Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Could he be cuter?

I promise I will not make a habit of posting pictures of my children on the potty, but seriously, could he be any cuter?! 
First thing in the morning.
His favorite one-piece footy pajamas hanging down.
Giant Calvin n' Hobbes book to keep him entertained.
Love him.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who Says it has to be Itsy Bitsy?

Confession:  I haven't worn a one piece bathing in about 15 years. 
The last one I remember wearing was a navy blue Speedo commemorating the {then current} 1996 Olympic Games--totally sporty, not fashionable. 

Swim suits are a hard issue for me.

For the past several years, I have had a huge war waging in my head over them.  On the one hand, I don't want to give bikinis up because they are cute, I have a bunch of them already, and they are so much easier to shop for than one pieces.  If Luke and I had our own private beach, I would wear them forever!  But, on the other hand, I feel self-conscious wearing a bikini because it doesn't feel right to be showing so much skin. 
A couple years ago I tried on a few singlets, and I ended up running from the dressing room!  They pulled up in the wrong places, pulled down in the wrong places, and were very uncomfortable.  I was disappointed because, at this point in my life, they would be a more genuine expression of where my heart is, and I was hoping to find a one piece that was comfortable--and, to be honest, flattering.  Once in awhile, I just throw a tank top on over my bikini, but that isn't ideal, nor is it all that practical now that I have kiddos who like water and I am going to be spending a lot of time at the pool.

So, I have decided to resume my search for a one-piece.  I may have to look high and low and try on dozens of suits, but I am determined that the next suit I wear out is going to be a one-piece/tankini.  I can't say that I will never wear a bikini again, but I am hoping that this is a step in that direction. 

Two of the websites I have been checking out are Rey Swimwear and Lime Ricki

This one is super cute!
But I wonder if it's comfortable? 
And the likelihood that I will be hitting the pool with styled hair, jewelry,
or makeup is pretty much slim to none...will it still be cute?? :) 
I need to finally put in the effort and at least try wearing a one piece suit.  Wish me luck!
Anyone have a one-piece/tankini that you just love?  Where did you get it?  

Tandem Nursing: Part Three

Finally, Part 3--the part where I actually talk about Tandem Nursing!  This should actually be dated around the beginning of August...I just never got around to publishing it.  Here are Parts One and Two if you missed them.

Since I delivered Gemma at a birthing center, rather than at a hospital, we were able to come home four hours after she was born.  Thus, we were only away from Augustine for six hours total!  Moreover, he went down to bed shortly after we left, so he didn't miss a beat when it came to nursing.  

In the morning, Luke brought Augustine into our room to meet his sweet baby sister.  Gemma and I were lying in bed, and after some family bonding and cuddling, Gemma was ready to eat.  I told Augustine that Gemma was going to have some "meme {milk}," and he said that he wanted some, too.  As Gemma began nursing, I said something along the lines of it being Gemma's turn or that she needed to eat first, and Augustine just burst into tears!  It was too heartbreaking for me to see him cry because I knew he didn't understand and because there were so many changes going on all at once for him.  ...So, we had our first literal tandem nursing session right then and there.  In reality, such simultaneous nursing sessions have been very few and far between.  It's a lot more comfortable for all of us when the babies nurse individually.  Yet, on occasion, they do happen.

Over the course of Gemma's first month of life, I got Augustine down from nursing 2-3 times to just nursing once per day--right before his nap.  Each afternoon, I would lay down on a mattress on his floor with him and nurse him to sleep, as I had been doing for the past four months.  It worked well during that season of life for a couple of reasons: 1)  It gave him a set time to look forward to in terms of nursing.  Whenever he asked to nurse, I told him he couldn't nurse then but that he could nurse before his nap and he understood that and would move on with his day.  Although he did often tell me, as early as 9am, that he was "tired" because he knew if he went to sleep he would get to nurse!  2)  It pretty much guaranteed he would take a good nap.  There are very few days in Augustine's life when he hasn't napped so him giving up his nap wasn't really a concern, but I did like knowing that he would peacefully go to sleep each day while nursing.  3)  Nursing Augustine only once a day was manageable.  I felt like I was nursing around the clock the first week--it's easy to forget how often newborns eat!
Silly babies.
But, unfortunately, as Gemma got more and more fussy, I couldn't even put her down long enough to nurse Augustine to sleep, and there was no way I was sabotaging his nap!  So, I began letting him nurse at other times instead of at nap time.  Very thankfully, the transition went great, and he continued to take long naps without nursing to sleep.  I still limited his nursing to once or twice a day though because I was on such a restricted diet for Gemma that, despite eating all day long, I was having a really hard time keeping weight on.  I wanted to make sure Gemma got what she needed first, and I didn't want to burn up all my calories/energy on nursing. 

Once I added gluten back into my diet at the end of May, however, it was much easier to get calories, and I was more lax about when Augustine nursed {due to a dairy/soy protein intolerance and other possible allergies, I cut several foods out of my diet to accommodate Gemma and continue nursing her}.  In an effort to appease him without a drawn out nursing session every time he asked {and to make sure he wasn't drinking all of Gemma's milk}, I would often tell him he could just have a "taste."  It was pretty funny to see him approach me standing up, literally just take a little taste, and then go back to playing.  He caught onto me quickly though and started saying, "sit" before his taste so that I would sit down and hold him and he could nurse for a longer time.  I obliged, as my milk supply was never threatened, and I had put on a few pounds.

Before I knew it, Augustine was nursing more than he had nursed since before I got pregnant--often 3+ times a day!  He nursed when he was bored, when he was sad, when he got hurt, when he wanted to cuddle, when we were at Mass, etc.   I told Luke to just call me "Bessie" because I felt like a Mama Cow between nursing Augustine and Gemma.

As you can see, there has been a lot of ebbing and flowing with our tandem nursing situation.  Gemma nurses as she wants, but with Augustine we do what works for awhile and then adapt as our circumstances change.

My babies cuddling with their Daddy.
At present, we are back to Augustine nursing two times a day...and asking to nurse 47,423 times a day.  It is quite exasperating at times.  I get exhausted just hearing him ask to nurse  It's not always an issue--if we are out and about and keeping busy, he does just fine, but stick us inside all afternoon on a rainy day, and he will ask for "meme" until he is blue in the face.  It is never easy to turn down your wee one when he wants to nurse--in fact, it kills me.  And sometimes I do cry about it.  A primary reason I decided to let Augustine self-wean is for the emotional aspect of nursing, and it can feel counter-productive when I have to tell him no, sometimes sternly.  Once in awhile, I just throw in the towel and decide to nurse him whenever he asks for it...but then he usually ends up nursing several times before noon, and I remember why it's probably not practical to nurse him and Gemma full time {or is it??}.  Gemma nurses like your typical exclusively breastfed baby.  She nurses every 1 1/2-3 1/2 hours during the day, nurses to sleep for most of her naps and at night, and usually gets up twice at night to eat.  On so many levels, I know we have taken the best path for our family by choosing to tandem nurse, but that doesn't mean I don't struggle with it, too. 

For over 2 1/2 years, nursing had been a very special part of my relationship with Augustine--and all we have ever known--but it is really hard at times.  In my experience, the journey of tandem nursing is much tougher emotionally than it is physically.  And for me that emotional struggle is in my nursing relationship with Augustine, not Gemma.  Maybe it is practical to nurse both of them on demand.  I guess that's what I want deep down.  I am just scared Augustine will become even more dependent on it {is that even a bad thing??}, and I am scared I won't produce enough milk for both of them.  Sometimes there is just no easy answer, and this is one of those issues for me.  I just want to do what is best for my babies.  I know weaning Augustine is not the answer, but I don't know whether restricting him or not would be better.  I welcome advice/suggestions from anyone who has been through this or who just has an insight.  Just keep in mind that Augustine really, really loves to nurse.

Anybody who knows me well knows that nursing Augustine as an infant was pretty much heaven on earth for me.  Since his earliest months he has played with my hair while nursing--he immediately reaches for it, and to this day if it is in a bun or a braid, I let it down so he can hold it and run his fingers though it.  The commentary that now accompanies his nursing sessions is quite comical.  He will tell me, "Meme all gone," "Gemmy drank all the meme," "Other side," and, my favorite, "Come bbaacckk meme!"  I love how cuddly he is and how content he is snuggled in my arms.  So, as trivial a problem as it may seem to others, maintaining a positive nursing situation for Augustine is a priority for me.  I don't think Gemma is phased by the fact that Augustine nurses because she has never known anything different, she is only 7 months old, I nurse her on demand, and I always attend to her needs first.

*I quickly want to mention that although I have chosen to breastfeed and follow child-led weaning, I do not judge those who do not take my path.  It would be foolish of me to ever assume I knew more about a someone's situation than I do, and I know there are a lot of variables that influence such decisions.  I feel beyond blessed that I have been able to nurse both my babies, and it is not something that I take for granted.  I speak passionately about breastfeeding in my blog because it is something that I am passionate about, that I love, and that I hold dear to my heart, but I would never want to make another Mama feel inferior or inadequate if she was not able to breastfeed.  I genuinely believe that we Mothers do what we think is best for our children and that you never know fully what another Mom has been through or what factors have influenced the decisions she makes.*   

Monday, October 1, 2012

Life in Colorado

It's hard to believe, but we arrived in Colorado one month ago!  In some ways it feels like we have been here forever because things feel so natural and normal, but in other ways, it feels like just yesterday we were packing up the moving truck and preparing to drive across the county. 
Taking a wagon ride to our neighborhood park.
I am sure part of the reason time is flying is because of all the chaos that comes along with moving--unpacking, getting settled, long "to-do" lists, etc.--but time is also passing quickly because we are having so much fun!  Living near family has been every bit as wonderful as I imagined, and more!  My family has been so welcoming, hospitable, and accommodating as we get settled--we have, without a doubt, eaten more dinners at one of my sister's or Dad's house this past month than at home. 
My niece and I are the Scottish Festival, where she twirled her baton.
Augustine and his cousin, Tavian, fight like brothers, but they are quick to forgive and ask to see each other everyday.  Our kiddos have six (soon to be seven) cousins right here in town and another three just a couple hours away, so they have a lot of playmates.  I am one happy girl to be living SO close to my sisters.  We are literally less than three miles from both Sarah and Caitlin, and it is awesome!  Especially with Luke's mornings away from the house with soccer practice, it's nice to be able to meet up with my sisters at a moment's notice.
Me and my sisters Sarah's baby shower--can't wait to have another baby girl in the family soon!!
We are getting settled nicely.  Neither Luke or myself can stand to have unpacked boxes sitting around, so we had everything unpacked and put away within a couple days.  Our goal is to have our garage clutter free--aside from things that truly belong in the garage--so that we can both park our cars in there, especially in the winter.  We have a big, unfinished basement, so we just chose a small area down there to store things like Christmas decorations, baby clothes, and special memories (and like a gazillion photo albums!).  After living for a couple of weeks with empty living and dining rooms, we purchased couches and a formal dining room table last week, and our house is truly starting to look, and feel, like our home.  Pretty much all we have left to do on our "urgent list" is purchase a couple more window treatments and hang a few more pictures.  I am also working on the kids' playroom, but I am not in a rush to finish that. 
Having fun, and eating ridiculously good food, at Chris and Sarah's annual Egg Fest (i.e. grill cookoff).
Luke has really been flexing his handy man skills this past month.  They are coming out of the wood works, I tell you--I had no idea he could be so handy, putting in shelves, building a stand for our tv, painting the pantry door, assembling furniture, taking care of the yard.  He also has an opinion on all things decorating, which I find cute and attractive, if not annoying when we are arguing over what our accent color in the kitchen should be.  (We are going with red, by the way.  It was Luke's idea, and it looks great, if I do say so myself :)).  
As wonderful as life is here, it has been a lot of changes for all of us.  The transition has been the easiest on me--after all, I did spend the majority of my first 24 years here, and I am familiar with the city and my family (quirks and all).  It was hard to leave Richmond so suddenly and not to be able to say goodbye to some of my close friends in person, but I am thankful that I can stay in touch with them through Facebook...and I welcome anyone to come visit! :) 
Gemma and her BFF cousins. :)
Overall, the kids are doing great, but we have run into a few issues.  Gemma has been sleeping (and I use that word loosely) poorly since the move.  With teething and diet changes on my part and separation anxiety and moving across the county, there are a number of things that could be contributing to her sleeping woes.  Perhaps most significantly, we transitioned her out of her rock n' play and into her crib when we moved, and we think she really dislikes sleeping in her crib.  The past couple nights we have brought her in bed with us after she wakes up for the first time.  She is sleeping much better that way, so we are going to keep that up for a week or two and then try the crib again.  Since the move my sweet baby girl has started crawling and pulling herself up--it is all happening too fast--yet she still violently rejects food, other than good old breastmilk. 
Gemma being her sassy self.  Oh, she is sososo cute!
Augustine is doing really, really well given all the changes.  He is struggling with separation anxiety, but I think that is totally normal considering that he is surrounded by new faces all around.  It can, however, be quite disconcerting to onlookers when he suddenly starts screaming bloody murder when I disappear out of his view.  He is as cute and cuddly as ever and makes Luke and I laugh everyday.  He is talking non-stop, singing his ABC's, counting, and spending a lot of time running and jumping with Tavian. 
Augustine and his super tall tower he built.
Luke is enjoying Colorado life--"just living the dream," as he says--but the move has been difficult for him emotionally.  He has a lot on his plate with helping to manage the business in Richmond, trying to grow Mighty Kicks, and practicing with the Rapids (which entails two hours of driving each day).  And then, of course, it takes some getting used to being with my family all the time after spending all six years of our relationship thus far not living near any family.  It was a huge relief for me when Luke announced that he loved our house, as he didn't get to see it before we bought it and he was just going off of the pictures online and my recommendation.  We eat dinner outside on our back patio as often as possible to take advantage of the great weather and the glorious yard that pretty much sold the house for him.  I couldn't ask for a better or more patient husband.  Seriously, he puts up with me without complaint, and I give him plenty to complain about. :)
Love these girls!!
God has blessed us so much with this move and with our home and with everything going so smoothly.  For weeks I felt like Luke and I were either just playing house or that we were on vacation because I don't feel grown up enough to have a big house with a big backyard.  Yet, here we are, and we couldn't be happier. 
Sorry this update is lengthy, but I have been totally mia on the interweb for the past month and needed to catch you all up on our lives! 
Happy October!!  Yeah for fall! :)