Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Joshua Watch: Three Months

Our precious little boy is three months old!  Where has the time gone??

He's growing so quickly, too.  We did his monthly comparison shot with his tiger, and had to turn the blanket vertically to make sure he fit properly...

He's also getting much more wriggly, which makes this comparison shot more and more difficult.  I guess I thought he'd remain docile enough for the first year... Next month, he'll probably be rolling on top of the tiger and/or nomming on its tail!

Joshua has done a lot of growing up this month!  The biggest change is in his sleep habits.  A couple weeks ago, he started waking up just 45 minutes into his naps and screaming in his crib -- a very stressful habit for all three of us.  We would rush into his nursery, pick him up, try to put his pacifier in his mouth, walk him around and around our little apartment... We hit a low point about a week and a half ago, when he just wouldn't be consoled, even in our arms.  After spending an entire day holding our screaming child, we decided something had to change.

It seems that Joshua's 45-minute nap was actually just the first half of a proper nap.  Some babies have difficulties transitioning between sleep stages, and it looks like Joshua was going through one of those phases.  By rushing in at his first cry and picking him up, we were just irritating him even more -- he really just needed to find his way back to sleep.  Taking him out of his crib meant that we were making him chronically overtired and cranky.  So we took on the hard task of daytime sleep training -- we let him cry a few minutes on his own when the 45-minute intruder showed up, in an effort to help teach him how to soothe himself back to sleep.  This was SO stressful for us as parents -- your instinct is to always go to your baby when he's crying!  But we discovered that when Joshua is crying because he's tired, he'll stop after only 3-6 minutes and then sleep for another 45 minutes to an hour.  And then he woke up much happier -- and treated us to many more smiles and laughs!

We're still working out the kinks of the whole sleep training thing, trying to figure out what works best for our family.  But so far, it's been remarkable seeing the difference that a little sleep training will make.  Joshua is better-rested, happier, and actually sleeping longer at night as well -- he's slept completely through the night (from 11pm to 7am) twice now!

Other fun developmental milestones: his hair is really coming in!  He no longer has the male pattern baldness look, though he does still have a mullet going on...  He's also discovered the joys of sucking on his hands.  More often than not, his thumb is still tucked inside his fist, so he hasn't quite figured out how to suck on his thumb, but it's so adorable watching him try to stuff his entire hand into his mouth.  And he's almost completely done with his pacifier now as a result!

Some fun shots from our 3-month photoshoot with our handsome little model:

See this hand, Mama?  This is the one I'm going to SHOVE IN MY MOUTH!!

This is fun and all, but it looks way more interesting over on that side of the room...

Joshua wasn't really into the photoshoot in his bouncy seat -- he got a little cranky after that last shot.  On a whim, I tried putting him on his changing table.  For whatever reason, Joshua really, really loves being on his changing table -- maybe because of how close it brings him to my face?  But he's usually all smiles now when we change his diaper.  And it worked this time, too -- smile city!  So I took a bunch of shots with my camera held way above my head, while I made funny faces and noises at him -- I'm amazed they're at all in focus.  :)

That grin melts our hearts, little boy.  We love you so much!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Welcome to the world, Evan James J!!

Our dear friends Emily and Brian had their baby boy this week!!  We had been praying for Emily for the last several weeks -- she had had some complications during her third trimester, which led to her being induced at 39 weeks, on Sunday night.  From what we've heard so far, she was a superwoman during labor -- 7 hours of active labor, 2.5 hours (!!) of pushing, and no epidural (!!!).

But I'm sure she'd be the first to say that it was absolutely all worth it, for this gorgeous bundle of joy.  :)  Evan was born at 7:44am on April 26, at 9 lbs. 2 oz. and 21.5 inches.  And he's so beautiful!

Photos stolen from Emily's Facebook profile, which I've been faithfully stalking since Sunday night, as any good friend would do.  :)

Emily and Brian, congratulations on your precious little son!!  Many blessings on all three of you as you come home from the hospital and go through the adjustment period -- you're in for the best ride of your life.  :)  We love you!  And Joshua can't wait to meet his new little buddy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Communiversity 2010

Last Saturday was Communiversity, the annual town and gown street fair.  Back when I was a student, I spent most of Communiversity on the "gown" side of the Fitzrandolph Gates, checking out student group tables and hanging out with my friends.  (Yeah, I totally missed the point of the mash-up between community and university...)

Oh, how the times have changed...

This year, the three of us were helping out with Westerly's booth, which was in a prime spot on the "town" side of Nassau Street, just outside the U-Store.  David and I were there to help field any questions or protests about Westerly's proposed relocation... That's been a long saga, and might be worth a post or two of its own, but I think the comment thread on this Daily Prince article is indicative of some of the vitriol the church has been facing in this anti-development town.  Turns out we were overcautious, though -- the only interaction we had about the relocation was positive.  So we all got to just sit back and enjoy the beautiful day and the fun of Communiversity!

I only took a few photos, since I had Joshua strapped to my front (though I'm getting better at the baby + camera maneuver!), so here are some of our favorites!

Joshua in the car on the way, wearing his summer hat for the first time!

The "This I Believe" board, for anyone to write their beliefs, questions, deep thoughts, etc.

Free ice cold bottled water, and free balloons

Pastor Matt and Pastor John, appropriately attired for Communiversity  :)

So much fun!  We only stayed for a couple hours (it's been too long since we've spent any significant amount of time in the sun, and David's Northern European genes couldn't withstand the sudden assault), but we saw so many friends (both community and university!) and had such a good time.  I say this all the time, but really, we love our community!

For the full set of Communiversity photos, check out this SmugMug gallery.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just some cute photos

Taking advantage of the new blog layout to post some of our recent favorite photos of our very favorite little subject!

Just chillin' with mama

Smiling and flailing in his play gym

My office sent us these beautiful flowers to congratulate us on Joshua's birth, and David commented that they were larger than Joshua!

Celebrating the Ristuccias' 25 years of faithful service

This past Sunday, our church had a special service to commemorate a milestone: Pastor Matt and Karen have been serving the church for 25 years!

Because the church wanted to have the whole congregation come together for this special service (as opposed to the two services we normally have on Sunday mornings), they decided to hold the service on campus, in McCosh 50. This lecture hall actually plays a role in Pastor Matt's story of coming to faith -- immediately after he accepted the Lord as his Savior his freshman year at Princeton, he had to run to his PSY 101 class in McCosh 50. And it was there, sitting in the hard wooden seat, that he realized that he had real peace in his life, for the first time. So while the lecture hall was a practical choice for space considerations, it was really cool to hear Pastor Matt's testimony again and be in the very place where God had worked so powerfully in his life!

We got there about five minutes before the service started, and it was already almost standing room only! Good thing I had little Joshua on me in his carrier -- young mothers get special consideration, especially from church folk. :)

There was special music, with a worship band, an expanded church choir, and a really cute kids' number. It was also such a treat to have the entire church congregation singing together, in a room with decent acoustics -- what an experience of worship through song!

And Pastor Matt preached, on Romans 1:16-17 ("I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'").

My favorite funny moment from Pastor Matt's sermon: "Now, young Skywalker, you must die!!"

And, of course, Karen was honored as well. There's so much that goes into being a minister's wife -- and Karen does all of that, and serves as the principal of a classical Christian private school. Since we were in the rear of the room, I could only get the back view of this scene, but I'm glad I caught this moment -- a spontaneous standing ovation, with Karen flanked by her husband and sons.

And the time of testimonies in honor of Matt and Karen was led off by their eldest son, Joel. (There were other testimonies, but Joshua started to have a bit of a meltdown, so we had to make a hasty retreat during Joel's testimony...)

Congratulations, Pastor Matt and Karen! Thank you for your faithful service to us -- we love you!

For the complete set of photos from this service, check out this SmugMug gallery.

Some blog housekeeping

We're implementing some changes here at Keddiebears central, hopefully for the better, so we wanted to give all of our faithful readers a head's up, and apologize for any broken links or weird formatting while we put the new formatting in place...

For a while now, I've wanted the ability to post larger photos. Over the last several months, I've been tweaking the background image and the code in order to expand the main column of this blog, but there's only so much you can do with a 2-column blog before you start getting wider than the average person's internet browser screen. Then it occurred to me -- why have two columns at all?

So the biggest change is the shift to a one-column template. (And I'm so proud of myself for being able to figure out the coding necessary to make this shift!) The widgets that used to be in the right-hand sidebar are now shifted either to the new linkbar at the top, or in the footer at the bottom. So if you want to see what other blogs we're reading these days, click on the "Blogrolls" link at the top. And if you want to go back and read all of our archived posts, check out the "Blog Archive" widget at the bottom!

Now that we're a one-column blog, I've gone back to the last few posts and uploaded larger versions of those photos. Do let us know what you think -- especially if the photos are now too large for those of you with slower internet connections.

And let us know if you come across any broken links or other wonky items. I'm trying to test everything as we go, but I may miss things.

Hope you enjoy the new and improved Keddiebears blog!

And since I can't write a post without a photo... Here's one of my latest favorites of Joshua, holding his head waaay up like a big boy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring flowers -- and smiles!

After a long snowy winter, and the rainiest March on record, spring has finally arrived in Princeton! To celebrate, I've been taking Joshua out on walks during his playtime, to introduce him to sunshine, flowers and birds. To think, until a week or so ago, all he knew was snow and cold... It's so much fun to teach him about warm weather. Even if he still seems mostly unaware of his surroundings. :)

Princeton really is absolutely gorgeous in the springtime. There are tons of magnolia and pear trees and these amazing yellow flowering bushes (which I always mean to ask someone about -- any botanists out there able to identify them based on the photos below?) all over town, including in our little development. Here are a few of our favorite shots from a recent walk with Joshua:

A profusion of flowers!

A wee little tree in front of the next condo building over

I'm afraid Joshua wasn't terribly impressed...

Later in the week, David had a dinner meeting on campus, so we decided to make a family excursion of it -- we all drove into town, and I put Joshua in his stroller and enjoyed a beautiful spring evening with him. I love walking around campus this time of year!

Magnolia blossoms by the Woody Woo fountain

More magnolia blossoms in the Woody Woo plaza

Joshua's still not terribly impressed...

While we waited for David, Joshua noticed the lamp just outside of Campus Club, and was totally fascinated with it. (Of course he loved the lamp, and not the flowers. I guess he really is a boy...) I pulled out the camera again and got a fun series of Joshua facial expressions -- including a smile!

Ooh, what's that light up there?

It appears to be a lamp of some sort...

Must... get... closer... to it...

I wish I could reach the lamp...

Maybe if I smile at mama, she'll let me play with the lamp!

[And from a photography perspective: I'm pleased with finally getting a smile on camera (though note, he has bigger and even cheesier grins for us!). But I'm almost more pleased with managing to nail focus in that fourth photo above -- check out the catchlights in Joshua's beautiful eyes!]

We're loving this spring weather, and the opportunity to take fun photos of our little guy outdoors!

Rolling over! And shots!

Joshua had his two-month appointment this past Monday, where they confirmed that he's been growing like a weed. :) He weighed in at 13 lbs., 0.5 oz. (almost double his birth weight!), and is now 23.5 inches long. Such a great big boy!

Our pediatrician, Dr. N., was also really impressed with Joshua's overall strength. He commented that Joshua has the muscle tone of a 3- or 4-month-old! Our little guy was wriggling away on the examining table, happily kicking and flailing his arms as he now does on a regular basis during his activity time. Dr. N. said he suspected Joshua would be strong and active enough to try rolling over, so he flipped him over onto his stomach -- and Joshua immediately rolled over. Just to prove that it wasn't a fluke, we flipped him over again, and Joshua rolled over again! He'd been rocking back and forth most times when we put him down for tummy time, but this was the first time he managed to roll himself over all the way -- we were so proud of him! And Joshua has managed to replicate that twice at home since. Of course, he looked startled and confused both times -- it's pretty clear that he's not voluntarily mobile just yet. But it looks like he's well on his way!

The other big part of the two-month appointment is a series of vaccinations. Poor Joshua had to get four shots and an oral vaccine... He was such a trooper through the whole process. I'm pretty sure his mama was more stressed about it than he was! The nurse had David initial the appropriate papers, and then told me to hold Joshua's arms securely while she gave him the shots. It's really stressful to hear your baby squalling and to have to hold him down to get three more of the ouchie shots in quick succession... But as David kept reminding me, it's better than having Joshua get tetanus or whooping cough or rotovirus, right? And Joshua calmed down pretty quickly thereafter, and was completely back to normal by the time we got home.

As for his mama, she was completely back to normal by the time we got home, too, as evidenced by the fact that we now have a series of photos of Joshua with his war wounds, chilling in his crib... :)

Our brave and strong little boy

Four bandaids on his chubby little thighs...

What's with the camera, woman? Can't a boy nap?

Credit to Erin for the adorable "world's cutest alarm clock" onesie. :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Good Friday and Easter services

Good Friday Service
"What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners' gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall my Savior! 'Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor; vouchsafe to me Thy grace."
My favorite service of the year is always the interfellowship Good Friday service -- hundreds of students and townies gather together for a wonderful service of music and Scripture readings commemorating Christ's death on the cross.

I always come away from this service blessed by the music and recentered on God's grace. Though every day should be marked by reflection upon Christ's death and resurrection and its impact on my life, I'm still thankful for the times we set aside specifically to remember Jesus' sacrifice for us.

The homily this year was given by Chuck Hetzler, who focused on Romans 5:1-2 ("Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."). One thing that really stuck with me from his message is the fact that we have peace with God both objectively and subjectively -- whether we feel it or not, the objective truth is that we have been reconciled to God through Jesus' propitiation for us on the cross. But God has also given us the Holy Spirit to confirm that truth subjectively in our lives. There are definitely times in my life when I need to be reminded of one or the other of these truths -- it's not just about "feeling it," but feeling it is also a vital aspect of my walk with God. I'm afraid I'm not really doing justice to Chuck's message, but it was a good word to us gathered there last Friday.

And what amazingly beautiful music! As a general rule, I love Jamie Rankin's arrangements -- but I particularly loved them this year. One of the solos was a contemplative version of Sovereign Grace's "Glories of Calvary" -- which, in the original, is a very upbeat contemporary praise chorus. The solo, as sung by Margaret Byron and accompanied simply by Jamie on the piano, was deeply moving. I wish I'd gotten an audio recording of it!

But I suppose photos will have to suffice...

Part of the crowd before the service began

Steve singing a solo

Dion and Griffin leading the congregational singing

Karis and John doing a Scripture reading

Chuck's homily

Easter Sunrise Service
"Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once He all doth save: Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!"
Bright and early on Easter Sunday morning, we had our annual interfellowship Easter sunrise service. And it was the warmest sunrise service we've had in all the years I've gone to this service! Which is to say -- still pretty chilly at the beginning, but nice and warm and golden by the end.

During this service, we have Scripture readings outlining the events of that first morning after the resurrection, acappella congregational singing, and communion. It's a wonderful way to celebrate the fact that Christ is risen!

It was a little early for Joshua...

About half of the crowd in the early dawn light

Bill giving a brief message prior to serving communion

Singing as the sun rose over the horizon

Breakfast and Baptism Service
"'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed."
Immediately after the sunrise service, we all headed over to Dillon Gym for a bagel breakfast prior to the baptism service. One of the (many) things I love about these interfellowship events is getting to hang out with friends who are more involved in other groups, whom I don't get to see as often. It's wonderful when the larger body of Christ on campus comes together in fellowship!

How parents of a newborn manage to eat breakfast...

And the baptism service was such a beautiful time of encouragement. Five students were baptized this year, and each of them shared about the work God had done in their lives. I always love being at this service, hearing new believers make a public profession of their faith. Congratulations again, Ben, Carola, Natalie, Jinju and Victoria!

Ben Farkas '10, sharing his testimony

Carola Hernandez-Cappas '11, being baptized by Chuck Hetzler

Natalie Kim '11, sharing her testimony

Jinju Pottenger '10, being baptized by Blake Altman

Victoria Tan '11, being baptized by Bill Boyce

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

-- 1 Corinthians 15:54-57