BabyM has been developing so quickly! I say developing instead of growing because I don’t see much of the growth right now. At her 2 month checkup she had gained 3 pounds and 1 inch. When BigM was a baby, his Grandpa used to call him little elfin boy. Well, I think we have our little elfin girl now. BabyM is the sweetest little thing though, so petite. Don’t let her size fool you though. She has enough personality and attitude to make up for it. We could see her personality coming out when she was just 4-6 weeks old.
Surprisingly she doesn’t mind tummy time now. BabyM will happily spend time on the floor by herself with a mirror to look at. She does prefer to have someone there talking to her. She especially loves to interact with her big brothers. BabyM has also started vocalizing A LOT the past couple weeks. She will lie in your arms and stare at you and hold a rather lengthy conversation. Little Miss is also full of smiles now. She will smile when she sees mom or dad but not quite for her brothers yet.
She has a weird relationship with nursing. She prefers one side but when she nurses on that side she does not have the best latch. This isn’t something new that developed when she started taking a bottle it has been there from day one. Bottle feeding is going much better this week than last. She will now take 8-10 ounces in a day which is about double what she started at. The doctor isn’t too worried about her refusing to eat much from a bottle at this point. We are all just happy that she is eating something!
The reflux and gas problems she was having have mostly gone away. Poor baby can still have some bad gassy periods but they aren’t nearly what they were a few weeks ago. She is sleeping a longer stretch during the night but isn’t sleeping through the night yet. We are up to 4-6 hours at a time which is fine with me! There is no reason to rush her sleeping any longer at this point.
We all have a bucket list. If you don’t you really should make one. My bucket list has evolved over the years, when I was in high school in included things like graduate from Yale and go to medical school. While I was enlisted in the military my bucket list included making a certain rank and getting a specialized position. In Alaska visiting Nome and Barrow topped my list.
One item that has stayed on my list through all variations has been to visit the Mall of America. While I was on maternity leave we made a trip north and I got to cross another item off my bucket list. I’m grateful that we live close enough that we made the trip an overnight one and did it easily. We left mid-morning after our chiropractor appointments and made it to our hotel by mid-afternoon. I had packed lots of food and snacks in the car so we stopped at a rest stop that had a playground and picnic benches for lunch. This allowed the boys to run around a bit and eat lunch about half way through the trip. It was a very nice little area. The only downside was that it was windy and BabyM did NOT appreciate the strong breeze while she was trying to eat. Instead I got to sit in the car to feed her and then walked around inside the restroom and vending machine area to get her to sleep.
The hotel we stayed in was a bust. The carpets were disgusting, there were pipes showing in the ceiling that made me feel like we were in a basement and the TV guide pamphlet did not match the actual channels on the television. I know that last bit is a first world problem but when you have crying kids because you promised them cartoons but now you can’t find any, it becomes a point of frustration. The final straw for the hotel doom? The chains’ famous continental breakfast was rather lacking at this location. It was limited with one type of fruit and two types of cereal plus toast, eggs and waffles. This was not the type of breakfast we were used to from this chain. In fact the sketchy, off-brand hotel in the middle of nowhere South Dakota had a better breakfast and had half the serving space!
Our first evening there we checked out Mall of America. Our plan that night was to eat at a restaurant and scope out the mall for any must see stores or attractions. We were able to take the kids to Rainforest Café for dinner. It turned out to be a little bit too much for them. The simulated thunderstorms made LittleM cry to leave after the third one and still upset PirateM although he was starting to get used to them.
We had made plans to go to the aquarium at the mall but the kids lost the opportunity to go and so HomemadeMomy and HomemadeDady had to suffer as well. May be next time we can make it. We checked out the amusement park in the middle of the mall and visited several stores. On the second day we made a stop at Ikea in the morning. I had never been to Ikea before and while it wasn’t all it is hyped up to be it was pretty cool to see. I do foresee another trip in our future sometime soon. We returned to the mall for a second round of walking the mall after eating a packed lunch.
Some of the stores we visited were the Disney store, American Girl store, Lego Store, Peeps store, board game store, Toll House cookie store and a few clothing stores. We have plans to go to Jamba Juice when we go back and possibly the Crayola experience. When I first looked at the Crayola Experience it didn’t appear to be worth the entrance fee but we may at least go to the store portion next time we visit.
BigM will be six soon. In my Mom’s family, by the time the kids were his age they were in the kitchen helping to cook. I decided that it was time for BigM to learn as well. I didn’t want him to just learn to cook though. We have ended up raising him without much appreciation of where things come from. To help with this I wanted him to go through the entire process. This is how the idea of having him take over one meal per week was born.
We sit down with BigM and help him use the computer to find a recipe to cook. Eventually I may pick up a kids cooking recipe book for him but for now Pinterest is working. I let him decide everything. He is very visual and that is why Pinterest works so well for him, I can scroll through pictures of dishes and he can pick which one he wants to use. Once he has picked a dish we save the recipe and work with him to go through the ingredient list to see what we have and what we need. While doing this he writes up a shopping list. When we go grocery shopping we take him with us and he shops for what he needs for his two meals. I usually try to do this at the store that has the kid sized shopping carts so he can put the foods for his stuff in his cart. When it comes time to do his meal plan he helps to prep and cook the meal.
I did put some limitations and rules on this whole process. When making his menu he has to choose a meat, carbohydrate and a vegetable. Having fruit or a dessert is up to him. Surprisingly he hasn’t planned a dessert or fruit with any of his meals so far. When it comes to prepping and cooking he isn’t allowed to use anything sharper than a table knife, can’t take items in and out of the oven and has to have close supervision and limited activities at the stove. We let him do things like pour rice into a pan but HD does most of the stirring and flipping. We are teaching him how to start the oven pre-heating.
His first two meals have gone over very well. He chose 40 garlic baked chicken with Spanish rice and broccoli for one meal. The second meal he chose Greek meatballs with cheesy zucchini rice and baby carrots. Everyone loved the chicken and rice and had seconds. We may just introduce that meal into our normal rotation. The greek meatballs ended up not happening when we ran out of ground meat but he did make the cheesy zucchini rice. That side dish wasn’t as good and we probably won’t make it again. That’s ok though because these were all new recipes that we hadn’t tried cooking before.
We do plan on continuing this on a weekly basis. The first two tries were super successful and maybe with time BigM will come to appreciate the effort it takes to plan a meal and cook it. Now if only we could do something similar with toys.
My maternity leave was too long. Or maybe it wasn’t long enough. Either way it was an awkward length. By 4-6 weeks I was ready to return to work and even talked to HomemadeDady about cutting my leave short. He pointed out that I was getting 100% pay and had more than earned the break from work. What would I benefit from returning to work early? We could not think of any benefit to returning to work early so I stayed home. When it came time to return to work however, I found that I was no longer ready and wanted more time. May be if I had been able to have just two more weeks so I could take her to her 2 month appointment I would have been ok. That way I would hear it from the doctor that she was healthy and growing well and would do just fine with HD.
I didn’t have that. Monday dawned bright and clear and I was a teary mess. Thankfully HD drove me to work that day so I didn’t have to deal with potential construction and it gave me a few more minutes to cry and then compose myself. Walking inside was a little easier than I expected it to be. Knowing that the kids have HD home with them right now is helpful. While it isn’t me they still have a parent at home with them.
At work I armed myself with a phone charger, breast pump, lots of snacks and a good book to read. Luckily my breast pump is battery operated so I can charge it at my desk but don’t have to worry about trying to plug it in when I go to pump. Currently I pump in the bathroom at work. I know it is illegal to require me to pump in there and they do have an alternative space that I could use to go pump but I choose to go to the bathroom to pump. The other space is in a different building nearby and I have to schedule to use it and that doesn’t even guarantee that it would be available and free of people when I need it. The bathroom is 3 cubicles down from me and has a chair, table and curtain that has you tucked into a corner by a row of lockers. It’s not the best but for my short pumping session it works fine for me.
When I am home during the day BabyM will nurse close to a dozen times during the daylight hours, if not more. At work I only pump twice right now. It works for us. She is still fighting the bottle and doesn’t eat much during the day. I pump 12-15 ounces and stick it in the fridge and she eats that milk the next day. When I am home at night and on the weekends I make sure to hold her and nurse her as much as possible to keep up that relationship. It isn’t ideal but it works for us for now. As she begins to accept the bottle more I may need to pump more and that’s ok. I had originally planned on pumping three times at work. I know that we will do everything we can to make it work and have the support of an amazing lactation consultant to help us out if we need it.
Our last “Movie Night” was such a success we decided to try another one. This one was a lot of fun to plan the menu and then change and change again and change while we were cooking. I like to think we went through a similar process the Hiro did when he was designing the original suit for Baymax.
The movie for the night was Big Hero 6. The kids love the movie and HomemadeMomy loves the soundtrack. It was a win-win! Our original menu was Hiros, or sandwiches, honey lemonade, wings and mochi. Then we were going to have hiros, honey lemonade, wing style chicken breasts and mango-go mochi. We ended up with hiros, honey lemon chicken, monster juice and mochi.
Hiros – turkey breast, lettuce, tomato and condiments
Honey Lemon Chicken – a mash up between Honey Lemon and Aunt Cass
Monster Juice – it was even orange in honor of Fred and his fire breathing monster suit
Mochi – because it was super easy to make and there is a cat named Mochi
PirateM did have a deconstructed hiro because he isn’t fond of bread and sandwiches but otherwise this was another big hit. LittleM even got to help make the mochi. The recipe we used was super simple and one done in the microwave. We didn’t add anything to the mochi but that didn’t stop anyone from eating their piece and asking for more. I may or may not have sat down with the bowl the next morning and eaten the rest for breakfast.
A shopping trip at WalMart left me with a fully stocked food drawer at work. I knew that with pumping at work and nursing at home I was still going to need snacks to eat during the day. Some I brought to leave in my drawer and others I bring on a daily basis.
I have Emerald Breakfast on the Go pouches. I chose two different flavors of Smore’s and Coffee House Blends. I was a little nervous about the Coffee House Blend pack because it has chocolate covered espresso beans in it. Coffee makes me sick with severe stomach aches almost immediately after drinking it. I can’t even have the mixed drinks that have coffee in them. I tried one from Baskin Robbins once and still got sick from it. I can usually handle the cappuccino flavored jelly beans but had never tried straight espresso beans before. I won’t be repurchasing these and not because the beans make me sick. The entire bag is infused with a coffee flavor and not a good coffee flavor. Everything tastes like either stale coffee beans or cheap coffee beans maybe even stale, cheap coffee beans. The granola, the nuts, the chocolate, all of it has an unpleasant hint of bad coffee to it. I won’t be repurchasing the Smore’s blend either. While the blend as a whole was delicious, the marshmallows have a funny texture to them. They were along the lines of those soft, mint candies that dissolve in your mouth. They don’t taste like marshmallows either. I’m eating the rest of what we have of those but we are going to be making our own stuff soon.
I also picked up two different granola bars, Quaker Oats Girl Scout Thin Mint bars and Sunbelt Bakery Banana oat bars. The banana oat bars aren’t all that bad despite the slight fake banana taste. They have banana chips in them which I wasn’t expecting but it gives the bar a nice little crunch in an otherwise very soft and chewy bar. I may not buy them again right away but I will get them again soon. The Thin Mint bars are everything you expected and then some. These I have to force myself to only eat one bar a day. Aside from the fact that these have oats instead of a chocolate cookie they are just like the cookies you can get once a year. I’m crossing my fingers these aren’t a limited edition flavor like the ice cream is.
I also bring in bags of parmesan and garlic pita chips and white cheddar popcorn. For something on the fresh side I have oranges, green pepper slices and baby carrots. Now I don’t eat all of this every day. These are just options we got and the non-perishable stuff I do keep at work. Rounding out my snack stash are wheat thins and string cheese. The string cheese is good because it is the only cheese I can eat without having to worry about flare-ups from the gallbladder. I also keep a couple water flavorings for the water bottles that the company provides for us. I have Jolly Rancher Watermelon flavor and Crush Strawberry flavor. The crush won’t be a repeat buy because it just isn’t the same without the carbonation but the jolly rancher one is just as good as the candy but more refreshing!
You know that feeling when you wake up and you just want to go somewhere? Yeah, I had that feeling one weekend while I was on maternity leave. I even woke up HomemadeDady begging him to take us somewhere. We didn’t leave right away but a couple hours later found us packed up in the van with a bag of food and some rented movies.
On this trip I tested out using the iPhone app Roadtrippers. The app lists out some points of interest along a specific route and acts as another resource for finding food and lodging. We did see several listings that looked interesting but didn’t stop at any save for one. Some that we wanted to stop at were a locally painted rock and the sight of the last bank robbery by Bonnie and Clyde. We did stop at the sight of the first train robbery in the west. It wasn’t much to see, just a little pull off with a train wheel and section of track. The area is well maintained but not a place to stop and eat or linger for too long. I did find the roadtrippers app a little difficult to use without having a solid destination in mind. Once we had decided on a direction though the app was much easier to use.
We stopped at a gas station just short of our destination to let BigM use the bathroom and BabyM nurse. We gave the kids a little bit to eat and then headed across the river. Thankfully I have a wonderful acquaintance who has lived nearby our destination for several years and she was able to give us some pointers. We had set out for the zoo but decided on the way, that it was too hot for the zoo and we wanted to wait for the new exhibits to open. So we went to the children’s museum instead! We still had poor timing as the seasonal exhibit at the museum was closed until the next weekend as well.
Once we reached the museum we stopped and fed all the kids a bit more food for their lunch and then packed everyone up to head inside. I wore BabyM and the boys were allowed to run free. We arrived shortly after opening and ended up staying until just before closing. The kids had an absolute blast. There was a river water table where BigM got to experiment with beaver damns and fog and man-made damns. They had a supermarket, bank, hospital, fire station and truck and a house with a garden for imagination play. There was also an art section and a science section. The art area had paints and crayons and salad spinner activities along with building a city out of recycled materials. There were also stations where you could take a picture and play around with graphics and a face painting area. The science area had a bubble show and an interactive floor. A video projector would display a variety of games on the floor for the kids to play. The majority of the science area was set up with ball tubes. Kids could explore different types of force and movement and see the effects on ball pit balls. Afterward we went out to eat and then walked a block to an ice cream parlor famous for its homemade ice cream in unique flavors.
The drive back was a little rough with BigM needing to make bathroom stops several times and BabyM not wanting to be in her car seat. I thought we were never going to get home and end up in a hotel room for the night even though we were less than two hours from home. This spontaneous trip was one of the best days we have had in a while.
BigM has been going through a change in chores recently. For that matter so has LittleM. We have been working on transitioning BigM to new chores and giving his old chores to LittleM. PirateM is slowly picking up a couple chores as well but not to the extent of the other two. We are having some trouble with BigM complaining that his chores are boring. I’m a little confused as to how these chores are boring but his last set of chores weren’t!
- Load the dishwasher – He only loads certain dishes. HomemadeDady helps with the soap dispenser and the big dishes.
- Sweep up dirt piles – I sweep the floor and then BigM comes behind me and sweeps up the piles using a hand broom.
- Switch laundry from the washer to the dryer
- Put laundry in the washer – HomemadeDady helps with turning it on and dispensing the soap
- Pick up the toy room
- One meal per week (more on this later)
- Get clean trash bags out
- Clear his and PirateM’s dishes from the table
He also has a couple chores that he is helping his brothers learn to take over like throwing away diapers and garbage and putting away the dishes. We are trying to transition those to LittleM though.
- Unload the dishwasher
- Unload the dryer
- Get clean diapers
- Throw away dirty diapers
- Pick up toys and books in the living room
- Gather the dirty laundry around the house
- Clear his dishes form the table
Unload the silverware from the dishwasher – In all reality he isn’t tall enough to see into the silverware drawer to be able to put the silverware away in the tray but he tries. It at least makes it in the drawer.
Throw dirty diapers and other garbage away – he almost has this one mastered except for actually making it into the garbage bag. Sometimes he gets mad and just throws the garbage around the room too.
Take his breakfast and snack dishes to the sink – he normally eats snacks and breakfast out of his seat so we are working on teaching him to put those dishes in the sink when he is done.
BigM and LittleM also will wipe down doors as needed.
BigM continues to have his struggles. He wakes up before the sun and doesn’t like being sent to bed before the sun. I have a feeling that the next time we move it will be to a place that doesn’t have drastic daylight changes. With those struggles come behavior struggles as well. All of this on top of the school year ending and me returning to work has been a bit much for the poor kid.
Even before school was out he was struggling to adjust to the new family member. So much so that he refused to participate in his spring music concert. He had been caught lying to HomemadeDady about clothes so his consequence was not getting to wear a new shirt to the concert. We left the house and walked him to his music room and he was absolutely perfect. Then it came time to walk into the gym and sing and he lost it. He had giant alligator tears the entire 45 minutes and refused to sing. He stood right front and center too. When he was asked what was wrong he refused to talk to anyone. The only person he would hug or squeeze was his teacher. We found out later that night he didn’t sing because his clothes weren’t fancy enough. In his mind new clothes = fancy clothes.
In more every day behavior he has become more physical with his brothers. When he is asked to do his chores he is more likely to jump, stomp and mutter/cry to himself. While these are somewhat normal, what isn’t normal is the fact that they are tied to changes in daylight. He isn’t getting as much sleep anymore and that isn’t helping either.
To try and help with this and figure out what exactly is going on we have started BigM on chiropractic care. Luckily he does really well for the doctor and loves climbing on her table and letting her adjust him. Now that he is in a good routine with that we are introducing counseling. I chose a place that came highly recommended by the community and has a variety of therapy types including play therapy. I wanted to get him into swim lessons as well but HD and I never did agree on the best route to go with that. For now they take regular trips to the library and BigM is participating in the reading program to keep busy.