Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Life With Two Under Two aka How Things Have Been Going So Far

Merry Christmas week everyone! I can't believe it's only a few days away!


This month has been kind of a whirlwind, full of birthday and holiday festivities, but I wanted to share a little recap of how things have been going so far with two kiddos before too much more time goes by! Charlie is going on eight weeks old already (!!) and it seriously feels like the time is flying. I meant to share this post last month before Henry's second birthday when we still had two littles under age two, but in a nutshell, life with two is definitely a lot busier than before...which is why I'm just now getting around to writing it, ha! I got these matching Hanna Andersson holiday pajamas last month for our Christmas card photo, but I was so excited about all the festive stripey goodness that I had Cam (who opted not to participate in the family matching...maybe next year...ha!) take a few photos of the boys and I. Well, I just looked at the date on the photos when I was putting this post together and I realized that we took these exactly one month ago today! Like I said, time is going too fast.
(And that's also why I decided to stick with my originally planned post title since they were both still under two in all these pictures...ha!)


Since Charlie's birth, the question everyone as been asking is how the transition from one to two kids has been. And overall, things have (thankfully) been going really well! First of all, my birth experience with Charlie was definitely much easier, so I think I felt a lot less drained coming home from the hospital. And with Henry, the first few weeks were pretty stressful with nursing because he wasn't gaining weight due to a tongue/lip tie. This time around, we were much more proactive about getting that diagnosed and while Charlie actually did have the same issue, it honestly felt like no big deal because we had been through it before and we were able to get it taken care of much more quickly.

This picture was taken a month ago today and I feel like Charlie has already changed so much!
 In general, I'd say that's been the overall theme of the past seven and a half weeks, nothing is that big of a deal...and I mean that in the best way possible. With Henry, in the beginning it felt like every diaper change, bath, and nursing session was a major production because as a new parent, there's a pretty steep learning curve. This time around, I feel like I can do all that stuff with my eyes closed so it's just much less stressful in that sense on a day to day basis. All those cliches about second babies are completely true and it's just really nice having more confidence in my own abilities as a mom this time around. Granted, you definitely forget just how floppy newborns are and all the little sounds they make and things they do, so it's been fun getting to experience all that again the second time around.

Sweet  baby feet (which have lint between the toes because I had just pulled his socks off...ha)
I'm hoping to do a more in-depth update about Charlie soon, but I'll admit that I haven't been keeping nearly as on top of keeping track of little milestones so far with him like I did with Henry. But overall, he's such a sweet and easygoing baby so that's definitely helped make the transition much easier. In the very beginning, he was sleeping a ton as newborns do, which made it easy to get out and do things while he snoozed in his car seat. He definitely still does that quite a bit but he's also starting to become more alert which is so fun. Because as much as I've been trying to savor the sleepy newborn phase, I'm actually super eager to see more of his personality start to emerge in the coming weeks! But so far, Charlie is just a cuddly little guy who is very chill, but when he wants something (either to eat or to have his diaper changed) he definitely lets you know! He's not on any sort of predictable sleep schedule at all yet, which is totally fine with me. Usually once I nurse him, he'll be set for a couple of hours (not always, but most of the time) and if we're home he tends to take shorter cat naps, but if we go for a ride in the car then he'll usually end up taking a longer snooze. At night, we don't really put him to bed yet, per se. After Henry goes to bed, Cam and I usually watch TV and so Charlie just chills with us and typically alternates between nursing (which he tends to do more frequently in the evenings), snoozing on one of us, or laying in his rocking seat looking at the tree. I could nurse him and put him down in his bassinet earlier in the evening, but I know this little cuddly stage only lasts so long so I'm soaking it up while I can. Once Cam and I go to bed for the night, I usually nurse him one last time, and then he sleeps in the bassinet next to our bed. And honestly, I haven't even really been keeping track of how often he's been waking up at night because I feel like I don't really even fully wake up and I try not to pick up my phone to check the time. But I'm a night owl, so basically I just get in bed pretty late and feed him one last time before I go to sleep and then he usually only wakes up once or twice after that. But honestly, nursing is so much more second nature now that I feel like I can basically sleepwalk through it and for that reason I don't feel quite as sleep deprived thankfully!

 

And then there is my sweet Henry aka the best big brother ever :) For being so young, he's seriously done so well with the transition. The first week or so, he wasn't too sure about the baby and there were a few incidents where he'd cry when I was holding Charlie. I basically just tried to spend as much one on one time with him as I could, for example I'd try to be the one to put him to bed pretty much every night after Charlie was born, because I think it was good for both of us to have that time together since he had obviously been used to spending so much time just the two of us. We tried not to push Henry to show interest or affection towards the baby because we wanted him to adjust at his own pace, but pretty quickly he really started to warm up to him. Now, he's pretty much obsessed with his brother and makes my heart feel like it's going to explode daily with how sweet he is towards him. He constantly wants to hold his hand, lay his head against Charlie, watch him nurse, and share his toys and food with him. Granted, I know that some of it probably stems from the fact that when he does stuff like this, we always praise him so I think he likes getting the positive reinforcement. We'll say "Henry, that's so nice!" and then he'll say "and kind!"...seriously, so cute :) But I know that's not all it is because you can totally tell from the look on his face when he looks at Charlie that he already genuinely loves his brother so much. I posted about this on Instagram, but it was so sweet that I had to share it here too. The other night when I was changing Charlie's diaper, Henry was kissing his toes (so cute) and I jokingly said "Are you eating your brother's feet?" (whyyyy) and since two year olds are pretty literal, Henry bit down on Charlie's foot. When Charlie started crying and Henry realized that he had he had hurt his brother, Henry started SOBBING. He was so upset and I kept telling him it was ok, that I knew he didn't mean it. And then all night he just kept saying "didn't mean that!" and the whole thing broke my heart because it was just so sweet. Henry is pretty sensitive and lately when Charlie has been crying, he starts to get kind of upset. In the book we always read him about being a big brother, there's a line where the dad says that babies cry to tell us something is the matter and in the book, it's that the baby needs his diaper changed. So lately when Charlie cries, Henry starts getting very worried and frantically says to me "Change! Change!" and starts anxiously pointing me towards the pack and play where we change his brother's diapers. It's seriously so cute and seeing Henry's tender heart as a big brother is just the best.

 

Despite his sweetness, I was a little bit concerned that Henry might try to act out or get into mischief while I was nursing to try and get attention, but honestly, it hasn't been an issue. Usually when I'm nursing, he wants to be right there next to me looking at Charlie and saying "nurse, nurse!" (ha!) or he'll just sit and read a book. Henry has always been really great at playing independently; he seriously loves to just sit quietly and read or play with his toys and I think the fact that he's able to entertain himself has been one of the most helpful things with transition of bringing Charlie home. That's not to say that he's not a typical two year old because definitely does things he's not supposed to all the time like touching the Christmas tree, jumping on the couch, pulling on the blinds, and the list goes on...ha. But it's all pretty minor and definitely just normal two year old stuff of testing boundaries that I know he'd be doing even without a new sibling. He definitely hasn't had any jealousy towards the baby at all and has been pretty good about being gentle. And although there are definitely challenges to having them less than two years apart, I feel like in some ways it's been easier for Henry to adjust because he's still pretty young.

My sweet little bookworm :)
Henry has always been a really good sleeper and he still is, but he has had a few incidents over the past few weeks where he has woken up crying in the early hours of the morning. It seems like he might be having occasional nightmares, so one of us will go in his room and comfort him and he usually calms right down and goes back to sleep. (It's just a lot more tiring when something like that happens considering the baby is also waking up at night!) He's still in his crib and still wears a sleep sack, both at night and for nap, and (knock on wood) he has never once attempted to crawl out of his crib. He's still taking one nap a day, however, some days he doesn't end up falling asleep and will just stay in his crib for 2+ hours talking to his animals and jumping around. I don't think he's ready to drop the nap yet by any means, but regardless, we are still going to continue doing quiet time in his crib for as long as possible! In the mornings, often Charlie is napping when Henry wakes up so I'm able to go get him out of his crib and we can have breakfast together. I was concerned it would be hard to find time to give Henry one on one attention, but feel like it hasn't been as hard as I thought to carve out time to spend with him alone since the baby still sleeps quite a bit during the day.

 

The most challenging moments so far were over Thanksgiving when Henry came down with a nasty bug. He had a 103+ degree fever and seemed so sick and that's when I really felt torn. Henry just seemed so little and helpless and wanted me to just hold him for hours, which I wanted to, but I also had to nurse the baby. Not to mention, I was also concerned with the baby and I catching whatever virus he had since the baby wasn't even a month old at that point. Henry really wanted to sleep in bed with us and if it was just him, I totally would have had him let him. But since, the baby is in and out of our bed all night nursing, that wasn't going to work. Cam ended up sleeping with Henry in the bed in our guest room while I stayed in our room with the baby, but it just felt really awful not to be able to be able to take care of both of my babies in the way I would have liked.



We've been able to get out of the house quite a bit over the weeks since Charlie was born, but lest anyone think I'm some kind of super mom, that's definitely not the case and the main reason we've been able to do as much as we have is because Cameron works from home. He was able to take a few weeks off when Charlie was born, which was awesome, but now he's back to work full time. But since he works out of a home office, the fact that he can help out here and can give me a hand here and there throughout the day is incredibly helpful. Usually he's out of bed before I am in the morning since I'm in bed nursing, so he'll get the coffee started and make breakfast, which is super helpful. For example, if we have an activity in the morning, getting out the door with two is definitely harder than getting out the door with one. Usually if Cam doesn't he doesn't have a conference call when I'm heading out, he can help get Henry's shoes and coat on and help me get the kids in the car and it makes such a big difference. And I think having him home has really been helpful for the transition with Henry since Cam is able to give him attention here and there throughout the day. Plus, when Henry is napping, I'm able to just take the baby with me and run errands with just him since Cam is home. Or sometimes he will have an errand he needs to run during day, so he'll grab coffee for us while he's out and it's little things like that that have made the transition to two so much less overwhelming because I don't feel like I'm doing it all by myself, which might be the case if he was traveling more for work like he used to. Also, since he's home during the day, he's just a lot more in tune with the boys' schedules/likes/dislikes/etc. than a dad might normally be. And if we're going somewhere together on the weekends, he is always the one who drives so that's when I'll put my makeup on because I usually don't have time to do it before I get out the door...ha!

 

In addition to Cameron being around to help out, the old saying about it taking a village is so true and we've been blessed to have lots of support from family and friends and that has made this time so much easier for us. My parents were out here from Michigan for Charlie's birth which was great. And then my mom stayed out in Portland for awhile after and it was great to have an extra set of hands, especially in the very beginning. My in-laws live nearby and have been super helpful with whatever we need, from watching our dog for the first week after we brought Charlie home to watching the boys so we could go out to a date night for my birthday to dropping off a ton of food on Thanksgiving when Henry got sick and we couldn't go. And then speaking of food, one of my friends set up a meal train for us and that has been amazing! We've had people bringing us 2-3 meals a week pretty much every week since Charlie's been born, and not having to figure out what we're having for dinner has been such a huge help.

Because even though there are lots of sweet moments, plenty of the day looks like this...ha!
Overall, I feel that (so far) going from one to two kids has been way less of a challenge than going from zero to one kid for sure. There are definitely challenging moments, like when both kids are crying and need something that very second, but those haven't been as frequent as I anticipated they might be. In a way I feel like having two kids has made us more productive and efficient at getting things done, mainly because you have to be. With just Henry, I felt like I could put things off since I knew I'd have time to do them later in the day, but now, if I have a minute where both boys are quiet I feel much more motivated to just get something done. Not to mention, I feel like having two kids makes me feel like I just want to be an all-around better mom and human being. Not that I didn't want to do that with just one child, but having to raise two little people just seems like such an even more awesome responsibility that it makes me really want to rise to the challenge.



I'm so looking forward to celebrating Charlie's first Christmas and Henry's third Christmas this weekend, and I'm just feeling so thankful for this little family of mine this year! I have a few other posts that I'm hoping to get up before the new year, but in the event that I don't get a chance to post again in the next few days, I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Christmas too!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Our 2016 Christmas Card

Well, both kiddos are napping at the moment (a Christmas miracle!) so I wanted to just quickly pop in and share our Minted holiday card for this year! Our were sent out earlier this month cards (with the exception of a few stragglers that still I need to get updated addresses for...) and I was going to take a cute little photo of the card itself with Christmas backdrop like I've done in the past and have seen other bloggers doing, but since I know that one or both of my children is likely to start crying in the next five minutes, I thought that just sharing the digital proof with a little back story about our cards would suffice this year :)

Originally, when I found out I was due with Charlie on Oct. 20th, I was planning to have some family photos taken in mid-November. I thought it would be perfect because I could get some photos of Charlie while he was tiny, some two year photos photos of Henry, and then a photo of the four of us that I could use for our card. Well, that didn't work out quite like I planned. Charlie came eleven days late and by the time I started trying to figure out photos it was already getting close to Thanksgiving. And at first, Henry wasn't super crazy about getting close to the baby or being in a photo with him, so I thought that trying to get professional photos at that point probably would have been a waste of time/money. (That's definitely changed because now he's obsessed with his "brudder" and wants to be near him all the time!) Not to mention, November here in Oregon was super rainy and so trying to do family photos outside like I had planned was just not going to work. So I had to scratch that idea and decided we'd just do a picture of the boys for the card and try to take a picture at home instead.

Since we weren't going to do Christmas photos outside any more like I'd envisioned, the wintery plaid ensembles I had picked out for the boys seemed slightly excessive for our living room and I thought Christmas pajamas would be super cute instead. (And I have to give a shout out to Hanna Andersson for generously providing my favorite stripe PJs for the boys and I this year - and I've got more matching photos to come soon!) I was planning on trying to have Cameron help me take photos of the boys, but luckily my good friend Megan offered to assist, which worked out awesome since fellow bloggers tend to have slightly more patience for taking a million photos :) She managed to catch this shot of Henry cheesing and Charlie with his eyes open and that was that! And while I love all the elegant card designs Minted offers, since this card was featuring just the boys, I thought this design, which is a little more cutesy and whimsical, fit perfectly with the photo :)


I knew I wanted our card to serve dual purpose this year as Charlie's birth announcement, so I loved that Minted offered this adorable birth announcement backer as a design option. The day we took these photos, Megan and I were trying to get a good photos of Charlie alone but he was being sort of fussy and it just didn't seem like it was going to happen. However, right before we were going to call it quits, he fell asleep and she got this sweet shot of him that I absolutely love so patience paid off!


(And just FYI, he's been wearing the striped hat from the photo whenever we got out and I've received so many compliments on it - everyone asks me who made it because it totally looks homemade but it but it's actually from Target!)

Sending Christmas cards is one of my absolute favorite holiday traditions; in our digital world, I think there's something so special about sending some snail mail this time of the year. We've used Minted for our cards the past few years and I'm continually impressed with the creativity of the designs they offer, as well as the quality of the finished product. There's still time to order cards to send before Christmas (with expedited/rush shipping) or better yet, send out one of their cute New Year's designs! Plus, they have a ton of great gift options that still have time to get here before Dec. 25th :)

I really wish I could send all of you who have continued to read and support my blog a card, but I hope that you and your family have a blessed holiday season!


Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Ultimate Two Year Old Gift Guide

Happy December friends, it's hard to believe that Christmas is TWO weeks from tomorrow! 

I had lots of posts I'd hoped to share this month, but this is such a busy time of year, especially since Henry and I both have December birthdays! (Not to mention whenever I do get a chance to actually sit down at the computer, it seems like either the baby or the toddler instantly starts crying...ha. Except that's not a joke...) But since I already shared a gift guide for me/the ladies in your life, I also wanted to share one for the toddlers in your life too because kids are the most fun to buy for :)

Charlie is (obviously) too little to care about gifts this year, but this is the first year that Henry is starting really enjoy opening presents (as well as all the other fun things that come along with Christmas) which makes this makes this year extra exciting. And since he is my little December baby, I've had lots of friends and family asking for gift suggestions for him for both his birthday and Christmas. And because I have a December birthday too, I know that it can actually be kind of hard to have to try and come up with a bunch of ideas all at once! So initially, I was planning on this post being a list of my gift ideas for Henry this year. However, he is at an age where he seriously loves so many different things; for example, if we go to someone else's house, it doesn't matter what toys they have, he'll have a blast playing with them. Not to mention, Henry and Charlie are super blessed to have two sets of awesome grandparents who not only get them stuff throughout the year, but who have already told me some of the gifts that Henry is getting for his birthday/Christmas this year and let's just say that he is going to be a very happy boy!

So I was having a hard time putting together a post of ideas of things that Henry wants this year, and instead, I decided to put together a list of toys he has and loves that I think would make great gifts! But in case any friends and family are reading and curious about ideas for him he still LOVES books  so those are always a safe bet. And then any toy with wheels (cars, trucks, trains, planes, etc.) is always a hit, but I think that's probably true of most two year old boys! He really has fun playing with the most random things though, plus he is totally at an age where just opening the gift and playing with the box is a thrill...ha!

Before I get into the gift guide though, I wanted to share a few other suggestions on buying for toddlers. I am a huge fan of memberships for gifts since they're something you can get so much use out of with young kids. Here in Portland, memberships to the Oregon Zoo, The Children's Museum, and OMSI would all make wonderful gifts. There are lots of other places for toddlers that would be fun to give an "experience" gift to on a smaller scale as well. My go-to toddler birthday party gift at the moment is a gift certificate to Smartypants, which is this awesome kids art studio here in Portland. It's so perfect for toddlers, and so I've bought multiple gift certificates here for birthday parties of Henry's friends. Most cities have things like play cafes or bounce house places and while a gift certificate to one of these places may not be thrilling for a toddler to open, they (and their parents!) will love it come January when the excitement of their new toys has worn off and everyone has cabin fever! And last but not least, if you're looking for stocking stuffer type items for toddlers, you can't go wrong with the Target dollar spot! I've found so many neat little toys and things here for Henry over the past two years so definitely check that out if you're looking for ideas :)

The gift ideas listed below are (for the most part) all toys that Henry has and loves! It was hard to narrow it down because he has lots of toys he likes, but I tried to include things that I think would make great gifts and the work for both girls and boys. Most of this stuff is geared toward the two year old set, but there are many items that could work for slightly younger/older children as well. Also, none of this stuff below is sponsored, they're just some of Henry's tried and true favorites that we've either purchased or have received as gifts from friends/relatives. Happy shopping!

Toddler Gift Guide


Kidkraft Vintage Kitchen - So technically Henry doesn't know he has this yet, but it's what my parents got him for Christmas this year and it's currently sitting in our basement waiting to be assembled. (Which I've heard is actually very time consuming...) However, he has played with this kitchen at multiple friends' homes and really liked it and he's really into helping us in the kitchen. I just wanted to include it because I think toy kitchens are so great for both boys and girls :)

Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set- I got Henry this Nativity Set back in the summer when it was on clearance and he's been loving it so far this holiday season! Little People things are so perfect for the toddlers :)

Scuttlebug Trike - My mom got this bike for him when she was in Portland before Charlie was born; she wanted to get him a special "big brother" gift so we went to one of my favorite toy stores to try and find something and the whole time we were there, he was riding the store model of this bike around the store, so that's what we ended up leaving with. It's great for indoors and I love that it folds up for easy storage, plus it's assembled right out of the box! (And there is also a cute red lady bug model too!)

Books - I've mentioned this before, but Henry is OBSESSED with books. He loves for us to read to him, but he also likes to sit and "read" on his own and will seriously do it for hours. He has quite a few already, but I really want to encourage his love of books so I don't mind him getting more. I feel like there's no such thing as too many books and they make such great gifts! I did a post awhile back with some of his favorites, and they're all still in heavy rotation around here.  But I thought I'd share a few more ideas for the two year old set: 

Books with great stories/illustrations - Although Henry still loves all of his more simple board books, he is starting to get more interested in books with longer stories, especially at bedtime. (But not too long, otherwise he loses interest) A friend of mine got him the "The Bear and the Piano" as a big brother gift and it's such a sweet story that made me tear up the first time I read it to him. The illustrations are beautiful and it would make a great gift for any kid in your life!

Books with rhyming - Henry is super in to books that have lots of rhyming/repetition at the moment, and no one does that better than Dr. Seuss! His favorite is Go, Dog. Go! but there are lots of other Dr. Seuss titles that would be fun to add to his library. (He also has and loves Sheep in a Jeep and Little Blue Truck for rhyming books as well!) 

Concept books - At this age, Henry is very into letters/colors/numbers and I love books that help reinforce these concepts. I just got him this Touch Think Learn ABC book for his birthday and it's such a cool one! The pages are super thick, it's very modern, and it would make an awesome gift!

Camelbak Eddy Water Bottle - I've mentioned these before, but Henry has a few of them and loves them! They have lots of fun patterns and would make a great gift. (Also, the recommended age is 3-8 but he has been using his since he was around 18 months!)

Teepee - Cam's parent's got Henry this gray and white teepee, he loves playing in it and I think it's super cute. It would make an awesome gift to have set up under the tree on Christmas morning for sure!

Pretend Campfire - To go along with the teepee, I wanted to get Henry a pretend campfire but this set I'd seen from Land of Nod, although adorable, seemed sort of ridiculously pricey for a two year old. So I ended up getting him this little campfire from Target for a fraction of the price and I think it's super cute! (But it is part of their Christmas decor so I'd snag one now!)

Tuffo Muddy Buddy Suit - I always get lots of comments when I post pictures of Henry wearing this suit on Instagram, but it's really come in handy the past year! Even if you don't live in the rainy Pacific Northwest, it's perfect for any time you want to keep your toddler from getting muddy. And it comes with a little zipper pouch, so it's a great thing to just keep in the car. (And it comes in a few different colors!)

Bouncy House - So we don't have one of these and we don't have room for one, but I wanted to include it in my list because I think it's actually a great idea! A few friends of mine have this Little Tikes bounce house and I think it's a great investment for under $200! It's definitely designed for toddlers as opposed to older kids, but even if you only set it up a few times a year, you'd get your money's worth compared to renting a bounce house. Plus, stuff like this entertains toddlers for hours and as a parent, I feel like you can't put a price on that....ha! Like I said, it's not something we have space for now, but for a future Christmas when Charlie is old enough to use it too, I think it would be awesome! (I haven't seen this model in person, but it looks great too for the price!)

Anywhere Chair - Henry got this from my parents last Christmas and a year later, he still loves to sit in it and read. Plus, I think that anything with a kid's name on it makes a cute gift :)

Sleep Sack - Henry still wears sleep sacks to bed, but it's getting harder to find ones in his size now that he's a toddler. Halo does make great sleep sacks that come in XL, but they don't carry many in stores and you usually have to order online. Aden and Anais also makes XL sleep sacks as well that are a little more expensive but they're so soft and have cute patterns. Henry has one of their thinner classic sleeping bags that we love, but I'd like to get him a multi layer sleeping bag for the winter since his room gets pretty cool at night. I think an Aden and Anais sleep sack would be a perfect gift since they're cute but functional, plus they fit a range of sizes so they're easier to buy than clothes since toddlers grow like weeds!

Woodlands ABC Nesting Blocks - We got these for Henry as a big brother gift and he loves them! The woodland design is adorable, they are great for learning letters, and I love that they don't take up much space :)

Water Wow! - These are great for toddlers because they're mess free - a great activity for traveling!

Play Wooden Coffee Maker - My sister and brother in law sent this to Henry for his birthday and even though he's only had it a few days, he loves it. But then again, he sees his parents drinking coffee all the time so it makes sense, right?! :)

Hope some of these ideas might be helpful when shopping for the littles on your list! For other gift ideas, you can also check out my past posts on our favorite baby gear :)






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