Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hannah's Bad: hamming it up at the spring dance recital

Hannah's spring dance recital was the same day as HonFest so after a little rest, I slicked her hair into a bun, packed her costume, shoes, and snack into her backpack, and let Grammy walk her to the church around the corner where her school holds their performances. Eric followed shortly after, and Amy and I were right behind him after a trip to the grocery store to grab some last minute flowers.

The theme was light and dark so each class did two dances, one to something very saccharine and one to something with a little more edge (in some cases, a little too much edge...). Hannah's class danced ballet to Twinkle, Twinkle wearing the tutu she's pictured in below, and then in the second act they traded their tutus for jazz pants and their ballet slippers for tap shoes and danced to Michael Jackson's Bad. It. Was. Awesome. Hands down one of the most entertaining performances I have ever seen, and yeah, yeah, I know, I'm partial, but seriously, it was so cute. I can't wait for the video so I can try to clip out her scene and upload it everywhere.

The best part was at the very end when each class comes out one at a time to take a bow. Hannah aced this part. She bowed by tucking her chin to her chest and rolling her spine down a little rather than by folding at the hips, and she did it over and over and over again. She kept bowing and smiling this huge smile long after the rest of her class had stopped, and she kept it up even as the next class was filing out in front of her class. Then she poked her head between the shoulders of the girls who ended up in front of her and continued to bow! We were cracking up laughing. How did she get to be such a ham??

There's no flash allowed during the performance and although the stage is very well lit, all the pictures that Eric took during the performance are blurry. We hung around after the show and managed to talk Hannah into putting on her tutu again and posing on the stage for a few shots. She wasn't thrilled about it as you can tell from the forced smile, but she humored us.

Since Eric was manning the camera, I took advantage of the opportunity to be in a picture--the first picture of me and both kids! 

Eric declined his chance to be in a pic, so did my mom, and Amy tried to as well, but I managed to talk her into it.

We're taking the summer off but my guess is that she'll want to start dancing again in the fall, and I'm in favor of it because in addition to the obvious reason of wanting her to be happy and do the things she enjoys, I think that getting comfortable in front of a crowd at such a young age is a great experience and a huge confidence booster. Anyway we just inherited some leotards and tights so that'll cut down on our initial costs! All we'll have to do is stalk the consignment shops for new tap shoes and ballet slippers.....

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another HonFest

At this point, Hannah has been to more HonFests than I can remember (though I suppose it can't have been more than four). This was Jacob's first, but I neglected to get any commemorative shots of him in cat-eye glasses and a beehive. I neglected to get any shots at all...I'm definitely slacking on my mamarazzi tendencies with this second kid, but it isn't for lack of adoration; it's for lack of hands! The game has changed from two-on-one to two-on-two, and since I'm the one who always has the baby, it's kind of hard to take his picture.

In spite of not having bothered to carried my camera with us, we still managed to end up with some pictures of Hannah partying it up. The first few are from Bill Adams, a local photojournalist who was following around Strawberry, the bully dog who dressed for the occasion to show people how loveable and safe these breeds actually are. (I believe this particular effort was in support of Bella's Bully Buddies.) Hannah was convinced. She snuggled right up, and when Bill started taking pictures, she turned up the charm.

Photo courtesy of Bill Adams

Photo courtesy of Bill Adams

Photo courtesy of Bill Adams
We took a brief break for sustenance and a wardrobe change and then Eric and Hannah walked back down to meet up with the Murph's. Erin shared these goofy shots of the kids.

Photo courtesy of Erin Murphy

Photo courtesy of Erin Murphy
 The dads and their daughters:
Photo courtesy of Erin Murphy
She also got a shot of Hannah snuggling with the Orioles mascot, but when I try to post that one, it comes up super stretched out and weird looking...

Now that Eric has official orders to stay put in this area, we'll most likely try to find a place with a yard in the next year or so, which might have made this our last HonFest (at least, the last one that we can walk back and forth to). If that's the case, Hannah's first few years of life will prove vastly different from Jacob's. He'll never remember living in this quirky, crazy neighborhood. I hope Hannah will.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

An impromptu Memorial Day potluck at Chip's place

The to-do list I was keeping on my phone was a little too out of sight, out of mind so I broke out an old-fashioned pen and paper earlier this week, filled up a bunch of lines, and now, finally, some of the items are getting crossed off. I love crossing things off a list so much that I've been known to write something on a list after having completed it just so I can have the satisfaction of scratching it out. I love it so much that in an effort to quickly bust out all the blog posts that are on the list, I'm going to TRY to curb some of my usual rambling. I'm not off to a great start though...

On day two of Memorial Day weekend (day one was spent hucking tadpoles at Oregon Ridge), we drove to Chip's place for a mini, last minute family reunion of sorts that we'd planned mostly without Chip's advance knowledge. Oops! We brought him Eric's old grill though, so I think that made up for the home invasion.

Kim and Aaron brought an unreal amount of seriously good eats including some super fresh and sweet local strawberries with cream that Kim whipped by hand (I have no idea why anyone in their right mind would do it by hand, but props to her for being hardcore). Hannah ate the daylights out of some strawberries and whip cream, well, she ate the part of the strawberry that had the whip cream on it, that is, the bottom half. The rest of the strawberry she passed to someone else to eat so she could go for a fresh one.

Photo courtesy of Kim and Aaron
My aunt Pam and uncle Donny got to meet and 'nuggle Jacob.

No trip to Chip's is complete without ample time on the tire swing.

Photo courtesy of Kim and Aaron
After seeing the little cousins all together on the swing, Pam insisted that the big cousins hop on and cheese for the camera. We grumbled, but obliged...and we even smiled. Well, two of smiled. Chip just kept grumbling. 

Mason likes to pop Jacob's spit bubbles.

Then the baby kitty came out from wherever it was hiding, and I bet that it was wishing it had stayed hidden because Hannah spent the rest of the day following it, chasing it, carrying it, and obsessing over it. 

Photo courtesy of Kim and Aaron
Photo courtesy of Kim and Aaron
Aaron is a huge hit with the kids. I mean, he's a hit with the adults as well, but his natural ability to connect with kids is more notable. The fact that Mason hung with him is evidence of that--I can't even get Mason to come to me most of the time because he's so shy, but he warmed up to Aaron in no time.

Photo courtesy of Kim and Aaron
Photo courtesy of Kim and Aaron
And here are a few more random, very close-up photos that I stole from Kim.
Photo courtesy of Kim and Aaron

Mason looks JUST like his daddy did when he was little. It's uncanny and a bit freakish. I stare at him every time I'm around him because it's just so unreal to me.

Photo courtesy of Kim and Aaron
Photo courtesy of Kim and Aaron

Photo courtesy of Kim and Aaron

Awww! My cousin is so perty! I love that this worked out and that we were all able to get together at the last minute. In spite of living less than 2 hours apart, we rarely see each other except for the family reunion each year (which happened to be today so you'll see those pics soon and think that I am BSing when I say that we hardly ever see each other, but I swear it is a freak incident that we got together twice in one month).

I don't have any pics of the BBQ we had with the neighbors on the third and final day of Memorial Day weekend so we can say au revoir to May now! Time to hit "publish" and then scratch this off the list....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hucking tadpoles at the Oregon Ridge frog pond

I love Oregon Ridge. We trekked up there over Memorial Day weekend to shake out the crazies that had accrued after being couped up in the city for so long. [Segue to Eric who took hostage of the blog when I ran up to feed the baby.] Speaking of couped, check out these cool chickens. Hannah did her usual trick of feeding random animals grass and this time voila! The chickens loved it. She was sitting in a little patch of clover and the chickens gobbled it up. Speaking of gobble.....the turkey was nowhere to be found on this day. Hmmm.....

Next to the chicken coup was a rustic little playground made up of carved tree trunks, logs, and  rocks. I was definitely getting some ideas for when we get land.

Mushroom tables, the Cheshire Cat must be close by.....I can totally make these.

This one would be more of a challenge. Hannah wanted to pose. So we obliged.

I can make a better homemade see-saw than these. Larger and higher of course, just like the good old days when I was a kid and your friend would lift you all the way to the top and hop off just to watch you fall. Good times. [I'm editing before posting and feel the need to insert my own childhood memory of having the wind knocked out of me twice when a "friend" pulled that on me. Not cool. I stopped getting on those things as a result.]

Mamarazzi forgot to break out the camera during our trail walk around the lake. It was a challenging trek and included a rickety double log bridge 10 feet off the ground with a weak little hand rail. Terri wanted to turn around so I grabbed the baby and carefully made my way across to allow Hannah and Terri some concentration time. [I did not want to turn around! He lies. Also, Eric already had the baby. We switched prior to getting on that trail because the not-so-little one was straining his mama's back--I'd already been wearing him for over an hour.] Luckily, our bravery paid off. We found this cool little frog pond down round the holler. Hannah could not get enough of picking up the tadpoles and tossing them pack into the pond. At one point she had a few in her hand and very quietly whispered "I won't hurt you little tadpoles. Shhhhhh," and then stood up and hucked them half way to the other shore. I would have been shocked had I not been more impressed with her arm.

[The next pic was my attempt to capture the oodles of tadpoles. All those black specks in the water below, those are tadpoles. There were clouds and clouds of 'em; they filled up the pond. Pretty sure the photo doesn't depict that, but take my word for it. I want to go back soon and look for frogs.]

[The next is my favorite--adding to the folder of pics that I someday hope to frame.]

I guess Eric didn't think a conclusion was necessary, but I can't just leave you hanging without reiterating how awesome Oregon Ridge is and how much spending the day there chilled us all out. All four of us were being cranky butt heads leading up to that, but there was peace all around on the way home.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gentle giant has his 2-month weigh in

Jacob had his 2-month checkup on Monday and weighed in just half an ounce shy of 15 pounds (Hannah was 2 ounces shy of 12 pounds at her 2-month checkup; she didn't hit 15 pounds until she was 7 months old). He is in the 95th percentile for weight and is putting some serious strain on his mama's arms and back as a result. The other numbers don't mean as much to me, but if you're into them, he is 24 3/4 inches long and his head is 44.5 centimeters (Hannah was just an inch shorter at her 2-month checkup, but her head was MUCH smaller at 39.7 centimeters; like her weight, her head wasn't 44 centimeters until she was 7 months). He's in the 99th percentile for both length and height. Numbers tend to just float around my head in an attempt to lodge themselves someplace where they will be understood, but sadly, that place does not exist. More important to me is his growing social awareness and the fact that I have been able to get little laughs out of him in the last few days. Just teeny ones, a little "heh" here and there, but they're so awesome that I spend the following 15 minutes trying to get him to do it again. He smiles huge, flashing that one little dimple he has on his left cheek, and he coos and talks, but at this point, the laughs are still rare and therefore highly coveted.

I'm wishing I would have saved those head shots I took of him on Sunday for this post, but since I didn't, I'm re-posting one of them with a twist: it's baby face comparison time again! I don't have 2-month baby pics of either me or Eric, but here's a pic of Hannah at about 2 1/2 months to compare to Jacob at exactly 2 months:

Smiley little babies with their tongues out!

Back to real time, here they are last week posing in the shirts that Hannah made with Grammy on the morning that Jacob was born. It was pretty tight on him when I put it on that morning so I made sure to get a picture, and when we stripped him for bath, that one got set aside. I want to keep it but need to figure out how...I don't have a keepsake box and don't want to start another. Maybe a quilt?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Working mama's lap, the name change story, and 2-month-old mug shots from this morning

Oh, I am sooooo behind on posting pictures. Last weekend was super fun and there's tons to share, BUT FIRST, I need to recognize and then part with a phase that Jacob is growing out of (and yes, his name is still Jacob, more on that below).

That early baby business of sleeping anywhere and on anyone is slowly slipping away. In the early days, when the only place he would sleep was my chest, I'd wait until he was passed out and then pull my computer onto my lap, reaching around him to type in an effort to get some work done. This is my lap:

Sometimes when he was really fussy and my arms were really sore, I donned the Ergo and bopped him around the house until he slept peacefully, and then I sat down to work. Part-time employees don't get maternity leave, so if I don't work, I don't get paid, and while I wasn't taking on any big projects or editing jobs in that first month, it was nice to be able to sit down for an hour or so (when I could) and take care of the other miscellaneous tasks I'm responsible for.

I love my job. Where else can I work in and hang out on my couch in front of the window in yoga pants with a baby on my chest?

While I'm at it, here's one of Eric getting his sleepy baby snuggles one evening. The living room was super dark and I took it with my cell phone so it's not the best, but it's a nice memory.

Jacob is sleeping more independently lately, in the crib for naps during the day and in the bassinet at night. Now that he is sleeping in longer increments at night (between 3 and 5 hours at this point, though he made it 6 twice this week), I stay awake during red-eye feedings and move him back to his bassinet when he's finished. Until last night he never lingered on the boob the way Hannah did. I'm hoping the lingering he's done in the last 24 hours isn't lasting.

He's definitely STARTING to settle into a schedule, and I've gotten really good at reading him and knowing when to lay him down. He doesn't fight sleep as much as Hannah did/does (sometimes I can lay him down awake and he'll just suck on his fingers noisily until he falls asleep!!!), but he has started to require a darkened, quiet room which is a bummer since it means that we either revolve around his napping or have a screaming, cranky, over exhausted baby. There are even times where he prefers to be laid down to sleep over falling asleep on my shoulder, and when he does sometimes fall asleep on my shoulder, he cat naps and is up within 20 minutes. He's very different from Hannah who never wanted to be put down or not paid attention to.

I don't have a clever way to transition into the name changing discussion and am realizing that this post is all over the place and is on its way to being WAY too long, but I'm not ready to wrap it up yet so consider this the transition into an overly long story of how Jacob came to be called Jacob (here's Hannah's name story if you don't know it already and want to).

Like many couples in the early, starry-eyed days of their relationship, Eric and I were guilty of day dreaming about how many kids we wanted to share (I was game for anywhere between two and four; he said two) and what we'd name them. Lucky for me, he loved the name Hannah Jane. His favorite name was Jack, and although so common a name had never occurred to me before (I know, I know, Hannah is not terribly unique either, but it has a great story!), I liked it (and him) enough to go with it.

When I was younger I kept a list of the names I liked--there were over 100 for girls including my all-time favorite, Chloe (followed by Zoey and Haley). I had maybe 10 for boys. The only one I remember from that list is Aspen...Since I had no favorite names for boys and since I was very decided on naming any girl child we should have, I told Eric he could name the boy (though I retained veto rights). It seemed fair, and although my mom taught me to realize that life isn't fair, I figure I can do my best.

Fast forward to last summer when we decided we were ready to go for baby number two. We tossed around some names in those first few weeks but ultimately decided to wait until we knew the sex to really talk about it. I had enough to do without wasting my time thinking of names for both girls and boys (although I couldn't help but do it anyway).

A few years earlier Eric's friends had named their son Jack so he switched his favorite name to Jacob. Again, not a name I would choose if it were up to me, but it's nice so I didn't object. I did ask that he keep his mind open and keep looking in case something came along that was either more unique (Jacob has been number 1 in popularity in the U.S. for 14 years and in the top 10 for two decades; it's number 3 in Maryland) or had a good story/meaning behind it.

Eric joined Ancestry.com in those first few months and mapped his father's family all the way back to the 1600s when they were still in Europe searching for a family name with a good story (or for anyone named Jacob). He found an entertaining story about an early American settler ancestor who was over 7 feet tall named Daniel, but he didn't love the name (of course, given the gargantuan size of our baby, this namesake may have been right on), and there are no former Jacobs (ours is the first!). He did find a great middle name that we both love: Romer. It was the middle name of his dad's grandfather and the maiden name of the grandfather's mother. His dad was very close to his grandfather, so that gave it the meaning that we were looking for.

He also searched the internet, reading baby name list after baby name list, but he always came back to Jacob. I searched and searched too. I found plenty of names that I like, but none of them seemed right (for instance: Mateo. I love that name! But it doesn't fit...).  Then one night when we'd gone to bed too late, and I was laying in the dark wondering what we'd name him, the name Griffin popped into my head. I hadn't seen it on any of the baby name lists I'd looked at, and I'd only ever known one Griffin, a junior climber at the climbing gym who I hadn't seen or thought of in over a decade. The subconscious is a funny thing. I half-jokingly told Eric that the baby had channeled me and said his name was Griffin, and in his half-drunken state, he loved it. He loved it the next day too, but then the next day he was leaning toward Jacob again.

For whatever reason, I felt a really strong tie to the name Griffin, and I imagined that the crazily active baby boy I was carrying was in there flapping his mythological wings (whatever he was doing, it was more than just kicking). I tried not to push it though and assured Eric that the decision was his to make. He stressed about it, liking that Griffin was so unique, but still leaning toward Jacob because it's "strong." He worried that I wouldn't love the baby as much if we named him Jacob. I assured him that not loving the name would have no impact on my love for the baby and reminded him that I like the name Jacob just fine. If I hated it, I'd have vetoed it, but I don't, I just don't love it. I don't have to though.

He decided to wait until the baby was born and see what he looked and acted like before deciding. By then, I had accepted the name Jacob and had even started referring to him as Jacob and telling people that that was the name we had decided on. Realizing that Griffin is the last name on the Family Guy took away some of its appeal for me...

We filled out the birth certificate paperwork our midwife provided ahead of time but left the name part blank. Shortly after Jacob made his entrance into the world, our midwife began filling out her paperwork and finishing ours. She asked his name, and Eric immediately replied, "Jacob." I remember thinking, so much for getting to know him first! But like I said, I'd already bought into the name Jacob so I was fine with it.

In the month that followed, Eric repeatedly said he thought he might have made a mistake and that our snorty little curmudgeon was more of a Griffin than a Jacob. I didn't say much the first two or three times he said it; I didn't take him seriously. The next time he said it, I agreed and said that it probably wasn't that hard to change it, then I dropped it. A few days later, on the Saturday morning of the Montessori spring fest and the weekend that I first posted here that we'd be changing the name, Eric woke up determined to change the name, so we started to call him Griffin that day, and on Monday I ordered the paperwork. In Maryland, you can change your baby's name once within the first 12 months without having to pay a fee or jump through many hoops.

Eric was back on the fence before the paperwork arrived. He remained there for a couple weeks, and then last week decided that in lieu of any good reason to choose one over the other, the fact that it was easier to just keep it the same (especially since Hannah kept calling him Jacob even when we started calling him "baby brother" or "the boy" (me the former, Eric the latter)).

After reading through this, I'm realizing that Jacob's name has a story after all. It's his own story since he's the first one (on Eric's side anyway, we have a Jacob on my side--I think he was the first American-born, but I'd have to have my mom double check). It's not very interesting, but it's a story! 

And now, to make up for posting such old pictures at the beginning of this post and then rambling on incessantly about our inability to settle on a name, I took some mug shots of Jacob this morning. Current baby shots! I was hoping to capture his dimple and cute little smile, but he's not used to the camera being in his face yet and wore his confused face instead.

 This is the closest thing to a smile I could eek out of him. Oh! He's 2 months old today! I just realized that it's June 2.