Thursday, May 31, 2012

3 months.

I'm a couple days late with this one but Channing is now three months old. He's added lots and lots of talking to his list of accomplishments this month. He starts up right after he finishes eating and only talks for a few minutes and then he's quiet again. He sounds so serious and sincere when he's talking, it makes me laugh. He can sometimes suck his thumb while he's on his back or sitting in a bouncy seat now but usually he just grabs at his shirt or blanket and sucks on it. He also dropped another feeding so he's only eating 5 times a day! So easy now. That's about it. Smiley. Happy. Chatty. Channing.

(One month. Two months.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Short and Sweet

My best friend, Candy, and her daughter Ava flew in for a short but very sweet visit last week. I would give just about anything to live in the same town as they do but we'll take what we can get. Candy is one of the kindest people I know and is so encouraging to my soul. Somehow, although we only see each other once a year, she's managed to be there for me over the years more than anybody. I can't say enough how much I love this girl.

Bennett and Ava 2007:
 And 2010:
I'm kinda hoping it'll be like the Swan Princess story. Remember that one? We'll just get them together once a year and eventually they'll fall in love and get married (and hopefully skip the part where she's cursed and turned into a swan).
Jon had just filled up the pool the day before this so it was freezing. But kids seem immune to freezing temps.
Big Poppy had been in Africa for 6 weeks so we all went over there to greet him when he arrived home. I love how Ava is so comfortable being one of the grandkids in this shot :)
Ava had a true Midwestern experience this time--making deer jerky (She's more of an Iowan than I ever wanna be!):

We went downtown to the sculpture garden and to splash in the fountains (my favorite place to take the kids in Des Moines in the summer). Jon meant to have Bennett hold the "B" but I pointed out later, I love how it says "B-O-Y" with his face as the "O":

Judie had the boys and Ava all day on Friday so Candy and I enjoyed some shopping and lunch in the East Village and then Jon joined us for dinner at Americana that night (so good! And thanks to a certain hostess, we scored some free "birthday" dessert.)

Candy and I spent some of our time on Friday at TJ Maxx and wanted to get each other's kiddos a fun little present. I had been wanting to do something with Bennett for a while that I had read about in FamilyFun magazine so we took the idea and ran with it. We threw a "pretend birthday party" for Bennett and Ava since they both have summer birthdays and never get to go to each others' parties. It was basically a way to teach your kids how to be grateful gift receivers. You just turn it into a game by wrapping up silly stuff from around the house and then taking turns opening up the "presents" and the goal is to say thank-you and say something positive about each gift, no matter what it is (rather than the typical response from a kid: opening each gift and tossing it aside, quickly searching for the next one which my boys always do). Jon and Candy and I all went first, opening a silly gift and saying thank-you and something nice about it. Then we let each kid open a fake gift to practice and then they each got a couple of small real gifts too.
We even made a birthday cake. It was so much fun and took hardly any effort (Trader Joe's cake mix I had in the pantry already and homemade frosting):
We ended the weekend with a hike in the woods near our house on Saturday evening. We've managed to find lots of great hiking trails close by to do with little kids. They just love it. I, unfortunately, managed to pick up something poisonous on this hike and ended up with my right ear swollen about three times its normal size and itchy for days. I get stuff like that so easily. I should just start wearing a bee keeper suit when I hike.
We miss these two already. Until next year, my friend. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Preschool Grad

Bennett on his very first day of preschool in 2010. Dawson was wearing this exact outfit yesterday! *sniff*

On his first day of this year. Look how much he grew in that year!

At his end-of-year presentation. They performed a song with bells and sang 3 songs.
This is long but I wanted my Mom & Dad (and Poppy who was in Africa!) to see it. It was so cool to hear these 3 & 4 year olds create such beautiful music!

For some reason, this sight made him seem so grown up to me. They show a DVD slideshow of pictures from the year. Last year during that DVD I was holding him in my arms with tears rolling down my cheeks. This year he and all his best buddies from school were sitting on the floor together talking and giggling and pointing through the whole thing. I was watching him from off to the side with tears rolling down my cheeks. Phew. It's tough to see them turn into their own individual little self that needs you less and less. I'm getting teary-eyed just typing this. My boy is growing up. That leap between 4 and 5 is a big one.
I walked with Bennett back into his classroom after the presentation to snap a couple pictures of him in there. It was empty except for us. I was telling him we needed to go and he said, "wait a minute, Mom". He went back to the white erase board and wrote "I heart U Ms. Tiffany" and signed his name. Melted my heart.
And a picture with the best preschool teacher ever, Ms. Tiffany. She was so incredibly wonderful at her job. I really hope Dawson and Channing have her someday too.  I completely lost it when we were saying good-bye. I was a mess. Is it going to be even worse when Channing goes through all these milestones??

So we are officially on summer break. This feels like the first real "summer break" since last year Bennett was only at school two days a week. Plus, its really the first time in my life to have two active boys at home all day every day to keep busy. Dawson was only about 20 months old last summer. That's a huge difference (and there was a whole lot less fighting!). I made a decision that I wasn't going to just wing it day by day. Frankly, that would just be miserable for all parties involved. I want to be proactive and have fun activities at hand. One of the worst ruts I've gotten into as a mom is sleeping until my kids get up, which is pretty late--usually 8:30 at the earliest. (Bennett's up by 7 but goes straight downstairs and turns the TV on). Then, by the time I nurse, pump, get breakfast for myself and Dawson, its 9:30 or 10. Then I take a shower and I'm not even ready to leave the house or do anything else until 11:30 on a good day! I felt like I still had the "I have a newborn and need to catch up on sleep" excuse. But Channing's sleeping great and I'm getting a good night's sleep. Its just not fair to my boys to waste away half the day trying (and getting increasingly frustrated with every interruption) to get ready, only for it to be lunch time and then naptime.
I've been very proud of myself these first 3 days. I've set my alarm and gotten up before Dawson and Channing. I even exercised one morning! (Ok, it was like 10 minutes but hey, you have to start somewhere, right??) We made it to the dentist on time yesterday at 10 and today we went to TWO stores before lunch with relatively low stress. That, my friends, is a miracle in my book on multiple counts. I've really been present for my boys all day and it feels really good. Sacrificing 45 minutes of sleep has HUGE payoffs for me and the kids.The days have felt long but we've stayed busy. We've done two craft/activities so far. Neither was a huge hit but I'll save that for another post. I made refrigerated granola bars today (Thanks, Em!) and need to share that recipe. They're easy and delicious and I'm tired of breaking the bank on snacks so those will become a weekly ritual.
I always see mixed reviews on Facebook from stay-at-home moms regarding summer break. Some are complaining about their kids being home all day just a couple days in and then there are two or three of my friends that say how much they look forward to it and cherish those days with their kids. Three days in, I can tell you, it definitely takes a LOT of energy and patience but I want nothing more than to enjoy these days and fill them with fun memories for my boys. I just want to be one of the moms who looks forward to it and enjoys it (for the most part. I'm not delusional. Of course there will be days that I can't wait for school to start). So many things in this life are what we make it. And I choose to make it a good one.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mother's Day

I'm not sure how I got so lucky to have not one amazing mom, but two! My mom raised me in a happy, healthy home despite not being raised in one herself. I grew up on home cooked meals and homemade dresses. And she did it all with four kids and no mom or mother-in-law of her own around to give her a break. Phew. Anyone out there doing that, I feel for ya. We love when Nonny comes for a visit :)
Judie isn't a mother-in-law, she's just a second mom to me. My husband thinks I married him because he's cute and funny. Really it's so I could be related to this lady:
I am so very blessed to have three healthy, happy children. My heart is overflowing with emotions when I think about these boys that God has chosen to entrust us with on this earth. Motherhood is a bajillion times harder than I ever imagined but it is worth every interrupted meal, messy room, load of laundry, broken window (among a hundred other broken things. Boys are really good at that.) and general lack of peace and quiet. People always say that: "Oh, but it's worth it." It sure doesn't sound like it when you type it all out. But only a mom knows that it really is. Our days of sleeping in, leisurely meals and lazy Sunday afternoons will return to us again in time. Right now I just try to get through each day and have fun along the way. I want our house to be filled with joy and laughter, encouragement and comfort, not just stress and chaos. I have a long way to go to make those moments of stress and chaos the exception rather than the rule, which I suppose just comes with the territory of having three kids. But I'm up for the challenge.

I woke up from a deep sleep on Sunday morning to my little ones coming in the room with breakfast and cards and cute little presents, singing "Happy Mother's Day to you". My one request that day: a photo with all my children. I think this was the first one ever with all three: 
I've mentioned before that Dawson is our strong-willed child. It continues to blow me away how two children in the same family can have such extreme differences in personality. It makes me sad a lot to see Dawson react the way he does. I truly never imagined that I would have such a challenging child. Does anyone?? I doubt it. But I just try to keep in mind that God is going to use that strong and passionate personality to do great things in the future. Parenting Bennett has always just required common sense. After he was 8 weeks old, it was frankly never a challenge (the first 8 weeks is another story). Its been like rowing a boat: put a little effort into it and we coast along smoothly. Dawson, on the other hand, stretches my parenting abilities to the extreme. It feels like trying to get a cruise ship across the ocean with one oar. It just takes loads of effort and often seems like we're not getting anywhere. It's not that Bennett is a perfect child; far from it. He's always been very mischevious and wanders away, sneaks food constantly (and tries in vain to hide the evidence), breaks things, draws on things, and makes giant messes all day long. It's their emotions that are as opposite as can be. We don't deal with any of the temper-tantrums, incessant crying and whining, hitting, screaming, yelling and general grouchy disposition that Dawson often has. But I know God chose me to be his mom and has equipped me for the job. "Here is your mission if you choose to accept it". Well, I accept. I picked up Dr. Dobson's, The New Strong Willed Child, from the library and its given me a tremendous amount of confidence in parenting him. I always thought I was a pretty strict parent when it came to discipline but I'm starting to realize I've let Dawson get away with a lot of little things with just a stern reprimand. My boys probably aren't so glad I got that book ;) This one's on my list next.
Here are the outtakes with Dawson (two of Jon's brothers came out to get them to smile since our threats and bribes were not convincing Dawson that it was worth his time). It cracks me up that Bennett and Channing didn't move at all.

I'm starting to see though, that strong-willed kids are more passionate with their emotions all around. Even though Dawson can throw a tantrum with the best of them, he also gives me more hugs and kisses than my mellow older son. He loves to hold my hand or Jon's in the car while we're driving. And if I have to climb to the backseat to tend to Channing, Dawson grabs my arms and pulls me toward him in a tight embrace. I love to hear from another room in the house, "I got an owie right here, Bennett. Kiss it for me."  Oh, his little two year old voice melts me everyday. God gives us these little graces amidst the hard stuff, doesn't He?
I don't write all this stuff to complain. I write it because we moms need to hear other people say, "I've been there. I understand. It'll get better. Stick with it." So feel free to comment if you've walked this road before (or are walking it now!). I pray over him every night that God would fill him with His peace and gentleness and kindness. But considering he takes after my husband, I know this world is going to be a better place with him in it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

two months.

Channing is 12lb 8oz (54th percentile) and 23" (48%). His head is 89th percentile. Brainiac. ;)
Bennett was 12lb 10oz and Dawson was 13lb 2oz at that age.
He is such a content baby and never cries unless he's tired which is exactly one hour after every feeding during the day. I always glance at the clock when I hear his first fuss and its like clockwork. He'll last another half hour if I hold him or put him in his favorite bouncy seat. Sometimes his cries are so mild I imagine him saying, "Mom, I really hate to bother you, but would you be so kind as to lay me in my bed? I'm getting a bit drowsy". He naps 1 1/2 - 2hrs if we're at home and I pretty much wake him up for every single feeding.

The only slightly annoying thing is he hates to sleep in his carseat (the major con of having a tummy sleeper). I have a SwaddleMe blanket that helps him fall asleep in there with his pacifier but he usually only stays asleep for about half an hour and then will start fussing. Not great for running errands but I always try to have him back home for the next nap. I took just him and Bennett to Target last Saturday and we were there for at least 2 hours (lunchtime included). It was completely stress free and wonderful and made me realize you can shop with boys. Just not 2 year old boys. I had to take all 3 of them to Channing's checkup. Completely stressful. I hate doctor's visits. And the office we go to is like, a half mile walk from the car on the 2nd floor of this big building. So not kid-friendly. I would love to switch to a smaller pediatrician's office that's easy to get into and the waits aren't long and one that lets you choose your immunization schedule. Does that exist in Des Moines? Thank goodness my kids are never sick.