Finn’s first vacation

I’ve been eager to acquaint Finn with the many faces of his Michigan family, but somewhat apprehensive about the three-hour flight, the new sleeping arrangements, and other changes in his daily routine. Well — we’re here — and I’m happy to say that my worries were unnecessary: Finn made friends with the young man in the aisle seat shortly after take-off and has slept better than he was sleeping in his own crib before we left! With seventy-something degree temperatures, dripping bites of watermelon and nectarine, bird-watching on the balcony, sunny paddle-boat rides, splashes next to minnows in the very lake his mom and grandparents swam in, and lots of extended family hands (and paws), Finn’s first vacation has been idyllic.

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All we really need to make a perfect trip are some fireflies. 

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What makes a father?

IMG_7931color(Photo above courtesy of Lisset!)

I imagine that there are as many definitions of fatherhood as there are fathers. What makes someone a dad? Most agree that it’s more than just DNA; it’s his day-to-day actions and involvement. A speaker I heard on NPR a few weeks ago lamented the fact that he was expected to fulfill duties that HIS dad didn’t have to “deal” with — such “unpleasantries” as changing diapers and tending to a crying baby. The older generation, he said, was “lucky” enough to be limited to the role of glorified playmate.

Aside from feeling ecstatic that I’m not married to that guy, I’m also a little sorry for him. It seems like he’s missing something, don’t you think? He’s missing everything that my husband, father for only eight-and-a-half months, embraces with both hands.

From day one, Keith has been the champion diaperer. His ability to be simultaneously efficient and entertaining in front of the changing table  is nothing short of inspirational. He can make Finn laugh in a matter of seconds with a repertoire of sound effects, feigned accents, and exaggerated facial expressions that will serve as a model for a lifetime (particularly good to have if Finn goes into acting, teaching, or, of course, parenting). Finn’s easy laughter and perceptive sense of humor most definitely spring from his father.

But it’s not just Keith’s efficiency and playfulness that make him a wonderful dad; it’s the time and attention that he dedicates to his son on a daily basis. He often bathes him, feeds him,rocks him, dances with him, dresses him; he wears him close to his heart in the Bjorn — on walks, in the house, out and about. He notices all of Finn’s new sounds and constantly changing likes and dislikes. He knows the difference between when he’s hungry or when he’s just tired. He can shoosh him to sleep with an expert sleepy dance in less than five minutes. Then he rushes in (regardless of how little sleep he’s had) the next morning to greet and chat with the baby, change the diaper, administer the vitamins, and sometimes put on the clothes (pants backwards). He is ready to do it all over again.

In my opinion, THAT is what makes a father. Finn is so lucky to have the one he does.

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A swim with Finn

What better way to cool off on a hot South Florida afternoon than to splash around in a pool? Finn’s cousins have the perfect arrangement for his first dip: a large wading area complete with squirting fountain jets! The little guy couldn’t believe his eyes… 

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His cousins, Colton and Aidan, provided Finn some extra entertainment:

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And Keith and I had a bit of fun with him, too…

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Can’t wait to do it again! I wonder how old babies must be for official swimming lessons?

On the move — day AND night

I’ve read that when babies make big advancements, they also frequently change their sleeping patterns. I’m guessing that this is the reason why Finn was up from 12 to 2 and then 3 to 4 last night, and why we haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. He inevitably wakes up several times, sometimes sitting up and crying, other times actually standing, circling, bouncing, yelling out for us. If we can get to him right away to soothe him, he often goes back to sleep (if only for a short while), but once his hands clutch that rail and he pulls himself up to a standing position, we know we’re in for a long wait.

I have no footage of our recent nighttime episodes, but here are two short clips of Finn’s active daytime play. He’s gotten SO good at moving around on foot while holding on to something that at times he’s a little overconfident:

And just when when we started wondering if he might learn to walk before he crawls, he developed a move we’re calling the “peg-leg pirate crawl”:

I’m having so much fun watching Finn’s progress; I just hope that his nighttime activity slows down a bit sometime soon. Even though we’re on summer vacation, we feel like zombies. Is that how it’s supposed to work? Must his progression translate into our retrogression?

The first days of summer

 

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Days have been full, rich, and sweet lately. For one week now, Keith and I have been off from work and home with Finn! Each morning and evening, before and after the South Florida heat hangs heavy, we take long, leisurely walks along the lake:

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We’ve also been catching up with — and in Finn’s case, getting closer to  — good friends (below is Finn with my friend Lisa’s daughter, Summer):

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And it wouldn’t seem like vacation without a meal “out.” Despite the heat, Finn enjoyed an early lunch on South Beach about mid-week. Is that a fat foot on the table? What manners!

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Most importantly, there’s been lots of play time at home…

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Just because it’s vacation, however, doesn’t mean that Finn hasn’t been working diligently on mastering his standing skills. He can stand one-handed, lower himself smoothly up and down, and even cruise around the entire perimeter of his crib or play area:

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Pretty soon, Finn may be strolling alongside us on our family walks!

A note to my boy at 8 months

Finn,

You’ve been out of the womb fewer months than you were inside it, but lately I’ve noticed that you’re somehow already becoming more of my boy and less of my baby. It’s not just the physical things, like your size 12 month pajamas or the fourth tooth that’s cruelly trying to force its way into your smile. It’s the thoughtful WILL that governs your days, and often, mine. You want to MOVE, to twist, to lunge, to pounce. Every ounce of you (and there are many at this point) partakes in some kind of pure, honest pursuit at every moment. You are a marvel to watch… which is good, because I can’t look away for even a second these days: you’ll roll off or over or under, grab this, that, or the other. Left awake in your crib, you stand and clumsily stalk its perimeter like a little guard fighting off slumber, and even when put down asleep, you pull yourself up to a wobbly sitting position with eyes closed. On the changing table, you squirm around so much that I fear one day you might escape my grasp and tumble to the ground. When I get dressed, I must consider the earrings I wear each day, or else I may lose an earlobe.

But despite the fact that you do grab, pinch, and even bite (your poor gums!), you are such a sweet, loving boy. You give kisses now, although they are open-mouthed and very wet, a far cry from textbook. During those times that you nap on my shoulder in the afternoons, you often wake and lift your face up in front of mine only an inch away, widen your round, light eyes with a question, and then smile the answer so sleepily.

Those other smiles are loving, too — the big, toothy ones, or the scrunchy-nosed, noisy ones — but they are in no way tentative or questioning. They are intense celebrations of all of the little things that bring you instant, slamming joy: the toss in the air, the “baby” in the mirror, the wag of a dog’s tail, the bounce of a mattress, the clang of a wind chime, the clap of a hand.

Your simple bliss gives me such simple bliss. As I watch you laugh and bounce and (yes, any minute now) crawl further (away) through the expanding world around you, let me remember how close and part of me you are. The words of an ee cummings poem my sister presented to me on Mother’s Day convey my feelings perfectly (thank you, Aunt Sunshine. How absolutely perfect these lines are…):

i carry your heart with me — by ee cummings:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

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