Friday, April 27, 2012

An Excerpts From Timothy's Journal {just 'cause he's so cute}


 Hmmm....I originally turned the picture....and I didn't think that looked right, so I left it as is.  Then uploaded it, and I'm thinking I should've turned it.  Oh well.  The cheeks are big and the smile bigger no matter which way you look at it!

My sweet baby boy is 22 lbs and counting!  I love you, love you, love you!  And so does everyone else….you have THE most adorable smily expression.  You get so excited when someone looks/smiles at you that you grin ear-to-ear and throw your head back, squealing and giggling all the while.  So, so sweet!  You love interacting with people- even strangers at the park.  And you give me the most innocent smile when you’re supposed to be falling asleep.

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Viviana loves playing with you, and you adore her.  She gets lots of toys out for you…and she loves going in to you when you wake up and laying next to you, laughing and talking together. 

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You’re becoming quite the grabber!  You’re really good at grabbing stuff, even toys (‘cause we all know mommy’s stuff comes first!) and pulling them up to your mouth to check out.  You’re so cute exploring your world. 

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It’s hard to get over your happy personality.  I wouldn’t even necessarily label you as super content (though much more so than Vivi) but just such a happy personality.  Doesn’t matter what’s going on or what time of the day….you always have a smile.  If you start to fuss on the floor, a smile lights your face as soon as I pick you up.  You just have this upward energy- a constant presence of joy.  Even when you wake up in the middle of the night from teething pain, you smile and laugh at me.  You snap out of a bad/crabby mood in an instant.  And such a chubby smile….I’m in love.  I’ve wondered if several aspects to your personality are all interrelated.  If it’s your upward energy/enthusiasm that causes you to not like to be still- you prefer that mommy’s always on the move when I’m holding/wearing you, you’re such a wiggler, and you love scooting around and rolling when on the floor.  It’ll be fun to see what you’re like as you grow older!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Excerpt From Vivi's Journal {the story of sleep continued}


...And my sweet baby is growing up….we’ve struggled with putting hours a day into getting you to sleep and back asleep since you were born.  And sometimes it’s become frustrating, and I looked forward to your being more independent in that department.  Sometimes I wished you would just fall asleep quicker so I could get on to the next thing- or so daddy wouldn’t have to spend the whole evening with you.  But now, you are changing- and it’s a bitter sweet change.  I’m happy to see my little sweetheart growing in her independence, changing and molding into a beautiful little lady.  And honestly, it’s convenient that it doesn’t take an hour to get you to sleep at night.  But it’s kind of sad to realize you’re no longer a baby….you’re growing up.  The past 5 nights in a row you’ve put yourself to sleep.  (Naps you still need me to stay with you, when they happen- which is about 4-5 days a week.)  We had recently started talking about trying to work towards getting you independent and after I nursed you in bed for 10 or so minutes, having daddy wait a few minutes before going in to see what you did.  5 nights ago on a particularly exhausted night, you fell asleep on your own.  Since then, we’ve been putting you to bed a bit late, making sure you’re really tired, so we can create a new pattern.  And every night, you’ve peacefully fallen asleep on your own.  One night, I heard you talking for a couple minutes…but you soon fell fast asleep.  Crazy.  Sleep has been such a journey with you, Little Love….to think that it’s taken another huge leap in becoming easier and more independent….I’m not quite sure what to do with it yet.  It makes me happy, and it makes me ache.  My baby isn’t a baby anymore….she’s growing up.  My heart feels ready to burst when I come in to bed each night, and see you curled up on your bed on the floor next to ours.  I’m so grateful for the journey….grateful for the opportunities every day to snuggle with and walk you.  Grateful we let you develop independence on your own.  Grateful we didn’t give up and try out cry-it-out (even though I was tempted a time or two).  Grateful daddy played such a huge role in it all.  Grateful you feel so secure, and that it was such a gentle, natural, sweet transition.  (well…assuming it was a transition and we’re in this for real!)  In spite of the challenges, I’ll always remember fondly the years in which I spent hours walking and nursing you….and daddy spent hours laying with you.  God gifted us with such a beautiful little girl, and Vivi, you’ve taught me so much and brightened my life in so many ways.  I love you, Viviana!...

On an aside: Ben and I are really loving having evenings together again!!!  When it takes an hour or so to get Viviana to sleep, we're usually both pretty zombie-ish by the time Ben gets out (esp. since he gets up super early every morning and I get up early).  All week we've had time together where we both feel more or less awake.  Cool!  Even though it is bittersweet...  The creative wife I've been wanting to be and haven't been very good at lately seems to be returning- hopefully to stay.  ;-)   

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Gratefulness; or, the rare gift of an attachment-parent husband

Parenting instinctually is important to me.  Really, really important to me.  And I am so blessed to be married to a guy to whom it’s also important.  Ben is constantly encouraging me to follow my instincts, even when it isn’t an issue that feels like a big deal to him as a guy. 

There’s the fact that every night, we split ways for the first part of the night.  Because Timothy starts the night in a twin bed across the hall from us (so as not to disturb Vivi who’s on our floor), and I couldn’t feel comfortable leaving him in there alone, even with a monitor- and it wasn’t making sense to move/wake him to our room.  Mentally, I knew he would be fine and we were close by….but I just couldn’t make myself feel comfortable with that.  And unlike most guys, who’d just tell their wives that obviously the baby would be fine and someone would hear it, he said “I’ll sleep in the extra bed in there, and bring him to you when he wakes up.  It’s not a problem; I can sleep anywhere.”  He assured me that I should follow my instincts, and if I wasn’t comfortable leaving him alone, then one of us should be in there.  And it works for us…I don’t worry, we all fall asleep quickly, and by midnight, if not long before, we’re all in the same room/bed together.  (And as a side note, no, it doesn’t damage our marriage.  On the nights we all start in the same bed, we all still just fall asleep.  By the time we get there….we’re tired.   You can ask Ben if you don’t believe me…but we do get lots of snuggle time after kiddos go to bed and before we do!)

Or there’s calming my concerns about our kids’ development.  Not real concerns….I’m totally confident that they’re both developing normally, and are intelligent, active kids.  I’m also confident that the way we parent them is best for them and meeting their needs.  But at a few points, when I started to wonder if Timothy, like his big sis, would be “behind” kids developmentally, I suffered from brief self-doubt.  Is it really our parenting style that causes them to be behind?  Please, I don’t want to have to deal with explaining to people that yes, Timothy, too, is over a year and still not walking.  And um, yeah, no, babywearing isn’t hurting him.  Or….?  But Ben jumps in and reminds me of what the real focus is: What’s best for our kids?  So maybe because they’re with me so much they won’t move as soon, because they don’t need to.  Does it matter? Their emotional needs are being met; they’re being grounded in our love and growing up securely; they’re developing their muscles as they enjoy partaking in my life.  The golden standard isn’t what society tells me it is.  Just because the baby who’s left down for hours a day is crawling at 5 months, doesn’t mean that’s what everyone needs to shoot for.  And if Timothy’s 8 months before it happens…who cares?  He’s developing normally, and he’s SO happy, secure, and confident.  That’s what matters….and Ben reminds me. 

Or the way he’s encouraged my breastfeeding journey.  When I’ve gotten discouraged with nursing aversion issues with Vivi, he didn’t just say, “Well, then, why don’t you just wean her if you don’t like it?”  Instead, he sought to find out what my goals were, and how he could help me reach those goals.  At one point, that was taking over nighttime parenting so I could switch to just nursing during the day.  At other points, it’s just been encouraging me to keep on…and encouraging me that it’s okay and I’m not a bad mom to struggle with the hormonal baggage of tandem nursing.  But he never told me to quit crying about it, or reminded me that I “asked for it”. 

Ben lets me parent by instinct everyday…and as he supports my gut feelings, he also goes by his.  It’s a beautiful pattern- a beautiful way to parent together.  I love being so in sync with each other on our parenting journey!  I’m so thankful to have the rare gift of a husband who’s as passionate about natural parenting as I am…a husband who’s gung-ho for meeting our kids needs and parenting naturally, rather than putting me in a “choose me or them” position.  Together, we can seek what works best for everyone, instead of the pressure being put on me to choose between instinct and marriage, for instance.  I’m pretty confident I’ll never have to say, “Well, Ben really wanted (such and such), so we’re working on that.  It’s hard, but it’s what he wanted, so….I guess it’ll all work out.” 

Thank you, Ben, for supporting your crazy, passionate wife as we parent two awesome kids with plenty of challenges!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Transitioning to Two part 3

(Read Part 1 and Part Two if you missed them!)


-Balance your to-do lists, ambitions, and day-to-day household demands with a focus on your babies. They won’t be babies for long so enjoy them as much as possible. And don’t let other stuff become such an “idol” that you become stressed and frustrated with your loved ones. You probably will- I have- but make it a goal not to, anyway! :-)

You know the point about getting stuff done early in the day? I’ve had to sacrifice it a bit, lately…improvise our schedule. Because we’ve had gorgeous weather and I have a little girl who would live outside if she could! Certainly, it’s okay to tell her “no”, but I want to cultivate a love of the outdoors in her, and I know it’s healthy for all of us. So, while we do still get some stuff done in the mornings, there have been some days I’ve quit before it’s all done so we can enjoy an hour or two (or more) outside before naps…and then, if naps occur, I spend that time doing my usual stuff. That’s okay, too, because my babies are my priority…so as long as I’m not getting stressed, we’re all good.

Oh- and in your routines/schedules/to-do lists, make sure there’s lots of times allotted for interaction with your babies and general childcare. It’s amazing how much time you spend nursing and changing diapers, especially in the first couple months! There were days when it seemed like that was all I did, especially since Vivi was still nursing a lot at that point. It takes a lot of time…but before you know it, seasons will change!

-Babywear. Of course, I had to mention that one, right? It really is awesome for everyone involved, though. Babywearing the baby allows you to continue to interact with your toddler and/or tackle jobs. Babywearing the toddler while the baby sleeps down lets you get snuggle time in while playing catch up. It’s easier than finagling a double stroller, or trying to hold the baby while chasing the toddler at the park. You’re already stretched thin enough it can be hard to make all of your marks. Babywearing allows you to multi-task, and that always gets a thumbs-up!

Lots of moms mention how much babywearing soothes their fussy baby- that when baby’s fussy, they can pop them in and continue with what they were doing. I haven’t experienced that, but I’m pretty sure it happens, so there’s another benefit. Babywearing has greatly helped soothe my babies, it just requires concentrated effort, too. :-) But, with one who needed to be worn 24/7 and another who has gone through different periods of needing to be worn a lot, only sleeping while worn, only falling asleep while worn, etc., babywearing has definitely saved my hide, even if it hasn’t been as much the problem solver as it is for some mamas.

-While we’re on the subject, consider tandem wearing! If you’re already well-acquainted with babywearing, the idea of wearing both kiddos probably won’t sound foreign or extreme to you at all! :-) If you’re totally new to babywearing, you should read some of my informational posts and jump in- and it’s okay to start with just one.

Tandem wearing was awesome during the first 2-3 months. Since then, I’ve only done it on occasion, when Vivi’s having one of those days where she just needs up. Timothy’s settled into taking naps in a bed at different points, so I often just wear Vivi when he’s down on those days, too.

But the first few months. Totally effected how smoothly our transition went. It was so healthy for all of us! I tandem wore daily from as soon as I could handle the weight for the first couple months. Usually we went for a tandem walk for 20-30 minutes. Usually at a time when Vivi needed me desperately, Timothy was fussy and I was having a nervous break down because oh my gosh, the house is messy. Tandem wearing meant that everyone got to feel the skin they desperately needed; getting outside got me away from what was stressing me and allowed me to re-evaluate my priorities while enjoying two content kiddos.

It really helped Vivi to know she wasn’t replaced, and that she still had as much access to me as needed. Even if you decide not to tandem wear, I strongly recommend staying open to continuing to wear your toddler- it’s definitely blessed us!

-While we’re tucking about being weird, tandem nursing was another huge transition help. I already shared in detail about our journey and the joys and challenges here. Tandem nursing helped us immensely with the replaced feeling, too, as well as being another way to calm everybody down and give everyone a piece of me- while getting away from the stuff I was working on. Breastfeeding Vivi has allowed us to carry on a special relationship, as we make certain times of the day that are just for us- or to tandem, if Timothy’s around. She loves it! We don’t tandem as often anymore, since Vivi’s main nursing sessions are at sleep times or quick sips when she gets hurt, but during the first few months, again, we did. Vivi wanted to nurse almost every time Timothy did, so I let her. She did consume less “real” food for a while, but never lost interest in food altogether, so we were good with it. In the meanwhile, I ate like a horse. I was a little afraid of “tandem” tandem…because from what people said, I thought maybe it would be harder than it looked. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for me. Vivi’s old enough to get herself latched on however she has to, and Timothy’s pretty flexible, too. I won’t say every time’s been perfectly comfortable…plenty of times when kiddos were just popped on, it wasn’t the greatest for my back or nipples, or something….but it always worked. Now, Vivi always brings me a pillow when she wants to nurse with Timothy- so cute!

-Laugh. Because there are so many beautiful things- so many funny things- so many wondrous things- and you’re going to forget them so fast. But if you make time to enjoy them, they’ll be forever imprinted in your memory. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back on the little years and just remember all the hard times. It’s okay to remember them, to help other mamas get through them. But I want those memories to be sprinkled with so many laughing ones that I’d like to go back. And so far, that’s true. I haven’t been perfect, there’s days I wish I could change. But I have so many hilarious memories and beautiful memories. I wish I could remember them more clearly; they all fade so fast. What I do know, and will remember in the years to come is, we’re having a great time. Through the ups and downs, life is good.

-Summing up a few things I hit on somewhat in the above: remove yourself from stressful situations to give kiddos touch time and ensure your toddler (and baby, for that matter, but that’s less likely) is getting enough of you. That’s why tandem wearing and nursing worked so well for us. It might not for you- your toddler might not be interested in nursing at all, for instance. The real message is, make time to meet those needs. Take time to get away from a stressful situation before it boils over. Take time for both your little ones. It’ll make a huge difference in everyone!

-Evaluate causes of toddler’s misbehaviors. For instance, general transitions, lack of sleep (related to transitions?), not getting enough of you, feeling overwhelmed or displaced, being hungry or thirsty, etc.

As a parent heading in a direction of “gentle parenting” (so to speak), I believe many misbehaviors are connected to a deeper root problem. One that might be easily solved, and possibly isn’t even the child’s fault. I know that isn’t always the case…for instance, Vivi’s done a lot more limit-testing lately, and it’s seemed to stem from growing up- gaining maturity, discovering the world and her own mind, and seeing what she can and can’t make happen. As best as I can tell, it isn’t because of a need that isn’t being met…although at the same time, I don’t feel like it’s exactly purposeful badness, either.

I had a lot of issues with Vivi the first couple months after Timothy was born, and it was obvious that they were generally related to the transitions in some form or other. Knowing that helped me to be more patient (and less despairing!) in dealing with her. For instance: she would purposely defy me, all the time, especially when I couldn’t get up to remove her. But I knew it was just an outlet for all the confusion with the new changes. Another example: she went through a streak of purposely hitting Timothy. Now she’s an angelic older sister, except when she’s tired- and then she’ll purposely try to hit him- but only if I’m in the room to see it. It’s a pretty good key she’s over tired, and it’s time for bed!

Seek to understand your toddler, and the potential changes they’re working through. Remember, they don’t have the social knowledge to know how to let out their feelings!

-Take care of yourself- especially remember to eat and drink enough! A friend of mine has mentioned before that sometimes when she feels exhausted, and consequently overwhelmed, spending a few minutes drinking a couple of huge glasses of water makes a big difference. Suddenly, she feels energized and ready to conquer again! I haven’t noticed it to such a drastic degree, but in smaller ones, yes. It’s important to take care of yourself, mama! I’m easily headache prone if I don’t drink enough…and not eating enough can fall into the same category. If you’re nursing- and especially if you’re tandem nursing- you have to eat. A lot. It takes a lot of food to keep everyone running.

Don’t be afraid to allow time for you, too. Sometimes a shower or something simple enables you to be a much more joyful mommy.

-Prepare your home and kitchen before #2 arrives! I blog about some of the ways I prepared here. Having a head start on your home- like meals in the freezer, deep cleaning done, and regular cleaning kept up on- will put you off to a great start!

-Stop….and drink it all in. Oh, drink, Mama. Because life is beautiful, and yet fleeting.

-Allow grace. Grace for you. For your husband. For your babies. For your home. Grace to cover not getting it all done, not being all, not holding it all together, loosing your cool. Grace to cover your toddler on his tantrum-laden day, your growth-spurting baby. Grace for your husband and the needs that seem so obvious to you, but which he simply doesn’t see. Grace for other moms who don’t quite have it all together either.

If only I was better at putting it into practice- all of it….life would be much more beautiful!

-It’s okay to use cheats. There were certain things I decided I would cheat on the first couple months to make life easier. One specific one that stands clear in my memory (because I agonized over it for days before deciding! :-)) is store bought dressing. I figured if I just bought dressing and didn’t have that one extra step, we’d be likely to keep eating salads. Somehow…it just feels like so much more to make dressing. So for two months, we ate store bought dressing. We made through, all alive and all in one piece (so far!)….and less stressed for it.

Depending on what your lifestyle is (how much you cook from scratch, etc.), figure out what you can compromise on for a while, and run with it. I have a hard time with this one….feeling like, if I know something’s not as good for us, why would I feed it to us? But I’m aware….that stress isn’t good for us either. If it’s choosing between store bought dressing and stress- I’m for the dressing all the way.

~*~

Well…that sums it up- for now! Long and rambly, like everything I write. ;-) Rock on, Mamas!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Our New Wrap!

Last week, I bought a new wrap....a size 4 Didymos petrol fishies. It was instant love when I tried a friend's petrol so when I saw one on FSOT on The Babywearer, we decided to snag. Because I could spend forever trying to decide what my 2nd wrap will be. This one's perfect for summer- being shorter and super lightweight. Yay for summer wrapping!

Let's just say....it's hard to say who of the three of us (kiddos and I) like it best. Everyone loves it. And in the week we've had it, it's seen way more love than our co-sleeper ever did in the 2 years we've had that. (sold co-sleeper, bought wrap...methinks it was a good trade-off.)

All smiles, snuggled with mommy....


Mission accomplished....who wouldn't fall asleep in such a soft, cushy wrap? (not that Timothy always falls asleep, or ever falls asleep easily, but....)

Pic from a different day....evidence of another time fallen asleep (that time on my back)...then plopped down on mommy's bed for optimal nap potential.

Vivi loves the wrap! She kept looking at it and feeling it and spreading it out....

And smoothing it over her lap....


First time wearing it, a few minutes out of the box....and after spending 5 hours walking around at the zoo with Timothy....but we were so excited to try it on. Vivi loved getting to go first!


Vivi loves getting wrapped! Since she's so much older, she's so easy....she just lays there still and snuggles into my back. Fun! The other day, she asked me to "wrap! back!" when Timothy was asleep... ;-)