Monday, May 24, 2010

What's after Survival?

Survivor wrapped up an amazing season last week. And, yes, we still watch it every week. And yes, I'm glad we do because this was an amazing season.

But... that's not the kind of survival I'm thinking about today. Last week was a great week - to the point that I'm willing of officially declare that we are out of survival mode and on to... What? What comes after survival? We're certainly not all the way to "thriving" mode, but I think we've hit our stride as a family of 4. Maybe I've just finally gotten all the pregnancy/postpartum hormones out of my system, but I told Scott that I felt like I as "on a high" all day Thursday because I really feel like things are working. It doesn't feel like I'm are trying to work our lives around a new baby anymore, and I'm not constantly thinking about the extra effort it is to do things with two kids - instead I'm just moving through the day with two kids and it feels NORMAL. I talked before about how we were nearing the end of the new baby tunnel. Now I feel like we are out of the tunnel and aclimated to our new surroundings to the point that we can actually navigate this new place with some level of confidence.

I'm thankful for the wonderful advice we got from all angles to lower expectations and give ourselves grace to be in survival mode for the first few months with a new baby. I had a friend (Hi Stephanie) tell me that she was skipping the toddler baths and relying on Annie's Mac and Cheese quite a bit after her second child was born. While we can't skip baths (remember the blue hair?), I did reflect on her words quite often as I gave myself permission to make PB&J every day for lunch or eat cereal for dinner on those days (or weeks) when we were buried in the weeds.

Just last weekend, I was lamenting to Scott at how frustrating it is to have to work around infant nap times again. If Josh naps until 10:30, by the time I can nurse him, pack up the kids, and get out the door, we usually have just 30 minutes to do something before we have to head home for lunch and nap time again. It was not looking like a fun summer. And then, last Sunday, we headed up to Mt Bachelor for an end of season BBQ with some friends (pictures soon). We got an early start, Josh napped in the car and the Ergo, and we were able to enjoy our time with friends instead of stressing about getting back home. Suddenly, I can see how a similar routine will let us enjoy our summer activities.

Last Thursday was nothing special, but I finally felt like I got some things done other than just feeding the kids and maintaining sanity. The kids and I took the car to the mechanic (thank goodness our shop is owned by a guy with small children, so the waiting area has plush chairs and a children's toy corner), vacuumed, set up a "string and bead" obstacle course, prepped dinner during nap time, went to yoga (again, thank goodness our community gym has an amazing child care center - $2/hour!), read and responded to emails from work, and even cooked and pureed 3 different batches of baby food while making other meals throughout the day. This is just normal stuff, but I think that's the point. It all felt normal, not monumental, not overwhelming, just normal to work through that day. We are hitting our stride.

The other big "hitting our stride" accomplishment is that for 3 nights last week, I fed, bathed, and put to bed both kids by myself. Just a month ago, Scott's mom was here helping out because bedtimes still felt so daunting. Not anymore! I recognize that a big part of this success is that Owen is getting on board with the routine now as well. I bathe and cloth both kids together, but then he has to occupy himself for a half hour while I nurse and snuggle Josh. After many attempts at this where Owen threw major fits, he has finally embraced his "pajama play time." He was so used to bath-pjs-snuggle time, but now understands that his snuggle time IS coming... just a little later.

As I read back through this, it all sounds a little silly. How can it feel so daunting to navigate a day with two kids? But I think that's the point. A month ago, I felt totally buried, but now I almost can't remember why it was so challenging in the first place. Maybe it's not encouraging to read that it's taken us almost 7 months to get to this point, but it sure feels great to be here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Second Cousins

My cousin Katie just had her second precious baby. Walker Vincent brings their family to 4, just like us. I'm so grateful that the internet let's us stay in touch and keep up with the latest on each others' kids. We've never met Molly Kate, but I feel like I know her so well. Someday we will get back to Baton Rouge and let our kids meet in person. For now, Owen does like looking at pictures of MK on Katie's blog.

Katie just posted 1 week pictures of Walker, maybe it's just the eyes (or maybe just that "new baby" look), but I think he and Josh share a lot of similarities:

Walker at 1 week:

Josh at 1 month:

Monday, May 17, 2010

In my place

Owen has decided that he's going to start using the potty when he is 3. I keep suggesting that maybe he would like to get some practice in before his birthday rolls around, but at this point, he's pretty dead set on his plan. And, with 6 weeks until his birthday, I'm nearly resolved to just wait it out and then dive in full force come June 5th. (Maybe I should pick up that book about the one-day potty training method. Does it work?)

Today's car conversation:
Owen: Last night (which is his term for anything that happened in the past), I had 2 birthdays.
Me: Really?
Owen: Yes, one at our house and one at Miss Stephanie's house.
Me: You know Owen, in six weeks, you're going to have another birthday.
Owen: (Gasp!)
Me: Yes, and when you have your birthday, then you will be 3 years old!
Owen: ... and I will use the potty!
Me: Okay. Sounds good to me.
Owen: ... and you will wipe my bottom.

And so decreed the king. And I really can't argue (though I did get a good laugh). Yup, that's pretty much how it will happen. Sigh. This is not a glamorous job folks.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Moab (aka Why my Husband is the Toughest Guy I Know)

(I'll add pictures to this one later if we can get them off Scott's phone)

Lest you think the only thing we have going on around here is managing two kids (though that would be enough), I thought I'd give you a little peak at what Scott's been doing lately. Top of the list would be WORK, followed by Work, Work, and more Work. He is one of the lucky guys that still has a job in the construction industry of Bend. While we are grateful for his employment, the lack of jobs also means that those few employed people are taking on a LOT more responsibility than when there is more money to hire more people and spread the work around. So, Scott works his 55 hour weeks and usually has to go into the office at least one afternoon on the weekends. In the midst of it all, I am grateful that he is diligent about getting home by 6:30 for some brief toddler wrestling before helping put the kids to bed. I've only had to tackle the double bedtime routine a handful of times.

Scott's most recent project is a new Technology Center for Bend High School. It's a pretty awesome building that replaces the old wood shop with a modern building that will house a wider variety of technical skills classrooms - automotive, sound studios, video production, wood shop, computer lab, etc, etc, etc. You can see a picture of the finished building here. As cool as the project is, we are VERY excited that construction is coming to a close. Scott's next project will be the Deschutes Recovery Center - a residential mental health treatment facility near the County jail.

In the midst of all this work, our friend Kevin schemed up a Guys Trip to Moab for some amazing mountain biking at the end of April. I say schemed because he got Dave - father of a toddler and newborn twins - on board first, so none of us other wives could object to anybody else going on the trip. In reality, I'm glad Scott was able to go. That trip gave him something to look forward to, motivation to get to the gym and on a bike, and a reason to take some solid days off work. Plus, we all need to get our adrenaline pumping once in a while, and chasing much better riders over some of the best mountain biking terrain in the country?? That'll do it! We had Grandma Ethel come stay to help me with the kids and the guys did 3 days of amazing mountain biking sandwiched between two 880 mile road trips. Do you think anybody was sore after that one?

We decided that with 10 guys doing that much riding, there was probably a required number of injuries to be sustained. Scott was generous to take them all for the team. Final tally - two cracked ribs*, one broken nose**, one semi-sprained ankle, and one re-energize husband/father who looks ready to tackle the world again.

*Cracked ribs - sustained 100 yards into the first ride on the first day. Scott realized they might be cracked 2 days after getting HOME from the trip. The doctor told him the most important thing to do with craked ribs is to breathe deeply. Um, 2 days of mountain biking will keep you breathing deeply.

**Broken nose - sustained early on day 2. Supposedly caught on camera, but I've yet to see. Scott realized in might be broken a WEEK AND A HALF after it happened. Not until the swelling went down did we notice that it was a little crooked. Even the urgent care doctor that diagnosed the ribs didn't identify the nose issue. Scott's Dr sent him right to the ENT, who told him he could let it heal and decide later if he wanted general surgery -OR- come back in a couple hours and he would try and get it back in place (aka rebreak your nose while you sit there and watch). Scott chose Option B. Took local anesthetic, held still while watching/listening to the doctor reposition his nose, and then headed back to work. An evening on the couch and he's good to go with a very stylish nose split for the next week.

I told Scott it's a good thing he's tough or his injuries would have really put a damper on the trip. He pointed out that if he wasn't so tough, he wouldn't have kept riding after a fall that cracked two ribs - thus saving himself from the broken nose and sprained ankle. Good point.

Boys!... and I have two of them who are clearly taking after their father.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I'll be Watching You

Every feel like you're being stalked? We are. Owen is on alert every waking minute keeping track of what Scott and I are doing, wearing, and saying. He can be playing completely in his own little world and still catch the whole conversation Scott and I are having in the other room. Our first indication that he was listening more than we thought occurred right before Josh was born. We had been making arrangements for Owen to go stay at Lily's house when I went into labor, or for Alisha to come spend the night with Owen if it was a night time event. We had yet to talk with Owen about it, but one day we were driving in the car and Owen told me, "Mom, one day I will go play at Lily's house after school." I naively thought he had given me a great lead in to talk about our arrangements, so I said, "Oh, that's a good idea. How about when the baby is born, you can go play at Lily's house?" and Owen responded, "Yea. Or Lily's mommy will come play at OUR house." Thus ended our ability to talk about anything without Owen knowing exactly what was up.

Owen is also quick to point out any change in our clothing, appearance, or activity. "Mom, did you take a shower?" "Daddy, did you cut your whiskers?" "Mommy, why are you not wearing any socks?" "Daddy, where is your jacket?" Nothing gets past this kid.

He's recently taken a great interest in taking pictures with our camera to document his view of the world. Some recent gems:

I suppose the observations will only get worse in a couple years, as Josh is quite the watcher, too. We actually worry a bit that he doesn't have a good blinking reflex because he can stare at you, wide-eyed, unflinching even as you wave a hand in front of his face. I suppose it's time to pick-up our game, start spelling words, and find some better hiding spots for gifts!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Action, Action, We Got Action

I posted about Josh's recent interests at 6 months old, but his activity seems to have accelerated over the last two weeks. It's as if he learned to sit up and suddenly obtained a significantly more complete understanding of the world around him. He's not so angry on his tummy and has even started trying to pull his legs up underneath - soon to be inch-worming across the floor.

He's found his hands and feet and finds them FASCINATING. He's now a menace around breakable objects - time to start eating with our plates in the center of the table! And Josh is just generally much more aware of what's going on. I realized the other night that he was getting totally excited as Scott and were having the nightly "who's bath do you want" conversation. Josh was on my hip kicking and wiggling around because he knew that bath time was coming soon.

AND, he finally started eating some food this week in a measurable quantity. He's eating "lunch" at school and dinner at home - only a few spoonfuls at a time, but enough to add one more thing to the list of "don't forgets" as we head to out the door each morning and one more element to keep track of during the dinner hour. I'm ready to start filling the freezer with pureed veggies - just in time for summer produce season - hooray!

Oh, and I don't think I posted his 6 month statistics:
13 lb, 12 oz - 3%
25 inches - 10%
43 cm head - 25%
Josh continues to grow just a BIT faster than Owen - he was 2 oz bigger at 2 months, 4 oz bigger at 4 months and 8 oz bigger at 6 months. But basically, Josh is about the size of our average 3-4 month old. No worries - as I have said before, we are raising soccer players, not linebackers. Besides, you wouldn't want to cover this precious head with a helmet anyway, would you?

And one last thing - Josh is days away from being off his reflux medication. We switched him to a stronger medicine at 4 months, but he has been a happy spewer for a while, so I dropped him down to every other day a few weeks ago and the doctor agreed that we should wean him completely off. As long as I don't eat tomatoes, Josh is a happy camper - our clothes are soggy and we're going through multiple bibs and burp clothes every day - but Josh is happy, so he gets to be medication free a full 5 months earlier than Owen was. Hooray!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Tunnel

When the boys were babies, my friend Sarah and I always compared the newborn stage to being in a tunnel. As much as you prepare and try to anticipate what it will be like, you are still totally disoriented when you are first plunged into the darkness and sleep deprivation after having a baby. At first, you are in a fog and spinning in circles, but eventually you start walking - you gain confidence feeding, changing, and bathing a new baby, you start (hopefully) getting some more sleep. You make successful outings to the grocery store or to visit friends. With each accomplishment, you are making progress through the tunnel.

We used to joke that just when you think you have reached the light at the end of the tunnel, you realize, "Shoot - only a skylight! I'm still in this darn tunnel." At the same time, those skylights are critical because they give you a glimpse of how your life might return to normal if you can just get through the New Baby Tunnel. They make you pick your head up and keep going instead of focusing on the dark ground.

I distinctly remember when Owen was about 6 months old, we came out of the tunnel. His mood shifted, my confidence soared, and suddenly every.single.little.task didn't take a humongous effort. I could pack him up and hit the store without planning a day in advance. We could anticipate his needs and make some intelligent guesses about how to entertain him. We were in a routine with daycare. We were out!

I've been thinking about that tunnel lately. In fact, it's caused me some frustration because, as we approach the 6 month mark with Josh, I feel like we should be out of the tunnel. Things should be back to normal. We should feel like we have fully assimilated Josh into our life. Things should not be so hard anymore... but they are.

And, as I composed this post in my head (at 3 am while nursing the baby 2 weeks ago - it's taken me that long to get the words out of my brain and onto the screen), I realized that I had forgotten something crucial about the tunnel...

Tunnels, by nature, are intended to take you TO A DIFFERENT PLACE.

When we came out of the tunnel after Owen was born, we had to develop new routines, make new friends, and navigate around a completely unfamiliar place. It was easier after those first 6 months because we could see and form intelligent thoughts, but we were still in a whole new world.

I realized that I've been walking through the Josh tunnel facing backwards, trying to get back to the "normal" that we were back in September. But looking back into the tunnel was dark and daunting. Once I was able to turn around and look for the NEW PLACE that Josh's tunnel is taking us, I discovered just how close we were to the end... and the light began streaming in. Yes, things are hard. Yes, we will have to learn to negotiate a new area and find new routines. Yes, there are days where we are completely bewildered by this new place. Yes, we are But some things are also getting easier because... We can see! We can breathe deeply! We can plan ahead. We can envision the way things will continue to get easier as Josh grows into himself. We are out of the tunnel.