Friday, December 27, 2013

The power of smell

A Weird post title I know. Especially since I've been MIA from the blogging world for so long. Different smells/scents tend to recall various memories for me. Often times I don't even realize it until I smell something familiar and I am instantly transported back to a certain time/event. Even insignifant things such as a world problem can be triggered into memory by something I didn't even realize I was smelling at the time I was trying to solve it. 

For Christmas last year I was given several scentsy warmers and a collection of different scents. All scents I ordinarily love, but being 9 months pregnant all but one of them didn't make me want to puke. Silver Bells, a fitting Christmasy scent. Eric tried out lots of scents the week before Luke was born (one thing we have in common is we like our house to smell good lol) but I kept telling him Silver Bells was the only one "the baby " liked. Again it's one of those times I didn't realize how powerful ones sense of smell could be until several weeks after Luke was born Eric must have switched the scents out. I was instantly transported back to the days leading up to Luke's birth and the early morning hours of being in labor. Such a peaceful yet exciting time. Soaking up the last few days of Claire being an only child.

Claire the morning Luke was born

 Going in Luke's room every few hours
to "rearrange" something as a way to keep busy in those last few days, dreaming about the sweet boy that would soon inhabit that room.

Christmas Day last year. 6 days before little man was born. (I was gigantic)!

 The most powerful memory I get though is the early morning hours when I woke up and realized I was in labor. The sweet and peaceful hours when I was the only one in the world who knew a sweet boy was going to be born that day. I remember sitting in the dining room of the old house on my exercise ball, phone in hand, timing contractions and mid contraction I focused on the light of the scentsy warmer that was on. Everytime I smell that smell I can't help, but smile. So now of course what is burning in my Scentsy? Silver Bells. I put on to burn this morning. I figured it fitting since we are celebrating my little man's first birthday in a few short days. Part of me can't believe he will be a year, but the other part of me feels like I've known him a lifetime. 

An hour old

The first day at home

I've always thought first birthdays were a big deal. Until I became a parent I didn't realize how big of a deal they actually were. I remember joking when I was planning Claire's first birthday that part of the celebration was for Eric and I surviving our first year as parents. That we actually kept a human being alive for an entire year! I think with each child we celebrate for various reason. For Luke it's keeping TWO humans alive simultaneously, coming out still sane after surviving months of screaming, and celebrating my littlest and last baby's first birthday. We had planned earlier in the year taking a big ski trip with our entire family to celebrate Luke's first and Eric's 30th. Late summer about the time we had narrowed down some places to go, both our vehicles needed repair work done and several thousand dollars later our trip fund was gone. Of course we were super bummed about not being able to take our big trip, but I was also thankful God provided enough for us to get the cars repaired. As the months have passed I've seen more and more why we weren't able to take our trip. Financial reasons, family members health issues etc. Now I'm even more excited to celebrate with all our friends and family at our home. The kind of birthdays I grew up with. Homemade, at home, lots of laughter, lots of people, and lots of fun. Luke deserves that kind of party too. 

I must admit I feel quite unorganized with this party. Planning a party 6 days after Christmas will do that to you. Speaking of Christmas we had an amazing Christmas. The kids are spoiled rotten. Our house looks like a toy store exploded. Every single thing they have gotten they have played with. The hardest thing for them is deciding which thing to play with. Most of the time they just combine toys in random ways. 
Claire loaded up her doll, horse, and beauty salon kit in the back of the truck. Then she did the dolls makeup while the she rode the horse in the driveway. Multitasking at its finest. 
The truck was a huge hit with both of them. Poor little brother is too short to reach the pedals so sister has to do the driving. Let's just say she needs a lot of practice. It has a real FM radio in it and I'm pretty sure between taking out the neighbors flower beds while jamming to the radio on full blast we need to keep her contained in our driveway for awhile. Good thing little brother thinks crashing is awesome fun, he also thinks switching the car in reverse or drive (opposite of whatever the car is in) is really hilarious. 
Their faces should say it all

Monday, October 7, 2013

Speech Therapy

I haven't talked a lot about Claire's speech lately so I thought I would give an update. Claire has always had a decent sized vocabulary. Always says the required amount of words for her age plus quite a few. Problem was age 2 rolled around and she wasn't putting any words together. Pediatrician said no big deal it's still early give her a while. So we did. 2.5 rolled around and she had added a lot of words, but still no 2 words together. We decided to get her evaluated.  She said too many words to qualify for the state program. After getting her hearing checked just to be sure the ENT referred us to a private speech therapist. This was in April. In early May we had the evaluation appointment with the private therapist. Long about that time she put her first 2 words together. I will never forget what she said either. It was when we were in the process of putting our house on the market and we were trying to get her excited about moving. We had been telling her we were going to buy a new house and how much fun it would be. One Saturday  morning she said "Mommy, buy a house"? Cue the hallelujah chorus! She started saying a few more phrases, but still no where near where she should be for being 31 months. The private therapist put her expressive speech at about 24 months and her receptive speech closer to 3.5. She told us she felt like she would eventually catch up even if we didn't do therapy, but it was our call. Since we had already met our insurance deductible for the year (having a baby will do that) we decided to move forward with therapy. It has been the best $18 a week I have spent. Yes, I would rather be spending the money putting her in dance or tumbling,but learning to speak correctly is so much more important.

She had her first session in June when school got out. The drastic improvement over the last 4 months has been amazing. Even her therapist commented last week how pleased she is with her improvement in such a relatively short time. She said "I think she just needed a good kick in the pants". Have I mentioned how phenomenal her therapist is? Claire loves her weekly 30 minutes of play with Miss Heather. I am so proud of how hard my baby girl has been working. It has been a lot of work for all of us. Using the techniques the therapist gives us and putting them to use at home. I tend to anticipate her needs without making her ask. It has been an entire switch for me to make her put forth the effort to convey exactly and properly (for her age) what she needs even if it takes longer to complete the task. 

She is now consistently saying 3 and 4 word phrases for everything with 5 words emerging some. Some of the stuff she says is hilarious. It's like getting a key to unlock my little girl's mind. She had always been goofy and a character, but getting words to go with it has been amazing. Every day is something new. We have a ways to go yet and probably another 6 months of therapy to stay caught up, but I am so proud of my little girl.

They said 3 year olds ask a ton of questions a day. I never thought I would get to the day of a million questions. We have arrived! I answer the same questions over and over again each day, but I am so thankful to answer them. One of our favorite things/questions she says is "what is that noise"? Her inflection is funny and dramatic. I caught a clip of her asking earlier today. Baby brother was the culprit in the background. :-)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Three (and learning it's not always about me)

Holy crap my baby girl turned 3 this week! Three! For some reason I'm having a harder time with her turning 3 than any of the other ages so far. Maybe it's because three isn't a baby, it isn't a toddler, it's a little girl! Like a little girl with her own opinions and thoughts that she has no problems voicing :-) On one hand the past 3 years have flown by at lightening speed. It feels like only yesterday I was sitting in the hospital as a new mom holding this little baby that I had waited my whole life for. On the other hand it feels like a lifetime ago. I have a hard time remembering my pre mom life. Not necessarily my life and experiences prior to being a Mom, but my pre Mommy brain. Let's face it my life revolves around my babies. My brain is hardwired as a Mom to think about how every choice and decision affects my kids. So much has happened in the last 3 years that it seems like 10 years should have passed. Lost a pregnancy. Gained a son. Sold a home. Bought a new one. Family members have passed. Babies have been born.  You name it, these past 3 years have been jam packed.

I started asking Claire earlier in the summer what kind of birthday party she might want. At first I didn't really get an answer, but as the summer progressed and her speech improved I started getting the same two answers over and over. At first I didn't know what to make of it. I thought "what kind of party is that for a kid? I'll just have to take her "suggestion" and put my Mommy spin on it." What were her 2 answers? A "treat party" and a greem party" aka green party. So I thought I would do a vintage candy party. I could easily envision the old fashioned candy. All the bright colors. The cute lollipop invitations I would make. Everything would be adorable! The next time I asked her what kind of party she wanted it was just a "greem party". And the next time and the next time still the same answer "greem party". I continued on thinking I would just do my cute version of a candy party and she wouldn't care. And while she probably wouldn't have cared I am so glad I gave her the party she asked for. Towards the end of summer a dear friend and I were discussing what I might do for Claire's 3rd birthday. I explained what Claire had asked for, my dilemma, and my plan. She immediately told me I just had to do the "greem party" Claire was asking for. I was still dreaming of my cute vision for Claire's party though. She started bouncing ideas around of all the cute
green things I could have at the party and how memorable and fun this would be for her. Soon I was on board and realized it's not about me and my vision of a Pinterest worthy party. It's about my sweet little girl's dream of a green party and the memories that come with it. I could even tie in the original "treat" idea and do a green candy bar as the party favors. I spent the next few weeks finalizing all the green plans. I am so so thankful that I stopped and listened to what my little girl wanted even if it wasn't my vision of what a birthday theme should like. To say she had a blast is an understatement. A few days before the party she found a bunch of the green party supplies in the kitchen cabinet. She kept saying "Mommy, my greem party"? I told her "yes baby your green party". Shortly after that I found her setting up her green party a little early at her little table.
The day before the party as Mom and I were making her cake and I set up the candy bar and begin decorating her little eyes lit up as she realized she was getting her "greem party".(We also discovered that the cake started missing M&Ms as the day progressed. The birthday girl kept stealing them off the cake).

 The day of the party she hopped around excited all day for her green party and her friends coming. My usually calm child around a group of people excitedly played with all her little friends and I kept having to find where she had ran off too. This may not seem like a big deal, but usually my little girl stays close by me often wanting to be held because the crowd of people makes her nervous. Not during her "greem" party though. The only time she reverted to her shy self was when about a quarter of a way through singing Happy Birthday she realized all eyes were on her and she buried her head on my shoulder telling me "Mommy doing" when it came time to blow out her candles. That's ok though. There will be lots of other birthdays for her to blow  out the candles.


As her big present we decided to get her a trampoline. We wanted to surprise her the morning of her party with it which meant we had to put it together the night before after she was in bed. At 1:15 A.M. we had the majority of it together. After the long evening and hard work I was so excited to take her into the back yard when she woke up and video her reaction. She had been telling us for weeks she wanted a "bouncy thing" for her birthday. Well, things never tend to go as planned. Eric forgot about the surprise sitting in the backyard and opened the blinds as normal in the morning. I was laying in bed feeding Luke and not up yet. A few minutes later Eric comes carefully around the corner and tells me the "oops" that had just occurred. I cried. I was so excited for her reaction so not only did I not get the bit reveal I wanted, but I didn't even get to see her face when she saw it. According to the witnesses she said "Oh boy a trampoline". Thankfully Eric did quickly close the blinds and we waited several hours before taking her outside. In the end she LOVES it and has spent hours and hours outside jumping.


I am so thankful for the wonderful friends we have. Claire had such a memorable 3rd birthday and I learned a very important lesson. I learned to listen to my daughter. My kids' parties are not about me and the cute crafts and pictures I could do. They are about them and creating unforgettable parties and memories no matter if they aren't the theme I was envisioning. Guess what? This theme was even better than the theme I had envisioned and I know 15 years from now this will be the one I will fondly remember. It captured who my little girl is right now and I will never forget the pure joy on her face. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Much too fast!

This past week came a day I never gave much thought about. I started clearing out and selling the baby "stuff". Eric and I always knew 2 kids was all we wanted. Regardless of gender we said 2 kids was our limit. First I got my sassy little girl and then I got my sweet little guy. We are very blessed to have 2 happy, healthy babies. So as Luke has started outgrowing much of the "baby baby" items they have started collecting dust just sitting around. I see them as just part of our house. Eric sees them as giant nuisances and as we had to move all this "stuff" he has been asking me "when are you going to start getting rid of all this stuff we are no longer using"? I have held on to EVERYTHING thinking maybe it will be used just one more time. I've held on to all of Claire's clothes and bows so it's not just the stuff Luke has been using. Ignoring the question worked for a while, but they day came when I could no longer ignore it. The time came to sort through it and sell/give stuff away. Ouch! Doing so has hurt my heart more than I thought it would. It somehow solidified for me that there will be no more babies in the house soon.

As hard as a baby is there is something sweet about having one in the house. All the new things that come along with them. Not just the clothes, toys, and diapers, but watching them learn and discover all the things we take for granted. We get excited when they start holding up their head, start "talking" and smiling at us. We cheer for them when they learn to sit up on their own and eventually crawl and walk. As our children grow up milestones grow further apart. Maybe I'm strange, but some nights when I know my little one is on the verge of accomplishing a new milestone I am almost like a kid at Christmas. Anxiously awaiting the new day to come to see if today will be the day they figure it out. So not only did I bite the bullet and start sorting and clearing out stuff, but then my little guy decided to accomplish not one, but TWO milestones this past week.  My littlest one sprouted his first 2 teeth! Since he turned 6 months I had already decided that I needed to get some sort of pictures taken of him. With Claire I was diligent about taking pictures every 3 months. Poor guy hasn't had a professional picture taken since he was born. I didn't go anywhere fancy and just did a cheap portrait package in the mall, but as soon as I felt those 2 teeth come in I wanted one last picture of his sweet gummy grin.

For awhile little man showed an interest in crawling. Getting his knees under him and doing some inch worming. He still inch worms all over his crib, but on the floor it's like he gave up. All he has wanted to do is stand. He will wear you out wanting to hold hands and pull up and down up and down. So proud of himself every time he stands. Well, all last week he would try and try to pull up without holding hands onto something, but just wasn't strong enough. One night as I was cooking dinner and Eric was playing on the floor with the kids Luke figured out how to stand up bracing himself on Eric's legs. I was fortunate enough to get the 2nd time on video (although I'm not sure why the quality is so terrible).

So even though in my heart of hearts I know my family is complete. I know deep down I will always long for "just one more" little one. I dread the day when the kids are grown, but I know no matter how many kids I have they will all eventually grow up. It's just a weird place to be in I think. I dreamed all my life of being pregnant and being a Mommy, that I just can't believe I am actually old enough to be a Mommy and to have completed my family. I look forward to watching my sweet family grow now. The sweet giggles of my little ones when they are in the bath tub together melt my heart. The mornings when Claire has snuck into Luke's room and climbed in his crib and I hear them talking on the monitor. Even Claire gets excited about milestones and I have to closely supervisor her trying to "walk' with Luke holding his hands (he is going to be one tough little boy by the time he survives his well meaning sister). Oh I blessed I am.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Big Changes!

Holy cow I suck at updating this thing! Well, life has been quite crazy the past few months and only getting crazier! We put our house on the market the first of May and were fortunate enough to get an offer in 4 short days. We accepted the offer and things have been a crazy roller coaster ever since!

We didn't "have" to sell and move. We had been debating for about a year when the right time might be. We knew we wanted to be closer to Eric's job, closer to our doctors and places we frequent, and needed more space, the kids and the toys had over taken us! One night after the kids had went to bed Eric casually said "I think we should try and sell". I had been feeling the same way for a while and asked God that if it was the right thing to do to let it be clear to Eric as well. Within 2 weeks we had found a realtor and it was on the market. With Eric's job being in Conroe we initially thought we would move to Conroe. We like the feel of the area, a little more casual and "slower" with a small town feel like back home. What we didn't realize when we listed our home, even though the realtor warned us of this, is that home inventory in the Houston market is low and the demand for homes is high. Meaning it is a seller's market. Good for us selling, not so good for us looking. Most of the area's we liked we could either get a house in fabulous neighborhood for the same size or smaller than we had within our price range or we had to sacrifice location for size. In the end the home we bought we totally where God wanted us to be. It cuts Eric's drive time to work in half and I'm 5 minutes from The Woodlands where our doctors are and all the good shopping places. Plus we are still only 20 minutes from our church. Not as close as 1 mile away like the old house, but still within reasonable and doable driving distance. Long story short on the old house, after closing being pushed back 3 times by the buyer who was having difficulty obtaining financing and a 4th request we terminated the contract and as of last weekend put it back on the market. Terrifying to own 2 homes for the time being, but remembering God wouldn't have worked out everything the way he did if we weren't meant to move. With the crazy way the market is right now things are even selling above asking price. While the home we bought we originally got for slightly under asking, the appraisal came back short, like really short. Since we didn't have that kind of cash on hand we were going to terminate the contract and try and just build a home. In the end it worked in our favor and we were able to purchase the home for 16K less than we originally thought.

There are a ton of more crazy details in this whole buy/sell process that has given me quite a few gray hairs in the process, but I won't go into detail of those. All I will say is through everything that has happened God has been orchestrating EVERYTHING for our good. I am continually reminded of this when I start to stress over getting the old house sold quickly.

The kids have had a blast moving and being in the new house. Claire has been so excited about the new house. I was very nervous of how she would react moving. She isn't fond of change and really likes her routine and comforts she knows. Even the day we closed on the new house as we drove to it she was saying she wanted to go "home" meaning the old house. The instant we walked into the new house she lit up and has been in love ever since. Any time we got o the old house for something she refused to get out of the car and screams "no, go new house". I have to assure her she is still sleeping at the new house. Luke must like it too as he has slept 6-8 hours straight every night we have been here. He has been up every 2-3 hours for the past 2 months. Some sleep has been nice for the very very sleep deprived Momma, although the late nights spent unpacking haven't helped me catch too much.

Front of the new house

One of the last mornings at the old house
Claire immediately set up a gold fish picnic within minutes of walking into the new house.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Stuff" that makes my life easier

So I thought it was about time for a "fun" post. I've said it since the day Luke came home from the hospital that the second child comes along to undo anything you ever thought you knew about being a parent. Not being a first time mom this time around I was sure I knew it all. Been there, done that, and got the sticker. Haha! Luke humbled me extremely quickly. From his first day home we quickly realized that no two kids are alike (duh)! Claire was an excellent sleeper from about 2 weeks on and I assumed I must be the sleep master (not really, but I was confident I would have 2 good sleepers). Luke, not so much. In fact I was up with him almost hourly last night. By 4:00 a.m. he thought it was time to rise, shine, and party. Thankfully when he is up he isn't fussing. He usually smiles and giggles at me. I know the sleep "experts" say not to respond back to them and ignore their cute little faces, but come on! Who can do that? Certainly not me. I catch myself grinning back, telling myself I'm compromising because I'm at least not talking to him.

The other day I was looking around at all the baby "stuff" that has invaded nearly every room of our house. I then came to the realization that 75% of the stuff laying around was brand new! So much for reusing and saving money on the 2nd kid. Then I realized this little boy is so different from his sister that we didn't waste money re buying stuff we had almost had to in order to put him down for more than 2 minutes. Me being the thrifty shopper I am did get most of the stuff on Craigslist or clearance. Here are a few things we haven't been able to live without.

1.  Rock N Play

Claire slept in the pack n play in our room the first 3 months. She had reflux like Luke and slept on a wedge (I know they are considered a no no) to keep her at a slight incline. For Luke about a week before my due date I set the pack n play up in our room just like I had with Claire. It was obvious after the first few nights home that Luke was having no such thing of the pack n play or the wedge. He just couldn't get comfortable. I either ended up holding him to sleep or putting him in is bouncer. I always heard great things about the Fisher Price Rock N Play when Claire was born, but didn't figure it was anything we needed. After all we had a crib, pack n play, bouncer, and swing. Why did we need another "baby holding" item. Well, as any sleep deprived mom knows they will try just about anything to get a few extra minutes of sleep. This was the one thing I did actually pay full price for. Although I did have a gift card and did buy the base model. First night in the Rock N Play and I got a 4 hour stretch out of him! Holy crap the hype was true! This thing is a miracle product! Luke slept in the Rock N Play until he was 3 months old and had his reflux 75% under control. In hindsight I probably would have left him in it a little longer had I known how hard the crib transition was going to be, but I was tired of tripping over all the baby stuff out in his room.

2. Woombie

Swaddling was a lifesaver for us with Claire. She slept so peacefully swaddled. I even joked I would send her off the college swaddled it took me so long to wean her from it. So naturally when I got pregnant with Luke I bought a few "boy" patterned velcro swaddlers that keeps their arms pinned to their side. Luke wasn't as in love with it as Claire was. After attempting a few nights of not swaddling him it was clear his startle reflex was too strong not to be constrained somehow. I discovered when I would swaddle him with a blanket he would move his little fists over his chest and rest them there. That was his comfortable spot. Problem with the blanket was he could easily bust out of it and I really sucked at blanket swaddling. One day on the deal site "Mamabargains" I saw the Woombie. I had seen them before but there was no way I was paying $30 for a stinkin swaddle thingy. Mamabargains had them 50% off so I ordered one. I not so patiently waited for it to arrive and when it finally did I couldn't wait to try it out. First night in the Woombie and in the Rock N Play I got a 6 hour stretch of sleep out of him! Cue angels singing! I really really liked the Woombie. It was super easy to get on him it just zips up and he could still move his arms some. Hence why it is called the Woombie, it is supposed to mimic the constraints of the womb, but still allow for some arm movement.

3.  Car Seat

Again I assumed like Claire that Luke would love the car seat. Claire could be fussing and the second the car started moving she would quickly relax and go to sleep. I wasn't very fond of the infant bucket car seat I had with Claire and since I just knew Luke would love the car seat too I ordered one I really liked. I planned on keeping Luke in the bucket for convienence purposes with 2 kids for most of not all of his first year. After all I did buy a new one and he would be the only child using it so dang it I was going to get my money out of it. It become apparent to us after a few weeks that Luke loathed the car seat. It screamed the second he got in it to the second he got out of it. He could be content as could be and withing 30 seconds of being in the car seat the screaming started. After talking to his GI doctor he said the infant  car seats aggravate their reflux terribly. He advised to leave him out of the car seat as much as possible. In other words carrying him around in it for convience was out. I already pretty much wore him everywhere I went anyway so I started researching convertible car seats for reflux babies. I initially planned on buying another Britax Marathon like the one Claire has. I like the car seat and was familiar with it's features, however I tried him in Claire's seat and he was still too short for it. After doing some research I found the angle of the Diono Radian was best suited for reflux babies plus it's safety ratings were outstanding.  I was willing to do ANYTHING to lesson the screaming in the car. Car trips were absolutely miserable and I'm a girl who like to get out and about. Since we eventually were going to have to buy a convertible when he outgrew the infant seat I thought we would give a new seat a try. I cannot even begin to describe the immediate difference in the new seat. I'm not saying he still doesn't fuss, but he no longer screams in pain. He will usually sit happily with his paci or watch himself in the mirror. He only fusses if he is tired, hungry, or just wants snuggles.

4. Moby Wrap and Baby Bjorn

I had and used both of these products with Claire. I liked them with her, but I absolutely cannot live without them with Luke. Especially now since we use the convertible car seat 100% of the time and he cannot sit up yet to ride in a shopping cart. I keep the Baby Bjorn in the car and use it for shopping trips. Its compact and easy to get on and fairly comfortable. I really like the Moby Wrap as well although it does take some practice to learn the different holds. I've really only used 2 different holds, but as he gets bigger I will have to practice and learn others. The Moby is much more comfy and easier on my back than the Baby Bjorn, but I really only use it at home, on walks (little man hates the stroller too, well pretty much hates not being held, oops) or if I'm going to be wearing him for an extended period of time. The Moby is basically an extremely long piece of fabric. Too cumbersome to wrap on me in parking lots. It drags the ground trying to get it on and that kind of grosses me out in public. The only time I use it in public is if I'm going to be wearing him for over an hour like at the zoo. People say to wrap it on you before you leave the house and just drive with it on, however my favorite hold right now is the Hug Hold and that is the one hold you actually wrap around the baby as you wrap on yourself so you can't put it on before you leave.

5. Play Mat-Fisher Price Kick N Play Piano

Claire had a play mat that she loved. She would play for 30 minutes at a time and free me up to get some housework done. I kept it and planned to use it for Luke. Well Luke's reflux made him hate being laid flat so he was not a fan of the play mat. After we got his reflux under control I tried to play mat again. I could get 5-10 minutes out of him, but nothing substantial. The boy loves to kick. Bath time and diaper changes are his time to kick his little heart out. I had heard about the Fisher Price Kick and Play piano and people saying how much their little ones loved it. I thought Luke would like it since part of the fun was kicking the piano and getting rewarded with music, but  there was no way I was going to spend another $50 on a play mat. On a whim I checked out craigslist to see if by any chance someone was selling one and they were not too far away. That same day someone listed a barely used one for $25 and they lived only a few miles away. We met and I went home to try it out. Little man loves and I mean LOVES  this thing. I get 30-45 minutes out of him every morning on it and again in the afternoon.

6. Video Monitor

With Claire I splurged and bought a video monitor. I quickly fell in love with it. I will admit it spoiled me and got so used to having one that I knew with Luke I had to have one too. I thought the model I had would accommodate 2 cameras. It would, however you had to manually switch between the 2 cameras. It would not simultaneously monitor 2 rooms at the same time. I did some research and found the newest model allowed for multiple room monitoring at the same time. Bummer was it was $200 plus another $90 for the second camera. Eric quickly crushed my dream and told me there was no way we were paying that much and we would just either buy a basic monitor or Claire would be unmonitored. So I started researching surveillance cameras. After some research I found with many IP cameras there are also iPhone apps that allow you to monitor from. Score! I could ditch the cumbersome baby monitor and monitor the kids from my phone that I always have with me. One less thing to charge! After some more research I found the Foscam cameras to be on sale for $65 each. For less than $150 I could monitor both kids rooms and the selling point for Eric was even after the kids no longer need to be monitored we could set up the cameras elsewhere in the house and monitor the house when we are away. I also researched apps to determine which one worked as the best baby monitor. I ended up purchasing the more expensive one for $11.99 that is actually purely for baby monitors. It is called Baby Monitor HD for anyone interested. The cameras were super easy to set up, they run off our wireless internet. A plus of the app is both cameras can run at the same time and the sound will actually still run in the background even when I close out of the app or when I put my phone to sleep. Only downfall of running the monitors off my phone is it does drain the battery and I end up charging my phone midday. I can also view the cameras on my laptop, but I rarely do that. A two year old and a laptop don't usually mix. You can also set the cameras up to view from any computer or phone so Eric could even see that kids sleeping at work, but so far I'm not smart enough to figure that feature out. It requires some setup on our router and I just haven't had the time to get that set up.

7. I can't believe I almost forgot maybe the most important thing. My nursing cover! I use it all the time! With Claire I always went behind closed doors to nurse, but with 2 kids I can't sneak off to a quiet place. Plus I refuse to miss out on what's going on around me just to feed my baby. I quickly learned with Claire not all covers are made equal. A bigger one is a necessity especially as they get older and more restless when covered. I found a Balboa Baby cover on sale at Marshall's for like half the price elsewhere and I love it. It is big, has a storage pocket, adjusts around the neck and they come in pretty colors!

These are my 6 must have things. Again every baby is different, but I did want to share what works for us right now. I know I always enjoy hearing from "real life" people about what does or does not work for them.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mommy Issues and Worries

 As Moms we are natural worriers. We want to "fix" things ourselves for our children. Often times we get a slight rush when we are able to fix the situation, we are proud of ourselves. (I know most of the time I feel like I have blindfolds on as  I navigate this whole parenting thing so when I do figure out the answer to something I am quite proud). Any time one of my little ones are hurt, upset, etc. I immediately jump into trying everything I know about fixing that situation. Panicking often to find the right solution. For instance the other day I allowed Claire to have a hard piece of candy (nothing unusual she does well with things like that), but this piece was bigger than normal and I even debated cutting it in half. In a hurry to clean up whatever mess was in my path I gave it to her. The next thing I know is she is whining (nothing new here) and trying to get my attention. It got stuck in her throat! I knew she could breathe based on the whining, but it scared her. So I yanked her up and patted her on her back and out it flew. (Several good lessons learned here for me). I am not saying we shouldn't try and fix the situation ourselves, that is part of what makes us good parents. What I have learned however with my own children and watching friends situations is that sometimes we are to do nothing. Well not exactly nothing, but more specifically we are to pray and give the situation over to  God.  Psalms 46:10 says "Be still and know that I am God". Even the small things. Even screaming babies. They are his children after all. Enstrusted to us on Earth to care for, but still his. With Luke's reflux I feel like I tried every solution in the book. Various medications, a specialist, homeopathic remedies, you named it I tried it. Yes in this situation medication did fix the problem (Praise God). However I found myself complaining once again "why did it take 2.5 months to get the right medication"? "This is my last baby, why did I not get to fully enjoy his first 2.5 months"? You named it I complained about it. In the back of my head that verse kept repeating in my head, but being the stubborn person I am I kept saying "yes God I do know that so come on already and make this kid feel better". God response was "you still aren't getting it"! While in my head I knew He could and would take care of the situation my heart was not fully trusting in Him. What I realized is it was my fault I didn't make the most of the situation. I was tired, frustrated, recovering from delivery and all I could do was think about myself.

Finally not screaming his entire "tummy time"

A new car seat and much more enjoyable car trips

I've always liked to think of myself as an unselfish person. Givin g to others brings me great joy. What has hit me like a ton of bricks these last few months is I am a very selfish person. I've whined about lack of sleep, whined about not having enough time to do what "I" want to do, saying "haven't I earned this or that"? I've been frusterated more than once with the kids "why can't you just go to sleep or just be happy playing on your own for a few minutes so I can do xyz"? Don't get me wrong I absolutely love staying home with my babies and wouldn't trade it for the world. What I finally realized and I mean really realized is my job as a stay at home mom is to care for my babies. I don't stay home so I can work out, or so I can catch up on a show, or even catch a nap. My job during the day is my kids. To be frusterated with them when I don't get to do whatever I want to do isn't fair. Please don't interpret this as me saying we are to be consumed with our kids all day every day. Any mom knows a break is always well deserved, earned, and needed and encouraging indepedent play is a good thing. For me I have realized probably half of my arguments with Claire stem from me trying to do something else other than care for her. Eric has helped me realize this too. Since I am home most of the time by default most of the housework falls on me. Some days I stress more and more as the laundry stacks higher and the dirt on the floors continues to accumulate. Right after Claire was born and I began staying home Eric and I argued about the lack of housework that was done. Prior to kids housework was very 50/50. I did all the cooking, but cleaning and laundry we shared. He assumed since I was at home I would manage to accomplish it and I was trying to figure out a new baby and just assumed it would continue as usual. After a heart to heart we figured out a way to make it all work. Since Luke was born that routine has had to shift again. Eric has been great about reminding me my primary job is caring for the kids. He understands why some days I get more done than others.

It's so cliche, but time goes so quickly with our  children. In a few short years Claire will be in school and shortly after that Luke too. I am beyond blessed to be able to stay at home with them. When I look back I know I won't regret sleeping less, having a stack of laundry, not always having make up on, or running that extra mile, but I will regret my selfish attitude and missing out on the joy being a mom brings me.

God is continuing my lesson in fully trusting in Him with Claire. Claire is a smart, funny, witty little girl. People who know her know she is shy and it takes her a while to warm up and she is quiet in a group. At home she is constantly chattering, being noisy, and getting into 2 year old mischief.

Outside of my family I've only shared my concerns with her speech with two close friends. I've felt as if talking about it out loud might make others look at her differently or think she just isn't that smart (believe me the kid is too smart for her own good). At her 2 year check up Claire had over 100 words and that vocabulary list has probably doubled since then. She says a ton of words. The problem is she will not put any two words together. She only speaks one word at a time. We describe her as a cave woman when she speaks. The other issue is her pronounciation. Yes, I realize 2 year olds are often difficult to understand, but I have to translate more words than not. She is able to communicate with us and get her needs met fine. Some of the words she says and understands even suprise me, but when I hear other kids her age or younger say 3 and 4 word sentences I know something is off. Kids develop at their own pace and I get that, but the way she speaks and the errors she makes are more than just a developmental thing. Last week we finally had her evaluated with ECI. Good news is she is on par or above at all other cognitve skills except expressive language. Her receptive language and other cognitive skills are so high that the way ECI scores kids to qualifiy them for therapy push her overall score too high to qualify her for services. The speech therapist agreed her expressive language is behind and with the speech errors she is making that she does need therapy. They advised us to seek private speech therapy. This is again another situation I cannot control. I have really struggled giving it over to God completely. Speech isn't a medical condition that a pill can fix. Speech is something that even with therapy she may not speak normally. This terrifies me. A person's speech is how the world initially gets to know them. Kids in school are hard enough without adding something like this to it. You name it I have found a reason not to trust God enough to handle it. Yet another time when God is telling me to just "be still". It is always things such as this that looking back is always a "wow" moment. Able to see just how God's hand has been over the entire situation. So for now I will be still. I will pray and I will trust that God has his hand on my little girl. After all this is the same God that brought the dead to life and has healed countless others. With God in control what do I have to be afraid of?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Baby Love (Newborn Picture Overload)

Oh my sweet little man. It's only been a few short weeks, but we cannot imagine life without you.

In the blink of an eye you made your way into this world and our hearts and completed our little family.
A few short months ago I was terrified on how I would be able to effectively manage 2 small children. The unknown was terrifying. Now as I look back over the past 2 months I realize I am doing it. I am raising and taking care of 2 children for the most part of the day by myself. Some days are not always easy. Some days all 3 of us are in tears all at once, but every night when we go to bed I thank God for my 2 sweet babies. I know it is by His grace that I am able to make it through each day and wake up each morning renewed and refreshed and ready to take on whatever the day may bring. I do not dwell on the troubles of yesterday or stress about the struggles that may lay before me (most of the time). I have found myself on my knees in prayer more times a day than ever before, not only asking for strength and understanding, but also in thank fullness. God shows me his presence in the little moments of the day. When both my babies are in my lap and they smile at each other. Or when Luke is crying and Claire instinctively tries to give him is paci, a kiss, and bounce/or rock him when he is in his seat. In these moments my heart swells so big I think it might burst and tears of joy run down my face. Claire often looks at me and says "cry, bo bo"? I try to explain to my sweet, sensitive girl that these tears are because Mommy is happy.

My sweet Claire Bear. You are Mommy's girl. You are the little girl that made me a Mommy. You are my side kick. For the last 2.5 years you have gone with me wherever I have been every step of the way. I wouldn't change a minute. It is such a joy to have you with me. I love to have your sweet face by my side. Somehow I am braver when you are with me. We are so much a like when we are in public. We are quieter and more reserved. At home both of us are loud and goofy. When people get to know us they are often shocked that we are not the quiet person that first thought we were.  I love that you are a "girly girl" like me. You love dressing up, doing makeup and beg me constantly to paint your toes. It is a crime in your eyes if your toenails are not painted. You enjoy shopping and shoe shopping is your favorite. All I have to do is walk by the shoe section and you are ripping off your shoes begging me to try some on.  I know sometimes we don't see eye to eye. Your inquisitive 2 year old brain doesn't always think things through. I promise when I tell you "no" it isn't to be mean. I tell you "no" because I love you. I love that you are my daughter. I pray that you and I have the close relationship me and your Nana have, best friends. I pray you always keep your silliness (you take after your Nana on that one). I pray you always keep your sensitive spirit. You are so intuitive when it comes to others feelings. You seem to know when they are upset and often have a hug and a kiss to offer or find a way to make them laugh. You are like me and wear your feelings on your sleeve. Daddy doesn't always understand us girls and thinks the littlest things upset us. I think we really just want to make others happy. I know when you get upset when you get into trouble most of the time you are more upset you made Mommy or Daddy (especially Daddy) mad. You are a Daddy's girl. When he is home you are glued to him. You somehow inherited his gift of sarcasm. You shock me and make me laugh more times a day with your quick wit. Your favorite part of the day is greeting Daddy when he gets home from work. All you have to do is bat those beautiful blue eyes (you got your Mimi's eyes) and Daddy melts in your hand. You have somehow known that from birth. One look and Daddy is all yours.

Mommy's little man or "handsome fart" as I often call you. (I am sure you are just going to love that nickname later). I know you haven't had the easiest first few weeks. Your little tummy has been so uncomfortable. Thankfully it does seem to be getting better. I can see in your eyes you are a sweet gentle boy. You are so inquisitive. You take in the entire room with such a serious look at times. Then there are those moments especially in the morning and at bath time your silliness comes out. You smile and "talk" to me. Sometimes I even get a little laugh out of you. You kick your legs and the more I encourage you to kick the more you do. Your smiles are the best and sometimes I can't help but cry tears of happiness when I look in your smiling face.
I can't get enough of you. I get accused of wanting to hold you too much. I was the same way with your sister. I would rather spend all day holding and playing with my babies than doing anything else. Time is already passing so quickly. I know you are my last baby and that is hard for me to accept you growing up. I am so excited to see more of your personality emerge, but I am also sad that you won't be a baby forever. You smell so sweet. When you nuzzle your little head in my neck at your 4:00 a.m. feeding I always rock you a few extra minutes just to take it all in.
I am so glad God gave me a son. I pray that you grow up to be a Godly man. You have been blessed with a Godly Daddy and I know he will lead you by example. I am excited to see you grow up and do "boy stuff". Whether that is playing sports, playing in the dirt or whatever you are interested in. I know you will constantly keep me on my toes.
I am so blessed to have the two of you as my children. I pray you both grow to become the best of friends. I tell you both every day how lucky you are to have each other. I love the love I see in both of your eyes when you look at each other. I am excited to see you laugh and play together. I know you will fight, but at the end of each day remember how lucky you are to have a brother/sister. Claire is so protective of you Luke and so proud telling everyone you are "oope" (Luke without the "L" and a p for the "k"). From the moment she met you no one was getting between the two of you. Luke, when you look at Claire you are always happy to see her. If you are fussy and she sits next to you you will usually start to settle. I can't wait to see the bond continue to form and grow between the two of you. Both of you are all I ever wanted and I thank God daily for my two greatest blessings.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Breastfeeding Round 2

Let me preface this by saying this is not a debate over breast milk or formula this is simply my experience breastfeeding 2 kids.

Before I got pregnant with Claire I hadn't given how I would feed my future children much thought. I knew they had to eat, the end. Even the early months I was pregnant with Claire the thought of feeding her was in the distant future. As my pregnancy progressed I started thinking about whether I would breast or bottle feed or a combination of the two. By my 3rd trimester every time I envisioned feeding her I was breastfeeding so I started reading on how to be successful. In real life I only had one girlfriend who had breastfed their child for the entire first year. Everyone else I knew either immediately formula fed or breastfed for a while until they had to go back to work. My Mom told me the story of her not making enough milk to feed me and quickly had to switch to formula (although after hearing the advice the doctors gave her it is no surprise why she struggled with milk supply, but that's a whole other topic). I was super nervous about breastfeeding especially since it seemed so hard judging by what everyone else I knew had told me. I really wanted to be successful and be able to do it her entire first year, but told myself not to get too hung up on it and not let whatever happened make me feel like less of a mother.

Within the first hour after Claire was born they handed her to me to feed. I was nervous. Would she know how to latch on? Would it hurt? The nurse explained proper latch and how to help her latch properly and the next thing I know the nurse has my boob and shoves the baby's head towards it! Success! she immediately latched on an ate for nearly the next hour. We had continued success at the hospital and she was having the appropriate diaper output. I was nervous about going home and what the next few weeks would bring. Sore nipples and all I immediately fell in love with breastfeeding. I was so scared that something wouldn't go right and I would have to give it up. The first pediatrician appointment the doctor explained they expected her to be back at her birth weight at her 2 week check up. The next 2 weeks I stressed over whether she was gaining enough. Her diapers were proof she was eating, but would it meet the 2 week standard? I am the type of person that doesn't have to be the best at everything I just want to feel like I at least succeed at what I try and if nothing else know I gave it my all. At her 2 week check up she was exactly back at her birth weight. Whew! Then in the next few weeks I experienced her "cluster feeding" in the evenings. She would eat and fuss 30 min later and eat again. This cycle would last 2-3 hours every evening for a while. At the time I almost convinced myself that between the hours of 6-9 I must have low supply and was so exhausted from all the feeding that maybe we needed to supplement. About that time the cluster feeding stopped. At the time I didn't know this was normal newborn behavior especially during growth spurts and I was too scared to ask anyone. Fortunately I stuck it out. I was very blessed to exclusively breastfeed Claire for 15.5 months until she self weaned. Funny thing is I tried and tried to get her to switch to cows milk once she turned a year and she absolutely hated it. To this day all she drinks is water and a little juice. At the time I worried that she wasn't going to get enough calories especially after she weaned. She was always a slow gainer. Only weighing 17.5 pounds at a year. It's funny the stuff you worry about as a mom, especially a first time Mom. She loved to snack and I guess that is how she made up her calories. For a long time I couldn't even make a 10 min run to the grocery store without bringing a snack a long because she would act like she never was fed. I just noticed the other day that somewhere over the past 6 months the snacking phase seems to be over.

I was fortunate with Luke that immediately after he was born I got to feed him before they weighed him or anything. I expected him to immediately latch on like Claire did, but he didn't. It took 30-45 minutes of trying to get him to latch before he did. In that time I started getting stressed. What was I doing wrong? I reminded myself that sometimes it takes them a little bit to get the hang of it.  The nurse came and helped me with no success. Then they called in the lactation consultant. By the time she got there he finally latched on and was feeding well. Still not as interested as Claire was at first, but I did get a good 15 minute feed out of him. The next few feeds gradually got easier and easier. We also discovered he had a tongue tie which made his latch a little more difficult. He did manage to eat and figured out how to work around it, but we did end up getting it clipped at 2 weeks which helped my comfort level when he ate tremendously.

Breastfeeding the 2nd child so far has been less stressful. I haven't worried about Luke gaining enough. I know his diaper output (and the rolls on his legs) show me he is eating plenty. My milk also came in a day sooner. I wasn't prepared for this until in the hospital the lactation consult informed me it probably would. The engorgement was also shorter. My body adjusted much much quicker. With Claire I was full and leaked for months. This time by the end of the first month I wasn't full unless he slept a longer stretch at night and have minimal leaking. I remember with Claire I was terrified for months about having to feed her out and about. I would always go to the car to feed her. As much as I enjoyed feeding her I sometimes felt it held me back. Several friends and I had babies close in age. We would go somewhere and they could easily bottle feed them wherever they were at. I often felt I was slowing them down having to stop and find a place to feed Claire. Before I had Claire I wrongly assumed in these situations I would come prepared with a pumped bottle and go about my day. What I didn't realize is while she would drink that bottle my body was used to feeding her at a certain time and all that milk had to go somewhere! Well that and the little turkey absolutely refused to take a bottle. It made for an interesting week for the babysitter when I lasted all but a week back at work when she was 3 months old.

This time around I carry my nursing cover everywhere and have no issue feeding Luke wherever I'm at. I don't even think twice about it. I feed him and keep going. Having 2 kids is busier than I ever dreamed and for me to not have to wash bottles, warm milk, prepare bottles etc. is one less thing I have to stop and think about. Leaving the house takes an act of God as it is ( and those who know me well know that pre kids I was still late to everything) now with 2 kids I'm just doing good to show up. I couldn't imagine having to prepare food to leave too! Also these two little sweet peas seem to suck out all my brain cells and I misplace my phone, keys, paci etc. multiple times a day there is no way I would always remember to bring a bottle.  I love that for me breastfeeding is convenient once I got over my fear of feeding (covered) in public. Luke literally gets fed on the go sometimes. Sister needs me and he is eating so he just has to hold on tight and keep eating! I have also been fortunate neither one of my kids are marathon eaters. Usually 10 minutes and Luke is full and happy. I also love that it is (mostly) free! In order for me to stay home we have had to make a lot of cuts and not having to buy formula helps out a ton.

My advice to anyone who wants to breastfeed is to have a solid support system. Eric was skeptical at first since neither of us knew many people who breastfed. However, he was encouraging from day 1 and of course happily brings me the baby to feed (mostly I think because he doesn't have to get up with the baby, lol). When I was stressing over whether or not Claire was gaining enough he offered paying for a lactation consultant for a few "lessons". His theory the $35 a session they would  charge was still cheaper than the cost of buying formula. Even though I thought I was "slowing" my friends down by having to stop and feed they have always assured me I'm not. Every one of them has been supportive and non judgmental as us Moms should be. Being a Mom is hard enough we all should be supporting each other and our parenting decisions knowing we are doing the best we can for our kids. Also don't be afraid to ask questions! If you know someone who has breastfed don't be afraid to talk to them about it. There is nothing like real life experience from others that can often guide us much better than reading a dozen books. Lastly those first 6 weeks are rough for many reasons. If you can survive breastfeeding past those first 6 weeks I promise the worst part is over. The baby starts sleeping a little longer, you aren't as sore and engorged, and your body starts regulating around the baby's schedule.

I am not one to take pictures of myself feeding my kid, but I will leave you with pictures of the fruits of my labor :-)