Monday, April 30, 2012

Gut check

I honestly don't know how to articulate the frenzy of emotions I've been going through in recent weeks. The past two weeks were beyond rough for me, largely because I agreed to pick up some extra daytime shifts at work... but Ellie's recent attitude (i.e. her 2-year-old-ness) has also been wearing me down, as has the lack of sleep I'm enduring on the Katie end of things. Basically I'm a mess.
Depending on the day, or the hour, I alternately want to quit my job completely or go back full-time (just for a break!). The thing is, I remember how hard it was to go back to work when Ellie was little and how guilty I felt being away from her. As hard as it sometimes is to be at home with the girls — and it's not ALWAYS hard, but it does always take a lot of energy — I'm pretty sure I'd have that guilt piled right back on top of me if I was back working 40 hours a week. And I think I would be super frustrated knowing that most of my salary was going directly into the account of whatever day care center we signed them up for. So, once again, I land on the decision to be at home. So why am I having such a hard time with it?
I'm trying to sort it all out and hope to make heads-or-tails of my emotions as the work schedule returns to a more manageable level. I'm also going to make more of an effort to rest when possible during the day, to help clear the cobwebs from my head... but the girls are doing a pretty good job of trading off on nap times rather than coordinating, so there's not often time during the day when both are asleep. At least I've made peace (for the most part) with the imperfect breastfeeding reality.
[In Katie's first three months we've run a full spectrum of non-stop nursing sessions, nursing-plus-pumping, and now a weird combo of nursing sometimes and pumping sometimes. The nursing strike Katie started several weeks back never really subsided. I could get her to latch briefly during daytime sessions, but only after lots of fussing. And I'd still have to give her a supplemental bottle of pumped stuff or formula afterward. So about 10 days ago I stopped nursing her during the day. Katie is fine nursing in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning, when I have a higher supply and she's more sleepy/relaxed, but she's not having it later on. So I pump during the day and am able to get enough for more than half of Katie's bottles... and that's the way it is.]
Back to the daily grind stuff... Don't get me wrong, the girls and I have fun. I try to fill our days with games, laughter, trips to the library or gym or park. But I get frustrated by Ellie's antics, her refusal to listen to directions and constant testing of my limits. I know it's the age and I'm trying to be a good role model and teacher to her... but on a particularly bad day last week Ellie turned to me and shouted "stop yelling at me!" Wow, did that hurt. Yes, she was being overly dramatic about my umpteenth correction of whatever it was she was doing that she wasn't supposed to be doing... but it forced me to look at my own actions and whether I'm creating the nurturing environment that I want our girls to have.
(Big sigh)
I never thought it would be so much work to NOT work (at least outside the home...) I never thought I'd be in this position and be complaining so much and feeling so lost.
I'm sure I'll figure it all out, with Brian's help and support, but right now I'm a mess. As I try to keep all of these "problems" in perspective, given the friends we have facing much more intense situations like adoption uncertainty or loss of family, please send some good thoughts or long-distance hugs our way. Oh, and if you have any extra energy lying around I could use that, too.


The neighborhood zoo opened and we hustled over there last week on a chilly day. Ellie certainly didn't mind the cold, as she's been asking to go every day for about two months now :)
It's fun to see the difference in her interaction with the animals since last year. She understands much more about what we're seeing and knows a little more about each animal... though she still freaked out some of the animals (especially the wallabies) with her toddler exuberance.
I was barely able to keep her away from the water fountains at the zoo entrance. It was much too cold for that on this visit, but with the forecast calling for upper-80-degree days this week I'm sure we'll hit the zoo again this week and let the water play begin :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Grandma visit

Wow, sorry about how late this posting is getting up... but we were happy to host grandma for a visit here a couple weekends ago. Here we are on a very windy park visit :) There was also some shoe shopping, dinner out at a Chinese buffet and plenty of other fun. Great to have you here!

Monday, April 16, 2012

She's two

That's been the explanation for Ellie's "undesirable" behavior in recent months. It doesn't happen all the time, but when Ellie goes into her monster-mode it can be plenty scary. And it can really ruin the whole day for both of us! But I've been reading as much as I can recently on the best way to handle my temperamental toddler... because I really want to make things better.

Here's some insight I found at
Trying to get respectful behavior out of a 2-year-old is like trying to get blood from the proverbial stone. That's due, in part, to the fact that a 2-year-old's language skills are still developing. So when you tell him it's bedtime, he can't say, "Gee, I'm really having fun with my trucks, and I wonder if we could negotiate for five more minutes of playtime?" He's more likely to ignore you, stick out his tongue, or yell, "I hate you!" at the top of his lungs. This doesn't mean he's a lost cause — only that he's very young and still needs years of consistent teaching and practice to learn how to show respect.

I found this helpful because too often I forget just how little Ellie still is. Now that she's not my baby anymore -- well, not my littlest baby -- I find myself expecting a lot from her. Patience, help and respect, just to name a few. But Ellie is still learning, and as they point out in the blurb above, it's my job (and Brian's) to teach her. I get frustrated from having to ask for "please" and "thank you" from Ellie a thousand times each day, just as I get frustrated when she ignores me or collapses into a ball on the floor... but I need to remember that I'm the teacher and she's the student. Losing my temper isn't going to teach her the best way to handle a situation -- even though it happens on occasion. I guess Ellie and I are both working through the terrible-twos right now. I welcome any advice others have out there, otherwise just send some deep breaths and good thoughts our way :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nursing strike

Katie went on a bit of a nursing strike about 10 days ago (right about the time I let the mean nurse give her shots at her 2-month appointment)... and we're still working our way back. The whole nursing-pumping-supplementing thing is still a juggling act, but it's one that we're handling pretty well. I don't have near the stress with it that I did when Ellie was this age. But there are days/moments when I feel like the whole thing is too hard. I think that's probably true of all mothers, though, regardless of how they're feeding the baby. Being constantly needed so completely by another person is exhausting even though it has many, many rewards.
So, back to the nursing, for those interested. I've had to work with Katie to get her to latch on much of the past week. This involves walking around with her for many of the feedings. I still have to work through some screaming at the start of many feedings, but I found that wrapping her in a blanket and getting her when she's still a bit sleepy helps the process. I think Katie is getting too smart/lazy for some of the nursing sessions, especially if she's really hungry and easily frustrated by my slow flow. We're using the slowest flow nipples when we do give her a bottle, but she still gets more by volume that way then she usually does from me... so she's wising up. But I'm still encouraging the nursing with her because I know she's more effective than the pump and her nursing helps stimulate more milk. I'm able to nurse and pump enough to get her through the entire day and then we're supplementing with anywhere from 6-10 oz of formula in the evening-overnight hours. It's not perfect, but it works and we're all happy about that.
In other news, Katie is having more wakeful periods during the day and giving out smiles and some giggles! I love, love, love it. Ellie and I are constantly trying to get her to smile... although Ellie often winds up causing tears rather than grins when she plays too rough with Katie. Still, it's obvious that she loves her sister.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gym class

Ellie recently took a gym class at the YMCA that was pretty fun. There wasn't much "class" to the whole thing, but it was nice to have an open gym session for her to play in once each week with all sorts of toys and equipment.
Now that we joined the Y, I'm looking forward to working with Ellie in the pool sometimes and signing her up for more classes. She'll be old enough for some of the sports teams by this fall. Look out soccer, and maybe T-ball?! And it looks like she might want to play basketball in a couple years...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


One of Ellie's favorite foods is hummus. It's delish, but I think Ellie also loves it because she often gets to help make it (by pressing the buttons on the food processor). Here she is helping with a recent batch...
...and tasting her work...
and enjoying the finished product! Yum :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Burrito babies

Our constant swaddling of Katie and referring to her as our "burrito baby" has led Ellie to request the same treatment. As soon as she gets out of the bath she asks to be a burrito (in her towel). She also loves to make her stuffed animals or dolls into burritos by wrapping them up in a blanket and pitching them up into the crib. It's fun to see her take on the baby and parenting roles... and I'm glad she's focusing on a simple thing like being wrapped up as her way to connect to the baby treatment Katie gets. She was our first burrito baby!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter eggstravaganza

We had a great Easter weekend. Hope everyone else did, too! Both girls enjoyed some Easter egg hunting, although Katie was mostly used as the basket :)
On Saturday we took Ellie to an Easter event at the local YMCA. She got her face painted like a bunny, got to hunt for candy-filled eggs, and she blew off some energy in a bounce house.
Oh, and she stalked the Easter bunny all around the Y. She brought this pig craft that we made at the library a day earlier just to show the bunny. Too cute.
And here she is about to dive into eating Jello eggs she and I made on Friday. I even let Ellie stir the Jello up (in a very deep bowl to try to contain all the red!) The eggs were a real treat! (Thanks to grandma for sending us the Jello mold!)
Here's a couple videos showing the egg enjoyment and the sugary-frenzy the dessert brought on!

I failed to get any pictures of the girls in their beautiful dresses for church on Sunday morning. And I didn't get pictures of our Easter eve dinner up at Maggie and Chris' house, but we all had a great time. (And Katie did amazingly well on her first road trip.) Thanks again for the lamb feast!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sense of humor

Ellie has developed quite the silly sense of humor recently, thanks in part to her goofy dad. Here she is showing how any song can be turned hilarious by simply adding the words "brussels sprout."

And the other day at lunch she cracked me up by exclaiming "oooh, yummy!" when I told her to stay put while I went to get a wet rag to wipe off her face and hands. After seeing how hard I laughed at what she said, Ellie's now been repeating the phrase quite often hoping to bring down the house again :) I just love hearing her giggle.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2 months

Took Katie in for her two-month check today and she got great marks! Katie now weighs 9 lbs, 13 oz -- which puts her right around the 25th percentile. She's 21.75 inches long and that's pushed her into almost the 50th percentile for height. Yay for growth!
The doctor said she looks good, healthy and happy. We need to work more on tummy time since Katie was a stinker and wouldn't lift her head up while we were at the appt. Ellie seems to want to help on that front... when I snuck away to the bathroom yesterday afternoon Ellie all of the sudden appeared to tell me that she put Katie on her belly. What?! I didn't hear any screaming coming from the next room, but sure enough when I ran out to check on Katie I found her squirming around on her playmat tummy-side-down. I explained to Ellie that mommy or daddy needs to be there to help with tummy rolling (especially to protect those little arms), but it's sweet to see Ellie want to play with Katie.
Katie has given out a few smiles in recent weeks. I think I found a couple tickle spots on her sides :) She's still sleeping like a champ (knock on wood!) and giving us a 5-6 hour stretch after we put her down most nights. The evening hours are presenting us with some fussy time in the past week or so. Not sure I'd call it colic, but Katie seems to get to the end of her rope most days around 7 p.m. and just wants to be rocked and patted constantly. But she's generally just a wonderfully chill, cheerful baby.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bubble fun

These two videos show off Ellie's interesting techniques for bubble blowing and the crazy weather swings we've had in Indiana this March!