Arlo pictures! Here he is at 37 and 38 weeks.
And here he is showing how well he can stand (with a little help, of course).
As indicated by the tears welling in his eyes in some of the 38-week photos, Arlo had a rough couple of days about a week ago. I don't know what it was--teething, maybe?--but he was grumpy and clingy last weekend. I was hoping that maybe it meant he was about to start crawling (I'd heard that babies get clingy right before they hit big developmental milestones), but nope. Still no crawling. I'm just glad that he's back to his (mostly) happy self this week. It's hard being relentlessly cheery and sweet when faced with a grumpy baby all day long!
Our baby books make it sound like many babies crawl and say their first word by 9 months. I'm not sure if Arlo will hit either of those milestones by Monday, but he's not that far off. He has been very vocal lately--clearly enjoying all of the sounds he is capable of making. It's entertaining!
He has also been extra cuddly for the past few days, which is so wonderful. When I'm holding him and he's in a quiet mood, he'll put his arms around my shoulders and squeeze me, and sometimes he'll lay his head on my chest for a few seconds. It's the best thing ever. He is also starting to figure out kisses. Lately, when I kiss him goodnight, he comes at me all open-mouthed, ready to kiss me back. What a sweetie :)
Here he is in an acorn cap that I made for him (more information on Ravelry). It started out as a hat for an ex-coworker's 2-year-old daughter, but my gauge was off, so it ended up fitting Arlo instead. Not a big deal, since I wanted to make one for him too.
These pictures make my heart ache a little. He's so beautiful and innocent right now. Oh, my dear baby.
Speaking of knit hats, here's one I made for myself recently--the Jane hat (Ravelry info). It's super cute, but because I have a big head it turned out snug and not as slouchy as I'd hoped. I decided to send it to a friend with a more normal-sized head, and I'm planning on making a slightly larger version for myself.
Last Saturday, Patrick and I left the house together, without Arlo, for the second time since Arlo was born. Back in November, I bought tickets to see The Decemberists at the Schnitz, not knowing what Arlo's sleep habits would be like in mid-February and dreading having to find a babysitter. It all worked out though. Arlo's nanny (who continues to be awesome--yay!) agreed to babysit. Since I'm a worrier, I had my phone on my lap throughout the concert, in case Becca Jo called. I was worried Arlo would wake up at 9pm, realize we weren't there, and cry until we came home. I didn't need to worry, of course--Arlo slept soundly the whole time we were gone, the concert was great, and we were able to stay through the first encore (which included the Mariner's Revenge Song!). Yay for doing something non-baby-related every once and a while!
This upcoming Wednesday will be Arlo's Inside-Out Equilibrium Day (the day on which he will have been out in the world for the same amount of time he was in the womb). The current plan is to wear our underwear inside out and eat calzones (inside-out pizza!) to celebrate :) On a more serious note, I've been thinking about how this also marks the day when my body is supposed to be back to normal (whatever that means), based on conventional wisdom. I have mixed feelings about my postpartum body (I'm sure most new moms do). I could write a long post about it, but I think it would get complainy, and I prefer to write about happy things here. Oh, okay, I'll write a paragraph about it. This is more personal than I normally get here, but I think it's worth writing about for posterity, and maybe it will help any other new moms who are reading along.
Before I had Arlo, I'd assumed that my body would pretty much go back to normal at some point, even though it might take a year or so. Well, that doesn't seem to be the case. My stomach looks very different than it did pre-baby, and I think it's going to stay that way. I have stretch marks, a C-section ledge, and my belly button is located higher than it used to be and it just looks weird (how strange is that? I never thought that my belly button would change when I had a baby!). This website (caution: nudity!) has helped me feel better, knowing I'm not the only one whose body looks like this, but I'm still pretty self-conscious about it. It's made worse by the fact that I've caught glimpses of other new moms' stomachs, and they looked normal. I wonder why their bodies recovered better than mine--was it because I had a C-section or a big baby, or was it just bad luck? I try to stay positive about it--my stretch marks are fading, I was able to lose my baby weight quickly and without much effort, and the rest of my body looks just fine. If having a gnarly-looking midsection is the price I have to pay for having an absolutely amazing, wonderful baby boy, it was totally worth it. Still, I think it will take a while for me to get comfortable with my new body.
I've started going to a yoga class one morning a week (big thanks to Patrick for making this possible by watching Arlo while I'm in class!). In addition to not feeling so great about my external appearance, my core has felt really weak since I had Arlo. I'm able to carry him in the sling without much trouble, but when I'm sitting or standing, I find myself slouching a lot, and I just generally don't feel strong. I bought a book about postpartum ab exercises right after I had Arlo, but I never got around to doing any of them. In fact, the only exercising I've done in the last 9 months has been lots of walking. It's probably time to take better care of myself. Yoga seems like a good start, and once the weather is warmer, I'd like to start going on bike rides (or maybe even start running again, though I'm not feeling at all motivated at the moment).
I've been to two classes so far at my neighborhood yoga studio, and I've felt sore afterward, so they must be doing something. I took a little yoga in college and attended a few work-sponsored yoga classes back in California, but this is my first time going to a yoga studio where they incorporate the spiritual elements of yoga in addition to the physical exercises. The people there are nice, but I'm feeling a little out of my element--there's a lot of bowing to altars and saying "Namaste." I'm not sure if I should do it too (in order to be respectful) or abstain (because it's hypocritical of me to pretend that I believe in that aspect of things, when I'm really just there to strengthen my core). It's probably not a big deal either way.
Okie doke--food roundup! My efforts to plan our meals a little better, for Arlo's benefit, are still going well. It's time consuming (both the planning and the execution), but it makes me happy that we're eating well. I doubt that I'll be able to keep this up long-term, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.
We've been rotating through a lot of the same foods for breakfast--applesauce, cottage cheese, bananas, yogurt. Here are a few notable breakfast items we've had recently:
1. Egg sandwiches on ciabatta with apple butter, bacon, and a Gorgonzola-cream-cheese spread. This was inspired by the Messenger sandwich served at the now-closed Little Red Bike Cafe (we didn't make it out there before they closed, so I don't know how close this comes to the original). I made the apple butter in the slow cooker (recipe in Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker), and it turned out well. The ciabatta rolls (from New Seasons) were a little too crusty, but I'd try this again on an English muffin. It's an interesting flavor combination!
2. Cinnamon-raisin bread with breakfast cheese and stewed prunes (the first two items were from The Breakfast Book). The bread was very nice, and I liked the combination of breakfast cheese and prunes. This meal took a lot of advance preparation, but it was satisfying eating such a special breakfast on a weekday.
3. Meyer lemon and ricotta pancakes with frozen blueberries added. We ate these yesterday morning when it was all snowy outside. I made them the night before, and then I reheated them in the toaster oven at 350F for 5 minutes. I had some issues with pancake doneness--I always have a hard time finding just the right combination of temperature and time to get beautiful pancakes. They weren't particularly pretty, but they tasted good.
And here's what we've been eating for dinner:
1. Spicy baked chicken, rice and peas, and red split lentils (all from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking). With the lentils made in advance, this meal came together quickly, and it was tasty and relatively healthy.
2. Pork tinga with potatoes, avocado, and fresh cheese, made into soft tacos with a little shredded cabbage. Yay, crockpot recipe! The pork was a little spicier than I like, but otherwise I was happy with the meal, and it was easy to put together.
3. Pasta with wild mushrooms, pancetta, and gorgonzola. I couldn't find spinach penne, so I used normal penne. I'd try this recipe again with goat cheese instead of blue cheese (I'm not a big blue cheese fan), and I might add some baby spinach.
4. Sweet potato, ginger, and chicken teriyaki skewers (from The Food Matters Cookbook), white rice, and leeks vinaigrette. Trying to put uncooked sweet potato on a bamboo skewer is annoying--the sweet potato chunks kept breaking apart, and I ended up roasting them without skewering. I wouldn't make this recipe again, but it reminded me that we have a good teriyaki chicken recipe, which would probably go well with baked sweet potatoes. I liked the leek recipe--the leeks were from our garden, and the vinaigrette preparation was easy and tasty.
5. Pan-seared salmon (Cast Iron Cookbook), couscous with carrots, raisins, and almonds, and sauteed baby spinach. As I've said before, this is my favorite way of preparing salmon--it's easy, and the results are delicious. We should really make this kind of meal more often--it's simple to put together, healthy, and tasty.
6. Butternut and Gruyere cannelloni with hashed Brussels sprouts. With a little advance work, the cannelloni came together pretty quickly, with delicious results. Because I couldn't justify buying the full amount of decadent dairy products listed in the recipe for just the 2.5 of us, I made a half recipe and cut the serving size from 3 to 2 cannelloni per person (with the extra squash filling served on the side). It was still a very satisfying meal.