Monday, September 30, 2013

Life Lately

Our days have been busy with fun things, work things, family things, and ho-hum, day-to-day things.  I've had little time for thinking and even less for writing.

We took the boys to pick out pumpkins and buy mums for our front yard.  Eliot was most interested in the cat, Bones.  He kept bringing his little pumpkin to the cat and saying, "She likes my pumpkin!"  I love his gentle spirit.

Chris took Eliot to Busch Gardens for some time together on Chris's 28th birthday.  It was all set up for Hall-o-scream, but Eliot apparently was not scared at all....  He just kept saying, "It's not real.  It's p-tend."  Ha.  Meanwhile, I stayed home with Jack to cuddle, do work, and pick up some surprise cup cakes.  The night before, we all went out to dinner and then shared icecream on the beach.  All in all, I'd say it was a successful birthday for Chris.

This week, I also took Eliot and Jack to the Hunt Club (just the three of us) to give Chris time to work.  Eliot loves petting the goats, and I always think back to when I would play in my grandparents' field and try to herd their goats and sheep.  I always wish I could take Eliot there, but at least there is always the Hunt Club--and he generally gets a pony ride too.
I haven't taken photos for anyone in a while, but I had the chance to take some portraits for my friend Lesley and her family.  It was a super quick, small session because she was just hoping for one shot to have made into a canvas.  I was so humbled to be the one to take this photo for them and contribute a portrait to go on their wall--a memory of where they are in life at this time.  Afterward, we had dinner and a bonfire at our house with them and my friend Kimmy.  The boys had a blast creating "dinosaur land" out of train tracks and Eliot's dinosaurs.  Eliot loves having friends over and cries, "I want to see you!" whenever they leave--or, in Kimmy's case, "I want M&Ms!"

Out of all of our fun adventures, though, the day-to-day is my favorite.  Giving the boys a bath.  Carrying Jack around in the ergo while I clean.  Watching Eliot trying to calm down a crying Jack, saying, "Aw.  It's all right."  Laying in bed with a sleepy Jack.  Playing frogs with Eliot.  Tucking Eliot in bed at night.  These things are all "routine" and happen every day, but it won't always be this way.  And I'll miss it.  I already do.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dear Jack: Three Months

Dear Jack,

At three months, you barely resemble the newborn that you once were.  This month has been the biggest month of change for you yet, I think.

You have become much more aware and alert.  You have always loved to lay down, kick your legs, and stare up at lights, but now you seem to really concentrate on toys, images, and faces.  You "track objects" across the room.  To be more specific:  me.  You are almost constantly staring me down if I am not holding you.  You raise your eyebrows and stick your tongue out like you are waiting for your next meal.  It's pretty funny.

You started smiling a while ago, but now you mimic smiles.  I can get you to smile almost every time by giving you a big smile.  You think it is hilarious when I blow my lips, and you love your tummy being blown on.  You are happiest in the mornings when you smile constantly, and your morning spit ups are growing less in volume and frequency.  You still spit up after most feedings in the morning, but only once instead of four or five times like before.

You are rather easy-going and happy.  You only start fussing when you are hungry.  You love diaper changes and being without clothes.  However, you hate the car.  Like, really, really hate the car.  You can be fed, changed, and happy until we put you in the car.  I even sit with you sometimes and that isn't enough.

You are a super strong little guy and hold your head up great.  I can even hold you in the air like Super Man, and you control that head wonderfully and give lots of smiles.  At about nine weeks, you rolled from back to tummy, but have not done it again all the way.  This month, we put you in a swing at the park for the first time.  You loved it!  I only kept you in for a short while because I know it was hard for you to keep control of your neck for that long while also swinging.

You keep on growing great!  You are wearing all three-month clothes and six-month sleepers.  I weighed you at home recently and you weighed 14.2 pounds.  That is more than twice your birth weight!  Your eyes are still blue and seem to be getting lighter, if you ask me.  I am pretty sure that they are going to stay.  You look like you are losing your hair in pictures, but really your hair is turning blond!  I thought that might happen, but not so quickly!  When I look at you, sometimes I see parts of your brother and sometimes I see your dad.  So often, though, you are just uniquely Jack--our Jack.

Your sleep is going rather well, I think.  You generally wake up twice a night for feedings and a diaper change.  You go to sleep for the night around 8:30 pm or 9:00 pm.  Then you are up for the day about 8:30 am.  You nap inconsistently, but it works.

Right now, I think your favorite thing is the world is water.  You love baths, swimming in the pool, and putting your feet in the ocean.  Unfortunately, the season of "water" has come to an end, but we can still play in the tub.

You and your brother are still getting along great.  You recently had your first baths together.  Eliot was so excited to have you in the tub with him, and he was surprisingly gentle.  No splashing at all!  I love watching you two grow together.
We took you on your first camping trip this month, and it really went rather smooth.  You loved looking up at the trees, and you slept in my sleeping bag with me great.

I often think back to the day that we had our gender ultrasound with you.  My mind was going crazy guessing if you were a girl or a boy.  That night we would find out and I could begin imagining the new dynamics of our family.  I saw that you were a boy before the ultrasound tech announced it, and in that moment, the reality of you began to grow in my heart.  A boy.  Two boys.  I was so happy to learn of you.  You will hear this the rest of your life, but your brother asked, "More cars?"  I couldn't wait to introduce you two and watch you grow together.  And when I watch you sleep, I think back to that night and remember when I knew so little about you, just that you were my baby being knit together, growing from me.  And here you are:  it was you all along.  My boy.  My Jack.

Jack, you are my little buddy.  I love holding you close in our sling when we go shopping.  I am never alone--you are always with me except for a few short instances, like when I shower or tuck your brother in bed at time.  I'm not complaining; I love your company.  I love having you near as you rely on me for food, care, and protection.  I think you understand who I am.  I mean, I'm sure you don't know that I am your mom necessarily, but I think you recognize me (or my smell.  or smell milk), and I think you see me as someone good, someone who takes care of you.  Our relationship right now is so simple--primal, even--and I love how easy it is for us to understand one another. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Camping

We're just a couple days into fall and I've already tackled a few adventures on my list.  Last week, we went camping.  Chris and I used to backpack in the summers before we had kids, and we did camp once when Eliot was three months old, but this was our first time in over two years.

I was really excited to take Eliot camping again and for Jack's first road trip and camping trip.  OK, so I was not looking forward to the road trip part at all with Jack because he hates the car, but I figured we'd make it work.  And we did.  The four-hour trip took five hours with stopping to feed him twice, but when we got there, Jack was all smiles while he looked up at the trees.  That kid loves outside.

Eliot was stoked to help set up the tent, climb on rocks, and explore.  We built a fire, played with sticks, and waited for the stars to come out.  It was all going smooth (and wasn't even too cold) until the campground "hosts" came by to check if we had paid.  They were friendly and all, but warned us about the possibility of bears.  And Eliot promptly freaked out.  And hid under the picnic table.  He really wanted to get in the tent, like, RIGHT NOW.  Poor little guy.

We managed to get everyone to sleep and Eliot accepted that we weren't going home and that we weren't going to be eaten by bears.  But, dang, it was cold in the morning.  I can handle the cold myself, but I felt bad for the boys.  Chris and I packed up while letting the boys sit in the [heated] Jeep and took turns keeping an eye on them.
It was a lot of fun to get out camping again, and I'm just glad no one fell in the creek.  We survived, I think we all had a good time, and I managed some cute photos.  And I'm really proud of Jack doing such an awesome job camping at only two and a half months!  I'm looking forward to camping again in the spring.  I think it'll just be too cold to camp again this fall.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dear Eliot: Two Years, Eight Months

Dear Eliot,

We have so much fun with you these days.  You are such an individual.  Our trips to the beach are full of excitement as you run around chasing seagulls, jumping in the water, and digging holes.  You love being outside and going on adventures.  At the same time, you love going to the aquarium and playing dinosaurs at home.
You've been saying complex sentences for a while, but lately I've been really impressed with sentences you put together.  I was telling you that you made Jack happy and you made me happy too.  You replied, "I make both of you happy!"  I think that is a rather advanced concept to grasp, and I love how you are learning how to say the same thing but in different ways.  Maybe that is the writer in you.

Speaking of writing, I started working on writing letters with you at the end of last month.  I would write out your name and then you would trace the letters.  A couple of days later, you proclaimed that you wrote your name by yourself.  Sure enough, you wrote out a few letters, but you distinctly wrote "E O L" among them.  I was impressed!  Then at your doctor's appointment, I was filling out a form.  After I wrote your name, you asked, "You writing my name with that pen?"  So, I think you really can recognize your name written out.  You love drawing and coloring, and your pictures often do look like what you call them.  You draw alligators, sting rays, people, and so many, many things.
Recently, you had taken to being "shy" around people--even people you know very well--especially adult men.  You cover your eyes with my hand and hide behind me.  I know this is just a phase, but it sure is silly.  After a little while, you warm up and are your usual, bubbly self.

We took you to your two and a half year appointment this month, which was a little late, but not too bad.  At three feet tall, you are still 90 percentile for height, just like from your very first doctor's appointment as a newborn.  I am always a little worried about your weight since you are so slim, but the doctor said that you are so tall that it would be nearly impossible to "bulk" you up.  She was happy with everything with your development, and you have met all of the two and a half milestones months and months ago.  I'm so thankful that you are doing well in all areas.

You are an amazing big brother.  When I set Jack down in his carseat, you rock it gently and ask so sweetly, "You wanna get out, Jackie?"  You always want to be holding his hand.  You act so concerned whenever Jack cries and assure him that "it's all right".  You call him your best friend, buddy, baby brother, and say you love him.  Your dad offered to take you on a special trip to get pancakes with him, but you said you didn't want to go if Jack didn't come too.  You draw pictures for Jack, and I love watching you "read" to him and trying to show him the pictures in your books.  You've been my "baby" for so long that it is so odd and beautiful to watch you care for another baby.

Eliot, you make me so proud every day.  Thank you for your trust, your love, your hugs and kisses--I treasure each day with you.

Friday, September 13, 2013

End of Summer

It has been a while since I've updated beyond monthly letters to the boys.  I've felt repetitive, busy, and maybe even a little overwhelmed.  I don't open my laptop these days unless it is to do work.  Really, I just leave it in my bedroom and use it when the boys are asleep.

Multitasking is a must with a toddler and a newborn, but I find that if I limit my distractions (like a computer), it makes for happier babies.  This is probably obvious.

I do want to try to write on my blog for myself, though, because I always like looking back and remembering what happened.

Summer is my favorite season.  I hate losing the warm weather, the possibility of swimming, and the sunny skies.  Since this might be one of the last weeks of warmth before fall comes, we tried to take advantage of everything we missed earlier in the summer due to me being very pregnant (I threw up when I tried to go to the beach...) and then Jack being born (newborn at the beach?  tricky).

We went to the beach three times and also swam at my parents' house since their pool is alwaysss warmer than ours.  Jack went in the pool and in the beach for the first time, and he actually really liked it.  Well, his second time in the beach water, he was not stoked about it, but he did fine the first time and loves splashing in the pool.

Chris's parents came in town for a short visit on their way to and from Georgia for a wedding.  It's always great to see them, and Eliot asks to see them again for days and days.  We'll need to get up to Woodbridge to see them as Jack grows to a good place for a road trip.  He doesn't take a paci, so car rides aren't as, well, smooth as they were with Eliot.

One thing I am looking forward to with fall is Jack's new wardrobe.  He is growing out of most of his summer clothes, and the new clothes I picked up for him are all for the fall.  I can't take the little dude out in 80-degree heat with long sleeves and jeans....  So, yes, I am excited about seeing Jack and Eliot in their new clothes.

So, to pump myself up about fall coming, here is a list of things I plan (or hope) to do this fall:
Pick out pumpkins and go for a hay ride at a local farm.
Wear boots.  Lots of boots (or just the two pair that I own).
Go camping.
Visit Lynchburg.
Take Eliot to a Liberty football game.
Enjoy a pumpkin spiced latte.
Take Eliot and Jack to the Safari Park at Natural Bridge.
Have a bonfire.
Go for a walk at Colonial Williamsburg.
Bake an apple pie.
Take the boys trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.