Saturday, May 23, 2015

Slumber Party of Five.

Well, we did it.  Our first full family overnight away from home.  I suppose we kind of cheated (and it was more like a Slumber Party of Four) because we brought Rowdy to his favorite place ever, doggie daycare, buuuuuuut we still had to get everyone ready and out of the house, so we'll count it.  Besides the pack and play Angie brought, we brought food (for us and Myra), another pack and play, blanket, pillow, sound machine, baby monitor, diaper bag, diapers (cloth takes up more space), travel high chair, clothes/PJs, frozen breast milk+bottle, my pump, random overnight stuff (toothbrushes, face wash), beer, and of course the kids+car seats.

Last weekend we packed up and headed to our friend Dan's house.  Dan is actually my best friend's brother.  He and his roommate let us all move in for the night and the dudes held down the fort with the kiddos while Angie and I rocked out to Billy Joel at the Target Center.  It was SUCH a good concert.  Besides the surprise opening act of Gavin DeGraw, Billy Joel sounded awesome and he.was.hilarious.  Very entertaining, great music, played everything we hoped to hear, and a much needed night out with my pal.  Sorry for the junky concert photos, I'm too lazy to upload the actual videos.  Maybe someday when I'm bored (HA!).

From what I hear, bedtime could have been better (there was a barking dog/baby waking incident and Myra has been very independent with bedtime especially "Myra to do it!") but really the night went very well.  We all slept in one room which was confirmation that we should not be doing such a thing.  We have never bed shared with either kid and Myra has never even slept in our room.  Neither of us is a huge fan of having Niko in our room, but it makes the most sense for right now.  So, having all of us in one room is definitely new.  Luckily, we had a pack and play for each kid and spread them apart as much as possible.  Niko slept well, woke up to nurse twice but let us sleep in until after 8 (close to 9??).  Myra did fine, too, except when she did her usual tossing and turning at night (typically no big deal and she falls right back asleep on her own), she realized we were in the room and wanted to chit chat.  "Hi Mommy!  It's Niko!"

And, for funzies, some random photos from the last week:

Grandma brought this for the day and Myra LOVED it

Helping Daddy clean up the sand box

Our first semi-short-notice house showing and it's nap time? No problem

Warrior's Pride wrap (red, white, and blue + yellow for support our troops and teal for PTSD awareness)

Doing tummy time with her baby

Babywearing isn't just for babies, hard to see the black wrap on black shirt

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spread the Lovey!

I wrote this post after a friend wanted me to test out one of her favorite loveys by Baby Jack & Co, but it didn't work out to get one to me in time for today's focus on military families. Despite the fact that I realized they're a Wisconsin company (I kid, I kid), these things look adorable and come in a variety of colors and themes including an American flag one. Though it didn't work out for me to get one in time to post about it today, Myra loves her lovey so much I wanted to hit Publish on this one anyway.  In an effort to help #SpreadTheLovey (helping get these loveys to littles who may have an extra need for a security item, click link for more info on this campaign), TheBabyGuyNYC is doing a giveaway today!  Click the link to get to his Facebook page for more info and to enter.  Also, Baby Jack & Co. is donating a % of all their proceeds from today through Monday to The Carrying On Project, a favorite non-profit of mine.  They help get baby carriers to military families in need, whether it be a spouse who needs to free up her hands while a service member is deployed, an injured service member needing a way to hold his/her child, or providing a way to nurture the parent/child bond in a world with many periods of separation.

Anyone who has spent 10 minutes with us knows how attached Myra is to "Baby."  While we do have a few boundaries with her (Baby doesn't go to school or the library), Baby pretty much goes everywhere.  The combination of Myra being a thumb sucker and having a lovey has made my life so much easier.  More importantly, Baby is by far the number one way to comfort Myra.  If she wakes up in the middle of the night, no matter the reason, our first instinct is to say "where's Baby? do you need Baby? let's get your Baby!"  I kid you not, we regretted not including Baby in our holiday card photo last year because she is that much a part of our family.  I have a photo of Baby ready to be printed next time I order prints so I can put it in a frame for Myra.  Especially considering the added amount of pain and illness Myra has gone through due to her FPIES, Baby sure has come in handy.  Note: we actually have a rotation of 3 babies so we will hopefully never be without her.


Myra rubs Baby's hair between her fingers while sucking her thumb as she falls asleep

Needless to say, I sure hope Niko finds a lovey to provide him the same amount of comfort.  The most stressful (downright scary!) part of having a lovey like Baby is the fear of losing it and/or the fear that we won't be able to replace it (the reason I bought two extras for Myra).  I actually got a lovey for Niko, a MN Gophers lovey from a friend's shop, but Myra stole it and insists on sleeping with her "Go Gopher," too.

While we haven't had a deployment since becoming parents, we have had to say goodbye to Trevor often for as long as 3+ weeks which is a long time for small kiddos!  Whether the need for comfort comes from simply missing Daddy or the need for Mommy to divide time while solo parenting (surprisingly, I can't do everything all at the same time), I have found comfort knowing Myra has the tools to soothe herself.  To be honest, it gives Trevor something to talk about with Myra while he is away and upon his return.  She's too little to tell him what happened two weeks ago, but she will talk about things she has done with her baby all day long.  I love being able to bring a comforting piece of home with us when we travel (which we do as much as possible with two small children).  Again, I would love for Niko to have all of this, too.  While it does make sense to treat Myra's security object as a part of our family since it's a stuffed person, I think any security object could do the same.  We could just as easily recognize a blanket, pillow, or sensory taggie as Niko's BFF (pet rocks, anyone??).

Monday, May 11, 2015

Three Months with Two Kids.

Wow - these past three months have been BUSY.  We have so much happening right now, I'm grateful for all Myra taught us in her first four months and even more grateful we haven't had the same struggles with Niko.  I'll break it down for you.  This one is a doozy (weird, right?).

Big Sister Stuff
Like most parents (I think), one of my biggest fears when having another child was how it would affect Myra.  In the long run, I knew it would be great for all of us-we were giving her a sibling; however, we had no idea what sort of growing pains we might have to deal with.  I'm pleased to say there has been absolutely zero new baby drama.  The first week after Niko was born, Myra regressed in her potty training a bit, but that was over as quickly as it started.  If he really gets going crying, she will cover her ears and sometimes do this obnoxious screechy cry herself, but I can't blame her.  She absolutely adores Niko and gets bummed when he is sleeping.  She'll ask, or even try, to go get him.  If I have him in a wrap/baby carrier, she often asks to see him (his face).  She loves to talk to him and says adorable things like "there's my smile, buddy!" and "Maybe he does want his Nuk!"  Sometimes she even wakes up crying asking to see him.  She still cites her Big Sister book and talks about helping Niko be "warm and cozy."  She loves to do what I do, she uses a kid sized neck pillow as a Boppy to nurse her baby ("baby needs some milk!") then burps her ("we're burping together! two burpings!").

New Baby Stuff
Niko is great.  He is currently sleeping in a crib in our room and usually sleeps all night (8pm until 530/630am).  Sometimes he will nurse once during the night which is fine because it usually allows me to sleep in a little longer in the morning.  I do, however, have to reach over and shove his pacifier in his mouth quite a few times throughout the night so I am anxiously waiting for him to find his thumb.  He's trying so hard!  Babies are hard, newborns are a-holes, I stand by all that, but there have only been just a couple nights where Trevor and I have given each other the "WHAT DID WE DO?!?!?!?!" look.  Babywearing has been a lifesaver and I have been incredibly intentional about getting him to sleep in his crib.  When Niko first came home, we did a few days of musical where-will-the-baby-sleep-best and landed on "on mommy's chest" which is neither the safest nor most comfortable option.  I slept on the couch for the first 8 weeks (don't be sad for me, our couch is awesome) and gradually worked Niko into sleeping on his crib mattress on the floor.  At 8 weeks, I moved back into my room and brought the crib mattress with me.  Just a few days ago, we put it into a legit crib situation.  These have all been informed decisions that I've felt a decent amount of guilt about because I know the guidelines about infant sleep, but I also know the importance of a well rested family (heck, even semi-rested family).  I've learned you really can't force a newborn to do anything, so I just kept working towards the safest goal.  He also sleeps on his tummy which is not my favorite, but hopefully he learns to roll over himself sooner than later so I can let that go, too.  Myra never slept in our room and I have confirmed I do not enjoy a baby in my room, but it is temporary and it's working-at least he's not in our bed.  I could go on and on about the fussy evenings, crazy gas, refusing to be put down, refusing to be held by anyone but me, loud crying, not wanting to go BACK to sleep during middle of the night wake ups, and all the newborn stuff that makes me bonkers, but we're just creeping out of that stage and I'm not feeling inclined to reminisce. So, hopefully simply mentioning all of those things will suffice.  Today Niko rolled over (from belly to back) for the first time so that was fun -- one of his first milestones!

Breastfeeding Stuff
Thankfully I don't have too much to say here, but I thought I would give this its own little section.  If you're not interested in breastfeeding stuff, don't let the door hit you on the way out. Niko was a tad sleepy with nursing at first in the hospital.  I wasn't concerned and just kept trying and he caught on really well.  My milk came in, tons of it (very common for the first 6-8 weeks or so), he bounced back up to his birth weight by 7 days old (awesome!), etc.  Then right around the 6 week mark I started having some pain, more on one side than the other.  I decided it was due to a lazy latch in the middle of the night one night and I would try not to let stuff like that slide and hoped it healed quickly because OUCH.  Niko continued to be a bit chompy on that side which was so, so, so painful.  Most women have a lesser producing/slower flow side and that's the side that was painful, so I figured he was annoyed.  I started pumping on that side while he nursed on the other side (and continuing to nurse both sides as well) to increase my milk supply and hopefully even it out.  That was not fun either because my poor nipple never got a break.  I had a crack and occasional bleeding and there was crying and it was awful.  If we hadn't had so many issues with Myra which terrified me to try formula with Niko, I'm pretty sure I would have given up.  I just cried.  I know breastfeeding doesn't always come easily, but to have this much pain start at 6 weeks seemed nuts.  I broke down and made a lactation appointment to make sure his latch looked good, no tongue or lip ties, etc.  Everything looked perfect but the nurse noted that with the amount of redness I had, I should go see my doctor if it didn't improve in a few days.  Well, I'm stubborn and waited a week with no change so I finally made an appointment with whomever could get me in.  As it turns out, I had been dealing with thrush that whole time, not poor latch, which is why nothing was getting better no matter what I did.  By now it's been over 6 weeks of this nonsense.  Things really started improving last week but then the pain came back.  I've been doing all sorts of tricks to try and kick this thrush (yeast) to the curb and today has been better, so hopefully I'm on the mend...again.  I have no evidence Niko has/had it, but with how long I've been battling it I don't see how he could have dodged it.  I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor in a week, so if it makes a comeback again we can figure out a new plan together.  All that said, I'm so glad I didn't quit nursing.  It was so tempting and I was just miserable, but he was gaining weight well, not having any issues like Myra did, and his latch was great, so I didn't want to give up.  I just needed an explanation for the pain and a plan to make it go away -- hopefully we're on our way now.  (Photos: Gentian violet is a very common and generally quite effective thrush treatment.  It's also very messy.)

Two Kids Stuff
I've pretty much covered it all, but I just want to give a couple examples that show how, even though things are going really really well with two kids, ish still gets crazy sometimes.  Last week, Myra woke up in the middle of the night flipping out and I couldn't figure out why or make it stop...which woke Niko up...and I was home alone.  Juggling two crying children in the middle of the night is even more annoying than it sounds.  This has happened at least twice.  (Note: I eventually figured out Myra's seasonal allergies are back and she's been sleeping much better now that she is back on Zyrtec.)  Tonight, Niko and Myra were ready for bed at the exact same time.  I picked the kid who is most self sufficient (Myra) and got her to bed first while Niko was whining off and on during her bedtime routine, how relaxing.  She was messing around in her crib while I was feeding Niko and getting him ready for bed, no big deal.  Just a couple minutes after Niko had fallen asleep in my lap, Myra starts whining and escalates quickly.  I checked our video monitor and she had gotten herself stuck in her crib rails thigh deep.  The only way to get her out of that mess is to shove it back through which results in shrieking and much more crying all while Niko is right next door so I'm in panic mode to just make it stop so I don't have a crying circus on my hands.  I'm sure you've noticed the bruised goose egg on Myra's forehead.  That was the result of letting her entertain herself (run run run run up and down the kitchen) while I was tending to Niko and cooking supper.  Myra launched herself into the corner of a drawer she left open.  I don't get too worked up about injuries ("brush it off!") but I didn't know where she hit and what was injured, just that she was freaking out big time.  Thankfully Myra is a great communicator and was able to show me where she got hurt even while crying so hard she couldn't breathe.  Naturally, Niko wasn't just giggling peacefully by himself through all of this, he got worked up, too.  So, while I love both of these kids and things really are going quite well, there has definitely been some crazy, too.

School Stuff
Myra and Niko are both in ECFE classes this spring.  Myra has so much fun there and her teachers are her heroes.  She loves going to the SibCare room just as much as she loves going to her actual class and she gets excited to "drop him off" at SibCare so we can have some one-on-one time.  Trevor just finished the marathon that was earning his Bachelor's Degree.  Graduation was last weekend and what an accomplishment that was, for all of us!  He spent the last 14 years working towards that goal, taking breaks for three deployments, being put on orders to work full time for the Guard, a marriage, buying a house, a dog, two babies, you get the idea.  Now he has the summer off of school work and will begin dental school in August.  We will miss our local ECFE dearly when we move, but look forward to making friends in a new program near our new home.

House Stuff
Putting your house on the market while being the primary caregiver for a toddler and a newborn (and recovering from childbirth yourself) is not my favorite combination of things I've ever done.  I am not meant to be a neat freak and I have taken 4, possibly 5, naps since bringing Niko home from the hospital.  My house has never been cleaner, but I can totally understand why people say to forget the cleaning and just enjoy your kids.  I do the best I can to do both, but as soon as our house sells I will cut back on the cleaning big time.  It's stressful.  We have had an open house and 15 showings so far and I'm exhausted.  Trevor has definitely helped with the big stuff and done the best he can, but a lot of this has fallen on me (which is fine, life has been nuts for him, too).  Again, babywearing has been a life saver.  To everyone who keeps asking us if we've found a new place to live yet -- no.  And actually, that's not really how it works.  Our house hasn't sold yet, so there's that, and rentals are much more short notice for the most part.  We have looked to get an idea of what's out there, but most everything is available immediately or June 1st and we don't really want to move until July at the earliest.

Helping her baby do the "activity"

Keeping busy with most of our toys packed


Killing time during our open house
Work Stuff
Trevor is busy as usual with his Guard stuff.  "One weekend a month and two weeks a year" turns into "four day weekends a month, sometimes more and three+ weeks a year...oh and LOTS of emails and phone calls in between, usually during supper or at bedtime."  I'm not complaining, it is what it is, just trying to point out that it definitely keeps him/US busy.  I went back to work gradually when Niko was 8 weeks old.  I have a beautiful position doing something I love, part time, with the opportunity to completely create my own schedule and even complete some of my duties from home as needed.  I don't really get into the specifics of my job on social media due to the nature of my position.

Food Stuff
We did our last semi-risky food trial for a while in January, before Niko was born - white beans and Myra has done fine on them.  We picked some foods with really high pass rates to do for a while as we adjusted to all the changes happening in our family.  There have been no food issues with any trials lately and we're starting to consider throwing a few riskier foods into the mix.  I even have a little nagging voice in my head telling me she may be outgrowing FPIES, but I don't have the courage for that just yet.  We will start with some generally risky foods in the near future, then foods risky for Myra in specific (three of her scariest incidents involved legumes, so we'd start with a different legume).  If all of that goes well, we'll discuss challenging previous fails.  Many kids outgrow their FPIES by age 3 and she'll be 2.5 in July, so keep your fingers crossed for us!  So far, Niko has really shown no signs of FPIES.  He's a gassy baby, but I expected no less considering the man I married ;)  We're certainly not in the clear, but optimistic.  We were having major issues with Myra at this point.  Today we restarted our tomato trial.  Last week I gave her a cherry tomato and she wasn't so sure, so we switched to ketchup and she was definitely a fan.  Luckily she has already passed onions and corn, both are ingredients in ketchup.

Dog Stuff
Last but not least, Rowdy, our first child.  He is adapting well despite the chaos.  He gets a little antsy and definitely barks more (protective, I assume), but he's such a good boy.  I wish I could explain to him that this time of year is tough, new baby or not (cold, rain, plus the house prep stuff) but I just do the best I can to get him exercise.  Myra loves going for walks, so if it's at all nice outside we take advantage.  He has been going to his favorite place EVER, doggy daycare, a little more often lately until our house sells.  He needs the exercise and attention and we're happy to send him.  A tired dog is a good dog.  :)

Blog Stuff
I really want to do better!  Now that Trevor has started a weekly activity again, I'll get some weekly 'me-time' too.  I have very low standards for this and I usually choose some combination of coffee, nap, book reading, and blogging.  I have a handful of drafts in the works, just need to finish them up!  I also plan to update the photos on my page to include our newest family member.

No fancy ending here -- I'll try to be better about the posts...again.
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