Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Julia Rose at 1 Month Old

Rose turned 1 month old this Monday (the 17th).  It has been a big month for her and she is just such a sweet little lady.  We are completely smitten.  I'm not sure what she weighs right now - I will have to try to find a scale or stop by the gym or something to see if I can find out in the next day or two - but she is definitely packing on some baby chub.  Her face has lost most of its scrunched up newborn look and has smoothed out with the most beautiful, round little cheeks and dark brown eyes that may not have settled into their true color yet. 

The first couple of weeks were a little tough for the little miss while she figured out the whole sleeping thing.  And to be honest, she still goes down hard a lot of the time.  She loves being held and rocked and drifts off in our arms really easily but within 5 seconds of being gently laid down in her crib/swing/rocker she starts squirming and yelling for the warmth of a snugly body even though she seemed totally and completely out just before that.  It can be both exasperating and endearing all at once but it usually seems like the real problem is that she has little gas bubbles that need to be patted out. 

But once she IS asleep, she sleeps well, taking 4 hour naps most afternoons and only waking up twice a night for feedings.  There have even been two times where she skipped her 1:00 a.m. feeding and only woke up once, at 4:00 a.m.  Her morning nap(s) are much shorter because she wakes up much more easily and, while still tired, can't seem to settle in as well for a snooze, but we're working on figuring that out too.  (Do I keep her up longer in the morning? Or put her down sooner? Or not swaddle her? Or try to get her to take that nap in the swing?  Or lay her down awake instead of trying to rock her to sleep and let her drift off on her own?  So many questions.)

Rose is a Tummy Time master.  She doesn't have any problem spending a little quality time on her stomach on a quilt laid out in the living room, especially when Mommy or Clara will lay beside her and offer toys to squish and crinkle or rattles to gently shake.  Her neck muscles are getting really strong because of it and she can hold up her head really well for a one-month old. 

Rose has a very alert gaze and is already starting to track objects that interest her.  Sometimes she will get this intense focus on something that none of us can see and she will just stare and stare at it and keep going back to look at whatever it is that has caught her eye. 

Rose is pounding 5 ounce bottles (although she usually leaves half an ounce behind like she just can't quite suck it all out) about 5-6 times each day (so she is probably drinking around 25-28 ounces per day right now).  She is a little bit of a slow eater and we started giving her formula for gas and fussiness because of all the little air bubbles that seemed to be troubling her.  We also started giving her infant gas drops, which seems to have helped.

This past week Rose has started showing off her new skill - smiling.  She mostly reserves them for daddy but every now and then I catch a glimpse of one of her little grins.  They light up her whole face and make my heart just want to explode with happiness.  The cuteness is unreal. 

Rose is still in 0-3 month sizes (she was done with newborn size clothes after only a week) but she is starting to even seem like she is pushing the limits of some of her jammy legs so we might be moving her up to 3-6 month sizes here in the next week or two. 

So far she hasn't lost any hair (yay!) and she has some definite length in back, although the hair on the rest of her head is definitely much shorter.  But my friend, Heidi, gave us a gift card to an online baby hair bow store called Baby Wisp with teeny clips that actually stay pretty well with what little hair Rose has without having to be glued on with corn syrup or anything. 

Rose LOVES her baths.  Her umbilical cord fell off at exactly 2 weeks so her first "real" bath was two days later and she has had one pretty much every night since.  Clara is dying for Rose to be big enough for them to take a bath together but for now "helps" out by talking to Rose and showing her the rubber duckies.

Clara is doing a great job in her new role as big sister.  She stubbornly calls Rose "The Baby" most of the time unless she is talking directly to Rose.  Clara loves to hold her, caress her head, and give kisses.  The other day I was loading both girls in the car and Rose was not very happy about it so Clara said "Rose, you need to calm down" in a firm voice. 

Every now and then Clara has a hard time giving Rose the space she needs to fall asleep and gets upset when I tell her it is time for her to read a book or play with a puzzle in her own room for a few minutes while I rock Rose to help her settle down.  At times like those I wish I had just turned on Cat In The Hat because it might keep Clara better distracted than having to entertain herself in her room for a few minutes on her own (I'm learning here, people) but I definitely don't want to reward bad behavior by letting her watch a show after throwing a fit (she will literally say "the baby is awake so I will be LOUD!" if Rose so much as opens an eye halfway and then shout to prove that she can make noise) so then I am left dealing with a tantrumming 2 1/2-year old while trying to get Rose to settle in for a nap (this always seems to happen in the mornings when Rose has a hard time napping anyway - or maybe she has a hard time napping in the mornings because this happens).  But that is the exception to Clara's behavior, not the normal situation, so I don't mean to make it sound like chaos reigns supreme on a daily basis or anything.  And adjusting to a new baby can't be easy so really I anticipated that it could have been a lot worse.

We just love our two girls so very much and feel so blessed to be their mom and dad.  Rose is just the sweetest little person and we can't believe how lucky we are to have her.  We can't believe how much she has already changed in her just first month.

Here's looking at you, kid.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Julia Rose - Newborn photos and her name

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet."  Romeo and Juliet (II.ii.47-48).
Here is an image of the front of Rose's birth announcement:

I have been waiting to talk about how we chose Rose's name until after I sent out her birth announcements because I wanted to include the newborn photos that I took of Rose as part of this post and I didn't want to post them until the announcements were received in the mail.  Let me just say that newborn photographers, while expensive, earn every penny they charge because it is hard work getting good newborn photos.  It took two days with my mom acting as my assistant for a couple hours each day to get these images of Rose when she was still less than 2 weeks old before she lost her very newborn look.  I am so happy to have them though because she is already starting to change so much it seems. 

Here are some fake reasons for why we chose Rose's name:
1. We are huge Betty White fans so she was named after Betty's character on Golden Girls.
2. We are huge Harry Potter fans and Ron & Hermione named their first daughter Rose, and we feel like we really relate to their characters, so ya'know...
3. Roses are my favorite flower (not true really - my favorite flower is ... all the flowers?  I can't pick just one. Calla lilies? Roses? Tulips?)
4. We are huge fans of the Bard and the quote above from Romeo and Juliet was the inspiration behind both the names Rose & Julia, just in modified forms.
5. Paul is obsessed with "The Bachelor/Bachelorette" and if you have ever seen it, the rose is a big deal.  Paul has been holding Rose while I was writing and he just asked me "Will you accept this Rose?" because he needed to pass her off, lol.  (This is the real reason why she is named Rose.  Just kidding.  It's really not.)
The blanket in the next picture is Rose's that I made for her from the same fabrics I used to make Clara's quilt for Christmas.  I made a matching small lap quilt for Tabby as well with a very soft rose colored flannel for the backing.

My sister Jennie made this beautiful purple blanket for Rose.  I love it so much.  The fabric is so soft and sort of silky and it has rosettes swirled into it.  I can't explain it very well but it is so unique and gorgeous and Rose really loves the feel of it.

Here are the actual reasons for how we chose Rose's name and why she goes by her middle name rather than her first name:
1. First and foremost, we just plain like the name Rose.  It isn't a family name or something we have any connection to other than that it is classic, beautiful and feminine and we just loved it.  It is on the unique side without being unusual.  It "fits" with the name Clara as far as style and time period when both were popular go (we tend to favor names that were popular around the late 1800 and  early 1900's and we shy away from names that are more popular today).
2. Tabby (Rose's birthmom) mentioned six names that she really liked as middle name possibilities when we were discussing what to name the baby.  Her top choice was Julia, although we also really liked Grace and Esther. both of which she suggested as alternates (there were a few others suggested but these were our top 3 of her 6).  We went down our shortlist of girls names that we liked as first names and made combinations.  For the record, the two alternate full names that were considered were Hannah Esther (third place) and Gwendolyn Grace (second place - we likely would have called her Gigi).  We just didn't like the flow of Rose Julia though - it felt choppy and staccato.  So we switched Julia to be a first name and Julia Rose just felt right.  We really were torn between Julia Rose and Gwendolyn Grace in the end and even considered calling Rose by her first name of Julia (which we absolutely love btw), but in the end, we just felt like Rose is what she was meant to be.  Also, the idea of her name ending with the short "a" sound (if we called her Julia) wasn't something we wanted to repeat since Clara's name ended that way already.  (We WAY overthink these things).
3. As for calling Rose by her middle name, even though it is unconventional it isn't totally unheard of.  Lots of people go by their middle names, actually, including my dad (his name is William Russell but he has always gone by Russ) and Paul's grandma (her name is Gwendolyn Madge but she has always gone by Madge).  And we kind of liked the idea of carrying on that tradition in our family (not that it was a tradition but now that we are doing it too and calling it a tradition it can be one, right?).  We felt like it might give her a special connection to her grandpa Russ and great-grandma Nash to share that unique thing with them.
4. This is something we only realized after we had already chosen the name Rose, but my sister Jennie named her second daughter Lily and I love that our second daughter was also named for a flower (not that either of them were named for flowers but we just liked the floral names, I guess).  I think that it is special that those cousins will have that in common.

Other names that I had on my shortlist are listed below.  I like having these for her because I always asked my mom what they would have named me if they hadn't named me Amy (my mom said they had liked the name Carrianne but had chosen my middle name (Elizabeth) first and thought Carianne Elizabeth Casebolt was just too much so they opted for a short first name).  Paul didn't approve of all, or even most, of these.  Like I said before, the real runners-up were Gwendolyn Grace (Gigi) and Hannah Esther.  And some of them I wouldn't actually use - they just tickled my fancy and got me thinking I guess.  If it has an asterisk by it that means it was truly a favorite that I really considered:
Hyacinth (another flower name!)
Temperance (a family name)
Abigail** (this was maybe my top standalone second pick although I worried about it getting shortened to Abby)

We are very happy with Rose's name though.  We've taken to calling her Baby Rose or sometimes Rosie Posie as nicknames.  Clara especially has latched onto Rosie Posie and will coo it at her in loving tones.

It cracks me up that I caught this little smile below.  Just gas, I know, but adorable, right?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Two Family Home Evening Ideas

One of my New Years Resolutions was to do Family Home Evening (FHE) each week.  Clara is definitely old enough to really participate and learn from it so even though we have tried doing it in the past and been okay about it, I would say that last year we only did it maybe 50% of the time.  But this year it has been going really well so I thought I would post two of our most recent FHEs for the record since they were right on target as far as what I would feel is a successful FHE.  And just so you know, these totally weren't my ideas.  I have been searching Pinterest for inspiration, which has been amazingly helpful. 
Jesus Calms the Storm
Song: Master the Tempest Is Raging
Scripture: Luke 8:25 "for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him."
Activity: First we told her the story about Jesus calming the water from Luke 8 in really simple terms.  Then we laid a blanket out on the floor in the living room and had Clara sit in the middle of it.  Paul and I each grabbed the corners and shook it to create a storm and Clara was the boat in the water.  We told her that when we are in trouble we can ask Heavenly Father to help us and he can calm the storms.  So when she would say "help me Heavenly Father!" my mom (who was there with us) would hold up a picture of Jesus and say "Peace, be still." and Paul and I would stop shaking the blanket.  Clara thought this was awesome fun and made everybody take a turn being the boat and holding up the picture of Jesus to say "Peace, be still."  Clara even took a couple of turns being the one to hold up the picture. 
The original inspiration for this FHE went even further by creating a storm using a rain stick, musical instruments, and turning lights on and off to make lightning and talking about how the winds and the waves obey Jesus and how we should obey Jesus too.  I just sort of forgot all those extras but we will probably repeat this one in the future because it went over so well. 
Valentine's Day "Love" FHE
Song: Love at Home or Love One Another
Scripture: John 13:34
Lesson: I cut out paper hearts beforehand for each of us, then we took turns standing up and everybody else would say something we love about each other and I would write it on our hearts.
Activity: I hid a heart in each room of our house and we went on a hunt to find each of them.  Then we said that love can always be found at our house.   
Treat: Heart shaped apple and cherry pocket pies.  These turned out so yummy.
The original inspiration for this FHE mentioned that several studies show it is important for kids to know their family story (and I have read a lot about this in adoption studies as well) and gave some good alternate lesson ideas like telling children how their parents met and fell in love or how we felt when each child joined our family and what it was like when we first 'met' them.  Again, this is a lesson that I can see us repeating using some of these variations.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

While my mom was here we took a day to drive down to Monterey to visit the aquarium.  I have only been one time before and it was when Clara was just 5 months old so it isn't like she could really experience any of it then.  At $40 per person, it is kind of expensive, but it really was a fun day with lots of interesting creatures to see and beautiful facilities.  First we watched the penguins.  There was one penguin in the water showing up and Clara kept poking her head down below water level then back up then back down again to watch him swim back and forth.

There is a big tank that is supposed to replicate the kelp forests that are actually in Monterey Bay.  Two scuba divers were in it feeding the larger fish bits of cut up fish from a pouch.  Clara thought the scuba divers were pretty interesting because she is familiar with (and kind of afraid of) the scuba diver from "Finding Nemo".

My favorite part of this exhibit though were the leopard sharks.  There were quite a few of them and they are so sleek and interesting to watch.  I was glad that Clara didn't freak out whenever they swam past.

The touch pools weren't quite as interesting as the last time I went because there were hardly any starfish at all.  One of the volunteers explained that there is a nationwide epidemic with starfish because they have all got some kind of disease that is eating them from the inside out so they hardly have any at the aquarium.  Clara didn't really want to touch anything that looked remotely alive anyway.

There is another really incredible tank called the "Open Sea" which is just an enormous big blue tank with larger open ocean creatures like hammerhead sharks and tuna and rays.  The three hammerhead sharks were amazing to watch glide past.  Some were above and some were below (it is a two-story exhibit so you can see different things on the top from the bottom).  I love this picture of Clara holding her grandma's hand.

Those are anchovies behind us.  My mom wanted a picture to show my dad because while she was visiting us she said that my dad had ordered a pizza with anchovies and pepperoni on that, which is kind of gross but also hilarious.

I don't have pictures of the sea otters or the puffins or the seahorses or the jellyfish but those exhibits were all really cool too.  Clara liked the jellyfish best.  I think the highlight of the day was at the very end when we saw a giant red octopus that had been suctioned onto the side of its tank in a corner let go and swim across to another area.  We overheard somebody say that normally that octopus is holed up in the rocks and all you can see is just a tentacle or two hanging out so we felt really lucky to see it swim around.  I'm glad that we were able to get out and explore with my mom while she was here.

Rainy Day

Last weekend we finally got a little rain around here.  It has been so dry and we are in such a drought that the previous Sunday there was a fast for rain held by the church members statewide.  Clara has been patiently waiting (yeah right, her little red umbrella already has a little bit of a bent side because she loves to play with it but I figured that was bound to happen eventually) to use her raingear that Santa brought her for Christmas and this was her first opportunity. 

Rose was asleep in her crib when Clara woke up from her nap and I didn't really want to take Rose outside in the damp anyway, so I set up the video monitor and took it outside with me so I could hear her.  Clara and I just played in front of the house. 

Clara wasn't as excited about splashing in the puddles as I thought she would be.  I mean, she liked it, but I think she was more like, "hmm, what is the point of this weirdness?".  Still though, even though she wasn't smiling and laughing like I thought she might, she didn't want to go in when I told her it was time to be done. 

And here is a little video (it's nothing much but my mom mentioned wanting to see it.  As soon as I turned the camera on she got shy and just decided to stand there so I was telling her what to do which is super obnoxious, I know)...

Clara plays in the rain from Amy Nash on Vimeo.

We are hoping for a lot more rainy days still so that she can have more chances to use her raingear and because we need the water so badly in our state.