Luke is Two!

Luke is two! How in the heck do I have a two year old? It’s going to take a while to switch from saying “he is X months” to “he is two years old.” Oh man time has flown by!

I last updated you guys on Luke when he was 18 months. The last 6 months have brought major cognitive and physical growth (30lbs, in the 78 percentile for height & 97th for HC). I love the beginning of these toddler years even though they have been extremely challenging.

In the last 6 months he has started to assert his independence. He wants to do (almost) everything himself. It’s been really cool to see him want to do things independently but this also means simple tasks take forever. Being the Type A person I am I have to consciously tell myself that it’s okay and to let him try (and fail) at whatever he is trying to accomplish. That being said he is very clingy (especially in the mornings) and often wants to be held. The mix between wanting to do it all himself (“LUKE DO IT”) and the constant need for cuddles (“MOMMY, DADDY, HOLD YOU) is adorable and frustrating all at the same time.

His language acquisition skills have taken off in the last several months. Everyday he says new words and phrases and it’s been amazing to witness. Out of no where he started to sing the A,B,Cs, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Twinkle, Twinkle. His vocabulary seems limitless at this point although his pronunciation needs some work. He makes semantic errors that are super cute (at this point). He will say something like “Luke water need.” Sometimes it takes me a second to understand what he’s saying and there are definitely times where I’m like “what in the world?” but he manages to get his point across every time. He’s a parrot and we’ve had to watch what we say. I also try to make sure to explain everything that I’m doing. He is learning at every second of the day and you never know what little piece of information he’s going to pick up and hold on to. So when Walt sneezes and I say bless you I explain to Luke what just happened and why I said what I did. As a former teacher I’m in love with this new learning phase. He can count to 14 but usually skips the number 4 and tries to spell his name but leaves out the letter L and U and say E like “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”

I’m amazed at the memory storage in the toddler’s brain. Sometimes he seems to remember almost everything. For example, he has a world map above his crib and we had to take it down one evening as the fan needed to be on and the map was making a knocking sound. My husband hung it back up and now Luke will constantly point to the map and say “daddy, hung up.” He does the same thing with a knob on his play kitchen that Walt fixed. He once scraped his hand by trying to throw a ball up the stairs and he will tell you exactly what he tried to do and what happened all the time. He associates songs we sing with the librarians who sing them and will say “MIMI (Ms. Emily at the library) sing that” when we sing “Rock a Bye Baby.” A lot of times he remembers things and tells me a story and I’m like “uhhhh, oh YEAH that did happen!”

He continues to be a decent eater and I am thankful for that. The biggest issue surrounding food is that some times he just doesn’t have time to eat. He’s too busy wanting to play or read and it can be a struggle to get him to the table. He’s boycotted the high chair and booster seat so now sits in a normal chair which has pros and cons. We also have to be pretty diligent about reminding him to eat his food at said meal time as he’s usually busy talking or playing with the fork, etc. Breakfast is by far his best meal and consists of an egg, toast, and his favorite smoothie which has plain greek yogurt, whole milk, spinach, frozen cauliflower, strawberries, half a banana, and blueberries. Lunch is always hit or miss and he eats what we eat for dinner. He doesn’t have a “go to” meal that I 100% know he will eat which can be frustrating on those days where he doesn’t want to eat anything.

Out of desperation I tried to get him to watch shows on T.V. when Olivia has to take a cat nap in the carrier around 5pm. He would not sit still for anything until I turned on an episode of Sesame Street. He’s hooked and I am thankful that it (mostly) holds his attention for 23 minutes a day. We’ve been so militant about screen time and while I do still feel guilty I have to say that Sesame Street is AMAZING and I enjoy listening and watching with him. And as you will see when I post the pictures SS was the theme for his 2nd birthday party.

Things Luke likes: reading books, doing puzzles, singing songs, being silly, running up and down our hallway, music class, story time, swimming, baths, attention.

Things Luke doesn’t like: being told “no”, getting out of the bathtub, being forced to do anything against his will, and wearing socks

Luke became very interested in using the potty around 20 months. It started when he would bring us a diaper after he had gone poop. He was like “yo, change me momma!” and I thought that association was kinda cool. Then he began taking his diaper off himself after he had gone to the bathroom which became a bit problematic. One night before going to bed I glanced at the monitor and all I saw was a full moon staring back at me. He had removed his pants and diaper….the kid is like Houdini with the removal of his clothing. His interest continued and he began to tell us he needed to poop/pee before he went.  I asked a few friends who had recently potty trained their toddlers but I just felt like he was too young. The book “Oh Crap, Potty Training” was recommended and I read it. I was SO hesitant as I really didn’t think we would be potty training before 3 but after reading the book I realized he was ready and I wasn’t. I gave it two weeks (as recommended in the book) and let all the information soak in (no pun intended). We started on November 1st and he is now potty trained. There were definitely a few rough moments/days but now he is only in a diaper when sleeping. I continue to be amazed that he basically initiated the training himself and forced me to jump in. I know that our situation is not normal and I feel lucky the process was (mostly) easy for us.

Luke’s bond with Olivia has definitely strengthened over the last several months. He loves her and is more excited to see her when she wakes up than he is to see me. We are still working on things like sharing and trying to teach him to be gentle. He struggles with sharing toys (he wants whatever she has) but now asks “can I play with that” (as he’s taking the toy from her). We’re slowly making progress and I have a feeling it’s going to take many more months until he fully comprehends what he should and shouldn’t do.. We’ve had a time out policy instituted for a few months and it seems to work. We will go several weeks without having to use it but then will have to use it 4 times in one day. He tends to be very aggressive when he’s upset and certain traits he has (biting, pushing) are very animalistic. It’s hard to know what to do and I’ve been reassured that it’s developmentally appropriate but it is disturbing at times. Hopefully he will grow out of it as I feel most bothered by the pushing and taking away of things from other people. I sometimes see it as a direct reflection of my parenting skills even though I know it’s not.

We are starting to tour preschools for the fall. I know he’s ready (he’s probably ready now but I’m not). I plan to send him 2x a week for 3 hours a day. I think this will be a great start to his educational career and I hope we find a place that fits his needs.

I’m excited to see what the next year holds with Luke! Here we come!!!

Another hair cut around 19 months.

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Taste testing apples at the library (20 months)

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Apple Picking (21 months)IMG_0440

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Music class with sis (23 months)IMG_2238

Science Center (23 months)IMG_2230

Painting an NC ornament (23 months)IMG_2418

1 of 3 visits with Santa (23 months)IMG_2436

 

 

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7 MONTHS!

Olivia is now on the other side of the 1st year hump. It’s unbelievable that she is now 7 months old. She has gone through some major growth spurts in the last month and it’s been so exciting to watch her come into her own.

The biggest change is that she is now in the crib at night! Ya’ll don’t even know how nervous I was about this transition. Luke’s transition was HORRIBLE and I pictured it being the same way with Olivia. The first night there were NO tears and she slept until 4:30 and then again until 7:00. We’ve had a few rough nights since but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with being in her own space. Her normal schedule is to go down between 7:30-8:00 and she is up for the boob between 3:00-5:00. When she gets up to nurse I’m up for the day. I usually spend the early mornings working out, running, doing laundry, prepping dinner, etc. I’ve always been a morning person so this schedule suits be nicely.

She also recently had her first (almost) 12 hour night! She slept from 7:30-6:45. I am still holding her for her afternoon nap and I *think* I’m okay with that for now. I feel like part of the reason I’m accepting of this situation is that I feel so guilty that her morning nap is short and in the carrier. I would have moved mountains to ensure Luke was in the crib for all naps. But when you have an active toddler your other children (and mostly you) have to adapt. So when Luke goes down at noon Olivia and I cuddle up in the cozy recliner in her room and we both take a nap. Honestly, being bound to a chair for 2+ hours drove me crazy but I’ve just adjusted my schedule and now I’m enjoying the downtime by napping myself or reading or catching up on shows.

Olivia has also started to show her little personality. She’s very curious like Luke was and has really started to show an interest in toys. She loves to play with a ball and anything that is good for chewing is her favorite. It’s also been funny to see her and Luke “play” together more and more. Luke will hand her a toy and say “here you go baby!” If she has a toy and Luke takes it from her (we are working on getting him to ASK for it) she gets SO upset. I know when she’s mobile she’s going to try to take it right back. Both Olivia and Luke love taking a bath together and I’m super excited for their swim class to start in a few weeks.

She’s becoming very vocal and will let you know when she doesn’t approve of something. She makes the sweetest little coos and her baby giggles melt my heart. She also loves blowing bubbles with our mouth which can make for a messy mealtime.

Olivia is still nursing but we are slowly introducing solids. Lately her favorites have been sweet potatoes, peanut butter, and apples. She didn’t seem to care for broccoli but according to my husband no one likes broccoli (I happen to love it). She also loves to gnaw on a baquette! That’s my girl!

She dislikes being in the same setting or position for more than a few minutes. She is in constant need of new things to explore and figure out and this part of her personality reminds me of Luke at her age.

She weighed in at 16lbs at her 6 month appt which is 2lbs smaller than Luke was at the same age but she’s following in his footsteps with her head percentile at 93%. We struggle to get shirts over both of our children’s heads.

We really enjoyed watching her experience her first Christmas and I can’t help but think about how different she will be this time next year.

Happy 7 months Ms. O!

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Baby doll that resembles her!

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This bath seat has been great for giving her and Luke baths at the same time.

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Her new favorite sitting position. It makes me think she may be into gymnastics or yoga.

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Olivia meets Santa!

 

 

1/2 a year already

Ms. Olivia is 6 months old! She’s really started to let her personality out over the last month. It’s so exciting and she’s in that stage where her development is about to rapidly take off.

She’s sitting up on her own and rolling both ways. Now she prefers to be on her tummy or seated so that she can see the world around her. She’s an observer and takes it all in. She’s really grabbing at things and manipulating toys. She loves to look at things that light up which is perfect given the holiday season is upon us. One of my favorite things she started doing is turning the pages in books. It’s not on cue or anything but just seeing her with books in her hands makes me smile.

She continues to reserve her biggest smiles and giggles for her big brother. I hope that they grow up close to one another. Seeing her look up at him melts my heart.

We’ve started a few solid foods and she seems to be enjoying the process. So far her favorite thing was probably butternut squash while she didn’t seem to fond of carrots which surprised me a little bit. I’m excited to continue to introduce new foods.

No teeth yet but I think they are coming. She’s been pretty miserable in the last few days and the buckets of drool have started to flow.

She dislikes her infant car seat and really hates being in the car. Thankfully we don’t travel any long distances on a regular basis. Luke went through this too and I’m wondering if we should make the switch to a convertible car seat to help lessen the tears.

I honestly can’t believe it’s been 6 months.

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Olivia is 5 months old!

Olivia is 5 months old! It feels like just yesterday I was pregnant with her but it seems like she’s been a part of our family forever. I’m in disbelief that she is almost half a year old but I look forward to some of the exciting times we have coming in the next several months.

She is such a calm baby. I often think what if she had been our first born and then Luke had been our second born. Boy would we have been tricked! Olivia is one of those babies that is cool with just about anything and that is much appreciated with children that are 17 months apart.

She’s now loving tummy time and  picks up her entire chest off the floor sometimes. She can roll from her tummy to back but really doesn’t mind watching all the craziness from her stomach. She is not yet rolling from back to tummy but that may be coming as she’s starting to pick up her bottom and scoot when she’s on her back. She’s also sitting (propped up on her hands) for several seconds before slowly melting to the floor.

She’s somewhere around 15 lbs and over 25 inches. We should get more accurate numbers at her 6 month appointment in December.

We have dropped the swaddle! Whooo hooo! BUT…..she’s still sleeping in the rock n play in our room. I’m okay with this as I know she’s not at a point where she can fully self soothe. I also know that she will be in her crib soon and all will be well. She defintely had a 4 month sleep regression that we are still sort of in but for the most part we are only waking up once a night to feed.

Our girl LOVES her feet. Like LOVES playing with them and can often be found with her toes in her mouth. She’s also discovered her tongue and enjoys sticking it out all the time. And while she has a few toys that she favors her favorite things are her feet, her tongue, and Luke.

I love her sweet little smile and when she coos and laughs. It’s precious.

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Olivia’s 4 months old

This post is a week delayed due to a family beach vaca we took last week. It went very well (much better than expected) and it gives me hope that we can travel more in the future.

Olivia turned 4 months old while we were there. It was fun to experience new things with her and I loved watching her and Luke explore a different environment.

We had our 4 month appt today and Olivia is doing great physically and developmentally. She’s weighing a little over 14lbs and is 24 inches long. She’s rolling over from tummy to back although is perfectly content on her side. She’s trying so hard to get from back to tummy but again seems more than happy to chill out on her side.

She’s sleeping longer stretches at night. On the average night she sleeps from 9:00-9:30- 4/5:00. I’ll get up and nurse her and then she usually sleeps for another 2 hours. This has been totally manageable but to be honest I’m terrified for what is coming up. She’s still swaddled and sleeping in the rock-n-play in our room. I’d like for her to be in the crib at 6 months but I know that means a lot of new changes and disrupted sleep for us both. Ugh. Anyone have any advice for dropping the swaddle? Sleep training Luke was a horrible experience (but paid off nicely).

She was taking a long nap in the afternoon however I’ve noticed she’s more easily woken up now after her first sleep cycle. She really just wants to nurse back to sleep so I will either allow her to do that or give her a paci. I’m trying to resist the urge to pick her up every time she wakes up in hopes that she’ll eventually start to connect sleep cycles like she did when she was younger. I think we are at that weird transition point where she needs 2 good naps and then 2 cat naps. Due to having an active toddler her morning nap has to be in the car (rarely happens) or in the carrier and all cat naps will be in the carrier. I’m glad she doesn’t seem to mind that but I have to admit sometimes by back is shot by the end of the day.

She’s cooing and giggling and talking back to us. She’s getting more hair on her head and when I look at her now I no longer see a newborn (bittersweet). She’s at that stage where she’d rather stand (assisted of course) than sit and continues to watch her brother’s every move.

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Life with 2. Part 2.

It’s no surprise that after I published the post yesterday I remembered other things I wanted to say about life with 2 children. So here goes….

I have felt way more confident in my ability to mother Olivia than I did with Luke. I know they are two different babies who have presented us with different experiences but I do feel like I’m not as on edge with her as I was with Luke.

I think I’ve finally realized just how hard the first several months of Luke’s life was on me. I think that it not only had to do with his colicky period but way more to do with the fact that he was my living child after the traumatic loss of my first born. I worried I would lose him just like I lost Oliver. After all, if it happened once it could happen again. I remember dreading night because I was so worried he would die in his sleep. I remember panicking while driving in the car thinking he had stopped breathing in the backseat. I remember trembling and crying the first time I gave him a bottle because I thought he was going to choke. I remember being so worried that we were going to end up back in the hospital for some illness or injury and I would find myself childless again. It took a major toll on me.

I remember wanting to be reassured that everything I was experiencing with Luke was “normal.” Was his weight loss normal? Is his sleeping (or lack of) normal? Is his crying normal? Is his spitting up normal? I needed to be reassured that he was going to be okay even when there was nothing wrong.

I guess those worries aren’t there with Olivia since I have been through this phase before. I don’t second guess myself with her the way I did with Luke. I had a tendency to doubt myself on every little thing and I have freed myself from that with Olivia.

Thankfully I have learned that you HAVE to let go. You have to let go of irrational worries because (for me) it only brought on more irrational worries. Don’t get me wrong I still worry about both Luke and Olivia but it doesn’t weigh as heavy on me as it did in the first few weeks and months of Luke’s life.

Oliver’s loss was difficult and I never stopped to think about how it would continue to weigh on me in new and old ways after having living children. I was on the wrong end of the statistics once and I know it can happen again BUT I also know that life should be cherished and how every moment is precious.

P.S. I left my sunglasses on a park table yesterday afternoon. A woman which children tracked me down to give them to me after we had walked off to look for “quack quacks” as Luke calls them. 🙂 I am so thankful.

Life with 2

I was going to write some of this in the last post about Olivia but decided it needed it’s own place.

Two years ago I never would have thought I would have two living children. I was coming into the scariest time of my pregnancy with Luke and even the thought of him making it into the world was incomprehensible. But here I am, both babies asleep, pumping while I type this.

Life with two has been exciting and challenging. Honestly it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be thanks to my zen baby, Ms. Olivia. If I had to describe life with two in one word it would be intense. But I honestly don’t even feel like that is the right word for it. I will say it takes longer to get out of the door but I hope I’ll adapt to that eventually. I remember feeling like that with Luke but then it became second nature to leave with him and all his necessities in tow. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to run back into the house or turn around in our neighborhood (or sometimes even farther) because I’ve forgotten the carrier or a paci or my snack (no one wants to be around hangry Jennifer). Even though it’s kinda chaotic and somewhat of a whirlwind it’s also amazingly rewarding.

I do get WAY more comments with two children. I’m not sure if it’s because they are close in age or the fact there is one boy and one girl or if I have a sign on my head that says “please talk to me” but I do get A LOT of comments. My favorite one is “you have your hands full.” As if life with one child (or none) means you have an empty hand. Many a heads have turned when I take them out for a run. After all with a double BOB and a blind weiner dog I do kinda look like a traveling circus.

Walt and I have also heard “you know how that happens, right” when people realize our kids are 17 months apart. It’s always fun natured but I also want to say “yes we do know how it works AND we also know how it doesn’t work and how A LOT of shit can go wrong.” But I bite my tongue and say “nope, we’ll figure it out though.” I also find this a little strange as some people might not think Olivia was planned which she very much was. In fact, having a “surprise” baby in our family would probably kill me due to shock after everything we’ve been through. After all, ovulation strips are like a requirement for pregnancy? Right?!? (just kidding).

It takes a village is a saying that feels appropriate. Sadly, my village lives far away but I have been grateful for the help my parents have given me. I will also say I have gotten a lot of help from strangers. For example, I stopped for lunch (which I never do) after a story time a few weeks ago. I got both kids out of the car and ordered only to realize my credit cards had fallen out of my wallet in the diaper bag which was in the car. I must have looked dumbfounded as to if I should leave the kids in the restaurant (never) and run back and get it or haul them back or just cancel the order and say to hell with it. A woman behind me (carriering an infant in a carseat) told the cashier she would be happy to pay for my food. I almost cried right there (it was also in the middle of a really hard week with Luke’s napping). She was SO kind and we ended up talking and exchanging numbers and have since met up with our children.

The librarian ran all the way outside yesterday after storytime to hand me the infant insert to our carrier that I must have dropped along the way. And just this AM when I finally unloaded everything from my car to take a walk around a park I heard a woman shout “Ms!” I looked back and she was running up to me to tell me I had left the driver’s side door of my car open (not the first time I’ve done that) and that her friend was just going to shut it for me if that was okay. I thank ALL of these people for helping me keep my head on straight when I can’t do it for myself.

Life with two takes more planning and mental energy but the rewards are twice as sweet. I love thinking about what Olivia will be like when she’s Luke’s age and how their relationship will unfold. I know I keep saying it but I am still amazed I have two living children. I have to do a double take sometimes.

And now I’m going to make a cup of coffee because it’s the only thing that carrier me through the afternoon. I also really look forward to having a beer or two when necessary. 😉

 

 

Olivia is 3 months old!

Olivia turned 3 months old over the Labor Day weekend. She has been with us only 13 weeks but it feels like she’s been a part of our family forever.

She is one of the most calm and patient babies I’ve ever been around. She rarely cries unless she’s sleepy and even then her cry is far from bloodcurdling. She has gotten really upset a few times in the car seat on our way home from some place and it kills me because she does it so infrequently I feel like I need to comfort her ASAP.

She’s giggling and smiling and cooing non stop now. She watches her big brother like a hawk. It’s actually really fun to watch her watching him. It’s adorable and I have a feeling here soon she’ll be trying to keep up with him.

Her head control is really good and I keep waiting for her to start rolling any day now. She hates tummy time….does any baby actually like it? Luke hated it too which is odd because he has only been a tummy sleeper since he’s been in the crib.

She’s continues to do great at eating and sleeping. I am anxious about the upcoming 4 month sleep regression. I know for us, the hardest time in Luke’s sleep came between 4-6 months.

Here are some pictures and videos of Ms. O!

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Luke likes to steal his sister’s paci. Post run family selfie!

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Olivia- Month 2

Olivia turned two months old on the 3rd! She is weighing in at 11lbs 10 oz and is 22.5 inches long. I look at pictures of the day we brought her home and wonder how it is possible for a little human to grow so much in such a short period of time. It’s amazing.

She has started giving us the cutest little smiles and loves “talking” to us. Her cooing is absolutely precious and I find myself having conversations with her during our alone time. I wish I could bottle up those smiles and coos and keep them forever.

Overall she’s doing great! She is giving us 4-6 hour stretches at night and I find myself feeling good when I wake up in the morning. She is having trouble sleeping on her own after she wakes up for her night feeding so I’ve spent many a night in a recliner with her. While I do wish she would fall back asleep on her own I know this time with her won’t last forever so I’m trying to take the good with the bad.

I have somehow managed to get her on the same nap schedule as Luke. I knew this was important for my sanity and thankfully she has done really well. Luke is now on one nap and usually sleeps from 12-2:00 sometime 3:00. Olivia is napping between 12:30-3:30 sometimes 4:30. I spoke to the doctor about this at her 2 month appt and he said that was perfect and that doctors prefer them to have one or two longer naps instead of several short ones. This info was new to me as Luke was one of those mini nappers. I don’t think he started taking longer naps until around 4-6 months. I do hope it lasts because it is allowing me to get a lot of stuff done….like this blog post!

Luke continues to give love to his baby sister every day. My favorite thing is when she looks up at him and I can’t wait to see them interact more and more as she gets older.

Happy 2 months Olivia!

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Someone was not so happy about his sister having her own spot for 2 month photos.

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3 Years Later

On August 5th we will celebrate Oliver’s 3rd birthday. We will grieve the loss of our first born child as August 5th is also his day of death.

Three years have gone by. The pain of his loss isn’t as sharp and deep but it still exists. It’s not as raw and all consuming but it’s still there…..forever lingering.

When I see families with two boys and a girl I am sad. Our families are so similar but so different. So very different.

Each one of my children has changed me for the better. Oliver made me realize what life is all about. He brought people into my life that have made me a better and stronger person. He taught my empathy and showed me what true love is.

Luke has given me the beautiful gift of hope. I remember being on a run right before I conceived Luke. I was listening to a podcast and the person was talking about hope and how it is “magic for adults.” I’m not sure if his description was positive or negative but I do know that hope is really fucking awesome and I thank Luke for proving to me that hope is a powerful thing.

Olivia has brought me serenity. She has given me patience and peace. She has allowed me to realize that everything is going to be okay even when you think it’s not going to be. She’s given me many gifts even though she’s only been in this world for a few weeks.

I was asked to be a support parent again for the organization I volunteer for, Heartstrings. I was going to say no as life is chaotic right now but I thought about it more and more and realized saying no was not the right answer. I joined Hearstrings a little over a year ago as a way I could continue to honor Oliver,. By helping other families who have gone through loss I would be carrying on the memory of not just my first born but others who have lost children. I think the timing of this “match” through Heartstrings is Oliver reminding me that others continue to go through loss and are in need of the support that I was given after losing him.

And while there will always be a hole in my heart I am thankful for all of my babies and for the people they have brought into my life and for the lessons they have taught me.

Happy 3rd Birthday Oliver. We miss you.