Friday, July 27, 2012

Cheers! Happy 21st!

Miss Alli Ru "turned" 21 months old... and she truly amazes us more each day. We are in awe of her... watching her learn and grow has been such a joy. I wish I could just bottle up a day of hanging out with her and post it on here for all of you to see! But, that's not possible, so, I'll try my best to mention some of the adorable, smart, funny things she does.

Alli LOVES coloring. But mainly these days, that just consists of taking her crayons out and naming each color as she sets the crayon down on the paper. Or, she'll color just a little with each crayon as she says the color... "Blue!!! Hi blue!!" She knows so many colors... even her teacher Miss Cathy was impressed at her knowledge and memory of each color. Each morning when she sees us, she tells us what color we are wearing, and what color Aiden is wearing.

Alli also loves anything to do with her "baby bo". As we've mentioned previously, she is very attached and protective of him. The entire drive to school each day, she just stares at him in his car seat, since hers is facing forward and his is facing backward, and when he coo's and squeaks to her, she mimics him and "talks" back to him. She gives him a huge kiss goodbye each morning (even though she's right next door in her own classroom!), and each night before bed she kisses and hugs him, and says "bye guys!" as she walks into her bedroom.

She's still quite obsessed with Elmo... and I'm thinking that her 2nd birthday is going to have to be Elmo/Sesame Street themed. We'll see, I've already found a lot of great ideas that I love. But, one thing I do not love is the fact that I'm even having to think about her 2nd birthday already! Holy cow. Anyway, she calls my car "Elmo Car" since I have the DVD player with Elmo movies in it... and she knows to grab the remote and head over to the TV to get us to play a DVR'ed Sesame Street episode. She loves saying "forrrr you" like Elmo does, and she sings along with "that's Elmo's song!" She's also taken quite a liking to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as she gets to watch it most mornings with Eric while getting ready for school. However, she calls Mickey Mouse "Hot Dog" because they do the "Hot Dog Dance" at the end of each episode... so, I think she thinks Mickey's name is Hot Dog. It's pretty funny.

She's amazing at stacking blocks, and becomes so focused and deep in concentration. She can stack them SO high, I'm definitely impressed. Aunt Bacon was too when she came to visit!

Alli's also quite an amazing swimmer. Most people that see her at the pool ask us how old she is and are very impressed at her "swimming skills" at such a young age. She kicks and uses her arms and is able to balance in the pool very well. She just LOVES the water. Recently, we've been taking both Alli & Aiden to the pool in the early morning hours on the weekends and we've had the pool to ourselves. She loves to swim with baby bo, even though he usually just falls asleep as soon as he gets in the water with me.

She talks ALL the time these days as well. I can't even begin to list everything she says, she basically says anything you say to her. She makes us laugh every day by goofy things she says or does. I really need to start writing them down. Most days, when she does something so cute or funny, Eric and I will say to each other, "Oh! That's blog post worthy!"... and then, we forget what we were going to write about. Typical.

So, instead of getting a drink on her 21st, especially because it's only her 21st month, she got a great spagetti dinner, which she absolutely devoured. Also typical. The kid loves to eat.

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Baby... baby!!!"

It has become very clear to Mommy B and I over the last couple weeks that Alli really loves her little brother. Ever since we brought him home from the hospital, he's always been "baby" to her. As Aiden battles through his reflux, she often refers to him as "baby sad" - because we try to explain to her that when he's crying it means he's sad. Being the smart little lady that she is, this name as stuck pretty well with her. In an attempt to curb this so he's not forever known as "baby sad", we've corrected her by saying "baby bro". So now whenever she sees him, it's now "baby bo" (she's still working on her R pronunciation).

Followers might recall that Alli had a mini-meltdown when we took Scarlett in to get her nails trimmed a couple weekends ago. The sight of a stranger taking her doggy away was just too much and the flood gates opened up. I can't imagine how it's going to be when they take Scarlett away to that big dog park in the sky...

Anyway, last week I was getting them both out of the car to take them into school when one of Aiden's teachers walked by and offered to carry him in since he was still in his carrier. Having my hands full anyway, I kindly accepted her offer while I got their bags and whatnot out of the car. Alli started freaking out when she saw Ms. Velma walking away with her little brother. She started welling up, yelling "Baby! Baby!" and pointing to him as they walked away. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen!

First, Alli had the same teacher back when she started school - so it's not like Ms. Velma was a total stranger. Although, Alli was really young when she had her as a teacher, so she probably doesn't remember much from the blob-days... so I'll give her credit on that one. But we were walking in right after them, maybe 10 feet behind - and Alli was still having a fit. We walked in the front doors and there her brother was, safe and sound and at her eye-level, and she still cried. She cried all the way into his room until she saw me put him down and start unloading his things. Once she realized everything was OK, the water works stopped and she was set for the day.

Yesterday, Aiden woke from his nap a little grumpy... rightfully so being that his nose was filled with snot from his first bout of "daycare crud". Needless to say, this woke Alli up from her nap too - luckily it was about time for her to wake up anyway. As I was downstairs tending to the snot-factory, Mommy B was upstairs retrieving Alli from her room. When she walked in, Alli was standing in her crib, facing the door with a very concerned look on her face and started saying "Baby? Baby?!" Mommy B could tell she was genuinely worried about her little brother who was crying downstairs. Once she brought Alli down and she saw that Aiden was OK, she calmed down and settled in for an afternoon with Elmo in Grouchland on DVD.

This morning was no different. Aiden was throwing a little post-snot-sucking fit as I was putting Alli in the car. As I buckled her in, she realized that her little brother wasn't in the car next to her and she said "Baby? Baby?" as if to ask, "Isn't baby coming with us?" I told her that I had to run back inside to get him and that he'd be joining her shortly. She started to sob a little, but luckily I returned to the car with Aiden in hand before she had another meltdown. As soon as I buckled him in and climbed in the car, she was all giggles as she put on her cool-girl shades and began talking to her little brother.

Even though she's a girl, she's still the "big" sister and he'll always be her "little" brother. I can only hope that she'll continue to love her "baby bo" this much as they grow up.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Faithful Golden

Many of you know the story of our dog Scarlett... but many of you may not. And, since this blog is someday going to turn into a book for Alli & Aiden to see the adventures we went through while they were growing up, I figured it may be a good thing to write about.

One late summer/early fall day, as newlyweds and new home owners, we went to Whole Foods in Mount Pleasant because I'd heard that the golden retriever rescue would be there with potential Goldens to rescue. We got there and they were already gone. Bummer. So, since we were over there, we decided to go get smoothies. Lo and behold, right next to the smoothie place was a pet boutique that just so happened to have a different golden retriever rescue out front displaying some of their puppies up for rescuing. We met them all, and Eric fell in love with the one with the goofiest ears, Georgetta. We had to set up a home visit from the rescue people, go visit her again at another rescue event, and then finally, we were "approved" to get her! (Doesn't it seem crazy you have to go through all that to get a dog... have someone come check out your house to make sure it's acceptable, yet you don't have to do any of that for having children?!)

In September of 2008, Georgetta had her name officially changed to Scarlett, and she was officially a member of our family. She was a great puppy, already pretty house trained, and loved her crate. She slept in her crate for years... even when we didn't lock her in, we'd hear her climbing into the crate at night and we'd just laugh. It was just her spot. Throughout the last three years, she keeps getting closer to us at night. She was downstairs in the crate, then slept on the top staircase, then the corner outside of our bedroom, and now she sleeps in the corner of our bedroom. She has really become quite the family dog. She always wants to be close by and be wherever we are. We had our faithful golden right in the room during our sleepless, up-all-night-nights with both babies, despite her obvious issues with not being the only "child" anymore.

Scarlett not too thrilled with Alli's first days home...

Alli has really started to love her dog more and more these days. She has always enjoyed being around her "woof woof", but now-a-days, even more so. She says "hi woof woof", "bye woof woof", "night woof woof" "gog" (that's how she says dog)... and proceeds to point out all her facial features: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc. Last weekend we took Scarlett to Petsmart to get her nails trimmed, and Alli literally cried when she saw them taking her "goggy" away. It was so sad, yet so cute to see how attached Alli has become to Scarlett. Fortunately all it took was us taking Alli over to the fish tanks for her to forget all about it.

Last weekend, some friends were in town for the first time in over a year. They commented on how fat Scarlett had gotten since they last saw her. We said, "Yeah, having a toddler who throws food on the ground will do that." So, Dad-E dusted off Scarlett's leash and took her for a jog in the sweltering summer heat to try and shed some doggy lbs. Well, given that it's been a while since Scarlett has pounded the pavement with her good and smart master, she actually ended up scraping the top layer off both her front paw pads. She proceeded to limp around the house for the next three days. Dad-E being the big softie that he is, picked up his hefty dog and carried her upstairs to our room each night so she could sleep by us. It made me sad to realize that he'll probably be doing that in a few years for a different reason. Luckily for us, her injuries were temporary and she was back to her normal, goofy-self by the middle of the week.

Scarlett has really been a trooper through it all. Just by looking at her face it looks like she's aged 8 years since we brought Alli home (and then added Aiden to the mix). I'm sure Dad-E and I probably look like we've aged that much right along with her. I can't wait to watch the A-Team grow up with Scarlett by their side, since I'll never forget my first dog growing up.

Hard to believe this was July 2010, how different our lives were just two years ago...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lil A is 3 Months Old!

Three months have passed since Aiden joined our family... that's so hard to believe! This month has been a real turn of the corner for us... he has become such a happy baby! Sure, of course, he still has his moments of crying and screaming and not sleeping, but, he's so much better than he once was. He started at Chesterbook Academy with his big sister last week, and the routine and schedule we've got going for him has seemed to start to kick in. Like Dad-E mentioned, he has been sleeping pretty consistently about 6-8 hrs, waking to eat, then sleeping another 4ish hours or so. I'll take that over waking every 2 hours any day. (*Note: writing this down in the blog has probably jinxed us, because I started this post last night, and he woke up every 4 hours.... let's hope it's just a growth spurt!*) Anyway, he's really smiling a lot these days, talking/cooing/babbling/squeaking a lot, and getting a little happier in the carseat. At least he's not screaming bloody murder the entire ride anymore. He's getting a lot better and stronger at holding his head up, and definitely loves the bath. I love seeing his little gummy smile light up his face when I go pick him up from school... and the way his sister gives him kisses and loves on him. I hope she always loves him that much.

The Stats:
Diaper Size: 1's
Clothing Size: 3-6 months
Shoe Size: No shoes yet, just baby socks
Food: All mommy milk, usually about 4-5 oz. every 3 hours or so
Naps: He really doesn't have much of a schedule/routine still... he tends to take one big 2 to 2 & 1/2 hour nap and then several 30-45 minute naps. Hopefully he'll be on a more consistent schedule soon. 
Sleep: Asleep for the night by 7ish, wakes up once through the night to eat, then up for the day around 7ish.
Teeth: None yet :)
Sounds: Lots of cooing, squeaking, babbling... he especially likes to in the car on the way to daycare from what I've heard from Dad-E... so cute.
Play: Loves his bouncy chair we borrowed from a friend, we put the swing back in the attic because neither one of them ever liked it (what a waste of money! haha), he loves his play mat, laying on the boppy for tummy time and trying the bumbo every once in awhile too. He really loves the panda bear hanging toy and will swat at it and smiles and smiles when he sees it.
New buddies: Met all of his new buddies at daycare... all 8 other boys and 1 girl. And, it just so happens that two of the other kids in his class have moms that work at Blackbaud with Dad-E!
We have made it through the tough months, I'd like to think that the truly sleepless nights are behind us, and we're well on our way to having two great sleepers. I can't wait to see how much he learns and grows each and every month... he's already changed and grown so much. We love you little man!!

He really does love his big sis, and I think she loves him too :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

1 week down...

Today begins Aiden's second week of daycare. Or as I like to call it, "The Tired Maker". Because let's be honest, there isn't much you can do with an almost-three-month old other than feed him, change him, talk to him for a bit, lay him on his back, lay him on his belly and let him cry for a while. Sometimes, a long while. But whatever they do with him for 8 hours or so must really tucker him out.

After his first day exactly a week ago, he came home so worn out that he slept from 7pm until 2am the next morning. We didn't hear a peep from him for 7 hours! He then woke up, ate, and went right back to sleep for another 3+ hours. He continued that trend all week, usually sleeping from 7-8pm until 2-3am, then back to sleep until just after 7am. It gave me enough time to get up, shower and get Alli going before I had to tend to his every need. It made my adjusting to the morning routine with two kids much easier than I expected. I was expecting the worst but hoping for the best... and was pleasantly surprised.

He didn't nap much that first day, and things barely improved the second day. His daycare isn't allowed to let him sleep on his belly unless he has a doctor's note stating it's OK. Good thing Mommy B works with such doctors... or at least that she has access to such letterhead. One slightly modified doctor's letter later and Aiden was sleeping on his belly at school, just like he has for the last 2 months or so at home. Needless to say, he napped much better the rest of the week. Even with the improved nap schedule, he was still wiped out by the time Mommy B brought them home. There were even a couple of evenings I struggled to keep him awake until we reached a realistic bed time. I didn't want him passing out at 5pm thinking it was "time for bed", because it would just throw everything off that night and next day. Nothing that a warm bath with his sister yelling right behind him couldn't fix!

Then the weekend arrived, and to be honest it made me a little nervous. Having been through this process once before, I knew how things worked. I know good and well that the biggest reason Aiden was so worn out each night (and thus slept so well) was because he was likely crying quite a bit at daycare. Not because he was being neglected or ignored, but because that's just how infants are at that age. He's so used to being held 24/7, that not being held is a big change for him - and that's the only way infants can show displeasure... by crying. There are 10 kids in his class and 2 (sometimes 3) teachers. They have to feed, burp, change, pick up, put down and repeat for every kid all day long. Do the math Followers - he's not going to get coddled all the time like he's used to. So, knowing that we were going to have to keep up the trend of "letting him cry" for a while during the day was not something I was looking forward to.

However, we made it through with minimal crying and lots of good sleeping - for everyone. Aiden kept on his same nightly sleep schedule (for the most part) and Mommy B and I were able to catch up with some old friends who were in town. While Mommy B (especially) and I have months of sleep to catch up on, our little man is making great progress. We're basically down to a feeding at 7pm followed by bed time, one "night time" feeding between 2-3am, and his morning wake and feeding at 7am. Not bad for not even three months old yet!

We've been consistently giving him 4oz for each feeding, trying to keep him on a regular schedule. He's been putting them down at daycare with ease, much like his sister used to. Last night, it had been a few hours since he'd eaten last, so I served him up a nice 6oz bottle before he went to bed. The kid downed all but about 1/2oz and promptly passed out on my shoulder. Long weekend with crazy sister + 6oz of mommy milk = major infant comatose. I put him down in his crib at about 7:15pm and didn't hear a sound until 2:45am this morning. Ah, it was glorious!

So here we are, beginning week number two. I'm hoping that the trend continues and we're onto something good already. In a few more weeks (if necessary), we'll hopefully be on the road to really sleeping through the night. Judging by how things are going thus far, I think our little man will be sleeping very soundly in the very near future.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Beautiful Children

Alli at 20 months old, saying some numbers and letters!

Alli at 20 months old, saying some colors!

Aiden at 2 months old, starting to babble!

Dear Chesterbrook

Thank you for being such an amazing school for both of my children. Alli has grown so much, learned so much, and she truly loves it there, it's obvious. Thank you for giving me the confidence that Aiden will grow, learn, and love it just as much as she does. For the past few weeks, every time we have gone in to drop off or pick up Alli, the infant teachers, Alli's teachers, the ladies at the front desk, or even random teachers I don't know will comment to us, "Ohhh Alli's little brother starts soon doesn't he?" "Ohhh we can't wait to get our hands on Aiden!" It's so wonderful to see how much they truly love both of you, and how much they care about you both. After Aiden's first day yesterday, Miss Velma, the amazing infant teacher, said that so many things about Aiden "brought her back to the Alli days!" It's just wonderful to see how the teachers remember so much about Alli, how they are so willing and excited to learn all of Aiden's quirks, and how sincere they are to both of our children.

So, as I head back to work tomorrow, I am confident that both of my children are in the best hands possible. I am able to be at ease throughout the day knowing that Alli and Aiden are being cared for and are learning so much each and every day. Thank you, Chesterbrook, for giving me that peace of mind.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dear Aiden

Well, here we go again.

Next week is a big week for you, my boy. Dad-E is excited, nervous, anxious and scared... all at the same time. He's been through this before, but it was different the first time through. You start daycare next week. And that means some big adjustments around here.

Your mommy and I try really hard not to constantly compare you to your sister, but being the second born, it's inevitable. Trust me son, I know. Please understand that we don't compare you two in a competitive light, but rather to just contrast you two. You see, when we were going through this stage with your big sister, we didn't have anything to compare it to. We just thought the way she was was the way it was. But now that we have you, we can clearly see that you two are very different and unique individuals.

You don't know it now, and it may be many years before you realize it - but your big sister is paving the way for you at this very moment. Not just in school (which she probably will until you both go off to college), buttering up every teacher in the place so you'll have it easy as "Alli's little bro"... but also with your mommy and I. You both won't realize it for a long time, but she's made things much easier for you just by going through certain rites of passage before you.
For example, I knew (almost) exactly what to expect during your birth - which made me more relaxed and I was able to enjoy and savor the moments as they passed. It was much harder to do with your sister because I had no idea what to expect. Monday morning will be no different. While I'll still be nervous as hell dropping you off on your first day, I know deep down in my heart that your teachers will take good care of you just like they did with your sister. I couldn't be more proud of the girl she's turning into, and I have full confidence that you'll impress us just the same.

But with this new chapter comes new adjustments. It means your mommy is going back to work - which means instead of getting up at 3:45am to feed you, she'll be getting up to pump and leave for work. Which also means that Dad-E is on his own to get all three of us ready in the morning, you two off to school and myself to work by a reasonable hour. It could be rough for a few days, but we'll get it figured out. And once you're on a good schedule, we'll be like a well-oiled machine in the mornings.

I have to say though, the last three months haven't been easy. You're still not on a consistent sleeping schedule, and you really don't like going back to sleep once you've eaten... especially at 3am. I've tried putting you down to let you cry it out, but your mommy usually ends up coming to your rescue and rocking you to sleep - even if it takes an hour. It's made both your mommy and I very tired to say the least. But, you redeem yourself each day by being so happy and cute that your mommy and I almost forget that we're running on less than 6 hours of heavily interrupted sleep.

Today, your mommy needed a little break (and some much-needed girl time with Alli Ru), so you and I hung out all morning while they went to the pool. You slept on my chest the entire time they were gone. When your sister went down for her afternoon nap, mommy followed suit. I walked your fussy butt around the kitchen for an hour to get you to calm down, and you eventually fell asleep on me - for over three hours. And finally, you did it again tonight - after your bath and bottle, I got you to fall asleep on me in the time it took your mommy to run down the street to pick up some Japanese takeout. I put you down in your crib and you didn't move a muscle. I was very proud of how we both handled the day.

I know that starting next week, the days of you sleeping on me are numbered. These are the days I yearned for the most when we were pregnant with you, and I know that they'll be long gone before I know it. So while you're supposed to be "growing up" this week by heading off to school, I got to cherish a full day of your infancy before it was too late. I know that all too soon you and your sister will be making your mommy and I nervous wrecks as teenagers out on the town... but I'll never forget the day I got to spend with you before you went and grew up on me.


Monday, July 2, 2012

What to do when it's 115 degrees outside...

This past weekend, temperatures in Charleston (and all over the country for that matter!) reached into the 100's, and with the heat index made it feel more like 115. How miserable. There isn't much you can do outside with a 2 month old baby in that kind of heat. Or a 20 month old baby, either (as much as she doesn't realize that she really doesn't want to go oussssside!!!)

Our good friends Rob, Gena,their daughter Anneliese and their dog Wallace came down from Charlotte for the weekend to beat the heat... for once, it was hotter in Charlotte than it was here! We spent Saturday morning trying to entertain two toddlers, which was interesting to say the least. Then, we took our first trip to the SC Aquarium with all the kids. I have to say, I wasn't too impressed. We've been there once before when we first moved down here, but it was our first time taking Alli too. There just isn't a whole lot to see.. just a lot of fish, which would've been free for us to look at at a Petsmart store, not $50. Nonetheless, it was nice to get away from the heat and do something different. That evening, we found a babysitter and were able to go out to an adult dinner with Rob and Gena, which was wonderful. It felt like when we were back in college, just the 4 of us. My how things have changed!

Allison & Anneliese, BFF's at the Aquarium

Alli & her baby brother Aiden

Sunday morning I took Alli to the pool while the boys hung out and did whatever it is boys do... I guess Aiden probably slept while daddy watched TV or something... but, anyway, it was good to just have time with Alli again. She has gotten so good at swimming, she knows how to kick and balance and loves playing with her waterproof Pooh bear - which is always a hit with the other kids at the pool too. That afternoon we had a movie date - popcorn and all, and watched Elmo in Grouchland with all the curtains pulled to try to make it dark in the house while it was reaching near record highs and was HOT HOT HOT outside. It was a nice way to wind down and end the weekend.

Aiden has been doing great at getting on his own little routine this weekend too. He kind of just fell into it... having a nap in the morning, nap in the afternoon, sometimes a quick snooze in the late afternoon, then off to bed around 8ish. He even slept 6 hours in a row once! But, last night it was back to every few hours... it's just still sort of unpredictable right now. He is a lot happier these days: he plays, coo's, smiles back at you all the time, and we have stopped giving him his Zantac. He has been doing wonderfully without it. When he cries, Alli says, "baby sad!" and now it seems that she thinks that's his name. She'll walk by him and even if he's not crying she says "Hi Baby Sad!" Dad-E doesn't want that nickname to stick... but it's still funny.

So, hopefully it cools down a little for next weekend, as we celebrate our last weekend of "freedom" before I head back to work...