Twenty-Nine and Thirty Weeks Old
Arlo is seven months old today--my, how time flies! He's still working diligently on figuring out how to crawl and erupting his first few teeth. I'm happy to wait a little longer on the crawling (we haven't childproofed the house at all yet), but a break from the teething would be nice!
Here he is at 29 and 30 weeks. We took the 29-week photo a day early, because we were busy driving down to California on his actual 29-week birthday. We took the 30-week photo in our hotel in Ashland on our way home. As you can see, Arlo is really good at sitting up on his own at this point.
We spent the last week and a half in California, visiting our families, which was great! We decided to drive down instead of flying, and I was a little worried that Arlo's sleeping would be messed up by the long car rides and unfamiliar surroundings. He cried a couple times in the car, and he had a few extra middle-of-the-night wakings, but all things considered, he did great! When we were in the car, he napped in his carseat with a blanket draped over the handle, and when we were at our hotel and with family, he slept in his Pack 'n' Play. We kept our normal sleep routines (book, song, and blankie), which I think helped preserve his sleep schedule. Or maybe we were just lucky :)
When he was awake in the car, he was pretty easy to entertain. When he got tired of staring out the window, I handed him Freddie Firefly (or hung it from the carseat handle), which kept him entertained for a surprisingly long time. I only had to dig into the rest of his toy stash or sing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" a couple times. The hardest part of the trip was changing Arlo's diaper in the car. The passenger seat of our Matrix folds down into a little table, so Patrick changed him on a Thermarest on top of the table. It was a little unstable. Arlo kept trying to roll around the front seat in the middle of messy diaper changes, but Patrick kept him pretty well contained, and our car upholstery made it through the trip unsoiled.
We split the drive over two days, stopping over in Ashland. We only got a quick glimpse, but I would like to go there again when we have more time to explore. We stayed at the Ashland Springs Hotel, a nicely restored old hotel located downtown. We ate dinner at Larks on the way down to CA and at Standing Stone Brewery on the way back. Both meals were good but kind of hurried, because it was close to Arlo's bedtime, and he was super wiggly and grabby. We also had a nice breakfast at Morning Glory, with only a moderate amount of baby food-grabbing.
Not surprisingly, this vacation was much less leisurely than our pre-baby adventures. I learned a valuable lesson our first night in the hotel--when traveling with a baby, you should always book a suite. We failed to do this and ended up in a small queen room, with just enough room for Arlo's Pack 'n' Play next to the bed. That meant that after 7pm, all the lights had to be off, and we had to be very quiet. I ended up sitting on the cold, hard bathroom tile, knitting, since it was the only place in our room where we could have a light on without waking Arlo. Luckily, we were able to upgrade to a suite on our way home, and it was a much nicer experience (we even got to watch a little TV after he went to bed!).
After a quick stop in the Bay Area and a lunchtime visit with my coworkers, we headed down to my mom and Alan's house in Atascadero. My dad, Vicki, and Lianna all flew out from Colorado. It was so nice to have everybody together for a few days! Our family has been through some tough times this year--both Lianna and Vicki were diagnosed with cancer and went through treatment earlier this year, and I'm ecstatic to report that they're both in complete remission now!--so it was extra special to spend time together. In addition to being reunited with his grandparents, Arlo met his Auntie Li, great-grandma, and great-aunt Susie for the first time. Luckily, he got over his stranger anxiety pretty quickly and enjoyed hanging out with everybody.
Auntie Nance couldn't join us, unfortunately, but we all got to talk with her over Skype, which was lots of fun :) And she sent a big batch of her annual Christmas cookies, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
We kept things pretty low key--Patrick and I didn't endeavor to make a big Christmas dinner this year (though we certainly ate well--Arlo got his first taste of Alan's homemade tortillas, and he seemed to like them very much!). My mom made her traditional coffee cake for (early) Christmas breakfast, Arlo wore his Christmas jammies, and we lounged around the living room and opened presents.
Arlo received so many thoughtful presents from both sides of the family. My mom knit him a little stripy sweater that is almost an exact replica of a sweater that she made for me when I was a baby. I love it :)
We kept things simple with our gift-giving this year and mostly gave homemade jam and photos of Arlo. I packaged them up in brown paper bags decorated with little paper snowflakes and butcher's twine. I like how they turned out.
I managed to make a few knitted gifts this year. I made Vicki a pair of mitts, similar to the pair I made for Lianna last year. I used Malabrigo wool, so they're soft and cozy.
I offered to make Lianna a hat, and she requested a pointy earflap hat, inspired by Arlo's sweet baby cap. I ended up modifying the Thorpe pattern to add a point, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
After a couple days at my mom's house, we drove up to Palo Alto to spend Christmas with Patrick's family. Arlo got to spend lots of quality time with his Grandpa Rick and aunts and uncles, and he got to meet Oscar, Jay and Heather's cute little dog. This was his first time being in close proximity to a dog, and it went well!
I haven't found really good sushi in Portland yet (admittedly, I haven't been trying very hard), so I wanted to visit Akasaka while we were in town. We ended up going twice (my sushi cravings cannot be denied!), and we got yummy burritos at La Cumbre. Arlo got to try some fun new foods at Akasaka--tobiko, agedashi tofu, and pickled ginger (he ate a whole slice, possibly unintentionally). Arlo is way more advanced than Patrick and me--we didn't try sushi until college!
Patrick's family's tradition is to have a big dinner on Christmas Eve, and although Arlo didn't get any ham (delicious, but too much salt for a baby), he did enjoy munching on green beans, rolls, and scalloped potatoes. He also got to watch everybody make pie crust cookies and helped by drooling on the container of sprinkles.
I decided a few months ago that I would make Arlo's Christmas stocking, but I didn't start knitting it until the first night of our road trip. Luckily, it was made with worsted weight yarn, so I was able to finish it in time for Christmas Eve. I'm really happy with how it turned out! I put Arlo's initials on one side and his birth year on the other, the same as Patrick's stocking. I'm thinking about lining it with fabric so it won't stretch over time, but it's not like it'll be used very frequently, so maybe it's fine as is.
I may have mentioned before that Patrick and his siblings all have ornament starter boxes that their Grannie made for them when they were young, so that they'd have special ornaments to hang on their trees when they were grown-up. I love this idea, and I decided that I'd like to make an ornament for Arlo each year (and make one for our tree at the same time, so the ornaments will be familiar to him). This year, I knit two little snowman ornaments. So cute!
I wasn't the only one thinking about ornaments. Patrick's family made Arlo a starter kit of Christmas ornaments--some from the family collection, and some new purchased and home-made just for him. It was such a thoughtful present! Serendipitously, Patrick's cousin Kelly sent Arlo a special family ornament as well. It's just so nice to have these little pieces of family history to enjoy every year. I'm sure Arlo will be glad to have them when he's older.
Arlo had a lot of presents waiting for him on Christmas morning. He opened the first one (with his Aunt Meg's help), but then Patrick and I took over.
We headed back home on the day after Christmas. Patches seemed ambivalent about us being home--I think she was enjoying her baby vacation, especially since Lori takes such good care of her when we're gone!
I'm torn about what to do next year--it would be great to have a non-traveling Christmas, since we haven't gotten to experience Christmas in Portland yet. On the other hand, I loved visiting our families for the holidays. Everybody is so sweet with Arlo, and it's great seeing him interact with them. Maybe we'll end up trading off years--one in Portland, one in California--similar to what we did when our families lived farther apart.
Seeing all the beautiful scenery on our road trip (and learning that Arlo handles traveling pretty well, at least for now) made me want to go on more adventures in 2011. I'd like to start taking annual family trips to the same places every year--maybe rent a cabin in the winter and go camping in the summer. I really like the idea of establishing new traditions that we can share with Arlo (and any future siblings) as he grows up. It makes me smile to think that something we haven't even started doing now might be commonplace and comforting to Arlo eighteen years from now. I'm excited that we have the opportunity to shape his childhood--I hope we do a good job!