Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from the Cecils!

We were so blessed to be able to spend the holidays in California with my family (first time in 5 years!) Even though I haven't been home for Christmas in years, I fell back into our family traditions with such ease. Not only was this baby Levin's very first Christmas, but Lucas and my youngest brother Cameron (who are absolutely inseparable) got to enjoy the holiday together.

We opened presents, had a big family breakfast, enjoyed each others company, had a delicious Christmas feast, and ended the night watching home movies of us when we were little! Talk about a blast from the past...and some incriminating stuff!

We also got to celebrate a 'Friends Christmas Party' a few days prior with all of our friends and their newly expanding families. It was so amazing to see everyone all grown up, and watching all of our children interact together. It's crazy how much things change in a few short years.

Everything was priceless.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Just keep pinning!

What do I love more than Pinterest itself? Having an amazingly handy husband to build me everything I ask of him!

It's no secret. I'm an absolute addict when it comes to Pinterest. I've mellowed out recently in these last weeks only because I had to make myself stop. I was spending too much time staring at my phone that it started giving me headaches and keeping me awake at night. I realized I had a serious problem when I caught myself (multiple times) still browsing the site after nursing the baby back to sleep. When you're sitting awake pinning things at 3am while the rest of your house is asleep...you've got problems.

But I honestly do feel like the ideas that we've recreated have bettered my life and the look and feel of my home. Truly. I love being organized and efficient and I feel that Pinterest has aided me in both of those areas.

Not only did I get all of the inspiration for Lucas' pirate party from Pinterest, but I have also been trying out lots of new recipes and wonderful arts and crafts ideas for Lucas. And when I need a good laugh, I browse through the humor section. Although I quickly had to ban that because I found myself laughing so hard that I'd wake up my little nursling when I was suppose to be getting him back to sleep. And trying not to laugh always resorted in this awkward barking/snorting noise and a spastic chest from it's inability to breathe normally. I always feel lame for thinking something so stupid could possibly be so funny...but then I remind myself that someone else must have thought the same thing or else it wouldn't be pinned, right?!

I love pictures and never felt that I had an effective way to display a large amount. My home is fairly small and I didn't want to over stimulate the walls with frames in every direction. When I saw this idea, I instantly fell in love! It took my husband a whole 10 minutes to build, too. We painted it black and I went to the local thrift shop for miscellaneous frames. I wanted an array of mismatched frames, but in the same color, and I think it turned out great! I want to build another one for my room now.

Laundry has always been a stress factor for me. I feel like it's a never ending chore and I get so frustrated that my husband constantly throws his clothes on the floor. When we arranged Levin's room, we moved all of the office furniture into our bedroom and that left little to no space for a laundry basket. (which always seemed to be overflowing anyways). So this idea sold me the moment I saw it! Not only is my laundry now kept in one specific area, but it gets sorted into lights, darks, and Levi's work clothes (which I don't like to have touching my clothes!) PERFECT. I love having the washer and dryer elevated too because I'm no longer bending over and killing my back. I wish we would have done this a long time ago!

Lucas loves loves loves to read. Honestly, he would have me read 100 books a day if I allowed it. I knew we've accumulated quite the stash over these past 3 years, but I didn't realize exactly how much until I sorted through. I decided to pull out all of the 'baby' books and move those over to Levin's room, but Lucas still had more books than I knew what to do with. I loved the Ikea spice rack idea, but since we don't have one here I decided to go with the rain gutter bookshelves. And boy did I chose right! I absolutely love how it turned out. Not only does it make his room look bigger, but the books are displayed in a more engaging way.

Lucas' shelves turned out so well that we decided to put some smaller ones in Levin's room, too!

So even though I feel like I've waisted hours of my life sucked into this addicting site, I at least have some great things to show for it. Thank you hubby!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Levin has found his feet!

I remember this stage with Lucas and it was so much fun to watch. Every time I turn around Levin is squeezing his chubby little toes! How is my baby growing so fast? Next he's going to be rolling. Then crawling. Then walking. AHH! And also discovering other little body parts (not so much looking forward to that part!)

Watching a baby develop is by far the most amazing thing in the world. Every day new strides are met and they becoming stronger, more independent, and more alert little human beings. I love it!! I could spend my entire life making babies and watching them grow. But of course, hubs would never go for that. So I have to soak it all in now as we go!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bottle Disaster

I have 5 short weeks until school begins. This means that baby needs to be bottle ready and prepared to leave my sight for hours at a time. As much as I hate the idea of leaving my kids, I'm somewhat excited to get out of the house and do something just for myself...even if that means cramming my poor mommy brain with lots of useful medical info!

We decided to give Levin his first bottle this weekend, and it did not go as planned. I've heard many people say that it can take a while and that you may have to try multiple different brands, but I somewhat thought this would be a nice easy transition. Apparently I was dead wrong!

Levi tried for some time and baby was getting beyond frustrated. He would never suck on the bottle nipple. Instead, he would bite on it and push it out of his mouth with his tongue. After a while I tried too. I know it's usually best if someone other than mom is associated with the bottle, but I could tell Levi was getting nowhere.

Still, he hated it. He got so worked up that we took a good break. After he was happy and smiley once again I brought it back. Still no luck. At this point he was even pushing it away with his hands. We took another break and as soon as I even brought the bottle near him again, he screamed! He knew exactly what I was trying to do and wanted no part of it.

I gave up and decided to just boob him (which he did in about one second flat). We did this entire dance all over again at the next feeding and I finally gave up.

My first attempt at bottle buying was completely unsuccessful. I stood in the aisle forever and finally got so overwhelmed that I just left. This is an entirely new world for me and I don't like it one bit! I exclusively breastfed Lucas until he was done, and I wish I could continue to do the same with Levin. So I polled all of my family and friends to find out which bottles worked best for them, and the Playtex drop-in inserts seemed to have won the vote. I went out and bought one, but it came with a slow flow nipple. I'm going to take a guess that the nipple needs to be upgraded to medium or fast because my own are definitely not on the slow side. I honestly feel like I'm choking the poor kid half the time.

So my fingers are crossed that a different nipple does the trick. If not, an entirely different bottle brand may be in order. This entire situation was awkward, frustrating, and disappointing. I hate having to push for something that neither of us seem to want, but I'm pretty optionless at this point. I have a client due any time and I need him a little more cooperative so that I can leave him with dad. (Although they offered to allow me to bring him along too, but I'm not sure that I want to take him to a hospital birth). If only I could bring him to school with me too...life would be much easier!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 days of thanks

I've seen many people joining in on a "30 days of thanks" activity in which they describe something that they are thankful for each day in November. Instead of sprawling them out over a months span, here are my 30.

I am thankful for:
1) A hard working husband that supports our family so that I may stay home with my boys

2) My family - even though we may be far in distance, I cherish their relationships more than I can express

3) Free health care for all of my family members. I knew I married an Alaskan Native for a reason :)

4) Heat, so that we may keep warm during these long and chilly winter months

5) Great friends who can lift my spirits and give me company when I need it most

6) My fantastic sleeping 3-month son that only wakes briefly to nurse in the night. I appreciate the sleep!

7) The humorous things that come out of my toddler's mouth. Not a single day goes by that he doesn't make me giggle!

8) The opportunity to complete school earlier than anticipated...even if that has caused me lots of extra stress

9) To be a woman that has experienced pregnancy, birth, and raising my own children. I know some are not so fortunate

10) Convenient drive-thru banks that allow me to stay in my warm car without dragging two kiddos out into the snow

11) Nap time! Enough said.

12) Warm showers to rejuvenate my body and mind

13) Financial aid that has allowed me to further my education without financially burdening down my family

14) Second hand stores that allow me to buy perfectly good items for cheap!

15) Alaska PFD's. The annual payouts have allowed us to create a substantial savings account for our children (something very important to me as a parent)

16) Movies. They allow me and the hubby to wind down together at the end of a long day, and they also occupy Lucas when I need to hop through the shower or complete any important tasks.

17) To live in a time where informed decisions and availability of knowledge allowed me to have the birth of my dreams

18) Internet. I feel like the answers to almost anything are only a click away

19) To live in state where nature can be seen in its most beautiful form

20) Music. It has the power to lift up my spirits and create positive feelings and/or a happy atmosphere

21) Smiles from my children. They light up my life and remind me how blessed I truly am

22) My blog. It not only allows me to document my children's lives and vent my frustrations, but writing is my alone time for reflection

23) Airline miles. I have been able to return home a handful of times without any cost to myself

24) Babies! There will always be babies being born and that assures me that I chose a realistic and rewarding profession

25) To have worked out a childcare arrangement for my children that I am comfortable with and appreciative of

26) Lucas' preschool. They graciously accepted him early and that allowed him to create bonds and friendships with his classmates. It has also allowed him to grow into a more independent and confident child

27) For relatively happy and easy going children. When I think they are being difficult, I reflect on behaviors of others and remember how easy I have it most of the time

28) To be married to a handyman who can build/fix anything that I ask him to!

29) For recordable story books. Watching my children look through a book while listening to a familiar voice read to them is absolutely priceless...especially due to our distance.

30) To be a doula and be able to witness the beautiful journey of life as it unfolds before my eyes
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy this day with your family and friends and don't forget to reflect back onto the things that you are thankful for.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

3 Months

Three months already! I honestly can't believe it. I've decided that I am going to do a quick write up on the 23rd of each month so that I can remember what my little man was doing and be able to document how much he changes over his first year. So here goes:

Levin now weights 16lbs 8.5oz (95th percentile) and is 24in long (75th percentile). He gained two pounds and two inches in one short month. He sure is a chunk! I've already had to clear out the closet a number of times, but at the moment he fits into 6 month baby wear.

He is more attentive than ever! He is already grabbing for toys and entertaining himself with small items. I love catching him gnawing on the dangling toys from his play mat and his car seat.

He enjoys sitting in his bumbo (thank you, Chelsea!) and watching all of the happenings in the house. He's very observant and takes interest in everything that we do...cooking, dishes, eating, etc. I don't think we're going to be able to use this seat for much longer though because those chunky thighs of his are starting to get into the way. Just this morning I had to wedge him down into it and nearly had to wrestle him out!

He is such a cheeser, too! He is almost always smiling and trying to get my attention. In fact, he loves any attention that he can get. If anyone tries to say hello, he lights up instantly! His smile is to die for and the little tongue always pops out when he grins. Lucas did the exact same thing as a baby, too!

Levi and I debated back and forth whether he was big enough for his jumper, and he proved me right! I can't believe how big he is and that he can support his body in this thing. He doesn't quite understand the concept of jumping just yet, but he's becoming a pro at swinging and twisting himself around. Yeah, definitely the size of an average 6 monther!

Levin is also a wonderful sleeper. He takes 3 naps during the day, and only wakes one to two times at night. He is pretty predictable and sticks to his routine well. Although the naps may vary a tad, he wakes up at the same time every morning with a huge diaper explosion. At least he's regular, right?!

He still nurses regularly, enjoys showers, and loves to be worn. He instantly falls asleep once he's in the car seat and is quite the wiggle worm. I think he'll be rolling over here before too long!

I've heard a number of mothers claim that their second babies grew faster (or at least the time flew by faster) and I have to completely agree with that statement. I feel like he's becoming more and more independent by the day and although I love to watch him develop, I'd be fine with a little blob for a while longer :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Birth

I finally got to attend my first birth...and it was everything that I hoped it would be. Honestly, I nearly cried when the baby came out. It was beautiful!

The mother chose to labor in the tub at a birth center and the majority of my comforting measures were verbal. But there were times that I had to use touch and massage to help get her through some of the stronger ones. I brought Levin along for the ride and he behaved so well the entire time. I'm fortunate to have such an amazing little guy!

I left there feeling more confident than ever in my decision to join the birthing field. This is exactly where I am suppose to be! No doubt about it.

I chatted with the birth assistant on my way out and decided that I want to look in that position a bit further. She was floored when I told her this was the first birth that I attended. She went on and on about how much of a natural I was and that the midwives at this facility would absolutely love me. She urged me to consider going through the proper training to do what she does. She is also currently in the same nursing program that I am about to start and told me not to worry so much about the work load of the program. Although everyone tries to scare you into thinking its so demanding, she said it isn't half as bad as she expected. So I gave her my business card and we are going to meet up and chat some more. What better relief than to get advise from someone currently in the program. I'm excited!

How amazing would that be?! A birth assistant at a free standing birth center? I think that a perfect position for me! Next week I'm also meeting up with a fellow doula who just recently started working as a birth assistant herself. Hopefully she can give me a sense of whether this is something that I truly want to pursue.

So yay for birth and beautifully big babies! I left there in such a baby high and cannot wait for another experience! I'm officially craving some more baby action :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Audiology: take one

Since I had a homebirth, all of the standard hospital procedures weren't done on Levin. I opted not to have erythromycin placed into his eyes, we chose an oral dose of vitamin K as opposed to the intramuscular injection, and he didn't receive an initial dose of hep B. (we did get that for him at his checkup though, so don't worry).

I recently received a letter in the mail from the State of Alaska that informed me that hearing tests are now required for all newborns. The letter needed to be signed for and it had a $6 postage sticker on it, so I knew it was something that I shouldn't take very lightly.

I never felt it necessary to test my child, but I definitely don't have any opposition to the test itself. But to be honest, I feel like a hearing assessment is unnecessary and pointless for us at this point in time. Obviously, had there been any reason for concern, I would have taken him in. But Levin has always been very alert and responsive to his environment. Always. I frequently examine my children, both physically and developmentally. Levi and I have naturally done so and I would never have thought for a moment that Levin needed any test to tell me that he can hear. We always make noises and ensure that he turns toward the sounds and move objects and ensure that he can follow them with his eyes. I know that Levin can hear. A test isn't going to reassure me that.

But needless to say, I decided to take him in anyways. The native hospital takes wonderful care of all my boys and I really wanted to stay in their good graces. I'm not out to be difficult and stand against something so petty, but the letter did get to me somewhat. I felt like the state was making me out to be a bad mother for not doing something so 'important' and that they were trying to push me into doing something that they felt was crucial. I have a lot of opinions about our modern maternity care system and I honestly feel that a lot of unnecessary interventions are taken. Some things are vital, but others aren't always necessary. And although hearing tests can prove useful in detecting early problems in some, I just didn't feel it was necessary for my 3 monther. Thankfully, Levin was a big, healthy, full term baby. His development has exceeded my expectations and there have been no areas that I feel need to be evaluated.

And just as I had expected, the appointment was indeed a waste of my time. I was not told that baby needed to be sleeping and his appointment was timed perfectly for after his two hour morning nap. Because I wasn't given proper instructions, the test was not able to be completed. We literally tried to test his right ear for 45 minutes until I stepped up and said that I needed to go. Never have I had to reschedule an appointment because my child was too happy. That was definitely a first! Levin was wide awake, smiling, batting/kicking, and cooing his little heart away. I think he really enjoyed all of the attention!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stretched too thin?

I've been in a bit of a funk lately and I'm finding it difficult to snap out of this semi-depressed state that I'm sinking into. I'm busy, tired, and stressed, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that winter is here. Oh, joy.

This is the beginning of our fifth Alaskan winter and I honestly have no desire to experience it. It's dark. It's gloomy. It's cold. And I'm miserable. I thought that being as active and busy as I am these days would make it easier, but it's been just the opposite. I feel like hibernating inside my house until May. Maybe even June.

I feel as if I may really be stretching myself too thin. Some days it's physical, others it's emotional. I work hard to care for my children and keep up my home, all while maintaining a social life and running the million and one errands I seem to always have to do. People literally depend on me and I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to let others down...no matter what the cost is to myself.

I've also taken a big leap into Lucas' preschool that I didn't anticipate from the start. Being a co-op means a great deal of parental involvement, but I didn't expect that I would exert as much energy into the school as I do. Being a board member places a lot of pressure on assuring the school is operating at its finest. However, this is really important to me. I want to ensure my son is receiving the best and that the families that I have gotten to know and love, are too. Being a working parent means that I have to prepare snacks, facilitate with art, occupy and assist the class...all while juggling Levin. We no longer have a Director, and the VP just stepped down, so a lot of pressure has been placed onto the board to fill those roles. I am also a member of the advertising committee and helping to coordinate field trips for the school. I am not complaining about these roles because I am happy to be a part of such a great organization and a part of these wonderful children's lives, but I suppose I didn't realize how much energy I would losing. It seems like there are only a small number of parents that truly put forth the effort and expectations that are needed, so a lot of unnecessary work gets placed onto us. And honestly, there are others doing even more than me! (Although toting a baby around too does give me a bit more of a challenge). I think I've come up with an answer for myself: I will soon be dropping down my status as a working parent. With school about to begin, I think I can justify increasing my tuition in lieu of working my required days. I hate to have to do that, but it sounds like a better fit for my lifestyle at the moment and I'm okay with that.

Emotionally, I feel somewhat drained at times too. I live life caring for others and don't feel like I always get taken care of myself. I hold my own and do whatever I need to do, but I sometimes lack that emotional boost that I need for my own sanity. I don't get much me time, nor do we even have much couple time these days. And it's not strictly because we now have two kids. It's because work is consuming, appointments need to be kept, and routines need to be followed. Life is busy and my needs sometimes get lost in the madness. I get it.

Trying to pinpoint all of this frustration seems to stem back to my acceptance into nursing school. We've discussed our future plans on many occasions and it all revolved around my completion of school. Now that the window has opened and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I feel like racing through it as fast as I can. An invisible countdown has begun and I feel like it just can't come soon enough.

And I also feel guilt. Although I work hard, my husband works harder. He is outdoors in this bitterly cold weather working so that he may provide for his family. He is working a job that is physically demanding and sometimes working on days that should be his to rest. All for the sake of our family. I feel guilty for even getting frustrated with him too. He honestly makes my life more difficult and creates far more work on my plate. But when I think about the big picture I feel so guilty that I'm even bothered by those petty things. Yet, he has freedom. When he's off work he can do whatever he wants, go wherever he pleases, and refrain from activities that he wants to avoid. When he's off work...he is free. I, on the other hand, am not. My job never ends and I am working, in a sense, 24 hours a day. Which all rolls down to jealousy. And that right there is what I feel the most guilt over.

I feel like that super nice person that always gets taken advantage of. That super nice person that goes out of her way to help others, yet receives little to nothing in return. That super nice person who goes through life trying to care for everyone but herself. I'm not one to ask for help, nor do I often accept any that is offered. It may sound stubborn by I feel like no one should have to take on any of my burdens, or be put out of their way on my account. But honestly, only a fraction of these feelings are about my roles as a mother and wife. I truly feel like the nice guys do always finish last. I get led on by people I trust, pushed into things I don't want to do, and left on the back burner more often than not.

I feel, I feel, I feel...that seems to be the revolving theme here. It's great to feel, but not healthy to ignore those feelings. So here I am. I'm writing, venting, and trying to purge these negative feelings away. Getting these thoughts into words can only mean that I can now move on and work to better them, right? Lets hope so.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

1st dental check-up

We just got home from Lucas' very first dental checkup and I am still in shock over how well it went! I expected this appointment to be a complete nightmare...honestly. Mr. Independent doesn't even like for me to help him brush. Was he really going to let a stranger examine his mouth and brush his teeth? Apparently, yes!

From the moment we got there he walked right on in like he owned the place. He strutted on back to our area and climbed up into the chair...but only after getting three different compliments on his adorable hat (thanks mom!).

The dental assistant was extremely kid friendly and she explained absolutely everything she was going to do. She also pulled out all of the instruments and let him see how they work. When it was time to raise up the chair, Lucas got to push the button. That was an instant hit.

Lucas got to pick out a new toothbrush (he chose a light-up Spiderman) and she got to work. He insisted on wearing his gloves during the exam too. Kids are so funny.

He was fully cooperative during the x-rays and followed directions to a T. Afterwards we got to see the images on a screen and she showed him his big boy teeth that are waiting to come out!

The assistant cleaned his teeth while he sat back and relaxed. He thought the water sucking straw was hilarious and laughed that it tickled his mouth!

So all in all...his teeth are extremely healthy! He was instructed to let me help him brush and floss at home also. We got home and he immediately opened up his goody bag. Look at all the fun things they give kids these days. Dentists sure take bribery to the next level!

He's now been flossing and playing with his new toothbrush for the past 20 minutes. I guess they really made an impression on this kid!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Children are funny...when they find something that they like they become absolutely obsessed with it. I remember how my younger brother would watch the same movie for weeks on end. Lucas is definitely in that same boat!

Thank goodness there are three different Toy Story movies. Seriously. If not, I would probably lose my mind. (Although to be honest, I don't like him watching the third one because it's too dark..and pretty creepy.) Goodness, as I'm sitting here typing Lucas literally just woke from nap and came to ask if he could watch it. Obsessed I tell you!

I probably shouldn't have told everyone that he liked it so much because he got an insane amount of Toy Story games, books, and figurines for his birthday. But I barely saw him for days afterwards. He was far too busy playing with his new stuff!

Ever since his party I have heard almost nothing but Toy Story references. I decided to make a note in my phone and secretly jot down each time I heard him quote something familiar. Here goes:

*Not today, Zurg!
*To infinity and Beyond!
*Look, I'm Picasso!
*Were you scared? Tell me honestly.
*Run like the wind, Bullseye!
*This is not flying...it's falling with style!
*Ohh my little sweet potato!
*There's a snake in my boot!
*You're my favorite deputy.
*Woody's roundup!
*Nice big Andy's room welcome!
*A stranger from the outside. Oooh!
*The claw!

He's covered in tattoos, too. So if you were wondering, yes, that is indeed a Toy Story tattoo on his forehead. I must have gotten so used to it because I took him to preschool and didn't even realize it was still there! When I picked him up his teacher told me that it was a total hit with the whole class. Apparently all of the kids liked his little green three-eyed alien! And he calls them "smoozies" for some reason?? Maybe I missed that scene...

Last week I was raiding the local used kid store for a larger winter coat and Lucas spotted a Toy Story jacket in the bundle. Thank goodness it was his size because there was absolutely NO persuading him on any other option at that point. His mind was set!

And he even runs around the house singing "You've got a friend in me!"

Obsessed, obsessed, obsessed!

His giant talking Buzz says a bunch of quotes, but my favorite of them all is "where there's danger...there's a space ranger!" If you know my son's middle name then you'll understand why it fits so well :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pirate Parrrrty!

On Sunday, we had Lucas' 3rd birthday party...pirate style! We rented out a newer bounce place in town called Pump it Up and the kids got to run wild and do what they do best. It was an absolute blast and Lucas had such a great time. The timing was perfect too because the kiddos were all exhausted by the end and napped wonderfully for their parents. A total success in my book!

I searched online for invitation wording and nothing truly caught my interest. So I combined some together and created this:

Shiver me timbers, Lucas is turning 3!

Ahoy me mateys! Ye be invited to Captain Lucas’ pirate party! Chart yer course for Pump it Up and come dressed in yer pirate best! Join our crew where all the swashbuckling and jumping fun will be found!

Arrrr you coming to the party? RSVP…or walk the plank!

Lucas absolutely loves pirates so I had been planning this party for quite some time. Thanks to the lovely Pinterest (my newest addiction) I was able to find lots of cute ideas and inspirations. There were a lot of stipulations on the food aspect of the party and we were only allowed to bring fruit/veggies, chips/crackers, and cake/cupcake. So I had to get creative!

I made funfetti sailboat cupcakes (vanilla for Lucas and chocolate for me!) along with cookies topped with gold coins!

For the fruit platters we made orange sailboats and watermelon sharks filled with grapes! Hubby did a great job carving them out!

I also had a bowl of goldfish and of course, Pirate booties! I think it all came together perfectly!

I feel very blessed to have made such great friends here and for the connections we've recently made with other families in his preschool. Lucas was shown nothing but love and was showered in gifts. Thank you to all that made this day so special for my big boy...I still cannot believe he is THREE!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bath vs. Shower

Sometimes I think there is something seriously wrong with my children. What kid doesn't like to take a bath? Both of mine apparently.

When Levi was out of town, the bathing job got pushed back onto me. During my pregnancy I didn't have the energy to lean over the tub. Not to mention how difficult such a task gets with a big belly in the way. The boys started showering together and it was so convenient on everyone that we just kept it up. It turned into fun time and they would both disappear for a good 30-minutes. I couldn't complain!

Lucas went through a phase where he was terrified of the tub. I try to give him some slack since he was born in Alaska and swimming isn't something that he does often. But Levin? He was born in water! What's his deal?

When Lucas was a few months old his nurse suggested that he shower with daddy on occasion to promote bonding. It worked well and he seemed to enjoy it. So we decided to do the same with Levin. And what do you know...he loved it too!

He didn't fuss one bit and was actually smiling during half of it. He was accidentally squirted in the face with the shower head multiple times and that didn't seem to phase him at all.

So there you have it...both of my boys are showerers. Maybe things will change once Levin is old enough to sit and they can actually play together. But until then, daddy is on shower duty. And that's just fine by me!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Full term mamas!

Both of my November clients are officially full term! This means that I am now on-call and just waiting to be whisked away during their labors. I'm so excited to help welcome these two little boys into the world!

I had a lunch date with one of my clients and her husband the other day and the conversation that struck in the car with Lucas was too funny not to share. He asked where we were going and I mentioned he was going to meet a lady with a baby in her tummy, and that I was going to go and help her when he was ready to come out.

L: "But mom, you're not a doctor"
Me: "I know, but I'm still going to help her. Do you remember when Levin was ready to come out and we called Shine?"
L: "Yeah. But why do you want to be a midwife?"
Me: "Because I love babies and I want to be there when they decide to come out."
L: "But we already have a baby"
Me: "I know, these babies aren't going to be ours. I'm just helping their mommies"
L: "Oh, ok." (with an added sigh of relief)

So without coming out and saying it directly, it seems like Lucas is quite content with just Levin. As long as I don't bring these babies back home with me, I think I'll stay in his good graces. Silly child!

I'm somewhat anxious and nervous, yet calm and excited all at the same time. Both women are delivering at free standing birth centers and since they each have multiple children already, I half expect their labors to be quick and easy. And lucky for me, Levin gets to join.

I am one of those women that most hate and/or are envious of. I have amazingly easy and gentle labors that to me, are also enjoyable. Seriously, I would give birth a hundred times if I could! It's such an empowering experience and it makes me feel like I'm on top of the world.

I realize that my own personal experiences giving birth are not what the typical woman goes through. I feel somewhat hypocritical being a Doula myself because I never wanted, nor did I feel like I needed, any labor support. I hope that I don't go into future births blindsided by any drastic differences in our experiences. I don't fear that my support will pale because of this, but I sure hope that my expectations are not higher than they should be.

I've heard from plenty of Doulas that every birth is unique. Each experience allows them to learn something new and they continue to gain new insight. I am so excited to experience these first two certifying births of mine and witness the miracle of life unfold before my eyes!


I am so happy to have my husband back...and so are the boys. But I sure have some strong empathy for those without support now. Being a single mom is downright exhausting!

Between the hustle and bustle of the kids, the house, meals, preschool, and the large to-do list I'm trying to complete before school begins, my body honestly feels like jello. I rarely got more than an hour to myself and my attention was literally focused on the boys from the moment we woke, to the moment they slept...and then even times in between. Although it would have been nice to focus on some of my own things after they both went to bed, I just didn't have the energy. Instead, I went right on down with them.

Showers were a rarity and I completely slacked on grocery shopping. The toddler tantrums were at their worst and I had to utilize my friends company to keep me sane. Point is, you don't know tired until you've played the solo parenting act.

But even through all the balancing and juggling, I always managed to maintain my home. With the exception of toys lying around, my home stayed in tip top shape. Which made me realize...husbands are far more work than children! Honestly.

In the 11 days my husband was away I did:

*2 loads of laundry
*emptied 2 bags of garbage
*ran the dishwasher ONCE

He's only been home for a short amount of time and I already feel like I have laundry coming out of my ears. Not to mention I'm constantly picking up after him and now resuming back to real dinners (which equals lots of dishes). I'm so happy to have him home but it has truly opened my eyes to the million roles that I play. I think I need a vacation!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Space Ranger

My son, as I'm sure many other children are, is absolutely obsessed with Toy Story. He quotes lines from the movie ALL day long and even yells, "ohh my little sweet potato" when trying to get my attention! It so stinkin' cute!

The thing that I find funniest, though, is that his absolute favorite line is, "Not today, Zurg!" He runs around the house (sometimes in just his undies) doing this laser pointing stance while pretending he's fighting off the evil emperor. Apparently the second movie is his favorite of the set.

For a short while there he liked to pretend he was a cowboy like Woody. He'd grab his stuffed horse (a decent sized one that we got from Wells Fargo for opening up his account) and act like he was riding around trying to lasso everything. Of course he didn't leave out the "ride like the wind, Bullseye!"

But the cowboy love didn't last long. Buzz Lightyear quickly took center stage.

He had a pen with a little Buzz on it that was in his stocking last year. It broke off and he seriously carried this small little Buzz with him everywhere we went. When visiting his cousins a few weeks ago he nearly died of excitement when he saw their huge one! He's been begging for one every since, but I told him he could get it for his birthday if he was good.

Grandpa George was in town and Lucas told him all about Buzz and his desire for the big one. He immediately looked at me and said that he'd get it for him, and then asked if he could take him to the store right then and there. I've never seen Lucas get out the door so fast!

They both came back from the store, Buzz in hand, yelling "to infinity and beyond!"

Now he's got his giant Buzz that talks, makes laser noises, and lights up. He hasn't put it down since he got it! Buzz now sleeps in our bed too and is quite the conversation starter in public. I know children go through their phases, but this has got to be his biggest obsession to date!

He loves to show Buzz off to everybody...especially to little Levin!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

L's Parent-Teacher Conference

Today I had my very first Parent-Teacher Conference. It was exciting, and somewhat sad at the same time. I cannot believe my baby is old enough for conferences!!

His teacher had nothing but great things to say about him! She keeps records and notes of every child so that she can reference back to them and have documentation of their growth. I loved reading through the assessment that she prepared for Lucas.

In the short 9 weeks of class, Lucas has grown more than I ever imagined he would. For starters, he has demonstrated quite the increase in independence. He used to stay close to me or always ensure I was within eye sight. Now, he could care less if I'm even there! He immediately comes into class, places his belongings into his cubby, and signs himself in. He is sufficient at changing into his outdoor clothing for play time and can use the restroom on his own. Although his teacher did say he turns down the offer to help with his zipper...apparently he's comfortable walking around with his fly down. ha.

He doesn't demonstrate anxiety and seems to really trust all of the parents that come in to work. He is helpful, respectful, engages in both parallel and cooperative play, and defers conflicts to the adults. What a big boy!

In the cognitive areas, she noted that Lucas likes it when there are new works and activities available in the classroom. He shows lots of curiosity and has a true desire to learn. He also uses a lot of imagination and creative play in the dramatic play/dress up area. Boy can this kid get things rolling! He loves to play fire chief and let everyone follow his lead, and he has started an imaginative fishing game on more than one occasion!

I was also told that Lucas stays engaged and interested in tasks, and shows a great deal of focus and concentration. When some of the children start running around during story time, Lucas stays on his mat like he is suppose to. His ability to follow directions really impressed her as well. He helps with the clean up time and can follow a small list of request. Although he is still somewhat quiet, he is becoming a lot more interactive towards every member of the class.

He can count, identify shapes & letters, sing along with the songs, recall sequences and repeat patterns, and is beginning to write his name!

His physical gross motor skills are impressive too. It was noted that he can catch an object thrown directly at him (from a short distance), and can run, jump, and ride like a big kid.

Although unsure if I will take the offer, Lucas' teacher invited him to join into the 3-day class as well! The younger 3's attend the T/Th class, while the 4 year olds come M,W,F. She said that he is so advanced that she thinks he would fit into that class perfectly! He would be the only student in the school that attends 5 days a week, but since I'm struggling to figure out his care come January anyways, we have a lot to think about. Pretty darn impressive for a not-even-three-year-old, huh?!

He sure does love his teacher and his new friends!

The biggest advice I was given is to ensure that I am an active participant throughout his school years. His teacher mentioned that children like him (sweet, cooperative, well-behaved, and very advanced) often fall between the cracks. She made a strong point - it's the trouble makers that get all the attention. She fears that he will sit back and let the other students get most of the teacher-student interactions as he progresses into grade school, and told me that I need to make sure he is at a place that will continue to push him and allow him to grow.

I am so proud of my big boy! He has exceeded my expectations and blossomed so much in the last two months. He is so much more outgoing and loves to sing about his everyday happenings. I'm in agreement with his teacher...we cannot wait to see how much has changed at the end of the year!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Little Fire Boys

I have to admit, I'm a little fire-manned out lately. Two months ago when my mom visited we took the boys to Trick or Treat in the Heat. Both went as firemen, and it has been nothing but fire fighting action in our lives since then.

It was fire safety week at Preschool and absolutely everything the kids did was related to fire...including participation in fire drills, wearing costumes, making little shields in the art room, and reading tons of fire books. During free play, Lucas took charge of the roll playing and designated himself as the fire chief. All of the kids followed his lead, even when he dropped down to the floor and began crawling under the smoke. It was hilarious!

On Monday, we all took a field trip to the fire station where the kids got to watch a clothing demonstration, learn the do's and the dont's of fire safety, and tour the big engine and the rescue boat. It was a lot of fun and my child of course enjoyed every minute of it. During the demonstration when the fireman asked what the tank was used for, Lucas shouted out "scooty diving!" Daddy was pretty proud of that statement!

You know what they say about the ladies loving a man in uniform! My boys sure do make some handsome firemen!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Drug Allergies

Any time you go to the doctors they always ask if you have any known drug allergies. My answer has always been 'no'. Unfortunately, that can no longer be my response.

I came down with mastitis (yes, for the third darn time!!) since nursing Levin and since I knew Levi was headed out of town soon I decided it was time to go in for a stronger treatment. This was by far the worst occurrence I've had and it struck full force in 3 hours flat. I went from being perfectly healthy and content to bawling my eyes out on the bathroom floor with the shakes. I cried for Levi to run grab the breast pump (at 5 in the morning) and emptied it out immediately. I don't know why I'm so prone to this god awful condition, but they say once you've had it once you're susceptible to getting it again. Oh joy.

Anyways, considering I was so weak that I couldn't even hold Levin, I rushed myself to an urgent care center for some treatment. It seemed like I knew more about the condition than the doc...firstly because I'm a women and he was a man, but secondly because I'm almost an expert at this point. I showed him that I had all of the classic symptoms (pain, redness, warmth, etc) and he agreed that I needed a prescription of antibiotics. All of the natural remedies I was doing at home helped, but I think they just masked the symptoms and let them return at a later date. I couldn't afford to get sick again while caring for the boys solo, so I agreed that this was definitely my best bet.

Doc came back in with a prescription for Sulfameth/Trimethoprim and sent me on my way. As with most antibiotics, you take two a day for somewhere between 10 and 14 days. Mine was a 10 day regiment and I was feeling back to my healthy self by the next day. I continued taking them as instructed and on day 9 I noticed a few small bumps on my left wrist area. I passed them off as bug bites and went on my way.

The next morning, I woke up and noticed the bumps had multiplied. I still didn't think too much of it at that point and just let it be. But before I knew it, I was covered from the neck down in the worst rash that my eyes have every physically laid eyes on. I itched more than I thought was humanly possible and I was absolutely miserable!!

I'll spare you all the hideous pictures, but this is what I looked like everywhere. Thankfully it spared my face though. Awful, huh?

I had gotten an e-mail the day before about a student in Lucas' class who had just been diagnosed with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, so my mind automatically went in that direction. But after researching it, I quickly realized my situation was completely different.

I went back to the clinic and was told exactly what I had expected...I was allergic to the antibiotics. No more sulfa drugs for me! It's frustrating that it took over an entire week of consuming them before any symptoms showed up because there was quite the build up in my system. I stopped taking them immediately, which really only meant skipping out on the last few pills, but the condition continued to worsen before it got any better. I put the poor pharmacist at Walgreens to work by asking her to compare each and every antihistamine I could think of. I needed to find the safest option for a nursing mother...you can never be too cautious! Benadryl won the title, but the drowsy side effect was awful. Thank goodness my boys are now on a similar nap cycle because we all passed out for 2.5 hours that first day! It was the only thing that stopped the itching, and it really did help lessen the rash over time.

I am almost 90% back to normal, with a few light patches still on my thighs. I swear, everything always has to go wrong while the hubs is out of town. But I'm happy to be itch-free and no longer looking like a walking science experiment. That was no fun. None at all!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Puppy Love

Last night we went over to my mother-in-law's house and got to play with her adorable litter of Jack Russell puppies! Of course, Lucas was in total heaven. I've been battling back and forth between the idea of breeding our female one more time, and after holding these pups and watching the boys with them...I think I have my answer.

This is the third and final litter for the mama, and also siblings to our female. We've bred our little girl once before and had such a hard time giving them all away. They were just far too cute! And I was ultra particular about where we placed them.

Lucas held and kissed nearly every pup and worried when one little guy was left out of the feeding frenzy. He was so sweet and gently with them all.

Levin was very interested in them also. He even allowed one to kiss him right on the lips! It was very obvious that they both were attempting to nurse from the other, but it was hilarious to watch.

Little boys and puppies just go together, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

8 weeks old!

On the one hand, I cannot believe my little Levin is already 8 weeks old! Yet at the same time, it feels as if he's been a part of our family forever. He is a wonderful and happy baby who I am so proud to call my own.

At a mere eight weeks old, his development has truly surprised me. His alertness and responsiveness are astonishing, and his personality is really beginning to shine!

The smiles are in full effect and absolutely contagious! Naturally, he smiles most for me, but he sure saves some for his daddy and big brother. These last two days I have caught him smiling specifically to get my attention. He will wait until I make eye contact and grin as big as his chubby little cheeks will allow. I love it!

Although not a huge fan of the bath yet, he at least tolerates them now. He seems to prefer when Levi gives them, but maybe that's because he makes them a little on the hot side. I get paranoid that the water will burn him and can never bring myself to make it too warm. You'd think that a baby born into water would love it...but I guess that's not the case.

His sleep patterns are fantastic! He is fairly predictable throughout the day (3 naps) and we are working on a consistent bedtime. He usually goes down between 9 and 10, which is fine by me as I'm usually fairly preoccupied with Lucas. He typically sleeps 5-6 hours during his first stretch, wakes to nurse for a mere 10 minutes, and then goes right back down for another 3-4. He still likes to be swaddled at night, and is wonderful about going to sleep if laid down into bed. Pure bliss.

Unlike his brother, Levin actually enjoys tummy time! Lucas used to scream the entire length of time, but Levin loves to look around and work those neck muscles. This is usually when our dog Rori tries to sneak in a lick on the cheek. I guess I'm not the only one infatuated with those big chubby kissing magnets!

Not only has his development gained, but his size has too! He now weighs 14lbs, is 22.5 inches long, and is wearing 3-6 month clothing. We had to bump up diaper sizes (twice!) and it's now time to adjust the car seat to the next height. Goodness gracious child, stop growing so darn fast!

He sneezes in 4's, coo's for attention, loves following people with his eyes as they move about the room, and has even scared the dogs with his loud farts! This little boy is such a blessing and I absolutely love him to death. Looking back at my fears about having enough love for both boys just makes me laugh. I feel like there was always a special place in my heart just waiting for him. He is absolutely perfect in my eyes and I am going to hold him as tight as I can until he fights me off!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Behavior Update

Between my blog, facebook, and many text messages, I had an amazing response to my previous post about Lucas' behavior issues. It is very comforting to know that I am not alone in these struggles and I truly appreciated the advise and suggestions that I received from my many friends.

It is very difficult watching your child behave in a manner so inconsistent with the way you've parented. I think it's natural to think you are doing something wrong as a mother, but we all know toddlers can be a handful at times. It's just the way they are wired! I have been making a very conscious effort to watch how I respond and to not let him see my true frustration. Keeping myself calm leads to less yelling and a shorter outbreak. I guess that's one way to look at it positively.

Lucas has been acting much better since my last post and we have talked in great length about his behavior and what is acceptable. Although he still has his episodes, he knows they are wrong and apologizes after the fact. He really is a sweet, smart, caring and very imaginative boy who I absolutely adore. I have come to terms with the idea of rearing his behavior as opposed to eliminating it. I know that kids act out for a variety of reasons and that no child is perfect. But ensuring that my actions and words are geared in an effective manner, it really has improved our lives.

Thank you all again for your words of encouragement. I felt guilty for mentioning that I didn't exactly "like" my child at certain points in time, but hearing that multiple moms I know have admitted to saying/thinking the same thing was quite a relief. Whew...I'm not alone. Parenting isn't always easy. And the one thing that you need most of all is support from other parents who have been in your shoes and truly understand your frustrations. Sometimes all you really need to do is vent! Verbalizing your issues sometimes makes a solution to the problem much much clearer. I will always remember that!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Teenager at TWO?

If you would have told me that raising a two year old is similar to raising a teenager, I never would have believed you. Until now that is. Granted, my son talks (and reasons) like he’s 5, but I still wasn’t prepared for his quick come-backs, back-talking, and most of all...attitude!

Lately, my patience has been tested and pushed to its limits and I have broken into tears on multiple occasions over the phrases and tones my son has been using towards me. I know that rebellion is normal and that toddlers at this age are striving for their own independence, but I feel like Lucas has taken it to the absolute extreme.

Manners are something that I began incorporating since Lucas began talking. I think it’s important to raise your children to be polite. Heck, if you aren’t going to, then who is? He has always used his pleases, thank yous, and your welcomes. Always. But just recently, getting him to use them nicely has been a task. He has been overly demanding and when I tell him that he needs to ask me things in a nicer way, he scoffs and gives me the dramatic drawn out 'pleeeaseeee' with as much attitude as humanly possible. Where on earth did this come from?

He is critical about everything that I do and doesn’t fail to insert his opinions into every situation. He scolds me for not doing things as he wants them and threatens me with my own punishments. While driving home from a birthday party yesterday, he got upset over a hole in his goodie bag. He rudely yelled at me and told me to fix it NOW. I nicely reminded him that I was driving and it wasn’t safe for me to turn around, but that was just a waste of breathe. He yelled that I was being ridiculous (yes, his exact words), told me he was going to hit me, smash my fingers and color all over my car. Seriously? When did he get so evil?

The most common come-backs I hear lately are "go away!" and “how about tomorrow?” When asking Lucas to do anything (help clean up, take a shower, eat) he always tells me he’ll do it tomorrow. Apparently my suggestions never hold up anymore because he always tries to make a compromise/deal. I offer two of something, he argues for four. I suggest a particular meal, show, or activity, and he often tries to compromise for something different. I feel like I just can’t win anymore.

To say that my son has been demanding lately would be a complete understatement. He no longer has any patience and has a complete fit if I ask him to wait a quick moment for anything. If I tell him that I don’t know the answer to his question, he yells at me to tell him right NOW. He orders and tells me to do things as opposed to asking. He has even started giving me ultimatums. He threatens to throw and break his toys if I don’t do something right away and all I can do is laugh. Go for it child...they’re your toys.

I just received a developmental e-mail and it said that kids at this age often rebel against one particular parent. Of course that parent has to be me. I am the bad guy and dad is all fun and games at the end of the day. I have been spending lots of quality time with him while the baby sleeps and I feel like it’s getting me nowhere. Levi has finally witnessed this nightmare and calmly reminded me that it’s normal. Easy for him to say though...it’s not directed at him!

Case in point: We were loading into the car Saturday night and Lucas dropped his cup on the ground. It had rolled under the car and he asked his daddy to grab it for him. I retrieved it though and when I handed it over he snatched it out of my hands, made the ugliest face and literally yelled, STUPID MOM to my face. Levi immediately scolded him and told him that he should be thanking me for helping, but it was again useless. He doesn’t want me to do anything for him and is completely ungrateful if I do. He even told me a few days ago that he hated me for the first time. I know he's only two, but that really hurt.

The attitude is by far the most difficult thing to deal with and I am really beginning to despise this phase of development. I am really just praying that it ends soon. I love my son to death, but there have been a few days this past week where I felt as if I didn’t necessarily like him. I know that is an awful thing to say and I feel like an absolute horrible mother, but I’ve been pushed to my breaking point. Trying to ignore a situation only frustrates him more and neither time-out, spanking, or taking away toys has any effect on this behavior. He makes it well known that he is mad and will even scream at the top of his lungs at me. He is beyond uncooperative and makes every aspect of my day ten times more difficult than it needs to be. I feel like I’m really at a loss.

I know what you're gonna say...he's just jealous of the baby. But this started well before Levin was even born. Yes, it may have intensified a bit since then, but things really started turning south at about two and a half. And they've only gotten worse since then!

They call this stage the terrible two’s, but I honestly feel that it's worsening as he gets closer to three. His birthday is next month and everyone I’ve spoken to says that next year will be worse than this. Good lord, I don’t see how it could possibly get much worse!

Where did my sweet child go? Or more importantly...will I ever get him back?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Good 'ol Garlic

The number of times I have come down with mastitis is now greater than the number of children I've nursed. Thank goodness I'm such a huge breastfeeding advocate because I wouldn't put up with this again if it didn't truly benefit my baby. Mastitis is awful. Absolutely awful. I could seriously complain about it for days.

This last time hit me so darn fast that I was convinced it was going to be the worst event yet. I started having breast tenderness around 10 in the morning, and by 4 o'clock I was so run down and weak that I felt like I was going to pass out. Having had a successful outcome with pumping, Castor oil massages, and heat compresses last time, I instantly starting the same regime. I had heard just a few days prior that one woman had success eating raw garlic. Yuck! But it prompted me to do a little research.

Garlic is said to be an herbal "wonder drug" and I never even new about it! Did you know that garlic can be used as a natural broad spectrum antibiotic? And best yet, the body doesn't evolve resistance to it like those from the pharmaceutical companies.

It can also have a strong antioxidant effect, is a natural anti fungal, antiviral, and is said to promote longer nursing sessions because babies respond to the garlic odor in the milk. I could go on and on, but believe me...garlic truly is the "wonder drug" everybody says it is. It's been used for centuries all around the world to prevent and to cure a wide variety of issues (all the way from high blood pressure to cancer and the plague!)

It's important that you take the garlic raw so that you get all of the immune boosting benefits. The antibiotic component in it, allicin, is destroyed by heat so it must be raw. But this is much easier said that done.

I am a wimp. Hands down. I don't care for anything hot or even slightly spicy (peppers, spices, etc). I ended up cutting each clove into a few smaller pieces hoping to just swallow them down like pills. I made the mistake of licking a clove to get a feel for the taste and nearly cried. Man, garlic is HOT! I had no idea. So I ended up hiding the pieces in applesauce and swallowing without them touching any part of my mouth.

I consumed 3 cloves that evening and woke up feeling 90% back to health! I couldn't believe it.

I don't think that I could incorporate this into my diet on a regular bases, but I suppose I should really make an effort. I read an article from a mom of 3 who's been feeding raw garlic to her children their entire lives, and they have never needed to make a trip to the doctors. I'm sure that's an extreme case, but knowing all of the benefits now sure has me convinced that it should play a crucial role in our lives. Although getting Lucas on board would be impossible, Levin could at least get it through me. Hopefully I can start a new healthy habit in our house! I have a sore throat that just started today, so maybe I'll test the garlic out once more.

My boys are Alaskan Natives and therefore receive free medical coverage. I, on the other hand, am left to fend for myself. My postpartum coverage ends this month and my student coverage won't pick back up again until Jan. Getting sick is not really an option, so hopefully eating raw garlic can help keep me healthy...and out of medical debt!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Engagement Photos

Our friends Natalie and Iliana are getting married next August and we couldn't be more excited! They've been together for just shy of a decade and have an adorable almost-two year old little girl named Jude (who Lucas just adores these days!) We can't wait to celebrate their special day with them next year.

I have been helping Natalie gather cute wedding ideas and we are going wedding dress shopping this weekend! I'm pretty darn excited :)

So, I have no formal photography training, nor do I understand what half of the options are on my camera. To be honest, I didn't even know how to change out the lens until last weekend. But just because I don't know the proper terms or understand the lighting concepts, doesn't mean I can't take a great photograph.

I did the ladies' engagement photos and they turned out absolutely amazing! Their love truly shines through in these images. It was great seeing them together having fun and acting merely as a couple of lovers...not just parents. We all get so wrapped up in our children when we are together, but that isn't our only identity. We are made up of so much more than what motherhood entails. Seeing them together this day truly reminded me that.

So here were my favorites from the day! Aren't they just adorable together?!

*Feel free to click on the images to make them larger.