Back To School


If you have not noticed, it is Back To School season. We are currently being inundated with jingles, ads, and messaging of all kinds reminding us, as though we could forget, that in just a few short days schools will be opening their doors to students! It has been a time of the year that I have always loved. In New England, it marks an unofficial start to Fall and things like pumpkin spice begin to creep back into every food item. Temperatures start to cool off and routines start to come back after the relaxing summer schedule of fitting in lots of fun and not a lot of anything else.


Every September my school feels alive with the promise of a new year. Seniors walk through the halls feeling extra important and teachers walk into new rooms filled with new faces. It is very exciting and I love the energy that is present during those first days back. Thankfully, I love my job. When I am on campus, I am surrounded by awesome colleagues who give so much of themselves to the community. They are passionate and interesting men and women and they challenge me everyday to bring my A game. I know that once I am fully back to campus, I will feel like I never left and will feel ready to take on the year ahead, but right now…

I am feeling really sad. My maternity leave was a gift. Having 19 weeks home with the boys to both recover from childbirth and adjust to and enjoy the early days of second-time motherhood was the best time of my life. David and I got to soak up everything about the boys and our summer together with them. David blossomed to a dynamo, multi-tasking dad and he took care of all of us. Henry became a kind and loving older brother and also a rambunctious and playful toddler. Owen came out of his newborn fog and began to give us major glimpses into the sweet little person he is growing into. And I got to be a part of every second of every day with them. YES, some days (and the whole month of July really) were H A R D. There were lots of tears from everyone in the house and not a lot of sleep which I have found I truly need in order to function as a decent human being. But despite all of that, I would do it all again. I would do it all again 100x (minus the actual birthing of the child, maybe I would do that another 2 or 3 times!).

It kills my heart to look at the calendar and see that I am a mere 6 days away from going back to work full-time and missing out on the daytime with Owen and Henry. I am going to miss our pajama filled mornings, while Henry eats his breakfast and Owen and I sit beside him chatting. I am going to miss our outings to the park and our strolls around the block. I am going to miss playing trains and trucks and doctor and play-doh and eating Henry’s “water soup” and dancing around the house like crazy-pants and playing hide-and-seek and all the little chats throughout the day. I am going to miss Jake and the Neverland pirates, and crafting, and bike rides, and reading so many books before nap time. I am going to miss our failed attempts at potty training (once Owen was born, Henry decided he was not that into it anymore), and our trips to the lake. I am going to miss holding them ALL DAY LONG. I am going to miss their little smells, smiles, and feet. I am going to miss, I am going to miss, I am going to miss.

I wish I could do both. I wish I could be in the classroom inspired by my students and at home inspired by my children full-time. If only there was more time in the day. And, I know we will settle into a new routine, a new way of doing things, and a new pattern. I know all of this, but right now my feels are pretty intense. These are the kind of feels that will have me crying into school everyday and pressing the gas after school as fast as I can to return to the men in my life. It is hard to love three men at once, but gosh do I feel so damn lucky to have the opportunity to try. And, boy am I going to miss this summer like crazy for the rest of my life.

Owen Edward: Four Months


This month was dedicated to a lot of travel and not a lot of sleep.


Owen started this month with his first flight across the continent to visit with his West-Coast cousins. The flight was broken up into three two-hour segments: this is fun let’s look around, okay time for a nap, and time to scream until we land!  But, once we were all out of the plane and taking in those cool west coast breezes we were ready to have a wonderful time! Every time I go out to California, I am ready for it to be a one way ticket (maybe someday?) But, until then, it was great to soak up the SoCal summer vibes and both of the kiddos LOVED being there. It helps that their cousins are crazy fun and that my brother and sister-in-law are wonderful to co-parent with. We were adventurous and took the littles out to Solana Beach, the aquarium in Long Beach, the local water park, yummy lunches, and a near by petting zoo called Zoomars. Each day we let the kiddos get out their wiggles and each night the parents sipped wine amidst twinkling lights in the backyard “jazz club”. Owen loved his Auntie Jessie so much we couldn’t help but notice that he might want to go steady with her. And if he was not with me, then he was sitting with Avery or relaxing in his bouncy seat while taking in calming essential oils. Owen’s flight home was his first red-eye. Why we booked this I have no idea. I guess it seemed logical at the time, but thankfully Owen slept the whole way home (the same cannot be said for his older brother). Owen adjusted so easily to West Coast time (probably too easily) and it was a bit of a struggle to get him back to his normal time. This was probably the beginning of our sleep issues for the month coupled with another trip and the four month sleep regression. But, hey when it comes to travel, when the opportunity strikes you have to take it, right?


About two weeks later it was time to pack ourselves back up and head down south to visit with our southern cousins. Having just flown two six hours flights these were a breeze! Our packing was down to a science, compact, and lightweight and the kiddos did great. Owen slept the whole flight down and back and really you cannot ask for a better passenger. He was the perfect little gentleman. While in Florida, Owen got to visit with his big cousins Alyza and Alex who carried him around, diapered him, changed him, and played with him all day long and he got to meet his little cousin Zachary and his aunt and uncle and great-grandmother. There were so many hands to help and hold the little cranky-pants it was wonderful. We were all taken care of and enjoyed a lot of family time inside while Florida’s epic thunderstorms rained around us. Unfortunately, it was on this trip that Owen reached a new level of over-tiredness that left us all a little shaken from the lack of sleep we were getting.  It was so good to be with family though in those hard times.


Physically, Owen has been having a BIG month. He loves to lay down on his big play mat and practice rolling around. As soon as he is flat on his back, he lifts his chubby legs ninety degrees and lets gravity flop them to the ground and then arches his back to try to get over the rest of the way. So far no dice on the full roll yet. He can occasionally roll from his tummy to his back, but I think gravity is helping here.  When we sit him in his bumbo seat he locks his knees and tries to pop out of his seat and loves to be held standing.  He might just be one of those kiddos who wants to walk because he can’t do anything else like sit, haha! He has started to play with toys and gets fussy if he doesn’t have something nearby to grab ahold of and draw in to suck on. And he loves crinkly toys and just squishes them in his hands. Our big boy is 16.6 lbs and 25.8 inches this month and maxing out his 6 month attire! And just to make sure he stays cute and chubby he had his first bites of oatmeal and seems to be slowly getting the hang of eating.


When Owen is awake he is so darn cute! He loves to laugh and smile. I thought Henry was a smiley kid but this guy takes the cake on that one. He just smiles and laughs all the time. He loves to be tickled under his chin and to have his cheeks pinched and his sides tickled. And I have started to notice that I can transfer him from my arms into his crib once he starts to smile and laugh in his sleep. What could this little peanut be dreaming about?


At the same time that this month has been an amazing 30 days of travel, family, and Owen smiling and laughing a ton, it has also been tough in the sleep department. Owen is Dr. Jekyll during the day but Mr. Hyde shows up at night. This was a BIG month of transitions that I think all impacted this sensitive little one’s sleep: flights, different time zones, sleeping in new spaces, gross motor skill development, and the end of being swaddled. This all came together this month and left our little guy overtired and super irritable during the night. If he fell asleep then his hands crawled all around his face and woke him up or his arms hit the mattress and startled him awake or his time zones were off and he was awake super late and unable to settle down. David was amazing. He helped me every night with alternating the hundreds of attempts to comfort Owen. We even tried a little modified crying-it-out and found that Owen was not ready for it, but he definitely needed to learn how to fall asleep. What a design flaw that babies do not know how to fall asleep on their own! But, we reached out for help and received advice and support from so many family members and friends. This might seem crazy but in the 48 hours since reaching out for help Owen’s sleep has become noticeably changed. We are currently using a baby schedule from Moms on Call and what I have noticed is that the 5PM nap they recommend is the key to Owen’s day that we were missing. Before his last nap ended at 3:30 and then bedtime was at 6:30. He was too tired and unlike an adult who would just fall asleep this over-tiredness just made him irritable and he truly could not settle down. We have now incorporated the 5PM nap into Owen’s day and his bedtime is now at 7/7:30PM and guess what…..We have a long stretch of sleep again!!! I had not seen that long stretch (something greater than 90 minutes) in almost 30 days, and I woke up that first morning delirious from all that sleep. I am very hopefully that with this schedule in place we will continue to be able to sleep…all of us.


And before we end this little blog post about Owen’s month, two little cute things. First, now when Owen nurses he takes his top arms and straightens out until it touches just under my chin and it is just the cutest thing. It lets me kiss his hand and cuddle his hand while he slowly falls asleep. How to I bottle up this moment and keep it forever? Second, we did out first beach day at Dug Pond and while I was so nervous about taking both boys it went really well. At one point, I was changing Henry’s diaper and had placed Owen down on the blanket. Owen started to cry and I started to panic, but this super sweet grandma came over and introduced herself and said she missed her grandchildren and asked if she could sit on my beach towel and hold Owen while I finished changing Henry. I was so thankful to have him soothed and she was so sweet and playful with him. It made me tear up a little bit to have such kindness from a stranger and I think about her often.

 

Owen Edward: Three Months


Gah! I could just eat this little baby up!!  Seriously, he is just the softest, chubbiest baby in town and he is starting to just beam and smile and laugh. Yes, he is starting to laugh and loves to be tickled and these things all melt my heart. It all finally feels like he has been part of our family forever and not some little baby house guest. I am not sure if it is because he is the second or if it is his personality but Owen has become a chill baby. We have started to notice that he enjoys taking his time with his toys, with his tummy time and with his play mat. Ever feeling the need to stimulate and provide for my little one, I was moving him from one thing to another. But, while I might be “bored” with a particular infant activity, he was not and let out some little cries to tell us to slow down and let him take his time. I like this kid, a slower pace is just what we all could use.



One of our favorite pastimes is sitting Owen up on our knees and just smiling and cooing at one another. We literally could do this for hours. He watches my face so intently and I swear he is trying to mimic my mouth and sounds. Brown, deep eyes stare back at me while I chit-chat with my newborn all morning long. Being entertained is the name of the game this month. No longer is he willing to just be, he wants to explore as best as his little baby body can by grasping at toys on his play mat, batting at the low hanging rings, and beating his little fists against his tambourine. His hands are truly magical right now to him and he clasps them in front of his face and looks at them with awe. I keep telling him that they will continue to amaze him as he cooks or engineers or designs later on in life. And just these last two weeks he has started to lock his knees to stand and he loves this position even if he is a little wobbly.



At Owen’s two month check-up, his pediatrician noticed that he did not turn his neck to the left past neutral. I had not noticed this inability. Was it because I was distracted with having two children? Was I not paying close enough attention? Was it because he is so chubby I could not see a neck? It killed me to have missed this. But the pediatrician assured me that this happens often. He was diagnosed with torticollis, or baby stiff neck and we were sent to Boston Children’s Hospital to do a few physical therapy visits. Going to that hospital with a child with something as minor as torticollis was a powerful lesson in gratitude. As soon as we arrived in the parking lot it became clear that this was a special place but also that there were very sick children here. I am so thankful and feel so blessed to have two boys who are healthy and I pray for the health of those children we saw as we walked into our PT appointments. The therapist was also a new mom and she spent a lot of time with us cooing at Owen while giving him little baby massages. He was smitten with her and did all of his exercises without a fuss. At home we followed the exercises and massages and we are now one appointment away from being discharged. Owen was a very agreeable little patient as he worked out his neck stiffness.



This month was also our first encounter with a little sickness. One day I took the boys to an indoor play place and then we all got sick. Henry and I battled the oh-so-lovely pinkeye and Owen was working through some gut issues and having blow-out diaper after blow-out diaper. My mom and dad even came running over one afternoon when I got down to my last diaper and Henry was napping upstairs barring any run out for more. This sickness coincided with Owen deciding he hated his carseat, like his brother, and cried any time we clicked him into the Rav4. By the end of this week, I was exhausted and turned the boys over to David. All I could think about at the end of the day was Game of Thrones and the line, “My Watch Has Ended.”



Now I don’t want you to think this month was all hard times because it most definitely was NOT.  This month was actually FULL of great moments and amazing memories. It was a busy one too as I finally felt fully confident taking out the two boys every day and sometimes twice a day to soak up the beautiful Boston weather. At the beginning of the month Owen was christened. It happened on Father’s Day which meant that we had two wonderful celebrations in one. My brother and his family flew in from California, David’s mom and step-dad drove up from Maryland, and my bestie flew in from Wisconsin. On the day of his christening our friend took photos of our whole gaggle of people in a nearby park. And now we have some wonderful full family shots to remind us of this moment and this time. We toured around Boston and Henry took his first swan boat ride while Owen drank some milk in the shade of a willow tree. Visits to local lakes, library readings, farmers’ markets and playgrounds filled our days and we celebrated Henry’s second birthday with a big cookout. Owen even stayed up late one night to attend a summer concert in the park. He was so chill wrapped in his blanket listening to Rock and Roll music that I think he might turn out to be an audiophile.

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Goodbye, reflux. We are D O N E with you!  This meant more sleep for everyone and less laundry for momma. With this new development we were able to move O into his own room and he settled nicely into sleeping in his crib. The hardest part of this transition was the empty bassinet next to my bed. I love having babies and want to fill my house with them, but Owen will be our last baby and that empty bassinet was hard to sleep next to and hard to come to terms with for me. If I could, I would have at least one more, but I know why Owen is our last baby and I know that this is the right choice for our family but I know that that bassinet had to get out of the house so that I could look forward to life with my two little boys and not sit saddened by the end of the baby making chapter. Thankfully a good friend is having a baby in December and it feels good to know that while no more of my babies will be in that little bedside crib, more babies will be rocked in it. Once Owen moved into his own room, he no longer had to listen to the pups or his daddy snoring and his sleep became more consolidated. There was even a week (yes, a whole week where he went to bed at 6:30PM woke up at 2AM and then woke up at 5:30AM for the day!), where he technically slept through the night. Right now our sleep looks like: bedtime at 6:30PM, feeding at midnight, feeding at 2 or 3AM, up for the day at 5:00AM, nap at 6:30AM, nap at 9:30AM, nap at noon, nap at 2PM, then bed at 6:30PM. His naps are usually around 1.5-2hours in length.  And he eats like a beast the second he wakes up. For a little sumo baby who has plenty of reserves, he wakes up as though he has been starved half a year!



Owen is weighing in at XXX and is comfortably wearing 6 month clothes and loves being carried around in his Ergobaby to parks, the grocery store, and on any other adventure we cook up for him. I am excited for when he can turn around and face out because he loves to look at the trees and his perspective will be so much nicer then. Maybe next month.

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