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Yesterday was our fourth wedding anniversary. We celebrated the weekend before by returning to where we honeymooned in New Hampshire. It’s become tradition. We return every year and with each passing year a new event seems to follow us.

Our first anniversary was just a week after finding out I was pregnant with Owen. Our second we had baby in tow. Our third was five weeks after moving into our new home. We traveled solo leaving Owen with family, and unbeknownst to us, we left with a little souvenir who we brought with us in tow just this past weekend. We’ve managed to squeeze a lot into four years.

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The drive to NH. Can’t beat New England in the fall.

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The view from our room. See why we keep going back?!

I’m pretty stinking in love with Michael and this little life we’ve built together.

Scott Zuehlke Photography

P.s. Next year we are going away with NO children for TWO WHOLE DAYS. Is it next year yet? (Just kidding.) (Mostly.)

Dear Ryan (Dear Little),

Before you were born, logically I knew I would fall in love with you instantly. Just like your brother. I knew this in my heart because how could I not? You are my baby. There was a small part of me that wondered, though, how I was going to love another child in the same capacity that I love your brother. How was I going to love you both enough?

That was a silly worry, Ryan, because from the moment you arrived you settled right into our hearts, and all was right with the world.

You fit right in to this silly family of yours. I feel like even though we are still getting to know you, you’ve been here all along. You are a great baby. Sure, you have moments of screaming and days where you will do anything in your power to elevate the level of suck, but mostly, you’re just so good.

You sleep — first and foremost — and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that. Your brother dragged us through the mud in the sleep department, so the fact that most days you refuse to keep your eyes open later than 7 p.m. and often sleep all the way until the 5 o’clock hour is both a foreign and a brilliant concept to me. I’m not naive enough to think this will last forever (unless you feel like skipping over the 4-month sleep regression. I’m TOTALLY ok with that), but it sure has made these first few months easier than they could have been. You also sleep through basically everything — the dog barking, me vacuuming directly under you, your brother’s constant noise. I suppose it’s a matter of survival. You have no choice but to live in this established chaos.

I know I’m biased here, being your mother and all, but you’re a really beautiful boy. You came into this world so quickly (they told me to stop pushing because you were coming so fast, the doctor didn’t have his gloves on yet), so you were never really squished from being pushed out. You have big, dark eyes that were never really that newborn blue and lashes so long that they get stuck in the crease of your eyelids.  As you grow you are beginning to get chunky, and I now see a resemblance to your brother I didn’t see earlier.

Your big, gummy smiles make my day. You are most happy on the changing table. Maybe you are grateful for all those clean diapers? It is there I get the best belly laughs from you, especially if I tickle your armpits. You’re a big fan of your playmat, are not resistant to a little tummy time, will tolerate the Bumbo seat for a short while, and you like to nap in your swing. Since you still spend a fair amount of the day napping, I’m in no rush to stop your swing naps.

You are champion efficient nurser, but very different than how Owen was. When you’re done, you’re done. No attaching yourself to my chest with vice grips for the entire day. At first I kept trying to feed you more, thinking you must not be getting enough. But no, I should have just trusted your ability to get what you need quickly and happily.

You love your brother, Owen, and the feeling is mutual. He always wants to be near you and covers you with hugs and kisses. You tolerate this quite well, and often return his affection with smiles and coos. He sings to you and asks you if you had a great sleep and when you cry, he tries to give you toys or rock you to make you feel better. I really hope you two remain the best of friends throughout your life.

Your dislikes include taking a poop, your car seat (with a passion. I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re going to be in that seat for a pretty long time, so you best get used to it.), and 10:15 a.m. I’m not joking about that. For some reason, if you’re not in my arms at that time you are miserable. I’ll often find myself asking, “Really, Ryan? What is the problem?”, only to look at the clock and think, “Oh, right. 10:15.” Of course, this is usually a time of day where we need to be doing something out of the house, so I’ve spent many a 10:15 listening to you wail pathetically from the back seat.

According to our home scale, today you weigh 15.6 pounds. You little chunker, you.

I’m so glad you’ve joined our family, Little. You are a joy to have around and we love you to the moon and back. I am so excited to watch you grow and learn!

I love you through and through.

Love,

Mama

We were pretty well stocked with baby stuff after Owen was born, so we didn’t really need to get much for Ryan. As it turns out, though, there were some items that I feel I wouldn’t have survived without the second time around, and since I’ve seen some bloggy moms who are pregnant with their second asking what they could possibly need, I thought I would share what I found helpful.

Baby Carriers

I wore Owen a fair amount, but this time it has become an absolute necessity that I wear Ryan. There’s no way around it, with a toddler, I need my hands to be free. When Ryan was new the Moby wrap worked wonders at calming him during fussy times. I use it less now at three months, but occasionally I’ll wrap him in a hug hold if he’s being a pill and he will chill out.

Three-ish weeks old.

Unless he’s sleeping, Ryan does NOT like the car seat, so when we go shopping, putting it in the cart isn’t an option. Owen still rides in the cart anyway, so if I were to put the seat in the big part I’d basically have no room for groceries. Because of this, the Bjorn is always in my car ready to go. If he’s sleepy, I’ll face him towards my chest and he’ll conk right out. If hes’ awake, he faces outward and takes everything in. I also use the Bjorn when I take Owen to the playground or just playing outside at home. That way I’m free to push him on the swing, play with cars, etc.

If Ryan is anything like his brother, he will eventually become too chunka munka for me to carry him in the Bjorn comfortably, so at that time I will switch to our Boba, which works all the way through toddler years.

Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper

Both of my kids hated the bassinet. It felt like the minute I lay them down in it, their eyes would pop right back open. Fail. Owen spent many of his early weeks sleeping in the bouncy seat, but with a toddler that comes into our room in the morning, I didn’t want Ryan on the floor in the feet zone. I mentioned this to a friend, who offered to loan me her Rock and Play. I had read reviews of it at some point and knew people loved it, but I didn’t know how much of a convert I would become.

The design keeps baby at a slight angle much like a bouncy seat, which helped with that newborn reflux. It’s high enough off the ground that I could reach him from bed and if he just needed a little soothing, I could gently rock it back and forth. We moved him out of our room and into his own by four weeks when he started sleeping longer stretches. I would set it up in the center of the room, and easily fold it up in the morning. We used the R&P for about 5 weeks before I transitioned him into the crib. I probably would have used it longer, but because he sleeps swaddled I was unable to latch him in, so as soon as he started wiggling around I didn’t feel it was safe for him any longer. That being said, by snapping baby in, the Rock and Play is designed to hold baby up to 25 pounds. I wasn’t willing to give up swaddling for that, though. Which brings me to…

The Miracle Blanket

When Owen was born he didn’t like to be swaddled. After a week or so of trying to force it, I gave up until around four months old when I brought it back to help transition him out of our room and into his crib. I can’t help but wonder if it was just first-time parenting naivety on my part. I may have done us all a disservice by not finding a swaddling solution that worked for him. Maybe we would have slept more! There’s no going back now, but when I heard about The Miracle Blanket, I knew I wanted to have it from the get-go this time.

(Not my baby)

 

I’m glad I did! This baby straightjacket kept him from smacking himself in the face and I thought it worked better than any of the Velcro ones I had tried. I can’t give the blanket all the credit, but Ryan is a really great sleeper, and I know the blanket has contributed to that. We used the Miracle Blanket from day one until just now at 12 weeks when he started to break free and wake himself up. We are now using a double swaddle method with a muslin blanket and a sleep sack, but I am tucking these blankets away for future children for sure.

(Actually my baby)

We also purchased a double BOB jogging stroller, but I haven’t used it too much since Ryan is too small to sit in the seat and I have to use the car seat attachment. Which works awesome when he’s screaming!

So really, we didn’t need that many new things at all. Got any must-haves to add to the list?

I was not compensated in any way for these reviews. I just really like this stuff!

I’m feeling a bit off this week. Slightly down-in-the-dumps, weepy and irritable. I don’t know if it’s some lingering postpartum-ness that decided to pop up, the change in weather or something else. Maybe it’s a combination of a few things.

I’m still feeling grumpy about my weight and my body image is kind of at an all-time low. The number on the scale just isn’t budging, not even a little, and it’s messing with my head. I realize it has only been 12 weeks since Ryan was born, but I don’t think a pound or two lost is too much to ask. Or for my pants to fit.

Toss in a messy house that I just can’t get a grip on (it’s a vicious circle of stuff needing to get done, getting overwhelmed by the stuff and as a result ignoring the stuff, only then having more stuff to deal with), and I need a serious reboot.

We took the boys to a fall festival at a local farm yesterday and that was really nice. Ryan slept through most of it, but Owen really enjoyed his first hayride and corn maze and it made me happy to give him those experiences.

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Today I baked up some pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins (both in regular and size-wee) and while those will do nothing to help the weight issue, they sure taste good.

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I know this “meh” will pass, but I hope it does sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I’m off to eat a muffin.

- The woman who cuts our hair can only do it one evening a week. This gets complicated when it comes to getting Owen’s done, and although he’s been scheduled to get one for weeks now, she cancelled on us twice.

After she called last night I knew there was no way we could wait another week. He’s been complaining of hair in his eyes and he was looking pretty ragged. After no luck finding him another appointment today, I gave up and took him to Fantastic Sams. He looks better, but I definitely got what I paid for. Either that or I’m just too picky. I knew that would probably happen.

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(It looks better in the picture than in reality, I think.)

- Wow, that was a boring story! Did you make it through ok? It’s beautiful here today so after we got home I left a sleeping Ryan in his car seat and Owen and I played with trucks and trucks and more trucks and some bubbles and then some more trucks. We also threw in some trucks for good measure.

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- Our anniversary is in a few weeks and the weekend before we are going away on our annual NH trip. I cannot wait. It will be short and we will have the baby in tow, but I love it there so very much. Foliage and lake views, a roaring fire, maple candies and celebrating four wonderful years of marriage with my best friend.

- Both boys are whiny today. Send booze.

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