Friday, December 31, 2010

Little Sister At Five Months

Oh, Emma Grace.

She is probably one of the sweetest, smiliest babies, ever. Seriously. I get comments from people all of the time about how rarely she cries and how much she smiles.

She does have a temper, though! If you don't feed her or snuggle her fast enough, you are going to hear about it. Keep her fed, happy, and well-rested, however, and it's smooth sailing.

Emma is an awesome sleeper for the most part. She takes at least one solid 2 - 3 hour (or even more!) nap a day and then another 1 - 2 hour nap. She is usually in bed by about 8:30 and sleeps until 7:00 or so. She did have about a week of rough sleep right around four months, but she also popped a tooth through that week and slept through immediately after it came through. Same thing happened a week ago; grumpy couple of nights with one or two wakeups, and then a tooth and back to sleeping through the next night. I can't complain in this department at all.

She doesn't sit still at all. She is much more of a mover and shaker than her brother was at this age. If you put her down, she'll roll around front to back, back to front, trying to get places. She is this close to sitting up on her own (she actually can and does sit independently for a few minutes at a time). She loves her jumparoo and exersaucer. She hasn't used the baby swing in well over a month. She loves rattles and things go directly from hand to mouth.

Speaking of her mouth, we kind of stalled with solids. We introduced rice cereal at the advice of her pediatrician to help with her spitting up. She liked it "okay" but she just wasn't as enthusiastic about it as Will was. A few days ago, we tried giving her some banana in one of those self-feeder/mesh-thingies and she loved it! So, she gets about a half a banana a day, plus some rice cereal mixed with prune juice.

She is starting to make more sounds and her laughter is still about the most amazing thing I have ever heard. Fortunately, she blessed me with hearing it very often.

All in all, I consider myself extremely fortunate. She is pretty easy as far as infants go and I could just gobble up her cute pudgy thighs and cheeks. And don't get me started on her clothes!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Big Brother At Five Months

When Emma was two months old, I wrote a post about Will's transition to being a big brother. I commended his sweetness and lack of jealousy. Though I knew rough waters could be ahead, it was smooth sailing at that point. A few of my commenters let me know about Sibing Rivalry: Phase Two (of Eleventy-Billion), which hits at about 5 - 6 months when the older sibling clues in that the newest family member is here to stay. As these commenters and friends are people that I trust and respect, I decided to enjoy the good times, but buckle up for the bad.

Well, here we are at five months. And I have to tell you, Will still exceeds my expectations as a big brother. He is amazing with his little sister.

He is protective. When other kids try to get in her business, he will run over and stand guard. He is okay if they look or touch very gently, but if they get too pushy or take a toy, he intervenes on her behalf. "My sister!" or "Emma's toy!" are his war cries as he swoops in to defend her, pushing a too-curious hand away from her face or recouping the toy and returning it to its rightful owner.

He is generous. Many a times, we have had to snatch a goldfish, lollipop, or other such yummy goodness right before it goes from his hand into her ol' mouth. Will likes to share his food and he is quick about it. We had many discussions with Will about how Emma only drinks milk, but then he got good and confused when we started solids. Oh, and we also told him many times that Emma couldn't eat XYZ because she doesn't have any teeth. Well, now he is good and confused because she has teeth! He also will bring her toys when he is playing, which is very sweet, but sometimes dangerous, as Matchbox cars from M's 1975 collection don't make good teethers.

He is a snuggle monster. He loves to "cuddle Emma," especially in his bed. This might be my favorite part of our days together and it's not just because it's right before nap or bedtime! I get my two little cherubs freshly diapered and into comfy sleep clothes and then pop them in Will's crib to read stories to them. They laugh, tickle each other, and generally have a rip-roaring good time. We are all laughing, nearly to tears, by the time I get through a rousing rendition of "The Belly Button Book".

Equally charming is how much Emma adores Will. She tracks him around the room with her eyes. Her eyes light up and her smile stretches to impossible proportions when he enters her line of sight. Watching how much they clearly love each other is so precious. I know there are many fights and "S/he hit me first/took my toys/ruined my life!" episodes ahead, so I am treasuring the amazing bond that is developing between them at the current time.

Now.

It's not all sunshine and roses here. What I have noticed lately is that he definitely has had a second round of jealousy. He is constantly asking for "up me" when I am taking Emma downstairs and cannot physically pick him up. He is going through a Mommy-phase where he prefers me to do things for him rather than M, which can be a challenge, especially at bedtime. He is two in every sense of the word with legendary tantrums that make me respect him for his tenacity and longevity, if not for the headeache these episodes leave me with. He is also just entering the dreaded "I do it meself!" which is already losing its luster.

But I am still so very proud of him. Being two isn't easy. There is so much to learn and do, so many feelings to process, so many adults telling him what he can and can't do. And he is doing a pretty stellar job of navigating this time in his life and being a pretty amazing brother on top of it all.

Oh my gosh. How I love these two little people. Their smiles make my world.



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry, Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, dear friends! Despite a touch of sadness this holiday season (in addition to Jack, we also have gotten some bad health news in our family and know two families also going through some serious, terminal illnesses), we have so much to be grateful for. The things that have happened recently have made me really take stock of what is important. It made the craziness of the holiday season seem a bit less important and bring to light what really matters.

Seeing Christmas through the eyes of our children is. . . amazing. I keep having to pinch myself that we have two sweet babies this year. I have visions of future Christmases just getting better and better. I truly have everything I ever wanted or needed this year. I am so lucky and thank God every day for all that we have been blessed with.

Last year, we were all sick (Will with croup, M with a horrid cold, and me with first trimester blech) and had to travel to my parents. Following our Merry Sickmas, we decided to "Take Back The Holiday" this year. It was received about as well as we could have expected. My parents and little brother came up last weekend, we'll see my sister and brother-in-law in the New Year, and we are headed to M's family for the day.

I can't tell you how much of a difference this has made for us. It was our first Christmas Eve at our home. I did miss my parents and the feeling of being around family, but (and this is a huge but) not having to pack, being able to sleep in our own beds, and having the experience of leaving out cookies and milk and seeing Will's face as he came downstairs to find his train table this morning more than made up for it. And we are still celebrating with everyone, so it's like the Christmas that keeps on coming!

We went to Christmas Eve services at our church (a first for us!) and then came home and made pizzas (vegan, gluten/sugar/dairy-free pizzas that are awesome, thankyouverymuch!) and watched The Polar Express. Each kid got to open a small present and then we did cookies and milk for Santa and carrots and an apple for the reindeer. After tubbies and a million (okay, maybe five) Christmas stories, we got the kids in bed by 8 PM and I wrapped some last gifts while M put together Will's train table. We even shared some champagne as we listened to Christmas Carols. I felt like a little kid again as we prepared for Christmas morning.

This morning, Will discovered that Santa had come. He was in awe of the empty plate of cookies and drained class of milk. The reindeer only left an apple core and a bit of carrot. Santa also had to move our fireplace screen to get out and forgot to put it back, so there was a lot of "evidence" of his arrival. And, ohmyword, Will loves his new train table. He is so funny, because he'll play with it, then do something else and come back into the playroom and gasp, "A TRAIN TABLE!" and get excited all over again.

We exchanged presents (Emma's first baby doll, a beautiful mothers' necklace for me, and an X-Box game for M were the highlights) and opened stockings, I made us breakfast, and we watched some Caillou's Holiday Movie. I've been cooking ever since, as we are bringing quite a few things for Christmas dinner (a salad, pappa al pomodoro (made with gluten-free bread), veggies and hummus, chips and guac). My MIL is very supportive of our new healthy eating plan, but I don't expect her to make us anything special. The soup smells amazing and I made enough for anyone to have some who might be interested. Yes, we are still going strong. M has lost 28 pounds and I am back in all of my pre-pregnancy pants. We are still enjoying the food so much that we have just decided to keep trucking along.

All in all, this has been a perfect Christmas and it's not over yet. I am so thankful for all that we have been blessed with and that we have been able to enjoy some time here at our home with our own little family. I hope that you are also having a wonderful holiday season.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Me Too

I don't talk much about religion on the good ol' blog. Mainly because it can be one of those divisive topics. I don't want to risk offending anyone and I also don't like it when the comment section blows up (which, fortunately, doesn't happen here very often).

So, to put it as simply as possible, we are Christians. We attend church on a semi-regular basis. I am part of a "growth group" through our church, which started last February. The moms and toddlers in that group have started to feel like family. Each of the lovely women in that group brought meals and offered childcare when Emma was born. I find church and my faith to be very comforting, especially during challenging times.

We pray with Will every night and have told him the Christmas Story. He loves nativities. I have a gorgeous nativity on our mantle and he will randomly run up to it and yell out, "Thank you, Jesus, for my family!"

The morning after Jack died, M and I were still in shock and I hadn't (gasp) done my usual research on what to say to Will if he asked where Jack was. We held our breath as Will came downstairs in the morning. Jack was very attached to him and followed him around to the very end, so we were expecting him to ask where his "shadow" was. To our suprise (and, frankly, relief) he didn't. He didn't ask all morning.

During his naptime, I finally got a chance to sit down and find out the appropriate things to say (and, possibly more importantly, what not to say) when discussing death with a toddler. It turns out that there aren't any hard and fast rules, but there were some very helpful suggestions. After nap, it finally happened. Will asked where Jack was.

M held him on his lap and I sat next to him and held his hand. We told him that Jack had died and that mean that he couldn't run, play, or bark anymore and that he wouldn't be coming home. We told him that Jack was with Jesus in heaven and although he missed us very much, he was very happy there. We told him that it was okay for him to be sad, to cry, to ask us any questions.

He seemed "okay" with this. He went off to play and we felt relieved that it was over. Fortunately, the websites also prepared us for the fact that toddlers will most likely ask for the missing loved one many, many times, as they really cannot grasp the finality of death. He didn't ask about Jack again until the next morning when we came downstairs and he asked me if Jesus was bringing Jack home today. It broke my heart to remind him that Jack can't ever come home. He sadly told me that he missed Jack and I told him that I missed him, too. He asked about a dozen more times that day if Jack was coming home.

My parents arrived Sunday and provided a welcome distraction (remember, they bring four dogs with them). Last night, my mom and I took Will for a Christmas Light Drive. We found a beautiful nativity scene and as we oohed and ahhed over it and pointed out Baby Jesus, Will all of a sudden got upset. It took me a minute to figure out that he was upset because he could see Baby Jesus, but Jack wasn't with him. I didn't exactly know how to explain that one. I told him that this wasn't the "real" Baby Jesus, that it was just a statue (he knows what statues are) and that the "real" Jesus lives in Heaven and that's where Jack is. He seemed to get it, but then he said, very sadly, "I wish Jack was here still, Mommy."

Me too, buddy. Me too.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On Grieving

I don't have the heart or energy to post about Days of Christmas right now. I'll do a recap in a few days.

Losing Jack has really hit me hard. But it has also caused me to treat our remaining animals better, so there is a hidden blessing even in tragedy.

Everywhere I turn, my little dog isn't there. He slept curled against my legs at night and I think it is there that I miss him the most.

His "remains" (how I detest that word) are waiting for us at the vet. I don't have the heart or energy to pick those up either.

I know that this is still a fresh wound, but I am already impatient with myself in this grief. I have felt the loss of a human at Christmastime (Gummy Bear in 2006). I realize that compared to what others are grappling with right now, this loss is so minor. So I try to buck up and move on. Sometimes, that is easier to do.

His collar is still in the basket in the front hall. I see it every time I leash Rocky to take him for a walk. I should probably put it away, but for some reason, I can't. I did vacuum up some fur that I knew was his. The finality of that action made me stand still and cry.

I did put his food dish away, but the empty place where it sat on the kitchen floor nags me. It just seems like the house is much more empty than usual all around.

I still "see" him, in the shadows of Will's bedroom, where he used to patiently wait for me to "rock rock" Will to sleep. I still "see" him on the rug, where he used to lie, waiting for me to get out of the shower. I still "see" him at the back door, when I just let the dogs out. I still "see" him many places, but he isn't really there. The permanence of loss is much harder to see.

I know there are greater and deeper losses than the loss of a pet. I know that. But it still hurts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jack

I'll catch up with the Days of Christmas in another post, but it's 2:34 in the morning, and no one is awake to talk to. Since my blog has always been the place I go to find comfort, I am here.

Just a few minutes ago, I hung up the phone with M. He's at the emergency vet with our dog, Jack, and we had to make the decision to put him to sleep. It really wasn't a tough decision, for which I am grateful. He apparently was practically in a diabetic coma (we didn't know he had diabetes and he has had regular vet care - not blaming our vet, just working my way through the "how could we have not known guilties") and had internal bleeding (no idea how that happened, either). He was pretty much dead by the time M got him to the vet. He had stopped breathing with me here at home and was pretty unresponsive. I tearfully said good-bye to him in our driveway and wished that I could go, too, just so M didn't have to do this alone. But with our babies sleeping upstairs, I went back inside and waited for the call.

His vitals were very poor and getting worse. Basically, if we didn't intervene, he would have died on his own. Our choices were: 3 - 4 days in intensive care and $8,000 - $12,000 in medical bills and no guarantees as to the outcome or to end his suffering. It wasn't really an option. And when M got home, he sadly told me that he was still signing the paperwork to have him put to sleep, when he actually passed away on his own. We are both sad that he was with strangers when he died.


We had a few scares with Jack along the way. He had pancreatitis twice. He had back problems that made him so sick that I thought he was a goner for sure. One time, he had a seizure in response to a medication for those problems, and I thought he had died. He was fine by the time we got him to the vet, which is less than five minutes from our house.

But things had been pretty calm for the last couple of years. I would teasingly say that he was going to live 'til 25. Tonight, he proved me wrong.



I have a lot of mixed feelings right now. Obviously, number one, I am sad. I also feel guilty. I haven't been the greatest pet owner for quite some time now. I am often overwhelmed between two dogs, one cat, and two kids under three. Jack was a lot of good things, but he was not an easy dog. When we picked him out at the humane society 11 years ago, the guy at the front desk told me that I didn't want him and that he was TROUBLE. I didn't listen.

We had him home for two days and he seemed like the Perfect Dog. Then, we left him alone to go to breakfast one morning. We returned home to find the apartment trashed. Seriously, it looked like a hurricane had come through. Our Perfect Dog was prancing around by our feet, eager to see us. We laughed, cleaned up the mess, and hoped it was a one-off. Nope. It was only the beginning.
Jack had separation anxiety. Dog trainers, obedience classes, and finally, a prescription for Clomicalm made it manageable, but it was still a daily challenge. When left alone, he would urinate and defecate on the carpet. Crating him wasn't really an option because he would go insane if caged. He could get out of any normal crate, so we had to get creative to contain him. While we could figure out a way to keep him in (by wrapping a thick chain around the bars of the crate), he would try to get out anyway and scrape his nose until it was swollen to twice its size, bleeding and raw.

We didn't have the heart to see that happen, so he had to stay in our garage while we were away. Despite weekly clean outs with bleach, soap, and water, I felt as if our garage always had a "doggy" odor from all of Jack's activities. It was frustrating to have guests over because he would bark the. entire. time he was in the garage. Recently, he had started having accidents in the house even when I was there and he'd just been out.

But.
He was my first "baby." He was our first major purchase together and a symbol of our early relationship. He was fiercely loyal. Most of his problems were because he just wanted to be with us. He had been abused before he came to us and it took him along time to really trust us. M was the only man he wasn't afraid of.

He caught many, many tears in his fur during our infertile and miscarriage years. He was my constant companion. He would lay on the rug in the bathroom while I took a bath. He never would go up to bed without me. No matter if I had just yelled at him for one of his many not-so-savory bad habits, he was always happy to see me and eager for a pat.
He was enchanted with Will when he was born and fiercely protective of him. Even now, when Will would wake from a nap and start calling for me, Jack led the way up to his room. If strangers came to the house, he would bark and was actually pretty intimidating, though he was a small dog.

I could go on and on about both his misadventures and the good times we shared. But there aren't really enough words to fully explain everything and how I feel. All I know is that the house is too quiet today and my world is minus one doggy heart that was filled with love. And my own heart is a bit broken.




Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas

First things first: here is our sweet little girl on Santa's Lap. . .


For today's event, we made Christmas Crowns (using stickers and tinsel as our decorations). My mom had mailed Will a Santa letter that arrived today, so this Santa got to take a day off. He loves getting mail, so that was kind of fun, but I sometimes don't think he "gets it". Of course, he is only two, so he has some time :).

We also went to a girlfriend's house for a yummy lunch and playtime. There might have even been mimosas for the mommies!

I have to say, this year is probably stacking up to be the most amazing Christmas I've had since I was a young child myself. Watching it through Will's eyes makes it so incredible. He is still experiencing the innocent joy of Christmas, the fun in the anticipation, but not really the gifts. I mean, he likes the gifts, don't get me wrong, but the whole thing isn't about them. I wonder how long that will last! Hopefully for awhile.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On the Second Day of Christmas

Well, Santa was a flop.

Will has been asking to see Santa. If you ask him what he wants Santa to bring him for Christmas, there isn't a hint of hesitation before he replies: "A train table!!"

He was all excited to get dressed in his Santa Train shirt and wanted to bring his I Love Trains book to see the Big Guy. He talked about it all morning and on the way there.

Turns out, the boy is all talk.

There wasn't a line at all, so we walked right up to Santa. From the safety of his stroller, Will shyly showed Santa his book. Santa "ho-ho'd" appropriately. I took Emma from the stroller and placed her in Santa's willing arms. No problem-o.

Then I went to get Will from his stroller and. . .

tears, screaming, and mass hysteria ensued.

There was no sitting on Santa's Lap for Will this year. I guess I could have gone for the screaming, body-twisting picture, but I just didn't have the heart for it.

Meanwhile, Emma took an adorable picture.

And Will announced that "Emma told Santa" what he wanted.

So we're all good (and when we get the picture in a couple of days, I will post it here).

Monday, December 13, 2010

The First Day of Christmas

I have seen other creative bloggers doing advent calendars for their kiddos with fun holiday events or gifts for each day. My mom did this when I was little, but I was thinking Will was kind of little for it this year.

It turns out, however, that Will is super into Christmas this year. And I happened to have a lot of random stuff around the house that was inexpensive (a box of Cheezits, bubbles, etc.) and could be wrapped in scraps of wrapping paper. I am also unashamedly pimping Santa when I am trying to get Will to cooperate with or do something that he doesn't want to do. I remind himt that "Santa is watching" and if he wants Santa to come and visit him, he needs to be good (oh, how much like a mom do I sound like?).

So the first "Santa" letter came today. Santa said that he had his elves send a few extra presents for Will to open at the end of each day if he has been a good boy. Will has been enjoying the letter and the box of Curious George Fruit snacks that he opened today.

Each day, I'll give him a letter and we'll try to do something holiday related, even if it's a cop-out read a Christmas story or watch Polar Express. Eleven days left. . .

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Detox Complete. . . Or Is It?

So, it's been two weeks since my husband and I began our Vegan Detox Plan. Overall, I have to say, I think it was a great success and I encourage even the meatiest of meat eaters out there to at least give it a try.

M lost 16.5 (that .5 is very important, he won't let me forget it!) pounds, I lost 4. I also lost a lot of bloat and am down a complete pant size, which was more important to me than what the scale says. I am now wearing a two pairs of jeans that I haven't worn since before I got pregnant with Emma.

I learned an incredible amount about my body and how it reacts to and processes food. I had always heard people say that you "aren't eating enough," when trying to lose weight. I never understood that reasoning. It seemed that diets and losing weight were all about not eating or eating much less than usual. With this plan, I really listened to my body, and people, my body was HUNGRY. The first week, I shoved food in my face at an alarming rate. Of course, it was all unprocessed, incredibly healthy, natural foods, but it was still food. I wasn't surprised that the scale barely budged. This week, I still ate a lot. More than I ever have eaten on any sort of "diet" before. But the scale dropped anyway.

My head feels clearer and I definitely have more energy. I am loving being creative in the kitchen. I made a delicious mango green curry, spinach and sweet potato enchiladas (the sauce was amazing, the filling needs some work) with a spanish rice that you couldn't even tell was vegan, and a tortilla soup that was very tasty. We had "burgers" last night and french fries. We both felt as if we were eating way too well to be on any sort of "diet."

So. . . are you ready to be shocked again? We're not done. We are going to add soy into our diet to increase our protein sources and I am going to allow myself the occasional agave syrup in my tea, but M doesn't want to go back to meat yet. At this point, we are going to go week to week and see where we are and how we are feeling.

I don't see us going vegan or even vegetarian permanently, but for now, we are both feeling better, losing weight, and happy with what we are eating. Who knew?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Balance

Right now, one of my greatest struggles (besides not eating the cheese from Will's plate when I fix him a meal) as a parent is trying find a balance between what is best for Will and what is best for Emma. . . and, okay, I'll admit it, what is best for me.

I am just going to say it: I hate staying home everyday. A day here or there with no scheduled outside activities is fine. But I am not good at being home, day after day, after day, after day, after you get the point.

Now that Emma is (knock on wood) on some sort of daytime sleep schedule, I want to honor that. But if she sleeps from 9:30 - 11:30 and then needs to go back down at 1:30 and Will also needs to go down around that time, it leaves us precious little time for getting out of the house. Most activities seem to start earlier which means either drastically shortening or skipping her morning nap altogether.

So I am stuck between getting Emma the rest she needs and getting Will (and me) the stimulation that we need. Most mornings, Emma loses that battle. I find that she can grab a 20 minute catnap on our way some place and then stay reasonably sane during our morning outing, only to grab another 20 minute catnap on our way home. The payoff is that she takes a nice, long afternoon nap.

But it kind of makes me feel guilty. I oftentimes feel as if Emma gets the short end of the stick. Will's needs are usually easier to both decipher and tend to (he needs a drink of water or for me to take off his socks), so that I can then take more time figuring out what Emma needs, so I usually make her wait for the few minutes that it takes to meet his needs. While I feel as if Emma is still very loved and cared for, I am still aware of the fact that she is getting less of my time, attention, and outright adoration than Will did at this point. So, it makes me feel as if I "owe" her a bit as far as protecting her sleep.

I am fortunate in that she doesn't seem to be one of those babies can gets overtired and can't sleep (Will was one of those), so that we can still get out in the morning and she will still take an afternoon nap. For now, I am trying to balance it in terms of staying home some days and getting out some days. But then it seems unbalanced per week. Like last week, we were home all week (Will and I were bored - Emma was rested) and then this week we are busy and gone a lot (Emma is rested - Will and I are getting more stimulation).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Perhaps A Reason She Isn't Sleeping

Emma got her first tooth! I last checked on Friday: no tooth.

M was sitting with her on his lap tonight and she was going to town on his finger and he said, "Did she get a tooth?"

I said that I didn't know, but upon closer inspection, sure enough! A tooth!

Her brother also got a tooth at four months so she is keeping in the family tradition.

It's funny, but knowing that this is my last child, these milestones are bittersweet. I also know how fast the time flies and how quickly these moments are gone. I am so excited when she does something new or grows in some amazing way, but there is also a realization that she is one step further from that helpless, tiny baby, and one step closer to the adult woman she will someday become. And of course, that's the way it should be, but it still makes a small part of me want to slow down time.

Dear Four Month Sleep Regression, You Suck. Not-So-Fondly, Katie

Ugh. The Four Month Sleep Regression is here. Double ugh.

I have always found backslides in sleep to be one of the most frustrating things about parenthood. Emma had been sleeping great and I was really enjoying my full night of rest (knowing how lucky I was and thanking my stars for it every. single. night). So, when she woke up three times last Thursday night, I was hoping it was just a one-off.

It wasn't.

She's been up at least once every night since then. Which I realize is par for the course with a young newborn. But I still don't love it.

The only good thing about the Sleep Regression this time around is that I know, like everything else, it's just a phase. She (hopefully, fingers crossed, prayers fervently said) will sleep again.

And so will I.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Calling All Seattle Area Bloggers

So, two of my fellow Seattle-area-bloggers (Jen and Sunny) and myself are coordinating a get-together in late-January, after all of the craziness from the holidays have died down.

This get-together is open to anyone who reads our blog(s) and are crazy enough to want to meet us in person or anyone who hasn't read our blog(s) and just wants to get together with those that have been in the trenches.

More details can be found here. If you aren't in the local area but have readers who might be, please pass the message along. Thanks!

Hope to meet some of you then.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Detox Wrap

So it's been a few days since the start of our vegan detox, and I have to say, I like it. It does not feel like a diet whatsoever. In fact, I have been stuffing my face more than ever. Which is probably why I haven't lost any weight. But since that wasn't the point, I am not letting it bother me. I am trying to pay attention to my body and what it needs. And the fact that I have been eating as much as I have and haven't gained any weight is something to celebrate. Even though the scale hasn't changed, I have noticed that my pants are fitting differently and I don't seem as bloated.

M, on the other hand, gah. He has lost nine pounds. That's not a typo. That is nine pounds. Now, granted, M has more weight to lose than me in the scheme of things, but still! I have to say, I find it irritating how quickly guys can lose weight when they only just try.

All jealousy aside, I am very proud of M. While veggies and fruits are my favorites, they are not his. This has been much more of a change of lifestyle for him than for me. Today, he grabbed an apple for a snack and I jokingly told him that had to be one of the signs of the Apocalypse. He said his boss did a double take when he caught him snacking on baby carrots at his desk this week. He deserves those nine pounds.

I have had two girlfriends over this week and both have loved the carrot ginger soup. They were both skeptical and I really had to twist the arm of my second girlfriend to try "just a bit," then she wanted a whole bowl (which she practically licked) and the recipe!

As for the dreaded detox symptoms, both M and I were exhausted on Wednesday night and Thursday was a bit rough. It was nothing that would keep me from recommending this to a friend, but I did have a mild headache and queasiness for most of the day. But I felt as if I turned a corner yesterday and today, I feel as if I have a lot more energy.

Also, in a possibly coincidental side note, I have noticed my milk supply increasing. I really think it's because I have been eating more.

So, what did we eat for the rest of the week?

Thursday night was cauliflower and sweet potato in a garam masala indian curry sauce with brown rice. Friday was vegan burgers with baked sweet potato fries. The burgers had a good flavor, but needed a different texture. I am going to tweak them next time.

We have both decided to do another week of this detox (at first, we only committed to a week). I am going to have to get creative to make some different meals (sweet potato enchiladas are an idea I am working on).

So, wish us luck!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day Three

Okay, so I stretch M a little too far last night. Carrot ginger soup is not something that he enjoys enough to make it a meal. Even with a salad.

I served Will a bowl of the soup with a grilled cheese and turkey sandwich. I thought M was going to snatch the food right from his son's plate. He is definitely not enjoying the detox as much as I am.

Me? I'm doing great! I am enjoying the food that I am making. I love trying new recipes and I had never made a soup like the ginger carrot one. It was very easy, if a bit time consuming (peeling carrots, grating ginger, dicing onions and potatoes), and I was very pleased with the results.

I do think that my love of cooking and trying new recipes is helpful when trying to do this detox. If you didn't like to cook, I think you'd eat raw fruits and veggies for two weeks and be sick to death of them by about two days in.

Here's what we are eating today.

Breakfast

Toast with almond butter and banana (for M)
Oatmeal with almond butter, flaxseeds, banana, and brown rice milk (for me)

Snack

Satsuma oranges, grapes,

Lunch

Leftover tacos (for M)
Leftover soup (for me)

Snack

Veggies and hummus

Dinner

Brown rice pasta with roasted veggies, homemade tomato sauce, and olive oil
Salad

One thing that I am finding is that I am not really all that hungry for dinner. I am ravenous when I wake up in the morning. I have been eating just a bit of dinner and drinking a lot of lemon water.

I had one of my girlfriends ask me yesterday if I plan to go vegan permanently. That's honestly something that I can't answer right now. Although my first reaction was, "Ya gotta be kidding me!", her question got me thinking about the direction I really do want to go after this detox is over. I am very interested to see how I feel in a few more days. The way that I am eating these past few days feels. . . natural to me. I don't even feel as if I am on a detox. I feel as if I am on an eating vacation where the world is my buffet of yummy foods. I am sure I would get bored of the limited foods that the detox allows, but a true vegan diet has a lot more options. Anyway, let's not get carried away, it's only day three.

I did have a random and brief craving for cheese today, but what I am most surprised about right now is how little I am craving sugar. I have been warned, however, that Days 3 and 4 are the worst as far as food withdrawal symptoms and cravings, so I am bracing myself just in case, but so far, so good.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day Two

So far, I am really enjoying this Detox Plan. First and foremost, I think it's because it's not a diet, in that we are not trying to lose weight, so I feel no stress from it. Secondly, I love to eat this way. Raw fruits and veggies, wholesome protein, and some good fats. It feels good.

I did switch out our menu last night. We had black bean tacos instead of the carrot ginger soup. I figured I didn't want to shock my meat-loving husband's system too much. The tacos were soooo easy to make (onions and green pepper sauteed in oil with some cumin, salt, and pepper - then add some minced garlic, chopped tomatoes, diced green chiles, black beans, and freshly ground flax seeds - served with corn tortillas with fresh tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, guacomole, and brown rice) and were seriously amazing. . . so much flavor! I didn't even miss the cheese or sour cream that I would normally pile on a taco.

I am seriously loving this so far. Of course, it's only Day Two. Here is what we are eating today.

Breakfast

Gluten-free toast with almond butter and sliced bananas
Brown rice topped with almond butter and apricot

Snack

Sliced apple with almond butter

Lunch

Leftover tacos

Snack

Carrots and celery with hummus

Dinner

Carrot-ginger soup
Cabbage and carrot slaw

I have also been drinking lemon water like it's my job. Which means that I have also been using the bathroom a lot, but I think that's a good thing. I also made an awesome spiced coffee with brown rice milk that I drank throughout the day (I used decaf coffee since I am nursing, but it tasted great!).

Overall, I am just happy to be eating healthy, wholesome food. I will admit that it's taking more time and pre-planning than my meals usually require, but I am glad to be taking the extra time to do something that feels good for my body. It's so easy for us moms to put our well-being at the bottom of our to-do list so it feels good to be doing something for me which also happens to benefit our kids.

Also, I got an e-mail from a concerned reader about nursing and doing a vegan detox. I just wanted to let everyone know that I checked in with my OB and since this is such a well-balanced eating plan and not "cleanse" diet (a cleanse by definition would have no solid food - just liquids), this it is okay for breastfeeding. Just wanted to reassure everyone that I would never, ever put anything above Emma's health and well-being. Honestly, I ate more yesterday than I usually would. If I start to have any adverse effects, I will add back a lean protein source and/or dairy as recommended by my doctor. I am also continuing to take my prenatal vitamin and a calcium supplement.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Detox Ain't Just For Li-Lo*

Okay, what I am about to tell you is absolutely shocking.

Well, not shocking perhaps. But if you knew me (well, my husband, especially) in real life, you'd fall off of your chair with laughter at what I am about to tell you.

No, I am not pregnant.

M and I are starting a Vegan Detox today. Now, me, I could be a vegetarian perhaps. I have always felt a little blegh when it comes to meat and I probably could psych myself into never eating meat again. BUT (huge pause for dramatic effect) I love my dairy. Cheese, milk, ice cream, cheese, and have I mentioned cheese? Or ice cream?

Also (another pause for the drama), my husband? Oh, my husband loves meat. He adores it. He loves to chew it from bones, saw it from huge steaks, lob it down in hamburgers the size of his head. He dreams about meat. He also eschews most vegetables, especially the green ones, unless they are literally drowning in ranch dressing or cheddar cheese sauce. In case you were wondering, meat, ranch dressing, and cheddar cheese sauce are all items you would not find on any vegan menu.

On the other hand, both of us are feeling lousy lately; general indigestion, bloating, headaches, and just a general yucky feeling. For me, I know it's because we have been eating like crap since I was pregnant. I am starting to get my groove back now that Emma is napping a bit more regularly (not scheduled, but I can count on at least one good stretch a day), I can put a bit more time into meal planning and preparation. But even then, I make a lot of dishes that count on a box of something premade. There are many times when I skip making a salad or healthful side dish because, let's face it, carbs and fats are just so much easier and faster to slop on the plate. There are nights when M grabbing something through the drive-thru is so much more appealing than taking my free twenty minutes of the day to cook dinner.

I just feel kind of "bogged down" by what we've been putting in our mouths. And with two children to set a good example for, it gives us that much more incentive to eat better. While weight loss is not the purpose of this detox, I also know that if we eat this way for two weeks, there is no way that some pounds won't come off. Even if they don't, I am hoping to "retrain" us to eat a few more fruits and veggies, some healthful protein, and a few less carbs and bad fats.

I started feeling this way when I was pregnant and my good blog friend Mel was doing this. At the time, I promised myself that once life was somewhat under control again, I would do it. I didn't know if I'd be able to convince my meat-revering husband to go along for the ride. The past few weeks, however, he has been talking about wanting to change things up, so I figured it was now or never.

I shopped yesterday and had a lot of fun doing it. The total made me cringe a bit and made me wonder why it costs so much more to eat real food than processed food, but I believe it's worth it. Of course, this is also not the greatest time of year to be buying enough fruit and vegetables to feed a small army. Fortunately, a new WinCo just opened up a few blocks from our house. Their produce and fresh herb selection is amazing and the prices are unbeatable. They also have a phenomenal bulk food section where I was able to get a lot of spices and the more random things, like flaxseeds and nutritional yeast for a fraction of what they would have cost elsewhere. They also (cue angels singing) have a small section of gluten-free breads, bagels, and pizza crusts. I skipped those for now, but if we decide to cut gluten for a bit longer, I will definitely be visiting that section again.

So, here we go. Day 1. Here is what we are going to be eating:

Breakfast

Oatmeal with bananas and walnuts

Snack

Veggies and hummus

Lunch

Mixed greens with corn, avocado, black beans, raw sunflower seeds, and a homemade lime-tomatillo-vinaigrette

Snack

Grapes (and some raw cashews for M)

Dinner

Carrot-ginger soup**
Cabbage and carrot "slaw" with a hummus-based dressing


* Okay, Li-Lo might be the dorkiest celeb nickname I have ever heard. But it sure beats Firecrotch.

**I am super exciteed to try this soup. It sounds amazing!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

THANKSgiving

We have so much to be thankful for. Here are the blessings that I am counting this year.

Our health.

Our warm and cozy home.

Food in our bellies.

And, of course, I am most thankful for our miracle babies. Oh, how I love them!


Happy Thanksgiving to you, my dear friends!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Photo Update

Okay, I might have to print a retraction to my post on our pictures the other day. Here is our picture preview. We are also getting a disk with 152 other images. There are some really great pictures of Will and even a couple of Emma in there, too. I have to admit, there isn't really a family "group" shot that I love, but there are a couple of Mike and me that I like and definitely one of each of the kiddos to make a Christmas card. And we'll definitely use Arlene again, so we can try for a family picture this spring or summer when it's warmer out.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Couldn't Love Him More

Seriously, folks, Will is an amazing big brother. He really seems to care about his sister and if she is happy, sad, etc. When she cries, he is quick with a, "Why you cryin', Emma Drace?" (He rarely calls her just Emma. It's always her full name, with his very own pronounciation. Of course, M and I have taken to also calling her "Emma Drace," so it's her nickname of sorts.)

He has had his adjustment phases to be sure, don't think I am glossing over the tantrums, bedtime refusals, and general toddlerishness. But overall, I couldn't have asked for more from a little person who is really little more than a baby himself. When it comes to "Emma Drace," he is all sweetness and light. He protects her from overzealous friends and tries to make her happy when she is sad.

This morning yielded a precious (and yet, kinda gross) story that exemplifies the type of brother he is.

Emma had woken up super early this morning (the 4 month sleep regression has arrived in our house with a vengeance) and needed a nap around the time that Will woke up. I am not doing CIO here yet, but when both kids need something, I triage parent, which meant that I had just put Emma down in her bassinet when Will woke up. So, I left her, to see what a few minutes of grumbling would do while I tended to him.

I changed his diaper, put him in some sweatpants and a t-shirt, and set him down while I tidied his room a bit. He ran from the room. We have a gate that locks at the top of the stairs, so I knew he couldn't get far. Emma stopped crying, so I took a few more minutes to change his diaper pail. Then, I suddenly realized, it was too quiet.

I went in search of my son. . . and found him. He was by the bassinet, feeding Emma a bottle. While he fed her the bottle, he quietly said, "There, there, Emma Drace, it's okay. Stop crying."

I stopped for a second to appreciate the scene before me. . . and then I realized that the bottle that my son was feeding my daughter? It was the last ounce of a bottle I had given her before bed last night and then set on the nightstand and forgotten about. Yeah, "Emma Drace" was chugging down 12-hour-old formula. Ewwwww.

She's fine, btw.

But how cute and sweet is that? He has learned our family motto: Food makes you happy. And he's applying it to help his sister.

What a brother.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Picture Worth One Word. . . FAIL

I guess I shouldn't say that it's a fail yet since I haven't seen the pictures, but we had our family pictures taken today and I do not have any hope for the results being good.

We had heard about this photographer from some friends who had their pictures done with her. I really liked her work and after finding out how reasonable her prices are, we booked a session. It happened to be her last session before the holiday season really kicks off and we could get the images back in time to do some pictures as gifts for our families.

In order to avoid the session being stressful, we went to Old Navy last weekend and picked out some fun sweaters and accessories. I didn't want to be "matchy-matchy", but I wanted to look coordinated. I put together a bag of essentials last night, including a comb, baby wipes, extra clothes, a fun textured blanket, and accessories for Emma. I felt as prepared as we could be.

What I couldn't prepare us for was the chilly temperatures (32 degrees) and the snow. Oh, yes, and since I have a four month old with no day time sleep organization, I could only pick a time that would work for Will and hope it would also work for her. It didn't. In fact, nothing seemed to work.

I should point out that Arlene was great. It wasn't her fault it was freakishly cold for November and that both of our kids were completely uninterested in having their picture taken. Emma cried whenever we tried to put in her in the fun basket or on the textured blanket. I can't really blame her, the poor thing was probably pretty cold. Will didn't want to pose or smile. He did have a brief moment of fun during a game of peekaboo, but other than that, he didn't want to be captured on film. At one point, M put his jacket on him and accidentally caught his poor pinky in the sleeve. At another, he fell down on some rocks. Emma had a red nose from the cold and basically was done after the first five minutes.

Anyway, I was pretty frustrated by the end, as I felt completely stressed during the entire thing and I just can't imagine that they turned out well. The kids were both a mess by the end, with tears streaming down both faces. I felt like we had wasted a Sunday and our money.

I do hope I am wrong and have some fabulous pictures to post soon.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Highlights

One of the reasons that I blog is to capture some of the things that are happening with the kids. It has been awhile since I really talked about what they've been up t0. Here are some highlights.

Emma
  • She is becoming more and more engaging and active each and every day. Her smiles are the biggest you've ever seen. And her laughter. . . there are no words to describe it, but it is the best sound in this world. If I could bottle the feeling it gives me, I would be a gazillionaire.

  • She rolls over (front to back) like a pro. She still struggles with back to front but has done it a few times.

  • She has started [cue angels singing and rays of heavenly light] napping. In her own bassinet. For more than 20 minutes. Now, she is not on any sort of schedule, but she goes down for a solid 2 - 3 hour nap at some point during the day and will take another 45 minute to an hour nap at some other point.

  • I am still struggling to get her bedtime earlier. No matter what I do, this child will not go and stay down before 9 PM. We'll have a rare night where it's closer to 8 PM and those nights are awesome because it gives me an extra hour to just. . . be. Honestly, however, I can't complain too much because the little darling sleeps all night and usually doesn't wake up until 8:3o or 9:00. I know most moms would kill for that sleep schedule, and really, it's not too bad.

  • She is still in size 1 diapers, but next time I buy diapers, I'll buy size 2. She is wearing mostly 3 month clothes, some 0-3 things, and even some 3 -6 month things. We haven't had her 4 month appointment yet, so I don't know what she weighs, but I am guessing at least 13 pounds.

Will

  • Will was very sick last week. Probably the sickest he has ever been. He just laid on the couch and moaned for an entire day. He didn't eat or drink anything for three days and had a high fever and a rash. One night, I don't think we got more than 20 minutes of sleep because he was so miserable. He is better now, thank goodness.

  • He is such a parrot lately. Seriously, he will just repeat back whatever was just said to him. While it is certainly an entertaining party trick to get your two year old to say "supercalifragalisticexpealadocious," it can be a wee bit frustrating when you ask the two year old if they'd like peas or carrots for dinner and they respond, "Peas and carrots for dinner." Which would be fine, except for when you serve him peas and carrots and then he whines for brocoli, which I would have happily made for him if he only would have expressed that was what we wanted.

  • He has become my little helper in the past few weeks. If I ask him to get something for me that I've dropped or that is in the next room, he happily obliges. This is a very handy new ability, especially when I am breastfeeding.

  • He is having problems with learning his colors. He can name shapes, numbers, and even some letters, but colors stump him. He thinks everything is orange. My dad is color blind, so the thought has crossed my mind that he could possibly be as well. We have done lots of creative things to help him with colors, but nothing seems to be sticking.
  • Probably one of my favorite things about Will lately is that he is starting to develop empathy. I got a paper cut the other day and said, "Ouch!" He responded with a very concerned, "Are you okay, Mommy?" He also offered to "kiss it make it better" for me.
So, that's what's happening with the kiddos lately. What's happening with you?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Distraction Is the Name of the Game

One of my major concerns with heading into the newborn phase was how to occupy Will while I nursed Emma. This is a really quick post on ideas that I have used with success and also some things that haven't worked so well. Please chime in with any ideas you might have. These same ideas would apply to any baby activity that you are doing (bottle feeding, changing the millionth blowout of the day, etc.).

The Good

1) T.V.

We introduced television at about the same time that Emma was born. I think the fact that it was something "new and different" really worked for him. However, some of my friends have not found this to be a good distraction tool for their kids.

2) Meals.

I usually try to nurse Emma while Will is having a meal or snack. I get him all situated with food and drink and then sit on the couch near his chair.

3) Coloring.

He is usually pretty happy to sit and color for around 20 minutes, which is about what a feeding takes.

4) Camping.

This is Will's latest favorite. I set up his little indoor tent, put some books, blankets, and pillows inside and then crawl in, make myself comfortable to nurse, and we play camping. This also has worked when Emma wouldn't nap by herself so that she could nurse, fall asleep, and then I could lay down with her while Will played. He wouldn't stay in the tent the whole time, but he would come in and out and wouldn't go far (our playroom also is gated so he can't escape so I even got a brief snooze a couple of time, knowing he was right there and safe).

The So-So

1) Reading.

This works occasionally, but I found it hard to hold the books and nurse. However, I might have to move this up to the Good Category as we just started the "I Spy" books and they are great! I can open it to a page and we can get through at least one side of nursing without having to turn to another one. He is really interested in finding everything and it takes him awhile. If we do run out of their things to look for, then he asks me what other things are on the page.

2) Play Doh.

This might work better with an older kid, but Will still gets frustrated and can't do a lot with the doh by himself.

3) Stringing beads.

This works slightly better than Play Doh, since he can bring me the string if he needs help. But he gets bored pretty easily with bead stringing and I haven't gotten through an entire feed on it alone. This works better for a diaper change.

Major Fail

1) Feeding His Own Baby/Animal.

This is probably pretty kid-specifc, but Will could care less. He does enjoy feeing Emma an occasional bottle (well, part of one anyway, he's never managed to last a whole feeding), but he has no interest in feeding his stuffed animals or things.

Okay, your turn!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Awesome Blog

I'll get back to my "life with two" blog entries as well as our regularly scheduled programming pretty soon - promise! I have a few questions to address as well as a diaper bag review to get to (and I do have a good recommendation for a diaper bag!). Unfortunately, Will has been very sick this week and, fortunately, I was hired by the company that I interviewed with a couple of weeks back. I train next week, so I have been pulling together childcare for the time that I have to be at the office for training.

In the meantime, here is a great blog that I stumbled across today. I was linked to it by the Seattle Mama Doc blog that I frequent (both because it is a great blog and because Dr. Swanson is our pediatrician). Check them both out if you are in need of some great medical resources that don't come from the Evil Dr. Google.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cooking For Real

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, it will be no surprise to you that I love food. I am passionate about cooking and baking for my family and friends and I am constantly on the lookout for new recipes and ideas.

I usually have the Food Network on if the kids are in bed or down for a nap and one of my very favorite shows is Cooking for Real with Sunny Anderson. The other day, she made a red velvet brownie that looked easy and amazing. I googled the recipe today and found Sunny's blog. I am so excited to read more about her and thought I would pass it along for any of my fellow foodies.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Smackdown, Boob, and Crazy Update

First off, thank you for all of the advice lately. Here are some updates.

HITTING: We have started taking away a favorite toy when he hits. This seems to be having some effect, but we also haven't been in a playgroup situation since we implemented that. However, he hasn't hit me in two days, which is a BIG improvement. And what is most impressive is that he has started to hit on several occasions, where he has pulled his hand back and up, but you can see him stopping himself. I know that we'll have regression here, but I am happy to say that things seem a bit better right now.

NURSING: WOW. Thank you for the detailed and supportive comments. Breastfeeding is one of those issues that I am always afraid to blog about as it can spark a lot of different opinions. I am working on pumping to increase supply, and I had taken fenugreek before but hadn't this time so I started that again. I also realized that I always locked myself up in the bathroom or other such not-fun-locations while pumping, and that makes it even worse. Yesterday, I pumped while I watched t.v. I still didn't get a ton of milk, but I got more than usual. So, thank you everyone.

CRAZY DROP MY KIDS OFF WITH A STRANGER LADY: Yeah, I called her back and told her No, Thanks. She had already found someone else in in the meantime, so she was fine with it*. She asked if she could call me in the future if she needed help, and I told her that I would feel far more comfortable if we had a playdate first. She didn't seem to like that idea and I doubt we'll be hearing from her again. That's fine by me. I am just glad to know that I am not the only one that thought this was insane.

*What she actually said was, "Oh." Then she paused for an incredibly awkward amount of time and said that she "didn't think that was necessary." I think she misunderstood and thought I wanted to be friends or something. I probably should have used a different word like "interview" or "practice day," but I think this is for the best anyway.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What the WHAT

I just got a phone call that has left me speechless. Obviously, I am not type-less, because here I am blogging about it. Again, let's play a game of "What Would My Blog Readers Do?"

First, we have to back up to about a month ago when I was visiting my parents and my mom and I went to a church rummage sale. She had Will with her and I had Emma in the Ergo. While I was looking over some lovely antique jewelry, one of the nice ladies manning the sale complimented me on Emma and we started talking. She asked if I worked and I said that I stayed home with the kids. She sighed and said that she wished that her daughter could do the same, but that she had to work. She then mentioned that her daughter was having trouble finding a nanny, as she doesn't need someone fulltime and her previous Nanny had given her notice. M and I had been discussing ways that I could bring in a bit of extra income, so I gave my phone number to her mom and told her to call me if she was interested in possibly discussing childcare.

Then today, my phone rings. It's not a number that I recognize and I was cleaning the kitchen, so I let it go to voicemail. It's the daughter calling me to see if I can watch her kids for ten hours TOMORROW. She apologizes for the short notice, but wants to drop them off at 7 AM and pick them up at 5 PM, and will be driving to a town an hour away, and wants to know how much I would charge.

What the WHAT.

Here are my problems with this:

1) She has had my number for a full month and never called me to arrange a playdate or screening interview or anything. I am the one who suggested occasionally watching her kids, but I figured we'd meet first or something.

2) She doesn't want to run a background check, meet me beforehand, or even talk to me on the phone before leaving her 18-month-old and 3 year old with me for the entire day.

3) She isn't just running down the street or even a few minutes away. She is going to be an hour away. And her mom told me that she is a district manager for a pharmaceutical company. I did that job, and as her message said she was going to be riding with a rep for the day, I know that means that she won't even have her own car to leave and come get her kids if necessary.

4) I am a complete stranger to this woman. I am not a friend of a friend or someone she has heard good things about from someone who knows me well. I met her mother for five minutes and that is our only connection.

I know that I don't work outside of the home, and therefore, I don't know firsthand the desperation of needing last-minute childcare. I get that. But I can't, even in my wildest of wild dreams, imagine the place I would be in where I would leave my children in a potentially dangerous situation like this. There have been times when I have needed childcare, for a doctor's appointment or a job interview, and I would still never even think of this being a good idea. Am I off-base? Is this normal?

Now, here is my dilemma: Even though I think this mom is crazy to even consider me as an option, I would be a safe place for her kids. If I don't do it, who knows where her kids will end up. So, should I watch her children?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nursing Riddles

Emma is just not into the breastfeeding lately. It started with the yeast problems and got worse after the mastitis.

The girl likes her bottles. She chugged 10 ounces today while my girlfriend watched her. Ten ounces, people.

My problem? I hate pumping. I never get more than a few ounces from each breast when I pump and Emma laughs at anything less than 8 ounces lately. I have a nice pump, too, the Medela Pump In Style, so it's not that, but to get 10 ounces, I would have to pump at least twice or supplement with formula. Again, I have nothing against formula, but we are on a single income and breastfeeding is cheap while formula is not. It also isn't realistic for me to pump twice to get one bottle and keep nursing her.

One of my girlfriends said that in order to get Emma back on Da Boob, I should withhold all bottles and not do any supplementing. This is a great theory, but what about when she has been nursing for an hour straight and is still screaming with hunger? Or what about when she bobs off and on the boob for thirty minutes and is still screaming with hunger? There are days when she seems fine, but other days when I have to give her a little supplemental bottle in the afternoon. And we usually give her a "topper" bottle after our last nursing session of the day.

Does anyone have any pumping ideas? Or ways to get my little one back on track with nursing?

Friday, November 5, 2010

It Sounds Like A Hit

Will has been doing a lot of hitting lately. He hits the dog, his friends, and me. I'd say his friends get most of the hitting, but he will also hit me if I do something that he dislikes (like turn off "Caillou").

We've done stern "NO HITTING" talking-to's, timeouts ad nauseum, and leaving the playdate. Just when I feel as if we are making some progress, he has a total regression and has a hitapalooza at the next playdate. I am at my wit's end with this hitting because I don't want him to be "that kid," you know the one that you don't want to have over because he whales on your kid. And even worse, then I become the "parent of that kid," you know the one that you think should do something about the hitting. In the spirit of complete honesty, playdates are as much for me as they are for him, it's my socialization, too!

While I recognize that this (like pretty much all issues-remember the Great Bite of 2009?) too shall pass, I am looking for advice on how to make it pass sooner. Or at least how to consistently address it while it is happening.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mornings

It is what it is asked for details on my routines. To keep it from getting too long, I'll break it down into three parts, starting with our mornings.

Pure and simple, I have lucked on my mornings (but don't hate me, we'll get to my afternoon and evenings in future posts). My kids sleep in, which gives me the dual benefit of some Mommy-time and time to get some things done before the day begins.

Here is how our morning goes (of course, no day is exactly the same, but it's starting to settle into a "routine" of sorts and has been this way for about the last month).

BOTH kids sleep in until at least 8 AM. I use the 7:00 - 8:00 AM time to get myself showered and dressed. This is key. If my kids didn't sleep in, I would shower the night before to get this done before they were up for the day (this is what I did when Emma was a newborn and getting up early). Basically, if I am not dressed and presentable by the time they get up, it isn't gonna happen. I also take this time to start a load of laundry and empty the dishwasher.

Will usually gets up first between 7:45 - 8:30 AM. I change his diaper (but keep his jammies on because he'll get whatever he's wearing dirty at breakfast) and bring him downstairs. I get him situated with something to eat and if Emma is still sleeping at that point, I will eat something with him.

Emma usually wakes up from about 8:30 - 9:00 AM. I go, get her, and bring her back downstairs to change and nurse her while Will finishes breakfast. If Will has already finished eating, then I either offer to read to him or let him into his playroom to play while I am busy with his sister. He is pretty good at self-entertaining and Emma is down to taking less than 20 minutes to nurse. When she was younger and nursing longer and more often, I would also use the t.v. to help distract him.

If we are going someplace that day (and we usually are), I then get both kids dressed and we are out the door anywhere from 9:30 - 10:00 AM. I enjoy getting them out of the house, but this will probably change as Emma gets a bit older and has a more predictable nap schedule. For now, she is still napping somewhat randomly and seems to get as much sleep in the Ergo as she does in the crib. To make getting out of the house a little easier, I keep the diaper bag stocked and by the carseat (I replenish the diaper bag each night with wipes, an extra change of clothes, diapers, and snacks). I keep a comb, our shoes, and my keys downstairs. My wallet is always in the diaper bag (I am currently not using a separate purse). That way, I can do a last quick comb of Will's hair, and put all of our shoes on right before we leave the house.

When we are out, I stick to very kid-friendly places like the zoo or childrens' museum. Emma goes in the Ergo for either (if you don't have a sling or carrier that you like, make that your number one priority before #2 arrives). Double strollers are nice, but they are limited. You can't chase #1 as easily if you are pushing a stroller - especially a double, as even the most streamlined, narrow version is still a friggin' bus.

The key at this young age is always getting the younger child out of the car first. Then you can deal with the older child. The younger child is still in those nifty carseats that lift in and out of the car and aren't able to run anywhere. So you can get them in the Ergo, stroller, shopping car, whatever, and then get your older child out. Also, I started training Will before Emma was born to stand still and not move a muscle. I have him place one hand on the side of the car and tell him he can only let go to take Mommy's hand. It took weeks (probably even a couple of months) to really drill this home and it was probably an age thing even more than a consistency thing that really made it stick. At around 2, he just started listening better and not dashing off as much (well, for now, anyway).

If we are someplace public and Emma needs to nurse or a diaper change, I find someplace "safe" for Will. So if we are at the zoo, I take him to a self-enclosed play area, some place where he can't just dash off. Same thing for the museum. If I can't find find such a self-enclosed area, that is when he gets put in the stroller or grocery cart - something he can be strapped into. I will give him a snack and/or favorite toy or two to entertain him while I am busy.

The other key is to minimize stops. Getting in and out of the car and remembering everything you need is a circus, so I try to make no more than one stop. I try to pick places where I will only have to get in and out of the car once. The library, for instance, is across the street from a grocery store, so if I need to grocery shop, we'll go to the library first (they also hav a little play structure there, too, big bonus!) and then walk to the store and then back to the car. That way, it's only one in and out. Drive thru anything is my friend, whether it's bank, pharmacy, coffee, or whatever. I seriously wish they would invent drive-thru convenience stores where you can pick up a gallon of milk or loaf of bread without getting out of the store. I know many moms that would pay a pretty hefty upcharge for that convenience. Start looking now for those all-purpose areas, shopping centers with fun things for the kids and places were you can also run an errand. For me, that area is this downtown shopping area where the grocery store, library, a book store (story time), and kid-friendly coffee shop are all in one walking-distance area.

After our morning outing, it's time to head home to nurse Emma and for lunch and Will's nap. But we'll save the rest of the afternoon for another post.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It Will All Be Okay

Elise's comment touched my heart.

I could have written her comment almost a year ago. This is what I wrote when I was about seven weeks pregnant. If you don't want to click back, let me summarize for you. I was overwhelmed and didn't see any way out of the dark tunnel of early pregnancy.

First things first, Elise (and anyone else reading this), it will all be okay. I promise. There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that the first trimester of pregnancy sucks HARD when you have a toddler. It will get better. . . until the end of the third trimester, which sucks equally hard when you have a toddler.

The good news is that (at least for me), having a newborn and a toddler seemed easy compared to pregnancy and a toddler. That's right, I said it, easy. After the initial recovery from childbirth, you will feel amazing. You will feel (and be) pounds lighter and that in and of itself will make things easier. When you are pregnancy, you are physically compromised. When you are no longer pregnant, you feel so much better and able to handle things.

Yes, you will be getting up several times a night to feed a newborn, but you'll be able to sleep in the intervals. At the end of both of my pregnancies, I slept like crap. The sleep I got between feedings was deep and restful. And sleep deprivation is not fun, but it's not the same the second time around. Even if your toddler has been sleeping well for awhile, you are still used to functioning on far less sleep, so you will feel more rested than you ever felt possible on very little sleep.

Your son will also be able to "help" you with things. He will be able to get a diaper, hand you the remote control, or even let the dogs out (or something similar if you don't have pets). He will be even older than my Will was, so I will imagine even more helpful.

So, my tips for surviving the pregnancy:

1) Let go of the guilt. You are a fantastic mom. Your child will not remember the daily details of their life at this point in time. Dishes aren't done? Eh, they don't care. House isn't vacuumed? A little too much t.v. in a day? Again, a toddler doesn't even notice. What your son will remember is the pervasive feeling of love that I just know you give him. I know, it's so hard to let go of the guilt. I spent much of my pregnancy feeling as if I was somehow letting Will down. But I can tell you, Will is fine. And he adores his baby sister.

2) Get help. I know you said that family doesn't live in town. That sucks. I am in the same situation. I do, however, have some very good friends that were willing to take Will for an hour here or there when I was really too sick to handle it. Can your husband take him places on the weekend - just for an hour or two - so you can nap or sit on the couch?

3) Get more help. Do you have a house cleaning service? Can you take your professional clothes to the dry cleaner? Can you buy some premade meals through a Dinner's Ready-type service or even frozen stuff from Costco? Anything you can take off your plate for now and again during the third trimester is golden. I felt guilty about spending the money, especially on house cleaning, but you want to know something? It was worth every. single. penny. And then some!

4) Television is not evil. We chose not to introduce t.v. to Will until his second birthday. That being said, we don't believe that t.v. is evil and I don't think the occasional bout of television-watching will be detrimental to your son. If you end up relying on the boob tube a little more than you feel comfortable with on a day here and there, then try to keep your overall average down (for example, when I was super sick last week, Will watched a lot of t.v. so I kept the t.v. off for the next few days to even ths score). So for you, a little t.v. on the weekend when you need the backup is just fine, but maybe no t.v. during the week?

5) Just remember that this too shall pass. I know, it seems like forever until the second trimester arrives and brings better health with it. But it will come and this will fade into your memories. I don't mean to belittle what you are going through right now, because I can remember how difficult this time was for me, too. I am just trying to give you a glimmer of hope.

How about anyone else out there? And coping strategies for Elise?

I'll be posting more on the schedule/logistics of two later on.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ask Away

Emma has been in our lives for three and a half months. It's strange how that time seems to have gone by so very quickly, and yet she is so fully entrenched in our family, that I can barely remember life without her.

A few posts back, It Is What It Is asked me if life with two is harder, easier, or about what I expected. Like all answers with me, it's not quite that simple. Overall, I guess I'd have to say it's been easier than I expected. But there are days that it is harder than I expected and days that it is about what I expected.

Going into having two children, I was scared about so many things. Here are a few things that I was concerned about and how I feel they "work."

1) The logistics of two in going places.

I am not gonna lie, there is a learning curve with moving the stuff of two small children around. I feel as if I have to make so many trips to and from the car when I go someplace. Even then, things get forgotten. But somehow, we get out of the house, and it has gotten easier. I remember the first time we went to the grocery store as a family and I cried in the car on the way home because I couldn't imagine going to the store (or anywhere else for that matter!) without M. Now, I go places all of the time and don't think twice about it. You just find ways to make it work. My biggest advice is to keep some sort of container in the car with extra essentials such as diapers, wipes, non-perishable snacks, and a change of clothes for each kid. That way, if something gets left behind, it's not a necessity. Just remember to replenish your box once a week or so.

2) That I wouldn't love Emma the same way that I love Will.

Well, here's a shocker, folks. I don't love Emma the same way that I love Will. I love Emma with all of my heart, but she and I are still in the very new stage of our relationship. Meanwhile, her brother and I have been together for two years. I don't just love him because he is "mine," I love him for all of the idiosyncrasies that make him Will. I am starting to love the special and wonderful things about Emma as I get to know her. She has her very own personality that blossoms more and more each day. I feel the love that I have for her blossoming with it. I always loved her, from the second that they placed her in my arms my heart seemed to triple in size, but the love grows and grows.

3) Sleep.

I am so fortunate that Emma is an incredible sleeper at night. Seriously, I lucked out in the night sleep department. Once she is down for the night, we don't hear from her for 11 - 12 hours. The problem is that she is a night owl. I cannot get her to go to bed before 9 PM. There will be the occasional night where we get "lucky" and she goes down at 8:3o PM, but it's rare. Granted, she will then sleep in until 8 or 9 AM, so I know many people would gladly trade me a later night for a later morning. In any case, I am not going to knock my situation. She is sleepin a long period of time at night all by herself, so I am not going to try and force an earlier bedtime. If it ain't broke, no fixing it.

She is not such a great napper. She takes one nap a day in her crib for about 45 minutes. But that's it. And she has to "fuss it out" for about five minutes to take that one nap. Of course, it's also in the morning, which is when Will is not napping. The nice part about that is that I get to spend some time with just him in the morning and then just Emma in the afternoon while Will is napping. Also, there is no organization to her daytime sleep yet. I think it's probably because she is sleeping in so late. Will was always up by 7 AM and had developed a 9 AM nap by this point, so I am wondering if I need to start waking her up at 7 to establish that nap. Ah, sleep.

Okay, so what other questions do you have for me? Ask away!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

No More Sick

I am back.

Wow, that was a crazy few days.

I was sick as a dog.

In addition to my cold from heck, I also had mastitis. If you've never had it, good. You don't want it.

I had to go to the doctor when my temperature stayed at 103 with ibuprofen and I felt worse than after my c-section. Fortunately, I started feeling better after the second dose of medication. I am still low on energy but am definitely on the mend.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Even Sicker

Blegh.

I feel. . . awful.

I know there are some nasty bugs going around and this one has taken me down. Even with Tylenol, my fever is hovering around the 101 - 102 level. I am a nasty coughing mess.

On the plus side, I did a phone interview today for what appears to be a good work from home job. It's doing blog research for a Seattle-based company. In fact, they could be reading this right now, since I gave them my blog address as part of the resume submission process.

If you are reading this, J, I apologize for sounding like Darth Vadar. My normal speaking voice is not that deep and gravely. But wait! If you liked that voice, I can take up smoking! Anything to get the job*. I'm dedicated like that.

*Okay, I won't really take up smoking. But I will work very hard for your company.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

There ARE No Sick Days

I have come to the conclusion that, once you are a mom, there are no sick days anymore. So it's a very good thing that, morning sickness excluded, I don't really get sick very often. A leftover benefit of working in hospitals and doctor's offices so long, is that I have a sort of Super Immunity! I will occasionally feel a cold coming on and will be able to fend it off with a good night's rest and an extra dose of vitamin C, but this time I was not as lucky.

And man, am I sick. I tossed and turned all night long, waking up congested, mutiple times. My sinuses are on fire. I had a dream that a man was kicking me in the head. I woke up knowing it was a dream, but feeling as if it had really happened. I also had the chills so I went downstairs for some water and took my temperature - 102. Ugh. I took some Tylenol and tried to go back to sleep, but again, no such luck. I was just too congested and uncomfortable.

Even with Tylenol, I am still an achy, fevery mess. I am coughing that rattley cough that comes from post-nasal drip. I am 100% sure that I have a sinus infection, but I am keeping fingers crossed that it is viral and I will kick it on my own. I am using saline spray and Vick's baby rub on my own chest. The one thing that I dislike about nursing is that I can't take anything for the congestion or cough.

Well, that's enough moaning for now. The kids haven't gotten the memo that Mommy is sick, one wants to snuggle and one wants to play with Play-doh.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Answered Prayer

Two cribs.

Two kids.

Napping at the same time.

Thank you, God.

(P.S. It only lasted 53 minutes, but oh what a 53 minutes it was!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hyland's Teething Tablet Recall

As someone who has advocated the use of these tablets, I felt it necessary to post this recall notice.

If you have the affected lot of tablets, you can return them to the company for a refund. The Hyland’s Teething Tablets UPC codes included in the recall are:

1.Hyland’s Teething Tablets, 125 tablets, UPC # 3 54973 75041
2.Hyland’s Teething Tablets, 250 tablets, UPC # 3 54973 75042
3.Hyland’s Teething Tablets, 125 tablets, UPC # 3 54973 75066
4.Hyland’s Teething Tablets, 50 tablets, UPC # 3 54973 75044
5.Hyland’s Teething Tablets, 145 tablets, UPC # 3 54973 75121
6.Hyland’s Teething Tablets, Clip Strip 6x125 tablets, UPC # 3 54973 35109

From the FDA Website:

ISSUE: FDA notified consumers that Hyland’s Teething Tablets is being recalled because the tablets may pose a risk to children. The tablets are manufactured to contain a small amount of belladonna, a substance that can cause serious harm at larger doses. For such a product, it is important that the amount of belladonna be carefully controlled. FDA laboratory analysis has found that Hyland’s Teething Tablets contain inconsistent amounts of belladonna.

FDA has received reports of serious adverse events in children taking this product that are consistent with belladonna toxicity. The FDA has also received reports of children who consumed more tablets than recommended, because the containers do not have child resistant caps.

BACKGROUND: Hyland’s Teething Tablets is a homeopathic product, intended to provide temporary relief of teething symptoms in children. It is sold over-the-counter (OTC) in retail outlets. The FDA has not evaluated Hyland’s Teething Tablets for safety or efficacy, and is not aware of any proven clinical benefit offered by the product.

RECOMMENDATION: FDA recommends that consumers not use this product and dispose of any in their possession. FDA advises consumers to consult their health care professional if their child experiences symptoms such as seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation after using Hyland’s Teething Tablets.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weighty Matters

I am three months post-partum and tired of looking more pregnant than I did at six months. Though I have lost the official Baby Weight, I am still a bit heavier than I would like, and completely out of shape. The worst part is the ridiculous gut that I am hauling around. I have a reverse fat shelf.

Now I know that it will shrink in time, but I would like to do something to help nature along. I also am aware that having a c-section increases the time for things to "go back" to normal (and that they really never will).

I am walking almost daily, pushing the double stroller going at least two miles, one mile of that up a pretty steep hill. But I know that I need to do more. Much more. Before I got pregnant with Emma, I was regularly walking 5 - 7 miles, at least four times per week. I wasn't in great shape, but I was in decent shape and was pretty happy with how I looked.

About five years ago, I regularly did the Firm. I loved it. I loved the relatively quick workout (45 minutes) and the fact that didn't need a lot of equipment, just the step box and hand weights, which I already have. It didn't happen overnight, but I did get awesome results.

I am considering dusting off the DVDs and step box and getting back to what worked before. But I also have heard some good things about other videos, most specifically P90X and the Shred. P90X is spendy and I have heard the Shred is very difficult.

I am wanting to know two things:

1) What programs have you used? Were you successful and what did it really take?

2) Is anyone interested in doing a program "with" me? I am kind of thinking of starting November 1. I would post "Before" pictures and starting stats and then will post daily (or as often as possible) progress notes. I can link to those interested in doing the same. I think this will really keep me accountable. I know the holidays might throw us all off track, but at least we can try to get the ball rolling. I don't think we'd have to do the same program, it's more just having people to commiserate with.

Okay, weigh in. Pun so intended!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back to Normal - Whatever THAT Is!

Well.

That was a very intense case of Grammaitis. Thank goodness it was also a short-lived one. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming of the usual toddler antics. We are lucky with Will, in that he is two, but he is relatively mild compared to many other kids his age.

I also have to wonder if he isn't getting his two year molars. He was sucking on his hand a lot yesterday and I saw a red welt on his gums when we were brushing his teeth last night. He seemed okay pain-wise, so I didn't give him anything for it, but I do think that could make him a little out of sorts.

We went to the zoo today. It was a beautiful day and not too crowded. Will especially enjoyed the indoor play area where they had a music hour and he got to try out different instruments.

Emma is three months old. I just don't know how that happened. I packed up some of her newborn and smaller 0 - 3 month clothes this weekend that she has outgrown. We borrowed most of them, so I had to pack them up separately to send back to the appropriate lender. It made me a bit wistful, but I am eager for the fun times to come. She is a regular flirt, with lots of smiles and has taken up cooing. She also has laughed a few times and it's just precious.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

Will spent the weekend with his Gramma. He must have had a great time, because he has a raging case of Grammaitis. Seriously, it is just not worth the "break" anymore.

We went to our usually Mom and Toddler Group this morning and I had to put him in Time Out so many times that I lost track. I finally had to do something that I never had to do before: We had to leave the playdate. Once we were home, he seemed a bit better, but everything has still been a huge fight from diaper changes to naps.

I really wish I knew what causes Grammaitis. I know my MIL doesn't really make him take a nap, so perhaps it's exhaustion. He is still pretty used to a two to three hour nap here at home. I also think he enjoys being the "only" child again, but is that really enough for such a reaction? He seems happy to be home and glad to see us, but then we have this behavior. It really is frustrating.

As a result of his behavior and the fact that it's cloudy after a sunny weekend, and I now have a case of the Mondays. Here's hoping for a better week for all of us.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Remembering Our Babies

The longer that I write here, the more this becomes a parenting blog. More and more entries of life with my amazing children start to bury and obscure the painful entries of my infertility past. But that past is there, those babies were lost. I think of them every day and especially today.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In addition to my own angels, I am also lighting a candle for my sister-in-law's and sister's lost babies. Though I am holding my sweet daughter as I type these words, I still am wistful today, thinking of the babies that I never got to hold in my arms, yet carry in my heart. When Emma smiles, it makes me think of all the smiles I will never see, and be so grateful for the ones that I will.

My heart goes out to all of you and the babies that you have lost. This is a wonderful tribute and sad day all at once and I thinking of you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two at Three

Well, I am now 12 weeks into this whole parenting two business. Emma was a very easy newborn as newborns go, but she has been giving me a real run for my money the past two weeks. She has actually been better during the day for the past few days BUT (and this is a huge BUT), she has now stopped sleeping through the night and is up as many times (if not more) as she was during the early weeks. I find that I can take a lot, but living on insufficient sleep plays with my mind more than anything else.

I have found that I am often impatient with Will when he is just being a normal two year old. But it seems he has a knack for being noisy just when I have gotten her to sleep. Or he seems to be dragging his feet about doing something when Emma is starting to fuss and needs my attention. I am not a yeller, but I have found myself snapping at him or speaking far more sternly than I ever would have before. I have also learned the fine art of apologizing to my toddler when I realize that I have made a mistake and asked too much or given too little.

I read someplace recently that you can start teaching a toddler to wait for something (while you do something else) but that you can't expect them to wait patiently more minutes than they are in years. And I am often asking Will to wait for something and then trying to sneak an extra task in, and that's when we run into a lot of trouble. That's clearly my fault.

Okay, so what is working? In addition to Triage Parenting, I also have to coin a new phrase: Relay Parenting or Pass the Kid. It seems as if from the time M gets home until the kids are in bed, we are constantly handing them off. We have settled into somewhat of a bedtime routine for both kids, which exhausts me to even think about let alone write down, but here goes (times approximate).

7:00 PM: Take Emma up for her tubby while M plays with Will or watches t.v. with him.

7:30 PM: Pass Emma to M and take Will up for his tubby while M gives Emma her nightly bottle.

8:00 PM: Pass Will to M so that he can do teeth brushing, lights out, and rock rock.

8:30 PM: M and I share the job of holding a now sleeping Emma until after 9. No matter what we have tried, she just will not go down before 9, but once 9 hits, she's okay being put down. So every three or four nights we try at around the 8:30 mark, but usually it's just easier to hold her.

The dinner dishes and cleaning up waits until after she is in bed. Fortunately, that's getting closer and closer to 9 and I remember Will's bedtime didn't slide forward for a few months.

Napping is still very hit or miss. Most mornings, she will take a nap in her crib, with little to no crying. But whether that nap is twenty or forty five minutes long is up to the day. The rest of the day, good luck! I either get her to nap in the Ergo, carseat, swing, or on me (which is where she is resting right now).

I have to admit, I feel as if I am running a very long marathon. There are moments when I really wonder how I keep up with them both all day, but it really is true that I am too busy to take note of how tired I am until bedtime comes. I usually fall asleep within minutes of climbing into bed. How long I get to stay there depends on how accomodating Miss Emma is being. Last night, I was in bed at 10:00 and up at 1:00, 3:00, 5:00, and 6:00 AM for Emma in addition to being up at 12:30 and 4:00 for Will. You can do the math on how much sleep I got because I don't even want to know.

If this post sounds negative, it really isn't meant to be. I am just giving you the Real Deal on Life With Two. There are moments every single day when I am reminded of how blessed we are. Emma is quite the little flirt now and her smile lights up her whole fact. She is starting to coo and I think we even got a laugh the other day. She is a real spitfire, our little girl, and I am falling more and more in love with her personality every day.

Will might try my patience occasionally, but he is really such a great kid. Really. He is the sweetest brother and gives Emma hugs and kisses all of the time. He calls her by her whole name, though it comes out Emma Drace. When he sees her every morning, he says, "Good morning, Emma Drace." When she cries in the car he says, "Why are you crying, Emma Drace?" And he still calls her My Emma a lot, too, and asks to hold her and feed her a bottle.

Today, I sat on the couch and was rubbing my foot and he asked me what was wrong. I told him that Mommy's foot hurt, and before I knew it, he bent over and placed a gentle kiss on top of my foot. He looked at me with the sweetest face and says, "All better, Mommy?"

Heart. Melts.

One thing that has really helped is that we still have the house cleaners that we started for my birthday. It was just supposed to be through August, but I am telling you, it is worth every single penny. It is a splure, but it is helping me to stay sane. The last thing I need to be doing right now is trying to scrub our bathroom grout.