The Scariest Thing of All Is…..

AJ sad face

AJ, my youngest child has a sensitive side a mile wide.

If someone yells in the room, he cries. If the vacuum turns on, he cries. If someone tries to let go and make him walk on his own (he’s 17 months old), he cries. If someone tries to play a game that he doesn’t like, he cries. If Gregory looks at him the wrong way, he cries. He’s scared of being within 40 feet of ocean waves, he’s scared of swings, he’s scared of dogs. He’s scared of shoes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my son just as he is. His sensitivity makes for a very unique little personality. He wants to engage with anyone and everyone and thrives on being held and talked to. He’s the cuddliest of the cuddly.

I point this out to demonstrate that it’s been a lot of work for me to get to know his personality. I’ve been determined that I WILL NOT parent him the same way I do my firstborn. Just because they are both boys does not mean that they are going to do things together.

I’m about to embark on a taboo subject— TV WATCHING. Gasp. Yes, I let my kids watch about 30 minutes of TV a day. We never used to– I think Gregory didn’t watch a single show until he was 2. He didn’t show any interest, so I didn’t try.

Side Note: Why do moms get all up in each other’s business about the TV? Because they’re worried that someone else’s kids will be dumb because they watched too much? Actually, if you think about it, if “so and so’s” kids are dumb, yours will have less competition in 16 years and a better chance of getting into college. The lesson is, we should encourage TV watching with everyone else’s kids except our own. Hand out mind numbing DVDs to all the kids. It’s the only way to get into Princeton.

Gregory very much enjoys a few shows right now, Thomas the Train and Winnie the Pooh, especially. I’ve noticed that his language skills have tripled, thanks to these shows. He has all sorts of polite pithy phrases, like, “Oh deary deary dear dear!”, “Bravo!”, and, “Oh, thank you mother, how very kind of you!”

So, naturally, AJ watches them too. He usually gets up after about 10 minutes, bored, but sometimes he sits next to his brother, trying to cuddle with a sibling who couldn’t care less that he’s there.

But I’ve noticed something very odd. You know how some kids get scared when the bad guy cackles? I’d anticipated this, so we skip all the pooh episodes with “heffalumps and woozles”, because I always found them scary as a much older child. But even Thomas the Tank Engine has a villain– Diesel 10, the jealous engine with a claw.

AJ, my super sensitive child, is never scared at these parts. He never seems sad– it actually makes him bored. Sometimes, he even laughs.

So, what gives? Super sensitive child, unaffected by anything on the TV? For a while, I thought he might be super smart and, at the ripe old age of 1.5, had already figured out that the TV was just a box with pictures.

In the past few weeks, I’ve figured out what scares him. And it scares him like nothing else.

Rocks.

Yup.

Rocks.

Whenever there’s a rock, rolling down a hill or getting pushed down a hill, he whimpers and cries and until I hold him. There’s actually one part of the Tigger Movie where the animals are all caught up with a boulder as it tumbles down into a pond. Gregory laughs hysterically, as it’s supposed to be funny.

AJ? He sobs and sobs, shaking with fear until I come pick him up. The moment the 2 minute segment is over, he’s perfectly okay, as though it never happened.

I thought it was just that part, but now I’ve started to notice that he whimpers and cries whenever there’s a rock! Someone throws a rock in a pond? Crying. A train sees rocks across a railway? Crying.

If this keeps up, it’s going to make for an interesting childhood. I can just imagine dropping him off at school: “Here’s his lunch, oh, and by the way, make sure he doesn’t see any rocks.”

Do they have a rating system for rocks in movies? It could be Rated SO for “sand only”, and Rated RE-13 for “rocks everywhere– wait until age 13”.

Whatever we’re supposed to do until he grows out of it, I’ll continue to love and comfort this little guy whenever he sees a rock. I mean, how could you NOT want to cuddle with this little munchkin?

AJ in booster seat

And for lonely days when I need extra cuddles from my baby, I’ll keep a copy of “Bob the Builder” on hand. Just in case.

my boys

One of my favorite things in the world is to cuddle with my boys first thing in the morning, especially if they wake up at the same time (7:45am today, thank God! Gregory has been getting up in the 6am hour lately which is driving us nuts!!!).

Turns out, it's super hard to get a selfie of all 3 of us, especially when one of them (ahem, Gregory!) is flailing about

Turns out, it’s super hard to get a selfie of all 3 of us, especially when one of them (ahem, Gregory!) is flailing about

I cannot say enough about how much joy these two bring me. Anthony, in particular, is SO cuddly since he stopped nursing a few weeks ago. He makes the sweetest little sighs when you hold him. He gives the biggest kisses, saying, “Tss! tss!”

Gregory, in particular, is turning into SUCH a little boy lately. He’s definitely showing signs of leaving the toddler stage and entering the preschool stage full-on. He talks to his belly when he’s full (“we gobbled up the food!”), gathers tons of acorns like a hoarder, buries things in the yard, dumps sand on his head at any opportunity, and loves to explore. Jesse is really loving this new stage with him, and I do too, most of the time (the independence, at times, makes me sad, but that’s why I have my barnacle Baby Anthony!).

I love my boys and I love spending time with them. I dread the day when they leave to start families of their own 😦

Anthony would NOT smile, so I joined him.

Anthony would NOT smile, so I joined him.

Anthony’s Birthday Party!

Last Saturday, we had a family birthday party for Anthony. We told everybody to bring trucks/cars as presents, since they are his favorite right now! He also got a tree swing (can’t wait to put it up!), a xylophone, a drum, and a few outfits!

It was a beautiful day for a party!

It was a beautiful day for a party!

Anthony's 1st Birthday 27

Some of the beautiful women in our family

Anthony's 1st Birthday 28

Remember that awesome tortilla soup I keep talking about? We had that, along with cheesey garlic bread and salad.

Anthony's 1st Birthday 35

Anthony’s dump truck cake (funny enough, Gregory received this particular dump truck for HIS first birthday!)

 

Anthony's 1st Birthday 2

The eager birthday boy, waiting for his cake!

Anthony's 1st Birthday 5

Clapping in anticipation

Anthony's 1st Birthday 18

He showed that cake who was boss!

 

Anthony's 1st Birthday 8

Momma and Dadda with the birthday boy!

Anthony's 1st Birthday 39

Everyone that came (minus Gordon, who was taking the picture)

Anthony’s 1 year old!

Exactly 1 year ago, I was in pre-labor with my sweet baby Weester. He is such an incredible joy to us. I never thought that I could love any child as much as I love Gregory, but I was so wrong. This little bundle of joy has been the perfect addition to our family. He is my cuddle bug, and I hope he always loves giving his Momma tons of attention πŸ™‚

We love you, baby Wee!

anthony-james birth

Anthony 1 year old

Countdown…

A year ago today, I looked like this!

39 weeks!

39 weeks!

Anthony 9-11 Month Letter

Dear Baby Wee,

Mommy feels bad that you haven’t gotten a month by month letter like your brother. Then again, she knows that you already have many privileges that he never had, such as a big house to crawl around in! Mommy’s sorry that she’s been so busy, but it doesn’t mean she hasn’t enjoyed every little special thing about you.

Anthony in highchair 9 months

9 months

What are some of the great things that we love about you? First of all, you are sooo social. You want to laugh along with everyone else, and you respond immediately to someone trying to get a reaction out of you. While you sometimes “zone out” playing with toys, you also show that you are keenly aware of where Mommy is at all times. Your favorite toys at this time are cars. You love them in a way that your brother never did, intently pushing them around and watching the wheels turn. You also love to chew on and throw wooden blocks.

Anthony with truck 11 months

11 months

You have two fun games that you like to play with people (that you learned on your own, by the way!). The first, is you stare someone down, then look away, then whip your head back and laugh while looking back at them. You especially love it when someone else joins you in the game. The second game you play is you look up, huge grin on your face, and clap your hands expectantly. The moment somebody claps back, you squeal with the cutest giggle and do it again and again.

Your winning smile, 9 months

Your winning smile, 9 months

You respond very dramatically to music. Any time someone sings to you, you stare at them intently, as though trying to figure out where the sound is coming from. It always always calms you down. When somebody says or sings something, you often hum and try to match the same rhythm and tune! Your favorite song right now is, “This Little Light of Mine”– you laugh hysterically whenever Momma gets to the part about “hiding it under a bushel”. We frequently catch you loudly humming to yourself, especially during church.

Church friends, 10 months

Church friends, 10 months

You are still a big tanker of a boy! You wear all 18 month clothing (sometimes we can sneak a favorite 12 month outfit in if it STRETCHES!), and you look so similar in size to your older brother that everywhere we go, people are asking if you two are twins! This is also because your hair is getting lighter and lighter. Whereas it used to be dark black-brown, it is now a dirty blonde. Oh well, matches your gorgeous blue eyes! Not to mention your dramatic hair-do/cowlic that we can never seem to brush away in the front of your forehead πŸ™‚

Anthony adorable hair 9 months

You have been crawling like a maniac since you were 7.5 months old, but you’ve definitely taken it to a while new level lately (how did you get so fast?). You are pulling down baskets and getting into cupboards that seemingly should be well out of reach. For the past 2 months, you’ve been pulling up on everything and trying to cruise around on the furniture. You’ve even tried to stand up on your own from the ground, without any help! Make no mistake though– Mommy’s in no hurry for you to walk. You are much safer crawling, and for that, she’s grateful. πŸ™‚ Within only a week of being at the new house, you also learned how to climb the stairs, cackling with the discovery of it all the whole time.

Anthony crawling up stairs

10.5 months, crawling up the stairs!

9 months

9 months

While you still nurse fulltime (4-6x/day), you also eat at least 3 large meals. You love to hold a banana and chew it to smithereens. You also eat lunch meat, applesauce, eggs, and oatmeal. We give you little bites of whatever we’re eating, and you’re handling it quite well!

10 months

10 months

For your 9th and 10th month, you were, quite honestly, a terrible sleeper. Part of this isn’t your fault, as our whole family was in transition from one house to another and you slept right next to Mommy and Daddy. Who could blame you, since knowing that Mommy is in the room ALWAYS makes you hungry? But since we moved in to our new house and have your own little room, you’ve suddenly become a MUCH better sleeper. You go to bed around 7-8pm, wake once around 1am to nurse, then again at 6am, then sleep until 9! Not bad! Mommy is definitely seeing this as a huge improvement. Over the next couple weeks, you will start sharing a room with your big brother!

Anthony with Gregory 9 months

9 months

Speaking of your brother, your relationship with him is interesting. He seems to get very possessive and jealous of his toys when you are the one using them, which means that you often get pushed over or knocked in the head with a toy (we’ve found several scratches on your forehead lately– sad!!). When he gives you hugs and kisses, you seem suspicious, as though worried he’s going to bop you at any moment. But if he is laughing at something, you ALWAYS want to join in. When he cries over being put in the car, you ALWAYS join in. When he’s playing with something, you ALWAYS try to be right next to him. Sometimes, he plays peekaboo games with you in church, getting you to belly-laugh during all the quiet times. You guys definitely have a fun relationship, but it will probably get a little bit more “fair” once you can defend yourself and hold your own πŸ˜‰

10 months

10 months

Finally in time for your 11th Month Birthday, you got SIX teeth to sprout all at the same time! We’ve known they were coming for a while, as you were a bit crankier than usual. You also had a slight fever over the weekend. Only two of the teeth have officially poked through. The other four are nearly there– any day now!

See those 2 bottom teeth?

See those 2 bottom teeth?

You also got your first illness this month– a congested runny nose. Mommy still can’t believe it took you 11 months to get sick, especially since Mommy and Daddy are teachers and bring home all sorts of germs.

Anthony crying 9 months

Sad face 9 months

Anthony sad 9 months

Recovered just a little bit

You still have the saddest face around when you cry. Mommy thinks that this just proves what intense feelings you have, whether it be sadness, frustration, pain, or love. This intensity is just part of what makes you “Anthony”, and we know that you will learn to channel it for good the older you get.

What a smile!

What a smile!

We love you tons!

Love, Mommy

Anthony’s 9 Month Checkup

This morning was Anthony’s 9 month checkup. He was a whopping 20.5 pounds, which is hilarious considering Gregory was only 18 pounds at 12 months! Just goes to show how different these two really are! Anthony is also very tall for his age– 30 inches! For comparison, Gregory was 36 inches at his 2 YEAR appointment, and they said he was above average.

So…yay! Tall boys! Bring on the basketball scholarships!

I haven’t talked much about what/why we’ve been feeding Anthony the way that we have. Basically, after my first experience with Gregory, I made breastfeeding a huge priority this time around. I took refresher classes, read tons of literature about the possibility of tandem nursing, and got prepared with all new pump parts and only the best bottles. I got ready to save tons of milk in the freezer, just so I could have a huge backup supply.

I think that I can contribute 99% of our success this time around to a few key things: 1. ON DEMAND feeding, 2. Less hectic work schedule, allowing me to be around him most of the day (I’ve read that just the smell of your baby can help your milk production!), 3. No pacifiers, 4. No solids until 7 months, and 5. No bottles. The last one was kind of an accident, because we had no need for bottle feeding and we didn’t introduce it more than twice. As a result, he rejected them all together. I had to throw away the 5 or 6 feedings I had frozen because they were so old!

But it’s amazing how easy breastfeeding is compared to anything else! No bottles to wash, no pumping sessions, no formula to buy. Just 5-8 minutes of nursing, 5 times a day. That’s less than an hour!

Also, I think it is greatly helping his immune system. Other than Jesse, all SIX people in this house got sick with an RSV infection last week. Gregory’s was pretty bad– high fever for a week, puking every time he coughed (every.time. so.much.mucous!). My dad stayed home from work for 3 days. I had to stay home for 2 days. My mom, Janelle and Caitlin felt sick and congested, but struggled through their everyday routines. I was really worried about Anthony, since it can be really dangerous for babies (my sister was hospitalized with it at 9 months old!).

Instead of ANY of that, Anthony got by with a 1 day runny nose! I find that amazing, to be quite honest, and I had pretty high expectations to begin with.

I’m also grateful that whatever hypo-thyroid issue I had seems to have resolved itself. After the first 20 pounds (those are always the quick ones right after birth!), I lost weight gradually and naturally, without any drop in milk supply. I fit back into my size 2/4 stuff within 6 months, which was definitely a nice plus. Also, no period for 9+ months (19+ months, if you include pregnancy!)= definite advantage!!! Yes, I’m excited about that last part, because mine are pretty much more painful than anything I’ve ever experienced (other than childbirth).

The ONLY downside, and I really mean ONLY, is the night time. Anthony’s still waking up twice a night to eat. He has a hard time “agreeing” to go back in his crib at the 4am feeding, plus he’s usually over-saturated his diaper and wet his sleeper at this time (lots of nursing= LOTS of pee).

Our saving grace is that we’ve introduced a bit of “self-soothing” (aka, crying it out) at his naps and first sleeping session of the night. He’s been able to put himself to sleep within 5 minutes, so at least there’s that!

Overall, I’m so incredibly grateful that things have worked out this well thus far. I feel as though I went through such a difficult time with Gregory (9 months of fulltime nursing, 2 more months with supplementing due to pregnancy) that I didn’t believe nursing could be a wonderful and easy thing.

Now, I’ve seen the flip side and know why it is people make such a big deal about it. I know that everyone’s situation is different, but having seen both sides of the equation, I would pick 100% nursing every time.

misc. and all that…

I'm sure we all feel like this, at one time or another

I’m sure we all feel like this, at one time or another

Here’s to the start of a new week. Last week kind of sucked. I threw my back out on Sunday night and had to attend two rounds of electro-therapy at my chiropractor in order to get it back in order. On top of everything, Gregory and I both got sick. Runny noses, fevers, coughing, sneezing, massive headaches from congestion? You name it, we got it.

We thought for sure that Baby Wee was going to get it, ushering in his very first illness ever (I’m pretty much in shock about his lack of illness, seeing as he lives in a house with teenagers, teachers and a nurse, ALL who bring home a variety of germs! Plus he crawls around sucking on EVERYTHING). But he didn’t! Not even a fever, just a clear runny nose for a day.

He did have a couple of really rough sleeping nights, where both Jesse and I were at our wits end. One morning, it took me a few hours before I fully “forgave” Wee for the night he gave us…I am pretty sure that his chunky lil’ body was fighting off the bug we all had. Btw, I am so thankful to have a husband who will get up with the baby at night, just so that I don’t have to 100% shoulder (literally, this kid is large!) the responsibility! His help enabled my sprained back to heal itself quickly.

Adopting a foster child is hard guys…hard hard. HARD. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and this is coming from someone who had two babies au naturale. And it’s not even hard in the ways I thought it was going to be, most of the time. I thought that all the “acting out” due to attachment issues would be the hard part, but, turns out, all of our training prepared us for that. We have a plan for the various scenarios, and it’s comforting (plus, all the knives, razors and drugs are locked up…).

What I didn’t realize would be so hard was the emotional pain. Not mine, hers. Watching someone have to go through that journey, finally coming to grips with the fact that they will never be with their biological mother and father…it’s heartbreaking. This experience has given me a whole new outlook on depression, pain, and sympathy towards others who are going through something that’s unconscionable for my experience. It’s a very exposed– a very RAW feeling– to suddenly realize that you don’t know what the other person is going through, you actually NEVER will, but you’re still supposed to be their main rock and support. Parents are “supposed” to have all the answers, and it feels like being on a stage where you don’t know your lines.

Gregory is such a little chatterbox right now! He knows all of his shapes, letters and colors, and loves to point them out. He even drew a triangle last week! He knows about 6 songs: “O Theotokos”, “The Eyes of All”, “Gladsome Light”, “Close Your Eyes” (James Taylor), “You are my Sunshine”, and, of course, “Happy Birthday”. His little versions of all these are adorable and priceless….when we can get him to perform, that is!

Anthony crawls around the house like a bandit, grabbing everything in sight and chewing it to death (teething?). He still barely eats any solids– around 1 serving a day. I try to go for 2 servings, but he’s just not that interested. He still nurses 6-8x/day though…sometimes I can get him to go for a 4 hour stretch, but he’s screaming and turning purple with rage by then, so we try not to let things come to that. Good grief, the kid is almost 10 months old. We have to get on this solids thing!

Anthony is also very very attached to me, which is adorable and also slightly annoying. He cries and follows me around the house and the kitchen when he wants something. Sometimes, if I’m in the kitchen, trying to make food, he literally goes in circles chasing after me. There are times where it drives me mad and I NEED my space, so I hide to eat my cereal, or I get another family member to distract him while I make an escape to another room! He always seems to know, though….

We should have a house update coming soon. Until the appraisal goes through, I am going to remain suspicious. We have purchased and delivered a new fridge to the place, so I guess we’re feeling semi-confident, but we’ve been hurt too many times to get too excited just yet.

School-wise, we’re reading some really fun books right now. In my 8th grade class, we’re reading Red Badge of Courage, which is one of my favorites to teach Junior High. We also have a “Castle War” coming up once we have all of my moving boxes at our disposal. Dr. Kleist taught me well, I’m afraid…In my Honors class, we’re reading Crime and Punishment at a break neck speed. The kids almost mutinied when they got their first two reading assignments– about 80 pages of reading a NIGHT! Muhahaha….now, I think they are finally numb to the pain and anguish πŸ˜‰

I have more piano students than I can reasonably teach in a week, so I will be off-shooting my business and getting a “partner” of sorts! Stay tuned for that πŸ™‚

What else…my dad and I did our 2012 taxes last night, hoping to get some $ back so we could buy Jesse a nice car…turns out, we OWE $28. No fair. I guess the government doesn’t see us as poor any longer, har-har. My dad pointed out that we did make quite a bit more this year, so I guess I shouldn’t be too mad…but it was nice getting several thousand back last year. I also kind of hate Turbotax. Watching that number at the top go UP and then DOOWWWWWN and then back up again definitely raised my blood pressure.

Not much more to report, other than I’m in the middle of a painting project. More on that later!

The "before"-- this bad boy just a major update.  MAJOR UPDATE! (yes, that I was a "how I met your mother" shout out...

The “before”– this bad boy just got a major update. (salute): MAJOR UPDATE! (yes, that was a “How I Met Your Mother” shout out…)

Anthony 8 Month Letter

Dear Baby Boo-boo-bear,

What a big month for you this has been! This month, you started solid foods! You eat about 1 jar of food a day, spread out into 1-2 sittings. So far, you eat squash, bananas, carrots, and applesauce! Gregory tries to help and often puts the spoon in your mouth for us. He gets rather insistent though, even when you don’t want a bite, so Mommy can’t say you’ve enjoyed his involvement a ton πŸ™‚

Aj first time eating solids-- Nove 18

Your FIRST bite of solid food– November 18th

You are a SUPER FAST crawler now, transitioning from the “army” crawl onto all fours. One minute, you’ll be chewing on toys in the living room, the next, right behind Mommy in the kitchen. It’s scary! You get yourself stuck under furniture and need rescuing constantly.

AJ determined crawling

You are still a very LARGE baby. You wear 12-18 month clothing and size 4 diapers now! You still sleep next to Mommy in the co-sleeper, and sleep with her from 4am-9am when everyone wakes up.

All that nursing is probably why you’re so FAT! It’s also why you have yet to be ill– not one fever, cough or cold! Mommy hopes this immune system carries with you all your life. You still nurse a total of 6-8x/day.

AJ huge!

Look at all that chunk!

You are still famous for all of your funky sleep positions! We could make an entire picture album of funny places you’ve fallen asleep.

AJ funny sleep position in Dadda's arms

Exhibit A– restaurants

AJ funny sleep position dadda's lap

Exhibit B: While Dadda watches football

AJ asleep at Thanksgiving table

Exhibit C: At the Thanksgiving table

You are such a happy and playful boy! Now that you’ve been mobile for a few months, you take charge of your own situation and go searching for things to chew on. Gregory has had quite a few possessive moments with you as you suck on his toys, and when he takes them away you HOWL with frustration. Often, though, Gregory brings you the “besss toys”, and you smile lovingly at him. Pretty much anything Gregory’s doing, you want in on.

Anthony playing with balls 8 months

Playing ball with Gregory– you love it!

You have the cutest smile, and love to “charm” everyone who holds you. You are very social and interactive in a way that Mommy hasn’t seen with other babies. You look people right in the eye and babble away, as though holding a conversation (your Aunt Juju says that this is advanced speech development for your age!). When your Aunt Ray-ray was leaving last week, you reached your arm out and WAVED YOUR HAND! Mommy knows enough to realize that waving goodbye at 8 months is REALLY advanced!

AJ 8 months smile

AJ cry, 8 months

You are still famous for your sad pouty faces

AJ and Uncle Joe

You and your Uncle Joe still look a ton alike!

Even though you now crawl everywhere with ease, you still like to exercise on your haunches, rocking back and forth like you’re revving up an engine. It’s pretty hilarious.

AJ in bouncy swing

Going crazy in your bouncy swing!

Other than your inability to fall asleep for the night without several rocking sessions (what’s so bad about going to sleep? Someday, perhaps you can fill us in?), you are super easy in every way. When you and your brother play together, smiling and giggling, it fills Mommy’s heart with more joy than she could ever have imagined. Having another little boy like you is such a dream come true πŸ™‚

Love, Mommy

Anthony 7 Month Letter

Dear Baby Wee,

Momma is writing this a few weeks late, once again, so good thing she has plenty of videos and pictures of this past month!

AJ crawling

Army crawling at Grandma’s

First of all, your biggest accomplishment this month is that you started crawling! You definitely do the army crawl, but you also like to get up on all fours and rock, back and forth, back and forth!

You still haven’t had any solid foods, but you get plenty of nutrition from all of your nursing sessions. You are so chunky and full of rolls!

AJ, 7 months

This was your brother’s size 12 month sleeper!

AJ 7 month giant

As you can see, it’s tight on you!

You just LOVE to laugh! We can get you going over pretty much anything. Sometimes, all it takes to get you laughing is to have someone else in the room chuckle. You are so sensitive and aware of what everyone else is doing that you can’t help but join in.

You just love to play with your brother, wrestling, growling and laughing on the ground. Because you’re so little, however, you often end up getting hurt by the end of things. You are very sensitive and get your feelings hurt easily. We don’t mind as much as we should, however, because your little pouty lip and cry are so cute!

AJ wrestling 1

AJ wrestling 2

Aj wrestling 3
You’ve really turned a corner this past month as far as sleeping goes. We can now lay you down, and even if you’re crying, you soothe yourself within 5-10 minutes, 90% of the time (if you are still upset after a few minutes, we pat your back or rock you until you calm down, enabling you to find sleep that way!). But you still nurse 2-3x night, and wind up sleeping next to Momma for a few hours. You are also known for your hilarious sleep positions!
AJ funny sleep position
AJ teddy bear rolls
You are such fun, Baby Wee! We love you a ton!
Love,
Mommy