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Caleb’s Story

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This  post is a long time overdue. You’ve seen his photos, but it’s time that you get filled in with details that led up to and right after Caleb joined our family on September 30th.

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Early in the morning on September 29th Elaine said that she began experiencing mild contractions. I’ll speak for myself  but I’d bet that we both began thinking of the next few giant life steps that were coming a week quicker than expected. You see we didn’t have the baby’s bed set up, our hospital bag wasn’t packed, the freezer could still hold more advance food, heck… we didn’t even have a name chosen yet. The deadline was approaching on all of these projects and they all came to the front of the queue at the same time.

IMG_6859In honor of Mason’s birth story, Elaine suggested that we make waffles for breakfast. It was a great suggestion that helped quiet my mind and focus on the present moment (as much as possible). Unfortunately our waffles didn’t turn out so hot. It’s a major side story, but we’ve had issues with our waffles staying together while cooking and not sticking to the grill. The waffles turned out to be more like waffle shavings so the batter then became pancakes. Regardless of the shape and size they tasted great and were enjoyed by all.

The contractions held tight for the rest of the morning and we began double timing the nesting projects. A call was also placed to Elaine’s parents to see if they could come to Santa Barbara earlier than expected. Thankfully they were able and could help care for Mason and Ruby if we had to go the hospital sooner that expected. At the same time I reached out to work and commitments I made for the week and rescheduled as much as possible.

That afternoon the contractions began to quiet in frequency and pain level. We breathed a sigh of relief but than began to wonder… was that a false alarm or was it a warning that our baby was coming soon?

We decided to go out for an early dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Sojourners. It may have been unspoken, but I think there was a moment that we looked at each other and recognized that this would be our last meal with just the three of us. It was a great long dinner filled with quite moments, future planning, and reflection. Mason was a gem and had fun playing with his toys, a giant cup of apple juice, and some pre-birthday pie.

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At Mason’s bedtime we kissed him good night and began to unwind from a long day. Because the contractions had basically disappeared we took the night off from more projects. No extra cooking, packing, laundry, organizing or anything of that productive nature. I went to bed around 10pm fully expecting to go into work the following morning. We had some calm before the we went into action.

I don’t remember the exact time, but around 1:30am Elaine woke me up with intense contractions about 5 minutes apart. Quickly we began to document the contractions, pack bags, and get the necessitates together. We held tight and went to the hospital as soon as Ken and Ida made it to our house a little before 4am.

When we got to the ER Elaine requested a wheelchair and was pushed into the new Labor and Delivery part of the hospital. This was quite a different experience from two year prior… when Elaine was skipping down the hall much in the style of Fred Astaire.  The pain was increasing with each contractions and it wasn’t until the first nurse checked Elaine’s cervix that they got into action… she was 5cm {Elaine is convinced that she was 7cm but to be honest I don’t remember … So I’ll take her word}. She went immediately into the delivery room and was finally able to breathe and rest once her epiderral arrived.

Elaine was a champ the entire time but really began to shine as the baby came closer. In between pushes she was making small talk with the nurses and doctor, cracking jokes, and was very at ease with her breathing. Looking back it felt like she was only pushing for 30 minutes but I bet it was closer to an hour… and our baby was born at 10:09am.

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It is easy to get caught up in each step of pregnancy and delivery process but at that moment it all came together. He was born. He was healthy. He was safe. He was ours. The entire thing is amazing and I hope to never forget the sights, sounds, and feelings associate with it.

Some of the next steps were easy… rest. Some were hard… decide on a final name. Elaine and I have had an unofficial list of names for a few weeks but there were no clear winner. One day it would be “this one” and the next it would be “that one” and then our opinions would switch. It was never a source of contention between the two of us- we had good a few names that we both liked and picture using. You’ll remember that Mason only liked the name Lucas. He was set on the name and regardless of the situation his opinion never wavered. We used his opinion and came up with… Caleb Lucas.

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After two nights in the hospital we were able to come home and celebrate Mason’s 2nd birthday. (Unbelivable how that happened so fast!) It was great to finally be in our own space and start adjusting to life with a toddler and a newborn. A BIG thank you to friends and family for your help with the transition. The companionship, meals, cleaning, and baby sitting have been crucial in our sanity and welfare.

Welcome to the family Caleb.

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Photos of the Day (10/11/13)

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This is our third addition of our Photos of the Day project. The idea is pretty simple, we take a photo every hour throughout the day to capture the daily routine and little moments. We’ve been doing the photo project every six months for Mason and we are happy to add Caleb into the mix.

As you’ll see, our day included some home time, a trip to the pumpkin patch, time down in Carpinteria to visit Elaine’s parents, lots of naps for Caleb and a bouncing Mason at bedtime. Our day was a lot of fun and filled with little adventures. We were all pretty tired by the end but look forward to doing the next round in six months.

For whatever reason I can’t seem to get the formatting right on the post. So if you are reading this blog post on your email it may be kind of difficult. I’d suggest you go to our website: http://www.memwatson.wordpress.com for easier reading.

Thanks and enjoy!

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8:00pm

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Get Away

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About a month and a half ago I learned of an overnight work retreat that I was going to have to attend in Solvang, CA. I’ve been going to these retreats for the past 8 years and I’ve never really had a problem- the mentality is just pack up and go. It is more difficult to sit through a day and a half of strategic planning exercises and watch my to-do list grow overnight. In short, overnight= no problems.

Anyhow when I learned of this retreat two thoughts crossed my mind:
1} Oh my gosh this will be my first time leaving Mason and Elaine on an overnight trip
2} I will sleep through the night. I will have my own bed. I will watch tv. I will sleep in.

I felt a little selfish as a smile crept across my face as these thoughts crossed my mind, but it isn’t a road trip or fun vacation it is a work retreat. Whenever the retreat was brought up I began day dreaming of my Mark-list and began adding to it: wine tasting, maybe a movie, and go to bed late and wake up even later. The list kept growing and I had no one that I felt comfortable sharing it with and when I did I couldn’t help smiling. Guilty, guilty, guilty.

I felt bad leaving Elaine and knew that I would miss Mason. Sometimes he is a two person dude and plus it is nice to share him while the other one cooks, cleans, gets a potty break, takes care of Ruby, or just has a moment to breathe. As the overnight approached I reminded Elaine every other day and made sure that it was on our mental and physical calendars. The count down approached and eventually the day came where the bags were packed and good bye kisses were given.

The day progressed like most work days except I was 45 minutes away from home and heartbroken to learn that Albert Pujols joined the wrong team in red. (This is another long story, but I look at the Angels as the stupid guy who swoops in with all the glam & glitter, flirts with your partner, and smiles as he brakes up your long term relationship… yes I’m still a little emotional, but the Angels can suck it.) Okay where was I, yes I got our hotel in downtown Solvang and felt weird- something was missing.

After the day was over I checked into my room and learned that I had my own king sized bed, large screen tv with 200 channels, and a little time to kill. This was a huge surprise as I’ve always had the awkward experience of bunking with anther random ymca employee and be forced to make small talk about how lifeguards are hard to hire and how often treadmills break down. I quickly thought of how much Elaine and Mason would enjoy the hotel time and Christmas decorations in Solvang. I called and invited them up before I even took off my shoes. As soon as I got back from dinner Elaine and Mason were in Solvang and that is how his first hotel and our mini adventure began.

Even though I slept terribly and had to spend the entire next day building strategic goals, having them there with me made everything better. Thanks for reading and here are a few hotel shots, Mark

    

Creating Things

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Other than a portion of a sleepless night last night this has been a great weekend. Elaine and I have been productive but we’ve also had our share of down time. We’ve been crossing projects off of our list, creating lists of things to do next, and catching up on Glee, Grimm, and The Daily Show. We even watched part of a movie! We get our share of 30-40 minutes shows in, but we haven’t seen a movie since our BabyMoon in August. I am no movie critic but my advice is that Crazy, Stupid, Love is much better than Gnomeo & Juliet.

Okay my hope was to post a few videos of Mason… but I can’t figure out how to do it.  Oh, they want you to pay money to load videos- that is stupid but I’ll find a way to get around it 🙂

That was quick! Click on the links below to see three short videos (thank you Elaine):

Tummy Time!

First Bottle! Preparing for Elaine return to work in December

Baby on the Bed!

The videos have been fun to make and I hope they work for everyone. I shot them with an app (8mm Vintage Camera) that has a few vintage film options. There are different lenses and affects and it has been fun to experiment with Mason as our guinea pig. Please let me know if there are any issues.

We’ve also had a good food weekend and here are our samples:

On Friday I made applesauce from fruit we picked at our friend’s Christina’s ranch last weekend. I have no idea the types of apples but they were fresh and colorful. After the mixture cooked down and sampled, the finished product was canned for a later time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday I made Butternut Squash & Carrot soup. It wasn’t my first time experimenting with the tough to peel butternut but this soup is my favorite squash soup recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday night was homemade pizza night. Ours included onions, garlic, mushrooms, & artichokes on an herb crust and topped with a cheddar/toscana cheese blend. One of my all-time favorites

 

 

 

It’s a rainy day today and our plans are joyfully limited. I imagine that we will make the best of it with a few more recipes, a nice cup of tea, and a visit to the library. Thanks for reading. Love, Mark

Coordination at One Month

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Last Thursday Mason celebrated his 1 month birthday! This was a monumental day (more for us than him) and we “celebrated” by telling him he was now one month old, we took some photos, and ate some old Halloween candy. Killer party but holy moly one month has flown by!

Over the month Mason has gained weight, he’s now around 10lbs, and we’ve recently noticed that he is gaining more control of his head and doing a better job of tracking us (and the ceiling fans) with his eyes.

He was born with a strong neck but recently he has been lifting, turning, and making more intentional and controlled movements.  A couple of times last week Elaine put him down for some tummy time- from what I heard the first time was not successful but the second was much easier. No photos were taken of the first attempt 😉

Mason’s love affair with the fans has continued but like I mentioned he is now much better at following us as we move around. His eyes are open a lot but until recently they were just open. Now they are looking and he is gazing at objects, seems more curious about things, and likes to be outside. His eyes still have a lot of blue in them and we’ll see how the genetic war plays out. Regardless it is fun to see him engage with us and see him grown in so many ways!

One last comment on his coordination.. Over the last couple weeks Ruby has begun licking Mason’s feet, hands, and loves to kiss his face.  If you’ve never met Ruby, she loves kisses and can lick and lick and lick. Poor, stationary, and uncoordinated Mason is a sitting duck for them. Their bonding has required our supervision mostly so we can advocate when he’s had enough bonding. Last night they were on our bed and she started to lick to his forehead much like she usually does. Well, Mason must not have wanted puppy kisses at the moment and he quickly swung his hands up and smacked her away. We all learned lessons in that moment – Mason is not Ruby’s licking toy and we might not need to step in as often now.  (Ida- we will not let Ruby lick him too much and yes he wore a hat to bed last night)

As promised here are some ONE MONTH photos. Smiles are coming! Thanks for reading…

PS the whole gaining an hour of sleep during day light savings is no longer valid

How Things Change

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Like Mark said… how things change.

There’s a tiny baby sleeping on my chest.  With his hands folded under his resting cheek.  His tiny, short, fast breathes.

He rustles every now and then, coos… or makes a concerned noise.

He’s so soft.  So warm.  So sweet.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of this.  Resting my chin on his warm little head.  Wrapping my arms around his tiny body.  Holding his little baby hands, pulled into tight little fists.  Spreading kisses all over his soft little forehead and nose and cheeks.

He was four weeks old yesterday.  And looking back in disbelief at how quickly these four weeks have gone, gives me a grasp of the truth in that thing that parents always say.  About how it goes by so fast.  It makes me amazed.  Still in wonder at how much he’s going to change and grow.  And at the same time… a little desperate to cling onto these moments as they’re happening.  Almost a little sad already, as I hold this tiny baby close and realize that he will never be this small again.

I have such a hard time imagining him as a three year old…  or a ten year old.  Our sweet, sleepy, little baby as a teenager.  Or a grown man.

But then sometimes… when he’s quiet, but awake.  And just looking around with those big gorgeous (currently blue) eyes… I can see the little boy in our beautiful cheeky baby’s face.  And I wonder how long it will be before I can see the grown man in our little boy’s face.

I’ve been putting off posting.  Not just because new babies are a handful (which my goodness, they are!)… but also because I don’t know if I can find the words to convey all the crazy amazing and unimaginably brand new feelings I have.  I don’t know if I can capture just how radically our whole world has been changed.  How this itty bitty creature can cause so many emotions to fill me to the brim.  All simultaneously.  All overwhelming at different times.

There’s not much variation in the daily routine.  Baby snuggles and wailing cries.  Feedings, diaper changes, visits from family or friends.  Finding time to feed myself, do dishes or laundry.  Watching shows when he’s not content to be anywhere but in my arms.  But inside… there’s so much going on.  New things to be awestruck at.  New loves, new worries, new fears, new thoughts about the future, new excitements, new discussions, new stresses…

And I guess maybe it’s all still so new that the only way I can convey it is in bits & pieces.  Individual moments and emotions.  Little by little.  As this new routine becomes a part of us all.

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