Good Little Things

I wrote this post yesterday (and added the photos today). It was a good day…

 

Today, right now, I am feeling just so happy. The kind of warm, tingly happy where you can’t stop smiling and you might feel like skipping. I don’t know if this is because we had a really good day or because my mental state is just that good or because I had my first coffee in almost a month (an Americano with a few glugs of soy milk) and I have a healthy dose of caffeine coursing through me. It’s probably the latter, but let’s pretend not, mmmkay?

Allow me to share some happy things:


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These are the pretty flowers my new neighborhood friend brought me after she learned that Buddy died early last week. They are still alive and beautiful, displayed in our living room. They make me smile for three reasons: they are pretty, they remind me of my boy, and because I am thankful to have made such a thoughtful and kind new friend.


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This is our attempt at a selfie. I don’t do selfies. I have this problem of hating every single picture of myself for the past six years. You can see that I still look red and not all that great, but things are better than they were a month ago and, more importantly, I feel much better than I did a month ago. When I feel better, I’m happier. (Duh.) Thus, a selfie. FYI, selfies are very awkward. I guess I could never be Kim K.


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Since Caroline was born, I’ve spent more time looking at old pictures of Charlotte. Usually I notice how much she has grown up over time, but this year was different. She grew up more gradually as a three year-old, and I didn’t notice it as acutely until I looked back at my pictures of her from last winter. She looks so much older now – taller, sassier, wiser – and I really feel like I am losing my baby for good now. Luckily she is growing into a smart, funny, curious, and adorable little girl, so I can’t spend too much time crying into my pillow.

On the same note….having another baby in the house has definitely softened the blow of Charlotte having grown up into a nearly 4 year-old. I’m frankly too busy changing diapers and bouncing my finicky Caroline to think too hard about all that nostalgic stuff that I normally would be obsessing over.

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Oh Caroline. I love you SO much. Who would have thought you could love yet another child just as much as the one you already have? I mean, I knew I would love you, of course, and I never worried that I wouldn’t. But still. The way your heart grows with your next child is astounding. It doesn’t matter one iota that you aren’t quite as easy-peasy as infant-Charlotte was – I enjoy you every bit as much and I think you are wonderfully perfect and I will love you forever and ever and ever. You are a mama’s girl and I hope that never changes.

 

Tonight we are going to go out for dinner, which is something we haven’t done much of since August. And even though I’ll probably only be able to order one thing off the menu thanks to my really fun and strict new eating plan, I am still excited because it feels like such a treat. Hurray for Fridays!

Are you kidding me?

This face:

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Caroline at 3 months is my snuggly, smily, sweet little baby bug. I love being home with her each day, and I am really grateful to have this extra time before going back to work in November.  There is nothing like having a baby in our lives again!

We picked apples finally

There is a beautiful apple orchard located just north of our home in Iowa City- a mere seven miles from driveway to driveway, and yet we have never been out there until this year. When my mom was here last, the weather was perfect and I decided we better go pick apples before we move away. I am so glad we did! We had so much fun and the apples were sooo delicious, that we took Daddy back a week later! Look at the view of one of the pumpkin fields with some of the orchard in the background.

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There is a lot of hilly ground to cover when you are out looking for apples, so it’s a good workout, too…especially when you have a little baby kangaroo to carry around! (Also especially when the only apples left on the trees to pick are in the farthest rows in the farthest corners of the land. Still worth it.)

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Our map lover enjoyed carrying around the map they gave out in the weigh station/store as well as checking out the big one in the orchard.

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Three bonuses of this place: 1) They have pumpkins. One stop fall shopping!

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2) Not only are freshly picked apples more delicious, but they are also less expensive than their grocery store counterparts!

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3) There’s a friendly dinosaur that gives out free rides to little girls and their grandmas.

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Since I don’t think we will be living here next fall, I’m really glad we got our acts together this year and made it out to Wilson’s Orchard. Good exercise, good pictures, good memories, good apples. 

 

Our Buddy

It has been almost exactly 8 years since Chris and I adopted Buddy, our feisty silky terrier, our first pet together. We had just moved to Iowa City after graduating from DePauw, and I had been pouring over petfinder.com almost as soon as we set foot in our first apartment. I had wanted a dog of my own throughout college and was excited to finally reach that stage in my life where I could actually get one. I was looking for something small, non-shedding, and relatively young, which isn’t exactly a piece of cake combination to find in shelters and rescue organizations. Apparently many people are looking to adopt “small, non-shedding, relatively young” dogs so when one is available for adoption, it will get snatched up pretty quickly. I felt so lucky when I called a nearby rescue organization about an adorable 7 month-old silky terrier named Buddy and found out that he was still in need of a home. I had already been obsessing over his cute picture online and had gotten Chris to agree that this could possibly be the pooch for us. When we visited him at his foster home he was playful and sweet and even more adorable in person; of course we were going to adopt him!

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He came home with us a few days later after getting neutered. It was September and still warm out, and the very next day was the Iowa/Iowa State football game. We had planned to tailgate and watch the game with friends, so naturally we brought our brand new-to-us pup along. He was such an angel on that walk through all the massive crowds of crazy people – he stayed right next to me and never barked or pulled on the leash once. About a block from the stadium a guy hanging out in front of one of the houses approached us as we walked by. “Hey! Is your dog named Buddy?” he called out.

“Um, yeah, it is,” one of us replied.

“That’s my fucking dog!” he exclaimed.

I was about to get defensive (Um, no, that’s our dog!), but then he smiled, crouched down and reached out to pet Buddy. “Did you just get him today or something? We gave him up just a few days ago!”

 Yep, we met Buddy’s previous owner among a crowd of probably 90,000 people the day after we got him. That insane coincidence had Chris and I talking for like the entire next year.

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Those first two years when it was just the three of us living in our apartment were definitely the sweetest years with Buddy. He was our baby, our first child, and we were so devoted to taking him on walks, to the dog park, out in the parking lot to play fetch, and to run around with the neighbor dogs next door. He had shown us his anxious side by developing strange fears of all sorts of things, from thunder to our camera to anyone leaving our apartment, but we weren’t too concerned because it didn’t seem like there was anything we could do about that anyway.

But as time went on, Buddy’s behavior got more complicated. We adopted a second dog (hello, Luna!), moved into our home, I started working full time as a teacher, and then we had a baby (hello, Charlotte!). Buddy did not adapt well to these changes and his anxiety was palpable. To simplify: we’ve struggled these last four years with him, and we worried about our future with him. First he became aggressive toward other dogs and then he started snapping at us, including (and especially) Charlotte. It is so hard not knowing how to help someone you love, and a dog is so exception. We felt helpless, clueless, and unqualified when it came to helping Buddy overcome his issues and working on the subsequent behavior problems. Mostly, we were so saddened that the sweet little pup we considered our first child just wasn’t the same dog anymore.

When he started throwing up months ago, we assumed it was his anxiety. When he started to become really finicky about his food, we weren’t surprised either – he’s always been an unenthusiastic eater. It wasn’t until we noticed the vomiting was happening almost daily and that despite changing the type of dog food we feed him a hundred times he still wasn’t interested in eating it, did it dawn on us that there could be a real problem. As soon as we called the vet and made the appointment, we knew something had to be wrong. We gave him a haircut and each pass with the razor revealed another protruding rib. He was sick. And then immediately, for the first time through all of this, he started acting sick. He was weak, tired, and stumbling around our house. The vet told us his liver was failing, and probably other organs at that point, too. He gave us some pills to stop the vomiting and make him a little more comfortable. We took him home wondering how less than a week earlier he was regular old Buddy, barking at everything under the sun and accompanying me on a 1.5 mile walk.  

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We spent the next few days couped up and snuggling, trying to keep him warm under blankets and getting him to eat anything at all. (Peanut butter was all he’d take.) The vet gave us pills to last a week, but by the second day home we knew we wouldn’t use them all. It was devastating to watch him deteriorate so quickly, and we decided on Sunday that Monday (yesterday) would be his last day. I slept on the couch each night with him to keep him company, took lots of pictures, and babied him to bits. When we woke up on Monday, he had unexpected surge of energy and spent most of the day off the couch. He spent time outside in the yard and wandered around the house like usual. He found the sunny spot on the living room floor and rested there for a bit. He posed for pictures with Charlotte and our pumpkin. And then, late that afternoon, he took a ride in the front seat of our van and stuck his head out the window. I like to think that he found that reserve of energy so that he could have a good last day… I hope it was a good last day.

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When we arrived home red-eyed and weepy without him, I still expected him to greet us at the door. All day today I’ve been looking for him, anticipating his sometimes incessant barking, and reminding myself to close the gate before I leave the house. I suspect it will take a while before we are used to Buddy not being here. Right now it just feels very weird.

One silver lining of his illness – we got to enjoy the best version of our dog during those last days. He was too sick to be so anxious so he wasn’t looking around for things to bark at, he didn’t freak out every time we closed a door, and he let us pet him, hold him, and snuggle him to our heart’s content. He followed me around and wanted to get on my lap while I was nursing Caroline. He let her swat him and didn’t hide when she started crying. In terms of the quality time we had together, his last days were the perfect punctuation mark to his life.

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One of his last day pictures. He was only 8.5 years old. We miss him. 

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Caroline: Three Months {The Most Adorable Thing Ever}

Little Miss Caroline is three months old (on Friday)! 

Isn’t she a doll? (Nope, not biased.)

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She doesn’t have a doctor visit until next month, so I don’t have any stats to share, but two weeks ago I weighed her at my parents’ house and she was 14 lbs, 6 oz.  She’s gotta be over 15 pounds by now. I should know – my arms are getting a gooood workout every day. Well, the left one is. For some reason it feels really awkward to hold her on my right side, even though I am right-handed. I also cannot wink my right eye or do right-handed cartwheels. Fun facts about Katy. 

Caroline is still sleeping phenomenally at night (and has been for over a month really). She goes to sleep around nine and typically sleeps all night. If she does wake up early morning she will come into bed with us, have a little milky meal, and sleep a few more hours. I’ve probably written this before, but I’m obsessed with waking up next to her in the morning. Since she rests her head my arm and faces me, I get to see her adorable little snooze face first thing every day. Then I just stare and stare and stare until she wakes up and smiles at me. 

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[Isn't her monogrammed romper adorable? A friend sent it to me along with some monogrammed pjs. Such a thoughtful and sweet gift!]

While nights are awesome, napping during the day isn’t Caroline’s strong suit. She is an extremely light sleeper during the day time hours, as well as a world-class sleep-fighter. She’s also the baby who will fall asleep in my arms and then promptly wake up the second I put her down or even try to move her into a more comfortable position. Some days she’ll get a good 2-3 hour nap in, but most often her naps are less than an hour long. Not getting a good nap makes her crabby and then she’ll scream bloody murder in Target or the library. One nice thing I’ve learned is that when babies cry in public, the fellow moms come out of the woodwork to pat your shoulder, smile, or tell you to hang in there. I’ve been “that mom” with the screaming baby in public enough times now that it hardly even phases me anymore. I really live on the edge. 

But as you can see from the pictures, Caroline has her happy/content times during the day, too. She is such a little smiler, especially in the morning and on the changing table. She also has started smiling up at me when she’s nursing sometimes, which might be the most adorable thing ever. She loves to coo and have little conversations with me where I mimic the sounds she makes. That might be the most adorable thing ever, too. Oh, and the way she sucks her thumb. Most adorable thing ever. I’m sure her laughter will be the most adorable thing ever, too, once that starts up. 

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As for the thumb sucking, I am loving it! I remember having to pop Charlotte’s sucker back in her mouth in the middle of the night occasionally if it fell out before she knew how to put back in herself. Not a huge deal, but it’s nice that Caroline’s thumb isn’t going anywhere. She will also take the sucker now sometimes, at least for a few minutes, which has helped with the day time sleeping a little bit. In case you are wondering, I am not someone who worries about thumb sucking and pacifier use. In fact, I love that Caroline is using both. Anything that safely soothes a baby is fine in my book! Plus, I was a pacifier baby then a thumb sucking toddler and look how perfectly I turned out. :) 

Goals for this month are working on tummy time (No fun, she says!), remembering to take her vitamin drops (Bad Mama!), and potty training (A mother can dream right?). 

Of course I feel nostalgic over how fast time is flying, but having been through all this once before, I know about the good stuff that has yet to come. I am enjoying every sweet moment! 

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Often I have moments with Charlotte and Caroline where I just cannot even believe that they are mine. Like, when did this happen and when did I grow up and when I did get so lucky?!? And two girls! Maybe because I grew up with two brothers I always assumed my sons would outnumber my daughters (if I had any daughters at all). I just pictured myself of a mother of boys. But this is not because I didn’t want many/any girls – I’ve always wished for at least one daughter. And if Caroline wasn’t a girl I’d never reveal this secret, but I really did hope she would be a girl. After having Charlotte I guess I just couldn’t have enough daughters. I love my two darling little girls! 

This is a pointless blog post, especially since there is no picture, but I was feeling this heavily today as the three of us were traipsing through town today. Me pushing Caroline in the stroller, Charlotte holding my “free” hand, the wind blowing our hair in all directions. Girls day out. 

 

(P.S. Sons are awesome, too, I’m sure. :)

We have a preschooler

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Charlotte’s first day of preschool at Kinderfarm is in the books!

This morning, after rushing around to get dressed, fed, sunscreened, and all packed up, I helped her into the van, kissed her head, and waved as it drove away. I watched her face in the window until she disappeared around the corner, and let out a few tears knowing that this is only the first time of so many that I’ll be letting her go. 

When she was dropped off at home this afternoon, I opened the van’s door to find her slumped over and sound asleep in the back. 

She had a wonderful day. 

Monday night time

For the first time probably all summer Charlotte was sound asleep before nine o’clock tonight. A skipped nap made for a crabbier afternoon, but we needed to get her used to falling asleep ealier because tomorrow is her first day of preschool!

She is going to Kinderfarm, which is exactly what it sounds like it is: a preschool on a farm. In addition to the usual preschool activities and routines in the classroom, kids also get to interact with animals and help with farm chores. There are ponies, chickens, goats, a llama or two, donkeys, rabbits, pigs, and a St. Bernard named Stella. Charlotte will be riding a little bus two days a week (okay, it’s a van but bus sounds more fun) to and from. Even though it’s a less than ten minute drive from our house, the ride service is the only way we could make it work with my work schedule.

Oh, and side note – I will be off work all trimester since my skin sucks royally right now, but more on that later I guess.

The time off and Charlotte’s time at Kinderfarm will allow Caroline and I to get some quality daughter bonding done. Second babies need their one-on-one time, too, and I am just going to eat it up. Oh but Caroline – what a mama’s girl. When she’s really upset, I’m the only person who can calm her down. I’m flattered she likes me so much, but it would be nice if she would let Chris comfort her once and awhile. Charlotte was nothing like this and probably would have allowed an evil clown to comfort away her tears. And, yes, I know: different babies different babies, but is it even possible never to compare your children? As a very experienced mother of two, I’m going to go ahead and say nope. 

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Look at that little smiler! All her smiles and conversations make my day! And to think I was worried those first six weeks that she would never be happy. 

She must be so happy during the day because she sleeping exceptionally well at night. She has always done pretty well during the middle of the night (she will go right back to sleep after eating/diaper changing), but for the past few weeks she has been consistently sleeping 7-11 straight hours. Yes, I did say 11. :)  Sure, she is still sleeping in a car seat on the floor of our room, but whatever works I say! Eventually we may try to transition her back into the bassinet we wasted $80 on, or we might just wait to move her into her crib. But I guess that means we’ll have to bring the crib upstairs from the basement and actually assemble it….Car seat it is! 

Getting her to sleep at night is the big challenge. Little Girl is a world class sleep-fighter who can snap herself out of any exhausted state the moment her little bum hits the bed. It’s a talent, really. I’m pretty impressed. Right now, in fact, she’s staring at me from her swing looking pretty relaxed, but I know she’s just waiting to make her move. Yep, here comes the whining. I now have about two minutes to finish this blog post. 

I’ll conclude with a picture. Everyone’s favorite part. 

I call her poonkin. It means pumpkin in my own invented mama language.

I call her poonkin. It means pumpkin in my own invented mama language.

 

 

Caroline’s 2 month photos

Well, what a difference a month makes! What a difference two weeks makes, actually. Last month on the 19th I managed to snap about ten photos before Caroline’s one minute of being awake without crying came to an end. I felt so bad for my baby who just never seemed happy, and Chris and I dreaded those witching hours at nights so much. 

And then two weeks ago, on her six week birthday to be exact, she just stopped all that crying. I believe I wrote here that it was the happiest day of her life at the time….and she just keeps getting happier! 

Proof:

I'm going to happily lie on this blanket as long as you need me to, Mama! Your welcome.

I’m going to happily lie on this blanket as long as you need me to, Mama! Your welcome.

At two months Caroline is cooing and smiling up a storm. She still loves the gallery wall of art above her changing table, and diaper changes are generally a really happy experience. :) She hates even the slightest wet diaper, and she lets us know this right away. It’s nice to know what is making your child ornery, but sheesh we are going through a lot of diapers very quickly! 

This is my birthday dance.

This is my birthday dance.

Caroline is still sleeping in her car seat on our bedroom floor for the first part of the night. When she wakes up she sleeps next to me after nursing until we get up together usually around 8 because Big Sister is up. Otherwise we’d both sleep in. :) Bed time has been so much easier, too! Those witching hours are now just a brief fussy time before she passes out for usually the next six hours. However, she has gifted us with a few seven, eight, even nine hour stretches of continuous sleep at night, and to that Chris and I say, thank you very much, little dear! 

I'm just practicing this look for my teenage years.

I’m just practicing this look for my teenage years.

I don’t have updated size stats since her appointment is on Thursday, but my guess is that she is easily over 13 pounds. She can still wear her three month outfits, but I am also dressing her in six month clothes. The little number she’s wearing in these pics is size 6 months, and look how well she fills it out. By the numbers (and clothing size) so far, Caroline is taller and heavier than Charlotte was at the same age. And I thought I could never have a baby bigger than Charlotte! 

Oh hi.

Oh hi.

Caroline and Charlotte definitely look like sisters. Even though their features are all a little different, when put together, those two look alike! 

I have a feeling this is the first of many pictures I'll get of only one kid looking at the camera! hehe

I have a feeling this is the first of many pictures I’ll get of only one kid looking at the camera! hehe

Happy 2 months, Caroline Therese! 

 

Update: Caroline’s appointment was yesterday morning. She cried through about two thirds of it. Can you blame her though, after having three shots and an oral immunization? Poor little bug. She is 13 pounds, 4 ounces and 24 inches long (which is just over two feet tall!). Based upon her numbers and Chris’s and my heights, the doctor predicted Caroline would grow up to be about 5’5″. We’ll see!