Time to Play

One of the most fun things I’ve experienced as a mom is observing Shepherd learning to play. In the past couple of months, his personality and his curiosity have blossomed. Now that he is mobile and upright, he has begun to interact with toys and become really interested in their shapes, sounds, appearances, functions, and, of course, their tastes. Everything goes in Shepherd’s mouth.
I took out tupperware, spoons, and plastic pitchers for Shepherd to play with, too, and he likes to push empty canisters and bottles across the floor. He has several board books and one cloth book, but he doesn’t quite know how to turn pages (except for the cloth book) yet. I’m eager for him to be interested in the pages of the book, but for now, I read until he starts to get squirmy. 
One of Shepherd’s newest forms of play is mimicking us. During a conversation with my mom yesterday, I coughed, and immediately after, Shepherd would exaggerate blinking and make spitting noises. I caught him the first time, and thought it was a fluke, so I kept doing it. Sure enough, he knew what I was doing and what he was doing, so every time I coughed, he would close his eyes and pretend he was coughing, too. It was hilarious, and he looked like Jeanne in I Dream of Jeanne. I barely caught it on video. 
I love how fun our relationship is becoming, and I can’t wait to see Shepherd’s little personality continue to blossom.

Movin’ On Up

So, this weekend we decided to move our bedroom upstairs. In our 104-year-old house, this meant figuring out a way to get our mattress up a staircase that has a clearance of fewer than 40 inches and turning a right angle. When we first moved in to our rental, sight unseen because of circumstances, we didn’t have time to measure or plan where anything would go. In fact, our movers got here before we did, and they were waiting in the driveway when we got here. 
They were already unpacking the truck before we’d gone inside the house, so we quickly started designating rooms. The movers said they could manage getting our mattress up the flight of stairs, but said there was no way they could fit our box spring mattress up the staircase, so we quickly decided we’d stay in the third bedroom (downstairs). I regretted that decision almost immediately… the movers were gone, though, and Aaron and I were exhausted, so we didn’t move anything. We just wanted to be settled!
So, we stayed with the furniture in this configuration for a month trying to adjust to it. We never did. Finally, we decided we’d just do it and get it over with and switch rooms. This morning we cleared the upstairs with boxes we never unpacked (I always knew we would end up moving) and switched the third bedroom/office and our master bedroom. I love it already… we have so much more room, more light and we are near Shepherd’s room.
The only catch was we couldn’t have our box spring. Aaron pulled and I pushed the mattress up the tiny staircase, broke down our bookshelves and moved DVDs and books, broke down and rebuild the bed frame and finally had all of the big pieces reassembled in their new homes. Without the box spring, though, our mattress sunk into the frame, so we had to make an emergency trip to Lincoln for plywood. Neither hardware store in Seward was open on Sunday! 
It was a tight fit to get the sheets of plywood in Aaron’s car, but we managed, and got home just in time to get ready for a surprise party we went to tonight. I am looking forward to sleeping in our “new” bedroom tonight, and think this configuration is going to work a lot better for having a separate “library,” aka craft and office space. Now we need a desk and some filing space to have a functional space! Here’s a sorta-panorama of the space in transition: 
and an adorable baby I saw at Home Depot: 
It’s funny how small changes make a house feel like a home. We aren’t in love with our rental, by any means, but I am realizing that there’s no reason for me to wait to do some of the things I want, like switching around our rooms, until we are in our own home, or the next place we live, or wherever. That thought process keeps me from rooting myself where I am and living life as it happens, instead paralyzing me by waiting for something better.
I struggle with getting ahead of myself, especially when I have to deal with the quirks of this place, but it’s my experience that once I stop trying to make something work that isn’t intended for me and just be opportunities better than those I try to construct come about. Just another lesson that the grass is greener where you water it.

Shepherd :: Seven Months

Dear Shepherd,

Your seventh month was a fun one for us. It started out with our first day in our new home in a new city and state (and time zone) for you to adjust to, and it has been a wonderful transition for all of us to be back in Nebraska.

This month has seen “capital M” Milestones, things like sprouting two new teeth (which actually started last month) and crawling. You are no longer scooting; for about a week, you’ve been a hands-and-knees mover and shaker. One of the funniest things about you crawling is how determined you are to get to where you want to go, especially if you are upset. This pairs well with something else we’ve noticed this month: you have become increasingly dependent on and clingy to me. If I leave the room for a second, even to go in to the next room, you will cry as soon as you realize I’m not there, even if someone else is in the room. This is difficult for your dad, because you are often reaching for and looking at me, crying, when he holds you. If you see me, and you want to be held, you will cry and cry unless I pick you up, even if someone else is holding you. If I leave the room, though, you stop crying and seem to “forget.” One thing I want to remember is seeing you crawl, tears streaming down your face, from the dining room to the kitchen where I was cleaning dishes. You look so small and helpless there, but as I watched you move yourself, I saw just how independent you are and will continue to become.

You have become much more interested in books, stuffed toys and everything else in your little world. Your favorite book is the animal book from Birdie because it makes crunchy sounds, and your favorite things to play with are your football, Baby Sophie and anything you aren’t supposed to have. We have to have eagle eyes when you’re on the floor because you like to climb everything. You easily go from kneeling to pulling up on anything; you want to scale the couches and climb to the top of the jumper.

You seem to understand “no” and “baby” and your name. You babble a lot, and you can parrot what I am saying when you want to. You melt my heart when you repeat “mama” to me after I’ve asked you to say it. You understand gentle words and smile when you hear them, and you are sensitive, too; when you are spoken to sternly you will cry real tears. Sometimes when your dad is joking, he uses loud noises, and it scares you because you think something is wrong, and then both dad and I feel bad for scaring you.

I think you are a strong-willed little guy already. Your temper is a force when you are upset, mostly when you are hungry or aren’t being picked up as soon as you like. You seem to get upset when you can’t nurse immediately and when food is taken away from you.

One hallmark of this month has been your foray into solid foods. We began at the beginning of the month with baby-led weaning, and we have enjoyed watching you eat real food from the get-go. You began eating dinners, and you now eat solid food at both lunch and dinner. Your first food was avocado, and in the last month, you have had several types of food including apple, pear, squash, zucchini, broccoli, cheese, cottage cheese, beef, mashed potato, sweet potato, greek and regular yogurt, carrots, rice cake, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, bell pepper, tomato, waffle, tortilla, spinach, beans and pasta. The only things you have seemed to truly dislike are pasta and, at first, cottage cheese. You have since taken the cottage cheese, but you will leave pasta on your plate most of the time. We tried raw tomato one time, you may have had a small reaction to it. Your Birdie is allergic to raw tomatoes, so we plan to stay away from tomatoes for a while. I like baby-led weaning because you try a variety of tastes and textures and can self-regulate how you eat. The downside of baby-led weaning has been how messy it is, especially with sauces and yogurts.  I really wish we had a dishwasher most nights! Baby-led weaning has not replaced nursing for you; you still nurse 5-6 times a day despite becoming fussy during your late morning/early afternoon feedings. This is perplexing to me, but we are hopefully figuring it out.

Your sleeping habits continue to amaze me. You sleep from 7 p.m. to 6:30-7 a.m. and take two (occasionally three) naps in the day. Your morning nap is from 9:30 to 11:30 and your afternoon nap is from 1:30 to 3:30. You are a creature of habit and thrive on a predictable schedule. I am thankful for this, as it helps us identify if something isn’t going well what needs to happen. We also lowered your crib because you figured out how to pull yourself up.

I think you are so funny, little man. You shake your head like you’re saying “no” all of the time, and it just cracks us up. When you’re doing it we ask you “yes” or “no” questions to see what you say. You’re like our adorable little magic 8 ball. You are learning how to give kisses and love to hold on to people who hold you. You can be such a love, and it makes me so happy when you want to cuddle. The moments are rare, but when you fall asleep in my arms, I treasure it. It’s amazing how quickly our time has passed.

Your little birthmark on your stomach has almost completely faded, and your hair is definitely coming in. We thought you would be our bald Benjamin Button forever, but, I guess not! You are still sucking on your fingers a lot and will occasionally switch hands and suck on your thumb. Your fingers will pacify you immediately when you are crying, which is helpful, but I’m worried your teeth are going to be crooked because you suck your fingers so much.

This month was the first month since you were 12 weeks old that I have stayed at home with you. It has been such a privilege to be able to do so, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I am thankful for that gift!

Neat things this month:

  • You went to your Nana and Papa’s house for the first time;
  • You went to your first two Husker games: the season opener against Southern Miss and the second home game against Arkansas State. We hope you will be a Husker one day, but of course, we will be proud of you no matter what!
  • You met some of our friends from childhood and college;
  • You met your Great Grandparents on the Pfanstiel side (Grandpa Great and Grandma Great) and your great-aunts Shelley and Alison and cousin Maggie. You are the first great-grandchild for Grandma and Grandpa Great, and they were very excited to meet you.
  • Your cousin Kennedy was born today, which means you two are exactly seven months apart. Two little cousins born on the cusp of changing seasons… a spring baby and a fall baby!
We have loved this month and the newness it’s brought to our family and the familiarity we find in getting to know you better. I love how you know us and we truly are building a relationship. I look back on pictures of when you were a newborn and just can’t believe it. I feel like my heart has always known you. We love you so much, little one, and praise Jesus for the joy of raising you to love him.
Mama and Daddy

At Seven Months:

Height: 28 inches (80th percentile)
Weight: 16 pounds 6 ounces (16th percentile)
Head circumference:
You are wearing size 6, 6, 9 and 6-12 month clothes. Almost all of your jammies need to be replaced because they are too small in the legs and feet.
You are wearing size three diapers; you switched at 6.5 months.
You have brown/green/hazel eyes.
Some nicknames we have for you this month:
Shepì Pepì
Jacques Pepin
Pepsi (Pepsi Cola, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Maxx (when you’re hyper), Caffeine free Pepsi (when you’re tired/asleep)
Prince Caspian
Chef Pepi
Tiny Chef
Mr. Pepin
Baby love
I am writing letters and taking photos of Shepherd on (or near) the 20th of every month.  

Shepherd :: Six Months

Sweet Shepherd Pie,

We really turned your world upside down this six month. I’m writing you almost three weeks later because some big changes have happened to our family.

First and foremost, let’s talk about your development. Baby boy, you have been such a joy to parent. You are still nursing frequently with the plan to begin solid foods when you were six months old. You struggled with sitting up unassisted but progressed as the month did. Despite the fact that you toppled over easily, you wanted to go, and quickly! You scooted and army crawled and tried desperately to get where you wanted to.

You cut your first two teeth this month, too; you have two shiny little bottom nubbies. Your left tooth came first, and then your right one a few days later. They happened to pop out right in the middle of the big event… our move to Nebraska!

In the middle of the month you began sleeping restlessly. You woke up in the middle of the night once or twice, because of the teeth I think, but didn’t have any other wake-ups. I think you could also sense that we were on the brink of a big change. My last day of work was August 8, and it ended up being a big relief for me to have time off to be with you and coordinate the logistics of our move. Your last day at Ma’s house was August 14; at that point, you were drinking 15-20 ounces of milk at her house and I was really struggling to keep up with your demand. You also hit a big growth spurt and probably grew a foot! Not really, but you did seem to grow tall and you have a lot more hair. Your eyes are brown and bright, but every so often they change to green.

You put everything in your mouth. You love to be held and prefer it to being on the floor, but if we can distract you with a fun toy or book, you will give us a few moments there, too. Your favorite toys have been Baby Sophie, the oBall, diapers; recently, you have taken an interest in your stuffed animals. It is so fun! You have also discovered that the kitties exist, and you think they want to be your playmates. Unfortunately for you, this will be your first lesson in disappointment; Toby is afraid of you and is around you only when he is perched high enough that you can’t touch him, and Livy is very sweet and tolerant of you pulling her tail and “petting” her, but she is also afraid of the sounds you make at her. You squeal at both of the cats, talking to them to gain their attention, but they do not make conversation and, more often than not, get scared by your loud noises and run away. I think they are in for a rude awakening when you are mobile!

I am impressed by how you are beginning to show that you are learning things. You are still as happy as can be, but when you get frustrated, you get very frustrated! Sometimes I have to hide my laughter. You are also able to scoot around easily, and we can no longer leave you on the bed; you can push the pillows down and break out of your jail. Not that we learned that the hard way or anything!

Neat things we did this month: (it’s long, because we’ve had a great month!)

  • Dad went to Nebraska to interview for a new job, and we decided to move back to The Good Life.
  • We went to Tyler to see Birdie and Poppy while Dad met up with all of the Nix men. Maybe one day you can go! You also got to see Aunt Jilly and Hayden because Jilly had the day off at Pine Cove.
  • Your Aunt Shannon came to visit one last time before we left Florida.
  • You met many of my friends and colleagues from the FSU Foundation (and I left my first real job)!
  • We went to Seaside and said “see you soon!” to the beautiful ocean that we enjoyed for almost three years.
  • The great migration to the Midwest began! We bid farewell to living in Tallahassee, Florida, and drove to Tyler. We spent a few days with Birdie and Poppy and enjoyed the sunshine and the pool. Then, we drove to Wichita, Kansas, and spent the night with your Uncle TJ and Aunt Tiffany (Bees) and their puppy Mallie. You absoultely adored Mallie, and she was really sweet to you, even though you pulled her fluffy ears. We are working on “gentle,” but you are still a little young to understand the concept.
  • We moved in to our new house and started our new journey in Nebraska!

We thought the move would be harder on you than it was. With your teeth coming in, we were petrified you would scream the entire journey from Florida to Nebraska. The movers left with our semi-truck on August 15, and we drove to Birdie and Poppy’s and spent a few days there. Then we spent the night with Uncle TJ and Aunt Tiffany. The next day we made the last leg to Seward. You did so good, and managed to hardly cry at all. We were so thankful, because we were so tired and stressed!

The next month will bring a lot of change in our lives, and I am so thankful that our family can experience this journey in a place we love so much. I am eager for you to grow up, at least for now, in this place and to see how you blossom. I am nervous about how this change will affect you, but I know that we are in a wonderful community, and I look forward to growing here.

We love you, little man. Your bright eyes bring us so much joy!
Mama and Daddy

At Six Months:
Height: unknown (we moved on the date of our six-month appointment, so we will be delayed in these stats)
Weight: unknown
Head circumference:unknown
You are wearing size 3-6, 6, 9 and 6-12 month clothes. You have a few size 3 onesies that still fit, too, but just barely. We have packed most of the clothes, and it kind of breaks my heart that we won’t need to unpack a lot of baby stuff!
You are wearing size two diapers.
You have brown/green/hazel eyes.

Some nicknames we have for you this month:
Shepherd Pie
Peppy Pie
Shepì Pepì
Jacques Pepin
Prince Caspian 
Chef Pepi
Tiny Chef
Baby Guy
Moose (Your Poppy calls you this)

I am writing letters and taking photos of Shepherd on (or near) the 20th of every month.  

Nebraska vs. Arkansas State

Aaron’s parents generously gave us their East Stadium tickets for last weekend’s game, so we went to our second home game of the season. It was a beautiful day for a Husker win!

I love the walk from the stadium through campus and reminiscing about the life-changing years I spent as a student at UNL. Campus has a huge part of my heart and holds many dear memories.

Here are a few of my favorite game-day events:
• A slice of Valentino’s • the Fairbury hot dog gun • Tunnel Walk • flyovers • “Through These Gates” • red balloons • pregame donuts at LaMars • throwing the bones •

I can’t wait to share these traditions with Shepherd as he grows older!