Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mini Horses

VJ's friend Jackie has invited Katie Anne to come out to her house and visit her mini horses several times.  So, VJ arranged for us to head out and visit the horses this morning.  Katie Anne was very excited about seeing them and riding them - although we found out when we got there that you can't ride mini horses - and she looked forward to it all week!

When we got to Jackie's house, we met the three minis - Gracie, Pearl, and Tonka.  Katie Anne got to see all three horses up close.  She got to pet them, walk them on their lead rope, feed them treats, and command them to perform some of their tricks like giving kisses and shaking hands.  
 Waiting for the horses to come up to the fence:
Here they are!
VJ held a sleeping SJ4 while Katie Anne checked out the horses
and Mommy made pictures:
Katie Anne did an excellent job listening to Jackie's directions and working with the horses!  She wasn't afraid of the horses at all, even when one of them accidentally nibbled on her hand.  It made Mommy a little nervous when Katie Anne walked the horses on her own, but she totally loved it!  Here she is learning how to walk Tonka on the lead rope.
 
 
 Giving Pearl a treat:

Jackie was very impressed with how well Katie Anne listened and with her respectful manners.  She said Katie Anne is free to come back and visit soon - and next time she can sit on one of the big horses!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fierce and Fashion Forward

Last weekend, we had to make a Costco run to stock up on formula for SJ4.  While we were there, we looked through the clothing section to see if they had any bigger baby clothes for Little Big Man- he's already outgrowing most of what's in his dresser!  We picked up a few 6 months fall outfits for him, and I found the cutest pair of blue jeans for Katie Anne!

Katie Anne has never been a fan of jeans.  When I first tried to dress her in them, she complained that the waist band cut into her sides.  Plus, with her diaper on, the size that fit over her diaper was way too long in the legs.  Then, when she got a little older and was not wearing diapers anymore, I realized that her long legs and skinny butt didn't make a good match in any jeans sizes - she really needed a 3T for the waist and a 5T for the length.  So, we've never had any jeans she could really wear, and I'd really given up hope of finding any until she's older.

Well, when I checked out these Levis skinny jeans at Costco (which were a great price as well), I realized that they're not really denim - they're a cotton/spandex mix that's a lot softer and more like a pair of knit pants.  (Knit pants are all KA likes to wear in the winter.)  I was so excited!  One of the drawbacks of Costco shopping is that you can't try on the clothes there, so I bought KA a 4T and crossed my fingers that they'd fit once we got them home.

Today, we tried on the pants.  They look totally cute and - the best part - she says they feel great!  She was excited to do a little runway modeling for me in the foyer.
  
You may think this facial expression means that she isn't liking the jeans, but you'd be wrong.  We love to watch Project Runway together, and she always points out how mean and/or sad the models look on the runway.  So, this is her "fierce" modeling face.

Here's a video of her runway walking!
video

They had the jeans in a few different colors - and of course we all know colored jeans are hot this season.  I wish I'd gotten her jeans in a few more colors!  I'm going back to Costco on Monday to get some supplies for Saunders's birthday party, and hopefully they'll still have the jeans in stock so I can grab KA a few more!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Breaking In Baby

Unfortunately, this weekend marked the mid-point of my maternity leave.  I technically am taking about 11.5 weeks off, but one week and 2 days were before SJ was born due to my OB taking me out of work early.  That means I really had 10 weeks home as "maternity leave" with both kids, and last week was the fifth week since SJ4 was born.  So, now begins the sad countdown towards going back to work, back to daycare for KA, and leaving SJ with a non-relative caretaker for the first time.  Although I would love to stay home longer - because of her birthday's timing in the school year, I was able to be home with Katie Anne for the first four months of her life, and that was awesome - 12 weeks is all I'm legally allowed to take, and since a lot of this time is leave without pay for me, it's about time for me to go back to work.  Also, I made a commitment to the kids and parents who decided to loop up to first grade with me, and I'm anxious to get back into the classroom to make good on my word that I'd do a bang-up job once I returned from maternity leave.

Here in lies the working mother's dilemma.  Once you see the end of your time at home with the baby in sight, do you work on transitioning him to a more daycare-like schedule and environment, or do you let him enjoy every last minute of being at home and accept that the transition will be hard?  It's such a hard call because - on one hand - you want the transition to be as smooth and easy for him as possible.  So, it makes a lot of sense to start him off and let him get accustomed to that way of doing things - less-than-constant holding, occasionally waiting on things, not keeping the house dark and quiet all the time.  It seems like the "nicer" thing to do to set him up for success since it is inevitable that he'll be in daycare in five weeks.  On the other hand, I want to kind of "bank up" all that love and holding and cuddling that babies simply can't expect in a daycare situation for all those days that I won't be there.  I don't want to waste this chance to snuggle him because most of his awake hours will soon be spent away from me, and I'll miss these chances 5 days a week.  That seems like the more "loving" thing to do ... to hold him every chance I get.  So, it's a very tough choice to decide what to do.

I have been through this before.  With Katie Anne, I never considered how different her life would go in the space of one day from being at home to being at a daycare with bright lights, loud sounds, and a lot less one-on-one time.  Sleeping was her #1 problem once I went back to work.  I spent a vast majority of the four months I was home with her just holding her while she slept or creeping around in semi-dark silence while she was asleep in her crib.  So, when she started school, she had about 6 weeks of horrible transition where she never napped, spent a large part of the day crying, and was totally exhausted when I picked her up in the afternoon.  It meant that I worried about her even more all day because I knew she wasn't happy or resting peacefully ... I knew her constant crying was stressing her caregivers ... and I knew she'd be too tired at night to spend any time with us. 

I vowed I would not do this again, so I've really worked from day 1 to get Baby SJ4 to be a better sleeper.  I try to put him down drowsy but awake a few times a day/night so he can learn to fall asleep on his own, and he does pretty well with that.  I don't keep his room totally dark - sometimes I open the blinds or leave the lamp on while he sleeps on purpose so he won't be dependent on total darkness to sleep.  I try to keep KA and the dogs semi-quiet while he naps, but of course that doesn't always happen.  When he cries in his sleep, I try to pat his back, gently talk to him, or put his paci back in  as a first response instead of running in and picking him up the minute he fusses.  And, let's face it ... I've got another kid to take care of this time, so I can't just spend 8 hours a day silently holding a sleeping baby like I did with Katie Anne.  KA now needs her own time and attention from me, and most of that comes while he's in his bed asleep.  So, I think the sleep part of SJ4's daycare life won't be too hard.

However, he's got another area of concern that started to become apparent last week.  As I've mentioned before, he hates to sit in his bouncy seat or swing in the papasan swing.  I haven't really thought about this problem outside the realm of A) what a pain that I can't put him in these things if I need to do something while he's awake and B) what a waste of money that we just bought both those things new before he was born.  So, I've just been holding him anytime that he's awake.  When he was only awake for short periods of time at first, this was fine.  However, he's starting to spend a lot more time awake - usually a good long while in the early morning, afternoon, and evening.  Naturally, I've got to have my hands to do some things for KA or myself during those times.  I've been using the Maya sling, and he loves that ... 
 but he also thinks he's being held when he's in it.  Plus, he tends to fall asleep after only a few minutes in it because it is so cozy.

So, that's okay - I'm glad he enjoys it, and it makes me life easier.  However, it doesn't teach him to be happy when he's awake and not being held, and it doesn't remotely resemble what will happen at daycare.  So... what to do?  

Well, my mother and mother-in-law both expressed the opinion last week that I should start getting him used to the swing and bouncy seat because that's where daycare babies spend a lot of time awake time when they aren't being changed or fed.  And, when your mother and mother-in-law both tell you something, it's like the cosmos telling you to listen up!  Plus, it echoed the back-of-my-mind sentiment that he really shouldn't get used to being held every second that he's awake.  

So, I have embarked on the campaign to break SJ4 in.  I'm thinking of this like breaking in a pair of shoes ... it hurts at first, but only for a short while - and then the shoes feel great!  Or, maybe like breaking a horse ... it takes a rough ride or two to teach them what's up, but then everyone enjoys it!  At least, that's my attitude going in - a little pain for a lot of gain for everyone in the end.

I explained the situation to Katie Anne first.  Like any good sibling, she doesn't like to hear her brother cry.  Anytime he cries, she says to me, "I hear the baby - go get him."  She is definitely not a fan of the cry-it-out method.  So, I told her that we were going to be working on getting SJ4 used to his swing, vibrating seat, and just laying down and chilling a little bit on his own so that he'd be ready for school in a few weeks.  She thought this was a good idea.  Then, I had a firm talking to with SJ4 while he was on his changing pad (that's where he does his most attentive listening) about blooming where he's planted, and we were ready!

Luckily, it all seems to be going pretty well so far.  I'm trying to put him in either the seat or the swing (or both) during a time when he's changed, fed, awake, and reasonably happy.  Sure, we've had the odd complaint and crying jag ... we give him 5 minutes to cry and see what he does.  If he's doing the full bleating goat pitiful cry at the end of that time, I pick him up and we try again later.  However, I think he's getting used to them and starting to enjoy the ability to stretch out and relax.

First, we worked on the vibrating seat.  
At first, he was confused...
 and even sullen.
But after awhile, he started to really enjoy it.
Of course, having big sister chatting with you as she colors next to your seat does up the entertainment factor:

The swing has been a little more difficult.  I don't get it - the plush, comfortable self-propelled papasan swing seems like an ideal situation to me.  Baby SJ isn't as sold as I am, though.  He'll try it for a minute or two...
 and then he gets ticked off.  My parents brought over their swing for him to try here, and he does better in that sometimes, but it is hit or miss for him.  We'll keep trying and see how it goes!  Hopefully, he'll learn to enjoy hanging out in his seats and swings.  My fingers are crossed that we can achieve the ever-elusive balance of holding vs. seat time to make that daycare transition easy and painless for everyone.




Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saunders IV's Newborn Photo Shoot


Earlier this month, Karen Baker of Karen Baker Photography came to the house and made pictures of Saunders IV as well as new family pictures for us.  Saunders and I went to high school with Karen, and this is the second time she's made pictures for us.  We love working with Karen - she is so relaxed, takes her time, and does such a great job with Katie Anne.  In fact, we've already scheduled our next photo session with her to have our Christmas card pictures in November!

As usual, Karen did a fabulous job.  She got so many great shots, especially the ones of the kids together.  I love looking at all the pictures she made of us and had such a hard time choosing which ones to buy for framing in the house!  The picture at the top of this post is my absolute favorite one.  Here are some of my other favorites, all courtesy of Karen Baker Photography ...
 
There are lots more pictures in this session, too.  If you'd like to see them all, click on this link:
and enter this access code:
090510


Friday, September 24, 2010

Bathtub Fun ... & The Post-Bath Blues

After getting off to a rocky start the first time, Baby Saunders has started to really enjoy his baths.  Katie Anne and I give him a bath during his awake time in the morning once or twice a week, and he usually spends about fifteen minutes in the baby tub.  Unlike his big sister, he loves to sit in the baby tub and have warm water poured on him.  He doesn't mind being soaped up, and he surprisingly doesn't even fuss when we wash his hair.  Katie Anne loves to stand in a chair beside the sink, fill up a cup with warm water, and pour it over his belly, so it's a win-win situation for both of them.* 

Here's a picture of the little man just relaxing in the tub - with a strategically placed duck stamp to respect your modesty, of course.

See this happy little man?  This is a very different experience from bathing big sister, who screamed from start to finish in the bathtub for about - oh, I don't know ... the first 14 months of her life ... and still periodically after that until she could stand up and take a shower at 2 and a half years old.

However, before you start vilifying me for posting about how much better my son is when compared to my daughter and wondering how much therapy it will take Katie Anne to get over posts such as these ... fear not.  My two precious, angelic children may differ in their love of the bath water, but they both share the same fatal bathtime flaw.

See, it's all good and well to enjoy your bath and have a great time in the water.  But, you know what must inevitably follow all that splashy, clean fun?  Drying off.  Yes, drying off is no fun.  Katie Anne barely tolerated being dried off post-bath, and SJ4 is the same way.  In this picture, he's manning up and attempting to make it through the drying process.
He usually does okay ... just a little fussing, and then mercifully the drying off is over.  

But, the worst is yet to come.  Do you see the product in the far right corner of the above picture?  Yes, that's baby lotion and - according to my children - it is manufactured in a place called Hell by a man named Satan.
Have you heard all that baby advice that a gentle post-bath massage with lotion is relaxing and pleasant for babies?
My two angel darlings beg to differ.
Post-bath lotion and massage time is a 
form
of
torture.

And you know what's even worse than being gently and loving rubbed down with pleasant-smelling (and in the above case nice, organic, so-expensive-Mom-and-Dad-won't-buy-it-so-it-must've-been-a-gift Burt's Bees) baby lotion?

Getting dressed.

Yes, Baby SJ is a pretty easy kid who is usually cool, calm, collected, and rarely busts out the big, serious, eardrum-shattering cries.  But, you want a sure-fire way to piss off the little man with the outrageous 'fro hairdo?
Dry him off, lotion him up, and have the audacity to put a onesie on him.
Just like his big sister.




*It's actually a win-win situation for me as well because Katie Anne is a great helper when we give SJ4 a bath.  She loves to help me gather up all the supplies and take them to the kitchen.  She loves to help soap him up and rinse him off, but the best thing is having her to help rinse his back.  I remember wishing I had a third hand when I'd try to wash Katie Anne without Saunders being here because it really takes two hands to hold a slippery baby.  With her standing by with a cup full of water, waiting to rinse his back for me, it makes bath time much, much easier!  Unfortunately, she does not have a solution for all that screaming.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

KSU Owl

Sporting his KSU onesie...
Oh, don't be too surprised.  We do love the Bulldawgs, but we've got to show our love for the KSU Owls, too.  Mommy and Daddy both got their Master's degrees from KSU, Doc is a professor at KSU, Uncle Greg and Aunt Jillian are both KSU students, and KSU is one of Granddad's biggest clients in his business.  So, Baby SJ4 is representing all those KSU ties in his yellow Owls onesie!
When I get this look, I know the picture session is over...
Besides, as Daddy's shirt says, KSU Football is still undefeated!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reading Books Before Naptime

We like to pile in KA's bed and read books before naptime!

Big Sister, Little Brother

I didn't get any good pictures of the two kiddos wearing their big sis/little bro shirts while we were in the hospital with SJ4, so it has been on my to-do list since we got home.  While folding laundry last night, I realized that Baby Saunders is about to outgrow his little brother onesie, so I dressed the kids in them today and made their pictures this morning.  SJ4 was sound asleep, but we went with what we had!
Here's the cutest of the bunch...
Kissing that wild hair...
She was trying to whisper in SJ4's ear to wake him up...
Katie Anne wanted to show SJ4 her new manicure.  She didn't care that he was asleep - she said, "He sees it anyway.  His eyes are a little bit open, I think."
And, just for fun - a totally crazy intense smile from the big sister!