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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Going Out Means Something New

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Last night we went for a long walk around town. The small sliver of the moon was above us and SB was buzzing as locals in our age group began their pre-pre Halloween celebrations. We saw dozens of people in their Halloween get-ups going out for a night on the town. While that was last year for us, you won’t find us lamenting about not being in that crowd right now. Elaine said it best today, “I’m so glad we have a baby”. How things change and change quickly.

In year’s past Elaine’s had classic costumes that ranged from an Indian, Tinkerbell, and a Bee. This year she is a Mom and I think it fits her best.

We were talking today on how our lives have changed in the last year . In a lot of ways both of our lives have done a 180 (some parts more than others). Over the last 4 weeks I’ve been so impressed with Elaine. No matter the time of day or night she exudes patience, confidence, and love towards her baby. When my ears are about to bleed from screaming or my arm about to dislodge from it’s joint Elaine is calm, cool, collect, and in control. She coos to every noise Mason makes, gives him lots of fun nicknames, and snaps a photo of every yawn, stretch, and half smile. You amaze me Elaine, I can’t imagine going through this process with anyone else. Mason is a lucky kid to have a Mom like you.
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On a similar note Saturday night used to a going out night. You know seeing friends, having a drink, watching a show, catching a flick, or going dancing. It’s just what we did, either together or separate. Things have changed and in a good way. Last night’s highlight was Mason’s first bath. It’s not like he’s gotten very dirty, but he had about 4 weeks of gunk on him and we thought it was time. Other than a leaky bathtub everything went smoothly.  After he adjusted to being naked in our kitchen, his eyes got bug-eyed and he seemed to enjoy the water and rinse.  After we got him out he got a little fussy but then laid on the blanket and looked very content– yes he was staring at a ceiling fan but he was content.
     
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Going out now means something totally different and we are both okay with it. We’ve got our baby and he’s got us 100%.

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Today we went on two trips, one to Ellwood Mesa and the other was a pre-Halloween party. Hope you enjoy some photos from our day and I promise you that even though the photos may look otherwise Mason loved the Monkey suit.  Be nice and make good choices, Mark

                                    

                    

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Visitors (BIG and small), Striped Diapers, & Red Birds

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The last couple of days had a little more bitter in them than sweet. Last Thursday, my Grandma Lois W. passed away after living a long and wonderful life in DM. She was an amazing woman who worked passionately and selflessly to meet the needs of her family, friends, and greater community.
Grandma loved her family deeply, so much that no matter the board game she always let you win game after game.  She did the hard work of cooking, cleaning, and raising a loving family. Always in a ‘chipper’ mood, she went on countless camping/fishing trips, taught me the difference between a hummingbird and a woodpecker, knew more about sports than you’d think, and was an expert at Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Grandma’s passion to volunteer to help those in need was recognized a few years ago and a lovely bed and breakfast was named in her honor. She made the world a better place with her jokes, smiles, winks, and the way she lived her life. I’m sorry Mason didn’t get a chance to meet you but he will always be surrounded by your love.

It is my belief that when we slow down our lives we are more open to ‘things’ around us. We’ve lived here for almost 6 bird-free months but on Thursday a beautiful, little hummingbird came into our house to say hello and got stuck near our apartment window. Thank you for visiting us Thursday afternoon and glad we could help set you free.
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Now to some sweet…. One great thing about Mason is that he is a people person. He loves to be held, to look at, to pee and throw up on them, to snuggle, and to listen to people. But regardless of who is holding him he love our ceiling fan twice as much. Elaine and my feelings haven’t been hurt by his love for the stationary objects on the ceiling, but having visitors recently has affirmed that he doesn’t love them more than us- he loves them more than anyone or anything.  Hopefully this is just a phase, an interesting phase.

As I mentioned we’ve had a handful of visitors since he was born and its been fun to watch Mason interact, coo, cry, and melt hearts. Our most frequent visitors have been our parents. Not only have they been excellent cooks, dish washers, and pacifiers, but it has been fun to see our parents turn into Grandparents. Mason is not the first grandchild but I can only imagine that child brings out new feelings of excitement, joy, and love.

How is the cloth diapering going? Thanks for asking and it is going really well. To be completely honest it is so much easier, cleaner, and convenient than I expected. Although I’ve wanted to do it for some time I’ve always had a gross feeling about handling poo and pee and didn’t know how it would go once we started. I am happy to report that my gut feeling was wrong as it isn’t hard, gross, or challenging. It may sound weird but it is kind of exciting to know your baby’s organs are working when you see a huge splat of poo and have a saturated diaper.Yea that sounds weird. How about.. It is exciting to log all of the diapers we’ve changed and know that we are making a large environmental and financial impact every time we change a dirty diaper. Yea that sounds better. I’ll do a better job explaining our diaper system in another post, but here are two photos…
                                

Last night the StL. Cardinals won the World Series and our house was excited. Mason got to watch most of the series and celebrated last night’s victory while he got his diaper changed. I want to think he was more excited about the monumental 11th championship but it may be a toss up for a clean diaper. Either way I’m just glad that my multitasking skills are advanced enough to change a diaper, pump my fist in the air, and do a little dance at the same time! The Cardinals had an amazing playoff run but they may want to send Elaine and Mason a thank you card for their positive thoughts.

Last but not least here are some more closing photos. Life is good and be thankful. Thanks, Mark


Alarm clocks, G-babies, & Building Smiles

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Hi, this has been a challenging week for a blog post; in reality its been a challenging week to do a lot of things that were once easy. I went back to work last Monday and we are both stretching to find a good routines for everyone in the family. While Elaine was doing an amazing job at home changing diapers, going for walks, and even going out for lunch with her parents this is peak into my week:

My alarm wakes me at 7am (709 and finally 718)
Coffee intake begins when I get to work at 8am
At 10am I wonder if someone is playing a prank and switching me to decaf
At 2pm I check multiple clocks around the office just to make sure that it isn’t really 4pm
Home around 6pm and say hello to Ruby, Elaine, & Mason
645pm Dinner time, hold a crying baby, & hold a sleeping baby
Around 9pm we decide to prepare for bed and sleep by 1030
Random diaper changes, broken swaddles, and eating
Repeat…

I don’t think we have any room to complain. Mason is a really chill kid and both Elaine and I are fortunate to have a happy, healthy, and engaging newborn. He likes to sleep, he has no problem eating, he likes to be held, and he’s pretty darn cute. By no means do we have this parenting thing figured out but we are having fun and that’s what counts.

       
Last night in Carpinteria we started our journey into cloth diapering. We must not have given Mason many details into this transition as he went through all 4 of our cloth diapers in lightning speed. Elaine’s parents offered us paper towels but thankfully we had one disposable diaper our reserves. Since we started 21 hours ago we’ve used a total of 13 cloth inserts and 5 outer shells. This is going to be fun…

There are many reason that Elaine and I chose to use cloth diapers but we both probably have different #1 reasons. Personally, my top reason is environmental. For only a few hours of use, disposable diapers that are filled with plastic, chemicals, and trees and will remain in our landfills for hundreds of years. Pretty scary. In addition our hope is to also save some money. Unlike disposable diapers, now that we’ve bought our supplies we shouldn’t need to buy more until he gets bigger. As an added plus the diaper shells are pretty darn cute.

Cloth diapers have changed a lot in the years and we’ve decided on a hybrid cloth diaper set called G Diapers. The outer shell velcros close and inside there is a spot for either the cloth insert or a flushable/disposable/compostable insert. For us the G Diapers had the best of both worlds of convenience, green impact, and accessibility. So far so good but I imagine that we’ll keep you posted.

Earlier this week a Clarissa, a photography friend, took some newborn photos of Mason. Elaine and I were also featured but as we are learning Mason is the center of ‘us’. Clarissa also took our pregnancy photos earlier in September (that feels like a year ago) and here are a few from that shot. They turned out pretty good.
Thanks for reading- Mark

 

                                      

Ten Fingers Ten Toes

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Part2……

Just to recap from the previous previous entry. Elaine said that she was ready to go into labor, ate some magic waffles, and her water broke around 530pm and we were off to hospital about an hour later. Sound good?

So that Sunday October 2nd, we arrived at the Emergency Room in Cottage Hospital and we made our way to the L&D (labor & delivery). Elaine declined the wheelchair and thankfully we had a guide to help navigate the hospital maze. While walking there Elaine wasn’t in too much pain, we were both a little giddy,and you could say that adrenaline was our friend.

Once in the L&D we met Karen, our super helpful nurse. She got us comfortable in room #5, gave Elaine great attention, and then said that he shift was ending in about 30 minutes but she would be back in the morning  if we were still there. We were a little nervous as we both liked Karen and didn’t want a dud for our next nurse. A little later we met Michele who would be our nurse for the next 12.5 hours. Not only was she funny, but she was on top of Elaine’s needs, listened to our concerns and plans, and advocated for our every need. As a whole the entire L&D staff were amazing but it was Karen and Michele that made our delivery feel so personalized and supported.

We were fortunate to have three visitors at the hospital that night: Elaine’s parents and an excited Juliana were there to provide some comfort and support before our rest and lights out time. As the evening turned to night Elaine and I had some good alone time filled with laughs, photo time, and frequent visits from Michele and the hospital staff.

 

The pain from the contractions began picking up as it became Monday and during a visit around 12am we learned that Elaine had gone from 4cm to 5cm. Yep, 1cm in almost 6 hours of labor when they want you to average 1cm per hour. After some deliberation, a heating pad, and a few sips of coconut water Elaine decided to have an epidural. It took about an hour for the anesthesiologist to arrive but the relief was present on Elaine’s face almost instantly. It was gone so quickly that as soon as they shut their door and the lights were off she began sleeping for a well deserved few hours. While Elaine slept I learned how uncomfortable hospital chair/beds can be and anxiously thought of what could be next.

Around 530am Elaine was measuring around 8-9cm and our room quickly began preparing for delivery. Tables were prepped, lights tested, the room arranged, and the on-call doctor was phoned about the expected delivery.  At 6:45am the time was now and Elaine went into amazing mode. Her pushes went into breathes and her breathes went into pushes. In no time we could see the top of his little, hairy head and he began to move his way closer into our lives.

Around 7am Karen, the nurse from the previous night, came and relieved Michele. Not wanting to leave right away Michele did her case logs in our room and ended up staying an extra hour off the clock to help and try to be around for the birth. All during of this time, Elaine continued to push, breathe, stretch, smile, and push. She amazed me with her composure and attitude. She was focused on the moment, continued to stay in the moment and never wavered.

What happened at 8:56am on Monday, October 3rd cannot be put into words. This makes it hard for a written blog, but I’ve tried over the last 12 days to put it into words and I haven’t gotten close to capturing the feelings, energy, and peace of seeing Mason Robert Watson being born. The process is indescribable; partially because I experienced feelings I had never felt before. Never have I been so proud of Elaine or loved her more. Never have I fell in love instantaneously on meeting someone. Never have I felt peace around so many distractions and felt time slow down so much. This was a new reality.

This was our moment- our moment as a new family.

That was the beginning of us. Many people helped us get here and I hope you know that you are appreciated and loved. I’d especially like to thank our parents for their support, love and showing us that the beauty of being parents. From beginning to end thank you! Love Mark

An Ode to REM

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REM is an American rock band formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry. REM was one of the first popular alternative rock bands and a pioneer in the of the music genre. REM was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Many memories flood my brain when I think of REM but the first is my brother, Scott. I don’t know if he would agree but I have always seen them as his favorite band, especially in the 90’s. He may dispute this memory, but I clearly remember listening to him and his friends sing “Stand” outside of the Junior High one Summer after playing at the football field.

Scott is by far not the only one to love REM and sing their songs with friends. I remember playing, re-playing, and singing to “Losing My Religion” amongst other songs by Whitesnake and Duran Duran during one sleep over. Big skeleton from my closet….

Other ways that REM has touched my life are by lending a cd to a friend so she could listen to “Everyone Hurts” on repeat after she broke up with her boyfriend. And at the opposite end of the spectrum Meredith and Nick had “Nightswimming” as their first song after their wedding. I like to think that we all have a favorite REM moment or two and that they make the world a better place.

However on September 21st, 2011 R.E.M  announced to their fans that they were retiring after 31 years and 15 albums. I was reflecting on their long career and this got me to thinking of a very strange coincidence; not only did I lose the band REM but I’ve also recently lost R.E.M.

Rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep) is a normal stage of sleep characterized by the random movement of the eyes.

R.E.M. sleep is the good stuff. The average person goes in and out throughout the night and this is usually the stage that has heightened dreams and increased brain activity. You could say that your brain is excited and your muscles are immobile and relaxed. Ruby (beagle) is a great example of R.E.M. sleep and its benefits. She sleeps a lot and often will be in puppy dreams where her eyes are fluttering, she’ll make tiny woofs and at the same time seems so relaxed and happy. Oh I am jealous of Ruby sometimes.

Elaine and I haven’t gotten much sleep since Mason was born last week. Newborns
sleep a lot but they also have regular needs throughout the day/night such as eating every 3 hours, diaper changes, loose arms in the swaddle, and lots of touch and soiled clothes. I count my lucky starts that Mason isn’t a sleep terror, but sleeping in 2-3 hour chunks isn’t the same as 8-9 continuous cozy hours. Even Ruby’s sleep patterns are affected and she’ll often release a huge sigh during a 3am diaper change and scream session. On a good sleep run the whole family gets 3 consecutive hours of sleep and often mental and physical high fives are exchanged.

Excluding Mason, we’ve all had to say good bye to a large portion of our R.E.M. sleep. As you can see sleep deprivation can lead to many health risks, but the only symptom I’ve noticed is that it has made me stupid. Forgetting words, the current day, conversations, to-do lists; GONE. Now things are better than last week but I think the baseline for productivity has also dropped significantly. Yesterday we went to the park and it felt like an amazing victory. Pictures of our accomplishment are below and it is followed by some delirious conspiracy theory.

There are some conspiracy theories that I subscribe to but I don’t know if I’ve ever created my own, but here I go… REM (the band) was created in 1980 shortly after I was born and was present in my life until the end of September 2011 around the time where I began sleeping very poorly and now hardly sleep. So does my R.E.M. sleep depend on REM the band? You make the call

Peace & love,
Mark
PS- Just in case you get in touch with REM (the band) please tell them to get back together. It might not help my sleep but it won’t hurt it either.

The Power of Waffles & “Um, I think my water broke”

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On Saturday night, October 1st, Elaine and I were driving back from Carpinteria and I remember a saying that my old therapist used to tell me. Sometimes you need to announce to the universe that you are ready and often it hears you and will answer. I’ll never forget the moment that Elaine looked over to me and said that she was ready, ready to have our baby.

Elaine woke me up around 5am the next morning with, “You don’t need to wake up, but I’ve been having contractions for the last few hours and they are about 10-15 minutes apart”. I realized that this moment was the start of everything. All of our classes, books, conscious thinking, and long talks, and practice were preparing us for this moment… we were about to have a baby. I didn’t sleep for the next 40 hours.

   

   

We stayed in bed for a few hours, kept our eyes on the clock, and waited for the next sign. Ken & Ida came up from their rental in Carpinteria for our planned waffle party ( toppings of fresh fruit, syrup, and Nutella) and Elaine paused occasionally to focus on her contractions. Not your normal breakfast activity but this is the beginning of our birth story. Waffles, contractions, and Nutella.

After resting, lunch and more rest the contractions became a little more regular but remained 10-15 minutes apart. Being a Sunday and no new blog posting to read Elaine decided to close her eyes while I watched some football on my computer. Around 430pm Elaine receives a text from a friend asking if she’s gone into labor and before she can respond she rolls over to me and says:

“Um, I think my water broke”

After some laughs, packing way too much coconut water, and general over arching anxiety, we loaded the car and we were off to Cottage Hospital. All because of the words, I’m ready and some yummy waffles.

This is where I must end my post, why? Well we have a newborn baby now and he sleeps but not that much and I’m very, very, very tired.

Part two soon,
Peace and love, Mark

More to come soon…

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But in the meantime, I must say…

There is nothing quite so amazing in this world as baby snuggles.