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Every night before I go to bed, I check in on my babies. Owen is usually sprawled out on his back at some interesting angle, blanket askew, his “Mommy shirt”, an old t-shirt of mine he made his blankie, draped across him. I gently tuck him back in, occasionally removing his wedged feet from between the bed slats, brush his hair off his forehead, kiss him gently and tip toe out.

Next is the baby. I turn the light on in my bedroom across the hall so I will have just enough light to see him, but not enough for him to wake. He looks like the world’s sweetest little starfish zipped into his blanket. Ryan will have rotated to his right — he always does — and will have pressed his face against the one bumper I have in there. The one bumper I put back in because he kept waking himself up trying to snuggle himself into the crib rails. I have stopped stressing about him sleeping like that now, but I always pause just long enough to see the rise and fall of his chest.

It occurs to me that my children will never know I do these things. They might remember the story hours I took them to, the outings at the playground. They might one day remind me of the pictures we drew together or the songs we danced around the living room to. They will know I parented them all day every day, but the memories of the night will be mine alone.

At night I am transported both back in time, and towards the future. Ryan’s dewy skin and sleepy suckling are all baby, and Owen’s rosy cheeks remind me of when he was tiny. The other night, though, before my eyes adjusted to the dark, I caught a glimpse of who my little boy will become. In the dark, Owen’s sleeping profile was so strikingly similar to his father’s, I actually gasped.

Babies don’t keep, but these nights will. In my mind. In my heart. In the dark.

 

The winner of the Tiny Prints giveaway is Sarah! Congratulations and happy holidays to you!

I’ve never been a coffee drinker. Not until I had two kids, that is. I don’t drink it every day, but some days I’m not sure I’ll make it through without a cup. And some cookies, because I earned those.

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Owen inherited seven Days of the Week onesies and I was so sad when he grew out if them. Yay, round two! And yes, I’m one of those crazy people that has to have him in the right shirt on the right day. Who knows what would happen if he wore Wednesday on Friday! (He would spit up on it? Like all his other clothes?)

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Does anyone else feel like fall is disappearing too quickly? It’s gotten cold here and pretty soon I’ll have to retire the Sperrys for year. I might end up barefoot because I pretty much wear them daily.

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Ah, the election. We voted, did you? Ryan cast his vote for boobs and a drool-friendly America. Owen is very concerned about the state of his lunch. Is it time to eat yet?

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Oh hey, little speed demon who can’t quite reach the pedals yet. Slow down on the growing, will ya?

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Speed demon just pooped, so I guess we’re done here. Happy weekend, all!

*uh, monthly? I should keep up on these probably…

There’s never a good time to step in urine, but stepping in urine before 7 a.m. really takes the cake.

We’re knee deep in potty training Owen and while he’s doing excellent — really! — boys have that whole extra issue of having to tuck it in and because of that, occasionally I find myself dodging puddles. We’ve bought stock in Clorox Wipes.

I guess I can’t really complain too much. He announced one day while in the tub that he had to go potty, and after that things just took off. I still have to tell him it’s time to take a “potty break”, as he only sometimes tell us he has to go, but if we keep up on him he spends almost every day entirely dry and many nights too. He’s also been learning the concept of “privacy”, and now wants us to leave the bathroom and shut the door while he goes. Cracks me up, this kid.

ANYWAY, I digress. My point was that at 6:39 a.m. I opened the bathroom door to find that not everything had made it in the bowl and I guess those things can get some range, because the puddle I stepped in was closer to the door than the potty. At the same time, Ryan was complaining from his crib where I put him after he woke to eat at 5:30 and wouldn’t go back to sleep, and Kodiak was all up my butt wanting breakfast.

I finally got everyone situated, but before I could get a drop of caffeine in my system, Ryan was ready to go back to sleep (uh, yeah. Because you were up at 5:30, kiddo.), Owen wanted breakfast and Sesame Street and now the kitchen floor needed wiping from Kodiak shaking his face after drinking. Sometimes I feel like I’ve had an entire day before the day ever starts.

- I’ll admit it. I totally use Owen as a “babysitter”. For example, Ryan’s needs are all met and he is happily playing on his play mat while I write this. Until he’s not happy, for whatever reason, and starts to fuss. “Hey, Owen. Go make your brother laugh,” I’ll say. And he does. And I get five more minutes of me time. We’ll have to have another kid just to keep the cycle going.

- Have you started holiday shopping? I…haven’t. I kind of know what I’m getting most people, but aside from one purchase already made for Owen, I’ve done nothing. I always say I’m going to shop year-round to avoid last minute stress and I NEVER DO. Never. Of course.

- Speaking of holidays, don’t forget you have until Friday to enter to win $50 off your Tiny Prints order. Do it! Cards are expensive! Free stuff!

- Random (appropriate for this post, no?) but do you have a headboard for your bed? Do you love it? I really, really want one, but they’re so expensive and I just can’t commit. I want one that is padded but won’t collect dust and hair. I’m not sure I love leather. I’m pretty much screwed, right? Help?

Something like this, maybe. I really like the clean, modern look of it. I do not like the price tag. Damn you, West Elm and you’re pretty, expensive things.

- In the time it took to write this post, we had another successful potty endeavor. One and two, if you cared to know. (You probably didn’t.) I’m happy to report everything made it into the bowl and no mothers were forced to step in anything gross. The end.

- 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.

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.

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.

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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.

I have a tendency to fall off the face of the blogging earth when I have a baby. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s just that when I have down time, I tend to use it in other ways. Like sleeping. Or eating cookie dough straight from the fridge.

But here we are, six plus weeks into life with two children, and I figure it’s about time I document some of it; if not for you, than for me, because oh Ryan, I’m sorry, but what they say is true about second kids. I haven’t even purchased a baby book to document your first spit up, or the first time you said “Ah-glurg”, or all those countless little things that no one really cares about. (I’m lying, Ryan! I totally cared the first time you said “Ah-glurg!” You are a genius!)

My last post where I felt like I was really getting my footing was followed by a week or so of realizing that clearly, I had not. Michael was working a lot and I was home alone and Ryan was growth-spurting and yeah, it wasn’t great. I emailed a friend and told her that sometimes I felt like I was really failing at this two kid thing. Sure, they were both alive and fed and generally clean, but I found myself yelling more, playing less and mostly going through the daily motions of survival. It wasn’t a great stretch, but I finally swallowed my pride and allowed people to help me. (I’m not sure why that was so difficult — perhaps a feeling of I should be able to do it all myself? Who knows…) Michael’s mom and grandmother would pop in and I can’t remember a time I felt more happy to see my in-laws. They played with Owen while I vacuumed, held Ryan while I showered and provided me with adult conversation that I so desperately needed. It wasn’t much, but it was a lot.

And then, just as quickly as the clouds rolled in, they parted, and we’ve been grooving again. You know, until the next storm. At least I will be able to suck it up and ask for some help next time!

Ryan is amazing. One day he took a four hour nap and I swear, he woke up bigger not fitting in any of his clothes. He has started to smile and coo at his play mat and for the last few nights has been starting the night with a 6.5 hour stretch, which I can only hope will continue to get longer. Owen is Super Brother, loving on his baby from the moment he wakes up. He has tested his boundaries a bit (asking if he could push his dump truck into Ryan. No, you may not.), and has had a few regressions when it comes to going to bed and using the potty. (He was kind of interested in it before, now he requests the changing table and a diaper. I get it.) Overall, though, he has transitioned into his big brother roll really well.

As for me, I’m getting there. I’m still not showered as often as I’d like to be and while 30 pounds has fallen off on it’s own, there’s about 12 to go that I know are going to stick around until I start moving. I’m uncomfortable in my flabby post-pregnancy skin right now, anxiously waiting to fit into my pants or wear a shirt that doesn’t blouse out from the waist. I have been pushing the double stroller all over the neighborhood, and while pushing 40 pounds of kids, the stroller and the infant seat up hill certainly works up a sweat, it’s time to bite the bullet and make a date with the 30 Day Shred.

As I’m writing this, Ryan is napping in the crib, Owen is playing at my feet and I’m drinking a chai in the quiet of my dining room. No one is screaming or spitting up or demanding graham crackers. So far, today is a win.

I know not every day will be, but I’m pretty confident in the end, we will have more wins than fails. (I hope.)

Anna Sawin Photography

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