Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Day in the Life

Following is a recent snapshot of our lives these days. The kids are growing and changing so fast, and it's hard to remember what we were doing a few weeks ago, let alone months or years ago. This particular day was pretty average and a good representation of most of our days in this season of life-- it's a little bit mundane, but I know I'll enjoy looking back and remembering what it was like juggling two young kiddos at home. I am linking up with Laura at Navigating the Mothership and her series of Day in the Life posts. (And kudos if you make it all the way to the end of this post!)

Date: Wednesday, January 7th

Jason is a few weeks shy of 38
Kiersten is 36
Nicholas is a few weeks shy of 3
Natalie is 5.5 months

12:50 am - Natalie wakes up and is crying loudly. I reeeeaaaaalllllly want her to just stop and go back to sleep, but she is fighting a double ear infection (her first) that has been keeping her up for the past few nights. I know from experience that even though she's not really hungry, she is going to need me to nurse her in order to fall back asleep. Begrudgingly, I get up and head into her room. I change her, feed her, and put her back down.

1:13 - I'm back in bed and hope to be back asleep in about 40 seconds.

3:30 - Natalie's crying again, but I ignore it. I was just in there barely over two hours ago. This is too soon. Eventually she goes back to sleep (although in my haze of sleepiness, I'm not sure exactly when.)

5:30 - And she's up again. I drag myself out of bed and go back in her room to change her and nurse her.

6:00 - Back in bed. Zzzzzzz.

7:15 - Jason comes in to wake me up, but I know I have 15 more minutes until my alarm goes off.

7:30 - My alarm goes off. I roll over and turn it off. I just need to lie there for a few more minutes.

7:40 - I hear a loud thump and then Nicholas' shrill cries. And I'm up. I hurry into the kitchen to find that he's fallen off his chair while eating breakfast and watching videos. A few kisses and hugs later, he's fine and I join him to watch a video of fire truck Legos.

7:50 - Ah, coffee. Sweet nectar of the gods. Also, a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

8:00 - I assemble Nicholas' lunch and pack up his backpack for preschool. I am still grumpy about Jason waking me up before my alarm given that I was up twice during the night, and we have words about that. (Just keeping it real.) Sleep deprivation makes me, um, less than "perky" in the morning, but I get over my crankiness quickly.

8:25 - Natalie is up and I head into her room to feed her. She is always easily distracted and slow to start eating at her first (daylight) morning feeding, so the process is slow. She talks and squirms while slowly grazing through her meal. Nicholas runs in and out of the room several times. Jason is finishing getting himself packed up for work and changes Nicholas into a pull up and puts on his shoes and socks.

8:45 - I realize Natalie has had a huge blow out and a handful of wipes aren't going to cut it. I bring her into our bathroom for a quick bath and simultaneously try give her her antibiotics for the ear infection. She is a little suspicious of any kind of medicine and half of it ends up in the water.

8:55 - We wrap up her bath and then I bring her back into her room to get dressed. Jason and Nicholas finally head out the door for work and preschool.

9:00 - Natalie is dressed and I quickly throw on my workout clothes, put my hair into a ponytail, and brush my teeth. On Sunday I started a two week unlimited pass to Barre 3 that I bought on Living Social, and I am planning to attend my third class of the week this morning. I'm still sore from Monday's class, but it feels good to finally kick start a new workout regime, hopefully lose the last few pounds of baby weight, and firm up my squishy midsection.

9:10 - Getting out of the house is always such a production. Even with one kid. I'm three years and two kids into parenthood and I am still amazed at how much stuff they need and how long it takes to gather it all together every time we go anywhere. I also realize that I never finished my first cup of coffee so I fill it up for the road.

9:20 - OK, finally on the road.

9:42 - We arrive at the studio with minutes to spare before class begins. I drop Natalie off in the childcare area and head into the class.

10:52 - Tired, a little sweaty, but feeling good. Natalie is getting fussy, so I quickly load her into the car and we head home.

11:15 - We arrive home and she's asleep so I just unload her and leave her in her carseat to snooze a little longer. I seize the opportunity to start taking down our Christmas tree. Yes, it's January 7th and my tree is still up. Don't judge. I have never been particularly timely about getting my holiday decorations put away, so the first week of January is actually pretty good for me. I rapidly pack up 3 small boxes of ornaments.

11:30 - Natalie is awake, so I get her out of her carseat and take her into her room to change her and nurse her. Girlfriend is hungry and unlike her last feeding, she is all business. Afterward, we talk and play for a few more minutes, and then I read her two stories. My poor second child... she gets so much less attention and one-on-one time than her big brother did at this age, so I try to make sure we carve out time to read, sing songs, and just play together for a little while on preschool mornings.

Noon - I take a quick shower and get dressed. Natalie observes from her bouncy seat while gnawing aggressively on Sophie. She is definitely working on some new teeth.

12:25 - I take her back into the living room and deposit her on her play mat. She is really working on crawling and can now get up on all fours and rock back and forth. It looks like she will skip the army crawling phase altogether. While she's playing, I throw in a load of laundry and make myself lunch (a toasted everything bagel with cream cheese and tomato slices, a few grapes, and a small handful of almonds) and start meal planning for the next 4-5 days. I am due for a big grocery shopping trip tomorrow.

12:50 - I take Natalie into my room to start folding some laundry while she continues to gnaw on some toys and practice her crawling skills. I fold about 3 items before deciding that I really need some caffeine in order to have a productive afternoon. I check the time and decide we can squeeze in a quick trip to Starbucks before picking up Nicholas from preschool.

1:00 - And we're off!

1:12 - We arrive and I order my guilty pleasure of late-- a grande, non-fat chestnut praline latte, with only half the flavor, but with the whip cream. Yes, despite my no frills, legit NW coffee heritage, I have become that lady. But, a trip to Starbucks is a rare twice a month treat for me these days, so I figure I might as well get what I really want.

1:20 - Coffee in hand, we're back in the car and heading over to the preschool to pick up Mr. Nicholas.

1:25 - Whew, made it just in time. I hate being the last parent at pick up. I grab his backpack off the hanger and then he sees me and happily bounds out of the classroom. I get a report from his teacher that he tried to use the potty, but was unsuccessful. Oh well, there's always next time.

Cheese! Full disclosure - had to bribe him with gummies (fruit snacks) to take this picture.

1:30 - Back in the car and heading home.

1:50 - We arrive and unload. Nicholas munches on the aforementioned gummies, while I change Natalie. She has another dirty diaper. The antibiotics for the ear infection are clearly messing with her little digestive system.

2:00 - Naptime drama commences. (At this point the day starts to get a little hectic and I forget to take pictures for the next four hours.) I get Natalie settled on the play mat in her room with a few toys and then take Nicholas into his room to settle down for naptime. We change him out of his pull up and into a diaper (which are now only for naps and bedtime.) He selects "San Francisco" (an illustrated book about SF from the 60s that he-- somewhat strangely-- really loves.) We get about 75% of the way through when I hear Natalie begin to wail hysterically. I don't like to interrupt Nicholas' naptime wind down, but I need to check on her. She has rolled a few feet away from the play mat and it's clear she's had another blowout, this one requiring a new outfit. The poor thing is still wailing and as I change her, I see that she is now suffering from a bad case of diaper rash. I change her into a new outfit, throw the play mat into the laundry room to get washed, and then settle her on the floor in  her room with her toys again and take Nicholas back in his room to finish the book. I field a few questions about trolley cars, then turn off the lights and tuck him in. Whew! Now on to Natalie. I head into the kitchen to warm up her bottle and add her probiotics (an attempt to combat the daily antibiotic-induced blowouts.) Finally, I head back into her room, feed her the bottle, nurse her and rock her and very carefully deposit her into her crib.

2:56 - I head back into the kitchen. It's only taken me an hour to get them both down. Ugh. I turn on the coffee pot and brew myself a little afternoon pick me up. While the coffee is percolating, I head over to the tree to pack up another small box of ornaments.

3:10 - Coffee in hand, I head over to the couch, open my laptop and begin typing up notes for this post. If I wasn't writing this post, I would use this time to check email, surf some blogs, or perhaps pay a few bills online for a half hour or so. These days my list of nap time to-dos is always much longer than the time I have available, so computer time is pretty limited.

3:50 - I put the computer down and head into the kitchen to tidy up. I need to be better about cleaning as I go, but somehow I always find myself in the late afternoon with cluttered counters and dirty dishes lying around. It's not always easy to get lunch cleaned up immediately afterward, especially on the days when Nicholas is not at school and I'm trying to get everyone fed at once.

3:56 - Natalie is crying. So much for my "productive afternoon." I head into her dark room and take her out of the crib. I'm hoping I can nurse her a little bit and then put her back down for a longer nap. This works about 65% of the time when she wakes up from her nap early. Just as I get settled in the glider, I hear Nicholas calling for me. Great. He is unfortunately going to have to wait for me while I feed Natalie.

4:00 - I hear the garage door open and Jason walks in. He is home from work early, although he'll continue working in our office. Nicholas' cries are louder now, so I'm relieved that Jason is home and can go get him. Jason changes him back into his big boy underwear and gets him settled with "Toy Story 3" and a snack.

4:30 - I've moved Natalie into her bouncy seat and have given up trying to get her to go back to sleep. I bring her out into the living room in the seat and join Nicholas on the couch. I watch the movie while Nicholas intermittently watches and plays with his matchbox cars. Eventually I put Natalie in the office with Jason to see if she'll fall asleep there.

5:25 - We wrap up the movie and I head into the kitchen to start prepping dinner. I peel potatoes and put them on the stove to boil.

5:40 - Natalie has taken a little cat nap and is now awake, so I take her back into her room to nurse.

6:00 - Jason has wrapped up with work and is playing with Nicholas on the couch. I bring Natalie back out to join them. It's definitely the "witching hour" and Nicholas is pushing both of our buttons, but I need to get dinner going so I head back into the kitchen and let Jason juggle the kids.

6:05 - I am trying a new loaded baked potato soup recipe from the January issue of Southern Living, but it is a "lite" recipe and I'm a little suspicious of the technique. I end up making some substitutions from another baked potato soup from the Iowa Girl Eats blog.

6:25 - It's barely controlled chaos in the kitchen. Nicholas is running around and repeatedly trying to grab things off the counter, which is a pet peeve of mine. This is a signal that he's basically just really hungry, so I give him a string cheese to tide him over for a few minutes. He eats it, but continues acting wild, so I have to banish him into the living room under the threat of a time out if he comes back into the kitchen before dinner is ready. Jason is getting Natalie settled in her bouncy in the kitchen and is trying to clear off the table to get it set.

6:30 - And we finally sit down to the table. Everyone is starving, but dinner is not as relaxing as I hope and we spend a harried twenty minutes refereeing Nicholas' table manners and picking up dropped forks, napkins, and sippy cups off the floor.

(No shirt because we're eating a messy meal and he refuses to wear a bib.)

6:45 - I remember that I am trying to document the day and even though we're more than halfway done, I get up to grab my camera snap a quick picture of our baked potato soup (topped with bacon, green onions, and cheddar) and tossed green salad.

6:55 - We get up from the table and hastily clear a few dishes before starting the bedtime routine. We usually divide and conquer-- Jason taking Nicholas and me taking Natalie. Jason gives Nicholas a quick bath while I administer Natalie's antibiotic, change her into PJs, and prep her bottle and probiotic. Then I take her into room, pull down the blackout shades, turn on the white noise machine, dim the lights, and feed her the bottle. I hear Jason helping Nicholas brush his teeth and put on his PJs. He reads Nicholas a story, and I nurse Natalie once the bottle is gone. Finally, I burp her and rock her for a minute before putting her down in the crib and leaving the room.

7:36 - Freedom! Oh, wait. The kitchen still a disaster. Jason and I roll up our sleeves and tackle the mess.

8:05 - And we're done(ish.) There may be a bus depot somewhere with a cleaner floor than ours, but all the surfaces are tidy and that is just going to have to be good enough for right now.

8:10 - Jason heads into the office to do a little work and I plop down on the couch with a glass of wine and my notepad to finish my meal planning and grocery list. I decide to turn on season 2 of "Suits" from Amazon Prime.

(Partially disrobed Christmas tree in the background for your viewing/judging pleasure. Note: the tree does get completely taken down and put away by the weekend.)

9:45- I've watched two episodes and completed my meal plan and grocery list for tomorrow. Jason is heading into the bedroom to read, but before I can join him I need to pump. Ugh. Such a chore. But it seems to help boost my milk supply and I always use the milk the next day for Natalie's pre-nap or pre-bedtime supplementary bottle.

10:10 - Finally done. (I didn't actually pump for 25 minutes, but I got sidetracked looking at Facebook and blogs.) I put the milk and the phalanges away in the fridge and head into the bedroom to put on my PJs and get ready for bed.

10:30 - I'm all washed and brushed (as my mom always used to say) and I hop into bed and open up Baby Led Weaning. Natalie is approaching six months, and we're planning to follow the Baby Led Weaning method of skipping purees and going straight to solid chunks of food. I'm looking forward to it!

11:04 - My eyelids are starting to droop. Jason is already snoring so it's time to turn out the light. I'm hoping I'll get a long stretch of sleep before Natalie wakes up, but this ear infection has me doubting it.

Good night!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dear Natalie: Four Months

Dear Natalie,

Yet another month has flown by, and here I find myself with a four month old baby. Your fourth month began in mid-October and included your first illness and your first holiday. But first the stats-- at four months, you weigh 15 lbs. even (66%), you are 25.5 inches long (88%), and your head clocks in at an impressive 42.3 cm (90%.) You handled your shots at the doctor's office slightly better than at your two month appointment, but you still had a rough evening back at home. You seem to be a little more sensitive than your brother in this area, and I don't blame you. Shots are no fun. At the beginning of your fourth month, your second bottom tooth poked through, and now you have a cute set of lower teeth that are increasingly visible with each smile.

In the sleep department, you continue to do well. Teething late in your third month and early into your fourth month threw you off a bit, but most nights you go to bed around 7:30pm (the same time as your brother) and sleep until 7 or 8am. You are typically waking up about once a night now, sometime between 3-5am and we'll nurse and then you go back to sleep easily. There are nights when you will sleep for an uninterrupted 12 hour stretch, but they are less frequent than last month. We're hoping to make 12 hour stretches more of a habit in the coming month. But I can't complain too much-- you continue to take regular 2-3 hour naps each afternoon (going down at the same time as Nicholas) and if we're at home in the morning, you'll take a 1-2 hour nap. Otherwise, you continue to nap on the go very contently.

Your fourth month also brought a new milestone immediately followed by your first big illness. On October 30th, you successfully rolled over from your back to your stomach. That night we unswaddled you for the first time, and you woke up screaming around 3am. I thought it was just because you were unaccustomed to sleeping unswaddled, but when I picked you up to nurse you, you felt hotter than anything I've ever experienced. I woke Daddy up to help me take your temperature, and you were screaming so hysterically that we had to stop before the thermometer beeped, but in that short time the thermometer had already reached 103.7. We frantically dialed the on-call pediatrician and she advised us to give you acetaminophen and a sponge back with luke warm water to help bring your fever down. If your temperature didn't go down, she warned, we would need to take you to the ER at Dell Children's Hospital. You threw up two doses of medicine (due to the fever), but finally kept the third dose down and settled down to go back to sleep around 5am. Later that morning, we took you in to the doctor, where a worried pediatrician did a bunch of different tests on you, including a blood draw to check your white blood cell count. Fortunately everything came back normal within a few days. In the following day or two, your fever dissipated and the illness settled into a run of the mill cold virus (probably brought home from preschool by your big brother.) A fever that high in a three and a half month old is usually very serious, but despite giving us quite a scare, you recovered quickly and were back to your usual smiling self within a few days.

Aside from your first bout of illness, your fourth month included lots of fun, including your first Halloween. On October 18th, we made a trip out to the pumpkin patch to kick off the fall season (although it was pretty hot, humid, and decidedly un-fall that day.)

You were a trooper and tolerated us propping you up against a bunch of pumpkins and making you pose for pictures-- both at the Sweet Berry Farm pumpkin patch and later at our church's pumpkin patch.

And, despite your rough night on the 30th, you seemed well enough on the evening of Halloween to get bundled up in your strawberry costume and take a stroll through the neighborhood while Nicholas went trick or treating. He may have gotten all the candy, but you stole the show as the cutest little baby berry.

At four months, your personality is really beginning to shine. You continue to be extremely content, and happy, and now you have started giggling, which is just the most precious sound. We love to make you laugh, and when you really think something is hilarious you do an awesome snort laugh that makes us crack up too. I have also discovered that you love being sung to. Your favorites so far are Twinkle Twinkle and Baa Baa Black Sheep, and you just light up with joy when I start singing to you, usually as we rock and snuggle before bed. It is truly adorable.

Little ladybug, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be your mother. You bring so much joy to our lives, and every month with you just keeps getting better. Time is moving much too quickly for my taste, but I also know that we have so many fun things to look forward to in the months and years ahead. I look forward to each and every day with you, and I can't wait to see what's next.

All my love,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dear Natalie: Three Months

Dear Natalie,

You are three months old, and just like that you've moved out of the "fourth trimester" and into full fledged babyhood. They were not joking when they said everything seems to go faster with the second one-- time is moving fast.

Your third month was a little quieter than your first two-- no visitors and no travel-- but we've had lots of fun enjoying family time at home, including a hike on the Steiner Ranch trails, lots of walks to the park, a "camping cookout" in the back yard, a day trip down to San Antonio for William's first birthday, a long walk around Town Lake in the beautiful fall weather the day you turned 12 weeks old, and lots of much needed one on one time on Monday and Wednesday mornings when Nicholas is in preschool.

This month, you also managed to keep us on our toes with a slew of feeding challenges. After receiving your shots at your two month appointment, you launched into a full fledged feeding strike, refusing to eat for hours at a time for the better part of a week. For the previous two months, I had suspected you had a case of reflux and after following up with your doctor about it several times, we finally started you on medicine at the end of the first week of your third month. After about a day or two, you started to come around and we were able to get our nursing relationship back on track.

For most of the rest of the month, you refused to drink from a bottle (even when I was away one time for 5-6 hours for a job interview), but then right before you turned three months we went through another nursing strike and you only wanted a bottle. I pumped as often as I could to try to keep my supply up and tried every trick in the book, including pumping before feeding to stimulate an immediate let down for you; feeding you while standing, walking, and rocking; feeding while lying down next to you or hovering above you; and feeding you while you slept. Finally I was able to coax you back to regular nursing, but not without shedding some blood, sweat, and tears.

Toward the end of this ordeal (on October 14th), I stuck my finger in your mouth to help soothe you and was shocked to discover a tooth! I could see the little white tip of your bottom right center tooth just poking through the gum. You were extra fussy for the prior week or so, chewing on your fingers constantly, but it had never occurred to me that you could be teething at just two and a half months old. That turned out to be the explanation for the feeding strike and fortunately you had passed the worst of the teething, so we have been able to get your feedings back on track.

While month three posed plenty of feeding challenges, you have been an absolute rock star sleeper. You slept through the night for three consecutive nights, from about 9pm-6am, beginning on September 19th. Since then, you have continued to sleep through the night about five or six nights a week. We gradually moved your bedtime earlier and now you go down somewhere between 8-8:30pm and you sleep until 5-6am. Then you will wake up, eat, and go back to sleep until 8-9am. You have also been really consistent with your naps. If we're home in the mornings, you will sleep for an hour and a half to two hours (beginning around 10am). If we're on the go, running errands or at the park, you are content to just sleep in your carseat. Most afternoons I have been able to sync up your nap with Nicholas' nap (thank you to both of you), and you'll sleep for two to three hours.

This month you also discovered your hands and feet. You figured out how to grasp your feet, one in each hand, and roll side to side in a perfect "happy baby" pose. It's pretty adorable. You are probably not far from rolling over from your back to your stomach. When you're not busy playing with your feet, you love to inspect your fingers, clenching and unclenching your fists, and moving them slowly and carefully as you examine them. You concentrate hard, staring intently at your fingers, as you slowly move them towards your mouth. Sometimes your eyes cross briefly from all the effort. You don't always find your target, but your aim is getting better by the day. Your favorite way to soothe yourself is to suck on a few fingers, preferably the two middle fingers on your right hand, while grasping your foot in your mouth. I think all of this finger sucking has also been your coping mechanism during your surprising early teething.

Despite some of our feeding challenges this month, you are still such a happy baby. You grin at us all the time, and we are so close to real giggles. I've said this in my prior monthly letters, but your disposition is just so sweet. When I nurse you before bed and you begin to drift off, you close your eyes and give me one final big grin before falling completely asleep. I also think you're an old soul-- I can see a quiet wisdom in your eyes and I have no doubt you'll teach me many things over the coming years.

I am cherishing every day I get to spend with you, ladybug. I don't like seeing time move so quickly, but I know I am really savoring my time with you and enjoying you as a baby. I'm in no rush to get to the next milestone, but my one consolation is that you just seem to get cuter and cuter with each passing day, and I know that the best is yet to come.

I love you with my whole heart,

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dear Natalie: Two Months

Dear Natalie,

You are two months old! I feel like I blinked and all of a sudden you have moved out of the squishy, sleepy newborn phase and now you are an active, alert baby. You are smiling and cooing all the time, which we just love. Your natural disposition is just so happy, and as long as you are fed and well rested, you are just thrilled to be interacting with whoever wants to hold you or talk to you.

You continue to grow like crazy. At your two month appointment, you weighed 11 lbs. 8 oz., which puts you smack in the middle at the 55th percentile. You are a long baby, though, measuring 23.25", which puts you in the 83rd percentile for length. Many of your 0-3 month clothes are already starting to look a little short, so I think we'll probably start moving you up a size before you reach 3 months. (You are still wearing a size 1 diaper.) And, just like your Mommy and brother, you have a huge head. Yours currently measures 39.8cm, which puts in you the 98th percentile.

Unlike your Mommy and brother (and Daddy for that matter), you aren't bald and have a nice little covering of brown hair. You lost a little bit during your first month, but now it's starting to fill in and even grow a little bit longer along the back. You have 2-3 really long strands growing right out of the top of your head, which are kind of funny. They must have been your first hairs, from before birth, and you just never lost them. Your hair looks like a medium-dark shade of brown most of the time, but in bright sunlight it has a very distinct red hue. Maybe you'll be a redhead like your Daddy?  Who knows. Your eyes are also still kind of a mystery. Often they look dark blue, but they may be changing because sometimes they are kind of a brownish gray. Time will tell.

Your second month was full of lots of milestones. You took your first airplane ride with Mommy on August 18th to attend the funeral of your great grandmother (Bapa's mother) in Portland. It was a sad occasion, but you got to meet almost all of your relatives on Mommy's side. Everyone loved you, and you were a bright spot on an otherwise unhappy day. The other silver lining of our trip back to the Northwest was that we were able to drive up to Seattle after the funeral for a quick trip to visit Auntie Lolo and Uncle Mike and meet your cousin Dawson, who was just a few days old. We had thought we wouldn't be able to introduce the two of you until Christmas, so it was fun to get you together when you were both so brand new.

Natalie at 5 and a half weeks, Dawson at 6 days (and not quite sure about that girl cousin of his...)

While in Seattle, you also got to meet your Aunt Kristin, Uncle Dan, and cousin Edison, along with your great aunts and uncles on Gammy's side, Mary, John, Charlie, and Barb. It was a lot of travel, but you were a trooper. I was nervous flying with a one month old baby on my own, but you handled it with flying colors and charmed the pants off our fellow seatmates on the plane. (I was lucky enough to get seated next to a sweet grandmother on the way out and two other very nice women on the way back.)

While in Portland, you achieved your first big gross motor skills milestone at just 5 weeks-- you rolled from your tummy to your back on August 21st. You aren't quite as big of a roller at this stage as your brother, but if left on your tummy long enough you usually find a way to roll on to your back. You don't love tummy time, but you tolerate it pretty well for a few minutes at a time, and everyone comments on how strong your neck and back are. When I'm holding you to burp after a feeding, you love to pull yourself away from my chest and hold your neck and head up yourself. You still have a few of your cute newborn reflexes left, including involuntarily shaking your leg like a dog and thrusting your arms and fists out wide above your head when you get startled so that you look like Superman flying.

Once we got back from Portland and Seattle, the rest of your second month was spent just adjusting to life as a family of four and me figuring out how to juggle two kids on my own during the day. We took our first trip to a restaurant as a family of four (with no help from grandparents) on August 30th for a belated birthday brunch for me at Chez Zee, and you, me, and Nicholas have taken lots of outings as a threesome, including our first trip to the grocery store (you in the Ergo and Nicholas in the cart), the park, and other errands. We also took a family trip to the pool over Labor Day weekend, although you snoozed in your car seat for most of it, and you had your first non-family babysitter on September 13th when Mommy and Daddy went out to dinner to celebrate our sixth anniversary. You continue to be a pretty laid back baby most of the time, and you adapt well to life on the go. When we are at home, you've created a nice little schedule on  your own, which includes a morning nap around 10am for an hour and a half to two hours, a longer afternoon nap for two to three hours, usually beginning around 1pm (right around the time Nicholas goes down for his nap if I'm lucky), and bedtime around 9pm. You typically wake up once or twice-- sometimes around 3am and usually always between 5-6am. You are a great sleeper, and for that I am extremely grateful!

You love bath time, being held, and staring at the ceiling fan. Sometimes we'll catch you just grinning at the fan like it's your best friend-- pretty cute. You also seem to prefer just stretching out on a blanket on the floor and having the freedom to kick and move around rather than being seated in any kind of swing or moving baby chair like the Mamaroo. You are old school like that. You do not like being hungry or getting over tired-- when you're ready to sleep you want to sleep and get very fussy until you do fall asleep. But overall you are just a cheerful, happy baby, and we love your sweet disposition and your adorable little smile.

It's hard to remember what life was like before your arrival only two short months ago, and I'm so glad you're here-- you bring so much joy to our little family and you make us all better. I just can't get enough of you. I fall more and more in love with you every day, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be your mother. You are my little sunshine.

All my love,

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dear Natalie: One Month

Dear Natalie,

You are one month old! All the cliches are true... it's hard to believe it's already been a month, and at the same time, we can hardly remember life before your arrival. After months of anticipation, it's been so much fun to begin to discover your personality and see what you look like. Based on your 3D ultrasound picture taken about a month before your birth, I had a suspicion that you might look a little bit like me, and so far that seems to be the case. You were born with dark hair covering your head (which has started to thin out in front), and the shape of your face and some of your features look like mine. But, your eyes look like they might be dark blue, so time will tell if you take after Daddy in that regard.

In your few short weeks of life thus far, you have been a really good baby. You are your own little person with your own preferences and tendencies, but it's hard to avoid comparisons with your brother-- he wasn't an extremely difficult baby, but you are definitely my "easy" baby so far. In your first two weeks of life, you didn't do much besides sleep, wake briefly to eat, and then fall back asleep again. In the second half of your first month, you emerged a little bit from the sleepy newborn phase, but you are still giving us one 4-6 stretch of sleep each night, followed by another 2-3 hour stretch of sleep. We are far from any sort of regular schedule, but you usually fall asleep for the evening between 9:30-11pm, wake for a feeding between 2-4am, go right back to sleep, wake again around 6-6:30am, and then sleep for one more hour before waking for the day around 8am. Certainly no complaints here! You sleep in the bassinet attachment of our Pack'N'Play in our bedroom, but you started taking morning naps in your crib on August 5th. You already have a pretty regular morning nap emerging-- usually beginning around 8:30 or 9am and lasting for about two hours each day.

You are also a champion eater, and breast feeding is going really well for us. It's been much easier than my first time around. No supply issues and not more than a day or two of initial pain. I am exclusively breast feeding, but I began pumping once every other day or so when you were two weeks, and you took your first bottle from Daddy on August 2nd without complaint. Since then, you've had a bottle on several other occasions. The only issue we've encountered thus far is that you seem to overeat and then spit up quite a bit. We're not sure yet if it's reflux, but being really full irritates your stomach and you need lots of help to expel the extra gas and pressure.

Happy one week birthday!

You are growing like a weed. At your one week doctor's appointment (which actually occurred when you were 6 days old), you had already exceeded your birth weight, weighing it at 7 pounds, 9 ounces. At your two week appointment, you weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces. And then I had to take you in right around your one month mark for a rash that had developed on your face, and you weighed in at a whopping 10 pounds, 8 ounces. You've grown out of most of your newborn sized clothes as of about three weeks, and we moved you up to size 1 diapers at four weeks. I'm a little sad to see you move out of the adorable wrinkly, curled up newborn stage so quickly, but your increasingly squishy little cheeks and thighs are pretty cute, too. Plus you have a great 0-3 month wardrobe full of fun, colorful summer rompers, so I've enjoyed playing dress up.

With Gammy

Your personality is shining through more and more. You have the sweetest disposition, and you've already started giving us little smiles. You started smiling periodically within your first week, and while they may have been unintentional at first, they've grown more and more frequent. You have an adorable open mouthed, lopsided grin that I can't get enough of, and I can already tell you that you are happy by nature. You've succeeded in charming not just me, Daddy, and Nicholas; but also Gammy and Bapa; Grandmama and Dzia Dzia; and lots of friends.

With Grandmama

You've spent many of your newborn days on the go. You made your first trip to a restaurant with me and Gammy for lunch at Epicerie when you were just 9 days old. That night, Daddy, Nicholas, and Bapa joined us and we all had dinner at The Grove. You've also made trips to stroll down South Congress, to join us for tacos at Torchy's, and to accompany us on errands to the grocery store, Target, and the mall. Fortunately, you are an easy going baby and seem content to just go with flow.

First outing to dinner a a family of four (someone wasn't interested in being in this photo...)

As our second child, I worried a little bit that you would miss out on some of the attention that your brother received. And while I certainly don't have as much time to focus exclusively on you as I did with Nicholas, I've discovered that being a more experienced mother this time around has made me feel so much more relaxed and allowed me to truly enjoy your newborn days.

The stress and anxiety I felt during my first foray into motherhood is gone, I am just relishing you as a tiny baby and enjoying all of the ups and downs of your infancy. I know how fast these newborn days pass, and so even the middle of the night feedings don't bother me. I love observing all of your many expressions and your little jerky newborn movements, I love feeling your smooth baby skin against mine when I feed you or rock you, and I love just watching you take in the world around you.

You have brought us so much joy in such a short period of time, and I am already so happy and proud to be your mother.

All my love,

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Miss Natalie Ann 

July 16, 2014

7 pounds, 6 ounces

20 1/4 inches

Natalie entered our lives in true diva form via a very surprising emergency c-section two and a half weeks ago. We were grateful to have a wonderful medical team to help us through the birth, and fortunately both she and I are healthy and doing great. While the birth itself was very scary and a little traumatic, since we've been home, she's been a rock star baby, eating and sleeping like a champ. At her two week appointment, she had surpassed her birth weight by over a pound (up to 8 pounds, 10 ounces), and most nights she will give us one 4-5 hour stretch of sleep. Not bad for less than three weeks in!

Natalie has already charmed a slew of visitors, including my mom for two weeks and my dad for the later part of her visit, lots of local friends, and one of my best friends from college who lives down in San Antonio. Jason's parents arrive tomorrow, and after a week (mostly) alone with two kids, I'm very much looking forward to two extra pairs of hands. Big brother Nicholas is doing well-- he definitely has his ups and downs, but most of the time he is very loving and gentle with baby sister. Mid-July in Texas is a little like what I imagine January in Minnesota to be, meaning we are spending little to no time outside. It's been tough being cooped up inside with a newborn and a rowdy two and a half year old who needs lots of physical outlets for all of his energy, but Jason has been great about taking him to the pool multiple times over the weekends, and we squeeze in quick walks to the mailbox or early morning playtimes in the backyard whenever we can.

Overall, Natalie has been a joy to have around, and it's been so much fun to experience a newborn baby again-- this time as a more seasoned and relaxed mom. Parenting two littles is just about as time consuming and tiring as I had expected, so my posts will probably be even fewer and further between than usual, but I hope to post the full birth story in all it's dramatic glory soon. Until then, I am signing off to fold a pile of tiny onesies and then snuggle my girl.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Baby #2: Weeks 39 - 40

39 weeks

Dates: July 1 - July 14, 2014

Highlights: Due date! Here we are. I was really hoping for a 7/14/14 birthday, and I suppose there's still time, but it's looking like it may be another few days. Recent highlights include celebrating the 4th of July with friends down in San Antonio. With a toddler and a 9 month old in tow, we didn't make it out late enough to see any fireworks, but we enjoyed a nice summer meal and catching up with friends. The next morning, we checked out the Pearl Brewery farmer's market and made a pit stop at the ever delicious Bakery Lorraine before driving home. (And, no, technically I wasn't supposed to travel at almost 39 weeks, but my doctor said he thought it was probably going to be OK given that San Antonio is only about an hour and a half away.) Since then, we've been hunkered down at home, nesting like crazy. Her room is done, but we've been tackling a bunch of other little projects around the house, in between trips to the pool and naps-- lots of naps. Yesterday, my mom arrived in town, and now we're all just playing the waiting game.

Last holiday as a family of 3 - Happy 4th of July!

Symptoms: Overall, I actually feel really good for being so pregnant. I don't have any major aches and pains, and I'm sleeping decently in between my frequent bathroom breaks. I am extremely tired, but I think that's to be expected. I'm also really hot all of the time, and the hot, humid weather outside doesn't help much. I pretty much avoid going outside after about noon each day. But, again, that's not too bad at this stage of the game. Despite the heat, I've lucked out and managed to avoid any swelling. I didn't have any swelling with Nicholas either, but he was born in January, so I thought I might wind up a little more swollen this time around. But here I am still sporting my wedding bands and my shoes fit fine. Not bad for a pregnancy that wraps up in July. I'm feeling an increasing amount of contractions and crampiness-- multiple times daily-- and at my 39 week appointment my OB was surprised to find that I've dilated to 3-4 cm. Here's hoping that means her arrival is imminent.

Ready to meet you! 

What's Different: I'm still pregnant. I was induced with Nicholas and he was born at 39 weeks and 4 days, so reaching my due date (and beyond) is new territory. My total weight gain is also slightly different this time around. I gained a pound around week 38, but then lost it by week 39, so I haven't gained any weight since week 34, for a grand total of 30 pounds. With Nicholas, I gained steadily up until the end, for a total of 33 pounds (although I started a little bit lower with him.) This time I feel like my belly is a little bit smaller, but there is more weight distributed elsewhere.

39 weeks 4 days - most pregnant up to this point. (Here I am with Nicholas at 36 weeks.)

What's the Same: I'm feeling a little bit of anxiety about whether or not she's doing OK in there. Like with Nicholas, it seems like she's moving around a little bit less these days, and even though I know she's pretty much out of room, I can't help but get concerned from time to time. Being so close to the end, I just want to make sure everything continues to go smoothly. I'm sure it will, but I just need to stay positive.

40 weeks

What I Miss: Nothing that I can't hold out a few more days for... I've got a bottle of nice rose wine chilling in the fridge and I'm looking forward to cracking it open in celebration in just a few days.

And one final pic... maybe the last?

What I'm Looking Forward To: I'm looking forward to meeting the little lady, hopefully sooner rather than later. Ideally, I'd like to go into labor on my own, but if she doesn't make her appearance soon, then I am OK with a little medical nudge at the end of the week. Tick tock...