Piper at 6 months

So Piper is actually 7 months now....but I've been meaning to post this since she was 6 months, so that counts for something, right?

Ah, 6 months. 6 months is a huge sigh of relief. Half way to a year. But more importantly....6 months is a whole bunch of other fun things.

6 months is sitting up. Not wobbling, but steadily. Sitting up gives you a whole new view of the world, a whole new sense of control over your environment. Siting up is a Good Thing. 6 months is also rolling over with proficiency, starting to scootch, and just in general feeling more engaged with the world in a physical way.

6 months is eating lots of new foods. I've been making all of Piper's baby food (I may not have a fully functioning kitchen, but gol darn it, I have baby food cubes in the freezer to feed triplets through the winter, it's at least one thing I can have control over!) I've enjoyed cooking and pureeing all sorts of veggies and fruit. She's eaten the basics (sweet potatoes, peas, pears, green beans, squash, peaches, bananas, etc) but also the slightly more exotic: avocado, artichoke (yes, artichoke), mango, papaya, apricot, zucchini, chard (yes, chard), kale, tofu, and tomorrow she'll try her first egg yolk. And rice and oats, of course. She loves it all, as far as I can tell.

6 months is a slightly more predictable sleep pattern. Especially during the day. She takes a morning and an afternoon nap, each ranging in length from an hour to two hours. Depending on the quality/duration of those naps, she sometimes needs a little 30 minute power nap in the late afternoon to get her through until bedtime. No more napping in the car or stroller...and seldom even in the Moby. Give this girl a flat surface please, and her paci, and a blanket, and she's good to go.

Night-time sleep is still a bit up and down. She's sometimes going with only 1 brief wake time during the night (I can do that)....but some nights she is still waking 2 or 3 times. Not always to nurse, just to see what's going on. She's getting better at putting herself back to sleep after these wakings...so we're progressing in the right direction.

I've started to do a "dream feed" with Piper before I go to bed at night. Basically I just pick her up while she is sleeping, nurse her, and lay her back down. She never wakes up...and the hope is that it tanks her up enough to make it through the night without waking. It seems to help sometimes...and at least puts my mind at ease when she does wake between midnight and 5:00, I know she isn't hungry. But mostly, I just loving doing it. She is still such a fast nurser that the whole thing takes me about as much time as it does to brush my teeth. And it's just so sweet...a sleepy baby, still groping for the milk, her face all warm and snuggly and soft. It's the only time I hold her while she's sleeping anymore. And I kinda love it.

6 months is flirting. This girl can flirt! She smiles, coos, flaps her arms like she is about to take off, smiles at you and then buries her head in the nearest neck. We are all just madly in love with her!

Oh, and the stats: Piper is 19 lbs, 13 oz, and 27 inches long. She's a big girl!

To see some more photos of Piper at 6 months (and her sister and momma!) click here.


Huge May/June Update

I have missed many events and updates over the last few months, so I'm just going to hit on some highlights...but this will still be a long post! And there are a bunch more photos posted to Flickr here.

The first of the photos is from a very sweet, spontaneous wedding here on Allerton. I don't know whose idea it was, but the neighborhood kids staged two very cute ceremonies, complete with bouquet tosses and celebratory dances. Not surprisingly, Rowan was a spectator. I did get a few hilarious photos that will be great for taking bribes if we still live here when some of these kids are teenagers. All my Allerton friends, let me know if you want any of these photos of your kiddos for the same purpose :) And excuse our backyard, the scene for one of the ceremonies...complete with it's gas can and dandelions. Let's just say that the outside of our house is low priority at the moment.

We've continued to love living on Allerton. We spend many afternoons and evenings hanging outside, talking to whoever is out, watching the kids play. We've been swimming at Phil's pool, getting ice cream from the ice cream truck, and swapping play dates. Rowan's at the age where a play date is usually a help for me--she's so occupied, I can get lots done.

Check out these handsome neighbor boys!

What else. On Memorial Day, my sister-in-law Stacia and I decided to take all 6 of our kids to the beach. First we stopped at the cemetery where my Grandma and Grandpa Hoeksema are buried, then we stopped at the cemetery where my Grandma Pekelder is buried. We had the kids put lilacs on the gravestones. I hadn't been to their graves in awhile and it was really good to share that with our kids. The beach was fun, too, albeit a little bit chilly. I didn't take any photos there...I haven't been able to figure out how to lug my big camera on excursions like this when I am responsible for 2 kids (one in arms) and all our stuff.

I'm so thankful to live by Tom and Stacia. I love conversations with Stacia...we have a good time together and I respect her deeply. And there is just something about cousins being together. So much fun to see them know each other and see each other with regularity.

Grandma Thomas (Joe's maternal grandmother) also came up to visit from Illinois for almost a week. It was really good to have her in town. We had several meals over at Joe's parents' house and Grandma got to see our house.

Rowan had her first sleep-over with her cousin Shae. They had a lot of fun....took a bath together, watched a movie and ate some candy...even fell asleep eventually! It's fun to watch their relationship grow.

Joe's cousin, Megan, was in the area for a week working on a Habitat for Humanity project. She just graduated from college out east and it was so much fun to see her! We got to have dinner with her whole crew...she came over to visit our house another night...and I met her downtown at Festival of the Arts with the girls. Joe has a lot of really cool cousins and I love that they feel like MY cousins, too!

Joe's best man in our wedding, Curtis, and his wife Amanda came to visit for a few days. They had their first son, Micaiah, just 6 weeks before their trip from Florida to Chicago...they are brave! They came up to GR to see us and so that Curtis and Joe could camp for a night out on lake Michigan. It was great to see them and get to spend time with the new baby.

Our time got cut a little bit short because Piper was diagnosed with pneumonia while they were here! And they decided to play it safe with a newborn and not expose him to Piper.

Piper had been running a fever for 2 days and was just out of sorts. She's never slept great, but she was sleeping particularly poorly. I really thought she had an ear infection or something minor, so I took her to the Doctor to get checked. I was so thankful for thorough care from my doctor, because I honestly thought my doctor was over-reacting the day we went in! Piper didn't have an ear infection, so they did a catheter to check for a UTI...wasn't that either. Then they had me go to the lab to draw blood....and finally over to Children's hospital for a chest x-ray! I'm an eternal optimist so I really wasn't stressed out through all of this, mostly just wondering why they were making me do all these needless tests on a poor baby! Joe, who was still camping with Curtis, has too much science knowledge...and knew that a high fever without clear reason could mean something really bad. Strangely enough, even though Piper was not coughing or wheezing and no one could hear it through a stethoscope, the chest x-ray came back with several spots on both of her lungs. Pneumonia. She had a course of antibiotics (was allergic to the first one, but we took care of that, too) and recovered quickly.

A really special day in June was the 9th, when Tom and Stacia went to court to officially adopt Shae and Tayva. We all got to attend and it was just a joyous occasion. The girls have been a part of our family since November, but it still felt great to have it all be legal and done and closed and final. It was cool to watch the proceedings in court and listen to the judge talk about how good it was to do adoptions...that usually his job can be quite depressing, and adoptions are so filled with joy. Another highlight was that the girls' foster mom (affectionately called "granny") voluntarily got up to talk in court--she expressed her support of the adoption and how much she has seen the girls grow and develop and how much she appreciated the Hoeksemas. To see photos of this adoption day, click here.

After that, we made a trip to Jonesboro for a visit and to photograph a wedding of a good friend of ours. It was great to be in Jonesboro again, but we agreed that we felt more nostalgic about Jonesboro in March...when it was 70 degrees there and still late winter here. Late June in Arkansas can be very hot...and the wedding we attended was outside, both the ceremony and reception. It was close to 100 degrees and humid as all get out. Plus, we were working our butts off taking pictures! I don't think I've ever had so many people ask me if I was okay or if I needed a drink of water. Hoeksemas get red in the face when we get hot...and we sweat on the face. A lot. I was looking pretty ragged! If you are interested in seeing some photos from this wedding, go to my website (www.cebulskiphotography.com) and to the right, click on "client proofs" and the password is: adairwedding

We made a detour on our way home to GR and stopped in Moberly, Misouri, to see our good friends Jeff and Ruby. Jeff and Ruby lived in Jonesboro when we did. Jeff competed in the decathlon with Joe (plus they worked on many other projects together) and Ruby and I were fast friends. They have a 3 year old daughter and also added a son in February, so we were all eager to see each other! Jeff built a beautiful house near their families in MO and we had a great time relaxing, catching up, swimming, and fishing. Check out a few photos of our time with the Sanders here.

To see photos of everything else in this blog post, here is the link again: click here.


little gestures

Before we had a second child, it seemed like most people with two or more kids would always talk about how different their children were from each other. And truly, it is amazing how different two offspring can be....from the same genetic materials!

Lately, though, I've marveled at some little details that make me feel like I'm back in rowan's infancy.

exhibit #1: the thighs. oh, those thighs! i squeeze them with regularity....my hand doesn't even fit around their widest part anymore. Rowan had a very similar body to Piper. Their faces (and their hair) are as different as can be...but their 6 month old bodies, so much the same. I love the heft of a 6 month old on my hip. Lurching here and there, so strong really, but still so portable. Sitting up with some degree of confidence on those sturdy, meaty thighs.

exhibit #2: the full-body excitement about eating real food. Legs kicking, arms flailing, short breaths in-and-out, in-and-out....I remember this well. I just wish Rowan still got this excited about sweet potatoes, peas, and bananas.

exhibit #3: the "mamamamamama." Piper's favorite syllable. I looked back in Rowan's baby book and in her sixth month...I had written down that she was constantly repeating "mamamama." I secretly like to believe that it is directed towards me, but I know better. It's just an easy sound to make....but both my girls have made it with gusto, in their sixth month.

exhibit #4: the fake cough. Joe plays this little game with Piper where he fake coughs, she mimics him, and then he rewards it with some fabulously excited gesture or surprised face. Piper has started actually instigating this game (only with Joe)....it's the first time she has controlled her world in this specific way. And we remember Rowan doing the exact same thing....fake coughing, lots of laughs.

exhibit #5: lurching for her crib, arms extended, immediately when she is through nursing and ready for sleep. This is the most heart-breaking one of all: the desire and the ability to sleep alone. So you know all those baby books tell you to lay your baby down while still awake, so they learn to "self-sooth" and sleep through the night better. I was never good at that....mostly because I love snuggling a sleeping baby. As Piper has gotten older, she has become increasingly less willing to snuggle...and I can hardly remember the last time I held her while she was sleeping. The last few weeks I have tried, unsuccessfully, to hold her for awhile after she nurses. To smell her baby smell, look on her sleepy face, and just hold on to this for awhile. She protests the snuggling. And then, a few nights ago...she started doing exactly what Rowan did at this age: lurch for the crib right after nursing. Literally, a physical throwing of her body, all rigid and extended, in the direction of her crib, as if to say: I'm tired, I'm ready for bed. Please just put me there.

I know some kids don't do this...and always seem dependent on a parent to get to sleep. You gotta admire a girl who knows what she wants, but I'll tell you one thing. Should a third child ever bless our lives, I am not going to spend ONE SECOND feeling guilty about not laying my awake child down for sleep. I'm going to hold my sleeping baby whenever and wherever possible. Because now I know (reinforced by child #2): the time comes too soon when your baby is too big to hold, too old for snuggling, too independent to need you for sleep.

Pictures soon, I promise. I'm almost there.


a few photos

We've been traveling and I've had too many photos to go through...I will get around to them eventually, but wanted to post just a handful of my girls from Lake Michigan last week. 6 month baby bottom and a cowboy hat on the beach...can't get much cuter than that.