Sunday, November 24, 2013

Three Months

It's been a while since I've had any energy to write up what we've been doing, because it's mostly just been gross over here.  The two boys are (seemingly) constantly sick with a cold, my throat is always killing me, and I just have zero patience with Benjamin.  It's been a rough time full of failing, which combined with lack of social interaction due to the kids being sick, means I'm in a funk.  Tired and grouchy, and quick to complain.  I need prayers, so please think of us and ask for grace and mercy.  And healing from this interminable sickness.

Daniel is three months old today, which is crazy.  He's been doing really well sleeping, his pattern is about midnight to 9am, but we're trying to move it earlier so we can have some of the evening to ourselves.  We pass him back and forth, I'll nurse and then Thomas will snuggle and that gives me a break while we watch something on TV.  It's nice to get a full night's sleep, and I'm so grateful that Benjamin goes down about 7:30 or 8pm and doesn't need anything else, so evenings are pretty relaxing.  Nursing plus bottles does make the time go by slowly, but I'm very grateful for being able to breastfeed for the time being.  I think sometime soon Daniel may start rejecting me in favor of just bottles, but I'll try not to focus on it until it happens. 

Closest we got to a smile.

Getting chubbier!  Yay for formula!

It's hard feeling like I need to be always holding Daniel, or feeding him, and not spending lots of one-on-one time with Benjamin.  He always looks forward to Emy coming, he knows she'll play with him.  And he's been pushing my buttons recently with not putting away toys when I ask him to, and just generally being disobedient.  Poor guy, I know life is very different for him now than even three months ago.  Hopefully in God's grace we can move forward and figure out an effective way to discipline, rather than constantly asking him, do you want a spanking.  Sigh.

Today was mostly good, I think Emy coming in the afternoon helps a lot because I can focus on dinner and getting stuff ready for Thomas to come home, and she'll play with Benjamin and wash dishes.  She really is indispensable.  I'm glad we've got a long time before I have to contemplate life without her.  Benjamin was also more obedient and sweet than the past few days, hopefully a result of feeling better from his never-ending cold.

Benjamin picks out his clothes a lot now, and this is the cutest outfit EVER.

He really loves "Big Dino", AKA Littlefoot from Land Before Time.  I remember getting him, in the 2nd grade.

We got some Christmas candy in the mail, I hope the chocolate didn't melt on the trip.  And we have a few presents for Benjamin stocked up and ready for wrapping.  I'm going to let him open a Playmobil nativity on December first.  It's for older kids, but he's very good with the dad and kids we got to introduce the idea of a baby brother, so I think it'll be okay. 

I don't have any good ideas for presents for Daniel, would it be terrible to wrap up some baby toys we already have?  I'm counting on grandparents to send a few things for him, and I don't know we need that much since we've got a decent selection of baby stuff.   I keep adding stuff to Benjamin's wish list, it's getting out of control.  But I rationalize that anything Benjamin gets, Daniel will play with later.  I'm not sure if I should start asking Benjamin what he wants, and I don't know how to approach the Santa stuff.  Any suggestions for how to do it without it taking precedence over Jesus' birth?


Monday, November 4, 2013


My mom is sending us a stocking for Daniel, she has supplied all of ours and is rounding out the bunch.  Last year I bought two sets of stocking holders, they came in packs of two.  We'd never needed them before, our place in Arlington doesn't have a fireplace.  I was pretty sad thinking about the baby we lost and wondering if we would ever need that fourth holder.  I'm so excited that we get to use it this year.

I must still have some pregnancy hormones rolling around, I started listening to Christmas music and when "I'll Be Home for Christmas" came on, I was close to crying.  It's hard this year, we don't have the excitement of traveling to Paris this time and knowing that both Thanksgiving and Christmas will be just us makes me sad.  I'm sure it'll turn out to be good, and we're always happy to be low-key, but it's tough being far away from family.  Hopefully we can take a trip to the Dead Sea or something to get a change of scenery.  We'd thought about maybe going to Germany for a long weekend in December to check out the Christmas markets, but airfare is super expensive, especially now we have to buy Benjamin a seat.

Daniel had done a couple nights in a row sleeping from midnight to 7am, but then last night he woke up at 5am.  It was rough.  Today I got to escape and eat lunch at the embassy with Thomas, which was sorely needed.  Last week I'd planned to do it on Wednesday, but Emy was sick a couple days and it didn't happen.  Sadly Benjamin and Daniel have colds, but I think they're slowly getting better.  Daniel's is very slight but Benjamin has a gross nose and the saddest little hoarse voice.  Thomas and I are mainlining orange juice to hopefully avoid getting sick. 

Last Thursday for Halloween we'd planned to hang out at the embassy and let Benjamin trick or treat, but with his cold flaring up that day we decided to skip it.  People really go all out, and the kids are adorable.  It was sad to miss, but next year maybe I'll plan ahead a little and coordinate the boys' costumes.  This year would have just been Benjamin in his Carhartt overalls with his Ikea toolbelt.  Not original.

I can't wait to decorate for Christmas.  I already mentioned that the Xmas tunes are in full force, but I want to put the tree up!  Thomas says we can do it on Thanksgiving, so I'm counting down.  I need to organize/tidy things up, though.  Our living room where we hang out is pretty clean, thanks to Emy, but I need to get a system for toys.  And also start to rotate, so everything isn't everywhere at once.  Once things are more stripped down I can hang stockings and feel festive.  I've been adding stuff to the boys' Amazon wish lists, but now that Benjamin is more aware I want to downplay the materialistic aspect as much as possible.  I think I just want us to get him one thing, and with grandparents I figure he'll have a few things to unwrap.  It doesn't need to be an orgy of unwrapping and throwing one thing aside the second the next is opened.  But maybe that's just inevitable and I should get over trying to manage it.  Thoughts?

Over the weekend we had a crazy rain and hailstorm.  It looked like it had snowed, but then everything melted pretty quickly.  I heard somewhere that this winter is projected to be the coldest in a long time for the region, which isn't good news for refugees.

The white stuff is the hail.

So crazy!

I got my new glasses on Sunday, and I wasn't sure I liked them at first.  I'm still not 100% sure, but it's nice to have something a little different.  My prescription is the same, so it's purely just to have a change of pace.  We have a lot of money in the HSA that we need to use up or we lose it.  I may order another pair of glasses, just for fun.  I got sunglasses too, but no pictures of those yet.

I trimmed my bangs, which is always iffy.

That's it for now!  I can't believe it's November already.  Time is just flying by and Thanksgiving will be here before I know it.  Time to plan the menu...


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Two Months

Hello there.  Today was a four cups of coffee day, which explains a lot about what life is like these days.  Daniel's been sleeping for longer stretches, usually about midnight to six, which is pretty good.  But definitely not anywhere close to good enough!  We're anxiously awaiting the day he can sleep through the night for a minimum of eight hours.  But he's pretty sweet and getting bigger all the time.

Playing football.

Can he catch it?


Daddy and the big kid.

Benjamin is so funny these days.  A few months back he started talking about "the shivers", which is one of the Frog and Toad stories.  He's obsessed, and talks about it all the time.  He and Thomas have a game where Benjamin will hold the football and run, while Thomas chases him.  But Benjamin will drop the ball and then fall on the floor, and yell "I got tackled" while Thomas is still three feet away.  So silly. 

Watching Sesame Street in the morning. Perfect time for me to take a shower!

Benjamin still watches Sesame Street every day, and we've added "Potty Power", a DVD I bought that's supposed to encourage potty training.  He likes it, and asks to watch it, but whenever I ask if he wants to go sit on the potty he says no.  Maybe in a week or so, hopefully. 

Daniel showing off his cool new outfit.  Thanks, Aunt Marian!


Now that it's starting to feel more like fall, with highs in the low 70s, I've started lighting a pumpkin-scented candle.  Thomas thinks I'm ridiculous with my candle fixation.  I want to get some of those wood-wick candles, but I'm not sure if they'll ship here.  I like the crackly sound they make.  I had a stash of Yankee Candle stuff from when we moved and I guess I forgot about them last autumn, but now that I'm using them it feels more like home.  I love this season, wearing sweaters and feeling cozy.  We haven't turned the heat on yet, but probably will in the next couple weeks.


Hey there.


All in all, things are going pretty well.  We're so grateful for Daniel and Benjamin.  Despite the lack of complete rest, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  And now it's two months until Christmas.  Time is flying!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Life is Good

This week was full of doctors visits.  My six week checkup on Monday, Daniel's six week checkup on Wednesday, and then my annual-ish eye exam happened today.  All good reports, Daniel is now a little over 10lbs and is getting bigger all around.  His pediatrician was impressed, and it's great encouragement that my nursing and our supplementing is working.  Hooray! 

In honor of our cold spell, we broke out the footie pjs!

Can't wait for more cold weather.

The only bummer came today at my eye exam.  Surprisingly my prescription stayed the same, but I was diagnosed with keratoconus, a steep cornea.  It's not super serious, and I'm in the early stages.  The doctor said that I should come back in three months to get checked, and I'm hoping that it's slow in progressing.  Maybe the hormones from pregnancy will subside and arrest any further change.  It's evidently treatable, but still something to keep an "eye" on.  ;-)

But the fun part, I picked out new glasses!  I'll post pictures once they arrive, I ordered regular glasses and prescription sunglasses. 

Daniel is doing really well sleeping, at least for the moment.  He'll stretch from midnight to about 6 or 6:30am.  It's been awesome to get more than just two or three hours at a time, but I'm sure come the next growth spurt I'll be singing a different tune. 

Now that we're getting more of a schedule, and more consistent sleep, I'm looking forward to having some time to get to the gym.  I'm glad to be back in "normal" jeans, but I can tell it's going to be a while before I'm in my skinny pairs again.  I had decided to wait until January but I think I'll start sooner, since things are settling down faster than I thought.  This requires some planning and initiative, so pray that I'll be diligent about actually working out.  My goal is to get to a reasonable weight to hopefully get rid of any effects of my PCOS, in case we decide to try to have more kids.

Funny faces.

Still having fun with my new app!

In other news, Benjamin is funny and sweet and occasionally infuriating.  Emy is amazing and I can't imagine life without her assistance.  We've started using The Fresh 20, which is a menu-planning service thing.  It's been really helpful, I'm terrible at thinking up meals and would get frustrated, and it was stressful for Thomas to come home and have me trying to think of something at the last minute.  Thomas is super helpful and will grocery shop on the weekend, and he'll help with food prep and cooking.  He's the best.  I'm really grateful for our friends who suggested this website, it's made a big difference.  And the food tastes good, is pretty healthy, and definitely is a welcome change from my usual standbys. 

Thanks for the cool Tshirt, Mimi and Papa!

That's it for now!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Six Weeks In...

We've made it this far!  Sleep is still elusive, but we're improving slowly.  Daniel usually nurses around 11pm and again at 3/4am then again at 7/8am.  So I get a couple naps in.  Thomas will do a bottle afterward or burp him, which gives me a break.  I feel so blessed to have such an awesome husband - he's the best dad and partner in diaper changing/bottle feeding/all-around parenting two boys.

Daniel at six weeks.

Benjamin in the same outfit, at two months.  Hopefully Daniel will get the same chubby cheeks soon.

Speaking of Thomas's amazing-ness, his birthday was this past week.  With the baby and all, we really didn't do anything special, aside from ordering Papa John's pizza.  I definitely dropped the ball, but hopefully we can do something more exciting for our anniversary to make up for it a bit.  Sadly the anniversary of Thomas's birth was the day his grandpa passed away.  It's hard to be far away and unable to go to the funeral, but we are so grateful for his grandpa's witness and love for the Lord and his family.     

I'm trying to do a better job of taking pictures of Benjamin as well as the baby.  I found an awesome app for my phone that lets you put in text or fun little doodles.

You start with this...

And end up with something like this!

Benjamin is so funny, he's very decisive about things he likes and doesn't.  Tonight I asked him if he wanted to wear his overalls again tomorrow, because I looove them, but he said no and that he wants to wear jeans.  Oh well.  Today the weather was very cool and fall-like, highs in the low 70s. 

Daniel has been doing great with nursing and only takes about 9oz of formula per day, which means that I'm making about 2/3 of what he needs.  I'm pretty excited about that, and that breastfeeding is successful so far.  I'm not counting on anything lasting, just trying to be content in the moment.

As far as the shutdown goes, life isn't much different.  Thomas is still working, which I was bummed about.  Fingers crossed Congress will figure it out and everything can get back to normal.  This weekend I got my nails done with a girlfriend, it was magical to get out of the house and chat and have my feet worked on.  It had been about two months, and things were really ugly.  I feel much more human.  I came home to a crying baby, but otherwise it worked out well. 

Benjamin wearing the blue sweater at four weeks.

Daniel wearing the blue sweater at six weeks.

 Time really flies when you're delirious from lack of sleep.  Although usually I feel pretty good, mostly after I inhale some liquid form of caffeine.  Late nights are starting to get easier, when he can do longer stretches around the 3-4am session.  We're so grateful for this little guy.  Looking forward to the 2 month mark when sleeping through the night becomes more attainable, though!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bullet Points

-I don't miss being pregnant.  I thought I would, especially knowing that this might have been the last time.  But it's nice to be able to squat down and play with Benjamin, or bend over, or just roll over in bed without needing a hoist. 

-Benjamin is still pretty screamy at times, like tonight we went to the embassy for some playground time and dinner and he was great.  Super well behaved, ate a great meal, and then once we got home and started the bedtime routine he freaked out.  Sigh.

-Daniel is taking bottles and is still latching great.  I feel so blessed to still be able to nurse him.  It is disheartening that I need to supplement, but I know he just needs nutrition so I'm trying to move past my own sadness and give him what he needs. 

-Daniel is getting better at using the pacifier.  Because Benjamin had bottles basically from the beginning maybe that's why he loved the pacifier so much, but Daniel has to be convinced to take it.  I really need him to love it, so we're working on it.  Little by little I think he'll get into it.

-I ordered a stuffed fox to be Daniel's monthly picture animal.  It's from the same company, Jellycat, that made the alligator/crocodile we got for Benjamin for Christmas.  They're super soft.  Benjamin is completely enamored of this thing, so I'm telling him that Daniel is sharing with him. 

Funny face.

Super sweet.

Why is this thing in my seat?

-Benjamin is still really sweet to Daniel, giving him kisses and pats many times a day.

-I feel almost back to normal, I have my postpartum doctor appointment in a couple weeks.  I'm out of maternity clothes and wearing some "fat jeans" that I hadn't worn in a while before I got pregnant.  I'm ready to be back at a stable size so I can buy some black jeans, but I should probably quit eating Snickers and cookies to be at my previous size.  My goal is to hit the gym at least once a week starting in January, maybe earlier if it seems doable. 

Four weeks postpartum.  A ways to go, slowly but surely.  Ignore the poofy hair.

-The weather here was gorgeous a few days ago, highs in the low 70s.  Today was warm again, low 80s, but fall is definitely coming.  The evenings are cooler and I can't wait to wear sweaters and boots.  Which brings me back to needing black jeans.

-I realized a week or so ago, that it's been a year since my miscarriage.  It was Sept. 11 that I went to the doctor and he told me the baby was gone.  A few days later I had the D&C.  So many women shared their stories with me, and many more have since.  I'm so grateful for that pregnancy, which only lasted about 8 weeks.  I think the D&C and subsequent hormones allowed us to get pregnant without fertility treatments, which I didn't think possible.  I'm grateful to God for both my children.  I don't know why He has blessed us and not others.

-Sleep is still elusive, Daniel can go for about 5 hours once a night, if we're lucky.  It's just tough to make myself go to bed early, especially if Thomas is up watching something fun.  But I desperately need to sleep as much as possible, to maintain sanity and some level of kindness toward Benjamin.  Here's hoping once Daniel hits two months he'll be able to make it through the night.

That's all for now!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

3 1/2 Weeks

Well, today I caved.  I started using bottles this morning, after my neck and upper back were screaming in pain and I wasn't up for using the syringe to supplement.  Daniel seems to be doing okay with both nursing and the bottles, so fingers crossed we can keep it up!  I've also started taking some medication to help increase milk supply, it could take up to six weeks to work, so I'll give it that much time and then reevaluate.  I definitely want the nursing to work out, but I don't mind doing bottles on occasion, especially in public.  (Bottles aren't so bad, except for not having a dishwasher... double ugh.)

Thanks to Jenn for taking some great pictures of the boys!

Here's a call for help from you parents out there: Benjamin has started waking up from his nap in hysterics, crying and just in great distress.  He doesn't do it in the morning, just after naps.  His room is completely dark, everything's the same as at night.  He sleeps with his comfort animal and blankets, nothing unusual.  I am really over it.  I'm also usually dealing with Daniel when he throws his fits, so I can't just rush in and pick him up and calm him down.  It happened a few times before Daniel was born, but now it's every day.  Any words of wisdom or advice would be great!

Sweet face.

My dear friend is leaving us and heading home, and I'm so sad.  It's been absolutely amazing and fantastic having her here, Benjamin has loved playing with her and I've been able to hand her the baby and grab a nap, which has been sanity-saving.  I can't even contemplate life without her here.  And having a friend to chat with during the day, what a small thing but an amazing blessing.  I can't just call people and chat all day, with the time difference and my friends having "jobs".  (smiley face)  So for real, come one come all!  Come keep me company and babysit my two year old, or hold my newborn! 

Sadly, Daniel is already too long to wear this.  The coon!

While she was here we started making coffee, and Thomas started drinking it during the workday to help mitigate the effects of the baby schedule.  Now I've been converted, and I have a cup every morning.  In addition to a Diet Coke or two in the afternoon.  I used to imagine myself too superior to drink coffee, but I'm totally hooked.  After a long night, it's now necessary for me to function. 


I've also started letting Benjamin watch Sesame Street in the mornings, he loves it probably too much.  He asks to watch "a show" or "a movie", and talks about Bert and Ernie and Big Bird.  It's not the worst thing he could watch, but I still feel moderately guilty for doing the TV thing.  Of course he watches SportsCenter when Thomas comes home, and random stuff on the weekends, but this is the first consistent kid fare he's consumed.  But if it lets me take a shower and avoid being a Hazmat case, so what. 

Thomas is an awesome dad.

All in all, we're very blessed and doing pretty well.  I can always use more sleep, but I know it's coming... in a month or more.  (Silent scream)  Pray that I can be patient with Benjamin and sensitive to what he needs, while also being responsive to Daniel.  Pray that we will all get more sleep.


Sweet baby.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Nursing, So Far

Monday I met with the local lactation consultant, Julie.  She's very nice and was receptive to my bossy already-decided-not-to-dos, like I've basically given up pumping.  I had tried to do the bare minimum, about three times a day.  But since Thomas is back at work, it's been impossible to do it at all the past few days, so I'm bagging it.  According to how much formula we're giving Daniel, and the chart of what babies his size (up to 8 lbs now!) take, it looks like he's actually getting a substantial amount of breastmilk.  I'm so grateful that nursing is basically working out!  Even with supplementing, it really feels like another miracle.  (The first being Daniel's existence.)

Poat-nursing wrinkly face.

Now I'm just waiting until we can start bottles, which Julie said would be best around 6 weeks.  So, fingers crossed I can convince Thomas to hold off.  He's a trooper with helping during the late night feedings, since I'm usually wrecked after breastfeeding and just want to get back in the bed.  I'm also looking forward to the amazing day when Daniel will sleep through the night.  I really took for granted our "adult time" in the evenings, to watch TV and just hang out.  Now I just want to go to bed immediately at 8pm and snooze as much as possible before the baby wakes up hungry again. 

Reading time with Daddy.

Benjamin is still pretty fussy at random times, but we're trying something new: putting him to bed about a half hour earlier.  Hopefully he'll be a bit happier with some extra rest.  I took Daniel to the embassy and ate lunch with Thomas yesterday, which was a fun break.  I also loaded up on Snickers bars at the co-op on the way out.  Totally necessary.

Still working on smiling on command.

We've gotten two more dinners delivered by sweet friends, which is awesome!  It's so great to have our little community around us.  I'm dreading the day when my good friend flies away, she's been an immense help.  Anyone want to volunteer to come live with us for a month?  What, no takers?


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Baby Makes Four

So here we are, two weeks into being a family of four!  Life is pretty crazy and hectic, but it's been an amazing help to have Thomas home from work for these two weeks, and having my dear friend here, playing with Benjamin and helping him feel more at ease with all the changes.  I'm a little nervous about beginning the transition to "real life" with less help, but I know God will provide.  Please pray that I will have patience with Benjamin, and make time to really interact with him during the day.  Also that I will have energy and motivation to pump and try to increase my milk supply.  Mostly it seems okay, but there are times where Daniel seems extra hungry and in the evenings we've been giving him lots of formula.  (Still with the syringe, but honestly I'm looking forward to the 4-week mark when I'll be able to give him bottles if it's still necessary.) 

Our friend Jenn took some fun pictures of Daniel for us!  Super cute!

Thankfully Daniel is still a good nurser, but I'm not 100% sure it's working out great since we're supplementing.  The local lactation consultant is back in town and I'll meet with her next week, fingers crossed she'll be able to clear up any questions.  And if it turns out I need to be doing more formula, that's fine, I'm trying not to wrap up my worth in whether or not I can breastfeed this baby. 

Building tall towers, trying to smile.  :-)

I'm feeling pretty much back to normal, except for waking up a few times at night.  But as long as I can grab a nap at some point I can make it through.  Thomas has started drinking coffee, but I'm holding off on starting up that habit.  Diet Coke once a day is holding me over, along with sweet tea. 

Sleepy dude.

This past week our awesome friends here brought us dinner every night!  It was such a blessing to have delicious meals with zero effort on my part.  It'll be another sad transition back to normal life now that the food train has stopped rolling.  But we have a stocked fridge and freezer, thanks to Thomas volunteering to grocery shop yesterday morning.  Husband points galore!

Benjamin loves to give Daniel kisses and pats.

I'm sure posts will be fewer now that life has drastically changed, but I'll try to keep some updates coming whenever possible.  Thanks for all your prayers for a safe and healthy delivery, it definitely exceeded my expectations.  Please continue to pray for us, that nursing is successful and everyone stays healthy.  Most of all, for safety and peace in this time of uncertainty with all the Syria business. 


Sweet baby.