Archive for April, 2015

New Niece

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
In January, we celebrated the birth of our new niece. She is the first baby girl born in both my husband’s family and my family in a long time. She is a beautiful, healthy little girl, and we are happy to call her our goddaughter.

My life is consumed with boys, boys, and more boys. As you know, I have two boys of my own, lots of their friends who frequent our home or I’m carpooling, and five super nephews. They all have taught me a lot about boys and their unique personalities. Something I wasn’t very familiar with before I was a parent. I love them all and enjoy spending time with each of them.

It was so fun meeting our niece. We’ve had the opportunity to visit with her a couple times and each time was a pleasure.  She is very happy and sweet to watch and play. All the “pink” brought back many memories of my sisters and me as we grew up in a house full of girls. I look forward to many more visits with her in the future.

Jack and Tate didn’t know what to think when they heard they were going to have a girl cousin.  Once they met her, I think they were smitten.  They are pretty gentle with her and always ask about her. She’ll be one tough girl with all the boys in her life.

Break Time

Monday, April 27th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Last week, I wrote about how nervous I was to leave Hudson overnight for the first time. Luckily he did great. He took bottles of formula easily. He went to sleep without a problem. He played happily and did not cry at all. Getting updates that he was doing fine helped me relax and have a great trip with my friends.

I was glad that Haley had a good time too, and it’s no wonder. When I called my mom for an update one afternoon, she told me that Haley was at the park with her uncle. I later learned that he promised her ice cream. On the way to the shop, they passed by a toy store Haley knows—which is why there’s a new My Little Pony staring at me from the coffee table right now.

Despite her weekend of fun, Haley did have her moments of melancholy. She was sniffling and feeling under the weather one morning, so my mom had to deal with a chorus of “I want moooommy” for a little while. But that didn’t last long. Overall she had a wonderful time and I did too.

I’m so lucky to have my parents, with assistance from my brother, to help out with my kids. Many of the friends I saw this weekend had their kids with them, and while they were able to socialize, it wasn’t the same thing. I really appreciated having the time to unwind without them. And I really loved being reunited with them.

The List

Friday, April 24th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
I head back to work in a little more than a week from today. I am savoring these last few days with Charlotte, but I am also trying desperately to make it through the final items on a fairly lengthy “to-do” list that I had hoped to accomplish while I was on leave. As I mentioned last week, my work schedule is often too demanding and unpredictable to plan ahead with any degree of certainty. That means that our social calendar is plagued with uncertainty, as is our around-the-house, long-term chore list.

When we moved into our new house at the end of last July, we put off a number of activities until the winter, knowing that I would be home full-time with our new baby girl and able to tackle some of those tasks. Before children, we tended to tackle a few house chores each weekend. Whether hanging pictures, weeding flowerbeds, or organizing storage rooms—we were able to steal away a few hours here and there for those tasks. Since Rory was born, our weekend time is largely dedicated to him. As a result, a number of the lengthier “projects” have fallen by the wayside. This includes both simple tasks, like reorganizing the kids’ closets, and larger ones, like hanging a gallery wall in the stairwell or calling an electrician to assess a failed light fixture. Sure, naptime provides a short window of opportunity each day. But let’s face it—sometimes mommy and daddy need a nap then, too. This is even more the case now that we have two children.

When Charlotte was around a month old and finally falling into a bit of a schedule (of sorts), I started slowly checking these items off the to-do list. I purchased artwork for bare walls, I hung shelves, I rearranged furniture, I emptied boxes, I sorted clothes, and I sifted through a fair number of items that made the move but probably shouldn’t have and collected them all by the curb for the garbage men to carry away.

Some weeks I tackled a lot. Others, I ignored the lists in favor of taking in all of Charlotte’s adorable baby smiles and savoring these fleeting days. Most days, I found a delicate balance between staying in the here and now of it all, and keeping my eye on the goal of feeling “settled” in this house before I head back to the office in May.

In this last week, however, I am trying very hard to remind myself that this is likely our last child. As a result, these are the last few weeks in which I have no obligation other than to bond with our newest little blessing. The house will not fall apart around us if we leave a wall bare, a paint job unfinished, a light fixture dark, or a shed unorganized while I enjoy these final days. As I ready for my return, I am constantly reminding myself that a two-working parent household is marked by a certain degree of chaos and unbalance and “to-do” lists left undone. Hopefully, by the end of next week, I’ll be okay with that!

Gift of Gab

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Tate has a passion for talking. He loves to make conversation with anyone and anything, including strangers and animals. He’s long winded when he explains anything. His teacher often comments how he is first to raise his hand when she asks questions or wants to hear about someone’s weekend. I’m happy with Tate for wanting to share his weekend activities, AND for raising his hand before speaking.

When Tate was a toddler, he had me red in the face numerous times while grocery shopping. He would not only be pulling items off the shelves, but also talk, wave and high five anyone we passed by in the cart. He always smiled and loved to interact with people of all ages. He was a big flirt to say to the least.

Fast forward a few years (and a larger vocabulary) and Tate has really grown to exercise his mouth. He still talks to anyone in sight and will tell them exactly how he feels. He has no filter and has humiliated me on more than one occasion, especially because I’m not a big talker. He makes me laugh on the inside, but on the outside I try to explain to him that we don’t always need to tell everybody everything. His innocence is so sweet, and I know he feels he is helping out by announcing what is going on, or what someone is doing, but understanding that we need to learn to keep our mouths closed during certain situations isn’t always the easiest for him to demonstrate. He’s learning, and hopefully will catch on soon.

Although Tate’s talkative tendencies can drive me to exhaustion at times, I’m happy to know that he loves to tell stories about his day, pretend play with his toys, make believe with anything he can find, and sing songs in the shower. I believe his gift of gab will benefit him someday, and I’ll be sure to tell him stories of his chatty childhood.

Separation Anxiety

Monday, April 20th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
It’s inevitable, when you have a baby, to deal with some amount of anxiety when Mother and Baby cannot be together. In a few days, I’m going on my first trip without Hudson. I am not sure how he will handle it—but I am an absolute wreck! He’s staying with his grandparents, so yes—he will be taken care. He will also be continually with his second favorite person in the world, his sister Haley. But I know he will miss his mother, especially the nursing aspect of our relationship. He’s been improving at taking the bottle in the last few weeks, and I’m sure he will do even better, out of pure necessity, when I’m not there. But just because he will be fine physically doesn’t mean I will be fine emotionally.

My trip is for pleasure, and I’m so excited to spend time with dear friends. I also can’t wait to sleep all night, uninterrupted in a comfy hotel bed! It will be nice to have an adult break. Yet I’m still conflicted about going. Rest and relaxation are crucial for a busy mom to recharge. But surely I could live without it. Is it worth Hudson’s potential upset? Then I remind myself that it’s only two days. But do I really need two days to myself? I go back and forth a lot. The reality is that the tickets are booked and this trip is happening. I just hope I can calm my neurosis enough to enjoy the trip. Wish me luck!

Down Time

Friday, April 17th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
This weekend is the first one since February on which we are not either traveling ourselves, hosting friends and/or family, throwing a party, or both. The past month and a half has been a blur of preparation and tear down for various occasions: birthdays, Easter, baptisms, memorial services, anniversaries, etc.  In short, this is the first time in a long time that we are getting some much-needed downtime.

Given my profession, it is sometimes hard to have confidence that my weekends will be free.  As a result, I tend not to over plan my weekends so that I have some built in flexibility to crack open my computer or head to the office if and as necessary.  One of may favorite things about maternity leave, in contrast, is that I am able to know, definitively, what my availability is on a given weekend.  This time around, I’ve taken that a bit to the extreme, filling the weekends with outings, gatherings, and visits.  Now that we have a house big enough for entertaining, I’ve tried to maximize the opportunities to do so.  And those efforts have finally taken a toll.  We tried to schedule a few “down” weekends, but life intervened, and we’ve been going nonstop.

We enjoy having one or two activities on the agenda each weekend to keep Rory entertained and to break up the long days of caring for two small children.  But this weekend we are looking forward to laid back time at the park, a few long walks, and perhaps even a lazy Sunday morning in our PJs (if we’re lucky).  Rory has soccer “practice” and I have a friend from out of town stopping by for a quick visit to meet Charlotte, but other than that, we have nothing on the agenda, no where to be, no outings to mobilize for.  Just family to laugh and smile with and moments to embrace.  And that sounds like the perfect plan to me.

Exploring Aviation

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Last weekend, we visited family in Washington, D.C. The boys were excused from school because we promised to visit one of the many educational sites that our nation’s capital has to offer. We flew into Dulles Airport on Friday morning and spent some time at The Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, the companion facility to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The Udvar-Hazy center displays thousands of aviation and space artifacts in two large hangers. Our boys love airplanes, and so does their father, so all of us enjoyed the collection. My husband knows a lot of the history of aviation and the boys seemed eager to learn, too.

The boys were given a “scavenger hunt” by the museum staff where they found aircraft in the museum that matched pictures of aircraft on their scavenger hunt list. Jack enjoyed reading the names of the aircraft and his father enjoyed explaining why each aircraft was important to aviation history. Tate was happy to run around and find certain markings on each aircraft, such as a thunderbolt and shark teeth. The boys got to see numerous planes including the SR-71 Blackbird, the B-29 Enola Gay and their favorite, the Space Shuttle Discovery. The boys even got to land a shuttle simulator with the help of museum volunteers.

It was an awesome experience for our family, and we look forward to seeing more of the Smithsonian Museums, National Monuments and Government buildings on our next visit to Washington, D.C. Our children are excited to learn through exploration and travel. We are happy to have the opportunity to do so.


Toys, Toys Everywhere

Monday, April 13th, 2015

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
It seems like in our family, there are about six months that are relatively quiet in terms of major celebrations. The next six months are the opposite. It starts with Halloween, goes through the holiday season with Christmas, then culminates with Valentine’s Day, Easter and Haley’s birthday. The natural product of these fun times? Lots of presents! I like when the kids get new outfits or books. But often it feels like the amount of toys we acquire is out of control!

Haley doesn’t love throwing out old toys, so it’s inevitable that her bins and drawers become overstuffed with stuff. I realize having a lot of people who love you enough to give you toys is a wonderful problem to have, but as a parent who is trying to keep her kids unspoiled and her house uncluttered, it’s a burden.

I try to hide presents and I’ll admit it—re-gift them when I can. I see no harm. If it’s a lovely present and someone else can use it, why not? To simply get rid of a toy, I implement a long con. I do a test run where I hide the toy to see if Haley notices it’s missing. If not, after another week I’ll throw it away for good. But you’d be surprised at the amount of time that can go by after which Haley will bring up an item I’d tossed! Usually a few half-hearted assurances that I’ll “be sure to look for it” will throw her off the scent.

I’m still figuring out how to manage all of the prized possessions that remain. Any moms or dads out there with tips, please share!

Thanks, and have a wonderful week!

Bottle Battles

Friday, April 10th, 2015

From Friday Mom – Erin:
I had a brief period of panic earlier this week. In contrast to Rory, who took a bottle fairly easily from the time he was three days old, Charlotte hasn’t been the best at bottle feeding. She largely rejected it when we tried supplementing her with formula at her doctor’s suggestion at three days old. I thought nothing of it at the time.

Then, at her one month check-up, her doctor reminded me that he recommends introducing the bottle between four and six weeks of age to start getting them used to it. We tried on a handful of occasions, with little success. I was adamant about having daddy be the one to give the bottle, but for a range of reasons/excuses, we didn’t do very well at consistently offering her a bottle when he got home from work each evening.

I didn’t think this was much of an issue because there had been a handful of occasions where she had taken a bottle successfully, albeit with some struggle. I chalked her rejection up to not really being hungry and figured that, as with most things– this too shall pass.

Fast forward to this past weekend. I finally took some “me” time and got a haircut while I had family in town visiting for Easter. I left them with a bottle and gave them instructions to offer it if I wasn’t home in two hours. I arrived home two and a half hours later and was informed that Charlotte was refusing the bottle. We had her daddy try briefly to no avail.

I’m heading back to work in just under a month, so when I watched all of this transpire, I got VERY nervous. I offered her the breast and quickly began googling solutions. Honestly, I have no idea what moms did before the internet. I read multiple advice columns and sketched out a plan.

Since Monday, I have been systematically applying the range of tips I gleaned from my review of various articles. Recognizing that I was the only person available to try bottle feeding during her more “receptive” (i.e., earlier) times of day, I opted to attempt it myself. First, to counteract the fact that mommy was the one offering, I placed her in an entirely new position, propped up on my knees facing me, to give some variety and to avoid confusion. This also gave me a pretty clear view of how she latched (or failed to latch) to the bottle. I had her daddy try the same thing when feasible each evening.

Second, I ordered a variety of bottles in hopes that perhaps Charlotte might like a different type of bottle nipper better. From what I’d noticed, she seemed to gag on the long bottle nipples that we currently owned, so I scoured the internet for recommendations on shorter varieties. I learned (not surprisingly) that each baby’s preference can vary widely, so I selected a handful of options that might work with her relatively narrow latch.

Third, I offered a bottle before the breast for the first three feedings of each day, each day this week. As part of this progression, I also made certain to experiment with multiple angles for introducing the bottle to prevent gagging. I spent about fifteen minutes attempting to get Charlotte to latch. When I failed, I waited around ten additional minutes before offering the breast so that I didn’t train her to hold out.

Fourth, I experimented with the bottle temperature. By Wednesday, I realized that the milk wasn’t getting that warm after only one use of our bottle warmer. So I added two vials of water and found that the milk was much closer to body temperature at that point.

It’s still a work in progress, but yesterday morning we finally had some success: she drank two and a half ounces from the third of the six new bottles I purchased this week.  Later in the afternoon she made it to three and a half ounces.  I’ve not had a chance to continue the routine yet today, but I am hoping that she’ll continue to show steady improvement over the course of the next month.

Season Opener

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Along with Major League Baseball starting this week, Jack is swinging into spring with a new baseball season. This year he got lucky and is on the Red Sox team! With a family history of Red Sox fans, he has already made us proud.

I’ve mentioned in past posts that Jack advanced to an older league. Yes, he sure did. Jack attended several practices and played his first game.  Practices were intense, including batting cages, running laps, and drills, drills, drills. The coaches are MUCH more serious about their role and saying the parents are competitive is an understatement.  I am all about Jack’s team doing well, but with a little less negativity from the sidelines. Don’t get me wrong, I cheer for Jack at all his sporting events and offer constructive criticism when needed. I want him to strive to do better just like every other supportive parent. However, it’s hard to sit on the sidelines and listen to what some parents are screaming to their child. This is supposed to be fun, right?

I got a taste of what this year was going to be like by watching glimpses of the older boys play last year. Other parents told me about the intensity. I guess I had to experience it for myself to truly understand the impact. Thankfully, there are only a select few parents who, so far, I have pegged as very negative. I hate to be judgmental, but speaking harshly to children who are learning really concerns me.  There are many positive parents out to help, support, and cheer for their son and his team. I applaud them for that.  At this age, I just can’t comprehend why these kids must display the skills of Major League players to be considered “good.”

I want Jack to be challenged. I want him to learn the skills and rules of the game. I want him to enjoy playing and I want him to look back on this year as a positive experience. I’m going to hope the lack of parental support of the first game was a dud and maybe some parents were having a bad day. All I can do is make sure Jack is giving 100% and is doing his absolute best. I’m hoping the next game goes much smoother with less pessimism. I can only imagine what the future has to hold with competitive sports.