Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Even good babies have bad days

I feel bad. When I first started this blog it was all about pregnancy and then our amazing little Jack. I would quasi-faithfully post on every development and little cute things he did. It was all new and magical and sunshine and rainbows. And now I can hardly keep up with blogging about our family and all those trips we've been taking, and then throw in a few pictures of the boys. And Jude is going to grow up and learn how to read some day and wonder why there aren't any stories about him as a baby. I know this because I was a second child too. So this is for you grown-up-Jude. This post is all about you.

Our littlest guy is now 3 months.  Wow.  In some ways it seems so old.  In other ways, I can't believe he's only been out-of-the-womb and in our world for 3 months now.  It's hard to remember what life was like without Jude.  In fact, I just finished reading my last posts leading up to his birth.  I think those days took place ages ago.  In another life.  Now, Jude is a well-established member of the household.  I can't imagine life without him!

So yes, he's three months and hasn't had a check-up yet.  There's supposed to be a 2-month well-baby check but after we moved we had to submit paperwork to change to a local military clinic.  We just got assigned to new doctors, I called first thing the next day to make an appointment, and found out the earliest they can see Jude is mid-August.  "You do realize my son will be 4 months by the time he comes in for his 2 month check-up right?" I told the receptionist.  Oh well.  He appears to be a healthy little guy.  And by little I'm guessing somewhere between 13-14 pounds.  Much less than Jack but a good, average size.

Healthy, but stinky.  Jude's had gas issues since his second week of life.  When he was just a teeny-tiny lil' guy he'd scrunge his legs up, wriggle his tummy and wail in pain.  I tried every little trick I had heard of.  The gazillion different ways to burp, special massages (counter-clockwise for 30 seconds, rub up and down for 30 seconds, clockwise for 30 seconds, bicycle kick 15 times, and on and on), watching what I eat ... finally I just gave in to Mylicon and that seemed to make a little difference for a few weeks until I weaned him back off.  So the pain appears to be gone, but in it's wake we've been left with some major stink clouds.  I mean, it's embarassing.  I feel like I constantly need to qualify, "Oh sorry, that was my baby" because I certainly don't want people to think that scent came from me!  The worst is when I'm using my nursing cover.  I feel bad for the little guy, trapped under that with those gaseous fumes.  And the only air escape is at the top, right below my head, right under my nose.  It's enough to make your eyes water.  But hey, it could be worse right?  I'm super thankful for my healthy guy, gas and all!

Actually, we did have one health hiccup the other week while in Pennsylvania.  I noticed that Jude was sleeping very well on the trip up, too well.  He's not the happiest baby in his car seat so this was unusual.  And then I noticed he was really warm when we got to my parents.  Now as you know, he's typically a hot little thing.  But this was different.  He wasn't sweating and he wasn't very alert.  Jon went out and bought those special kinds of thermometers that work best on babies but yet make their mama's shudder to think about it, and we figured out he had a fever.  I'm not used to sick babies.  Jack had a fever once from his 12 month immunizations and, other than some coughs and runny noses, that's about the extent of his bad health.  Having a sick baby isn't fun, it grips your heart and makes you wish you could be ten times more sicker if it would be mean he'd feel better.  And it makes you nervous when you don't know why.  So we swaddled him up, put him to bed, tried to sleep ourselves and by morning he was back to his fever-free, smiling self.  The same thing happened again the second night.  And he was back to normal the next morning as well.  It hasn't happened again, and we still don't know what was going on.  Must've just been fighting something.  I actually cracked open "What To Expect the First Year" for the first time in forever and from what I read a slight fever isn't too much to be concerned about.  I would ask my doctor ... if I could get in before August!

Sorry, for some reason Blogger keeps rotating this picture!
Jude was great in Pennsylvania.  I mean, we took that baby all over the place and barely gave him a chance to relax.  He was constantly in someone's arms, which is his favorite place to nap anyway.  And if he did happen to get upset, he wasn't allowed to stay that way for long before someone scooped him up and made the world right again.  He was a good traveler, despite his car seat angst.  And made all the busy-ness just a tad easier on me.

And then we got home and things began to unravel.  He went from sleeping 9 hours at night to waking up 4-5 times.  He wouldn't take naps.  He'd fall asleep in your arms and wake up screaming as soon as you laid him in bed.  And the crying, oh the crying.  It tore my heart.  So unlike his typical unhappy sounds, and so much more like a frightened, confused little baby.  I was concerned that I'd allowed the past two weeks to ruin my perfectly wonderful baby, and then I realized that we'd hit 12 weeks and it could very well be a growth spurt.  So I gave him two days of unlimited access to the buffet.  Two days that he spent the greater part of his day occupying my arms.  Two days that made his big brother very jealous.  And I have to smile when I think about a book I read that suggested, during growth spurts or to increase your milk supply, to "take the baby to bed" with you so you can relax and nurse all day.  Haha!  I'm guessing the author only had one child.  Or maybe she did have a toddler, who was a girl.  Because I think I can safely say that Jack will never be interested in hanging out in Mommy's room, much less her bed, all day while I tend to his baby brother.  I can just picture us trying to relax while Jack jumps on the bed.  I digress.

By the end of the second day I had my Jude-bug back.  He's back to his 9 hour night stretches, back to napping in his bed during the day, but not back to his little clothes.  Nope, we're in to 3-6 month stuff now.  And I'm pretty sure all that nursing knocked another 3 pounds off my waist as well.  Not too shabby. 

We're also dealing with the 45-minute intruder again.  I hate that ugly beast!  Jude goes down beautifully for each nap, and just like clockwork starts fussing right at the 45 minute mark.  I don't have the energy, or time, to fight it right now.  Plus we're going out of town again soon so I'd rather not try to create good habits only to see them ruined again in another week or so.  So at this point, we just deal with it.  If I can get him back to sleep fairly quickly, fantastic.  If I can't (picture me, locking myself in the nursery, swaying my swaddled baby, humming softly, stroking his forehead until his eyeslids just can't fight it anymore ... now picture Jack a.k.a. Tarzan, on the other side of the locked door, pounding ferociously, rattling the doorknob, yelling for Mommy), so yes, if for some reason I can't get Jude back to sleep we give up and bring him back to the rest of us until his next naptime. 

And it's usually not a problem, because he's so stinkin' easygoing.  I'm almost afraid that someday we're going to have to help him stand up for himself.  I'll worry about that later though.  Because right now we're just enjoying who he is.  And although that 3 month heightened awareness stage drags along that dreaded 45-minute monster, it also brings fun smiles and heart-flipping coos.  Quite possibly my favorite sound in the whole world!  He's talking as well as he knows how.  And making that adorable sound that adorable babies do when no noise comes out until they suck the air back in.  The sound of babies swallowing pure joy and choking on summer bliss.

And that's Jude.  With his downy head of hair that someone actually called red this week.  With his teeny,tiny fingernails that seem to grow overnight.  With his blue-hued headlights, beaming back at the world.  With his heel-kicking, fist-pumping, swaddle-busting moves.  He's the sweetest thing.  Living proof that God's greatest blessing come in the smallest packages.  And we're so glad he's here!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Beat the Heat

The funny thing about summer is that you spend all year looking forward to it, and then when it arrives you realize it's too hot to do all the things you were looking forward to anyway.  It's so hot and dry, in fact, that a lot of the trees in our neighborhood are giving up for the year and there are piles of brown, crispy leaves all along the sides of the road.  It reminds me of fall and the more I think about it the more I'm ready for it to be here!

Because it's been so hot and sticky, and because I can barely walk out to the mailbox without wilting, we've been missing out on some quality outdoor time and our daily walks.  And I really do miss them.  Just not enough to brave the heat to make them happen.  So sadly, we spend most of our days indoors.  In the wonderful air conditioning that makes everything cool - except for the 5 inch radius surrounding Jude.  But occasionally we do venture out armed and ready, of course, to beat the heat.

We've brought out the baby pool once again for Jack.  Although with his current size, it's more like a giant basin.  And then he starts throwing all his outside toys in it and there's no room for him anyway. 

It's crazy to look at him in this thing and remember the first time he took a "swim" in it.

I guess I wasn't being entirely truthful when I said we spend most of our days indoors.  What I should have said is the boys and I spend most of our days indoors.  Jon has been outside almost every day we've been home working on the landscaping.  All stinkin' day long.  It needed a lot of work, and he's a pretty meticulous guy.  But our house, er our landlord's house, is looking great!  And I'm not just saying that because we happened to be located between two houses that don't do anything to their yards.  It does make our's look even better, but Jon did a fantastic job.  The man loves having a yard!

And Jack loves waving at Daddy through the window.  Sometimes we go out for a visit and to check on progress.  Or maybe a hose-drinking lesson or two.

Or so Jude can work on his tan.

And if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?  When it's not too incredibly hot we like to enjoy dinner al fresco.  It certainly makes cleaning up around Jack's spot much easier.

But I have to say, one of my most favorite activities this year came about because of my garden.  Which, although thriving, has been very thirsty.  Enter: the sprinkler!!

Jack loves it and is leery of it at the same time.  He'll only run through if he's holding your hand.

And if you go without him he'll patiently wait for you to return.

And then he asks that you carry him through.   And so I do, we run right through the middle of the water and leap over the spray!

And Jack finds this incredibly fun and funny and wants to do it again and again.  I'm sure the neighbors find us interesting. 

But hey, at least we keep our yard nice!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Pennsylvania 4th!

Our camping trip was the first, of many, treks to Pennsylvania from our new home in Maryland.  It would have been about 4 hours of driving, but kids just change everything.  We had to stop for lunch, and then Jack wanted to play in the playplace, and Jude needed to eat...  We finally got there just in time for one of my Mom's massive meals out on the porch.  It was lovely to be back home for a few days, just in time for the cooler weather.  In fact, I wasn't prepared to wear sweatshirts and jeans in July and my poor children were slightly under-dressed.  But the chill didn't last long anyway!

We spent the night at Marmie and Poppa's before leaving for the campground and then came back to my parents to spend the 4th of July.  We came back to Maryland for a few days, and then returned once again to Central PA for the weekend so Jon could go on a scuba trip with his Dad and I could get some more quality time in with our friends and family.  Yes, we pretty much ran ourselves ragged over the holiday and beyond.  The boys handled it pretty well and we've spent the last week catching up on sleep and restocking our energy reserves.  Then again, when does Jack ever run out of energy?

So anyway, we returned from the mountains with just enough time to throw our clothes in the washer, shampoo the smoke out of our hair, and take a quick nap before heading up to State College for what we were told was one of the best fireworks shows in the nation.  And I must say, we were not disappointed!

Photo Credit:  Jared Wineberg

This was both Jack and Jude's first fireworks experience.  Earlier in the day they had set off a few testers, Jack pointed at the sky and said "Whoa!" and Jude started screaming.  I thought this was a sign of things to come.  Turns out, as soon as the show started Jack buried his head in Uncle Jared's shoulder and promptly fell asleep.  And Jude just stared at the flashing lights in the sky.  I was a little disappointed.  I really wanted to see what Jack thought of the fireworks.  But he refused to watch.  Oh well, I guess there will be plenty more years of July 4th's to come.

Photo Credit: Jared Wineberg

One of the reasons I was super excited to come home for the 4th this year was the Watsontown parade.  Seems cheesy, but I have found memories of this small town event from my growing up years.  The celebration isn't quite the same anymore, but the parade itself seemed unchanged.  It is still mainly composed of classic cars and farm tractors.  Rows and rows of tractors.

Photo Credit: Jared Wineberg

Photo Credit: Jared Wineberg

And they still throw a ton of candy to the kids.  I taught Jack had to wave at each car/bike/horse/firetruck/etc. and then watch the candy fall!  He quickly learned to pick it up and throw it in his beach bucket.  It was a lot of fun for him.  Little does he know that his efforts have resulted in a nice little stash for Mom that he will probably never see again!

Photo Credit: Jared Wineberg

Photo Credit: Jared Wineberg
He was a little skittish of the horses, and not crazy about the people dressed up in pig and chicken costumes.  But waving, now that's more his thing. 

Photo Credit: Jared Wineberg

And I remembered another reason why I love small town living, not just for the cute parades and festivals, but because everyone knows everyone.  And when your little guy is thirsty and it's 100 some degrees outside, you have excellent chances of running into someone you used to be in gymnastics with, who knows someone who lives right behind where you're sitting, with an air conditioned house, where you can hang out with the hungry fella.  How convenient!

Photo Credit: Jared Wineberg

After Jack had his fill of the parade and Jude had his fill of milk, the rest of us grabbed some tasty treats and then took Jack to the playground.  Jack loves swinging bridges.  They play on my nerves since I'm always afraid he's going to trip and get smacked in the head by a bridge, and he does.  But he doesn't seem to mind.  Bridges yes, slides no.  I'm not sure what it is about him and slides.  I think it's because he had a traumatic experience once when the slide was "hotttt" (Jack always exagerates the "t" in hot) and he didn't realize it until he was already halfway down.  He tried to turn around and ended up finishing the slide backwards ... and in tears.  Well anyway, he was a bit finnicky about this slide too, until Marmie got up there and showed him how it's done.  I think he's been cured.

Photo Credit: Jared Wineberg

Photo Credit: Jared Wineberg

Speaking of hottttt, the day was boiling.  My parents don't have AC, Jude was his typical radiating self and energetic Jack was about to wilt. So my Dad suggest the creek across the street.  We used to go here all the time when I was a kid.  We built a dam and had ourselves a pretty sweet swimming hole, complete with "diving" rock.  The rock's not there anymore, and the dam seems to have been relocated a few feet away, but the water is still cool and refreshing.  And what little boy doesn't love a pool full of rocks to throw?  So Jack has officially been "swimming" in the ocean, bay, lake, pool and now creek. 

We wanted to test Jude's reaction as well ... predictable, as you can imagine.  Maybe he likes being a little microwave?

Seriously, I don't know where Marmie and Poppa get their energy from.  Between the two of them they keep Jack well occupied all day.  Which results in 4 hour naps and fantastic nights of sleep in "Uncle Jared's room."  Although, technically we're not allowed to call it that anymore.  My mom requests that, since all the kids are out of the house, we now refer to the bedrooms by color.  I'm still getting used to the changes. ;)

So that was Trip #1 to PA.  Trip #2 occured 4 days later with a subsidary trip to NY so that Jude could visit his great-grandparents for the first time.  Sadly, I have no pictures of the second trip.  I must have been too exhausted to pick up the camera.  But I'm hoping it wasn't our last trip "home" for the summer!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Head for the Hills!

Well, we did it. We survived 4 days of camping with our energetic 20 monther and our little 10 weeker.  And we didn't just survive, we really enjoyed it!

You see, we've been going back and forth over whether or not to go camping ever since we found out about #2.  My mother-in-law reserves great sites each year, and to get these top notch, lakeside, wooded, three-in-a-row spots you have to reserve 11 months in advance, at 7am.  They're THAT amazing.  So we reserved and paid for the site back when I was preggo and didn't know it.  Since then we've been discussing the feasibility of camping with a 10 week old.  But Jude, as you all know, is a great baby. 

Turns out he's a wonderful camper as well.  Piece of cake.  The real challenge was camping with the other baby.  The big one who can run, jump, explore and get real dirty.  Yes, there were several times over the weekend that I heard, "Aunt Janine, Jack's down at the lake again." 

Photo Credit: Jenn Smith

You would think keeping on eye on the kiddos would be easy with 12+ adults around.  Wrongo.  Everyone always assumes someone else is watching, and then toddlers end up up to their ankles in mud trying to throw rocks into the lake.  Or 3 campsites down the road stealing marshmallows.  But really, all heart attacks aside,  we had a great time!
 Photo Credit: Jenn Smith

We were a little shocked at how COLD it was.  After the heat wave we've been experiencing the Pennsylvania mountains chilled out for two days and our first two nights of camping were well in the lower 40s.  Brrr.  You could see your breath.  I felt so bad for Jude, I hadn't even thought to bring a hat.  He was sleeping soundly in the pack n play when I checked on him around 10pm, but I had a hard time sleeping myself because I was so worried about him being too cold.  So I scooped him up and snuggled him in the sleeping bag next to me.  I didn't sleep the greatest, constantly afraid I was going to lose him in the sleeping bag, but we were both warm and cozy the rest of that night and the next.  And surprisingly he maintained his sleeping-through-the-night streak even during those cold mountain nights in a tent. 

Photo Credit:  Megan Douglass

I had packed a limited amount of warm weather gear for the boys and I, which is why I'm wearing the same sweatshirt in all photos.  And of course, Jack got was covered in dirt and pricklies within minutes of setting up camp.  He really is "all boy" and it was fun watching him thrive in his dirt and rocks environment.

One of the best parts about camping was that it was the first time in three years that my husband's side of the family was all together in one place.  This might not happen again for another few years and I can almost guarantee our family will be bigger thaen, ... almost. 

Photo Credit: Megan Douglass

It was also extra-special since our friends Megan and family (from over at she.plus.glee) and Jenn and Nate joined in the fun.  This meant that Jack and Edie got to spend some quality time together getting re-acquainted after their extended absence.

Photo Credit:  Jenn Smith

My favorite part about camping is that it's free of any distractions.  There's no cell phone, computer, TV, even no electricity.  And depending on when you timed your shower there was no hot water either!  There's so much time to do whatever you want - hike, bike...

Photo Credit: Jenn Smith

... kayak, whittle sticks...

Photo Credit:  Jenn Smith

... swim, knit, read, play games, chat around a blazing campfire ...

Well, there would be time ... if you weren't me. Nothing says vacation and relaxation like nursing a baby every 2.5 hours.  It wasn't until the car ride home that I realized I didn't get to do anything that I had planned to do.

Photo Credit:  Jenn Smith

But honestly, that's okay. To me, camping is all about doing the normal, every day stuff in a new and different way.  Kinda like playing house, one of my favorite childhood activities.  We still brew coffee and tea each morning, except now it's on a camping stove (perhaps in a Snuggie??).

We still go to bed at night, except on an air mattress in a tent.  We still eat meals, but outside on a picnic table. 

And we still take out the trash, except that means driving it to the dumpster each night to keep the friendly skunks away.  Jude still eats all the time, except in the front seat of the car or by the campfire. 

Photo Credit:  Jenn Smith

And, I must confess, some of us still watch TV while camping.  Because honestly, even grown-ups need a break from chasing little ones once in a while.


So yes, that is how we camp with the little people.  I don't think we'll make it next year, since Jon will be graduating and we'll be moving.  Then again, we didn't think we'd make it this year either.  Jon says that pretty soon we'll have to rent a U-haul to get all our stuff up on the mountain.  I don't mind.  Bigger cars, bigger tents, bigger families.  All the more fun!  Right babe?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm Booking It! (June/July)

Somehow I managed to read two books before we moved.  I actually had picked up Emma for a quaint little re-read, then remembered the "no Austen" promise I made in my last post and put it back.  Instead, I grabbed a book based on one of my most favorite movies North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.  And no, it is not referring to the Civil War as I, and several of my friends, once thought.  It's about the difference between the north (industrial) and the south (farming) of England. And naturally with a little romance thrown in.  I got the book for Christmas right after Jack was born and thought that I had never read it, but about halfway into it I realized that maybe I had.  I'm still not quite sure.  Anyway, it's one of my all-time favorite novels.  And if you don't feel like reading a long book, the movie is also fantastic.  Someday I'm going to convince my husband to sit down and watch it with me since it is a bit economical. 

Ever since my semester in Oxford studying Jane Austen I've been digging footnotes.  I love the Penguin classics with the introductory notes (usually written by some uber-intelligent doctoral fellow) and the little numbers directing you to the back half where you can get the full background of just one word or phrase.  So while reading North and South I found out Gaskell was good buddies with the Bronte sisters.  Which led me to my next selection Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.  Actually, I had originally planned on re-reading Jane Eyre (I know, I know, I'm such a re-reader) but then remembered I'm not crazy about the first few chapters of that book.  And it is a touch depressing, which didn't suit my start-of-summer mood.  Agnes Grey was a lot shorter too and we were moving in a few days so it seemed the better choice.  And, once again, about halfway through the book, I realized I had read it before.  This book is okay, I actually enjoyed reading the introductory notes more than the actual story.  I think all the Bronte's books are dark and depressing.  Plus it reminded me of my days as a Nanny in college.  *shudder*  Bad memories.

Then we moved and I took a break from reading for a while.  During our camping vacation I read the classic The 5 Love Languages.  I really want to read the one for kids but figured I'd start with this one, especially since it was sitting in my mom's house and I needed something to bring to the campground.  I used to think my love language was "Acts of Service."  My husband assured me it was not. :)  After reading the book I'm pretty sure it's actually "Words of Affirmation."  So lay it on me people!  Haha, just kidding.  Jon is a bit more difficult.  He's somewhere between "Gifts" and "Acts of Service" with maybe a little "Words ..." thrown in there.  We're still trying to figure that one out.  We think Jack is a "Quality Time" kind of boy.  He wants to be with either Mommy or Daddy all day.  Then again, he also likes "Touch."  That kid gets so many back massages and head scratches ... and he gets a kick out of all our cheering and hooraying when he does something good so maybe he's a little "Words..." too.  I think most kids are combos anyway.

I ended up finishing the Love Languages book on our first day of camping.  Thankfully, my mom returned one of my all-time favorite, non-fiction books in the whole world Feminine Appeal by Carulyn Mahaney.  I had lent it to her last summer and she's been reading and re-reading it this whole time.  So yes, I re-read another book.  But this one is just that good.  I'll probably read it once a year for the rest of my life.  Or until I get it right.  Anyway, if you're a wife and/or a mom I would highly recommend this.  The information is based in Titus 2- what it means to be a biblical woman, and honestly, it gives me fresh vision each time I read it.  It's one of the most challenging, yet hope-full books I have ever read.  Now, doesn't that make you want to go out and buy it THIS INSTANT?  I hope I don't let you down. 

And finally, my mother-in-law lent me If I Gained the World by Linda Nicholswhile we were home last weekend.  I wasn't crazy about it, but was certainly thankful for something to keep me occupied on our drive to and from NY to visit Jon's grandparents, and then back down to Maryland.  Which explains how I was able to finish all 600-some pages of it in 3 days.  It's not bad, just not incredible.  Certainly no Francine Rivers.  :) 

And with that said, I'm off to re-organize our bookshelf and pack up all the books that didn't make "the cut" tihs move.  Hopefully I can find a few good reads for our upcoming beach vacation!
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