Life with Two

My baby was born just a few weeks ago, right? It sure feels like it. I don’t know where this year has gone. It’s a bit humorous to me, the last time I blogged was when I came back from maternity leave, and here we are at my baby’s first birthday. Levi turned one just last week, and even though I remember every little stage and how each one felt like an eternity, it still feels like he just joined our family.

Before we had kids, someone once told us that the hardest transition is from one kid to two. I’m only speaking from my experience here, but I would have to agree. When Ava was born, we had all the time in the world to get to know her, rest when she rested, and soak up every precious moment during those newborn days. When Levi came around, I expected the same, but I was so wrong. I had this grand idea that I would be able to binge-watch Netflix (which I didn’t have when Ava was born), and hang out with a sleepy baby snoozing in my arms all the live long day. I could just hang around and not do a whole lot.

Well let me tell you. I was so, so wrong.

I hadn’t taken into consideration the toddler we would have during those newborn days this time around. One who would need fed, cared for, taken to the potty/changed. One who would need some one-on-one time and some sort of consistency. It’s really dumb that I hadn’t realized that. Newborns are exhausting in general, but this was a new level.

There were other differences between my babies that made it a little more difficult the second time, like having a tongue-tied baby who couldn’t nurse without making me want to scream, and the fact that I kept comparing my babies. I kept expecting things with Levi to go just as they did with Ava, and that was a mistake. But I definitely think the biggest adjustment was learning how to care for a newborn, toddler, and myself (and still keep the house at a level of cleanliness I was comfortable with). And it’s not just me–Caleb felt this way too.

A few months into having two kids though, something clicked. We fell into a groove with caring for both kids. I stopped comparing experiences and babies (which helped a ton!) and life became much smoother. I don’t know what did it, but there was a significant change around month 3-4.

Now a whole year has passed since we brought Levi home, and I can’t imagine life without him! He has so much personality–still very reserved, much like his sister, but he’s opinionated and knows exactly what he wants. He’s got the cutest little eyebrows that go up when he’s being sneaky, and pair that with his smile (complete with two crooked teeth) and he’s the cutest little boy I’ve seen! He’s starting to take steps with his short little legs, but he prefers not to have an audience, and therefore we only see him at the end of his path rather than his whole journey. He’s noisy, catches on to games quickly, and knows more than he lets on.

I’m so thankful that rough transition stage didn’t last too terribly long, but I do feel like it helped me evaluate what was going on. Maybe someday I’ll share some of those memories in detail. I am so very thankful for both of our babies, and look forward to watching them grow up into their own little people.

 

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Back From Maternity Leave

A couple weeks ago, I had a bit of an emotional meltdown.

And then, of course, following the emotional meltdown, I had an epiphany.

I started back to work at the beginning of the year, and I haven’t had the easiest transition coming back. I love my job and the people I work with, but it doesn’t feel right that I’m spending my days away from my babies. It’s been a very emotional return, and fortunately the Lord has blessed me with many friends (old and new) who have been so understanding and have reassured me that I am not alone in this. Being a working mom is hard enough without my own pressures, guilt, and longings to be with my kids flooding my mind most days.

To make matters worse, when I get home, I am overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” that needs to be done. Housework needs to be done, dinner needs to be cooked and eaten, kids need to be bathed, and it all needs to be done the moment I walk in the door. This is in my mind, of course. Caleb is a wonderful husband and is more than supportive and helpful–but he can’t change the things that sneak into my mind every evening.

We had a night of prayer at youth group a few weeks ago, and everyone shared the things in their lives that needed prayer. Some were needing physical healing, some were struggling with things, and I shared that I needed help managing my time. That was the only thing I could come up with to describe my constant dilemma, but it’s more like I feel the need to try and control my life, when I really don’t have any control at all.

I can’t clean my house every day. Not the whole thing… that’s so unrealistic. I need to be smarter in the way I do things so I’m not running around doing a whole lot of nothing. In the midst of trying to clean (or saying “I’d really like to get THIS done before going to bed”), I’m trying to spend time with my kids, but sometimes I get so distracted that they get even less of my attention. I’m already gone all day, and I come home and try to get a bunch of other stuff done. I can’t do it all. I hate that it bothers me, too.

I am going to try to not stress about some things in my life. If the laundry doesn’t get folded, it doesn’t get folded. I’d rather spend my energy on my kids. Until our life circumstances change, I will make the most of what God has blessed us with.

I know I’m not alone in this. I know many other moms who feel the same way. I’ve been reading Esther recently, thanks to the SheReadsTruth app (which I love, by the way), and one verse really stuck with me.

“…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Mordecai was talking to Queen Esther about how she could be the one to save her people. Basically, no one knows why we’re put in the positions we are in, but we need to be brave enough (or strong enough, or humble enough, etc…) to accept the task God puts before us. I need to remember this as well. I may not have the role I want to be in, but God never promised I would be perfectly happy in life, based on my definition of happiness anyway. This may still very well be where God wants me, and until that changes, I need to be joyful in my position and make the most of my time with my kids. And until then, I need to pray for contentment and that I would desire his plan over my own.

 

Conversations

“I like to start my notes to you as if we’re already in the middle of a conversation.” -You’ve Got Mail

I love that movie. You’ve Got Mail is one of those movies that is extremely dated in its entirety, but it’ll never get old. It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy, and makes me long for a pen pal. And books. And New York City. Although I’ve never been, so it’s more like the idea of NYC.

It makes me wish I could have the lifestyle of a writer, who spends her days in a coffee shop, or snuggled in at home in humongous socks and a large mug of coffee. While the babies are sleeping, of course. Because I wouldn’t actually change anything about my life except the being at home with my kids more and writing parts.

Another reason I love that movie is the quote above. And the daisies. And the fact that Tom Hanks has the shiniest fingernails ever. And just everything.

I feel like I am too random to follow a schedule. I love order, but I get too caught up in trying to stick to it, that I usually blow it. I have this Bible devotional app that I try to use daily, and for a while there I would occasionally get behind and try to catch up before reading “today’s” reading, and I get overwhelmed and give up. The same goes for blogging. I set a schedule, I claim I am going to stick to it, and then I panic and quit. Or I get busy and feel guilty, and then I panic and quit.

So, I am going to just start my posts like you know what’s going on in my life, as if we’re in the middle of a conversation. No pressure, just life.

Happy Babies Have Tears Too

Dr's Visit

Yesterday was Ava’s traumatic 15-month checkup. Traumatic isn’t even an exaggeration. Nothing happened out of the usual… she just knew what was going on.

She knew she didn’t know this lady. She knew the crinkly paper was loud and not nice. She knew she didn’t like the cold stethoscope on her chest. She knew it wasn’t normal when mama held her head still so this lady could stick something in her ears. She knew this was not fun.

And then the shots happened, and that didn’t help her trust the Dr any more. Three shots, to be exact. MMR, chicken pox, and flu. One of those they said really hurt, and even left a bruise. Poor thing.

The nurse practitioner we saw today explained that this is completely normal, and most kids even go through phases of trusting/not-trusting the doctor, but that this age and 3-year-olds are the worst. At least we made it through the first “worst”.

Long story short, Ava is “perfect” weight-wise! I guess we no longer need to fatten her up, huh. We were actually told to “keep doing what we’re doing” and not worry about her weight. She’s found her new curve at the 10-12th percentile, and she’s 20lbs 4oz. She’s 30.5″ long, at the 50th percentile. She’s walking and talking (31 words!), has 6 full teeth and is working on her molars. She likes reading and picking out hair bows and shoes to wear. What a big girl.

Just for fun, I wanted to share Ava’s list of words. She says these on almost a daily basis, and it doesn’t include the words she repeats just because we say them.

  1. Zorro (or ZorZor)
  2. pancake
  3. highchair
  4. mama
  5. dada
  6. hi
  7. bye
  8. cat
  9. dog
  10. milk
  11. up
  12. hotdog
  13. baby
  14. stir
  15. cupcake
  16. ball
  17. bow
  18. shoe
  19. hat
  20. no (“nooo nooo noooo” while shaking her head)
  21. book
  22. nose
  23. toe
  24. eyes
  25. knock (she says “knock knock” while knocking on her head. Thanks, Granny!)
  26. head butt (Daddy taught her this–she actually bumps heads with him)
  27. sock
  28. Hey Jack (yeah… Daddy is a Duck Dynasty fan)
  29. night night
  30. bath
  31. star

Avie’s also working on using tissues, and it coaxed a smile out of her after her tear-fest at the doctor’s office. Enjoy your day! May you have someone this adorable to wipe your tears, too.

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Encouragement for the Gloomy

This week has been a bit rough for me emotionally. You know that overwhelming feeling where things don’t go exactly as you hoped? Big things and little things both defeat me. I have so many verses I try to focus on pretty much on a daily basis to keep my thoughts, expectations, and control problem at bay, but some days it defeats me anyway (usually because I let my guard down and let my mind wander). It can be the smallest thing (ahem, today was the fact that the house is dirty again. Come on, I just cleaned it) that sets me in a gloomy mood (and let’s face it, hormones only make it worse!), and I feel like I’m starting at square one in trusting God. It’s a good reminder that I’m human and I’ve never done learning.

The coolest part is that I usually don’t have to go searching for comfort or answers on my own; today, my peace came from my facebook page. I saw the photo that K-LOVE posted this morning. Click here for the picture.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6.

I immediately made it the wallpaper on my phone. I definitely needed this reminder–nothing is too great to ask God for. You may not receive the answer you want at the time you want it, but He wants us to ask, and for us to be thankful about what He has already given us and done for us. So even though I may not ask for my house to miraculously clean itself, I can ask that it won’t overwhelm me, and won’t make me overlook the important things I should be doing today, like spending my day off with Ava, teaching her new things, and observing the things she absorbs on her own.

During my Quiet Time this morning, I continued in Philippians and was further encouraged by verse 7:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Um. Yes please! I so desire to have that peace–and not just when I’m feeling happy with how life is going and in a good mood. I want to feel that way when I know I’m about to feel stressed or overwhelmed. I want to beat myself to the punch, and not even have the chance to try to take control myself! And it’s possible! This is what I strive for.

And then the next few verses are a good reminder for the road about how we should strive to conduct ourselves in our thoughts. Here’s 8 and 9 for ya.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

There ya have it folks. That’s what I have been thinking about today. Hope it helps someone else out there too!

The last time I take my toddler camping.

Sorry for my brief absence. I was too lazy to turn on the computer. Seriously.

But here I am! I follow the blog Cloudy with a Chance of Wine, and she just started a series called Priceless Mom Moments. After ready a couple of her posts in the series, and just her blog in general (seriously you guys, this chick is hysterical!), I decided it would be kinda fun to document some of my less-than-proud moments as a mom.

Last weekend we decided to take Ava camping for the first time. Tent camping. Roughing it. Outdoors. Overall, she did well. Except for the sleeping part–that was pretty awful.

Let me start at the beginning of the evening. We got to the campsite where we would be sharing a 10 person tent with our friends and their two dogs, and we began setting up camp. Rather, everyone else started setting up while I tried to keep Ava on a blanket (I didn’t grow up outdoorsy, so I kept freaking out about bugs, etc). That was pointless. Once everything was set, we started on dinner. It was a delicious meal of smoked sausage, red potatoes, and green beans, and Ava enjoyed it. Next came bedtime.

Ava is a fantastic sleeper.

In her own crib.

Anywhere else, she prefers to scream instead of sleep. And I couldn’t (or I chose not to) let her scream at 10pm in the quiet campground. So instead of keeping her in her pack ‘n play, I decided to try letting her fall asleep on the air mattress next to me.

It was an hour of her sitting up, sucking her fingers, then falling over due to sleepiness. She would toss and turn, try to get comfy, then sit up again.

At one point, she flopped down on me, noticed I was there, and gave me kisses, which she found hilarious and made us both crack up.

Daddy and our friends heard us laughing in the tent, so he came in to see what was going on.

Here’s where I mess up: Caleb joined us and I told him what happened. Ava, of course was more awake now, and was back to exploring all corners of the air mattress. As Ava approached the side of the mattress, Caleb told her to come away from the edge. I said “Oh, she’ll be fine. The mattress is pushed up against the side of the tent. She’s been doing this all night.” No sooner had the words left my mouth did Ava go right over the edge–literally head over heels. Like, I saw her fall, and her feet went straight into the air.

I peeked over the side and saw her sprawled out on the floor, and all of a sudden, the shrieking started. At 11pm. In a SILENT campground. I gathered her up, took her outside, and gave her kisses and distractions (and made sure she was okay… holy cow I felt awful!).

Caleb was able to get her to sleep a while later, and she slept until 4am. We did more of the tossing and turning on the air mattress (safely lodged between two adults) before Caleb took her home.

I think it’ll be awhile before we attempt camping again.

My social skills suck..

….Unless you’re a mom too. Then I could talk all day. But apparently I don’t know how to talk to anyone else. And I’m totally exaggerating for effect.

Wondering what happened? Okay….

On our last full day in PA, I met up with a new friend whom I hadn’t seen in over a year. In fact, I believe the last time I saw her was at my wedding over two years ago.

We had a great time catching up, and she got to meet Ava and vise verse. It was so good to see her. She recently got married herself, so it was great to hear all about her wedding.

However, I noticed that I am no longer a good conversationalist. Was I really ever that great at it? Probably not… but now I am definitely worse.

I’m sure other mamas can relate, but my main topic of conversation is Ava, or something Ava related. Is that surprising? I mean seriously… I have a blog devoted to motherhood. If she was talking or starting the conversations, I was fine, but if there was a lull that I tried to end, I defaulted to baby. I just felt bad that although I haven’t seen this friend for years, my brain couldn’t think of anything other than teething babies and cloth diapers. Fortunately, she didn’t mind the baby talk. She is a newlywed and welcomed (or at least was gracious enough to act like it) the peek into life with a baby. However, I definitely apologized for my lack of conversation.

Baby brain should be a diagnosable condition to excuse mamas for rusty social skills. Will it get better as Ava gets older? Will I get hit with a new dose of it when another kid comes around? Geez, something’s gotta give!

Update: How to Fatten a Toddler

I can tell you right now… this task is not for the faint of heart!

I’m just kidding. But it’s definitely not easy.

I started out giving Ava whole milk cheeses, veggies slathered with butter, nut butters, muffins, banana bread and ice cream. Things were going well for awhile (a week or so) but she wasn’t gaining weight as quickly as I wanted (only a 1/2 lb), so I added carnation instant to her milk for one meal of the day.

You guys. Don’t do that.

My girl went from being a great eater to preferring her meal substitute drink. You might be like me and think she can just eat it along with her meal, but that doesn’t quite work. It kinda fills her up to the point of not wanting anything else. You might say “Don’t give it to her at meal time,” and I will say to you that it still doesn’t work. If you give the yummy milk in between meals, she still won’t be hungry for the next one. We tried giving her diluted carnation, but she would still suck it down in the blink of an eye. And ask for more.

Our doctor recommended we give this to her, and I can honestly say we tried it. But it didn’t help her gain weight. She started out at 18.5 lbs and she remains 19lbs.

So Friday we decided to take away the carnation and see how she did.

When she woke up that morning, I offered her peaches and french toast (with butter) right away, and she ate an entire fruit cup and a half a piece of the french toast. And she seriously inhaled it. Once she seems to be slowing down, I let her have her milkies. Trade off is that she only drank about half her cup verses the whole thing.

Lunch time rolled around, and she ate better again, although she still didn’t eat the way she used to. Dinner was also better than it has been, but she was functioning with no afternoon nap, so I’m hoping that played into her smaller appetite.

This is a very frustrating process. Especially since it seems as though we’ve broken what didn’t need fixed.

Oh, I do have to add that all this extra food is going somewhere… We measured her length the other night, and she has grown an extra inch longer since her appointment. The doctor can’t tell me she’s not growing. This also means we’ll be moving Ava up to a convertible car seat this week, so that’s pretty exciting! I’ll let you know which one we go with!

High Five For Friday!

It's Friday!

It’s finally Friday!!!

This week was wonderful and horrible all at the same time. And not really horrible… mainly, it was extremely hard to go to work this morning after a glorious day off. In fact, most people in my office had the brilliant idea to take today off from the beginning, but I didn’t have that luxury.

But now the weekend has begun, and before our movie night begins, I want to share my top five moments of the week with you!

HF4F 7/5/131. We spent last weekend camping in Southern Indiana. This was my first time camping period. That post is in the making, I promise. It’s just been a very busy week! Anyway, we had a great time, and the views were gorgeous. Oh, and it rained all weekend.

2. We left Ava with my parents while we went camping, so the reunion was so sweet. We had lots of play time when we got home (and after some naps).

3. The Fourth of July this year was amazing! We had lots of fun with friends and family over the holiday. Ava enjoyed watching the fireworks and never got scared of the booms. However, she wasn’t a fan of staying up that late.

4. We celebrated our anniversary this week as well. We went to a local restaurant just the two of us, and ate the most delicious food we’ve had in awhile. Big Hoffa’s is a pirate-themed BBQ joint, and we were way too overdressed. But hey, it was our anniversary! Let me just tell you real quick what was in The Hoffanator I ate: french fries topped with mac & cheese, pulled pork BBQ, and ranch dressing. Oh my goodness. Oh. My. Goodness. It was fantastic, and we are definitely going back.

5. One of our good friends is in Alaska doing PT clinicals for the summer. We’ve been buds with this guy since college (he actually introduced Caleb and me), and we can’t wait til he gets home.

That’s it! Now I get to have a movie and pizza night with Caleb, Ava (until bedtime), and another of our good friends, Dawson. I do believe it’ll entail one (or two) Harry Potter movies, and I’m looking forward to it.

Have a great weekend!

Linking up with Lauren Elizabeth for H54F!
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We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo…

…how about you, you, you?

Does anyone else remember that song? I had forgotten about it from my childhood, but was reminded when my mom started singing it last weekend. Last Saturday was Ava’s first trip to the zoo. It was really cool to see her look at all the different animals, and even funnier to see her look at all the people. You know how it is, you sometimes see a larger variety of people than animals!

She seemed to have a lot of fun, and didn’t become Grumpy Butt, despite her makeshift car nap on the way there.

When we arrived, we met up with our friends, their two kids, and the dad’s little brother, and headed straight to the aquarium. Now, we’ve taken Ava places before, and are pretty acquainted with navigating the stroller, but it’s a whole different ballpark when 1) the point of being there is so your kid can see stuff (it was almost pointless bringing the stroller… she was out of it more than in), and 2) there are 1,000,001 other parents with strollers going to the same exact fish tank window. Holy cow. That’s all I can say.

Ava didn’t really care about the fish… I’m not sure she really knew what she was looking at yet, and this was the first close-up with all those kids she was eyeing earlier. I took her out of her stroller, and tried to show her the fish, then the jelly fish, then the sea horses, but basically every kid around us was more exciting than them, so we didn’t linger long. And frankly, my friend’s two-yr-old was ready to move on within a few minutes as well, so it really worked out perfectly!

We stopped a little longer at the penguin exhibit. This was probably Ava’s favorite stop. You could see the penguins at eye level, and they were active so she paid attention to them. Then they would jump into the water, swim around, and pop back out. She laughed and talked to them for a bit, and then we moved on. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a play by play, this was about as excited as she got).

We moved on, and about 90 minutes, 20 animals, and 35 ins and outs of the stroller, we called it a day. It really was a great time, but I was ready to be done because of my #2 from above…

But that’s a rant for another day. I originally wanted to include it in this post, but it became a post of its own, and I wanted to keep this one focused on the happy event of Ava’s first zoo trip, not an irritated rant about pushy parents in public places.

Take a look at our day at the zoo! 
1.) The Indy Zoo has a dog shark exhibit, where you can actually pet these sharks. Here’s where Daddy was trying. Ava and I passed this time, though I have pet them before.
2.) Ava was chillin’ in her stroller, watching the seals.
3.) This Flamingo insisted on getting a close-up picture. It honestly made me a little nervous, but he was still far away, despite how it looks in the picture.
4.) The giraffe; the zoo keeper was feeding it, which Ava seemed more interested in than the giraffe itself.
5.) This one is for Grampa, who told Ava to say “hi” to the Rhinos for him. We waved.
6.) I thought this guy was pretty cool. Ava was more interested in her cheerios.

Zoo Collage

That’s it! We had a great time.

P.S. we are ONE WEEK away from Ava’s first birthday!