Monday, January 28, 2013

Feeling rejuvenated

After writing about a day last week that was just a little less than perfect, I felt the need to write about the last few days, which have been quite a bit better than average. Eric and I commented last night before heading to bed about what a difference a day can make. Literally, things can change in an instant.

This weekend was my one Saturday every 3 months I had to work... so Dad-E was left alone with both babes while I headed in to pre-op surgery patients. Aiden slept until 6:15!, and Alli until after 7:30!! Anyone that knows us, and our kids, knows this is just amazing! He told me how wonderful they were, how great Alli was playing by herself a lot of the time, only had to visit the time out corner once, and Aiden was a gem too. He took a 2 + hour nap, they both ate lunch, then Alli went right on upstairs to bed, basically diving in and saying goodnight daddy, see you later, okay!!! By the time I got home, Aiden was down for his 2nd nap, Alli was still asleep, Eric was showering, and we were just able to enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet. They continued on this trend throughout the night... no fights or trouble with dinner, bath, or bed! Sunday was much of the same... Alli literally ran upstairs at around 12:30, jumped right in bed for her nap and said, goodnight mommy, love you, see you later, okay!! I could hardly believe it. I walked downstairs in record time, and Eric gave me a look like, what did you do?! I just shrugged and told him she was ready. Incredible. Then, as if the weekend hadn't been going great enough, lil A decided he should probably let us in on a little secret... he can totally army crawl! He pulled himself across the floor to get to the trains, the water bottle, and then, to me... which was about the sweetest thing ever. Again, they were amazing while eating dinner, quietly sitting beside each other and I couldn't help but look at them in awe and wonder how two tiny human beings could make me experience so many different emotions in a matter of days. They took their bath together, Alli talking and whispering to Aiden, which melts my heart too, and off to bed they both went.

Eric and I took a few minutes last night just to reflect on how great those two babies really are. Despite the bad times, despite the times we want to just run away and hide, despite the tears they can cause us, the good times really are worth it. We're just learning as we go, and learning that each day truly is a new adventure.

Sweet face enjoying some lunch
Bath time together, sharing some secrets

Finally some movement out of this lil man :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Aiden's 9 Month Stats

Well, Aiden has officially been around as long as I was pregnant with him. Probably a little longer, since he decided he wanted to join us a little after 38 weeks, but, who's counting? Who has the time to keep track?! Anyway...

Nine months old. I can hardly believe it... I guess what I can truly hardly believe is that he's almost one...

We went for his check up with the doctor today, and I made sure we met with Dr. Graham today... as he's the best doctor in their practice and although I love all of them at Coastal Peds, I wanted to make sure I had his opinion on my concerns. After waiting a lovely 45 minutes to see him, we finally got to go to the exam room. Aiden's been eating wonderfully, sleeping great, and *knock on wood*, has yet to be sick. I remember Alli having ear infection after ear infection and a trip in an ambulance by now... oh boy. So, in those departments, we were doing great. But, as a constant worrier of a mom (and it sure doesn't help being a pediatric nurse), I couldn't help but ask the doctor questions about Aiden's development. He hasn't really rolled a whole lot, hates being on his stomach, isn't even trying to crawl, doesn't pull up on things... just likes to reach and grab for toys, he can turn/scoot himself all the way around on his butt, and lately, all he's loved to do is "walk" with you holding both of his hands walking behind him. After a lot of discussion with Dr. Graham, he made me feel a lot better. He's normal, it's fine, we'll just keep working on keeping his muscles toned, working on developing those muscles and movements more, and he'll get there. No worries. But, yes, I still worry.

The Stats:
Weight: 19 lbs 3 oz (40th percentile)
Length: 29 inches (74th percentile)
Head: 18 inches (70th percentile)

He definitely is growing well and right on track, which is great.

Diaper Size: 3's
Clothing Size: some 9 month outfits still, but those are getting to be high-waters, so, mostly 12 month sleepers and pants for the length. He can still fit in 6 month shirts though.
Shoe Size: 3's, he still really only wears socks though, or bare feet :)
Food: Still on all mommy milk bottles/cups, 3 meals a day with cereal in the AM, puffs, crunchies, melts, anything that Alli tries to sneak him, he'll take. He loves drinking Eric's OJ in the morning's too.
Naps: About an hour and a half in the AM and an hour in the afternoon
Sleep: Asleep for the night by 7pm and up about 6am
Teeth: One. (but, the day after he turned 9 months, his second one came through... so really, two bottom teeth now!)
Sounds: Still just dada, lots of babbles, squeals, clucking noises, blowing raspberries, and these low grunting noises... hard to explain, but they're funny.
Play: He loves blocks, cars, anything with wheels that rolls back and forth, like the toy airplane and toy dump truck. He loves the dog and most of all, his big sister. He could watch her forever, and he's always following her around. He'll turn his head and about break his neck to try and watch her while he's eating and she's running crazy. She loves to have him ride in her cozy coupe with her too, and he seems to enjoy it. Riding in the stroller and the swing out back are some favorites, too. Anything that involves being around us, he loves.
New buddies: Everyone in his new big boy class at school :)

Waiting patiently in the waiting room before his 9 month check up!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Feeling defeated

Do you ever just have one of those days when nothing seems to go right? Yesterday was definitely one of those for me. Lately, things at work have been getting rough. We are feeling the effects of the economy, the decrease in healthcare funding, etc. and the hospital is cutting our hours. It's not just one department, it's all over the hospital. They have been having a fair system of sending us all home so that each person is equally having their hours cut, and yesterday, it was my turn. So, I left work and was excited to get the kiddos a little earlier. I ran a few errands first, then went to get them earlier than usual.

I walked in to Alli's room, and like I've seen several times, there was a big bag with her name on it... with her sheet, blanket, underwear and pants. This has become a common problem that she has an accident during naptime. She wears a pull-up at home at night still, but we really don't want to go backward and send a pull-up with her to school... she's never worn one during naptime at home. But anyway... it's just exhausting to have to do laundry each night when we get home. So, that was frustrating. Then, we walked down to get Aiden, who was sitting up in the middle of the room with his teachers, playing, but looking exhausted. They said he had only slept an hour in the morning and maybe 45 minutes in the afternoon, and had been up since 2pm. Great. I can see a tired, fussy baby in my near future. As we're walking out to the car, I am holding Aiden, have his bag of bottles, her bag of dirty laundry, and trying to direct her to keep walking... and the door slams closed, knocking Alli on her butt. Awesome, so here come the tears. I told her it was an accident, we got to the car, and she was still in tears. People probably thought I was stealing her, the way she was carrying on. In the meantime, Aiden was happy... but only because he had my car keys in his mouth. Real sanitary I'm sure, but he was happy, so I was too. To keep Alli happy, I gave her a fudge animal cracker and she was great. I stole the keys from Aiden so I could get going home... and then his tears started. Goodness, someone help me.

We got home, I got them out of the car, and proceeded to bring in my bags of things, which usually takes me about 3 trips... my pumping bag, the bag of bottles, the bag of Alli's laundry, the few groceries I'd picked up, and then, finally, the kids. I've learned that I have to close the garage door as soon as I pull in, or our trusty, loving golden retriever takes off and runs away. Awesome. Anyway, I get everyone and everything inside, and I see Alli's face and hands are covered in melted pink animal cracker that she never ate, she just held on to and licked until it basically melted. So, I tried taking it away and, turn on the waterworks. I sat Aiden down in front of some of his favorite toys, and he just started wailing. So here they are, both sobbing, I'm still in my scrubs and want to change clothes, the dog wants to go out, the bottles need cleaned, the breastmilk needs to get in the fridge, the groceries need put away, Alli needs cleaned off, Aiden probably just "needs" held, dinner needs started (if I were a good wife :( ugh) and I just need a hug.

This pattern of wailing over nothing important continued on until Eric got home. He walked in to a scene of chaos... Aiden crying while eating (? I think he was just overly exhausted), Alli crying in time out because she had thrown her cup, spoon, and placemat at me, and me crying with joy to see Eric's face. Alli's pattern of bad attitude, bad behavior, and just plain being two was in full force. She spent more time in the time out corner than doing anything else. Aiden was only content if someone was walking him (holding his hands and letting him walk around the living room). He is so happy to be doing this, but that sure makes your back ache. Finally, at the stroke of 6, we took them up for bathtime. Aiden cried the whole time (he's usually pretty happy about it, but like I said, I think he was overly exhausted), and Alli thought it was time to play on Scarlett's dog bed. I firmly told her it was time for a bath, she said her usually "no, mommy no!", and proceeded to flop herself on the ground. So, I picked her up and put her in the tub. There was a lot of tears, fighting, me losing it, etc. I had honestly given myself the worst headache just from yelling. I was so frustrated with her, with myself, with everything.

Finally, Eric took over, and I took Aiden in to feed him. He did great, which was a pleasant surprise because lately, he has wanted nothing to do with sitting still and eating... he just wants to be up exploring. I could hear Eric talking softly with Alli, relaxing her, and trying to talk her into putting her PJ's on, having her vitamin, brushing her teeth, etc. All the normal routine we do every night, but she was very resistant. After much coaxing, a longer than usual bedtime routine, and lots of tears, she fell asleep. We literally just hugged each other at 7:45 when the house was quiet, after a good 20 minutes of "moooooommmmmmy! daddddddy!" cries from her room.

So, at 7:45, now it's finally time to make dinner, wash bottles, take a shower myself, pump, wash dishes after dinner, Eric making his lunch, get their clothes out for tomorrow, finish that laundry, re-stock Alli's spare clothes for school, and hope to be in bed by 9 so I can get a whole 7 hours of sleep before waking up at 4am for work. The 9pm bedtime thing rarely happens, but I can always dream.

Sometimes, I feel like I have the worst kids ever. Or that I'm the worst mom ever. Why does it feel like that sometimes? I feel like I never hear about anyone else's kids being holy terrors. Am I the only one? Am I the only one that doesn't know if I'm doing anything right, or everything wrong? I just want to know I'm not the only one, and that this too shall pass.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Vindication, at last…

Many Followers will recall this post in which I wrote about Alli’s first trip to the circus. Not just any circus, but OUR circus – The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. While “The Greatest Show on Earth” hasn’t been in the family for a long time, my great-great-great uncles started what became and still is the largest and most well-known circus in the world. Even though we don’t own it anymore, it still holds a very special place in our hearts.

In that post, I included a short blurb about the protesters who stood for hours in the pouring down rain that day speaking out against the poor treatment of animals (namely elephants) by Feld Entertainment, Inc. – the company that owns and operates the circus. Judging by the attendance numbers that weekend, I’d say their little “protest” was less than effective. It seems like people will protest just about anything these days. And when was the last time a protest ever accomplished anything? This isn't the 60's anymore people...

It left a sour taste in my mouth that afternoon. But a smile ran across my face when Grandma C sent me the following news article this week:

As it turns out, the ASPCA had filed a federal lawsuit in 2000 (it was dismissed, then reinstated in 2003) against Feld Entertainment, Inc. stating that a former Ringling Bros. employee had been physically and emotionally injured by the Ringling Bros.’ treatment of their elephants. After 6 weeks of testimony, the court ruled in Feld Entertainment, Inc.’s favor after finding “that the plaintiff’s litigation was based on the untruthful testimony of a paid plaintiff and witness who the Court found received at least $190,000 in payments as his sole source of income over an eight year period by animal special interest groups, including ASPCA…” There's a lot more to it than that, but you get the idea where this was going...

The ASPCA must pay $9.3 Million to Feld Entertainment, Inc. as settlement. "These defendants attempted to destroy our family-owned business with a hired plaintiff who made statements that the court did not believe.  Animal activists have been attacking our family, our company, and our employees for decades because they oppose animals in circuses.  This settlement is a vindication not just for the company but also for the dedicated men and women who spend their lives working and caring for all the animals with Ringling Bros. in the face of such targeted, malicious rhetoric," said Kenneth Feld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Feld Entertainment.

Now, I’m not one to condone taking money from an animal rights group… everyone knows I’m an animal lover at heart. But when you try to drag my family’s name through the mud through malicious, unfounded propaganda and slander – the gloves come off. These people will never understand the blood, sweat and tears my family put into the circus over multiple generations. They poured their souls into something they felt so strongly about – and that was bringing happiness and joy to millions of people the world over.

I think the last section of the article sums it up perfectly –
"Feld Entertainment has produced Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey for over 45 years. Ringling Bros.' elephants, the treasured symbol of The Greatest Show On Earth® and the subject of the litigation, continue to be healthy and well-cared for by a team of full-time veterinarians and an animal care staff that works to ensure that the animals have a safe and positive environment. The company meets and exceeds federal requirements on the care of its Asian elephants, tigers and other animals.  Its animal care practices are commonly accepted and well known to federal, state and local government regulators who routinely inspect Ringling Bros. in almost every city it visits.
Feld Entertainment, Inc. is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live family entertainment that lifts the human spirit and creates indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment's productions have appeared in more than 70 countries and on six continents to date..."

Vindication, indeed.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Sibling interactions are something I'm kind of foreign to. As an only child, with a step-brother and half-brother I didn't live with, I am not used to any of the interactions I'm now experiencing between my children. I know this is just the tip of the iceburg, and there are going to be so many more interactions to come, but right now, I'm in awe and amazed at seeing them interact with one another.

When I was pregnant with Aiden, people would ask if we were preparing Alli for being a big sister, for having a new baby around, etc. Frankly, she was too young to really "get it." Sure, we talked to her about it, but she really had no clue what she was in for, and she truly just took it in stride. I feel like now, with Aiden being around for as long as she can probably remember, she hardly remembers the time before when it was just her. In that sense, I'm so happy that we had Aiden and Alli so close together... she really didn't have any jealous times, did not revert back to baby stages or actions, etc. She knows that the bottle is Aiden's and not hers, she throws his diapers at him (sometimes hands them to me, but mostly throws them his way), and knows she doesn't wear those anymore, she has big kid underpants. "Horray for underpants!" Only Eric or anyone that has rode in our car in the past few months listening to Elmo's Potty Time DVD would appreciate that quote. Anyway...

As Aiden has been growing, exploring, and being more than just a "baby", Alli has really started to notice him. She loves helping to change him (the throwing diapers at him would be what I'm talking about here...), helping to feed him (which is usually her shoving food in his face and saying, "here bro, here!!!!!"), helping to wash his hair in the bathtub (sometimes causing water and soap to get in his eyes, but he just loves her so much he laughs through it all), and giving him kisses every night before bed. Lately, Aiden has been on quite the kick of skipping his bottle before bed in exchange for hanging out in his sister's room while we read books to both of them. He loves watching her, and playing with her, and, well, pretty much anything involving her. Over the past week or so, it has gotten even better.

Aiden has been sitting up playing with her a lot, and the other day, I turned to watch them and she was just having a full out conversation with him. It's a very one-sided conversation right now, obviously, but she was so caring and sweet. (OK, sometime's she's not very caring and sweet, but on this specific occasion, she was.) She was showing him blocks and stacking them to match the others, and telling him what she was doing. "This one goes here, bro, okaaaay??? And this one is blue. Azul!!!!" Sometimes, when he gets upset/hungry/tired/just plain wants to be held, he'll sit there crying, and Alli will look him straight in the eye and say "Stop crying bro, stop crying! Stop crying bro, stop crying!" She just repeats it over and over again, and I try not to laugh at the whole situation. Seeing them together has really just completed something in me, and I hope that the upcoming interactions between them are just as sweet. Although, I'm definitely prepared for the worst, too.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ting! Ting! Ting!

Aiden has been making great strides lately. He’s almost 9 months old and has been sitting up on his own for a while now. That’s pretty much how he spends most of his time these days, sitting on his own, playing with whatever he can get his hands on. Most of those objects end up in his mouth, but that’s pretty typical for an infant. All this time spent in a vertical position has also worked wonders for his reflux. He rarely spits up at all anymore, and when he does it’s very little and it’s usually because he just ate (which is all the time).

While I’m confident he has the ability to crawl, we haven’t seen him do it yet. He can do a full-on push-up when we put him on his belly, but just hasn’t gotten his legs moving at the same time. We’ve been trying to put him in a crawling position while helping him make the movements which will hopefully get him moving in the right direction. The funny part is that we know he can move because we’ll put him down to sleep at one end of his crib, and he’ll be at the complete opposite end when we go to pick him up in the morning. He’s also figured out how to spin himself around while on his belly – so he can turn himself to face whatever it is that has his attention.

He’s also making great progress in the standing department. As long as he has something to hold on to to help him balance, he can stand there forever. We’ve been propping him up against the edge of the couch (with his toy remote within arm’s reach) and he’ll just stand there playing with it for as long as we’ll sit there with him. Mommy B and I have also been working on his walking with him when Alli isn’t hanging off our backs. She’ll hold his hands for balance, and I’ll help him bend his knees in a walking motion so he understands that there’s more to just standing there with your knees locked. He was a little resistant to it at first (probably out of fear since it was new to him), but he’s been doing much better at it lately. In my opinion, he’ll probably be just like me and skip crawling and go straight to walking. And why not? All he wants to do is follow his big sister around. He’s so curious and interested in everything she does, I have a feeling that he’ll get moving any day now just to keep up.

Bottles are also making their slow departure from his routine. Not by our influence, but just because he doesn’t really want them anymore. We’ve been working with him on sippy cups, and much like his sister (as always, in the food department) he’s discovered that he can get more out (and faster) by using a sippy cup. So now anytime he sees something he can eat or drink himself, he lunges for it and tries to ingest it. This means that any glass that Mommy B or I might be holding could quickly become Aiden’s next drink.

But this morning we had another breakthrough – literally. He’s been drooling a lot lately, and waking up in the middle of the night the last few nights – which he hasn’t done in months. Mommy B and I have been on this ride before, and we knew what was coming… teeth. Alli had six teeth in by this age, after all. Day after day would go by and we wouldn’t see a thing in his mouth. That was until just a couple days ago, I noticed some thinning of his bottom gums and could see something beneath the surface. We’ve been anxiously awaiting the moment when his gums will part ways and we’ll be able to feel the sharp ridges of that first baby tooth. Followers may recall that the only reason we discovered Alli’s first tooth was because she accidentally bit down on Mommy B’s finger. Well Mommy B had her turn with Alli, and it was my turn with Aiden.

As we were sitting in the kid’s play area this morning waiting for Alli to wake up, I was enjoying my morning glass of orange juice. Aiden has never really had orange juice (that I’m aware of), but seeing it in my hand was good enough for him. He got all excited and started wiggling around, then started reaching for my glass. I could tell what he was after, so I held the glass to his lips to see what he would do. Well, as if he’d been doing it for months, he put his lips around the rim and started drinking my OJ right out of the glass! He took a couple swigs, then stopped to swallow. Rinse, repeat. My kids really are naturals at this whole eating and drinking thing – weird.

On the third time he went in for a drink, I heard a sound that I’ve been waiting weeks to hear… that unforgettable “TING!” sound of tooth-on-glass. That’s when I knew the day had finally arrived – we could write it in the baby book. His first tooth had broken the surface (at last) and was making its presence felt on my glass of OJ. Just a week shy of 9 months old, Aiden got his first tooth! Thank goodness too, because he’s really been wanting to feed himself more and more lately, and there’s only so many things you can give a kid with no teeth. I’m hoping the rest of them aren’t far behind this first one, so we can get them all in and the teething over with.

Congrats on the first tooth Bubby – Dad-E is proud of you for being such a trooper through the whole process. It’ll be weird seeing Mr. Smiles with teeth in there now, but I know he’ll be much happier in the long run.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

More Alli-isms…

I know we’ve posted about this before and probably will again many times as she grows and learns, but watching Alli grow into a little person has been nothing short of amazing. She shocks us almost on a daily basis with how much she remembers, picks up on, and mimics. She’s basically talking in full sentences these days, and here are a few of her favorites:

  •      “Mommy go take a shower, okaaaayyy?” This one is usually said each night right before her bedtime as Mommy B heads off to the shower in preparation for her 4am alarm clock. We’ve told her many times that Mommy has to go take a shower now, which is why Mommy has to leave the room before Alli goes to bed. Dad-E takes over and puts her to bed, but not before she utters this sentence to Mommy B as she’s walking out of the room.
  •      “Somethin’ ta eat!” She’s really been saying this one for a while, but it has become more and more clear over the last couple of months. I’m pretty sure this was the first full phrase/sentence she said to us to tell us what she wanted… go figure.
  •      “Alli, what’s Aunt Bacon’s cat’s name?” “Masseera!” Close Alli, but it’s actually Bagheera – the black-toned Indian leopard character in Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories in The Jungle Book. Close enough, I’ll give you credit for that one. She loves that dang cat.
  •      “Thank you, thank you, my heart sings… thank you, thank you, for everything.” Apparently this is a rhyme they sing at school right before they eat, because it’s usually followed by “Let’s eat! Let’s eat!” It always has to do with food, I swear…
  •      “Doggy outside, okaaayyy?” Alli is head-over-heels in love with her dog, Scarlett. I’m not sure why, but she loves nothing more than to hug Scarlett around the neck and throw her the tennis ball. Alli has also figured out how to open doors, which has become a double-edged sword lately. When Scarlett scratches at the door, Alli will ask us this question and we’ll instruct her to go let the doggy outside. She will run over to the door, turn the knob and open it, walk to the screen door to the porch and push it open enough for Scarlett to get outside. She’ll then come back in and close the door behind her. She’ll also do the same if Scarlett is outside and we tell her to let the doggy back in. Awesome, one less thing for me to do… On the other hand, she’s figured out how to open her bedroom door – which can make nap time on the weekends rather challenging. I see a trip to the store to find child-proof door knob covers in our very near future.
  •      “Ouchie boo-boo ouchie!” This is one we typically hear during bath time at night. Bath time is typically the first opportunity we have to strip Alli down and get her all cleaned up from the day… as well as assess the damage from the day’s activities. It doesn’t happen as frequently as it used to (now that she’s more in tune with her body’s movements), but every once in a while she’ll get a scraped knee or some other type of minor flesh wound. When she does, this is her way of telling us that her oh-so-serious injury needs tending to. So we’ll get it all washed up and covered with whatever animated character Band-aid she feels most attached to that evening… which usually leads to the follow-up “All better…” Cute as can be.
  •      “Orange… hi orange! Bye orange... it’s blue!” This one took me a few moments to figure out when she first said it, but it all made sense in the end. Grandma C bought us a video-monitor for Alli’s room for Christmas. Once we got it all set up, we could see (and hear) everything Alli was doing after we put her to bed and left the room. This has never really been a concern for us in the past, but now that she’s going to the potty on her own and has figured out the door knob we figured it might be nice to see what’s happening in there. We mounted the camera on top of one of her dressers that enables us to see her entire room. When you first plug the camera in, it has a very tiny orange light that flashes while it boots up and connects to the Wi-Fi in the house. Once it gets connected, the light turns blue to indicate that it’s on and working. We were hoping that she wouldn’t notice its presence but she quickly discovered it by the second night. This girl doesn’t miss a thing, I swear. Anyway, each night after her bath we head into her room for a couple books (and maybe a potty break) before bed. I plugged the camera in and she uttered the phrase above, as if she’d been watching it for months. I asked, “Alli, do you know what that is?” She looked up at me with a slightly puzzled look on her face. I said, “It’s a camera so Mommy, Daddy and Grandma can see you go to bed.” She thought about it for a couple seconds, looked back at the camera and said “Cheeeese!”  Mmmhmmm…

As you can tell, she’s really beginning to put together the world around her – in a way only a toddler could. She’s becoming more independent with every step and it both excites and scares me at the same time… because she wants to do everything on her own now. More about that shortly…