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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

this and that from here and there

This post from The Rhodes Log.  Stay interesting and interested.  A pretty decent bit of advice if you had to boil marital advice down to a sentence, don't you think?  And a timely read, this idea of encouraging your spouse's passions even when it is inconvenient to you Just the other day we had a conversation about how important this was, the teamwork in marriage extending to supporting one another's individuality even when it is inconvenient or even when it is unfathomable.  {Because hypothetically, let's just say, I want to find a way to go for a run three times a week, and Nathan finds this mind-bogglingly pointless, and since we don't have a double jogging stroller, it would probably involve inconvenience on his part... or someone calling CPS on me.}  Anyway, I read this and got a refreshing slap in the face that I probably need to cheerlead more for his interests, too.

This post from Rage Against the Minivan.  I read it a while ago, then stumbled across it again and am still loving it.  It's so spot-on, and so needed in this strange world of virtual glimpses into the staged perfection of others.  Really, I think we risk losing not only a sense of the reality of life, of motherhood, of the beautiful messy chaos of it all; we also risk losing touch with our true selves, like everyone has chevron everywhere and antlers over their beds and mason jars galore and have we asked ourselves if it's really our taste?  Do you know what I mean?  (Nothing against chevron and antlers if that's your thing.)

This post from Mama Knows, Honeychild.  A great and humbling reminder about the great diversity of people that God uses as his hands and feet in this world.

And now for something completely different... if we were richer than we are, I would quite possibly buy Nell this totally perfect Janie and Jack swimsuit, even though the price is absurd and completely unjustifiable.  Or this one.  The cuteness of them.  I can hardly stand it.

Okay, done.  Any links you've enjoyed recently, or swimsuits you've oohed and aahed over?  Hit me with them.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Ree at One Month

I guess I should write about little Miss Marie at one month before she turns two months old next week.  Ahem.  Here goes...



For the first month of her life, Ree reminded us of Nell -- hated the car seat, hated the swing, hated being laid down for even a moment.  Cried -- no, screamed -- pretty much any time she wasn't being held, and could crescendo to choking on her own wails in the 30 seconds it took me to use the bathroom.  So, I wore her in my wrap just as I used to do with Nell.  Unlike Nell, though, Ree wasn't so into dozing in my arms if she wasn't in the wrap.  She seemed to sleep lightly and stir easily and have trouble settling.  And transferring certainly wasn't happening -- the first few nights at home from the hospital I would try to transfer her into the co-sleeper, only to have her immediately wake and have to start the back-to-sleep process again.  Eventually I gave up, the need for sleep won out, and she slept nestled in the crook of my arms for those early weeks.



Then on the day she turned one month old, she took a three hour nap by herself in the afternoon, all swaddled up.  It was fantastic.  And each day she's continuing to show us in a variety of ways that she is not her big sister, but is her own little person.



At first we thought she was Nell's miniature in appearance, but as the days passed we saw more differences.  This girl might have brown eyes, not blue!  And that dark, straight hair is shorter than Nell's was.  Her complexion is a bit more olive-toned, we think.  And while Nell was smiling big, dopey grins by one month old, Ree is a bit more reserved. 


In any case, without further ado... Ree at one month old!

Weighed in at 10 lbs, 10 oz.

Is rapidly outgrowing her newborn sized clothes.

Is spoiling me by being such a good sleeper at night, with three to four hour solid chunks of sleep, and the occasion six hour stretch!  Thank you, little lady!

loves:

nursing
being snuggled close in my wrap
her Mama {if I do say so myself}
being held all the time, at all times, everywhere

hates:

diaper changes
outfit changes
car rides
baths
being put down, ever, at all, anywhere

nicknames:

Ree, Ree-Ree, Riesling, Baby Ree, or "Baby Wee," as Nell would say.

{and her Uncle Andrew sometimes bursts out with a little line from Beauty and the Beast: "Marie!  The baguettes!  Hurry up!" and follows it up with a bit of song.}

renowned for:

being the most alert infant in human history
staying awake for up to two hours at a time, having missed the memo about newborns sleeping all the time
making the most adorable O-shaped mouth just like her big sister used to
holding her head up remarkably well for a one-month-old
spitting up out her nose from time to time, and remaining totally unfazed by it

aspirations:

sucking on her thumb / hand / wrist... when she can find it.
making noises other than crying... she's testing out a coo here and there.
scratching every square centimeter of her face with her flailing hands when screaming in her car seat


Dear Marie,

Sweet baby girl, that I get the gift of having a newborn in my arms again is almost too wonderful.  Totally worth the hyperemesis and the pregnancy aches and pains and yes, even the labor and delivery.

My one and only complaint about all of this is that it all seems to go by even faster the second time around.

Lovelovelove,
Mom


P.S. The outtake:


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Nell's Second Birthday

Back in May, Nell turned two years old.  This momentous occasion didn't get blogged sooner because, well, we had a six-day-old in the house at the time.  It turns out that if your due-in-late-April baby is almost two weeks late, you can end up with a May baby with a birthday awfully close to that firstborn. Does this mean I get to throw joint birthday parties in the future?  Or alternate years between the kiddos?  The options for slacking off here abound!

On Nell's birthday, Ree had a checkup at the doctor's office, and Nathan was free, so the whole family went.  {Good thing, too, because a certain someone melted down during the doctor's visit and needed to be carried outside.  The second set of parental hands was much appreciated!}  After the appointment, we decided to stop at Panera and get Nell a ... birthday bagel?  Because that's a thing, right?  Chocolate chip, to be precise.

I think she liked it.


Ree thought that was too boring for a birthday celebration, soooo...


The next day we had a pizza dinner celebration -- complete with cake and ice cream, of course -- with family and Nell's godparents.  My Mom was out visiting (she came for a week after Ree was born), so she was here for the birthday... two-year-old drama and tantrums and all.  I'm sure she wouldn't have missed all that for the world!


Yes, to tell the truth, Nell's second birthday probably wasn't her favorite day of life on the planet thus far.  With a brand new baby in the house, I think her world felt like it had been turned quite unfairly upside-down on her, and she didn't quite know what to make of it.  Sure, this new baby was cute and fun to have around, but wait -- she's staying?  Forever?  That takes a little bit of adjusting to, I guess.

Still, the day had its bright moments and little joys.


Like a new baby doll, dubbed Annie, from Mom and Dad, complete with a handmade velcro diaper and beautifully sewn baby doll quilt from Grandma.


Homemade pizza topped with one of Nell's favorite foods -- olives!


Snuggles and books with much-loved people like her godparents, playing with her little buddy Ian, and reading with her soon-to-be Aunt, Hannah:


And presents!  I think she didn't really know why these incredible toys kept coming her way, but she sure liked it.  I loved seeing the excitement on her face that day, much needed after a few rough days at home transitioning to life as a big sister.

A toy house with doorbells, keys, and little residents from Hannah's family...


And for the girl who wakes up every day enthusiastically asking if we get to go somewhere in "Mommy car!!!", a little car of her very own from Nathan's side of the family.  She was ohsoveryexcited; she climbed right in and didn't want to get out, not even for cake and ice cream.


And yes, I did manage to make a cake, thanks to having my Mom around to help and hold the baby.


Okay, so it's not going to win any awards, but it tasted good.  Really good.  {Prevent-you-from-losing-baby-weight good, even.}




And that was Nell's second birthday.  Not exactly on the scale of last year's first birthday party, but celebrated with every bit as much love... and a little more exhaustion thrown into the mix, because having a new baby will do that to you.

We love you, Nell, our favorite two-year-old in all the world.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

an inner monologue, or, of babies and sleep habits

Having a new baby to get to know is fun, challenging, overwhelming, wonderful... a cocktail of emotions.  Like most moms, I think, I find myself looking for connections and correlations, searching for what works and what doesn't, contrasting and comparing with what worked for my first baby, and sometimes, just throwing up my hands in an occasional moment of despair.

You know that great blog post over at HuffPo from Bunmi Laditan about five minutes in the head of a mother?  I totally resonated with that post, down to the details about having plastic storage bins full of laundry.  But here's something more frightening: I think I could fill pages and pages with an ongoing inner monologue about my children's sleep habits alone.  That's insane.  I need to get a life.  There are serious things in the world like human trafficking and politics and religion and world hunger and I'm spending this kind of mental energy thinking about my kids' sleeping and general contentment?  But perhaps other mamas can relate?

Or it could be that I'm the only person who second-guesses myself to this degree and lives in this kind of sleep-deprived brain fog.

* * *

Morning time!  I hear Nell on the monitor.  Time to go get her.  I'll just slip away from Ree, rolling off the bed ninja-style, and try to keep her asleep so I can spend a little time with Nell.  It worked!  She's still asleep.  No, she's awake.  Is she really awake, or just crying in her sleep? Does she want to sleep more?  I'll try tightening up that swaddle and see if she re-settles.  Yes, she will. No, she won't.  So much for that.  Okay, so she's up.  But yesterday when I got out of bed Ree slept on for another hour or more!  How did I make that happen?  Whatever I did, I should do it every day, because Nell needs some one-on-one time, too.  

I'll put Marie in the swing while I finish getting Nell her breakfast.  She hates the swing, so she'll cry, and I'll have to pick her right back up again.  Wait, she's not crying.  She's looking around.  She's so intelligent!  She looks particularly intelligent right now.  And she's staying calm for five whole minutes while I finish breakfast!  I should put her in the swing more often.  Why did I think she hated it?  Oh, she's screaming.  I was right; she hates it.  Why did I think I could put her in the swing?  Nell always hated the swing, too.  We should just give it away so it doesn't take up space.  But wait, she liked it a minute ago... or did I imagine that?

Ree only sleeps in the wrap, so why do I even bother trying to get her to sleep on her own at this age?  I enjoy all the snuggles, anyway, although of course it is hard to get things done around the house or take Nell outside when it's hot if I have a baby attached to me.  Okay, I'll try to get her to sleep and then transfer her.  No, transferring never works with Ree.  I'll just swaddle her and lay her down and see what happens.


It worked!  She fell asleep all by herself!  Hallelujah!  Nell never did this at this age, did she?  Maybe I never thought to try swaddling her.  I was such a bad mother.  I was a total fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mother.  Wait, that's not right, of course I tried swaddling... we swaddled her all the time!  I have pictures to prove it!  It just didn't help her sleep alone at that age yet.  Okay, not the world's worst mother, but not winning any awards, either.

I should read some parenting books.  Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants parenting is just so embarrassing at this point, with a second baby.  I need to get with the program and read all those parenting books I've been meaning to read!  Or read any book, really, because I haven't read books in who knows how long and I can barely hold an intelligent conversation with normal members of society at this point.  I should start a book club.  No, that's too ambitious.  I should just read one or two parenting books.  But I don't have time to read parenting books, because I'm busy trying to parent, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style.  I read a lot of parenting articles and studies online, because I can read them on my phone, with one hand, while nursing.  Does that count for something?

Ree is still asleep in her swaddle!  But sometimes she fights the swaddle... does she hate it?  Or does she love it?  And what about those parenting experts who say you shouldn't swaddle babies because it restricts their gross motor skills developing or something?  Okay, but the baby not sleeping restricts my life skills in general.  So, swaddling.  It's working right now.  I need to remember that of course this works, and do this every day every time she's tired, because it's working so perfectly.  Wait, but it didn't work yesterday, remember?  Maybe I did something differently?  Maybe I wrapped from left to right instead of right to left?  I think maybe she really loves that patchwork crocheted blanket from Martha.  That's ridiculous; babies can't prefer one blanket over another.  And that blanket doesn't work for swaddling, anyway, but I still think maybe she likes to have it draped over her.  I'll keep trying it in case it's the magic sleep solution.

Is it safe to swaddle a baby who ends up sleeping in bed with you almost every night, anyway?  I get nervous and undo her arms if she's snuggled against me.  I think all my mom-friends would hate me if I told them that my six-week-old has slept through the night twice already.  It's all thanks to co-sleeping.  Co-sleeping and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants parenting.  If I could lie in bed all day, this baby would sleep so perfectly all the time.  Do parenting books offer suggestions for staying in bed all day and teaching your two-year-old to take care of herself?

I think Ree might have a dairy sensitivity.  I'm pretty sure she does.  She just seemed uncomfortable all the time and so fussy and hard to settle for the first month, and I'm convinced that when I gave up nearly all dairy, it improved so much.  Well, maybe "convinced" is too strong a word.  Somewhat certain?  Slightly inclined to believe?  That's more like it.  There might be a correlation, at least.  I had ice cream the other night after virtually no dairy for two weeks, and the next day was so hard for Ree, I'm sure of it.  Well, maybe not sure.  Maybe there was no connection and I'm just imagining it.  Why can't I stop second-guessing myself?  I'm never certain about anything.  Still, it can't hurt to keep avoiding dairy, right?  Or maybe I should eliminate soy and eggs and citrus and caffeine and wheat, too, and subsist on... air?  Hey, that would help with this post-baby tummy I'm rocking, at least.

Every time I see those babies who sleep in their car seats everywhere I can barely wrap my mind around it.  Neither of my babies EVER slept in their car seats.  Well, I'm sure at some point Nell did, and she does now, but I don't remember what age that started.  Certainly when she was Ree's age she couldn't sleep in her car seat and she screamed every time she was in it.  Oh wait, but I have a picture of her sleeping in the car seat at one month old in a restaurant.  We used to go to restaurants?  We never do that anymore.  Okay, so at least one time she slept in her car seat and at least once we went to a restaurant.  But Ree never sleeps in her car seat.  Except the other night we were out to dinner with friends for a birthday celebration, and she did sleep in it!  The whole dinner!  I even overheard someone comment how jealous she was because her baby never slept in a car seat.  But MY baby never sleeps in her car seat... except that one time.  And I guess we did go out to dinner that one time, too.  

Usually we're eating dinner at home, of course, and either Nathan or I hold and bounce the baby, or I have her in the wrap, or I nurse her while I eat and try not to drop food on her.  When she's not nursing, she likes to be held like a football, along the length of my arm.  Or does she?  Was I imagining that this had worked just yesterday?  Now she only wants to be upright against my shoulder.  Yes, she loves this.  This is the sure-fire way to calm her down.  Upright, always upright.  If I just do this all the time, she'll be calm and happy and well-adjusted and probably go to Harvard someday.  Or Juilliard.  Okay, probably not Juilliard, because we've been too busy to play much music for her like we did for Nell at this age, so that's a pretty significant disadvantage right there.  Oops, she's crying again... try the football hold once more.  Yes, it's working!  She loves it.  Why did I think she liked being upright?  

I should really write down what works and what doesn't so I won't spend so much mental energy trying to figure it all out.  But maybe that's an exercise in futility, because babies change so quickly and I just need to go with the flow and do what works in the moment.  All while still looking for general patterns and recognizing her natural rhythms and schedule, of course, because that's what good mothers do.  But not "scheduling" her because she's still so little, and "scheduling" babies is practically a bad word in some parenting circles anyway.  I wish I had written down more of what Nell was like at each age, and what worked for her, and what her sleep habits were like.  No, why would I need that?  Marie is her own person, and what worked for Nell wouldn't necessarily work for Ree.  But still, there might have been things I could learn from.  I bet I did write things down on my blog.  I wish I had time to go back and see what I had written.  In any case, I'll write things down this time.  I'll be glad I did, in case we have more kids.



More kids?!  Why am I thinking about this now, with a six-week-old?  Isn't it a little soon to be thinking about having more?

Maybe she's hungry and needs to nurse.  No, I just nursed her.  Oh, wait, it's already been two hours.  That felt like two minutes.  I'll definitely try nursing.  She's fighting it.  She doesn't want to nurse.  Isn't that weird?  Nell always wanted to nurse.  I don't remember doing anything at all for the first year of Nell's life except sitting around nursing.  Oh gee, poor Marie doesn't get enough cuddling and nursing time like that.  The lot in life for a second born baby.  What if she is never well-adjusted because I didn't nurse her enough?  Well, she doesn't want to nurse right now.  She wants to suck on my pinky finger.  I keep meaning to ask Nathan if we should introduce a pacifier.  Would that make us bad parents or good parents or just normal parents?  Is there any difference between a pinky and a paci, anyway?

She's asleep.  She never sleeps like this, just held loosely in my arms, resting on my chest while the two-year-old naps upstairs.  Never!  Well, just this one time it seems to be working for her.  She looks so peaceful, and I love to hear her breathing.  Her little arm draped over my elbow, her left fist flung across my chest.  Her head where I can bend and kiss that dark, dark hair.  I could hold her like this forever.  Of course we should have more babies someday!

Nell is waking up from her nap.  I'll try to transfer Ree off my chest into a swaddle.  It won't work, of course, but I may as well try.  Hey, it worked!  Like, really and truly worked!  I'll go get Nell.  She woke up crabby.  Can you swaddle a two-year-old?  She is really cranky and doesn't want a hug or a snack or a book or anything at all except to whine in long, drawn-out, generic vowels.  

Ugh, parenting is hard.  I should really read some parenting books.  Wasn't I just thinking that I should?  Why don't I?  I totally have time during all those times my kids are sleeping so angelically.  Was I just thinking we should have more babies?  But then they grow into crabby two-year-olds.  Wait, Nell just smiled at me.  And earlier today she was taking my cheeks in her hands and holding my face to give me kisses, remember that?  Okay, that more than makes up for the crabbiness.  Definitely have more babies someday.

Ree is awake already.  That successful transfer to the swaddle was short-lived.  I'll put her in the wrap.  That's the only thing that ever works, anyway.  Or maybe she wants to nurse.  Or be bounced.  No, she wants to be held upright.  And whatever I do, I must not sit down or even attempt to stop walking.

She's fussy this afternoon.  Fussier than usual, definitely.  Maybe not definitely.  Possibly fussier than usual, then.  But I haven't eaten dairy!  Maybe dairy was never even an issue in the first place.  Maybe I should eat some ice cream once the two-year-old is in bed tonight.  No, better not chance it.  Unless I can find some dairy-free, soy-free ice cream.   No, I shouldn't have ice cream.  But I should definitely spend my evening playing classical music for the baby so she's not disadvantaged for life.  While reading parenting books.  And doing whatever it takes in these specific moments to keep the baby quiet, contented, and getting her beauty sleep.


* * *

Contrary to the way this post may make things appear, I actually manage to go about much of my day calmly and happily caring for my two children.  We take things moment-by-moment.  We manage to go with the flow.  And my two-year-old is a pretty great sleeper.  But for goodness sake, babies are complex creatures with an array of emotions and needs to be met, and they're always growing and changing and what seems to be working once may not be what they want in the very next moment.

It's almost like they're real live human beings or something.