Friday, July 6, 2018

leo is 4 months

We're super late this month, but I have a good excuse. We spent the last 2.5 weeks in Oklahoma visiting Shi Shi, PaPa, Aunt Mae Mae, Uncle Boo and Abby. Today was actually my first day home by myself with both boys in about 3 weeks. I forgot how much harder this is without all the extra hands to help!

We had a crazy travel day getting home. We dealt with a delay, having to sit on a boarded plane for about 1.5 hours before takeoff, and a missing bag. You did pretty good on all the flights - only getting a little fussy at the tail end of a few legs, but man, those 15-20 minutes with a fussy, crying baby feel like an eternity. It wasn't a total meltdown with solid crying, but it was taking all my effort to keep the cries to an intermittent level. You could have been better, but you could have been worse. I don't blame you, though. Even the adults were pretty fed up when we arrived late in D.C. to find out we had to keep waiting because our gate still wasn't ready for us.

To make things even more fun, we woke up the next morning and went as one big happy family to the pediatrician - the 4 month visit for you, and the 2.5 yr visit for Charlie. It should come as no surprise that big brother was a bigger problem at said appointment.

You, on the other hand, were a perfect angel - spending a good portion of the time sleeping on mama. You got a perfect bill of health and bonus points for being extra strong. Your only demerit was for your continued rejection of the bottle. To no one's surprise, you are still quite the chunk, and you would probably look even chubbier if you weren't also so long. You weigh just over 18 lbs (90%) and are just under 27 inches long (96%). And yes, that head is still a giant. I affectionately nicknamed you "Fatty fatty" while we were in Oklahoma. It's no secret that I LOVE fat babies, and I'm pretty much obsessed with your wobbly cheeks - that literally shake at the slightest head movement - your chubby thighs, and those arm rolls. It's just the best, and all I ever want to do is squeeze you.

This update (and really all the monthly posts) will pretty much just cover the last one-two weeks or so. I honestly can't remember what was even happening at the beginning of this month...which is exactly why I write these posts. All I know is that your Dada went to trial in Charlotte and Shi Shi came to help us stay afloat, and we survived... barely. I think the second half of this month was much better. And luckily that's the part I can remember for purposes of this blog. :)

Let's start with sleep. Before leaving for Oklahoma, we had worked up to an 8:00 p.m. bedtime with an 11:00 p.m. dream feed, but you were still waking up to eat around 3:30 a.m. and sometimes again in the early morning (6-7ish). You basically did the same thing when we were in Oklahoma (save two nights when you just wanted to party from 2:30-5. Thanks for that, buddy!), but the last several nights I started to have trouble getting you to go down. From about 8-11, you just want to be eating. I nurse you to sleep, but you either wake right up when I try to put you down or you only sleep 30-45 minutes before waking up again. It feels a little like being back in the cluster feeding newborn days (although not quite that drastic). So that's been a bit frustrating BUT, on the plus side, all this extra feeding before bed has resulted in better sleep. The last two nights in Oklahoma, you only woke up once around 4:30-5, and then the first night home (after our epic travel day), you slept through the night for the first time EVER. I woke up at 8:00 a.m. shocked that it was that late and you were still sleeping. That's nine straight hours of sleep...and it couldn't have come at a better time. Of course, you haven't repeated that since, but you have been sleeping until 5-6 a.m. before nursing and going back to sleep until 8-9 a.m. I'll take it.

The plan had been to start some sleep training when we got home, and I do still think that needs to happen, but we might see how this plays out for a bit. I hate to rock the boat when I'm finally starting to get more consistent long sleep stretches.

You are no longer swaddled. We made that change right before leaving because you really just didn't fit in the swaddles anymore, and you were also starting to break free pretty easily. It was becoming more of a distraction than anything. Thankfully, we had already been working on taking naps sans swaddle so it was no big deal for you to sleep at night just wearing your woolino blanket. We didn't even have to use the magic merlin suit as a transition. And it's a good thing we pulled the plug because you started rolling over pretty consistently right after we ditched the swaddle. And no, we don't need to talk about how it pulls at my heart strings to no longer have a little burrito sleeping next to me.

The other big news is that you have also outgrown the bassinet. Do you see a theme here? You just did not fit anymore. I squeezed you in there for the last couple of nights at home, but then you slept in a pack n play in Oklahoma and enjoyed having all that extra room to stretch out. Now that we are back home, I've set up the pack n play in our room. We plan to move you to your crib at night soon, but we needed to get settled back into a routine at home before making that leap. Also, mama just ain't ready yet. I like having you close by at night.

One of the many great things about being in Oklahoma is that I was able to focus on your naps because there was always someone around to help out with Charlie. I made some great progress, and learned some valuable intel. For example, you like a really dark, quiet room and the sound machine is a big help. These seem pretty obvious - especially when this isn't my first rodeo - but you'd be surprised how hard it is to focus on all those things when juggling the needs of two kiddos. Also, it's only within this last few weeks that you've became more aware of your surroundings, and therefore, easily distracted while trying to fall asleep. We have definitely transitioned away from that newborn baby that can fall asleep anywhere at any time.

I also learned that 2 hours is about your max amount of awake time between naps. We aren't on a schedule per se, but the clock starts for the day whenever you wake up and I know that you'll need to be going down for a nap roughly 1.5-2 hours after that. I've been nursing you to sleep for naps, and so far it's working - although I know it won't work forever (and will eventually be part of your sleep training...but we'll tackle nighttime before naps). You go down easily as long as you are tired, but not too tired - hence that magic 2-hour window. You'll sleep anywhere from 1-3 hours. Whenever you wake up from nap #1, the 2-hour countdown starts again. By the end of the day, you've usually taken 3 naps.

If we aren't at home where I can nurse you to sleep and put you in your crib, the next best thing is standing and swaying or walking. You can imagine that my back is not a fan of this method, but on a plane or at church, etc. it's the easiest way to get you to fall asleep. You also love napping while I'm wearing you. Of course, even though it kills my back, I do secretly love having you sleep all cuddled up next to me. But when I can't keep holding you, I can put you down and you'll stay asleep. On the 4th of July, we went swimming, and you even stayed asleep when I laid you down on a towel on a beach chair. Even though you can be bothered by noise or light while trying to fall asleep, once you are out, you do sleep pretty hard.

You enjoyed your time in Oklahoma, which is not the least bit surprising considering there was always someone around willing to hold you. You are a pretty happy, content little fellow, but you definitely prefer to be held over anything else. You are also at that baby stage where you get bored easily because there's just only so much you can do right now. Every 10-15 minutes, you like to change locations or have something new to see. Like most babies, I think you'll be pretty excited when you can sit up and be a little more independent.

You've started grasping objects and can reach out and grab things as well. It's only a matter of time before you grabbing whatever you want and sticking it in your mouth. We've also discovered that you really love music. We have a little star that lights up and plays music and it's really helped to keep you happy in the car. You also like when Dada whistles for you, and a few times during your all-night parties, the only way I could get you to fall back asleep was by playing lullabies on youtube.

You smile at anyone or anything that will look at you. It's of no surprise that Papa was able to get the best smiles and biggest giggles out of you. Your big brother used to attract attention because he stared into people's souls. You attract attention because you're just so fat and happy. People love your cheeks, and you eat it right up by playing to your audience with big smiles and lots of chattering. For someone who is so smily, your resting face is quite the opposite. Your other expression is a look of mild concern like you just aren't too sure about us.

Speaking of those cheeks, you are outgrowing things at a rapid pace. While Shi Shi was in town, we got out the 6-12 month box of clothes and discovered several things in there were already too small or barely fit. Apparently Charlie was still wearing 3-6 months stuff past the 6-month mark so several things ended up in that box. I've put you in so many hand-me-downs already that are a solid "one and done" because it's a tight squeeze. I think you also had a growth spurt while we were in OK because by the end of the trip, you didn't really fit into any of the sleepers I had brought for you. You wear size 3 diapers, and are rapidly outgrowing 3-6 month sizes in favor of 6-9 month stuff.

You are drooling all over the place and chewing on your hands (or my hands!) in earnest. We'll see if this means any teeth are trying to pop up. I've learned that the only way you really know if a baby is teething is when you can see an actual tooth. ;) Still no pacifier, and still no bottle. I'm losing hope, but the pediatrician said there was no harm in trying sippy cups and/or just letting you cry while I leave the house. I'm hoping we can eventually find a happy balance where I can at least be able to put you down at night and know you'll stay asleep so I can leave the house in peace.

You went for your first swim in OK, and had a grand time. Even though the water was pretty chilly, you loved floating around. Oddly, you didn't really smile a ton, but you seemed to enjoyed it nonetheless. You still love bath time. You also like laying on your activity mat and playing with all the funs things hanging down. We tried out the bumbo seat for the first time today. I had to squeeze your thighs in, but you did like being able to sit up and lasted for a few minutes before starting to slump over.

As mentioned, you are rolling now. The first roll was back to front at the beginning of the month, but it seemed pretty accidental. Soon after that, you went from back to front, which seemed much more intentional. Since then, you've really mastered back to front, but have only gone front to back one other time. It takes a lot of momentum to get all those rolls to roll.

There isn't too much you don't like except maybe not getting enough attention or not getting to be held as much as you would like. You've been doing much better in the car thanks to your star music toy. You do get cranky if you get overtired, but otherwise, it's not too difficult to keep you happy.

I'm afraid to say that Charlie is losing interest in you. He doesn't seem to dislike you, but he also doesn't seem to particularly like you either. We've settled on complete ambivalence. He likes to point out things that belong to you (baby's sound machine), and he never fails to tell me when you are crying (as if I don't already hear you), but otherwise, he's indifferent. We have to bribe him to agree to hold you or sit next to you for a photo. I think he's waiting until you can play with him a little more or perhaps he's just finally realized that you're here to stay.

We, however, are not losing interest in you. Quite the opposite, in fact. It's so fun to start to see little glimpses of your personality come out. It only gets more fun from here, and we can't wait to continue to watch you grow.

why would i want this, mom? 

no more room in the bassinet

Friday, May 25, 2018

air & space museum

Last month we took a family outing to the Air & Space Museum. One of the best parts about living here is having access to so many great experiences. It's fun that Charlie is just now getting old enough to really enjoy some of these things. I'm excited to do more exploring as the boys get older. We planned in advance to go on a weekday when Jon could be out of the office for a morning. We opted to go to the auxiliary location near Dulles airport, which is less crowded, easier to navigate, and has the added bonus of watching live planes land and takeoff.

Charlie is really into planes and helicopters these days so we thought now would be a fun time to take him (especially while we could still take advantage of Leo being in his sleepy baby phase). I knew Charlie would be excited, but I think we still managed to underestimate his excitement level. He started pointing with glee as soon as we walked in the door and didn't stop for roughly 1.5 hours. He especially like the helicopters and didn't hesitate to show off his helicopter sign language and accompanying helicopter noise.

As if the museum portion hadn't already blown his mind, our last stop was the observation tower. It's the original air traffic control tower for Dulles so it provides an excellent view of incoming and departing planes. Even on an overcast day, it made his every toddler dream come true.

The only downside was the car ride home. Even armed with jelly beans that I was doling out one by one, we lost Charlie to sleep about halfway home. I reached back and knew we were in trouble when no sticky little hand emerged to grab the jelly bean I was holding. I think that car nap messed up his nights and naps for a couple of days, but I'd say it was worth it.

Now please enjoy this gallery of Charlie excitedly pointing at flying objects. :)

His first glimpse upon entering the main exhibit

Why did we stop, mom? Has no idea a space shuttle is behind him...
By this time, I think he was pointing to a forklift working on repairs. :)

Observation deck

Plane! Or as Charlie would say, "Pane!"

I don't even know what this is, but I'm going to point at it anyways.

Maybe he thought it would play Elmo...

three months with Leo

We've reached three months, and you have definitely left your newborn phase in the dust. Naturally, this both breaks my heart and brings many new joys.

We don't have a well visit this month, but on our baby scale at home (which runs a bit heavier than the scale at the pediatrician), you weighed 15 lbs, 5 oz. You certainly are no slouch. You are all cheeks and thighs. I like to joke that you smile with your chins. I'm sure you have a neck, we just can't see it. You have more chins, but less hair than when you were born. It's started to fall out in a classic baby pattern creating a nice friar tuck hairstyle.

You are in size 2 diapers, but only because we have half a box left. Once they are gone, we're moving you up to size 3. You have completely outgrown 0-3 clothing. Most 3-6 month clothes still fit, but there isn't much room left in them so it won't be long before you're on to the next size. It's on my to-do list to get out the next box of Charlie hand-me-downs. I know there are things in the 6-12 month box that would probably fit right now. The onesie you are wearing in your 3-month photo is a 6-12 onesie for example.

You are really a delightful baby, and your happy disposition is on full display these days. You are full of smiles, and you do lots of chatting with goos and gahs. You can grasp soft objects and follow activity/sounds with your gaze. Giggles still take a bit of effort, but you often smile right back when we make eye contact and smile at you. This is the best feeling - especially since I know this one baby - I won't name names - who really made us work for smiles. One of your happiest times of the day is right after bath - it's when we get the biggest smiles and best giggles out of you. You also have a habit of spontaneously giggling in your sleep, which is quite adorable.

You're an efficient nurser now, which is a welcome development for this mama who is juggling the needs of two wee ones. It only takes 20 minutes max to feed you - often just 10-15 min - and you eat about every 2-3 hours. Sometimes I'll try to nurse more often to top you off before we leave the house or to get you to sleep more quickly, but you might refuse because you only like to eat when you want to eat. You don't even require the same amount of cluster-feeding at night anymore. These are all very welcome developments. I'd assume you'd be a bigger comfort nurser since you don't like a pacifier, but your favorite soothing method is just being held and cuddled.

In other not so welcome developments, sleep was really all over the place this past month. After making good progress last month and inching toward an earlier bedtime and consistent 5-6 hour stretches (with one long 7 hour stretch!), we reverted back to a more unpredictable schedule with wake-ups every 3-4 hours. Every night seems different, and sometimes the unpredictable nature is the worst part. Expectations can be the hardest part when it comes to baby sleep.

Naps, however, are another story. You usually nap on-the-go in the morning or if we are home, you might snooze in your mamaroo or rock n play. You really nail your afternoon nap, though. After I put Charlie down for his nap at 1:00 p.m., I put you down for a nap in your crib. Sometimes this involves nursing you until you are drowsy or walking around/rocking in the chair, but once you are nice and relaxed, I can put you down in your crib and you'll fall asleep watching your fish tank. Every now and then, you resist and might end up napping in the rock n play after nursing to sleep, but usually it's not much of a fight and I can get you to go down shortly after Charlie. You'll sleep anywhere from 2-3.5 hours. It's basically all my dreams coming true to have two sleeping kiddos from 1-4 almost every day. Praise Jesus.

You take a third and final little siesta in the early evening. The timing of this is hit or miss, as is the length, but it's most helpful when this snooze coincides with Charlie's dinner/bath/bedtime. Thankfully, we've had a few good nights recently - back to longer stretches of sleeping from 10-8 with just one wake-up to eat. I was hopeful we were getting back on track, and last night you fell asleep at 9:00 p.m., but then you woke up twice - around 2 am and then 6 am (even though I did a dream feed around 11:00 p.m. before I went to sleep). Sigh. At least you did sleep until 8:30 a.m. when I finally had to wake you up because we had to take Charlie to playgroup.

Despite the hiccups, I do see a natural rhythm is starting to form. And I appreciate that you are still a champ at being put down awake and falling asleep on your own. I hope this sets us up for success when we move toward instituting a schedule. Your bedtime is inching closer to 9-9:30 pm, and your wake-up is moving back to around 8:00 am. I'm in no hurry, but I'm guessing over the next month, we'll start to work toward more of a set schedule with a consistent bedtime and predictable nap times.

I don't swaddle you during naps, and you sleep in the most adorable position with your arms up in a goalpost pose. We do still swaddle at night, and save for getting one hand out once to chew on, you really haven't tried to break free. You also haven't shown any interest in trying to roll over so we plan to keep swaddling at night until one of those two things happens. We did, however, have to search high and low for a new larger swaddle blanket. Since babies are only swaddled for the first 4 months, give or take, swaddles only come in sizes meant for little babies. I guess they don't really plan on a 3-month old baby who could easily pass for 6 months or older.

Speaking of rolling over, you seem to be most content to not exercise your baby strength. I don't blame you - it's a lot of baby to try to move. I'd hate to call you lazy, but if the shoe fits...I think you're just fat and happy and happy to be just fat and happy. For example, you hold your head up just fine when being held or sitting up in our laps, but during tummy time, you refuse to prop yourself up and just prefer to flail on your stomach like a beached whale. Needless to say, tummy time is not your favorite. When laying on your back, you like to kick and move your arms resembling an overturned bug.

You like being outside and are happy to hang out in your baby seat while Charlie plays in the backyard. You discovered bubbles this month and you think they are pretty magical. Bath time is still most enjoyable. You get into the tub and kick away with great delight. Baths are also essential because you collect all kinds of fuzzies in your fat rolls.

The kitchen counter is still one of your favorite hangout spots. I have to be careful about that now too - not because I think you're close to rolling although I'm on alert because you could always surprise me - but because when you get your little legs going, you can migrate from your original position.

The bottle was a big no go again this month. We finally just took a break from trying because everyone was frustrated. Oddly enough, I decided to give it a go this week on a whim and successfully got you to drink from the bottle twice like it was no big deal. When dada returns from his work trip maybe we'll try again to have someone else give you a bottle.

You don't always love your car seat so it's not uncommon for there to be tears during some portion of car rides. You fall asleep easily in the stroller or most any other moving thing, but for some reason, you often resist falling asleep in the car. But what you hate most of all is being overtired. It's not hard to get you to fall asleep, but when naps get delayed for whatever reason and you've been awake too long, that's when the wheels fall off and you get quite cranky. You have also started to spit up more, which is always a fun development. I try to always have a muslin swaddle blanket nearby to catch any surprises. One time I was smelling your diaper to see if you needed a change, and you spit up on my face. It was really a special moment.

Your big brother is still pretty enamored with you, and you seems rather amused by him. Charlie never turns down an opportunity to burp you - gently patting you on back like he's seen mama do. He's shown quite an interest in picking you up these days. When I'm carrying you, he sometimes comes and puts his arms out to show he wants to hold you. Or he'll climb into the rocking chair after we get up and sit down and put his arms up to signal it's his turn to hold the baby. Of course, when we do help him hold you, it lasts about 10 seconds before he's ready to be off and running again. One time, I stupidly left you on the couch within his reach - I had to get up from nursing you to take away a broom that your brother was brandishing around the living room. In the 10 seconds it took to put the broom away, Charlie had made it over to you and was attempting to hold you. Needless to say, he did not succeed and you ended up on the floor. You were none too pleased about it. Thankfully, no harm was done and it's a short distance from the couch to the floor, where you landed on our cushy rug. Mama learned an important lesson to make sure you're always strapped into something safe - even if it's just for a few seconds.

Your Aunt Monica, Uncle Tad and cousins Zachary and Isaac came to visit this month and so did your Aunt Mae Mae. They all think you're pretty great. Shi Shi will be here next week to help us survive while Dada goes to trial in Charlotte, NC. And then later in June, you'll take your first flight to Oklahoma to meet Uncle Boo and cousin Abby.

We love you so much, little lion man. It's been so much fun watching your happy little personality start to emerge. Thanks for being such an easy, delightful if we can just get you to sleep through the night and take a bottle with ease. :)