Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lots to be Thankful For...

Where's the turkey?

First Thanksgiving for the babies.

Attempting our first family Christmas card photo - this one is definately not it!

Sweet boy.


Miles is going to hate me for this picture someday.


Christmas tree shopping


Things I'm Thankful For:
  1. Holiday cheer
  2. My family's health
  3. A miracle named Miles
  4. A clean house (thank you Dyson)
  5. Supportive, caring and fun family and friends
Things Miles is Thankful For (or what I can only imagine he's really thinking):
  1. Milk
  2. Mama & Daddy
  3. Lots of love and kisses from aunties, uncles and grandparents
  4. The monkey mat
  5. Strong arms to hold him while he bounces on his legs
Thanksgiving Weekend

How nice to have a long Thanksgiving weekend off of work! I've got the Sunday blues thinking about the prospect of driving into the office early tomorrow morning and am sad that such a nice weekend is coming to a close. Thursday we spent Miles first Thanksgiving at my mom's house with 30 aunts, uncles and cousins. Our family is blessed because this holiday we have the addition of 3 new babies - Miles, Corey and Kendra. This works out to be about a 10:1 adult to baby ratio - which in our family is a good thing since everyone wants to hold them! The traditional Giesen family Thanksgiving menu included: turkey, dressing, cream corn, baked sweet potatos with apples and walnuts, cranberry salad, kolacky's (the most delicious Czech pastry filled with yummy poppyseed or prune or apricot) and apple and pumpkin pies.

Friday, my brother Matt was in town so we had him and my parents over for a homemade pizza dinner, Wii bowling and a Guitar Hero jam session.
On Saturday we actually ventured out for a little shopping and made a small dent in our Christmas gift list this year. We also got our Christmas tree. While I had this romantic notion of a light snow falling as we cut down a fresh evergreen tree for Miles' first Christmas the reality was that we went to the Mendards lumber yard and picked up a very nice looking (but probably sprayed green) tree for $14.99. Saturday night, with family still around, we gathered with my immediate family for another dinner (baked ribs and halibut) and round two of Guitar Hero. About 10:21 pm Miles let us know what he thought of so much activity packed into a few short days. Poor guy - he woke up screaming inconsolably, which is a rarity for him, until I rocked him back to sleep. He got up a few more times that night. Was it the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving day, being carted around shopping or Guitar Hero that put him over the edge? My conclusion - you can't be a rock star with a baby.

Today we kept it very low key but stayed in the holiday spirit by decorating the house and tree for Christmas. On a roll I also got spruce tops and put together my outside planters and we did laundry. All Miles had to do today was relax and play. He's a happy boy and sleeping soundly now. After a busy weekend I hope to be sleeping soon too and eating a lot less this coming week!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ready or Not Our Baby is Growing!

Daren, my Godson, digging into his 1st birthday cake.

Mike, Miles and Ruby working on laundry.

Giving the little bear a hug.

Doing great on tummy time!

Is Miles in there?

Grandma and Miles time!

Cousins holding hands.

Cousin Corey invited Miles to hang out in his crib.

Lucky mama and auntie!

4 Month Doctor's Visit
Miles had his 4 month well-baby visit this week at Wayzata Children's Clinic. His stats are:
  • Height: 24 1/2 inches (25%)
  • Weight: 15 lbs 6.5 oz (55%)
  • Head: 42.7 cm (65%)

My conclusion from these statistics - he's a healthy eater with a big brain! Miles got another round of immunizations which he took like a champ - he only screamed for a few minutes after getting poked 3 times in the legs. The only surprise we had was the doctor recommended starting Miles on solids any time. The signs that a baby is ready for real food are: is 4-6 months old, can hold head steady when sitting with support, is not satisfied by nursing alone, shows interest in family members eating and starts to put things in mouth. Miles meets all of these criteria except for not being satisfied by nursing alone. Even though the doctor said Miles could start eating rice cereal and other fruits and vegetables anytime I'm not ready! Miles is growing so fast that I want to keep him a little baby a few weeks longer. If I can work myself up to this transition we'll start solids within the next month or so. Stay tuned for messy food pictures!

The week's activities

Monday was our last 0-5 month ECFE class. We're sad that we won't get to see all of our school friends again until January but will be getting together for playdates with a few little ones and their moms soon.

Tuesday I hosted book club. We read and discussed The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It's amazing - this book club, a core group of 7 women, has been meeting monthly for almost 5 years now. In those 5 years almost all of us have transitioned to new jobs, 2 people have gotten married, 5 babies have been born with another on the way and a few people have embarked on the graduate school adventure. I'm hoping we last another 5 years because it's so nice to have the support of other women experiencing the same life moments as you.

Wednesday I took the day off of work to take Miles to the doctor. After the shots we had a low key day at home.

I have now officially gone down to 90% of full-time at work so have every Friday off. Miles and I visited his new daycare (as of January). I am viewing the world of daycares completely differently now that Miles is a reality - not just a miracle inside of me. Going to grandma and grandpa Nickolay daycare everyday has spoiled us all - Miles is so well loved and cared for that transitioning to a regular daycare where he is one of several babies will be a little rough. Mike is going to take Miles and visit also within the next few weeks. We'll post our thoughts on this once his visit takes place. On a happier note we went to lunch with my mom, sister and baby Corey to Good Day Cafe in Golden Valley. If I thought one baby attracts a lot of attention toting in 2 babies doubles this! There was a lot of oohhing and ahhing over the little cousins. That night Mike, Miles and I drove to Union Hill for my Godson, Daren's first birthday. He's such a sweet boy. One of the joys of attending 1st birthdays is watching the little person of honor dig into their first piece of birthday cake. Daren took his time at first with his piece - he would swipe one finger through the frosting and taste it. Before long though that whole piece of cake was stuck to the side of his face. Happy birthday Daren!

Comings and Going this Weekend
I've been wanting to get professional pictures taken of Miles for a few months now. It's been on my mind and I finally booked time with a photographer because I figured I would regret it eventually if I didn't properly capture all of these special baby moments. We bought a package so we'll get pictuers taken of Miles 4 times within his first year and a half. Miles was a doll at the shoot and cooperated very nicely. Like every parent, I think my own little one is so cute. I can't wait to see the pictures but have to wait in suspense until December 4 to view them. Saturday night Mike and I went out together for only the 2nd time since Miles was born! We first volunteered at a benefit for Fraser. It was a beautiful gala event with a Moroccan theme held at the Hilton Minneapolis Hotel. Mike and I helped to check guests in for a night of auction bidding, dinner and dancing. After our shift we walked across the street and had a nice dinner at Vincent A Restaurant on Nicollet Avenue. I marked the occasion with my first glass of wine since getting pregnant with Miles.

Today we took advantage of the mild fall weather and got out for a walk and had my parents over for a meal of comfort food - chicken, roasted brussel sprouts and my first attempt at making Czech potato dumplings, a food I grew up eating. To make them you mash potatoes and mix that with flour, egg and salt. Then you form balls with the dough and boil them. This may not sound very appetizing or healthy but they are so delicious! I hope that Miles will like them someday too.

As we spend time with our family this coming week we hope that everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Night at the Nickolays - In Pictures

We spent Saturday night at my mom and dad's house. The whole family was there - Matt & Janelle came down from Moorhead and our honorary aunt and good friend Sharon Huse came up from Sherburn. The night started with a little ping pong... and continued with a lot of baby cuddling. Everyone loves to make Miles smile. Matt & Janelle met Corey, our sharp dressing newest family member, for the first time.
Mom and dad prepared a delicious feast of roast chicken and squash and Sharon Huse supplied the apple pie.
"The boys" hung out together while the adults ate dinner...
and the night concluded with an impromptu accordian concert by grandpa Dave. How many other grandbabies can brag that their grandpa knows how to play "In Heaven There is No Beer" on the accordian?


The rest of the week
Monday - Another fun ECFE class - I don't think I'll ever get tired of the "Hammer Song" and hanging out with a bunch of happy babies.

Tuesday - We brought a Buca feast to Rachel and Graham's house to visit with baby Corey and let Rach and Graham eat a meal together at the table. Mike and I rocked babies so that they could eat in peace. Corey is getting bigger every week and will soon catch up to Miles!

Wednesday - Miles turned four months old! I'm still amazed by my little miracle every day. He makes our lives so happy! I had my first night out with friends (besides book club) since Miles was born. I met Amy and Becky at Kincaids for happy hour and then we heard Barbara Kingsolver talk about her newest book The Lacuna at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. For those of you unfamiliar with Barbara Kingsolver I would highly recommed The Poisonwood Bible and Pigs in Heaven.

Thursday - Mike went to Old Chicago because they were featuring a new beer and my parents saved me from a dinner of cereal by inviting me and Miles to stay for dinner at their house - thank you!

Friday - I had the day off so during the day Miles and I hung out with Rachel and Corey. Our Firday night - after a full week of work and activities is it any surprise that our household is in bed by 8:30 pm?

So big!

New this week - Miles is starting to sit by himself.

Cuddling with his "lovey" the bear.

Even babies get bed head!
(In Miles defense, it's hard for a baby with a thick head of hair to keep it looking spiffy 24/7.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's good to be home!

Little stinker sticking his feet through the slats of his crib.

Lounging around at the Hilton.

Little boy in a big bed!

Enjoying the beautiful fall weather with mama.

Work, work and more work
Every year the organization I work for, the National Marrow Donor Program, has an annual conference at the Hilton Minneapolis Hotel. We have over 1000 attendees from all over the world and I am part of a very small group of conference organizers. Planning for this conference starts a year in advance and as the date of the event gets close I'm always working long, long hours.

This year I timed Miles' birth almost right - to miss a lot of the planning and work. I think I'm the only pregnant person I know who wanted her baby to come after her due date to avoid some of this work! Sweet Miles was anxious to see the world and came 8 days early resulting in me working my butt off since I've returned to work from maternity leave.

The conference was a success... and I survived thanks in HUGE part to my mom and Mike. Due to the long days at the conference I get a room at the Hilton. Since Miles is so young and I'm nursing my mom stayed with me at the Hilton for a couple of days and then Mike stayed for a night so that I could pop up to the room every 3 hours to feed Miles. I don't think that I could have been away from him around the clock for the whole conference.

Highlights
This weekend Miles rode in his first elevator, stayed in his first hotel, rolled around a king size bed for the first time and was probably one of the youngest attendees ever to participate in a conference on advances in unrelated hematopoietic stem cell transplants.

My mom and Miles were a hit at the hotel and were greeted by name by all of the Hilton staff as they strolled around the Hilton. Miles loved looking at the view of lights and skyscrapers from the 24th floor and squealed in delight while looking at himself in the mirrored closet doors. Saturday night the meeting ended with a dinner and closing keynote speaker. Mike and Miles got to sneak in the back and attend this portion. The speaker talked about IQ and emotional intelligence and the science behind people's reactions to change and transformations. I was so exhausted at this point that I didn't get a lot out of if and will have to watch the dvd but Mike enjoyed it. Much to our surprise Miles was mentioned twice in the speaker's talk! On two occasions he referenced "the baby in the back." We'll have to keep a copy of the dvd for Miles' baby book.

Home sweet home
Today we loaded the car and came home and it felt so good to be back. Back not only to the house but hopefully my normal life again. I've been so consumed with work that I've missed Miles, Mike and just enjoying things outside of work. Hopefully starting tomorrow (now that this conference is over) I can really put my family first and enjoy time with them. In order to make being a working mom work I will have to establish a much healthier work/life balance.

The highlight of today was walking around lake Susan with Miles in the Baby Bjorn. The weather was beautiful and Miles rode facing forward for the first time. He's getting to be such a big boy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lions & Tigers & Cousins - Oh My!

Hanging out with mom.

More pictures??!!

Rolling around in bed.

Miles' first Halloween! Thanks for the cute onsie Great Aunt Lu and Uncle Don.

Who's a happy, little tiger?

Trick or Treat!

Just hangin' out.

Meeting my little cousin, Corey, for the first time!

Sleeping Angel
Right now Miles is asleep in his crib. He's lying on his side with his little, chubby hands clasped in front of him like he's praying. His new development this week is traveling around his crib. He flips and flops so much now during his sleep that whatever position we lie him down in inevitably the next time we check on him he's facing 180 degrees in the opposite direction! He also is now wanting to roll on his side or (much to my dismay the first night he did this) roll over onto his belly.

As new parents we get it drilled into our heads from everywhere that babies must sleep on their backs. The first night I discovered Miles rolled over onto his stomach I kept pushing him back onto his back and he just kept rolling over. I think we both had a sleepless night that night - me pushing him over and him rolling right back.

Seriously, he's such a doll when he's sleeping (ok, I think he's a doll 24/7). During a nap this week I peeked in on him and he was on his side, with his body going the length of the short side of the crib and his two little feet were poking out between the bars.

Another night Mike and I woke up to loud rumblings (the in-the-diaper variety) coming from the baby monitor. It was so loud that it woke Miles up and he started chattering away in his crib. Mike and I were giggling as he talked away.

Miles and I had another nocturnal adventure this week. After feeding him at 2:30 am he pooped in his diaper. I waited a few minutes before starting to change him but I didn't wait long enough (every minute in the middle of the night is precious time not to waste - we need our sleep!). As his diaper was off he continued to poop. I tried to fumble in the darkened nursery for another diaper and it kept coming and coming. Long, messy story short I went through 4 diapers before finally strapping a clean one on the little guy. I had to call in reinforcements (Mike and Ruby) for assistance because in the process his jammies, sleep sack and diaper changing pad also all got dirty. The moment Mike walked into the nursery Miles gave us one last, messy surprise and peed - hitting his newly washed-that-evening hair. So about 3:15 am Mike was scrubbing Miles' clothes in the sink and I was re-washing his hair. From the way Miles was acting you would think this is our normal nightly routine. He didn't even cry a peep and was just looking at us with those big blue eyes - probably thinking mom and dad are crazy. He's such a happy boy and just went with the flow.

Babies all over the country must get their schedules thrown off due to daylight savings time. Miles was ready for bed at 7:00 tonight - one hour earlier then usual. It will be interesting to see if 7:00 pm becomes his new bedtime. I wonder what times he'll be up to eat tonight... Goodnight!