Wednesday, February 19, 2014

In A Rut - Quick Thoughts

So, here's something funny. I started this entry three weeks ago. And I've started a couple others as well, but... I'm caught constantly playing referee between two kids - one who wants to kill himself by throwing him down the stairs, sticking his finger into a socket, or chewing on an electrical cord, and other kid, who maybe doesn't want to quite kill him, but certainly knock him around a bit. This. Is. Tough. So time demanding right now, and I'm just exhausted. I haven't had any - I mean basically no more than 10 minutes - time to myself for three weeks straight.

SO. Here are some thoughts, jumbled together, for the day.

Dash: We've had a sick month or so. Kids had colds and then Dash's got better, then worse. Turns out, he has his first ear infection (our first ever as a family with kids!). Two rounds of antibiotics thus far. He's also anemic, and constipated always, and maybe dairy intolerant, and the list goes on. So, he's on antibiotics, probiotics, iron, miralax and I'm experimenting with his diet to hopefully help the little guy. Of course, will all the meds he now has a gnarly diaper rash, so we're treating that as well. And in news that's changed his world - and ours - he's now fully mobile. Crawling like a champ, cruising, pulling up on anything, climbing stairs. He beelines for cords and outlets, of course, and I officially have my hands very full. He finally - as in, three days ago, started babbling a bit, and it's music to my ears (as well as helps take a bit of worry off me - 10 months old and nothing up to this point). He crawls around now making his one sound "ma ma ma." I'll take it. :) And, he's not freaking out as much about his crib, and we've even gotten a couple 2 hour stretches out of him, which frees up my arms for a couple minutes at a time here and there. Refreshing, for sure. AND, he just keeps getting cuter and I'm not sure how much more my heart can burst. He is so, so sweet.
.


Ellie: Funny, sweet, strong-willed, smart and simply gorgeous. Her vocabulary is exploding and it's so much fun to hear what she has to say. Today she said to me, "all done with the Olympics. My turn now. Turn on my show." I think she's getting tired of the Olympics on all the time? Tough, kid - that's mommy's only show and I wait for it for 2 years. :) She remains to be a head-scratching combo of my biggest joy and my biggest challenge at all the same time. Almost 3 is not for the faint of heart, and to be honest, most days I have no idea how to reach her, discipline-wise. She doesn't respond to a lot of discipline (thick skin perhaps? That's a good trait to have, but it's sure making me want to pull my hair out right now!). But two seconds after making me lock myself in the bathroom for a good, muffled scream, she'll be sweetly giving hugs and kisses and telling me she's sorry and that she loves me. So.... yeah. Toddlers, man.


So, that's where we've been. Stuck in the radio silence of gloomy, sick winter. I cannot wait for spring, and judging from all the other mom's and dad's I've talked to with sick, cranky kids, I know I'm not alone.

Wanna see pics of my kids crying? You're in luck! :)






And, with that, I'm off to separate them. Again. Send wine.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Big Blue, Nine Months

Nine months feels like such a milestone age for a baby to reach, doesn't it? My baby will be nine months this week, and is on the precipice of some big changes.

How can I describe him adequately? Words do not do this boy justice, you guys. He's so incredible. He's sweet and tenderhearted, but is showing us that he's also strong willed and determined. He's physically strong, big and very healthy. He's gorgeous. He loves his family, but is starting to be shy around new people. He's very easy to tote around, and we get compliments whenever we're out about how easy going and happy our boy is. He's absolutely delicious in every way.


And at 9 months? Dash is now officially mobile! He's very quickly mastering the art of crawling forward the last couple of days, having recently mastered the backwards and sideways crawl. It's not quite a crawl - more of a scoot-hop, but he can move wherever he wants to now, which is GAME CHANGE for all of us. I'm no longer able to make dinner while he's happily playing on the rug (mobility combined with some serious separation anxiety, which seems to be peaking right now). Mostly, this mobility is impacting Ellie though, who now has to share her toys and come to grips with the fact that her brother has a mind of his own. And she's handling it ever so gracefully... (note sarcasm. I hear lots of shrieks of "NOOOO BIG BLUE!" and then wails after she's smacked him on the head. Great). Big Blue is her name for him, and it's quite fitting and has totally stuck.
oh so thrilled that Big Blue got to ride in the cart...
Last night I was sitting on the couch and looked down and he was just standing there, holding onto the couch, with this look of shock and pride on his little face. He pulled himself up, just like that. And parenting win - it took me a full several seconds to realize that this is something new. My mind was like, "oh, there's Dash, just standing there.... wait!"
Dashy was my dinner date the other night. Like a champ, I didn't have anything for him to play with but a manual breast pump. You're welcome, Dash (and restaurant!)
He cut his first teeth right after the new year. Hoping this helps both his middle of the night restlessness and his ability to handle textures, which is still pretty undeveloped. Dash likes to eat, and wants to feed himself, but has a serious gag issue when it comes to anything other than purees, which freaks me out. He's also got some constipation issues, so we're trying to figure out what kind of foods he can and can't tolerate too well. It's hit or miss. By 9 months, Ellie was on mostly table food, and I'd love to move him more in that direction. He still breastfeeds a million times a day and on demand.

Dash is still pretty quiet and really doesn't babble much. He makes noise, but doesn't have any consonant sounds yet. He still doesn't sleep that well either. He'll fall asleep easily enough, and only wakes to settle down/nurse, but some nights it seems like he just can't get comfortable, and I'll be waking at least once or twice an hour to get the situation under control. Some nights are better than others, but I've yet to sleep more than 3 or 4 hours in a row in the last nine months... And, of course, he's still in bed with us. I have mixed feelings about this. I love cosleeping with my baby boy, and I love the ease of which I can comfort him when he wakes up. I do believe that babies need comfort and find that comfort in their parents, and theoretically, I want to nurture and meet that need as long as he's showing me he still has it. BUT. It's gotten to the point where it's causing some pretty significant disruptions, and I know I'd like a little more space in the bed - not to mention it would be nice to sleep next to my husband. Plus, he's dependent on our bed for naps as well, and now that's he's pretty mobile, he's rolled out twice. So, the crib it is - especially for naps. We're trying, but not really making much progress on crib training. I know he'll get there eventually, but it's making for some long days with a tired baby when he refuses napping in his crib. :(
Bed-sharing bliss. I adore taking naps with my boy.
Mostly though, the sleep issue is manageable, especially when I consider the fact that he's SO EASY in every other aspect. He rarely fusses and hands out smiles for free. As I type, he's conked out in my arms - I think he may be getting sick, so he's been given the opportunity to snooze in my arms - a chance he will always happily grab. In short, he's simply the perfect baby and every day I marvel at how I could possibly love this baby as much as I do.
Love, love.
I snatched a rare opportunity to sit and read to my boy. All he wanted was to eat the book. Go figure. :)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blah blah, Random Year End Stuff.

Ellie's afraid of monsters right now. Anyone else have a toddler with this issue? I honestly don't know where this came from - true monsters are not really something she's been exposed to (ala Monster's Inc), but she can't sleep without the lights on and hides her face a lot from the "monsters" and comes into our room a lot earlier than she used to in the middle of the night. Just now, I went downstairs to grab her a diaper (because she's in underwear and was FREAKING OUT for a diaper, refusing the toilet, etc) and she burst into sobs. I was gone literally 3.5 seconds. What a funny kid. But really, it breaks my heart a little.

Dash slept 3.5 hours straight last night. That's a HUGE deal for us. Bless his heart, he knew he was thisclose to being sleep/crib trained so he gave me a break. He's still teething his front two teeth - they're yet to pop through, but his little gums are so swollen with teeth. It looks incredibly painful. And while he can't really crawl, he's starting to master the art of getting around somehow, despite this limitation.

I honestly didn't remember it was New Year's Eve until just now. Show's how much planning I put in to ringing in the new year. :) That's how it goes with little ones, but that's perfectly okay by me. If I could plan an ideal night, it would be everyone going to bed without fuss at 8pm. How's that for exciting? But, that's where we are this morning.

******************

The last couple years I've done a year-end recap, and a "wish list" of sorts for the coming year. I'm not going to do either this time around. But, I will say this: 2013 was probably one of the most difficult years of my life. This year was filled with an incredible roller coaster of emotions, but one that I will hopefully remember as incredibly precious and keep dear to me always. 2013 held some scary times that required some pretty significant leaps of faith for our family, but also a million tiny fleeting moments of pure joy. We faced unemployment - unemployment while Very Pregnant at that, a tough pregnancy, a premature baby and subsequent NICU stay, a car accident. All things that were stressful and tough to maintain composure throughout. But - we welcomed our son. Our beautiful boy, who we love more than we thought ever possible. We stare at him at night and marvel at his perfection, his beauty and his strength. We are so incredibly lucky. We also watched our daughter grow into an amazing kid. She's strong, funny, smart, beautiful, strong-willed, thoughtful and a huge joy for us. And, of course, we have each other - our marriage that keeps getting put on the backburner while we learn to juggle, but we love each other and power through the days with a smile (usually!).

Welcoming a second baby and learning to juggle the demands of two, starting to figure out how to keep a household running and four people's needs mostly met was not easy for me, but I believe this will be a constant work in process. I found that while having one child puts your needs on low priority, having a second keeps meeting your needs at next-to-no-priority. It really is a major reality shift to almost never have time to focus on yourself anymore. Parties aren't about socializing - they're about tag teaming and chasing kids. Dinner's out aren't enjoyable really, and even being around family sometimes feels like you've become a burden. Not that people don't enjoy the children, but let's be real: no one enjoys two year old tantrums left to fester while mom's busy breastfeeding. :) Toting one kid around is fairly easy, even spontaneous road trips are possible. Two is much less easy, and I'm much more likely to simply stay home than the ordeal which is sometimes getting everyone ready to go out, and then actually GO out. If I've forgotten an ingredient, the chances are next to zero that I will bother to go get it. We do without.

But, this is not about reflecting on the difficulty which having two young children has brought to my life. Because the highs have been way, way more than worth it. Yes, it's been a year where I've often felt pretty isolated. But, in the little bubble which we have built there is more joy than I thought humanly possible. So 2013 was beyond good to us when all is said and done. The first year with my baby boy, Ellie's third year. A year well lived, with the wrinkles to prove it. :)

As for 2014, my wish is for two parents with jobs that are stable and make us happy, and two kids who are happy and healthy. And that's really all I need, ever.

(note: it took me all day to write this. note, also: guess what I did for the first time today? ran out of an ingredient, looked at the clock and realized Eleanor was not going to fall asleep for nap anytime soon, and thus would be up too late, bundled up the kids and ran to the grocery store for said ingredient. first for everything!).

I leave you with some recent pictures of my joy. :)
morning sharing
post nap selfies 
the joy of the family bed

they really do find comfort with each other
she tucked herself in for a movie
no caption needed 
seconds later, he was asleep

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holidays and time off

Here's a picture of my baby boy, all stressed out and maxed out tired and super sad about me trying to get him to take a nap. 

I won't take a picture of myself, but imagine that imagine, only on the face of a thirty year old mom. 

That would be me. 

Good gracious, having young kids is hard. I know that a lot of things in life are hard, and I don't want to play the pain olympics or anything, but this is not a walk in the park. This phase of life is tough though, which is such a shame, because it's also so sweet, and so fleeting. So, so fleeting. My baby turned 8 months old the other day - EIGHT months! I literally feel like I've blinked, and poof - gone. On the other hand, I know that I didn't blink, because that means I've closed my eyes, and Lord knows that's hardly true. 

I try to keep the holidays relatively low stress and low key. But, even for the most committed to that ideal (and I'm not just paying the "we keep things low key" phrase lip service. We really do.), things get busy and schedules get jammed. I'm desperate to make sure that my family knows that we're centered at home and good, fun things can come from being at home, but still - we go out, we try to have fun, there are parties to go to and people to visit with. We hit bottom last weekend with a disastrous trip to our cabin. Really, it was the worst I've had in the 30 full years of cabin-ing. Lots of screaming, no sleeping. My body feels like a tightly wound ball of stress, like I could crack in half with any more pressure. 

So, I'm taking the day off today. I really don't ever do anything like this, but I called in the reserves today (ie, my mom) and made a frantic, last minute call to the acupuncture clinic for some much needed time to myself. After acupuncture, I plan to do something  - anything - solo. Probably, it will be running errands, maybe even errands as unpleasant as mailing packages the week before Christmas. Either way, I'll be by myself. Sweet solitude. 

Why is it that taking time away just feels so..wrong? Knowing that I'm doing something for myself when there are a ton of other things that I should be doing feels unnatural. I don't want to be a martyr, but even if the kids were taken care of by someone else, there are a lot of things I should be doing at home. There's always a mess to clean, and with company coming soon for a week, there's a lot of stuff to prepare. And the kids aren't easy and both are especially attached to me, so I know that when I'm doing something for myself, I'm actually causing someone else to be doing additional work. It would be one thing if taking time off simply meant that that the other areas of my life simply stayed neutral, but to know that my having something positive makes something else suffer negatively makes me very hesitant. But, I've hit the bottom and I'm tapped out, so.... that's that.

In the meantime, we're hanging in there. Ellie's on her second episode of Frosty The Snowman this morning, after having seriously woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Dash is napping, and the dishes are calling me, but I'm avoiding the mess in the kitchen like the plague, and thinking of adding to the mess by making cookies. Baking has become a release for me, as has eating, and somehow I'm still managing to lose weight. Thanks breastfeeding, for that Christmas miracle. :)

Are you doing anything for yourself this holiday season? 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Life lately, in pictures

Sorry for the lack of interesting posts lately. Lame, first world problem excuse: my pictures are no longer streaming directly from my phone to my computer. What gives? Sooo... I went ahead and did it the old fashioned way, to satisfy curious minds as to what we've been up to lately. 

Short answer: nothing. And, everything! Our days are busy, and routine. We're living the happy, simple, intentional life over here. I've been purging our house of stuff, slowing the pace down intentionally, and keeping the kids home a lot more lately. I want to raise my kids to be happy staying put, to find ways to entertain themselves with what we have in our home, and to recognize get-togethers and playdates, and activities as special and fun. So, that's what we're up to lately. I've been focusing my energy on finding ways to entertain the babes at home, cooking a lot and being mindful of our many blessings.

(How's that for a Thanksgiving weekend sequitur?)

*and for a non-sequitur: my grandma came over this morning and I told her I was making Roasted Squash Bechamel lasagna, and she told me that I should throw my whole squash into the oven without chopping it up at all. She promised it would roast nicely, and be way easier to handle. No surprise: Grandma, the former home-ec teacher, was totally right. Score one for making roasted squash even easier, as if that was even possible!*

Okay. Back to life lately. Here's what we've been up to:
Starting each morning with the kids lined up, watching Daniel Tiger. Note Eeyore nestled between my other two babies. :)
Playing blocks together
Decorating for Christmas. First artificial tree ever. Three days in, and I'm never going back. No needles > needles on the floor
Snuggling with my boy. 
Failing at our attempts to... clear out his intestinal tract 
Ellie plays with playdough, Dash eats
Swinging! 
Block building with daddy, a daily pre-bedtime ritual
Nursing our babies
Admiring our thighs
Melting down at Target over God-Knows-What
Picking on poor baby brother
Peeing in the tub. On the potty, in the tub. Awesome.
Cutting my hair. Before:
After!
Rocking my big girl. Love, love.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What We Ate

I promised more meal planning posts. Here's what we ate last week, after I wrote my last entry.

Wednesday: Beef stew turned pot pie. My favorite.

Thursday: Dinner at my mom's. My other favorite.

Friday: Spaghetti with my go-to "semi-homemade" staple sauce. 1lb of ground sausage, broken up and browned. 1 jar of ready made red sauce. Easy, quick and perfect.

Saturday: leftovers from the week.

Sunday: Oh, Sunday. I love Sunday dinner's. I roasted a whole chicken (smothered in butter, salt&pepper, and herbs de provence) along with carrots and onions. Mashed potatoes with dried chives, butter & milk. Gravy with chicken drippings. Easy & impressive. I also made cranberry applesauce (for Dash to eat for the week, but then I thought better because I obviously had to add sugar to offset the cranberry tartness. So, we ate it, a perfect complement to the faux-thanksgiving meal).

Monday: Peter got leftover Sunday night dinner. Ellie and I had whole wheat spaghetti with the perfect, simple tomato sauce. I blended a can of diced tomatoes and simmer it with a pat of butter and dash of both sugar and salt. Tasty and clean tasting - my favorite. I made blondies for dessert (like brownies, but no chocolate and made with melted butter and brown sugar). I've been on a hunt for a great blondies recipe lately. Haven't found it yet, but when I do, I'll share. I added toffee bit and toasted walnuts. Good but not great.

Tuesday: ball, dropped. Chinese takeout. Whomp, whomp.

Wednesday: Chicken and broccoli casserole. Old fashioned and perfection each time. Poach a couple chicken breasts and par-boil some broccoli florets. Mix together two cans of cream of whatever soup, about 1/2 cup mayo, 1-2 teaspoons curry and a dash of lemon. Mix all together, top with shredded cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake til bubbly, serve with rice. AND, I tried my hand at fresh pumpkin pie (roasted pumpkin off my front porch!). I'm not a dessert pie baker, and this wasn't perfect. The filling didn't cook just right, and was too sweet. Still perfecting the crust, too. No apologies though, we'll still eat it!

And that brings me to tonight! Stay tuned...