Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dear Jack: Five Months

Dear Jack,

You are sleeping quietly next to me in bed.  I watch you softly breathing and listen to muffled raindrops hitting my bedroom window.  You are so calm and peaceful.  You fall asleep on me often while nursing, but I love these moments when you sleep in my bed before I move you to your crib--these times when I can watch you without the usual noise of the rest of the house.

You are five months old today.  What changes!  All of the time, always changes.  I took you to the doctor today for two vaccines.  There in the waiting room, a new mom held her two-week-old baby boy.  I couldn't believe how small he was.  And then I couldn't believe that you were once that little too.  You have changed so much.  Today you sat straight up in my lap, looked around the room, smiled at strangers, chewed on your fingers, and let out a few loud music notes as you sang.  You are growing!

This month, you've accomplished a few big things.  You can roll over both ways now.  You can pull your toys down yourself to make them create noise.  You are still working on those bottom teeth (they seem so close!).  You don't sit up on your own, but you're getting there.  When you roll on your tummy, you push up and almost seem like you are trying to army crawl.

It is fun to watch you play with toys now.  I think your favorite toy right now, though, is your feet.  You love to roll from side to side and pull on your toes.

I tried offering you some solids, but you aren't interested.  Just like with your brother, I gave you mushed avocado.  You didn't get it at all.  I don't think you are ready yet, and I'm really not stressing about it.  You'll get there when you are ready.  We are still exclusively breastfeeding, but I thought it would be a good idea to try to get you used to a bottle.  You hated that idea, so that is what my next project will be:  teaching you to use a bottle.  I just want you to have that "skill" of sorts in case I have to be away from you.

Jack, you are sweet, soft, affectionate, and happy.  It is SO easy to make you laugh.  You love peek-a-boo, airplane, tickles (and you are ridiculously ticklish), and standing up.  You still hate car rides, being in the dark, and being hungry.  Your teeth or SOMETHING is bothering you lately, so you are either always super happy or quite fussy.  Usually, though, you are happiest in the morning.  And, honestly, you are quite easy-going.  We have taken you to a couple early morning races to watch your dad run, and you just smile, giggle, and endure the cold.  You stick your tongue out trying to catch the wind.  As long as you aren't in the car, you're doing well.

You experienced your first snow for about three seconds this month.  There were just flurries, but your brother wanted to go outside, so we all bundled up for a few photos.

In a couple of days it will be Thanksgiving--our first one with you.  I don't have to be reminded by a holiday, though, to be thankful for all of the blessings we have.  Every single day, I look at you and hold back the tears of gratefulness that I feel.  We prayed for you, baby, and our hearts hurt while we struggled to understand loss.  And all while I was pregnant with you, I was overjoyed yet also overcome by fear--the fear of losing you.  But then you came.  Healthy, beautiful, perfect--complementing our family and bringing us into a new dynamic.  You are perfect for us and I hope that I can be close to perfect for you.  I thank God for you every day.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dear Eliot: Two Years, Ten Months

Dear Eliot,

I have recently stopped telling people that you are "two and a half".  Instead, I say that you are almost three.  You are, you know, much closer to three than two these days.  I can hardly believe how fast you have grown, but you act like such a big kid.

You let me know that you are big, too.  Sometimes I accidentally call you "my baby," but you smile and say, "noooo," like I said something so silly, like I called you a dog or something as a joke.  You don't see yourself as a baby at all.  However, you still are so sweet to me.  You love to be held and cuddled.  I still tuck you in at night, and you give me Eskimo kisses and tell me that you love me unprompted.  I think that is one of my favorite parts of the day.  No matter if we've had a rough day or a great one, you always make me feel like I'm doing a good job since you always tell me that you love me without me even asking or saying it first.

You had your first trick-or-treating experience this Halloween.  You have been going on and on about wanting to "go to Halloween" and be Buzz Lightyear.  We finally did it!  You were so stoked to say "trick or treat" and kept saying it before people would open the door all of the way to hear you.  It was so funny.  You had a great time, and I worried that you might not understand why we couldn't do it again another day, but things settled out and you accepted that Halloween is over.

We enrolled you in soccer classes.  I am hoping to sign you up for soccer in the spring, and I wanted to get you started in a group activity to prepare you.  Once a week, you play soccer and other games with a group of kids.  At first, you were shy and didn't want to stretch, but within a handful of minutes, you were running and playing with all of the other kids.  I was so proud!  You keep growing socially.

The funniest thing with you and other kids is the way you get started talking to them....  We might be at the park and you'll find some kids your age.  And then you start talking about your shirt or their shirt, and then you and the other kids automatically set up a game of chase.  Instant friends!

I am so thankful that you and your brother are continuing to get along well.  You try to take care of him and play with him.  Almost every night, you drag your blanket from your room into the den and set up pillow so you two can cuddle.  It's so cute and pulls at my heart every time.

You're definitely stepping it up in "big boy" status.  After sleeping on a mattress on the floor in your room for a while, your Robinson grandparents gave you their bunk beds for your room!  Your granddad slept in those beds with his brother when he was a boy.  Now I suppose you and Jack will share them when Jack grows big enough.  You think the bunk beds are the coolest toy.  We play ship, house, fort, and so many games with them.  Not to mention that you have gotten really good at climbing ladders....

I love your creativity and your imagination.  I love how you always want to play, jump off of every surface, pet every cat, collect every fallen leaf, test out every pen by drawing pictures, and kick every ball.  You make me so proud and thankful every day.  I love watching you grow, little guy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On Mothering Two

I'm no expert on mothering two babies at this point, but I have been at it for about four and a half months now.  When I was pregnant with Jack, I was taken back by the number of negative comments I received, especially when people heard I was having a second boy.  Another boy? Oh, well, maybe next time.  Maybe next time what?!  Two boys?  You're really in for it.  Yes, in awesomeness.  You're really going to have your hands full--more than you realize.  Talk about doom and gloom...  Complete strangers would say these things, and some of those people worked in my OB office.  Goodness!  As if I weren't nervous enough about handling two without emotionally damaging them.

However, it has been four and a half months, and all is going just fine!

Some nights, Christopher and I will sit on different couches.  One of us holds, loves on, and tickles one son while the other plays with the other.  Life sure is different with kids, especially with two, and our hands are full, yet I never feel sad on these nights.  Instead, I feel so thankful.  I'm thankful for both of our boys and that my husband so freely loves on them with me.  We might be sitting across the room from one another, but I certainly do not feel distant from him.

Maybe we just got lucky with Eliot and Jack since there don't seem to be any jealousy issues.  I know I might still "have it coming" later when Jack is able to knock down Eliot's block towers (and we'll deal with that when we get there), yet Eliot just adores Jack.  And Jack seems so intrigued by Eliot.  Every night, Eliot brings out a blanket, throws two pillows on the floor, and sets up a little snugglefest for himself and Jack.  It's so cute.  And it takes everything in me to stop myself from saying, "Stopppp pulling Jack!  Don't put so much blanket on himmm!"  Because Jack.just.loves.it.  He smiles so big and laughs on and on.

I do worry about balancing the two in the right way.  Jack relies on me for so much more than Eliot, so I have to juggle who gets their needs met first.  There are times when I nurse Jack and tell Eliot that he will have to wait.  When Eliot started asking, "You have to feed Jack first?" after making most requests, I felt guilty at first.  He must feel like he never comes first.  He must feel unimportant....  Then I realized no, that isn't necessarily the case.  He is realizing that sometimes he has to wait because his "wants" and minor "needs" aren't always the first priority.  He accepts that and has never thrown a fit over having to wait for Jack to eat.  He is learning to be patient.  And then there are times when I allow Jack to grumble or fuss for a little bit longer than I want to because I'm getting something for Eliot.  I might be getting snack for Eliot while Jack wants to be re-positioned, but Jack can wait just a moment.

I might have a lot to do between the two--twice the diapers, twice the feedings, twice the laundry--but they often entertain each other and give me a break.  Jack is so incredibly fascinated by Eliot.  He watches his every move.  And Eliot loves to sit on the floor and talk to Jack.  Before Jack came along, it would be hard to find a distraction for Eliot if I needed to tidy up or something, but now I just tell Eliot to talk to Jack.  Everyone is happy.

The sweetest thing of all, I think, is stepping back and watching Eliot try to take care of Jack.  When Jack cries, Eliot assures him that it is OK and sings "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".  Eliot brings him blankets when he thinks Jack is cold.  Eliot tries to help me give Jack a bath.  It's not always easy.  It is sometimes hard.  But isn't everything worth having just a little hard sometimes?  I have loved having one boy for two and a half years before Jack came, but, you know what? I love having two boys even more.
When I was pregnant, I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to do it with two.  I tend to ignore negativity when it comes my way, yet with this, I couldn't help but wonder if maybe they would be right.  Two boys at two very different places could be so rough.  And life with a newborn?  It's hard, right?  But you choose what you focus on.  I can't even remember what it was like without Jack--and I don't want to necessarily.  I love these two boys together.  They'll have ups and downs, but if now is any indication of the future, they're going to be best friends.  I can't wait to watch them grow together.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Life Lately

It's Friday night.  Both babes are asleep by 8:00 pm (not counting on it staying that way with Jack, though).  Chris is off celebrating a friend's birthday.  I'm caught up on work.  I have done some dissertation research.  What else in the world am I to do?

These days I'm trying to catch up health-wise.  I kicked sodas while pregnant with Jack, but I get these really bad headaches.  I always have.  Excedrin helps, but I can't take that while nursing.  My doctor suggested that I try to drink some caffeine too.  Before I knew it, I was enjoying a cherry Coke every night with dinner.  So yum.  Sooo bad.  Recently, I let myself run out of sodas and am drinking Earl Grey with a little milk and a littleeee honey to get myself some caffeine.  At first I tried drinking coffee with hopes of making my way down to black, but that was too much caffeine.  Black tea is just the best for me.

I've been working on our dinners more too.  I'm always hoping to work in more fresh veggies and step away from processed foods.  The problem is that we have been doing a lot of grocery shopping at Target every week and a half or so.  Target.  I love Target; however, they don't have all of the veggies that we need.  And I realistically need to go grocery shopping twice a week if I'm going to keep everything fresh.  The other night for dinner I made a veggie stir fry with zucchini, asparagus, and snow peas.  For the rice, I put cauliflower in the vitamix just long enough to chop it up.  With a little soy sauce, you'd never guess it was cauliflower!
Pretty much nothing in that cart is processed!  The black bag is pistachios (Eliot's favorite right now) and the white packaging is goat cheese.
When winter comes, I feel like I should be hibernating, which is pretty hard with a toddler and a baby.  So, to get us through, I've been trying to think of activities outside of the house for Eliot.  He is such a social boy, and I sometimes wish we had him in pre-school because I know he'd love it.  Instead, I'm looking into swimming lessons for later in winter and also soccer in the spring.  I'm not expecting Eliot to be some star soccer player right now, but he loves sports, running around, and I think he'll have so much fun.  I do know, though, that he would likely just end up tackling everyone on the field if we didn't get him in some kind of class to figure out soccer and the structure of playing games with other kids.  Chris found this group that offers little soccer skills classes, which I think we're going to start taking him to once a week.

We took him this past Wednesday and I was so proud of him.  He was very obviously outside of his comfort zone.  He didn't want to stretch with everyone at first and hid in Chris's lap.  However, then they played Red Light, Green Light.  Eliot opened right up and was eager to participate in all of the games and kick the ball for the rest of the class.  These challenges are good for him, and I know it is hard at first, but he gets over his shyness quickly.

I've been trying to think of other activities we could get Eliot involved in.  I thought about looking into karate for a second.  Just a second.  Then I decided that I don't need that insanity in my life.  Eliot is too young anyway, but he is already jumping off of every surface he can.  I don't need him punching and kicking the air in the house too because you know he'll end up punching a dog or Jack or a picture or me on accident instead.

Other than that, we've had fun with friends, reading for schoolwork, and LOTS of games on the bunk beds.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The End of Eliot's Sleep Saga

I think this might be my last post about Eliot's sleep issues.

Eliot has always been an especially horrible sleeper, and at some points I wondered if I did it to him, but since having Jack and seeing that not all babies sleep as insanely as he did, I know he's just different.  He's just like me.  We co-slept with Eliot due to his constant nursing, light sleeping, and need to be comforted.

Then around a year and a few months, we tried transitioning him to his own bed.  It didn't work.

At two years, we tried again with a mattress on our floor.  That semi-worked.

At two and a half, we put the mattress in his room.  That was three months ago.  Every single night (with the exception of just two nights when he was sick), he has started out in his bed in his room.  And he climbs in our bed in the early morning.

We were missing one last step:  a bed beyond just a mattress.  I know quite a few people who just have their kids sleep on a mattress on the floor for a while, but Eliot is getting on to three, so we figured it was time to get the dude a bed.  And he also banged his head really hard on his window sill one night....  He was all excitedly climbing into bed when the lights were off, and he kind of missed the bed.  I felt so bad!

Chris wanted to get bunk beds for the boys eventually, thinking that maybe they will want to share a room.  And, come on, bunk bed are awesome.  The cheapest ones we could find were $500, which I suppose isn't too bad since you're getting two beds....  Then we thought, hey, maybe Chris's parents would let us use their bunk beds.

So, instead of dishing out a good amount of money, we were able to use the bunkbeds of Granddad Robinson's boyhood.

Eliot loves them and is doing great climbing up and down the ladder.  He knows that he is only allowed to sleep on the bottom bunk for now, though.  We set up sheets and pretend they are sails on a pirate ship.  Eliot says the beds are his "house," and we hide from the thunder and the rain.

We have so many fort games and pretend ships ahead of us, and I'm so thankful for these awesome beds.

As for Jack, he is still sleeping in the portacrib.  At one point, he was only waking up once or twice a night.  Then four-month sleep regression came along.  Now we're up to four times a night.  Oyyy.  But, I'm sure he'll get better, so I'm trying hard to keep him sleeping in his own space.