Mother’s Tea, Round Two

Piper had her Mother’s Tea last Friday, a few days after Ellie. It’s quite a different format in the toddler classroom than the primary classroom. The kids helped the teachers make cookies with jam in them and they squeezed the lemons for the lemon tea. We sat on their tiny little stools and had tea with them, played outside in the water trough, did some work and then did circle time. The kids made us these adorable keychains with their pictures in them, which I hung in my car.

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The kids do this little dance individually after circle time before they go outside:

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Doctor Appointments for Both

Today was the first time I took the girls to the doctor together. I figured it would be easier to kill two birds with one stone and by golly I think I was right. It was a bit to manage, but now that Piper can understand and listen a bit, I don’t have to be so hands on. It was Ellie’s 3 year check up (yes, I know it’s a couple of months late) and Piper’s 18 month check up.

First, Ellie stood on the scale and weighed in at 36 pounds, in the 80th percentile. Her height was a half inch from 40″, putting her in the 75th percentile (although I could have sworn the nurse said 95th…tomato tomahto).

Piper laid in the baby scale (in a surprisingly compliant way) and weighed in at 22 pounds, in the 50-75th percentile. Her height is 32.5 inches, in the 75th percentile. Both girls are normal, happy and healthy, so I was very happy. The one part I was a little nervous about was the shots. Not so much because I can’t handle shots (because I can), but because if one totally melted down, odds were the other one would too and what a fantastic mess to work through. I know it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s those little things I think about.

I was surprised when the nurse came back in with the shots that Ellie said she wanted to go first. Before, when the doctor came in I asked Ellie if she wanted to go first or if she wanted Piper to go first and she said Piper. But when the nurse came in with the shots, she was ready to go. I explained to her earlier in the day that I put her Supergirl underwear on because she was going to need to be a big strong girl when the doctor gave her medicine later because it might hurt a little bit. I told her that the medicine would make it so she didn’t get really sick later on. When she sat on my lap I said “Are you ready to be a big strong girl?” and she said “yeah.” I told her to look and me and give me a big smile. The nurse gave the shot right as she smiled and presto! No tears. Yay!

At this point I think to myself that if Piper cries, at least I was one for two. Piper jumps on my lap and I ask her if she’s ready to be a big strong girl. She says “yes” and doesn’t cry either. I feel like I should buy a lotto ticket today!

  

E is 3

Three years ago seems like an eternity today. We were renting a house in Ballard and I had just had my final day of work before maternity leave the day before. I woke up hoping to go get a mani/pedi and instead I spent 7 hours working hard and receiving our first child. And then time stood still. It seemed like a day was an eternity, which I hypothesize is what happens when people become hyper-present.

Since then, so many life events have happened. It’s absolutely incredible to watch our children grow. Ellie sings all kinds of songs now. She counts to 20, she says her ABC’s, she gives hugs and kisses to her sister, friends and family, and she has a razor sharp memory, something I’m sure will be difficult to keep up with as she gets older. She also loves sparkly things, fuzzy soft things, necklaces, stickers, the color blue, drawing, shoes, painting her nails, lipgloss, and blow drying her hair at night. In those ways, she is incredibly girly and feminine.

It’s exciting and fascinating to watch our little people grow; it’s also remarkable how much we as parents evolve. In the last three years, my priorities have shifted immensely. One thing that hasn’t changed is how busy we are. I laugh when I think back to my pre-kids years and how busy I thought I was. I truly was busy. I was always on the go. Back then I probably thought life would slow down when I had kids. I can adamantly say that is not the case. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Happy birthday to my sweet Ellie bear – you are beautiful on the inside and out and I couldn’t be more proud of the little girl you have become!

Some of my favorite photos of Ellie from the past few months are here:

Hair drying master

Hair drying master – always done at night when pretty tired.

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Snow fun

Wiggleworks swinging

Riding on the swing at Wiggleworks

Playtime mom and Ellie selfie

Playtime selfie

She loves blue

Taking it all in at her birthday party

Blue dress lover

She loves her blue dress

Holiday dresses

Posing with Piper on Thanksgiving

Sprinkle goggle smiles

Goggles with sprinkles improves the likelihood little girls will love skiing!

We made it a Year!

When we first found out we were pregnant, Ellie was still pretty young. We were definitely excited, but we knew it was going to be tough. With Ellie, getting to one year was such an accomplishment. We felt like we crossed some sort of imaginary “finish” line and we had been officially broken in as parents. The dynamic starts to flow and the hiccups become easier to navigate. So when we found out we were pregnant with Piper, I looked at Brian and said “we just have to make it to a year.” And now we’re here! It’s pretty crazy now to think how incredibly fast the last year has gone by. So much growth has occurred with our girls in the last year and honestly I think on a frequent basis how amazingly blessed we are.

I told someone at Piper’s birthday party that having kids is somewhat like being a teenager again in that one moment you feel like you want to scream and the next you’re so in love you can’t imagine life without them.

Speaking of Piper’s Birthday, we absolutely had such a blast. We had a pumpkin theme for the party, which was executed via much googling and pinteresting! It was so fun to have friends and family over. Piper had a blast. She’s such a ham and it was truly the first time I had faith someone was going to be watching her. Amazingly, it was true. Here are a bunch of photos from the party.

I just like to crawl into things Piper and her giant Teddy Bear Nana, Papa and Piper Tish and Piper Ry and Bri Jen & Lacie Tutu and the girls Piper, Mom and Dad Kathy and Brian Mom and Dad Yuuuummy! Sofia and Nicholas Hadley and Carly Finola and Piper Ellie and Ara Ty and Brian Parris and Heras Emmalynn Cake Time Mmm…Frosting Lucy Piper and Ara Tucker Fam + Jen Piper Ellie and Finola Wrestling Piper and Mom Jen and Wyatt Stella on Giraffe Emmalynn and Jenna Ara Hadley and Mom Piper Smiles

Nala drawing

Picasso in training

As if that weren’t enough photos, we also took a pic of Piper to complete her monthly photos during her first year. Brian is definitely excited we don’t have to struggle with a very active independent Piper to get a decent still picture of her anymore and I’m just mostly in love with how much this picture truly emulates our emotion about making it to a year. Now, if time could please slow down, we would be very grateful.

Piper's One Year Old!

Piper’s 11 Months

Piper turned 11 months last Thursday, while I was in Austin for work – tear, sniff, tear. Before Piper was born, Brian and I talked about nursing and I was pretty adamant I wanted to do everything I could to nurse until she was 1 year old. Now that she’s 11 months old, when I got home from Austin, Brian asked me if I was excited I was almost there. After a day or two of that setting in I started to get really excited that I’m ALMOST THERE! In a few weeks, I’ll have an hour+ back every day and we won’t be washing pump parts every other day. I won’t have to pack an extra bag for work every day. I won’t have to pack a bigger suitcase when I travel for work just to house my pump parts. I won’t have to have the hotel deliver a fridge and arrange for everything to be put in a freezer when I have a later flight. I can go on a diet and not be scared about my production. I can stop taking Fenugreek!!! But…enough about me…

Piper’s 11 Months old and I can really hardly believe it. She’s such a fun little girl. She’s started wanting to go down stairs (gasp), so we’ve started holding her hand as she goes. She has started bending her knees every once in while, but most of the time we’re confident she would have fallen if we weren’t holding her hand. That’s how babies learn though and every time she’s about to fall but we save her, I can tell on her face she’s learning from her mistakes.

I can’t imagine being more in love with our little girls. It’s so incredible how much joy I feel watching their progress and their personalities. Of course it’s incredibly difficult, exhausting and sometimes stressful, but what’s the cliche?  Oh yeah, nothing good ever comes easy. Ellie has gone through so many different stages as a big sister. In the beginning she was slightly ignorant, then she became a little jealous, and now she’s mostly excited to play with her sister and “guide” her to do certain things with her. She loves to show Piper how to use the toys and she takes her around the house doing all the fun stuff like washing the windows and calling to Max. I can just imagine them when they get a little older, and even when they become teenagers and young women. Of course every parent wants their kids to be bosom buddies. I’m sure there will be times of that, but also times of conflict. All of the good and the bad is what really makes a relationship stronger and I truly don’t want our girls to have a perfect relationship, just a true, genuine and strong one.

This month, my Grandma Geri was in town, so we took our Piper pic while Ellie and Brian celebrated Nana’s birthday. I combined all the photos so we could see the progress throughout the months. Here are a few shots from the night.

DSC_0191 DSC_0194 DSC_0222 Piper1_11

Piper’s 9 Months

This post is actually a week or so late unfortunately, but with good cause. Last Thursday we trekked over to Cle Elem for the Heras/Parris wedding, came back Sunday and then Sunday night I flew out to London for work. I got back on Friday, so things have been a little crazy busy. As a sidenote, traveling for that long internationally when you’re still nursing is quite the experience. I packed a ton of pump parts and a scrub brush, but it’s not particularly easy to execute pumping and cleaning in a foreign land. Then when I got to security, TSA at Heathrow told me I couldn’t bring my breast milk on the plane with me since my baby was not with me. This was the 4th time I’ve traveled since going back to work and I’ve never been told that. Additionally, I had done my research and there is nothing on the TSA website that lists that as a requirement. Lastly, why would I have a ton of breast milk if my baby were with me? It just seemed crazy, but not having worked through this rationale in my head at the time I was just upset because I didn’t want to lose my milk. I ended up being able to check it all, so it all worked out in the end, thank goodness!

I made it back from London in one piece and one of the first things I asked Brian when I got home was if Piper had a tooth yet. I could feel swelling and nubs in her mouth right before I left, but Brian said no. I stuck my finger in her mouth to feel around and sure enough she did have a tooth! Here are some of the other notable developmental milestones Piper has hit:

  • She walking quite a bit now for pretty long distances at a time
  • She eats pretty much everything we do, but we put everything she eats in a chopper
  • We think she’s said four words other than “abba” – “mama, dada, hi & Ellie”
  • She loves to play peek-a-boo
  • She loves to clap
  • She loves to wave

9 Month Report 9 Month Scale

At her 9-month checkup the doctor was optimistic about Piper. There wasn’t really anything of concern. They poked her foot to get a blood sample to test her iron levels and everything was right where it should be. The only thing that’s challenging for us right now is still the sleep thing (more to come in another post about sleep advice from our sleep doula) and the fact that Piper’s a total busy body wiggle worm. It’s incredibly difficult to change her diaper or change her clothes because she’s just moving about all the time. As you can see from her nine month pic where her headband is around her neck, the girl plays with everything…

Piper's 9 Months!

 

Getting Toddlers to sleep

Piper has never slept through the night. Okay, that’s a lie. She has slept through the night one or two times since she was born. We didn’t do any sleep training, we thought things would be easier because she’s the second and we made one major mistake. Ellie slept through night at 3 months, then not at 6 months and so on and so forth until present. I wouldn’t say our girls are horrible sleepers, but they’re just not that good. Since we moved Ellie to a big girl bed she pretty much got out of it every night and joined us. She was also difficult to put down, so we ended up joining her in bed until she fell asleep and letting her go to bed a little later, somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 usually. Often times we would fall asleep with her when putting her to bed, making it a less than enjoyable evening for whoever got groggily woken up by the other – usually Brian!

With the lack of sleep and the lack of our desire to invest time in reading how to fix the problem, along with my lack of desire to let her cry it out, we weren’t left with many options. Enter sleep doula. Yes, this is a thing.

We found a reputable one and she came to our house to meet and bless us with her sleep wisdom.

While she walked us through the training for Piper, we decided to start with Ellie. If you have a toddler that’s going to bed later, taking awhile to get to sleep and waking up throughout the night (and perhaps joining you in bed), you must read this. It seems I’ve had a lot of friends who have been in the same position.

First, there are a few products she recommends you invest in, of course! What parent doesn’t need more crap to buy?

        • Kinderglo Night Lights – we went with the Elephant (for Ellie), but there are lots of animals to choose from. The most important feature of this night light according to the sleep doula is the fact that it has a red setting. There is a great YouTube Video on how to use them if you don’t like to read instructions.
        • Extra Tall Baby Gate – this is the one we decided to go with, but there are plenty of others. The important thing is that it’s Extra Tall.
        • Kid’s Alarm Clock – again, lots of choices. The key is that they visually indicate to your little one when it’s okay to get out of bed. To be honest, we never used this, so I’m not sold on it. However, we have friends who swear by it, so it works for some and not for others.
        • Sound Machine – we happened to already have these for both the girls, but she did mention it’s best to use an app to test the decibel level. Sound machines are best at 60 decibels.
        • Lovies – many options, the most important thing is that you have more than 1 so that when one is lost or you’re washing one, there are back ups that look and feel the same.
        • Video Baby Monitor – I think this a nice to have for some people. For me it’s a must-have. Ellie makes some noise throughout the night and I’m one of those people who would respond prematurely. Having the monitor is kind of like my security blanket.

Once you have the goods, the only thing left to do is implement the steps. Sleep Doula follows a philosophy from The Sleep Lady®’s Book, Good Night, Sleep Tight. Here are the steps (as we recall them from months ago):

  1. Put the baby gate up on your child’s door
  2. Set the alarm clock and explain to them what it means, i.e. “When the bunny is awake, you can get out of your bed. If you wake up and the bunny is asleep, it’s time to go back to sleep.”
  3. No milk within an hour of bed time – apparently milk causes kids to go potty more than water
  4. Create a bed time routine and DO NOT deviate – the recommended one goes like this:
    1. Have dinner no later than 6 pm
    2. Take baths
    3. Go to the bathroom
    4. Brush teeth
    5. Read a book
    6. Turn the alarm clock on red
    7. Turn the sound machine on
    8. Leave a couple of ounces of water in a sippy cup next to their bed
    9. Tell them you love them and goodnight
    10. Make sure they have their lovie for comfort
    11. In bed with the lights completely off no later than 7:30
  5. Nights 1-4: Sit in a chair right next to your child’s bed until they fall asleep. Stay there for 10 minutes after they fall asleep. Do not do anything other than exactly this.
    1. It’s likely your toddler will say many things, but the most important thing is to comfort them with words and do everything you can to keep them in the bed. We found that things like “we can do that tomorrow” and giving options seemed to work. You’ll find your own communication wins.
    2. If your toddler will not listen, you have to threaten (and follow through if needed) to leave the room. It’s their choice to stay in bed and listen or if they don’t you’ll have to leave. If you have to leave, you can stand outside the gate with it closed. You can see them and talk to them and you can tell them you cannot come back in until they get back in their bed.
    3. If she gets up in the middle of the night and is genuinely crying (not just fussing – check your camera), you can go to the gate, but they have to get back in their bed before you can come in the room. Once they’re in bed, you can come in and hug them and give them kisses for comfort, but do not get in the bed with them and do not let them get out of the bed. You can sit in the chair until they fall asleep and follow the same routine.
  6. Nights 5-8: Move the chair a few feet away from the bed and do the exact same thing as #5
  7. Continue this process for four nights until your chair is at the door
  8. After you’ve sat in the chair for four nights right by the door, you move the chair and stand by the door
  9. After four nights of that, you stand outside the gate
  10. In order to get to the point of leaving your toddler in bed awake, you have to gradually leave for small periods of time and build up to leaving right after they lay down in bed. We said things like “I have to go help daddy with the dishes, I love you, night night.” At first I would leave for 10 seconds and come back (usually because she demanded it), then we got to 15, 20 and so forth.

After about 4 weeks (from the beginning) Ellie was sleeping in her bed through the night. Some nights are still harder than others, but it’s never an hour long ordeal to get her to sleep. She sleeps through the night most nights in her bed most nights and she’s much more rested during the day. She’s happier during the day and she naps well during the day, something that was challenging before. According to the Sleep Doula, kids who don’t go to bed on time get worse sleep at night and kids who aren’t well rested aren’t as happy, don’t behave as well, and have a hard time napping. For me, it was really hard to stand my ground on these rules because I want my girls to feel loved and supported always. I can honestly say with this routine I don’t feel like Ellie ever felt unloved, scared, or lonely. There were definitely times of adjustment and difficulty, but the end result is a much happier child, who has a routine and boundaries. When she goes to bed she says “I love you” and “night, night” back to us, she closes her eyes and she goes to sleep peacefully (most nights;).

Some day we’ll get to a solution for Piper – perhaps by the time she’s a toddler. Baby steps, right?