Saturday, October 12, 2013

Reid is 4 months old

Dear Reid,
I wondered when this would happen. I wondered when I'd get so busy in the day-to-day life of being momma to 2 boys that your "month day" would slip past me. It happened at month 4. Poor second child. 

You are 4 months (and a week) old! I can't believe it, I love it, I am excited by it. You seriously change every day. You are no longer a tiny little newborn, and I'm so glad that I can say we survived that time! Every day with you gets a little bit easier and more fun. You are growing and changing and trying to become independent and doing everything you can to keep up with your big brother. 

When once you would scream and cry and fuss if you weren't being held, now you give great big grins when we put you in your exersaucer. You used to demand our attention constantly, but now you can entertain yourself with your toys for decent stretches of time. You used to hate being placed on your tummy, but now you lift yourself up and look around and reach for things. You roll over like a pro, scoot backwards, and attempt to rock on your hands and knees. 

I've heard that second babies grow too fast, and I wholeheartedly agree! Watching Cohen makes you want to do the things he does. You no longer lie back in your swing-- you pull yourself into a sitting position. You may be close to sitting up on your own. You like to play with your brother's toys, too, and show little attention to your baby toys. You fight naps when Cohen is awake too-- you don't want to miss any of the action!

An exciting milestone this week is your first experiences with food. You are still exclusively breastfed (we are rockstars!), and I wanted to keep you on only milk until you turned 6 months old. But you had other plans. You have started grabbing food from our plates and out of my hands while we ate, so I figured you were trying to tell us something. We put you in your high chair, and I gave you a stick of toast, and you knew exactly what to do with it: you grabbed it and put it straight to your mouth! We are doing baby led weaning with you, which means you will real food with your family instead of purées from a jar. The rule is simple: we put soft, healthy foods on your tray, and if you can get it in your mouth, you can have it. So far, you've had a taste of canteloupe (too slippery!) and toast. In the coming weeks, I plan to introduce avacado and steamed green beans. You only get licks and tastes right now- most food will end up on your body or on the floor, and that's perfectly fine: for the first year of your life, food is just for fun anyway! And kid, I know we're going to have lots of fun. 

You had a doctor appointment last week. You weighed a few ounces shy of 17 pounds (75th percentile) and were 25 inches long (25th percentile). Basically what that means is you are short and stout! You are just adorable with your rolls on rolls on rolls. Your fat little thighs are to die for. I love to massage them, and you love that too! You are wearing some 3-6 month clothing but mostly 6 month clothes. You've got a little room to grow before we move you to the next size. 

Your smile! You flash it often, and it's so beautiful. You love when people talk to you, and your whole body smiles. You laugh for your brother only, but I can get some giggles out of you if I'm acting particularly silly. You are super ticklish and giggle through tickles on your sides and neck. 

You are still sleeping with me at night. We typically go to bed at 8, and you sleep hard until about 2. After that, you're up every hour. You snuggle me so sweetly when you sleep: there's always a had on my chest and a leg hiked up on my stomach. I treasure nighttime with you. 

I don't know how we ever did life without you in it. You so perfectly complete our family. Every morning is so sweet because I wake up to you, and every night is precious because I kiss your head before I close my eyes. You've made me a much more laid back mom, and you turned Cohen into the best big brother I could ever imagine. We love you, little boy, more than you'll ever know.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Menu Plan, v. 19

Au Gratin potatoes

I cannot remember what I made this night, so it was obviously *super* exciting

Pizza Bread

Chicken enchiladas (a freezer dinner from a friend)
Saffron rice
black beans

Date night! Kitchen's Closed

Kitchen's Closed

Fend for yourself after church

Homemade Pizzas

Dinner with family

Onion rings

Bible Study -- heated up leftover Meatloaf (from Tuesday)
for the boys

Date night! Kitchen's Closed

Kitchen's Closed

Fend for yourself after church

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Preschool, Week 3, God Made the Sun

Bible Story/lesson: Genesis 1: God created the sun, moon, and stars
Shape: circle
Letter: C
Number: 3
Color: yellow
Book: One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

Bible Lesson

This week, our Bible study focused on creation day 4: God created the sun, moon, and stars. Cohen has really enjoyed his Bible study, and he is doing a great job remembering the lessons. He loves to tell anyone who will listen what God made on certain days. He's still having a little trouble remembering the first part of his Bible verse (Genesis 1:1): he just won't say "In the beginning", but we're still working on it. He can also "read" the first few creation days from his Bible.
After we read the Bible on Tuesday, we created the Day 4 page for our Creation Book. I cut out a yellow circle, and we discussed its shape and color, and then I let him glue it to the paper. Afterwards, I asked him to draw yellow lines around the sun. We did the same for the moon, and then I gave him a bottle of silver glitter glue and let him put dots on the paper for stars. I discovered on this day that Cohen loves to use glitter glue. 
Wednesday, we got the glitter glue out again and made another sun and moon. This craft was originally supposed to become a mobile, but we were just a little too squirmy to see it through :)


We learned about the letter C this week. Cohen's favorite activity was creating this letter animal for our alphabet book. My goal for learning the alphabet this year has always been to just have him be able to identify each letter when he sees them. So far, he's doing well with that. I am also teaching him the sounds that each letter makes, but that's hit and miss. He gets that letters make sounds, but he's not quite matching them up yet. I hear a lot of ah ah ah caterpillar. 

Shape and Color

Our color of the week was yellow, which is a color that Cohen sometimes has trouble with. He confuses it with orange, which I can totally understand. So we spent a little extra time looking at and learning about yellow. We went on a color hunt around the playroom, and Cohen flashed his flashlight on anything in the room he saw that was yellow. He loves this game and will go on color hunts on his own throughout the day.
The shape of the week was circle. We took some time on Tuesday to learn about how to shape circles by playing with Play Doh. We rolled out the Play Doh and then shaped them into lines, circles, the letter B and the letter C. He had a lot of fun with this project, but it was a challenge for him.


This week we "read" the book One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. And by "read" I mean we watched a Youtube video of people reading the book. We didn't have time to get to the library to check out the actual book, and I thought this would be a total fail, but Cohen actually really liked watching other people read to him. In fact, after we watched the One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish video, he asked to watch 3 more books. We also made our own blue fish by cutting strips of construction paper and gluing them onto a fish. Cohen was thrilled to have complete control of his scissors and the glue. He did a great job with this craft.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Menu Plan, Week 18

I'm not going to lie: it's been a ton of fun to pick up where I left off on Menu Planning. My last menu post was May 13. I was ridiculously pregnant and so ready to be un-pregnant (yet little did I know I would still be huge and miserable for another 16 days!). I had a freezer loaded with prepared, healthy meals, and I was just itching to be comfortable again.

Today, 3 months later, I am 25 pounds lighter with a rolly polly napping in the swing next to me. I am learning how to live on a few hours of interrupted sleep a day, how to not pull my hair out on the hard days of being a stay-at-home-mom of 2, and how to just live gracefully. We have devoured nearly all of our prepared meals -- they served us very well. Looking back, we've eaten less junk and fast food in this year of intentional meal planning and eat-whats-in-the-freezer than we have since I've been in charge of providing meals for myself and other humans (sooo, almost 8 years). It's been nice.

Now that things are returning to normal and I'm finding myself in the kitchen more and more, I'm going to start up the Menu Planning posts again. I enjoy sharing recipes that my family enjoys, and I really enjoy using these posts as a reminder of what we really liked/didn't care for when I plan for a new week. I've found this little series has helped me stay out of a cooking rut. I think one change I am going to make is post what we've already eaten instead of what we're about to eat for the week. That way, I can provide commentary on the recipes and maybe even pictures of my particularly pretty meals. I like pretty pictures.

So, with that said, here's what we've eaten this week:

Easy and delicious Tuna Cakes
Large romaine salad
This meal was so good. The tuna cakes made me think of a cross between a crab cake and a salmon patty, only much much easier to prepare. I want this meal to be in my regular rotation from now on.

I really liked this dinner, but it took over an hour to prepare-- not great when I'm home alone with the boys. The chicken was delicious though (I would use half the bread crumbs called for) and the pasta made enough for 2 dinners.

Eggplant Parmesan over leftover vegetable pasta

Labor Day with my family

Chips and salsa
This was one of the remaining freezer meals -- very good

Ceasar Chicken Sandwiches
Eggplant fries
Meh, I wasn't thrilled with this dinner. I had high expectations for the chicken, but it was just *alright*. The eggplant fries are usually very good, but I used some I had previously made and frozen. Not Good. They're way better fresh.

Bible Study, the guys eat leftovers

Weekend at my parents' house.

Kitchen's closed! Weekend at my parents' house.

Fend for yourself after evening church

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reid is 3 Months Old

Dear Reid, 

You are 3 months old, little boy! 3 months: no longer considered a newborn. No longer a tiny, helpless, squirmy, squeaky baby. All that's been replaced by a chunky, sweet, rolly-polly little boy who lights up the room with his smile and who can melt any heart with those big blue eyes.

This month with you in our lives has been so much easier. You are easing out of the newborn stage and are just more content with life in general. You certainly know exactly what you want, and you have your own likes and dislikes. And, for the most part, as long as we give you what you want, you are a happy little guy. You are a total Momma's boy. There's nowhere you'd rather be all day every day than snuggled up to me. And I love that. You do not like to be put down or left on your own, and you are quick to loudly let us know. You  hate your carseat with a fiery passion, and you scream the entire time you're strapped in. You love when I wear you on my body in a baby sling and fuss whenever I take you out.

I've been a lot more relaxed as your momma than I was when Cohen was a baby. I've learned there are no set rules, and I'm not a stickler about most things. You are a go-with-the-flow baby, napping when you can, always on the go (you have to be when you've got a big brother!). We don't have set naptimes or set feeding times: you pretty much just fuss  when you need something and we figure it out from there. You typically wake up around 7 or 8 AM, and that's when we start our day. By 9, you're asleep in your swing for a few hours before you wake up starving. You go down for a nap in the Big Bed with me between 1 and 2, and we typically don't wake up until 4 or 5. And then you're ready for bed around 8:30PM. And when you're ready? Oh, you're ready, and you let us know.

You still sleep with me in the Big Bed. You snuggle right up to my side and nurse off and on all night long. We are slowly starting to work on getting you to sleep in your own crib, but I'm afraid that's going to be a long road. The other day, I tried getting you to nap in your crib. It took you a while to fall asleep, and once you fell asleep, you were up and screaming for me 10 minutes later. It's OK if you're not ready to sleep on your own just yet: I'm not ready yet either.

You are still exclusively breastfeeding, and that's working very well for us. You nurse every 2 hours on the dot, but now it really only takes you about 5 minutes to eat before you're done and ready to move on to something else. You love your milk, and it seems to really be agreeing with you: you have grown by leaps and bounds this month! You started the month at 13 pounds, but I'm guessing you are closer to 16 pounds now. You are my chunky monkey, and I adore all of your chub. You have the most delicious little rolls all over your body! You fit well in 3 month clothing, but I am guessing you'll be in 6 month clothing by the time you're 4 months old. You are in size 2 diapers, and I couldn't tell you what size shoe since you've never worn shoes a day in your life.

You are freely giving smiles now, and Daddy got you to laugh one time. You have become such a happy boy this month! When you smile, you smile with your whole body and your eyes sparkle and your dimples pop out. Pretty adorable. You have great head control now and can sit well in your Bumbo. We've tried the exersaucer a couple times, but you're still a little too short to sit well in there. You're working on rolling over from your belly to back, too (although you hate tummy time, so I don't make you work on it as much as I should). You also "talk" to us all day long. You are a very vocal baby.

You are such a light, little boy. Such a sweet blessing. Every morning when I wake up and look into your smiling face, it takes my breath away. I thank God for giving you to us -- you are the perfect fit in our lives, and I cannot wait to watch you grow into the boy and man He has designed you to be.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Preschool Week 2: And God Made ...

Bible Story/lesson: Genesis 1: God created land and plants
Shape: Line
Letter: B
Number: 2
Color: blue
Book: If You Give A Pig A Pancake

Bible Lesson

First off, let me just say that I am impressed on a daily basis by this boy's brain. I truly underestimated his brain's capacity to learn, but he is proving me each wrong minute by minute. His recall ability is second to none, and he loves to talk about last week's lessons, particularly when it's dark around us. Cohen loves to tell us, "God said, 'Let there be light!' and He turned the light on!"

This week, we continued working on our Bible verse, Genesis 1:1. Somewhere along the lines, he got a little lazy and dropped In the beginning, so I am having to remind him that that is part of the verse, too. We focused on Creation Day 3 this week, talking about how God created dry land and plants.

On Tuesday, we used construction paper and glue to make the third page in our Creation Book. Cohen is showing a huge interest in using scissors, but he's also left handed and the only pair of safety scissors the Dollar Tree sells is for right handed kids. So that has been quite frustrating to him.

On Wednesday, we painted cupcake liners to represent the beautiful flowers that God created. Cohen really surprised me with this craft: he was completely independent. We used this as a lesson on our shape of the week: lines, and he took off with his little marker making lines for the flowers' stems. Then he drew circles for the leaves and glued on the flowers. This was the first all-Cohen activity he's done.


We worked on the letter B this week. First, we made the B  page of our alphabet book. We cut out the letter B and talked about how it makes the beh beh beh sound. Then we talked about words that start with the beh beh beh sound. Like beh beh beh bumble bee. And beh beh beh balloon. I cut out paper and he glued to turn his letter into a bumble bee.

I think this is going well. He gets the concept that letters make sounds, but he can't quite match them up yet. He'll say, "Ah ah ah apple. Ah ah ah ant. Ah ah ah bear." I just correct him and more on. I hope it'll click for him as we practice more and introduce more letters and sounds.

A few weeks ago, I bought a little alphabet workbook for us to work through. It may be for kids a bit older than him, but I think with my guidance, he can do well with it. I know his motor skills aren't there yet for him to actually write letters, but I don't see the harm in tracing and practicing, so that's what we do. For the B page, I showed him that a B is just a line with two circles and let him practice. Pretty good for a two year old!

We read If You Give A Pig A Pancake this week, and while the lack of story infuriated me more and more each time we read it, Cohen really liked this book. What I did like is how rich and detailed the illustrations were. They allowed Cohen to use his imagination and tell me what's going on in the story.

We used a variety of pink circles to create a pig of our own. Cohen really likes making characters of his own. It's fun to give him a shape and tell him what it is ("This is the pig's nose") and watch him figure out where it's supposed to go in the picture. And check out that circle work! This boy is becoming a circle pro.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Preschool, Week 1: Alligators and the Llama

Before I had Cohen, I was a teacher. And, dare I say it, I was a pretty great teacher at that. I loved my job. I loved coming up with creative lessons and watching my students enjoy them. I loved watching children learn and knowing that I did that.

After Cohen was born, teaching was no longer my passion; my child was. I quit teaching a few months after Cohen was born so that I could be a stay at home mom. And I have loved this new "job". I can't think of any better way to spend my days than loving on my children, raising them intentionally. But lately? Lately, I've been feeling an old familiar itch. I miss teaching, but there's no way I want to return to the classroom just yet.

A few weeks ago, it hit me: I want to teach, and I've got a 2.5 year old who is my captive all day long. Instead of sending him off to preschool, why don't I teach him? Why don't I use my talents and passions to create an early learner in my own child? Sounds like a win-win to me.

I am using the Year 2 Curriculum from ABC Jesus Loves Me and modifying it as I see fit. My goal this year is for Cohen to recognize every letter of the alphabet and every number as well was grow in his knowledge of the Bible and his love of reading, so that is what I am really focusing on with this curriculum.

Bible Story/lesson: Genesis 1: God created light and the sky
Shape: Circle
Letter: A
Number: 1
Color: red
Book: Llama Llama Red Pajama

Bible Lesson
We started at the beginning with Genesis. Over the weekend, I taught him the Bible verse in the form of a song (to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?")

In the beginning (in the beginning)
God created (God created)
the heavens and the Earth (the heavens and the Earth)
Genesis 1:1 (Genesis 1:1)

He really enjoyed having a new song to sing, and by the time we started our lesson on Tuesday, the words weren't foreign to him. I am using The Beginners Bible with our lessons, and I read the first three pages every day this week: God created the heavens and Earth, God separated the light from the darkness, and God separated the waters and the sky.

On Tuesday, we focused on God creating the heavens and the Earth. I showed him a picture of the Earth and told him that's where we live. We decided that the blue on the Earth is water and the green is land. Then we each got a coffee filter and a blue and green marker. We colored green land on our coffee filters, and we colored blue water on our filters. Next, we took a spray bottle and sprayed our filters and watched the colors blend together.

On Wednesday, we focused on God creating light. I gave Cohen a little flashlight and took him into the bathroom where it would be completely dark. I told him this is what the Earth looked like before God created light. He didn't like it -- darkness reminds him of bedtime. Then I said, "God said, 'Let there be light!'" while at the same time turning on the flashlight. Cohen really enjoyed this, and we made a game of it for a little while. I'd turn off the light, and he'd say "Let there be light!" and shine his flashlight.

On Thursday, we read our Bible again, only this time, Cohen could "read" to me -- he could tell me all about creation days 1&2. After we read, he made a picture illustrating Day 2 by gluing cotton balls to the sky and painting the water blue. He likes all these crafts, but it really bothers him when his fingers get dirty.

Also, by the end of the week, he can recite Genesis 1:1 to me when I ask him. That's a pretty huge victory.

Shape and Color
Cohen already knows most of his colors and shapes already, but I want to formally teach him to give him a solid foundation. On Tuesday, I gave him a piece of construction paper with a large circle already drawn on it. I asked him what shape it was, and then we practiced tracing it with our index finger "round and round and round". Then I gave him a red crayon and let him trace the circle with his crayon, then later color it.

On Wednesday, we took our flashlight and went on a circle hunt around the room, shining our flashlight on all the circles we could find. He really liked this game and will frequently pick up his flash light and play the game by himself even when we're not having preschool. He's my new Circle Detective.

Thursday, I gave him some paint and a plastic cup and taught him how to "stamp" circles onto paper. After he grew tired of the cup, I gave him a straw to make smaller circles, but the straw was too flimsy and just caused him to become frustrated.

Letter and Number
I introduced the letter A to Cohen. I had cut out a large A out of green construction paper. We talked about the sound that A makes (ah ah ah). We created an alligator out of the letter based on these instructions. Cohen had a lot of fun with his alligator. We spent the rest of the week reviewing A and the sound it makes.

We went to the library for Toddler Time on Tuesday and afterwards I taught Cohen how we find books and let him check out his own book, Llama Llama Red Pajama. When we got home, he was so excited about his book. 

We investigated the cover and decided that the creature on the cover was a llama since he was wearing red pajamas just like the title said (Cohen originally thought it was a rabbit because it has long ears). We made a paper bag puppet according to the directions on this website. Cohen liked coloring the llama's jammies and gluing it all to the paper bag. It blew his mind when he learned he could put his hand in there and make the llama talk.

Cohen really loved the book and he giggled all the way through it. We read it three times on Tuesday. When we read it again on Wednesday, he impressed me with all the ways he could make text-to-self connections (yay, teacher lingo!).

Thursday, we read the book again, and just like with the Bible, he could retell the story all by himself. Since he loves his Llama Llama puppet so much, I thought he'd enjoy an activity that would help his llama go to bed. I found this quilt activity on Toddler Approved, and it was a hit. Cohen really enjoyed the freedom he had in choosing the color squares to make his quilt for llama. My original plan was for him to do this activity multiple times with a different rule each time, but he was adamant that I let him glue the squares on the first time. I choose my battles, so we got out the glue. 

Overall, we had a very successful first week of homeschool preschool. Cohen thoroughly enjoyed himself and asked to do preschool at least every hour of the day. I am impressed with what he's learned already in just 3 days of deliberate teaching, and I am looking forward to seeing his progress in the months to come.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

In Celebration

In case you aren't lactating and therefore pay very little attention to what's going on in the breastfeeding "community", you probably didn't know that last week, we celebrated World Breastfeeding Week. 

Exciting, yes? I accept presents of all kind. 

Breastfeeding is not something I like to talk about outside of my close circle of family and friends (however those people hear a lot about it since it's a huge part of my life right now). I don't know why that is. I guess it's just a practice and a topic that we are uncomfortable with and prefer not think and talk about much. Actually, typing the word "breast" so much in this post is giving me a severe case of red cheeks, and if I made eye contact with anyone right now, I'd probably break out in nervous giggles. 

When Cohen was a baby, I was super uncomfortable with breastfeeding. I knew about the benefits, so I forced myself to breastfeed for a few weeks, quickly giving up and coming up with a lot of excuses for why I did. But as Cohen grew and thrived on formula, I began to develop a lot of guilt over the fact that I didn't breastfeed him for all that long. I knew I was missing out on something. 

So when I became pregnant with Reid, I knew breastfeeding was something I wanted to make a priority. For Reid and for me. Luckily, breastfeeding has been relatively easy from the start: Reid never had any latch issues and I never had any supply issues. It's been a journey that's hopefully only just beginning. I have come to love breastfeeding, and in celebration of this week, I wanted to share why:

1. I absolutely love the snuggles that breastfeeding supplies. Especially at night and nap time. We nurse lying down in bed a lot, and I just adore the way he drapes his arm and leg across my body as he eats. 

2. I love how much Reid seems to love breastfeeding. I can usually catch him smiling as he nurses. Whenever we cuddle together, he'll snuggle into my chest, and I can feel his whole body relax. 

3.  I love the bond it's created. I am the most important person in his life because I am the one with the milk. I'm fully aware of how selfish that sounds, but I'm allowing myself to be a little selfish. 

4. Reid is weighing over 12 pounds now. He's getting some serious chunk on him. And you know what? I did that. I'm proud of his chub. 

5. Reid might be gaining weight, but I'm losing it. Breastfeeding is allowing me to shave off those last few stubborn pregnancy pounds. And I still get to eat ice cream. 

6. Every 2 hours, Reid wants to eat. That means that every 2 hours , I have an excuse to sneak away with my baby for a few minutes. 

7. I don't have to pack a diaper bag every time I leave the house. I just grab my baby and go. No bottles, no formula. Easy. 

8. I also don't have to buy formula. That's just money that stays in my wallet. 

9. I love that whenever Reid seems inconsolable, all I have to do is nurse him to help him calm down. 

10. I like the confidence I've gained from breastfeeding my son. This is something that only I can do for my son, and I'm doing it well. That feels pretty great. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reid is 2 months old

Dear Reid,

Yesterday you turned 2 months old. How has that happened? It literally feels like I was just in the hospital with you brand new and in my arms. You are growing at light-speed, little boy. I've heard people say that second babies grow faster than first babies, and I can totally agree. Some days I just want to beg you to slow down and just be my tiny baby forever, and then some days I recognize how wonderfully you are growing and developing, and I am proud.

This month was a tough one, both for you and for me. We are both trying to figure out how you fit into this life, and it's both exhilarating and exhausting. You are very much a momma's boy, and you want nothing less than to be in my arms or pressed against my body at all hours of the day and night. I really don't mind because I know how quickly you are growing and that soon you won't let me hold you, but right now you're making it pretty hard to get anything accomplished. This seems to be the month of wonder weeks-- I think we've gone through 3 of them this month. These weeks are proof that you are growing by leaps and bounds, but they also cause you to be more fussy and clingy than normal. So we've done a lot of cuddling together. 

When you turned 6 weeks old, you had a doctor's appointment. You weighed 10 pounds, 10 ounces (that means you gained 2 pounds and 3 ounces since birth). You also grew an inch in height, making  your official height 21.5 inches. I credit all that growth to your expert nursing skills. You are seriously a pro at nursing. You eat every 2 hours, like clockwork. You even eat every 2 hours at night with the rare occasion that you'll sometimes sleep through a feeding. One night, you slept from 9:30 PM to 4 AM! It was only a one-time thing, but it was nice. You're still sleeping by my side at night, and you're not showing any signs that you're ready to move to your crib yet. I tried to have you nap in your crib yesterday and you would not have any part of that. You cried like your heart was broken for 15 minutes after I picked you up. We'll try again in a week or two.

You are starting to give smiles a little more freely now, even smiling at people you are not familiar with. You smile the most in the mornings, and sometimes you'll wake me up early in the morning just to look in my eyes and smile and coo. You're finding your voice, and it's just too adorable. I love to hear you coo. Another thing you've found this month is your fist: you have started sucking on it when a pacifier is not avaailable. Those sucking noises are adorable. You are also learning how to track things with your eyes, and you really seem to enjoy watching your big brother play. When you are awake, you are only happy if you're in a sitting position -- forget trying to get you to lie down for more than a few minutes.

I am seeing you start to come into your own. You are developing your own likes and dislikes, and it's really neat to watch you become your own person. You are starting to love bathtime (you hated baths before). I bought you a new bath seat that sits you right in the big bathtub, and you are perfectly content relaxing in the water while Cohen plays next to you. You are starting to enjoy play time, too. You typically don't like to leave my arms for any amount of time, but you'll make an exception when I lay you in your crib and surround you with some of your toys. You like to bat at the toys and coo at them.

You really are just the most precious little boy. You are sweet and cuddily and loving and you have stolen my heart. Even though you've only been here for two months, it feels like you've been a part of our lives forever. You complete our family in a way I could have never imagined. How did we ever  feel like a family without you in it? We are blessed, for sure.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Never Want To Forget

... the sounds of my newborn son. His breathing, his sleep squeaks, his snores. It's all so very precious, and I love to just sit with him and listen and commit it all to memory.

... how loving Cohen is towards his little brother. How he sings to Reid when he's crying and tries to offer him a blanket or pacifier. How he so desperately wants Reid to play with him but is still so gentle with him. How protective he is. How patient he is. How he prays for Reid every night, and how he automatically accepted Reid into our family from the very first day.

... how incredibly exciting and frustrating potty training a headstrong boy is.

... the love my husband shows me through serving me.

... the way Reid will fuss, but once he hears my voice or sees my face, his little lip pokes out and he flat-out cries for his momma. How he is happiest when he is in my arms and pressed against my body. That the guaranteed way to calm him down is to take his clothes off and lay in bed with him, face to face. How, every night, he sleeps with his little hand on my chest and his leg hiked up on my belly and his face pressed into my side.

... the way Cohen loves to build and create and "fix" things with Daddy. How patient Travis is with Cohen even though allowing him to "help" makes each chore takes twice the time it would otherwise. How Cohen's eyes light up when his Daddy needs his help, how he tells me he has very important work with Daddy to do as he runs off with his toolbox in hand.

... the sweet soft coos Reid gives me when I talk to him.

... how incredibly silly I am willing to become just to get a smile from my baby.

... Cohen's sweet little voice when he sings.

... that life is crazy right now, I'm exhausted and never showered and always seem to be covered in some form of body fluid. That my house is a disaster, and laundry never gets folded anymore. That I consider talking with my 2 year old a quality conversation. How I prayed and wished and begged God for all of this, and He heard my cries and gave me the desires of my heart.

... that I am blessed.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Doing It Right

Dear Me,

You are the kind of person who will make yourself your own worst enemy. There is nothing negative anyone can say to you that you haven't already told yourself 15 times. You beat yourself up and have very little self-confidence. You try to trust your instincts, but there's a little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you're not as smart as people around you, so many times, you doubt yourself. I'm reminding you of this in hopes that you will shove your pride away and acknowledge that I am right and will listen to me for a second.

You are doing it right.

That's not something you let yourself hear very often, and you never give yourself that kind of encouragement. But right now, that's exactly what you need to hear. Over and over again. You're doing it right. You're doing it right. You're doing it right. Today I'm talking about Reid -- it has been a difficult weekend for you, and you are really doubting your parenting abilities. He cries whenever you put him down. He cries when someone else holds him. He acts like he is always starving. He acts very different than Cohen did at this age. Trust your instincts: you're doing it right.

Out of concern, people say you are spoiling him by holding him whenever he cries. They warn you that you're setting yourself up to have a clingy baby; that he'll be difficult because he only wants you. Remind yourself that newborns can't be spoiled. He cries because he has needs, and he is depending on you to take care of those needs. And sometimes babies just need to be held. Hold your baby. You're doing it right.

Some people, when they see how hungry Reid has been acting lately, will wonder aloud if maybe he's getting enough milk, even though you are feeding him around the clock. They probably have the best intentions, but you take that to mean that your body isn't doing its job and is failing to nourish your baby. When those thoughts arise, shut them up immediately. Your baby and your body are doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing. Reid is telling your body that he is starting to need more milk than what you've previously produced. He eats constantly to make your body produce more milk. Don't doubt yourself, don't doubt your body, and don't doubt your baby. He is gaining weight fabulously and makes many wet and dirty diapers a day. He's getting enough to eat. You're doing it right.

It's easy to compare your children, to note that Cohen was a much easier baby than Reid, but don't do it. Don't listen to anyone who might make you feel like Reid is not as "good" of a baby as Cohen was simply because he is needier. All babies are different, even those that share DNA. Some babies are needier than others, and that's OK. Hold your baby; love your baby; appreciate your baby. He'll only be a baby for such a short amount of time, and pretty soon, he'll break your heart because he won't need you at all.

And remember, you felt this same anxiety as a first-time mom. You doubted yourself. You  wondered if you were failing on a daily basis. But look at your first baby: look at how smart and well-adjusted and happy and perfect he is. Keep your head up, momma, you're doing it right.

(I mean, look. Your 2 year old is singing praise songs in church. How much more proof do you need that you're doing it right?!)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reid Is 1 Month Old

Dear Reid,

You are now a month old. An entire month has passed since you came into our lives and turned our world upside down. Loving you has meant changing almost every aspect of the lives we used to know. It's been challenging, but it has been so wonderful at the same time. We've only known you for a month, but it feels like you've been a part of our family forever.

When you were in my belly, I spent my days dreaming about who you would be. I expected you to be just like your big brother. I expected you to look just like him and have his same temperament. I prepared myself for life the way it was when Cohen was a newborn. But you made it very clear early on that you are not Cohen; you are Reid. And you have your own needs and likes and dislikes that are very different than Cohen. 

You are very much a snuggle boy. You are happiest in your momma's arms, with your eyes closed and your mouth open. You do not like to be laid down for more than a few minutes, and when you feel I've left you alone too long, you make sure to let me know. You love to be wrapped in a swaddle or carried around in the Moby wrap. You tolerate napping in your swing as long as you are tightly swaddled. You hate the car seat and your bouncy seat. Every night without fail, you wiggle until you've made your way to my side with your face pressed into my body.

When you were born, you had little blisters on your arms that the nurses called "suck marks". You got them from sucking on your arms when you were in my belly. You have loved to suck on things since before you were even born! You spend most of your days either sucking on your pacifier or nursing, and sometimes you still suck on your arms and give yourself little suck marks! You are a great nurser, eating every 2 hours during the day. At night, you tend to eat until you fall asleep around 10 PM, and you typically wake up to eat again between 3-5 AM. After that feeding, you go back to sleep and wake up ever 2 hours to nurse some more.

Your big brother has loved you since the moment he saw you, and you are beginning to show how much you love him, too. You love to watch him as he plays, and many times when you are crying, he can sing to you to make you happy again. You love to stare at our faces, and you are beginning to "talk" to us, cooing in response to things we say. And most exciting of all: you are starting to give us smiles! You're still pretty stingy with them right now, but when we get them, oh man we get so excited.

You are growing fast! I can already see the start of little rolls on your arms and legs. You weighed just under 8 pounds when you were born, and I expect you to be closer to 10 pounds now. You just graduated to size one diapers and size 0-3 months clothing this week. And even though both are a little big on you right now, I expect them to fit perfectly in another week or so.

This has been a whirlwind of a month, and I've loved every moment of it. You are a precious little boy, and we love you very much.