Wednesday, April 7, 2021

What We Read in March

March was another strong reading month for me, although I read less during the middle of the night which is a GOOD THING! I managed to finish 13 books which is still a lot and more than usual for me! I think my reading will slow down when I return to work later this month since I won't be able to read during Will's naps!

Favorite fiction reads:


Winter Solstice was a really lovely book that I read during a snowy stretch in March. I highly recommend this novel - the characters were so sweet and likeable and it was an all-around feel good story. American Dirt was a controversial book that was released in 2020. It's about a Mexican woman and her son fleeing their home after a drug cartel murders their family. The controversy around this book is due to the author being white. The publisher definitely made some horrible choices about how to promote this book, but overall I personally feel like the attack on the author was overblown. No, it is not her story to tell and we need more owned voices telling these stories. But there is value in reading this book and it gives you a glimpse of what the migrants experience when they come to the US to try escape the harsh realities of their life. It humanizes the experience of asylum seekers which I think is very important. The Paris Library is set during WWII in Paris. A book about WWII and libraries? Sign me up! The Exiles is about the penal colony history of Australia. I studied abroad in Australia but did not know much about the origins of that country. A Gentleman in Moscow is about a man who is sentenced to live out his life in a hotel in Moscow due to the alleged betrayal of his country. The writing in this novel was superb. I believe this is being made into a movie or TV series. 

Favorite Non-fiction reads:


These 3 non-fiction reads were all excellent and all had to do with motherhood!

Ok to meh:

This last group of books was "just ok" to meh for me. The Idea of You was well-liked by many friends but I found the story of a romance between a 40 year old woman and 20 year old man unrealistic. That age difference just did not feel at all believable to me! 

The boys' reading:

I've been reading to Will since the early days but I have noticed that he is really enjoying books these days! He is able to hold onto books for a brief period of time which is really cute to see. 


Paul got some Curious George books for his birthday and those were a hit. We also got some from the library which he loved. He is super into Curious George these days. He will say, "Oh George! That silly monkey." He also memorized "The Hungry Caterpillar" this month and will sometimes cooperate and read it to Will. 

I'm looking forward to being able to take Paul back to the library to pick out books. Ours is open for "grab and go" service so I don't feel right bringing Paul in to browse since your visit is supposed to be very fast! But maybe by the summer or fall he can come with me!

Did you read anything great in March?

Monday, April 5, 2021

Easter 2021

 Happy Monday! We had a really nice Easter weekend. My MIL Joan was here for Easter, making this the first holiday since Christmas of 2019 that we spent with family. Yay! It was a full weekend for us as we also tackled potty training Paul - which I am happy to say was a success! Here is how we filled our 3-day weekend!

Phil was off work on Friday for the holiday, so we started potty training that day. We had tried potty training Paul last March using the "Oh Crap" 3-day method and it was an EPIC FAIL. He's had some success at school so this time around, we had him wear underwear (they don't wear anything on their bottoms when you do the Oh Crap method). He had 2 accidents on Friday morning and then did well for the rest of the day! It was a LOOONNGGGG day but I was so glad that things went well after those first 2 accidents. We just kept him off our rugs that day and had him mostly sit on towels while playing.


I'm glad we waited until Will was out of his fussy stage to focus on potty training. We have noticed a big difference in his temperament the last 2-3 weeks. He's so much happier! Potty training during his fussier stage would have been so hard as it was tough to set him down for very long. Plus Paul wanted me to help him go potty so I had a big role in potty training. 


On Saturday morning, Paul and I decorated Easter eggs. I learned this "egg in a whisk" trick from my sister-in-law years ago. It's way easier for little hands than those tiny little egg holders (that even I have trouble using!). 


Will was happy to lay on a blanket and play while we decorated eggs! We got this beautiful blanket from my friend Mandy's mom. She made beautiful quilts for both of our boys and they have gotten so much use! Will is drooling a ton so I am thinking he may get his first tooth earlier than Paul. Paul got his first one at 6.5 months. 

Paul was doing really well with training so we put pants on him and headed outside after his nap. It was 70 and gorgeous outside! He had fun playing with chalk - which he got all over his face! Thank goodness for non-toxic chalk - ha!


Sunday morning got off to a bit of a rough start as Will has an explosive poop that required a bath. Paul woke up around that time but I was able to keep him upstairs with us until the bath was over. When he got downstairs he was excited to look through his Easter basket!


The only candy he likes are m&ms so we put some in a few of his eggs. We put stickers in his other eggs. I let him have a few m&ms right away. 


My MIL got there mid-morning and worked on a bunny hat project with Paul.


The adults enjoyed a dinner of ham, mashed potatoes, gravy and asparagus. Paul will not eat any of this so he had his own little meal of banana pancakes, cottage cheese and applesauce. I know it's frowned upon to give kids their own meal but he is very stubborn and would not eat any of what we had for Easter. I can't believe he doesn't like mashed potatoes - hopefully he gets past this pickiness some day!

We didn't have the Easter Bunny hide eggs - instead Phil hid them when Paul woke up from his nap. We learned last year that you can't hide them too far in advance of the egg hunt because our aggressive squirrels will break into the eggs! Paul was super into the egg hunt this year! My MIL has filled the eggs with little cars and toys. She put little chocolate bunnies in some eggs but he tried one and - no surprise - he did not like it. He just does not seem to like chocolate which is odd as he loves chocolate chips. 

Paul made it through the day with no accidents so I think we can consider him fully potty trained! We had told him he'd get a tee ball set if he could make it through the day with no accidents so I will be heading to Target to buy that today! He's VERY into baseball and will make any toy into a baseball bat so I think he'll love having an actual bat! It's going to be almost 80 here today (!!!) so he'll get to try it out after school today!

And that was a wrap on our Easter weekend! I'll be back later this week with my March reads and maybe a 4-month Will post if I can get my act together!

How was your weekend? Did you have beautiful weather like we did?

Monday, March 22, 2021

Currently: March

Greetings from the land of the sleep deprived. :/ William is going through his 4 month sleep regression so I am feeling pretty bleary eyed. He was up nearly hourly on Saturday night. Last night was a bit better as we got one 3-hour stretch but then he was up every 1.5-2 hours after that. Thank God for coffee! Here's what's going on in my world!

Reading: A Gentleman in Moscow. I've been meaning to read this for years, but was compelled to read it when I saw that Kae was reading and enjoying it. I'm really liking it so far!

Loving: the spring weather we've had recently. I know we are probably not done with snow for the season - Minnesota is cruel like that - but I'm glad we've had some warmer temps! I try to go for a walk with Will in the baby carrier when the weather allows and we've gone to the park on the weekends which Paul of course loves! 



Masked up for a walk with friends around a local lake. Will is covered up in this photo so he'd stay warm (it was very windy that day!).

Feeling: tired. Phil and I joke that parenting is a young man's game. I'm 40 and he will be 40 in August so we are on the older end of the parenting age spectrum. Sleep deprivation is hard for anyone but I think it's harder the older you are! 

Anticipating: a visit to my parents the week after Easter! We haven't seen them since Will's birth! They are fully vaccinated so we feel safe visiting them. Plus, I will be fully vaccinated by then, too!!!! They will be here in late April to help with Will during my first 2 days back at work. We are having his baptism that weekend, too. I'm glad we'll see them twice in April! 

Struggling: with this sleep regression. I vividly remember going through this with Paul. We moved Will out of the snoo in our room and into a crib in his room so it's probably making the regression even worse, but it was time for him to be in his own space. We are planning to sleep train him when we get back from visiting my parents. We won't sleep train to sleep through the night - it will be get him to learn how to fall asleep on his own. It's not a fun thing AT ALL but it worked well for Paul and I know it will make a big difference for Will, too.

Grateful: that I was able to get my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine a couple of weeks ago! Minnesota expanded their eligible criteria and I qualified due to my immune compromised status. I had to drive over an hour to get it but it was so worth it! I get my 2nd dose next Wednesday. Hopefully Phil will be eligible by May. Minnesota has done a great job with the vaccine roll-out!

Working: on setting up Will's nursery. It's a work in progress as Phil uses it as his office on days when he works from home so it won't really be fully finished until he is back to working at the office full time. I need to frame some prints to hang on his wall and buy a bookcase. That's the extent of the decorating we will do, though. We are not the types to have really cutely decorated nurseries. Our boys are only in their rooms to sleep so I figure we will put more effort into it when they are in big boy beds - which is probably around the corner for Paul!

Listening: to podcasts as usual and loving my air pod pros! That was the perfect birthday gift to myself and I highly recommend them! 

Watching: March Madness basketball games. I am dead last in Phil's work pool as 2 of my final 4 teams are out, but it's still fun to watch. Plus I love a good upset, even when it busts my bracket. My championship team is still in, though, so I still have a shot at winning. Besides basketball, we are watching the show "Baskets" on Hulu. It's a light comedy featuring Zach Galifianakis. 

Wishing:
that spring would arrive for good. It does wonders for my mood to feel the sunshine. I will say this winter was really not all that bad. We had one long cold stretch in February but besides that it hasn't been bad. The last several years we've had huge snowfalls in late March/April so I'm bracing myself for a return of winter but maybe we will luck out and spring will stick around for good!

Bonus Will photos:

Everyone likes to see a cute baby, right? So here are some extra photos of our little cutie.


We do lots of reading during the day!

He has quite the comb-over going on! 

Big brother showing little brother how one of the toys makes different sounds. Paul continues to be a sweet big brother. If William cries, he will say "Are you ok? Mommy is coming!"


What are you reading, watching and grateful for? Have you been vaccinated or do you know when you may be eligible? I lucked out and had zero side effects, although that might be because of my immune suppressing drugs. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Paul at 3!

Paul turned 3 last week so I am a due for an update post. I do these every 6 months now. It's fun to look back at previous posts and see how much he has changed. It's a reminder that every phase - good and bad - really goes by quickly in the grand scheme of things. It is a little hard to believe that he is 3 but at the same time, I'm not sad about that. A lot of parents talk about how sad they are when their kids celebrate birthday or new stages of development. Phil and I feel like we are in the minority on this as we aren't exactly sad that they are getting bigger/older. I think part of that is because we think we are best-suited to parent kids at age 4 and older. Don't get me wrong, we appreciate and enjoy things about each stage, but the early years of a child's life are so physically demanding - especially for the mom. So we look forward to stages where they have more independence (and fewer tantrums!). Maybe I will come to a time when I will feel sad when they turn a year older but we aren't there yet. 

Growth: He's still petite but is up to 9th percentile for weight which is the highest he's ever been since migrating down from his birth weight. He's almost 27.5 pounds and 36.5". He grew 2" since his 2.5 year appointment so is definitely getting bigger. His doctor was really happy with his growth and we've gotten to the point where I don't worry about how much he weighs. 

Words and phrases: Paul is quite the chatty kid and has started to mimic things we say. Like one day when he got home from school with Phil, I asked how his day was and he said, 'It was busy!' Hahahaha. He has clearly picked that up from Phil and me - mostly Phil though since I'm not working right now so I never use the word "busy" to describe my day. Another funny phrase he says is, "I'm tooting out a poop" when he is pooping. Maybe TMI, but that's life with a toddler! One last story - he was sitting on Phil's lap to read a book and Phil got distracted and didn't start reading right away. Paul turned around and said, "You don't know the words?" 

He understands Spanish and uses words occasionally, but he mostly speaks in English. He's starting to learn how to spell words - like Stop is a word he loves to spell. And he loves to yell "stop" when he sees a stop sign. We've been working on spelling his name but he isn't super interested in that yet. 

Likes:

- Being outside and especially going to the park! We had our first park visit last weekend and he had the best time on the swings. He will still ride in the stroller for longer walks. He also likes to use his scooter but we obviously haven't had that out since we got snow. Our snow is all gone, though, so he'll probably start scooting on the weekends. My MIL has one of those strider bikes so we'll introduce that this spring, too.




- Baking is one of his favorite activities to do with me. My sister got him a little baking set for his birthday so he's been pretending to make muffins. 




- His favorite shows to watch are Curious George, Dinosaur Train and Daniel Tiger. He gets to watch a show while eating breakfast every morning and after naps on weekends. I have relied on tv more when I am on my own with both boys, especially if I need Paul to be quiet while Will naps. But I think the amount of screen time he gets is fine and it's something I try not to feel guilty about as he tends to learn things from watching his PBS shows. 

- Reading is still one of his favorite things to do which makes me so happy! We got him some curious George books for his birthday and he said that was his favorite present! He's mostly moved beyond board books, although the birth of Will has reinvigorated his interest in them as he feels like they are "his" books. But he mostly enjoys picture books which I enjoy reading way more!

- Lastly, he loves to play games. We have Hi-Ho Cherry-O, The Hungry Caterpillar, My First Orchard (our favorite) and Dinosaur matching game. I love playing games so am glad he's at the age where he can play them!

Dislikes:

- Getting out the door for school. He does not like to run on someone else's schedule so will get very resistant and crabby. 1/2 the time Phil carries him out of the house crying but he cheers up pretty quickly. 

- Seeing mom read books to Will. I try to have him "read" to Will as he has most of the books I read to Will memorized. But mostly I just avoid reading to Will in front of Paul.

Eating: is still a challenge. He eats more foods than he did in the past but he is still very picky and refuses to even try a lot of things. We talked about it at his 3y appointment and his doctor isn't too concerned and thinks it's typical toddler pickiness. We are told that he eats well at school so we know he CAN eat things. His favorite foods are cottage cheese, banana pancakes, pasta, graham crackers, hummus, applesauce, and taquitoes. 

Potty training: Ugh I wish I had a great update for this but he is still extremely resistant to training at home. He uses the potty at school so we know he can do it. After talking it over with a friend with potty resistant boys and his doctor, we've decided that the pull-ups are going away Easter weekend. So we are basically forcing him to train, but we know he can do it since he uses the potty at school. And he will sometimes tell us when he is peeing in his pull-up, so clearly he's aware of what his body is doing. Wish us luck! I'm ready to be done with having 2 kids in diapers! 

Big brother adjustment: Overall I feel like he's done as well as can be expected for a 3 year old. He definitely gets jealous at times, but he is mostly very sweet towards Will. He will try to comfort him if Will is crying and is always asking if he can touch Will or hug him. We're still working on gentle touch, though! I had the boys take a bath together once last month and while I wouldn't want to do that often, it went pretty well! He also likes to share/show toys to Will which is pretty sweet.



Toddler behavior: We've definitely seen our share of toddler tantrums. Since I have 7 nieces and nephews, I know this is par for the course and will get better with time. It's just not fun to deal with in the moment, especially with a baby on the scene. He is not great listening at times which drives me absolutely crazy but again, I know it's a stage and a way for him to assert his will. 

So that's Paul at 3! So challenges, but lots of fun changes and development, too. I love how more and more of his personality comes out as he gets older. He is a very sweet, loving, and funny little kid and is generous with hugs, kisses, and telling us he loves us! 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

February Reads

February was another strong reading month, although I did not read quite as much as January! Will went from being up at least 3 times a night to mostly 2 times, with the occasional 3, so I read a bit less and slept a bit more. Yay! But I still managed to read 12 books! 

Hits


The 5 books above were my favorite reads of the month. You can't go wrong with any of these 5. Everything I Never Told You was a re-read and I think I loved it even more the 2nd time around. The Push was a total page turner about a new mother who struggles to connect with her daughter and wonders if something is off. Code Name Helene was based on the true story of a woman who worked for the Resistance during WWII. I appreciated it even more when I learned how much was based on the life of the woman who inspired the book. I'm Still Here was a quick read about being racial injustice, particularly for women of color. The author is female - her parents named her Austin because they knew when she was older and applying to college/jobs, people would think she was a white male and might have a better shot at what she was applying for. What Could Be Saved was about an American family who moves to Bangkok for the husband's job and their son goes missing. When the book starts off, the sister of the missing boy receives an email saying that her brother has been found. It's been something like 30 years since he went missing, maybe more (my memory of the details is foggy). This was a total page turner for me! 

Pretty good

These books fall into the 'pretty good' category. 


Misses:

Interestingly, 2 of these 3 books - Hamnet and The Song of Achilles - are based on previously written works that I had not read. I think not having read either of the source works impacted my reading experience and I felt pretty meh about them. The same goes for The Jane Austen Society. I actually do not like Jane Austen at all - I just don't understand the hype. I've read 2 of her books and felt so meh about both of them. But I thought this book sounded cute but I'd only suggest reading it if you are a Jane Austen aficionado! 



Paul and Will's Reads:

I love this picture below of Paul cuddled up on the couch with a book my parents sent him for Valentine's Day! He loves books so much and it makes my heart so happy!


And here's Paul "reading" a book about animal tales to William. Such a sweet moment! Will was very captivated as he is quite interested in his big brother!


One discovery I made this month is that Paul has the book, "The Mitten" memorized! We received this Ukrainian book from a good friend at work and it's become one of Paul's favorite books. It shocked me when he took over the reading of it the other night and basically knew every word. These little minds can store so much information. He has memorized other books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, but memorizing The Mitten is a step above that as there is dialogue - it's not just pictures/repetitive phrases like the other books he'd memorized! So that was a very cool discovery!

Did you read anything good this month? Do you remember memorizing books when you were little? My mom talks about how I had the book, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" memorized. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Paul is 3!

Paul turned 3 today (insert the cliche comment about how fast time flies)! Since his birthday fell on a Monday and he's at school, we decided to start the celebration on Sunday. I mean during COVID times, we need an extra dose of joy so figured a 2-day celebration was a good idea.

On Sunday morning, after Will's first nap of the day, Paul and I made his cookie cake together. Paul is very particular about desserts and does not like cake (or ice cream!) but he loves cookies so we made a giant cookie. He is a very good helper in the kitchen and it's a great way to incorporate some math as I talked about how 2 1/2 teaspoons make 1 teaspoon, etc!


He got his dino costume out while the cooking cake was baking. We have definitely gotten our money's worth for that costume!


That morning we FaceTimed with Phil's mom so she could see him open presents from her. She got her 2nd dose of the vaccination last Monday so wasn't quite fully protected enough to join the celebration. But we will see her next weekend and can't wait! 


The book was a hit, of course, but he loved these "number bot" that she got from Lakeshore Learning (local store that many teachers frequent) - the numbers all turn into robots. The set also came with plus, minus, divide and multiply signs so it's a toy we'll use for years as he learns math. 



After his nap, we FaceTimed with my parents. They are in AZ visiting my sister/meeting their newest grandchild so Paul also got to see his aunt, uncle and new cousin! He loved the gifts from my parents, which included this awesome dinosaur blanket. We'll probably use this on his bed when he converts from a crib to a big boy bed.



After dinner, we had his birthday cookie cake, which I had decorated with homemade buttercream frosting earlier in the day. I am glad I did not use much frosting as it turns out he doesn't like frosting either. I am not at all surprised as he is so picky! 


The cookie decorations are NOT GREAT. I am not good at things like this. Give me a spreadsheet or math problem over something that requires creativity! Ha! But it's the thought that counts and it tasted delicious. Paul only had about 2 bites, though. I don't know if he ate too much at dinner or was too thrown off by the shape of the dessert? Toddlers, man! But hopefully he'll eat more tonight!

Other highlights of the day included playing all the board games we own - a matching game, Hi Ho Cherry-0, My First Orchard (our favorite!) and The Hungry Caterpillar game. I am glad he's at the game playing stage as I also love playing games!

We ended the night with me doing bedtime. I had us read "On the Night You Were Born" as one of his 4 bedtime books. After he was in bed, Phil and I reminisced a bit about the night he was born. You can read all about his birth story here. It's more fun to reminisce about than it was to experience it. Ha! 

Next week I'll do a "Paul at 3" post! 

What is your birthday treat of choice? I'm also not a huge fan of cake, especially GF cake. I'd make this cookie cake again, though. My other favorite treat is French macarons!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Baby Will at 2.5 Months

With Paul, I did updates on a monthly basis but I am finding that Will is making that difficult since he does not like to be set down much during the day. He will tolerate being set down for short periods as you'll see from the likes section, but he will only sleep during the day when being held. I hoping this improves soon! He's still in that "4th trimester" phase so I'm going with the flow until he's a bit older. The other moms in my mom's group are going through the same thing with their babies so at least I'm not alone!

Here's what is going on his/our world these days!


Growth: We had his 2 month appointment last week. He weighed 11lb 4oz, which is 14th percentile and he’s 24” long, which is 96th percentile! The doctor was not surprised to see his weight percentile drop quite a bit from birth as she knows we have smaller kiddos since Paul was slower to gain weight. She was happy with his growth and developmental milestones. 

Likes: 

Being bounced. We spend so much time bouncing. Most days my FitBit thinks that I have been on the elliptical! It has gotten better in the last couple of weeks but we still spend a good amount of time bouncing when he is fussing. I easily get 10k steps/day, even when we don't leave the house. During the fussiest 6-8 week stretch I would get more than 20k in!

A particularly difficult day full of bouncing!

Burrowing into mom when napping. I don't know how this is comfortable for him but he loves to do this while napping. I promise he can breathe!


He likes to be read bright-colored books.


One place I can reliably set him down is the bouncer seat, especially if I bounce it with my foot. In this picture, Paul is giving him some love. He often wants to climb in on top of William - still working on teaching him not to smother his brother!


He likes to lay on this boppy lounger and smile/have cooing conversations with mom. It's so sweet!


He likes to lay on his activity mat and look at himself in the mirror. 



Dislikes: baths, although he doesn't scream through the whole thing like he previously did. He is starting to like dad more but he has a harder time getting him calmed down than I do. At least things are improving on that front, though! He also hates his car seat/being in the car. Paul was the same way! I know some people’s kids love the car but it seems like our kids don’t! 

Firsts:  He started to smile and coo a couple of weeks ago which is so fun! He also got his first round of vaccinations at his 2 month appointment on Friday.




Feeding: Breastfeeding continues to go well. I've started to pump after his morning feed so I can create a stash of pumped milk in the freezer. Occasionally I keep some in the fridge so Phil can give him a bottle, especially on days when I'm away at an appointment. I've heard of others whose kids refused to drink a bottle at daycare so I want to avoid that!

Sleeping: is so much better! Once he hit 2 months things really improved. He is up about twice a night usually and typically goes back to sleep easily. As I mentioned above, daytime sleep is a different story as he will not sleep laying in the swing or snoo. Hopefully this improves soon!

Mama: I was feeling ready to add in some real workouts but then my c-section pain returned a couple of weeks ago - I think from some of the vigorous bouncing I was doing. So I am working on some core exercises to see if that will help and am going to try to see a pelvic floor PT to have her assess my abs and see if ab separation is the culprit or what is going on. So for now I am sticking to walks, but the weather has made them impossible lately as it's been soooo cold lately - like highs around 0 or even colder. 

I'm halfway through my maternity leave which is crazy! It is going by pretty fast. It can be a little isolating since we don't see people indoors and outdoor walks with friends are out of the question until it warms up. But all in all, I am enjoying my leave. 

Pablo: I think the "honeymoon" phase of becoming a big brother is over and we've started to see some jealousy surface. I know this is totally normal, though, so we are both trying to spend one-on-one time with Pablo each weekend. He really loves his little brother but is still learning about 'gentle touch.' We've definitely seen some challenging behavior from Pablo but it's hard to separate whether that's related to becoming a big brother or just part of being almost 3! But all in all, he is handling the adjustment as well as can be expected!