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Dear Owen,

Happy 27 months, kiddo. A lot has changed in your world since my last letter, hasn’t it? Not only are you solidly a two-year old, but you are also officially a big brother, and a great one at that. You really do love Ryan and it makes my heart all melty every morning when you greet him with love and kisses and “brothers!” in a sing-songy voice. You always want to be near him…to the point that I often have to tell you to get out of his face. But really, it’s all good.

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The addition of a sibling has brought on some jealousy, though. I know this because you’ve taken to pretend crying in this awful whiny voice whenever the baby starts fussing. I understand your train of thought, I do. When the baby cries he gets attention. But, oh, KID. Please stop that. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. We’ve been talking about how Ryan doesn’t have words so that’s why he cries, but Owen has SO MANY words and can use them to tell us what he needs.

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You do have them, you know. You talk so much that sometimes after I put you to bed I realize the only time you stopped talking was when you were sleeping. You carry on entire conversations and are so very curious. You want to know what everything is, the name of every person we encounter, where we are going, what we are doing and who is going to come visit you. You are curious and thoughtful and interested in everything.

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Two is a challenging age. You are willful and demanding and self-centered. Some days you leave me ragged after a constant battle of back-and-forth. On the flip side, you are funny and sparkly and cuddly and loving. You are affectionate and smart and some days you leave me dazzled by what you come up with. Your accomplishments leave me beaming with pride and I think your cheeks are still one of the most delicious things to snack on.

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You are still a very cautious kid, although watching you slowly come out of your shell has been really cool for us. It took nearly the whole summer for you to walk on the beach without fussing or to actually go in the ocean, but once you did it, you were hooked. I love watching you experience these things for the first time. Seeing life through your eyes makes me appreciate it a little more.

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You love to be outside, riding your bike, playing with toy cars, shooting hoops, running with the neighborhood kids, collecting sticks and acorns and coloring with chalk. At the end of the day you are a mess. A happy mess, but a mess none the less.

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You are growing so quickly that some days I worry I’m going to blink and you will be leaving for college. I want to bottle these moments with you — however challenging some of them may be — and remember them always. (Sigh, maybe not ALL of them. Even as I’m writing this you had a mini-tantrum over crayons, of all things.)

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October 2011/September 2012. From cautiously toddling along, to always on the move.

Each time I write one of these letters it dawns on me how quickly you change in such a short period of time. How each time I sit down to reflect on the previous three months, a little more of your babyhood has faded away and a bit more of who you are becoming has emerged. It’s a wonderfully bittersweet journey.

I love you, through and through, you crazy kid.

Love,

Mommy

- Guess who is sleeping all night long in his bed with no crying? This beautiful little beach boy, that’s who.
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He did cry at nap time the day following the silent return night, but that night he went right to sleep. And the night after that. And again last night. His pajamas are covered in reward stickers and everyone is is great spirits. Your suggestions about keeping the door open were spot on. It never bothered him to have it closed before, and I was keeping it closed so the baby wouldn’t wake him, but we have found that leaving it open even just a crack appeases him and makes him comfortable. Good advice, all! Hopefully this phase has passed and if it hasn’t, at least I know we can use that method again with success.

- It’s 52 degrees this morning. We have a family birthday pool party to attend at 4 p.m. Something tells me it’s not going to be the best day for a swim…

- Ryan woke up at 4 a.m. and since he’s been sleeping longer and longer, when he does wake he majorly chows down. Usually I have to pull him off halfway through and burp him to prevent a massive spit up situation, but it didn’t matter last night. Last night while burping him over my shoulder, he projectile spit up all over the both of us and into the cushions of the glider.

And into my underwear.

This would be bad enough, had it been the first time I had baby spit up in my underwear. Sadly, it was not.

As I look through this most recent roudup of Pinterest food finds, I can’t help but notice they’re a little carb-heavy. I think I must subconsciously be tying the cooler weather to our dinners! I promise you, we eat vegetables.

Crock O’ Ribs - by Crockin’ Girls

I actually didn’t pin this one (gasp!) but found it on the Crockin’ Girls website. Do you know it? It’s a wealth of slow cooker meals, which I really appreciate, especially having even less time now in the evening to prepare dinner.

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I omitted the mushrooms because we don’t like them, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. The ribs fell apart like pulled pork and were very tasty. I paired them with cornbread and a quick white bean, tomato and basil salad.

Uno’s Deep Dish Pizza

Confession: I love Uno’s pizza. Yup, it’s a chain restaurant and hardly gourmet, but I love it. I used to frequent one in high school with friends or for dinner with my family and their signature deep dish pizza always felt like a special treat. There isn’t one close to us now, so I probably only go once a year, if that, but whenever I do, I’m a happy camper.

Imagine how excited I was to find out that Uno’s had released the recipe for their pizza! I HAD to try it.

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Well…

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…it did not disappoint. It wasn’t exactly the same in flavor as I remember (this could be because of small changes I made, like vegetable oil instead of corn oil and pamesan instead of romano cheese), but it was super delicious. I used a spring-form cake pan and I think it looks like the real deal!

Cheesy Zucchini Rice -  by Buns In My Oven

I liked the idea of this side dish. Cheese. Zucchini. Rice. I’m on board.

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I decided to make it a full meatless meal, so I added chickpeas and tomatoes. I also upped the spices a bit because I thought it was too bland initially. It was good. Nothing spectacular, but good. It also makes a TON.

Chicken Tamale Pie - by Pinch of Yum

YOU GUYS. This meal. This is the clear Pinterest winner by far.

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I’m a huge fan of Mexican food and just the thought of this made my mouth water. The only changes I made were the omission of cilantro (don’t like it), the egg substitute (used one real egg instead), and the garnish of Cotija cheese. Spicy chicken on top of sweet masa-like cornbread, smothered in cheese. Yum! It was so simple to put together and so, SO good. It received rave reviews from both boys and I ate leftovers for lunch for two days…and didn’t share a bite.

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Serve with a Corona, naturally.

Happy eating…and pinning!

If you follow me on Twitter, you know the last few nights with Owen have been horrific, to say the least. Seemingly out of the blue he went from going pleasantly to bed and sleeping through the night, to screaming bloody murder at bedtime, despite how much soothing we do, and waking multiple times a night doing the same. Saturday night was so bad, my mother-in-law came over yesterday afternoon just to put Owen down for a nap. I couldn’t take another sleep time tantrum and I myself was exhausted.

I’m assuming this is a phase brought about by developmental changes, a new sibling, and the arrival of fears and separation anxiety, but having “reasons” doesn’t make it easier. We’ve tried to talk to him about it during the day, reinforce a good sleep with a reward like a sticker, etc., given him an earlier bedtime, a later bedtime, a long nap, a short nap, but to no avail. I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject, talked to family, friends and coworkers with kids and the story is all the same. Most of their kids went through a stage like this around age two and uh…you just have to deal. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I vowed to do the “silent return” to bed Saturday night, where every time your child opens their door, you walk them back calmly to bed saying absolutely nothing. We used this technique briefly when we transitioned him from the crib to the bed. It makes sense, I guess. Any verbal attention, be it positive or negative, is attention. And that’s what they want. So yeah, we tried. And FAILED miserably. We both lost our temper, Owen was hysterical, and when you factor in Ryan’s 3 a.m. feeding (it’s a wonder that kid is sleeping through all this. Score one for the sound machine.), neither Michael nor I slept more than three hours total, and not even in one stretch.

Zombie parents, right here.

This has to end. It HAS to. And soon.

Scene: Sunday night. I try something different and instead of reading our usual books at night, I read them during the day. As I nurse Ryan down for bed I tuck Owen in on the loveseat, turn out the lights and put on this dreadfully (purposely) dull show on Sprout OnDemand where they basically just show random characters sleeping set to an instrumental lullaby. Warning parents: if you’re not careful, YOU will fall asleep watching this. We talk about how they are all closing their eyes and going to sleep quietly. Owen pretends to sleep on the couch and I am hopeful.

I put Ryan to bed and Owen and I walk to his room. We get in bed, sing songs and tell stories. We close our eyes and I cozy with him for a while. We talk again about going to sleep quietly and how if he does this, he can pick out a new sticker in the morning and watch a special dvd his grandmother brought him. I am hopeful, again.

I kiss him goodnight and…HYSTERICAL SCREAMING. I try and calm him, but no. He won’t have it. “COZY!!!!” he screams at me. With a heavy, yet exhausted heart, I walk out and shut the door.

Scene: I park the ottoman at the end of the hallway and set up my my Sleep Training Survival Station. I have a notepad and pen to mark down how many time he comes out of his room. I do this both out of curiosity, and to see if it gets easier as the nights go on. I am committed to making this happen. I have a Parenting magazine (HA!) (they come free in the mail. I don’t know why.) and a hard cider, although I could use something stronger. Let’s do this.

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Scene: 8:04 p.m. He comes out of his room for the first time screaming at me to cozy with him in his bed. I point behind him, he turns around and back we go. I put him in bed and walk out, shutting the door behind me. I return to the ottoman, take a swig, tell the Twitters what’s going on and read a stupid article about Heidi Klum’s new clothing line for Babies R Us. He continues to rant. He screams for me to cozy in his bed, to sit in his rocking chair, to cozy in my bed. I’m sad, but this time I’m more determined. He needs to sleep. WE need to sleep.

Scene: He opens the door for the 4th or 5th time. This time as I walk towards him, he bolts by me and runs into my room screaming to cozy in my bed. He is trying to scale the side of our bed like a sleep-deprived crazed monkey. This kid’s got balls. He is sweaty and sticky. I pick him up and bring him back to bed. “MOMMY!” He yells at me. Not sad. Angry! “Mommy! You come back here!” Sigh.

This continues. Seven, eight times. Nine. And then, it changes. I hear him flop into his bed. His screams become moans, then whimpers, then just the occasional “ehhhh”, reminding me of a windup toy losing steam. Forty minutes on the dot from the start of this ordeal, he is quiet.

{Source}

Scene: 3:40 a.m. Owen wakes up crying. I go into his room, tuck him back in, give him a kiss and spend a few minutes rubbing his back. When I get up to leave he protests. I tell him I love him and will see him in the morning. He starts to scream as I shut the door. This time he comes out and into our room just twice over the course of 2o minutes before falling back to sleep. Certainly not quiet or relaxing, but worlds better than the previous night.

Scene: 5:45 a.m. I have just laid down in bed to nurse Ryan when Owen comes into our room. Had this been any regular sleeping night, we would just pull him up into bed with us for a little extra sleep, so that’s what we do. Everyone dozes until 7.

End scene.

I’m still exhausted today, but not quite as badly as yesterday. Owen is is great spirits, but hoarse from all that yelling. I’m not looking forward to nap time or bed tonight, but I am hoping that last night was in fact progress and it will only get better.

YAWN.

- When I stop to think about it, the last almost 2.5 years of my life have been defined by sleep, or the lack thereof. Owen didn’t sleep, then he did, then he would regress, then he would sleep again, and then, blissfully, he slept through the night. Then we had the crazy idea to make another little person who would interrupt our sleep and even though he actually sleeps pretty decently most of the time, he still wakes up.

But we were prepared for that. Infants wake up. What we weren’t prepared for was for Owen to suddenly start waking up again in the middle of the night, but here we are. He is — and of course, usually within 20 minutes of Ryan so YEAH, that’s fun — and he’s waking up scared. He wants to know “what’s that noise?” and holds us hostage in bed with him. We try to reassure him, to address his fears and help him to see there is nothing to be afraid of, but it’s keeps happening night after night. He has a solid routine and a night light and we always come in when he gets scared, but so far, no luck. A little Googling tells me this is common around the 2-2.5 year mark, but still. SLEEP, CHILD!!

- Ryan, however, is having a really good sleep last night into today, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

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- Something irritated Kodiak’s skin, and he’s pretty much gnawed a hole in his side. It’s gross and I feel bad for him and since at-home care doesn’t seem to be working, we’re taking him to the vet today. In the meantime, we had to keep him away from it, so we were forced to put him in the Cone of Shame. He can’t maneuver well with it, so he crashes into walls and gets stuck in doorways. Is this not the most pathetic face ever?

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- I ordered a bunch of new clothes and they came yesterday. It was about 50/50 with what I’m going to keep, and that was a little disheartening. I KNOW I had a baby eight weeks ago. I KNOW it takes time for everything to go back. I’ve done it once before. But this time I’m having a harder time with it mentally and the fact that I still cannot pull my regular jeans up past my thighs makes getting dressed one of the least enjoyable parts of the day. People have been very nice and tell me I look great, but I just don’t feel like me and I’m uncomfortable in my skin right now.

I bought a pair of jeans a size larger than I normally wear and they fit. So at least I can feel a little stylish and retire (some of) my yoga pants. Back in the day I used to watch a lot of What Not to Wear and I remember them always saying to “dress for the body you have now, not the body you’re hoping to have later.” I guess that makes sense, although it could get expensive!

- Today is grocery day. Wish me luck.

 

Going to the grocery store with a 2-year old and a seven-week old goes something like this:

  • Plan shopping around a time there will be a good chance the baby will sleep. Change his diaper, nurse him up good and buckle him into his car seat. Brace myself for the “how dare you put me in this seat” screaming that will start almost immediately. Yup, there it is.
  • With baby in seat, chase toddler down and put on his shoes. Carry him downstairs and into the garage and buckle him into his car seat. Go back upstairs and retrieve El Screamo. Bring him downstairs and snap his seat into the car seat base. He stops screaming as I begin to back out of the garage. Hope he falls asleep…and stays asleep.
  • Arrive at grocery store. Circle lot until I find a spot as close as I can to the cart return.
  • Get cart. Bring it to car.
  • Strap on the Bjorn carrier. Unbuckle toddler, pry whatever truck he managed to smuggle out of the house out of his hands and buckle him into shopping cart. Wheel him around to other side of the car to retrieve baby, who hopefully is still sleeping and hasn’t now begun “how dare you remove me from this seat” screaming.
  • Unbuckle baby from car seat. Buckle baby into Bjorn.
  • Shop. Get stopped by various elderly people who say nice things about my children, but tend to hold me hostage in the produce department while the baby starts to headbutt my clavicle.
  • Finish shopping, begin checkout. Chat with cashier about how quickly the baby is growing, while trying to bend down into the cart without smashing his head into anything. Field questions from toddler about the name of every single person who passes. “I don’t know everyone’s name, buddy.”
  • Return to car with full cart. Open windows because I’m paranoid of accidentally locking the kids inside. Take baby, who has fallen asleep, out of the carrier and put him back in the car seat. Put groceries in cart. Put toddler back in his car seat. Bring cart to the cart return I purposely parked near.
  • Drive home. Open windows again, this time less out of paranoia, and more so I can talk to Owen as I unload the car. Bring groceries up the stairs (the only downside of our raised ranch-style house is the two sets of stairs from the garage with groceries and kids. At least it’s exercise?), come back and bring the baby in the car seat into the house. Deposit him in the living room and hope he stays sleeping for the next 10 minutes. Go back down and bring Owen into the house.
  • Unload groceries with Owen. If I’m lucky, Ryan remains sleeping and doesn’t start screaming to get out of his seat. It’s about 50/50 here.

Annnd scene. I’m tired just writing that.

This past weekend I went grocery shopping entirely alone. It was like a freaking vacation.

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