Friday, April 11, 2014

Jackson is Two!

Dear Jackson,

I guess these letters are going to be our tradition, and since tomorrow is your second birthday I'm finally writing another one.  Almost every night after you go to bed your father and I talk about how you are an absolute joy.  There's just no better word to describe you, and I thank God for you daily.  You're so quick to smile, laugh, and give out kisses and hugs, and we feel immeasurably blessed to have you in our lives.

Most mornings I wake around 7:30 or so and turn on the video monitor to see if you're awake.  Often you're awake and just sitting in your crib quietly, playing with puppy and octopus (blanket also goes to bed with you:).  Daddy usually gets you out of the crib, and you do a roll call: "Mommy, Daddy, Sissy, doggy?"  On the two mornings of the week that your Daddy is gone to Bible study when you wake, you look for him (even calling under the bathroom door) and have even cried.  If Ella Kate isn't awake, we wake her up, and you're always so glad to see her.  You usually call her "Sis" but have also started saying "Ellie," which is very similar to what you call elephants.  While I feed your sister, you either play or watch Daniel Tiger.  Breakfast begins a little later--or sooner if you get in your highchair.  You've started doing that when you're hungry. Breakfast always begins with a banana, and then you usually have some combination of the following: eggs, toast, muffins, blueberry waffles, fruit, or Organic Os.  Milk follows later, and when you're finished you throw your cup in the sink.  A lot of days you insist on putting on shoes, so we have to take your footie pajamas off and get you dressed for day.

Our mornings are almost always at home since your sister naps, so we sing songs ("Wheels on the Bus," "Old MacDonald" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" are favorites), have dance parties (the Jackson Five Pandora station is our usual), read books, and you play on your own or with your sister a lot while I do chores. We have play dates with Betsy a lot, and you're always quick to hug and kiss her.

I am often floored by how sweet you are to your sister.  One day we were dancing, and Ella Kate was in her exersaucer and you went and danced beside the exersaucer so you could hold her hands and help her dance. You frequently bring her toys to her as well as her pacis, teething rings, and anything else you think she may need or want.  When you see that I'm getting things ready for her nap you tell her "bye."   She takes up a lot of my time lately, and you're so patient about it all.

We eat an early lunch, and you're still a really good eater.  You love smoothies, and when I turn the Vitamix on you bring me your cup so I can fill it up.  You love snacks and call them "soap-ies."  You grin so big when you get milk twice a day.  Your nap is around 1:00 (or whenever your sister's second nap begins so I can get a break), and lately you've been napping about 2 hours.  After your nap we may go to the aquarium, park, store, or the Children's Discovery Museum (a membership was part of your gift from Grandma).

In the last month or so, your learning and vocabulary have exploded.  It's been so fun to see.  It all began when you started wanting to look at books and have us identify things.  Some days we would spend hours going through these books.  Then we started having your identify the different items, and all of sudden you just started adding about 5 words a day to your vocabulary.

Two of your favorite people are Holdey (Holden) and Mallie.  Any time you hear a child outside you look to see if Holdey is in his yard and you cry out his name.  You love our trips to Calhoun and talk about Mallie during the entire one hour drive to her house.  You love playing in the kitchen in her room and can be so focused on a task at hand.  It's not unusual for you to go straight to her room and play for hours.

Sadly I'm just finishing this letter about 2 months after your 2nd birthday because I got a terrible stomach bug mid-writing and had to cancel your family party.  You ended up getting sick too.  Thankfully we had already celebrated with Kate, Holden, Charlie, and Tucker with a little birthday lunch and cupcakes, and of course, you didn't know the difference.  You loved opening your presents and have especially enjoyed a play lawn-mower that your Aunt Kristyl gave you.  You love spending time outside and will play in the yard by yourself--exploring, reading, or talking to the neighbor's German Shepherd Caesar.

Most nights your daddy puts you to bed.  The two of you pray together, and you often lay down on your big boy bed while holding his hand as if you're too tired to sit up to pray.  I often see you lounging, kicking your feet, and otherwise enjoying your alone time in your crib before you eventually fall asleep.  We are so enjoying getting to know you Jackson and look forward to this next year.

Much love,

Mommy


Friday, January 31, 2014

Snow Day!

We ended up with the best of the Snowpocalypse: one afternoon of fun in the snow and easily drive-able roads the next day.  Of course it's been really cold and too cold to get out with my babies, but Blake and I had a date night and our family has dinner plans out tonight too.  We also had some friends over for sledding down our driveway on our slope sliders.  We bought them four years ago and were delighted to finally use them.





Monday, December 23, 2013

Joy

Oh the joy of Christmas is so evident this year as I see the celebrations through Jackson's eyes.  After about 10 days of being house-bound with RSV, we've embarked on our Christmas festivities, and I'm not sure I've ever looked more forward to the get-together we hosted with my mom's side of the family.  I was so ready for company and to be with people and celebrate (after canceling two Christmas dinners we were suppose to host for friends and a Bible study).  Tonight I've reflected on the joy I've witnessed the last 3 days, and here are a few snapshots:
  • My father in law's impatience and excitement for Jackson to open his last gift tonight: a tricycle "lowrider" and hearing Jackson's giggles and "wee" as he was pushed on it through their house;
  • Our quick visit to see my great aunt and how incredibly proud she was to hold Ella Kate (as I helped) and to see Jackson.  One of my prayers was that she would live long enough to meet my children, and at 93, she's done just that and has enjoyed every minute of knowing them;
  • Jackson's sheer joy at having 16 people in our house Friday night--half of whom were children--and how much he adores my mother;
  • how my Dad's sister couldn't wait to give Jackson a ball when she arrived at our Christmas lunch yesterday and how his face lit up as he pronounced it "ball";
  • how loved Blake and I felt by our friend and babysitter Bess' gifts to our family which included a "gift certificate" for an overnight baby-sitting date;
  • how excited I am by the North Face sweater pullover my in-laws got me (silly I know, but we're on a budget these days, and I've really wanted this top!);
  • seeing my step sister-in-law 8 months pregnant tonight after their years of trying to have their second child; and
  • how my friend Chasie wanted to serve and love Blake and me by keeping our children this morning, so we could have a child-free breakfast together.
What an incredible season this is for so many reasons. I just cannot get over how much fun this Christmas has already been simply because of our son's joy as he sees friends and family, opens boxes and bags with toys, tries new foods and treats, and stays up past his bedtime to play.  I love our sweet little family of 4 and that next year Ella Kate will be almost Jackson's age and getting to have this same experience.  What a good God we celebrate!


p.s. I'm thankful for the two boxes of forgotten cookies my mom made for me (that I've already consumed:) and for my bright-eyed baby girl.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: RSV


p.s. I'm thankful that we seem to be over the worst of RSV. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Favorite Things

I have so many random ideas for a post, but none are particularly compelling. So here are a few of my favorite things right now:

  • the fig preserves, arugula, gouda, and prosciutto pizza at Community Pie;
  • how Jackson's vocabulary is expanding so quickly and never knowing when he'll blurt out a new word (recent additions include shark, football, Nanee, book);
  • our Christmas tree;
  • that my husband is currently making pink origami stars for our daughter's bedroom;
  • having holiday traditions and time with family to look forward to and knowing that Jackson will enjoy it all so much more this year;
  • the incredible way God continues to bless us and our friends, especially the long-awaited answered prayers;
  • that we have already sleep trained our daughter and I'm getting at least 3-4 hour stretches between feedings;
  • how much Jackson and Blake enjoyed their recent "boy day" together while Ella Kate and I visited my home town;
  • how excited Jackson gets when he gets to play with play dough, gets his twice daily milk, or any other treat that isn't permitted all day long;
  • friends and their sweet children who brought my sick kiddos toys and cards today;
  • that Ella Kate doesn't cry for what seems like no reason any more & is so sweet and pleasant;
  • that more days than not both children sleep until 7-7:30;
  • that Jackson currently loves praying (although he has no idea what we're doing but will continue to sign for more as soon as we say amen);
  • a surprise visit from my friend Chasie and her new beau;
  • Tootsie Roll pops; &
  • how thoughtful and generous my mom is.
p.s. I'm thankful for a season dedicated to celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Four Months of Ella Kate

Our sweet baby girl is four months old, and I love having a daughter.  Ella Kate is a mama's girl, and her eyes (which are still blue like mine) are often glued on me.  She's gotten a lot of mama time too because she's refused a bottle for most of the last three months, which means I've never been away from her for more than 3 hours.  It seems like she may be particular like me.

With the exception of some hysterical times in the evening, Ella is really pleasant. She's already rolling both ways and get so frustrated that she can't crawl yet.  Her neck and head control are awesome, and this last week she tried prunes, rice cereal, and sweet potatoes and liked them all.  I decided to start solids a little earlier because she won't take a bottle, and I wanted to figure out a way to get food in her since a close friend is getting married next Saturday and I'm anxious about leaving her with someone with no effective means to feed her.  Thankfully it's working, and she's taken a bottle the last two nights as part of her "dinner."  I can't believe she finally took a bottle, and she took it from me! She was in the bouncy seat, so I think that helped because it's nothing like how I normally feed her.

It's funny that lately things have been a little harder with two children than in the earlier months. I think the sleep changes that come around this age have been part of it.  She's recently added back in a feeding at night, and I haven't adjusted that well to having to get up twice to feed (and often additional times for crying/paci, etc.).  We went through some tough napping days, and it's so hard to try to help an overtired baby fall asleep when a 21 month old year also needs you and/or is being extremely loud.  I continue to be thankful for the Ergo as taking a walk is an easy way to get a nap (or at least a calm baby).  Baby girl loves snuggling and looking around the neighborhood. 

Ella loves watching her brother, and he likes bouncing her in her bouncy seat, taking her paci (and bringing it to me like he's helping:), and hugging her.  Pretty much any time I leave them alone I come back to him hugging her.  It's really sweet.

p.s. I'm thankful for gorgeous fall days.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

So Much Easier

Ella Kate has been with us for almost three weeks, and for the first two weeks, we just couldn't quit saying how much easier things are this go round.  Of course, part of the reason a newborn is easier is because we have some experience under our belt.  We know how to swaddle, soothe a baby, install car seats, and generally know that we can keep another human alive.  I think the other single biggest reason things are so much easier this time is that breastfeeding is totally different this time.  Stop reading right now if that is way too much information for you because it's only going to get worse!

I had skin to skin with Ella Kate for over an hour after delivery, and she nursed right away with a perfect latch.  A lactation consultant stopped by, observed Ella nursing, and said she couldn't improve on it.  Jackson was too exhausted to nurse for hours after birth and had a terrible latch for weeks (and even after months I often had to correct his latch).  We had numerous visits with lactation consultants, and we had an awful night nurse who stressed us out more about Jackson's inability to nurse.  He had trouble breathing for several hours along with dilated kidneys, and I believe all of the testing/exams wore him out so much that when he was returned to me he was always too tired to eat. As a result I had to pump in the hospital and at home in an effort to stimulate my milk production.  It was extremely stressful and painful. I really wish someone had recommended finger feeding him formula to get his energy up, so that he could nurse; my new pediatrician said that this method leads to a more successful nursing experience in instances like Jackson's.  At the end of our hospital stay a lactation consultant finally told us about finger feeding, and we did that for several days.  Jackson had jaundice, and we had to return to the hospital our first 3 days home to have his bilirubin levels tested.  We also had several weight checks and appointments with the pediatrician. 

Jackson also nursed very frequently in those first few months and for a very long time.  Every other hour for an hour was not unusual, and I felt extremely confined by his feeding pace.  I shed tears more than once about it all, and I thought about quitting breastfeeding frequently (like every time he latched the first two months because it was so painful; after two months we finally got a better latch going most of the time).  I later realized that he had a lazy suck (for lack of a better term), and when I switched to pumping and bottle feeding he gained a pound in ten days and was so much happier.  Pumping was exhausting, however, and I quit around Jackson's seventh month.

For the last ten days I've had an Ella on a pretty consistent 3 hour day-time eating schedule, and she never takes longer than 30-40 minutes to eat--and frequently eats in 20 minutes.  What a difference! I often have to wake her to eat, and for the most part she just intuitively knows how to latch.  Not having to latch and re-latch makes this so much easier and means I can nurse her in the dark and in bed, and while I felt some pain the first week or so, breastfeeding is now already pain free! All of this means I don't dread every feeding session and because she's eating well, I can often put off a feeding for a bit if I'm in the middle of something.  I've definitely wished a few times that someone else could handle the night feedings because the lack of sleep is so hard, but all in all this has been such a positive, redemptive experience.  And today Ella Kate weighed in at almost a pound more than her birth weight.  Ella Kate cries a lot less and must just know that she has to be easy, so her mommy doesn't have a nervous breakdown :)  Of course, one of the major upsides of things being easier this time is that I still have a lot of time to spend with Jackson.  Since Ella is only up every third hour or so during the day he gets a lot of "normal" time for now. 

p.s. I'm thankful things have gone so well this week now that Blake is back at work.