Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

It feels like this is Eliot's first "real" Halloween.  It was his first time picking out his costume and also his first time trick-or-treating.  Nearing three years old, he is so aware and learning all of those difficult-to-explain abstract concepts, like holidays.

For weeks (well over a month, actually) Eliot has been asking to "go to Halloween" and "be Buzz Lightyear" and for Jack to be "Hoody".  I was counting down the days until we could go to Party City to buy that dang Buzz costume so Eliot would step begging allll day, every dayyy long to be Buzz.  "Pleeease be Buzz?" he asked.  Oh goodness.

Sure enough, tonight Eliot got his wish.  He was Buzz Lightyear and Jack was Woody.  I know it's not super original and I definitely didn't make their costumes.  So many boys love Buzz and then make their younger brothers be Woody (or the other way around), but it is so Eliot.

Eliot did an amazing job.  While we waited for the right time to start trick-or-treating, he patiently wandered the frontyard kicking pine cones and leaves.  He posed for all of my annoying photos and smiled (even though I can't ever get him to look directly at the camera for some reason).  We had rehearsed saying "trick or treat" and "thank you," which he was a little shy about at first.  He kept saying "trick or treat" as soon as he saw a person come to the door, far before they could hear him.  However, by the end of the night, he was shouting across the street to strangers, "HI!!!  Do you LIKE my costume?!?!"

Jack did well too considering that I woke him up from a desperately-needed nap in order to get him dressed.  And a baby and a cowboy hat?  Those two don't mix, but Jack just went along with it anyway.  I gotta say, he made a super cute Woody.  Then when we were about half-way done trick-or-treating, Jack fell asleep in Chris's arms and just went along for the ride.
It was really nice to have a chance to meet some of the neighbors that we hadn't met yet.  Cute kids in costumes makes for a pretty good icebreaker, too.

We don't give Eliot candy often.  I mean, before we bought Halloween candy to hand out, I'm not sure that he had more than one piece of candy per month, or even that much.  So, asking a toddler to maintain self-control with all this candy around?  Nope.  You guessed it.  Eliot ate about six pieces, ran around in circles, wanted to literally fight Chris for more Reece's cups, and passed out shortly after I took him to bed thirty minutes early.  Phew!  I think we'll be hiding the rest of the candy for a while, but it was an exciting night and quite the exception to allow him to enjoy his spoils of knocking on so many doors.

And just because I like looking back at the past so much...

Here is Eliot as a dinosaur in 2012

And an ewok in 2011.

It was a good night.  And now, like an old person, I am SO ready for bed.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Life Lately

It has been a rough few days.  On Monday, Jack was either in tears or needing to be held all day.The next day, Eliot woke up and promptly threw up in my bed.  The little guy has only thrown up two other times in his life, so this was really weird, and he kept throwing up on the hour.  Fortunately, he got much better in the afternoon and is back to normal all the way.  For three nights both boys stayed up past 11:00 pm, which is so nuts because they kept waking up at their normal time in the morning.  And Jack has been waking four times a night.  Ahhh!

Tonight, though, both boys went to sleep shortly after 9:00 pm.

It's been, well, an off few days for me and I've felt super cooped up (and we went to the zoo today, so it was great to get out), but I'm trying to focus on the good details. 

Exploring caterpillars in the backyard with Eliot.

Jack's inquisitive, observant eyes.

The way Eliot always wants to hold Jack's hand.
All of Eliot's precious and hilarious sayings.  And how he gasped with amazement every time I turned the page in the Toys'R'Us Christmas catalog.

And carving a pumpkin with my little buddies, even though I didn't feel like it, because I knew I'd regret it if we didn't.  It was worth getting up and continuing our little Halloween tradition.

Sometimes I worry about Eliot getting too "materialistic" with the way he wants so many toys and just... things.  However, he gets most excited about a new pack of crayons, some notebook paper, and my attention while he draws.  I draw with him every day, but I should arrange for us to have longer sessions.  It really seems to mean the world to him.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dear Jack: Four Months

Dear Jack,

Here we are at four months!  That means you are a third of the way to being a year old.  Goodness!

You have been growing great.  You are wearing size three diapers and six-month clothes.  I'm not sure of your exact weight right now since your appointment is a few days away, but you seem to be about fourteen and a half pounds.  You look so different from your newborn photos, and it makes me so glad that I took tons of pictures all day (even if they were just on my phone at times).  One thing seems to remain the same, though:  those eyes are still blue blue blue.

This month, we've tried putting you in the jumparoo.  You are able to bounce some and enjoy it until you get your hand stuck or something.  Tummy time has really been paying off.  You can roll over from back to tummy.  You lift your head turning tummy time with ease.  You scoot around and spin in circles when playing on the floor.

You are still sleeping in our room in the portacrib by my bed.  I was going to try to transition you over to your own room, but you've been waking up more lately.  Sometimes I blame teething (did I mention that you are working on two teeth already?). You sleep better than your brother did still, thankfully, but you are a little bit of a rough sleeper lately.  You start getting tired around 9:00 pm and sometimes sleep, but you almost always wake up screaming at 11:00 pm.  Then you wake again around 3:00 am, 6:00 am, 7:00 am, and 8:00 am.  Sometimes I let you grumble yourself back to sleep, but I don't leave you crying.  I'm no good at cry-it-out.  I'm trying to work on getting you used to the crib, though, during the day.

You're such a happy boy.  I love watching you smile and laugh in the mornings.  You love to kick, pull on my hair, and watch us blow our lips at you--you try to blow back!  You are so vocal and make all kinds of noises.  Sometimes you sound just like a cat.

These days, you are so alert.  You love watching the fish at the aquarium.  You laugh at the salty breeze of the ocean.  You are fascinated by your brother.  You like watching football with your dad.  You also like You Gabba Gabba, just like your brother did.  I wonder what things you will grow to love as your personality grows.

Your brother is getting to the age where we are trying to get him more active.  We're looking into soccer and swim lessons....  It's a lot of fun to see him get excited and I'm looking forward to it, but it also makes me appreciate this simple time I have with you.  As a baby, you are so different from your big brother.  The challenges are as different as the rewards.  I love the two of you together--you complement one another and shape us into a great family.

You are my little buddy, Jack.  We are always hanging out.  The longest I have been away from you has probably just been an hour or so when I have gone down the road to my parents' house for a small visit.  It seems strange that it has been four months of having you by my side all day and all night because it seems so incredibly normal.  I love our "new normal" and the family we have grown into.  This month, it was a year ago that we learned about you.  What a wonderful, amazing, happy day.  Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for all of you--my boys.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

In the Early Morning

It is 3:00 am or maybe 4:00 am or even just 2:30 am.  The exact time doesn't matter.  Jack begins thumping his feet in his crib and grumbling--he's hungry.  I stumble to the portacrib next to our bed and check if his diaper is wet.  Guided by the dull glow of our closet light (our temporary night light for these first few months), I change his diaper and hope that he does not lose his patience with me and cry loud enough to risk waking his brother in the next room.  Fortunately, he giggles as he welcomes a fresh diaper.  I think of checking the time, but I did not remember to put on my glasses.  Resisting the urge to cuddle up in bed with Jack (because I'd surely fall asleep), instead I sit on the edge of my bed and nurse him.  The time goes slow.  Sometimes I feel dizzy in my drowsy state and forget what I'm doing.

But I look down and watch him gulp peacefully as he fills up and slowly falls back asleep.  And I know that even if I am tired, this is something that no one else will ever experience with him.  The quiet of the room.  The moments when it is just me and him awake in the early morning while everyone else is asleep.  A baby, full and satisfied, falling asleep on you is among the best feelings in the world.  I try to remember it all, and my memories are all that will track this history because Jack surely will forget.  I can't even take a photo of him in the night to help the permanence of this moment that will pass by all too quickly--the room is too dark.  It is our special time together and it is so temporal.

I am blessed to be his mother.
I am blessed to have a healthy baby waking me in the night.
I am blessed to be able to nurture him with milk--not everyone can.
And I am blessed to be able to recognize all of this.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Growing Family

Some nights, it is hard getting Eliot to bed.  He might cry or say he wants to sleep in my bed or claim that he "can't" go night night.  More often, though, these arguments settle, and Eliot tells me the sweetest things.  He lists all of the people who love me (including each member of both sides of our families) and then lists all of the people who love him.  Tonight, he told me that he would always love me, and my heart melted right there.

These nights of tucking Eliot in are indeed laborious, but they are so, so sweet too.  Each night, I come away exhausted, but thankful for him and thankful for our families.  I am so thankful that Eliot and Jack have so many people who love them dearly--and I am thankful that Eliot is confident that he is loved.

Each year, our families grow and change.  Chris's parents and sister came in town this weekend, which was great, but it wasn't a planned trip.  They came in for a funeral.  Chris's great aunt Martha died.  This funeral comes on the heels of another loss.  About a week and a half ago, Chris's great aunt Vivian passed away.  Both of these great aunts were closer than your typical extended family; they were more like grandmothers to Chris and his sister.

Death always makes us reflective.  It makes us value life more, I think.  I know it does for me, at least.  I don't want to have any regrets with my family.  I don't want to wish that I took more pictures or said "I love you" more or spent less time worrying about the inconsequential details of life.

For a few summers, we used to go to the same beach house with Chris's family.  We took a family portrait about every other year.  We have taken a total of five family portraits together.  It always meant a lot to me that they allowed me in their family pictures, even before Chris and I were engaged.  It seemed like it had been a while since we took a family portrait, and I really wanted some more photos of them all with Jack, so I set one up.  I think we all look pretty good!


Looking back, I remembered that we also took a portrait together last summer too.  It wasn't entirely planned.  None of us dressed up.  However, I still value it.  It has "only" been a year, but so much has changed.  Eliot has grown an incredible amount.  Our Jack-Jack is here with us now, too.  Sometimes we lose family members, but our family grows too.  I wonder where we'll be in another year.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dear Eliot: Two Years, Nine Months

Dear Eliot,

My handsome boy!  You always amaze me with your intelligence, intuition, amazing heart, and beautiful face.

I should probably list all of the funny things you say and the unique ways that you say them.  You are pretty hilarious all of the time.
Instead of saying you don't want to do something, you say that you can't, like "I can't eat apples!"  You say it so convincingly, like you're allergic or something.
If you like something, you say it is good to you, such as, "I like milkshakes.  Milkshakes is good to me."
When watching movies, you constantly ask questions.  You can't stand tension.  You always ask, "Where'd his friend go?"  It's silly.

I think my absolute favorite thing that you said lately happened at the park....  You said you wanted to pretend that we were in a castle, and then you said that I was the princess.  My heart melted right there.  I asked if you wanted to be the dragon or my prince--you chose to be my prince.  Eventually, I ended up being the dragon chasing you around, but you made me the happiest mom at that park by calling me a princess.

You have been sleeping in your bed in your room for over two months now.  I can't believe that we were able to transition you after so many sleep battles.  You're still a pretty bad sleeper, but, my goodness, nothing like before.  I'm proud of the big boy that you have grown into.

I always am amazed by how much personality you have.  You hate messes and refuse to sit in booths at restaurants if they haven't been cleaned to your standards. You love cats, donuts, dinosaurs, sports, and dragons.  Right now, your favorite movie in the world is Rio.  We watch Rio every day, sometimes more frequently.  It's a pretty good movie.

You just adore your Jack.  You have the sweetest heart when it comes to him.  In your mind, Jack can do no wrong--well, other than spitting up.  You hate spit up.  One time, you hit your head on Jack's head on accident when we were cuddling in bed while watching a movie.  Jack screameddd and cried.  I was trying to get you to understand that you need to be more careful, so I told you that you had hurt Jack (and he was wailing!).  You nodded your head, stuck out your bottom lip, and cried so hard.  You were to pieces over the idea of hurting your brother and making him cry.  As I calmed him down (he wasn't too hurt in the end because you missed his soft spot), I lay him across your chest and you kissed him sweetly.  All was better.

Of course, we have a lot of good times with Jack that don't end in tears.  You are eager to take care of him and love help giving him a bath, trying to help me change his diapers, and making him laugh.  You even take him for wagon rides down the street and would rather pull him than have me pull you.  The closest thing to jealousy you have ever shown was this time when Jack somehow ended up with a straw wrapper in his hand.  For some reason, you wanted it too and kept saying it was yours, but you didn't throw a fit or take it from him.  You just were certain that it belonged to you for some reason.
About a year and eight months ago, we sat you on this turtle at the zoo.  You had just turned one year old.  I worried about you falling off as I tried to snap a photo quickly.  Now you are growing closer and closer to turning three each day.  The time went by so quickly.  You are constantly asking about your birthday and planning out your party.  Don't grow up on me too fast, Eliot.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

These Days

Changing...  Always changing...  I think I have Eliot and Jack figured out and suddenly they change.

Jack got to the point that he was only waking up once or twice a night, so I thought this could be a good time to transition him to his crib.  Three months is a good age for that, right?  Well, little dude spun it around on me.  He used to go to bed at 10:00 pm at the latest.  Now 11:00 pm is the norm and he still gets up at the same time in the morning.  Nooo!  He is waking up four times a night now, too.  I think it is his teeth, though, because sure enough at three months old, he is cutting those two bottom teeth.  I thought I was crazy at first, but then Chris's mom said that he and his sister both got teeth at three months.

Sometimes our nighttime routine wears me down since Eliot goes crazy at 7:00 pm, then it's always a big argument about bedtime at 8:30 pm.  Then I start trying to convince Jack to sleep at 9:00 pm.  Sometimes Eliot wakes up around 10:00 pm in a frantic, disoriented, confused fit, so it is even more difficult to calm him down.  Poor little guy.  Needless to say, by the time it is all done at 11:00 pm, I am spent.  That's four hours of craziness!  But, I'm doing my best to embrace the nightly insanity, play with Eliot, read to Eliot to calm him down, argue with Eliot lovingly (I always just say, "I love you.  Don't make me get mean with you," and then he stops his fit immediately), and enjoy cuddling with Jack when he refuses to sleep at a reasonable hour.  I know everything is temporary; then it is on to the next confusing phase.

Come morning, I feel like I need another night in order to catch up, but we get going anyway.  We've stayed busy like usual.

There's our weekly aquarium visits.

Chris has done some home improvement projects, like putting up shelves in the garage and planting fall flowers around the mail box.  I've been hanging some prints around the house.

And sometimes we actually have a social life.

I had been hoping to get some cute photos of the boys at a pumpkin patch.  It has been raining for days and days, but today seemed a little, well, less washed out, so we tried it.  It was still wet.  It still rained.  Eliot is against messes, including mud, so I didn't really get the pictures I hoped for.  Another day, I suppose, but the kids were still cute in case it doesn't work out later.

On a daily basis, I look at these two boys together and feel such a full heart.  I thankful for them individually.  I am thankful for them together--their relationship, I mean.  I am thankful for how close they are in age.  I am thankful that I had two boys to love and watch grow together.  Two boys.  Our sons.  Two brothers.  This is just the beginning.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Two or Three

I thought I was going bald when Eliot was four months old.  All of my hair started falling out.  I didn't realize that it was my hormones evening out--I didn't know it was completely normal as my luscious "pregnancy hair" was simply returning to "normal person hair".  Around that time, too, I started to "feel" like I was pregnant again.  I didn't have any signs at all, but I just... felt like it, yet I knew I wasn't.  Well, I wasn't pregnant, and I blamed it on my hormones returning to normal.  However, my mind was swirling with thoughts of having a second baby.  Not quite yet, but just trying to imagine what it'd be like to have two.

I have been packing up Jack's three-month clothes and organizing his six-month sleepers.  I fold up the out-grown outfits, fawn over the memories with both boys as newborns, and box them up with plans to give the clothes to someone in need.  It breaks my heart.  And again, with Jack at three months, my mind is going back to babies.  I've always said I wanted "two or three" kids, but Chris and I kind of agreed that Jack would likely be our last.  Yet here I am going back and forth with myself almost every day about whether or not we are truly "done".  As I argue with myself, I come back to the conclusion that we will likely stop with two.

I hate to think of this being the last time we'll have a baby in the house.  Jack is so sweet and happy.  I love seeing Eliot interact with him.  I always liked the idea of having two boys and a girl, and if we were to have three boys, that would be pretty awesome too.  For some reason when I look around and tally how everyone is doing, I find myself looking for our third kid, but we only have two.  Is that weird?  Yes.  Yes, it is.

We will likely stop at two, though, because we want to be able to pay for college, and it is already getting crazy expensive.  And this sounds really silly, but our house is set up so that the boys each have a room and then there is the room over the garage, which will be their playroom and I'm sure eventually a video game room of some kind.  If we had a third, that plan gets thrown off some, which isn't the worst thing ever (and barely worth mentioning), but just something.  I love our Jack as a baby, but it would be nice to move on out of the baby stage and into more "big boy" things with the two of them.  And while I enjoyed being pregnant, man, it went on forever and grew very uncomfortable at the end--and not to mention difficult with a toddler.  (I don't mean to scare anyone--it is totally worth it in the end, but we kind of feel ready to move on).  I do not miss being pregnant at all.  It took us a year and a half from when we started trying, lost one, and then had Jack, so it makes sense that it felt like a very, very long time.  With two boys, I think they will be more likely to be friends more often.  An odd number of kids (like three, I mean) always has the threat of someone feeling left out.  So, maybe two is better for us.  Maybe.

Pregnancy can be very emotionally draining with all of the worrying.  I'm sure everyone worries, but after experiencing a loss, my pregnancy with Jack was all the more terrifying.  Everything went completely fine and smooth (other than the cord being around his neck at birth...), which I am so thankful for, yet the paralyzing worry of loss or of something going wrong would be ever-present yet again.

I love our family of four.  We have struck a nice balance, I think.  Sometimes I hope for a third baby, but I generally come back to what we have now and appreciate us together all the more.  So, for now I'll say it will probably just be the four of us, but you never know what's to come all the way.  And at 27 and 28, Chris and I still have time to change our minds.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Life Lately and Trying My Best

Time goes by so quickly with babies.  When you're pregnant, you're warned of this constantly.  I've always done a decent job of soaking up the "now" and not wishing my days and weeks and years away.  Still, Jack has changed so much so quickly that I feel his baby days slipping away from me.

I'm trying to enjoy every day, and sometimes that is hard with Eliot constantly testing the boundaries.  It's hard to enforce the "rules" the best with both consistency and grace, and I often go to bed feeling like a horrible person since it is easier to either let Eliot get away with climbing the shelves in the pantry or to yell at him when I'd rather be more "calm and firm" with discipline.  But, you know, we have a lot of fun too.  This week, we went to the zoo in Norfolk.  I took the boys to the petting zoo with my mom.  It has been so hot lately for fall that we haven't done the park much.  Maybe next week.  At the end of the day, I tuck Eliot in bed after he has run around the house like a crazy, super clumsy person for about an hour, and I am reminded of how incredibly sweet and kind-hearted he has always been.  I hope I show him how much I appreciate him....

 Over the past few weeks, Jack's personality already began to bud.  He smiles; he laughs; he makes clear eye contact; he blows his lips; he makes the best facial expressions.  And though he hates the car, he is generally pretty happy and full of smiles.

Then today he has been kind of fussy.  Wanting to eat more than usual and offering up some rather shrill cries.  About a week ago, I thought I felt a tooth on his gums.  No way, right?  I didn't say anything about it.  A couple of days ago, Chris mentioned the same thing.  Upon further inspection, I can see the tooth coming up.  He really is teething already at three months....  Eliot didn't teeth until he was six months old, so I wasn't expecting this at all.  Of course, it could take a while for the tooth to break through all the way.

Some days are harder than others as I try to give them all I have.  Some days, I think I really nailed it.  Other days, I hate the sound of my own voice.  But, I think most moms worry about doing enough or the right thing, and I think the fact that I am concerned is probably a good sign.  Tonight, Jack cried for hours before finally going to sleep while Eliot seemed like he was trying to get a dog to bite him.  Finally, I got them both to sleep and no one got hurt.  My Saturday night was probably a lot less exciting than most people's.  I didn't come away feeling defeated.  Instead, I feel so thankful and full of love.  I want to give these little guys all I have because they deserve my best and so much more.