Monday, May 23, 2016

Marshall Turns Two

Our first baby turns two years old today. Many friends and family members ask, “Can you believe he’s already two?” Or they say, “Where did the time go?” But I have the wonderful blessing of having a front row seat as this little boy grows up.

Yes, I can believe he is two. I was awake every moment he was awake; I witnessed each day of tumbles and tantrums and triumphs. I waited (im)patiently as he learned to say, “I love you, Mommy!” and then gasped when he started speaking in real sentences. We battled through hundreds of tough situations--deciding whether to go to the ER, dealing with teaching him table manners, waking up for a fourth, fifth, sixth time in one night--where Terry and I looked at each other helplessly and silently asked, “What the hell do we do?” I watched him take his sweet time learning to roll over, then sit up, then crawl, then walk, and now run. He’s never been quick on any of it, but his timing gave me a chance to enjoy the process all the more. I know he is two because two years ago our lives suddenly became centered around this needy, precious, exhausting, hilarious little being, and every day since I have thanked God for choosing us to be his parents.

I know where the time went: it went to doing our best to show this sweet kid as much as we could of what the world has to offer. It went to lots of walks in the park and endless nights bouncing on an exercise ball while cradling his (surprisingly heavy, after an hour or two) little body, to showing him all the different vegetables in the grocery stores just to get out of the house and racing home so he wouldn’t fall asleep in the car (then giving up and driving for hours to give him a good nap). The time went to handing him to Terry out of exasperation and walking out of the room to count to ten when I just didn’t know what else to do, and to not wanting to hand him over to anyone else. It went to crying when we moved him out of our room to sleep, to nights of sleeping on the floor next to his crib, to sneaking into his room to check on him and holding my breath until I could see his chest rise and fall. The time went to dozens and dozens of conversations with Terry about doing everything right, and questioning myself every time a relative or friend or article made a comment that suggested we weren’t. The time went to giggling before bedtime and feeding him more than we thought possible, to hundreds of firsts and more lasts already than my heart can stand to count. The time was spent worrying about him, always worrying, and praying that we were doing okay.

So he is two, and I can believe it, and I know where the time went, but I am so grateful for these two years. The fact that two years really felt like two years means, I suppose, that I spent that time soaking it all up. When he was born I was warned (over and over again) to cherish every moment, so I did. And so far, I think it’s working. I don’t think there’s much I would change about our first two years with this kid. And now to share a little about Marshall’s two-year-old self:

For some reason we scheduled his two-year wellness exam on his actual birthday, so we got a very accurate look at his two-year stats. Marshall is 28.7 pounds (57th percentile) and 36 inches (96th percentile), and his pediatrician estimates that he’ll end up around 6’2” (apparently they can tell at this age?), just like Daddy. But the poor guy also got three shots to round out his experience.

The most exciting development is Marshall’s talking and general ability to communicate. He tends to narrate what he’s doing, even when he’s playing by himself (“Drive the truck,” “Putting the ball away,” “Get the stool”), and he can usually tell us what he needs or wants. We’re also, of course, seeing more emotions, so the tears start pretty quickly when we say no, and he has so far maxed out at about ten consecutive minutes of crying over whatever he was upset about that day. We’re also working on whining and helping him understand patience, teaching him to ask for what he wants with, “I would like…,” but those lessons might be long-term goals. Generally, Terry and I are learning quickly what upsets him most, but sometimes he gets going and we just can’t intervene! So we are clear and firm and try to move on as best we can. It helps me to remember that when I’m feeling frustrated, he must be twice as frustrated, because at least I can understand what’s going on and rationalize the situation. But typically it’s all over in a few minutes, and we get our happy kid back.

With talking comes some hilarious moments. Terry and I finally started a quote board in an attempt to remember Marshall’s one-liners, but inevitably we forget a lot of the good ones. Still, here are some Marshall-isms to date:

“Go get Crank’s!” (when we told him we needed to stop at the store for Frank’s Buffalo sauce) -- now I call it Crank’s at home

“No, Daddy! Go play, Daddy!” (after laughing too much at Daddy’s funny faces and needing a break)

[while wailing at dinner because he had finished his hot dog bun, and he had just learned the word “bun” that meal] “I want a bone! I want a bone!” (I am guilty of collapsing into giggles during this meal while my poor toddler cried and cried about his “bone” (bun))

Daddy, teaching Marshall about life: “Marshall, when life gives you lemons, --”
Marshall: “I’m eating it!”

Us, on the way to a birthday party: “Marshall, we’re going to a birthday party! What do you think will be there?”
Marshall: “Dragons!” (???)

A common one, when he wants us to play with him: “Come on over, Mommy! Come play, Daddy!”

After a nap, a little out of it, on his changing table, “What’s happening?”

And just some sentences that blow me away because I remember how excited I was to hear him say a word for the first time, and now he speaks in full sentences:

“I don’t see any garbage trucks.”

“We’re on a train! We’re going to the beach! Going to throw sand!”

Here are recent favorites: Food (more on that below), imitating Mommy and Daddy, learning new words and trying to say them, reading (the same books, over and over), showing off for people he doesn’t know, “playing” with Scout (bringing him toys and saying, “Here you go, Scout!” or shouting, “Scoooouuuut!” while the cat cowers in fear of what might be coming--although thankfully they are quite respectful toward each other), watching any big trucks, playing with dolls or stuffed animals, anything to do with trains (he says, “Chugga chugga choo choooooo!” and “All aboard!” which sounds like, “Odd aboard!”), cleaning with Mommy or Daddy, vacuuming, singing (or asking us to sing), listening to the Harry Potter audio CDs (he asks for “Dumbledore” when we get in the car!), playing catch (he’s started throwing overhand), going for walks (but now he doesn’t love his stroller, much to our chagrin, so he walks a few blocks and then we buckle him up for longer walks), coloring, going to day care, and cooking (for real or in his play kitchen).

We’re noticing his growing independence, as he can get himself a shirt from his dresser or carry his stepstool from the bathroom to the living room to be able to look out the window. He almost never calls for us from his crib now; instead, he’ll sing to himself (real songs!) and chat for a long while before we finally go in to get him. He is quickly learning the alphabet and can count to eleven (“, eight, nine, ten, eleven, eight, nine, ten!”).

Marshall continues to amaze us with how much he can eat. I read recently that a study showed that kids under four or five are very good at ending their meals when they have eaten enough. I shared the study with Terry, and he isn’t buying it. It does seem as though Marshall rarely volunteers to stop eating, and he usually only stops eating when we run out of food (seriously) or he gets tired of being at the table. We have introduced him to some new foods lately, including chopped salads (lettuce is a bit of a struggle for him to chew in big-leaf form, but he enjoys it if we chop it small enough for him) and beets, and some new favorites are shrimp and tomatoes. His overall favorite foods are bread, fruit, and eggs.

Sleep is still going well--one nap around 12:30 for 1.5-3 hours, depending on the circumstances, and then 7:15-7:30 bedtime to 6 or 6:30 am. Every night we are thankful that he sleeps this well, after all those months of struggling to get him to sleep! This summer we will help Marshall transition to a toddler bed (our crib converts), and we bought a video monitor to give us peace of mind during that process. We’re not doing potty training anytime soon, and his pediatrician said there’s no rush, so that settled it. Cloth diapers are working well for us still, and we’ve seen no signs that he’s ready anyway, so we’ll see where we are at the end of the year.

Of course, Marshall has no idea that his little world will soon be permanently disrupted when his little brother or sister arrives in the fall. We really think he’ll do well in the transition, but we are prepared that there might be some rough patches as we all adjust. (Tips welcome!) But most people tell us there’s really nothing you can do to prepare them, kind of like with parents. :-)

To Marshall, our first baby, the one who made us parents: You are a kind soul, as your Daddy says, and you have such a curious, patient mind. You make us laugh, you challenge us, you help us see the world from your perspective. You help us slow down to watch a helicopter or squirrel, yet you show us what fun it is to run instead of walk. We love to laugh with you and oblige when you request another round of catch. We could not be more proud that when you say "UCLA," you follow up with a fist pump and a "Go Bruins!" Every day, we look forward to seeing what you might teach us, what new phrase you might pick up, what funny antics you might get up to, and every day, you amaze us with your silly, expressive, sweet self. We wish you many more years of careless, innocent, joyous childhood days and a very happy year of being two! We love you!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Three Becomes Four!

I have some exciting news to share today...

We are expecting another baby! 

Here are all the fun details:

I'm currently 18 weeks pregnant, due in mid-October, so I'm a few weeks into my second trimester. The first trimester gave me a few weeks of nausea and lots of fatigue. I was asleep on the couch by 8 or 9 every night, and sometimes it still happens that way! Overall, though, I feel like I mostly have my energy back.

In a lot of ways, this pregnancy is very similar to my first: the nausea and fatigue are comparable, maybe a little worse than last time. Cravings are similar--cereal, carbs, pizza, bagels. But I'm trying hard to focus on really good nutrition and eating lots of protein and greens, especially now that I have a good appetite. I'm excited and nervous all over again, too! 

But in many respects, this one is a completely different experience. For starters, I didn't get wildly sick upon conception (last time, I had horrible stomach problems for several days and wound up in the ER). Also, last time we thought I wasn't pregnant and threw away the test, then got a big surprise when I randomly pulled it back out to double check; this time I thought I saw a little pink line and had to have Terry check it. My belly popped at 11 weeks, definitely earlier than last time, and it's been growing noticeably as each week passes.

(Missed a few weeks in there...oops!)

For comparison, here's weeks 14-18 with Marshall:

As you might notice above, we have a different color scheme for this baby! For Marshall we did orange and grey; for this one, we're going with a teal/aqua color. Marshall's nursery was all about big grey animals--elephants, hippos, and rhinos--and this baby's (side of the) nursery will be ocean-themed, focusing on the magical octopus. :-) We don't plan to buy much, but I'd like to get a few decor items to give each kid a "side" of the room.

Oh, another big difference this time is of course that I'm working full time AND I have an almost-two-year-old. The toddler part isn't too bad, since Marshall sleeps well and is generally a mellow kid. And work itself isn't stressful. But the two combined makes for a tough combination.

I started feeling flutters over the last week or so. With Marshall, I got one swift kick at exactly 20 weeks, and he kicked strongly there on out. With this one I'm finally understanding what people mean by "flutters." And this week I started getting a couple of real kicks, which is reassuring and so fun!

Marshall knows I have a baby in my tummy, and we encourage him to say hi and "I love you" to the baby. We aren't totally sure how best to prepare him for the transition, but I think he'll do okay. Our first step will be transitioning him out of his crib this summer, so wish us luck!

(He loves dolls, so that's a good start!)

Some other updates:

Exercise has been pretty good, relatively consistent. I'm getting close to or more than 10,000 steps per day, and I've done 3-4 strength workouts per week. I'd like to add in more cardio (maybe some jogging) and yoga, but I'm also focusing on getting enough rest, so it's just a balancing act.

Weight gain feels totally different this time. First off, I didn't lose several pounds at the beginning from being super sick. But overall I'm noticing my appetite is through the roof most of the time. I've had to watch my eating, especially portion control. With Marshall, my doctor was concerned I wasn't gaining enough weight, so at least I don't have to worry about that this time!

Sleep isn't horrible, but I'm already using the pillow-between-the-knees-to-support-the-hips trick. I naturally sleep on my left side (which is recommended during pregnancy), so at least that part feels really comfortable. I do notice that I want to lay on my belly sometimes and can't. I also usually snooze on the couch by 9 and get into bed around 10, so those night naps are probably something I could kick and just go to bed earlier.

I will write more later about labor and birth preparation, but I am hoping again for a natural birth. I had a difficult (emotional) recovery from my C-section, which I am more than happy to talk about if anyone is curious or going through something similar, but I've had a lot of time to process Marshall's birth and feel confident that I did what I could and that a C-section was medically necessary. I still feel disappointed, but I am okay. And I know I would be okay again if I have to have another CS. I'm reading some new books, talking with our old Bradley Method teacher, reading lots of VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) stories, and already working on labor exercises, more for my own peace of mind than anything.

We've been to the doctor several times already, and everything looks good so far. My doctor is very encouraging of a VBAC, and my work has been great about helping me understand maternity leave. I'm feeling very optimistic about everything!

So that's the big update! I'll be back on Monday with another big one: Marshall turns TWO!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Second Mother's Day

Today marks my second official Mother's Day as a mom (I missed 2014 by this much), and it was a perfect day. We woke up early, as usual, and Terry made sure to give me time for my morning wish: a workout.

You're quite mistaken if you think I finished that whole thing. I set the timer for 25 minutes but ended up taking a few breaks, and I also stopped at 20 minutes instead of 25. Also, those "bonus" minutes of walking lunges just didn't happen at all. Given how sore I already feel, it was a wise choice to stop when I did!

After breakfast (Terry made French toast--and Marshall ate more than either of us did!), we all headed toward Venice beach for donuts and a walk. A friend told me about Blue Star donuts, a shop that started in Portland, Oregon. We were at bit taken aback at the prices ($4 for one donut!), but the treats absolutely lived up to the hype. 

I chose a buttermilk old fashioned; Terry went with chocolate ganache almond. Mine won, but both were unique and delicious. Next time I want to go back with more people so we can try a bunch of different flavors (especially the apple cider fritter and the Mexican hot chocolate!). 

Marshall got a small piece and loved it!

We strolled along Abbot Kinney for a while,

and then we headed over to the Venice canals.

(running to give Daddy a hug)

(looking for the butterfly who flew away)

After such a busy morning, we got our first car nap in a very long time. Excuse the dirty mirror.

Another awesome Mother's Day treat: some gifts from people I love, including cereal, chocolate, homemade cards, a manicure/pedicure (coming soon), and a card from my mom.

After lunch and putting Marshall down for his real nap, Terry and I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon--some TV, some tidying, some food prep, some small projects around the house. 

My dinner request was homemade pizza, and I decided to tackle a copycat version of our favorite Old School pizza from Fresh Brothers (a Southern California chain). It has a spicy sauce, sliced meatballs, pepperoni, and pickled vegetables, so we made the meatballs last night (baked about a dozen of them for the pizza, froze the rest raw to use another time). 

For the sauce, I combined the pickled vegetables (we just used a jar of giardiniera from the store), diced tomatoes, and a bit of leftover pasta sauce.

For the dough, we used my favorite recipe.

And then we layered everything up with mozzarella (and forgot to take a photo of the final product).

It didn't taste too much like the original, but it was delicious and made two full pizzas, so we have plenty of leftovers for lunches this week.

And now we're chilling on the couch, catching up on Once Upon a Time and munching on some of hat chocolate I mentioned earlier. 

Some more miscellaneous fun from the week:

Saturday's breakfast: scrambled eggs with spinach and ricotta, raspberries, and toast with ricotta.

Copycat Chipotle bowls (brown rice, black beans, tomatoes, sauteed onions and peppers, cheese, salsa, guac, and yogurt.

A lunch for Marshall this week--hard boiled egg, blackberries, frozen peas, and a carrot-applesauce muffin.

These sweet, sweet teacups my brother and sister-in-law sent me for Mother's Day! Aren't they so cute? 

I recently made a batch of this baked oatmeal, which was pretty good. I still haven't found a steel-cut oatmeal recipe that I LOVE, so if you have any I should try, please let me know! I also want to try this one again with pecans instead of peanuts. I love peanut butter, but I don't love peanuts the same way, so maybe pecans is the answer.

And now I'm off to get this week started! Enjoy yours, and happy Mother's Day to all the moms, moms-to-be, and moms-at-heart. <3

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Jacs are Back!

My favorite favorite favorite thing about Southern California:

The Jacaranda trees! By the end of April each year, these delightful purple trees are in bloom all over Los Angeles. We have a few outside our house and tons line the streets on my walk to work. They make the neighborhood so bright and colorful! Yesterday, I requested a family walk around the neighborhood just to look at the jacaranda trees. Marshall has now learned the word "jacaranda," which is as adorable as you might imagine. So anyway, it's my favorite time of year for LA!

Last weekend, Terry and I spent our very first night away from Marshall together. We headed down to San Diego around noon on Saturday to celebrate Terry's 30th birthday! I didn't take many photos, but here are a few of our adventures:

We arrived a bit later than we expected, so upon check-in we just changed and headed out to walk around before dinner. There was a Padres game that evening, and the stadium is in the middle of downtown, so we walked near the stadium and stopped for a beer and appetizer at Stone Brewery Tasting Room. They had a bunch of board games, so I let Terry win a round of TV trivia.

Then we headed to our reservation at Spike Africa's, a seafood place. for dinner. The entrees were good, but the desserts were killer. For Terry's birthday, they offered us a free dessert, and then a waiter came around with a huge yellowtail (whole) and said if we guessed the weight we'd get another free dessert. My husband, who is Good at All Things, guessed 13 pounds, so we won! The first dessert was butterscotch pudding with warm salted caramel on top, and the second was bourbon chocolate bread pudding. I think we each would have happily eaten ourselves into a coma if the food hadn't run out.

We slept in until 8:30 the next morning(!) and then headed out for breakfast at our favorite, Cafe 21. 
Terry's meal: lamb and goat cheese omelet with fruit

My meal: feta and spinach omelet with greens

Plus a bloody Mary and fancy juice

Then we wandered over to Le Parfait Paris, a French pastry shop, to grab a couple croissants for the road that we really didn't need. But they were delicious, and the shop was so cute!

And we spent the rest of our morning strolling along the waterfront. We also knocked out 200 lunges along the way! 

On our way home, we stopped at Pizza Port for our last San Diego meal for a while--pizza and beer, plus a kale salad.

It was a great first getaway as parents, and I'm particularly excited that we both felt so relaxed. We're looking forward to more!

Next, I thought I'd share a bunch of photos from recently:

Marshall vacuuming--he's super thorough, so he even lifts the table while he does it!

We've been reading TONS lately! We took a trip to the library yesterday to mix up our book selection. It's so fun to hear him "help" us read (if we pause, he can usually fill in the missing words), and he's getting close to knowing the alphabet, as well as counting to ten without help. It's amazing to watch him learn so much!

More vacuuming. When we vacuum, he runs to grab his so he can help. 

Some food lately:
I've eaten at least five of these sandwiches in the last week or two: turkey, cheddar, tomato, and guac. SO good.

Pasta with lots of vegetables. 

Fresh fruit--I can't wait for summer produce!

Work snacks: Larabars, fruit, Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread with cream cheese.

Last week Marshall and I had a little date night! Terry had to work late, so I took M out for burgers. We had so much fun!

One night recently we chose a random Tuesday and headed down to Santa Monica for a picnic dinner overlooking the ocean. Marshall loved it! 

Marshall loved it! And we loved it, too. It was nice to mix up our evening routine, get some fresh air, and enjoy the beach.

Plus, we stopped for dessert!

And lastly, a miscellaneous photo of one of our walks, when Marshall stopped to "rest" while we walked around the block. We've got some shaping up to do.

This weekend we've kept things mellow with some walks around the neighborhood, some great food at home, and time with friends today. And now I'm ready for some dessert and TV before the week begins. Have a wonderful week--I hope you have something beautiful like jacarandas to keep you smiling!