Friday, April 5, 2013

Cory's Birthday

Cory turned 28 on January 3. Usually, Cory works on his birthday, but with the way Christmas and New Year fell this year, he had his birthday off. He had basketball practice, but besides that the day was ours. It was lovely!

While he was gone, Sheppard and I ran errands for his birthday with our niece Maili. I think birthdays are far more exciting if you get an awesome birthday bouquet. Then, after picking up his fabulous balloons, we picked up a big cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory in a couple flavors. Maili wanted to get him a present, so we stopped at Dick's Sporting Goods to get him a new basketball and then we met him for lunch at the Subway in the mall.

One of Cory's quirks is that he loves walking around the mall. When we're old and grey we will probably become mall walkers. He will be rocking his white velcro sneakers and have a walker that has a Kansas Jayhawks banner. So, we walked around the mall a bit.

Later, we opened gifts (a new electric razor he can use in the shower, a tie, a Nike shirt, the SI Basketball Book, some new headphones, etc.) and left Sheppard with Cory's mom so we could go out to eat.  We tried out a mediocre sushi place and then hit up the outlets at Grapevine Mills Mall. We got an Auntie Anne's pretzel of course (a favorite). Cory's mom met us to go to Les Miserables. I heard it was absolutely fantastic, but I unfortunately spent the majority of the film out in the hall with Sheppard. He was being a chatterbox and was being way too disruptive to stay in the theatre. Lesson learned: four months is too old to take to the movies. A babysitter will be booked for our next movie theatre visit!

Overall, it was a great day. Cory gets more good lucking and dashingly handsome each year. Plus, he grows more and more thoughtful. I'm a lucky girl and Shep is lucky to have such a great daddy!

What's in a Name?

People mistake Sheppard for a girl about a third of the time. I'd like to think it's because he is very handsome, which can easily be mistaken for beauty. Actually, it's probably because his hair is pretty long and because babies are kind of unisex in their features. I don't really mind and often don't correct them unless they ask for his name.

For some reason, I always feel like I need to explain to people that Sheppard's name is a family name and that it is not spelled like the sheep herding shepherd. Although that is where the name originally came from, it's what you call an "occupational surname," which I think is kind of interesting.

Sheppard's first name is my grandmother's maiden name. Her name is Helen Isabel Sheppard. I'm pretty close with my grandparents and I actually lived with them for a year during college. She had two brothers, and their friends nicknamed them "Shep" or "Sheppard." I loved the idea of using a family name. Since my first name is an Irish last name, it didn't seem strange to use a last name for his first name. My sisters and I had talked about the possibility of one of us using Sheppard for a baby boy. Well, the sons in law all rejected it, including Cory. But, nine months is a long time, and Sheppard is his name! Sheppard's middle name is Jeffrey, which comes from our good friend Jeffrey Klakring, who we really admire. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012 was Sheppard's Blessing Day. Cory got to give our Little Man a name and a blessing. He was joined in the circle by Sheppard's grandfathers, Brian Liddiard and Richard Carroll, his uncle Tyson Fuller, and our friends Jay Hinton, Chris Dansie, and Chris Borjas. 

In our church, we give babies a simple blessing after they're born that announces their name. It's given at the beginning of the Sunday meeting, and is not a big affair. We don't emphasize it quite the same as a baptism or a marriage, but it is still special and sweet. My favorite part about Shep's blessing was when it talked about his tender heart and caring personality.

I was really happy about having my family there and such a beautiful baby boy. Our meeting was at 9 AM, so my family left Austin around 5:30 AM to get there on time! We had some bets on whether they would make it on time, and they did. Shep wore a beautiful white knit suit that my parents bought. I was so nervous he would cry but after letting out one unsure squawk, he was quiet for the entire blessing. Afterwards, we had everyone come over to our house for a brunch of quiche and crepes. It was a busy, but great, day. We took some pictures, which was a bit of a process. I forgot to get close ups of Shep in his blessing outfit, but it had a cute little bowtie. I didn't make him wear the matching bonnet because it would have covered up his long locks. 

A little behind the scenes! My favorite is Tara actually looking scared of Maisy. Oh, and the fact that our niece Maili is in a phase where she always does kind of silly poses for the camera. This is her "Oh no you didn't!" face.

The Baby Blessing of

Sheppard Jeffrey Carroll
December 9, 2012
Our dear Heavenly Father, we come together at this time as Melchizedek priesthood holders to give this child a name and a blessing. The name, which he shall be known by, is Sheppard Jeffrey Carroll.
Sheppard, at this time, I give you a blessing. Thou has been blessed to be born in a family with the Gospel. Thou will love the Gospel. You will grow and be an example to your family, to your friends, to your future brothers and sisters. You will serve a mission. You will help many come to the Gospel and to know of the blessing that it has been in your life and in your family’s life.
You will find an eternal companion. You will be married in the temple and you two will one day have your own family to raise and to lead in the Gospel and in Jesus Christ.
Know that you have a great support system around you—family that loves you and will always be there for you. You have been blessed with many amazing qualities that will serve you in your life. You have a very tender heart and a caring personality. You will know how to help others in times of need and you will always be someone that people look to and come to when they need help and need advice.
Your Heavenly Father loves you very much Sheppard. Always go to Him when you are in need. And I say these things in the name of thy son, Jesus Christ, amen. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sheppard: Four Months

Sheppard, our little ham, was getting bigger and bigger. Shep started out the month by going to his first Maverick's game. They won and Sheppard was great at the game. We arrived pretty late but we were excited to take him to things we had enjoyed before just the two of us. Even if he did wear his jammies.

This month, we went down to Austin for about 4 days for his first Christmas. On Christmas Eve, he wanted to stay up with the family and party, and Cory decided Shep "knew" that the night was special. Riiight. Christmas Day was pretty uneventful for Shepman, considering he slept through a big portion of it, but he did sit in his Bumbo on a big stack of presents for a bit. Due to the whole "I'm a baby and can't coordinate my arm movements" thing, we graciously opened all of his gifts for him. We didn't buy him anything, but he was spoiled by everyone else with lots of cute clothes, books, a high chair, a life jacket, and gear to go biking with Mom and Dad. We drove back to Dallas the day after Christmas and got spoiled again by the Carrolls and extended family. We loved seeing more of Dad during the Christmas break. He still had a basketball tournament and practices, but he was home much more and it was great.

This month, Sheppard realized that he had feet. They can kick the air, kick Mom's belly, and they can stand, stand, stand, all day long. Little Man loved to stand. Sometimes he would become a stiff board and would not sit. I would seriously try and get him to bend to sit down and he wouldn't do it. Other times, it's like his little muscles would give out and he would casually tip forward in half. This could happen without warning and we soon learned our lesson. When we were in Austin for Christmas, we went out for lunch with my family to Cory's favorite burger house, Moonie's. Shep was standing in Cory's lap and Cory was holding him at the hips. Suddenly, he just folded in half and his forehead loudly kissed the table, surprising everyone. It was actually pretty funny, but Shep was not pleased at all.

Sometimes Sheppy would suck on his whole fist, and it was funny to me that he preferred that over a thumb.  He still liked the NUK pacifiers, but wasn't yet a total bink junkie. A few days during the month, it still seemed like something bothered him at times, and if you touched his gums he seemed to like it. Or I decided he did. But, some days you just feel off and I imagine that happens to babies too.

He could be quite the little flirt, and loved to laugh at nothing. We craved his giggles and could get them pretty easily by blowing zanzibars on his belly or pretending we were going to eat his toes. Sometimes, he would kind of do this gasp snort while he was laughing, which was super nerdy.

Shep was a really chill baby during the day, just laughing and giggling and smiling at everyone. He could be so happy. Sometimes he would get really excited and pump his fist. Take it easy, right? His usual fussy times were for just a bit right before he went down for a nap. We were always working on finding that sweet spot, that magic time when he is ready to sleep but not over tired. Small window, I'm telling you! His blue, blue, eyes, beautiful eyelashes, cute little eyebrows and his long hair suckered me in regularly. His hair never fell out and just got longer and longer. People made comments about me cutting it, which I of course ignored. I loved his hair. Gosh, I loved that little boy of mine.

Just like all babies, Shep had his days. In particular, the stars were not aligned in our universe on December 12, 2012 . Whether the Mayans had a say in it is up for debate, but Sheppard did not want to sleep well, was especially fussy, screaming at times, and it was just a hard, hard, day. I felt so terribly lonely. It was one of those days where I wanted to sit down, cry, and wish that doing that would make my worries go away. Or, that someone would miraculously appear and give me a break. I called my mom and bought more gas drops. I felt slightly better after talking to her and the next day was better and that's just how life is sometimes. Challenging at times, but you deal. You need to be a finisher every day. You might fall across that finish line, crying and glad it's over, but that sun goes down, and it will come up on a fresh day tomorrow.

Sometimes Shep spit up a fair amount but I didn't think much of it because it didn't seem to bother him. One time in particular, he spit up all over me and he was still so pumped about life. He was a good eater, but every so often didn't want to settle down for a solid session. If only he would listen to Mom, then he would know that life is usually better if we just slow down and relax. This month, I decided the milk train was going to be making fewer stops. In mid-December, I decided to try to get Sheppard to eat only every 3 hours during the day. It was a needed change and was usually an easy transition. Of course babies are humans and not robots, so some days we made adjustments.

At his four month appointment, he was 13 lb. 9 oz., 25.75 inches long, and his head was 41 cm. I think they measured his head wrong because his percentile for his head dropped like 50 points from his two month appointment. Still, he was a pretty skinny kid, weighing in at the 10th percentile. My doctor wasn't worried, and I wasn't either because he had leg rolls and ate plenty. Plus, his height was the 67th percentile, so he was decently long. I had high hopes he would be long and lean. Height can skip a generation, right? My dad is nearly 6'4" and my mom is 5'10"so there was hope.

Speaking of weight, I got down to a pound less than my pre-pregnancy weight really early on in his fourth month. I had been hovering within a couple pounds of it, and when I stepped on the scale and saw that number, I was pumped to the max. I loved nursing because it allowed me to eat and eat and still lose weight. It was like having a faster metabolism and I embraced the new "necessary" calories willingly. I was still working on getting my stomach muscles back, but was making progress.

 In December, we changed 258 diapers, and Shep nursed for approximately 42 hours, 36 minutes. If I remembered, I tried to do the sign language for "diaper" when I changed him. Sometimes I did "all done," "mom," and "more." He was still too young to know if there was any point, but I decided there wasn't much harm in trying.

After having a good stretch of not eating at night, part way through the month he started waking up at night to eat. It was usually between 2 AM and 5 AM and it happened for about 10 days. I was not so thrilled about that, because I woke up with him about 97% of the time. I made up that percentage but it sounds about right. I felt bad waking up Cory when he was getting up for work, plus if I had to feed him anyways, there wasn't much point. I usually put him on call for weekend wake-ups, but, during basketball season he had Saturday morning games. So, that meant I was on duty 6.5 nights a week. I issued a formal invitation for future babies to arrive around the last day of school (instead of the first week of school) so Cory would be available to wake up at night for the first four months.

As we got to know Sheppard more, we fell deeper in love and felt very blessed and lucky.

4 Month Stats:
Diapers Changed: 258
Total Nursing: 42 hours 36 minutes
Height: 25.75 inches (67th percentile)
Weight: 13 lb. 9 oz. (10th percentile)
Head Size: 41 cm (I think they measured this incorrectly)
Milestones: smiles, laughs, can stand if you hold his hips, easily supports his head, interacts with people

Month Posts: -Month One- -Month Two- -Month Three- -Birth Story-

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nursery Tour

I had so much fun setting up Sheppard's nursery. We went with a travel adventure theme with green, blue, brown, and yellow. I kind of wanted to do this, but ain't nobody got time for that. Well, or the money to be honest. My mom made me some custom bedding and an adorable hooked rug. There is a mix of old, new, and handmade items filling the space. I loved spending time in Shep's room. I know nurseries are really for mothers, since Sheppard slept in our room for the first four months of his life anyway (plus, he doesn't really care). Still, while it may sound silly, it made me so happy, rocking him at night in our corner, looking at his space. Just like having a French pedicure makes me feel better about myself as a person, his nursery made me a happier person.

I know it's just a room, but I hope Sheppard can feel from this room some of what I wish for him. I want him to feel adventurous; I want him to travel and see the world; I want him to love home. I want him to feel connected to all of the different people and places that came before him and will come after. I want him to love the Earth. I desperately want him to love to read and to know how to play. Life is to be enjoyed and spent in beautiful places with interesting people. I want him to always be a bit of a kid. I want him to serve a mission.

One of my favorite things about Sheppard's room was the chalkboard wall. While we lived in this apartment, I used it for his monthly pictures (see herehere, and here). I copied the idea for that from here.

I took these pictures the day I packed up his room. After some discussion, Cory and I decided to temporarily move in with his parents to beef up our emergency fund. As such, Shep and I spent quite a bit of time hanging out in his room for the last time before I packed it all up.

Glider Changing Table Bookcases end table: HomeGoods crib: Pottery Barn on Craigslist Mobile: handmade idea adapted from here Clock: I glued fabric and buttons onto an IKEA clock I had
Art: Bottom Left Bottom Middle Bottom Right Top frames: IKEA Changing table cover: garage sale Trash can: HomeGoods Rug: homemade by Mimi bins: old ones of my mom's  
Crib bedding: custom by my mom Maps: National Geographic Afghan: Cory's when he was little Ireland canvas: Cory's birthday gift from me in 2009
Jesus Print: signed Simon Dewey from a Utah Costco Art: Etsy Lamp: Target Blanket: Wedding gift from Pottery Barn Curtains: Bed Bath & Beyond from our first apartment
Globes: mix of Pier 1 and World Market Noise Maker: Cancun on our honeymoon Giraffe: HomeGoods Piggy Bank: HomeGoods (we're going to be teaching him how to budget you better believe it!)
 Globes: mix from Pier 1 and World Market Tonka Truck: my uncle's when he was little  Kaleidoscope: gift from an art show my grandparent's used to go to Sculpture: a bust of my Papa he made Art: Etsy Teddy Bear: a bear Cory gave his high school girlfriend when he left for his mission Baseball: Cory's Little League days
Letters: Urban Outfitters, Hobby Lobby, and handpainted from JoAnn's Crest: borrowed from my Gramma Tile: handmade   
Just my most favorite little human that I made with my body. As Angie says, my most bestest creation :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sheppard: Three Months

Sheppard turned three months old on November 30, 2012. In his third month, we started to settle into a more familiar routine. Sheppard would typically fall asleep between 8:20 and 8:45 PM and wake up between 6:30 and 7:30 AM. He sometimes still got up for night time feedings, but not always. He also started to take several good naps a day. His longest naps were in the morning and in the afternoon (1.0-2.5 hours) with some cat naps filling in the rest of the day. He certainly did not follow this routine like clockwork, but we were developing more of a sleeping pattern.

We did lots of things in November. Sheppard went with Grandma and me to go vote and the line was so long. I was glad so many people were out doing their civic duty, bla bla bla, but it took forever. Among normal day to day business, we spent the night at Grandma and Granddad's house several times, went to Daddy's basketball games at school,  spent a weekend in Houston, went out to eat several times, and we went down to Austin for Thanksgiving to see Mimi, Poppy, and the rest of my family. 

I was feeling more and more grateful to be able to spend time with Sheppard every day. I know many women need to go back to work between six and twelve weeks. At six weeks, Sheppard was capable of sleeping through the night, but he certainly didn't go eight hours every night. My hat goes off to women who skillfully balance motherhood and working after a six week maternity leave. Although Sheppy was a very good baby, I think I would have had regular breakdowns if I went back to work at six weeks. However, by twelve weeks, I could see how a mother could start her work day feeling "relatively" refreshed. Shep was typically sleeping through the night, and if I woke up tired it was usually because I went to bed too late (this was still an ongoing problem in the third month).

With nighttime feedings rearing their sleepy head less often, I was able to start getting things done! During Sheppard's morning nap, I tried to get some cleaning done around the house. It didn't happen every day, but I had a goal to clean a section a day, with general tidying elsewhere. This was less overwhelming for me than tackling a whole day of cleaning. Okay fine, it only lasted a few weeks before the stress of the holidays and preparing to move set in. Details, details.

We also started going on more "regular" walks and runs. Let me just say that my body was not what it once was. Yes, I could fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes and was only about two pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, but things were not the same. More curvy? Definitely. More flabby? Certainly. Glad to no longer be pregnant? Yes, yes, and yes. But, I was so very grateful for Sheppard. On November 8, Sheppard went  9 hours and 30 minutes between feedings. Around 8:30 pm, I read him a couple books, sang a few songs, and rocked him for a moment before putting him in his swing, still awake. He fell asleep within minutes without crying. When he woke up at 6am he was almost too exhausted to eat, poor guy.  After eating, he sprawled out on my chest with his head burrowed into me. It was moments like this that I could not handle how adorable he was. I found him absolutely irresistible and felt so lucky to be his mama.

At this point, we still had him sleep in our room, usually in his cradle swing. We decided the white noise machine was magic magic magic. That and the swing combined were lifesavers in those early months. However, on a few occasions he slept in Cory's sister's swing, which was more upright. After finding him laying on the rug in front of the swing, still nearly asleep, we realized we needed to strap him into the more upright swings. But, he did great in ours since it was more flat. It was a fairly frequent occurrence for Sheppy to kick his socks off at night (I quickly learned which socks I don't want for baby #2). As Cory quips, like mother, like son. Plus, Sheppard woke up with the best bed head. He was a sweaty little guy and sometimes his hair would get so skiwampus. Lady killer, I tell you.

He had a bit of a growth spurt at the end of the month (26th-28th) and he was a bit irritable for three days or so. I decided I would blame any fussiness on teething. Teeth can take forever to come in, right? I really did think he was, and I still think something was going on. Since I can't read his mind, I maybe project my own opinions on him.

He started sucking on his whole fist, smiling, laughing, and kicking like crazy. He still got the hiccups a lot, but he would relax and try to sleep. I loved how his tired eyes would roll back in his head as he fell asleep. At this point, I was still feeding on demand and I decided that if Sheppard would sleep through the night I wanted to load him up with milk during the day, even if that meant feeding him very frequently. Translation: he ate all day, everyday. I sometimes felt like a human milk machine. Sometimes, Shepman would get really fussy at his noon feeding. Other times, he would lose concentration, fill a freaking massive diaper, and then pick back up. Oh, don't mind me Little Man, you tear that bad boy up. I loved how his lips perpetually looked like he was wearing lip liner. I think it was from nursing, but the interior was a moister, lighter color than the outside rim of his lips.

Sometimes, he would smile while he was nursing. Man, was he addicted to milk. Despite this, he was a pretty skinny dude. We didn't have an appointment in his third month, but he was still long and lean, rocking the size one diapers, and wearing newborn and 0-3 month clothes.

Speaking of diapers, in November, we (mostly me) changed 257 diapers. We experienced about 8 blowouts/open air accidents. I kept track of all of Sheppy's nursing sessions and diapers in an app called BabyConnect. It gave an option to include comments. After one particularly bad blowout on a Sunday as we were leaving for church I wrote, "One human shouldn't be able to make that much poo." Seriously. Boom goes the dynamite. In November, Sheppard nursed for approximately 41 hours and 32 minutes on 296 occasions. They lasted an average of 8 minutes.

Still in love.