Happy 5 Months Silas!

Having two little ones makes life busy, don't get me wrong. But i think we've managed to not feel as harried as is often the assumption given JT and i both work full-time and have two little boys under three. I have noticed that life has picked up the pace now that i'm back at work, so i'm not suggesting that i'm spending hours in a hammock. I do however think that that working from home, not having a commute, JT's equal share in parenting, and two layed-back children, makes for a busy and fulfilling life that i wouldn't characterize as "out of control." I have a sense that the really busy times will come when the kids are a little older, in school, and busy with homework and their various interests. We'll have to figure out ways to manage all the competing demands at that point, but i'm sure we'll work something out when we get there-- or you'll hear me complaining about it here.

The torrential rains and thunderstorms finally let up this weekend, and we got to take advantage of one of the last two official weekends of summer by going with the Pendleton family out to their fancy pool and closing out Sunday with a bbq at our house. Just to give you an idea of JT's idea of an "easy Sunday bbq," the menu consisted of Thai-style bbq chicken, Thom ka soup (thai coconut milk-soup with mushrooms and shrimp), and sauteed asparagus. Tiffany gave me some great ideas for the basement revamp i'm planning and i hope to start tackling some of the projects in the next few weeks.

Although the month isn't quite over, i loaded photos from August onto Picasa.


Summer Deluge

I'm really glad that Henry got over his "scared phase" before all of these summer thunderstorms hit. Some of them have been absolutely gigantic-- very loud and very close. He just says "big rain" very dramatically and makes the sign for rain falling. He also sleeps through them no problem.

This weekend is supposed to be clear, which is good because we've finally managed to plan our big pool outing with Tabitha and her family. We've made it to our local pool several times this summer, but the pool out by Tab's family is more like a water park than the local pool. Henry had an amazing time out there last summer so hopefully he'll enjoy it as much this year.

I tweaked the side-bar items a tiny bit. Silas is mostly sleeping through the night now. By mostly i mean that he goes to sleep around 6:30 and i don't get him out of the crib until 6 am. Most nights he wakes up once or twice and i give him the pacifier and he goes right back to sleep. So, now i'll document what times he woke up during the night. I also added an item to help me keep track of my frozen milk supply.

I've been working down in the basement the past several nights trying to get things organized and cleaned up so that i can move ahead with my playroom plans. Right now i'm planning on areas for: arts and crafts, dress-up, sand table, blocks and big motor play, i.e balls, bikes, and slide. I know the big motor stuff will be necessary during the long winter months, but i think the dress-up area will be a big hit too. Henry is getting more and more into imaginative play. He frequently makes "soup" for us and "cold treats" and loves to watch us pretend to eat his concoctions. I let him wear an old costume of mine the other day and he had a ball parading around. I can't wait to raid our closets to find all manner of good dress-up items!


4M/ 3W/ 4D, 2Y/ 4M/ 4D

So i survived! JT was gone for 5 days, count-em 5 whole days, and i can tell you honestly that i've never been so happy to see anyone as when he walked in the door late Sunday afternoon. It's not that it's impossible to manage two children, and our two children are pretty mellow, but working both the am and pm shift when Silas isn't fully sleeping through the night is difficult-- definitely more difficult than i'm used to. Saturday we had a nice day, as we were able to get out to the park and hang out with Corey, Troy and Kerala. Kerala and Silas seemed to really enjoy their baby face off and playing with the same toys.

Sunday was a slightly different story. It's been raining and raining and raining and Sunday in particular was one long rainstorm. This prevented us from getting to the park or even the back-yard which made for one very wound-up 2 year old. I can tell that if i was a stay-at-home mom i would need to have a schedule and a bottomless list of in-door activities to handle inclement weather days.

As has been the case for the last several weekends, Silas' naps were great on Saturday and pretty terrible on Sunday. I can't quite figure out what the difference is, but Saturday he goes to sleep easily and takes naps that are 1-2 hours in duration. Sunday brings increasing bouts of fighting sleep and 30-45 minute naps which result in a fussy baby by the afternoon.

One of the strategies i used while JT was gone, was to break our time up among the different levels of our house. Typically Henry spends most of his time on the first level of the house where his room and the playroom are. We have some toys upstairs for him and i set-up a small tv and dvd player that we used when i was showering. In addition, i took him down to the basement with me while i tackled organizing projects (we have 7 18-gallon containers of baby clothes (!)) and he was absolutely enthralled with all the "old" toys that are stored down there. I decided that while our basement is never going to be "finished" that i'm going to do some upgrades down there so that the basement can be an indoor playspace during the winter. I've already started on some basic things but i'll try to take some before and after pictures to post.


Gardening Questions

Couple questions for anyone with gardening/plant knowledge.

1) Can anyone identify the plant below? It's possible that i planted it, but it doesn't look like anything i remember buying. It's definitely a perennial (and possibly a weed i guess) because it's come up in the front and spread like wildfire, and i definitely didn't plant anything out there. It looks nice enough, but i'd like to know what it is so i can figure out how much i want it to spread. It's not evergreen, but it seems pretty hardy for us in zone 5. Any ideas?

2) Anyone have suggestions for an evergreen, zone 5 winter hardy, fast-spreading, perennial ground cover? I'm already starting to plan for some gardening upgrades next year and this is one of the first key plant decisions i need to make.

Sorry to interrupt the normally-themed blogging. I'll be back soon with a kidlet update.


Baby Blue Eyes

As i mentioned, i've been intently studying Silas' eyes lately after two readers commented that a recent picture looked like his eyes were turning brown. I think this latest picture shows that they're as blue as ever, and i promise i didn't photoshop them.

I also realized that i never posted about Silas' 4 month appointment, so today is going to be a pretty-much all Silas news day. He was up to 26" long which is still 95% percentile and weighed-in at 14 lbs. 10 oz. That puts him in the 50% percentile which is down a bit from previous visits, but the Dr. indicated that it was nothing to worry about because babies that start out big, are not necessarily intended to become giants-- they do some amount of settling into their genetically programmed size in the first many months. I'm a little paranoid because of the growth trouble we had with Henry, but for now i'm believing the Dr. that nothing is awry. Silas had to get another 4 shots, but he has done incredibly well with his vaccinations so far. He cries obviously when he gets the shot, but immediately after when you pick him up he quiets down and hasn't been affected afterwards really. It's nice and i'm grateful.

He's also started holding onto toys pretty well and is quite successfull at reaching for things and hitting his mark nowadays. Because of that his interest in toys is piqued, although people still remain his favorite thing to interact with. I mentioned that i'm enrolling Henry in a gymnastics class for the fall. Silas doesn't get off too easy, because we are going to take a music class with Kerala and Corey. Silas really seems to enjoy music and responds to it much more than Henry did when he was this age, and the class will be a nice time for me to spend some one-on-one time with him.

Wrapping up Silas news, is the fact that he's finally started rolling over in *front* of us. I've seen him do it in bed and when he's playing. Just in the last few days he's upped his finger-sucking to actual thumb-sucking and this morning he sat-up unassisted for a little bit (before toppling over). So many developments, so much to document!

Finally, finally, i'm open to suggestions for what you'd like to see on the sidebars. Silas' sleep isn't quite the rollercoaster it was for awhile so the sleep log is less entertaining for you the readers (although much more fulfilling for me the mom). Henry's expressions are harder to log because he talks all the time and more and more in complete sentences. So, i'm open to suggestion. Leave me a comment and let me know what you'd like to know about us and i'll see if i can't find a fun way to work it into the site.


Upcoming Travel

How could i resist posting again when i'm awash in wonderful pictures of my little ones? U do find we wind up with many more pictures of active Henry than Silas who's mostly still laying around. I'm trying to keep him in the mix though, i promise.

In addition to seeing the acupuncturist/herbalist to bolster my wimpy immune system, i'm also trying some new things to help me be able to fall asleep easier. For as long as i can remember it has taken me an eternity to fall asleep at night. In the past few years it's turned into a bonafide problem-- i often top an hour before i actually fall asleep-- even on nights that i:
-didn't drink anything caffeinated after 3 pm
-exercised (but not within 2 hours of bedtime)
-turned the tv off within an hour of bedtime
-read for a little while before trying to go to sleep.

So in addition to the nightly benadryl i'm taking for the time being, i'm trying a few other things that are decidedly more new-agey. I'm not kept awake by stress-related thoughts, but by exciting plans and projects-- often garden or home-decorating/renovating in nature. I wind up hitting on a project and become consumed thinking through all the details-- from design to implementation. I try to put the thoughts out of my head, but it's nigh impossible.

So, i'm trying to journal as many project ideas before i lay down so my brain has less to work with. I'm also experimenting with guided relaxation cds, to get myself as close to comatose as possible before my brain starts going nuts. Ania, my acupuncturist, recommended a technique i think she called "acknowledge the snowflake before it becomes an avalanche." You basically say "yes i'm thinking about installing special shelves for my shoes in the closet" and move on to another thought before you find yourself compelled to get out of bed and measure your closet's South wall.

Oh, but this blog is about the children you say? Well, it's important that i get my sleep so that i can be a good mom. And Henry woke up at 5:45 this morning, so sleep is on my mind.


4 Months, 2 Weeks, 4 Days/ 2 Years, 3 Months, 4 Weeks

Thankfully i did get better and stay better enough for us to enjoy our weekend. We had a lovely time trucking out to see Genine and her family on Saturday. Henry couldn't get enough of their pool and he and Maia actually interacted this time around. Sunday we went to dim sum and Silas obliged by napping in his stroller which was helpful considering Henry was a handful. He did enjoy sampling all kinds of dim sum nibbles from my chopsticks but he also wanted to run around and in general be a two-year old. We haven't been going out very much, because Silas is ready for bed by about 6:30 so i've gotten out of the habit of coming prepared with toys and snacks. Before we attempt another outing i need to re-pack my bag of tricks.

I think i'm jumping on the organic band-wagon, albeit a little late. In general we try to be an environmentally-friendly household. We recycle, we compost, we buy things off of craigslist instead of new as much as possible. So although buying organic probably also should have been something we did, it often got overcome by a) my thriftiness and b) my skepticism that non-organic was really that bad-- i mean hey, better living through chemistry right?

It's not that i've had a revelation or anything, but i did start reading about the high levels of toxins that have been found in baby shampoo and then i found the cosmetic database that lets you easily search and browse safer products. Finally, after some amount of sticker-shock at Whole Foods, i found a pretty in-expensive source online, where i got free shipping with my order. I just decided that buying organic/non-toxic when we can is in-line with my beliefs and fits how we like to spend our money-- on living well. You can bet i don't want to wash my kids with toxic levels of chemicals, but as long as i'm upgrading their products, why not buy mild ones for me as well? I'll get down of my soap-box now :)

In Henry news, although it wasn't necessarily pretty, he went to sleep without old Ralph and new Ralph last night. He's gotten re-attached to them in recent weeks and has continued to sleep with them each and every night. In fact, he uses them as a pillow. Well, yesterday we left both of them at Brenda's. He cried for real when he realized he wouldn't have them to sleep with, but we just talked about how they were sleeping with NeNe (Brenda's sister and Henry's favorite right now) and he'd see them in the morning. After he got to pick out a book to read he calmed down and then i brought him an extra lamb and dog to sleep with. Of course this was on top of the other two monkeys and the dog that he has in his bed, so he was well surrounded. He was however, VERY happy to see them this morning.

p.s. after you freeze the granita, you EAT it!
p.p.s i've looked very closely and Silas' eyes are still blue-- i believe it was just the countertops making them look brown.


Could i be...

getting better? Heaven forbid i write that because i'll probably be in the ER overnight, but for now i feel like the congestion clouds are clearing. If you call and i answer, you'll still think you're talking to our butler, because my voice sounds that bad, but my sinuses are pretty much clear and i'm not constantly cycling between chills and sweats.

Summer colds are no good not only because your sick when you just shouldn't be, but also because summer is a precious commodity and being laid up when the summer days are ticking by is nothing short of frustrating. One low key thing i've been able to do even when sick is make batches of granita. Henry was digging on his "cold treat" last night and it occurred to me that some of you might be interested, so i'm including my *recipes* here. Unless you can deal with some mess i would stick to the berry one-- it just couldn't be easier.

1 1/2 cups fresh fruit or 1 12-ounce bag frozen
1/3-1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 TBSP lemon juice
Puree berries in food processor with water, freeze

1 1/2 cups pitted fruit
3/4 cup sugar
Simmer cherries in sugar syrup 5 minutes
Puree with syrup
Strain out skins, freeze

Henry is going through a renewed "no" phase. It's a bit trying, but also slightly humorous because he says it very matter of factly: Henry, come put your shoes on so we can go to school. "no." He doesn't say it emphatically or dramatically or with a question mark at that end--it's just an even "no." I think he's discovered that he can say no and that it starts to drive people crazy. Mainly we deal with it by reminding him of the fun things that will happen if he does said task, i.e. "let's put your shoes on so we can go see all your friends at school." If that doesn't work than we usually resort to tickling him or picking him up and "flying" him around or something physical and fun to divert the power struggle.

Silas, my little darling, slept for 11 hours last night. We've been making pretty steady progress with his night-time wakings and had gotten to where he didn't start stirring until around 4:30 or 5. Last night however, he went to sleep around 6:30 and didn't make a peep until 6:04 when he woke-up ready to eat and tackle the day.


irreconcilable globule

You know those spam messages you get with the really random subject lines? This was the title of one i received recently that i've been saving for just such a time as tonight-- i'm not near my calendar to tell you how old everyone is and i can't think of anything topical-- so irreconcilable globule it is.

I'm still dragging around this stuffy nose and hacking cough, but dangnabit, tonight was babysitter night so we went out anyway. Not only is having a regular babysitter gig good for JT and i-- it's fun for me because i get to dress up on a semi-regular basis. What with working at home and having two small children, i don't exactly have fashion on the top of my list. At least once every few weeks i put some thought into what i'm wearing and how i look. On that front, i have an achievement to document, although i'm befuddled about how it happened.

By the scale's account i haven't lost any weight since six weeks post-partum. I'm still carrying around about a baker's dozen of extra pounds. Tonight, i decided just to see if one of my pre-pregnancy skirts fit and voila! it does! I'm not talking stretchy waist-band skirt either. It's full, but the waist fit and that's nothing to sniff at. So i'm hoping that with my ramp-up in exercise and trying to be sensible about eating, i'll start to make more progress.

Silas is doing spectacular. He's so happy and animated and getting really into his toys-- at least the little toys on his bouncer. He grabs and swats at them so forcefully they wind up wound around the toy-bar like the swings at a derelict park. At night he likes to eat and get ready for bed pretty promptly at 6. By 6:30 he's in his crib and maybe fussing a little but quickly soothes himself to sleep. Last night he didn't wake up at all until 4:30 am, although most mornings by about 5:30 he's up and the last 30 minutes until breakfast at 6 can be tough.

Henry is seriously working on potty-training now. He's wearing underwear during the day and getting better about telling us before he actually needs to go. I downloaded a sticker chart to use with him and he was definitely psyched to start seeing those stickers marching along the path. He's still omitting articles and doesn't use many pronouns, but he's in the process of learning about plurality. He'll talk about one bird and two birds over and over again. He's also getting to where he's trying to speak in longer story-like sentences. He doesn't have all the words yet, but a typical exchange was yesterday night at dinner when he was telling me about his morning with Daddy: WEEK-Up, No Open, Close-- Daddy!, No, Daddy!, close, Daddy- WEEK-Up, eat! Translation, I woke up and my door was closed, i called Daddy, but nothing. I called Daddy again but my door was still closed. I called Daddy really loudly and told him to wake-up that i wanted to eat!


Laying Low

I know my posting frequency has been a little bit off lately, and for those of you salivating for Henry/Silas news, i apologize. It's just that between JT's trip and me getting sick again (wait did i ever get better?) it's been challenging to find time to post-- plus i don't want to sound like a downer. We had a very low-key weekend because my cold somehow started getting worse, and Henry was running a fever and had stomach troubles on Saturday. JT smoked brisket and pulled pork all night Friday in anticipation of a bbq we were planning but we decided with the pox on our house we should call the gathering off. Consider this an announcement to anyone in the vicinity that we have meat to spare-- just give me a holler and i'll fix you up a container.

We had planned to get together with Tab and her kids today to head to their super-fun pool. But between me and the thunderstorms, we called it off as well. So really, you could say things were kind of a bust. JT took Henry on a few walks today because after going to bed at 6:30 last night he was all better and rearing to go. Silas is a little stuffy but seems fine otherwise. I'm heading to bed now and will hopefully feel better in the morning. Thankfully i see a new herbalist tomorrow. Placebo or not, i'm looking to her for some relief!


Single Parenting

Thankfully JT comes home today after being out of town several days. I can honestly tell you that if was the single-parent of two small children i would a) be seriously sleep-deprived and b) not be a very nice person. It hasn't helped that i've been dealing with round two of the sniffles, but this getting up early thing is for the birds (or the Daddy as our case may be.) This morning Silas and Henry woke up at 5:30 and although i told Henry it was still the middle of the night and made him stay in bed, i don't think he slept anymore and he was definitely calling out for me by about 6.

Although i'm exhausted, Silas is doing pretty well on the sleep front. Two nights ago he went to sleep without a peep and only woke up very briefly at 1:30. Last night he cried a little bit-- about 15-20 minutes, but slept through until 5:30 before stirring. I'm thankful for that at least.

Related to sleep, we got new beds at the old homestead-- both for us and for the guest room. This should make staying with us more enjoyable-- or at least restful. Anybody have any need for a 20 year + full mattress and box springs? Yeah, i'd say we were due for an upgrade! We sprung for a Queen size bed and the additional room is easy to get used to. Now i can have JT, the cat and Silas all sleeping in bed with me and not feel like i have to be razor thin to fit.