Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas in... Seattle

We had a wonderful week's visit to Seattle for Christmas. I was totally dreading making that long drive in potentially bad weather with two little ones in tow. Particularly because to date, Josh has been less than a fan of riding in the car seat. 5 minutes out of town, we discovered that a quick rattling of his seat worked wonders to calm the screaming, and 7 1/2 hours later, we rolled into Shoreline with smiles on all our faces. We didn't even have to break out the new portable DVD player until the last hour of the drive.

We got to spend some quality time at both grandparents' houses - extra attention for Owen, extra snuggles for Josh, and extra naps for us. In Shoreline, Owen got to make gingerbread houses with Grandma and Kate and then we took a morning visit to the awesome Children's Museum in Everett. Grandpa even took an afternoon off work to spend some extra time with Owen.
In Bellevue, my parents hosted an open house for friends and family. We were able to connect with my aunt and uncle, cousins, Owen's "other nana" (Stephanie Pahlow), Peg, Laura, and Amy was able to come by with her family. Those bellies from our visit back in September are now two baby boys - Paul is just 2 weeks older than Josh. Plus, Sam and Owen again hit it off beautifully - running, diving, giggling, and forming their own charming 2-year-old hooligan gang.

Christmas Eve included tracking Santa on NORAD, a visit to see the holiday lights a the botanical garden, and some rousing music and games during our "Elves Party."

Scott also tackled the required assembly that lead to a new tricycle under the tree on Christmas morning.

We opened presents in our PJs, with my brother continuing his tradition of donning all clothing gifts simultaneously.

Then, it was off to the Lake house, where the Maxwell family was gathering in mass. The adults were able to munch and chat while the kids napped, and then we dove into the second round of present opening. Owen was still going strong, but Josh (and apparently our camera) didn't fare so well.

After a beautiful prime rib dinner, the lake house was full to the brim for Christmas night - 12 people in all!

We also had our traditional brunch with our "montessori families" and realized that we've gone through a full generation with that group - the Hathaways moved in across the street from us when Colin and I were Owen's age.

Our drive home was equally uneventful - the perfect ending to a full, full, full week. A Merry Christmas for all indeed.

Christmas in... Bend

Before heading to Seattle for Christmas week, we exchanged our family gifts in a Saturday morning celebration. I never want to have Christmas morning without kids around. Such fun!
Though the baby makes for some extra sleepy parents (and therefore AWESOME photos), Owen's excitement over even the smallest things was contagious.

Owen helped open everyone's gifts...Josh was less help, but pretty darn cute...

And after a pancake breakfast, the boys spent some time enjoying their new toys. Just as it should be on Christmas morning.

When the weather is crummy

I have this little book that has become my lifeline when we are having one of THOSE days (due to crummy weather, 2-year-old attitude, or mommy burn out). The Toddler Busy Book is a great resource of quick activities. Some are incredibly simplistic - who doesn't know to bury objects under the sand and have your kid hunt for them - but it reminds me that sometimes simple is best.

Yesterday, we were pushing to get to 4 o'clock, so I could turn on a movie to make it to dinner time, and I randomly ran across the "recipe" for MAGIC MUD:
- Pour a box of cornstarch in a bowl or shallow tray
- Add a bit of water and food coloring
- Mix with your hands and enjoy

I was skeptical, but we gave it a shot....

We started squishing and stirring with our hands. Magic Mud looks solid, but then "melts" through your hands when you try to pick it up.
After 20 minutes of exploration (note that only Sesame Street can hold Owen's attention for 20 minutes), we added some cars and then the farm animals.
An HOUR (yes, an HOUR) later, I was still hearing stories of car crashes and running cows in the kitchen and the scene was like this:
Brilliant! Winner!
I encourage you to try this super easy activity with your own kids.

P.S. We left the magic mud out and Scott was totally enthralled when he got home as well. I was at Safeway this morning buying multiple boxes of cornstarch and Owen had another go at the Magic Mud before lunch today. Brilliant!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

For Now...

There is sooo much to catch up on, but for now, the toddler is cashed out on an early nap and the baby is happy wiggling on the floor, so I had to post this mornings' funny. Owen and I are out running errands (Josh is home with a sitter, so Owen can have some Mom-time). As we head to the post office, I ask Owen:
"Will you be my good helper at the Post Office?"
Response: "No mom. I will be Owen Paul Maxwell."

Pictures and stories of Christmas and Owen's first outing on skis to come soon... I promise.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Visit with the Man in Red

We braved the driving snow earlier this month to visit the "celebrity Santa" at the Old Mill.

When I talked with Owen about what he might wish for he must have still been thinking about our thanksgiving lessons because he said he wished for "my big family." Such a sweet message, but I needed to push the commercialism and get him excited about asking for a tricycle.

Scott also did a great job of prepping Owen by talking about what Santa would look like and giving Owen the option of sitting on Santa's knee or standing by. We had a successful visit without any tears!

Here's the man locating Santa:

and the money shot:

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Christmas Warning

Warning to family - we have a 2 year old who it LOVING the Christmas Season. Consider your presents wrapped with "love." And in this case, love takes the form of crooked edges and lots of extra tape. =)

We also respectfully ask that you don't press Owen to tell you what's in your present. He doesn't get the concept of keeping a secret. Exhibit A:

Owen and I wrap his gift to Scott while Scott is at work on Sunday. I had Owen tuck the gift well behind the tree in hopes that he wouldn't remember it was there and reveal the surprise. No luck. Scott's been in the house 30 seconds when this conversation takes place:
O: Dad, come look, I wrap presents.
S: Oh, you wrapped some presents?
O: Yes, For you!
S: For me?
O: Yes, look, a Football!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Josh Is...

Josh is 7 1/2 weeks old today. You know you are the second child when you don't get the traditional one week, one month, and two month posts. In our defense, Josh hit one week on Halloween, one month over Thanksgiving, and will be two months at Christmas. Rather than lament that I'm not getting the posts up at the right times, I'm posting some of the Josh highlights right here, right now. So.... at 7 1/2 weeks, Josh is...

...Smiling! Both Scott and I are enjoying the baby smiles we're getting this week. All of a sudden, he seems to know when you are talking to him, and it's heartwarming to watch him respond.
...Fighting Reflux. The zantac we started early seems to be keeping things manageable, but Josh does have a few feedings/day where he is contorted in pain. On the plus side, the spewing is (knock on wood), nowhere near Owen levels. Fingers crossed...

...Tiny but Mighty. We only do doctor check-ups at 2 weeks and two months, so we haven't had a scale reading in a while, but we're guessing Josh is around 8 pounds.
...Strong. I keep getting comments about Josh's strong neck, which I can clearly attribute to: 1. the great muscle to weight ratio that comes when you are only 8ish pounds, and 2. the reflux that makes us hold Josh upright 90% of the time he's awake.

...Often Naked. He loves being out of that diaper! Scott keeps joking that Josh will be potty trained before Owen because he lets us know (loudly) the second he needs a diaper change. He will even hang out by himself on the floor if he can have his clothes off - as you may notice in the previously posted Christmas Tree decorating pictures.

...Sleeping "Better." Josh has finally started sleeping some longer stretches at night - 4+ hours each of the last 4 nights AND he's going down to bed in the room by himself. That give Scott and I some much needed breathing room. Napping is still pretty rough unless someone is lying next to him, but at least some progress is being made.
...Not a fan of the pacifier, swing, car seat, bouncy seat, or any of the other sanity saving pieces of baby gear we have around our house. But, he does seem to be content on his tummy on occasion. Go figure?

...Tolerant. Of all the big brother "love" he gets all day long.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This is How we do it

What does Christmas look like in our house this year? First of all, Owen is REALLY into the Christmas story, so we have been trying to focus on Advent and the countdown to Jesus' birthday. Grandmas gave us this great Advent Calendar:
Owen is building the scene every day and can't wait to put Jesus in the manger. I think we'll have to take the calendar with us on our trip to Seattle.

I created this decoration for our mantle. I love it - it finally feels like the big impact decor I've been hoping to do for the last few years. I had great intentions of us doing an Advent candle lighting/reading/craft each Sunday, but we haven't gotten there. The calendar and our books seem to be doing the trick this year and we'll dive in deeper next year.
We hear that Santa will be bringing Josh his own stocking. Good thing - not much fits in those newborn socks. =)
We also have garland and ribbon on the stairwell and a wreath on our door. This year, the weather thwarted any attempt to hang outdoor lights, but Scott still but the white ones up around the living room. Twinkle, twinkle.

Finally, the grand finale in pictures:
This is the photo that didn't make the Christmas Card. With our delayed delivery and juggling of the baby and a trip to Seattle for the holiday, you may not get your card until 2010, but this pic will have to hold you over until then.

Thoughts on the Night

Lately, my brain is dominated by sleep and lack of sleep. Some recent observations on that topic:

One big disadvantage of having a baby and a toddler is that the songs running through my head are cartoon theme songs. Generally, it's Clifford, but the night that Thomas the Train or Wonder Pets creep in... ARGH!

Josh has slept for 4 straight hours each of the last two nights. This gives me great optimism, but unfortunately not any more sleep. The first night, he slept from 8:30-12:30, so I was still up for the first half. Last night, his stretch was 10:30-2:30, but my body is so conditioned from the last 7 weeks, that I was wide awake at 1:30 waiting for him to rally.

It's a lot easier to be diligent about sleep issues with the first baby. Last night, Scott spent an hour and a half working really hard to get Josh down to sleep. When it was time for me to take a turn, I caved after 5 minutes and just brought him downstairs to hang out. Oops! Scott called me on it and reminded me that we need to work hard now to reap the benefits later.

This morning, I spent 45 minutes rocking, shushing, reading, singing, swaying, and bouncing. At the end of it all, I was falling asleep in the rocker, but the baby was wide awake. Hmmm...

Owen's daycare is a double-edged sword. I love that getting him there gives me baby one-on-one time 3 days/week and Owen gets much needed socialization and a break from mom. On the other hand, the drop off and pick-up is a big challenge on Josh's eating/sleeping routine right now. Hopefully that will work itself out once Josh starts spacing out the feedings and taking real naps... time will tell.

I promise, more pictures are coming soon!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Conversation with the Universe

Me: Dear Universe, Just because we survived through one colicky/reflux baby does not mean we were hoping for the same thing this time around.

Universe: Hey, I didn't give you the same thing. This baby is a colicky/reflux/doesn't sleep/refuses a pacifier baby.

Me: Right. Thanks. Where's the karma? I thought we already paid our dues last time.

Uni: You sure did. But I wanted you to have a chance to apply what you learned last time.

Me: Okay, so we learned to put the baby on level 1 reflux meds right away instead of waiting until he's 10 weeks old.

Uni: See, good work.

Me: Well, how about some credit for doing things right? It's looking like this baby needs level 2 meds just like Owen did. Thanks a lot.

Uni: But see, you know what to do. And you've also been figuring out what foods to avoid...

Me: Yes. Sweet. No tomatoes. Possibly no spicy foods. Great things to avoid when trying to feed a family.

Uni: You also forgot caffeine. That's on the "no" list as of today.

Me: Thanks for the reminder. As if that doesn't add insult to injury. Sleep deprived and trying to avoid caffeine, so the baby will (in theory) sleep better. Nice.

Uni: I'm just looking out for you. Besides, I clearly remember you saying you would be willing to deal with the reflux this time around.

Me: Boy, that's selective memory. I think that conversation came with Scott saying he was hoping for a baby without reflux and I said, "I'll take the reflux again as long AS LONG AS THE BABY SLEEPS WELL." Remember??

Uni: Hmm. Well, I just heard the first part.

Me: Can we at least make a deal? How about you cut us some slack and not send us the UPS Man, Ringing Phone, or Barking Dog the very instant I finally get the baby to sleep?

Uni: What do I get in return?

Me: I'll get back to you. The baby just woke up.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Training them Early

Living in Oregon, we know we have two challenges in getting Owen and Josh to follow in the Husky tradition that runs deep through both families. First, we need to teach them the beauty of the purple and gold. Second, we need to come up with out-of-state tuition!

For now, we're thrilled to be making good progress on that first challenge. Between the two Husky tailgates in September and all the purple and gold clothing in his closet, Owen is hooked on the Huskies!
(Snacks and Football!)

Some might quibble that this is actually an LSU jersey (Thanks Aunt Tracy), but Owen can't read and he's insistent on wearing this jersey for game days and at least once/week to school.

We've been working with Owen all season to help him understand the football concept. First, he thought every football game on TV was the Huskies. We would put his jersey on game days and he would run down to the TV insisting that "THERE the Huskies" while two SEC teams were playing at 9 AM. (I think he just wanted a reason to watch TV.)

Next, he figured out there are lots of teams and that the Huskies are the ones wearing purple. Which worked great until the Huskies wore white at Notre Dame. And Owen cheered for the Fighting Irish in their Navy. Bugger!

Now, he's really starting to get it. We had the whole family over during Thanksgiving weekend to watch the Apple Cup. My mom taught him about running, throwing, and tackling and how to cheer for one team or the other.
(Hey, hey, the gang's all here)

Now, Owen wants to know the names of every team playing and gives his own little play-by-play. For the Apple Cup, we heard lots of this:
"Huskies Running!"
"Huskies Running Again."
"Huskies go fast."
"Those the Cooters."
"Cooters Fall Down."
"Huskies tackle the Cooters!"
Pretty much sums up the game, I think.

(Josh getting a nap with some subliminal messaging from Papa)

On another note, this was an unfortunate year for us living in Oregon - to watch both Oregon teams playing for the Pac-10 Championship? Urgh. At least Owen has that figured out, too. When I walked downstairs to see the boys watching the game, here was the conversation:
"Who's Playing Owen?"
"Those the Duckies and those the Beavers."
"Who are we cheering for?"
"Beavers....and the Huskies!"

Enough said.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Golden Moments

My theme words for the day were "sore" and "tired" after nursing Josh every two hours last night. Thankfully, God elected to answer my little prayers and sent me an agreeable two year old for the day. In fact, I experienced a number of golden moments with Owen that really kept me going today. This is not to say that I didn't hear my fair share of whining and protesting, but here are a few things that vastly overshadowed the frustrations today...

Owen amazed me with his observations throughout our visit to the High Desert Museum this morning (this month's first Friday field trip) and then joyfully wandered around with Hazel and Julie while I sat down to nurse the baby.

He pulled out a slew of books and snuggled up on the couch to "read" to Josh while I was nursing.

He held a personal (and very entertaining) dance party to Michael Bouble (on Oprah)... so entertaining that I rewound the DVR to let him dance again.

He joyfully headed downstairs to "play independently" after his nap while I caught a 10 minute cat nap and made sure Josh would stay down for a bit longer. Is this the same kid who wouldn't even play alone across the room from me 4 months ago???

He said please and thank you countless times - those really are magic words aren't they?
He read my mind and decided he needed to clean up his Legos BEFORE I even asked.

He ate dinner!!

He had an all around agreeable demeanor and lots of laughter during the post dinner playtime.

As we are working through these challenging newborn weeks, I feel like I am continually developing a deeper love for my first born. If these are the terrible twos, I'll take them in a double dose please. And it gives me joy and hope to know that the baby I'm snuggling will one day be amazing me with his maturity and funny observations. I'm tired, but I'm witnessing daily why it's all worth it.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

You know you're short on sleep...

You know you're short on sleep when:

- Cold, day-old coffee looks (and tastes) wonderful
- You take off your jacket and try to put it in... the refrigerator.
- You send the 2-year old downstairs after his nap with full intention of following him, and wake up a half hour later sitting up in bed (I think he might have spent that half hour watching Dr. Oz on TV, but I'll never really know).
- A nap trumps a shower any day.
- Your best ideas occur at 4 AM. This week - how to rearrange furniture to accommodate the Christmas Tree, how to celebrate Advent with a 2 year old, the Holiday party plan, and many Christmas present ideas all came to me in the night.
- You spin around 3 times in the kitchen looking for the clock (that hasn't moved in 5 years).
- Among all the strange things occurring at your house, this is the list you can remember.

On the plus side, Josh really has made a vast improvement in his sleep over the last week. He's not going any longer between night feedings, but is spending the majority of the night in the co-sleeper next to our bed. That means, Scott and I are sleeping (mostly) in the horizontal position. After cutting spicy foods out of my diet last week, Josh seems to be more willing to return to sleep after feedings, so I'm able to handle MOST of the night duty myself (allowing Scott more hours of uninterrupted sleep). Naps are still dicey, but working on trying to get Josh at least one nap a day in the bedroom. In fact, as I type this, he has been up there by himself for the last hour (after an hour of shared nap with me). All in all, I feel like we're making progress, but I'm holding out judgment until we get past the "typical fussy peak" that occurs around 6-8 weeks. Cross your fingers that we make it to Christmas in one piece!