When is Christmas?

At least 3 times a day, Henry and Owen ask if today is Christmas. We have tried giving them the numerical time frame between today and December 25 but the number is too big and abstract. We have tried to share that first comes the celebration of Halloween and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas so you have two holidays before TODAY is Christmas. But both of those other holidays are not as exciting as Christmas so they are easily skipped over. We tried using the temperature and trees as way to tell time with your senses: the trees need to be naked and there will be snow on the ground at Christmas time. But again that excitement factor for Christmas to just be here trumps all logic, reason, or cues.

So instead of tempering their excitement for the winter holiday, I am just going to fully embrace it. They are only this little for a short blink so if they want to gear up now for Christmas let it be!

We have started a list of all their “to-dos” for embracing the winter wonderland: make snow forts, build a snowman, eat snow, hold icicles, go for a sleigh ride, see Christmas lights, visit Santa, see a reindeer, eat cookies, bake cookies, eat cookies (they really want to eat their holiday joy!), wear hats and gloves, make a snow angel, make a snow ball, wear cozy footie pajamas, stay up late with mommy and daddy, open presents, and start a list of presents for Santa.

Their list though they refuse to write down. Instead, they get an idea for something that they would love to open on Christmas morning like: Batman Lego mini-figures or any number of little toys they saw in the Lakeshore Learning magazine that came to our house and they immediately run to the chimney. They grab ahold of the fireplace hearth gate and say, “Hello Santa, could I have a Batman Lego mini-figure for Christmas, please? ::they pause::  “Thank you.” And off they scamper back to the playroom and share that they think Santa will say yes. It is the cutest little thing and it is getting me really really excited for the season they are longing for so much.

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Toddlers, Babies & Parents say funny things

Much of the day of mommyhood is processing and responding to funny, sweet, and weird phrases, conversations and requests from Henry and Owen. So many of these parenting gems have been lost to the abyss of noise that is forever constant from sunrise to sunset, but every now and then, I have enough mental clarity to recall from my working memories those little sillies and jot them down for posterity. And then add to this an assortment of the many socially acceptable behaviors we try to encourage and discourage the boys from doing in an attempt to socialize them to the cultural norms they are a part of.

From the parents:

No, you can’t lick your brother

Don’t touch your butthole or you will get pink eye

Eating a cake pop off the floor of Starbucks is yucky

Did you pee pee on the couch? Where should we go to the bathroom?

Buster doesn’t want you to ride on him

From the babies & toddlers:

Let’s play pretend tiger. What is that? It is when I roar at you and then you scream and then say wait you are just pretend.

Baby in thereas Owen points to my boob

I have an idea, how about I eat my dinner and then we go to CVS for a new toy?

Can we play hide the ball? I will hide it first….okay ready Owen runs over to the hidden spot and points to where the ball is. No, Owen stop it, be more fun.

Ce Ce Ja Ja? Puppy Ja Ja? Santa Pajamas or Puppy Pajamas what Owen wants to wear all day everyday.

Can we just do dinner and a show? Trying to have dinner small talk and Henry would prefer to do otherwise. Ha Ha nice try kid!

Hands mommy Hands! Any time we ride in the car, Owen gets his shoes off and slides his socks onto his hands. His proudest moment.

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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Owen Edward: Two Months


If the first month was a blur because Owen spent most of it sleeping and I spent most of it healing and chasing after Henry, then the second month was a slog! Owen woke up from his early newborn slumber and he was not happy. Weeks 4-8 were dedicated to newborn fussiness. And yes, while we had amazing times with our little guy, not to share that this month was hard because of the constant colicky screaming in the early evening would be a misreport. We got the little one on a probiotic and anti-gas medicine and it helped but he just needed to work through his gut issues. It was so hard because he just was so unhappy and uncomfortable. It killed not knowing how to comfort him or what would soothe his tummy. I was left often feeling like I did not know how to be his mother. While nursing helped in the short term, it also made the gas worse as it was the culprit of his discomfort. As we closed the chapter on this month, we had many more minutes and even hours in the day dedicated to happy smiles and coos and less spent on Owen passing gas and crying. And, I felt like I was starting to understand him more each day.


When you meet Owen you immediately see that the little man is young but not little. Weighing in at almost 14 pounds this two month old is beefy! He is a hardy little love machine though. His cuddles and soft baby rolls are delicious and this momma really wants to just eat up those cheeks! And boy does he love getting his cheeks squeezed. If you want Owen to smile, then just give those little cheek pillows a squeeze and he immediately responds with the biggest open mouth smile. Thank goodness he was such an early smiler. At around 5 weeks, he gave us his first big one and that helped so much to offset the discomfort of the colic screaming moments. It is hard to be frustrated or sad when you are holding on to the smiley moments. I have this feeling that next month we will see just how jolly this chubby baby boy is. And I cannot wait to see more of his little personality emerge!


One of the questions every new parent gets from everyone they meet is: How are you sleeping? While this might be frustrating on a day when you are lacking sleep, it comes often from a place of solidarity, “I’ve been there too and it won’t last forever.” So how was Owen’s sleep?  The beginning of the month was rough. It took a long time of bouncing and swaying to get the little guy to settle down. He went from zero to screaming his head off in less than a blink of an eye and David and I passed him back and forth in an effort to hold insanity back. David would run around the house holding him tightly to him while pretending to run from wild beasts. Why? Because one night in desperation, I turned to David and said, “How did we survive as a species with wild beasts around without newborns giving away our location?” Owen seemed to enjoy the “racing around for his life” routine and quickly fell asleep. At night once he settled down, he slept well typically from 8PM-midnight, then 12-2AM and 2-4AM. As we inched closer to the end of the month, getting Owen to sleep during the day became easier although not easy.  We learned very quickly that this guy loves his swaddle. He pretty much wants to live in his swaddle.  He wakes up, eats, is alert for maybe 40 minutes, and then wants his swaddle, a rock, and back to napping. Obviously, with a toddler around we can’t guarantee quiet time in the house although he definitely sleeps better when it is quieter. To keep him asleep while Henry screams and runs around, Owen has discovered the beauty of the MamaRoo and enjoys the kangaroo setting the most.


So now our sleep looks like this:

  • 5AM Owen is awake
  • 6:30-7:30AM naptime
  • 7:30-9:00AM playtime
  • 9:00-10:30AM naptime
  • 10:30-11:30AM playtime
  • 11:30-12:30 naptime
  • 12:30-1:30 playtime
  • 1:30-3:30PM naptime
  • 3:30-5:00 playtime
  • 5:00-6:00PM naptime
  • 6:00-7:30PM playtime
  • 8:00PM-Midnight/1AM sleep
  • 1:30-3:30AM sleep
  • 3:30-5:00AM sleep.


While he might still be very little he is starting to do some really fun stuff! He is enjoying his time on his play mat more and more. Looking at his zebra is his favorite part of playtime. He also watches Henry play and loves to observe him while being held on a lap. His eyes will track you across a room and he coos and smiles non-stop while he is awake. This is definitely my favorite part of the day with Owen because it is starting to reveal the little person inside this baby of ours. And unlike Henry, Owen is a fantastic car napper.  Henry would scream all the way to our destinations, Owen passes out as we turn on the car. It makes travel so much nicer these days, although Henry still gets cranky if we drive more than 30 minutes.


And of course Owen was brought along to all sorts of play dates with Henry. He spent most of every day outside in the sun on a blanket or in his Solly wrap. Being outside definitely helps soothe him and I am so thankful the weather is perfect to accommodate his needs. Along with our usual playground days, Owen visited the Aquarium, the mall, and attended a little block party. This month might have started a little tough, but it ended so sweet and easy. I am ready for life with this little guy!

 

Owen Edward: One Month

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It is really hard to believe that Owen has been with us for 4 weeks already! Why? Because he still feels so new and fresh. Congratulations to you, Owen!!! You survived your first month with your family and we are SO lucky that you chose us.

These weeks have been busy busy busy. Owen wakes up around 5AM and likes to lounge in his pjs and have his morning breakfast while we wait for his big brother to join us. With David home this first month, we had a lot of slow quality time. We did not make it out of the house early and that was nice as we balanced diaper changes, feeding, and breakfast set-up together. Owen was such a champ letting us figure out this whole life stuff while he playfully looked about his surroundings. I hope he likes his house!?

What I know he likes is his Solly Wrap. This little boy likes to be snuggled up tight to mommy’s chest and carried around like a little prince. I won’t lie it is my favorite too. Owen has been exploring his play mat and Henry likes to lay there with him as well. Seeing the two boys “play” together just makes my heart explode. Moms have always said, “Your heart grows with your next baby,” and I did not really know what this meant but it is so true. I love this little guy so much and my heart has grown so much because of him and Henry. Tummy time is pretty cute too. He will lay and lift his head up while his big brother says “Go Owen” and in that moment I try so hard to freeze time.

What Owen doesn’t enjoy…all his gas. Poor baby boy has a gassy evening and works so hard to pass that uncomfortable stuff. It has been hard to get him comfortable at night and we often end up snuggling together most of the night to help him relax. We have propped up his bassinet to give him a little incline and this seems to be helping. This combined with a little gas medicine and a probiotic seems to be the key to unlocking his nighttime comfort. The past two nights we have seen longer stretches of sleep (3 hours) and this plus his constant growing definitely means there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us all. As he becomes more comfortable, we all get a little more comfortable and are relaxing more into this family of four.

While this month has been a transition for everyone, it has been beautiful and I wish I could relive it again.

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from 1 to 2

Everyone always says, “Going from one to two is the hardest” and…

They are right!

Of course most of the time being a family of four is just beautiful and magical. When Henry cuddles up to his brother or kisses his forehead or does “tummy time” with little Owen, my heart just explodes. When I am tucking Henry into bed and holding Owen in my lap for story time, I could stay in that moment forever.

The hardest part is the random times in the day when you just don’t have enough hands: Henry wants a cuddle or a snack while Owen is nursing. I keep telling myself it has only been three weeks and  not to get too worried about this dilemma. It will settle itself and we will find our family rhythm, but I just wish I had two more hands so I could be all things to both boys and then I wish I had one more set of hands so I could fold laundry and roast vegetables, haha!

It is amazing how these two boys come from the same momma and daddy and yet are already very different (I think). Henry is pale and Owen olive. Henry is slender and Owen rotund. Henry is sensitive and Owen seems to be made of tough stuff. Comparison is the fastest way to unhappiness, no? Yet, I promise that my comparison of the two little dudes in my life will stop here because I just want to savor and love and observe their unique personalities and see what paths they take in life (but, I am sure that desire to compare will show up from time to time).

What might be the hardest part of all is that Owen doesn’t speak. It has been a LONG time since we had a little one in the house who wasn’t babbling about all day. I just want to know Owen more and hear what his little voice is like, but we will have to be patient for a few months until we get a glimpse of that personality and see what kind of songbird this child is. Until then, when I hear “The Sound of Silence” on the radio by Disturbed, I imagine that that deep husky voice is Owen’s.

So while this period is full of unknowns and curiosities, it is also full of quiet moments (though brief), lots of cuddles, and lots of learning on this mommy’s part on how to develop and hone in on my patience and living in the moment.

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