In June, our friends Amy and JB from Oklahoma came to visit us with their six month old son, Evan. Amy and JB have a very special place in my heart since I have known both of them since High School. There is a unique bond you have with good friends from childhood... friends who know the house you grew up in, are familiar with your parents and your siblings and who can relate to a very defining time in your life. These people know what you looked like when you had permed hair and tight rolled your jeans. Let's just say, you have a History together.
And because of that History, seeing them like THIS is even more crazy and beautiful.
When Amy and I usually get together it's all about crafting, a little bead shopping here and a little scrapbooking there. But this time we were burdened with two little angels who required feeding, diaper changes, naps and two arms each to carry them every where they needed to go. I'm not saying it was awful - just different. We're no longer our own boss. But at least upper management is cute!
And the best part of it all is that our husbands get along. Give them some golf clubs and they might not even come home unless it's to smooch on their respective babies. I'd say Amy and I are pretty lucky.
While visiting, Amy was generous enough to take some family shots of the Georges. We take so many pictures of Julianna by herself and with both Matt and I individually, but family shots are hard to come by, so I'm going to treasure these for years to come.
We're hoping to make this visit an annual tradition... at least until there are a few more kids involved and it all becomes a lot more complicated. But in the meantime, we're pretty excited that Evan and Julianna are close enough in age to play together (even though they couldn't quite yet sit together).
When you signed up for this job, to become a DAD, did you know that you would be blessed with this precious little girl?
... and she'd start out so small?
... and she'd challenge your patience and maturity, looking to you for comfort?
... and she'd depend on you for all her basic needs?
... and she'd be your Snuggle Bunny who doesn't particularly like whisker kisses?
... and she'd make you so proud?
... and she'd remind you of the joy of discovering something for the first time?
... and she'd be so much fun to play with?
... and you'd want to squeeze her up every chance you get?
... and she'd be your biggest (Saints) fan?
... and she'd be the happiest when she's just spending time with you?
... and she'd flap her arms and flash you the biggest smile when she saw you after waking up?
... and she'd get so big, so fast?
On your first Father's Day, I hope this helps you reflect on how your life has changed in the last nine months. No longer are you just a man, a son, a friend or a husband. You are now a Father. Whether you meant to or not, you opened yourself up to love more than you ever knew you could and to be cherished more than you ever knew you would.
This weekend, for the first time, when Julianna saw you come to the door, she crawled straight to you. It was without hesitation. And I think it was her way of saying Happy Father's Day; I love you so much!
It's been known for a while now that Dash has had a bit of a weight problem. We've tried putting him on diet food, reducing his serving sizes and making sure he gets outside to get a little exercise, but honestly, we've kind of given up. So now we are just careful when we talk about him as to not hurt his feelings. He prefers we call him "big boned" or "fluffy" or his favorite, The Lion. Julianna really loves her Lion. When we are holding her, she twists her body into all kinds of contortions to watch him walk by. Her whole face lights up when she sees him, and she chirps in an effort to mimic his meow. What we didn't realize was how much she truly cares about his well-being. Much to our surprise, the other day we saw her suggesting an exercise routine for him.
She told him to first start with a few push-ups. She did about 75 to make sure he understood the proper form.
Next she showed him a few yoga moves, like down-ward dog (she told him he could call it downward cat, if that made him feel better).
Finally some leg lifts for good measure.
And as with all good exercise regimens, she recommended that he do some stretches at the end to wind down.
She really did offer an all-around workout, but Dash just wasn't in the mood for such advice. Julianna coaxed and coaxed but he turned his back on her (and since she chooses not to crawl forward yet, there was nothing she could do).
Luckily, the next day they were back to being friends again.
Some of you may know that I post a monthly picture of Julianna on Facebook. I'm planning to print these pictures as 8"x8" enlargements to put in her baby book as monthly dividers, so each month I try to either represent the current holiday, a monthly theme or some milestone that Julianna has crossed. I decided May should be dedicated to Julianna's two new teeth (and the third and fourth that are on their way).
Julianna wants you to know that she EARNED those two teeth. She's not just a drama queen and those are not crocodile tears.
You do see them, right, the 'not crocodile' tears? Because her mom obviously can't. In the midst of a 101 degree fever, excruciating gum pain and the risk of starvation from only being able to tolerate teething biscuits, her MOM was TAKING PICTURES of her.
So, back to those monthly pictures. After all that hard work from teething, you better learn how to take care of those baby pearly whites. So Here's a lesson from the world's youngest dental hygienist.
Does she have your full attention? Ok, you start with a toothbrush and toothpaste. They look like this. And these are the bristles. And you use them like this. And you have to brush for a LONG time (this is for demonstration purposes only. When you only have two teeth you can just do some quick chomping). And that's it! Your teeth are brushed and your breath smells delicious! Mwah!!
This scrunchy nose has become a favorite game of Julianna's. It's pretty difficult not to smile when she scrunches it up and and then "snorts". And the more we laugh, the more excited she gets. Scrunch, snort! Scrunch, snort! (Ok, maybe we do encourage it just a bit... all three of us snorting away at the dinner table.)
I guess baby snorts aren't too bad. But the other day while I was in the camera shop, Julianna was sitting on the floor playing by herself quite nicely, when she looked up at the sales lady and growled at her. I didn't miss the opportunity to explain that she learned it from her father. But the very brave sales lady brushed it off saying a little growling never hurt anyone, "...especially when it's done with those cute little smiling eyes".
I guess the next time we read Jules her animal book, we better skip the bear page and stick with the kittens and puppies.
Mother's Day breakfast: Eggs, orange juice, coffee, and Belgian waffles with banana and syrup all prepared by the hubby. Yum!
I still kind of can't believe I'm a MOM. I called my Mom on Mother's Day to wish her a happy day, and then I thought about the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I think of her because of the hundreds of school projects and papers she helped me with, the elaborate Birthday parties she threw for me, the many "Mommy looks" she gave me, the million times she has prepared food for me or driven me somewhere, the countless hours we have talked on the phone and the certainty she has given me that she will always be there. And then I realized, that someday, I will be all that for my little one. It's pretty crazy.
And also pretty awesome. Thank you Mom for teaching me how to be all that. And thank you to my hubby for giving me a beautiful little girl to be all that for.
Our little Jules is quite the hearty eater. Ever since she realized there is more to the menu than milk and rice cereal, she's been happy. We started with the Baby Mum-mums to get her used to using her hands, and since then, we've been experimenting with a few other finger foods. She now can pick up and shove into her mouth: bits of toast (sometimes several bits at one time), banana chunks, blueberry halves and Cheerios. The baby food jars are a staple, for sure, her favs being sweet potatoes and vegetable turkey (those are the two I always pack in the bag when we are "eating out" because I know there won't be a fuss). But I've been trying my best to branch out and offer her a variety of new things lately. Her current favorite is Yo Baby yogurt and her not so favorite, but a work in progress, is avocado (sometimes if some banana is mixed in, it is acceptable).
When we were at Grandma and Grandpa's house, Grandpa kept asking if Jules had a hole in her foot, because there surely wasn't room in her stomach for all that she was eating. And she's kept that pace up even at home.
Lately, she's been eating huge breakfasts. Just the other day she had 6 raspberries followed by a bowl of oatmeal mixed with applesauce, formula and a dash of cinnamon. Sound filling? Evidently not, because she started fussing for more and ate an entire large banana. Time to wash your hands and face, Babygirl? No? Time to devour a whole piece of toast! Let me tell ya, Buddha Belly was an understatement at that point! As Matt pointed out, that's the size of an adult breakfast.
Jules does seem to have an aversion to non-food related things being put into her mouth. This has been good so far, because we haven't had to worry about her chewing on non-baby friendly things. But it also means that she won't have anything to do with teething rings, and a sippy cup? Heck no! Why would anyone put such a thing into their mouth?! So we've moved straight to a glass. It works well, actually, because I can see how much she's getting. We do hear the teeth clank on the rim, and we get some sputtering when too much is gulped down. But so far, Jules thinks it's all pretty funny. So we just keep practicing while it's still fun and games.We're anxious for her nine month check-up so we can see what she weighs. Her face has filled out and her arms and legs are getting chubby. I can't wait until Summer when I can put her in skirts and t-shirts and gobble on her extremities.
(This post is a little tardy, so some of Julianna's accomplishments may seem like old news. But the story is a little lengthy, so it's taken me a while to sit down and document it.)
One of the great benefits of me not working right now is being able to take you to see Grandma and Grandpa. We got to spend two whole weeks with them in Colorado, and boy did they enjoy it! They couldn't believe how much you had changed in the last three months.
Because I was never particularly close to my grandparents, it has been very important to me that you have the opportunity to spend time with yours. I feel so blessed to have parents who are excited about being a part of your life and getting to know you. And even though your paternal grandparents are thousands of miles away, I know their love for you will reach across the world and be a constant you can always depend on.
They say grandparents share an extra special bond with their grandchildren because they get to spoil them and then send them home. But I think there is even more to it than that. Through you, they are reminded of a time not so long ago when they had newborn babies of their own. They get to enjoy the precious and fleeting moments of childhood all over again; their spirits are awakened, and they are able to fully grasp what joy you will bring into their lives and those around you. And they do all this without the weight of responsibility on their shoulders. They have the wisdom of experience on their side, and they know that although we can all try to shape you, you will be who you want to be. Their only responsibilities are to love you and show you the fullness of life.
Your CiCi has so much to show you. She is a wonderful listener and has the ability to appreciate the differences in people she meets, resulting in her having a diverse group of friends who trust her completely. She loves literature and feels that it gives us a window into a world that is vast and full of endless possibilities, and she recognizes how important it is to write and journal as a way to express ourselves. She loves the beauty found in nature; a rock is a place of rest, fresh air clears the mind, a mountain range gives new perspective, a trickling stream provides solitude, calm and focus. And she is so excited to share all of these loves with you.
CiCi is already showing you that life is an adventure; she took you on nature walks around the yard (each day you were wrapped in a different colorful afghan), and she let you peak in the house windows to discover who was inside. While we were in Colorado, we had three good snows, each about a foot and a half deep. This was nothing like your first Winter in Seattle, so you got bundled up and ventured into the blistery white (well, onto the front porch). You also practiced sitting up unsupported, and we were finally confident enough to leave you that way, unchaperoned (for a few minutes). Another first was learning to eat a "biscuit" (a baby rice cake shaped like a surf board) with your hands. It was a big challenge at the beginning, and you were quite frustrated with us for not just feeding it to you. But eventually you relented, tried it yourself and then were quite proud of your big accomplishment! Grandpa also enjoyed every minute with you. He took care of you ALL BY HIMSELF one night while Mommy, CiCi and Uncle Jarrett went to the movies. And by the time we got back, he had you fast asleep (albeit you were rocked to sleep in the rocking chair rather than being put to bed awake like mommy has been trying to do - but that's just the beginning of Grandpa and his spoiling!). The next morning after we heard all about how good you had been the night before, you showed us how you could have walked all over Grandpa if you had needed to! He adores you and even brags about how he is going to spoil you rotten every chance he gets. Grandpa has a huge soft spot for family, and will do anything for you. You really will have him wrapped around your little finger; and I have a feeling those big brown eyes of yours will get you ice cream anytime you want! You didn't get to see Uncle Jarrett too much this trip (you were always sleeping when he was coming and going), but I think he's just waiting until the day he can put you on a snowboard and race you down the mountain (that, or until you can crawl and start to give the cat as difficult of a time as he does!).
Overall, you had a great trip. Your sleeping patterns were light years better than at Christmas, and you were generally more content. Grandma and Grandpa did try to accommodate your needs so you could get a little work done while you were away from home, and after a couple of days you were very comfortable with your "satellite office". That St. Patrick's Day button you brought to ward off Grandma and Grandpa wasn't even necessary. They seemed to prefer kisses! It's just the beginning of a beautiful relationship that I'm hoping you will develop with your grandparents. Here's to Summer camp at Grandma and Grandpa's while Mommy and Daddy go on vacation! Yay!