Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dear Jack: Six Months

Dear Jack,

There seems to be something that happens around six months with babies as they grow.  Suddenly, there is a change.  And you have hit that place.

You are bubbling over with so much more personality.  You are so happy all the time (unless you are hungry) and laugh at everything.  It is so easy to get you to smile, even at a camera.

You are intrigued by everything around you.  You can sit up now on your own, and we have started giving you regular baths without your whale for support.  You just tried to sit up and lean forward in it anyway.  This has made bathtime enjoyable for you and more of "splash zone" at Sea World for me.  We had some unusually warm weather and took advantage of the beach.  You had so much fun eating sand and laughing at the wind.  I can't wait for the summer when we'll spend lots of time at the beach.

Your speech is developing well.  You have been babbling for a while, and your first word was "dada".  You have tried to say "mom," but instead it comes out "ba mommmm-ba".  You say "ba" a lot too.

We're still working on food and bottles with you.  You hate bottles (and sippy cups).  You will not drink from anyone but me.  You are taking your time with food too, which was the same with Eliot.
You are growing all the time.  You are wearing size six month clothes at some stores and also nine month sleepers.  You weigh over seventeen pounds!  Your fuzzy hair continues to grow longer, but it isn't filling out much more.  You look like a baby bird with soft, down feather.  I think your blue eyes are officially here to stay.  When you were born, I figured your blue eyes would change and your dark hair would stay; it ended up being the complete opposite!

You and I have had some trouble with sleep lately.  Your sleep kept getting worse and worse until you were awake almost constantly all night.  Then I managed to get you to sleep in your crib.  You still get up every couple of hours usually, but I keep you in your room until morning (usually about 6:00 am) when you will be waking up every thirty minutes anyway until you are up for the day.  Your brother never slept in his crib (not one night) even when I would climb in there with him, so while it is rough with you waking up so often, it is refreshing that I don't have to fight to keep you in your own space.  And you roll around so much that I think you appreciate NOT co-sleeping!

We just finished up celebrating Christmas with you and Eliot.  While you didn't understand what was going on, it was fun to watch you unwrap presents (with a little help) and get excited about new toys.  You also are very interested in your brother's toys--maybe moreso than your own.  You love to hold things and they go straight into your mouth.  Eliot, of course, is not excited about you eating his toys.

Jack, we are half-way to a year.  I know everything is going to be different when we get to a year, and everything keeps on changing now as it is.  I'm trying to enjoy this time even though it is flying by and I am honestly so excited for warmer weather.  This is a special time with you as my baby, my littlest one.  So sweet and precious, you always make me feel important and happy.  I love you, Jack.  I am so thankful that you came into our lives.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dear Eliot: Two Years, Eleven Months

Dear Eliot,

You are getting so close to three....  Just one more month.  When I hold your brother and then look over at you, I cannot believe that you were once a little baby too.  You have seemed like such a big boy for so long, and you are always doing or saying something outrageously funny and full of personality.

This might not make any sense at all to you, but I hope that I never forget it.  You are so into the ending scene of Jurassic Park.  Like, it's ridiculous.  In case no one cares about Jurassic Park in the future, let me explain that the movie ends with the people about to be eaten by raptors.  These guys have been terrorizing everyone the whole movie.  Then, out of nowhere, the t-rex eats the raptors, which allows the people to escape just in time.  You get so stoked on it.  You watch it on our laptops and phones all the time and scream, "The t-rex rescues them!"  When we see someone that you haven't seen in a while, you asked to show them the clip.  You impersonate it with growls and snarls.  You love Jurassic Park.  You love t-rexes.  And I love how you say "raptors"--it always comes out as "rappers".  So good!

You love to play dinosaurs too.  You ask me to pretend to be a t-rex so that you can hide.  Sometimes I am a "mad" t-rex.  Other times I am a "nice" t-rex.  You love to stomp around the house and roar.  It's so fun to watch your imagination grow.

I've spent a bit of time lately thinking back to a year ago and about how much has changed.  We've come a long way, kid, you and me.  I remember last year, we took you to see the lights at the Botantical Gardens for Christmas.  You loved them, but when it was time to go, you cried the whole way home--and it is not a short drive.  This year, you loved them again, but when it was over, you asked why and then accepted it.  You didn't cry at all.  We're making it through this thing called growing up, and I think we're doing OK between the two of us. 

I'm always worried that I am scarring you or failing miserably, but the thing is, I know we're fine when I tuck you in at night.  You say the sweetest things to me.  You tell me that you love me "so much," that I am "so special to [you]," and that I am pretty.  I don't think you would say such sweet things if I were doing the worst job ever as your parent.  You're such a big kid these days.

Every day, I am so thankful and proud of you as a big brother.  Jack is learning to take your toys, which is hard on you at times, but you are working through it.  You are gentle and share on your terms.  When it isn't your idea, you are a bit taken back at first, yet you come around.  You love taking care of Jack and reading to him.  And my favorite part of seeing you two together is when you don't know I'm looking.  Sometimes Jack will be crying in his crib, and I might run to grab something real quick.  Often, you sneak into his room, turn on his light, hold his hand through the slats in the crib, and assure him, "Jacky, it's OK.  It's all right.  I'm here."  These are the things I say to him, too.  And you know what?  He stops crying.  You comfort him so well, and seeing your relationship grow just makes my heart explode.

I love watching you grown and how observant you are.  So often, you want to bring the world along with you.  Even if we are going for a short car ride, you want to bring more toys than is reasonable.  And when we go outside, you want to collect the sticks, gumballs,stray feathers, and leaves.  On the beach, you collect shells.  You find the tiniest shell and give it to me to put in my pocket for you, entrusting me to keep it safe.  You are amazing, Eliot Thomas.  I want to live up to the image you have of me.  I want to give you all the best.  I want to see the world the way you do.  You're so smart, funny, beautiful, and wise.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Watching the Trees in Three Seasons At Once

It feels like we are all over the place with seasons here in Virginia.  One day it feels like winter, then fall, and then we're at the beach wishing we had our suits.  It was that warm today.  And though it gives me headaches sometimes, I am so thankful for the sunshine, warmth, and sand on my feet.

I haven't been uploading many photos lately, but this isn't necessarily because I haven't been taking them.  No, instead I had some issues with the software on my computer, so I'm trying to catch up.  Also, knowing that I couldn't edit photos kind of put a damper on my photo-taking mood.

I am taking more photos again, though, enjoying life and trying to capture every detail.  Here is Eliot drawing waves in the sand.  I love how observant he is.  I love how he finds the tiniest whole shell and gives it to me to keep safe in my pocket.  I put it away, worrying that it will be lost in my pockets, but reflecting on his trust and confidence that mommies can protect all things.

These nights, I have been having a bit of a rough time with Jack.  I am unsure of what to do with him....  He wakes frequently and wants to nurse to go back to sleep.  By "frequently," I mean as often as every thirty minutes, and never sleeping more than every two hours.  I've tried putting him in his crib, letting him co-sleep a little, keeping him in the portacrib, and everything in between.  There are some nights that I sleep with him on the couch in the den because he is just waking everyone else up.  I honestly think he is hungry in the night (or just using me as a paci).  I try feeding him food (he rejects it) and also giving him a bottle.  He still won't drink out of a bottle....  And that worries me.  There isn't much to do other than to keep trying.  We give him a bottle at least once a day and try various bottles and nipples.  He'll get it eventually, I'm sure.  He doesn't like pacis either, so the bottle is similar, I guess.  Other than nighttime, he is usually pretty happy, so I don't think he is going around hungry all day or anything.  It's hard, but it is just a season.  We'll be moving into the next before I know it.

I spent a good amount of time today looking up at the sky and swaying trees with my boys.  I set out a blanket on the grass in the backyard and I tried to just be with them--to just be in this moment when Jack is five months old and amazed by the sky and when Eliot is almost three and wants to throw leaves in the air (and coax his brother into eating leaves too).  It is these quiet moments with my boys that I cherish more than anything.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving This Year

I feel like I am just now getting back to normal after Thanksgiving.  It was our first Thanksgiving in the new house and our second time hosting.  However, it was the first time we hosted with this many people and also the first time both Chris's family and my family had Thanksgiving together.  I think I felt a little more pressure because of that (but not in a bad way--just hoping that everything went smooth).

And everything was going well.  The day before, we picked up our fancy free-range, humane turkey from Whole Foods.  I baked three dozen rolls.  I prepped what dishes I could.  In the morning, though, Chris was sick.  Very sick.  His sister (who had spent about a week with us) was throwing up.  It was not going as planned and I needed extra hands to help clean.  Chris's parents hit traffic on the way down, so they were a little later than planned....  And my parents' electricity went out so they couldn't cook the dishes they planned to bring.  Goodness!  Fortunately, my parents were able to help me clean some and took Eliot for the day.  After all of the complications, dinner was just an hour late (oops...) and I think everyone had a good time.  Since Chris's sister was feeling so bad, his family left that night, which was really, well, sad, but we'll be seeing them again quite soon for Christmas.  And we did get to see a lot of Elizabeth!

The next day, Chris was feeling quite a bit better.  He and my dad worked on our Christmas lights some and then later on we got our tree.  I like a more classic and "cottage-y" look with white lights, candles in the windows, and wreaths, but Chris really wanted to do colored lights.  Well, if that's the case, I said we should go all out tacky and get the big colored lights.  Ha.  After about six hours of work (spread out over three days or so), our house is bright.

We did a bit of grading over the weekend, and Chris helped my dad with his lights.  Suddenly, I felt a little off.  Before I knew it, I was super sick and throwing up.  I don't know if I caught Chris's bug (which I thought was food poisoning) or what, but it was awful.  And I still had deadlines to meet.  My mom took Eliot for the day and I managed to get my work done somehow.  So, in some ways, I feel like I'm still trying to catch up from Thanksgiving as we move forward to Christmas, but I'm OK with that.

Because even when we're sick, I'm thankful that we're not MORE sick.
Because even when the house is messy, I'm thankful we have these little boys to make the mess.
Because even when I need to empty the dishwasher, I'm thankful that we have food.
Because even when I feel overwhelmed, I'm thankful for my supportive family--both immediate and extended.
Because even when I feel so tired from lack of sleep, I'm thankful that I'm waking up to my little Jack.