. I love dressing him in the mornings. I love breastfeeding. I love talking with him in coo sounds while working on art. I love playing the piano with him in my lap. I love our nightly pre-bed rituals that help him calm down. I love every bit of it.

Now the year is ending in holidays that are made all the more special by Shepherds presence. He's starting to smile at me. Sometimes when he looks at me and grins, I literally stop breathing for a moment. I actually have to think about re-starting the whole breathing process again. His smile is that amazing.

I am currently writing this blog post in a position that is extremely uncomfortable because Shepherd has fallen asleep on my chest/left arm. Despite the awkward-ness this lends to typing, I can honestly say I'm okay with the arrangement.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

BJ's Parenting Techniques: Part 2

Night time has become a battle of sorts since Shepherd's birth. We aren't in battle with Shepherd, but we are in battle with all the things that can keep Shepherd wide awake. There are lots of things that can do this. Our nights are getting better with each passing week, but this progress is only due to the techniques we learned in The Happiest Baby on the Block, a book I will recommend to all new parents for the rest of my life.

When following techniques laid out in books, I tend to do my own loose interpretations. Not BJ, though. He goes by the book. Exactly. So when the book said that swaddling babies ages 0-3 months old is the first step in calming them, keeping them calm, and helping them sleep, BJ learned how to do a serious swaddle. Unfortunately, our crafty son has a way of maneuvering his left arm out of any swaddle, waving it around like a flag of victory, and then scaring himself with it sufficiently to wake himself up and start crying. After about three weeks of this, BJ started the duck-tape swaddle.

First, you pull the left side over and firmly tuck it under.
Then you pull the portion from below the feet up and duck tape that sucker.
Next, you pull the right side to behind the back and put two -count it, two- pieces of duck tape.
Lastly, secure the feet of the swaddle with two fairly long pieces of duck tape. (Without this step, the feet always find their way out.)
In this tight and secure swaddle, Shepherd sleeps peacefully for hours. The problem-solving skills of a sleep-deprived father are impressive.

(As a note of interest, the bed has no sheets on it because Shepherd had peed on them earlier in the day. He pees on lots of things.)

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Back from Thanksgiving

We've been back from Thanksgiving for almost a week, but it has taken me a while to catch up enough to write. Our trip was wonderful, although we now know that a baby adds approximately five hours to a 14 hour trip. Good to know.

Before leaving for Texas, Shepherd had his first Sunday at church. He was the cutest thing ever in his Sunday outfit. According to some, he dresses better than his father. BJ recommended the church throw a shower for him if they want him to dress that nice.

After church, we tried to get a family portrait to document his first Sunday. Unfortunately, Shepherd likes picture time as much as his father. The only way we could get him to calm down was with a pacifier and the football hold. A little weird for a family portrait? Yes, but that's our son.

After a very, very, very long drive, we made it to Texas.

While in Texas, Shepherd got A LOT of cuddle time with everybody. It was a perfect week both for him and for everyone else.

After looking at old baby photos, we discovered that Shepherd is a perfect mixture of his dad and his Uncle Bro (he has his mouth and chin exactly).

Needless to say, it was a wonderful week. The drive down wasn't even so awful because we got to see Emerald, Eric, and Lily along the way. And now I know that Shepherd makes holidays even better. Of course, I had suspected that would be the case already.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Conversation with BJ

ME: So who's winning the game?
BJ: The Cowboys.
ME: Who are they playing?
BJ: New Orleans
ME: Are they as good as they were last year?
BJ: (blank stare) Think about who this is you are asking. This is the guy who left the game to come downstairs and watch "Punkin Chunkin."

*"Punkin Chunkin" is a show on Discovery channel about engineering different machines to throw pumpkins. It is exclusively for nerds.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One Month Old

Shepherd turned a month old yesterday. It has without a doubt been the craziest month of my life, and I mean that in the best possible way.

I've learned a lot this past month. I've learned the basic stuff, like how to change diapers and various burping techniques. I've also learned more abstract truths, like how little boys are special. For example, my son can pee in his own ear.

In the past month, I've posted a lot of pictures of Shepherd, but I've had a hard time getting a picture that fully captures his cuteness. He is seriously indescribably cute, and photos just can't capture how big his eyes are or how perfectly his mouth is shaped. Those eyes and those lips are going to break a thousand hearts. I already pity the girls who will meet him later in life, fall instantly in love, and then have their hearts broken because they can't live up to his mother (hehe).

On that note, happy one-month birthday, Shep. Your mommy loves you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

BJ's Parenting Techniques: Part 1

Anyone who know BJ knows that he is very methodical. For example, he raised Sienna and is now raising Zoe in such a way that unflinchingly abides by certain dog-training techniques. (I did not mention Gus here because he required no training. Although BJ loves Gus, he has been constantly baffled by the dog's total lack of dog-ness.) Anyways, BJ has unsurprisingly approached parenthood with the same matter-of-fact, abide-by-the-book methodology. If you are curious, my parenting technique is more of the blubberingly sentimental, all-heart, no-head variety you might expect of me.

So I've decided to post some of BJ's techniques that are getting his overly-emotional wife and cry-baby son (I'm allowed to call him a cry-baby since he is a baby who does in fact cry) through each day. First, we have the football hold.

When BJ gets home from work, I pass Shep off so that I can go frantically prepare dinner before I need to feed Shep again. If Shep gets fussy, BJ calmly takes him and puts him in the football hold. The football hold is a technique we learned in one of the baby books we read before Shep was born. Here's a close up.

You might call it BJ and Shep's first game of ball. Regardless, it buys me a good thirty minutes to get stuff done. Here's one more picture for cutness's sake:

Also notice how BJ can get stuff done on the computer while keeping our son calm and happy. Next up: BJ's Duct-tape Swaddling. You will not want to miss that one.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I love this little guy more than...

...swimming on hot summer evenings.

...eating candy corn in the fall.

...the number I saw on the scales before I got pregnant (but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that I'll see it again one of these days).

...cuddling up on the couch with a good book.

...all the free time I used to have (a distant memory after three weeks.)

...playing "Desperado" on the piano or painting watercolors.

...well, you probably get the point.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Getting Back in the Groove

When Shepherd was born two weeks ago, I decided to take a couple of weeks off from 'life' and just stare at my son. So that is what I've done for two weeks. However, it is time to start doing some of my normal activities again (like blogging and exercising and wearing clothes that aren't pajamas), so here I am again.

Before Shepherd's birth, I did several blog posts documenting my thoughts as my pregnancy wore down. After two weeks of motherhood, I thought I'd do one more post along those lines, so here it goes:

1. The term, "I love you so much it hurts," was coined by a new mom. I'm convinced of this.

2. Labor and delivery was actually sort of awesome. I mean, it hurt, but it was still pretty amazing. At the end of the day, a sense of accomplishment and reward totally outweighs any memory of pain.

3. My brother is a stellar uncle. When Bro came this past week to meet Shepherd, he had lots of homework he needed to do. Instead, he stared at Shepherd with me. He is currently in Texas having a panic attack about how far behind he is on school work.

4. I spend what seems like 70 percent of the day feeding my son. The doctor's exact words at his two week check-up: "Well, Shepherd gained a little more wieght than we had expected." I could of told them that. My son is a pig.

5. I can get more done in an hour than I ever dreamed possible. Shepherd fell asleep in his swing this morning for a little over an hour. I ran around frantically cleaning because I know what I'll be doing once he wakes up (see number 4).

6. Speaking of Shepherd falling asleep in his swing, this is the only reason I have time to do this post right now:

7. This is a picture of Shepherd in his Halloween onsie curtesy of Brittany. He was a precious in it yesterday. However, we thought it might be slightly more appropriate if it had said "I'm Batty for Boobies" (once again, see number 4).

8. BJ is the best father ever. He helps with baths and diapers and waking up at all hours of the night to (guess what) feed Shepherd.

9. And last but not least, see this picture:

See the two guys in this picture. (Warning: Cheesy moment approaching). I love these two guys so much it hurts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shepherd Joseph Gensic

Shepherd Joseph Gensic was born at 1:12 p.m. on October 15, 2010. He weighed 7 pounds on the dot and is 20 inches. And of course, that is 7 pounds and 20 inches of perfection.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I want him to know

That he was loved from the moment we knew he existed.

That that love will never change.

That we are trying to do our best by him, and we apologize beforehand for all the times we are sure to screw up.

That stories matter, and the story one chooses to live out of changes everything.

That our great calling is "to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before your God" (Micah 6:8)

That that calling is difficult.

That following Christ is worth it even when it seems like it might not be.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Two weeks to go (yikes!)

At six weeks left to go, I did a post on what thoughts had been running through my mind. With only two weeks left to go, here is an update.

1. My child will have the cutest bum on the block. Here are two pictures of the diapers BJ's mom (Nana) and I made this past weekend.

2. Grandma Farr would have loved those diapers.

3. I'm tired of being in labor. One of my pregnancy books described month nine as an entire month of labor, and in my experience, that is pretty accurate. I'll spare you any further detail.

4. Due to number 3, if this little boy pulls an Uncle Bro and comes two weeks late, he will be born grounded.

5. He's probably going to pull an Uncle Bro, isn't he?

6. The grandmothers are more anxious than BJ and I. When I see my mom calling, I now answer, "Hello. I'm not in labor. What's up with you?"

7. People who don't take advantage of all the free educational opportunities hospitals offer before giving birth are really missing out. In the past week, BJ and I finished our childbirth courses, I had an hour-long consultation with a lactation specialist, and we met with our pediatrician. I now know so much that I didn't know before. Of course, when you know nothing, you naturally have a lot to learn.

8. After the before-mentioned lactation consultation, I learned that babies spend a significant portion of each day eating. This means I will be spending a significant portion of each day being something akin to a soda fountain.

9. Gus's world is about to be turned upside down. He has started to sense that something is going on, so he is being really clingy. Since, as we all know, I am not even a little bit differentiated from this dog, my natural reaction is to be clingy in return. In other words, we're doing a lot of clinging here lately.

10. I'm going to sort of miss being pregnant. Don't be too shocked. I won't miss all the weird symptoms or the getting-fatter-by-the-day part. But I'll miss watching him move around and feeling him get the hiccups (which he does almost every night when I go to bed). I'll also miss our little games where I poke him to watch him move in response. He probably won't miss me poking him, though. I poke him a lot.

In conclusion and due to a request from one of my Fat Tuesday girls, here is a picture of the bump at 38 weeks. I am huge.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Childbirth Class, a.k.a. My Pathetic Attempt to Care for a Baby Doll

We had our final childbirth class Monday evening. This was the session where we were given life-size baby dolls and taught the basics of caring for an infant. Considering neither of us have ever even changed a diaper, this was a particularly enlightening evening.

In our class, BJ and I had an African-American little girl, so I immediately had to make the incredibly lame joke, "Do you have any questions for me, BJ?" Following the lame joke, we were taught how to change a diaper and change a onesie. It took me forever to change the diaper because I couldn't figure out exactly how high to place it on the baby dolls back, and I failed miserably at removing the onesie until BJ showed me how I was maneuvering around the arms completely wrong.

Next, we learned to swaddle. BJ did this part. His swaddle was absolute perfection. It was quickly executed, tight, neat looking, and all around wonderful. Of course, he's read up on swaddling and had slightly different opinions from the instructor on how to handle the arms, so he implemented his own technique. Regardless, it was the best swaddle in the class, and once again, I'm left very thankful to have such an efficient husband. It softens the edges on my stumbling attempt at life. (As a side note, how can I make it through college with a 4.0 and not be able to change a diaper on an inanimate object? I make no sense.)

Besides birth classes, we are also busy this week with a gospel meeting at church. Last night, one of the ladies at church came up to me to tell me something her 7-ish year old grandson had said. Apparently, I was walking across the parking lot to the church building when they arrived, and he said, "Grandma, BJ's girl has got something wrong with her belly." I don't know which is better: that I'm "BJ's girl" or that there is "something wrong" with my belly.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cuteness Abounds

Last weekend, I went out shopping for a coming home outfit. I spent hours going through baby clothes in several department stores. I think I could look at little boy clothes for days on end and not get tired of it. Finally, I settled on this one:

Now, I feel, is an opportune time to look at the different levels of cuteness displayed in this ensamble.

First, we have the teddy-bear ears on the hoody. Teddy-bear are by definition cute.

Then we have the little footsies that are bear faces. Footsies are cute, and bear faces are cute. This makes bear-faced footsies very, very cute.

Next, there is the little bear embroidered on the jacket. It is like a stamp of cuteness.

And lastly, we have the onesie. Onesies are the ultimate baby clothing, so therefore, they are the ultimate in cute. This particular onesie adds a whole new dimension off cuteness to the overall look by putting the bears with mooses. Mooses are cute.

I've already got our little guy's bag packed and ready to go with his coming-home outfit in place along with a hat knitted by his Nana and some swaddles.

With less than a month left in the pregnancy, I'm starting to get so excited I'm restless. When I'm too high strung to go to sleep, I pull out this outfit from the diaper bag and stare at it. It doesn't really help me wind down and sleep, but that isn't the point. The point is that in a few weeks I'm going to have a son, and I will bundle his cuteness into this cute outfit and bring him home, and that will be a truly happy occassion.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Randomness: Catching Up with an Old Friend, Nesting, and My Fat-ness

One of my closest friends from college, Kayla, came down to Farmington this past weekend for a baby shower the church threw me Sunday afternoon. We had a wonderful time catching up and, of course, eating. That's what Fat Tuesday girls do. We talk and eat.

The shower was lovely, and the baby is now basically fully equipped.

I've been working on his area in our room for the past few weeks. We finally got his bedding totally finished.

This is the gorgeous rocking chair my parents got us from the Amish village near our home.

Here is a close up of the bedding. Of course, Mom made the quilt, and I made the bumper pads from quilt scraps.

There is a lot more to the baby's area, but I'm going to save those pictures until I finish putting up everything from this past shower.

As a side note, I am now officially 8 months pregnant according to my baby book. Although I haven't really posted the traditional 'belly pictures' this whole pregnancy, I thought I would throw one up now that I'm nearing the finish line. Mainly, I decided to do this because I am now looking comically large and I thought everyone might enjoy a good laugh. BJ literally giggles every time he looks at me. For those of you who are thinking, "I just can't imagine BJ giggling," he now giggles. Just trust me.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

6 weeks to go

Throughout my elementary, junior high, and high school years, grades were always done in six week cycles. Considering my life basically revolved around my grades (I was, am, and ever shall be a nerd), I approached life in six-week segments. I guess that is why it seems like a big deal to me that I've reached the 6-weeks-to-go point of my pregnancy. There are a lot of thoughts circulating through my mind at this point, but here is a sampling, for better or worse:

-I'm going to worry a lot about this person for the rest of my life. If he has a slow morning with little movement, I start panicking and poking him until he wakes up and does some aerobics for me. If I worry this much now, what am I going to do when he goes to Kindergarten or his first field trip or summer camp or (oh, my soul) college!?!

-I couldn't possibly get any bigger. Surely not. It couldn't happen. Ever. Right?

-This is going to hurt. I mean, getting him from point A to point B is going to hurt. Big time. (I don't care what anyone says, this thought has to run through the mind of every pregnant woman at some point.)

-I'm tired of keeping his name a secret. I like his name and I dislike secrets. See how this is a problem?

-A mouse might send me into premature labor. No, really, it might. I saw a mouse in our kitchen (first one ever) Tuesday night. I had a massive panic attack and made BJ immediately run to the store and get a whole slew of mouse-killing products. In the mean time, I'm still panicking. Last night, I wash clothe fell off of the kitchen counter onto me foot. Immediately assuming it was a mouse, I royally freaked to the point that I actually had a contraction. Let me make this clear: A wash rag I confused for a mouse gave me a contraction.

-My ribs hurt. He ran out of room about three weeks ago, but he keeps growing.

-I love how joyful babies make people. I contacted a professor of mine from ACU this week to ask for a reference, and in his response email, he congratulated me on the baby and told me a little about the birth of his son. It was a sweet story that made me day. Related to this point, people keep grinning at my belly everywhere I go. I wish I had a hidden camera on me to capture all the goofy smiles I get.

-My brother is going to be an uncle. This could get interesting.

-I have to pee, again. You've got to be kidding me.

-The constant rib pain and bladder discomfort and shortness of breath is making it very had to censor myself. I keep saying what I'm thinking, which is never a good thing. Poor BJ. He had no idea how much I was holding back before.

-If I love this little boy this much now, what will it be like after he is born? I keep trying to picture it, but it is beyond me.

As more thoughts come, I'll try to keep you posted. Then, 18 years from now, I can show my son what I was thinking as I awaited his arrival. And he can say, "Wow, Mom, that must have been really humiliating for you."

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Great Baby-moon

(Disclaimer: If the photos and text are doing funky things with their alignment, please ignore. Blogger is being wierd about it. Or I'm being stupid. It is one of those things.)

BJ and I returned late Sunday evening from our "baby-moon" in Chicago. We had a truly wonderful time.

We dropped our dogs off at BJ's parents' home in Alton the previous Sunday evening and left early Monday morning on the Amtrak for Union Station. I am now a big fan a train travel. Basically, you get to sit back, relax, and read while someone else does the driving. As you can tell from the photo on the left, BJ has now corrupted me to such a point that I am actually reading his uber-nerdy fantasy books.

We stayed at the Whitehall Hotel. It is actually considered a historical landmark in Chicago. It is only a half of a block from Michigan Avenue and only two blocks from the Water Tower (and, more importantly, the Ghiradelli Store - yum!) Since it is a very old hotel, the rooms were really quiant. Being a lover of all things old, I adored it.
Monday afternoon, we went to Shedd Aquarium, which was really fun to go through. Then, we took a water taxi across the lake to Navy Pier for dinner. After an entire month of sweltering heat in Kentucky, we were really into the lake breeze and Chicago's lower-80s and upper-70s temps. This is us on the boat. Please ignore my wispies. My hair does funny thing in wind.

On Tuesday, we went to the Field Museum and the Art Institute. Here are some random pictures we took while walking to the places.

This is in front of the Art Institute.

On our last day in Chicago, we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Conservatory.

Thursday morning, we headed back to Alton, and Friday, we went to Markle, Indiana for a baby shower with BJ's family. It was so nice seeing everyone.

And, of course, we got way too much cute stuff for the baby.

Overall, it was just a splendid week. I now feel ready to face the next seven weeks, which looks to include seven-ish more weeks of work, more intense rib pain and daily swelling of the feet, lots of organizing around the house trying to fit truck loads of baby stuff, unimaginable pain, and (wha-lah) a baby! I can do this. No really, I can.