Sunday, May 31, 2009

Four Weeks and Already...

Son, you're four weeks old today, which means almost a month, which means you've been alive almost 1/387th the amount of time I have, or 1/365th the amount of time your mother has. That blows my mind. You're a twelfth of the way to being a year old.

Okay, enough math. Jackson, you are already better than anything on TV, even when you are sleeping. You are already strong enough and stubborn enough to make changing your shirts a two person job. You are already more important to me than an entire graduating class of seniors, who will walk across the stage tomorrow without me reading their names. You are already taking in the world with your blueish-greyish-purpleish eyes, which dart around and around but always land on the pictures in Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See. You are already who our departing friends miss the most, and who little girls hope their new little brothers will be like. You are already lifting your head a little during tummy time, so we can stop awkwardly passing you around with the one hand always at the back of your head. You are already capable of making me cry with laughter due to your facial expressions, particularly when we suspect you are pooping. You are already producing enough methane gas to melt the polar ice caps. And, son, you have already given us the power to humiliate you for life.

Today, when I was changing your diaper, I turned around to put my ring on the dresser, as it was one of those changings. When I turned back around, you were peeing





I took the bullet for you and stopped the stream, but the look on your wet face said it all - how did this happen? What have I done? What you did, son, was give your dad free license to bring this up forever.

So whenever you decide to act cool in your teen years, and you want to sag your pants or wear your baseball hat askew or shave a goatee with a lightning bolt onto your face, just remember -

you peed in your own face one time.

Whenever you decide that Mom and Dad don't know what they're talking about, that you don't need to study because you know all you need to know, or that all your parents are doing is holding you back, just remember -

you peed in your own face one time.

I always swore that I would not be a parent who used the phrase, "Because I said so." Now I don't have to be. Why can't you see that movie? Because, once, you peed in your own face.

But son, don't think that your moment today will really ruin you. We all have those embarrassing moments from the past. Mine involve the pantless puppet show, the time I thought nobody would notice if I peed on the diving block at a swim meet, and the time Uncle Chris and I were obsessed with Michael Jackson.

We all get past those little mistakes and learn from them. Eventually we learn to laugh at ourselves (and our children), and it makes life easier. I hope I don't make it too difficult for you by being delighted in each of your steps and comedic missteps, but it's just so exciting to see each little mistake that will help you become a man eventually.

You're four weeks old, Jackson, and you've already made memories we will lovingly recall forever. We love you so much.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Last week Rob returned to work which made me a “full-time” stay at home mom for two weeks. Obviously I have been at home with Jackson for a month, but I always had Rob there helping out. Now, if I need to go to the bathroom, I’m on my own; I can’t just pass Jackson off to Rob. The two weeks have been trying at times – like the day that Jackson didn’t sleep a wink, but they have also been amazing. Obviously I am biased, but Jackson is the cutest, most amazing, little thing ever and I am head over heels in love with the little guy.

It’s amazing to me that he already has such a personality. His facial expressions, habits he has already developed, and definite likes and dislikes. He already “plays” with me – as much as a newborn can. When I say play, I mean interact. Usually after his midmorning feeding he likes to stare at me. He can track me and he’s starting to recognize my voice. He is also getting good at swatting things and grabbing things. (By the way - the other day Jackson grabbed his pacifier with his LEFT hand and swatted/threw it. Although, I think he might be a lefty like Mommy, I will in no way try to force him to be a lefty. I'll still love him if he's right handed.) His current favorite toy to grab and swat is Mallory the Monkey. We have always loved Mallory.
For the most part, I think ever since we found her, back when Shannon was pregnant with Emily, we have bought her for everyone we know that’s had a baby. Of course we had to put her on our registry. Thanks Scott and Monica for getting Mallory so we could introduce Jackson to a colorful world. Jackson also gets his tummy time each day. He’s great at turning his head back and forth, as well as using this time to pass a lot of gas. I also read him his favorite book each morning – Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? Each page has one big colorful picture, so Jackson loves to stare at the pictures of the animals. Finally, he also loves to play in his “gym.” He spends most of his time staring at himself in the mirror, but he’ll grow into the rest of it. Our friends Shannon and Joe stopped by with their girls a couple of weekends ago. The girls are about 2 years and 7 months and 14 months. They loved it, so we know it’s a toy he will play with for quite a while. Thanks North 2 (and Ms. Lopez and Ms. Barras)!

Afternoons with Jackson are less predictable. Sometimes he sleeps and sometimes he doesn’t. Either way, we love the little guy.

Bye bye for now...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Working Dad

It's been a while since an update, primarily because Noelle has been watching Jackson full time while Rob has been back at work. The school year is almost finished, and Rob had to return to teaching to prepare his kids for finals and grade everything they had done in the past three weeks to determine whether or not they graduate. Last week involved long nights of grading followed by long days of working, which meant Rob was exhausted by the time the weekend came around. Jackson was there to ensure every waking moment and sleeping moment had a constant reminder of who all this work will benefit, although his fussiness at night wasn't always the most welcome reminder.

Now it's about seven hours until the next workday begins, but Rob will be leaving home in five hours to get everything ready. Is he stressed? Not really. Next to him is Jackson, who kept him company as he graded his last projects of the 08-09 school year. Jackson has been asleep for the past hour, and his angelic face and tiny sleep noises are all Rob needs to remind him that a summer full of watching Jackson sleep is just four days away.

My workspace

My Little Buddy (in fleece straight-jacket)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pictures Galore

Since our last posting things have gotten back to normal. That may not be the right word, since all of this is new for us. But, Noelle is feeling better and Jackson continues to be awesome.

First, we apologize for all the visits we cancelled while Noelle was sick. We do still want to see you and introduce you to Jackson (as long as you are not sick)! We have appreciated everyone’s positive thoughts, prayers, phone calls, and meals. Every bit helped.

This post is just going to be some random pics from different moments, excursions, and visitors. Many of them are not from this weekend, but we are behind.

Parental Love

Out and About

The first picture is baby's first trip to the pub. Baker Street in LaCentera has great lunch specials, so we decided to get some fresh air and eat on the patio.

After lunch Daddy needed a Starbucks coffee. So, Jackson entered his first Starbucks. Mommy hung out with Jackson because she doesn't understand how someone drinks coffee when it's hot outside.

On Saturday, we ventured farther from the house than we have in ages. We went "into town." Since we live in Katy, "into town" means we drove into the Galleria area. We met up with some of our favorite friends for some lunch. This is what Jackson did for the entire three hours we were in town.

Sponge Bathtime

Before his first sponge bath, he was calm, cool, and collected.

Then, he cried.

Post-bath. He's not sure about it yet.


The Tiemeyers

The Leos

The Georges/The Reynolds

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jackson’s (Almost) Two Week Check-Up and our First Trip Out

Today was a momentous day for three reasons…
1. Jackson had his first wellness check-up
2. We took Jackson into public (other than a doctor’s office) for the first time
3. Noelle ate a little bit of “real food” at two different meals and so far they are still in her body

We’ll start with Jackson’s check-up. We have been a little worried about how it would go, since Noelle has been sick. She’s breastfeeding and we weren’t sure how her illness would affect her milk. Last visit the doctor told us today Jackson should be back to his birth weight for everything to be okay. Not only was he back to his birth weight, but everything checked out perfectly. Apparently he is also a very strong little baby. The only downside to the visit – is that we had to undress him for the exam and he peed twice within ten minutes – once on the exam table and once in Noelle’s lap.

We’d also like to take a little time to plug our awesome doctors. First of all, Noelle’s OBGYN is awesome. If anyone is looking for someone, and lives anywhere near Katy, they should give Dr. Tiffany Mullin a try. Not only is she super knowledgeable, but she is also extremely caring and supportive. She listens to what you have to say, takes the time to make sure she answers all your questions (and never rushes you), and just makes you feel at ease. Her nurse, Kim, is great too. She can always tell us the new restaurants in Katy to try and also sneaked Noelle in before everyone else when she was sick earlier this week, so we wouldn’t have to wait long.

Now on to our pediatrician. Dr. Mullin recommended our pediatrician based on what we said was important to us and our personalities. She hit the nail on the head. Dr. Alex Gonzalez couldn’t be more perfect for us. Like Dr. Mullin, he listens to all of our questions, even though most of them are probably silly first time parent concerns, and also never makes us feel rushed. He has this quiet understated sense of humor that we both appreciate. Rob was a little worried about a runny poo that Jackson produced. Dr. Gonzalez suggested that next time there’s one that concerns him, he seal it up and bring it in for him to look at – he said it would be a little present for him. When Rob joked about taking a picture of it, Dr. Gonzalez made a joke in return about posting it on FaceBook. Do not worry – that will NOT happen.

Alright – on to number two and three. First of all, Noelle felt better yesterday until the early evening. Like yesterday morning, she was feeling better this morning, so we decided to make a stop or two. First, we ran into Babies R Us for a few items. Other than the employee with the worst cough we have ever heard, it went well. Then, we had to run home to meet the oven repairman. Anyone that has been to our house lately knows how annoying our oven door is. We were thrilled when we realized that our insurance covers it! We have been living with the impossible door for months. They have to order a part, but soon the door will not be a pain in the butt anymore! After the awesome repairman left, we ventured out for Jackson’s first trip to a restaurant. When we arrived, we realized we forgot the diaper bag. Luckily, this is how Jackson stayed the whole time so it wasn’t an issue.
And….drum roll please….. Noelle ate a chicken taco, some chips and guacamole, and refried beans for lunch and some Shepherd’s Pie for dinner (thanks MacGregor Grandparents) . Hopefully that means she is on the road to recovery. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Top Dogs

So, while Noelle is still sick and we’re dealing with that, I figured we’d use this opportunity to share some positive news. But a lot of people have been asking, so I’ll just give the bad news – Noelle has been having intermittent stomach pains and intense nausea since Saturday, so the past few days have been difficult and stressing. Jackson is doing well, so no worries there, but do keep Noelle in your thoughts, prayers, and wills.

But now – good news! You know how excited you were when you heard we had a baby? Well, guess what? We actually have a family of five. Yep, our other two babies have been adapting to the new arrival, and I figured it was time to share their story.
See, Ruffles and Schuley are our dogs. And for those who say dogs aren’t really part of the family – you should get a dog sometime and maybe learn to love too. Anyway, Ruffles has been with us for almost two years – he’s a poodle-terrier (poorier?) we found at a local shelter. He apparently ran away from his previous owner, which is believable because he is known to run Schuley has been with us for about fifteen months – she’s a terrier-poodle (terrdle?) that we got as a puppy from another shelter. (Bob Barker would love us, and we love him and miss him.) They have made us laugh and smile and yell and deal with feces and whatnot, training us for Jackson’s arrival. And now he is here, and everyone says that the dogs will be jealous and depressed.
When Jackson came home, we let each dog approach him separately and smell him. They were interested, but they were more excited because Noelle’s mom was here, and she’s their favorite human.

Well, here’s how the dogs are doing ten days in. Ruffles is not fazed. He likes to smell Jackson when he can, but he doesn’t lick him and he doesn’t let Jackson keep him from trying to snuggle up to Noelle in the bed. Schuley is fazed. She used to hang out on the bed with Ruffles, but now she seems to want to spend all her time under the bed. That’s weird. She also is obsessed with trying to lick Jackson. It takes a lot of disciplining to keep her away.

We were worried there would be problems, and over the last few stressful days, our attention for the dogs has been even less. The air conditioning, the hospital, the doctor, this sickness, the schoolwork piling up, and, you know, the week-old baby – it’s hard to give the dogs some tummy-scratching time. So when we got home yesterday from the doctor after the air-conditioning guy left after I got three hours of sleep, I was ready to take a nap. I let the dogs out to the backyard to do their business, and got into the jammies. Jackson was cleaned, Noelle was comfy, and a thought hit me.

The gate was open from the AC guy.

I threw on my clothes and ran for the front door. I opened the door, and there was Schuley. She has a good habit of getting out of the backyard, freaking out, and sitting on the door step. She’s a good girl. Ruffles though had run away from his first owner, and I was scared he would run from us. I went around to close the gate and made sure Ruffles wasn’t in the backyard. Nope.

I can’t really describe that sinking feeling I got when I went outside on the block. He could have been anywhere. I’d never find him, and he doesn’t have the traffic fear he should have to keep him safe. I went in to get my bike to begin scouring the neighborhood. There was Ruffles, waiting at the backdoor.

Good boy. Good girl.

I know the arrival of Jackson is going to change our relationship with our dogs, but they’re always going to be part of the family. I look forward to Jackson getting to build his own relationship with the dogs. It will be fun to share best friends with our son.

Monday, May 11, 2009

First and Worst Mothers Day Ever

Noelle has been sick this weekend, to the point where food is not inviting and when it does get invited, it leaves early. Her stomach pain makes her double over and we're on week three of congestion. We consulted with our doctors yesterday - both the OBGYN doctor on call from our doctor's practice and our friend Elizabeth, and they both could not give a 100% diagnosis. They both said that if we wanted to know for sure what was wrong, we could go to the emergency room. We don't like emergency rooms. So Rob and Noelle decided to tough it out. Noelle tried to sleep, Jackson started to cry, and the ceiling started to leak, so it wasn't a great night last night. (Thanks to Dave Gould for being another family expert to help when the AC started sending water through a ceiling fan.)

But to start Mothers' Day, Noelle's breakfast and water escaped almost immediately, and it was time to know for sure what was going on in there. So the diaper bag was packed and we headed to the emergency room. When we realized there would be a wait, which is rare at the Katy ER, Rob came home with Jackson to get Grandma to do some babysitting. Luckily, Noelle had pumped a few bottles yesterday, so Jackson could eat to his heart's content, provided Grandma didn't have to watch him for too long.

Rob went and joined Noelle, for her blood and urine testing, cat-scanning, ultra-sounding, IV dripping first Mothers' Day/first day away from Jackson. The gallstone fear was repudiated, the infection fear was substantiated, the Cipro was administered, the Cipro was not what out pediatrician wanted, the edict was handed down that no Cipro-infested breastmilk should be given to the boy, and finally, after about eight hours, Noelle was discharged from the hospital.

Grandma did fine playing mom again, and though she had to rush out of bed to spend her entire Mothers' Day here, I know she enjoyed her time with Jackson based on how many picture messages she sent us today. Thanks Mom!

Noelle is now working on some non-Cipro medicine to hopefully fix things, but dinner was applesauce if that's any indication how little she has healed.

Jackson is on formula for the next few hours. The breastmilk ran out, so it's bottles of Similac to the rescue. Being as Jackson is a bottle baby for the moment, that means Rob gets to play milk man tonight to let his wife sleep and recover. That's why little Jackson is snuggled up to Rob as he writes this, once again in third person.

As Mothers' Days go, this one, Number One, was not great for us. The ceiling stopped leaking (again, thanks Dave), Noelle felt like crap, her mom had to work all day for us, and Jackson's stomach did strange things with formula. Rob didn't even remember it was Mothers' Day until we were on the way to the hospital, which isn't really the time to share those sentiments, although Noelle took it like a champ. He never got the gift to go along with the card, and the Grandmas had to go without a nice present to commemorate the day.

In fact, we'll choose another day to commemorate. We just want this day to be done. We'll let you know when we decide to celebrate Our Mothers' Day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

One Week

Dear Jackson –
You entered our world exactly one week ago. It’s been the shortest and longest week of our lives. Although we have only known you a short while we cannot begin to tell you how much we love you already. Even though you pee on us, keep us up all hours of the night, and poop while we are in the middle of changing your diaper, one little “gas smile” makes it all worthwhile. Even though you aren’t awake much yet, when you are, you are very alert. Your eyes focus on our faces now and we can see you watching your surroundings and taking it all in. You make cute little noises and grasp things with your hands now. It’s amazing what a difference a week can make. We love you, little Tator Tot!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thanks for the grub and visits

Feeding Jackson is not too expensive right now, although it can certainly be painful. Our life revolves around his eating schedule, and we document every meal to ensure he's eating a healthy and well-balanced (right vs. left) diet. But apparently most new parents forget about feeding themselves. Fortunately, that hasn't been an issue for us. Our friend Bethany devised a care calendar so our family and friends could provide some meals for us these first few weeks. What a lifesaver it has been!

Rebecca provided the first feast - spinach artichoke dip, salad, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, and cake from Candelari's. Here's the grub laid out on the table. It's three days later and we still have a bit of lasagna to finish as well as some of the chocolate mousse cake dessert, so thanks for feeding us for days!

Penny provided yesterday's meal - Jason's Deli sandwiches, soup, pasta, and dessert! Their cranberry walnut oatmeal cookies are now my favorite cookie of the month, so make sure you update your address book.
Of course, Noelle's mom got the food ball rolling back at the hospital, where she brought Rob his leftover Cashew Chicken and Noelle some Taco Bell. Then Jess brought us some pizza and Scott and Ashley brought us Whataburger, which apparently led to them being blacklisted from that Whataburger. While in town, Shannon and her mom also made us some of Noelle's favorites such as Pigs in a Blanket, Chappell Hill Sausage along side Shells and Cheese, and ice tea with limes! So as Noelle is losing ridiculous amounts of baby weight, Rob seems to be gaining it. Thanks, everyone!

We also are thankful for the many visitors we have had either at the hospital or at home. Jackson has enjoyed meeting so many people that will be important in his life! Below are some pictures of Jackson with his new friends. If there's not a picture of you with Jackson it's either because A. You haven't come to visit! B. You wouldn't want the picture posted! or C. We just missed out on the photo op.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Jackson's Friends

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nap Happy

The sleep schedule at night leads us to feel somewhat well-rested, being as collectively we end up with six to seven hours, Rob getting more because he falls asleep as Jackson eats. However, the increments of sleep tend to make us a little drowsy during the day. Two hours asleep, one hour awake may make for a full night's sleep, but it doesn't feel right about four hours into the day. So we've been following Jackson's lead and getting naps when possible.

As such, yesterday Rob had the world's greatest nap, as he is a napper that can fall asleep for twenty minutes and wake up completely refreshed. This nap was especially perfect, and so he wants to thank those involved -

First off, to Noelle's mom, Baby's First Furniture, and Best Chairs Inc. - thank you for providing the world's most comfortable chair. This deluxe rocker/recliner is soft, feels like sueded, and rocks literally and figuratively. Here's a picture of Noelle enjoying it, while Schuley checks it out.

And here's Noelle asleep in it.

Second off, to Noelle - thank you for tiring the boy out with your urine adventures this morning. Thanks also for handing him over to me for some Daddy Time.

Third off, to Scott and Father George - thanks for making my absence from school so easy on me. I went by the school to pick up and drop off papers, and my buddy Scott has been handling lots of issues for me while I've been gone, including entering my grades for me. Father George is the Greek Orthodox priest who has been subbing for me, and as any educator will tell you, you never know what type of substitute you're going to have. Will it be a newspaper reader, a riot instigator, or a non-English speaker? Well, Father George is competent, witty, and communicative. He may actually be a better teacher than me. My classes are in capable hands, for once!

Fourth off, to Bill Willingham - thanks for writing Fables. I had just finished Book Four when I drifted. Those are some well-told tales.

Fifth off, to Jackson North MacGregor - thanks for falling asleep in my arms. Your tiny breaths and tiny heat helped me relax happily and lovingly. I only closed my eyes for minutes, but waking up with you there, with Fables on the chair's arm, with George and Scott handling my job, with Noelle asleep in the next room, and in the most comfortable chair ever - it was perfect. I was recharged and life looks great.

And, as a day later footnote, I thought I would have a repeat of the situation at the end of the day. Jackson and I were in the chair, I was cozy, I had the next book of Fables, and Jackson was falling asleep.

Then he peed on me.

My Little PEE-Wee

This morning is the first time I have been “alone” with Jackson. Rob went up to school to drop off some papers for me that I finished when I worked from home last Thursday. I intended to take them with me on Friday, but instead I had a kid.

Rob has been wonderful and has changed every single diaper since Jackson arrived. I am not opposed to changing diapers. In fact, I don’t even hate doing it. But, it’s nice to have such a helpful husband that when I finish feeding Jackson, I can pass him off to Rob for the diaper change that is sure to follow within minutes.

Since Rob was going to be gone for a while, I knew I was going to have to change a diaper or two. I didn’t expect to have to change quite so many. This is a rundown of the hour before Rob came home.

10:45am – Start feeding Jackson
11:00am – Switch
11:18am – Jackson still eating
Now, first it’s significant that Jackson is still eating at 11:18 because usually I have to poke, prod, kiss, tickle, and more to keep him awake to eat for a full thirty minutes. Second, it’s significant because usually at this point, Rob is changing Jackson.

Okay, back to the timeline…
11:19am – Jackson empties his bladder all over his diaper, himself, his second outfit of the day, my shorts, my legs, a couple of papers by the bed, and floor, and the changing table. Now, keep in mind, the whole time, this little boy is nursing and does not want to stop nursing.
11:23am – Jackson has a new diaper, a new outfit, and is sitting in the swing happy with himself.
11:35am – I have dried off, changed, put our sheets and such in the washer and cleaned up the mess.
11:40am – I get Jackson out of the swing so he can hang with me while I do a little research.
11:42am – The sounds begin.
11:45am – The smell has reached my nose.
11:47am – I take Jackson to the changing table and change his nasty diaper.
11:50am – Jackson chills in the pnp while I go to wash my hands. I return to find Jackson’s diaper, outfit, body, and pnp covered in urine.
11:55am – Jackson is clean, dry, and looking pretty pleased with himself in outfit #3. I decided it was time for this onesie.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Night and Day

We’re lucky parents, we know. Jackson is healthy, beautiful, and through his meconium stage. We really thought we hit the jackpot with his attitude though – he was almost always happy or sleeping at the hospital. He only cooed – we never heard him cry. Even when he came out, he cried out for a few seconds, then started making cute little noises. (I think he was just happy to be able to stretch out for the first time in months.) We were so blessed, and there was the thought, “This might be easier than I thought.”
Then we got home. That first night, he was fussy and whiny and crying and kicking, and his stomach seemed to be part of the protest. We were trying everything, grabbing new outfits, new blankets, new diapers, and around 3:30 in the morning, Rob even grabbed a book about healthy sleep patterns to see if there were some kind of emergency instructions for what to do if the baby just will not sleep. A laundry basket became the “HazMat” box. Any fear of feces disappeared from Rob forever. Jackson’s crying is still reverberating around Rob’s head two days later. Finally at 4 am, Rob fell asleep. Noelle did not and Jackson did not. They didn’t fall asleep until about five minutes before Rob’s alarm went off. Oops.

In the morning, house guests Shannon and her mother, Phyllis, helped us out by watching him so we could catch up on a little sleep. (Of course this is in addition to all the other wonderful and helpful things they did for us while they were here.) We woke up three hours later to be told Jackson had been asleep since we gave him to them. According to the doctor, his sudden change was either due to the change in environment or the discomfort from his circumcision. Things are going much better now, but that first night – every fear about not being ready to be a parent and every frustration you’ve felt when you can’t stop someone from crying arose and scared the hell out of me. Since then, I’ve felt better – we figured out the importance of burping and found Jackson likes to sleep in his swing rather than his bassinet. But mostly it’s that realization that every kid is different, and we just have to find the different ways to make Jackson stay healthy, beautiful, and happy. Last night Jackson fed every three hours without a fuss and immediately fell asleep afterwards. Now here’s just a heaping helping of pictures of the boy, because that’s why you’re really here.