Friday, October 13, 2017

Declan: One Year

My sweet little boy: Happy birthday! It's been one whole year since you joined our family and made our lives so much brighter.

Declan, you are an absolute joy. You smiled early in your life and simply haven’t stopped. I cannot get enough of your giggles and sweet happiness, and anyone who meets you comments on your cheerful disposition. I am so excited to watch your personality continue to grow.

Your abilities have already blown us away: You can say a few words with consistency (ball, dada, mama, more, cat, uh-oh, and maybe a couple others we haven’t picked up yet). You are starting to let go of your support to stand on your own, and the other day you took a couple steps. (I'm writing this a week late, and you're taking more steps each day!) You love putting objects into containers, and you understand that puzzle pieces belong in certain places. If we show you a trick or task (taking items out of a box, for example), you’ll copy us. You know that hats go on heads, but you can’t quite get the process to work yet.

Some of our favorite quirks: Your favorite toys are a little plastic egg from your kitchen and a specific yellow Lego piece that you always find and then carry around for hours. You regularly smuggle objects out of the house, and we only discover them once we're in the car. Tonight it was half an hour before we noticed you were holding your fork from dinner while we were at the fair down the street!

You also love being wherever Marshall is, watching his every move. You love to stand near Marshall’s bed and take his pillow off the bed in the morning while he takes his time waking up. But you're also showing plenty of frustration when Marshall won't let you play with "his" toys and when you keep getting objects swiped out of your hands because they aren't safe for you. Sorry, buddy. Soon, though.

You're in 18-month clothes, and the doctor this week informed us that you are in the 96th percentile for height! Wowza! Like your brother and daddy, though, you're pretty lean at only 75th percentile for weight. People say you look SO much like your brother, and while I of course can't deny the similarities, I also notice how much you are developing your own looks. Your eyes are much bluer, your features are quite distinct from Marshall's, and you have hair! You already got a hair cut from your aunt when we last saw them!

And that personality of yours--could it be any more fun? You are a total goofball, and you have so much fun exploring your small world. You get so proud when you try something new, make a loud noise, or get something to work (opening the oven door on your play kitchen, throwing a ball, setting an object on a table). You LOVE to listen to music and immediately start dancing and clapping when you hear a song (even soft, slow songs!). You're starting to point a lot, but we usually have no idea what you're pointing at. I am soaking up this age, but I also can't wait to see what comes next as you discover more around you.

You love food. You eat a LOT of it. You prefer finger foods to purees. When you're done eating, you throw food on the floor and/or lean so far over in your chair that we're worried you'll hurt yourself. You've recently learned to sign "more," and you generally make mealtime a delight!

Breastfeeding has been a bittersweet and humbling experience with you. This time around, I faced the challenge that I wish upon no mother: having to pump at work to supply milk for you while we were apart. Of course, the layers of stress about being away from you eight or nine hours a day combined with worry about how much milk I was pumping, how much milk to send to school for you, how to make sure I had enough “back up” supply in case it became necessary, and how to ensure you were growing and happy and healthy all weighed on me, and mostly on me alone. While your daddy did as much as he could--washing all the bottle and pump parts almost every night, encouraging me, and doing the actual feeding during the months he stayed home with you while I was already back at work--the reality is that breastfeeding and pumping are a woman’s work, and they are tough. Being away from you was heartbreaking, and I fought back a lot of tears when I had to pump instead of getting to feed you, but I hope I’ll find we’re stronger for it, somehow.

So I’ll take this little moment to pat myself on the back for all the times I pulled out my pump when I didn’t want to, for fighting through a few rounds of a serious aversion to the pump (imagine nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling for 15 minutes twice a day), for ensuring I ate and drank enough to keep my supply up. And I’ll also take this moment to acknowledge that I found pumping extremely difficult, even under the absolute best circumstances (supportive boss, private office with locking door, good milk supply). To all the mamas out there who have pumped in any circumstances, but especially in less-than-ideal situations, I am truly in awe of your tenacity and selflessness.

Well, to be honest, things could be better here. On the plus side, you nap pretty well. You generally go 60-90 minutes on the regular for each nap during the day. Nighttime sleep goes up and down, but you still wake up at least once per night, and I still usually feed you, mostly out of habit. Someday we'll work on that... The toughest part is that you often wake up suuuuuper early (4:30, 5:30...), and that's obviously a struggle. We have faith that soon enough you'll be sleeping as well as your big brother!

Declan, if we thought Marshall's first year went quickly, it was nothing compared to yours. These twelve months raced by, and we are in awe of how quickly you're becoming a toddler. You bring such joy to our family, and you make every moment a little more of an adventure as we watch you discover this world. Your beautiful smile, easygoing demeanor, snuggly morning moods, and innocent joy make us so thrilled to be your parents. Thank you for this perfect year, sweet boy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

July 2017

These quick catch up posts are the best I've got right now, but I hope they'll give us a little snapshot of what this wonderful summer entailed.

A sweet summer treat, stopping by a frozen yogurt shop on the way home from school. 

Our delightful little boy 

Terry and I got out for an evening of karaoke!

These naps in my arms are numbered, and my heart aches wondering which will be the last.

The aquarium is always fun for a hot summer day!

A rare car nap.

We spent a morning at the beach, and it was one of the highlights of my summer. Declan touched the ocean for the first time, Marshall loved splashing in the waves, and we all savored the chilly day.

Marshall asked Daddy to take him out in the deep water!

On occasion, I cook delicious, healthy, balanced meals. Other times, we have a lot of pasta.

On the day I stayed home to help Marshall get out of diapers, we agreed that he could be a superhero for the day, so I made him this Flash cape. 

Marshall learned about mosaics in class and then we found one while walking around the village!

Swim lessons for Dec were a blast this summer.

We got curtains for our bedroom, which makes it feel so much cozier.

This is how we spend most mornings, even on weekends.

Declan fell asleep holding his ball and made me laugh out loud.

Both boys love playing at their kitchen.

I did some rearranging.

I'll post some August photos soon! This summer was one of the best of our lives, and I can't help but think it's because Declan was here. We are loving this family of four lifestyle!

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!)