Sunday, July 28, 2013

Life Lately

We've been keeping busy lately, but sometimes it feels like it is never enough for Eliot.  He is always excited for something to be going on.  Last weekend, we had our friends the Floyds over for lunch and pool playtime.  Eliot loves playing with their two boys, and Lesley's daughter (Eden) is just seven weeks older than Jack.  Weston and Eliot are about eight weeks apart too.  So while the boys played in the pool with the dads, Lesley and I set up a newborn nap party for the littlest ones.
About an hour after they headed out, we went to my parents' house for more pool time and dinner.  Eliot was acting extra weird and didn't want to go in the pool.  I blamed it on being hot and tired, but something was off.  He ended up falling asleep on me, which rarely happens.  When we got him home, I took his temperature.  Yep, a 101 degree fever.  What in the world?  I don't understand why we can't all just get well this summer.

The next day, Chris's parents and sister came in town.  See, I told you that we've been really busy.  Eliot was still running a fever and not feeling well, but he was so happy to see his Mawmaw, Granddad, and Aunt 'Liz-beth.  He recovered well enough and went to Busch Gardens with the grandparents where he discovered bumper cars and rode the ferry for the first time.

The weather cooled off a little this week, so we were able to go on adventures that I had been planning in my head, but knew would be hard with a newborn on hotter days.  We went to the zoo, took pictures in a cornfield, played at the park, went to the aquarium, bought some new books from Barnes and Noble, and more.

We always have something going on, yet Eliot still seems bored throughout the day.  The kid has some energy.  Maybe I need to plan more activities for at home to keep him busy in between all of our adventures.  I'm not as energetic and feel like I am constantly feeding Jack.  We're reaching a new level of normalcy, though, and I love watching these two boys interact.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dear Jack: One Month

Dear Jack,

I can hardly believe that it is already time to write this letter.  It feels like you have been with us for just two weeks, not a whole month.  At the same time, I struggle to remember what it was like being pregnant--you and I have recovered and transitioned quickly.

Before I had you, I worried about how I could adjust to having two little boys instead of one.  I loved you already and we had been praying for you for nearly a year and a half, but I didn't know if I'd be good enough for two boys.  But as soon as I saw you, my heart must have doubled in size because I love you two so deeply.  Caring for the two of you is so completely opposite, and I love you both for all of your differences.  Your brother is special to me because he was my first born and he turned me into a mother.  I love you because you are my second (and likely last) baby, the one who came after we experienced loss.  That loss too changed me and how I saw the world and understood life.  When you came, you healed my heart in ways that I didn't think was possible.

I am amazed by how we have settled into our little family of four.  Your brother is crazy about you and calls you his best friend.  Your dad is visibly more relaxed with taking care of you since this is the second time around.  Sure, we've had to re-learn many aspects of having a newborn, but I think we all have more peace and less worry.  I can't believe how easily we've all grown together.

You've been a pretty easy baby overall.  You nurse well and frequently.  You like to eat on the hour, but I have been trying to push you closer to two hours.  Sometimes that doesn't work out.  After you eat, you nestle in next to me and look so peaceful.  Unfortunately, that doesn't last because you usually need to spit up after you eat (even if I burp you right away).  We're slowly working through this, and I think it's getting better.  I hope you grow out of it over the next couple of months.

You are certainly growing a lot, though.  You grew out of your newborn onesies after just two weeks!

You're an alert little guy.  You love looking around and sometimes get bored just with hanging out on my lap.  You love being outside and looking up at the trees.  Your dad loves reading to you and your brother, and you really seem to enjoy it already.  When I get extra lazy, your dad walks you around the house.  He calls the Ergo carrier his secret weapon.  He likes to wear you up front and walk around so you can stare up at him and the lights in the house.  Sometimes he gets you to sleep at night this way.

I love seeing your inquisitive eyes looking up at me.  You lock eyes with me with an expression of absolute trust because you know nothing else in your innocence.

You usually take a long nap in the mid to late afternoon.  Then you wake up around dinner time.  During this nap, you wake up to eat every couple of hours, but you rest up for around five hours!  I joke that if I just had you to look after, I could get so much done around the house and would be incredibly bored.  Then you go to sleep for the night around 10:00 pm.  You wake every couple of hours or so at night to eat, and get up for the day around 8:00 am or so.  As you can see, your schedule is pretty predictable, which is such a blessing.  You set this routine yourself (I'm not good enough with baby schedules to establish one).

You're growing up on me fast.  I try to do tummy time with you each day, but sometimes it is hard to fit it in between you sleeping, eating, and waiting cautiously for you to spit up.  However, you don't seem to mind it at all.  Some babies hate it....  Maybe it doesn't hurt that you often have a partner.  Eliot likes to lay with you, hold your hand, and point out all of the animals on your play gym.

After you turned two weeks old, we started trying to take you and Eliot out on adventures.  It was about time because I was so bored!  You have been to the aquarium, a petting zoo, the bay to see sea turtles released, and to the Virginia Zoo.  During each of these outings, you just slept the whole time, which made it all quite manageable, but I do look forward to the days when you will be more aware when we do fun things.

You have grown so much in just this one month.  I am learning your different cries and what they mean.  I am learning how to balance all of the pieces of my life--both new and old.  I look forward to watching you grow, but I know that there is no going back and no photos or movie clips will make me remember how it felt to hold your tiny body.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dear Eliot: Two Years, Six Months

Dear Eliot,

We are at two and a half!  I have been telling people that you are two and a half for a couple of months since it is easier to say, so I'm used to it by now, but the thought of you being half-way to three?  That's crazy.

I have to say, two and a half is a lot of fun.  You are saying the funniest and silliest things.  You have an opinion about everything.  You are vocal and rarely speak in incomplete sentences.  You also are very sweet and tell me that you love me so many times throughout the day.  I love hearing that and I hope that you know how much I love you as well.

Perhaps the biggest change this month has been bringing home your baby brother, Jack.  I was terrified of being away from you while in the hospital.  I worried that you'd give your grandparents a hard time or that you wouldn't understand where I was.  You did great, though, and I'm sure I missed you more than you missed me.  You have stepped into your role as "big brother" in amazing ways.  You loved your Jack right from the beginning.  You don't seem jealous of him at all and always want to cuddle him.  You say some really sweet things, and I swear I didn't coach you into this.  You say you love Jack, that he is your best friend, and that Jack is cute.  You bring him your toys to play with and try to get him to hold your finger.  You ask to "pet" him, hold him, kiss him, and cuddle.  You bring me diapers, blankets, and anything else that I ask for.  And whenever you notice Jack spitting up (which happens frequently), you let me know.  Perhaps cutest of all, when Jack cries, you say, "Aw, Jack.  It's all right.  I'm here.  Ma is here."  You break my heart with cuteness, Eliot Thomas.

The other day, I was cooking dinner in the kitchen and keeping an eye on you and Jack in the den.  He was laying on the floor while you talked to him.  I peered over and saw you trying to read your Thomas the Train book to him.  You even turned the book around to show him the pictures.  It was the most adorable thing ever.  I tried to record it on my phone, but you noticed me and then started posing for pictures instead.  I knew you'd make a great big brother since you love babies, Eliot, but I didn't know you'd be THIS good at it!

I've been trying to keep us all entertained enough even though life has slowed down some with a newborn.  You and your dad have spent a lot of time swimming, and you keep getting better.  You swim in this blue innertube all by yourself.  You swim really fast too and like to race across the pool with your dad.

I think you're getting a little better at listening to directions.  A little...  If you're doing something that I told you not to (like trying to climb in the pantry to get M&Ms), I just have to ask, "Do you want me to get mad?"  You say no and generally stop whatever it is that you are doing.  I'm glad I figured out this phrase because I was getting really tired of having to yell when you're doing something you shouldn't and I can't get up because I'm nursing Jack.

Recently, you have started acting afraid of the dark.  When I take you to bed, you tell me that you are scared.  I ask what you're afraid of and you say t-rex.  Little dude, t-rex is your favorite dinosaur.  After I assure you that there are no more t-rexes, you correct me by telling me that you have a t-rex in your dinosaur basket.  This is true, Eliot, but no t-rex is going to come eat you.  I think you're making up excuses to avoid going to bed, honestly.

You really enjoyed July Fourth this year.  You probably would have last year too, but we didn't really see any fireworks.  This year, though, you played with sparklers and saw lots of fireworks in both my parents' neighborhood and then in our backyard.  We even let you stay up an hour past your bedtime to watch the fireworks.  For days afterward you would ask, "Where'd the fireworks go?"  You wanted to see more.  Next year, little guy.

Lately, you have gotten really excited about dancing, which is pretty hilarious.  You bring so much light to our lives.  Eliot, I'm so glad that you're our boy.  It's been a great two and a half years.  Each month, I learn more about both you and myself.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Past is Prologue

The mornings in the forest were always colder than the nights, it seemed to me, even in the spring.  Packing up the tent and returning the sleeping bags to their stuff sacks made my fingers hurt.  We would bring oat meal, coffee, and tea for breakfast to break the cold, but we never actually made them.

Today, I missed that cold, that smell, those forests, and those mountains.  It has been too long since we have gone backpacking or camping.

Chris and I shared a lot of adventures in the mountains before having kids.  It was our escape, one we really needed, especially during grad school when we were so stressed all the time.

I'm not trying to say that our "life" ended with having kids or that even hiking and camping became part of the past.  Heck, we took Eliot camping when he was three months old and he was an angel.  We slowed down with camping because we found ourselves too busy--and that is something I regret--but we still took advantage of the trails even with Eliot. 

We've kept busy these past few days with Eliot and Jack.  We've gotten out of the house every day to do something eventful.

We went to the petting zoo at the Hunt Club Farm where Eliot fed baby goats and rode a horse.

Then we went to the bay in the morning to see two sea turtles released.  In the evening, I took Eliot out for a mom and Eliot adventure to get free slurpees.

This evening, we went to the aquarium.

Right now, we're not in a season that is very good for camping.  I'm looking forward to days when both boys are older and we can have fun doing "bigger boy" adventures, like hiking and camping.  At the same time, I am holding close to this time when Jack is fresh to the world and Eliot is a cheery-eyed toddler who thinks everything he sees shimmers.

Tonight after I made a well-rounded dinner of mac'n'cheese and raspberries, Chris read poetry to us.  Raymond Carver and Walt Whitman.  Jack nursed sleepily while Eliot tried his best to repeat the lines that Chris read aloud.  Our days go by quickly in a blur.  We try to hang on by getting out.  We might not be climbing mountaintops, but the times I cherish most are those spent quietly with my family.  These two boys of ours are far more amazing adventures than any hiking trip--and one day I'll take them on the trails and watch their eyes grow wide as they look over the edge.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Baby Portraits and the Two-week Appointment

Photographs are so important to me.  I have been itching to take Jack's newborn photos for a while and we finally took them today.

I have a few more to edit, but these are the main ones.

I managed to get a few with Eliot too.  Eliot loves posing for photos and also adores his baby brother, but when Jack cuddles are possible, it is hard to get him to look at the camera.  I know I will treasure these pictures forever.

And of course for fun, I like to compare Jack to Eliot.  I'm not trying to convince myself or anyone that they are identical twins, but I like remembering what Eliot looked like and wondering if Jack will grow to look similar to Eliot now.  I love that they have shared features, like their noses, but they are also unique.  I can't wait to watch them grow together.

Today was also quite eventful for me because I actually got out of the house.  We went to Target so I could buy some new shirts (I may have lost weight, but I was in need of some nursing-friendly clothes), more diapers, some more swaddling blankets (Jack loves to be swaddled!), and burp clothes (Jack really needs them since he spits up a bit).  We're doing OK with clothes.  As I washed all of his newborn clothes in preparation of his arrival, I was afraid we had gone overboard with clothes.  However, I still end up doing laundry twice a week because the kid goes through some outfits (three a day or more).

After Target, Chris and I took Jack to his two-week doctor's appointment.  He is up to eight pounds and three ounces!  In case you are curious, here is his weight gain so far:
Birth on 6/26:  6 lbs, 12 oz.
Leaving the hospital on 6/28:  6 lbs, 9 oz.
First doctor's appointment on 7/1:  7 lbs, 5 oz.
Two-week doctor's appointment on 7/9:  8 lbs, 3 oz.

The kid loves to drink milk and I am so thankful that he is doing great nursing.  I am hoping that we can make it to six months, but at this point, I don't see why that would be a problem at all.  His appointment went well and the doctor said it would be OK for us to take Jack out and about more.  I'm really looking forward to that because poor Eliot has been bored out of his mind, and I have been out of my mind too trying to keep him entertained without watching too much tv.  I hate tv....

After Jack's appointment, we picked Eliot up from my mom's house.  I am so thankful that she was able to watch him so Chris could come to the doctor's appointment too.  We came home and took Jack's pictures.  Then we made dinner and played outside until Eliot started acting super sleepy.

It's amazing that Jack will be two weeks old tomorrow.  I told Chris that it feels like he has been with us for a month and that I have been un-pregnant for a couple of months.  Funny how time works like that.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Life Lately

Chris and Eliot are off on a run followed by a beach trip to the bay.  I'm pretty jealous since I can't go on adventures yet, but I plan to catch up on some cleaning and rest up with the littlest guy.  Jack sleeps a lot, which is really different than what I remember with Eliot.  Eliot would nap, but just little cat naps here and there for about fifteen minutes.  Jack, though?  He is wide awake for a few hours at a time and then clonks out.  He makes for a really easy newborn.

Honestly, the hardest thing about Jack is the time after feeding.  He looks so peaceful and sleepy after he has eaten, but I know I have to keep him sitting up or else he will surely begin to cry.  A lot.  His tummy seems to hurt and he spits up a bit, but I'm thankful we can nurse or else I know it'd be worse.  He'll likely grow out of it, and I don't think his spit up is acidic, but I'll definitely be mentioning it to the doctor again on Tuesday for his two-week check up.

The past few days have been filled with lots of "firsts".  First baths for the boys together (well, Eliot was in the tub and Jack was in his whale tub on the floor).  First rounds of tummy time for Jack, and Eliot loves to lay with him.  First rounds of sleep smiles.  First brothers' story sessions with Dad.

For July Fourth, we spent some time playing by the pool and eating snow cones.  Chris had iced coffee instead....  Then we went to my parents' house where Chris and Eliot had more pool time with the cousins and I sat inside with Jack.  I don't want to let him get too hot, you know.  We had dinner and then Eliot and his cousins played with sparklers.  Eliot was getting quite sleepy around nine, but we let him stay up to see some firecrackers go off in my parents' neighborhood.  We left just in time to get home and our neighbors were setting off some pretty impressive firecrackers too, so we watched those and did more sparklers until around 10:30 pm when I took Eliot to bed.

I think Chris and Eliot have gotten over the worst of that nasty cold for now.  And then I woke up feeling achy and overall bleh.  Yep, I had a low fever again.  This thing just won't go away.  My parents (who also got the cold when I did) kept warning me that they were having little "relapses" of sickness, so to keep an eye out.  I didn't want to believe it, but here I am feeling crummy again.  However, it's not like I can go anywhere anyway at this point, so I'm not missing out on much.  I just hope Jack doesn't get it, but we're still nursing, so he should be good.

I'm so in love with having these two boys.  I worried about how I could love two, but it has come natural and easy.  I didn't expect to notice their differences so much and appreciate those differences.  I hold Jack so much that when I pick up Eliot, I am amazed by how sturdy he is.  I knew he wouldn't be the "baby" of the family anymore, but I thought I'd always see him that way since he was my first baby.  However, he seems so big.  I didn't expect that.  I love Eliot for the sweet and funny things he says, how he loves to play rough and also cuddle, and for his independent spirit.  I love Jack for his beautiful, soft gaze, his soft skin, his tolerance for being poked, his easy-going nature, and his passion for drinking milk.  I love Eliot and Jack together--I love how Eliot counts Jack's fingers and asks to "pet" him, and I love how Jack just stares at Eliot in wonder.  A lot of people said a lot of negative things about having two kids, especially with two boys, and I know there will be hard days, but right now it is nothing but beautiful to me.