Friday, September 12, 2014

Tiny Town

Tiny Town is this random little village of houses about 3 feet tall in the foothills of the Rockies, about 30 minutes outside of Denver.  There is a little coal-powered train that goes around the town of little houses.  Tiny Town is almost 100 years old!  It's kind of a Colorado landmark- when we were kids growing up I remember going several  times (I should get my mom to look up pictures of us there!).  So it was a lot of fun to take our kids there recently as well.  It's kind of kitschy in parts (like the hill of plastic dinosaurs) but the bizareness is part of the appeal.

One mistake: we totally spaced bringing the stroller.  So poor Kevin had to lug Jack and his carseat all over.  Luckily it's not that big of a place.  But a stroller would have helped.

Nora and I rode the train!  It's very smokey since it runs on coal.  Kevin took these pictures of us as we went by:



Here is Nora looking at the houses.  A lot of them are filled with strange collections of little dolls and furniture.  She liked looking into all the windows.



Some of the houses are big enough for small children to go into (those don't have any doll stuff obviously).  Kids love this feature!


Our little drama queen.  This was the "jail" building and so we told Nora to pretend she was sad about being in jail. Kid really gets into the role. Haha.


Tiny Town is a lot of fun for a morning activity and I think it's great for kids ages 2-7 or so!  I'm glad we went and it will be fun to go back again when Jack is able to join in on the fun.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to Work, Back to Reality

This is kind of a post full of random things, but here you go.

Last week, I went back to work again full time.  It was a nice summer off- I actually hadn't been in the office for nearly 15 weeks (except for one brief visit for a meeting in August), what with Jack's NICU stay and all.  I feel lucky I was able to take all that time.  By the end I was feeling pretty good about going back.  It was quite as heart-wrenching for me as it was when I went back after having Nora (I went back at only 10 weeks with her).  Still sad that such a sweet time was over, but happy to be moving forward too.

Nora started preschool at her new school two weeks ago and has generally been doing well, minus one particularly rough morning in which she declared she hated school and wanted to spend the day with me instead- this was said in wailing cries as we walked down the hallway to classroom.  I feel like she's knows exactly what to say to me to make me feel bad for the rest of the day. :)  But, since then she's been doing better, and has started to get to know her teachers and some of her classmates a little better.


Otherwise I feel like she is really starting to get more adjusted to having a baby in the house.  Somewhat less acting out when I can't pay attention to her.  She likes to give Jack hugs and help me with him, though if he spits up she is still grossed out and calls him stinky.

We've been doing a few fun end-of-summer activities and hopefully when I get the chance I can post some pictures from those.  Nora is at such a fun age to interact with! (as long as she's in an agreeable mood.  20% of the time she's not, and her whiney-ness and refusal to listen has meant more time-outs and things.  Just keepin' it real that this cute little 3 year old's face is not always so smiley).


Jack is going to in-home care, and that's been going well too.  He's not at an age of separation anxiety and so his drop-offs are pretty painless (for him at least, I miss his sweet face during the day).  It's just him and one other baby at this place so hopefully he'll get a lot of attention and avoid some of the germs Nora picked up her first year in daycare... fingers crossed!

Kevin had a pretty reasonable schedule in August and that was so nice.  This week he starts another hard rotation, so not looking forward to that.  He's also had to work a lot of late afternoon to evening shifts and those are not my favorite- Nora can be tired and cranky by then (heck I'm tired and cranky by then) and that's usually Jack's witching hour.

Like last night, it was me with the kids (long vent ahead, beware).  Jack was having a super cranky day, and basically was crying if he was awake. Last night he was in hysterics almost the whole time Nora was in her bath, like red-faced, difficulty-breathing crying, but I mean, when it's just me, I have to at least set him down to brush Nora's teeth and quick put some shampoo in her hair (might have skipped bath but she had missed it the night before already).  Finally get her out, Jack is still totally out of control, realize that there's no way I can read Nora stories while he's screaming like this, so she starts crying because I tell her we have to skip stories for now; go downstairs, fix Jack a bottle, realize Nora left the door open to the patio and the cat has escaped, so I'm outside looking for the cat while two kids are inside screaming, finally find the cat under the patio table. Get baby his bottle and appease him, go upstairs with him (bottle in mouth) to find Nora has burnt her fingers on her tableside lamp (she just touched the hot light bulb, it doesn't look serious) and is crying hysterically, so then I have to go get her ice while carrying the baby and his bottle.  She ices her fingers and we read stories (she flips pages while I hold Jack's bottle for him), she wants a bandaid, I go and swaddle Jack and put him in his bassinet- he's quiet for now.  Get Nora her bandaid- by this time it's like 40 minutes after her bedtime.  As soon as I say goodnight to her, Jack starts crying again and I go to rock him for another 20 minutes until he finally falls asleep.

I have to kind of laugh (and maybe drink a large glass of wine) when I think about how insane it is during some of these moments. Evening is one time of day when having the ratio of adults to small children be the same is especially important.  But at any rate, we are pushing through.  The nice thing about going back to work is even during these trying times, I'm more inclined to appreciate my time with the kids, since it's more limited now.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Maine: Part II

A few of the other fun things we did in Maine:

Paddle boarding!  This was my favorite activity this year.  Especially when the water was smooth and glassy.  Pretty easy to balance on and not too much work to paddle.


Sailing in the little sunfish.  Kevin did this by himself a few times but one time I went out as his first mate.  We did pretty well, or at least we didn't end up in the water, which for me is a win.


Clamming on the river bank.  When the tide goes out, this "river" almost entirely disappears leaving a sandy flat behind.  Then you can find clams by looking for the air holes and digging deep underneath.  I'd never seen a live clam before!  Don't have a picture, but they are strange looking.  The sand here was particularly pleasing to step it... very squishy.  We had fun exploring around here and building sand castles while Jack stayed in his tent on the beach (you have to watch out for greenhead flies here, they bite!). (thanks to my father-in-law for the pictures from this day!)




Exploring the little beach.  We go here every year because it's close to the house and depending on the tide, can vary a lot from one day to the next.  This year we found little jellyfish in the water, but apparently these kind don't have tentacles so they can't sting you.  After the adults tested this out first, Nora had a lot of fun finding and touching the jellyfish.



She also found little fish, snails, and crabs.  And she met a little friend who was 5 years old and invited her to color with her on her towel.  She was sad to leave. :)

Another day the tide was much higher but Nora found these long seaweed vine things and called them her snakes and played with them for like 45 minutes.  She even had names for each of them.  I wish I could remember exactly what they were because it was funny.  She's started coming up with names for things and sometimes I have no idea where she gets the names from.  Anyway I love these photos of her.



Maine is a wonderful retreat for us. Thanks to my in-laws for having us!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Jack: Month Three

Dear Jack,


I'm a little torn between wanting to soak up each little happy baby smile that you give and wanting to hurry this newborn stage by in order to really start having fun with you.  Some parts of this stage are so easy, like your ability to sleep almost anywhere; but other parts are frustrating, like not really being able to fix the various digestive issues that make you hurt, and just hoping you outgrow it soon.  It is a thrill though to watch you grow and change every day.  The first year is just amazing for that reason.


Sleeping:  You are still a very sleepy guy.  Your sister was a terrible napper already at this age so it's weird to have a baby that sleeps a lot even during the day!  Your overnight sleep has also gotten quite good for your age... generally you are sleeping from 9pm-4am, a nice 7 hour stretch.  Sometimes it's less than that and a couple of times it was more but that seems to be your average recently.  You then go back to sleep until 6 or 7am.  Then you usually sleep between every daytime feeding, which is like 4-5 naps per day.  Some are just catnaps, but some are 1-2 hours long.  Overall I think you're getting around 16-18 hours of sleep per day, which is a ton! (and now that I've typed this out you'll probably stop sleeping well...).  You are still in our room in the Rock n' Play.  I don't really want to move you out of the RnP for awhile yet because of your reflux, but I'm thinking about moving you into your own room in the next month.  You are a very loud sleeper!  So many grunts and groans and squeaks and other strange noises.


Eating:  You are doing well on Alimentum formula, and I'm hopeful that I've figured out a way to get it covered by insurance.  Right now you are eating 3.5-4oz of formula 7 times a day, about every 3 hours or so, except at night when you go longer.  We still are mixing it to add calories but I'm very hopeful that I can stop at your next doctor's appointment at 4 months!  You have really been gaining weight great.  Still on iron supplements and Axid for reflux but in the last couple of weeks I'm feeling like it hasn't been working as well, but I'm having some difficulty getting insurance to cover a different kind of drug.


Weight:  I don't know for sure, but about 10 days ago you were 11 lbs exactly, so probably over 11.5 lbs by now.  Definitely more than your sister at this point (this is when my supply started dwindling with her, so she didn't start packing on weight until later).  You have totally gotten some major leg and arm rolls this month!  The pudge is so cute. :)  You are still relatively small but I'm hoping you are now solidly on the growth curve.


Diaper Size:  Size 1.  I think I totally went overkill on the size 1 diapers- I still have two giant boxes of these, and I'm guessing in a couple of weeks you won't fit in them any more.  You're growing so fast!

Clothes Size:  0-3M/3M, but you're growing out of some of these.  You might end up with some outfits that have only been worn a couple of times. :)

Milestones/Firsts:  Much more social smiling this month.  It is so cute.  I haven't gotten one of the huge wide mouthed smiles on camera yet, but a few of the little grins.


Just in the last week it seems your neck strength has really improved, and you can get your head at a 45-90 degree angle from the floor, at least for a minute or two.  And it might have been a fluke, but a couple of days ago you rolled from tummy to back twice in a row! I was really amazed given that your adjusted age is only about 8 weeks.

You had your first trip on an airplane this month and you did great. :)  You also had your first "test-run" with the new nanny (who works from her own home), and you were pretty easy on her- she said you did great (mommy, on the other hand, completely forgot THE most important thing- your bottles and formula- and had to drive back home to go get them).


Likes/Dislikes:  You actually really liked your baths this month.   Yay!  Not so much getting out of the bath and drying off.  I still wouldn't say you like your carseat, but at least you generally seem to fall asleep in your carseat so then you don't fuss.  You like being warm- my mom found that if she covers your legs or feet with a blankie a lot of times you will calm down if you've been fussing.  You like the Ergo carrier and we can almost always get you to fall asleep in there if you're riled up.  You have not been a fan of my stretchier Boba carrier this month.  You like to look at the ceiling fan and the trees on our evening walks.  Reflux and gas, understandably, is what makes you most upset during the day.  I will be glad when you outgrow those and they stop causing so much pain!  Otherwise you are a pretty happy baby.


Jack, it has been a cherished summer with you and your sister (she's been at daycare part-time but home more often than normal), despite the rough beginning.  I know this summer is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, a summer of snuggles and tears and brand-new baby smiles and learning how to be a family of four.  I go back to work in just over a week, and while there will be good things and bad things about returning, mostly what makes me sad is the knowledge that there will never be a time like this again- an exhausting, beautiful few months surrounded by you in all your newness, and your three year old sister.  It's gone so so fast.  But so much joy lies ahead in our future together, and I know this is just the beginning.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Maine: Part I

At the beginning of August, Kevin had his vacation week and we went on our annual trip to Maine!

Traveling with two kids was a frightening prospect, but honestly this is a pretty good time to travel with both of them.  Nora is old enough now to be able to watch movies, play games, etc, and Jack is still an infant who mostly just eats and sleeps.  I was a little worried about Nora getting over-tired and throwing a fit (which happened on our trip to San Diego), but both kids did awesome.  On the way out we had an early 6 am flight.  Nora was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even at this early hour, didn't nap at all on the way out there but stayed perfectly happy, and then was basically a zombie by dinner time so we put her to bed early (which helped with the time change).  On the way back, we had a late flight, and for the first time since she was an infant, Nora actually fell asleep and slept for most of the flight, which was nothing short of amazing.  Jack slept the whole time for all flights, so he was easy-peasy.  I think it will be harder next year when he's a year old and wanting to move around!

It's fun to look back at the last few years we've been there with Nora.  We went when she was a newborn (holy cow she and Jack look a lot alike as babies!), as a one year old (whoa, baby pudge, so cute!), and then last year as a two year old

We usually do pretty similar activities.  This year we went to the beach, and totally wore the kids out (Kevin's cousin was there with her two kids for the first couple of days we were there too, so Nora got to have some playmates).  I feel like Nora was a bit more hesitant about the waves this year compared to last year but did get more adventurous as time went on.  We also swam off the dock at the house; this was my first year jumping into the *freezing* water. ;)  Nora went in too and had a very love/hate relationship with it... she kept wanting to go back in but she was also terrified of just swimming on her own and had a death grip around Kevin's neck most of the time.  We asked her what she was afraid of and she said she was scared of seaweed (but, by the end of the week, she was playing with seaweed, so ... one fear down!).

Nora went frog hunting I think every day, and they caught a big one!  I love this picture of her and her catch- so much pure joy.


She also got to ride in the motor boat with her grandma and grandpa.  She thought it was a lot of fun!


Jack enjoyed getting held by everyone.  He had been smiling a little bit the week before we went but this week he really started getting the social smile down.



Of course, he was not quite so cooperative during family photo time.


Lots of good appetizers and Dark and Stormies on the porch.  One of my favorite parts of the day. :)





Nora had fun inside too (we had a couple rainy afternoons).  Making necklaces, playing with the dollhouse, and getting to lick the beaters. She slept in a bedroom with twin beds by herself and did great!  She even napped most days.


We also got some nice adult time.  One night a sitter came and the adults all went out to dinner (we had the same sitter we got for Nora 3 years ago- she cried the whole time that night.  And Jack was not to be outdone- he fussed the whole time this time.  She must dread when we're in town!).  Another night my in-laws babysat the kids while Kevin and I went out (thanks guys!).  It was great to be able to have a little break. :)

More about the rest of our activities in the next post!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Random Updates

1)  I'm down to one month of maternity leave, from 3 months. :(  I've enjoyed this maternity leave a lot more than the first time!  I think because I've had a lot of family around to help and Kevin's schedule has been better (for the most part, although the first three weeks in July were killer).  Plus Jack is an easier baby than Nora, so I haven't been so stressed.  And summer in Colorado is beautiful compared to Maryland! (though I hear the weather out there this year has been quite nice).

2) It's been fun to have more time to do stuff with Nora.  She is still going to full-time daycare twice a week, and half-day preschool "camp" two other days, and then home 3 days per week (my mom and sister have helped entertain her... and me!).  Nora will start full-time preschool at the end of August.  I think she's going to do great!  But I'll definitely miss our extra time together that we've had this summer.

Some things we have done this summer include...

Roly poly walks (Nora loves searching for these little guys):



Visiting the new Discovery Center at the Natural History Museum, and participating in a Drum session:


Going to the giant splash park and playground in Centennial with Nana:


Taking swim class and going to the pool:


Visiting the zoo several times, most recently with her Grandma and Grandpa and cousins, who were all in town:



Going to the nearby sandbox park:


"Frozen Camp", where all the little girls dressed up like Elsa or Anna and danced to "Let it Go":


We also went to Cherry Creek reservoir with my mom, and enjoyed a picnic on the beach and swimming.  We've done other fun things too, I can't even think of them all. It's been a lot of fun.

3)  I have been pulled into work a little bit these last couple of weeks, as there are abstracts due for conferences this winter, and I wanted to submit something.  It's amazing how hard it is to switch back to "work brain" after being gone for a few weeks.  Not unwelcome, just hard.  I will have my work cut out for me when I go back- I left with two papers on hold, and I'll need to get into gear right away and get those done.  It will be a lot easier transition now that I won't have to pump during the work day.

4) Kevin is surviving his second year of residency so far.  He started with what we hope will be the most challenging rotation of the year, and now it's done.  He's had a more relaxing week this week and again next week, so that's been super nice.  He'll be in charge of more patients on his own this year so that part will be stressful. 

5) I've gotten to enjoy some good television this summer during all Jack's feedings- I finished Scandal, Orange is the New Black, and House of Cards (plus some Bachelorette thrown in there).  All three of those shows are excellent! (I won't try to pretend like Bachelorette is going to win any awards though, lol.  But I can't stop watching).

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jack: Month Two

Dear Jack,


This month, we started to get to know you a little better as you are slowly starting to wake up!  The last two months have truly been "the fourth trimester" for you as you largely just sleep and eat, with very little awake time.  We have done lots of snuggling, which has been fun. :)  Just in the last couple of weeks, you have had longer periods of alertness.  You are only 3 weeks old adjusted, and I think you definitely seem more like a 3-week old than a 2 month old.  We have seen glimpses of little smiles (and in the last couple of days, some in response to us smiling at you) but nothing consistent yet... I'm excited for this next month because I think we might start to be able to interact with you a little more!

The best news this month was that you took your nocturnal pulse ox test and passed!  No more oxygen tanks.  You had to stay above 87% respiration rate for at least 90% of the night.  You were close to 100% or at 100% most of the night so I was pretty sure you passed, but so happy when the doctor called to confirm it!  It has made so much easier for us and less annoying for you to not have that on your face.  Here are a couple of photos from when you still had it on:

Tummy time- that darn thing kept falling out of your nose But way to lift your head, little man!


Your beautiful Nana snuggling with you:


I don't think I'm destined to have a totally chill baby.  Though I have found you to be an easier baby than Nora at this age, for the most part, you still have fussy periods, particularly during the witching hours.  But at least I usually know what the problem is, or can make a good guess.  You're either (a) hungry, (b) have gas, or (c) are tired or want to be held.  Most of the time it's (b), so it's just a matter of working out a burp, which sometimes can take quite a bit of bouncing and patting.  During witching hours, it's usually (c).  I feel like Nora had a lot more "crying for no reason at all" spells.  For right now I'm happy that you're easy to interpret.


Sleeping:  The pediatrician didn't want you to sleep longer than 5 hours at a time at night since you are still trying to catch up weight-wise.  But you've been regularly doing a 5 hour stretch at night, usually from around 10pm-3am or so.  Then we wake you up after another 3 hours (around 6am).  You sleep a lot during the day still as well. Usually you eat every 2.5-3 hours, stay awake for 10-40 minutes after eating, and then sleep the rest of the time.  I hope your good sleeping continues! You seem to be a much better daytime sleeper than Nora was at this age.  At night you sleep in the Rock n'Play, still next to our bed; daytime naps are usually in the bouncy seat, swing, or carrier.  Not worrying about sleep crutches yet!



Eating: As mentioned in my previous update, we believe you have a milk protein allergy (because of bloody diarrhea... awesome).  That put a definitive end to pumping... it took me about a week to wean from the pump.  I was sad that breastfeeding just didn't work out this time- I had hoped it would go better than last time, not worse- but after I put aside that loss, I've been pretty happy with formula feeding and it's nice not to be tied to the pump anymore.  I seriously gained a ton of time back into by day, plus I'm getting more sleep at night (about 6-7 hours instead of 4-5 total).  You seem to be feeling good and growing great on the formula (Alimentum) and eating about 3 oz every 2.5-3 hours during the day.  Right now I mix 3 scoops of formula per 5 oz of water to up the calorie amount.  Really the only downside is the expense- it's about $25/container when bought in bulk on Amazon, and you go through a container in about 4-5 days! (actually there are two downsides- this formula is smelly and your poops stink to high heaven).


One other thing I will mention is that you spit up A LOT.  Much more than I remember with Nora.  We have you on reflux meds because like a month ago you would spit up breastmilk and it was clearly burning your throat with stomach acid.  The meds definitely seem to help and now the spit-up doesn't seem to bother you as much (but still makes for messy clothes for both you and me or whoever happens to be holding you at the time).  I will be happy when you outgrow the spit-up phase!

Also, you are fighting some anemia. We have you a ferrous sulfate drops but your iron levels keep fluctuating every couple of weeks.  Hoping it normalizes here pretty soon.

Weight: 9lbs 4oz at your 2 month appointment today.  Doubled your birth weight!  You actually weigh more than your sister did at 2 months... way to grow, buddy!


Diaper Size:  Most of the month you wore newborn (I maybe bought one too many boxes of these), but you have officially outgrown those and fit well in size 1s (very similar to your sister at month 2!).

Clothes Size: Just growing out of most newborn clothes, and wearing 0-3 months (but some of these still seem very large on you).


Eye Color: A beautiful blue.  Slightly lighter than last month.


Milestones/Firsts:  You've been doing little sleepy smiles for awhile, but just in the last week have we had a couple smiles that I would consider a response to us talking to you.  Hope they become more frequent soon!  You have been grabbing for toys on the playmat too.


Likes/Dislikes:  You seem to like the bath okay.  Your big dislike seems to be long rides in the carseat... just like your sister, you are okay if the car is moving, but at any red stoplights, you start to fuss.  Once you fall asleep in the carseat, it's fine.  You do not like having your diaper changed right now- maybe it's the sudden cold air.  Also not a fan of getting dressed, but what baby is?  You do generally like being "worn"- I've been using the Boba wrap a lot, and more recently the Ergo, which I'm liking better this time around (Nora never liked being worn).  You fuss a little at first but then snuggle in and fall asleep.  You also like being tummy to tummy and falling asleep on my chest.



Sibling Love: This month Nora seems like she is starting to get a little more used to having you around, but there are definitely still occasional jealous moments.  She does like to give you her toys and try to put your pacifier in when you are crying. I posted this on Facebook but it's too funny not to post here too:


You have fit into our family seamlessly, little Jack.  I'm already over halfway through my maternity leave, so I'm trying to soak up every moment with you.  I love all your newborn "Blue Steel" faces, sleepy smiles, baby rolls that are just starting to form, happy sighs, and just that baby innocence that seems to trust that we will take care of you no matter what.  We love you, little man!