familyvalues: Owen at the park, December 20, 2011 - I made this from my own photo. (Owenninemonths)
Reading by marymactavish
Reading, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

Yesterday, Owen ticked over to ten months old! He celebrated by standing straight up from the floor, steadily walking about eight steps, then gracefully sitting down. Over the past 48 hours or so, he's transitioned from a baby who is experimenting with a few steps to get from one thing to some other near thing to a toddler who falls down a lot. Like the first word becoming clear then becoming speaking, it's hard sometimes to tell when walking starts. Yesterday, we called it for-real walking. So now comes the next couple of rounds of baby-safeing. ;)

Owen eats nearly everything now. Mostly, we don't give him what's obviously junk food, very salty food, cows milk, or honey. But he's had pizza, cookies, and like many toddlers, gets at least a handful of cheerios-type cereal every day. Even with that, he can eat himself to popping on broccoli as well.

And we're shifting ourselves to organic (or at least antibiotic-free) dairy and (for the omnivores here) meats, so that we can start him out without antibiotics in his food. There are some very well-treated cows, like those at Clover-Stornetta, who are so healthy that they get few antibiotics anyhow, so I don't fuss that much when I can find Clover. I wish we still had chickens, as Owen loves eggs, but we tend to get the more environmentally friendly and chicken-friendly versions of those, too. He mostly self-feeds and when it's not purely finger-food, he makes a huge awesome mess. Until you've seen a baby push oatmeal-and-yogurt into its mouth with hands, you've missed real mess-making.

One of my favorite things about our recent life is that Owen plays like crazy, chase-the-baby, and roll-the-ball, and stack-and-knock-down-the-tower and he likes it best when we're all three with him. So most evenings, for some big chunk of time, all of us hang out in the living room and play with Owen. It wears him right out, and delights all of us. His laugh is infectious.

His favorite things are things-that-roll, and animals. This means that he'll chase after people in wheelchairs, kids on scooters at the park, and whatever he can make roll at our house, balls and toy cars and pieces of his stacking towers and plastic drinking glasses and the removable legs from our storable tables. He adores the balls from his pound and roll tower. They make a lot of noise on our wooden floor, and roll fast and far. He also plays with them with the tower, now and then.

His relationship with DJ is one of the most delightful things in my life. He'll put up his face for kisses from her. Yesterday he bit a ravioli piece (raviol?) in half, ate some, and gave the rest to her. She loves him and puts up with a lot, too. She is teaching him about caring for and loving dogs as family. He is teaching her that we will protect her and not put him on the bed when she's resting.

Otherwise, he loves watching birds, knows crows from geese from jays, and looks for birds in the sky or trees, especially geese, crows, and hummingbirds, when he hears their calls. He also loves the goats and rabbits at our local farm, and Kimberly's kittens.

And we're so glad he loves books! He can sit peacefully in a grownup's lap, or on the rug, and listen to the same story several times, or one after the other. His favorites so far are Margaret Wise Brown's "Big Red Barn" and Rosemary Wells's "Max's First Word." And if any book has animals in it, that's also good. We are still collecting a library, being as though the public library has board books, they're not lent, and are seriously sucked-on. We read them there, though. We have wishlists at both Powell's (mary at geographile dot com, "owen's wishlist") and Amazon, because so many books I love are out of print (seriously, Stella and Roy How can that be out of print, it's mandatory) -- but we certainly don't need books that are new or purchased-just-for-us. If you have books from that list or that you think Owen will love, you're done with them, and want to pass on to us, before you pop them in the bag for goodwill or your local library, feel free to consider Owen's voracious book appetite! Mind you, he sucks on them too, but he loves reading them.

He had his first real illness a couple of weeks ago, a bad cold. He's been so robustly healthy otherwise.

Santa brought him two teeth (bottom central incisors) over Christmas weekend, and he acquired his top left central incisor this past week. Somewhere in there, the top left lateral incisor showed up but was tucked away so we didn't notice it right away.

He's still delightful, makes us laugh, loves it when we laugh, loves it when we kiss, loves visiting people, loves going to the park, loves playing with his friend around the corner. He crawls outside when he can, and I just follow him around the back yard keeping him alive, as it's not really baby safe yet. Over this winter and spring, once we finish the garden shed (the construction of which is the primary reason the yard isn't safe enough), we'll make a shade structure, garden stuff, and a small play structure for Owen. Then I reckon we'll rarely come inside. He's an outside kind of kid.

So on we go toward 11 months and a year. We've decided to follow my own family's child-birthday thing and have small parties, so Owen's first birthday will be almost entirely family, a couple of family-of-choice people, and no kids aside from his one friend around the corner. Future birthdays will probably be similar. I like the idea of having one small party so as not to be overwhelming for any of us, but if anyone wants to meet us (me and Owen, most likely) somewhere like the playground to hang out and celebrate, we're fine with little mini-parties here and there.

I had no idea what being a mom would be like, but I am happy with how it's turning out.

owenIMG_0259 by marymactavish
owenIMG_0259, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

Owen was born six months ago today, by calendar month, and of course, that's now a bit more than 24 weeks.

Except for size, he's mostly right on schedule, and given his genetic background (Casey's big-boned and somehow, at the same time, lanky; Audrey's not petite) Owen's size is unsurprising. Currently he's in the 90-95th percentile for height and creeping up fast on weight and weight-to-height. His head size is off the chart but healthy, “It could just be a growth spurt," says the doctor. At any rate, he's in anywhere from 9month to 2T clothing depending on whether the shirt has neck buttons, crotch snaps, or is in a brand that tends to run small. I'm loving 2T, he is a wiggler these days, so those are easy for me to put him in.

Owen babbles like a babbling fiend, and can say “Obama" now and then, but of course, he fits “da" and “geh" and “bagabah" and blowing raspberries all in exactly the same context – but then, so do I.

His smiles still light up a room, and do so often. We say he has a little jar with which he collects souls, and when someone notices him in public and he beams at them, and you can see them melt a little, the jar goes “ka-ching" and he collects a soul. Yesterday, he collected the souls of two rather burly firefighters at the supermarket, and I caught them making goochie noises from the next lane over.

He's also more easily frustrated than ever before. He seems to set goals high for himself, and though he can flip over and get most places fast on his belly, he wants to move, to crawl, to walk, right now. Like many babies his age, he likes to have his hands held for support as he slowly walks around the room. Mostly we let him do things along the lines of Magda Gerber's theories, just in that we think it's fine for him to be frustrated and figure things out or be patient while we're nearby so he's safe and feels supported, and sometimes he even does and is, but we also just have fun with him trying out the walking around. I don't think any single development theory has all the answers.

He's clearly happy and thriving and we're not worried.

We've moved to a new home (that post is coming in a couple of days) and he's got his own room now, and has just started sleeping all night there, or nearly all night, waking up now and then for a feed or a diaper.

He adores DJ, and he is her puppy. She's mostly patient with him, and we're teaching him to pet gently, but of course, at his fine motor stage, sometimes a fur-grab is all he can do, and she'll just get up and move away – her teaching method is probably at least as good as ours. Sadly, we're almost down to one dog – Sadie died last month, and Zoe's cancer will take her very soon, but for Owen, DJ has been the go-to dog anyhow. I hope that she lives long enough for him to remember her, as they've really got something going already.

Our new place is a block from a wonderful park with wonderful playgrounds, and it's got baby bucket swings that he loves. I sit on the ground in front of him and push gently, and he squeals … until he sees something, anything, more interesting, children playing, geese squabbling, it doesn't matter. Everything is interesting. He's not done swinging, he just wants to stop to focus. He also enjoys just lying or sitting (he can sit upright for very long periods but can't get to sitting himself just yet) and watching the kids in the playground. He seems to be studying them.

He is eating some solids now: a little cereal, also blueberries, strawberries, bananas, mango, grapes, watermelon, canteloupe. We feed him squished stuff off our fingers, or sometimes a spoon, but mostly through mesh feeders. He starts kicking when he sees the mesh feeder arriving, he is a huge fan of food.

All in all, he's so much fun, and also exhausting, frustrating, and fun. I love his naps, and I love seeing his smile when he awakens.

I so very love being part of this family, the people who love Owen together, the people who get along. We take care of each other, our extended families take care of us too. I feel rich.

Owen is a protogamer

With the dogs being sick and dying, and the big move to this new place, and my RA flaring up big time, I've been a bit overwhelmed for even thinking about blogging, but I've got a few posts queued in my brain. Mostly, I want to write about moving to our new place, having it become a basic suburban house-with-baby, fitting into the new (lovely, friendly, but somewhat old-school familywise) neighborhood, and feeling like family; and I want to write about how I've had to modify my attachment parenting expectations (which were already modified for realism on my part) to suit both a multiple-parent household and my chronic pain escalation. As usual, sometimes your questions or interests help guide how I write, so if you're wondering anything specific about either of those, or anything else, please ask: I'll answer what and how I can.

familyvalues: owen at one week old (oneweek)

VIDEO0015 a video by marymactavish on Flickr.

I keep starting this post, then get stuck:
What comes first, that you smile now? That you can’t stand to have a wet or poopy diaper, so go through piles every day, because every tiny dribble must be removed post haste? Do I say that you’ve begun actually snuggling when you lie against our chests, or that your initial peaceful baby demeanor has become somewhat more typical of infants, with occasional painful gas that keeps us all up at night? I have no idea.

The first month was a blur of naps (ours and yours) and learning to live life one-handed with a baby in the other arm, of throwing away ideas (we’re not co-sleeping, right? and we won’t let him get in the habit of using car rides to sleep, right? those are gone now) and picking up new habits and comfort with having an infant for a roommate.

DJ loves you so much. She cuddles near you and you don't mind her kisses.

Your great-grandmother, who signs her books to you “love, Grandmia” -- Mia is her grandma-name -- is just squealing over the thought that she will get to hold you soon and look into your blue eyes.

You were welcomed, a month ago, into such a family of love, biological and beyond. Your cousins and aunts and uncles are everywhere and eager to watch you grow and learn, as are we. Every day I see something a little new -- you’re less fussy about putting on shirts with long sleeves, you are tracking faces as the people you’re used to move around the room, you can lie for 20 minutes and watch clouds move across the sky. I am never bored with you. I’m sure that one day, I will be bored in the short term -- and I’ll insist we go to the library or dog park for entertainment -- but I can’t imagine being bored in the long term. You are too interesting.

As a three-parent household, we are really learning to function. I tend to do laundry, Audrey of course does the baby-feeding and pumping and storing of milk for later, and a lot of cleaning. Your dad is back to bringing home funds for the roof over our heads, and the health insurance, and he changes at least half of your diapers when he's home, and he’s the one who takes you from one of us -- Audrey, usually, as I tend to do the going-to-bed stuff -- at sunrise, and loves you while Audrey and I grab another hour of sleep.

We’re still figuring out the Mom-name thing, and I’m not quite sure we need to, yet. I only find it hard at times like this one, when I’m explaining how Audrey tends to be the one who’s with you in the pre-dawn hours while I’m with you at bedtime and into the small-wee hours, and how do I explain that? We say, “I’m going to bring you to Mommy now,” and it could be either of us, and you know -- but how do I word that for others? “Mama-Audrey” and “Mama-Mary,” or whatever, just sounds wrong to me. I guess I’m Mary and Mom, and Mama, and Mommy, and Audrey’s those things but not Mary, she’s Audrey. I think it will work itself out.

Having you here, and living together, and being all-three parents for you is leading to a lot of new discussions about The Future, and I’m not exactly sure, still, what form our current hopes will take, what plans will develop, but they’re all exciting, not scary. I love the idea of building a family with and around you that is nothing like I ever expected for my life.

So: You are just a bit more than a month old -- four weeks last Monday, a month on the 21st, and five weeks tomorrow. You smile and have a little half laugh that is sometimes a chuckle in your sleep. Your dreams are fascinating, with pouty-faces and smiles and open eyes that roll back to show the whites. You love staring at your dad’s face. You don’t mind when DJ kisses you. You eat too much and throw too much of it up unless you’re fed small amounts relatively often, but oh you do NOT like to be taken off the breast when you’re still hungry. You don’t like to lie down and sleep by yourself. You can be *put* down, and the moment you first half-waken, you’re done -- cribs are for losers. You fall asleep easily in the car. You hate being wet or poopy but you really hate diaper changes, so frequently throughout the day, we have to make you really angry and change your diaper.

That is you. And as tired as I am, I don’t resent you for a moment. You are a huge change in my life, and a shining light, and I hope our continued life together is as delightful as the beginning.

May 2015

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