Sunday, August 7, 2011

Growing and growing...

It's been over two months since Toler's last blog and a lot has been happening with our little guy.

My new favorite position

As you can see above, Toler is now a rolling machine, spending a lot of time playing (and sleeping ) on his tummy.  Mom & Dad are very excited about this development but are scared at the thought of a mobile baby, our home's idea of 'baby-proofing' is keeping the beer on the top shelf of the fridge.

Since our last blog, Toler joined his loving extended family on his first family beach trip.  As you can see below, he has a bunch of loving cousins to teach him all the tricks of the trade

One more added to the mix this year
While at the beach, Toler turned 6 months old, learned how to swim, and built several sand castles...well one of those is true.

In addition to Toler's big beach trip, he is also making daily trips to day care.  Toler continues to be very happy in day care and enjoys melting young girls hearts.  A well known benefit (or so they say) is the acceleration of exposure to germs.  Mom & Dad were clearly sensitive to Toler getting his first illness outside of a hospital.  Inevitably Toler did get sick, a couple of times, and has done remarkably well!  Below Toler is waiting to be diagnosed with the 'day care croup', which of course Dad (but not Mom) also is susceptible to.

It's nice to be in a hospital ONLY for diagnosis

Flying baby!
But through it all, Toler's biggest achievement to date was arguably spending an entire weekend in the sole care of his father!  Several caring individuals were placed at ease knowing that Dad & Toler not only made it through the weekend unscathed, but had a great time hanging out.  Both of course terribly missed Mom, and were happy to see her home.

Other notable developments in Toler's growth includes, but not limited to increased 'communication', head control, teething, and shopping (Mommy's influence is starting early).  You'll see below Toler's ability to hold onto purchased goods and chew on his blanky like a puppy.

Toler continues to be an exceptionally happy baby, and thrills his parents daily with his joy.  We will leave readers of this blog with pictures from Toler's 7-month birthday below, happy as ever.

Silly boy!

7 months!

Steve, Emily, and our Tummy loving Toler

Sunday, June 5, 2011

We have a 5 month old!

Lots to smile about
Hard to believe that Toler is 5 months old today and we've been home in Charlotte for over 3 months now, but he is and we have.

As any proud first time parents we are absolutely loving all of Toler's "firsts".  Toler's first smile, his first coo, his first laugh, first roll over, and maybe most importantly his first night of uninterrupted sleep.

Toler had two other "firsts" in the past couple weeks; day care and a trip to the beach!  Mom and Dad had a hard time taking our little guy to day care, but felt fortunate enough to be able to keep him home long enough for his immune system to develop.  Also, Mom enjoyed picking out Toler's clothes for his first day of school.

As previously mentioned, Toler is continuing to move from newborn to infant in his development.  Mom and Dad are unbelievably happy that Toler is a great sleeper and is now successfully sleeping (or peacefully resting) in his crib over 10 hours each night.  Each morning brings joy to whom ever wakes up first as Toler is a happy riser and almost always greets Mom and/or Dad with smiles and coos.

Toler, like all infants, takes his parents on the joys of phases.  Mother's day was about the time Toler requested to be held, for pretty much his entire waking time.  To which his mother enjoyed the mutual cuddle time, but wasn't always eager to be on her feet as Toler preferred to be elevated as well.  As Father's day approaches Toler now prefers to be entertained on a play mat working on gripping his blanket and stuffed monkey.  When held, he kindly would ask that you face him outward to be able to use his developing eyes to see the world around him.

Toler has recently found his hands and now is able to not only see the mobiles and rattles but also interact with them.  Toler enjoys doing "chores" on his "farm" and spending time in his "ocean".  Additionally as Toler has lost his once strong appetite for his pacifier he is slowing trying to figure out if he will be a thumb sucker or not.  Dad woke up in the middle of the night once to the sound of light rain, only to have Mom explain it was Toler licking his hand.


 Toler always makes Mom and Dad smile, but never more than this past week when he continued his communication development and shared a laugh with them.

Besides the known benefits of day care (socialization, immune system development, someone else taking care of dirty diapers) Mom and Dad were amazed at how quickly Toler picked up and excelled at baby yoga.

Baby Locust
Mom and Dad cherish every moment with Toler and are glad to share his development with our friends and family.  More to come in future weeks and months.

Steve, Emily and our baby Yogi

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Toler's first Easter

My first Easter!
Toler Hartley experienced his first Easter today, and the Easter bunny did not disappoint.  Toler must have heard that the Easter bunny only comes to good boys and girls becuase he has taken to sleeping through most of the night this past week. 

In addition to Toler's sleeping prowess, he has also begun dabbling with 5oz feeds and weighed in over double digits at 10.2 lbs a little over a week ago.  Toler's weight gain is a blessing, however it is sad that he has now outgrown all of his preemie clothes and is now wearing 0-3 month clothes.

Thanks Easter Bunny!
Being born 10 weeks early there are some traits that he exhibits as a 3+ month old, and of course others which you would see in a 5 week old.  This of course keeps mom and dad on their toes!  One trait, regardless of age, that we love is Toler's new found coo'ing and his smiles.  As first time parent it truely melts our hearts.

Toler love's his friends (frog is an old friend from the NICU and the Masters caddie bear is a new friend dad brought home).  Of course sometimes he gets too protective with them and doesn't want to let go!

The Smith family enjoyed a fun Easter together and think next year there will be some sweets in 'lil Toler's basket.

Yes, technically I 'could' fit in my own basket...

Smith family Easter '11
Finally Emily & I cannot express our heartfelt gratitude as we continue to get well wishes & kind gifts for our 'lil man.

Steve, Emily & our little cotton tail Toler

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

3 months old

It has been a while since Mom & Dad have provided an update on the blog, what better excuse than Toler's 3 month birthday.

Only suppose to be 3 weeks old today!
Below are some insights into Toler's progression over our first few weeks home.  For frame of reference, Toler was dischared from the NICU at 5lbs 10oz and was weighed on last Friday at 9lbs 4oz, thats an addition of just over an ounce a day since we've been home!  In addition Toler passed his final retinopathy of prematurity test, in short it ensures his blood vessles on the retnia are fully developed.  Up to 90% of all babies born under 30 weeks have some sympoms of retinopathy, Toler was diagnosed with mild retinopathy in the NICU and has subsequently progressed on schedule without treatment.  His next eye exam will be a regular check up in the fall.

In addition to Toler's health progression, the little man he has really made our house a happy home!  Several friends and family have had the distinct opportunity of meeting the little guy.  He has truly enjoyed each new visit and his parents cannot thank everyone for their generosity in gifts and food. 

Toler by day in his cradle and Toler by dawn in his new crib (he's the small speck at the top).

Toler also celebrated his first March Madness by rooting for his Mom & Dad's teams.  The good news is that they didn't meet in the tournament this year (unlike the NCAA 2009 championship game), the bad news is that neither team made a deep run (unlike the day after Dad was born a.k.a. 1979 championship game)

Toler learned both fight songs for the Tar Heels and Spartans very well this spring!

Other holiday's Toler celebrated for the first time include St. Patrick's Day and his Dad's birthday.

Happy Birthday Daddy

This will be a Guinness in the year 2032!

Below are some additional picutres of good times at the Smith household with Toler Hartley!

Toler's new kicks (left) and Toler hanging out on the farm (right)

Daddy holding Toler and Aunt Anna with Uncle Sandy to show just how small the little guy is!

Toler climbing on Dad's chest
It's been a busy first few weeks back and everyone in the household's favorite activity is shown below...

A familiar view just kidding, it MAY be eating for Toler but for really the new favorite activity is getting some shut eye.

Good night and lots of love,
Steve, Emily and our growing little man Toler

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Settling into home

Mom, Dad and Toler are now home safely and are trying to figure this parenting thing out without a team of expert nurses to hold our hands.  After our red-eye flight home last week, the entire family just needed some rest and rarely got out of bed other than to feed each other.  However by the end of the week, Grandma Glenda, Granddaddy Gerald, and Aunt Mary John came for a brief visit to see Toler and help around the house.  Aunt Mary was excited to meet Toler for the first time and feeling was mutual. 

Toler meets Aunt Mary John
Toler was also excited to see Grandma Glenda again and benefited from her sewing skills for the bedding for his cradle.  Toler's cradle was originally hand made by his Dad's Grandfather (Toler's Great-Grandfather Hartley) for Dad.  Hartley not only provided Toler with a family cradle, but also a middle name.

Made by Clarence Hartley Smith (Feb '79), used by Toler Hartley Smith (Feb '11)
Toler has also been very busy at home with his first pediatric visit (now 6lbs even), his first bath at home, and his first stroll around the neighborhood in his fancy new wheels.

 First Doctor's visit outside of NICU

Mommy giving Toler a bath in the sink

Toler's big ride around the neighborhood

Toler's parents are trying to adjust to life with a newborn NOT in the NICU, with feeding every 3-4 hours, when Toler decides to stay to a schedule.  Change, feed, hold, sleep repeat is a common cycle around the house right now.  For the most part Toler is good with the new arrangement, but we think he might have figured out that with enough fussing he will be picked up by a loving parent, unlike the NICU.

A face you can't refuse
A big part of our return is now turning over our guest bedroom into a full blown nursery.  With the help of Dad's good buddies, all of the guest bedroom furniture has been moved to our storage unit.  Piece by piece, the nursery is slowly coming together, and Mom is excited to stretch her decorating muscle for her little boy's room.

I want to continue our praise and thanks for all of our amazing family and friends who have helped our transition home, without your help our return home would be less comfortable.

Steve, Emily and our little stinker Toler

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Our Journey Home

We made it.  It was the most nerve wracking ten hour journey, but with the help of close friends and USAir we successfully transferred our lives back from Denver to Charlotte.  Despite the fact that we shipped five boxes of books, clothes, and gifts home, we still checked six items (three pieces of luggage, Dad's skis and boots, and our car seat), four carry-ons, and our new son!

Dad spent some time yesterday reading up on the functionality of the car seat, while Mom and Toler did a dry run of the Baby Bjorn prior to our journey.

Can we go home yet?
Of course no trip home would be complete without a fancy going home outfit (courtesy of Grandma & Grandaddy Toler).

Toler in his Monkey Suit
Durring our final few moments before leaving the NICU, both Mom and Dad waited for one of our expert nurses to ensure Toler was good to go.  As Toler had already passed his car seat test, it still surprised both of us to see just how tiny he looked in the seat.

Our final NICU moments before heading home
Our good friend Jacqueline helped us transport all of our gear and Toler from the hospital to the airport.  Taking the red-eye was difficult on everyone, but really limited Toler's exposure to others.  Here is Mom and Toler as we arrived to the Denver airport.

This is an appropriate volume of luggage to travel with a newborn right?
Toler did fantastically well the entire trip with the exception of being removed from the sling on Mom to go through security, proving that Toler too has the same appreciation for TSA as the rest of us.  Lucky for us the airport was empty.

Vanilla Sky of airport travel
Once we made our way through security and grabbed a small bite to eat, Mom, Dad and Toler found a quite gate all to themselves.

Our VIP lounge
Dad let Mom get a break before the flight to feed Toler and help him doze off before we boarded.

Yes, that's Tom Izzo
Dad's feed did in fact ease Toler into sleep, which was a shame since he wasn't awake for a pre-flight beverage in first class.  As you can see below Mom did a fantastic job sheltering Toler from all the traffic and potential well wishing strangers.  We did get a few folks amazed at just how tiny our little guy is, but we were polite and kept on-lookers at bay.

Toler under his Moo Cow blanket on board the plane
As mentioned previously, Toler did fantastic the entire trip.  Toler was asleep for takeoff and Dad was able to feed him and hold him for our landing.  All things considered, we couldn't have asked for a better flight all around.  Mom and Dad would be lying if we didn't check him every five minutes to ensure he was breathing and was comfortable.  I'm sure over time we will just be happy for him to be docile.  Once landed we were able to change Toler, and it was apparent to us that he had no idea what to do with all the oxygen near sea level.

Dad, lets go for a run
Another first for Mom and Dad was having luggage waiting for us when we got to baggage claim.  Unfortunately we needed a Sherpa to haul all of gear to our good friend Steve's car for our final leg of the journey home. 
I think we confused the USAir representative with our array of checked luggage
Finally after our third sleepless night of the year (Jan 1st- water break/transfer from Vail to Denver, Jan 5th- Toler's birth, and February 15th- our journey home) Mom and Dad introduced Toler to his home.

Toler at home ready to crash
Our home was showered with several gifts, a stocked fridge, and a tower of essentials Mom and Dad will need for our little guy.  It was surreal coming home, not only because we haven't been home since December 27th, but also because our house was transitioned into a baby ready home.  As we've mentioned before, when Mom and Dad left for Colorado last year, we had only placed a deposit on Toler's crib and had nothing else purchased or ready for our son to join our home.  We cannot thank our close friends enough for all the support in helping to make our transition home as simple and seamless as possible. 

While our journey into parenthood wasn't traditional, both Mom and Dad learned a lot about caring for a newborn and know that the most challenging part is ahead of us.  Our health care at Presbyterian St. Lukes was world class and we will miss our nurses.  I'm sure they were a bit worn out from all of Dad's questions, but Dad (and Toler) couldn't be more thankful for their wisdom and guidance. 

Mom and Dad will continue to post periodic updates, as we know that not everyone can be as fortunate as us to live with Toler.  Again, it cannot be said enough how much love we felt through this entire journey and know that we have amazing family and friends.  We couldn't have done this with out each and every one of your thoughts and prayers.

Steve, Emily, and our son Toler