Sunday, January 30, 2011

Spring in January

60 degrees in January?  We'll take it.  We ventured out to Jackson Park today for a little sunshine and playtime.  Ben had a blast, attempting the formally intimidating slide, all on his own.  Three times.  With a smile on his face.  He also lasted longer than 30 seconds in a swing, and purposely got woodchips and dirt all over his hands.  My little boy is growing up!  He ran around with all the other kids, stole a family's soccer ball more than once, and made new friends.  Jacob snapped some candid shots of Ben with his new girlfriend that are too cute not to share.  Enjoy:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

wordless wednesday

Big Beckett, Smart Ben


Beckett's had a big week.  His four month doctor appointment was last Friday.  My defensive lineman is starting to thin out.  He weighed in at 16 lbs and measured 26 inches.  Still bigger than his older brother was at 4 months, but much more average in weight (43rd percentile) and way above average in height (80th percentile).  He's gotten another clean bill of health, a round of shots, and sent on his way.  The doctor suggested we start solids, so trusting his judgement (and my mom's), we did. 

Chicks dig him.  Even covered from head to toe in rice cereal.  He loved it.  Ate it like he's been eating solids all along and looked at me like "that's it?!" when it was gone.  Both the doctor and my mom said that a benefit to him starting on solids would be extra sleep.  I think it may have even worked with Ben.  But Beckett, being a misfit, has not followed suit.  In fact, I think he's even sleeping worse this week.  So eating is just for fun right now.  And it helps limit the ridiculous amount of spit-up this kid is capable of. 

He's beginning to move with more purpose and is very proud of this.  He'll kick one leg, then the other leg and smile.  He can grab things you hold in front of him.  And everything goes in his mouth.  He's not quite teething, but tasting all of his toys.  He loves music, like his brother, and seems fond of the same toys Ben likes.  This causes a bit of a problem in the Turner house during the day, because Ben wants to play with anything Beckett has.  Usually Beckett is cool with sharing but sometimes it doesn't go over very well.  But Ben is working on being a nice big brother and looking at toys with Beckett.  And he is always quick to retrieve a fallen binkie for his little bro.  He'll even stick it back into his mouth if he can reach it.  It's very sweet and super helpful. 

I read that babies at four months old start to entertain themselves and depend less on others to keep them content.  I'm really looking forward to this.  Cuddle time is great and everything, but doing it 23 hours a day, every day, is hard when a two year old is running around.  Because he's starting to show interest in toys, I think we're close to this milestone.

January 23rd - being cute:


Ben continues to progress with everything each week.  He's talking lots now, and saying the sweetest and funniest things.  When he wants to greet me, he says "Hi Baby!" and gives me a kiss.  His kisses are now his face next to my face, making the "muahhh" sound.  He doesn't pucker his lips quite yet.  I guess he calls me baby because I call him baby, but still doesn't refer to me as Mama unless he's hurt or tired.  He can ask for food and "judice" when he is hungry and thirsty.  And always uses his manners with "please" and "thank you".  Thank you can either be the words or the sign - this is the only sign he still uses.  When he refers to animals, he refers to the sound they make instead of what they are called.  Dogs are "woof-woof", but every now and then he'll say "doggie".  Ducks are "quack-quack" and he finds this sound to be hilarious.  For some reason, cats, bugs and birds are all "ti-ti", but only cats meow.  Sometimes I wish I could get into his head and figure out what his classification system is, or what he's thinking at any given moment. 

Last week when Karen was here, Ben was working on putting shapes into little puzzle blocks.  There was a square, circle, star and heart.  He liked talking about the star and the heart and really liked putting them into the blocks, I guess because they were more challenging shapes.  When Karen was getting ready to leave, Ben went through all of his usual stall techniques like packing her bag slowly, pretending not to hear her requests, etc.  When all of that failed and she was getting up, Ben says "Uh oh heart", and looked really sad.  We're still not sure if he meant the literal heart puzzle piece, or if he was heartbroken about her departure, but it was the most adorable moment ever.  She even mentioned it yesterday, saying she thought about how sweet it was all weekend long.  She and Ben have such an awesome bond, I'm really glad they found each other.

Sunday Driver:

Over the weekend, Mimi and Poo came to Turner Place for a visit.  They stayed all weekend long and did lots of babysitting and home improvement projects.  It was awesome.  Mimi held Beckett a lot so that I could "move about the cabin" as I wished.  But she also got a lot of Ben QT as well.  They played lots in Ben's playroom and worked some of his activity baskets.  Mimi brought Aunt Madi's old felt board and felt dolls for Ben to play with.  He doesn't seem to mind that the dolls are completely girly. He likes to dress them in their ballerina dresses and sit them down for a birthday party.  Mimi also brought colorforms for his playroom windows.  He's currently celebrating Valentine's Day in there.  Mimi made animal puppets for Ben so they played with those too.  He likes them lots, but has a preoccupation with their wobbly eyes.  And all of this while Mama moved about the cabin uninterrupted. 

Ben and Mimi:



The playroom has been an awesome addition to Turner Place.  It's nice to have a place to spread out with the toys without tripping all over them.  And as part of our home improvement projects, it's now insulated and toasty, even when it's 15 degrees outside. 

Ben had a hearing test today.  As part of the Early Childhood Intervention services we're getting, he was required to get a hearing test.  It was supposed to happen months ago, but because nothing has gone as planned with his case, it was put off until today.  And he passed!  Ben's hearing is perfect.  And after being on a waiting list for a few months, he also received a weighted blanket from Project Linus.  It's a beautiful quilted blanket with The Cat in the Hat on it, and will hopefully provide some comfort to him when he feels overstimulated.  Can't wait to put it to use, and very thankful to the volunteer that made it especially for Ben.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The End of the 4th Trimester

Beckett - 4 months exactly:

We've made it out alive!  The 4th trimester is over, and as far as I know, there is no 5th.  Beckett isn't a newborn anymore.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I miss my tiny eight pound baby.  I miss his squishy face.  Unintentional smiles.  The way he'd get milk drunk after an intense nursing session.  Really, really small onesies.  It goes by so fast.

But at the same time, those first three months drag on... and on... and on.  Every minute of listening to a colicky baby scream feels like an hour.  Juggling two very dependent babies all day long turns into an Olympic event.  The reflux is awful.  10 poopy diapers a day is insane.  Four non-consecutive hours of sleep night after night will make anyone crazy.  All a true test of patience.  So coming to the end of the 4th trimester is truly a bittersweet thing for this Mama.  I'm glad it's all behind us, but I already miss the good parts.

The face he's grown very accustomed to making:

Beckett has changed from a squirmy baby into a little guy, especially within the last month.  He has become very chatty and laughs a lot when people talk to him.  Tonight, he was doing a ridiculously adorable screaming laugh every time I said "hi" to him.  I wish everyone thought I was that entertaining.

The kind of smile that a whole face can get into:

He has definite preferences for people.  And by that, I mean he is a certified Mama's Boy.  Beckett tolerates his dad most of the time.  But he will choose Mom first every time.  He seems to like everyone else besides his parents equally as much.  Meaning at any given time, he could either deliver a laugh, or wrinkle his face and scream like you've never heard before.  Over absolutely nothing.  

Oh here we go again:

He is curious about his environment and loves people watching.  Don't get too close, he might cry, but from a safe distance (and in his Mama's arms), he loves watching things happen around him.  He loves watching his big brother play, and it seems that Ben almost has a soothing effect on Beckett.  If Beckett is somewhere besides my arms, losing his mind, sometimes I'll send Ben to his brother's side.  Ben will go to his brother every time, and Beckett has been known to be comforted by this.  And it buys me some time to finish whatever it is that I'm doing before picking him up for more cuddles.

Beckett's new obsession is sitting and standing.  He wants to do both.  Always.  When he is in a lying down position, I can see his little shoulders trying to lift up, but to no avail.  If he is sort of reclined, sometimes he can pull himself up a tiny bit.  When I prop him up into a full sitting position, he puffs up his chest and feels big.  Same thing with standing.  If those little feet are flat against something, he is totally happy.  But being barely four months old, he tuckers out quickly and crumples.  And then cries.
Being adorable:

He is still not sleeping through the night.  Every time I report on this, the pattern changes, but we are basically up 2-3 times a night, at varying times, for snacks.  He's moved out of our bed for the majority of the night.  He sleeps in a little mini-crib in our room for the first stretch of the night, and almost always makes his way into the big bed by 4 in the morning.  It's been nice to have the best of both worlds - a short nap alone and a little bit of cuddling.  He adjusts well where ever he's put down for bed.  And doesn't require too much of a ritual to fall asleep.  So that's been pretty awesome.  We're not schedule or ritual people.  

Our next doctor appointment is at the end of the week.  More shots have Beckett's name on them.  And he'll be weighed and the scale will say something more than 16 pounds.  He's a really big four month old, rocking Ben and Jack's 6-12 month clothing already.  His size is actually throwing a bit of a wrench in my perfect plan to have my 2nd child in the same season as my first.  Being in Ben's 6-12 month clothing, we are inching into his summer collection.  The bigger the clothes get, the shorter the sleeves.  Luckily Jack was also born in September.  And was also a big boy for his age.  So we're covered.

We are a quarter of the way through the first year.  I can't believe it.  Time flies with your first baby.  Time REALLY flies with your second.  We're right back in the month we were in when I found out I was pregnant.  And if I blink, I'll be at Beckett's 1st birthday party, wondering where all the time went.  

Beckett's Apartment - 10 weeks:

10 months, 4 seasons and *ahem* pounds later:

 Love you, baby boy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Being Indoors

Ben, a balloon, and the snow - January '11:

Following Murphy's Law, we are in the midst of Hendersonville's coldest winter on record.  After being pregnant in the hottest summer on record, it stands to reason that I would have an infant during the coldest winter ever.  So here we are, tons of snow on the ground, homebound and looking for creative ways to stay entertained.  Being mid-January, I figure we'll be stuck in the house a whole lot more before we see warmer weather and less white stuff in the driveway.  So being half stir-crazy and half genius, I constructed a playroom/classroom for Ben. 

Activity baskets and bins of toys:

In addition to having a place to house the mountain of toys that Santa brought, our playroom has become Ben's classroom.  With the help of his case manager, occupational therapist and speech therapist, we've filled the room with crafts and activity baskets that encourage fine-motor skills and creativity.  When official therapy isn't in session, unofficial therapy is - in the room formally known as the sunroom. 

For the last two months, we've been working on expanding Ben's vocabulary.  We've progressed from being able to count the words in his vocabulary to losing track.  He says a lot.  Usually one word at a time, but he can put two of them together occasionally.  Some of it is intelligible.  Most of it requires a translator.  But being Mama, I understand everything.  Our focus now lies in encouraging two word structures and spontaneous talking.  And I am beginning to work with him on phonological awareness. Ben is awesome at telling you the middle sound of a word.  The first and last sounds often get omitted.  Balloon is "loooo".  Green is "eeee".  Counting from thirteen to twenty goes something like "uh-ee, uh-ee, uh-ee, tun-eeeeee!".  So Magical Karen, our SLP brought me a curriculum in a hefty three-ring binder to jump-start his work with phonological awareness.  She said she typically doesn't start working with this until a child is three or older, but is giving her blessing to get started a bit sooner.  So these are the things we are working on in the cool new playroom.  We're also working on fine-motor skills and sensory tolerance.  Feeling a variety of different textures and not freaking out.  Learning to use scissors functionally (don't worry, they're the crappy plastic kind safe for little kids).  Today after speech, we worked a few activities.

Fine motor skills - peeling the backs off stickers and sticking them to paper - harder than you think:

Using a claw to grab farm animals out of a bin... but not getting it quite yet:

Counting farm animals:

"uh-ee, uh-ee, uh-ee, tun-eeeeee!"

He loves it.  And I'm having fun too!  We've got a lot more activities to explore and plenty of time to do it, so hopefully this is the first blog in a series about Ben's Sunroom Preschool.  If the weather keeps up the current trend of snow twice a week and subzero temperatures, we'll have plenty of time to explore everything.

Another project we're slowly introducing is potty training!  Our potty was delivered from last week along with the instructional book "Once Upon a Potty".  This clever book talks about certain body parts involved with going potty, what a potty is, what goes in it, and how proud your mother will be when you use it correctly.  I remember discovering this book years ago with my middle-school friends and laughing hysterically at the illustrations, the phrasing, and a page about how the kid "sat and sat and sat and sat..." waiting for something to come out.  I think about this every time Ben and I read the book together.  Coincidentally, he also thinks that Joshua sitting on the potty for a full page is quite funny, and mimics me while I read it.  He does not, however, understand the concept yet.  Either that or the book's illustrator failed miserably.  When he gets to the page where it shows the potty that has been freshly used, Ben's response every time is "Mmmm, yum!".  Can't really argue with him here, the potty looks like a white cup and Joshua's work looks more like dessert and less like finished business.  Anyway, I'll go ahead and spare you the pictures of Ben's bottom making contact with the potty, but know that we've definitely got a few to add to the photo album I call "pictures I can't wait to show his future girlfriends". 

The equipment:

Studying for the test:

See the page on the right where Joshua has clearly missed the target?  That's kinda how potty training is going for us so far.  But I don't expect Ben to be in big-boy underwear next month.  Or even in six months really.  The benefit of Mama being home all day mixed with my new disdain for buying diapers inspired me to get the process started a little early.

Lots of learning going on here.  We're bringing in the new year right at Turner Place.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stay at Home Mom.

Portrait of a stay at home mom with two key SAHM supplies:

I'm working on 6 months of being a full-time mom.  I have memories of the not-so-distant past, telling my friends that if I had kids, I could be a stay at home mom and life would be so easy.  I would work out 6 days a week, have dinner made every night, and would always be caught up with my laundry duties.  I would have the picture-perfect house that everyone would want to come visit, because I would stay home all day and would have endless time and energy.  Raising kids looked easy.  And fun.  Working a job was much harder and more stressful.  Especially my job.  Coordinating services in the community all day.  Having appointments everywhere in the mountains, working with all different types of people.  People with different needs, functioning levels, and dispositions.  Going back to the office after a long day and typing about said appointments.  Being a stay at home mom is easier.

Not.  The reality of the situation is much different from the fantasy I had built up in my head.  After Ben was born, I quickly realized that it was everything I could do to keep his needs met.  Dinner that didn't come through a window in a bag was scarce around here.  Laundry was piling out of baskets and onto the floor.  And exercise?  Seriously?  Let's just say it didn't take 9 months to lose that pregnancy weight because I was too lazy to go to the gym.  It had more to do with the utter exhaustion I experienced when the day was over, the baby was asleep, and there was finally a few free minutes to do something for myself.  I always took hot bath over 30 minutes of cardio.  Going back to work sounded like vacation.  So at Ben's 10 week birthday,  I was back at my desk, coordinating services and loving it.  And at the end of my day when I picked up Ben from Grammie's, and eventually from school, I had a greater appreciation for Mommyhood and was fresh enough to tackle those responsibilities.

Special circumstances led me to my full-time mom situation.  And it's taken me about this long to finally get the hang of it.  Beckett's birth and homecoming added exponential responsibility.  I thought it was complicated with one baby.  Try two.  Under the age of two.  I consider this job to be the trickiest and most rewarding yet.  It's not about making "productivity" and getting my notes in on time anymore.  It's about keeping babies entertained.  Having a handle on the laundry.  A well-thought out dinner is icing on the cake.  Exercise?  Not there yet, but I did renew my gym membership.  Add Beckett's colic and Ben's speech delay to the daily challenges and it's a wonder I get anything done.  

But I get lots done.  And it's been amazing.  I consider myself infinitely lucky to even have the opportunity to stay home during the day.  So many moms don't have that option.  In an effort to make the most of our one-income scenario, I've delved further into our green living lifestyle.  Being green is about more than being crunchy-granola and environmentally-conscious.  It's cheap!  Or frugal, if you please.  Beckett's carbon footprint is tiny, especially for an infant.  We joke that it will be confusing to look at early pictures of these two because all of Beckett's stuff used to be Ben's.  Nearly all of his clothes and toys are recycled.  He is 100% nursed.  No bottles, formula or any other waste involved.  And our latest (and greatest!) accomplishment: he is 100% cloth diapered.  This has been a fun project, believe it or not, and I feel a lot less anxiety knowing that I don't have to give my money to Huggies or Pampers for 3 more years.  And even by cloth diapering standards, we are using very little energy for their upkeep.  I do wash them at least every other day.  Stinky diapers lying around longer than that is just foul.  But we line dry.  And use just enough water.  And use environmentally friendly (and cheap!) detergent.  Being green (cheap) IS easy, y'all.  I encourage anyone on the fence to give it a go.  Mother Nature (and your savings account) will thank you.

Who could resist a clothesline like this one?:

Working moms and non-moms often ask me what I do all day.  Before kids, I also wondered what the average stay at home mom did to pass the time.  My day at work includes feeding, diapering, nurturing, teaching and loving two little boys.  It includes keeping a handle on the housework.  Doing endless 
loads of laundry.  Maintaining doctor appointments.  Therapy appointments.  Preparing meals.  Lesson planning.  Comforting babies with occasional boo-boos.  Quelling not-so-occasional temper tantrums.  Exhausted yet?  I'm enjoying my new career so far, and am finally getting the hang of it.  You'll have to check back in to find out if the exercise regimen, Martha Stewart cooking, and cleanest house award goes to me.  My prediction is probably not, but my new construct of being a stay at home mom is working out just fine.