Thursday, April 26, 2018

Day in the Life: 18 Months, 3.5 Years

I have been wanting to write a "day in the life" post for quite a while now, just to have a reminder for myself of what these days were like. "These days" feel--at various times--long, fun, sweet, difficult, too short, rushed, mundane, and precious. Every day is different, so I know what I write here won't capture this season entirely, but a snapshot is better than nothing.

For perspective, our current situation: We have been living in Silicon Valley for about four months. Marshall attends preschool full time (about 9:15 am to 4:00 pm), and Declan stays home with me. We're hoping that soon enough I'll land a full time job, so I have an ever-present awareness that these days of lazy (er, less crazy?) mornings, no-schedule hours midday, and do-whatever-I-want naptimes will eventually end. I'm soaking them in as much as I can! (Also, I wrote this post last week and have been dragging my feet on getting the photos loaded.)

5:45 am: Declan is awake. We just got home a few days ago from our biggest trip in years--a full week of travel to Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina--and Declan is still adjusting to the time change. Today's wakeup time is much better than yesterday's (a full hour earlier), so we'll take it! Terry gets up to hang with Dec and I gratefully stay in bed to sleep a bit longer.

6:40 am: I finally get myself up to start the day. I'm pretty good about getting my contacts in, face rinsed, hair brushed first thing in the morning, but I rarely get dressed right away, and I always regret it. It's not bad to hang out in pjs all morning, but when it's time to go I always wish I had gotten myself ready first. Oh well. Declan comes in my room to see what I'm up to and we head out to play in the living room for a while.

7:00 am: Marshall is our sleepy head in the mornings--or, actually, he's usually awake but prefers to just hang out in his bed a while before getting up. Today he's up right around 7:00, ready to "plaaaaaaay!"

7:15 am: I get breakfast going (eggs, toast, and fruit--my favorite) while the boys read, play, hang out with Daddy. Breakfast is the only meal of the day we are guaranteed to enjoy altogether, so we make it a point to sit and (attempt to) relax with the boys. Luckily they love pretty much all breakfast foods so we rarely have to struggle with "take one bite" on repeat during this meal. Today we talk about the weather (more rain on the way, yay!), upcoming events at Marshall's school, and the like.

7:50 am: I suggest a walk after breakfast, since we're a bit early, so we tackle the always-difficult task of getting the kids and ourselves ready for a simple walk around the neighborhood. Marshall has a tough time with transitions--as all toddlers do--so we work through changing clothes, going to the bathroom, and finally getting outside.

8:10 am: We enjoy a 25-minute walk around the neighborhood with the double stroller. The boys generally enjoy walks (once we get outside), and it gives Terry and I a few minutes to chat. It's also a lovely day!

8:35 am: Back home, Terry and I take turns showering and hanging with the kids. They are starting to get to a point where they can handle longer and longer periods of less intense supervision, but we stay close for now. Today Marshall chose to help Declan put on his rain boots, which was such a sweet moment.

9:00 am: Terry and Marshall head out. When possible, Terry tries to take Marshall to school, which ends up being about twice per week. Meanwhile, Declan and I finish getting ready and head out ourselves!

9:30 am: On our way out to the car, Declan starts running loops around our little rock bed in the front yard, so I engage him in a little game of chase. I remind myself what a blessing it is to be able to take our time like this. It wasn't so long ago that I was working full time and we did a lot more rushing around, and I know it'll go back to that soon when I'm (hopefully) employed again. For now, I'm trying to remember to allow these little delays.

9:37 am: Declan and I arrive at our local library to return some books, but the library isn't open yet so we stroll down the block to this neighborhood's main street. One thing I love about the Bay Area is all the small downtowns we have yet to explore.

Today I decide to pop in to a little bakery to grab a mini pastry, and Dec and I share it on a bench outside. He says, "Bench," and seems so happy sitting there. I love these moments. (On the other hand, moments like yesterday when he simply couldn't find anything to make him feel content are a bit harder.)

10:00 am: We're back at the library and head inside to play, grab books, and roll around on the giant teddy bears in the children's section. Declan plays with a little girl, and it reminds me that he really will benefit from getting to socialize at daycare when he gets to go.

11:00 am: We arrive back home. I make some tea for myself, and we hang out reading some of our library books and playing with Scout. A diaper change is thrown in there somewhere, and I update Terry on our day so far.

12:00 pm: Lunch! I serve Dec a snacky meal: hard-boiled egg, cucumber and carrot with hummus, and a banana muffin. I'm not hungry yet, so I chat with Declan while I prep dinner. I explain the process of making broccoli cheese soup (<--I skip the bacon and double the broccoli and we all love this recipe!), and he giggles when I run the immersion blender. If I ever become a cooking show host, my children will be able to say they were my first audience. What an honor for them, right?

12:40 pm: Satisfied with lunch, Declan heads in for his nap. He can usually get himself to sleep on his own, but today he's calling for me after 15 minutes so I rock him all the way to sleep. The peaceful feeling I get when I see my babies sleeping never gets old.

(fun fact: Declan almost always sleeps on his back, and usually with his arms over his head, just like when he was a newborn <3)

1:10 pm: I tiptoe out of Declan's room and start this blog post, eating my lunch of leftover chana masala

and watching Julie & Julia. Then I race around the house tidying up, washing dishes, and working on another cover letter for a job application. I relish this time to myself, to do as I please and keep the house running as I see fit. Usually I use the time to cook, meal plan, clean, organize parts of the house, do laundry, and take breaks to read blogs or browse social media. Declan's nap time gives me energy to tackle the rest of the afternoon and evening, and I am grateful for it.

3:10 pm: Declan is awake, so I wrap up a few more tasks and scoop him out of his crib. We only have a few minutes to hang out before heading to Marshall's school for pickup.

3:50 pm: We arrive at Marshall's school, and Marshall interrupts his class story time to ask me if he can stay to finish the book. I love his sweet innocence; he walks up to me while the teacher is still reading to start telling me all about the book. We gather up his belongings and head out, and he chats to me the whole way home about the book they were reading, what he wants to do at home, and ideas for fun tonight.

4:10 pm: We're back at home, and it's a bit windy and chilly out, so we head inside to play. Marshall is excited about all the new library books, so we read a few. The boys have trouble agreeing on one book, and when we settle on a firetruck book they have trouble agreeing on the pacing (Declan wants to stare at one page and keeps going back to it, but Marshall insists that we keep marching ahead). I make myself another cup of tea and soak up almost two hours of cuddles, giggles, and squabbles with the boys.

5:55 pm: I reheat the broccoli soup from earlier and throw some bread in the toaster to warm up. The boys are doing a great job of playing independently--a rare occurrence!

6:05 pm: The boys decide they want to help me with dinner, so they pull out the kitchen tower and climb up. I'm scrambling to make sure they don't slice fingers on the cheese grater when Terry gets home. He and the boys set the table while I serve dinner. I'm always so grateful to have him home before dinner!

6:13 pm: The boys love the soup (what's not to love about cheesy soup?). We chat about our days and laugh at Declan eating his meal with two spoons.

6:35 pm: Dinner is pretty quick, and the boys all head to the bathroom for bath time. I stay in the kitchen to wash a few dishes, store leftovers, clean the kitchen, and write up a quick workout for me and Terry.

7:05 pm: Declan comes running out of the bathroom and into the kitchen to find me after bath, my cue to step back in to help get the boys ready for bed. I let Declan run around in just a diaper for a second, and then Terry and I tag team pajamas. Terry reads Declan his bedtime story and gets him into bed. Marshall gets a few more wiggles out and then snuggles up with me on the couch for a few books. Terry joins us for a bit and then we bring him to bed together around 7:40.

7:45 pm: Terry and I chat for a few minutes about our days and then start in on a solid leg workout while catching up on a few TV shows. We end up on the couch watching a few more with some cookies and wine to end the day. We also book a hotel for our upcoming night away--just us! It's been almost two years since we had a night away from the kids, so we're really excited to sleep and relax and have uninterrupted conversations!

10:20 pm: Time for bed! I shower, read a few chapters of a new book, and then it's lights out.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Declan: 18 Months

Happy half birthday to our funny, sweet, adorable little boy!

I should get some height and weight stats this week at Declan's check up appointment, but he fits in all the clothes Marshall was wearing at this age, so I assume the numbers are similar. 18 months is such a FUN age! I remember it well with Marshall, too (Marshall at 18 months, just for fun), and I absolutely love watching Declan in this stage of life.

Declan is a big eater and loves most foods. He hates potatoes. (On St. Patrick's Day, I joked that he's got the world's most Irish name and is German and yet hates potatoes. I have no idea.) But for the most part he's really into meal time and cries when I don't serve him fast enough. Many days, he eats more than his big brother!

Declan is gaining a lot of coordination and is much more steady on his feet. Just last week he started picking up speed and now he can almost run! I love watching his determination as he tries to make his little feet move as fast as possible. He also really wants to learn how to jump. He's got a solid squat and then he stands up really fast and says, "Jump!" Sometimes he picks up one foot, but he never gets off the ground. I just love it.

Declan's language is exploding, too! He is gaining new words every day, and we hear him improving his pronunciation of words, too. Some new words lately: excavator ("etta"), horse, frog, panda, shirt. And my favorite right now: "'Shull" (his word for Marshall). He also just started saying "Denden" which means Declan. He also shakes his head when he says "no" and just makes me smile.

Declan still stays home with me for the time being, and we get lots of quality time together. His favorite activities are water play (I've started setting up some bowls and cups for pouring and splashing in our backyard), reading, doing anything his brother is doing, tinkering around the house with whatever toys he stumbles upon, and any gross motor activities (walking, running, climbing stairs, etc.). 

For a long time, I worried that Declan wouldn't love reading, since he showed just about zero interest for his first year. But finally, we won him over in the last few months. (I have no advice here, except to say that when he did finally start to seem interested in one book, we would stop whatever we were doing to join him and read with him. Even now, if he brings us a book, we'll do everything we can to stop and read so that he sees it's a priority for us and that it's a good way to spend quality time together. Ultimately, though, I realize that he is probably naturally interested in books and reading and it just took a little while to reveal that interest.) Reading with Marshall has been one of the greatest joys of my life, and I am so thrilled to get to share a similar experience with Declan, too. Of course, it's rare that we get them to want to read the same book at the same time, but we'll take what we can get!

Speaking of his brother, Declan and Marshall are starting to form a brotherly bond. I'm excited to see their relationship evolving past coexistence and into moments of joy and fun together. These moments do not last long, and they usually end in tears, but I can see glimpses of a future of brotherly love, and I'm willing to wait for more of it.

Some days we have molars breaking through (he's at 9 teeth, first molar in, and we're all dreading the next few), and life is hard on those days. Lots of clinging to mama, whining, crying, and not sleeping. Poor baby. 

But most days, we have a happy, funny, silly little guy who loves to make faces and imitate the people around him. He is curious, engaged, confident, and loving. He loves mama and dada and Marshall, and he makes our family and days so bright.


He chose this outfit.

A year and a half of this joy is only the beginning. We can't wait to see what happens as he edges nearer to age two! 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Currently (15 Months & 3.5 Years)

A snapshot of our lives with Declan (15 months) and Marshall (just over 3.5 years), two months into our new adventure in Silicon Valley...

Rain! We've all purchased new rain gear, and our boys don't quite understand why we can't ALWAYS go outside. It's funny: In LA, we tried to spend a lot of time outside, but the boys didn't necessarily beg to go out, and they didn't argue when it was time to come back in the house. Now, though, it's all about being "out!" (as Declan declares loudly each day). Luckily, we have our backyard, our front yard, and a very close park to choose from when we do have decent enough weather.

Also, babies in rain gear...need I say more?

 So now we spend a LOT of time outside.

We found a local trail for walks, and our double stroller is logging quite a few miles this winter!

Our little independent three-year-old is testing out how far he can run away from us. This scene is pretty common nowadays.

We are eagerly exploring new neighborhoods and trying out new restaurants. One thing I love about the Bay Area is that each small city has its own downtown, and most of them are adorable main street areas with cute shops, fun restaurants, and good people watching. It's nice to have a Place To Go on days we just need to get out of the house!

But we find plenty to do around the house too. Lots of "Mommy, play with me!" and shrieks (playing? arguing? who can tell?) and giggles. It's chaotic and fun and exhausting.

During the day, Marshall goes to a new preschool, and I stay home with Declan. Marshall LOVES his new school, teachers, and friends, and we think it's a great fit for him. We were nervous about the transition for him, especially since we loved his old school so much, but it's all gone better than we could have hoped. Of course, we have seen some elements of adjusting--more tantrums than usual, some defiance here and there--but we think Marshall is taking this whole move really well overall and are so proud of his resilience.

At three and a half years, Marshall is a hardcore rule-follower (and rule-maker: if there isn't a rule, or  if he doesn't like the rule, he'll create a new one!). He still loves books more than anything, and his favorite toys are those that involve building--Legos, blocks, anything. He's growing into his big brother role and struggles with how to interact with Declan. I get it. Declan's too little to join in many of Marshall's favorite things, and when they do play together Declan tends to "destroy" (Marshall's word) whatever Marshall is building. But mealtimes are so fun, and they are starting to share inside jokes and love to get reactions out of each other. I see some major shenanigans in our future! Three is a tough age for all of us: daily battles for Marshall to get dressed and out the door for school, high emotions all the time, struggles around being so little and yet feeling more independence. Terry and I are doing our best to help him through it, and he's doing a great job of reminding us that he's still our sweet, hilarious, curious, observant little boy.

15-month-old Declan is bursting with energy and isn't much for sitting still. He is slooooowly starting to show some interest in books, but he seems to enjoy the act of choosing a book, bringing it to us, sitting in our laps, and opening the book more than the whole reading thing (who has time for that when I can just pick out a different one and start all over?). He still loves to eat and takes some good naps now, along with sleeping all the way through the night a few times a week (hallelujah!). I wonder if he misses day care, since he loves people and would probably enjoy being around other voices and faces, but I really am enjoying our time together, however long it lasts. So I do my best to get us out of the house a lot, and hopefully next month we can check out some baby gym classes to let him hang out with other people.

Declan and I spend our days in a mix of fun outings and adventures geared toward him (walks, parks, the local children's museum) and chores and errands that I sprinkle in (I've checked out every Trader Joe's and Target in a 10-mile radius). He's at a fun age right now: he's walking really solidly so he can play on most play structures at parks, and we can mix up our outings with the stroller or letting him walk. He's also talking a lot more now, with maybe 30-50 words he uses consistently. He recently started saying "happy," but he doesn't really use it in any context, so there are times he just randomly starts saying "happy...happy..." over and over while sitting in his car seat or toddling around the house. Needless to say, it's adorable.

(at the library--he has no idea what to do here, but he sure looked confident sitting there!)

This weekend, we officially weaned Declan completely from breastfeeding. He's been down to one feeding per day for a while now, and I figured it was time to make the jump. I think he'll adjust pretty quickly, but I'm sad to see those days end. Luckily, my experience with Marshall showed me that our relationship will continue to evolve, and I know that Declan and I have lots of fun in store! Still, I'll miss those quiet moments, just me and him (or sometimes, me, him, and a certain big brother squeezing onto the chair because he wants to hear the story I'm reading to Dec). I feel so blessed to have had a positive breastfeeding experience with both boys, and I truly cherished that time. Now we're officially into toddlerhood and ready for whatever it brings!

And hopefully it'll bring more adventures like this weekend's outing to Muir Woods! We had a chilly, crisp day, a little mud, and lots of TALL trees!

These ages are so fun, but they certainly have their share of challenges. The bickering comes and goes, but I have noticed that the loving moments are becoming more frequent. We're starting to see a friendship blossom, and I look forward to days when they'll actually play together for more than a few minutes!

 Terry and I are so lucky to get to enjoy these sweet little boys and to enjoy these young years. I hope these quick posts will help me remember what it was like to be in the midst of it all.