Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Best of Both Worlds

I LOVE snow! And I love the beach. So when we woke up on Saturday to a white winter wonderland, I thought I was getting the best of both worlds. Ehhh, not so much. The beach isn't that great during a blizzard. I tried to get a picture to show ya'll what snow on the beach looks like, but after trekking through snow drifts up to my knees, getting blasted by ice in the face, and having to walk down the beack ramp backwards so I could breathe ... my camera batteries died right when I tried to snap a picture. I hurried home with wet socks and didn't venture out again until today, which is when I got these pictures. It was still bitter cold and windy by the water, but at least we got our taste of "white sand."
You know what else wasn't quite what I was hoping for? Jack's reaction to playing in the snow. :) Granted, it wasn't the best conditions. By the afternoon is had turned icy. No one likes getting pelted in the face with ice. And it was windy. Jack has a hard enough time remaining upright under normal conditions. Couple his toddler-like sense of balance with an icy windstorm, and top that with a big, bulky snowsuit, and the poor kid could barely move. And when he did move, he fell over. And when he fell over, he couldn't get back up. Sounds like a great time huh? The one part of his body that he could move was his hands, which he constantly shook, flinging his gloves off into the snow. After picking them up and putting them back on his hands 10 times, I decided it was time to go inside. And that was Jack's 10 minutes in the snow - less than half the time it took to get him dressed in the first place.

We spent the rest of the day enjoying the view from inside our cozy little nest. Jack kept running to the balcony door, pointing at the snow and saying, "Mee? Mee?" In other words, take me back out there Mom!! And so I spent my Saturday trying to keep an eager, little boy's mind off what was happening outside. We organized closets, switched out some clothes he's grown out of, and built blanket forts!!

Today dawned white and sunny, so we decided to venture forth once more. I got Jack all bundled up again, jammed his mittens on as hard as I could, and sent him out to the deck to help Daddy shovel.

He enjoyed this experience much more than the day before! His only difficulty was standing back up after falling. His little boots didn't have much traction on the icy ground, and he quickly learned it was a lot easier to yell for Mom or Dad than to attempt to stand up on his own. Here is a collection of video clips from Jack's first two days in the snow!

Since snow storms like this only hit the area once every one or two decades, our entire city has pretty much shut down. We have yet to see a snow plow on our road and the storm ended over 24 hours ago. Our neighbors were attempting to clear their driveways with push brooms, and the local kids were sledding down the street on boogie boards. Jon and I had fun reminiscing out about own snow days growing up and we both hope Jack and #2 will get their share of snow days over the years to come!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Like Rain in the Desert

Our main reason for going out West was not to see the sights, although that was certainly a great treat! We just wanted to spend some time with Kate and her family, since we don't get to see them very often. And Jack really enjoyed bonding with his older cousins - Gabe and Aviel!

I'm not sure how much Jack's cousins enjoyed his company though. The entire week seemed like a lesson in sharing - especially the toy "anmulls.". And it turns out Jack is quite the instigator. Once he figured out that Gabe did not like it when he touched his car seat, Jack continued to put his hand on the side of the seat, and leave it there, despite any amount of protesting from his cousin. He's already acting the part of a teasing, older brother.

And so after spending a week with our neice and nephew, and watching Jack interact with them, both Jon and I are thankful that Jack's going to get his own little sibling in a few months. And, after watching the way he man-handles all the other kids, including those who are twice his size, we're really glad this next one is a boy too. Hopefully he's just as tough as his big bro, Jack's "lovins'" tend to knock people off their feet.

We had perfect weather the weekend we were traveling, so it was rather odd when it rained for the majority of the rest of our stay in Phoenix. Jon joked that they got their annual amount of rainfall during the few days we were there ... maybe it wasn't a joke after all. Even so, we were able to get a trip in to a mining ghost town, eat dinner at a miner's restaurant, and visit a park with a gorgeous lake and fountain.

The last time we took Jack to a park he was still a little too small to enjoy it, so it was fun to let him loose on the jungle gym this time around. His favorite activity appears to be the slide. He liked it so much he immediately wanted to do it again, but couldn't quite figure out how to get back up to the top.

One of the highlights of the week was our "adult" dinner out at my favorite restaurant - Buca di Beppo!! The waitress asked what we were celebrating ... "ummm, a night out without kids!!"

It was Jack's first experience with an official babysitter-who-comes-to-your-house-and-puts-your-kid-to-bed, since Grandmas and Uncles don't count. Apparently it went well. When we got home he was fast asleep in the pack 'n play, and for the first time all week, stayed there the entire night! Glorious!!

We barely made it out of the airport before the rain canceled the rest of the flights. And after 12 hours of traveling, finally walked into our front door at midnight on Thursday. It feels like we're still recovering from our vacation a 7 days later. After a weeklong hiatus, that conveniently occured during our trip, Jack is back to cutting teeth again. And it appears he's gearing up to drop his morning nap, but he's not quite there yet. It's been a tad exasperating. I really miss having the cousins around to entertain Jack ... and let me know when he's getting into trouble! Hopefully we'll be back on track within the next few days, Mama's gotta get down to nesting!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pardon the Interruption

We interrupt our winter vacation stories to bring you some photos of the youngest member of our family! Today we had another ultrasound at the local community college, just like we had with Jack 18 months ago. I was praying that #2 would be cooperative and give us some good shots, but it didn't really work out that way. Nevertheless, it's always fun to catch a glimpse of the little guy!

#2 is currently breech. I pretty much spent the entire hour in the ultrasound room stressing out over that, then came home, did some research and found out most babies that are breech at this point turn head down within the next 1-2 months. So I really have nothing to worry about ... for now.

First things first, this baby is most definitely a boy! The u/s tech took an enlarged, 3D picture of "it" just to prove it (that I'll spare posting). We just weren't confident in our last tech's opinion, so even though I've had a gut feeling it's a boy all along, it's nice to be sure. Not like I have anything to buy anyway.

These are training ultrasounds so the tech is just learning. Our's must have been fairly new because she was getting a lot of things wrong, and the instructor had to step in numerous times. I think I could do an ultrasound now after sitting through all that! :) Her measurements were also coming in anywhere from 26 - 30 weeks. I don't take ultrasound measurements very seriously at this point anyway, but according to today's session #2 is in a smaller percentile for his age.

But it wasn't entirely the newbie's fault, I don't think this was an easy ultrasound to begin with. Not only is Baby's butt down and head up, but he was faced inward, planted in the placenta, with an arm and leg up by either side of his head. Jack's ultrasound was all about how big his cheeks and thighs were, this one's was all about how flexible Baby is. I really don't see how that is phsyically possible, or at the very least, comfortable. I can definitely feel a difference in the way I'm carrying him though.

Needless to say, it was tough to get any good shots of the kiddo. After the trainee was FINALLY done, the instructor stepped in to work her magic. She had me turn on my side for a little, which meant I couldn't see the screen. But Jon could and he got a good glimpse at Baby's face, and his little mouth opening and closing! I'm going to post pictures anyway because I'd hate to be a disappointment, but don't feel bad if all you see is shadows!

This is his face lying sideways, forehead on the left. We all think #2's got some big cheeks like his brother!

This is a profile shot, Baby is looking slightly left. You can see his eye, nose, mouth and yes that is his FOOT on top of his HEAD. How does he do that!?

Here's a face shot that the tech so kindly labeled for the rest of us. Jon and I both think #2 looks like Jack. But we may be biased. What do you think? Then again, you're probably wondering how the heck we can see anything in these pictures.

Here's another one where his cheeks remind me of his older brother's! He's still facing slightly left with that adorable pudgy nose right in the center of the picture.

And this is one of my personal favorites, because even though Baby is sitting with a leg on either side of his face, he still managed to cross his ankles when we got a picture of his feet.

In case you're wondering what things look like on the outside, this is me today at 29 weeks exactly.

I suddenly feel huge this week! And more people are noticing I'm pregnant too. People kept asking me in the airport if I knew what I was having and when I was due. The lady next to me on the plane said I was "so small for being due in April." Really? Cuz' that belly is 38 inches around these days, including belly button. [Speaking of which, Jack loves to run up to me and push on my belly button, he gets a real kick out of it! :)]

Other than heartburn every night and having to constantly pee, I still feel good. Things are just starting to get a little uncomfortable. For instance, my back starts to hurt after washing a lot of dishes because I can't stand close enough to the sink. And bending over to pick up Jack's toys kinda makes me feel like I'm suffocating. But I'm sleeping great, and for that I'm very, very grateful! It's hard to believe we only have 11 weeks left!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Viva Las Vegas!

We arrived in Phoenix late Thursday afternoon, but by the time we had unpacked, gone grocery shopping and finished dinner, it was pretty late. All three of us were exhausted. And neither Jon nor I were up to settling Jack down to sleep in the pack 'n play next to our bed, so when it was evident he was planning to protest into the night, we let him sleep in bed with us... a trend that continued for the next several days.

Now, we're no co-sleeping family. Jack loves his crib, and I love him in it too. But surprisingly, other than the fact that I woke up with a very full diaper in my face, it worked out well. I think we were all so completely wiped out the first few days that sleep in any form was extremely welcome! The only problem was in the mornings, when Jack was up and ready to go long before either of his parents were. Vegas is three hours behind Virginia, so at 5:15am our first morning there, Jack was jumping on our bed ... and sitting on my head. Then atempting to climb the headboard, play with Mommy's eyelashes, dropkick Daddy in the chest, crawl off the bottom of the bed, etc., etc., etc. No amount of fake-sleeping by his parents could compel him to lay down and shut his eyes. And he wasn't happy when either of us tried to assist him back to bed. I finally got him to to quiet down in my arms, while sitting up in bed, rocking back and forth and humming a song in his ear. Then he started humming back. At this point, #2 was also wide awake, and apparently annoyed that his older brother was closing in on his personal space. The Littlest Baby started kicking and punching the biggest baby, and Mom was caught in the middle. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I got both boys back to sleep. And then I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling, watching the sun rise between the curtains. *sigh*

I would just like to add here that Vegas was Jon's idea. I was there two years ago for a conference and got my fill. But Jon had never been, really wanted to see the strip, and knew I'd never let him go without me. So we rented a minivan and all 7 of us drove up there for a quick weekend. In case you're wondering, we didn't gamble. We basically went to see as many of the sights as we could in one day. And to eat. Man those buffets are amazing!

So we spent allllll day Saturday walking the strip, trying to see as many features of Vegas as we could - the shops in Paris, the lions in MGM, the International Sampler at the Coke store, 4 stories of M&M products, the aquarium at Mandalay Bay, the Bellagio Fountains (our very favorite event!!), the gondolas in the Venetian, the pirates at Treasure Island, and the inside of every hotel we had time to run into because they are pretty impressive!

By that evening we were tired, sore and starving. Jack did really well for sitting in a stroller all day. But by the time we got seated in P.F. Changs he had had enough. He started flipping out, throwing food and dishes, screaming at the top of his lungs, trying to escape from our arms, and ultimately throwing his sippy cup on the floor right as a waiter was walking by with a tray full of food. I was pretty close to tears myself. I hate seeing my kid like that. First, because I feel bad for all the people sitting around us, but mostly because I know that he can be better, and that it's usually our fault for pushing things too far with him. Things improved once the food came out - it's amazing what a piece of lettuce can do. But from then on I tried to be especially mindful of Jack's limits, traveling is hard on everyone!

We left Vegas the next morning, after filling up on another breakfast buffet, and with a spare collection of bananas and Cheerios for the long drive. Our first stop on the way back to Phoenix was the Hoover Dam, a pretty impressive structure. And the scenery was gorgeous as well. But my favorite part was standing in the middle of the bridge, on the state line between Arizona and Nevada, straddling two different time zones. Yeah, it doesn't take much to entertain me.

We didn't stay at the Dam for too long, since we wanted to make sure we had plenty of daylight left to make our next stop - the Grand Canyon!

The drive from Vegas to Phoenix was quite desolate - a straight highway in the midst of a desert, with a gas station every hundred miles or so, not exactly convenient for those of us with small babies lying on our bladders. But that aspect of the trip was nothing compared to the 1 hour detour we took off the highway to reach the Native American reservation where we would access the canyon. It was long, winding, and hilly with little to see but sand and joshua trees. The pavement ended and we continued on a dirt road, passing the occasional ranch and, thankfully, a car or two headed the other direction. At least we knew the road was going somewhere! Finally, when I was almost certain we would need to make an emergency pit stop with no tree to hide behind, we arrived at the reservation. I was amazed at how many cars were in the parking lot, it seriously felt like we were in the middle of no where! The gift shop/office was actually a temporary trailor, sitting slightly askew at the top of the mountain. The whole thing seemed rather sketchy to me. Then again, this is coming from someone who has spent the majority of her time in the thirteen original colonies. I guess I'm just used to things being a bit more established on this side of the country.

We boarded a bus, the last one of the day, and headed out further on the reservation. Apparently there are several bus stops along the way, with different activities, food, and views. But since we were the last group of the day we were pretty much left with just the views aspect. Nevertheless, it was so worth the sketchy, awkward arrival. I don't know what I expected the Grand Canyon to look like, but it wasn't like what we saw. First of all, there were no walls or railings. We literally could walk right up to, and off of if we so choose, the very edge of the canyon. It was thrilling! I'm surprised they didn't make us sign any waivers before we set off though. There was a glass skywalk at this location where, for an exra $30 you could walk out over the canyon on a walkway made of glass. It sounded cool, but not for $30. Especially since you can't take pictures. I mean, if I can't post it on my blog and Facebook, it would be like it never happened right? It's much more fun to stand at the very edge and hold your camera out as far as you can anyway.

The final stop on the "bus tour" was a precipice where you could walk to the end, stand at the top of a small hill, and be surrounded on three sides by the canyon. It was chilly and breezy as the sun was almost below the horizon, but a completely breathtaking experience. Jack, for the most part, remained unphased. He also remained safe in his stroller, unable to teeter among the rocks and probably give Mommy a heart attack.

It was completely dark by the time we started our trip back towards the highway. Completely dark, on an unlit, winding, dirt road in the desert. There was some nauseousness in the back of the minivan, but fortunately no barfing. And all three kids promptly fell asleep by the time we hit the main road. Needless to say, it was a very peaceful ride back!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tank gets his wings

Last week we flew out to Phoenix to visit Jon's sister, her husband, and their two kids. The last time we saw them was over Easter, when they stopped by to visit on their way from Israel to Phoenix. So it was really good to spend some time together, see how much the kiddos have grown, share funny memories and catch up on current news. We'd been planning this trip for a few months, but I was a little apprehensive about traveling with Jack - you know, the kid who can't sit still for more than 5 minutes at a time, or the little guy who prefers to take his naps in his own bed in his dark room? I went into our trip expecting things to be difficult, but it ended up not being nearly as bad as I had imagined.

We had to leave at 4:45am. I lifted Jack out of his crib as gently as a 7 months pregnant woman leaning over a crib railing to grab a 30 pound kid can do, and breathed a sigh of relief as he immediately resettled and fell back to sleep on my shoulder. And then we got out to the car, and the tantalizing mixture of cold air and bright porch lights permanently lifted him from slumber. And so, our cutie pie started out a long day of traveling by waking up 2.5 hours earlier than usual, with enough energy to last throughout the majority of the day.
Flight #1 - "The Best Dollar I Ever Spent"
We had two flights out to Phoenix, with a layover in Dallas, and then two flights on the way back a week later. It was nice to split up the traveling but it also made each day extra long - a total of 12 hours. Our first flight went pretty well. The plane wasn't full so there was an extra seat in between Jon and I, which gave Jack room to bounce, roll, lean, play, throw ... you get the idea. A number of people suggested that I buy a bunch of cheap dollar store toys for the plane ride. Whenever he gets tired of one toy you just bring out something new. Jon wasn't impressed with the bag of "junk" I brought home from Dollar General the day before we left, but one hour into our trip he was extremely thankful for my chintzy bag of diversions.

Jack loves to put things into containers, dump them out, give himself a round of applause and do it all again. One of his favorite activities is playing with a container full of caps and lids. So it was no surprise that his very favorite toy on the plane was this clear plastic ball full of colorful erasers. He could hardly contain his excitement each time we brought it out. Seriously, it was the best dollar I ever spent. When the plane landed all the ladies behind us commented on how adorable and well-behaved Jack was. I don't think the girl sitting directly in front of us agreed, but then again, Jack did have a habit of kicking the tray connected to her seat...

During our layovers we would walk, and walk, and walk the airport halls in the hopes of wearing Jack out enough to knock him out for the next flight. It didn't work, but it was good exercise. Jack loves, loves, LOVES older kids. I don't know why. But as soon as he sees another kid he starts to laugh. Well some poor little guy happened to be sitting a few seats down from us while waiting for our flight. Jack scootched off Mommy's lap and took off running for this boy, arms opened wide for a hug, and promptly knocked him to the ground. Jack thought this was hilarious, "Mattie" wasn't as thrilled. He spent the next few minutes trying to run away from Jack saying, "Mommy, keep him awaaaaaay from me!" Eventually they reconciled and had fun times together while we waited to board.

Flight #2 - "I'm So Sorry Sir!"
The second flight was completely full, so we had to sit next to a rather large gentleman. He was very kind, especially when Jack threw his toys on him, or knocked a cup of ice onto his lap, or screamed in his ear. I felt so bad. People who sit next to kids should get discounts on their flight tickets. By this point Jack was obviously overtired. He had only slept 45 minutes since waking up before 5am. But Jon and I could not get him to go to sleep. And whenever we tried, he'd start to throw a fit. So, in order to spare our fellow passengers a scream fest, we just both took turns letting Jack bounce on our laps. This is when I started to notice a trend, in both the first flight and the second, and which continued into the last two flights. Jack would get wilder and wilder to the point where I wasn'ts sure how much longer I could contain him, and then he'd crash, head on my chest for a good, solid nap. Unfortunately, this always happened while the plane had started descending (something to do with the atmospheric change perhaps?). So, in order to ensure Jack got as much sleep as he needed, Jon and I would stay on the plane until everyone else had left. Jack usually doesn't sleep more than 45 minutes, or one sleep cycle, when we're out and about. Which is just long enough to re-charge his batteries, and just long enough to make this preggo mama ready to put him down and run to the bathroom.

Flight #3 - "The Rules Go Out the Window"

Flying with a child is a completely different experience than flying without one. I was looking forward to getting a lot of reading done, that definitely didn't happen. We all know I'm a fan of all things free, this definitely includes drinks on the plane. But you have to think twice about drinks and snacks when there are wild, flailing arms in play. By this time in our travels I was already making plans with Jon to go somewhere far away next year for our 5th year anniversary. Both kids will be old enough to stay with a grandma, and Jon and I would just love a nice, quiet plane ride to a distant destination where we can relax in the quiet, reading or doing crossword puzzles, and not have to worry about stinky diapers, Cheerios and naptimes. But for now we're just trying to survive this trip. And that means that a number of our rules and expectations go out the window. We basically let Jack do whatever he wanted, as long as he wasn't in the aisles or touching someone else, just to avoid a tantrum. I let him chew on crayons, I let him rip magazines, I let him suck on a pacifier for the entire trip, and most annoyingly of all, I let him drop things down my shirt and then pull them back out. For some reason he loves this game, I obviously would prefer not to play. But whenever I tried to shut things down, he began to scream. And then people would start giving us looks. So, we opted to endure the temporary awkwardness to remain as obscure as possible. When the plane landed, this game was OVER!

Flight #4 - "Turbulence and Flashing Lights"

Our last flight was probably the best. There was hardly anyone on board, we had plenty of space to stretch out, and there were very few people around us to annoy. We also met a really nice couple with two boys named Jack and George that our Jack enjoyed playing with while waiting to board. This was a late flight, it was dark, and the latter part of our flight was quite turbulent. My heart dropped more than once, I can't imagine what Jack was feeling. Despite being late, Jack had a second wind. He spent most of this trip standing on the middle seat looking back at the flight attendants. They were smitten with the little flirt. He also loved looking out the window. I wish I had my camera handy to capture his cute little face and pudgy hand pressed to the pane, looking out at the flashing lights. He promptly fell asleep again, just as we were beginning our last descent before heading home. And I have to say I loved it. Not because he was finally sitting still and being quiet, although that was nice too, but because I just love to see him sleeping soundly in my arms, his head on my shoulder and his warm baby breath on my neck. Twelve hours of traveling or not, he is just the sweetest thing!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Guess where we just spent the past 7 days?

I've got lots to talk about from our trip to the Wild Wild West - Jack's first flying experience, Jack's first sharing experience, Jack's first hugging strange children experience (hmm notice a theme?), Vegas on the fly, the Hoover Dam, teetering on the edge of the Grand Canyon, desert rain, co-sleeping, delicious meals, dealing with time zones, and all these great natural childbirth books I've been reading! But unfortunately I have no time for that right now. A list of people to call back and a bulging email inbox have me chained to the non-fun part of my computer. And that silly little 1 hour glucose test I had today didn't help. And the lecture from my Nurse about declining the flu-shot and my exuberant weight gain also have not made this day any easier. Oh, and the fact that I must have incredibly small veins from which to draw blood. Or these two ridiculous Navy girls who kept giggling over who would request a pregnancy test from cutey lab tech first. Thanks to the fact that I had to sit and wait for an hour after drinking flat Sprite, I got to hear their whole conversation. Really? What are the odds that two, active duty girls think they may be pregnant in the middle of a work day? Not nearly as great as the odds that two silly little girls are trying to get out of work on a Friday afternoon. In case you're wondering, both tests were negative.

I just wanted to let the cyber-world know that we're all okay, Baby #2 did not arrive early and we are not out of town. So if there are any creepos out there that read my blog and were thinking about robbing my house ... we're home, including my big, strong husband, who owns a gun and who taught me how to lock and load that gun before he left on his last business trip. And just in case you think I'm too sweet and innocent to actually use it, I should probably let you know that when it comes to protecting my sons, I have no conscience. In fact, if someone tried to hurt either one of my kids, shooting them would be the nicest thing I could do. This may be an appropriate place to add that I like to watch "24" ...

Phew, I think I'm done unloading my preggo wrath. You would be a little tense too if you had the pleasure of 12 hours of traveling with an extremely active 15 month old. I promise, the next post will be full of fun stories and great pictures!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Movin' on Up

A big milestone occured this month - Jack moved into the 1 year olds room at church!! Yeah, I know what you're thinking, "Isn't that about 3 months late?" Well you're supposed to wait until they start walking, which he was by 13 months, but the nursery workers told me I could keep sending him to the newborn's room since he was still very new to walking and because "he's so sweet." And since I don't always deal with change too well, epecially that kind that involves my child growing up, I left him chill out a few more weeks with the itty-bitty babies. But now that we're back from Christmas traveling it's time to face the music.

I was a little apprehensive, that 1 year olds room is HUGE compared to the nursery. When I walked in there were lots of kids, half of which were crying and clinging to the only two workers. But Jack took off as soon as I put his feet on the ground. According to the ladies watching the kids, he was very good although he is a "drink stealer." Oops. When I came back to get him over an hour later, he was busy playing soccer with the boys. Okay, not really, more like someone accidentally bumps the ball, sends it rolling, and a bunch of toddlers scramble after it until someone else accidentally bumps it another direction. It was very cute. Even cuter was the line of 1 year olds that followed Jack and I to the door, all waving "bye bye" in their adorable, pudgy-handed way.

We had more changes following Christmas. Our babysitter decided to go get a real job instead of watching Jack on Mondays. Ok not really, she started student teaching this semester. And we all know even babysitting one day a week pays better than that. But anyway, we were very sad to say goodbye. Or, I should say, I was very sad. I'm sure Jack would have been sad if he understood what was happening. This is one of my frustrations with this age. I can't explain to Jack that we won't be spending Mondays at Miss Kristin's house anymore than I can explain to him that in 3 months he's about to be ousted from his place on Mommy's lap for the better part of the day.

My friend, "the other Janine" has graciously offered to watch our boy during these final few months before I go on maternity leave. I say gracious because I'm not sure she knew what she was getting in to. Janine has a 19-month-old girl, Jack's buddy Abbie, and is about 4 months pregnant with a second baby. Jack and Abbie are fun to watch together. But they are very different. Abbie is this sweet, petite, quiet thing and well, Jack is Jack. He's a couple inches taller than Abbie, so apparently he's discovered things in Janine's house that Abbie has yet to get in too. He's also a good deal heavier and doesn't have as extensive a vocabulary as Abbie. I was afraid he'd bully her around too much but apparently that is not the case. According to Janine Abbie is a little bossy, and surprisingly, Jack is the affectionate one. One time, Abbie got so tired of Jack's hugging that she finally pushed him away, pointed at him and said "bye bye!" Haha, I wish I could've been there to see it. I'm really not sure how Jack ended up being such a lover. For those of you that know Jon and I, we are not touchy-feely kinda people... except when it comes to Jack. The more I think about it, I do give that kid quite a few hugs in the day, but I don't think anymore than most parents. And those kisses!! Both Jon and I think they are to die for. But he generally only gives them to us and occasionally the grandparents.

So what does this mean for #2? Am I going to have to constantly guard him against "Jack's hugs?" Will we need to watch for "Jack the drink stealer?" (this could look very interesting with a nursing baby). Will Jack end up being the "bossy big brother?" Well, one guarantee is, whatever the outcome, there will definitely be plenty more stories to blog about in the future.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Things I love about my husband ...

How at 8pm on a Tuesday night ...

He's already thinking about 5am on a Wednesday morning ...

And how he inspires me to do the same ...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The numbers don't lie!

Big news!!! - for the first time this pregnancy, a stranger asked if I was "expecting"!! Yay, that means I officially look pregnant! Interestingly enough, a non-stranger told me yesterday that I was "huge." Then again, a lady in church on Sunday told me I was "small" compared to her last pregnancy. Such conflicting information, which is exactly what I received the last time I was with child.
So I was entering some data into my "Pregnancy Tracker" a.k.a Excel spreadsheet and was surprised and not delighted to find that I officially weigh the same as I did at this point with Jack. "What's the big deal?" you say. The big deal is that I started out weighing less when I got pregnant this time around. The big deal is that up until a few weeks ago, I was a good 2 pounds under my Jack weight. The big deal was probably Christmas and the fact that I think Baby had a growth spurt this week. Can we say hormone surge? I type this as I'm sipping on carbonated beverages and snacking on crackers because I'm feeling queasy yet again. I've also been a tad emotional this week, near to tears on several occasions, but haven't quite lost it yet. And so, little brother has officially caught up to big brother. Funny thing is, I'm not the only one having a hard time buttoning my pants...

It looks like we'll be moving on to the stack of 2T clothes sooner than I thought ...

They say that second babies are typically bigger than first babies. But I've also heard lots of stories to the contrary. I've been expecting #2 to be different than Jack. I've just been picturing a quiet, calm, tiny little guy that likes to snuggle with his Mama and listen to her read entire books, not just the first two pages. Jack didn't turn out the way I was expecting with him though, so I'm probably entirely off with this one too. But the current numbers have me wondering if there are two "Tanks" in my future.
The funny thing is, I'm not worried about delivering a bigger baby. I've read enough big baby birth stories to know it's certainly not impossible. But I kinda wanted a smaller kid this time around, not only for a change of pace, but more importantly, so he can share Jack's wardrobe. :) Jack's always been one size ahead of his age, so I figure if this one is the "right" size then he may be able to wear the same clothes that Jack did each season. Otherwise I may have a huge pile of adorable clothes that never see the light of day next year. :(
Soon we may get a better idea of what to expect from Baby #2. I have my second (and 3D) ultrasound in 2 weeks. Hopefully baby cooperates and we get some good shots of his little self. #2 Mommy can't wait to "see" you again!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

In typical fashion, the week after we returned from traveling was horrendous. But this time it wasn't just from the change in routine. After a several month hiatus, Jack is finally cutting some more teeth. They are not molars, they are not canines, in fact, his gums aren't even red or swollen and he doesn't have a fever. But apparently it is the end of the world for my little man, who refuses to leave my side for the better part of the day. He constantly wants "up." Surprisingly, this is not as difficult as I had pictured when I first found out I was pregnant. Once I get over the initial strain of leaning over and lifting the little guy, my growing bump seems to provide a nifty little ledge to prop him up on. In fact, it has made sitting with him a little easier. Since he's so long, the extra inches provided by my belly make it easier for him to put his head on Mommy's shoulder without having to double up at the waist. How convenient. At least for now...

When Jack wants "up", he wants "up!" He's very dramatic about it. He'll walk over to your legs, look up at you and thrust his hands straight into the air with the force of a rocket taking off. Then he'll keep them there, straight and still, until you notice him. If you pretend not to notice him, he'll continue to keep his hands in the air, still as straight as an arrow, but will then add a little dance with his feet. If you still happen to not notice him, he'll add a whine.

Ah, the whine. It's been getting more pronounced with each passing week. And he's recently added to his portfolio the temper tantrum. "What?" you say. "That beautiful baby boy with the stunning blue eyes throws tantrums?" Alas, it is so. I have to admit, he's still kinda cute when he's in a fit. But, Mommy looks Jack in the eye, "that's not allowed in this house!" That's Jon's and my new line. I don't know if it's effective or not. I like that it's a bit more developed than "no", but I'm wondering if it's too far beyond the mind of a not-quite-15-month-old.

This week we had a particularly bad meltdown. In fact, the entire day was just plain bad on so many levels, most having to do with job stuff. But we won't complain about that. After relaying all the horrible events of the day to my husband on his way home from work, I realized that the only reason the day was so bad was because the majority of my days are pretty good. I'm choosing not to dwell on one bad apple. So enough about that.

Anyway back to the aforementioned meltdown, since returning from PA Jack has been especially attached to his Monkey and pacifier. Monkey is cute and can stay, but I should have cut the pacifier out months ago. Then again, I value a full night's sleep too much. We're pretty good about restricting paci use to only the crib, although I do keep one in the diaper bag in case he gets fussy when we're out. Other than that, I don't like him sucking on it for kicks. Well, we went upstairs so Jack could play in his room and he noticed the paci sitting in his crib next to Monkey. He pointed at it and started yelling "me, me (high voice)? meee (loud voice)!!" which I think means "I want that!" I said "no" and he kept yelling and pointing. Then he tried to break into his crib but couldn't reach that far. I stuck to my guns. The yelling and "meeing" got louder and more piercing. Finally, I picked him up, carried him out of the room and shut the door. He ran to the door pounding his fists on it yelling, "Mee!! Mee!!" This lasted for a short eternity until I found something else to distract him i.e. Jon's back scratcher. Thankfully, kids have short memories. Three minutes later he completely forgot about the paci and didn't even notice when I hid it from view. Apparently I need to add two more things to my New Year's goal list - wean Jack from paci and curb further emotional meltdowns.

Other than the intense clinginess, incessant whining, puddle of drool, and child who walks around with his two fingers pulling on the sides of his mouth - teething isn't too bad. Oh, there was the one night when Jack hardly slept. At. All. We had a hard time putting him to bed, and then he was up again around midnight. We snuggled for a long time, I rather enjoyed it except for the fact that I was having a hard time staying awake. And then, according to Jon, he was up again from 1-4am. I had no clue until the following morning. That was a definite first. I'm so glad Jon and Jack are getting this extra bonding time in to prepare for Baby #2's arrival. :) Since then he's been up almost every other night this week for cuddles and Tylenol, I ended up spending part of the night with my pillow on the floor by his bed, waiting for him to fall back to sleep. It's amazing how out of practice I am with night wakings. It hasn't been that long, but I'm seriously delirious when I walk into his room. It always takes me a few minutes to figure out where I am and what's going on. I just keep telling myself it's only temporary, at least until April. And then I try not to think about the fact that Jack will more than likely still be cutting teeth long after the new baby arrives. I think we'll add that scenario to the growing list of "cross that bridge when we come to it" items. Seriously, see how much more laid back motherhood is making me? See? Seeee!?!?

Well one positive is that the new pearly whites have not affected Jack's knack for kissing. His newest thing is to grab my face with both hands and turn my head so he can give me a big smackeroo on the cheek. He's also learned how to give Eskimo kisses. Although his version is not nearly as gentle as the original. He turns his head back and forth so fast I'm afraid he's going to break my nose! Nevertheless, I will be extremely grateful when these new toothers make their full appearance. I'd like my sweet, happy boy back ... as well as my undisturbed sleep!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Let me see that baby bump!

26 weeks today and I officially "feel" pregnant. I get leg cramps when I wear heels, it's getting harder and harder to pick Jack's toys up off the floor, not to mention Jack himself! In the time it took us to replace the batteries in our scale, I've gone up 3 pounds! (Blame it on the holidays!) And I've already grown out of a few pairs of maternity pants. Not to mention that Baby continues to make Mommy sick. It seems to have something to do with breakfast, I have to eat first thing in the morning and I have to eat carbs (apparently fruit smoothies are not pregnancy friendly). Otherwise I'm barfing by 9am. Not cool. Especially when you're dining out to breakfast with your boss and co-worker. Really not cool.

Interestingly enough, despite the fact that my belly button announces my arrival into a room .5 seconds before the rest of me, not one stranger has mentioned my pregnancy. I did have one lady look me over a few times, as if trying to figure out what was going on ... but that's it. Apparently I don't look as pregnant as I feel.

Which leads me to wonder ... when it is appropriate to show off the baby bump? I was watching "Top Chef" the other week (don't ask me why I watch that show, I'm not a good cook, especially not that kind of cooking!) and during the final episode Padma (the host) walked out wearing THE TIGHTEST dress with THE SLIGHTEST bump. So slight, in fact, that the editors had to splice in comments from the other chefs mentioning her pregnancy. Otherwise, no one would have known. It was cute and annoying all at the same time. And now I'm afraid that I am cute and annoying all at the same time...

First of all, it's great to be a woman in the age where pregnancy is hip and trendy, and maternity clothes are designed to make you look good, instead of like you're hiding under a tablecloth. I'm so glad I don't have to keep hiking my waistline up like Scarlett O'Hara or spend months on end inside during my "confinement." I mean, we all know I think pregnancy is just glorious! (I mentioned to my husband the other day that I'd like to become a surrogate if he decides he only wants three kids, he wans't too thrilled with that plan.) But it seems like I'm stuck between "hide the bump so people don't have to guess" and "show it off for the world to see!" And it certainly doesn't help that it's winter, and all the extra clothing just makes me look thick. As a sidenote, why did I bother to buy maternity sweaters? They were useful in chilly PA, but there's no point in wearing them inside where I am constantly overheated! Ah, the dilemmas of pregnancy fashion! Thankfully, it shouldn't be long before I have no choice regarding the bumpness and baby makes himself a little more obvious! Until then I will continue to scan every woman in the grocery store, wondering if she too is experiencing this same conundrum.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Beauty of Thy Peace

I've never been much for New Year's resolutions. I feel that if you have something in your life you'd like to change... just do it. Don't wait for the new year to roll around. But over the past few months I've been developing some new goals for my life, and figure now would be a good time to share them. Plus there's something about announcing them publicly for the entire virtual world to read that gives me a little more motivation for reaching them.
2009 has been great year for our family. When I think about the person I was when I watched the ball drop a year ago, and the person I am today, I realize just how much has occured over the last 12 months, and how much I've changed and grown. I think. I definitely have a lot more growing to do. And there's no better time than the present to buckle down and focus on becoming the woman I'm called to be.
I'm reading "Let Me Be a Woman" by Elisabeth Elliot. She's one of my favorite "inspirational" authors and even though I read this book several years ago, now that I'm a wife and a mother her words take on new meaning. Last night I happened to open up to the chapter on "Self-Discipline and Order", in it Elliot quotes a hymn by John Greenleaf Whittier (if you're like me, and didn't grow up in a hymn-singing church, you may recognize this as one of Tim Hughes' songs):

Drop Thy still dews of quietness
Till all our strivings cease.
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

The chapter is less than two pages long, but when I first read it nearly 5-6 years ago, I underlined the final chapter:

The way you keep your house, the way you organize your time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on all speak loudly about what you believe. "The beauty of Thy peace" shines forth in an ordered life. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.

Over these next few months, there are four areas of my life that I'm planning to "get in order":

1.) Our home.
What a blessing it's been to be home with Jack this past year. I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but never really thought about "why" or "how." When we found out we were pregnant with Jack, the original plan was for me to continue working for at least another year or two. But thankfully, God had other plans, and opened a few doors that I had never dreamed existed. It hasn't been an easy adjustment, there's a lot of things I miss about being a career woman and there are a lot of things about being a homemaker that I wasn't prepared for, but I'm getting better and am busy creating big plans for the future. This year, my goals are to
--follow-through with my daily and weekly chore chart (I've had one hanging on my fridge for the past year but haven't been so disciplined with keeping up with it.)
--be better with menu planning, stockpiling my pantry and being prepared to host guests
[Inspirations: Babywise Mom, Once a Month Mom and Jon's amazing Aunt Julie and Uncle Bob, who never seem surprised by unexpected dinner guests :)]

2.) Our finances.
Early last year I read Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover" and was so inspired to become a better budgeter with the overall goal of being debt free. I had never even heard of Dave Ramsey until last year, but I began to notice that many of my favorite blogs have the same philosophy. When Jon was working on the ship, and was deployed every 2-3 months, I was in charge of the finances. Since he's started his land job he's taken them over. But I really want to take them back! :) I was reading one of my blogs several months ago and one commenter mentioned that she wanted to be a good steward of her husband's hard earned money. Her words really stuck with me. Ever since then I've always had Jon's long, hard work hours in the back of my mind when spending money. Sure I bring home a little bacon as well, but but if I can become a better manager of our finances every bit I save adds to our value. That said, this year my goals are to
--work my way through the Financial Peace coursework before Baby #2 arrives. (Our church is offering the FPU classes this year, but between Jon's work and school schedule we're not able to attend. So I was very excited when my mother-on-law lent me her kit to look over these next few months.)
--become a better steward of our finances and actively seek out ways to cut costs
--tighten the budget (We have a decent budget that has served us well for the past 3 years, but I'd really like to tighten it up a little - Dave Ramsey style!)
--pay down debt and build up our savings
--become a savvy shopper and better coupon collector
[Inspiration: Money Saving Mom, The Happy Housewife, $5 Dinners]

3.) Our son.
So, I may have mentioned that Jack is slightly wild and occasionally active. Having a routine really served us well during the newborn years ... it was also a lot easier when all he did was eat, sleep and stare at colorful objects. Oh yeah, and poop. But things are different now and I've failed to keep up with the changes. This year, my goals are to
--implement a new routine with daily roomtime/independent playtime
--start working on character development and self-discipline (I thought 1 was too early for this sort of thing but spend 10 minutes in our house and it's obvious that babies are born sinners just like the rest of us!)
--create a family code (a.k.a mission statement, Jon and I have been talking this over for a while now but we just need to get it down in stone.)

[Inspiration: Babywise Mom, Duggar Family Character Qualities]

4.) My spiritual walk.
This seems to be on just about any list of goals I've ever made. But I suppose it should always be that way. It's not very likely I'll ever be content with my current spiritual walk. Then again, shouldn't we all be striving for more? This year I plan to
--spend time in the Word daily (Jon just bought a new Smith Wigglesworth devotional that I've been eyeing up. I prefer devotionals to reading the Bible through in a year, but I do enjoy a daily dose of Proverbs!)
--maintain my prayer journal (I've been so erratic with this, but I love reading back through my old entries and seeing how God has moved. Gotta be more consistent!)
--pray for my husband and son EVERY DAY (Have you ever read "The Power of a Praying Wife"? It's sooo good, I almost want to stop typing and go read some more. And the author has a book on praying for your son too.)

I think that's enough for this year. My intention isn't to be overwhelmed with lofty goals but I really feel that a more ordered and disciplined life will bring peace to our family. As Elisabeth Elliot says, "Freedom begins way back. It begins not with doing what you want but with doing what you ought - that is, with discipline." Cheers to the new year!

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