Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Greta, 2 years

2 years old.  What a little firecracker.

Looking back to my thoughts one year ago, I barely knew her at all.  I thought she was mellow.  And calm.  And sweet.  I would now use the words busy, devious and silly.  The girl is smart.  I'm not one to use that word loosely, but she is smart.  She is doing puzzles that her sister didn't do until she was almost 3.  She will sit down and work on something until she figures it out.  Currently, she's obsessed with buckling buckles.  Any unbuckled buckle is an invitation; she pauses to buckle every car seat after everyone gets out (sort of annoying), every high chair and even the buckles on the ergo and backpack.

I see her little mechanical brain at work as she obsesses over Legos.  Every night after we tuck the girls into their bunk bed, Greta drags piles of Legos into her bed and builds things.  She inevitably falls asleep on a heap of them, and wakes up with indentations in her extremities.  But if I dare to take the Legos away she loses her mind, so we let it go.  Watching her mechanical mind at work is fascinating, and I will be very surprised if she doesn't end up somewhere in science, engineering, or the like.

I really need to document some of her shenanigans in these past couple months.

A month ago, our babysitter was watching all the kids.  She put Teddy to bed while Greta and MJ were downstairs in the kitchen (which I also do, so not at all out of line).  Greta dragged the step stool over to the touch pad for our alarm system.  She pressed the "Fire" panic button.  Our babysitter immediately called me for the code and I thought we turned it off in time.  Apparently not, since 5 minutes later a fire engine showed up in front of our house.  To make matters worse, my husband does training for the fire department.  When they came in the house, they saw a Saint Paul Fire Fighters calendar on the wall and asked whose house it was....

Last week, after a very long day with the kids, I plopped myself down on the couch.   I was spent.  MJ was upstairs.  Greta and Teddy were in the kitchen.  I could hear them and sort of see them; I thought Greta was feeding Teddy Puffs.  I don't normally allow her to do this, but I was so exhausted I let her get away with it.  After a few minutes, I got up to check on them.  On the counter was a formerly full pack of Orbitz chewing gum, and on the floor was Teddy spitting out little pieces of gum.  Oy.  She apparently gave him about half a pack, but it seems he spit all or most of it out.

One of our biggest struggles with this girl lately has been having her stick her hand in her poopy diapers.  Nearly every time.  It is incredibly gross, and difficult to manage.  How do you stop this behavior?  We tried everything we could think of, and finally resorted to some spanking.  I don't even believe in spanking.  I have never spanked MJ in her life, and yet Greta has been spanked a hand full of times.  When she decided it was super fun to run away from me into the road.  And, now, when she decided it was fun to upset us by sticking her hand in her poop.  It has stopped both behaviors.  We tried positive reinforcement, etc., but this girl is just downright naughty in a way that MJ never was.  She is devious.  She will wait until everyone is distracted, then go and sneak a piece of candy.  Meanwhile, MJ will always ask permission.  In some ways they are such similar children, especially compared to most other kids I know, but sometimes their differences are stark.

She has also gone through a screaming phase.  She will wait until I have a full cart of groceries and then scream at the top of her lungs.  She seems to realize that there's not much I can do.  I can't put her in time out.  I can't just walk out of the store.  I have to just bare it and get out as quickly as possible.  Another behavior I'm at a loss how to deal with.

I should also pause to focus on her good behaviors.  She is sweet to babies she doesn't know, stopping to give them a dropped pacifier or to kiss their toes.  (She's also sweet to her brother, but quickly gets frustrated and does something less than sweet).  She loves dogs, and will watch out the window for them, then let out a squeal when she sees one.  She loves animals in a way her sister never did, always obsessed about bunnies hopping along or kitties passing by.  She is a great eater, and there is very little that she doesn't like (except, I have recently realized, for bananas).  She is gleeful and precocious, and a downright joy to be around.  Although her naughtiness is difficult to parent, it is thoroughly entertaining to see what sort of schemes she comes up with.  She is my best cuddler, and always crawls into bed with me in the morning to cuddle for a while.  Kisses and hugs are abundant, which warms my mama heart.

Her speech is interesting.  She understands just about everything we say.  She loves looking through picture dictionaries and knows many, many words.  Her pronunciation is pretty far off, though, and her attempts to imitate my speech sound nothing like what I have said.  The pediatrician was not concerned, though, feeling that pronunciation comes between two and three, and her understanding of language and attempts to say it are all that matter at this point.  (Also, at her two year appointment, she was up to 60% for height; such a difference from her sisters 7% height).

She adores her sister.  The two of them play together constantly, with relatively little fighting.  They sleep in the same room (and have for the past year) and transitioned to a bunk bed a few months ago (though that was about a three month process that involved lots of nights with G in a pack and play).

We had a little party for this girl on the occasion of her birth.  The first few photos are of that event.  On her actual birthday, I took her to the pediatrician's (shots!) and took her out for ice cream.  I also took her to the train store, and let her run around as much as she wanted.  Happy girl.  She listens a lot better when I get to pay full attention to her.

On top of all this, this now marks 2 years of me being home.  The time has flown.  I only worked for 3 years before staying home full time, and that period of time just dragged.  Every day I questioned my decision.  While staying home is challenging and exhausting, I never wish I was back at work.  I never question whether what I'm doing is worthwhile or the right decision.  The only thing I worry about is whether I'll have a difficult time getting back into the work force some day, but that seems like a minor concern compared to everything else.

This girl.  She is a plotter, a planner.  She is tenacious.  She closes all open doors, buckles all buckles, insists on putting on her own shoes, tries her darnedest to put on her own clothes, and sits for long periods of time on the potty, trying to figure out how to make it work.  But she is also pretty fearless, flinging herself down slides, meeting every stranger and running headlong into every new experience.  When she was born, I worried for her.  Living in the shadow of an older sister with such a big personality would be tough, I thought.  Now, though, I see that she can hold her own. She has wiggled herself into the Greta shaped hole in our family that we didn't even know was there, and we would not be complete without her.

I love you sweet girl.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Teddy, 7.5 months

I have completely missed the 7 month update.  I am now squarely at 7.5 months, so that's where we'll start (the photos, however, were at his 7 month birthday).

This boy.  Just in the past couple weeks he's really starting to feel like one of the gang.  He started the month in Oregon, came back with me to Minnesota, had a camping trip, a week spent with Dad away, his sister's second birthday, and right after his 7 month mark headed back to Oregon for 10 days.

Whew.  No wonder it feels like time is slipping away,  I don't have any of it to spend thinking about it all. When we were in Oregon, the first time, he met his cousin.  His older cousin, by about 5 months, and she was crawling all over the place.  He decided he had to give it a try, and a week before his 7 month birthday he was officially crawling.  Sometime during our second trip to Oregon he started really crawling, getting himself all over the place and making sure he is always where the action is.  I guess that's when he started to feel like one of the gang.  If the girls are playing some crazy wild game in the other room, he high tails it in there so as to be part of it.  And they love it!

His sleep is... pretty awful.  He wakes up many times a night.  No fewer than twice a night.  Sometimes much more.  We are in the midst of sort of sleep training him.  He has recently started waking up often, not actually wanting anything but not really sure how to put himself to sleep.  So we've let him figure it out, because it simply has to happen.  If he seems particularly upset I offer him a bottle.  But he seems so much more stubborn than Greta was (a bad sign, since G is pretty darn stubborn).  He has not figured it out quickly (by not quickly, I mean we are on our 3rd night and, after 3 hours of sleep he has already been up 3 times).  But he is falling asleep more quickly, so maybe there's an end in sight.  I don't particularly mind giving him a bottle, particularly because it's summer and I don't want him to get dehydrated, and he often wakes up for at least one bottle very thirsty.  But he can't rely on us to put him to sleep, that's something he has to learn.

Contributing to our problem is that he also learned to pull himself up while in Oregon.  So we came back and immediately had to drop the crib after seeing him hang over the side of it.  He is certainly interested in learning to walk, and if I had to bet I'd say he'll figure it out within 2.5 months.  But these babies, they like to surprise!  (On a side note, he actually did fall out of his crib two weeks ago... because his eldest sister decided she wanted him to stand while in his crib.  Ugh.  He landed on his head, and was totally not acting like himself.  I called Aaron to tell him I was going to bring Teddy to the ER, so he pulled himself out of a meeting and came home.  Of course, as soon as Dad walked in the door he smiled and started acting normal again.  Very scary.  This was also the day I feel in love with our babysitter all over again; she walked in while this was happening, and looked at Greta with a hand covered in poop.  She picked her up and changed her, completely unfazed.  )

He already feeds himself pretty well.  His pincer grip isn't great, but he hated having me feed him, and I didn't have the time to sit there and try to coax it in, so he started practicing picking up food on his own.  He paws at it, or slides it over to the edge of his try and sucks it off the side.  It's not elegant, but he gets it in there.  And he likes just about everything.  I haven't been as aggressive with veggies as I was with the girls, but I've also jumped into real food more quickly, haven't been particularly careful with the 3 day wait after new foods, and have just basically gone with the flow.  If it's healthy and seems easy for him to eat I give it to him.  So he's already had eggs, cheese, meat, tomatoes, berries (loved Oregon blackberries!), wheat, and many other things, all with no issues.  I feel so lucky that we haven't had to deal with allergies, I'm sure it's made me less cautious.

So that's our little boy.  He lights up every time he sees me, especially when he first sees me in the morning.  He's just full of glee, all the time.  The world is an amazing place, part of the reason I love this age so much.  He is determined to figure out why he's not allowed to get into Vito's dog food, and determined to get his hands on Vito.  And determined to figure out how to crawl up stairs.  He loves swinging with his sister G (who also loves pushing him).  He still loves taking naps on me, in the Ergo.  He never stays asleep in his car seat (never has, first kid for whom that's true!)  He's getting some blonde fuzz on his noggin but is otherwise bald.  He loves blowing raspberries on my tummy in the morning when it's just the two of us, before the girls have woken up.  He's pretty chatty, with a wide variety of sounds.

I love that he's becoming part of the team.  Greta has been much kinder to him these last two weeks (which I can't say for the month prior to that), and the two of them actually play together.  She brings him toys, but she also sits on him, and he loves both of these.  It's hard to teach her not to sit on him when he laughs hysterically about it.  This guy.  I think he's going to be another precocious one.  I think about where G was a year ago, and I could have never predicted where she'd be now.  Similarly, I can't even imagine what his little personality will be like, other than to say he'll probably be happy and precocious, much like his sisters.

Little man, thanks for joining us.  You make our family complete.  I can finally take a deep breath and start to enjoy how wonderful you are.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Crazy kids.

It is a point of fascination to me that the parents who have the most to say have the least time to say it.  I seemed to have a lot to say, and a lot of advice to offer, when I had a wee 3-month-old.  I am embarrassed to look back at those posts.  Truly, I knew so very little.

And the more I have to say, with real meaning and content, the less time I have to say it.

I haven't had time to say how I lost Greta at the playground the other day.  Only for about 2 minutes, but goodness, that girl can run, and I know how far she can get in 2 minutes time.  I found her happily kissing a baby she had just met.

Which she is wont to do.  Kiss babies she has just met.  She is the sweetest, gentlest little girl with other people's babies and other people's dogs.  Not, so much, with her own dog and her own baby.  Though she is obsessed with always making sure Teddy has a toy (even if it may be a terrible choking hazard) and feeding the dog, so at least she's interested in their well being.

I haven't had time to discuss watching MJ flirt with a boy at the same playground.  How she stuck her hip out and perched her hand there, taunting "You want someone to kill?  Bet you can't kill me!"  (Which sounds weird, but the boys were apparently playing a shooting game and that was her way of working herself in).  One boy, in particular, chased her all over.  And then she stole his sword (I kid you not) and he wrestled her to get it back.  It was so awkward and so terrifying of things to come that I had to remove myself to the other side of the playground so I didn't lose my mind.  I'm sure she didn't know she was flirting, but that's exactly what it was and she wouldn't have talked to another girl that way.

MJ has become obsessed with history.  "Real stories that really happened".  We've read about Harriet Tubman and Harry Houdini and Jumbo the Elephant and Annie Oakley.  She wants to be a pioneer for Halloween.  It is the first academic interest I've seen blossom in her and it's wonderful.  I constantly have to remind myself not to push her, because any time I do she rebels and gives up.  If I let it come to her in her own time she is usually quite determined to figure it out.  Which is why our attempts at reading so far have not been very fruitful, because I push her and it makes her hate it.  I remember feeling the same as a little girl, when I was pushed to ride my bike or swim.  I still feel antagonism towards those activities, and I don't want to curse her with the same feelings.  So I try to be patient, and encourage these passions when they arise.  Sometimes I do better than other times.

Greta, however, will sit and work at a puzzle until she figures it out.  I remember sitting down with the same puzzle with MJ at 2 1/2 and her struggling and getting so angry.  G is definitely the more patient of the two.  She is also fascinated by building things, legos and and shapes that fit together.  But her language is slower to develop, as well.  I am so curious to see how these little differences will shape them into different people.  

Greta, already grabbing things from me and saying "NO, I DO IT".  Insisting on dressing herself, which she is not at all capable of doing yet.  Today she spent ten minutes walking around with both legs through one short hole, simply because she wouldn't allow us to help her fix it.  

And then there's Teddy.  The baby.  He is off in the corner, quietly teaching himself to crawl.  And, really, he's basically done it.  He's slow, but he moves where he wants to and gets his hands on all sorts of things.  In some ways he's being forced to grow up a little quicker than the others at this age.  He's six months now, so he's starting to eat solids.  But I don't really have time to sit and feed him purees so I am basically giving him things to feed himself.  Baby led weaning, out of necessity rather than out of choice.  

Our house.  It is a crazy, crazy place.  Walking in the door if I've been away from them is like crossing a threshold from the calm, sane place the world generally is, to a screaming, hairpulling, wrestling whirlwind of little children.  I like to take them into the world, because I get to step back (sometimes) and see them for the cute that they really are.  We took them to a "Music in the Park" event last week, and it is always so enjoyable to see the smiles they bring to strangers faces.  Greta stomping her one foot while twirling, completely out of time to the music.  MJ prancing around, pretending she's a ballerina.  Teddy grinning, toothless, at everyone who walks by.  

It is a privilege to spend my days with them, when I can remember to let the little things go.  Like the 3rd spilled cup of milk, or 2nd time G has stuck her hand in her poopy diaper, or the 5th time MJ has burst into tears because I've told her no more sweets.  I always said I wanted a house full of chaos, and it turns out that is exactly what we have achieved.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Half a year

Goodness.  It seems that if I didn't do these monthly posts I might just never post.

It was a really, really good month with this little guy.  This month he gave us a few sleep-through-the-nights, including last night (3 days past the 6 month mark).  So really, once that's taken care of, what else is there? He puts himself to sleep on a regular basis.  When he wakes up in the morning, MJ will often crawl in his crib and play with him for a while. The sounds of them giggling warm my heart (and allow me a little more sleep).

He now rolls both ways on a regular basis.  In the past week, he has started to get up on all fours and rock back and forth, as though he's trying to figure out how to move his leg and crawl.  He has started to get places; not very fast or very far, but places.  Also in the past week or two, he is sitting pretty well.  Still needs a pillow around him because he falls over on occasion, but it never bothers him or frustrates him.  Instead, once he finds himself laying on the floor he seems to see that as his opportunity to practice crawling.

This past weekend, I got to spend more solo time with my baby than I have ever before had.  My Grandmother passed away, so Teddy and I went back to Oregon for the funeral.  Although it was a sad occasion, it was wonderful to spend some one-on-one time with my little man.  And it was freaking easy!  How did I ever think babies are hard?  (Though, to be fair, he's not crawling yet, which makes a huge difference).

I remember. when MJ was this age, getting tons of comments on how cute she was and what a sweet baby she was.  I haven't gotten that with either Greta or Teddy, and last weekend showed me why.  Because I'm always wrangling other kids, too, and no one wants to interfere with that!  Teddy got boat loads of comments this weekend, because he was the only baby in my arms!  Furthermore, we got to play with cousin Kessa, 5 months older than Teddy, which was absurdly adorable.

Although I love my girls and missed them, it was a bit hard to come home.  After the ease and relaxation of dealing with just one immobile baby, it was tough to transition back to craziness.  The first day back was really hard, but after a few days I got back in the groove.

But back to Teddy boy.  This is such a sweet, wonderful age, and I love soaking up the chunky thighs and full-body guffaws.  This boy has been practicing taking steps since about 4 months, and is dead set on learning to crawl, so I know it will be craziness soon enough.  Sooner, I suspect, than either of the girls.

Greta continues to be a threat to him.   Although I had previously thought we were past the abuse-of-brother stage, we seem to be back in it this past month.  She will just walk up and slap him out of the blue, or grab his face as hard as she can.  It is always worst when she is tired or frustrated, but there's no guarantee she won't do it at other times.  I'm truly stumped how to make this better.  I keep hoping time will do the trick, but every time he gets hurt I feel just awful that I haven't figured out how to make it stop.

He continues to chew on anything he can get in his mouth and soaks his clothing in drool.  Lots of teething happening, though who knows when we'll actually see a tooth.

I love this little guy fully and completely, and often feel bad that he gets so much less Mama time than his sister's had.  Then I see them coo and fuss over him, tickle him and do silly things to get him to laugh, and I realize that whatever he lacks in Mama time he makes up for in sister time.  He has been born into a crazy house full of life and love, I guess what could be better than that?


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

5 months

I am writing this post under duress.  There is a washing machine that is broken and a blind that is broken and and and.... how dare I take 10 minutes to update my blog?

But alas, it helps keep me sane.  Documenting these little milestones, even if I'm doing so a week late.  There is is always something that NEEDS to be done, it turns out.  So much of the time I just have to ignore it all if I want to accomplish anything.

This month has been a pretty good one.  I have felt, of late, as though I'm emerging from a fog.  Buddy boy is finally napping pretty well.  Generally a short nap in the morning and a long one in the afternoon, so I can finally get a few things done to ease my stress levels.  If it was up to him, his naps would be perfectly out of sync with Greta's, so that he wakes up from his nap right as she's going down for hers.  But instead, we force him to nap on the go so that we can get out of the house and go places.  He does okay in the Ergo, though never naps in the stroller or car seat.  This is life with three.  He's forced to be more flexible than he wants to be for the sanity of the whole family.

This is the month that we finally started breast feeding and finally stopped breast feeding.  He got about a month more than he would have had we kept pumping, but he just wasn't very good at it.  And my supply was pretty crappy, which frustrated him, which led to lower supply, bla bla bla.  I've been through this same thing with three kids now.  With Greta, I did everything perfect, breastfed her nonstop, and still couldn't produce enough.  So I no longer blame myself, as though I could have done something different.  My body just doesn't cut it in the nursing realm, so THANK GOD for formula.  I feel blessed to have finally transitioned and taken the stress of myself.

He continues to get up about twice a night.  It's been so long since I've had good sleep that I no longer remember what it's like.  This feels pretty tolerable, especially when I get to sleep pretty early.  I've been starting to think of cutting out night time feeds because he just doesn't take it very seriously and doesn't really seem to need it.  I think he's turning out to be a side sleeper, which seems to be his preferred position when he can get himself into it.  But still usually a tummy sleeper for coordination purposes, with his movement monitor for my peace of mind.

Little man smiles and laughs readily.  He has discovered his amazing feet and that he can stick them in his mouth.  Also his hands, though that has been less monumental all in all. When I'm feeding him a bottle he grasps my finger so that I don't take it away.  If he wants a break, he'll move my hand away for a minute and then bring it back.  If I dare take it out too soon, he flaps his arms and his legs like a crazy person until I give it back.  He's pretty clear when he's done.

His jaws are fierce.  Still no teeth but he can cause real pain when he clamps down on your hand, which he does every chance he gets.  These photos may make it evident that he is teething constantly.   Lots of "goo goo ga ga" happening.

He definitely knows both his parents, and gets excited right along with the girls when Dad gets home.

This is also the month that Greta has turned the tide.  She is becoming so very sweet to him, which I just love seeing.  She is constantly bringing him toys, covering him up with a blanket and giving him drive by kisses.  Although I still worry she'll accidentally hurt him with her toddler wildness, she is not nearly the threat to him that she used to be.  She now goes up to random babies everywhere and gives them kisses, she thinks they're the best thing ever.  So I'm holding out hope for their relationship, and that she will one day think of him as a true buddy.

As may be evident from these photos, I had a hard time narrowing them down.  Also, someone else could not resist having her photo taken.  Consider it a guest appearance.

As I write this he sits in my lap, trying his darnedest to get his hands on the keyboard.  Pretty mesmerized by this typing business.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May Days

Before Teddy was born, during the sunset of 2013, my Mom was fond of saying that 2014 would be the year that I just wouldn't remember.

While the details feel so intricate to me now, I fear she may be right.  Although Teddy is sleeping much better than he was, he is still up twice a night, followed by a 6 am wakeup from the big kids.  I seem unable to fall asleep before 10:00 on most nights.  So I spend much of my day in a haze, with days (like today) that I question whether I should even be driving.

May started a few days ago, right?  Isn't Cinco De Mayo in a couple days?

Sadly, no, that was 16 days ago.  So perhaps I really will forget this year, and I should write down a few things.  I like bulleted lists.  So here's a few events of late.

1.  Tonight we went to the end of year picnic for MJ's school.  It is such a magical place, with goats and llamas and chickens and rabbits and ponies and burros.  Although she enjoys animals now, when she was a toddler we'd take her to the zoo or the aquarium and she was bored unless there was something to climb.  Completely uninterested in the animals around her.  Greta, on the other hand, is nuts for animals.  Absolutely cannot get enough of them.  Although MJ loves this school, I think Greta would be in absolute heaven.  We'll see.  We had planned to send MJ there next year for kindergarten, but she got into a public school down the block from our house and will not be returning in the fall.  We are excited but will miss this magical place.  Perhaps Greta will come in a couple years.

2.  A week and a half ago my Mom arrived.  I had a long list of projects to accomplish while she was here.  During her stay I: built 4 different pieces of patio furniture, a bunk bed, installed the water line for the automatic ice maker on our fridge, cleaned our basement and packed a bunch of baby clothes for my sister in law, fixed a shelf, fixed a lamp, planted bulbs, installed an internet camera, and spread mulch over our front yard.  This is on top of a lot of cleaning and cooking and general wifeliness.

In addition to feeling so accomplished, it was so nice to have my Mom here.  I dare say I enjoyed her visit much more than her last visit.  I so dreaded her departure last time that it almost prevented me from enjoying her stay.  I realized that she and I are alike in this.  If something is hanging over my head, I can't enjoy the moment I'm experiencing.  This is also why I would rather flee town in the middle of the night than have to say goodbye (which she does, too, starting her drive at 3 a.m.!)  We also had some wonderful conversations that made me realize how well she knows me.  Now, being a parent, it often boggles my mind that I used to be the flailing toddler on the ground that she had to endure.  It's not that I thank her so much for those moments, it's that I thank her for continuing to come back and put up with me in spite of them.

3.  The girls have been sharing a bedroom since last August.  It has gone exceptionally well.  There was a short spell in December where MJ was waking Greta up in the morning.  Since MJ often wakes up long before G, this led to a very tired Greta and a very grumpy Mom.  We moved MJ's mattress into another room for a week, as a way of driving home that if she wakes her sister up she can't share a room with her.  During that week both girls slept poorly, with many middle of the night wake ups.  It was really more of a punishment for me, apparently.  So we moved them back together and it has continued to be wonderful.  Until a week and a half ago Greta was still in her crib and MJ was in her toddler bed.

But over the past month I have wanted the crib for Teddy; he was in a pack and play or a smaller crib, but I was convinced it was time to transition.  Furthermore, with my Mom in town, it was a good time to assemble a major piece of furniture.  So we bought one on Amazon and assembled it a week and a half ago.

The girls were so excited.  It was a major project.  8 man hours spent building this thing (5 or 6 of those were woman hours).  Plus the mattresses we bought for it (another major internet research project... mattresses stress me out...)

But it was a rough start.  MJ went to sleep fine, but Greta could not stay in her bed.  Although she had been napping in her sisters bed for months, that was always when MJ was out of the room.  With MJ in the room, in the TOP BUNK, she just wanted to climb up there and play.  MJ would fall asleep and Greta would climb up and pull her hair.  Lots of tears.  Lots of yelling.

So we put Greta in the pack and play.  And the next night.  Many nights.  The first couple nights she wanted to sleep in the pack and play.  The next couple nights she would start in her bed, and then climb out of it, and we would put her in the pack and play.

But finally, we are having some success.  She has now slept in her bed for the past few nights without getting out and bothering her sister.  Then they wake up in the morning and play.  I am back to thinking this was a good idea, but not with enough confidence to fold up the pack and play.

4.  Greta.  Oh, Greta.  If I had any sense at all, this age (22 months) would be my least favorite.  Because she really is a terror.  She's becoming more sweet, but she's still a terror.  She doesn't abuse Vito quite as much as she used to.  She is nicer to her brother than she used to be.  Today I even saw her share and play with another kid.  At the same time, though, she is a runner.  She loves to run away from me.  MJ never did this, perhaps because I could always carry her if there was an issue.  But with Teddy in my arms, Great sees the opportunity to bolt in the opposite direction.  It drives me nuts.  It makes me angry.  And I'm afraid she'll get hurt.  I do not know how to get her to stop.  I think I must just endure it.

But she is so sweet, too.  She loves to cuddle in a way that MJ never did.  She constantly wants to climb into my lap and read books.  Books, books, all the time.  We have a picture encyclopedia that she looks at constantly.  Also a couple Dallas Clayton books.  And, of course, Curious George.  She gives me unprovoked kisses and hugs.  How could I not adore this?  And the chatter.  So much chatter.  I think she's right on the verge of a language explosion; more and more new words popping up, and more complex expressions every day.  I can't decide whether I look forward to more language or not.

5.  MJ is a sweet kid.  She makes me proud to be her Mama 98% of the time.  I am constantly told by strangers how well spoken she is.  And she has finally become a neighborhood kid.  The other kids knock on our fence to ask if she's free to play and are bummed if she isn't.  I expect she'll be leading the pack soon enough, because it seems she's the one that is always furnishing the ideas of what to play.  It is fascinating to watch her become part of her community.  She is so much like her Dad.  And, much like him, she makes me so crazy and so happy, all at the same time.

6.  And Teddy.  My baby.  I am trying to soak up every moment of babyness.  I think if someone could just hand me a 4-month-old, without having to endure pregnancy or newbornhood, I would take it.  Every time. So we'd go from a family of 5 to a family of 15.  He has started to grab faces and pull hair.  Greta looked shocked at first, but now seems to find it funny.  And totally endures it, doesn't try to hit back.  MJ spends a chunk of every day trying to get him to laugh.  It is all so freaking adorable.  I try to remember how adorable it is, always.  Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

4 months

This was a big month for you, little man.  This month you lost two of your favorite things: your pacifier and your swaddle.  But you also started nursing and started sleeping better.  This month brought many, many smiles.  Some true belly laughs.  This month was the month that I can no longer quite remember what our family was like without you.  You seem to have always been here.  You have just started to pull hair, and Greta looks utterly shocked when you manage to get a hold of hers: she stares at you in disbelief that you are becoming a worthy opponent.  And then she laughs.

You have started to become fascinated with Vito, though you haven't managed to get a hold of him yet.  You had two nights when you slept through the night, from 7 pm to 6 am.  But the rest of the time you are up one to two times a night.  I am already getting spoiled with your better sleep, because now I feel like I am still exhausted and you need to be sleeping better, though I know this is world's better than you were doing and I'll probably just put up with it for now.

You're still not very good at nursing.  If you are at all sleepy, you just fall asleep at the breast.  This is the same issue you've had since you were born.  I think the reason you're nursing better now is that you are more alert, so you have periods in the day when you actually nurse well.  But prior to you starting to nurse, 1 week before you turned 4 months, I was only pumping about 20 ounces a day, so I know my supply is not great.  And for me, as soon as my supply starts to go down, I seem to be unable to get it back up, no matter how much I pump or nurse.  Don't know why that is, but with 3 kids now that has always been the case.  So we nurse 4 to 5 times a day, I figure you get somewhere between 10 and 20 ounces, and I try not to stress about it beyond that.

Your sisters adore you.  Greta is still warming up to all this, but she is starting to really enjoy "playing" with you, as much as a 21 month old can play with a baby.  This is going to be alright.  In fact, this is going to be better than alright.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Day in the life, Spring 2014

It's hard to believe that a year ago when I did a day-in-the-life post, I had just found out I was pregnant.  Despite it being tops in my mind I had to keep it to myself.  Now here I sit, with an almost-four-month-old.  It continues to amaze me how much can change in a year.  What will I do when my life is no longer changing by leaps and bounds on an annual basis?

The date is Friday, April 25, 2014.  MJ is 4 1/2, Greta is 21 months and Teddy is just shy of 4 months.

4:00 a.m. Teddy cries out.  Although he slept through the night twice this week (from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m.) he is usually up once a night.  This is not a complaint, since it is worlds better than what we were dealing with a few short weeks ago.  In addition, I decided earlier this week to cut back on pumping (which I had been doing 6 times a day, pumping ~20 oz of milk).  I was feeling burned out, and with recurrent clogged ducts just needed to gain some more sanity.  On a whim, I decided to try nursing him a few days ago.  I didn't expect much, because the last few times I had tried, almost a month ago, he had screamed and screamed.  This time, though, he latched.  And he nursed.  That was Tuesday, and he's been nursing throughout the day since.  I still supplement with formula, but he seems to be getting a fair amount, and my supply seems to be going up a bit.  It still makes me a bit crazy, and I kind of wish it just hadn't worked at all, but I'll continue this for a while to see how it goes.  As long as I don't get caught up in it, feeling guilty if I have to supplement, it won't make me crazy.  I just have to keep reminding myself he's getting more than if I stopped altogether.  So cutting corners is better than stopping altogether.

But I digress.  I nursed him on side and fell asleep, but he freaked out when I put him in his crib.  So I nursed the other side and he fell asleep for good.  This is part of what makes me so crazy with nursing.  Because I know that I don't have a strong supply, any time he is ever upset I assume he must be hungry and it is my fault.

When I climb back in bed, hubs grumbles that he's been up with Greta since 2:00 a.m.  Both of the littles (littlest littles) have colds.  Greta got it first and gave it to Teddy, and she's been up for the past few nights.  This wouldn't have been so bad, but hubs and I were feeling overly confident in our children's sleep last night, and felt like enjoying the first night of a three-day weekend with him home, and had staid up late watching American Hustle.  By late, I mean 10:30.  He had said he'd get up with the kids in the morning, and I'm starting to wonder if I will lose that offer.

6:00 a.m. Teddy stirs, he's not really upset but he doesn't seem likely to go back to sleep, so I put him in the swing and cross my fingers.  I think shortly thereafter hubs got up and gave him a bottle but I was too sleepy to know what was going on.  I think MJ also got up at some point and was told to go sleep in the guest room so she doesn't wake her sister.  Again, hubs dealt with that and I'm not sure what happened.  

7:00 a.m. Husband's alarm goes off to remind him of a meeting.  Apparently he had forgotten about this.  My hopes of sleeping in are out the door.  I feel somewhat annoyed but must not be too sleep deprived because I manage to keep it at bay.  Teddy still seems hungry so I bring him into bed and nurse him.  Greta is still asleep and I hear MJ pounding around downstairs, probably getting into Easter candy she's not supposed to have (and, I later realize, eating some oatmeal hubs made for her before he left).  I spend this quiet time checking email and Instagram, including the comments on a post comparing MJ and Teddy as babies.   Teddy falls asleep and I try to snooze.

This outfit.  I don't remember where it came from, but it's so very 1995 it makes me giggle.
This face.  I die, every time.

7:40 a.m. I give up trying to fall back asleep, especially once it dawns on me I might be able to get a quick shower, a luxury I never get in the morning because mornings are simply too crazy and I can't trust Greta alone with Teddy for a moment.  I put Teddy in his crib and he stays asleep.   I weigh myself, up 2 1/2 pounds.  I've been trying to buckle down and lose the baby weight, and had been doing really well, quickly losing 5 pounds.  Apparently it wasn't real, though, because a day of more normal eating and it all springs back.  I know it will be easier in a few months, but I'm anxious.  Anyway, I climb in the shower and try to be quick and quiet.

7:55 a.m. Climb out of the shower and turn off the fan to listen for the sound of crying.  Amazingly, everything is still quiet.  What an unusual start to the day.  

8:00 a.m. G is up and she sounds angry.  To be fair, she is always angry when she wakes up.  In my quest to get Teddy to sleep better I had been reading about sleep issues, and apparently this signifies that she has no period of lighter sleep before waking but wakes immediately out of a deep sleep.  There's nothing to do about it and it's not necessarily bad, but it does mean we're doomed to a grouchy waker forever.  I am also a grouchy waker, so I have probably earned this.
What treasures await me in that diaper?

When I go in her room I see that she has unzipped her footy pajamas and partially taken off a poopy diaper.  She has been occasionally unzipping her pajamas for a couple weeks now, so I should know better, but I keep forgetting.  This is the first gross outcome but it was only a matter of time.  Although it is seriously gross it could be about hundred times worse because it is 99% contained. I change her and immediately Teddy starts crying as well.  She's a hot mess and also wants a lot of cuddling when she first wakes up.  She also has some serious jealousy of me holding Teddy, and she's hungry, so she turns into a flailing puddle on the floor when I have to go get him.

This is what I'm dealing with, folks.  I had intended this to be a D-SLR post, but couldn't find my camera all day.  Next time around, I hope.
This jacket.  It's stuck.  

Life is so hard.  And I don't know why.  This is the face I must console whilst nursing.
Also poopy, this makes my 3rd diaper change of the day. I change him as well and then sit down to nurse him.  I do my best to soothe her while feeding Teddy.  MJ comes upstairs to see what is going on, and I ask her to get Greta a banana while I nurse.  After much coaxing, Greta follows MJ downstairs.  However, Greta fails to eat it at the table and gets angry at Vito when he steals it from her while she's climbing up the stairs.  She still doesn't really speak many words, but she understands a great deal.  She comes into Teddy's room, still crying, and I ask her if she was sitting on a chair to eat her banana.  She looks guilty.  I tell her that Vito wouldn't have eaten her banana if she'd been at the table and she calms down.  She gets it.  I look forward to language development because I think it will solve so many of these issues.  At least, I hope so.

Awaiting me downstairs.  Queen Elsa.

And then, the next moment, playing dead on the kitchen floor.  I don't know why.
8:35 a.m. I finally finish nursing Teddy and head downstairs. I get breakfast for Greta and I; Cheerios  for her and oatmeal for me.  And coffee, of course.  Trying to get back to this diet today after too many potato chips yesterday.  Despite Greta's melt down, this is a seriously good morning so far, and I even have time to go to the bathroom while Greta eats and Teddy plays happily on his mat.  My standards for "good morning" have apparently sunk pretty low.

This girl could eat cheerios for 3 meals a day.  There are worse things.
Fueling our day.

This boy almost always wants personal interaction, which is fine (and fun).  But when he plays happily by himself it's amazing.

This video is 4 minutes, but a pretty accurate representation of my life right now.  When no one's crying, that is.

9:08 a.m. I text hubs for an update.  Although he had a meeting, he's supposed to be done by 9:30, at the latest, and plans to head home after.  I have decided to go for a walk to a park, since it's sunny outside and relatively warm, and I hope that he can join us.   But his plans change frequently and I'm trying to decide whether to wait for him.  I also see that our last texts to each other were argument texts.   I hate when that happens, and it brings up memories of an argument you've gotten past.  I wish there was a clear screen function on iMessage.  First world problems.

I didn't remember to take many selfies.  This is about as much as you get.

Last night, while G was playing quietly in the bathroom and we knew we should probably parent, she was apparently filling up my bobby pin container with water.  Could have been worse.

G loves to reorganize my makeup while I'm in the shower.  I never quite know where anything is.

Everyone is happy to entertain Teddy. 
So very proud of her parenting skillz. 

9:25 a.m. I finish putting on makeup and try to FaceTime Nana but there is no answer (she's 2 hours behind, so probably still sleeping). Hubs will be back at 10.  Change Greta, 4th diaper today.  Teddy, G and I start to go downstairs, but Greta freaks out and wants to hold my hand going down.  This is a recurrent problem.  She won't go up or down stairs unless being carried or holding hands (which isn't terribly safe because she uses you like a rail and often falls while holding your hand).  Though she's fine going up and down if there's something she wants to get, just not if we're all going at the same time.  ::sigh:: Toddler idiosyncracies.  I get another bottle for Teddy, making 7 ounces total for the day. Also another diaper change, already up to 5.  I'm vaguely curious how many I change in a day. I decide to spend the time until Dad gets home packing a lunch.  PB&J, crackers and cheese, apple slices and some leftover pizza from dinner.  All this gets piled into the stroller (which has weird baskets that can't accommodate a diaper bag) along with diapers, wipes, water bottles, bottles, formula, Moby, sunscreen, and extra clothes.  Dad gets home at 10:00 and he helps get socks and shoes on the girls, hats for everybody.

Who knew that solo-stair-climbing was so traumatic?

Her favorite book, the picture encyclopedia, circa 1984.  May need to consider finding an updated one, since the pictures can be a bit confusing.

Lunch helper.

Apparently, a whole hour since breakfast was just too long and a snack was needed.  MJ taught Greta how to suck up peas with her mouth.  The lesson was adequately passed along.

This girl still loves hats, luckily for all of us.

10:15 a.m. Finally out the door.  Teddy and Greta are riding in the double stroller and MJ is on her bike, which she has recently learned to ride on 2 wheels.  We ride by some neighbors who are super impressed that our little 4 1/2 year old already has her training wheels off.  While Dad is playing with his phone, I cross the street with MJ and the stroller.  There is a car coming that I hadn't seen and Aaron is furious with me for having let her cross (to be fair, the stop signs still made this is a safe crossing, but we just usually make her wait for all cars).  This is one of the many reasons why I don't let MJ ride her bike unless Aaron is around, it's just too much for me to keep tabs on.  The rest of the walk/ride is uneventful.  A beautiful, slightly chilly and breezy spring day.  I love our neighborhood full of old Victorian houses.

Ready to travel.

The road crossings are the toughest part.

10:45 a.m. We arrive at the tot lot.  I like this play ground because there is nothing beyond Greta's ability, so I don't have to watch her quite as closely lest she get herself in a bind.  Even though it's far below MJ's ability, she still enjoys it.  This particular day is the busiest I have ever seen it (I later realize this is because a nearby preschool group is here).  I immediately recognize two moms from a local mom's group and chat with them for a short time.  It's nice to finally feel like a local and know people almost anywhere I go.  

Tot lot, from our chaos to theirs. 

Someone feels the need to meet all the babies.

It's usually me holding this guy, so this is an unusual view.

G doesn't quite have the "pushing" part down, but is happy to ride.

As soon as we arrive Greta starts asking for a snack.  This drives me nuts.  Every time we go somewhere she spends most of the time just eating or begging for a snack.  Why do I bother taking them places?  When I'm not paying attention, Greta convinces some moms to put her in the swing and push her. My children are not shy.  There are also multiple incidents of little boys peeing on a nearby tree, one of which involves some serious pee competition between two little boys.  I am oddly looking forward to parenting a little boy.   After a while, I get the lunch out and we plop down to eat.  It starts to get cold once I sit down, and Teddy starts making his little cold noises.  We decide it's almost time to depart.

11:25 a.m. Pile back in the stroller while Dad takes a work call.  An uneventful return home, despite Teddy having gone a long time without eating.

11:50 a.m.  We arrive home.  As expected, chaos immediately ensues, with everyone needing something.  Dad puts the stroller on the porch and takes the girls inside.  He gets G another snack.  I change another Teddy diaper (the 6th) and change his clothes for the 3rd time.  This boy pees and poops through diapers in ways the girls never did.  I nurse Teddy and he falls asleep so I put him in his crib with the movement monitor.  When I go back downstairs I change G's diaper (7th) and look outside to see Vito roaming in our (unfenced) front yard.  Ugh.  In the chaos of coming inside he apparently got outside, why he didn't run off is beyond me.  Something is always forgotten.

Hubs and I discuss what dish we will bring to our friends house that evening and he rushes me out the door to stop by the grocery store on my way to a lunch date.  He heads upstairs to put G down for a nap and I grab my laptop and head out the door.

12:35 p.m. I'm in the van.  I realize I don't have enough time to get to the grocery store, decide what to make and meet my friend on time.  So I decide to just arrive early and spend 10 minutes at Peapods, the eco-friendly toy store next door.   It's so rare I get to drive anywhere by myself and I totally love the quiet drive (with my music blasting, of course).  I pickup 5 used cloth diapers at Peapods.  I've been cloth-diapering T and G part-time, and Teddy is growing out the newborn diapers I have so I feel I could use a few more diapers in my rotation.  But I can't bring myself to buy new ones, so this is a great compromise.  I also pick up a jump rope for MJ.

Yay!  A test train for the new light-rail slated to open near our house in June. So curious to see how this effects things.

A realization I have forgotten more selfies.  This is my attempt.

1:00 p.m. Lunch!  This is both a chance to catch up with a good friend and a chance to ask a few questions about a class I'm slated to teach at a local community college this summer.  I'm nervous, because only two students have enrolled for it (2!) and we have already hired a nanny for the summer.  I feel slightly better after some reassurance that there's a good chance it will still fill.  Still not sure what I'll do if the class is cancelled and I have a nanny 3 days a week....

2:15 p.m. I receive a frantic phone call from the hubs.  There is much crying in the background.  I made the comment before leaving that if he wanted me home by 2:00 I'd be home by 2:00, but I didn't think he'd take me up on it.  Clearly, I was wrong, so I wrap up quickly and hop in the van.

2:30 p.m. Arrive home.  Hubs is a mess.  He's furious that I didn't stop at the grocery store because now we have nothing to bring, but doesn't want me to leave and get anything either.  It seems Teddy didn't nap long (about 45 minutes, which is typical) and then his crying woke Greta.  She woke up furious (she almost always does...)  And on top of that, hubs squeezed in a 45 minute nap.  Despite anger from all sides I'm not feeling real sympathetic.  Abundant comments coming from hubs that amount to "I could never do your job..." help a bit.  A recognition that this is all hard always helps.  After coaxing, soothing and cuddling the littles, and the hubs, everyone is a bit better.  I propose cutting up a watermelon we have.  I also propose toasting pecans and making a blue cheese dressing for a pear salad, and we can just grab pears and lettuce to prepare at our friends place.  Despite much drama about not going at all, everyone agrees and I get to work.  In addition, everyone must have clean diapers (I've lost count on diapers now.... 9, I think).  Toys for everyone.  Sweatshirts.  Water bottles.  Bottles.  Formula.  Moby.  Beer.  Food.  
This photo does not do justice to how angry everyone in the house was.  How dare Mom have an hour to herself.
The only happy companion while I prep food.
Baby coos, they just never get old.

3:30 p.m. Out the door.  The drive to our friends place, in Minneapolis, is only 10 minutes with no traffic.  On some days, though, it can easily get to 45 minutes.  We made a point to get out the door early so as to not get stuck in traffic, and it definitely helps.  Both MJ and Teddy fall asleep on the drive, and Greta babbles happily and incoherently.  We drive into Uptown Minneapolis (home of the hipster!) and stop at a grocery store to grab lettuce, pears and CocaCola.  I go to our local food co-op so often that the feel of a normal grocery store stuns me a bit; trashy magazines and lots of chips.  First world problems.  It says something about my life right now.
Apparently, sissy falling asleep is hilarious.

Where does this crap come from?

Beautiful day.  Amazing friends.

Always up for some baby holding.  You bring the arms, I'll bring the baby.

We supplied half the children that were there.  ::ugh::  But what sweet children they were.

4:15 p.m.  Arrive at our friends place and park in the driveway so that MJ can sleep for a little bit longer.  Teddy immediately wakes up and I go inside to finish the salad while hubs parents.  We check out the attic of our friends place which they have recently refinished to use as a master bedroom (amazing!); I get a vague desire to use our attic as a master bedroom, and then remember that our bedroom is the messiest room in the house and it's best to keep that mess contained.

4:35 p.m.  Hubs wakes up MJ and I sit in the living room to nurse Teddy.  Afterwards, I put him in the Moby and he is so very discontent.  He's been vaguely sick, but his stuffy nose really seems to be bothering him and I bounce him constantly in the Moby to keep him happy.  He finally falls asleep.  

MJ scrapes her leg on some bricks and cries violently and briefly, as with most of her injuries.  We spend much of our time doling out watermelon slowly to our children to pacify them.  They snack on other things as well and I have no real idea what they've eaten.  This group of friends are amazing cooks and always have some pretty amazing food at gatherings so I don't worry much about their nutrition.  Even if it's not ideal, at least they're eating new and interesting foods.

We chat with some folks who are considering accepting a job here who are currently living in my hometown in Oregon.  I have an awkward interaction with a man I haven't seen in three years, who used to be on my PhD committee, before I quit.  We finally eat about 6:00; I tend to eat dinner very early (I would be happy to have it at 4:00 every day) so these more normal dinner times are sometimes tough for me.  

6:10 p.m  Nurse again.  Greta plays soccer with my former committee member's kids, who are much older than her and very, very sweet with her.  I really have no idea what MJ was doing during most of this time.  This is the beauty of older children and I can't help but look forward to a day when they are all self-sufficient.

7:15 p.m. After 30 minutes of warnings to hubs and the kids, we finally pack up and leave.  Our stuff is scattered everywhere and I'm sure we've forgotten something (I later find we forgot the Moby... the horror!  Also a pair of socks, which is not surprising since the girls take off their socks every chance they get).  It's still sunny and beautiful out so hubs and I decide to sit on the front porch when we get home.

7:40 p.m.  In the door.  Vito gets out again; he must be trying, we are not this bad.  But we see it happen and herd him back inside.  As per usual, hubs is in charge of getting the girls to bed (40 minutes past their bedtime) and I'm in charge of Teddy.

8:10 p.m Finish nursing Teddy and top him off with a bottle.   MJ gets in trouble for coming out of her room and playing (I am too harsh with her, but I am tired....)  I grab a beer and meet hubs on the front porch; I am unnecessarily grumpy about the absence of Blue Moon and the absence of a comfy front porch chair.  In an effort to be nice, hubs grabs me a chair and goes and gives teddy more bottle because he's still crying.  Teddy often snacks until he's full, making bedtime a very imprecise time. Not so much of an issue during the day, but annoying at night when you're just trying to get him to sleep.  You're never quite sure if this is the bottle that filled him up or just paused him for two minutes.

8:30 p.m. Hubs comes outside and chats, but after a few minutes I realize the monitor is off.  When I turn it on, Teddy is crying.  I convince hubs to go back up, and this time he finally gets him down.

9:00 p.m. We chat on the front porch for a while, and realize we are both still hungry.  This is a frequent problem when taking 3 kids out; we are often too busy to eat enough, and don't realize it until they are in bed.  Hubs convinces me to order Jimmy Johns; I've been trying to limit carbs, but not doing so hot.. Feeling guilty, I get wheat bread, knowing I have accomplished nothing.  We sit in the dark and count rabbits.  We watch people go by on their way from the nearby school's fun fair.  When the sandwiches arrive we realize we are cold and head upstairs to watch some TV.  We start an episode of Breaking Bad (the last people in the country to watch this show?  We are only on the 2nd episode) but are frequently interrupted by Greta waking up. She is also sick and restless.  We end up stopping it 15 minutes before the end because we're tired, and because we expect it to be a long night.  In bed by 10:15.  (Teddy's only wake up ended up being at 5:30, and G slept through the night, so all in all a great night of sleep...)

All in all, we are finding our groove.  Especially when we have extra hands.  The sleeping baby helps immensely.  Greta is the center of my focus, almost always.  She is the one usually getting into trouble, hurting herself or someone else, and the one most in need of monitoring.  When will this change?  It dawned on me that in a year's time we will have a toddler and a near-threenager.  That will be tough, I suspect.