Posts Tagged ‘Alexis’

February 27, 2015

Alexis at Three Months

Dear Alexis,

I have a bone to pick with February. It’s bad enough time is flying so fast and you’re a forth of your way through babydom, the month has the nerve to be so short.

baby

This month was all about grabbing, giggling, and goo-gooing.

You have most definitely found your voice, a necessary feet when a little sibling. You are still very mellow, but you know how to make yourself heard. I took you with me to visit my office and everyone marveled at how sweet and calm you were. They couldn’t get over you sleeping 10 hours at night. You just smiled away and cooed back at them. Speaking of cooing, you are becoming quiet the chatter bug. Not only do you vary your phonemes, but your tone and inflection as well.

You enjoy holding out fingers. You seek them out like little security blankets when your going to sleep or drinking from the bottle.

domingoshandmyhand
Holding Daddy’s fingers in January, and mine in February.

A few days ago mommy got our link toys and strung them over your bouncy seat. You’ve managed to pick them up several times. Mommy is super impressed, although will admit it’s an easier feet when your fingers get tangled between the rings while exploring them. Still, you’ve managed to bring them to your mouth a few times already.

alexisrings

This was a light photo taking month, not only because it was shorter, but also because we had a few distractions. A small health scare sent us back to the hospital for tests. Thankfully it turned out we (Mom, Dad and your pediatrician) were all just being overly cautious. While we were waiting for the all clear from your pediatrician I wasn’t in much of a photo taking mind set. If you’ll permit me, I will make up for it this month.

Love Always,
Mommy & Daddy

January 29, 2015

Alexis at Two Months

Dear Alexis,

Another month has just flown by. If I had to sum up this month in just five words it would be “just the two of us”. Your Daddy returned to work from his extended paternity leave on the 5th, and big sister Nicki’s daycare resumed from the holiday break on the 2nd. You have been incredibly gentle on your mommy during our time alone together. You are so sweet, mellow, and undeniably a very happy baby.

alexissmile
I cannot get enough of this smile!

You continue to be completely fascinated with the world around you. Since you love your bird mobile in your bouncer, we decided to break out your activity gym this month. For now you mostly twist around to explore the toys around you, but every once in a while you kick or flail in their general direction. Daddy is convinced you will be an early roller, and now I’m starting to think so too.

gymlove
Gym love

We’ve also been working on tummy time this month. It was tough going in the beginning, but the first time you managed to lift your head and survey the world around you, you had such a huge grin. Ever since then you seem to enjoy tummy time, provided it doesn’t go too long. Mommy doesn’t blame you. It’s gotta take a lot of muscle to lift that massive cranium of yours. Like your sister, your bobble head was in the 90th plus percentile at birth.

tummy time head lifts
Tummy Time head Lifts

In fact you are so good with your head control that at my postpartum checkup, just seven weeks since you were born, the nurse guessed you were three months old already! Do mommy a favor, try not to grow up so fast.

Love Always,
Mommy & Daddy

January 23, 2015

Sleeping Again

sleeping with the boppy

I am now convinced Domingo and I had nothing to do with Nicki’s amazingly awesome newborn sleep. When Alexis was born I made the cardinal second time mom mistake of assuming raising her would be just like raising her big sister. I just assumed she’d have similar sleep patters. By the end of the first week or two, she’d already be sleeping 5 hours straight. Right?? She didn’t. Nor the next week. Nor the next. I didn’t blog enough the first time around to remember all the details of Nicki’s sleep pattern so I kept hoping, but by one month there was no denying that Alexis’ sleep patterns were more typical of someone her age than Nicole’s ever were.

I tried everything I could think of trying to find the magic combination that worked for Nicki: swaddled/unswaddled, breastfeeding/bottle feeding before bed, “tanking” her up by encouraging her to eat a little more when she was showing signs of being full. It was a colossal mistake. Rather then make her belly super full it made her bladder super full, and then her diaper super full. The worst nights was when her digestive track was out of sink and shed wake up hungry but sans pee, or with pee but sans hunger. You’d know another wake up wasn’t far behind.

A week or so ago it looked like we were in for a second round of day/night reversal. Alexis would wake up after only 90 minutes or so, and take another hour before falling back asleep. This was happening at the same time that Nicole decided to rebel against night time sleep. I’d be rocking Alexis whose eyes were just starting to close and hear Nicole wake up in the monitor. It was a no-win situation. If I’d put Alexis down before she was in a deep sleep in order to tend to Nicole, she’d start crying and wake Nicole back up. If I ignored Nicole, she’d start screaming and wake up Alexis. Domingo and I were taking shifts, as it was the only way we could each get a couple hours of sleep. In theory anyway. It’s hard to sleep through your child crying, even when you know your partner is tending to them and there’s nothing more you can do.

Then, out of the blue, something changed this week. She did seven to nine hours three of the past four days, completely on her own. My sanity is once again returning.

Hear that future self (should you decide to have more, and find yourself in the same prediciment): it does gets better

January 1, 2015

Newborn Photos by the Tree

Happy New Year! Are you tired of Christmas yet? I’m sure not (although this is probably my last Christmas related posted until next December.) One thing I can’t get enough of is photographing Christmas Trees.

There are two ways of doing tree photos: shallow focus (wide aperture, short exposure) and deep focus (narrow aperture, long exposure). Personally I like the wide aperture when shooting up close. It makes our artificial tree look less artificial, and means I don’t need to use a tripod. When shooting from a distance, however, I just love the way the narrow aperture gives a nice star effect to the tree lights.

treelights
Aperture and Christmas Tree Lights

I love Christmas, and I love newborns, so naturally I wanted some newborn Christmas photos by the tree.

christmasnewborn
So Dreamy
F/16, 15 second exposure, 50mm prime lens, ISO-125

The setup was really simple. I used a pillow on top of one of our storage boxes to raise Alexis high enough that the Christmas tree would fill the entire background. Under the blanket is a water proof sheet, and under that a heating pad. I used Nick Kelsh’s tip of white Christmas tree lights (sans pizza box) to cast a nice soft glow on Alexis. I wanted the Christmas light star effect, so I needed a narrow aperture and long exposure. That meant turning off most of the other lights in our living room, and cranking the ISO way down.

christmastreesetup
The pull back. Ignore the scattered toys, my home is in perpetual mess state these days.

A long exposure requires a (mostly) still baby. Breathing is obviously okay. No babies should be harmed in the making of this photo! Once I put Alexis down I gave her a good 15 minutes to get into a nice deep sleep. Don’t forget your safety spotter! Even newborns will sometimes roll, especially if the surface their on is uneven.

Once she was asleep I needed to act quick. From start to finish I only had 28 minutes before Alexis was stirring too much for me to continue. In order to ensure I’d end up with some usable frames I made only one adjustment between frames. Between one frame I might straighten out the blanket under Alexis’ head. Before another I might move her hand away from blocking her mouth. That way there’s less risk of her waking enough to stir, and also I’m guaranteed to have some photos to fall back on in the event that she does wake up.

For comparison, here is one of the first photos I took of Alexis and the tree (barely a week old!) with wide aperture. She’s not asleep. One of the nice things about fast shutter speeds, you can catch those eyes closed, fleeting smiles moments!

christmasnewborn2
f/2, 1/50 sec, ISO-1000
(not using Nick Kelsh’s tree light trick)

My favorite photos are always from Christmas time.

December 30, 2014

Alexis at One Month

Dear Alexis,

How did we get here already? It feels like just yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital. Now you’re up a size in diapers, and clothes, and mommy is already considering removing the newborn insert from your car seat. Don’t you know you’re supposed to stay a newborn forever?!

goofball
Mommy’s little goofball. Three weeks old and already so expressive!

Daddy and I agree, you are the perfect addition to our family of three. You are an incredibly mellow and patient with us. These days you mostly only cry when your hungry. I can’t tell you how many times Daddy and I have checked in on you when you were supposed to be napping, only to find you wide-eyed and exploring your world. You woke up with nary a peep! On those occasions that you do cry, you generally stop whenever we reposition you or talk to you. It’s like you understand we’re going to feed you, or change you, or fix whatever else it is that is making you unhappy. I hope we never let you down!

mobile
Exploring your world

I have been so amazed with your smiles. You started smiling pretty much as soon as you hit the outside world. We thought it was just gas, or a super strong smile reflex. And at first that’s likely all it was. But little by little it kept feeling like real smiles. You smile at us when we talk to you. You smile when your tired and we start to swaddle you. Even your pediatrician commented about your smiling at your two week appointment. I am convinced that we’ve been seeing real, honest to goodness, happy smiles.

yawn

Your sleep has been typical of someone your age, though you did bless us with an eight hour stretch a few days ago, and I couldn’t be more grateful. You really like sleeping on your side, and keep trying to get there when we put you down on your back. Every once in a while you manage it. Daddy is convinced you are going to be an early roller.

Your big sister adores her “baby necklace”, and you seem to adore her! Nicole has given you a bottle (with help) and loves to pat you and tell you “it’s okay” when you’re fussy. You smile the most for your big sister, more than for Daddy or I. You love to watch her play.

Love Always,
Mommy & Daddy

December 22, 2014

Surviving Two

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Having two small children has simultaneously been easier and harder than I expected.

Nicki has been great with Alexis. She’s been very accepting of her little sister “necklace” (seriously cutest nickname ever!), and also a little intimidated by her. When we first brought Alexis home from the hospital, Nicki was very curious about her and asked lots of questions. She liked saying goodbye/goodnight whenever she’d leave for daycare or go to bed, and showed Alexis her toys. She’ll also talk to Alexis, but she rarely wanted to get close on her own. This past week she’s been getting a little braver, offering hugs and kisses. Last night she insisted that her teddy bear give Alexis a goodnight hug. I’m very grateful Nicole has been adjusting so well.

sisterkisses
Bonding this past weekend.

Alexis, for her part, has been an extremely mellow baby. She cries during diaper changes (although not as often any more), and when she’s hungry. She’s very content to be put down in her bouncy seat or the rock and play. After putting her down I’ve checked in on her only to discover she’s wide eyed, studying the blinds, quiet as a mouse.

Domingo and I got extremely lucky with both girls. I don’t think we could have asked for anything more from either of them.

One of the challenges right now is our living situation. We already felt cramped in our apartment before, but now it feels almost unbearable. There’s no out of the way place for Alexis to sleep where she won’t be woken up by the typical sounds of toddlers playing, and no easy place for me to rock her. Alexis’ crying will also just as easily wake up Nicki, which means we’ve had some rocky nights where it felt like the girls were tag teaming against Domingo and I.

Alexis is currently sleeping in our room, but in a few months will move to the office which will then become her room. Her future room is right next to Nicole’s. If the rocking chair was in her room, we’d have to walk a crying, hungry newborn right past Nicole’s door multiple times per night. We avoided that problem by having the rocking chair in the living room, but then there’s no way to shut the door and have a quite space for trying to get Alexis to nap in the middle of the day. We finally caved and decided to buy a second rocker (a stork craft glider). Pros: it was easy to assemble. Cons: it’s not as nice as our previous rocking chair (which cost 3x as much so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.) Now we have a rocker in both locations. It seems a little over kill to have two rockers, but if I can get even just 30 minutes more sleep a day, it’ll be worth it.

Another life savor has been our toy closet. We keep all manor of special toys there: play-doh, one of those pop up tunnels with towers, a bubble gun, etc. We started keeping these toys separate because they required more adult supervision. The fact that they’re not freely available adds to their appeal, and so they work wonders at keeping Nicki occupied before we had the second rocker.

The last thing that seems to have helped is making sure we have special Mommy/Nicole only time. Last Sunday I made sure to wake up early enough to pump before Nicole. We spent the morning together while Domingo and Alexis slept in, and in the afternoon Nicole and I visited Santa. Before our special day, Nicole was acting out and testing boundaries a little more than usual. Afterwards she was back to her usual well mannered self. I’m sure it will be a balancing act. Nicole has always had a very special bond with Domingo, so she’ll want special daddy time as well. We’re thinking Domingo may take her out to a pancake dinner after daycare someday soon.

The last thing that I think helped was the big sister books, especially this one by Joanna Cole. We’ve been emphasizing all the fun things Nicki can do that Alexis can’t do yet by reciting the verse about the baby being too little. It helps keep a positive spin on things when Alexis needs extra attention.

When I first picked up my camera to take newborn photographs of Nicole, I was convinced I had missed my chance. It was already well passed the golden 10 day mark, and I had never done it before. I was worried I wouldn’t get her to fall asleep, or ball up so nicely in that quintessential newborn pose. As luck would have it, I’d continue to be able to get “newborn” photos all the way up to 6 weeks.

This time around I was determined to start early, so that I could film Alexis in that golden period that photographers rave about. And boy did I start early – at just 3 days old!

Babies change so incredibly fast! I mean, “duh!”, but I didn’t see it before because I wasn’t taking as many photos. This time I have some photos of Alexis in nearly the same pose from different days and I see it!

Alexis at 1 week
One Week

Alexis at 2 weeks
Two Weeks

Look at that head growth! And to think, she started out in the 96th percentile for head size, just like her big sister did.

As fast as they grow, you can still make an older baby look tiny

I couldn’t figure it out with Nicki. I had photos of her as a sleeping “newborn” at 6 weeks were she looked smaller than at 2 weeks.

Perception of size is influenced by relative head size to body size. Newborn heads are about 1/3rd their body. How the head is positioned next to the body can make it seem larger or smaller. In this pose Nicki’s body is turned away from the camera, making her body look smaller relative to her head. When her body is parallel to the camera, it looks the longest, making her appear like an older baby.

Props are also incredibly helpful for size comparisons, especially when shooting against a simplified background.

Just because they’re young, sleepy and flexible doesn’t mean they’ll pose the way you want them to! As much as Alexis likes to have her arms swaddled, she likes to stretch those legs. I have tried time and time again to get her to curl up for a photo. No dice if she’s awake, and even asleep she’ll stretch out those legs and stick her butt up in the air.

While I have yet to get her in my favorite balled up pose, she has rewarded my patience with some incredible expressions. I’m getting so many smiles that I’m beginning to wonder if it’s not just the smile reflex or gas, but actual smiles. Crazy talk, I know.

newborngiggles
6 days old going on 3 months?

As much as I’d love to have a balled up baby pose, I do enjoy having different photos of the girls to put on my wall. They are, after all, different people.

Lesson learned: shoot early, shoot often, but don’t sweat it if you miss some days or even a week or two. They are darn cute at any age!

December 8, 2014

Two of a Kind

I still can’t get over how I’m now a mom of two. In some ways they are carbon copies, in others as different as night and day.

comparison
Nicole at 2 weeks old, Alexis at 4 days old

That hair!

At the hospital I saw so much of Nicole in Alexis. Same jet black hair and purposeful, focused gaze. Newborns don’t tend to have either!

Initially Alexis completion seemed so darker than Nicole’s, but both skin tone and hair color seemed to start changing instantly. A few days in and Alexis’ hair is already lightening up, though in certain lighting Alexis’ hair is still the same jet black color as Nicole’s was for months. Her eyes are a shade bluer than Nicki’s but it’s only noticeable in sdie by side comparisons. I expect her complexion to change with time, just as Nicole’s did. Whether it gets darker or lighter is anyone’s guess. Like Nicole, I was born with jet black hair that lightened. Domingo was blond as a child and now sports black hair.

Just like Nicole, Alexis has amazingly good newborn eye sight. Nicole was able to focus on the ceiling fan over the stair case at just a few weeks old. Alexis appears to be able to see things at a distance, but more surprisingly is capable of tracking things with her eyes. This afternoon Domingo was talking to her and she was staring up at him. I walked over and started talking to Domingo. Alexis’ gaze slowly shifted from him to me! I hope this means girls got Domingo’s eyesight, as mine is pretty terrible.

Both kids even needed the same minor procedure for their belly buttons a week after birth, which is supposed to not be hereditary and only needed for 1 in 400 babies.

Two peas from the same pod… err belly, just two years apart.

sisters
Our (most likely) Christmas card photo

Nicole is doing well adjusting to Alexis’ presence. Nicole says goodnight every night to Alexis, and always asks where she is when Alexis is out of eye sight. She has even “helped” change a diaper by sitting by Alexis’ side and telling her it will be okay when Alexis was crying. As tiring as it is chasing after a toddler all day, and trying to coax a newborn back to sleep at night, I will miss this stage when it’s over.

December 4, 2014

Hello Alexis!

alexisbirth
Meeting my little girl

Alexis is here! Like her big sister, she seemed like she was going to stay in my belly forever. Labor started with Nicki just after midnight on the day I was to be induced. I was convinced Alexis would be that way too, but she was even more stubborn. When I arrived for my induction I learned I was contracting every 2 to 5 minutes, they just weren’t strong enough to do anything or for me to feel them. The induction itself took a little longer than expected, given that labor had technically already started. Alexis must have been holding onto the walls.

Domingo and I have now been joking no more kids until we can figure out how to explain to them that it’s not a contest to see who can stay in my belly the longest!

alexissleeping
At the hospital. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I cannot get over how much she looks like her big sister, right down to the same amount of hair.

I can already see a lot of similarities between the two and a lot of differences. Alexis has many of her older sister’s expressions. She’s had some phenomenal sleeping stretches (and some not so great ones.) Unlike her sister, she chooses sleeping over eating, and seems happier in the swaddle so far than Nicole ever did.

The girls had a great first meeting. Nicki kept saying “baby came out!?” while alternating pointing at Alexis and my stomach. We had been telling her for weeks that the baby would come out of my tummy soon, and then when we were going to the doctor to help the baby come out. I don’t think it was real to her until she saw Alexis in person for the first time. We gave Nicole a special Big Sister present, and Nicole enjoyed showing it to Alexis.

Nicole is having troubles pronoucing ‘Alexis’. So far we’ve had a ‘Lex’, ‘Lexus’, and (my personal favorite) ‘Necklace’. I was thinking Alexis’ nickname would be ‘Alex’, but I think ‘Lexi’ is going to win out.

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