Thoughts On Baby #2

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We have always known we’ve wanted two kids (if nature allows us). Maaaaaaybe three but probably just two. Matt and I were each one of two and we were 4 and 3 years apart in age from our siblings.

When Mazen was born I always said we’d get to his second birthday and then start thinking about #2 so that they would be at least 2.75+ years apart. Even though I got pregnant pretty quickly last time (3 months, 2 if you don’t count the first short one), you never know how long it will take. 

I want to be able to have full conversations with Mazen before I have a newborn in my arms:

“Mazen, can you please hand mommy that water?”

“Mazen, what do you think about this or that?”

Of course, I know having two kids is never easy but I think the more communication we get down, the better off we’ll be. I have several friends with 2 under 2, and they are truly super moms!

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Despite all of this being pretty well though out, I still have worries that I’m falling behind. I tend to think of the moms with kids Mazen’s age as being the girls from my “class.” Like in school – your peers went through the same things you did at the same time. Well, many of the women in my senior class are already pregnant again – or have newborns! And those in “grades younger” than me too.

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There are definite pros to having kids back to back, but I think I’m one who would do better mentally with them farther apart. I relate kid spacing to going to grad school right after college. I knew I couldn’t have gone straight to grad school or I wouldn’t have enjoyed the process. I needed a break to get a job and reset my buttons. When I did go back to school, I appreciated it so much more because of that time off.

For me, babies are similar – I want a long break. I will know it’s time when I get excited about doing it all over again. I’m already excited because there was so many wonderful parts to it, but I’m also hesitant to dive in just yet because I remember how hard it was.

I have my hands very full with my one toddler and feel that we’re in a really good groove right now. I need to trust my gut that waiting a few more years is what is best for our family.

20 Months

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The 2s!!! We’re almost there – 20 months feels so much bigger than 19 and so close to 24.

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As expected, talking has taken off. I lost track of new words! I’m sure he’s over 100 words by now, and he knows several sentences: “Mommy eats crackers” is our favorite. I watched this video about 100 times!

Notable new words this month include play, bacon, bunny, glasses, cake, leaf, bike, soup, surprise, nice, cracker, fall, dinosaur, raisin and happy. After Grammie and Pea left I asked him: “Mazen do you miss Grammie and Pea?” And he said: “Yes.” I think he really understood!

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We had a rough month sickness-wise. M had his first ear infection when I noticed his ear was draining (ew). He did a round of amoxicillin. I have to say I was excited to see the prescription – my first whiff of that stuff brought brought back tons of memories of childhood! What flavor is in there that makes it so marshmallowy good?

The day after he finished his last drop he woke up with a fever at 5:30 in the morning. I took him to the doctor and she saw more ear infection. We weren’t sure if it was a new one or the old one not yet healed, so we had round of antibiotics part 2 – a stronger one this time. The next morning Mazen woke up with a coupe cough, so we went back to the doctor and came home with steroids. I hated him being on all that medicine, but I wanted him to be as comfortable as possible and get well soon.

The steroids were awful – M had a really weird couple of days. His cough was long better, but the medicine made him really cranky and fussy. He’s normally a pretty happy guy, so it was hard to see him so mad. As soon as he was done with the 3 days, he was back to normal. Hope we don’t have to go through that again.

Mazen used to be great at taking medicine from a syringe, but after the gross tasting steroids he started refusing it. I’m patting myself on the back for thinking of the idea to let him sip it from the little medicine cup. He LOVED being allowed to take it that way and luckily the medicine was going down easily again.

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In more exciting news, M got his third haircut. Matt cut it at home, and it didn’t go so well despite all kinds of treats. But once we found the first combination of cookie and Sesame Street, he sat relatively still for the last little bit. We don’t want to take him to a real barber until we know he won’t scream his way through! I love his little haircuts though – so cute!

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I know some of you think M is a great eater, but other than select healthy foods, he’s gotten really picky (as is to be expected).

Loves: PIZZA, all breakfast foods, apples/bananas/pears/strawberries/watermelon/oranges, bread of all kinds, yogurt, milk, ice cream, sweet potatoes, sunflower butter, noodles, mac and cheese, broccoli, green beans, juice, ketchup, tomato sauce, smoothies (green ones too), cheddar bunnies, pretzels, any kind of squeeze pouch.

Used to love but now hates: Cheese (sad), most fish (although he ate sardines and smoked trout randomly recently), lots of meats.

Won’t touch: everything else.

I find myself automatically defaulting to his favorites because I know he likes them instead of continuing to come up with creative ideas. I do offer him new foods from our Cook Smarts dinners almost every day, but I feel so defeated when 9 times out of 10 he rejects them immediately. I’m going to try harder this month to figure out creative ways to get him to eat well. And just like with us adults, the key is being organized and prepared with healthy food ready to go.

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A big change that happened this month is that Mazen has started to tell us when his diaper is dirty. This is the first time he’s shown any awareness that he is even wearing a diaper! I’m sure some would say that this is also the first step to potty training, but we are really in no rush for that. Plus he tells us after, not before, he goes.

I did buy the two potty books and he is fascinated with them, but when I suggest he sit on the potty he refuses, so I’m not pushing it.

For a few weeks diaper changes FINALLY got calmer, but then a little diaper rash turned the tables again and he fights every change. I’m talking thrashing and trying as hard as he can to get away. Ugh – this is such an issue right now. I have changed him standing up (which we are quite good at now) and on all fours but he hates it every which way.

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Also to note on the hygiene front, M has started to want to wipe his nose when it runs. He often tries to use his shirt, which is thoughtful but gross, so I’ve tried showing him where the tissues are. Half the time he goes for one! He has also wiped his mouth after eating a few times. I’m so impressed by this awareness!

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Mazen tends to nap in waves – for a few weeks he’ll wake up after only an hour and a half or so. But suddenly he does a week of 2+ hour naps. It’s totally unpredictable and I can’t think of anything that correlates with this other than what goes on in his little brain.

One really cute thing he has been doing is backing up into my lap. When it’s time to put on shoes or socks or read a book he sticks his little bum out and backs up – beep beep beeeeep – until he falls in. The cutest! Matt also taught him to walk backwards. And speaking of beep beep beeeeps, he loves anything that beeps, including the dishwasher, alarm clocks, phones and more. If he hears one beep he responds with a BEEP himself!

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We’ve been doing a ton of playing outside and running around. M running is just the cutest thing – he runs with his arms flopping in the wind. He loves the new slide I bought at Target and has grown really attached to his Elmo and George dolls, which he carries everywhere.

At bedtime Mazen often whispers “ni-night” to his friends unprompted: “Ni-night Saya, ni-night El-nor, ni-night outside.” He also loves it when I sing, and if I stop humming he lifts his head up and says “MO!” I think that’s the first anyone has every requested that ; )

He loves making silly faces and any kind of excitement – if a room of people clap he lights up with joy and claps too!

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Xoxo to my little pumpkin! He’s such a mama’s boy and I love him so much!

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Mazen’s Then + Now

Sweet little Mazen 5 days old!!

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You probably recall the famous striped onesies that Mazen lived in during his newborn days. They were SO soft, and of course I love stripes.

So imagine the tears I shed when my friend Gaby gave me some of her little boys clothes and I found out she had the 18 month version!!!

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The colors are slightly off, but we knew we had to do a re-take of his newborn photos before he grows out of these! Here is our attempt…

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And….the tooth-brushing shot!

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Bloopers!

We absolutely could not get this shot…

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Because Mazen thought we were making him nap and did NOT want to be in his crib!

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Swaddling also did not go over well…

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We three had a lot of fun doing this! Mazen loved rolling around on the blankets like it was “ni-night”

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19 Months Old

I have never liked the number 19 very much but 19 months we are! We’re in that gray area before two takes us over by surprise. 20 months is going to seem so old!

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Mazen has really become a little boy this month. I’d say 18 months was a big developmental turning point. As our pediatrician predicted, Mazen’s language has really taken off. He now knows over 65 words, and I’m keeping a list on my phone and adding to it nearly daily. Compare this list to just 27 words a month ago:

    1. Mama
    2. Dada
    3. Mmmmm (=hungry, does that count!?)
    4. At (cat and all animals)
    5. Isth (this)
    6. Dath (bath)
    7. Outside (out. siiiiiide)
    8. No
    9. Frwog (frog)
    10. Foot (fruit)
    11. Bawl (ball)
    12. Hat
    13. Hi
    14. Hide
    15. Sit
    16. Eat
    17. Boots
    18. Books
    19. More
    20. KK {tay tay}
    21. Orange
    22. Grass
    23. Water {wawa}
    24. Apple sauce {app sass)
    25. Eye
    26. Baby {be be}
    27. Rice {ice}
    28. Snow {so}
    29. Ice cream {ice}
    30. Elmo!
    31. Juice {uce}
    32. Truck
    33. Gorilla {owa}
    34. Star
    35. Sky {sigh}
    36. All done {a-done}
    37. Eggs {eh-eh}
    38. Beep beep {a horn}
    39. Boom
    40. Diaper {biapey}
    41. Shoes
    42. Socks
    43. Tree {tee}
    44. Cheese {chees}
    45. Salad {sayad}
    46. Yummy {amy}
    47. Bye bye {dye dye}
    48. Choo choo
    49. Hippo
    50. Girafe
    51. Help
    52. Horse
    53. High Chair
    54. Please
    55. Up
    56. Down
    57. Ow
    58. Whoa
    59. Open
    60. Fork
    61. Pizza
    62. Boat
    63. Massage
    64. Meat
    65. Yes

That’s not including the animal sounds!! Words have definitely surpassed signs at this point, and while he does still sign occasionally, I think our days of signing over coming to a close. “All done” was one of the most recent to go – M can now say with gusto “ALL DONE!!” after a meal. He has started saying little phrases too like “Elmo sits” or “Mama’s shoes.”

I’m starting to work on 1,2,3 and A,B,C, although I hardly expect him to be able to know either for a while. But you gotta teach before they can learn! So imagine my surprise when I went through the ENTIRE ALPHABET the other day repeat-after-me style and Mazen said the whole thing!!!!! (Well he didn’t quite get W.. : ) ) So I suppose being able to physically say the alphabet is the first step to learning A,B,C,D in order.

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M has started asking for a fork by name at meals. But while he’s pretty good with a fork and spoon, sometimes he just puts them down and goes back to the trusty fingers (much like I do too sometimes : ) )

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He absolutely loves dinosaurs and trucks. My mom got him a big set of dinosaurs at her last visit, and he loves the Dinosaur Train show that we let him watch occasionally. He is also obsessed with Curious George and we read from his big chapter book Mimi and Papa gave him every night.

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He loves his Elmo and George (George is really a Dr. Seuss monkey) and asks for them to be in his high chair with him at meals (something my mom taught him!) While this does mean they occasionally get a yogurt facial, it’s too cute to deny.

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Mazen has started to want to help with tasks like putting his bath toys back in their bag at the end of bath or throwing something in the trash can. I even got him to wipe his nose a few times. He learned how to open and close the door to the porch, which means we have to keep it locked all the time for safety! He is very observant and has also figured out how to open the gates at the gym Kids Zone (luckily they only open from the outside). We are still having a lot of trouble with diaper changes. He just hates them. But a few times first thing in the morning he has said “Biapey” {diaper} so I know he knows to expect it. I change his diaper while he’s standing up whenever I can.

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We had a rough few weeks of sleep, which I think was related to daylight saving time and teething. While he slept soundly at night, he’s been giving us a hard time when we try to put him in the crib. He’ll show the signs of being sleepy (eye rubbing and somber) and will put his head on my shoulder but has started crying when I try put him down. This has coincided with a few shorter naps and being extra clingy on me (which I love) so I think it’s some kind of developmental transition we’re going through. We finally got him back on his pre-daylight saving schedule and that has helped some, but naps are still hit or miss – as little as an hour + 15 or up to 2 hours but nothing beyond. The best news is he’s been sleeping until 7 most days – I love that!

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M loves to play WITH me and ON me! We have several games he loves that involve climbing on my back and me doing pushups (30 pounds is no easy amount to push!) He is so sweet and gives hugs and kisses willingly. Bedtime is still my favorite part of the day – I just love the sweetness it brings.

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We went to the doctor this month for more shots and things. She says he’s doing great. My biggest concern was his red cheeks. Our doctor said they are likely a combination of teething and cold weather. I’ve been putting on Aquaphor or Vaseline daily but they really get better when we have a few warm days in a row.

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Some stats!

Weight: 30.5lbs (94th percentile)

Height: 32.25” (38th percentile)

Clothing size: 2T (although 18-24 still fits – we’re just buying up these days)

Teeth: 15 with one pending

Favorite food: PIZZA – hands down. Broccoli, bread, and yogurt are just behind.

Favorite fun: Walking outside with KK, reading books, playing trucks on the couch, playing chase

Least favorites: Diaper changes, tooth brushing, putting on face ointment – anything hygiene!

Signs of potty training: zero. But we are not in a rush.

Motherhood: Is It Easier Now?

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The short answer: Yes. Definitely.

The long answer: In general, I have found each and every day to be a little bit easier than the last. For these reasons!

1. Feeding

While I really enjoyed breastfeeding, I found it to be a logistical headache. In the early days nursing took SO long, and I was very shy about doing it on front of other people, which meant I had to hide away. Finding places to nurse in public or rushing home made going out of the house a challenge and pumping a bottle for a babysitter was a huge ordeal. Basically, unless I was home alone life was complicated. Not to mention the breast pads, nursing bras and bottles parts to juggle.

Now feeding Mazen can still be tricky (like when he shoves his favorite food off his tray and demands something else that I don’t have in the fridge), but overall I can feed him anything, anywhere. And so can anyone else. I do have to prepare double the meals nowadays, but it’s fun…most of the time.  

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2. Sleeping

This one is obvious, but for the first six months I was SO tired. I’m still recovering! So after we sleep trained Mazen this part got worlds easier. He started taking real naps and they lengthened out with time. What was once a 40 minute nap a few times a day (that took 20 minutes of hands-on work to start) is now usually 2 hours of solid nap time. Going out is easier because we have much larger windows of time. While Mazen sometimes still fights naps, he is much more predictable than he was a year ago.

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3. Communication

A huge change from the infant days is communication – both sign language and real words! Every day Mazen says something new, and he can generally tell us what he wants. Words and signs like “hurt” and “help” and “more” have all made our lives much easier.

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4. Independent Play

As we round the corner of 18 months Mazen’s independent play is getting better and better. He can entertain himself with his favorite toys for a good chunk of time. And I can also play with him, which is fun (most of the time!) I am able to get more accomplished at home than I ever have while he’s awake. A huge part of this was him learning to walk – suddenly he could go to the toys he wanted and choose his own adventure. People used to warn me about walking – “Just you wait until he starts walking!” but I thought it made life so much easier. Also because I had a huge baby who was very heavy to carry so being able to let him run around is easier on my arms and back : )

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5. Personality

Yes, those first smiles and laughs were SOOO exciting, but his personality has blossomed so much now that we can joke, tickle, play games, read stories and really interact.

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I do long for the days when he would sit in my arms for hours and there was no mess to clean up or tantrums to calm, but he’s just as cute now in different ways. And he still loves to jump back in my lap for snuggles a few times a day.

I’m excited to have a newborn again someday, but I’m also scared. I remember how hard it was, and I know it’s going to be even harder with a toddler too. I’m glad I have Baby KERF to look back on and remember the milestones and steps when things got easier. Last time I told myself the first six weeks were all about survival. Next time I’ll remember that the first YEAR is one big blur until things start getting easier with eating and walking and talking.

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Did you guys feel there was a turning point when being a mom got easier? Or perhaps you found the newborn stage the easiest?

3 Questions + 3 Answers

Of course I can talk about my cute baby is till the cows come home, but I would love to share some helpful posts on BERF as well. I recently asked Twitter for a few recommendations for post ideas. Here were three responses and my answers –

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We dropped down to one nap at the end of September when Mazen was just over a year old. We were headed to the beach with friends and wanted to maximize our time to play, so I decided it was a good week to experiment. M had been fighting his morning nap a bit in the weeks prior (on and off) so I knew he was probably getting close to not needing it.

We had been at 9am and 2pm naps for a really long time, give or take 30 minutes. He was sleeping for about an hour and a half each time (I think). So when we went to the beach I kept him up, gave him lunch at 11 and put him down at noon and whatddayaknow, he did great. It took a while for naps to lengthen. I remember for a while I went from 2-3 hours of naptime to 1 hour total a day and thought “What did I do!?” But then from about 13 months to 16 months we had some good 2 hour stretches. Teething definitely interrupts naps for us, but thankfully when teeth are not bothersome he will sleep for 2 (occasionnnnnnally 3) hours.

So my advice to other moms is when your baby starts to show signs of refusing his/her morning nap, push the nap back a few hours and try it then in the middle of the day. Only bummer is now you can’t go out to lunch!

Aww look he cute he was!

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Toys

We have a handful of toy stations in our house:

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  1. Mazen’s room – this is a small basket of small toys.
  2. The upstairs living room – a medium size basket full of his favorite toys. This is where most of the playing happens.
  3. The basement train table – more toy baskets and a lot of the toys stay out on the table. He also has toys in his play closet. Bigger toys are kept down here.
  4. The porch and yard – anything outdoor friendly and lots of toys in the warmer months

Each area has something to contain the toys where we put them away when he’s done playing.

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Books

We do most of our reading in Mazen’s room before bed. I have a big box of books and a smaller basket that can be brought into bed for nighttime books. Both are overflowing with books! I have a backup bookcase with a lot of the bigger boy books that I rotate in and out every now and then.

Schedules

Here’s our daily schedule at 18 months:

7a – Mazen up. Breakfast for us both.

7:30-8:30a – Morning play for M and cleaning/dishes/getting dressed/packing up to go out for me.

9a-10:30a – Gym time and a shower for me. Morning snack is here.

11a – Home play time. I unpack our gym bags and start thinking about lunch.

11:30a – Lunch for us both.

12p – Books before nap

12:30-2:30p – Afternoon nap for M. Work time for me.

2:30p – Afternoon snack

3-5p – Outings: Discovery Museum/Library/Friends House/Great Harvest/Sweet Haus/Walk/Errands

4p – Maybe a light snack on the go

5:30p – Lighter dinner for M. I cook our dinner.

6:15p – Grown-up dinner ready and if M’s dinner was light he has a second course with us.

6:45p – Bath/jammies/tooth brushing

7p – Books in bed

7:30p – Lights out

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Here’s the gist of how his sleep has changed (I might have them months wrong, but it’s all a blur!)

Newborn: Up every 2 hours at night. Naps on me for 30 minutes to an hour.

1-3 Months: Doing longer stretches at night like 3-5 hours. Naps 40 minutes a few times a day.

4 Months: Sleep regression! Decent 3 hour stretch in first part of night and then hourly wakeups after that. A lot of this is related to the pacifier. This goes on for 2 months and we go insane. Naps still 40 minutes with the occasional hour to 1.5. {More here}

6 Months: Sleep train. Life saver. M now sleeps 11 hours straight at night and naps have lengthened to 1.5 hours. {More here}

9-12 Months: M still sleeps 11 hours straight. Naps at 9a and 2p for 1.5 hours each (appx).

13-16 Months: M still sleeps 11 hours straight at night. Down to one nap at noon that lasts about 2 hours but can drop to 1.5 or go up to 3 from time to time.

16-17 Months: Still sleeping from 7:30p to 6:30a with the occasional 12 hour night. Naps drop down to 1-1.5 hours which I blame on teething and developmental stuff.

18 Months: Pretty solid 7:30p to 6:45-7am nights. Nap from 12:30 to 2:30p on a good day.

In a YEAR since we sleep trained we have only had to go into Mazen’s room at night 3 times. All 3 times were related to teeth/sickness. It’s quick shocking, actually.

Of course all babies are different, but next time I think I’ll worry a lot less about sleep. I spent so much time reading about what to do and what not to do in the first few months and still ended up having to sleep train. Next time I’ll just do what I can to get us all to sleep and will sleep train again at the drop of a hat. I might do it closer to the 4 month period, but we’ll just have to see what baby #2 is like in weight and all.

Hope those were helpful to some of you!

18 Months Old

Indulge me in a little cliché:

HOW HAS IT BEEN A YEAR AND A HALF ALREADY!!!??

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Here is everything that is going on with sweet Mazen Duke!

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Words – so many words are popping out! I’ve been looking forward to this stage for….a really long time…and I’m glad it’s here!

Here are the new ones (I apologize if some are repeats from my last list!)

  1. Water {wawa}
  2. Apple sauce {app sass}
  3. Eye
  4. Baby {be be}
  5. Rice {ice}
  6. Snow {so}
  7. Ice cream {ice}
  8. Elmo!
  9. Juice {uce}
  10. Truck
  11. Gorilla {owa}
  12. Star
  13. Sky {sigh}
  14. All done {a-done}
  15. Eggs {eh-eh}
  16. Beep beep {a horn}
  17. Boom
  18. Bok bok chicken sound
  19. Diaper {biapey}
  20. Shoes
  21. Socks
  22. Tree {tee}
  23. Cheese {chees}
  24. Salad {sayad}
  25. Yummy {amy}
  26. Bye bye {dye dye}
  27. Choo choo

He also has said a few sentences…like “More apples” and “More water” and I swear he said “I don’t want to” a few times.

A couple new signs:

  1. Swim
  2. Strawberry
  3. Yes
  4. Hurt
  5. Help

Signs are still in use, but his words have now surpassed them. As you might guess, we Googled and then taught him yes, hurt and help as useful signs. They have actually been great!

He really understands how to say hurt now and if he hurts himself he does the sign. We’re hoping this might translate into “my tooth hurts” so we can get a better idea if he is teething or uncomfortable. If we say “OW!” ourselves he turns and looks concerned and does the hurt sign. So cute!

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I feel like M went through a developmental leap recently. All of a sudden (after our Key West trip, really) he seemed to just be more mature and understand more. He can follow directions now pretty well. He recognizes locations (he knows to say Dada when we drive into Great Harvest) and he knows how to get to the park at the end of our street. Matt said he seemed to know what “going home” meant too. He’ll also point out babies when we’re in public. I guess that means he’s doesn’t think he is one anymore!

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Another development: separation anxiety. We’ve experienced a little more of it lately and he has unexpectedly cried when I’ve left the room. He also went through a week when everything was “DADA” all the time. He wanted to be in Matt’s arms and seemed to ignore me. But since I went to New Orleans and back, he’s been all about Mama again and he’s been extra snuggly in my arms. He is also obsessed with my ponytail. I think it’s a comfort for him, and he runs his fingers through it when I’m swaying him to sleep or when he’s upset. He loves my hair in general. I think he would be traumatized if I cut it.

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Matt invented a new game called Boom on the couch where we sit with our backs to him and smush him into the cushions. He LOVES this but it means he won’t let us face him! He also likes to drive his trucks on my head which was all fun and games until he clobbered me with a truck unexpectedly. Man that hurt! {Sign for hurt…}

He’s gotten so good at independent play, as I knew would come with age. He will study his trucks on the couch for a good 20-30 minutes now while I tidy up or assemble a meal.

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He’s been working on this teeth FOR-EV-ER! Seriously – maybe 2 months? His upper molars are in. His upper canines are pointy and moving down. One lower molar is 3/4 of the way in and the lower canines are working their way up. I’ll be SO happy when teething slows down for a bit! One molar to go!

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We had a period of 2-3 hour naps that lasted about a month and recently they shrunk down to 1-1.5 hours. BUMMER. It’s amazing how much I get accomplished in that last hour and we are both so much more refreshed for the afternoon. Well after a few long weeks of short naps, we seem to be dipping back into the 2-2.5 hour range. Teething related? Probably.

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We head to the doctor soon, but I can tell he is definitely taller.

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He calls all letters A” now and he’s learning to count. He doesn’t know numbers yet, but if I tell him to count he can point his finger over things like he’s counting in his head.

New food: salad!!! I attribute this entirely to we parents modeling eating it. While he won’t eat a bowl of salad at all, he wants to try my leaves all the time. He’ll eat one or two and toss the rest.

My BFF!

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Mazen’s Lately

Hi guys, it’s Mazen! Mommy just taught me how to type on the keyboard properly (I’ve been banging on it with my fists for months now) so I thought I’d tell y’all a little about the toys and joys in my life!

This is currently my favorite toy along with about 5 other trucks.

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I really love to study the wheels down on eye level and see what they are doing. I can also name all of the animals in the truck and call Old Macdonald “I-O-I-O-I-O.” Mommy says I’m missing a letter.

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When I was in Key West, I got to taste this stuff called Ice cream! I know the sign for it and call it “Ice.” It looks a lot like the “so” (aka snow) that was all over the ground when we got back from our trip. Mama says we can’t have ice cream all the time, but she gives me some of the Siggi’s brand push up yogurts that she freezes. She says they have less sugar than ice and that’s good, but I don’t know what that means.

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Speaking of our trip to Key West, I wasn’t a very happy boy on our flights : ( Mama and Dada made me get up when it was realllllly dark out and I did great until 11am when I really wanted my crib and Pumpkin. I cried hard for 30 minutes (and made the other passengers mad) and then I fell asleep on mama eventually.

When I woke up I was really happy because we read my favorite book over and over and over. I practiced driving my cars on its pages.

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I also love reading “Nite Oon” (Goodnight Moon) and Moon Bear – those are my favorites because the moon and I say goodnight before I go to sleep.

Mommy got some of these EZ Squeezes pouches to try for her blog. She puts my yogurt in them and I love them! Plain yogurt is my favorite. Mommy says I have to tell you they are easy to fill because of the side opening and don’t get water stuck in the flaps in the dishwasher. (I love to open the dishwasher doooooorrr!)

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Mommy says I have started talking a lot more. I can type like a grandmother, but the words are harder to come out of my mouth in talking form. I did learn how to say stars, sky and truck this week. I also know all of my grandparents’ names and my aunt and uncle’s names too as signs.

I love to play outside and love it when KK takes me out on the sidewalk and Dada takes me to the park to play on the “sa-liiiide” and “sings.” Mommy took me to open play at the rec center this week and I played with a truck the whole time. Beep beep!

I really really really love Elmo and having him on my toothbrush makes tickling my teeth a little bit better.

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I’ve been eating more snacks at my big boy table that used to be mommy’s when she was little. I really like doing big boy things these days.

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Mommy got me some big boy clothes at a consignment sale this week. Look at my new green shoes!!! I can say “shos” and “sos” now too!

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Love,
Mazen

Eeeeeeee-ba!

Finding A Mom Community

In March of 2012 I was 14 weeks pregnant and my friend Alice invited me to join her group of new mom friends for a meet up at a local coffee shop. I was eager to absorb information and hopefully get to hold a baby for practice! Two years later, these ladies are my dearest friends.

Alice offered to write a post for Baby KERF that touches on the challenges and joys of finding a group of moms who have kids the same age as yours. I am so thankful for mine!

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Being a mom is all those things people tell you. It’s the greatest thing you have ever done, it’s pretty much impossible to find your weird, red-faced newborn anything but gorgeous, and don’t get me started on the giggles, smiles, and when your kid tells you "I love you" for the first (or fiftieth time). There is nothing greater (in my opinion.) But there are many more dimensions to parenting and being a mom than what people tell you. I’ve read dozens of mom blogs since becoming pregnant almost three years ago, and many of them are hilarious, heart breaking, and probably horrify and bore people who have no interest in parenting or have yet to do so. There are books upon books about what to eat/wear/buy/avoid when you are trying to get pregnant/actually conceive/go through pregnancy/deliver/survive the first three months/few years, etc. But something that I never read about was how to find our place in the mom community.

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It seems there once was a time where people raised children in a community, where mothers helped other new mothers, and families and relatives lived in closer proximity to each other. Perhaps I’m glamorizing this, but it seems to me that there is more distance between parents, family, and friends now that in the past. It’s not uncommon to become a first time mom at 40 or have your parents or siblings live a plane ride away. I’m lucky enough to have my dad and sister live in the same town that I do, but there are no living grandmothers to speak of, and none of my husband’s family lives in our town. A hot topic I’ve seen in my casual blog/magazine/online reading is the whole "mommy wars" saga. Because what better way to sensationalize a very hormonal, sleep deprived, exhausting and elating time that to put the fear in you that all other moms (and let’s be honest, everyone who has ever witnessed a toddler melting down in a public place) are judging you. It’s like bullying all over again, but for adults!

A quick back-story on me, I’m 33, and I was never that girl who dreamed of a big wedding. I dreamed of being a mom. And one day, I was lucky enough to meet a guy who liked me well enough and we decided to give it a shot! We got pregnant, and I entered a whole new world. I had some experience babysitting as a teenager, I had always loved spending time with kids, and I witnessed the home birth of my nephew and niece when I was 9 and again at 11 (and let me just say that is not something you forget easily) so I felt that I was semi prepared for what lay ahead. But let’s be honest. I knew how to change a diaper, but I all of a sudden, I was an English speaker who had been stranded in a country that only spoke French. I mean, we all know "oui" means yes, but beyond that? You are on another planet! Things like "breach", "zero station", "and effacement" are everyday words (and after having two kids I still can’t give you their definition!) You are alone on a deserted island, people. At least, I was because I had friends who had kids who were 8 and above, and then friends who didn’t have kids. And that was it.

So then you become someone that your friends feel the need to "set up". "Wait, you are pregnant? I have another friend who is expecting! I want you to meet her!" And for once, you are grateful (at least I was.) I was experiencing things that when I asked my half sister (16 years my senior) and other friends who were wise and experienced parents "did this happen to you?" they often responded with "um….I don’t really remember." What?!? How can you forget such major life changing things? Well sadly, as a parent of two, one who just turned 2 and another who is about to be 6 months old, you do. You forget. So where do you turn to find other people who are going through the same thing as you?

When I was pregnant, I felt a sense of guilt. I didn’t want to subject all my single/non pregnant friends to what I was going through. They couldn’t give two shakes about my hips hurting or the fact that this football I’m carrying in my stomach makes it impossible to sleep. But I had to talk about it to someone because was something I was living with every minute of every day. A friend (one of the awesome friends with two kids way beyond the infant years) told me that she took prenatal yoga during her two pregnancies and she found it amazingly helpful. An old childhood acquaintance of mine (thanks to facebook) messaged me that she was also pregnant and I should go to a prenatal yoga class with her, so I did. I am not kidding when I say it was one of the best things I have ever done. Not because of all the tools it gave me to cope with labor (which it did) and not because I was lucky enough to have my yoga teacher attend both of my labors as my doula (another word that had zero meaning to me before I became pregnant). But because I found people of all different walks of life who were experiencing the exact same things I was going though. And they wanted to talk about it! All of a sudden, I didn’t have to feel guilty about talking about things that my family didn’t remember and my husband couldn’t empathize with, as hard as he tried to sympathize.

I could go on about my pregnancy/labor/the first two years/being a parent of two but that’s not the point of this post. The point is, it was so desperately important for me to find a helpful, supportive community of women whom I could talk to about what I was going through, WHEN I was going through it. There are books on how to meet people, how to find Mr. (or Mrs.) Right, dating for dummies, but I didn’t have the slightest idea about how to find a group of women who were new moms as well. And for me, finding my niche has been a lifesaver. Not to be overly dramatic (I was/have been lucky enough to not suffer any major post partum YET) but I cannot imagine what my life would be like today without my mom friends.

How did I meet them? Through prenatal yoga. And Infant/baby "mommy and me" yoga classes. And friends of friends. I believe it is so vital in this day and age, to surround yourself with other POSITVIE women with whom you can raise children with and beside. They are out there, and it’s hard to know where to find them or how to begin. I say, start a mom group on a social media page like Facebook. Another friend (whom I met at prenatal yoga) started a group of about 20 ladies and it has grown to over 400 in two years. If you are a churchgoer (I’m not), find other expecting or new moms who are like-minded. I am so lucky to have a core group of 15 (that’s right, 15!) amazing women I’ve met or reconnected with, since I had my first child. And don’t think we all agree or parent the same way. We have moms that formula fed from day one, weaned at a year, and moms that are nursing their two year olds. We have moms that struggled with infertility and moms that got pregnant before getting married (I’m guilty of that one.) We range in age from 24 to 35 (and maybe older, who is really honest when someone asks your age if you are over the age of 30?) We all come from very different religious backgrounds, childhoods, and geographic locations, but because we all made a connection at this major landmark of life, we are all in it together. We are honest, supportive and offer suggestions, but respect each person and kid as their own person.

I’m sure there are mommy wars out there; there are wars of all kind in this world. All I can say is rise above it. Reach out to the woman who is obviously pregnant (let’s save the post about when is it appropriate to say to someone "congratulations" for another time. I say when they actually have the baby in their arms) or to the mom whose 2 months old is crying uncontrollably in a coffee shop. Strike up a conversation with the woman taking the glucose test next to you while you both drink that awful orange flavored soda. You may find that you have found someone who in a few years, will offer to watch your child for a few hours at the drop of a hat, or who will start up a meal train for you during a big life event without thinking twice. Or whom your toddler refers to as "auntie" when they can finally speak in sentences. Ignore the hype of the "mommy wars" – moms are the quintessential archetype of love and acceptance. And those are the kind of people you want to be surrounding yourself with and raising your children and the future beside.

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17 Months!!

I took zero notes this month, but I feel like I have so much new stuff to share. However now that I am sitting down to write, nothing new is coming to mind! Let me see…

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Words have started bubbling out of Mazen this month, and he’s started to copy us a little bit. If we say “Mazen, say ball” he will sometimes say ball. This is the first step to teaching all kinds of new words! I feel like we are on the brink of words surpassing signs.

New words: app sauce, orange (o-ge), gorilla, moon (oon), sssss for snake, ball, meow, baby, Sylvia (“Saya”)

New signs: raisins, hurt

We just taught him  hurt because we thought it would be a useful one.  (We also taught him “help” but he hasn’t done that one yet.) He actually has signed hurt before – and one time when Matt dropped something and yelped in the basement Mazen looked at him and signed hurt! Cuteness.

One of his most hilarious phrases comes when he’s about to jump off of something. When you might say “oneee….twooo….THREE!” he says “Ehhhhhhhhhhh……PA!” He sounds like he’s shouting a Greek cheer!

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We’ve had a lot of cabin fever lately due to lots of rain and cold weather. Playing inside at the mall or museum is just not the same as playing outside, and when we have been outside to walk from a building to our car, M has thrown major tantrums getting into the car seat. He just wants to play outside and I can understand that. I have no idea how you guys up north do it. Maybe there are better indoor play areas? I’m going crazy for the 2 months or so of cold here! Thank goodness we have had a few warm days sprinkled into the cold ones.

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M is really into dinosaurs. My mom got him these two books and he loves them. He also loves this one with some really scary pictures! He’s also really into Red Truck and all kinds of trucks and trains in books. But his all time favorite book is still Little Gorilla. He hilariously pointed at Little Gorilla recently and said “Dada!”

I’m realizing why reading is so important for language development. I always thought it was about hearing the parent talk, but what seems to be most important for Mazen’s learning is the visual symbols of language. (I’m sure some of you early childhood peeps could explain this much better than I can!) He really seems to catch on fast when he sees something and hears the word. We spend a lot of time pointing at things in books when we’re reading and I feel like almost all of his words have come from pages of books. Reading is one of our favorite things to do these days. He really enjoys all of his books (and we have a ton!) and I love snuggling close.

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M has started to get a little more aggressive. While he doesn’t hit hard, he will wave his little hand in someone’s face if he wants a toy or is being territorial. I’m sure this is normal, but it hasn’t made some of his friends very happy. Other than loving correction and time out for more serious aggression, what would you guys recommend as the best way to handle this? I’m curious to know.

He’s also got a little temper if he doesn’t get his way. At tumbling class if he wants to play on the balance beam there is no talking him into trying a log roll. (He otherwise loves the class!)

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He is still working on his molars and a few of his front teeth as well. His incisors are breaking gums! It’s been about a month since that cheek flared up and the finger started to go in the mouth. His two upper molars are mostly poked through, but there aren’t any signs of the lower molars yet. For the most part it’s been a gradual, dull process with just a few days where they really seemed to be bothering him. I’m thankful for that.

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Mazen’s favorite time of day: racing around the dining room table before bath time. We call this game “hide” and he squeals with delight when we chase him.

He also loves what I call “cocktail hour” – when he gets to sip water in little cups from the bath tub faucet during bath time. He’s like an old man sipping a Manhattan! He gets furious every time we turn the water off.

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My favorite time of the day: the last moments of bedtime. When we’ve read our last book and turned the lights off, he puts his head on my left shoulder and I hum a song while swaying back and forth in front of the crib. It’s so sweet to hold him close and hear him whisper “ni-night” under his breath. Eventually he arches back and dives into the crib. Just last week he said “Ni-night at” (cat) for the first time <3

M is obsessed with other people going ni-night and if you close your eyes and pretend he will point it out with enthusiasm: “Mama ni-night!!” My dad fell asleep on the couch when he visited and Mazen made sure everyone knew : )

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My least favorite time of day: trying to change his morning diaper.

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Mazen is so sweet. He’s great at giving hugs and kisses and really seems to need some time in my arms each day. I have booked my first night trip away from him (an overnight blog visit to New Orleans!) and I’m already sad. I’ll only be gone for 48 hours, but I fear he will miss me so much! I know I will think about him constantly. He probably will be just fine, but there is still something electric connecting us that I know will be hard to cut.

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