Sunday, October 19, 2014

Week 7 - The Heart Melting Moments

Much of my writing about parenthood tends to center around the challenges and ignore a lot of the rewards. This week, Meghan came up with a topic that forces us to focus on the magic - we're writing about the heart-melting moments!

I really wish I'd written down more during Reese's first year so I'd have more from which to draw, but I didn't. So I'll have to draw from memory. 

I love reading to Reese. He sits in my lap and points at the pictures and occasionally babbles. He is a very good helper and turns the pages at just the right times. Sometimes he gets a little over zealous and starts turning them quickly so Mama starts pointing to the words hoping to distract him. Now that he's mobile, we have much less time together where he is just cuddling with me so I REALLY cherish these times. During our story time, I also make sure to sneak in lots of kisses on those meaty cheeks of his because they're just so kissable. 

I love when Reese first wakes up in the morning.  When we hear him cooing in his crib, his dad and I go in to see him and he's usually standing by the rail waiting for us. He gets the BIGGEST smile on his face and he looks sooooo sleepy. He's in such a good mood in the mornings! And he doesn't fight me too much when I smother him in kisses. 

When we're riding in the car, Reese likes to serenade me. He has such a beautiful voice and makes the cuuuuuutest noises! I just love hearing his babble. We have a mirror set up so we can see him and he can see us. Sometimes he gets so involved in his playing and looking out the window that it's like he forgets we're there. So I look back at him in the mirror and say, "Pssst!" and he looks at me like he hasn't seen me in months, smiles SO big, and giggles that sweet giggle. Heart melts. 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE when this boy claps. It's the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life! I'll sing, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!" and Reese claps right along. He's very deliberate in his movements and keeps his hands together between claps. His hands are just so tiny and perfectly formed. Everything he does is just so precious!

BATH TIME! This is probably the thing I will miss the most about being a mom of an infant. From the day we brought him home from the hospital, bath time was always something enjoyable the 3 of us could do together. Reese LOVES his baths! In the first few months when we battled colic symptoms and sleep deprivation baths were our salvation since they were almost guaranteed to put him in a good mood. Now that he's a bit older and more interactive, he splashes and plays and giggles like nobody's business. He is BUSY in those baths! Sometimes we'll play a light game of tug of war over the wash cloth - that's probably his favorite thing to do. He will sit there and splash for hours if we'd let him. But since his skin is pretty sensitive, we limit bath time to around 10-15 minutes. 

ANYTHING to do with his feet. I kiss them constantly. I act like I'm smelling them and jump back, astounded at how bad they stink (Reese thinks this is extra hilarious). I take tons of pictures of them even though none do the feet any justice.  They are just so darn CUTE!

And a few miscellaneous things that melt my heart:
-The look on his face when he's examining a new object. 
-How excited he gets when he sees a banana. 
-His sweet laugh when I blow raspberries on his belly. 
-Watching him and his dad chase each other around the nursery. 

I could go on… and I might write some more later or edit this post. But I'll end now so my heart doesn't explode with love. :)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Week 6 - Our Animal Babies

I have always been a huge animal lover. Growing up, my family always had an array of cats and dogs and I absolutely loved it! Luckily, the man I fell in love with and eventually married shares my affinity for our four legged friends.

When we first met, Justin had a basset hound named Pynchon. Justin worshipped the ground Pynchy walked on and it didn't take me long to fall in love with the hound, too. He was the center of our world.

I worked full time and Justin and I were both in law school which meant Pynchy spent many hours alone at our apartment during the day. We adopted a cat, Henry, from the local animal shelter to keep him company. The two got along famously!

Then, a little down the line, a sweet stray cat in our apartment complex adopted US! She absolutely adored Pynchy and we got sick of watching her shiver outside in the cold. Justin, who swore we would take in no more animals, was leaving food out for her at night. We eventually made it official and now she is a happy, healthy indoor-only kitty.

When I was 8 weeks pregnant with Reese (and while Meghan was delivering Grayson!!!) Pynchy passed away suddenly. He woke up sick one morning and we rushed him to the vet. The news was not good: he had cancer that had spread to his organs. He was bleeding internally and had no chance at recovery. We were devastated. Not wanting to watch our precious baby boy suffer any more than he had to, we made the choice to say goodbye.

Our world was rocked in a major way. We literally built our entire lives around this dog that we loved soooo much. We put our queen bed in our living room since the house we lived in at the time had no downstairs bedrooms and Pynchy's short little legs couldn't do stairs. We took him on all of our vacations. Our house was full of pictures of him.

And now he was gone.

We mourned his loss for months. Eventually, we missed the pitter patter of basset feet and, wanting to fill this huge void Pynch had left in our lives, we looked into getting another hound. Justin found a breeder he liked. I talked him out of the whole thing. After all, we had a baby on the way. Our lives were going to be hectic enough. A few weeks later, Justin approached me again saying he really wanted another dog. In my infinite wisdom, I convinced him that we should get TWO dogs so that they could keep each other company while we were caught up with the baby. Eventually, we welcomed Walter and Greta into our family.

Seven weeks later, Reese was born. And the fun began.

I have to say, this has been the most hectic, challenging time of my life. Not only because of our little bundle of joy but also because of these two puppies. I severely underestimated the amount of work involved in raising a baby and training two puppies simultaneously. Or maybe I was just ignorant? Either way, it was a major mistake.

Several times over the past year, I have broken down with regret about getting these dogs. They are CUTE and soooooo sweet. But soooo much work. My mental health and my marriage has really suffered. But I just can't bring myself to part with them.

Before I had a baby, I always SWORE that I would love my pets just as much as I love my children. Boy, was I… stupid? Ignorant? I still adore my cats. I feel bad that they don't get as much attention as they used to but they are mostly self sufficient. And it's getting easier to give them more attention now that Reese is older.

But the dogs. OHHHH, the dogs. It's hard to love them. They are just gorgeous creatures. And they just don't know any better. They are just puppies after all. But sometimes, at the end of the day, after caring for Reese, trying to be there for my husband, trying not to go off the deep end with my own stuff, I just have nothing left to give them.

We've had a tough year - 3 family deaths, 2 moves, a bitter fight with a rapacious landlord, going down to one income, Justin's job change, my last year of law school, the bar, a colicky newborn, and severe, prolonged sleep deprivation. I keep telling myself that maybe things will get easier. They will get older and calm down a little more (it's the basset way after all). Maybe they will. But in the meantime, they don't get the love or patience they deserve.

They adore Reese and are so sweet and gentle with him. The other day, Reese grabbed Greta's ear and yanked it before I could stop him. She just licked his face a little and went about her business. I have a dream that my three babies grow up together and are best friends. Some days I think we are on our way to that, other times I think it's too lofty of a goal.

They spend their days inside - mostly hanging out in the living room. We have a huge yard but they prefer to be inside with us. At night, Justin and I have been letting them sleep in bed with us.

I think part of my struggle is that I didn't have a significant amount of time to bond with them before Reese got here. Justin and I were looking for a replacement for Pynchy and that was just dumb on our part.

But we have some good times. They get better. We are able to be more patient and spend more time with them. Moments like these get me through the harder times.

Week 5 - Baby Clothes!

I missed last week's blog post so I am doubling down this week to get caught up!

Topic: Baby Clothes 

Where do I start? In the beginning, we didn't have to worry much about clothes. Well before Reese was born, we were stocked up on clothes for him. Our awesome friends and family showered us with enough clothes for 3 babies. In addition to that, Justin and I would frequent baby stores or department stores with baby sections and buy up the cutest outfits. We could not resist anything even remotely baseball related! I thought we were set. 

And mostly we were. I had to buy a few things once he got here - like a few more pairs of footie pjs because they're just THAT amazing - but nothing too major. My awesome friend, Meghan, also generously gave us lots of her son's hand me downs which were so so soooo helpful and appreciated!

This was all awesome because BABY CLOTHES ARE FREAKIN EXPENSIVE! And they only can wear them for a few weeks/months tops before they grow, grow, grow (too quickly. Sigh).  It wasn't until Reese was in around 6-7 months old that I had to buy a significant amount of clothes for him.

And I gotta say, I felt a little cheated out of the "baby" clothes stage. Reese is a little on the large side for babies his age. He is average weight for his height but his height has always been off the charts. At 6 months, he fit comfortably in size 12 month old clothing and was quickly growing into size 18 months. I'd go around looking at gimmicky shirts that said things like "My first Easter" only to realize they didn't carry them in his no-longer-baby size. Oh well, there are worst things in the world, LOL. 

One thing about baby clothes - especially newborn baby clothes - is that some are just soooo darn CUTE but not that practical. Reese spit up constantly so it made no sense to EVER put him in anything remotely nice unless there was a chance he would end up in pictures. He also had (and still has) horribly sensitive skin so anything except light cotton was out of the question. 

Something that was DEFINITELY a waste to buy - BABY SHOES. Reese is over 11 months now, I've bought countless pairs of shoes, and we've never managed to keep any pair on his feet longer than 10 mins. They're purely ornamental anyway. For what does a baby need shoes? But that didn't stop me from buying them. 

Carter's was (and is!) by far my favorite brand. Their layette sets are just the best! A little pricey but so worth it. They fit true to size, are lightweight cotton, and are just soo adorable. In a market dominated by baby girl clothes, Carters is the only brand IMO that even comes close to bridging the gap. 

Reese's growth has leveled off quite a bit and at 11 months, he is still in size 18 month clothes, although they are getting a little tight. Now that we have emerged from the newborn/needy baby phase and it's easier to take field trips, I LOVE going to thrift stores! I seriously wish I'd started this sooner. I pay less than $1 for onesies, $3 for jeans and footie pjs, etc. and the brands are all the best - Carters, Old Navy, Jumping Bean, Osh Kosh, etc. I am amazed at what great quality I've found for a fraction of the cost! Most of the stuff looks barely used. I have always been a bit of a thrift store junkie (thank you, Grandma) so I know a lot of the good ones in the area. The hard part is maneuvering the stroller down those aisles and holding my own against the other bargain hunters. But I'm usually up for the challenge. :)

So that's it! I've been saving most of Reese's clothes in the hopes that if/when we have another baby, we will have another boy and then he'll be set with all the hardly used clothes of his big brother. Or maybe Meghan will have another boy before then and she can use them (no pressure Meghan)! :)