Saturday, December 10, 2011

3 years 9 months * 7 months.. and then some.

I am such a bad blogging mother! But, I really can't be too down on myself.. given that I also no longer get regular eye-waxes, or pedicures, or hair-cuts, or stop to match my outfit to my shoes/purse/etc.. or stop to clean the melted m&ms out of my diaper bag pocket... Being the mother to two little ones really doesn't allow much time for any special me-time extravagances, but I really do feel guilty about the lack of documenting. Because MY goodness, so much happens. On a daily basis. Good AND less-good. So many laugh out loud moments of 'did you really just say/do that?!' and then some moments of what can only be described as white-hot raw frustrating rage. Oh yes, we experience it all around here.. daily. It's a full spectrum of emotions, and let's not kid ourselves, it's 100% thanks to a certain 3 year and 9 month old child. The 7.5 month old baby really only lends to the cuteness-overload side of the emotional spectrum. It's not fair of me to say that, but life isn't fair, is it?! And it's true. Babies can be intensely frustrating, but seriously, they can't TALK BACK to you. Your back may ache from carrying them all day, but do they ever glare at you & tell you that they don't love you anymore?! No. But 3 year olds do.
I love you, Andrew Clark, but man oh man, you are a spit-fire of a kid. And you fool them all, that's the thing. When I tell anyone about these behaviors they think I have lost my mind. Or am surely making it up. Because you are so very sweet to friends/family/total strangers. So mild-mannered. Shy, even. But we get the grand pleasure of witnessing you in your most comfortable of comfort zones. Home. You boss us around like it's your job, and while I think some parents wouldn't tolerate a lot of it, I happen to think it's kind of cute. Perhaps (definitely) it's because I am a first-born child myself. and this bossiness resonates with me.. I get it. So when you leave the kitchen, just before I am to feed Avery, and point your finger at me with a very-serious expression and say 'OK. Don't let her spill anything. And make sure she opens her mouth, ok? And tell me if she drops anything, ok? OK.' .. I am just really tickled. You don't get to get away with a lot of other things.. things like pounding your fists on the table during meals (you love this, and it ends the meal for you at the same time).. kicking non-ball toys/items (bigtime trouble for this one).. not wiping after a poop (don't even get me started on this one, though I have to say, if this is your ONE potty regression, I'll take it). You are so specific. It's maddening sometimes, and sometimes just plain impressive. Was I as smart as you are, at the same age? I really would venture to guess NO. This doesn't bode well for me, because I remember what a little toot I was to my parents.. and if you're already way smarter.. well, crap.
Your glares have been slowly fine-tuned... any hormonal teen would be proud of your perfected sneers. Just the other day, on a long drive home from Grandpa's, I couldn't help you out with your ipod (watching Curious George, because what else?) because, well, it would be dangerous! I was driving in traffic, during rush hour, and no. I wasn't going to lose my focus driving to help you along with the next episode. (we've since taught you how to do it yourself though) And when I unintentionally snapped at you, saying 'I'm! Driving! The! CAR!!!!!' (in my head there were expletives), your glare was just.. indescribable. I kept glancing in the mirror, catching your deeply furrowed brow and very-mean face. And I had to cough to hide my laughter, because WOW. It was just SO very intense, for a 3 year old! Trust me, I know glares. I had mine down pat as a teen, and yours is just something to be admired already..  I fear the future. But it's still cute. And funny. 
All this fury though is very much tempered with your funloving ways. Things like Halloween and Christmas and birthdays and so forth are just sooooo much more fun than they ever were. You get so giddy over every little thing. So awed by the same Christmas lights you see almost daily. Just playing catch with you always ends up in some kind of breathless laughing fit.. It really is a joy, having you around.
Off the top of my head, I recall yesterday, I had just finished giving Avery a bottle after her nap, and I called for you - you LOVE to burp her. A little too much, if you get my drift. So I really strive to let you burp her immediately after a feeding so you can actually GET (hear) a burp from her. (rather than incessantly trying to burp her an hour after a feeding, and getting nothing but the sheer pleasure of whacking her on the back) The excitement this brings is just unparalleled. So I call you in, you successfully burp her, and then you very adult-like ask me how she did with her bottle. I say good! And then you say 'great! how about I go put that in the sink?' And I'm all SURE most-awesome amazing little helper of mine! See. Some moments are filled with intense glares of rage, and some are just brimming with helpful cuteness. Like all things in parenting, it balances out in the end.
And then there was this morning..  lately, at mealtimes, (mostly to distract you from misbehaviors that have become more daily) we play this game where you say something funny that we should feed Avery, all non-food items, like 'a firetruck!' or something similarly weird. This morning, you initiated the game by looking at me and saying 'I know what Avery can eat! a big bag of POOP!!! hahahaha! that's disgusting!'...  Yep. You're a total boy.
Avery Lou, you are still a delicious nugget o baby love. I LIVE for your snort-face.. which you have started to become more judicial with dispensing. In the beginning of the snort-face phase, it was ALL the time, now it's maybe a few times (if that) a day, during your most cheeky of moments. I absolutely die though, every time. It's something just so very YOU. Something your brother never did, I know for certain. It's easy to get caught up in the 'I remember when Andrew did that..' moments, which isn't a bad thing, it's simply remembering your other baby, but I adore all the little things you do that make you an individual. For one, you can roll the length of a football field. I'll put you down, sitting up, and somehow within 5 minutes, you'll have flopped over (reaching out for something, most times) and then you roll over and over and over.. sometimes 20 feet away and under furniture and with a bucket over your head. Yeah. Your bro NEVER did that! He was quite content to sit in one spot, for hours on end. Not you, my little mover and shaker. I think once you are really crawling, I am simply a goner. I will just have to do laundry/dishes/etc when your father is home. And order pizza, everyday. I'm pretty sure you will require constant supervision. But you know, I love this about you. (*and I can say that because I'm not yet in the trenches of which I speak) I love that it indicates a certain go-getter spirit and outgoing personality. I love your brother's keen observation and cautiousness, and I love the way you grunt to get a certain toy, just out of reach under the furniture.
You are such a chill little baby. You love to be carried and held. You could spend all day long hanging out in the Ergo carrier. Lately, you've really loved to sit in your high-chair, as I do kitchen-related chores. If I put you in the Jumper-roo, (in the kitchen) you wail and just throw an all-out fit. If I put you in the high-chair, you are content as can be. I think you like to feel more a part of the action.. more eye-level. :)
You still love the 'where's Avery?' game. I hold you out in front of me, and then all of a sudden start frantically looking around, everywhere but directly at you, saying 'oh no! where's Avery? where'd Avery go???'.. and you smile SO big and make some kind of noise to get me to look at you.. wherein I go 'THERE SHE IS!' and you just eat it up.
Speaking of making noises, you make some pretty good consonant sounds already.. a lot of 'yayaya' and 'bababa' and 'dadada'.. notably absent is the MAMA.. but I know this'll come in due time, and I'll be hearing it 1200 times a day!

Life is hectic. But so very good. We are blessed, I have to count them more often than I do, I know this. It's funny, before you have kids, you still feel blessed and lucky to be living a good life - full of fun date nights, and a good house, and awesome meals with great friends.. but once you have kids, it just really hits home how blessed you are. How your heart is now walking around, outside your body.. absolutely terrifying, and yet just so unspeakably amazing. You want to thank God for all this, but you know there's just no words good enough and descriptive enough to show your thanks, so you try to live your best life, to show your thanks. I know some days are less a representation of this thanks than others, some days are just plain chaotic and stressful, but I want to be able to find the joy even in those days. Because my heart is running crazy in the backyard, getting dirty and being loud, and my heart is also in the living room, in soft pink pants, under the coffee table, with a bucket on her head. My heart is very thankful, indeed.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

6 months

Dear Daughter,
Half a year. MAN OH MAN. I won't lie, lately I have felt this weird compulsion to start planning your 1st birthday.. but then I'd stop myself and say 'no, you crazy fool, it's WAY too early for that!'.. but then wait.. it's not. It's 6 months away! (which, in my corrupted over-punctual mind, is the perfect time to start planning something like this) Should I also start pre-registration for Harvard? It almost feels that way, time is just slipping through my fingers. I wish you didn't have so many delicious baby fat-rolls and I wish you didn't smell as good as you do, because damn. It's going to be gone someday! Your rolls will slowly thin out and your baby-lavender Aveeno soap/baby smell will be replaced with a distinct mixture of Play Doh and cheetos. And that makes me a little weepy.
On a more positive note, you are doing so many new things, I can't keep up. For one, you are a bonafied totally professional unassisted sitter. I don't think Andrew was a pro at this until closer to 7 months, so the fact that you achieved this about a week before turning 6 months old sort of scares me. You hear about girls being early developers than boys, and you even read about it in the preachy over-informative baby development books. And it's scary! Because who wants a 9 month old that can walk??! NOT I. I know, when Andrew was a little on the later side of walking/crawling, I was so annoyingly anxious and sometimes-frustrated, but looking back, man I had it made! I'll take later development over early any day of the week. I don't think you're hearing me on this, though. You're very likely to be walking before your first birthday, and even more likely to be doing our taxes by Kindergarten.
When I put you down in the middle of the living room, sitting up, surrounded by fun toys to grab (and knaw on) so that I can go do dishes or some other quick chore, you often are just fine until you look up and see me somewhere else. You'll make eye contact with me (or I'll be a total noob and call your name to get you to look up, what am I thinking?!?!) and then just lose it. Sad sad sobbing, of the 'why did you abandon me foooorever?!?' variety. And it's SO CUTE. With Andrew, I remember this phase, and it annoyed me, not going to lie. The constant clinginess. But you know, subsequent babies are awesome in that a healthy dose of perspective comes free with package! I know this stage is so fleeting, and you're crying because you want to be around me! How adorable and just awesome is that! It makes it even more awesome when your brother acts out on such a regular basis that clearly, he must have a vengeful pact to put me in the nuthouse. So your obsession with being around me is way more than flattering. It's renewing.
O yes, something noteworthy, your source of food has drastically changed recently. From tap to bottle. It started to become slightly challenging to nurse you, for many reasons.. I knew I would be infinitely happier/saner if I weaned you to bottles. You went probably a good 3 months though of TOTALLY refusing all bottles. You might deign to take a whole ounce, sometimes, if you were starving and the stars were aligned properly. But for the most part, no. You also physically gagged at the taste of just 1/4th formula to 3/4th breastmilk mixture. Long boring story short, after spending much money on much bottles, you finally started taking one. Naturally, the bottle we started with (and thankfully were in high supply of, thanks to secondhand from Andrew) The fact that you now take five 5-6-ounce bottles of 100% formula in a 24 hour period still seems like a small miracle to me. My boobs are still not the dried up lifeless pancakes I was hoping they'd be by now, but I gotta be patient. They'll get the memo eventually.
You think Andrew is hilarious. No matter what he does. He has a very specific intonation of 'Peeeekabooooo' and you die. Every time. He has no regard whatsoever for your personal space, and while this GREATLY annoyed me at first (for while I love you (differently but) equally, you are a baby and he is a germy preschooler), I now have found several parts about it to be oh so grateful for. Like how you grab at his face, because that's just what you do, and he never gets irritated with this. He just ducks and covers or puts your hands elsewhere..  I know all too soon, you'll be going for his hair but not in a curious innocent kind of way. Instead of laughter, I'm sure to hear 'I'm telling!'..  so I'll savor this stage we're in.
You do an indescribably cute pig snort. Yep - total 100% pig snort. You scrunch up your nose and sort of breathe really heavy and fast..  SO adorable. I have plenty of videos of this, of course with me saying 'who's mommy's little piggy???'..  I am saving these little gems specifically for your prom date.
You hate outfit changes. Pulling and pushing your flailing little body into the cutest of clothes is quite the Olympic feat. You often cry - but it's just the cutest cry ever. So high-pitched and just dripping with annoyance over the cruel injustices of outfit changes.. I laugh every time.
You weighed in at your 6 month appointment at 17 pounds 12 ounces. And 27 and 3/4 inches. 99th percentile for height and 88th for weight. Hearty stock.
You nap three times a day still. Always around 9am, then again around 12 or 12:30, then again between 3 and 4. Your last nap of the day will definitely be the first to go - once we attempt to put you on two naps a day. You go to bed almost every night around 7:40. You get a bath every night, too. Totally not necessary, but we are very much creatures of habit, and let's face it: a chubby naked wet baby is the best kind of baby.
You are being very slow about solids.. not ever truly eager to shovel in the puree presented to you.. but we tried puffs yesterday, and they went well. Not at all like the first time I gave one to Andrew, whenst he gagged and then vomited all over himself. You looked confused, but happily let it dissolve in your toothless mouth..  success! You also are a whiz at the straw cup. We're just going to skip traditional sippy cups altogether, lessen the odds of a lisp and all that, so your quick study of the straw has been very helpful. It's that 'voracious suck' (God I love saying that) that all those lactation consultants marveled over..  you sucked the latex glove right off one of those ladies' fingers, as a 2 day old baby, so is it any surprise you know what to do with a straw?!














You are just the most gorgeous, sweeeeeeetest little nugget of baby girl that ever was. You bring me daily joy and laughter and I love you SO SO much. Happy half-year.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recently

To both my kiddos,
You are both so precious to me. There's always so much going on in your day-to-day development that it's hard to sit down and hope I remember it all. And scribbling down quick notes when I think of them always just passes me by. Too much in one day. I'll just wing it as I usually do....
Avery:
You are 5.5 months as I type this. You are just a big nugget of delicious-ness. To say you are the most edible baby that ever was is a serious understatement. I kiss your round cheeks and your fleshy neck ALL day long. You now grab your feet when on the changing table, I think you just discovered you had them. Also while changing, you twist and turn and go stiff-legged.. so it's become semi-challenging. I can imagine as time passes that it will only get worse. We used the changing table with Andrew up until he was out of diapers (2 yrs 4 mts old), never really having to use the floor as most do, because of physical challenges, and being on the go. I think this might not be the case with you! The changing table might not see it to age 2!
You look so so much like my mother, moreso every passing day. You look like her when you make certain faces, you look like her from the side, you look like her while you sleep. And it's not just me who knows this, plenty of others have commented. It's amazing to me.. I miss my mother so much, and I still don't really display any photos of her around the house. Maybe one on the fridge, because it's just too hard. I actually prefer how crazy-busy life keeps me that I can't ever sit and dwell on the deep loss I know is there.. so I haven't made much effort to surround myself with her image. But, you. You remind me so much of her.. and it's not one bit painful. It's absolutely incredible. God makes all babies perfect in their own way, and special.. but I think He made you look like her with every intention to keep her here with us, because her time on Earth was just far too short. We get to see her everyday, in you, and my gosh that just makes me want to cry just writing that. You are so special, you have no idea. It also makes me laugh sometimes, when you are being a fussy little toot at the most inopportune times (think: dinner burning, toddler misbehaving, doorbell ringing, cue your cries!) and you look like a mini version of my mother. Sometimes you are also my mother's revenge!
You are so in love with Andrew. Every Tues and Thurs at preschool pick-up time, if you are awake, you absolutely light up at the sight of him, in the backseat of the car. I swear, I can't get you to smile that huge and genuine ALL day.. just the sight of him and you just radiate. He plays little games with you, specifically the 'Where's Avery' game..  he turns opposite from you, saying 'Wheeere's Avery.. where's Avery?!?'.. then turns really fast and says 'There you ARE!'.. and you smile SO big. When he can get a real laugh out of you, he is so proud of himself. It's really something.
Right now, you love to be held... I think you are in the midst of your first separation-anxiety phase.. one of many, if you are anything like Andrew was! I remember our old pediatrician telling us something (3 years ago, with him) that seemed so brilliant, yet so commonsense.. for us to really be diligent with saying 'I'll be right back!' every time we left the room, if for 30 seconds or 3 minutes.. to always say that. So we've been trying to do that a lot. If you start fussing when we have to leave your sight, 9 times out of 10, Andrew will come barrelling in to console you.. usually saying 'it's ok Avery! don't worry!!!'.. or 'I'll take care of you!'..   He does this also, in the car, if you start to fuss a few miles before home (or our destination).. he'll say 'we're allllmost there! it's ok!'
But for as sweet as Andrew is with you, he is also a tad rough at times. I think he wants to really see how far he can go, how much he can get away with.. he tries to roll you over, which we have to repeat ourselves daily that this is NOT OKAY, and he likes to hover over you - very nerve wracking considering how large he is. He also has pulled on your arms/legs while we are carrying you.. or pushed down a bit too hard on your belly.. all of this has not yet made you cry or even fuss.. so clearly he hasn't hurt you yet. But is is exhausting on my end, constantly reiterating to be gentle... 
You just started sleeping on your belly. This gets us more sleep, which is no surprise really..  we've just always been too nervous to intentionally place your on your belly. Now you do it all on your own. And we never flip you back over, unless you wake up crying.. and even then, we roll you on your side. I don't think I ever saw Andrew sleep on his stomach as a baby, so this is new territory!
You started blowing raspberries right at 4.5 months. It was a pretty big obsession for a few days, then it tapered off and you didn't do it for a few weeks. I am glad it's not a huge obsession anymore, because trying to get you to have a focused nursing session during that time was all but impossible. Yes, you blew raspberries upon my nipples. It was sometimes messy.  :>/ 
You aren't what I consider a 'drooler'. Andrew was. Our person was always covered in his drool.. his outfits always adorned with a soaked drool bib. You really don't drool that much, but I know that can change overnight! Speaking of drool, you have one tooth I know is coming in..  it's been a white spot on your gums for about 2 months now. Slowly but surely!
You can sit up for just a few seconds on your own, before falling backwards or forwards (or to the side!).. I don't know why I am encouraging this mobility, as I know it leads to MORE mobility.. but it's pretty cute. I think the girth of your thighs will serve you well in anchoring you to the ground, when you are truly ready to sit by yourself.
I can't believe you will be 6 months old in just a few weeks..  half a year. It seems like nothing, in the grand scheme of things, 6 months IS a very short time.. but when I look at the helpless little squawking newborn you were just a handful of months ago, to the roll-y little nugget of joy you are now?? Makes my head spin a little...
Andrew: Child. What can I say? That I've considered selling you on ebay lately? That I've screamed into a pillow at the end of one brutal day with you? That we have just ordered 2 (maybe 3?) discipline books on amazon, because we feel completely out of our league? So. You've been.. a challenge. One curve-ball of discipline needs after another. And all of this following about 3 years of near-perfect, who am I kidding ANGELIC, behavior..  and oh yes, also following the birth of your little sister. So to say I am tired.. well, that's just a ridiculous understatement. Last night was the first night in ohhhhh.. a year? that you got up in the middle of the night, requiring both of us to come negotiate you going back to sleep. It was also the night that Avery decided to throw us a super long sleep stretch, so that makes perfect sense right? Pretty standard, I hear.
I don't know what it is, really. I think we have let a few misbehaviors slide, because we were focused too much on 'picking our battles', given the huge life change you were experiencing with a new sibling. All those misbehaviors gave way to new ones, and snowball effect blah blah blah. Or maybe it's an age thing? I really have no idea and I'm honestly too tired to venture guesses. All I know is, you are not very pleasant to be around a lot of the time. I'm sorry, but let's just stop beating around the bush! It doesn't mean we don't love you any less right now.. but kid? Sometimes we don't like you very much. You seem to make it a point to be as loud as possible, all. the. time. When we ask you to please use an inside-voice, you sometimes cackle in our faces. Your tantrums have reached epic proportions.. it would shock the neighbors, that is for sure. One fatal mistake on my behalf, such as ohhhh I dunno, turning the TV off before bedtime (after allowing YOU to do it, but you stalling, and me giving you way too many chances) and it's ScreamFest 2011. Top of the lungs, body thrown into the middle of the hall, refusing and and all requests (demands) regarding bath/bedtime. Add in a tired fussy baby who unfortunately has to take a bath after you, and it's some goooood times over here!
Two main problems we are dealing with: knowing the difference between on purpose and an accident. And lying. They sort of intertwine, am I right? You lie. A lot. About little inconsequential things, but still. And when I catch you in a lie - and of course, say the word 'lie' - you maniacally laugh.. as you think the word 'lie' is the funniest word ever. You say it, laugh hysterically, repeat 10 times before I can get your attention to move on. Its... maddening. And when I finally got my point across to please not DO THAT, you said 'la'.. and laughed. After calling you on it, you said 'but I didn't say LIE! I said la!'... Oh child. I am in for it, am I not???!
As I type this, (you are outside w/your father and sister) you are ringing the doorbell incessantly, laughing like a nutjob for the entire street to hear. I cannot catch a break, even separated by brick walls. 

I could literally go on for pages.. you do so much that irritates all of us these days. But just tonight, at dinner, you thanked me, unprompted, as you do every night. You stopped eating, looked at me, and said 'thank you for dinner!'..  And when your father got home, you immediately asked him how his day was. Totally unprompted and from the bottom of your heart. You have your moments, and lots of them.. but we still know how lucky we are. We won't call SuperNanny... yet.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

3.5 years

Dear Andrew,
You are just about 3 and a half years old. I know I do the monthly letters to your sister, but I don't want you to feel slighted (years from now, when you will hopefully read these). I could do monthly letters to you too, but I think we all know it's much easier to do with a baby, when their development changes in leaps in bounds in a matter of days and weeks. Quite a few things have changed with you though, these past few months that should definitely be recorded.

You are getting so much more outgoing! You have always been a little ham (or turkey) at home, but it's always been a struggle to get you to engage other kids your age. You have always loved kids your age, but moreso in a passive way.. observing and laughing at them.. not a lot of active engaging. Lately, you are very quick to say hello and they you are THREE! and your name.. and 'dragonflies are good, because they don't sting you.. they're not wasps..' and etc etc. It's funny to watch you at the park, because if you see a kid your age, you go right up to them and just say whatever comes to your mind first. I am so proud of you, doing this. It's been a long time coming. But also apprehensive. When you put yourself out there, you always run the risk of some little bratty kid making fun of you, or saying they don't give a flying fart about dragonflies. I guess this is the beginning of letting you go though, letting you put yourself out there and deal with the sometimes unfair rejection. Speaking of, I had to let you do this one big-kid ladder thing, too. The other kid you met wanted to do it with you, and you, being a pretty stringent rule-follower, told him 'no, I can't. I'm not 10 yet!' .. See, this certain ladder is maaaybe age-appropriate for a 5-6 year old, not a 3 year old. So I threw out some big number to you, saying you could do it when you were 10. When the kid asked you to do it, I yelled over to you that you could give it a try - and sure enough, you scaled that big scary ladder with no problem. Over and over and over.
You will see a kid while we're at the store and look up at me and say 'I wanna talk to them'.. and I'll either say 'ok sure' or 'hmm... he looks pretty busy...' (which translates to: 'he looks like he might be a real turd and I'd rather you not run the risk of having your feelings hurt') Just the other day at the park, you approached a group of 7 (!!) year olds, because you felt the extremely strong urge to warn them of gum on the slide. I was worried that they would look at you like a little 3-year old pest, but they surprised me and asked if you wanted to play with them. They said 'we'll play easy on you.. we're playing angels and devils.. you can be an angel.. they're good!'... I think you smiled and just looked at them, having no idea what 'angels and devils' was.
All this outgoing behavior hasn't yet transferred over to preschool though. Kids you have known for over a year now still get the silent treatment from you. You talk about them endlessly at home, giving me the little-kid-scoop (gossip!), but you are virtually mute when you are with them. I don't understand this, but then there's quite a bit about kids I don't understand.

You love love LOVE to make Avery smile. In the backseat, you have a perfect view of her, and she you. You literally do not have to do a thing, and you elicit the biggest grins and noises from her. I do use it to my advantage, at home, when I need to get things done. If I can sense she's nearing fussiness, and I have chores I need to accomplish, I'll ask you to please sing her a song or make her smile. It always works and always buys me a few spare minutes.

This summer has been absolutely cruel with the heat, and the past week has finally shown us some comfortable temps. We have spent a lot of time outside and at parks, and you just go nuts. You have SO much energy pent up, and I do feel guilty for that. It's hard for me to run and play with you with a little baby on my hip, but you have seemed to forgive and forget for all the lack of physical play this summer. Recently, I taught you something with the sole intention of ooging your father out (one must get their kicks)... I taught you that giving someone a kiss on each cheek was called a French Kiss - which is NOT a huge stretch, as it's widely known that the French do love their social cheek kissing. Anyways, you love to grab my face at night when I tuck you in, kiss one cheek, then the other, and say 'Fwench Kiss!'
More bedtime related cuteness: our routine is pajamas, pick out a book, read, then sing our 'God Our Father' song, then do prayers. When we pray, your routine is to say all you're thankful for - you always start by saying 'Daddy and Mommy and Avery and Andrew (must include yourself!)' and you'll sometimes say 'thinking and loving and having fun..and a good house, good food, outside playing, bubbles..' and then the last part will change nightly, usually something fun you saw/did/ate that day. Then the very last part of prayer-time, I ask you what we can ask God for help with, and you'll relate some current issue to that part... maybe you accidentally hit Avery, so you'll say 'help with not hitting and being sweet'.. or 'listening to mommy better'. Or something particular to that day's events. And then sometimes you're so tired you just recite all the good things you're thankful for over again. It all works, God cares and so do I!

We recently started soccer with you, and it's a work in progress! You really don't love to sweat, so if it's a hot game or practice day? Forget it. If it's mild out, we can cross our fingers that you might run or think about kicking the ball. At the game yesterday, you ran! You RAN! The game prior to that one, you were stationary. Totally at a stand-still. So we think this is a 100% improvement. :) We're optimistic you might kick it over the course of the season. You are sometimes zoned out completely during a game (and on the field), but really, I don't blame you. Parents are yelling at each of their kids, and there's just SO much going on. It's all but impossible for a 3 year old to focus. But, when the coach calls your name and gives you directions, you are quick to follow them. And your spirit is just so positive - always high-fiving and thumbs-upping and excited to play more. Makes us so proud.

You love to randomly say 'when I was a baby, I would say __ like this: ___' - example: 'When I was a baby, I would say Breakfast like this: BREAK!' or 'When I was a baby, I would say Sandwich like this: SAND!' And you'll erupt with laughter over this little funny of yours. You think it's just hilarious to say how you used to say a word as a baby - taking the first syllable of it. 

You weighed in at 36 pounds at the dr office the other day. You are around 40 inches tall. At this pace, you will outweigh your father by 20 pounds by around the age of 10. And tower over him by the age of 8. I hope you are kind and take him for piggy-back rides when he asks nicely.

You wear mostly 3T. Some shirts are 4T and 5T though - if they run small. This still amazes me, because I can vividly remember seeing 4T shirts in the store, when you were a baby, and thinking Noooooo... he'll NEVER be that big. Impossible. Oh yes, this might embarrass you, but you still wear a size 2T-3T undies (the same size when you first sported them a year ago when we potty-trained you).. tiny heiny.  Just like your father.

You are seemingly going through a growth spurt. For lunch the other day, you downed your usual 3 veggie-chicken nuggets, plus veggie sticks, a cheese stick, a plum, and a banana. Sometimes I think you're stalling getting out of your chair and cleaning up when you ask for more food (after the food I put before you gets inhaled), but no.. you're really truly hungry! To test to see if you're hungry or just stalling, I'll offer you something you might not normally ask for (a banana, usually) and most times you'll say 'meh, can I have chips instead?' And I'll always say 'banana or nothing'.. and I know you're hungry, because you always resign yourself to the banana and wolf it down. I fear for our bank account when you are a hungry growing teenager.

Your current favorite song is I Walk The Line - no, not the original by Johnny Cash. We listen to Joaquin. You also love the oldies station. When the song Penny Lane came on the other day, you instantly said 'Hey that's the Beatles!' - I am 100% sure you've never heard that song, but your ear for their music is just that spot-on. But, you went on to say the next 4 songs were The Beatles, too. ;)

You are quite particular about your routine, too. Always have been really. But lately, if I do something (almost always in the interest of time) out of the routine, you REALLY let me know you don't like this. For example: teeth brushing. You always hop up on the stool, grab the toothbrush, and turn the water on (then I get the toothpaste.. etc.).. If you are moving at a snail's pace, and I deign to grab the toothbrush or turn the water on, I cannot simply say 'oops sorry!' and give you the toothbrush. No. You put the toothbrush BACK in the holder and then get it. Or you must turn the water back off - then YOU must turn it back on. I'm becoming more wise to the fact that it actually takes LESS time if I let you go about your occasional snail's pace at things.



I won't lie, kid. These past 6 months have been WAY more difficult than I ever anticipated. You have been throwing some tantrums (mild, but frequent) and showing some fierce defiance that I never saw coming. Add a baby to the mix, and you have some long days. People (mothers) always warned me that 3 was way worse than 2. And I now believe them. But you know? I still am most definitely in the lucky camp. You have such a sweet good heart, and such a desire to please and make us proud. You are so full of life and fun and silliness, how can I wish this age away? Before long, all this energy will be replaced with an adult desire to sit in front of a tv or computer, and I'll long for your boundless energy. The same little boy, so mad over having to put his shoes on and laying flat on the floor crying over this fact might someday show passive indifference over going places with me. Embarrassment, even. I'd rather have the meltdown, thanks. I'll close my eyes and picture you giving me a Fwench Kiss, and I will very much miss these days.

Monday, August 29, 2011

4 months


Dear Avery, 
My sweet girl is 4 months old!! So many new things..  let's list them:
* So chatty. Lots of funny drawn out sounds... especially when you are on your back on the playmat and life is carrying on around you (meaning, you aren't getting 100% of our attention). Also when we are in the car and you are supposed to be napping. I think your brother really believes you are talking JUST to him, which is adorable.
* You are waking less at night - but, I really don't want to go into too much detail here. I know I know.. the jinx isn't real!!! But sometimes, oh my GOD it so IS REAL. So, maybe we'll re-cap your sleep in a few months. Or never. But, for the sake of documenting milestones of sorts, I will say that we ditched the swaddle about a week and a half ago. You were busting out of it every 2-3 hours, and so we bit the bullet, starting with 2 days of swaddle-free naps. It has gone well!
* You weighed in at 16 pounds 1 oz at your 4 month appointment. Your brother, at the same age, weighed 16 pounds 7 ounces. So, not very different. You clocked in taller though. You were 95th percentile in weight, and 100th percentile in height. And your head circumference was 16.5 - which is funny, because I never really knew the significance of head circumference before.. and now I do! Ordering girly headbands online!! They always ask for head circumference. So yes, all medical things aside, I now find this measurement quite useful.
* You are still nursing.. still hating on most fake nipples. You'll take a pacifier sometimes - but ONLY when it's right before you take a nap. And ONLY if you see it first and deign to accept it - if we put it in your mouth, sight unseen (or if you're already crying) - forget it! Bottles are always a crapshoot at best, which makes leaving you with your father always stressful for me... but.... what're ya gonna do?? This has become my mantra of sorts, because we've exhausted all recommended methods/ideas to get you to take a bottle more consistently. Eh. What are ya gonna do???! I'm just grateful you nurse well. We went through a 2 week period recently where you were quite difficult (roughly the exact same age your brother was weaned completely!), but things are back to normal now.
* You love to be held. Way more than your brother ever did. He never loved to be held 'like a baby' (cradle position).. but you love it. You look so relaxed and just at peace, being held by whomever.. chilling out. 
* You are grabbing at things - but not all the time. Your little fists are still so tightly clenched all the time.. when we dangle an object/toy in front of you - you stop and focus on it, then you sort of rake it closer to you using more of your arms than your hands. You get frustrated sometimes when you clearly WANT to hold something, but just can't. 
* You really love to be held during dinner time. We had usually put you in the bouncer while we ate - so we could all eat a little easier... but you just fuss and squawk and kick your legs so furiously, and we can just feel you staring us down - we always end up picking you up and holding you, sitting up on one of our legs while we eat. Then, you are just calm as can be - watching all of us intently.
* You just recently showed some fear over the hair-dryer. Every time I turned it on, you would cry SO hard and would look so scared/sad. It was beyond cute, obviously, but I'll be wearing my hair wavy for a while I think.
* Just the past few days you have wanted to bear weight on your stubby little legs. It's the cutest thing EVER. And you are solid, too! You lock those legs and you don't move an inch! (and when you do this, the rolls and dimples are just that much more prominent and edible..)
* You wear mostly all 6-9 month clothes. Definitely outgrown your 3 month stash - and most all of the 3-6 month sizes, too. We've put you in several size 12 months things, and they fit well. At this rate, I'll be shopping in the toddler section WELL before you are toddling.
You're the most beautiful little 4 month old we know, we love you!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hair Today......... Gone Tomorrow

Just wanted to do a quick comparison of my kids.


No, not anything developmental.. nothing that would give them any extra ammo against me in adult therapy sessions. Hair loss. Both my babies have lost the majority of their baby-bird-soft hair at approximately the same age. Right around 3 months old. (Yes, I too have lost copious amounts of hair at this exact same time, but you will not find me posting side-by-side pics of the return of my receding hairline.) Neither are stomach sleepers, so their tossing and turning in the crib/bouncer/car-seat have much to do with the sides being totally lost. The hair, for Andrew at least, returns in a few months.. And, so far, the moms of little girls I've talked to? They all say long hair is so overrated. The washing.. styling.. etc etc..   I'll take some bald sides for as long as I can get them!

The last two pics are Andrew. His hair loss was a lot more pronounced. Mange-like, even.

Friday, July 29, 2011

3 months

Dear Daughter,
You are actually 3 months and 3 days old, as I type this. With Andrew, I typically had monthly update posts written in draft a day or two ahead of time, ready to click publish. And then off I went, with smug satisfaction, to eat a hot breakfast while I made mealplans for the week, right before I, ya know, exercised or something. Times have changed!
So, here are a few things about being 3 months old:
It's really a cute cute age. I know, how can I say one age is cuter than another? They are ALL so cute. But, I think 3 months really marks the end of the newborn-stage. I know, sad that that stage is over and all.. but now you smile and laugh a bit and are just generally more aware that you are ALIVE. You look at things and follow everything with your eyes and really just take it all in.
Your new way of laughing is just beyond cute. You open your mouth and make this 'huh huh huh' sound.. and sometimes we get a BIG hiccup of laughter. The louder we get, doing whatever we're doing to make you laugh, the louder you get. These magical moments end the same way 99% of the time. The volume level of the fun we're having intrigues your brother to come and say something like 'mommy? mommy?? mooommmmy?!?! guess what?? MOMMY??!'... wherein I am forced to break the moment with you to attend to the obviously critically important thing he has to tell me. 'Yes Andrew?'.. 'MOMMY! I found.. A HAIR!' Moment over.
Bathtime is still just the best time of day. Even if you are fussing prior to bathtime (which is more rare these days, thank goodness), you immediately become the smiliest most zen baby ever, in the tub. And the way you lock eyes with me the entire time? Heart MELTING. You look at me seriously the ENTIRE time, and I love love love it. And if I sing (bathroom acoustics make me sound so much less horrid), you smile so big. A wet smiley baby is just the best kind of baby, if you ask me. Other than a baby that's been sleeping 10 hours.. but that's asking for quite a bit.
You are so very responsive to us talking to you. You make this one sound quite a bit - a /K/ sound, but more.. raspy. You need more saliva in your throat to make it the right way.. I know this because I've told others to do the /K/ sound, and they do, but not quite right, and you don't respond to it the same way. I'm your mother, so I insitinctively know how to do this special raspy sound you love. It's what mothers do.
You smile so very big whenever we initiate conversation with you. And just today you did the BIGGEST belly laughs I've ever seen - I was holding both your hands and shaking them pretty wildly. So of course I go for the camera. Try to recreate the scene.. and.. nothing. I think it's a lesson I should learn better, to just live in the damn moment and forget about the camera sometimes.
You are also losing copious amounts of hair, which is par for the course for a 3 month old. I am also losing copious amounts of hair. So it's nice that we can share this little indignity together. I know yours will grow back beautifully, and as for me, I know I'll have some weird/cute little baby-hairs for a while.
You are slowly but surely starting to grab things.. although right now it's still a very spastic sort of raking motion to your mouth. I'll dangle a toy in front of you and you'll spazz for a moment, then slow your arms down to rake it towards your face.. maybe 50% of the time it makes it all the way. I know in a matter of just weeks you'll have this move down and be shoveling everything in your wake into your little mouth.
You nap about 3 or 4 times a day. Each nap is anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. We haven't really gotten longer than that lately. You stay awake for roughly 1.5 hours between naps, but sometimes it's shorter than that. I can tell pretty well when you're going glassy-eyed and need to go back down again. Still swaddled. No regretting that! At night, you'll typically go between 4 and 6 hours for the first sleep stretch, then up to eat, then another 3-4 hour stretch. Then after that last stretch, you get to sleep in the bouncer in our room.. it's just our way of being super lazy at the end of the night and ensuring you sleep past 6am. Bouncer trumps crib every time. Some nights are good, others not so good...  last night being the latter, due to my poor decision to drink large amounts of Diet Dr Pepper late in the day (I thought it was caffeine free! I swears!)
You have lately gotten a little bit picky about your source of food. You've forgone the bottle, screaming bloody murder at even the scent of a fake nipple HOW DARE US???! And even with food from the source, you sometimes reject it, only wanting to be fed by me in bed, laying down side by side. Which of course, is just awesome and very relaxing, but not so conducive to life with a 3 year old, who has been 'plugged in' far more often than not because of recent life changes. It'll change in a matter of days though, I am sure.



See? That's the cool thing about 2nd children. Perspective. I admit, I do still get a tiny bit dramatic when we hit a difficult stage.. thinking it will surely last FOR-EVER, but I do have a small amount more perspective with you than I did with your brother. I know how the bad are all just stages.. which means the good are, too - so be grateful for ALL the good. All ebb and flow and whatnot, and you pull the rug out from under us all the time. We have to be on our toes, and it's wonderful. Your sweet little laugh makes any difficult stage so very bearable. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July















Here's a little juxtaposition (how often does one get to use that word?!) of my children. One is happy. Needing very little more than the dusty rotating blades of a ceiling fan to coax a gummy delicious smile from. Simply happy to be alive. And absolutely edible when in just a diaper. The other? Mad. Opinionated. Misunderstood (or so he'd claim). Very much the definition of ALL those 'been there done that' parents who have scared other younger mothers about '3 being the new 2'. THEY WERE RIGHT. Those two's were not so terrible, no, not at all. They were downright terrific. The 3's truly are a force to be reckoned with. Thankfully, he isn't the only child anymore, and I don't have the time to cater to his tantrums that happen when the wind changes. He gets the time-out chair. Or sent to his room. And 9 times out of 10, when told he has to leave my presence, he pastes on a fake smile and says 'I'm ready to act right now'. Ok, great. He can stay. Until 4.5 minutes later when the cycle repeats. Some days are veeeery very long. Some days are great though, and the tantrums are very minimal. He truly is a sweet child at heart, and I think a lot of the frustration comes from simply plain ol' boundary testing. He wants to see exactly how far he can push us (me) now, knowing our attention is split with a new little person in the house. And now that he can simply talk to us like a regular little person, with very little lost in translation, well.. he has opinions. On just about everything. But doesn't everyone? He's not a two-year old anymore, he's a little adult. A miniature grown-up with no concept of volume control and a propensity to tell strangers how big his last poop was. Oh, and also to tell strangers that he's sick, following a forced cough, successfully making me look like Mother Of The Year, for taking her sad, sick (but SO NOT) little toddler out into the world. Or, The Gap.
We like to say that our children are on opposing good/bad behavior years. For Andrew, birth to 1 year was good. (yes, exhausting and challenging, but cute babies really can do no wrong) 1 year to 2 years was a little iffy... particularly the last half of the year. LOTS of meltdowns and whatnot. Year 2 to 3 was AWESOME. Just cute and aiming to please and a sweet willing sponge ready to learn and give us kisses and hugs and high-fives. You see the pattern here? Alternating years. I am already betting my chips that Year 3 to 4 is going to challenge us. For HIM. But for her? We are going to totally rock the Year 0 to 1, because cute babies DO NO WRONG! So, we are just grateful that they are on an alternating schedule..  I am not sure we'd fare so well if they were both in the middle of 'off years'.

Sigh, it's not all public embarrassments and manipulative behaviors around here. There's baby back rolls. Lots of them. So, life isn't all that bad. We like to keep her in just a diaper (ok, I do. It's just me with the fat-roll obsession) as much as possible in the evenings, and I just.. gosh.. I want to EAT THEM. The thigh rolls are pretty juicy, too. She has one very noticeable extra roll on her left arm and left thigh.. not really sure what that is about. Perhaps my milk is settling more on her left side? She's got the trademark 2-4 month old bald-patch look going on, and I'm really shocked that I haven't followed suit yet. I remember beginning to lose my hair at the same exact time that Andrew lost his. I am sure I'm not far behind. Super sexy receding hairline, here I come!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2 Months

 Dear Daughter,
  You are now two whole months old. I'll say what ALL mothers to babies say, that I just cannot imagine life without you. Sure, I remember it. I remember it well - the daily luxury/mini-vacation of life with one (usually very well behaved) child. But I cannot imagine or comprehend life without you now. I cannot imagine a day without smelling your SWEET smelling head, rubbing my face on your soft-as-baby-bird-hair head. Watching you wildly pump your little legs the moment I lay you on your back, anywhere. Making you smile the biggest gummy smile, just by talking to you. Counting your leg and arm rolls.
Your two month birthday was not uneventful. The latter part of the day, at least. Naptime was not the greatest. You usually take your most substantially long nap around noon or so. THANK GOD your father was home (it being Sunday) because we had a doozy of a time. First, you decide to drop the mother-load of poop. It's one thing to hear a huge load being dropped, it's quite another when you hear that, and then a gigantic fart immediately following it. That precise combination of sounds only has one deadly result. BLOW. OUT. Yes, you farted the poop right up the back of your diaper. Leaving a poop spot on the bed sheet. And the mattress protector. Strip the bed. Nap-attempt take 2! Is not having it, so as a last resort (and usually very successful), we put you in the Ergo baby carrier. Your father takes you - you still IS NOT having it. So he unstraps you, and as he does this, you drop another load - of fresh baby barf, all over yourself and the carrier. Another load of laundry, second in one hour's time. We eventually get you to sleep, and all is well. UNTIL! Later that evening. We are all four being lazy out on the back-porch (we just got a canopy to provide shade - it's awesome).. when I hear the air conditioner turn on and then immediately off. This is a weird disconcerting sound. Your father checks it out - while I brainstorm what to pack for ALL FOUR OF US OMG in case it can't be fixed and we need to evacuate the premises. Love, if we didn't have you on our hands, we'd probably just sweat and be miserable and stick it out - but you and your inability to regulate body temperature left us no choice but to flee to Grandpa's house at 7pm. (which is what? Your bedtime.)
We unfortunately had to let you squawk for a good 10 minutes or so, while on your playmat, because your father and I were running around LIKE CRAZY packing up things, putting them in the car, and otherwise going insane all the while the temp rises a degree a minute it seemed (it being 101 outside!). As this was our first official overnight-away with you, I think we panicked a little too much and overdid it with the 'essentials'. You really didn't need your bouncer AND your playmat. Your heiney barely touched either, as it was being held by either Grandpa or Mamaw. You didn't need the baby bathtub we hauled over either. Despite the definite fact that you probably needed a bath, given the poop and barf explosions of the day. And those 20 diapers I brought? Probably overkill as well. So were the 10 outfits.. but I digress.
We got you upstairs and nursed/rocked you to sleep, and you did pretty well considering. You slept about 5 hours before waking up for a feeding. I actually think you did better than your brother, who slept across the hall (in Aunt Kelly's old room), because he conked out on the drive home the next day. Clearly he did not get as much quality sleep as you did! 
It was sort of surreal, nursing you in the room I grew up in. Looking around and seeing little remnants of my childhood/high school years, as I cuddled you close. Just a full circle, weird, crazy moment. ALSO weird nursing you at Mamaw's house. I took you to one of her bedrooms, and in true-Mamaw-form, the dresser was absolutely cluttered with nostalgia. Homemade frames, old pictures of us as kids. Many deceased family members. More full-circle moments.
It was a definite change of pace, this little air-conditioner mini emergency. Your grandpa, being the BEST EVER as usual, really hopped into emergency mode as well. Not ten minutes after hanging up with him to tell him we had to bunk up, he calls me from his cell phone, at Target, asking me what all he needed to get for us/Andrew. And without me even asking (because I had a hard time asking for anything, given how generous he was already being), he gets me decaf and caffeine free Sprite. His nursing daughter was QUITE pleased!! Not only that, but he puts Andrew to bed, buys our lunch, fixes his meals, takes him to the potty, changes your diapers, and then when we leave, packs us up a cooler of all the fresh fruit/whatnot he claims he won't eat himself.
So. Your two month birthday. Celebrated by packing up half the house to go stay at Grandpa's for less than 24 hours. Happy Birthday!!



Sunday, June 12, 2011

Life these days

This is a post not entirely dedicated to either child - it's a rambling of what's been going on lately - wrapping up a post in a bow of organization and cohesive thought is just way down my priority list right now, so bullet-points it is!

* Andrew is pretty much an awesome brother. I always knew he would be. He does need to learn some normal boundaries, as most toddlers would, because his volume level when right in Avery's face is sort of frightening.. but still. I've gotten a little selfish sometimes by cootchie-coo talking to her in a lowered tone, because I know the instant he hears me he will come over and do the same. And then overstimulated-baby city! It's so sweet to hear him say 'kick those legs!!' or 'hi pretty girl! you're such a big strong girl!' or little things he hears me say all day long. He's so big on the positive reinforcement!

* Avery is just bulking up like crazy. Her wrist rolls are just so edible I can hardly stand it. Her cheeks are endlessly plump, and her upper thigh rolls are insanely cute. Her eyelashes are slowly coming in, and her eyebrows are also slowly starting to show some color. It's funny, I had a warped memory thinking that Andrew was born with his lush full set of lashes, but looking back at photos shows that he certainly was NOT. It took him several months. So Avery still has a great shot at those luscious lashes I am so jealous of! She certainly has the big eyes to carry them.

* Our sleep situation has been not so bad. The last few weeks have been pretty much the same, give or take. Avery will go her longest stretch of sleep for the first of the night, followed by several 2-3 hour stretches. And by 'longest', I'm talking anywhere from 3 to 4 hours. We've gotten TWO 5-hour stretches. Ever. And separated by two weeks time. Technically, according to google (?), the term sleeping-through-the-night is classified as 5 hours. Which is nuts, but in the interest of setting her up for success, I'll buy into it and say she's slept through the night twice! So, even though our every night is broken up into 2-3 hour increments, where I have to feed her/etc, we aren't that tired. We were total zombies when we went through this stage with Andrew. But I truly think it was just a first-time parenting thing.. we have been through SO many rough patches of sleep with Andrew over the last 3 plus years, that I guess we're used to things like this. Before Andrew, we most certainly were not. We have developed a tough (sleep-related) shell I suppose. Don't get me wrong, by about 8pm every night I am ready to CRASH. But getting through the day is pretty do-able. I am a bleary mess when she wakes up sometimes 3 times a night to eat, but I try to picture her as a teenager, rebelling and otherwise loathing us, and this gets me through.

* Avery has started to smile SO much lately. I have to really sweet talk her for them though. Like, all out 'whoooo's my pretty girl?? YOU ARE! whoooo's my sweet little girl?? coootchie coooo!' It's pretty sappy, but when I use the right tone at the right volume, and she's really locked in on my eyes, she smiles the sweeeetest little open mouth smiles I've ever seen. And sometimes she sort of makes a laugh-sound to back it up. Not a full-out LAUGH, but a 'heeeeehe' sort of soundtrack to her smile. And then, usually, right when I'm getting a good one, Andrew will come over and get all up in our faces and the moment is GONE!

* Andrew has taken to acting like how a pestering older sibling often does act. To me. When he asks for something, and the answer is no (or not yet) he'll taunt me. Scene: He wants to watch some Curious George. I say maybe later. He starts singing 'I wanna watch some Geeorge.. I wanna watch some Geeeeeorge...' I say 'You already got your answer'. He looks at me incredulously (and tauntingly) and says 'I'm just singing the George song!'.. and he continues this 'George song'. It's maddening sometimes! I ignore it usually.. but he does it in so many different scenarios! When he's done with his meal, and asks to get cleaned up, and I've got my hands full with 10 other things and tell him to please wait patiently, he'll sing the 'I wanna get cleaned up' song. It's akin to an older brother holding his finger a half inch from your forehead and singing 'I'm not touching you... I'm not touching yoooou!' In due time.

* A funny (yet stressful) story of one morning earlier this week: I had a dental appt early in the morning, and when I came back home (and Pablo left for work), I decided I needed to get us out of the house. Before we leave for the park, I ask Andrew to go potty (as usual, before we leave the house).. he says he already did go, and was pretty adamant about this when I argued with him, so I took him for his word, given that I was not home earlier. Off we go, and as usual, I have Avery strapped to me in her little sling. Which is cozy and sleep-inducing for her, but a little HOT for me in the morning sun. Within 5 minutes, Andrew says he has to pee. Since I have Avery strapped to me, and the potty in the trunk is under heaps of grocery sacks and a bazillion-pound heavy stroller, I tell him that it's a great time to pee outside! yay! Standing up and peeing is like the greatest thing EVER! How awesome!!! No. Hate. Stomping of feet and no way Jose am I peeing here outside are you off your rocker?!... I tell him there's no room in the trunk to go potty there. So he simply says 'ok then, let's just go home and pee.' CHILD. I just got your sister strapped to me, I am soooo not peeling her back out and in the car-seat so we can go home to PEE. So I relent and heave the stroller out and heave the child up, to pee. In the trunk. I heave him back down and tell him to go play. My vision is compromised (directly in front of me) because of the sleeping babe strapped to me, so, naturally, I spill his potty full of pee on my foot. I rinse my foot with the squirt bottle I keep in the trunk (ever the Girl Scout), and we continue our leisurely morning at the park. While I swelter from the previous exertion, and air my foot out. Just another morning in paradise!

* The hours of 4:00 to bedtime (7-8:00) are quite hairy. Avery is usually taking her last nap of the day, Andrew is usually either cranky from his nap or running around like a maniac, desperate for Pablo to get home and give him the physical outlet he needs. I am debating whether or not to cook or get last minute take-out. Also trying to catch up on the day's worth of housework that has inevitably piled up. Laundry to be dried/sorted/put away. Dishes - always endless dishes. Pablo gets home, I usually am feeding Avery, so I join them when I can. I hoover my food so I can start in on the chores. We trade off kids, depending on Avery's level of fussiness and who is succeeding the most at quelling it at that moment. I sometimes have a selfish evening and throw in a 10-11 minute long bath (hygiene ranks low these days), but usually I'll spend some one-on-one time with Andrew, because the day's events make that difficult, so I take advantage while Pablo is here to man Avery. The dishes and laundry sometimes get done during this short time span.. Then, bathtime and bedtime! Many routines to be followed, same every night. Needless to say, we will not be getting out and painting the town red during these hours anytime soon!

Life these days is rough, yes, but good. SO GOOD. I have come across so many random blogs and stories lately regarding hardships with babies, and it always makes me stop and count my blessings, for I have many of them. My babies are my world right now, as they should be, and they couldn't be any sweeter.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

4 weeks

Dear Daughter,
It has been four weeks with you. And we have loved it. Yes, it's been overwhelming. Your little presence is becoming less little as each day passes. When you wake up hungry or gassy or with a dirty diaper.. we know about it. But my goodness, are you sweet. In my opinion, once the adrenaline-fueled haze of bringing home a baby wears off, and real life sets in, you sort of realize babies are tiny tempestuous dictators. But it's really not been the case with you! You really are a good baby. I sort of make up my own definition of what constitutes a 'good baby' (they are all good, of course).. but you just go with the flow so much. You are so content, 90 percent of the day. (the other 10% is always around dinnertime and bathtime, when our household is at it's most chaotic and frazzled) You look around, awed at the same walls in our house that you see every day. You sleep (this superstitious mama ain't giving ANY specifics!). You eat. You smile - just today I've gotten more smiles out of you than any other day... mostly by tickling your little round chin. Is there anything sweeter than a toothless grin?!? You stare into our eyes for minutes at a time. You roll with the punches. If I am feeding you, and your brother yells out something that requires my urgent attention (read: butt-wiping), you don't melt down when I temporarily unlatch you to tend to his needs. This happens pretty frequently throughout the day, so I am grateful that you are so flexible! You go in and out of your car-seat sometimes several times a day, without a fuss. In and out of baby-slings/etc, too. You're just so transportable!
I really am enjoying you, little one (or, Nugget, as your father has gotten in the habit of calling you). I remember this phase with Andrew, and while I also enjoyed him and his adorable-ness, I was just one big ball of stress. I was unsure of every move I made, googling like mad and asking everyone I knew about every little thing. I compared every milestone (never wise). I sometimes just wanted to fast-forward time so that I could leave him in a sitting position, so I could wash dishes (how very lame!) or fast-forward time so he could be sleeping longer stretches at night (sleep is for the weak!). I now want to press pause. I want to rewind time.. because this precious baby phase? It's seriously almost over. I know you're still only a wee 4 weeks old, but how fast has this month flown me by?! You won't be a little Nugget for long, and it does make me sad. I'm thrilled for what our future holds with you, but sad all at the same time. So, because of that, I'll just dine on your double-chin and not think of anything more. Each little moment with you, I'll appreciate.
Happy 4 weeks Nugget!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Firstborn

Dear Son,
It's becoming more and more evident that you are more of a mini Cooper than I ever knew. You see, almost 27 years ago, I was given the GIFT of a sister. At the time, I did not know she was a gift. Even though my memories of being newly three years old are pretty fuzzy, I vaguely recall feeling slighted and pretty pissed off in general. And if I ever need a reminder of these feelings, there is always the lovely home-movies shot during that time, forever recording my ear-piercing screams for attention - directly into my newborn sister's ears. In those movies, I now focus on my mother. She was solid. Patient. Absolutely ignoring my bad behavior and not rewarding it with positive attention. I don't know how she did this, because CHILD. You are that kid now. You are pulling out some stops for attention. And you are actively choosing to not listen - to the most mundane of requests. Mealtimes have a rough start and a rocky finish. You are still eating (knock on wood!) but most times you take an act of congress to get you TO the table, and by mealtime's end, you have either intentionally dropped things on the floor or wiped your sticky paws over the table or done some other thing to up the misbehavior ante.
I know, this is not THAT bad. Firstborns usually regress in some way. They typically cry out for attention in new fun ways. It's just that, well, I had some pretty rose-colored-glasses unrealistic expectations of you. You have (aside from those not-fun months of 18 to 22...) always been just so SWEET. So goooood. So weirdly untypically behaved. You never really questioned our authority or thought that doing the exact opposite of what we said was ever even an option. You made us very comfortable, son. TOO COMFORTABLE.
It's rough some days, with a newborn and you, and a husband who has been working very abnormally late hours. You don't seem to want to cut me any slack. Your love for me is quite conditional. If I manage to put your sister down for a nap, and instead of, you know, peeing or some other selfish activity, I sit down with you and read books.. well, you love me. If I choose to let you watch 2 episodes of Curious George instead of 14, you very much dislike me.

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

The above was written several days ago. My how things can change!!! And still do. Things aren't back to normal. But will they ever be, anyways? Our 'normal' has been forever altered, I think, so my expectations of .. everything are going to be different now. You are such a sweet kid. And I could have inserted that anywhere above, too. I know that even though you've been testing our patience, you are still the cream of the crop. While you've been showing me more love (and respect!) lately, you still are very much on an emotional teeter-totter. This could be an adjustment thing, and this could be an 'age' thing, as well. No way to really know, but TIME.
Last night, something happened that I really was not prepared for (and you know I pride myself on being prepared for as much as possible). While your father and I were in the midst of a newborn screamfest, filing your sister's jagged nails, I came into the bathroom to get her bath ready. Lately, you have been LOVING the responsibility of washing your hands, all by yourself. I was ok with this, because you've never even TOUCHED the hot-water handle (and if you ever happened to, you'd surely call me to come deal with it once you realized it was even slightly warm) and because come on, it frees up SO much of my time! For a kid who loves to have clean hands, there's a lot of hand-washing goin' on, and if you can just do it yourself- by all means! ANYWAYS, so last night, I come into the bathroom and there's..  puddling. Everywhere. You have a very pleased happy face, as the faucet is running and you are using your cupped hands to transfer water from the sink to the toilet.. the tub.. the floor. Initially, I thought 'how freaking cute is this??!' because of how I never got to really experience walking in on a mess with you. You know how most moms turn their back and their baby/toddler is armpit-deep in the flour jar, or cereal box? Never experienced that. You simply never got into things. So, seeing this was sort of.. weirdly heartwarming? That feeling lasted a short span of a few seconds, and then I was just annoyed and irritated. I disciplined you (your sister's bath got scrapped, by the way) and you went off to your room, crying. Your father talked to you, you stopped crying, and you were no worse for the wear. Neither was the bathroom, as your father reminded my frustrated self that 'it's just water!' All that long story to say that I need to be better. Better at not expecting things to remain the same - that you'll stay out of the proverbial flour-jar forever. Or that you'll listen to us 100% of the time and obey us without question. Or that I'll get your love and cuddles whenever I ask for them. I know this new life of ours is going to be about getting through each day, for a while. Adjusting as necessary and the ebb and flow and all that.
But seriously, if you ever get in the flour-jar, your Curious George dvds are going to go mysteriously missing, so help me God!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Avery

Dear Daughter,
You're here! You came to us on April 26, 2011. You weighed 8 lbs 8 ounces, and were 20 and one-fourth inches tall. You did not close your eyes for the first two hours after your birth. Or so it seemed. Your eyes were blinking at a steady pace, just taking in the new world. Your round face and plentiful chins were the very first thing I noticed about you. I simply could not get over how ROUND your face was. Like a little moon. I loved seeing my mother in your precious round face. To say that seeing my mother in you hit me hard is quite the understatement. I noticed your very thick neck - the little newborn flesh/flab that stays in a roll around it is just the most delectable thing on the planet. I then noticed your head full of hair, just like your big brother had (and has). I noticed how you didn't have my slightly inwards-bent pinky nails (your brother does). And how you forgot to grow some eyelashes while in the womb! We won't show you how your brother's look like lush falsies.. you'll figure that out someday! You had the faintest hint of light brown eyebrows, too. The cutest, most reddest little chin. I noticed your LONG fingers and toes. I have little stubby toes, and your Aunt Kelly has what I call 'finger toes'.. you definitely have the same. You were so very red the first few hours of your life. All that crying just wears a gal out. It was so amazing to hear your little squawks.
I actually did not get to hold you for the first 15 or so minutes of your life. Your father did, though. I was being stitched up (yes, down there) and was too nauseated from all the meds and just everything, and I did not trust myself to have a steady grip on you. I don't regret this, simply because I got to hold you for almost 10 months! And, your father is a pretty great guy, so seeing him soak you up was not so bad. 
We eventually made our way up to post-partum, and settled in. Your father went straight out to Whataburger for some food - I was starving. It's all kind of a blur (as I write this, two weeks later), but I do remember that first night, and your many many poopy diapers. I remember being just shocked that such a little thing could go so much! I hope you hold that little gem of a memory close to your heart, daughter of mine, how I remember just how much you pooped the first night we had you. :)
Fast forward to life at home: It's been pretty darn nice. Just being a little family together. The time off from work that your father had was really much enjoyed and soaked up. We tried to remember so many little moments during that time, while we were all sort of still hibernating before returning to reality and the everyday grind. It's still a little hard to say with any real confidence how your personality is. You're only two weeks old, you know. You cry if you're overstimulated (mostly when we have visitors who you're ready to get out of the house), you cry if you have poop, and you cry if you're hungry. All pretty standard! You are a great little eater, as today's doctors visit proved - you now weigh 8 lb 11 oz (up 1 whole pound from last Saturday's jaundice check when you weighed 7 lb 11 oz!) and you've grown a quarter inch. You sleep a lot. You are having more alert times during the day, which is nice. You smile sometimes when you're awake - and I know this sounds silly, but I think it's more than just gas! I think you love to show me your right-cheek dimple. :) 
Your brother adores you. This is so very clear all day long. He always wants to just hold your hand. And he alerts me the second he thinks he smells "something stinky", or if he sees that your pacifier fell out. Or if your head flopped forward in the car-seat (as it did once this weekend). He was a bit of a handful the first few days we came home with you, but I know this is quite normal, and we still got off easy (the adjustment period is far from over though!). He wants to see you first thing in the morning, every morning. He wants to make sure you're asleep when I say you're napping (whispering VERY loudly to 'be quiet!!'). I think he's going to be a huge help in the long run, and a fabulous big brother to you. It chokes me up, getting to sit on the couch sometimes, holding you in my left arm and my right arm around him on the other side. Sure, this is a little bit of residual hormones, but mostly it's not. It's really realizing how BLESSED we are. To have two beautiful, healthy, wonderful children to raise and grow into little adults. To actually know that God thinks so highly of us to entrust us with you two, and to make sure you grow up to be kind, decent people. I have no clue what we did (or have yet to do) to deserve you two, but I'll take it and just be grateful. It's really mind-blowing. 
 
I think you're going to fit in just fine here, kiddo. I love you and your precious round face. 





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

She's a maniac....


This little clip doesn't really do justice to what I have been experiencing lately. There's just a couple rolls and tremors - but really, I've felt some MAJOR EARTHQUAKES lately. It's no longer cute little kicks and jabs and whatnot. It's full-on get OUT THE WAY baby-shaking. There is a large baby in my belly, and I do believe she is quite a bit more active than my other baby ever was, in utero. My memory might be just fuzzy, but I don't remember this much movement with Andrew ever.
Some patterns lately have been not a ton of movement at night (perfect! let's keep that up indefinitely!), not a lot in the morning either, but the show begins around lunch, and is in full-swing through bedtime. Most particularly around 7-8pm, which is when we're in bed watching a movie usually, so Pablo gets a perfect view at the madness within. There's always a look of shock and disbelief at how I can be living this. And while it doesn't phase me much, it always amazes me.
Pregnancy is hard. Physically and emotionally. The endless (endless!) list of ailments and pains and the endless list of worries of what can go wrong...it can really drive you nuts if you allow it.. but it's a time that I do have a great appreciation for. For any woman who prays and longs to just be pregnant, but for whatever reason, cannot. I know how much it's something to not be taken for granted. I am so grateful that I get to experience the very VERY beginning of my children's lives, with a front row seat.
This is very likely our last child/pregnancy, and while I won't miss the back pain, exhaustion, swelling, weight gain, hormones, headaches, nausea, and other related woes..  I will miss these little dance-shows I get to experience several dozen times a day. And of course the big boobs I know are just around the corner!

Monday, March 14, 2011

3 Years

Enjoy this post to you, my son. Each day brings us closer to becoming a family of four, and ending your supreme reign in the household, so this sentimental ever-detailed post ALL ABOUT YOU might be one of the last ones you'll read for a while. I don't say that to be mean, of course, but it is a reality. I can imagine that as much as I'll try to devote myself to each of you sometimes, 100%, I will always always be pulled in either direction. And this isn't a bad thing, you're going to love having a sister, but let's just say you better really live it up these next 6-7 weeks.

I remember how I felt when you turned one. Aside from perpetually exhausted, I remember feeling PROUD. Not only that we had sustained a human life for 12 entire months (I've always been an indoor plant-killer, so I had my doubts) but that we had done it so incredibly WELL! You were amazing. You were gorgeous and brilliant and just the sweetest little chunk of one-year old I had ever seen. Some of that just had to be our doing, right? We survived that first insanely hard year, and we came out the other side with a beautifully well-adjusted one-year old. We really were full of ourselves at that moment. And really, why not? I had never in my life cared for, or really even babysat, an infant. I had absolutely no clue. But, despite the constant trial-and-error that defined that first year, you made it out unscathed and pretty amazing. There were certain times we might have been a bit scarred from though, like the month or so, around 9 months old, where you would routinely vomit up your day's worth of food whenever you would cry at night. That was not a time we'd ever like to relive, but overall, it was a good good year.

I remember how I felt when you turned two.  Months 12 to 24 were most definitely, hands-down, without a freakin' doubt the hardest for us. Well, mostly me. I had some long LONG days with you that year, child. You were very awkwardly staggering the line between being opinionated but not knowing the appropriate ways to get that opinion across. You wanted to say SO! MUCH! but you lacked a lot of the skill to do so. It got eleventy billion times better from months 20-24, but prior to that, it was some rough going. You had quite the attitude for a little guy, and while most of your tantrums were short, they were very memorable. You were still my sweet love, but that year was peppered with far more hair-raising language barrier-caused tantrums than I ever thought possible. I was pretty ill-equipped to deal with them, also. Given the fact that you were always a pretty chill, sweet boy, I was 100% not prepared with how to react to such outbursts. So, there was A LOT of late-night googling and developmental book-reading. Turns out that it really didn't matter what I did or didn't do, once you had a better grasp of the whole English language thing, matters greatly improved.

And how do I feel now, as your turn three? LUCKY. Because this last year, months 24 to 36.. they were just, wow. Insanely fun. Your personality has evolved so much this past year, and the things you do?? The things you say?? Hilarious. You are such a little person.  You're not even a toddler anymore, I don't believe, you're a full-fledged card-carrying KID. And yes, this makes me want to stop and sob for a moment, but it's just too cool for words. We have conversations. And to be able to recall the you that cried like a wounded chicken to communicate to us as a newborn, to listen to an entire dialogue from that same you now, 3 years later? Kind of mind-blowing. 
You are so loving. Lately, the last month I'd guess, you come up to us and give us out-of-the-blue kisses. Sometimes on our leg or our foot or our back.. then you go off and continue playing or doing whatever you were doing, leaving me in a pile of Loved Mommy Mush. Sometimes you will pick a dandelion outside and give it to me, saying 'I picked this big one, just because I love you.' Again - Mommy MUSH. Sometimes I'll ask you if you have any love or kisses for me.. you'll typically shrug and say 'no I'm all out of love.. but I have a few kisses!' (or vice versa) And then sometimes, when I would give our life's savings to stop time. you will let me hold you in a full-out body hug, you straddling me (perched over the belly) with your head resting on my shoulder.. and I'll sway and you will stay there for FAR longer than I'd ever expect a toddler to stay still. It's the best part of any day.

We also did some potty-training this year. Month 28, to be exact. It went MUCH better than I anticipated, but then I often anticipate the very worst of scenarios. Really though, you were a quick learner. At least with the pee. We won't talk about the other function, because it was a month and a half we'd all like to burn from our memories. Really though, it could have been so much worse, so I have absolutely no complaints.. I am nothing but proud of you and how it all went. I think (for me at least) as soon as you have a newborn, you start to realize 'OH GOD this child will someday need to be potty-trained. And by me!' and there's a certain amount of dramatic panic experienced well in advance. I can panic with the best of them, and I am so stinking thankful to you for having all that panic be for nothing.

We got you a trike, too. It had a long huge handle on the back for us to push, but really we just rest our fingertips there, because you needed to look back and SEE us there. I get that. You did the work, and eventually the handle came off - and off you went. The last week or so, we retired the trike and introduced you to your 'big boy bike' - a small bike w/training wheels. You got on, no fear, and that was that. I have a good feeling you won't take a decade and a half to learn how to ride a bike like I did. This is a good thing because someday your spouse won't mock you every chance they get about it.

This year also marked the whole 'mommy getting pregnant again' event. That weekend we found out, I vividly remember taking you to your most fave place EVER, the mini-train. I wanted to celebrate and remember the weekend, but in a way that meant something to you. You still have no idea how much your life is about to change, and neither do I. It was something very surreal for a few months, the notion of you not being my one and only.. and me having to share all the love. As the time gets nearer, it's still somewhat of a weird feeling, but not as crazy as it was those first few weekends.

You also started preschool. Let me tell you, I was stressing about this BIG TIME, for months. And months. I even got you a What To Expect At Preschool book (and fine, ok, a few other related reads). A little mental prep goes a long way with you. And, me. I was just worried about everything. The leaving you (went fantastic). The possibility of potty-accidents (1 all year). How you'd make friends (pretty easy). If you'd eat lunch (oh yes). If you'd get hurt (one ear-smushed-in-doorway accident). If you'd nap (sometimes). How you'd adjust overall (fabulously). So.. like most things, I over-worried. You have loved loved loved preschool from Day One. You come home and give me dramatic lowdowns of playground soap-opera happenings. "Ya know why Dylan was sad today? Because Sophie messed his hair up! And then he messed her hair up! And then she was sad, too. And then she got a time-out..." It's all so riveting, and I love hearing about it.
 

There's just been so much this year. So many milestones. Little and big. When someone thinks of milestones, they might think of sitting-up or walking or clapping. And those are amazing milestones that you never forget. This year has been full of somewhat more.. abstract thought related ones? Like, the one where you ask me for something, I tell you no and you immediately scamper off to find your father to ask him the same question. This little gem of a milestone is sure to stick around for the next decade at least. Or the little emotional milestones along the way - how you instantly sense a bad mood, and tell me to 'just be happy, ok?'.. or if you've been a toot and I've just about had it, you give me a sweet face and say 'I'm still a good boy...' Oh man. Crawling and clapping were awesome and each deserve their own parade, but I absolutely adore these different kind of milestones. 

I am just such the proud mother. I know these days are so fleeting, and as easy as it would be to look at the years ahead when you are in college and we can cruise the world as 'the light at the end of the tunnel', I don't. I want these sweet toddler years. I know they won't be around for much longer, and they might have even already passed me by and I haven't yet realized it.
I try to soak up moments every single day with you, but there's so many of them. You give me, us, so much. Every single day. I couldn't feel more blessed by YOU than I do right now, and always.

Happy third birthday, sweets.