Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm Blaming the Bananas

WARNING: The following story contains graphic poop imagery and is not suitable for the faint hearted.

Today has been a great day - Robbie and I got up early, got our whole morning routine done in record time (bottle, nap, another bottle, bath, dress the baby, shower for me, get self ready...) and then left for a morning meeting at the office in Schaumburg to discuss the project I'll be helping with from home.  Since my 'babysitters' are on vacation this week, Robbie had to come with me.  I was wondering how he would do today in a 2 hour meeting, and as I suspected he did just fine.  Took a brief nap in my arms and the rest of the time was his usual charming self.   With an extra helping of slobber.

After walking around the office to see old friends and show them how big Robbie has gotten already, I headed home with a very tired baby.  After his afternoon bottle, I realized that it was 'time' to change his diaper (based on observed grunts, red cheeks and signature foul odor).

I'm not exactly sure how to describe what happened next...

Upon opening the diaper, I realized that Robbie had a little case of constipation again, which is typical after I feed him rice cereal (I try to balance it out with oatmeal).  For all the grunting and straining, only a small amount of thick peanut butter-like poop was produced.  I was feeling very sorry for him as I cleaned him up, and just as I was reaching for the clean diaper and planning a dinner of oatmeal and prunes, the unthinkable happened.

He pooped with such force - a liquidy poop - that it shot out onto my jeans, hands, the changing surface... it was everywhere.  I froze, not knowing where to start - I just stared at the mess. Then I realized I needed to work quickly instead of wait around for batch #2.   As the title of this post implies, I'm blaming the bananas he ate for dinner last night for this entire situation!

So I guess the lesson I learned is to beware of the days that seem to be going perfectly.  There is no such thing with a baby!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sweet Potatoes and a Surprise

Robbie tried Sweet Potatoes out this week - they went over much better than the peas!  He didn't slow down his eating pace when I slipped some in with his oatmeal (which he did with the peas), and even let me feed him whole spoonfuls of the orange mush at a time.  I would say he didn't just tolerate them either - after each bite he would make the 'mmm!' sound and even tried to chat with me and smile while eating.  Unfortunately I don't have pictures - he was eating too fast to snap any.  This boy loves his food.

The surprise is that I'm going to be working a bit from home for my (previous) boss, Kara, at the SOA!  I'm excited for the opportunity to work with her again and contribute to a very large project she's buried under, and of course the opportunity to have the extra income is nice.  So forgive me if my blogging slows a bit.  

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what I learned from reading "The Shack", by William P. Young.  Specifically, how I live from day to day in light of what I believe eternity will be like and who I know God to be.   I'm convicted that often times I do not live what I believe - I am faithless and anxious and greedy and selfish.  If I believe that God can weave every circumstance in my life for my greatest good (wether or not the circumstance itself is good or not), and that His love for me is great and nothing can separate me from it, then I should be living without fear.  Every moment of every day, regardless of what is going on.  The passage that haunts me from "The Shack" is the one that talks about how we dwell on the past, and we fear the future - and that when we envision the future, we rarely if ever picture God to be there.  And so our present day is racked with guilt, remorse, fear, greed, what feels like a mad scramble for something solid or good or comforting.  What a destitute people we are!  The glory of it all is that we are free from that way of life, if we give our lives to Jesus and allow him to save us from ourselves.  How sad it must make the Father to watch us live just one day, not to mention an entire lifetime, without Him.  He offers us peace and wisdom, comfort and healing, unmatched love and complete tenderness - and to drive home the point, He sent his own Son to us here on earth so that our little human minds could have a chance at grasping this great love in a way that makes some sort of sense to us: flesh and blood.

I have discovered a few blogs written by others who have discovered the grace of God and have committed their lives to following him.  Leslie and Tyson... Tricia and Nate... Kathryn... Angie... The reason I keep going back to these blogs and faithfully reading is because each person is in the middle of unimaginable crisis - cancer, cystic fibrosis, stroke, death of a child... heartbreaking circumstances that threaten to shake their faith in the goodness of God.  And yet each blog is a song of praise to God, glorifying who He is and what He is doing through their lives - even through the pain.  (The song you hear is one that plays on Angie's blog, and I included the lyrics at the end of this post.)  Each of these authors are experiencing what it means to live in Christ TODAY - they look at the past to find evidence of how God was moving and working in their lives, and they look to the future with hope for eternal life spent with their Father, free from pain and injustice and sickness.  It allows them to live in the present with faith (built on the past) and hope (waiting for what they know is coming).  I want my present to look more like that - filled with faith and hope.  I am praying today that you would also find more room for Jesus in your days, and that you would allow him to build your faith and hope in who He is and what He has promised.

"Glory", by Selah

One day eyes that are blind will see you clearly
And one day all who deny will finally believe
One day hearts made of stone will break in pieces
And one day chains once unbroken will fall down at your feet
So we wait for that one day come quickly

We want to see your Glory
Every knee falls down before thee
Every tongue offers you praise
With every hand raised
Singing Glory
To you and you only
We'll sing Glory to Your name

One day voices that lie will all be silent
One day all that's divided will be whole again
One day death will retreat and wave its white flag
One day love will defeat the strongest enemy
So we wait for that one day come quickly

We want to see your Glory
Every knee falls down before thee
Every tongue offers you praise 
With every hand raised 
Singing Glory
To you and you only
We'll sing Glory to Your name

We know not the day or the hour
Or the moments in between
But we know the end of the story
When we'll see

Your Glory
Every knee falls down before thee
Every tongue offers you praise
With every hand raised
Singing Glory
To you and unto you only
We'll sing Glory to Your name
One day...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

PEAS - Down the Hatch!

Robbie did so well last week with his new meals of rice cereal and oatmeal, that I decided to introduce peas this week!  At first he was suspicious about what I was mixing into his beloved oatmeal, even giving me the stink eye when his sweet mush became soured with the veggie.  But by the 2nd meal of oatmeal and peas, he embraced it and expanded his taste buds!  Next up: Carrots. 

I think I'm starting to remember what we do when you put me in this chair with the crunchy bib...

Not loving the peas at first.

I suppose I could get used to them.

Daddy often wonders how much of it actually ends up in my tummy.

Dare I say enjoying the peas??

Ok, I forgive you for feeding me green vegetables.

And we know he's done when he blows raspberries, which is always lovely with a mouth full of mush.  Eating has become more and more of a social event for him, as he tries to communicate to me by making 'mmm' sounds, babbling between bites, and signaling that he's full.  He also knows that he's going to eat when I strap him into the chair and put his bib on, which amazes me!  He'll get his little fishy mouth going to get ready for the spoon... It's all so fun!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

4 Month Check-Up and Stats

I forgot to mention that Robbie went to the Pediatrician last Thursday for his 4 month check-up.  

He currently weighs 16 lbs 10 oz, (81st percentile), is 27 inches long (97th percentile), and head measured 17 inches (85th percentile, I think?).  Long and still fairly lean, although it's all evening out and now that we've started solids... the thighs are beefing up!  Ah, baby rolls.

He also got his second round of vaccinations, which neither of us enjoy.  He rarely cries hard, and those 4 inch needles in his thighs make him wail.  But I was proud of him - I could tell he was trying to settle himself down afterwards, and we actually walked out of the office composed.  What a big boy all around!

Fun at the Lake House

We had a great weekend at the Lake House this weekend!  I didn't take nearly enough pictures, it's hard to remember when you're having fun being together - you just want to be in the moment.  Oh well - here's what I got!

Robbie loves the boat and is so much more aware of what's going on.  The hum of the motor and sound of the water always puts him to sleep! 

Grandpa shows Robbie the lake - and tells him all about how he will ski and drive the boat one day.  I love this picture - you can see Robbie's face in Dad's sunglasses.

Chatting away!

Pretty Armbruster girls!

What I didn't catch with the camera were some other Robbie-firsts and fun activities:

- He tasted baby oatmeal and LOVES it!  The rice cereal was clogging his 'plumbing' if you will, and the oatmeal swiftly took care of that problem.  Plus it apparently tastes better to him than the rice cereal, so everyone's happy now!

- He took his first 'swim' in the baby pool on the deck.  
The verdict: he enjoyed it, but got bored.  I think it will be more fun once he can sit up by himself and face me, instead of sitting on my lap staring at the other side of the plain blue plastic pool.

- Dad (Rob) is now slaloming really well, and even getting outside the wake and back like he's been doing it for years.  He's dangerously close to making me look like a beginner skier - this baby-making thing really alters your athleticism!  

- Speaking of athleticism, I rolled my ankle as I stepped off the pier while carrying Robbie Sunday.  Luckily I was able to keep from falling by bearing all my weight on the side of my foot while it was turned in/under, and stood back up - but I'm paying for it now!  So sore... and I didn't even ski.

- We played lots of euchre, and after getting skunked by mom and dad the first game, Kels and I went on to cream them 3 games in a row!  Ok, maybe it wasn't a creaming - but it sure felt good to finally win against those 2.

- My family surprised me with a birthday celebration on the boat Friday morning! (First ever birthday party ON the boat!)  My brother Collin was responsible (so I hear) for the creative idea of packing the wells of the boat with helium balloons.  We were in the middle of the lake when he starts to say "Ready?... 1, 2, 3..." and then opens the wells - all of these green and pink balloons fly out and up into the sky, and one boat passing us starts to honk.  SO cute.  Then a raspberry/white chocolate cake is pulled out of another bench, along with cute plates and napkins, silverware, and gifts.  It was so special and my mom got great pictures of it all - I'll try to get them from her to post.  It was the best celebration and so thoughtful!  Thanks guys! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Who Knew Rice Cereal Was This Much Fun!

Ok, I have to preface this post:  the picture of Robbie making funny faces were more interesting than the ones (20-ish?!) where he is smiling and having a great time.  So don't think that I am torturing him with Rice Cereal!

Yesterday Robbie hit the 4 month mark, and after reading about 'how to know if your baby is ready for cereal', it was clear that Robbie fit the description:
- baby has doubled their birth weight or weighs over 14 lbs:  CHECK
- baby sits with support and has good head control:  CHECK
- baby continues to be hungry after 32 oz of formula in a day:  CHECK
He has also shown interest in what I am eating at mealtimes, and recently tried to grab my frozen yogurt.  So last night we gave him his first few bites of rice cereal, and he ate it like a pro.  You would have thought this baby came out of the womb eating cereal.  So I couldn't wait to get up this morning and give him more!  (...and take a few pictures...)

As soon as I put him in the high chair again, he started moving his mouth/tongue and pretend eating - he knew what was coming!  It was so cute.

First bite:  "I THINK I remember what this stuff is..."

Half way through: Looking a little dazed.  
And a lot like he's on a roller coaster and holding onto the harness for dear life.

"WOAH."  A little distracted (bothered!?) by the camera flash.

Oh this poor baby - he was cracking me up.  At this point I realized that naptime was going to follow closely behind the cereal experience.  He was totally glazed over!

Sweet face

Getting into it - and starting to really put away the cereal!

Having a good time

When can I have more!?

After breakfast, Robbie was feeling like a big boy, so as we got ready for bath time he asked if I could please use the bath sponge instead of his baby bath tub.  (I know, he's very advanced.)  I thought it was a good idea, so he laid down in the bath - all 1 1/2 inches of water! - on his little teddy bear sponge and kicked at the water like a mad man the whole time.  It was great, until he spit up a little formula/cereal AND peed in his bath water both at the same time.  It was a big morning and he wore himself out, barely getting his diaper and clothes on before falling asleep for a long morning nap. 

For all of the mothers out there, when did you start Stage 1 jars?  From what I've read, I'm thinking I'll give it a week or two of just cereal... maybe longer?  Then introduce flavors, maybe mixing in a little Stage 1 fruit with the cereal?  (I do know about waiting 3-5 days before introducing each item for allergies.)  Let me know what worked for you!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Robbie is 4 Months Old Today!

So Robbie is 4 months old today - and I have no idea where the time has gone!  I've been saying this a lot lately, but I thought that he would still seem like a 'baby' at this age, and he doesn't at all.  He is developing his own personality, routines, has so many fun expressions, is finding his voice and learning new tricks every day. 

As is customary, we had a little baby photo shoot with Hippy this morning.  Hippy was surprised how big Robbie was since the last time they hung out.

Contemplating the photo shoot...

Hi Mom!  Look how big I am now...

My legs are so long - good for kicking Hippy out of the picture.

Being silly, eating hands...

Happy to share a little love with Hippy again.

My serious face - I'm thinking about my next move...

Which is to take down this hippo.

Starting to get a little tired (and fussy) - the paci appears. But it matches the outfit, so no worries.  Is it just me, or does it look like these 2 are conspiring against me?!

Mom wanted one more picture, of me and Hippy holding hands - I am getting pretty good at holding on to things!

All tuckered out from a big morning - it's hard work turning 4 months old!

"The Shack"

Have you read "The Shack", by William P. Young?

If you have, you know how I am feeling - I just finished it moments ago.

If you haven't, I hope someday (soon!) each of you will pick it up and read it.

I don't want to say too much about it, for several reasons:
1. I want you to experience it for yourself.
2. I can't even begin to put words to what I have learned, how it has deeply affected and changed me.
3. I'm sure that every one of us that reads the book and the exact same words will take from it very different things - things that are for each of us individually to learn, grow from, be broken by, and be softened as a result.

I will say this: it will definitely shake up your view of who God is, how He wants to live in us, the depth of his love, and how you view your life and this earth.  It is easily my favorite work of fiction.

Thoughts, anyone??

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Blog Gets a Facelift

I finally figured out how to make our blog cute!  Horray.  No more bland templates.  Hope you enjoy it.  I'll be updating and changing it around frequently - there were so many other looks I also liked.

Also, I figured out how to iChat today and connected with my mom and grandma in Cincinnati so that they could see Robbie.  If you have this capability, email me your screen name (or whatever it's considered) and Robbie will chat with you, too!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Breaking News!

ROBBIE JUST ROLLED OVER BY HIMSELF FOR THE FIRST TIME!  We were both in the kitchen, and I looked over at him on his activity mat while I was making myself a sandwich because I heard this muffled sound... and he had rolled onto his stomach but his arms were pinned under his belly.  I will try to get video soon and post it here (if I can figure out how).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Praying for Katherine

I don't remember how I became aware of Katherine Arnold Wolf's situation, but I have been following it for a little while now via the blog her family members keep and also her mother's blog.  If you have a moment, visit the first blog by clicking here; you will be blessed by her father-in-law's profound insight ("A New Appreciation For My Temporary Abilities") and challenged to live differently today and forever.

Say a prayer for Katherine today if you are willing - I don't know her but my heart goes out to her.  She's my age, has a new little boy, and suffered from a devastating brain stem stroke in April that came seemingly out of nowhere.  She was in a coma and is now recovering slowly.  Can you imagine?  I can't.  I am praying so many things for her - healing, encouragement, comfort, intimacy with Christ, ministry that is born out of her suffering, the chance to soon be back to daily life with her husband and little boy... pray also for her husband and for her son.  

Playdate with the Fuhrman Twins!

Jen and I finally got together yesterday for a playdate with the babies.  We met at the very-kid-friendly Augustino's and spent maybe 2 or 3 hours together!  

The babies had lots to catch up on.  Amelia ("The Pixie") explained to Robbie that he can have 8 oz bottles instead of just 6 oz, if he's willing to give up one of his usual feeding times.  And Jackson ("J-bird") pointed out that it's cool to have a nickname that doesn't have the word 'meat' in it.  Robbie ("Meat Log" / "Meat Loaf" / "Meatball" / "Meat Stick") showed the twins how mommy can pull him up from laying down to sitting to standing while he holds his head up.  He also showed off one of his teethers and his size 3 diapers.  It was a very educational day for babies and mommies alike.

I am constantly amazed by Jen's ability to get out with the twins - she is the most graceful mommy and really has no idea.  You should have seen everyone in the restaurant look over at her as she waltzed through the doorway carrying 2 infant seats, looking super trim and all dressed up like she was never even pregnant!  She is a great friend and it's so wonderful to have women like her in my life - we get to figure out motherhood together as we go.

Robbie, Jackson and Amelia

Days like this...

...may seem ordinary to some, but to me they are full of wonder and love.

Talking to the bears on his bouncy seat...

Sneezing... it always cracks me up.

I wish I knew what was going through his little head... he looks so old and pensive here!

I wish I could somehow allow you to pinch or kiss those sweet cheeks through the computer screen!

We had a good laugh today when the 3 of us showed up to shop Naperville's sidewalk sales together, and discovered that we'd chosen the exact same hue of aqua to wear.  What are the chances?  (Special thanks to everyone who stopped us to ask if we'd planned our outfits.  Seriously...!?  Who does that?)

We will look back on days like this one, and wish we could have just a little more time.  So I'm trying to savor every minute, but they go by so quickly.  Kelsey's home from college, Mom's available, Robbie's portable, and it's warm out.  And everything they're selling in Naperville is 50% off.  (haha)

Happy Birthday Mom!

We celebrated my mom's birthday this week by having a big dinner at our house, complete with cake from our favorite Naperville bakery (Cakes Plus).  We got out the china and had a great time together as a family - including Cheryl!  My mom is amazing and I am so thankful for her.  She is beautiful from the inside out, and has sacrificed so much for us throughout her life.  She had much to celebrate over the last year!

Me, Mom, Collin and Kelsey

Mom and Dad 
Cheryl and Mom

Walking her buddy while we made dinner

Robbie is thankful for his grandma!

Recent "Firsts"

Robbie is growing up before our eyes this week!  Here are some of his new tricks:

- If something's funny to him, he now belly laughs and it trails off into a giggle at the end
- He watches us eat, and his gaze follows our fork from plate to mouth
- He grabs for things on the table or in our hands that are within reach if we hold him while we're eating
- He does 'crunches' - if he's laying down but propped up at all on a pillow, he pulls his head up and gets his shoulders off the ground in an effort to sit up
- He only allows us to cradle-hold him if we're feeding him a bottle
- He eats 8 oz bottles 
- He reaches for, grabs onto, and sucks on the silky edge of his blanket
- He rotates himself 90 degrees while laying in his crib or on his activity mat
- He is enthralled by and talks to the wooden bears that hang on his Baby Bjorn bouncy seat
- During tummy time, he is able to hold his head up and push his upper body off the ground with his forearms/elbows
- He figured out today that he can see me in the mirrors while we're driving in the car
- He is ticklish under his chin (discovered this evening while I was trying to wipe stinky milk out from between his chin rolls)
- He sucks on his index, middle and ring fingers (sometimes all at once, sometimes one at a time)
- He grabs onto his bottle with both hands, but is unable to hold it up by himself while feeding

We have full hearts...

...after spending a long weekend over the 4th of July in New Jersey with Rob's side of the family.  Everyone was able to be together, which is really amazing given our schedules and phases of life.  We spent the time together laughing, playing, talking, eating, and deepening our  relationships. We were so sad to leave, especially since it was the first time some family members were able to meet Robbie.  I am in LOVE with the pictures we have from the trip, and couldn't wait to put a fraction of them up on here for you to see!

Rachel (Rob's older sister) and I have been waiting for the day we could get our boys in matching outfits for their first 'Cousins' picture!  Obviously, I am the one who chose what they wore, being the first time mom that I am, and picked white shirts.  Consider me wiser now.

This picture was Rachel's idea - and it turned out so cute!  Great way to chart their height in comparison, since my guy can't stand yet. We joked that it looks like a cell phone commercial with the 'bars'.

Aunt Christine held Robbie every chance she got, and he loved it (often falling asleep in her arms).  I thought this picture was beautiful of the two of them.  And no, we aren't at a botanical garden - that is Dad Livingston's BACKYARD.  It's stunning!

Our little family picture.

Nicholas, Robbie and James on the 4th of July in their Red, White and Blue. 
(When Rachel told Nicholas that morning that he would be wearing a red, white and blue shirt  for the 4th since those are the colors of our flag, he said to her "You can't put me on a stick!", thinking that she intended to actually make HIM the flag. Don't you love how literally kids take the things you say sometimes? I think we will all remember that comment every year around the 4th!)

Christine, Brad, Ryan, Me, Rob, Rachel and Marc
(Ryan gets his holidays mixed up sometimes... 4th of July, St. Patrick's Day, whatever)

"Ma Block" as Nicholas calls her - Marc's mom, Anne, meeting Robbie for the first time.  She is so wonderful and gracious, I always love when we get to see her.

Baby James, toting the bubble wand I brought to him.  What a CUTIE!

Speaking of cuties, Nicholas with Grammy

It got unusually quiet one day, so I went looking for James, and this is how I found him!  Pulled up in front of the big TV, lounging in his Elmo chair, watching a kids show.  Don't you love how he's got his little foot propped up on his knee?!   

Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma Maas meeting and getting to know Robbie.  He LOVED them - they both held him and really enjoyed him.  They even made a special trip back to the house to see us an hour before we left to catch our flight.  They are precious and this picture just melts me.

We put Robbie's feet in the grass for the first time, and he liked it!   
All of these little 'firsts' just seem so monumental to me - I know it's ridiculous, but maybe you mothers out there know how this feels?  It's like re-discovering the world yourself as you introduce your child to it.  
Hmm... which reminds me of a funny moment in the airport when Mom Livingston spotted an unusual (unnatural?) event taking place.  She leans over towards me to tell me what she spotted, and then in the direction of the stroller says "I apologize for this crazy world, Robbie" - or something to that effect.  It was lighthearted and hilarious to me at the time, but the more I think about it the more it actually makes me sad.  
I know there will be discoveries and 'firsts' that are not joyful or pure, and I want to protect Robbie from all of them.  Oh, this fallen world.  I know I can't do that, so instead I pray that he will be equipped with the knowledge and wisdom he needs to be a light in this dark world for the sake of Christ.  I'll enjoy these little innocent moments with a grateful heart, because God reveals himself everywhere in everything if we just learn to look for Him.  And that is a blessing.

Grandpa and Grandma Livingston with Robbie just before we parted ways at the airport.  

After this weekend, it really hit me how blessed we are to have each other.  It's easy to take family (and time together) for granted.  There was a subtle heaviness in all of our hearts over the weekend because of the death and funeral of a relative, and in a way it was like this nagging reminder to soak in the time together.  

To be a part of a family is to attempt to love each other unconditionally and constantly; not to be perfect, but to seek Christ wherever you are at, and to seek Him together too.  Our goal as we seek Him should be to become more like Christ so that He is glorified. Marriage presents the opportunity to do this with 2 families at once, which is not always easy but promises to shower you with blessings along the way.  This weekend we experienced the blessing part.  

That may or may not make sense - it's getting late and it's really hard sometimes to put words to spiritual moments.  To summarize, Rob and I could not be more thankful for our parents and siblings and extended relatives.  We are thankful for those who know Christ and are able to encourage, mentor and walk alongside us in our faith - and we ask God to continue reveal Himself to those who do not know Him yet and draw them to Himself.