Thursday, September 8, 2016

Back to School

This morning I am sitting here in peace and quiet, enjoying my iced coffee while Scarlett and Clark nap. There's no screaming coming from the basement, Harrison isn't telling me he's hungry for the 5th time of the day while his unfinished breakfast is still on the counter, and Brooke isn't trying to talk me into letting her watch TV before she does her chores. My big kids are back at school today and as exciting as that is, I feel like our summer got away from us.


I had my "How the heck is it almost time for school to start?" moment a couple weeks ago. I realized we didn't make it to The Y pool all summer, we didn't spend nearly enough time at the park or splash pad, and there was not enough ice cream consumed by any of us. That's how things go when you have two babies who set your daily schedule, but I was determined to fit as much summer fun into two weeks as possible.




Ice cream for dinner. keeping the babies up past bedtime so we could have an extra half hour of time at the park, multiple zoo trips each week, one last day at the lake, staying up late to ride bikes in the cul-de-sac or draw with sidewalk chalk. I think we made it out of the house every day for some kind of summer fun.





Yesterday we closed out our summer break with one last lake day. We got home early enough to get everything ready for the first day of school today. They picked out their clothes, got backpacks ready, and we packed their lunches. Their teachers sent them home with Jitter Glitter, glitter to put under their pillows to help them with any night before school jitters. They were both so excited to sprinkle their glitter and get to sleep so they could wake up for school today. This morning Brooke was so excited to go, and then Harrison declared he no longer wanted to go. That's pretty typical for him.Once we got to school though, they were both ready. They both even skipped out on hugs and kisses goodbye.


They are going all day this year, and I'm already looking forward to picking them up this afternoon. Not before the babies and I have a nice quiet trip to Target where I don't have to hear anyone ask me if they can get a new toy after I've already told them no for the 589th time though. Happy first day of Pre K, Harrison and Brooke!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Scarlett and Clark - 8 Months

The last month with these two has been so much fun! I feel like we are really hitting our stride. We have naps figured out pretty darn well. We still aren't sleeping through the night, but we're only waking up once or twice a night instead of three or four times a night. We have been getting out of the house for play dates and outings on a regular basis. I love this phase of babydom. Trying new foods every day. Learning new skills and making new sounds all of the time. Exploring toys in new ways. Every day is the same yet so different.


Food has been a big focus for Scareltt and Clark over the last month. They started out the month eating two meals a day and are closing out the month at three meals a day. We are still working our way through vegetables and fruits. Raspberries, nectarines, grapes, and blueberries are favorite fruits. Carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and asparagus have topped the veggies side. Dairy, eggs, and certain meats have been introduced. Scarlett broke out in a full body rash after eating sausage, so we'll be waiting a while before we try that again. After the possible milk protein allergy, we proceeded very cautiously with dairy products. If dairy touches Scarlett's skin, it turns red for about 20 minutes and then fades away. Clark has had no issues at all.


They get to feed themselves everything, with the exception of yogurt and pureed pouches, so meal times are extremely messy. We have started doing sink baths just about every night. We have a two basin sink that is perfect for cleaning these two in every night. I think they look forward to baths almost more than they look forward to their meal. I am very thankful for the sink and also for Jules' great floor cleaning capabilities. If we didn't already have dogs, I'd be getting one just to help keep the floor clean.

When the babies started eating lunch, we also dropped a nursing session. They now nurse 5 times a day and still once or twice at night. They get milk when they first wake up, before their morning nap, before their afternoon nap, after their afternoon nap, and at bedtime. We have been trying to introduce them to straw sippies for water, but they just want to chew on the cup. 


Now that they are reliably sitting and moving around the living room pretty easily, we broke out a whole slew of new toys. Walkers, activity centers, shape sorters, stacking rings. Brooke and Harrison have been in heaven showing Scarlett and Clark all of the new toys. When I say showing them, I really mean taking them away from the babies so they can play with them on their own. Regardless, playtime has been lots of fun around here lately. very noisy, but lots of fun.



Last week they got to swing in the swings at the park for the first time. Scarlett didn't stop smiling the entire time. Clark gave us a few giggles and seemed to like it, but not with nearly as much enthusiasm as Scarlett. I have a feeling once the temps cool down a bit we'll be spending a lot of our afternoons at the park. The zoo also appears to be becoming a more enjoyable outing for them. Now that they can eat puffs or creamies in the stroller, they're much happier to be strapped in for a few hours. 






Scarlett

  • is a sitting pro. She loves to sit while playing with her new toys
  • still isn't trying to crawl. She rolls everywhere, and I'm constantly amazed at how quickly she makes it across a room
  • is a very clean eater, or at least as clean as an 8 month old can be
  • has 2 teeth. Her bottom two front teeth came in about a week apart from each other
  • loves her daddy. She lights up anytime he enters the room
  • still has a thing for both dogs. If they're close, she's touching them
  • has had a few nights over the last month where she wakes up in the middle of the night and won't go back to sleep for over an hour
  • is mostly only waking up once or twice at night
  • falls asleep while nursing 75% of the time
  • wears size 4 diapers 
  • weighs 20.6lbs
  • is being weaned off of her reflux meds












Clark

  • is finally moving forward when crawling. his crawling goes: hand, hand, fall forward
  • does a whole lot of baby yoga and planking while practicing his crawling skills
  • is sitting up very well on his own, but still can't sit up and look up without toppling over
  • sleeps through the night on a semi regular basis. I'm pretty sure if he had his own room, he'd do it all the time
  • has one bottom tooth and another on the way
  • loves eating and is so messy with his food
  • still has a mild case of cradle cap, only on the soft spot on the top of his head
  • is having fewer eczema breakouts. We rarely have to use his medicated ointment
  • still takes an iron supplement once a day
  • wears size 4 diapers 
  • weighs 21.2lbs











I know I say how great every month is, and they really are all great. I know from memories of Brooke and Harrison, how great the new few months are. I am really looking forward to seeing Scarlett and Clark go from babies to little toddlers. Next week H and B go back to school, which means I'll be getting a lot of time with just Scarlett and Clark. To say I'm excited about that would be an understatement. They've changed so much over the summer and I'm ready to get to know their little personalities even more. Happy 8 months babies! I am so ready to see what the next month has in store for us. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Why I Decided to Sleep Train My Babies

Sleep training is one of those push button topics of parenting. People's opinions regarding sleep training are almost as strong as their opinions on breast vs bottle. Most parents have a deep belief in one method or another, and if you don't agree with them, they're going to tell you about it. That's not always the case, but look at any Facebook parenting post, and you'll see how opinionated many parents are.

I know I was positive CIO, cry it out, wasn't for us. Then I had kids who refused to sleep without nursing before, during, and after their naps and nighttime sleep. While I could deal with the sleep deprivation, Harrison couldn't and eventually refused to let me help him to sleep. He wouldn't let me nurse him, rock him, snuggle him. We both cried for 5 minutes, and then a miracle happened. For the first time in his 9 months of life, he fell asleep on his own, and stayed asleep for more than 45 minutes. CIO worked really and really quickly for Brooke and Harrison.

With Scarlett and Clark I wanted to avoid CIO. We made sure the babies had designated sleeping places, not our bed, and we put them down awake. We had babies who slept 8+ hours at a time by 2 months. I thought for sure we had lucked out and that maybe we actually knew what we were doing the second time around. Then the 4 month sleep regression hit.


We had moved the babies to their cribs for naps, and they were still sleeping in their rock and plays at night. Naps went from an hour or two to never more than 45 minutes. Clark went from sleeping 10 hours straight to waking every couple hours. Scarlett wouldn't sleep more than 45 minutes at a time, and as soon as I put her in her rock and play, she'd start to cry. I reread Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby, and we started light sleep training. Not cry it out, but checking and consoling until they would fall asleep. Clark is a much better sleeper than Scarlett, so she needed a lot more consoling.

3 weeks into sleep training, and we'd made zero progress. Scarlett was still up all night and wouldn't sleep for more than 30 or so minutes at nap time. She was constantly tired and was waking up Clark, making him tired too.

One morning while I was getting the babies ready for their first nap, Brooke came in and started pestering the babies and talking back to me. After asking her repeatedly to stop, she got lippy with me and I smacked her. She rarely gets smacked, so she wasn't expecting it. It threw her off balance and she fell off the bed. Talk about a parenting low. I still hate that I reacted that way.

It was a major wakeup call that things couldn't keep on the way they were. I was exhausted, the babies were exhausted, Brooke and Harrison were desperate for attention. Our entire lives were revolving around the babies sleep, or rather their lack of sleep. Starting that same morning we began stronger sleep training.

We decided we would let the babies cry for short increments and slowly let them cry more and more if needed. 5 minutes, then 7, then 10. Within a couple days, we were seeing major progress. Our naps were back to 90+ minutes. Night wakings started to settle into a predictable routine. We're not anywhere close to sleeping through the night on a regular basis, but that isn't the goal. Yes it's the end point, but I feel like sleep training is a process. I wanted my happy babies back who weren't exhausted. I wanted my sanity back, which I have, mostly. I wanted more time to spend with my big kids, which happens now.

Most nights and naps now, the babies go down without any or with minimal crying. When we messed up their routine with a week at the lake, we had to let some crying happen. They now know how to put themselves to sleep and can make it through sleep cycle transitions. When they wake up in the middle of the night, they still get to come nurse, just not every hour. If they are having a particularly bad nap, I'll let them come snuggle in our bed and try to soothe them back to sleep. It's not about ignoring them all night, it's about letting them learn on their own while still being there when they really need it.


So this is where we are. 7 months in, learning to sleep on our own, but still a ways away from sleeping 7pm-7am, although Clark has done it twice. Scarlett hasn't come close since she was 3 months old. For the time being we're very ok with still waking to nurse. We may revisit our decision again in a couple months, but for now it works for us.

I'm not sure where exactly I'm going with this post, but I feel it's important to talk about some of our not so great parenting moments, and to share some of our more controversial parenting choices. I know sleep training isn't for every family, but for some families it is the right option, and that's ok. It has turned out to be the right option for us with all of our kids. I'd love to hear if and how you decided to sleep train, and how old your kids were when they started sleeping that glorious 12 hour stretch. While we aren't pushing for uninterrupted nights, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to the day it does happen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Scarlett and Clark - 7 Months

Seven Months! If last month was all about getting them into a more predictable schedule, this month was all about taking that schedule and messing it up. They proved that they are true champions and rolled with whatever we threw their way. We spent 9 days at the lake which was definitely not ideal sleep conditions. Then once we got back back home and into our usual routine, employee changes forced me to take them to work with me 6 days in a row. It was definitely not ideal, but thanks to their laid back demeanors and a helping hand from our niece, she's a life saver, we made it through the week without too many tears. 

They also had their first bedtime without me here. Even though they don't nurse to sleep, nursing is a big part of their bedtime routine. There may have been a few extra tears, but they rolled with the changes. It helps that our friends that were watching them are parents to two young kids and know what they're doing.


The babies are all about food. They definitely look forward to meal time, and have even come to expect it. If we are eating while they are in the living room, they will let me know they're not happy about it. They've tried cucumber, carrot, zucchini, broccoli, avocado, blueberry, nectarine, banana, kiwi, watermelon waffles, apple sauce, pasta, Happy Baby Creamies, and even a little ice cream. They seem to enjoy vegetables more than fruits right now. Zucchini and carrots are definite favorites. They are doing the whole hand grab to pick up their food, and they're getting pretty good at it. Now that they're eating a couple times a day, they're also getting sink baths a couple times a day. They love sink baths!


When we did have a day with nothing going on, we'd spend it at home trying to get in two good naps. Thankfully naps have become very predictable when we're home. Night time sleep is getting better too. Clark slept through the night, 7:30p-8a for the first time. It only happened once, but still awesome. Instead of waking three times a night, we're down to twice a night most nights, and sometimes only once. Even though I'd love to get a solid 8 hours, I don't mind that they are still waking to eat most nights. Especially with me being gone at work frequently, I think those 10-15 minute nursing and cuddle sessions are good for all of us.


Clark has been working so hard on trying to figure out crawling. He has perfected the backwards scoot, but can't quite get the forward arm movement going. Scarlett still shows zero interest in crawling, but she is doing really well at sitting unassisted. She can sit for 30-60 seconds before needing a balance check. I definitely wouldn't sit her up and leave the room, but she's sitting up while playing all of the time now. Clark can sit briefly on his own, but he'd much rather be on the floor working on his crawling game.



Clark

  • still has zero teeth, much to my surprise
  • loves sleeping in, and often has to be awoken in the morning
  • started iron supplements after I requested his levels be tested. His RLS is almost completely gone
  • still has cradle cap. Mostly it's just on the soft spot on the top of his head
  • started steroid cream to clear up his eczema. His skin looks so much better
  • is constantly distracted by my phone
  • looks less like his brother each day. He still resembles Harrison, but they aren't mirror images anymore like when they were babies








Scarlett
  • is a morning person. She wakes up so happy, and always before her brother
  • has discovered the freckles and moles on my arms and chest. She tries to claw them off while nursing
  • still shows zero interest in leaning to crawl
  • is obsessed with screens. Surfing social media during nursing is becoming a thing of the past
  • has a new favorite person. She lights up when Robbie comes in the room
  • looks bald but has a full head of soft blond peach fuzz








I am really looking forward to the last few weeks of summer with these babes. August is my favorite month of the year. Now that they're starting to sit more reliably, I think there will be many pool and splash pad visits over the next month. Eating out is about to take on a whole new level of fun for these guys too. Exposing H and B to our favorite restaurants was so much fun, and I can't wait to do it with Scarlett and Clark. Indian food buffet, here we come! This is such a fun age of exploration and new experiences, and I can't wait to see these two take it all in.