Charlie had his first taste of solid foods on Saturday.  We debated skipping the cereals altogether after I read that some people think it doesn't provide anything valuable to the baby.  However, we asked our pediatrician at Charlie's 4-month check-up and he said he recommends starting with cereal for a couple reasons: 1. it provides iron for baby and 2. it's a good staple to have in their diet going forward (i.e. oatmeal) so it's good to start that now.  SO, rice cereal it is!

Saturday morning I mixed up about 1 tablespoon of rice cereal with some breast milk.  I made it pretty runny for his first time and he did OK with it.  Of course quite a bit dripped down his chin, but what can you expect for a first-timer?  Sunday I made the cereal just a bit thicker, and I used water instead of milk (purely out of laziness).  He did just as well, but only ate about 1/2 of the tablespoon that I made.  The reports I've gotten from day care and my mom were that he did great both Monday and Tuesday eating his new morning meal.

  My favorite part is how darn cute he looks in the high chair...

Charlie did another fun activity at day care on Monday - he sat at the big boy table (with the help of some towels stuffed on either side of him) and played with whipped cream.  They said he had a lot of fun and they sent me these pictures to prove it.  Fun!
And here are some pictures of one of Charlie's new favorite pastimes - holding his feet.  Occasionally they go in his mouth, but he's mostly just interested in holding them.



Jack is so entertaining these days with all the little things he says and does, but here are a few of my favorites from the last couple of weeks...

A couple nights ago Jason was putting him to bed and had this exchange with him:
Daddy: "I love you Jack"
Jack: "I love you Daddy"
Daddy: "I love you Jack"
Jack: "I love you Daddy"
Daddy: "I love you Jack"
Jack: "I love you Jason"

Of course Jason thought it was funny, so now Jack loves saying that every time. He's even extending it to all of us. When I tell him I love him, he responds with "I love you Mommy Jason" and a giggle. When we tell him to tell Grandma he loves her, he says "I love you Gram-ma Jason." Funny stuff.
Helping Daddy make breakfast
Jack has also become quite the back seat driver these days. He's taken to warning me "Mommy, don't hit any cars!!" almost every time we're in the van. For the record, I have not in fact hit any cars so I'm not sure what brought on this coaching. Then this weekend we were headed to my parents' house and I went a different route so I could stop at the gas station. My co-pilot started saying "I want to go to Gram-ma and Grampa Lang's house" over and over. At first I didn't respond to him because I was talking on the phone (hands-free of course), but then it occurred to me he was upset because we took a different route. Sure enough, I said "Jack we are going to Grandma and Grandpa's house" and he said "No, Gram-ma and Grampa's house WAY back there (complete with a thumb pointing behind him)." Man, this kid is smart!
Sitting at the counter eating ice cream - doesn't he seem like such a big shot??
Yum!  Dairy Queen!
And finally, I discovered a new word for which Jack's pronunciation is adorable! We played the Minchers' house Saturday night and Nathan has a new trampoline in his basement. Turns out Jack calls it a "bozantine." I know because I had him say it for me enough times so that I could write it down. I didn't want to forget that one!! Love it!

Here's a little video of Jack counting to 20 (almost) and a bonus display of the "I love you Jason" fun.

Sleep & Growth Spurt

Charlie, and by extension Mommy and Daddy, have had a rough couple of weeks in the sleep department.  I mentioned two weeks ago that he was battling his first cold, and that's what started this nonsense.  The first few nights he slept either on one of us or in his swing but woke up several times throughout the night coughing, which would require us to give him his pacifier again.  Then we tried moving him to his crib with a pillow under one end of the mattress to keep him on an incline, only to find him sideways with his head banging against the side of the crib or one time even totally flipped around with feet on the upward slope.  SO, we went back to normal flat crib sleeping last week, when he seemed to be finally kicking the cold.  Phew was it a rough week!! I am not exaggerating when I say he was waking up no less than 5 times, but usually closer to 8 times EVERY NIGHT!  Luckily, all it took was a quick trip to his room to give him his pacifier, but that is not good sleep for any of us!!  My breaking point was Saturday night - I literally went in his room 10 times between 11:00pm and 6:00am.  Yikes!  Daddy heard the desperation in my voice when I climbed back in bed after feeding him at 6:00am only to hear Jack start stirring, so he let me sleep in until 9:30am while he got up with the boys.  I needed that!

I also needed a solution to our sleep issues!  I read up a little and determined that he needs to get used to putting himself to sleep at bedtime, which will help him in the middle of the night too.  Previously our bedtime routine ended with me nursing him with the lights out then placing him in bed, usually asleep or very close to it.  Starting Sunday I'm now nursing him with the lights on, then reading him a book or two before swaddling him and putting him in bed.  The first two nights of this worked like a charm.  He went right to sleep and didn't wake up once until morning!!  Last night leaving the lights on didn't help and he zonked out while eating anyway, but he still slept through the night.  I'm not sure how much of this is that he's finally feeling back to normal (he seems to be back to almost 100% after his cold, other than the lingering cough that just won't go away) and how much is the new bedtime routine, but I'll take it!!

I've also been experimenting with swaddling vs sleep sack.  In hindsight, beginning this experiment during the week of his cold was not the most brilliant mommy decision I've made, but for now we are back to swaddling. He doesn't fight me when I put him in the swaddle, so I think he still likes the comfort.  Fine by me.  If he's sleeping, I'm happy!!
The little guy is also apparently going through a bit of a growth spurt.  Day care told me last week they thought I should bump up his bottles a bit, so this week I've been making three 7 oz bottles instead of 6.5 oz.  Monday and Tuesday he ate all three 7 oz bottles with no problem.  Today I got a call from Ms Mary and as of 1:30pm Charlie had already guzzled ALL THREE 7 oz bottles!!!  Little piggy!  They used the frozen milk I brought in to give him a 4th bottle at the end of the day, which he also took just fine.  I'm hoping this is in fact a growth spurt because I'm sure I can't keep up with producing four bottles each day.  I think it is also a sign that it's time to start adding cereal to his diet.  So, Saturday it is!

Other Charlie updates: he is still LOVING his exersaucer and has figured out how to spin himself around so he can play with each of the toys.  He's sitting in the Bumbo some, but doesn't stay in it for very long.  He loves to roll over - as soon as we lay him on his back he rolls to his tummy.  I've only seen him roll from his tummy to his back once and it was the momentum from rolling back to tummy that kept him going so he did a full roll and ended up on his back.  Other than that one time, he just stays put on his tummy until he's had enough.

He's also drooling like crazy (see below) and gnawing on his hands and fingers.  I would be shocked if he didn't get a tooth in the next few weeks, but you just never know!
He's still loving his big brother as this video demonstrates.  I was actually trying to capture him playing and spinning in the exersaucer, but he was too focused on watching Jack!


Long Weekend

We had a nice long weekend since I was off today for MLK day.  We didn't do anything exciting, but sometimes those are the best weekends!

Saturday was Jason's birthday, but since he refuses to celebrate it, the best we could do was bake him a cake. My little helper was there to assist.

You'll notice Jack is in his jammies.  No this wasn't late at night or first thing in the morning.  This was smack-dab in the middle of Saturday.  He insisted on wearing his jammies ALL! DAY! this weekend and we happily obliged since we didn't have a lot going on.

Charlie had a big weekend trying out the exersaucer for the first time.  He is a big fan and is all smiles while he's hanging out in there!

Saturday Jack also practiced his coloring and cutting.  He's getting pretty at using scissors!
Today it was 55 degrees and sunny so we hit the park with the Ashers.  Jack and Daddy played baseball for awhile - we have a budding athlete on our hands.  He can actually hit a ball pitched to him about 50% of the time.  Not too shabby!

Charlie and Ethan hung out in their car seats while Jack and Addi played

We ended the weekend with some homemade deep dish stuffed crust pizza.  It was Jason's first attempt at this and it.was.perfect!  Yum!!


Monthly Comparisons

I left off my comparisons in my 4 month post...

Jack wanted in on the photo shoot too!


Charlie at 4 Months

Little man is just cruising through his first year!  He turned 4 months old on Monday and has met lots of big milestones this month.  Most exciting: he rolled over Sunday!  We were at Grandma and Grandpa Clayton's house with Cyndi, Todd, Mia, Lily and neighbor Lorrie, so he chose quite an audience.  He rolled back to front (I actually missed it the first time - just saw the end result: him on his tummy).  Then we rolled him back over and he did it again within a few minutes.  We all cheered, including Jack and Lily, who were kneeling right next to his blanket cheering him on.  Fun!  He rolled again a few times Monday night too.  I looked back at when Jack first rolled and it was January 7 (compared to Charlie's January 8) - funny!  Of course he was a few weeks older at that point, but still so close!
As I mentioned in my Christmas post, Charlie started laughing this month.  He's always smiling and giggling at us.  He's also becoming quite vocal, especially when he's lying on the floor.  He just discovered a squeal in the last week or two and loves to see just how loudly he can do it.  Just in the last couple days he started blowing bubbles (Jack tells him "No spitting Charlie!" - how do you explain to a 2 year-old that it's OK if his baby brother does it, but not if he does it??), and he's mastered gurgling and cooing, but those are old news by now.  He's also started chewing on the index and middle finger on his right hand.  Always those two and always that hand.  Do we have a finger sucker in the making??  We shall see.  Here he demonstrates while we tried out the ducky bathtub.  Result: not quite ready yet (he kept leaning to the side, making it difficult to bathe him), so it's back to the baby tub for now.
Unfortunately, Charlie's 4th month also brought his first cold.  He started with a croupy-sounding cough on Sunday and that night didn't sleep well at all - I ended up holding him on my chest all night to keep him more upright.  I loved the extra snuggles; I did not love going to work the next day after very spotty sleep all night.  Day care said he seemed fine, but by the time I picked him up, he seemed more congested and hoarse-sounding.  That night he slept in his swing in our room, which seemed to be better than flat on his back in his crib.  Tuesday it was clear he was still not feeling well - just not his smiley, happy self.  Hopefully we can kick this thing in the next day or two - I hate seeing my little guy uncomfortable!
I started getting out the next box of clothes for the little man (size 6-9 months) because the 6 month clothes in certain brands are starting to get a little short for him.  Cruising through those sizes just like Big Brother!  He's still wearing size 2 diapers, but I think we may be upgrading those soon as well.  He's sporting more and more of a mohawk a la Jack, complete with circular bald patch on the back of his head, and the back part of the top likes to stick up in little spikeys.
We took Charlie to his 4 month check-up yesterday.  The little big guy weighs 17 pounds, 9 ounces, which is in the 92nd percentile.  Compare that to his big brother, who weighed 20 pounds, 13 ounces at his 4 month check-up, and it doesn't seem so big!  Charlie is 26.5" long, which is in the 93rd percentile and his head circumference is 17.76" or 90th percentile.  The doctor said everything looks great and luckily no ear infection to go along with this cold - we don't want to start heading down that path!!  Charlie got 3 immunizations (one oral and two shots) and of course didn't enjoy them but settled down pretty quickly afterwards.  After his 2-month shots, Charlie was pretty irritable for the rest of the evening.  Last night he cried more than I've ever heard him cry.  I guess the combination of shots + a cold made him mad.  I was counting the minutes until I could give him his next dose of Tylenol since I couldn't get him to calm down.  He slept in his swing again and seems to feel better this morning.
Baby boy is still a pretty good sleeper - he goes down at about 8:30pm and sleeps until about 6:30am.  We do still have nights where he wakes up during the 4:00 and 5:00 hours (sometimes up to 4 times!!) and I have to go in and put his pacifier in his mouth, after which he goes right back to sleep.  I'm planning to turn the monitor down a bit so I don't hear him as quickly in hopes that he will soothe himself back to sleep without the pacifier.  We'll see how that goes.  I'm also experimenting with ditching the swaddle.  I started mid-last week and the first night ended up breaking the swaddle back out after he struggled to fall asleep.  The next couple nights he did fine with just a Sleep Sack, and then as I mentioned these last several nights have been abnormal because of the cold (no need to swaddle when he's sleeping on my chest or in his swing!).
His eating habits haven't changed yet - still nursing in the morning at at bedtime with three 6.5 ounce bottles in between.  He's still a spit-up king, but we're used to carrying around extra outfits and a plethora of burp cloths, so no problem there!  We'll start him on cereal sometime soon, but that will be worthy of its very own post, of course!

Charlie also did his first art project at school last week.  Isn't this the cutest??

OK, so maybe he didn't do a lot with the stamp covered in paint, but it's still cute that he tried!

That's our boy at 4 months!  Growing like a weed and learning new tricks and skills every day!


Rochester Trip

On December 27th we embarked on our first road trip with kids in tow.  We drove to Rochester, NY to visit my sister, Greg and this precious face:

My parents came along, so there were six of us in my mini van for the 13-hour drive (took us closer to 14.5 hours with our lengthy stops for nursing and toddler-energy-burning).  Both of the kids did so great in the car.  I had been stockpiling new activities for Jack to play with in the car....puzzles, coloring books, stickers, Slinkys, etc. - a whole bag full.  He played with most of it for short periods (I'm talking 30 minutes each way), but the favorite activity was watching movies on the portable DVD player my parents got us for Christmas.  I think he watched The Lion King no less than 10 times on the trip, along with some Little Einsteins DVDs, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and one viewing of The Toy Story.  He LOVED having a TV in the car!

Charlie was a total trooper - on the way there I even pumped once and gave him a bottle while he was still strapped in his car seat.  For the rest of the meals we were able to stop so I could nurse him and he could stretch out.  On the way there we drove about 7.5 hours to Columbus, OH where my parents' good friends Larry and Joan Hodge graciously hosted us.  The last hour of day two was a little rough on the little guy - I think he was trying to say "get me the heck out of this darn car seat!!"

We all stayed in a hotel suite, with two separate bedrooms and a small living area and kitchenette.  It was perfect for our group - a little privacy and a quiet place to put the boys down when we weren't quite ready for bed yet.  We borrowed a pack & play from Kelly for Charlie and brought a cot for Jack to sleep on.  Unfortunately, there wasn't enough space in our room for both, so we pushed our two queen beds together and Jason, Jack and I slept in the enormous bed together.  It worked out great!

We did lots of fun stuff while we were visiting!  Kelly & Greg, as always, were excellent hosts!  The first night we went to their house for dinner and Christmas gift exchange.  They introduced us to raclette, which is similar to fondue but a grill rather than a pot.  It was delish and lots of fun!

Thursday morning we checked out a play place called Kango Play Center.  They had lots of climbing areas and bouncy castles, but Jack was only interested in the roller/bike rink, where they alternated roller skating and bike riding.  He gave roller skating a whirl, but immediately wanted the skates off.  Can't say I blame him - he couldn't even really stand up and I was laughing too hard to be much help.  I think he's a little young.  Kelly took a video:
After we took the skates off he patiently waited for a least 15 minutes until it was time for bike riding.  His patience paid off - he got to ride ALL kinds of bikes and LOVED it!

Thursday night we went to the Dinosaur BBQ joint that we've gone to a few times while visiting Rochester - yum!

Friday morning we checked out the enormous train display at a local landscaping store.  It was really cool and of course Jack loved it!

Friday night went to Greg's dad Larry's (or Papa G, as Parker will call him) house for dinner.  Greg's sister and her family had just gotten in town from Pittsburgh as well, so it was fun to see everyone.  They have a daughter, Clare, who will be 3 in February.  Jack and Clare met at Kelly & Greg's wedding last October, but this time they really hit it off.  They especially liked chasing Otis around.

Saturday morning we went to the Strong Museum of Play.  We took Jack to this amazing children's museum during another visit, but he was only about 10 months old then.  Needless to say, he got much more out of the visit this time around.  One of the highlights was the Wegman's grocery store.  The instructions are to go in, shop for 5 items, go check out (you are the cashier), and then restock the shelves.  Jack loved pushing the pint-sized grocery cart!  The first time around, the five items he selected were two large blocks of cheese and three cans of kidney beans.  Yum.  When he shopped a second time, he initially put 4 red onions in his cart, but I convinced him to add some variety.  So instead he ended up with 1 red onion, some other vegetable (can't remember), a donut, milk and orange juice.  Cute.

There was endless exploring to be done at Strong and we didn't even see it all.  GREAT place for kids!!
HUGE train table!

Football exhibit

Bulldozers & rocks

Ping pong paddles - they made a different sound depending on which pipe you hit.  Of course, Jack wondered where the ping pong balls were

Hot dog vendor

The "exaggerated perspective" room
Part of the cool Sesame Street exhibit was being on TV with Elmo (not my best camera work):

 Saturday night was New Year's Eve.  We spent the evening at Kelly & Greg's with our family and Greg's.  Again Jack had a blast playing with Clare and watching (what else!) the Lion King and Little Einsteins.

Still no luck getting Jack in a picture with his brother and cousin.  One of these days....
Kelly made a make-your-own flatbread pizza spread and It.Was.Awesome!  Such a fun idea and turns out we're all pretty excellent pizza makers!  Not hard when you have so many yummy ingredients to choose from!
We didn't quite make it to midnight but we saw some fireworks at around 10:30.  Turns out Jack is still very frightened of fireworks.  In fact, that was the one thing he kept talking about when we got back from our trip.  Poor kid is still traumatized from July 4th!

On New Year's Day, we loaded up the car and headed home.  We left Rochester around noon and finally pulled into our driveway at about 1:30am (Central time).  Phew!  That was a long day!  Jack decided during the trip that he wanted very little to do with Mommy, so on the way home, only Grandma was allowed to sit in the back seat with him.  Around 10:30pm after Jack was fast asleep, Mom and I switched so I could stretch out a little more, which was fine until we stopped for gas and Jack woke up, noticed I was next to him and was inconsolable until we switched back.  Break my heart!!  I'm happy to report, he likes me again now, so don't worry!

A new development on our trip was Jack starting to say Gam-ma and Gam-pa instead of MaMaw and PaPaw (or PamPaw).  His vocabulary and pronunciation improve every day!!

We had a great trip and it was so fun to visit with Aunt Kelly, Uncle Greg and Parker!!  It was also nice to see Larry, Gennie, Eric and Clare.  Sadly we don't have our next visit with Aunt Kelly and crew planned yet - we were kind of spoiled for the second half of 2011 with baby showers, Parker's birth, Thanksgiving and now this visit - LOTS of quality family time!!  Hopefully we'll all be able to get together again soon!