Friday, September 8, 2017

Declan: Eleven Months

Someone turned 11 months old this week!

My sweet, joyful Declan,

I suppose we have to admit that the countdown to your first birthday has begun. In some ways, I’m more ready for it than I thought I would be, and I might even feel a little relief when that milestone hits. I know I will be glad to stop pumping at work, and I will be excited to worry a little less about whether anything you’re eating has honey in it. But for the most part, I am amazed how quickly these 11 months have passed and how much toddler I see in you already!

Still, we really slowed down and enjoyed this summer. Whenever I feel like things are getting hectic or we have a few more invitations to outings than we are used to, I try to remind myself that racing around to too many events is not the kind of quality time we love most. We love slow weekend mornings with walks around the neighborhood, a stop at the library, a long nap for you while we play quietly with Marshall. In the afternoons we like to go somewhere we’ve never been or get out of the house for a treat. This summer has been filled with those days, and I think we feel refreshed and ready for fall and the holiday rush that will be here before we know it. Maybe we can take a lesson from these leisurely summer days and enjoy a slower pace in the rest of the year, too.

Declan, you continue to express such joy and wonder as you explore the world around you. I’ve never seen a baby light up as readily as you do when you see someone you love, learn something new, or feel proud of yourself for a new skill. Your smile penetrates even my most stressed moments and makes me stop and snuggle you. You dance when you hear music or when we sing, and we find ourselves listening to music more

You learned and mastered some new skills this month, especially throwing a ball (you have surprisingly great aim!), pointing, attempting to stack objects, and turning pages in books.

You love flaps!

You're saying some half-words and have added a few consonants to your vocabulary. You seem confident about what you're saying, even if no one can understand you yet!

You're a super easy going dude. You generally go along with the plan no matter where we take you or what we're doing--inside, outside, in the car, at home, at just find something to play with and roll with it.

You watch your brother a lot, and I think that's why you already sit like a toddler. Break my heart!

Other stats: You wear 12-18 month clothing, you have four teeth, and you crawl pretty quickly now!

Sometimes you find yourself in unusual situations...

Of course, there are times when you're less than thrilled about what's going on around you. Last weekend we went on a carousel, and you didn't want to be away from Mommy. I ended up sitting on a bench with you and nursed you for the entire ride!

For the ferris wheel, you were fine. :-)

We are seeing more and more of your personality emerge as you engage with your brother. Sometimes (pretty rarely, for now), he'll give you lots of attention and snuggle or tickle you. 

Other times, he kind of ignores you or does his own thing. You love to watch him, but you don't seem to mind doing your own thing, too.
Our new (used) double stroller! Marshall likes sitting next to you.

We're trying hard to figure out how to navigate the world of siblings and brothers. We want to give you space to get to know each other and find your own way, but we do step in for the frequent sibling squabbles (which usually involve Marshall's fear that you will steal something he is or is not playing with), and we are learning how to find the line between treating you both fairly and still giving each of you attention and supporting whatever you need. It isn't easy.

(Here, Marshall got an ice cream, but you only got a fruit pouch.) 

Sleep is going pretty well. We have some ups and downs. On occasion, you have slept through the night(!), but for the most part you still wake up once or twice overnight. Lately, your favorite wake up time is somewhere between 4:45 and 5:15 am. It's not our favorite.

Eating, on the other hand, has some awesome consistency. You love everything. You eat a ton. The end.

You still love everyone you encounter, 

though sometimes lately you have a tough time leaving Mommy. (I'm totally okay with that!)

You have no trouble going to your Daddy, though. You two have a solid bond, and I love watching you together.

But, for now, I am so grateful for any snuggles you'll give me!

Sometimes I think you even look like me!

Declan, you make our hearts so full and fill our family with such joy. We are soaking up every moment of you last official month of infancy, and we are excited to see what comes next for you!

We love you, sweet boy. Happy 11 months!

(For comparison: Marshall at 11 months!) 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thoughts on 32

Last week, I turned 32. It's not a major milestone birthday, but I still feel like I need to say something about this point in my life.

This year's birthday is my first birthday with two beautiful baby boys. It is truly my life's greatest blessing to be the mother to these precious young people. Motherhood has surpassed every expectation and has done more to shape the person I am--and want to be--than anything else I've experienced. I never knew how strong I was until I became a mom. I didn't know what it would take--mentally, physically, emotionally--for me to dedicate my life to these boys. It's a lot. I have physical scars from each of their births and lasting aches from those days. Now I can appreciate how much more beautiful my body is, C-section scar and bigger hips and won't-ever-be-flat-again stomach and all. I cry and worry ALL the time. Sometimes I have worried that I'm not strong enough to do it all, but I continue to prove myself wrong. Not only do I muster the strength to fulfill the duties of motherhood; I find joy in doing so. I laugh every day and cannot believe I helped to create these little boys.

32 brings about a more complete sense of self. This was the year I found a job I genuinely love, and I feel proud of myself for making it through those tough months of leaving my baby to go back to work. I honestly did not think I would be strong enough to do it. There have been more tough days than easy days (have any days been easy?). Pumping at work, missing my kids so much I could--and did--cry, missing a few bedtimes, worrying that I was losing precious time with them that I wouldn't ever get back...I still get a knot in my stomach thinking about all those things, but I can still ache while feeling proud for surviving the first few months of it. Being a working mother has made me stronger still. 

This could have been a really tough year for our marriage. Terry and I found ourselves pulled in countless directions, sometimes barely crossing paths. We have found a schedule that--while great for keeping our kids' time in daycare minimal--means we each have to make sacrifices (Terry has to be up at 5:30 to squeeze in 9 hours of work before 3:30; I am on my own in the mornings to get two kids and myself ready and out the door). We rarely sit down before 9 pm at night, and by then we're exhausted. But we are in this together, and we're on the same team. This year was tough, but the time we share together and as a family makes the sacrifices worth it. I've said it before, but I cannot imagine a better partner for this crazy life.

This year, I got to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law's joy as they welcomed their perfect babies, my niece and nephew. I am so excited that my boys have cousins and that this growing extended family will be filled with even more love and joy.

I could go on and on. I am, as ever, thankful to my parents for all they continue to do for me and my family (especially their grandchildren), and for the childhood with which they blessed me so that I have a high standard set for my kids! I'm not in the best shape of my life, but there's time for that later. I am grateful every day for my health and the health of those I love so much. This year I made new friendships, learned more about myself and the world around me, and set new goals. 31 was a great year. It made me excited for the rest of my thirties and what "middle life" has to offer, not to mention the rest of my years. 

So far, life has only continued to be more fulfilling and joyful each year. I am 32, and I am so, so happy.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Declan: Ten Months

My sweet, giggly, growing boy. Ten months! You are already getting so big, and I'm noticing how your cheeks are slimming a bit. Despite the rough reality that your first year is going way too quickly, we are having such a blast with you!

At your 9-month appointment, which was about a week after you turned nine months, you weighed 20 pounds 4 ounces, and you measured 29.75 inches. Almost exactly the same as Marshall at this age!

Marshall loves to tickle you, and in the car he'll occasionally try to chat with you or get you to laugh at him. If you're upset, he suddenly wants to be the first to comfort you, which typically means yelling, "DECLAN, IT'S OKAY!" over and over. Usually you laugh, so I guess it works.

The other day (granted, already after you were 10 months old), you two both woke up at the same time in your room, and when I walked in Marshall was in his rocking chair across from you and, said, "We're just chatting." My heart turned to mush!

Laughing happens a lot around here. You have become such a bundle of giggles! Peek-a-boo is a favorite, but you also love being tickled, as well as repetitive games or movements.

You're crawling! Last month you had just learned to crawl but I was nervous you'd give up on it. Within the last two or three weeks, you've officially become a crawler. You're getting quick, too! You still love pulling yourself up to stand, though, so most of your crawling is in an effort to get to a place where you can stand. The coffee table in the living room has become something of a gathering place. You cruise along one side (only moving to the right...can't go left) while Marshall tries to keep his toys out of reach of your quick hands.

This month was your first time in the ocean! You seemed to enjoy it, but big brother was more interesting.

Some new skills have emerged this month: You love turning pages in books, especially books with flaps (that peek-a-boo game is fun even without a human!), and I'm excited to see that you might show some interest in reading after all. I was getting worried! Books with flaps are a hit, and we're seeing a little more patience from you when we attempt to read you a story. Mostly, you're on the move, so we hope you're soaking in some reading when we read aloud to your brother. Maybe?

Looking back at Marshall's ten month post (I can't help but see what he was up to at this age!), I notice that you are just as eager of an eater as he was, but you don't get as angry or impatient while eating. You also generally take your time, so we can give you multiple pieces of food at once without worrying that you'll shove it all in your mouth at once. You are, however, extremely difficult to change--it's an all-out physical battle to get you to stay on your back, and I am seriously worried you'll hurt yourself during a diaper change.

Here, Marshall is "painting" Declan's face, just like he had his face painted in preschool. 

You're still a HUGE fan of Scout. You stare at him, crawl toward him, try to reach him, and occasionally pet him (when he allows). He's so gentle with you, and if you get too rough he'll just walk out of reach. You say "ta" very clearly when you see him, and you recently attempted an "s" sound toward him.

Other words coming along are "mama" and "dada," and we hear "mo" at meals (more) we think.

More likes: swim lessons, watching Marshall do anything, standing at the play kitchen, banging anything that makes a lot of noise, playing with the activity cube at daycare, nursing, eating, listening to your own voice, being tickled, wrestling with Mommy or Daddy, blowing raspberries.

You're starting to sleep pretty consistently now that you are in the same room as Marshall. Our bedtime routine starts right after dinner (we try to eat as a family five or six days a week); then it's bath, pjs, nurse in the rocking chair in our room (usually I'll sing to you--"Edelweiss" and another song or two--and maybe chat with you about the day or read you a book), then Daddy comes in to read you a story before rocking you to sleep. You'll sleep from about 6:45 or 7:00 until 2-4 am. If you wake up before that, Daddy tries to get you back to sleep; after that, you get to snuggle with me and eat. Then we try to stay awake to put you back in your crib (we don't have a great track record there). Lately you've been snoozing until 6:30 or 7 am! It's amazing. For a while we had some 4:30-5:00 mornings, and I just could not muster the energy to hang with you at that hour. Luckily your Daddy is a hero and usually managed to get up with you.

Ten months already. I can't believe it. I love this age, when you're learning so much and so expressive and fun. I love how snuggly you are and how calm you feel when I scoop you up. I love breathing in your sweet baby scent and letting you sleep on me. I love how you are a bit more independent now, crawling and playing by yourself. I will be so sad to see these days go, but I know that more fun is on the way! We love you, sweet little boy.

I'm hoping to be back soon with some updates on the rest of the family!