Thursday, May 30, 2013

Busch Gardens: Take Three

Yowzers!  I feel like such an old person today.  I literally did next to nothing but go work in an office at the end of my pregnancy with Eliot (which I partially blame on it being winter), so I'm constantly being reminded of my pregnant lady limitations over here.

Eliot's cold lingered for a while and is mostly just a cough, but I caught it too.  I'm still a bit down with a sore throat.  Constantly hungry yet feel nauseous when I eat.  Hey, that sounds like the first trimester.  Ha.  That is how I always react to colds.  While I hoped to be really productive this week with Jack's pool party coming up, I've been only mildly productive (and my house is showing it...).  So when I felt all right enough yesterday and the weather was warm, Chris was eager to get out of the house and go to Busch Gardens.

Obviously, I can't ride anything except for the sky ride (which I kind of regretted) and train, but there's a bit for Eliot to do, and it really is fun just being at a theme park.  Eliot gets so excited to go to Busch Gardens and names all of the rides.  He is utterly fearless with rides, but the really weird thing is that when he is on a ride, he looks stone cold, serious-faced, like he is waiting in line or something.  And when he gets off, he says he had fun.  Well, OK!

Can you believe he went up in that thing and was just like, "Whatever..."

Chris was of course very considerate all day and checked constantly on how I was doing, offering to take breaks, get water, get food, or anything else I needed.  He carried Eliot on his shoulders all day, rode everything he could with Eliot, and chased Eliot around.  After three hours in the sun, all of us were just done.  That's why I feel old:  because a younger (less pregnant) Katie would have been able to stay all day and all night.  We had a lot of fun, though, and I was really surprised how Eliot did not have one single meltdown.  He waited his turn in line (even though the lines weren't long by any means).  He told us what he wanted to ride (the big roller coasters included), but didn't throw a fit when we said we had to move on.

Today, Chris is back at the yardwork and hopefully I'll find the energy to get this house straight.  It was supposed to be laundry day the other day, but I only managed to do two loads (and Chris did one of them).  Oops.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Nursery

Jack's nursery has been together for a while, but I have a few "extra" things in there (like Chris's surfboard...), so it had been difficult to grab a few photos.  Alas, here it is!

I wanted to do an "underwater" theme for Jack, but I really didn't have to buy much at all.  We already had so much of it.  Chris and my mom painted the room a blue-grey back in February.

The crib is the same one Eliot used (ha.  He barely used it--he hated it).  Instead of getting lots of baby bedding with a quilt and all, I just bought a fitted sheet, baby blanket, and mobile from Babies R Us.  I also have a breathable bumper that I will put on later, but I plan to wash everything again closer to when Jack arrives.

These pictures don't look as crooked in real life.  Sigh.  I'm not great at hanging pictures, and while the frames look the same, one has a bracket to hang and one has a wire, so it's kind of weird.  Anyway, they came from Berkley Illustrations.  They used to be hanging in our downstairs bathroom at the old house.

This is what you see when you enter the room.  It looks a little bare and unfocused since we don't have a dresser for Jack, but we'll get him one eventually and it will look more complete.  I'm just having Eliot and Jack share a dresser for a while.

I used this same rocking chair for Eliot.  My mom used it for my sister and me, and my sister used it for my niece and nephew.  I plan to order a cushion for it--maybe I'll do that today.  The pictures came from Studio Tuesday on Etsy.  I had them hanging in the playroom at the old house, but I liked how aquatic they were for Jack's room.  The lamp actually goes more with the next photo and came from Target.

I got this stand when I went away to college and have used it for many different purposes.  It served as a dresser in my dorm.  It was a bookcase at our apartment when we first got married.  I used it as an end table too.  It held Eliot's toys in the playroom at our old house.  Now it holds Jack's toys and maybe some essentials for the middle of the night, like diapers.  I had posted the whale painting when we announced Jack's name, but I painted it with water colors and also made one for Eliot's room.

I'm really happy with how the nursery came out.  Almost everything was re-purposed and fit perfectly.  I guess moving helped with that since I didn't have a specific place in mind for the prints I already had--which fit with the underwater theme.  The only things I bought were the bedding, mobile, rockingchair cushion (soon, I hope), hamper (which Jack and Eliot are sharing and Eliot's old one broke in the move), and lamp, I think.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Second Baby; Second Chances: The Hospital Bag

I've been getting painful contractions every now and then.  They last a minute or so and are close together, but they don't progress enough to be "real".  With four to five weeks left, I'm not very worried about going into early labor (or even labor on my own) with Jack based on both my medical past and family history, but for peace of mind I plan to get our hospital bag kind of together this week.

I was all kinds of nervous about everything with Eliot, including the simple act of packing a hospital bag.  Perhaps my worries of the unknown with giving birth for the first time were being expressed by my desire to "get right" what I could control.  And that was the contents of my hospital bag.

I totally overpacked.

And when my doctor said, "You're going to the hospital for an emergency induction.  Don't even go home.  Don't even go get your bag.  Go straight to the hospital.  Go.  RIGHT NOW!"  Well, that made me realize how little "control" that bag actually symbolized.  At the time, we lived a mile from the hospital, so my doctor then said it was fine to stop by the house real quick, but we should hurry.

In my first bag, I included items that seem silly now, like a bathing suit (hey, they kept saying during our hospital tour how awesome birthing pools are!) and a curling iron.  I wanted to look my best for all of these important pictures, but I didn't even shower until the morning we left.  Next time, I'll shower earlier because it makes you feel so much better, but I felt like I couldn't pry myself away.  Also, some people suggest bringing movies, which could work, I suppose.  Chris brought The OC.  Really, though, he was so captivated by Eliot that Marissa shooting Trey seemed irrelevant.  Instead, he watched football at one point while cuddling with Eliot.

I also left out some important items.  I didn't have a nightgown for the hospital, so I felt strapped to the bed (I didn't want everyone to see my bare backside in the hospital gown and for some reason didn't put on two like they suggest!).  I didn't have nursing pads for my bra (I had been too embarrassed to buy them).  And I didn't have back-up batteries for our camera's flash, which promptly died.  I didn't bring Eliot mittens because I didn't realize how much he'd be scratching his face.

So, this time around, I have new hospital bag plans:

For mom, nightgown (I actually got a little dress on sale from Old Navy because I couldn't find a good nightgown), nursing bra, nursing pads, socks, going home outfit (sweatpants and a tee-shirt for me), deodorant, a hair tie or two, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and shampoo if the hospital does not supply them.

For dad, a couple of tee-shirts and a pair of pants, deodorant, shared soap and shampoo.

For baby, a photo outfit, a going home outfit, mittens (2), socks (2), baby hat (2), shoes, boppy, carseat, baby blanket, swaddling blanket (2 or 3), burp cloths (2 or 3).

For everyone, cell phones and charger, laptop and charger, camera with extra batteries, camera memory card reader, some snacks (like cereal bars).

The hospital generally provides diapers, wipes, a hat, receiving blankets, and white onesies, so much of these items are optional, non-essential, and for fun.  I mean, you don't even need underwear (because you won't be wearing your underwear anyway).  If you forget something, Dad can swing by the house or someone else can easily pick it up for you.  No reason to fret over the hospital bag--just bring the essentials.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Week

I had a really productive week and was feeling all kinds of energetic.  The spring semester ended, so I was focusing on summer courses beginning.  Chris so kindly took Eliot to Busch Gardens by himself for the day in hopes that I could get more writing done and respond to my committee members' feedback on my dissertation.  I had more editing to do than I realized, and the proposal manuscript that I sent on was 66 pages (my previous proposal had been 50 pages and then 56 pages...).

When I wasn't writing feverishly, Chris and I worked to get the yard more in order, and I watched him play with Eliot in the pool.  It has been kind of rainy, so we haven't done as much garden work as usual.  And then we've been enjoying some time together at night since Eliot has been going to bed easier, faster, and at a reasonable time.

My productive week ended just as the weekend started as I lost all motivation.  Out of nowhere, Eliot got sick with this cold.  When he gets a cold, he has a rough night of sleep the first night.  He was waking up gagging every 45 minutes, so he really didn't sleep--and neither did I.  The next morning, Chris had a 10k to run and Eliot was going to do a kids' run.  I was so sad that I couldn't go along with Chris because Eliot was so not feeling well.  Chris did an amazing job, though.  He ran the same race last year, but this year he ran five minutes faster (a 7:20 mile pace for 6.2 miles!).  By the time Chris got home, Eliot was feeling well enough to play, and Chris's mom and sister came in town for a quick visit.  Eliot loves the extra playmates and bossing around his "mawmaw and 'izbeth".

Today we hung around the house, ate watermelon, and Chris grilled us all an awesome lunch before his mom and sister left.  Chris was excited to wear his new Hawaiian shirt, which I think is silly, but he thinks it is funny.  All right...

Maybe I caught a little bit of Eliot's cold or maybe it's been all the writing or maybe I'm just pregnant, but this weekend I have been so exhausted.  My sleepless Friday night probably didn't help.  I can't seem to get myself going.  I'm hoping tonight I'll get some good rest and be back at it on Monday.  I just need to be able to make it through next weekend.  After that, I'll make a list of the final baby things we need, wash Jack's clothes, and do all of the final organizing in his room.  Then I can officially hibernate until Jack comes.  About four and a half more weeks...  It's getting close!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

34 Weeks

Just a little over a month left!

I got so excited after my last doctor's appointment because I started breaking everything down by weeks.  Suddenly, Jack being here doesn't seem so far!
-At 35 weeks, I will have a doctor's appointment and the Group B Strep test.
-At 36 weeks, I will have just had Jack's pool party.  We've definitely been looking forward to that as a big event.  We keep saying, "Let's finish this project before Jack's party."  It's to the point that I don't know what we'll do after the party--but I probably won't want to do anything.  At my 36-week appointment, we'll have an ultrasound!  I had three ultrasounds with Eliot (and the last one was an emergency type situation the day I was induced), and now this will be FIVE with Jack.  I truly appreciate how the doctors here take more precautions.  They give everyone a 36-week ultrasound, and to me that seems like a good idea.
-At 37 weeks, I will have another appointment and can schedule my induction if I am going to be induced at 39 weeks.  I'll also learn if I am progressing any.
-At 38 weeks, it'll be another appointment, checking my progress, and scheduling my induction if I plan to wait until 40 weeks.  By this point, I'll be going crazy, but it will be pretty much over.

I have to be honest here and say that the looming July due date didn't always bring me peace.  It scared me because of my dissertation.  It has been hard to write with a toddler, and I know it will be more difficult with both a toddler and a newborn.  I know I can do it, but I also knew that I really needed to finish my proposal before the baby came or I'd keep putting it all off.  My proposal itself is 58 pages long, and without getting into too many details, the remaining work requires a lot of steps and, yes, work, but it is more "auto pilot" in a way than the proposal has been.  I finished my proposal one week ago.  My committee is offering some light feedback and then we're hoping I can defend it before Jack comes.  If not, it isn't too big of a deal.  I'm just glad the proposal itself is written with some minor revisions remaining that I will get to this week.  With that behind me, I am able to relax and focus on Jack coming.

With Eliot at this point, I didn't want to do much more than lay around.  This time, though, I am itching to remain active.  We work in the yard pretty much every day, which has been eventful enough to keep me from feeling like we never leave the house.  Sometimes I find myself regretting it, though, because I end up with pains.  I went to the beach last week and tried to drink water and snack constantly, but still got sick in the car (after only staying an hour).  I was getting a lot of contractions for a few days, and Chris kept saying he was taking me to the hospital.  I said I was doing too much; Chris said I wasn't drinking enough water; the doctor said both at my 33-week appointment.  So, I've been drinking exclusively water lately and one glass of lemonade with dinner.  The other morning, it rained so we couldn't do much yard work.  I had done my work for my job before Eliot woke up.  After the sun came out, I settled into the hammock and Eliot fell asleep cuddling my legs.  I lay in that hammock for about an hour doing nothing, just looking up at the leaves in the Japanese maples above me and the palms around the pool.  It was great to have one hour to myself to relax, feel my older son sleeping on me and my younger son squirming inside, and not worry about or do anything.

I think that my appetite is increasing some.  I am eating larger portions than before, which are still a little less than I'd eat non-pregnant.  If I splurge, I feel so blerg that I can't find the motivation to do anything at all, not even (or especially not) dishes.  Chris has taken over dish duty in the evenings because I'm just so done by then.  My weight is doing OK, though, I think.  Over a couple of months, I wasn't gaining much (a pound every two weeks?) despite eating frequent, small meals; however, I think I'm at about 20 pounds gained, maybe a little less, so I am on pace to be at a good place when Jack comes.  For a long while, I had been craving icy, sour things, but lately, I don't know, nothing sounds great.  We tried splitting a blue raspberry drink from Dunkin Donuts between the three of us the other night to celebrate finishing the spring semester, but, meh, I'm just not into it anymore.  That's actually probably a good thing.  I'll just try to focus on drinking more water in the meantime.

Summer is my favorite season.  The beach, the pool, the warmth, the fruit, eating outside...  I was kind of worried about Jack coming right in the middle of the summer because I thought I'd feel too horrible at the end of my pregnancy to enjoy any of the usual summer activities and that then I'd have my hands full adjusting to a newborn.  I worried the summer would breeze by and we'd be stuck in another long, cold, nasty winter.  However, we've been doing a LOT of work to make our backyard into a tropical oasis, so I honestly don't even miss the beach too much.  And, you know, we might figure something out beach-wise too.  Until then, just stepping into our backyard is enough to make it feel like I'm at a resort.

This pregnancy, I have lived in four tank tops, two shirts, a pair of leggings, and two pairs of jeggings.  I also have a pair of non-maternity shorts that fit OK.  Instead of buying maternity shorts, I cut off one of the pairs of jeggings.  At first, it felt short-sighted.  Then I remembered that I won't be pregnant come fall when the weather grows cooler.  Well, it didn't work out as awesome as I hoped (the shorts are kind of too tight around my legs since they were jeggings), but it's nice to have another option.

Jack is moving a lot, especially when I eat.  I say that every time, but he is.  I love feeling him punch and kick and shift around.  It really blows my mind that he is in there--I never fully comprehend pregnancy.

When I break down the weeks and all of the exciting things we have going on, it feels like Jack will be here in no time.  In fact, it seems like it is just days away.  I hope it keeps feeling that way so I don't go too nuts waiting.  I am feeling antsy in my own skin.  It's not that I dislike being pregnant or that I even want it to end immediately necessarily, but I'm just ready to meet our boy.  I worried so much about missing feeling Eliot move at the end of my pregnancy--I thought I'd wake up the next morning and feel sad.  I was wrong.  Not only did I not wake up (because I never fell asleep), but I didn't miss being pregnant at all.  I was too captivated by our new baby boy.  I know it will be the same again, but that doesn't mean I'm not trying to hang on to each moment of this pregnancy and feeling for each kick.  That antsy feeling, though, it lingers still.  Just five or six more weeks.  Getting there.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Transition Away from Co-sleeping: Regression and Progress

I have written before about why we decided to co-sleep, our sleep battles in attempts to transition Eliot out of our bed, our most recent transition away from co-sleeping, and my search for new tools.  

Eliot recently turned from a not good sleeper into the worst sleeper.  The worst!  He kept creeping into our bed earlier and earlier.  Getting him to sleep for his nap and at bedtime was taking longer, requiring more wrestling (yes, I'd have to pin him down), and resulting in more tears (mostly his, but sometimes mine too).  At night, he'd wake up once an hour and a half or so.  I mean, full-on sit up in bed, talk a little, and then go back to sleep.  When he was asleep, he had to be holding onto me and was kicking Chris so badly that I was either constantly pulling Eliot away from Chris or Chris was actually getting up in the middle of the night to go sleep in Eliot's bed.

I'm all about co-sleeping if it is working and everyone is happy, but it wasn't working and no one was happy.  With a third trimester pregnancy belly and the burning need to change positions and use the bathroom, I was so uncomfortable.  I would wake up aching and my bladder felt neglected because I was trying nottt to get up to avoid disturbing my toddler (who would then greatly disturb my husband).  I was worrying all the time about how in the world this would work with a newborn--and time was running out.

I felt at a loss.  I tried everything I could think of.  And that's when Eliot tried some things I didn't want to.

In a matter of a week, Eliot stopped napping and using a paci.  Surely, I thought these things would make my life harder.  He's a mess without a nap--a really crazy mess running around my house throwing things.  However, without the nap, he started sleeping more soundly at night and didn't need the nap and no longer turned into a wild thing at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm.

We still have an afternoon "rest" time.  He does get tired around his old nap time, but doesn't act up.  I give him some milk and we cuddle while watching tv or reading books.  He rests for about 40 minutes or so, and then is back at it.  This down time seems to help.

As for the paci, we had lost them all, so I thought I'd give it a shot.  I thought it was going to be bad and hard and a fight.  But he just went to sleep without it.  He does wake up once at night without it, though.  He cries and cries until I get him something to drink.  I'm probably perpetuating a bad habit, but you try dealing with a hysterical, crying toddler in the middle of the night.  I've let him carry on for two hours (holding him and rocking him) and he doesn't stop until I get him some milk.  Honestly, I think he is hungry, so I've been trying to get him to eat an extra snack before bed and have a banana or a banana smoothie for the melatonin.  That actually seems to help.  Also, I'll slowly work the milk down and switch to water.  And then work the water down.  Or, if little dude just has to have water in the middle of the night for a while, I really don't care.  I'll deal with that whenever we switch out of nighttime diapers--and we haven't even started potty training.

So, what used to take 15-40 minutes of holding, sometimes crying, sometimes wrestling now just takes about 10 minutes of snuggling.  Whaaa?  All because Eliot no longer naps or uses a paci?

This might sound like the same old story from me, but lately I have been laying down with him in his bed to get to sleep around 9:30 pm.  He always says he wants to sleep in the big bed instead, but he drifts off without a fuss.  Then I leave.  And he wakes up around 4:00 am.  I try to get him back down.  Sometimes he needs the milk, sometimes he goes back to sleep, but this is usually when he gets in our bed.  Then he wakes up for the day around 8:00 or 9:00 am.

I said last time that I didn't mind him getting in our bed in the early morning.  I really don't.  I just wanted him to go to sleep faster (not 40 minutes) and stay asleep in his bed until 4:00 am--none of this asleep at 11:00 pm, wake up at 12:30 am, and then get in our bed at 2:00 am stuff.  And somehow without the nap and maybe the paci, he is sleeping better.  And the 4:00 am thing is working well enough, especially since he isn't kicking or demanding to hold onto me all the time.  While he isn't an independent sleeper all the way, we're at a really good place finally, I think.

p.s. If you were wondering how the weighted blanket worked from my last sleep post, well, it just didn't work out for us.  Eliot doesn't like blankets to begin with and wasn't a fan.  Maybe it'll help a little later.

Friday, May 17, 2013

So Grown Yet So Small

When I look at this picture, I see how grown my boy has become right in front of me.  He knows what he wants and tells us exactly what that is.  He is capable of so much and needs me less and less.  He has his momma's nose, daddy's serious expressions and eyebrows, and both of our tenacity (that we usually try to keep in check when at odds with each other--which fortunately doesn't happen often).

With Jack on the way soon, I know Eliot will seem less and less like the baby of the family, and I'm not quite ready to let my first-born grow up.  Where has the time gone? 
Don't get me wrong.  Two is a lot of fun.  Hard sometimes, but I love sharing life with him and watching his eyes light up.  He's more aware, understands what is going on, and gets excited.  These are experiences you can't share with an infant.

And then I realize that he is that toddler eating all of the strawberries at the you-pick patch.  Sure, he's putting them in the bucket too, but then taking them out and eating them.  And while I tried to stop our little strawberry thief, I am reminded that he's still so small--he's still a baby in many ways with that baby face.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Growing Palms and Babies

My mind and time has been consumed with the growing of two things:  our gardens and our baby boy.

Every day, there is work to be done in the yard.  Eliot splashes on the pool steps, plays in his sandbox, and throws everything (and I mean everything) he can get his hands on into the pool while I garden close by and Chris continually works on his excavation projects to prepare for more planting.  I push myself further than I should physically and drink too little water for a pregnant lady, resulting in pains later.  Chris tells me to go inside to give my body and fair skin a break.

We've been working hard to transform our backyard for a more, well, tropical feel.  The house came landscaped with awesome flowerbeds and brickwork, but everything was so overgrown that we had a lot of work on our hands.  A tropical backyard has been Chris's dream, and he is doing an amazing job.  I have been eager to take photos of our final product, but there is always so much more to accomplish that will make the yard look even better and more presentable.

Yesterday's work
Four of our six palms.

By the way, that dark area in the pool is an ore that Eliot threw in the pool.  Like I said, Eliot throws everything in that he can find.

Today's palm adventure on the other side of the pool:  a pindo palm.  Chris has been clearing that flower bed for over a week--so many bushes, roots, and four holly trees came down.  Eventually, we'll add two more large palms and another pindo to the fence line, but this is it for this year.  We might plant an agave plant or some flowers too.

We have one more palm to plant--just one more.  I think our backyard work will be finished in the next week.  I mean, we could do more, but we gotta call it quits eventually.  Eliot loves it, though.  He gets to play by the pool and dig holes every day.  That kid gets so many baths and showers.

All of the yard projects help keep my mind off of the baby growing.  I mean, it's not that I don't want to think of him, but I know I could drive myself crazy with the waiting and the growing and the speculating.  What will he look like?  When will he come?  What will labor and delivery be like this time?  How will we transition?  Wait, is my belly button seriously gone now?  I'm at 33 weeks, so I definitely have some time left to ponder the coming of our babe.  For now, I'm trying to keep busy.

Dear Eliot: Two Years, Four Months

Dear Eliot,

Right now, you are sitting next to me playing games on my phone.  You've always been so good at doing puzzles on the iPhone and iPad, and the games you play continue to grow more sophisticated.  You look like a little teenager with your electronics and games.

Lately, you haven't been demanding to watch Cars as much, which is a relief.  Now you always ask to watch UmiZoomi or Octonauts, so I have a few episodes recorded to meet your requests.  When tv characters ask you questions or tell you to say something, you shout enthusiastically at the tv.  I mean, I like Cars fine, but we had watched it almost daily for over a year.

With the weather warming up, we spend the majority of our days outside in the backyard.  You splash on the steps of the pool and throw toys (and everything else) in the pool.  Fortunately, at this point, you don't want to go in by yourself since it is kind of cold, so I can sit by the pool and watch you or keep an eye on you while doing yard work.  You have fallen in the pool once....  You were playing on the steps when you slipped.  I was right next to you and grabbed you right away.  You didn't cry or anything, just said it was scary and cuddled up for a little while.  Then you were right back playing on the steps.

We've had a couple of "big boy" adjustments as of late.  We lost all of your pacis, so instead of buying new ones, we decided to try taking them away for good.  I had let you keep the paci for bed and naps since you grind your teeth in your sleep.  And sometimes I let you have it when you got really upset.  I figured it was time, though, to let you be a big boy.  You went to sleep fine without it!  You don't really ask for it during the day either.  In the past five nights that you haven't had your paci, you have woken up screaming inconsolably three times, which is hard, but I think you'll work through it.  Also, you suddenly decided that you no longer nap.  I had you nap before because you'd get so very tired in the late afternoon; however, it was getting more and more difficult to get you to nap.  Since you stopped napping, you've slept better at night.  You still stay up late (9:30 pm or 10:00 pm) and wake up at the same time (between 7:30 am and 8:30 am, sometimes 9:00 am), but you are getting more solid sleep, I think.  And you don't seem to need a nap at all, just a little "rest time" when we lay down and cuddle for about 45 minutes.

Your speech is growing more clear and complex.  You speak in full sentences all the time and say the funniest things.  The other day, you went to the zoo with your dad.  When you got home, you came running to find me and told me all the animals you saw.  You said, "And a choo choo!  And I sat in a chair!"  This meant that you rode the train at the zoo.  I love how you say things--it's so cute.  You used to say "all right" instead of "yes" for a while, which was so funny because you'd be freaking out for juice, and I'd ask, "Do you want some juice?"  You'd reply "all right" in this Australian accent, like it was my idea.  That lasted for a few weeks, and now you say "yap" for "yes".  That is kind of silly too, but then I stepped back noticed that I say "yep" a lot.  Maybe that is weird of me.

Your speech also causes some frustrating instances as well.  You are really bossy at times.  I don't think that you quite understand this whole parent-child dynamic.  If you want to do something that you know I don't want you to, you tell me to "sit down" or tell me "bye-bye" while waving.  However, I am also quite proud of your manners.  You say please, thank you, bless you, and no thank you.  Even if you are in tears over me telling you that we have to go inside, you still usually say "no thank you" over and over instead of stomping around and screaming "no".

I think you are growing socially rather well.  You get so excited to see friends (both adults and kids) that you completely flip out and run in circles.  You love playing with other kids and running around.  I'm glad to see you engaging with others.  We're working on the whole sharing thing.  You do pretty well sharing other kids' toys, but sharing your toys confuses you.

In about six and a half weeks, your baby brother Jack will be here.  Sometimes I worry about the adjustment time; other times, I'm not overly concerned.  You are still so sweet to Jack, kissing, hugging, asking about, and poking my belly.

I had my third Mother's Day this year, and I felt so thankful for you, the one who made me a mom for the first time.  Thanks, Eliot, for loving me.

Monday, May 13, 2013

On Mother's Day

Growing up, I never realized how hard I must have been on my parents, and probably my mom in particular.  I thought I was an easy kid, and I know she made a big effort to give me great memories, have fun, get on the floor and play with me, and teach me.  I know I made it more difficult for her than it had to be.  I was unbelievably stubborn.  Some would say I still am, but I think those people just aren't considering how stubborn I used to be.  Dinner was a constant battle.  If I didn't eat my cheeseburger (yes, a kid denying a cheeseburger), I'd have to sit at the table until I finished it.  Many nights, I would sit alone at the table until 8:00 pm when my parents finally caved and let me go get ready for bed.  I won.  Mwahaha!  Or so I thought.  Sorry, Mom.

And I guess the thing is now that I am trying so hard every day to be my best for Eliot, I am coming to understand how sometimes a parent can get worn down.  And even if I thought I was a laid back, easy-going, self-disciplining kid, I know I gave my parents a hard time of it when I didn't need to.  Eliot was an easy baby; maybe he is now a difficult toddler.  Or maybe he is a normal toddler.  I don't know.  I can't compare because everyone's kid is different when taken out of their element--and Eliot is so extra rambunctious around other people.  However, I think this time in general is just a bit challenging.

For Mother's Day, we did some relaxing at home.  Chris got me flowers, a card, and breakfast.  We did some cleaning and laundry.  Then we sat out by the pool, but I couldn't keep myself from getting up and vacuuming the pool out.  Messes make me crazy until I take care of them.  I actually really enjoy cleaning--it's like the relief of scratching a horrible itch. 

Then we went to my parents' house for dinner with them, my sister and her family, and my grandma.  My grandma is growing more and more distant in her gaze, like a shadow, which is hard and confusing to watch, but I'm just hanging on to the hope that we're giving her everything we can:  good care at a great facility, seeing family frequently, and lots of cookies, Cracker Jacks, and Cokes.  The lady has gone nuts over cookies, Cracker Jacks, and Cokes lately, which I'm not saying is a good thing at all, but at her stage, it isn't all that bad either if that is what she really wants.  At the end of our visit, Eliot got extra hyper and energetic.  I knew he was tired.  By the time we got home, he was begging me to play dump trucks with him, but I had him lay on the couch with me, just for a moment.  And in that moment, he fell asleep, which really never happens.  Chris and I were able to talk some and watch tv before going to bed, a Mother's Day present from our sweet, sleepy Eliot.

Lately, our Eliot has been doing some big boy things.  He no longer naps.  We took his paci away four days ago--actually, we lost them all and figured it'd be a good time to try to put an end to it.  I hope we can stick with it.  With these two changes coming in one week, I felt like our baby boy was much more boy than baby--and he is.  And I felt a little sad.  However, since we've taken the paci away, he has woken in the middle of the night for two nights in a row screaming inconsolably for about 45 minutes.  Nothing seems to help.  I suppose it is a night terror or maybe he is just used to having the comfort of the paci (the latter is more likely), and all I can do is be there with him and wait for him to come out of it.  While I feel horrible that he is so upset and I hate seeing him cry, I was reminded that he is growing up for sure, but he still needs me.  He won't always think that he needs me, but right now, he does.  So even if I grow weary sometimes trying to give my all to my son all day, every day, it's what I hope for each day as a mother--to have the opportunity and privilege to wake up, dedicate my day to offering to build him into a happy, caring, loving, intelligent person and to hope that my offering is received.  I am thankful that my mom tried so hard each day, even when it didn't seem like she was getting through to me or making a difference, because she really did shape me into the person I grew into.  I hope that I make her proud.  I hope that she looks at me and thinks she did a good job.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Work, Play, and Writing a Dissertation

I sure was wrong about the weather (thankfully!).  It hasn't been all rain and gloom like I thought.  Instead, we've had nice, warm days with a little bit of rain here and there.  We've had picnics at the park, played in the backyard, and watched Chris get carried away with yard work in the name of palm trees (more on that later...).

I've gotten a lot of work done in the process too.  I'm at a good place with balancing family time with a toddler and grading.  Also, I hit a new level of progress with my dissertation.  I try not to write about school much on here, but I'll just say that I've never felt so close to this next step.  There are still many, many steps to follow, but I have struggled over the past year to write.  I have had to re-write my proposal about three times due to circumstances I can't control.  Throughout the process, my committee has been understanding and supportive.  It is still frustrating and hard to get going.  Sometimes it takes me an hour to get in a zone and figure out where I even left off with all of my research.  If I work while Eliot is napping, well, he is about to wake up after that hour (and I realistically need that nap time to grade).  And I cannot do that kind of writing while watching him.  Fortunately, my mom watches Eliot once a week for a few hours, but I often need that time to grade instead of writing.  Sometimes I lay awake at night just thinking of that dissertation and worrying about it and beating myself up about how I should be done by now.  However, I try to keep in mind that it is a big project, I can't control everything with it, I have a toddler and another baby on the way, and work full-time from home.  That's a lot to keep up with.  So, I'm hoping to finish up the proposal (!!) this weekend and then move on to the proposal defense (to then be followed by getting Institutional Review Board approval, conducting the research, analyzing the data, writing my conclusion, and defending the dissertation itself).

It is easy to get discouraged when I think of all the things I need to do and all of the commitments that I need to balance.  I worry about the stupidest things, like what the neighbors think of our front yard since we haven't mulched (if only they knew what we were doing out back...), and spread myself too thin over details that don't matter, like trying to keep the floors spotless--when you have a really dirty toddler getting multiple baths a day, the floor is going to have dirt on it.  However, this week, I am choosing to feel good about what I have accomplished and hoping for another productive week.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pregnancy Update: 32 Weeks

Eight, or maybe seven, weeks remaining.  Chris said the other day that it seems like I have been pregnant for a year, which makes sense since we have gone through a lot spanning longer than a year ago.

I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with worry after my 31-week appointment since I hadn't been thinking about how I need to keep an eye out for losing fluid.  I knew I would eventually, but I was "putting it off" in some ways.  Honestly, I have about six weeks before I get to the point that I started losing fluid with Eliot, so I don't need to be too concerned with that all right now, but it was a reminder that this time will come.  And I need to be mindful and careful.  I'm just thankful that my doctors are sensitive to this issue this time around instead of telling me I'm wrong.

At my 31 week appointment and ultrasound, everything looked great.  Jack weighed over three pounds (right on track), his measurements were awesome, and he had some hair.  Since then, I've dreamed of him being born with lots of dark hair, but that is just me trying to guess and make sense of things I cannot know.  At that point, Jack was head-down.  I mentioned in my last update that it felt like his hands were pushing off my left hip with his bottom or legs on my upper-right side of my stomach.  That's exactly how he was positioned.  I know he could possibly still flip around, but I hope he stays head-down.

It seems as soon as I hit 30 weeks (and I mean that same day), I entered a whole new stage in this pregnancy.  Minor carpel tunnel, Braxton Hicks contractions, a little more heartburn, aches in my hips, lower back pain, and all of that fun stuff.  All good signs!

This past week, we made our last road trip.  We went to Woodbridge to see Chris's parents and his aunt Barbara.  I don't think I traveled this late in my pregnancy with Eliot.  It was worth it to see everyone, though.


Jack is definitely more active at night.  He starts moving a lot around 9:00 pm.  Sometimes I can only describe Jack's movements as ripples.  Chris had no clue what I was talking about until the other night when Jack was moving crazy all over the place.  He said it totally made sense after feeling that.

We're still a ways out, but the reality of Jack coming is growing more and more real.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Woodbridge Dinosaur Weekend

I hope everyone had a great Cinco de Mayo.  We just had a couple of friends over for lunch and ate veggie tacos, guac, and chips.  Eliot wore what I am calling his Miami Vice shirt for the festivities.  Chris said that he is very jealous of this shirt, but isn't sure he could pull it off.  Instead, we put it on our son (not that we had found an adult version anyway...).

This is all after our trip to Woodbridge to see Chris's family, which I have been calling my last road trip.  Ever.  Not ever, just for a few months.  I didn't travel this late in my pregnancy last time and I knew I didn't want to during my last month especially, but I'm glad I had already decided to call it quits after this.  I didn't realize how sitting in the car for three or more hours would make me swell up and cause my legs, hips, and back to ache for days.  It was worth it to see Chris's family, though, and we made it!  I tried to keep my whining to a minimum, which I guess made it so Chris didn't realize I was hurting a bit and didn't understand why I wasn't being very talkative (and just staring out the window).  Oops.

While in Woodbridge, we drove about an hour to Dinosaur Land in Winchester.  They have all of these dinosaur statues (?) and scenes set up.  It's pretty awesome in a kitsch-y way.  Eliot was all kinds of excited and posed so well saying "cheese" by each one.  And then he was over posing and just wanted to run up the ramp to sit in King Kong's hand a lot.  I have tons of photos, but I haven't had time to pull them off the camera yet, so Instagram is what you get.

Chris and I haven't gone shopping in quite a while (not even to Target--I can't believe that it has been WEEKS since I've been to Target!), so we took advantage of Mawmaw's Eliot play time and also the cool stuff around Dinosaur Land.  We picked up a pair of moccasins for Eliot and also cowboy boots for Jack.  Then that night, we left Eliot with Mawmaw (Chris's mom) and headed to the mall for their Carter's outlet.  I hadn't been to a mall since Eliot had that meltdown almost two months ago.  Anyway, I was excited to get a few more rompers for Jack and use a 20% off coupon.  I'm not much of a coupon-er, but I was stoked to get some of these rompers for about $4.50, a pair of pants for $2, and so on.

The next few days are supposed to be rain-y and disappointing, it seems, but we'll just find things to do indoors.  This week, I'm looking forward to hitting 32 weeks tomorrow, grading, hopefully getting some writing done, and planning out some awesome meals.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Toddler Friends

I could write endlessly about how excited I am for Jack to come, to have two boys, and to watch these sons of mine grow into brothers.  Last night, Eliot swiped the ultrasound pictures from the fridge while excitedly saying, "Baby Jack!  Baby Jack!"  I like to think that he has some understanding of having a baby brother, even if he doesn't know what to expect all the way.

Last night, we had a couple of friends over for dinner.  Lesley blogs over at Everyday Moments, so drop by and wish her good luck as it is almost time for her to deliver her daughter, Eden, after having two adorable boys.  Eliot and Lesley's younger son (Weston) are just two months apart.  The funny thing is that Eden and Jack will also be two months apart.  And then Kingston is two years older than Eliot and Weston.  How's that for a math word problem for you?

Eliot loves playing with Kingston and Weston.  As soon as he saw Kingston come in the front door, he began running in circles and screaming.  And he ran into Chris's hand, which was holding a drink, so we started the night off with a spill.  Then Eliot started trying to tell Ben (Lesley's husband) about there being an alligator and water in the pool, but Eliot was so excited that he wasn't even making sense.  The rest of the night kept right on the same track with the boys running around, chasing the cat, chasing the dog, playing trains, playing cars, playing EVERYTHING, and having a quiet moment with iPhones.  It was a little bit chaotic, but a lot bit awesome.

Here are Weston and Eliot checking out the cat.  Can't reach her?  No problem.  Eliot dragged this chair in from the dining room.

This photo is swiped from Lesley, but we did get them to all sit down to eat dinner, which is a task I sometimes can't manage on my own with just Eliot.  He's always busy, busy, busy and eats later on his own.

Eliot is pretty all right with sharing other people's toys (not perfect but not too bad, really); however, it had been a while since he had friends over and had to share his toys, so I am realizing that is something new we'll need to work out.

Last night gave me a little glimpse of how it will be to have two boys.  Well, Eliot was a bit more crazy than usual since he was so stoked to see his friends (and promptly collapsed onto the sofa after our company left), but I can't wait for Jack to be able to play with Eliot and to watch these brothers fight over cars and learn to love each other.

And today we drive to Woodbridge!  We get to see Chris's parents, his aunt Barb from Florida, DINOSAUR LAND tomorrow, and then Chris's sister on Saturday!