I might take 1,000 photos a day of the boys. Watching them romp about just melts my heart and I want to capture all the moments for now and for when I am old and rocking in my nursing home. I am waiting for Google to create a camera for my glasses so I can stop pulling out my phone to snap these little gems and just blink and have the photo take and stored for me. It has to be the next thing right? Is it out all ready? It is nap time here and after plugging away at my one letter of recommendation quota for my job, I got lost in my photo feed and smiling about how cute the boys are. This summer their skin got tanned by the sun and Henry has little freckles all over the bridge of his nose. Owen looks like my little Italian baby and as my Nanny would say, "he is as brown as a berry." They have had so many baths from the dirt and mud that they played in and probably ingested. It has been a wild summer of boyhood and it is exciting to think about what next summer will look like with both of them just a touch older. But what I noticed the most in their photos was their hair. Neither little one had a hair cut all summer it seems. They were left wild to grow and tangle. This morning after playing at one of our favorite playgrounds, we stopped over to the little kid hair cut spot and stood in line with at least 15 other boys (no lie!). The store was teeming in little boys with outgrown hair. It seemed like every mom in there just let the wild locks reflect their wild days in the summer sun. I watched each boy get called up, sit down, and have their hair trimmed. It felt a little sad watching this ritual and the hair fall to the floor. They are only this little and feral for a short period of their life. When my boys were called, I placed them in the seat and watched their summer fall to the ground too. Six days is all that is officially left to our summer home full-time together. I might have cried a little in the car ride home.
Okay, okay....9 months is the SWEET SPOT! Owen is just the most sweet and wiggly baby and I could do this month over again and again. He has really opened up and shared his little personality and though there were sleepless nights, I believe it was because he was really growing, changing, and becoming a little individual. One of my absolute favorite moments is when I walk into daycare and he spots me at the door. He immediately gets on to his hands and knees and crawls over as fast as he can making a "mmm mmm" sound, clearly, trying to say mom ;) I scoop the little nugget up and he grabs me around the neck and starts bouncing up and down in my arms. I could just about die in that moment. I LOVE it so much. It is so hard to be away from him from 6:00AM until 4:15PM Monday through Friday, but that moment makes my heart melt and I just savor our evenings so much. I could be his mother forever....good thing this is a lifetime's work!
This month was an absolute explosion in the movement department for Owen. It can be hard to always have him on the ground exploring with very little caution on his own part, but it is part of his learning process. He is up on those hands and knees and crawling ALL over the house. Up the stairs, around coffee tables, in and out of rooms, pulling up to stand in his crib and crawling onto the backs of the pups, he laughs all the way. This little active man cannot be stopped. He is so curious and just wants to explore, touch, and taste everything. David and I have a bet on the line for when this little dude will start walking independently. Currently, once he has firm feet on the ground and hands on the coffee table, he has attempted to release his hands one at time to stand. As a result of his dare-deviling, David believes that Owen will take his first steps on or before March 11, I however think more likely after said date. On the line is a 6 pack of Dr. Pepper or a Starbucks latte! To the best guesser goes the spoils. Owen has attempted to walk by pushing a little cart and this might indicate which parent will more accurately predict those first steps. And guesses on your part? Once he gets to his destination, he turns around and smiles a cheeky grin waving his little hand. Waving is just the best these days and he waves to everyone and everything. He laughs at us all the time like an emphysema machine gun, and I just want to bottle that sound for lonely nights when I am a mom to two teenage boys!
He has started to enjoy books. Previously we would read and he would crawl away but now books are fascinating to him. He sits or lays in our lap when we read and it is clear that he is listening to the stories, tracking pages with his eyes, and now wants to help turn pages, lift the peek-a-boo flaps and point his finger to images on the page. His little ET finger is everywhere. He holds his pointed index finger up and laughs gleefully when you touch fingertip to fingertip. He also is starting to know that something is hidden under a blanket and delights in lifting up the blanket and surprise there is a toy there!
We moved! In the middle of December we shifted over two towns and had David's mom and step-dad over to help us settle in. We unpacked on the first day and began to live together under a new roof. It was a big transition for all of us. The boys gained a much larger playroom and bedrooms, but it was hard for them to sleep alone in their new rooms that first week. Owen woke up every night every 90 minutes and I just about to plug into an IV of coffee to get through the day. The sleeplessness made that week of christmas challenging because whoa sleep is so important, but thankfully the boys' joy for opening presents and watching the snow fall pushed the "grinchy" feelings away. At the end of the Christmas holiday week, Owen had two teeth and started sleeping from 6:30PM-4:30AM without waking up!!! David had taken on some sleep training in order to help Owen transition away from the 10PM wake-up and I want to knock on all the wood that we keep the routine going. This is SO much more manageable for everyone and even little Mr. Owen is such a happy camper now that he is in a good sleep routine. We have two naps in place from about 8:30AM-10:30AM and 1:30PM-3:00PM and this more predictable schedule is awesome! Thank you Owen, thank you!
There were some fun adventures this month too. Not only did we move houses but Owen celebrated his first Christmas! He was great at opening presents but really wanted to play with all of his brother's toys and vice versa. He cuddled and snuggled with his grandparents and those two weeks home together made me want to hide away in the woods indefinitely. Owen bounced about at a trampoline park and we were all surprised by how much he wanted to bounce and crawl into the foam pit. He is a fearless little peanut! David pulled him around on his first sleigh ride in the snow and he laughed when Henry fed him snowballs. To end this month, we trekked out to see Discovering the Dinosaurs.
This child can eat. He loves to eat everything and often and is quite frustrated by puree food much preferring real bites of his cuisine. He enjoys pancakes, peanut butter, salad, peas, carrots, raspberries, banana, meat, turkey, avocado, apples, carrots, everything! He wants to feed himself and touch all the textures, particularly enjoying yogurt between his fingers and in his hair. Oh and there was that one time he ate a dog kibble (oops!)
Owen is such a cuddle bug! He loves to be held and snuggled. He rests his end on my shoulder and "digs in" to be as close to me physically as possible and I am not going to lie it is the very best! He squeals with delight when he is tickled, he is crazy for the dogs, and when Henry plays with him and hugs him, I think Owen might explode from his absolute joy. I am ready to freeze time because right now this family amazes me everyday. David just knows how to read his babies, he plays with them in such creative, beautiful ways and I never want this shortest longest time to end.
In 7 days we move this little party to a new home and Owen seems pretty excited! While he has not helped pack a single box, he does plenty of distracting from the task at hand. All of his squawks and babbles are hard to ignore and after packing 1/4 of a box, it is off to cuddle the little man for hours with his brother and dad. Despite the chaos of these particular weeks, we are ever in love with our little monster. And he accomplished quite a number of firsts and discoveries this month which made for a fast 30 days together!
In the eating department, Owen is a pro. He is truly content chowing down on all the table scraps. From pieces of meat, to bread and veggies, and fish, he has yet to find a food he is not a fan of. As a result, he is an excellent little gentlemen at restaurants. We have been able to take him anywhere (so far) and as long as he can munch away on food he is happy as a clam joining in for family meal time. He seems to love eggs and butternut squash soup. While attending our annual "friendsgiving" affair, Owen was eager to slurp down two bowls of Lauren's autumnal appetizer. I need to get the recipe for him!
Owen has also been busy growing up, much to his momma's dismay. There is no rush babe of mine! But no matter how hard I hope to slow him down he is starting to pull to standing. His favorite pastime is dragging himself via army crawl to the coffee table than positioning himself just so. Once his knees are under him, he grabs hold of the coffee table top and up he goes to standing! The downside of this is he trust falls. Once he has had enough of his looking around, he lifts both hands and releases. This has obviously created a number of scary moments but our parenting reflexes are on high alert. To ensure his safety, we have lowered his bed all the way and watch him on the monitor work his way to standing in there too. He is tremendously proud of himself these days and claps for all of his efforts. He loves to click his tongue and clap his hands with each new accomplishment. His latest endeavor is waving and the focus is real. His babble game is on too. He is much chattier these days and I swear he is saying dada now. And before bed now that he can sit totally independently he takes his baths with his big brother and my heart explodes from the sheer cuteness of it all.
For his first thanksgiving, we flew out to California to visit with my brother and his family. Owen did great on the flights to and from. He laughed and played and most importantly slept. But he never quite switched to west coast time and delighted in waking up daily at 3AM. He played everyday with his cousins and Smith would sit next to him and say sweet things like "Owen you are my best friend" and my heart would swell. We FaceTimed with all of our family on the holiday and it felt good to see everyone even if only virtually. While out in California, Owen went to zoomar, and the mission at San Juan Capistrano, and the beach, and the ocean institute, and lots of walks in the neighborhood. We tried to soak up all the vitamin d we could. Before we left, we even snuck in a visit with Santa. Owen was not afraid of jolly St. Nick although an older brother might have accepted a photo bribe for a candy cane.
Before we welcome a new month with our little man we need to give a good cheer for an emerging sleep pattern. Despite two bad colds and teething (I really think this is the month he gets those two bottom teeth!), Owen now sleeps from 6:30PM to 2AM and from 2:30AM to almost 6AM. More regular sleep is making for an overall happier house! Thank you my dearest peanut for a beautiful month.
It has been almost 8 months of inconsistent blogging. The usual excuses are the culprits. Primarily my lack of sleep and feeling pinched everyday for a free second are the contenders for my stretches of absence. As our family grew so too did the responsibilities and returning to work added on top of the heap more stressors and timing issues. By nightfall once the house was quiet and the papers of students graded, there was little energy left for much. Poor David has been so understanding and often from 8PM-8:30PM when I surrender to sleep, we would lay in bed for some pillow talk and have "our time" as a couple in 30 short minutes. But, at least those minutes were uninterrupted! This season of life is good though, I don't want to give off the impression that we are not happy. Happiness is definitely a constant in the house and in my heart. It's just very busy feeling and having a stride or a routine that let's us balance these busy endeavors has been elusive. Then we thought how do we make our lives EVEN MORE complicated? Ah yes, let's buy a new house, sell our house, pack, and move all before Christmas! My sister-in-law called these early months with a new baby the longest shortest time and it truly is. Yes, there are hard days, yes we are all tired, yes we bit off more than we can chew, yes we are all laughing, yes we are all eating, yes we are all screaming, but it is flying by and I wish I could slow it all down and stay inside of this manic experience a little longer. I don't want it to end even though I crawl into bed completely zapped every night.
With the holidays keying up, I am feeling particularly nostalgic for everything and blogging feels like the right endeavor to make some space for. These little dudes and this little life should be documented more consistently because I know that I will want these stories to read and read and read as our days continue.
Happy half a year, little buddy! I truly cannot believe that our littlest family member is already six months old. That was both the fastest and slowest period of time. When you are still waking up a bunch at night the minutes tick by slowly, but no matter how tired I might feel I am trying to savor every snuggle and midnight rocking session because before I know it this season of our lives will be over! Owen is literally moving and shaking everyday. He cannot get enough of his growing independence and is starting to protest with little squawks if you hold him for too long. Then once placed on his tummy he drags himself off to his next adventure.
This month was dedicated to new routines. Henry started at nursery school which means that Owen joins Mema for drop-off and pick-up of his big brother. I was really worried about this transition (and although my mom didn't say it out loud, I am sure she was worried too). Owen's naps are a little all over the map and so it was worrisome to know that Owen would have to adjust to a more regular schedule in order to do the driving around needed to get his brother. Thankfully, my mom figured it out better than I could. And he seems to be enjoying his time home alone with Mema eating, playing, and sleeping and his time in the afternoon playing with his brother.
Making Owen laugh is my daily mission. I love the sound of his hearty, belly laugh. But nothing makes Owen laugh harder than the dogs! Owen loves to grab Buster and Bella and pet their fur and just get close to the two of them and laugh and laugh and laugh. Even when they just walk into the room, he bursts into hysterical laughing. He loves it when Bella sits next to him and the two look eye-to-eye. He just screams with delight at Bella's face and most of the time Bella will rest there while he does.
After the dogs, Henry is the next source of endless enjoyment for Owen. He loves to watch Henry play and squeals with delight when Henry enters the room. Most of all, he loves to have dance parties with the family and to chase Henry during a crazy afternoon zippity session. Racing around the center pillar of the house, the two boys laugh and laugh while I chase Henry with Owen, Henry "falls," and then lets Owen stand on him and they two collapse in giggles. It is these moments that my heart explodes and I just imagine the many days and nights ahead that will look like this, two brothers together.
Owen can now drag himself from one end of the house to the other in pursuit of his favorite toys or really to get at Henry's toys in less and less time. Unfortunately, this probably means little fights for toys are coming our way sooner than later! His proto-crawling is fast and he truly cannot be left alone for a second on the floor without getting into something and seems to gravitate to dog toys of course! He isn't a big fan of sitting though. He can do it for a short period of time but then either folds forward to get to his belly dragging crawl or arches his back to lay down. He can jump and bounce in his various toy centers but gets frustrated if you leave him alone in the room. When he is not being active then he is enjoying a good book. Some of his favorites are The Going to Bed Book, In The Tall Tall Grass, and Guess How Much I Love You. He grabs for the pages and tries so hard to touch the protagonist. And while we are snuggled up reading together, Owen needs to rest a hand on Henry.
This month also saw a number of back to back colds for the family. Both Owen and Henry and even David were down and out with a series of nasty colds. It is that time of the year for sure but the problem then was also the distracted nursing that coincided with these colds. He was too busy to eat so in order to really get a good nursing session, Owen and I needed to sneak off to a quiet spot in the house which is a nice way to connect in the middle of the day. And in those moments we just have smiles for days. This loving little boo loves his family. He gives the sloppiest open mouth kisses and just leeches to your face and sucks your nose, chin, or cheek while groaning out a "mmmmmmmm" sound. You can just feel his love and the slobber!
Apples, Chickpeas, Avocado, Kale, Carrots, Peas, Spinach, Potato, Oatmeal, Banana, Prunes, Strawberries, Blueberries, and Peaches are just some of the yummy foods Owen has been chowing down on. He partakes of three meals a day now and has fully taken over the family high chair. When he eats well, he is tending to sleep well. On big food days, he only wakes up once at night usually around 1:30AM/2:00AM. If he doesn't eat well (nurse well) then we sometimes still see nights where he is up every 2 hours and then there is not enough coffee in the world for this mama! And there was a week when he was just waking up for the day at 4AM, then napping from 6:30-7:45 but by that first nap Henry was up for the day, so those were some long days of family bonding.
It was also an exciting month for getting out. We went apple picking, went to the Ashland Day fair, went on our first ever whale watch (jeez was the water rough that day), and to so many crisp, cool playground dates. Despite the inconsistent sleep, this was a good month and Owen is just becoming the sweetest little bug. We could not imagine life without our baby and all we want is this little baby in our arms always!
What will I do?
Savor my time left with the boys, remember all our funny maternity leave mishaps, and dream big dreams for our future.
It is going to be weird to cash in my nursing of Owen in the backseat of my car, to pumping in the mother's room alone at work.
Henry's -isms will have to sustain me from a distance now: "what x is," "hold you" (when he means hold me), "my pick," "two babies!," "I happy now," and so many more little phrases everyday.
May these next 48 hours take months to pass.
If you have not noticed, it is Back To School season. We are currently being inundated with jingles, ads, and messaging of all kinds reminding us, as though we could forget, that in just a few short days schools will be opening their doors to students! It has been a time of the year that I have always loved. In New England, it marks an unofficial start to Fall and things like pumpkin spice begin to creep back into every food item. Temperatures start to cool off and routines start to come back after the relaxing summer schedule of fitting in lots of fun and not a lot of anything else.
Every September my school feels alive with the promise of a new year. Seniors walk through the halls feeling extra important and teachers walk into new rooms filled with new faces. It is very exciting and I love the energy that is present during those first days back. Thankfully, I love my job. When I am on campus, I am surrounded by awesome colleagues who give so much of themselves to the community. They are passionate and interesting men and women and they challenge me everyday to bring my A game. I know that once I am fully back to campus, I will feel like I never left and will feel ready to take on the year ahead, but right now...
I am feeling really sad. My maternity leave was a gift. Having 19 weeks home with the boys to both recover from childbirth and adjust to and enjoy the early days of second-time motherhood was the best time of my life. David and I got to soak up everything about the boys and our summer together with them. David blossomed to a dynamo, multi-tasking dad and he took care of all of us. Henry became a kind and loving older brother and also a rambunctious and playful toddler. Owen came out of his newborn fog and began to give us major glimpses into the sweet little person he is growing into. And I got to be a part of every second of every day with them. YES, some days (and the whole month of July really) were H A R D. There were lots of tears from everyone in the house and not a lot of sleep which I have found I truly need in order to function as a decent human being. But despite all of that, I would do it all again. I would do it all again 100x (minus the actual birthing of the child, maybe I would do that another 2 or 3 times!).
It kills my heart to look at the calendar and see that I am a mere 6 days away from going back to work full-time and missing out on the daytime with Owen and Henry. I am going to miss our pajama filled mornings, while Henry eats his breakfast and Owen and I sit beside him chatting. I am going to miss our outings to the park and our strolls around the block. I am going to miss playing trains and trucks and doctor and play-doh and eating Henry's "water soup" and dancing around the house like crazy-pants and playing hide-and-seek and all the little chats throughout the day. I am going to miss Jake and the Neverland pirates, and crafting, and bike rides, and reading so many books before nap time. I am going to miss our failed attempts at potty training (once Owen was born, Henry decided he was not that into it anymore), and our trips to the lake. I am going to miss holding them ALL DAY LONG. I am going to miss their little smells, smiles, and feet. I am going to miss, I am going to miss, I am going to miss.
I wish I could do both. I wish I could be in the classroom inspired by my students and at home inspired by my children full-time. If only there was more time in the day. And, I know we will settle into a new routine, a new way of doing things, and a new pattern. I know all of this, but right now my feels are pretty intense. These are the kind of feels that will have me crying into school everyday and pressing the gas after school as fast as I can to return to the men in my life. It is hard to love three men at once, but gosh do I feel so damn lucky to have the opportunity to try. And, boy am I going to miss this summer like crazy for the rest of my life.
Owen started this month with his first flight across the continent to visit with his West-Coast cousins. The flight was broken up into three two-hour segments: this is fun let's look around, okay time for a nap, and time to scream until we land! But, once we were all out of the plane and taking in those cool west coast breezes we were ready to have a wonderful time! Every time I go out to California, I am ready for it to be a one way ticket (maybe someday?) But, until then, it was great to soak up the SoCal summer vibes and both of the kiddos LOVED being there. It helps that their cousins are crazy fun and that my brother and sister-in-law are wonderful to co-parent with. We were adventurous and took the littles out to Solana Beach, the aquarium in Long Beach, the local water park, yummy lunches, and a near by petting zoo called Zoomars. Each day we let the kiddos get out their wiggles and each night the parents sipped wine amidst twinkling lights in the backyard "jazz club". Owen loved his Auntie Jessie so much we couldn't help but notice that he might want to go steady with her. And if he was not with me, then he was sitting with Avery or relaxing in his bouncy seat while taking in calming essential oils. Owen's flight home was his first red-eye. Why we booked this I have no idea. I guess it seemed logical at the time, but thankfully Owen slept the whole way home (the same cannot be said for his older brother). Owen adjusted so easily to West Coast time (probably too easily) and it was a bit of a struggle to get him back to his normal time. This was probably the beginning of our sleep issues for the month coupled with another trip and the four month sleep regression. But, hey when it comes to travel, when the opportunity strikes you have to take it, right?
About two weeks later it was time to pack ourselves back up and head down south to visit with our southern cousins. Having just flown two six hours flights these were a breeze! Our packing was down to a science, compact, and lightweight and the kiddos did great. Owen slept the whole flight down and back and really you cannot ask for a better passenger. He was the perfect little gentleman. While in Florida, Owen got to visit with his big cousins Alyza and Alex who carried him around, diapered him, changed him, and played with him all day long and he got to meet his little cousin Zachary and his aunt and uncle and great-grandmother. There were so many hands to help and hold the little cranky-pants it was wonderful. We were all taken care of and enjoyed a lot of family time inside while Florida's epic thunderstorms rained around us. Unfortunately, it was on this trip that Owen reached a new level of over-tiredness that left us all a little shaken from the lack of sleep we were getting. It was so good to be with family though in those hard times.
Physically, Owen has been having a BIG month. He loves to lay down on his big play mat and practice rolling around. As soon as he is flat on his back, he lifts his chubby legs ninety degrees and lets gravity flop them to the ground and then arches his back to try to get over the rest of the way. So far no dice on the full roll yet. He can occasionally roll from his tummy to his back, but I think gravity is helping here. When we sit him in his bumbo seat he locks his knees and tries to pop out of his seat and loves to be held standing. He might just be one of those kiddos who wants to walk because he can't do anything else like sit, haha! He has started to play with toys and gets fussy if he doesn't have something nearby to grab ahold of and draw in to suck on. And he loves crinkly toys and just squishes them in his hands. Our big boy is 16.6 lbs and 25.8 inches this month and maxing out his 6 month attire! And just to make sure he stays cute and chubby he had his first bites of oatmeal and seems to be slowly getting the hang of eating.
When Owen is awake he is so darn cute! He loves to laugh and smile. I thought Henry was a smiley kid but this guy takes the cake on that one. He just smiles and laughs all the time. He loves to be tickled under his chin and to have his cheeks pinched and his sides tickled. And I have started to notice that I can transfer him from my arms into his crib once he starts to smile and laugh in his sleep. What could this little peanut be dreaming about?
At the same time that this month has been an amazing 30 days of travel, family, and Owen smiling and laughing a ton, it has also been tough in the sleep department. Owen is Dr. Jekyll during the day but Mr. Hyde shows up at night. This was a BIG month of transitions that I think all impacted this sensitive little one's sleep: flights, different time zones, sleeping in new spaces, gross motor skill development, and the end of being swaddled. This all came together this month and left our little guy overtired and super irritable during the night. If he fell asleep then his hands crawled all around his face and woke him up or his arms hit the mattress and startled him awake or his time zones were off and he was awake super late and unable to settle down. David was amazing. He helped me every night with alternating the hundreds of attempts to comfort Owen. We even tried a little modified crying-it-out and found that Owen was not ready for it, but he definitely needed to learn how to fall asleep. What a design flaw that babies do not know how to fall asleep on their own! But, we reached out for help and received advice and support from so many family members and friends. This might seem crazy but in the 48 hours since reaching out for help Owen's sleep has become noticeably changed. We are currently using a baby schedule from Moms on Call and what I have noticed is that the 5PM nap they recommend is the key to Owen's day that we were missing. Before his last nap ended at 3:30 and then bedtime was at 6:30. He was too tired and unlike an adult who would just fall asleep this over-tiredness just made him irritable and he truly could not settle down. We have now incorporated the 5PM nap into Owen's day and his bedtime is now at 7/7:30PM and guess what.....We have a long stretch of sleep again!!! I had not seen that long stretch (something greater than 90 minutes) in almost 30 days, and I woke up that first morning delirious from all that sleep. I am very hopefully that with this schedule in place we will continue to be able to sleep...all of us.
And before we end this little blog post about Owen's month, two little cute things. First, now when Owen nurses he takes his top arms and straightens out until it touches just under my chin and it is just the cutest thing. It lets me kiss his hand and cuddle his hand while he slowly falls asleep. How to I bottle up this moment and keep it forever? Second, we did out first beach day at Dug Pond and while I was so nervous about taking both boys it went really well. At one point, I was changing Henry's diaper and had placed Owen down on the blanket. Owen started to cry and I started to panic, but this super sweet grandma came over and introduced herself and said she missed her grandchildren and asked if she could sit on my beach towel and hold Owen while I finished changing Henry. I was so thankful to have him soothed and she was so sweet and playful with him. It made me tear up a little bit to have such kindness from a stranger and I think about her often.
Two years ago, a tiny (well not really) little naked boy lay on my chest and I met my son. He was so sweet, soft, fresh, and cried loudly for quite a number of those first minutes. I knew him and didn't know him at all in that moment, but I loved him instantly and held him tightly while the room buzzed around us. Henry made me a mom, he made David a dad, and he made us a family. We left the hospital a few days later excited by and deeply frightened of the new level of responsibility that commenced. While the first days and weeks and months were a blur of diapers, nursing sessions, and naps, they were beautiful and I love looking back on those memories. I wish so often to go back to those moments to cuddle him longer and smell his newness again.
Henry is now 731 days old (2016 is a leap year!) and each one of those days was filled with laughs, adventures, tears, and playfulness. Each day I am reminded to let things go, put down the to-do list, and to just live in the moment, to get down on the ground and dig holes with my bare hands, and to just see the world a little more lightheartedly. When I caught myself saying "don't go into the stream with your shoes on," I had to pause and think, does it really matter if his sneakers are wet? And let him charge into the water to play and let his toes wrinkle. The days may be long at times but the years are short and savoring Henry's childhood is my joy. This past year has brought about tremendous growth and development in Henry's personality! His independence is growing by leaps and bounds. He wants to dress himself, feed himself, and climb in and out and over everything. He beams with pride when he accomplishes something like finishing a puzzle and claps with glee when we tell him how proud we are of him. Yes, he has tantrums and yes there are a lot of "no's" but these do not take away from his sweetness. They are glimpses into the young boy he is growing into and I love the many sides of him.
Talking non-stop everyday and trying to copy songs on the radio fills our car. He loves to sing along to Adele, One Call Away by Charlie Puth, and Lost Boy by Ruth B. He delights in making us laugh and tries so hard to be a little clown. He is an observer of social settings and waits to let his hair down. But, once he does, he gives of himself openly and fully. It is a trait I hope he continues to nourish. He loves his little brother and constantly asks "What Owen doing?" and rushes in to kiss him or caress his head (we are still working on sharing toys with him, haha). Before bed he sings the ABC song while snuggling his Maggie Dog and rolling back and forth under his blue crochet blanket. Trucks are probably his favorite toys. Garbage trucks, cement mixers, bulldozers, and pick-up trucks entertain him for hours. He grabs his teddy bear and dances around the house when it is family dance party time. When he spies a puzzle, he plops down and gets to work. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and Henry loves to eat almost anything except carbs. While he is not a fan of macaroni and cheese or pizza, he loves his broccoli, chicken, berries, avocado, steak, yogurt, fruit leather, and eggs. When he feeds me cheerios, my heart melts as we sit side by side on the couch. When I shout, "Emergency Henry a blow out," he drops his toys and runs to grab me a diaper for Owen. He is super cautious. Little hills and slides at the playground require some handholding before he will go it alone, and he is a stroller kid preferring to lounge with his sippy cup while being pushed around. A little chef in the making, Henry sits with me in the kitchen during dinner prep and runs away stealing a pot to "cook" up a storm in his playroom. Henry wants so badly to communicate in full and complete sentences and if a word escapes him he makes up a gibberish filler and smiles ear to ear. After naptime, he needs a snack and cuddle because he is a bit of a crank but who could say no to all of his hugs? He calls himself peanut and Owen nugget and gathers books by the armful. He could read all day long and has a bin of books for the car that he gobbles right up.
Everyone says "Oooo the terrible twos" when I say Henry's milestone birthday is upon us, but I am not nervous for this year. I cannot wait for it! I cannot wait to watch him play more and more with David and to take little adventures with his daddy. I cannot wait for him to play with his brother and to protect him and teach him. I cannot wait to see what he finds fascinating, what he wants to do, and who he continues to become. I hope he continues to build friendships, connects with others, remains curious, playful, independent, empathetic, excited, inquisitive, and seeks love, knowledge, and experiences with others around him. I want all the good things in life for him but also know that as he continues to grow he will need to learn how to confront, cope, and rebound from the things that happen in life that aren't so great. But being this little kiddo's mommy is the best role in life and I am so lucky and blessed to have it. He makes David and me want to be better, stronger, and healthier so we don't miss a beat with him. Gosh, we love him!! He is full of mischief and his side smile proves it. It is going to be quite a year this year two, terrible or not, here we come!
If the first month was a blur because Owen spent most of it sleeping and I spent most of it healing and chasing after Henry, then the second month was a slog! Owen woke up from his early newborn slumber and he was not happy. Weeks 4-8 were dedicated to newborn fussiness. And yes, while we had amazing times with our little guy, not to share that this month was hard because of the constant colicky screaming in the early evening would be a misreport. We got the little one on a probiotic and anti-gas medicine and it helped but he just needed to work through his gut issues. It was so hard because he just was so unhappy and uncomfortable. It killed not knowing how to comfort him or what would soothe his tummy. I was left often feeling like I did not know how to be his mother. While nursing helped in the short term, it also made the gas worse as it was the culprit of his discomfort. As we closed the chapter on this month, we had many more minutes and even hours in the day dedicated to happy smiles and coos and less spent on Owen passing gas and crying. And, I felt like I was starting to understand him more each day.
When you meet Owen you immediately see that the little man is young but not little. Weighing in at almost 14 pounds this two month old is beefy! He is a hardy little love machine though. His cuddles and soft baby rolls are delicious and this momma really wants to just eat up those cheeks! And boy does he love getting his cheeks squeezed. If you want Owen to smile, then just give those little cheek pillows a squeeze and he immediately responds with the biggest open mouth smile. Thank goodness he was such an early smiler. At around 5 weeks, he gave us his first big one and that helped so much to offset the discomfort of the colic screaming moments. It is hard to be frustrated or sad when you are holding on to the smiley moments. I have this feeling that next month we will see just how jolly this chubby baby boy is. And I cannot wait to see more of his little personality emerge!
One of the questions every new parent gets from everyone they meet is: How are you sleeping? While this might be frustrating on a day when you are lacking sleep, it comes often from a place of solidarity, "I've been there too and it won't last forever." So how was Owen's sleep? The beginning of the month was rough. It took a long time of bouncing and swaying to get the little guy to settle down. He went from zero to screaming his head off in less than a blink of an eye and David and I passed him back and forth in an effort to hold insanity back. David would run around the house holding him tightly to him while pretending to run from wild beasts. Why? Because one night in desperation, I turned to David and said, "How did we survive as a species with wild beasts around without newborns giving away our location?" Owen seemed to enjoy the "racing around for his life" routine and quickly fell asleep. At night once he settled down, he slept well typically from 8PM-midnight, then 12-2AM and 2-4AM. As we inched closer to the end of the month, getting Owen to sleep during the day became easier although not easy. We learned very quickly that this guy loves his swaddle. He pretty much wants to live in his swaddle. He wakes up, eats, is alert for maybe 40 minutes, and then wants his swaddle, a rock, and back to napping. Obviously, with a toddler around we can't guarantee quiet time in the house although he definitely sleeps better when it is quieter. To keep him asleep while Henry screams and runs around, Owen has discovered the beauty of the MamaRoo and enjoys the kangaroo setting the most.
- 5AM Owen is awake
- 6:30-7:30AM naptime
- 7:30-9:00AM playtime
- 9:00-10:30AM naptime
- 10:30-11:30AM playtime
- 11:30-12:30 naptime
- 12:30-1:30 playtime
- 1:30-3:30PM naptime
- 3:30-5:00 playtime
- 5:00-6:00PM naptime
- 6:00-7:30PM playtime
- 8:00PM-Midnight/1AM sleep
- 1:30-3:30AM sleep
- 3:30-5:00AM sleep.
While he might still be very little he is starting to do some really fun stuff! He is enjoying his time on his play mat more and more. Looking at his zebra is his favorite part of playtime. He also watches Henry play and loves to observe him while being held on a lap. His eyes will track you across a room and he coos and smiles non-stop while he is awake. This is definitely my favorite part of the day with Owen because it is starting to reveal the little person inside this baby of ours. And unlike Henry, Owen is a fantastic car napper. Henry would scream all the way to our destinations, Owen passes out as we turn on the car. It makes travel so much nicer these days, although Henry still gets cranky if we drive more than 30 minutes.
And of course Owen was brought along to all sorts of play dates with Henry. He spent most of every day outside in the sun on a blanket or in his Solly wrap. Being outside definitely helps soothe him and I am so thankful the weather is perfect to accommodate his needs. Along with our usual playground days, Owen visited the Aquarium, the mall, and attended a little block party. This month might have started a little tough, but it ended so sweet and easy. I am ready for life with this little guy!
When you have a newborn, cooking becomes even more challenging. Just when you would sit down to cook your meal, the newborn begins cluster feeding. What is cluster feeding you ask? It is a non-stop, open bar nursing session that can last for hours! Owen would start at 3 and want to stop at 7. So there I am stranded on the couch, a prisoner to my new baby and the boppy. Why can't David cook you ask? Oh he can! He is better at it than me, but there is the two year old who needs some entertaining and while he is interested in cooking he easily becomes a hazard in the kitchen. So what do we do? Starve.
No, we have really amazing friends who bring us amazing food those first few weeks while we get our feet under us. And then those amazing meals become a part of our repertoire when our amazing friends share the recipe!
We have probably made this one three times since Owen was born and since Lyndsay brought it over to our house the night we came home from the hospital. Gratitude is not enough for the meal drop off those first days and weeks.
It is really hard to believe that Owen has been with us for 4 weeks already! Why? Because he still feels so new and fresh. Congratulations to you, Owen!!! You survived your first month with your family and we are SO lucky that you chose us.
These weeks have been busy busy busy. Owen wakes up around 5AM and likes to lounge in his pjs and have his morning breakfast while we wait for his big brother to join us. With David home this first month, we had a lot of slow quality time. We did not make it out of the house early and that was nice as we balanced diaper changes, feeding, and breakfast set-up together. Owen was such a champ letting us figure out this whole life stuff while he playfully looked about his surroundings. I hope he likes his house!?
What I know he likes is his Solly Wrap. This little boy likes to be snuggled up tight to mommy's chest and carried around like a little prince. I won't lie it is my favorite too. Owen has been exploring his play mat and Henry likes to lay there with him as well. Seeing the two boys "play" together just makes my heart explode. Moms have always said, "Your heart grows with your next baby," and I did not really know what this meant but it is so true. I love this little guy so much and my heart has grown so much because of him and Henry. Tummy time is pretty cute too. He will lay and lift his head up while his big brother says "Go Owen" and in that moment I try so hard to freeze time.
What Owen doesn't enjoy...all his gas. Poor baby boy has a gassy evening and works so hard to pass that uncomfortable stuff. It has been hard to get him comfortable at night and we often end up snuggling together most of the night to help him relax. We have propped up his bassinet to give him a little incline and this seems to be helping. This combined with a little gas medicine and a probiotic seems to be the key to unlocking his nighttime comfort. The past two nights we have seen longer stretches of sleep (3 hours) and this plus his constant growing definitely means there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us all. As he becomes more comfortable, we all get a little more comfortable and are relaxing more into this family of four.
While this month has been a transition for everyone, it has been beautiful and I wish I could relive it again.
Everyone always says, "Going from one to two is the hardest" and... They are right!
Of course most of the time being a family of four is just beautiful and magical. When Henry cuddles up to his brother or kisses his forehead or does "tummy time" with little Owen, my heart just explodes. When I am tucking Henry into bed and holding Owen in my lap for story time, I could stay in that moment forever.
The hardest part is the random times in the day when you just don't have enough hands: Henry wants a cuddle or a snack while Owen is nursing. I keep telling myself it has only been three weeks and not to get too worried about this dilemma. It will settle itself and we will find our family rhythm, but I just wish I had two more hands so I could be all things to both boys and then I wish I had one more set of hands so I could fold laundry and roast vegetables, haha!
It is amazing how these two boys come from the same momma and daddy and yet are already very different (I think). Henry is pale and Owen olive. Henry is slender and Owen rotund. Henry is sensitive and Owen seems to be made of tough stuff. Comparison is the fastest way to unhappiness, no? Yet, I promise that my comparison of the two little dudes in my life will stop here because I just want to savor and love and observe their unique personalities and see what paths they take in life (but, I am sure that desire to compare will show up from time to time).
What might be the hardest part of all is that Owen doesn't speak. It has been a LONG time since we had a little one in the house who wasn't babbling about all day. I just want to know Owen more and hear what his little voice is like, but we will have to be patient for a few months until we get a glimpse of that personality and see what kind of songbird this child is. Until then, when I hear "The Sound of Silence" on the radio by Disturbed, I imagine that that deep husky voice is Owen's.
So while this period is full of unknowns and curiosities, it is also full of quiet moments (though brief), lots of cuddles, and lots of learning on this mommy's part on how to develop and hone in on my patience and living in the moment.
So here we are day 5,929 of our great baby wait. At least that is how it feels sometimes. Throughout this pregnancy our medical team has pumped me up with hopes of an early delivery: we will have to induce you for the baby's size, we will have to monitor you for your thyroid, we will have to induce you for fears of shoulder dystocia, we will have to monitor your sugar levels. All these little "red flags" that were tacked onto my appointments gave me the hope that perhaps this time, my baby would come early instead of weeks late. But, this little dude is quite comfortable and each concern sheds away with each passing day. From "let's just get you to 35 weeks," we are now hearing, "you can go all the way to 42 weeks!" And, yes I am delighted. I am thankful that we are healthy and that our complication risks are minimizing. I am thrilled that throughout the long months of gestation this little guy and my body got stronger and more adaptable. BUT, I am SO ready to meet him. Henry and David talk about the little one all the time, and play in his room, and read books about the baby arriving. We have EVERYTHING ready to go from crib to carseat to clothes to burp cloths, to that dreaded double stroller. And now we wait. My new feeling is that instead of an April baby, this little dude is holding out for May, haha. So what am I doing to avoid the painful staring at my belly?
The potty training chronicles are on-going and have been an oddly welcomed distraction! Henry is doing really well with it too. Almost all of his activities make it to the bathroom and he is getting better and better at telling us. It is really sweet to put him in "big boy undies" and see him playing downstairs and having so much fun. I no longer see him as a "ticking time bomb" waiting to ruin my couch! This weekend to keep our minds busy we are planning to head downtown for a little visit to the North End and some touristy sight-seeing because WHO KNOWS when we will be able to do that again once the new member joins us and on Sunday I am going to my first fitness conference with my fellow coach Nikki. It feels like this mix of teaching, mothering, and coaching is just what I need in life these days. I am busy, and motivated, and feeling strong and healthy (although definitely achy by night fall, I cannot lie that this belly is a burden by the end of the day!). David always has hobbies to keep him busy and to keep him from spinning his wheels. When I was pregnant with Henry it was the summer and I felt very lonely just waiting for Henry to arrive and eventually I felt crazed. But this time, while the wait isn't fun (because come on little guy don't you want to meet earth-side already!?!?!) it is much much more manageable with everything that fills my life and day and I am so thankful to feel like I have real ownership over my day.
My brother and sister-in-law have been sending their littles to Montessori preschool for a number of years now and the school's facilities and education philosophy is totally in line with what I want for my little guy. So over this Spring Break, I started to visit some local Montessori schools to get a sense of what is available in our neighborhood. While touring the toddler rooms, I asked them about their potty training philosophy and each school said similarly that they support offering the potty to the little ones each day at school as part of the "curriculum." This meant that the little ones had the opportunity to sit on the potty, play on the potty, and go to the potty throughout the day based on their interest and/or need. When I shared that Henry enjoyed sitting on his little potty (which has just been in his room since around Christmas) and that occasionally he will even go, the teachers all agreed that it sounded like he was "ready" to give it a real try. WHAT!?! You mean my little baby was ready perhaps for this BIG step. What if his mommy wasn't ready? Of course, David heard this and jumped right on board. He is always SO aware of where Henry is and is always ready to give things a try. I am definitely the more hesitant parent. David was the impetus behind the binky and bottle weaning and now he was all about the potty. We went out and bought a potty seat for the big potty, got some pull-ups, and some underpants and agreed that since I was home on Spring Break we would give it a shot. David tried to pump me up with praise and encouragement the morning he left. If he was home, I would have felt confident trying this, but as the hesitant parent, I was scared and wondered, "would David ever really know if I just decided not to do this?" Of course, my hesitation was all my own and it wouldn't serve Henry any good to put that on him. So I grabbed the potty, kept him bottomless all day, and went for it. Besides, I have dogs so I am accustomed to cleaning up accidents. Worse case scenario he wasn't ready and I would clean up some accidents and call it a day.
Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, Henry did really well for Day 1. He didn't seem to notice that he was bottomless and played like he usually did. We did lots of puzzles and lots of books and lots of trucks. I kept water and milk available to him all day, and asked him every 20 minutes if he wanted to go potty. About every hour to an hour and a half he would say "Poopie" and run to the potty. Sometimes he just sat there and sometimes something happened. The day flew by (probably because every hour something "exciting" was bound to happen). Even when our little friend Miles and his momma came by to play, Henry was still interested in sitting on the potty and even did something (wink wink). At the end of the day, he had 2 accidents but 10 successful visits and had left his mommy totally shocked that maybe he was in fact "ready." Now the only challenge is committing to a few more days at home to keep supporting his successes. As a busy body this is the HARDEST part of potty training. I like to go go go and typically avoid being home. I would rather run from playground to playdate, but maybe potty training is coming at the PERFECT time. With just 2ish weeks until baby two joins the family, this "forced stay at home time while your little guy practices his potty techniques" isn't too terrible after all.
I may have given him a pedicure with all our time at home!
This past weekend we took a family trip to Salem. It was so great!! Spring is definitely about to hit Boston and Henry is in such a playful stage of his toddlerhood that running around and watching him explore is truly the best. He is such a little toddler who is invested in deep discovery and tactile experiences. Picking up rocks, splashing in puddles, and running in the wind help him learn about his world and remind me to take a pause and pay attention to things. I go through each day too fast and I love that Henry is slowing me down because when was the last time you explored the under side of a clam shell and really took in its beauty?
The littlest member of our family is roughly the size of a large cabbage according to various fruit-baby comparison websites, haha. That is quite large! Have you been grocery shopping lately? A cabbage could feed a whole family and he still has more to grow, eek! What is funny though is that this pregnancy is so similar and so different to Henry's! I feel physically stronger, healthier, and more comfortable than when I was pregnant with Henry. And, at the same time that I say that, I did not have a difficult pregnancy with Henry. I feel like the bump is smaller this time around too, although perhaps I am delusional? I did think last time around that my body was "reabsorbing" the baby those last weeks of waiting for Henry to be born so delusional thoughts and this momma is not new territory! What do you think? IS there a difference? (and not just in the sleeping bags under mommy's eye, haha).