Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Currently: April 2021

Happy Wednesday! I'm coming at you from my first full week back at work and OMG I am tired! I do not remember feeling like this with Paul but that was almost 3 years ago and that time of my life is such a blur. I didn't think sitting at a desk for 8-9 hours a day would be so tiring! I guess using using my brain in a different way is wearing me out, though. Here's what is currently going on in my life!

Reading: Happy Ever After Playlist. I needed something light and easy to read since my brain is working harder during the day. So far it's been a really delightful read. It's in the romance genre so I know there is going to be a happy ending - sometimes I need that from a book!

Loving: the stage Will is in. He's such a happy little guy and doesn't mind being held by others. He does a lot of cooing, babbling and smiling! I'm really glad the fussiest stage is behind us!

Feeling: tired as I mentioned above! Going back to work is exhausting, even though I am sitting in a desk chair all day and not doing a ton of 'real work' yet. It takes awhile to get all my systems back up and running and after being out for 4.5 months, I feel very out of the loop. But everyone tells me to take it easy right now and not feel pressured to jump back in at full strength - so I am listening to them! I'm also feeling tired because Will is waking up more than usual. I figured this might happen since he's not seeing us during the day. He was getting up once a night before starting daycare but now it's about twice a night. I'm hoping he goes back to waking once a night in a week or so. 

Anticipating: a more "normal" summer! I think most of the adults in my family have been vaccinated or will be soon and more and more of our friends are vaccinated. So while we will still be cautious and avoid restaurants, for example, I'm looking forward to seeing more people this summer and going to the lake on a  regular basis. The reason we are avoiding restaurants is two-fold: first, we have a baby and a toddler so eating out is not exactly the most fun activity. Second, I want to see more data about how well-protected I am by the vaccine. I'm on immune suppressant drugs so have been advised to continue to err on the side of caution as there is a chance the vaccine doesn't provide the protection it does to someone who isn't on multiple immune suppressant drugs (I'm on 2). But honestly I don't miss eating in restaurants - at least not yet. We barely ate out pre-covid! 

Struggling: with some toddler tantrums from Paul - which is developmentally normal but still unpleasant to deal with. He has really big feelings about things - and sometimes those big feelings are over nothing whatsoever... 

Grateful: that my parents were able to watch Will for my first 2 days back at work. It was nice to be able to go upstairs and visit him during quiet times. Plus it was nice to get a feel for how much he drinks so I knew how much milk to send to daycare. Breastfeeding is great but you have NO IDEA how much they drink! He didn't drink great on the first day but improved on the 2nd day and now he's drinking 15-16 oz at daycare so seems to be getting plenty!

Working: on introducing more exercise back into my life! I started the 21 Day Fix Beachbody Program - but I am not doing it over the course of 21 consecutive days as the program was designed because that's a bit too much for me. My goal is to do 3 workouts from the program/week, so it will take me 7 weeks to do it, not 3. And that is just fine! I'm also doing some run/walks which feel good! I'm going to start running with a neighbor once a week. We are doing our first run today at 4. I hope she is prepared to run with a slow person! Ha! But I had told her I could only do run/walk intervals so I think she knows what she is getting into.

Listening: to podcasts as usual, as well as the newest Taylor Swift album. I like the direction she's taken things on the last 2 albums!

Watching: the new season of Top Chef! This is one of my all-time favorite shows so I am so happy they were able to film a season despite covid! 

that spring weather would arrive here for good. It's been really chilly lately and we've had so much rain and wind. I know this is par for the course for spring in Minnesota but I can still wish for better weather! It looks like it will warm up this weekend, though. I'm hoping we can spend lots of time outdoors as that tires Paul out which is good for everyone!

Bonus Will photo:

He was all smiles and happy to see us when we picked him up from his first day at daycare!

How are you doing? What are you anticipating, grateful for and watching?

Monday, April 26, 2021

Baptism Weekend + Return To Work

Woo, I am coming at you on Monday of my first full week of work! I'm feeling pretty exhausted and imagine I'm only going to feel more tired as the week progresses but that's infant mom life for you! 

I returned to work on Thursday! My parents came on Wednesday night so they could watch Will for the first 2 days. It was nice to be able to visit him throughout the day and see how he did with bottles before sending him to daycare. He didn't eat great on Thursday but Friday was a much better day so hopefully he eats plenty today. Fingers crossed. I know it's a big adjustment to go from breastfeeding to bottles. We did give the occasional bottle when I was home with him, but not often enough for them to feel familiar to him.

I somehow did not take a single picture of my parents holding Will! Whoops! But they got lots of time with him on Thursday and Friday! I logged off at 3 on Friday since work was quiet and I was missing my boy! It's been a very gradual return to work as it takes time to get plugged back in to all that is going on at work. 

Reading up on bedtime routines!

We had the baptism on Sunday morning so Saturday was a very busy day as we had lots to do to prepare for the post-baptism meal. I soaked up snuggles with Will in the between all the prep work!

Pablo helped Nana make some chocolate chip cookies. Excuse the mess in our kitchen! 

And Pablo got a long overdue haircut so he's looked extra snazzy for baptism photos.

So much love between these 2 already. Will LOVES to watch Pablo!

The baptism was after mass on Sunday morning. Paul did really well during mass and not so well during the baptism (you can see him trying to squirm away from Phil in this photo). But he exceeded my expectations for mass so I can't really blame him for being rambunctious during the baptism.

The baptism attendance was capped at 10 due to covid precautions, so we just had the grandparents and Godparents. The baptism was really nice and Will handled the water pretty well and just squawked a tiny bit. 

He missed his nap that morning was fell asleep in my arms after the baptism.

We got home and took photos before Will went down for a nap. This is actually our first family photo since Will was born. It's not "great" as I'm the only one who is smiling but it's as good as it gets when you have 2 young kids, both of which were ready for naps at this point! 

We had a yummy lunch of burgers, brats, fruit salad, potato salad, and chips with corn and bean salsa. It was nothing fancy but it tasted good which is all that matters! I was glad it didn't rain while Phil was grilling! After everyone left, it briefly snowed! Minnesota springs just kind of suck. I had to wear a different outfit than I planned as it was too cold to have bare legs that morning. So it goes!

I was completely exhausted that afternoon but was able to lay down for an hour while Will napped. Paul has been waking up extra early and then I think he wakes William when he yells for us so it's time to get an 'ok to wake' alarm clock... He was up even earlier today ven though we pushed back his bedtime last night - he was up yelling for us at 5:30 am.. I thought the 6am wake-ups this weekend were bad enough so need to nip these early waking in the bud. 

How was your weekend? Is the weather spring-like where you are? It will warm up this week, thank goodness. I'm over these cold temps!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Monday Morning Virtual Coffee Date

Good morning and happy Monday! It's a chilly morning (34F) here but we are coming off a weekend of beautiful weather! So the cooler temps feel tolerable since I know there can't be that many more cold mornings left this spring - I hope. I thought a "coffee date" style of catch up would be a good approach for this last Monday of my maternity leave! 

If we were having coffee (or your morning beverage of choice!) today, I'd tell you that...

- The weather was so beautiful here this weekend. Paul spent so much time outside which is so good for all of us! He went to the park both days and played in our backyard quite a bit on Sunday. I wasn't able to spend as much time with him outside since it makes sense for me to focus on Will and Phil to focus on Paul. But I'm looking forward to a time when Will's awake windows are longer so I can come with to the park! He can only handle about 1.5 hours of awake time right now but that will extend to 2 hours around 5 months. 

- I am feeling good about my return to work this week. I think 20 weeks of maternity leave is the sweet spot for me. I didn't feel ready at 12 or 16 weeks, but in the last couple of weeks, I have felt ready. I am very lucky that I was able to take 20 weeks with both boys. My company provides 16 weeks, fully paid, and then I use 4 weeks of vacation time to extend it. I've really enjoyed my time at home with Will but he's at a stage now where he is very interested in people around him so I think he will love watching the other kids at daycare, especially the older ones (his room is infant through 18 months). I also think he will do ok with being cared for by someone else. He was totally fine being held by my parents last weekend at the lake even though he hadn't seen them since he was born (which he clearly has no memory of!). He put out his lower lip initially when I handed him off to my mom but then was all smiles. The teachers at our daycare are so amazing so I know he'll thrive under their care. We are going there this morning to meet his teacher/tour his room so that will help me feel even more ready for him to start daycare. 

Will I miss this cutie? Absolutely! But it will make me really appreciate the time I do get with him on evenings and weekends.

- Returning to work the second time around is just less overwhelming overall and it helps that I know I am meant to be a working mom. I had a very hard time during months 5-10 with Paul so I ended up taking every other Friday off for about 3 months to get some extra time with him. That is also the time period when Paul was dealing with ear infections and needed to get tubes. He slept so terribly so I am sure that contributed to my struggle. But now I know that if I start to have a hard time, it's temporary. I wish women were more open about the conflicting emotions they feel. I felt like other working moms didn't feel like this, but when I was on the other side of that struggle, I mentioned it to a couple of moms I work with and they said they went through the exact same thing! So I try to be very open about the struggle I had with other new moms in case they experience the same thing and want someone to talk to. 

- I was cleared by my pelvic floor PT to do 15 minutes of 1 minute running/30 second walking intervals. It's a very gradual return to running but I would rather play it safe and make sure my body is ready for it. Pregnancy and C-sections are hard on a woman's body but now that I know I'm never going to be pregnant again (HOORAY!!) I want to return to running smartly so I stay injury free. I can also start the 21 Day Fix Beach Body program but she wants me to modify to the lower impact exercises and avoid the crunching ab work until my ab separation is resolved. But I am excited to be able to do some REAL workouts. I have loved walking during maternity leave but am feeling the itch to do more cardio. I'm hoping that by the fall I will be able to maybe do a 10k. We'll see what I am feeling ready for!

Sunday morning run/walk selfie! Phil watched the boys so I was out on my own which felt AMAZING!

- We are having William's baptism this weekend! Since my parents are coming to watch Will for my first 2 days back at work, it made sense to have the baptism this weekend. The church caps baptism attendance at 10 people, so it will just be our family of 4, my parents, Phil's mom, and the Godparents. All of the adults are fully vaccinated so they will come back to our house afterwards for lunch. I am doing a very low key "barbecue" style of baptism lunch with grilled burgers and brats, potato salad, fruit salad, chips and salsa, and bars and cookies for dessert. Plus that is food that pretty much everyone likes! Plus with our long winters, us Minnesotans LOVE grilled food since our grilling season is so short.

- I'm on edge about what this week will bring in Minnesota. Sadly we are back in the headlines for another police shooting that occurred last week. Plus closing arguments will happen today in the Chauvin trial - the jury will probably start deliberation tomorrow. I hope and pray that Chauvin is convicted. Phil and I feel like it is extremely unlikely he will get off but you never know. I'm hoping today is the only day Phil will work downtown because things could get bad if Chauvin gets off. I know our city has a lot of plans for how to handle things, though. I just don't want a repeat of what happened last summer when our city was literally on fire. 

- I just finished an excellent book last night called "The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano." It's a "Sliding Doors" kind of book about the different paths the protagonist's life that hinges on whether or not she had a child. It was extremely well done and I had the hardest time putting it down!

I would of course want to know how YOU are doing! I'd want to know what you are reading and watching, whether you've been vaccinated, and how you are feeling overall. So please share in the comments!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Baby Will at 4 months

Will turned 4 months a little over a week ago. We have noticed a huge difference in his temperament in the last several weeks which has been so nice! He is a much happier baby. That 6-12 week stretch is really rough for many babies as they tend to be super fussy. I'm glad that stretch it behind us. Here is how he is doing at 4 months!

Growth: He weighed 13.5 pounds and was 26" at his 4-month appointment. He's a smaller than average baby, weight-wise, but seems so big compared to Paul! He is also super long! He wears 3-6m and 6m clothes due to his length, not girth! Paul was 28" at 1 year, so if Will keeps growing at this pace (he grew 2" in the last 2 months) he is going to be a much taller guy than Paul. 


He has really started to like books in the last several weeks. He always seemed to enjoy being read to, but now he really looks at the pages. 

He likes to lay on blankets or his activity mat and play with toys and roll from side to side. He hasn't figured out how to roll from back to stomach but I think he'll figure it out in the next several weeks!

He likes playing in the jumper, although his toes don't touch the ground so we have to put the boppy lounger beneath him. He needs to weigh more before he can really enjoy this toy, but he likes playing with the toys on the jumper. 

He loves his big brother! He really enjoys watching what he is doing. Paul is a big fan of Will, too, and is pretty good at holding him. We are still working on 'gentle touch' as sometimes Paul's hugs are a bit, uh, smothering!

Dislikes: being tired (who doesn't dislike that?) and going to bed/down for naps at times. Other than that he is pretty happy!

Firsts:  We went to the lake as a family of 4 for the first time last weekend. The drive is around 3 hours but both boys did really well. We had to stop once at the halfway point so I could feed Will. We had a great time at my parents! It was a very quick trip - we got there around lunch on Friday morning and left on Sunday morning. But it was nice to fit a quick trip in during my maternity leave. I'm looking forward to regular trips up there in 2021. We only went to the lake once in 2020 as we were nervous about giving my parents covid - with Paul in daycare, there was always a risk he would be a carrier. But now that my parents are fully vaccinated, it's safe to see them so we'll enjoy way more time with them this year!

Papa and Will

He was very interested in Nana's coffee cup! Give me some of the good stuff, Nana!

Holding hands with brother Paul

He enjoyed time in the swing at my parents. We don't have a swing at home - I sometimes wished we did as he enjoyed this swing, but our main floor is kind of small and we just don't have room for one.

He started giggling last week which is the BEST sound ever! He giggled for the first time during his 4 month appointment when the doctor was doing her examination. She said he made her day! The next time he giggled was in response to me laughing at something on tv which I thought was so cute! 

Feeding: He continues to eat well. I was a little worried that my supply was low as I felt so empty at his bedtime feed, but his doctor assured me that is normal and his growth trend indicates he is getting plenty. My goal right now is to get to 6 months and then assess if I can stick with breastfeeding. I'm getting some minor flares so am always on prednisone which isn't optimal. The best treatment option for my RA is not safe for breastfeeding, though, so I have to decide what to prioritize - giving him breast milk or being on a better course of treatment. It's a tough decision so for now I am telling myself I can reassess at 6 months. Ideally, I'd like to breastfeed him for a year. Phil has given him the occasional bottle and he does so so with them. I'm hoping he does ok with bottles at daycare as I know some kids refuse to drink them. I'll get an idea of how he does next week when my parents watch him during my first 2 days back at work!!

Sleeping: He hit the dreaded 4 month sleep regression at 3.5 months and went from waking 2 times a night to wake every 2-2.5 hours, sometimes more often. Eeks. After several bad nights, I messaged his pediatrician and asked if we could do some sleep training - not to sleep through the night but to get him to fall asleep on his own. She gave us the green light and said we'd all be happier if he could learn the important skill of falling asleep on his own. I know this is a controversial/you do you type of decision. But for us, it was the right decision. Sleep training is a 2 week process and it was hard at times but effective. He falls asleep on his own now, usually within 5-10 minutes which he often spends cooing and rolling from side to side. He's up once a night to eat but has slept through the night twice. I don't expect him to sleep throught the night consistently until he weighs a bit more. His doctor said he needs to be at least 15 pounds before we can expect that. Some kids do it earlier of course, but she wouldn't push it until he weighs more. Getting up once a night is totally sustainable for me, though. Naps have been the toughest part, though. Before we started to sleep train, he would only sleep when being held! That was not sustainable, especially with him starting daycare at the end of the month! Naps have been very hit or miss and there are many days where his naps are all 30-40 minutes which makes for a looooonnngggg day, but I know naps take longer to improve. 

Mama: I have been feeling pretty good overall, aside from the flares I've been getting. I started to see a pelvic floor PT to work on some ab pain. She's also helped with mobilizing my c-section scar and assessed my pelvic floor. I highly recommend that every woman see a pelvic floor PT after they give birth. She is extremely knowledgeable and has been super helpful! In some countries, it's standard to see this kind of specialist after giving birth but in the US, this is a PT that is really underutilized in my opinion!

Pablo: continues to do really well with Will overall. There are times when he plugs his ears when Will is crying but I can't really blame him as I know it can be loud/jarring. He loves to hug and kiss his brother and bring him toys. We make an effort to spend one-on-one time with him as much as possible so he doesn't feel lost in the shuffle and that seems to help! 

And that's Will at 4 months! This is my last full week of maternity leave which is kind of crazy! I go back to work next Thursday. My parents are coming to watch Will for those first 2 days as he doesn't start daycare until the following Monday. I actually feel pretty ready to return to work. I will be working from home for 2021, so it will be a gentler return to work compared to Paul when we all had to be out of the house at 6:50 and I was pumping at work! I know I will miss him but overall, I know I'm meant to be a working mom. It helps to have a great daycare with providers we love and trust! Will is going to be in a small baby room, too, which is nice. There were 12 babies in Paul's room but will be 8 in Will's room. I'm hoping Will naps better than Paul did but I also know that it will be ok if he naps terribly!

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?