Monday, December 29, 2008

Trains, Planes, and Treadmills

Christmas was very nice. The boys got way too many gifts, as usual. They got to open a ton of presents from Santa, Mommy and Daddy, and later, from Grandma and Grandpa (aka MIL and FIL). And of course, Gabe was more interested in Nick's toys than he was in his own. Toys like music rattles, a squeaky hammer, and little people arctic animals.

Of course, Gabe did get playdoh. Lots of playdoh. Way too much playdoh. Not to mention numerous puzzles, books, and games. My mom got him two of the games, the Lady Bug game looks really cute, but I'm not sure about the other one. It looks like it involves way too much effort on my part. But we'll see. However, keeping with tradition it is a bee game, and well my mother loves bees, and Gabe is good with calling her Grandma Bee. My dad got them gifts from a wish list I created at a local educational toy store. It was better this way. The toys are age-appropriate and mommy approved. My brother picked out his his gifts with the help of his fiance.

Oh and let's not forget the train set from Grandma and Grandpa. It's not the [super expensive] Thomas the Train set, but it is on the same scale. It was a [much cheaper] Target version. We got him a 120-piece set to go with it, that included cars, track, buildings and people. It's very cute. Nick thinks that the pieces are perfect for chewing on. However, my MIL makes sure that there are numerous age-appropriate toys nearby so that she can distract him when needed. He gets rather angry if you take something from him that he wants to play with or chew on.

I'm very excited - For Christmas (from my MIL and FIL, SIL, and husband) I got the Lose Weight and Bootcamp iFit cards from Jillian Michaels and am ready to finally not only lose the last of my baby weight, but also get down to my "ideal" weight. I have a NordicTrack Treadmill, that is wonderful, so the cards just make it even more so, since you don't have to think about the speed or incline. I also purchased Jillian Michael's 30-day Shred video.

I'm not going to start my new routine until next week due to the Seattle trip, but I will post stats and let you know how its going once I get started. I have high hopes. I just need to make time. Not sure where since Santa didn't bring me that 25th hour of the day like I requested, so I will have to make do with the 24 I've got.

As for Seattle, Oscar, Nick, and I leave tomorrow morning. Luckily the we have straight flights, unluckily that means LONG hours spent on an airplane. My MIL is spending the night so that she can drive us to the airport and then take Gabe to their country house for the week. She'll come back Friday to pick us up from the airport and take Nick home with her, so Oscar and I can get some sleep after our red-eye. Sounds like so much fun, doesn't it? I mean who doesn't want to travel cross-country with a 9-month-old on their lap?

Oh and for those that were keeping track Nick is 9-months, 5-days and still has no teeth, not even part of a tooth. None. But he'll eat anything, so he has that going for him.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Milk and Cookies

Yesterday, Gabe and I made frosted, sprinkled, sugar cookies. It's a family tradition, one I remember fondly from when I was growing up and want to continue doing with my family. However, unlike my mother I do not make my dough or my frosting from scratch. The dough was courtesy of Toll House and the frosting was courtesy of Duncan Hines. And you know what? It's still a lot of freaking work.

I still had to divide out the frosting and color it - I went simple only red, green, or white (also known as not colored). Then there's the dough, you still have to use flour so it does not stick and break out the rolling pin if you plan to use cookie cutters. I don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen (mainly because I don't have a lot of time, partly because I have yet to have a decently sized kitchen), so I have a grand total of one baking sheet, which could fix a grand total of 6 cookies. So it took a while to just get the cookies baked.

Then of course there was the entertainment that was Gabe frosting and sprinkling the cookies. Also the mess (SPRINKLES EVERYWHERE - I'll be probably still be finding sprinkles at Easter). I'm not a patient person by nature, I've had to really try since becoming a parent. Gabe tests every shred of patience I am able to muster, and sometimes fail to muster. So cookie decorating was quite a trial, between my lack of patience, and his. Still it was fun, if messy, and he enjoyed it, which was the point, so I guess it was a success. He still needed help with the decorating as he managed to glob frosting on the center and dump way too many sprinkles on each cookie.

As for the milk, I really I am getting tired of pumping. I like breastfeeding my baby, I really do. Especially our cuddles before bed, but the pumping is getting old. I'm working at a different location this week and don't have my office or the spare office to pump in. So I am having to pump in the locker room, in the basement. The only bench in this locker room is on one side of the room and the only plug is on the other and my cord is not long enough to stretch between the two. However there is a little closet just big enough for me to sit in right next to the plug. So that is what I have resorted to - sitting in the closet on the floor while I pump.

I am starting to introduce some formula, just so that Nick is used to it when there are times I don't have enough milk pumped for him. I still hope to have him partially breastfed until his 1st birthday, but foresee formula becoming a little more frequent. However he was still completely breastfed up until his 8th month and has had very little formula since then, only the occasional bottle. My job is starting to get more demanding of my time, so if the time comes I don't want to cold turkey breast milk without him being familiar with formula.

I love nursing Nick in the evenings and I will miss it when we stop. He is so warm and cuddly and content when he is nursing. It's hard to believe he's already 9-months. Time has flown by so quickly and before I know it my babies will be graduating high school, and as eager as I am to see what kind of men they grow up to be, I can't help but ache for the babies they will leave behind. Gabe is already almost 3 and a half and it just breaks my heart to think of how quickly he has grown. That's part of the reason I can't completely rule out a third child, since I am not yet ready to give up my baby days.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Morning Observations

5:55 Gabe wakes up and calls for Daddy, who is already at work. After getting no response he then calls for Mommy. Mommy is in bed with Nick, who she brought in with her when he woke up at 3:30. Mommy carefully moves Nick to the middle of the bed and surrounds him with pillows before going to check on Gabe. Gabe wants her to sleep on the floor with him. Mommy says no, she is going back to her bed, since she has to get up soon to get ready for work, tells him it's too early to get up, gives him a kiss and goes back to bed.

6:00 Mommy's alarm goes off. Mommy hits the snooze button.

6:05 Gabe calls for mommy again. Mommy turns off her alarm (clock, not preschooler) and goes to see what Gabe needs. Again he asks her to sleep with him. Mommy tells him she can't, she has to go get ready for work, but please go back to sleep, it's too early for you to be up.

6:10 Mommy brushes her teeth, and rinses with mouth wash.

6:15 Gabe comes into the bedroom. Mommy gives up hope that he will sleep or even rest any longer and turns on Playhouse Disney. Usually the TV does not get turned on until 6:30, when Johnny and the Sprites comes on.

6:16 Nick tries to attack Daddy's laptop, which is sitting on the floor.

6:20 Nick tries again to attack Daddy's laptop. Mommy goes to get him. Realizes he has a smelly diaper, so she changes him and gets him dressed.

6:25 Returns to bedroom to try and get ready. Gabe hops up and tries to launch himself at her, so Mommy gives him a hug and then decides to dress him too.

6:30 Mommy finally gets dressed

6:35 Mommy removes Nick from Daddy's laptop yet again (why is that darn thing still down there?)

6:40 Mommy realizes that doing anything "fancy" with her hair is not happening and pulls it back into a ponytail.

6:45 Mommy picks up Nick and takes him downstairs with her while she turns on her coffee and brings her lunch and the boys bags (Nick's diaper bag and Gabe's Handy Manny back pack) to the car. Mommy turns on the car so it will be warm when they leave.

6:50 Mommy takes Nick back upstairs and brings Gabe his banana.

6:55 Mommy finally has on some makeup (concealer and mascara) and puts Nick in car seat.

7:00 Mommy, Gabe, and Nick go downstairs. Mommy pours her coffee and everybody goes out to the car. Gabe gets his shoes and the Christmas lights get turned off.

7:05 Mommy pulls out of the driveway. Gabe asks Mommy (as he does EVERY morning) why we turned the Christmas lights off. Mommy replies because it is morning. Gabe then states that its still dark out. Mommy replies that we have to leave when its dark out, so we unplug the lights before we leave since we will not be home when its light out. Gabe then states that those people over there (pointing to whichever random house with lights we happen to be passing) still have their lights on. To which Mommy replies, well they are probably still sleeping (which is what Mommy still really wishes she was doing).

7:08 Drive by "Secret Squirrel Road" (nickname Mommy gave an alternate route to Grandma's and really wishes she hadn't) and have Gabe ask why can't we go that way. To which Mommy replies we are leaving early enough that the normal way will be quicker (the normal route is a shorter distance, however if you don't leave at the right time, it gets backed up and takes much longer than the alternate route).

7:10 Drive by local farm. Gabe asks why we can't see the lights on the windmill (which are faint and can only be seen when it is really dark). Mommy replies because it is getting light out. Gabe then points out that he can see all the other lights at the farm (which is decorated to the nines).

7:15 Arrive at Grandma's (a.k.a. Mommy's MIL) and drop off Nick while Grandma gives Gabe some juice and feeds him some apples.

7:20 Arrive at Gabe's preschool. Drop all his stuff off in his classroom and get his cheerios and and water cup out of his bag. Also his snack, which Mommy leaves at the front of his cubby and reminds him that he has. Mommy has Gabe help her fill up his water cup and then they go in the "eating room", which is what Gabe calls the room where his age groups sits if they arrive before 8.

7:25 Mommy kisses Gabe goodbye and drives to work.

7:32 Mommy arrives at work - is it time to go home yet?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cuddles and Conversation

If it were up to me, I would not get out of bed until 10 a.m. on most mornings. That would be followed by a leisurely breakfast consisting of pancakes, eggs, and bacon, and some coffee, preferably a latte from Starbucks. In fact, that was pretty close to my routine on the weekends before I had children.

Now I am lucky to be in bed past 6:30 a.m. on any given day. So I am probably not the best person for Gabe to have a conversation with on the way to my MIL's in the mornings. But I am his only option since Nick hasn't quite mastered the fine are of comprehensible speech. Still, he does try and I do try my best to answer.

Many of our conversations revolve around Grandma and how she does X,Y, and Z better than Mommy. These conversations ultimately end in, "Well, I'm not Grandma." And sometimes, "Well I'm not Daddy." This may indicate where I stand on Gabe's list of favorite people. In all probability Grandpa, Nick, his six-year-old female second cousin, his aunt, and my in-law's two Chihuahuas probably rank higher - most of the time. Occasionally he wants me above everybody else, but those times are few and far between. Mostly I just hear about Grandma.

This morning he decided to complain about his car-seat (which he has been in since he outgrew his infant carrier) and how it was "scratchy" (it's actually very soft and plush, almost like an easy chair) and how it wasn't like the one in Grandma's van.

We also had a conversation about school buses. He wanted to know why the buses had a blinking light on top. I believe my answer was "those lights are to make sure people notice them even when they are not stopped to pick up children because they could stop at any time to pick up children."

We also usually have to talk about the local farm (or rather local flower-stand/Halloween extravaganza/Christmas tree merchant), as I think it stopped being just a "local farm" years ago. It is currently selling Christmas trees and has just about everything covered in Christmas lights, to include an old rusted truck and their windmill. Yesterday he asked me why the old rusted tractor didn't have lights on it. Oh and why don't the trees have lights on them? And why are the lights over the trees on?

The entire time Gabe and I are talking or attempting to talk Nick is either talking to his reflection in the mirror on the front of his seat or yelling about being in his car seat and not having anyone entertaining him. Luckily it is only a 10-15 minute drive to my MIL's, so even if he does decide to yell the whole time, we don't have long before I am at my MIL's and can get him out. I am rewarded with a nice cuddle when I do. He dislikes his car-seat with a passion and feels betrayed whenever he is put in there especially when I pick him up at the end of the day.

Nick is a very cuddly baby. I think he would happily sleep a lot more than he does if only he could sleep on me. Last night, for example, he fell asleep on the way home from my MIL's, and when I went to get him out at dinner time, he promptly buried his face in my shoulder and went back to sleep. He is also more than happy to sleep on me after nursing or with me in the bed in the morning. It's nice sometimes, as I didn't have that with Gabe.

Gabe was not a cuddly baby, it's not that he didn't like to be held, he just didn't like to be cuddled, least of all by me. He was just much too fidgety to be able to cuddle. It was hard at night because often I was his only option, since Oscar was working nights at the time, and he didn't want me, he wanted Daddy or Grandma, neither of whom were there. I am tired now with Nick, since he still doesn't sleep through the night, but with Gabe I was exhausted. Nick I can easily get to go back to sleep. I would often spend half the night trying to get Gabe to go back to sleep.

These days Gabe loves to get hugs and kisses and wants either Mommy or Daddy to sleep with him, but no cuddling. He may want to hold your hand or your arm while he's going to sleep, but he doesn't want to be cuddled. He really just wants somebody there. And there are very rare occasions when he sleeps well in our bed, so usually I try to avoid it, since nobody really sleeps well when he sleeps with us. He also likes to sit in my lap during story time, and sometimes when he's watching TV. It's nice, as I like to have him close to me.

Progress Report

My three-year-old:
  • Is understandable when he speaks 95% of the time.
  • Uses long phrases when speaking
  • Can count to ten, and often to 20
  • Recognizes most of his letters when asked
  • Can identify the letters that words start with, even when looking at just a picture (such as a cat)
  • Knows all of his colors
  • Knows all of his basic shapes, as well as octagon (thank you Mickey Mouse Club House)
  • Likes animals, particularly monkeys and cats (but not kittens)
  • Likes cooking, especially when the result is something sweet, such as cookies
  • Likes building, either with blocks or "helping" with tools
  • Likes playing doctor, and really likes wearing band aids
  • Likes to play with play doh - particularly his Word World set that can smells fruity and comes with shape molds
  • Likes to put together puzzles and is pretty good at the large 30 piece puzzles
  • Likes to play games - the Cranium games for young children are a favorite
  • Loves to read, although he is not able to actually read whole words yet
  • Is a very picky eater (meals usually consist some combination of peanut butter either plain or on a bread, macaroni and cheese, plain whole wheat spaghetti noodles, cheerios, animal crackers, corn tortilla chips, plain hamburger without the bun, french fries, pepperoni pizza, bananas, strawberries, grapes, apples, orange juice, chocolate milk, apple juice)

My 8-month-old (okay 8 months, 3 weeks):

  • Can sit up (6 months)
  • Crawl (6 months, 1 week)
  • Pull himself to standing (6 months, 1 week)
  • Says something that sounds like hi (6 months, 3 weeks)
  • Says Dada (7 months)
  • Says Mama (7 months 2 weeks)
  • Clap (8 months, 2 weeks)
  • Wave (8 months, 2 weeks)
  • Loves to cuddle
  • Loves to "attack" his older brother (usually involves hair-pulling)
  • Likes red, particularly red furry things, such as Elmo
  • Likes Giraffes
  • Likes books, particularly touch and feel books
  • Is fascinated by electric cords, particularly those attached to laptops
  • Will eat anything (he has tried to eat pizza, hamburger meat, and pancakes - all courtesy of his big brother who abandoned them within his reach)
  • Still has no teeth

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm Getting Better

First off, I am starting to feel better. The cold has settled mostly in my sinuses, so the fact that Nick really didn't sleep last night, didn't affect me as much as it would have a couple nights ago.

Sunday evening we took Gabe and Nick to see Elmo Goes Green. It was very cute, with a large cast of characters besides Elmo. The show was about where to plant Elmo's sunflower named Sunny, which had grown too large for its pot. While I am certainly not a huge fan of Elmo, my children are, especially my baby. There were lots of songs to dance to and the characters would regularly come out into the audience, much to the delight of Gabe (although he is more of a Playhouse Disney kind of kid).

Despite the fact that the show was an hour and a half, Nick was more than happy to stay on my lap the whole time. Sometimes he played with me (also known as bounce on mommy, bat at mommy, grab mommy's face, blow raspberries at mommy, and cuddle mommy), other times he happily munched on cheerios, and others he looked at the stage and giggle at Elmo.

Nick wasn't really interested in what was going on unless Elmo was on stage. We had floor seats and Oscar sat on the end with Gabe so that he could make sure he didn't wander too far away. At the very end Gabe went up to the stage (with Oscar following) and was able to get hugs from both Cookie Monster (my favorite) and Grover. Nick was too busy being fascinated with the giant Elmo balloons that were sold during intermission.

We brought their pajamas with us, as well as a mini meal and toothbrush for Gabe, so that we could change them after the show and have them both fall asleep on the way home. I brought a couple of bottles of pumped milk with me so that I could feed Nick while we were driving and then pump after he fell asleep. It worked out well, the show was over at about 6:30, and we were on the road by 7:00, so they we kept them pretty much on schedule for bedtime.

Bedtime is really important as I try to ensure that the both get as close to 12 hours of sleep at night, minus night wake ups (rare for Gabe, regular for Nick). Naps are hit or miss. My MIL has a hard time letting either of them fuss for even a second, so usually that results in them not napping. Gabe gave up his morning naps at 6 months and his afternoon naps at about 18 months.

Regardless of my consistency with naps on the weekend with Nick, it will eventual be a futile task, as it is hard to enforce in two days, what goes unenforced the other five. It was the same way with Gabe. Not that I don't think he still needs a nap. Once we hit the 5 O'clock witching hour... watch out! Not a fun way to spend the evening. As much as I love him, it is hard to keep my patience when he is doing everything he can to test it.


After Elmo, we still had the fun of getting ready for work on Monday. I also had a lot of homework to do. The fact that I wasn't feeling well did not help my brilliance in responding to my classmate's postings. Why, I thought finishing my degree while working full-time, with two small children was a good idea, I don't know. Oh wait, I didn't. Oscar did. Not that I don't want my degree, I do.

I also started taking classes again a year before Nick was born, and thus three months before he was conceived, so my time wasn't as constrained when I started. I even planned Nick's birth around the last day of my last class for my Associates Degree. My class finished on March 23rd. He was born on March 24th (scheduled induction, which ended as an emergency c-section).


It has been so long since I have had the opportunity to read a book, but I have a break coming up over the holidays, so hopefully I can get through 1 or 2, plus get caught up on the pile of magazines I have on my nightstand. Although, I do have that trip to Seattle over New Year's for my brother's wedding. So that may curtail my plans to get much reading done before I start classes again.Yes, my brother is getting married on New Year's Day.

Yes, his wedding is on the opposite side of the country from where I live. Yes, I just found out about it the week before Thanksgiving. And yes, both Oscar and I are in the wedding. Doesn't that sound like fun? However, we are only bringing Nick with us, and staying with my mom. Gabe will stay with my MIL while we're gone. As much as he would like being in a plane, the length of confinement and the quick pace of the time in Seattle, just would unpleasant for him. And really unfair. So we decided to only bring Nick, since he is still nursing.

Oscar's consolation prize for flying on his birthday to Seattle for my brother's wedding with a baby is Jack in the Box - namely an Ultimate Cheeseburger and Mozzarella Sticks. The bonus prize for me is wearing a dress that I have never tried on, and guessed on the measurements, in the wedding. And no, I have not regained my pre-baby figure, so I am not exactly enthused about wearing a bridesmaid dress. But hey, new shoes.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm Not Dead

So the fates conspired against me on Thursday. Not only did I come down with a very nasty cold courtesy of one darling baby, I also started my first post-pregnancy period. And, since I am still breastfeeding, and thus still on progesterone-only pills, it came complete with cramping and breast tenderness. The sore throat and coughing are so bad, that I am starting to lose my voice. So between the two, I feel like I was hit by a semi.

Unfortunately there is no taking a break to recover for me. I have homework to do and babies to care for. Also Elmo to see. Tomorrow. At 4:30. Yay... In a pre-child world I would spend all day in bed recovering. Unfortunately Gabe will be up no later than 6:30, and that's on a good day. And Nick will get up no fewer than two times between 10 and 5, also on a good night, and well he has a cold, so probably not going to be a good night.

I am debating on whether or not I should go to urgent care in the morning. On the one-hand it is more expensive than just waiting to go to the doctor, and if it's just a cold, there is really nothing they can do for me. On the other hand, it is more convenient than my primary care, and my pharmacy is in the same shopping center, complete with a Starbucks, and it is possible I have an ear infection... Did I mention Starbucks?

If I do have an infection of some sort, it would be nice to get antibiotics. I have such fond memories of the bottle of pink-stuff (also known as amoxicillin)that seemed to have a permanent place in our fridge when I was a child. I guess I will see how I feel in the morning and make the decision then. Also, did I mention Starbucks?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Watching You

The relationship that is developing between my boys, is the reason I always wanted to have more than one child. They adore each other.

Nick just lights up when he hears Gabe or when he notices that Gabe has entered the room. He will immediately crawl over to Gabe and try to attack him, although I think he is trying to give him a hug and then engage him in play, but he's only eight and a half months old, and well, still working on his fine motor skills.

So it really just ends up being him lunging at Gabe and grabbing whatever he can - usually hair. And then giggling, because he's so pleased to be playing with Gabe.

However, one of the cutest or saddest, depending upon how you look at it, displays of his adoration of Gabe are when he is staring at Gabe playing in his playroom.

Originally the playroom was a place to keep Gabe, and his stuff, contained, even for a moment. Gabe quickly learned how to open the doors to the playroom, so that didn't last long. However, it is now a place to contain Gabe's toys, many of which would be hazardous to a baby.

Nick, however, desperately wants to be in the playroom playing with Gabe, and loves to watch him play.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tis the Season

Sorry for the gap in posting. I have been really busy lately - between decorating for Christmas and tons of homework. Also, I was sick for part of the weekend, but I'm better now.

Gabe is so excited about Christmas. In his opinion our outside Christmas lights and our Christmas tree lights should be on all the time. Then again he also thinks sleeping is only for dark time, unless it is like 5 in the morning and dark, then he's not tired anymore. Personally I'd happily sleep in until 10, maybe noon, and take naps.

Our tree is covered in ornaments, including small non-breakable ornaments on the lower branches that Gabe put up. What this means of course is that they are at the perfect level for one small baby child to pull them off the tree and stick them in his mouth, as that is where EVERYTHING must go. Not that he doesn't have plenty of age appropriate toys perfect for putting in his mouth, he does, I assure you, but his toys are not nearly as interesting as those hanging from the Christmas tree. Hence the gate around the tree. So festive...

The stockings are hung by the chimney (er gas fireplace, no chimney) with care. The Christmas movies are stacked next to the DVD player in the family room. The Manger scene is set up (including the inn, and the Three Wise men with their caravan) - very cute, its Fisher Price Little People, which translates into chewing for Nick and noise making to Gabe (when you press the angel on the manger it plays the tune to Away in the Manger).

We also put up a Little People Night Before Christmas set, which consists of the North Pole, an elf, Santa's Sleigh, Santa's toy bag, Santa, and nine miniature reindeer, the ninth of which, is most certainly not Rudolph (no red nose).

My advent calendar is hung, or rather the advent calendar my mother made when I was little and I inherited. It is by the front door, however, which is gated off from the living room and playroom. If it were too accessible, it wouldn't last long - between Gabe consistently wanting to rearrange the ornaments and Nick wanting to chew on the ornaments... so Gabe can only put up an ornament when I am with him and Nick can't get near it.

Our next trick will be to wrap their presents. We have them all gathered in the basement, along with the wrapping paper, and bows, and name tags, but not one has come anywhere close to being wrapped. I also still need to get a few more little things for Oscar, to include stocking stuffers. Not that he really understands the value of stocking stuffers. But it is a thing with me, as it was always important when I was growing up.

We, or I should say Oscar, have successfully sent out our Christmas cards, as well as the presents for my parents, my brother, and his brother. So that's one thing done. We also have the appointment made and the outfits bought for the boys' Christmas pictures. Although we did take a home picture for the Christmas cards. We have been going to the same place since Gabe was three-months-old, and I plan to continue until the boys are grown. They are more expensive than other studios, but I am always satisfied with the quality, and they allow us to digitally view our pictures and provide the prints the same day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

If I Only Had a Heart

Gabe had an appointment with a children's cardiologist today. It was very convenient as he comes once a week to our pediatrician's office. Gabe had a heart murmur at birth, which resulted in many trips to the NICU during our three-day hospital stay.

However, we were told that it went away before we left the hospital. A couple months ago, however, he came down a really bad cold with a hacking cough and fever (not pleasant, poor thing, he was having a hard time sleeping). It got really bad over a weekend and a brought him into the local urgent care. The doctor there mentioned that he had a heart murmur and recommended we follow up with our pediatrician.

The pediatrician said he didn't think it was anything serious, but he recommended that we make an appointment with the cardiologist that visits every week just to be sure. They did both an EKG and an ultrasound and while he does have a heart murmur - three different ones, actually - none of them are serious and will not affect his ability to play sports, should he desire to do so.

Gabe was so good for the appointment. He wouldn't talk to the doctor or his nurse, but he was very cooperative, despite the fact that he had to be very still for long periods (a couple minutes for the EKG, about 15 for the ultrasound). He was rewarded with stickers, which are always a hit. I am glad we got him checked out and even more glad that it was nothing serious.


Today is also my birthday. Yes, I share the same birthday as Britney Spears, and coincidentally, I am exactly the same age. It was nice. I actually got the new Britney CD from Oscar (have you heard her Womanizer single, it's pretty catchy).

Oh, and Gabe made me cupcakes. Well, he helped my MIL make me cupcakes - chocolate, with chocolate frosting. We dropped him off at my MIL's after his appointment and they made cupcakes. It was so cute, they had me close my eyes when I walked into the house and then they put a party hat on me, Gabe, and Nick and had me blow out the candles (matches) in two cupcakes while they sang me happy birthday. I also got a present from my mom (pumpkin candy and candle, always a hit), a gift card from my dad, an e-card from my brother, a candle and Burt's Bees products from my SIL, and a nice card from my MIL and FIL.

We didn't go out to dinner tonight, but we are going out in a couple of weeks. Oscar's birthday is on the 30th. So we're going out to lunch, just the two of us, on the 13th and then that evening we're going out to dinner with his parents. The next day we're going to Elmo Live. I'll have to remember to tell you how that goes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bedtime Stories

My favorite part of my boys night time routine has always been bedtime stories, and not because it is the last activity before they go to sleep. Not that I don't enjoy the three hours between their bedtime and mine. I can spend that time exercising, doing homework, maybe relaxing, which usually involve watching TV or reading, sometime in a bath and sometimes with wine.

But I digress. Reading has always been a favorite pastime of mine, so I was eager to share it with my children. I have been reading to Gabe since I brought him home from the hospital. Gabe also really enjoys story time. He will even stay up past bedtime sometimes and flip through his books. Not that he can read yet, but he still loves to look at the pictures. Nick also seems to be fascinated by books. And not just to chew on. He loves books that have things to feel, and anything that involves Elmo.

I always read them three books before bed. Two for Gabe and one for Nick. Gabe loves to sit in my lap while I read him his two stories. During this time Nick is roaming around on the bed. Sometimes he'll play with a toy, sometimes he'll try to attack Gabe or the book. Other times, if Oscar has the computer on the bed he'll try to attack that. It's amusing to watch. I compare him to a kitten. He likes to pounce, and he has claws (I'm terrible about not cutting his fingernails, he's so squirmy I don't want to hurt him and I never remember when he's sleeping).

After I read Gabe's stories, then it is Nick's turn to sit on my lap for his story - usually a short board book. This doesn't always work out well, especially if he decides he is so hungry he has to eat right now or else, then it involves a very squirmy, fussy baby. If he is in a good mood, especially if it is a touch and feel book, story time goes well. His current favorite touch and feel book is That's Not My Snowman. Very cute. Gabe loves most stories - Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is always a favorite, as is anything that involves Mickey Mouse Club House, Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, or Curious George.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I have always loved Thanksgiving. The food, the family, the release of new movies, and did I mention the food? This year Nick joined us a the dinner table. Nick is very different from Gabe as a baby. Gabe has always been a picky eater. Nick is more than happy to eat just about anything he can get his hands on.

Thanksgiving was no different - he ate a bigger variety of food than Gabriel, and very possibly more food than Gabe. He happily ate turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Gabe ate a little turkey, as long as we referred to it as chicken, two bites of cranberry sauce, some fruit, and acted like he was going to choke to death on the one bite of mashed potatoes (plain) that he was convinced to try. However, we always carry children's nutrition bars, and my MIL is more than happy to feed him other things.

After dinner Oscar and I, along with his older sister, went to see Four Christmases, which is the first movie I've seen in the theater that wasn't a children's movie, since... I can't remember. It was okay. Nothing spectacular, and I felt many of the the moments were more painful than funny. I have a hard time liking Vince Vaughn as a romantic lead. Nor did I really like Reese Witherspoon in this role. It just wasn't that funny. Still, there really wasn't anything else in the theater that sounded appealing.

After the movie we went back and picked up Nick. Gabe was staying with my MIL for a couple of nights, because he really enjoys time alone with Grandma. Especially if that includes going to their country house (they have a small house on about 8 acres in the middle of the woods on a very big hill), which it did.

Oscar and I considered going to the local outlet center when they opened at midnight, but then decided that we really didn't need to shop enough to endure all the crazies in the cold late at night. In the end the only shopping we did on Black Friday was at a local toy store, that stocks unique and educational toys, since we still needed some presents for the children of some friends of ours.

I actually managed to stay in bed until almost 9 on Friday. Not that I was actively sleep that whole time, since Nick still woke up around 6:30 a.m., but he was content to just play with me in bed, occasionally stopping to have a snack. It was very nice. Gabe always wants to go right downstairs when he gets up, since that means Playhouse Disney shows, breakfast, and his playroom. Nick doesn't need much to be entertained. It's nice to be able to make him laugh with a simple game of peek-a-boo.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giraffes and Monkeys

One of the first things Oscar bought for Gabe after we found out we were pregnant was a Ty Plush Beanie Monkey. At about 10 months of age Gabe became attached to it so we bought a back up. The back up monkey has morphed into about 12 monkeys altogether to include 2 blue special baby editions that we picked up at Hallmark. The blue monkey is apparently the king of all the other monkeys. The reason behind purchasing the monkey was that Oscar likes monkeys. So, I decided that I would pursue Giraffes, which I happen to be rather fond of, for Nick.

Luckily he seems to be agreeable to that fact. We did an animal theme for his nursery and he was always interested in the giraffe on his mobile the most. He likes his Giraffe Ty Plush Beanie, although he has not grown as attached to is as Gabe grew to his monkeys, but then Nick is only eight-months-old.

His newest favorite toy is one of the Little People Giraffes (or both of them, I guess) from the Little People Touch and Feel Noah's Ark. He liked chewing on his Little People Ship Captain and his Little People Touch and Feel Neon Green Baby Triceratops, but his Touch and Feel Giraffes are the best of all for holding (nice skinny necks) and chewing. They now travel everywhere with him. I am pleased, as I have a rather nice collection of giraffes - in a box - that I would be more than happy to share with him at some point.

Speaking of putting everything in his mouth, this is still a new concept for me. Of course I read in all the baby magazines and books that babies put everything in their mouths... But Gabe didn't. He wanted his pacifier, pretty much from day one and that was it, other than say milk, preferably from a bottle as that most resembled his pacifier.

Nick, on the other hand, will put ANYTHING into his mouth, toys, fingers, magnets, cords, straps, blankets, tags, you name it and he will probably try to put it in his mouth. Which is why I am more than happy to offer him the entire army of little people toys and animals (that we bought for Gabe who never was really interested) to put into his mouth. And if he still prefers the giraffes above all else, I won't complain.

Preschool, Take 2

Yesterday Oscar and I decided to stop by the fancy new preschool to register Gabe. The school is not yet filled up as it just opened this fall, but preschools around here have a habit of getting waiting lists. While our planned start date is somewhere between July and September of next year, we still wanted to ensure that he was guaranteed a spot.

We had Gabe with us as Tuesday is a school day for him, and poor baby, he did not want to leave. Off the lobby is the door for the infant room with a large window where you can see the babies, which fascinated him. They also have a fish tank (with clown fish I was excitedly told) over a mock bridge, also fascinating.

But the icing on the cake was their marketplace - which is a cross between a kitchen (with nice toy appliances), cafe (with cute tables and chairs) and grocery store (with bins full things to cook with or eat with) with shopping carts and a cash register. That alone was enough to convince Gabriel he never wanted to leave as he dragged me back there three times to just *look*" at the marketplace and Oscar got dragged back once. I felt so bad as we walked down the hill to his current preschool. He looked so dejected. There is just no comparison between the two facilities.

He really wanted to stay at the fancy new preschool, and I really wanted to let him. However, we are paid through December at his current preschool and then he will be with my MIL full-time until probably July.

Not that she isn't great with him. They go to the library, they do art projects, they cook, they read, they play games, he has a nice jungle gym in the back yard, we're planning on getting him a child-friendly keyboard with learning games for the computer.

He will not be lacking anything except the companionship of other children. And he adores his Grandma. So he will be fine. And hopefully not too far behind the other children his age when he does start full-time (or rather three days a week all day) at the fancy new preschool.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gym Class

Three-year-olds are self-centered by nature. I get that. I've been living with a three-year old for about four months now. However, someone of the three-year-olds that I have watched interact at Gabe's gym class are beyond self-centered and bordering the line into bully territory. This past Saturday there was this one girl in particular that had me tempted to go into the gym room and protect my son.

Unfortunately, I was by myself and had Nick with me, in a seat right by the door, so getting up to go into the gym room really wasn't an option. I could only watch as this girl was repeatedly (and intentionally) mean to Gabe.

Now, you might say that she is only three, so maybe she didn't realize what she was doing, and in many cases I would be tempted to believe that, as my own three-year-old is often mean or rude with out malicious intent. But when you run up behind someone and push them off a balance beam (more than once), and not an oops, I bumped into you push, but a hands up into shoulders with effort push, that's intentional. Luckily the balance beam was a floor one, so he only fell two or three inches, but still, where were her parents?

Unfortunately that was not the only thing she did that was rude. At another activity station the kids were supposed to walk across uneven bars (hands on the high bar and feet on the low bar) and numerous times she pushed in front of Gabe to go first. At one point when he was waiting his turn and was about to start walking across (when she was about halfway across) she walked back the other way to block him from going. Another time she started going right after he started and he decided to just drop off the bars rather than risk anything else she might do.

I was proud of him for not retaliating, as there were other kids that were getting aggressive, but he just went about trying to do what he was supposed to, although, occasionally having trouble using his listening ears. Gym class is actually really beneficial, and this is his first non-parent child class. He gets to work out some energy during the hour class, learn new skills, and work on his listening. We started Gabriel shortly after his first birthday, and had we thought of it probably would have started him at 10 months. However, we do plan to start Nick at 10 months, which means in January Nick will start his first parent child class. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Tooth of it All

Nick will be eight-months-old on Monday, and still has no teeth. He has a few places where I think a tooth could pop through at any time, but he still remains toothless. I actually thought he was going to get teeth early when he started the excessive drooling at four-months, but that was not the case. He was just going to drool rather than adding teeth.

Not that he doesn't want teeth. He is quite determined to chew anything he can, especially if it happens to be food belonging to his older brother left within his reach (a few weeks ago he actually managed to rip a large chunk of hamburger off Gabe's plain meat patty, I discovered him with one hand on the chair and the other hand holding the meat, he was quite pleased with himself). Most of the time Gabe is more than happy to oblige him. Many is the time that Pigpen or I have found Nick with his hands on Gabriel's chair with his mouth open like a baby bird, while Gabe feeds him cheerios.

I am not exactly looking forward to his first tooth finally popping through, as I have never been bitten while nursing, and I am not sure it will be a pleasant experience. Gabe and I mutually decided to stop nursing at six-months, shortly before he got his first tooth, although he was mostly bottle fed by that point any ways. Nick is still breastfed, and also likes it for comforting, which I'm sure I shouldn't be doing, but I really don't like him to be crying in the middle of the night.

Last night he woke up around 9:45 p.m., which was about three hours after his last feeding, so I decided to bring him into the bedroom while Pigpen and I attempted to finish watching Bones (does anybody else heart that show as much as I do?), which was a particularly compelling case involving a murder on an airplane that had to be solved before the plane landed in China. Conveniently Booth and Brennan were on board to solve the case. However, Nick really didn't want to eat and the noise from the TV was a huge distraction in getting him to go back to sleep, and his gums were hurting him. We finally gave up on watching Bones (take two tonight) and Pigpen curled him up against his chest and patted his back until finally he was able to sleep again.

So, really, I'm thinking any day now for at least one tooth.


Gabe doesn't need to go to preschool. My MIL watches him full-time and provides plenty of educational experiences for him, as well as plenty of playtime. However, Oscar and I felt that he need to start getting used to being with other kids, learning in a more formal environment, and listening to someone who was not named Mommy, Daddy, or Grandma. We enrolled him for two half-days in a preschool that is close to my office, but have not been overly impressed, although the cost is quite reasonable.

In fact, there are many things that have frustrated me to include the large class size, rotating assistant teacher, lack of materials (such as only one computer for twenty students), and reports that he often does not eat get to eat his snack or goes outside without proper gear, despite having it in his cubby. We also don't like the fact that he comes home with way too many random pictures (coloring being the default activity when a child is not participating in an activity) even though all or all but one of the boxes are checked on his daily sheet.

Earlier this week we toured a facility that is next door to Gabe's current preschool, and, in fact, is attended by a friend of his. Her mother raves about the school, and I am very impressed both with the curriculum and the facilities, but also the very small class sizes (1:8 for his age group). I could go on and on about the absolutely adorable marketplace they have that can be used for any number of skills. Plus all food is provided, to include some very nice practically gourmet lunches. However, it is a lot more expensive than his current school - more than double - and half days are not an option, well, they are, but you still have to pay the same price regardless.

Oscar and I don't see the point in keeping Gabe in a school where we feel are money is wasted, but we can't quite justify the cost of the new school when we are trying to cut cost regardless of how wonderful it is. I am trying to decide if it is best to keep him in his current school and switch him next fall, take him out and enroll in the new school next fall, or enroll in the new school after Christmas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Big Green Chair

Gabe now sleeps through the night and goes to bed with few complaints, although there are the occasional nights where he insists three or four or five times that he has to go to the bathroom, despite having gone before his bath, which occurs right before stories, which occur right before bedtime. Now he still gets up ridiculously early (sometimes as early as 5:30 - on a Saturday!). Still even when he was waking up frequently in the middle of the night he always preferred my husband to me. Which was a great source of irritation at the time.

My eight-month old, however, insists that only Mommy will do... at 10:45 and 1:00 and 4:45 and 5:30... as was the case last night. My husband will go in and change him at 10:45 and sometimes at 1:00 and usually, if I stay awake, I am only in there for 10-15 minutes. However, there are many nights where I find myself, three and a half hours later, waking up in the big green rocking chair in Nick's room, with him sound asleep on the Boppy, nuzzled against my chest. While the chair is pretty comfortable, and I do have a blanket, it is still not as warm and cozy as my bed. And despite being asleep for that whole time, it doesn't feel like real sleep.

This has been a habit since Nick was moved into his own room, and I often wonder if it would just be easier to have him in bed with me the whole night, as at least I would be laying down. But with that comes the whole issue of him being in our bed and never getting him out. I never considered it with Gabe until he was about 18 months and sleeping in a toddler bed (how I wish I had learned of the tent tops for cribs before getting him a toddler bed). Once Gabe started sleeping in our bed for part of the night it was quite difficult to get him out and didn't actually happen until a month or so before Nick was born.

Still, there are many mornings where I have Oscar bring Nick in to the bed when he wakes up around two or three or four, especially if I've just recently been sleeping in the big green chair, and let Nick attach himself for however long he pleases and go back to sleep. While my sleep is not as restful as it would be if he went right back into his crib after eating, it is at least laying down. And some nights I will take what I can get.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Knights on White Horses

I am frequently amazed at how different it is to do certain things when you have children. Before children Oscar and I regularly went out to dinner and a movie or went to a dinner show, such as the one at Medieval Times. It was easy, we hopped in the car and we went. It also was usually just us, as we were in that honeymoon phase and didn't require the company of other people. Fast forward three years to this past weekend.

On Saturday we decided that we want to take our three-year-old to Medieval Times. However, since I'm still nursing that also meant bringing our [almost] eight-month-old. On top of that we decided we would go with some friends. One couple has a three-year-old and a two-year-old and the other has a five-year-old and a three-year-old. It was a lot of people to try and coordinate, which is a role my husband typically takes on.

I was hoping that Nick, my baby, would sleep through the show or at least be content in his infant carrier. I also hoped that Gabe would eat some of the food that came with the cost of admission, which in case you have never been, is really good. Instead we had to get Gabe a burger (plain, no bun) and fries. Nick, however, was all about sharing Mommy's dinner and eagerly ate chicken and potato, in addition to his cheerios and bottle. He also spent the whole time on my lap, which meant I missed much of the show as I was too busy worrying about him.

The amount of stuff that you need to go any where with two children is amazing. Especially when it is about an hour to an hour and a half drive to your final destination. And if you forget something you are sure to need it. We had the stroller, two diaper bags (although Gabe is mostly potty trained), snacks, bottles, changes of clothes, toys, and loveys. Not to mention my pump, so that I could have the joy of pumping in the car to ensure that I didn't miss a session and Nick had fresh milk in case he wanted it during the show.

The boys usually go to be between 6:30 and 7:00, which seems early, but I have to be out the door for work by 7:00, so they need to go to sleep early to get enough sleep. Gabriel also is not a napper, so it is his only opportunity for sleep. The show ended about 6:00 and we were on the road by 7:00 after saying goodbye to our friends and making sure both boys ate one last time. In the car we changed both the boys into their pajamas and brushed their teeth so they were free to fall asleep in the car.

It was exhausting. We got home at about 8:30 and I was ready to go to sleep myself... on a Saturday. I used to stay up and watch Saturday Night live or still be at the movies or even ::gasp:: a bar. Of course, then I could sleep in as late as I wanted. Now I'm lucky if my three-year-old lets us sleep in past 6:30. I wouldn't change it, as I adore my boys, but sometimes I just wish I could get a little more sleep and remember what it was like to be out after dark.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Misadventures in Pumping

Having a baby that is only breastfed while also working full-time is not the easiest thing to do. However, Nick will be 8 months old on the 24th and I have been determined to make it to his first birthday without ever feeding him formula. Yesterday was the first time I have had to rethink that goal.

For the first five months I was back at work, having taken two months of maternity leave, it was easy to go pump in a nice empty office down the hall from my cubicle. There was a computer in there that I could log on to and still accomplish most of my work while using one of those nice hands-free bustier things that really make me feel like a cow. Recently, however, I changed jobs and now share an office with an older gentleman, who may or may not show up on any given day.

For my first week he was on leave, which made it easy. I just closed and locked the door and went about pumping milk. However, now that he no longer on leave I am never sure when I can safely close the door and pump. The office I used to use is still available, but it is no longer near where I work. Still, I am determined not to miss a session and headed down there with my pump only to find the door locked and no one who knew the combination to get in.

The frustration (and lack of sleep) caused me to burst in to tears. Not really how I want to be seen at work, but there you have it. I was standing outside the locked door while holding my pump with my chest hurting, crying. Not bawling, mind you, just tears rolling down my cheeks. And as I stood there tired and sore and frustrated I contemplated how much easier my life at work would be if I just sent formula over to my MIL's for my baby to eat.

As for the lack of sleep, Nick still does not sleep through the night and I have issues with letting him cry, so I still get up three or four times a night to go pacify him. However, the last few nights have been especially difficult as he has been waking up around 3 a.m. and not going back to sleep until almost 6 a.m., which coincidentally is the time I have to get up to get ready for work. So I've been extra tired this week, which doesn't help me not cry while at work.