Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Adjusting

Since Mim's joined our family, the two most frequent questions I get asked have been: (1) How's Mim? and (2) How's Mac handling things?  My answer has usually been the same: (1) Great! and (2) Not so great.    
As with any major life change, this is taking a bit of time for us all to adjust.  However, toddlers are notorious for not handling change well, whether that's a big change to family dynamics or a little change like his high chair not being in the exact right spot in the kitchen.  Any change can lead to unexpected tantrums, outbursts and fits.  Oh, this is a tough age.  And really, I do think that's what the biggest problem is - the mere fact that Mac is TWO and that's a very difficult time for kids as they're trying to assert their independence and test all the limits.  For a 2 year old, I think he's handling the situation remarkably well and doing all the things a normal (wild and active) two year old would do.  If we'd had Mim 6 months ago or 6 months from now, I think Mac would probably be handing the situation much differently, but it is what it is.  They're not called the terrible twos for nothing.  (Not to say that he's terrible - he's actually incredibly wonderful - it's just a tough age.)  
For the most part, Mac's not very interested in his little sister.  And I think that's a good thing.  Maybe because he's a boy and doesn't seem to have that "nurturing" quality that little girls have at this age, but he doesn't really want much to do with Mim.  He's not begging to hold her, which could lead to him dropping her.  He's not trying to feed her french fries or play dough.  He's not interested in touching her with his dirty germy hands.  In my opinion, these are all good things as he's probably the biggest threat to her safety right now.  We've slowly been trying to encourage safe interactions with her, but we're definitely not pressuring him to be super involved.  We're giving him time and space for him to come to terms with her on his own.  I think that's the right move.  He's so wild and independent, there's really no forcing him to do anything he doesn't want to.  We certainly don't want him to resent her or see her as a threat, so we're letting him keep his distance, if that's what he's comfortable with.  I'm sure he'll come around soon, once she's a little more interactive and love her as much as we do.  But for now, we're fine with letting him think that babies are really boring and just leaving her alone.
Maternity leave has been a whole new situation that's taken some time for us all to get use to.  Our nanny is still here full time, so she's been a wonderful help with giving him lots of personal attention during the day while I take care of Mim.  As the weeks go by, he's getting more use to me being with the baby, holding her and feeding her all day, but he still has his moments.  When he wants mommy, he gets very upset if I'm holding her. The first few weeks we had a few epic meltdowns because he wanted me to hold him while I was feeding her.  I mean, kicking, screaming, thrashing, head-banging, violent tantrums that absolutely broke my heart.  Gut wrenching.  I never imagined it would be so hard to be in the middle of your two children who both desperately want you and your attention.  How do you choose who to tend to first?  It's one of the biggest challenges I've faced as a parent so far.  I'm not sure this will ever get easier.
I think the hardest part for Mac has been having to share his parents with Mim.   Even though he's getting more use to sharing me with Mim, he's still not ok with sharing his daddy with her.  When Ryan gets home from work, it's Daddy-Mac time and if Ryan even looks in Mim's direction, our little tyrant is not ok with it.  "DADDY NO HOLD MIM!!" gets shouted many many times a night, which is also very hard on Ryan.  He's also being pulled in two directions and it's very emotional for us all.   We definitely don't want Mim to feel abandoned while we put her in the bouncy seat to tend to him.  And we don't want him to feel like we'd rather hold the baby than play with him.  We're trying to get Mac use to the idea of sharing his parents with the baby, but it's going to take some time.  We slowly take turns holding her around him, but sometimes he still gets very upset.  It's a huge adjustment for him and I can't say I blame him for being confused and jealous.  But every day seems to be getting a little bit easier.  It's better now than it was a few weeks ago, so at least we're moving in the right direction.  It may take months, but he'll come around.  
One of the things Ryan and I are both trying to do to help the situation is to spend quality one-on-one time with each kid right now separately.  I've read that this helps with the transition and particularly lets the toddler feel like he's not being replaced or left out, but it's hard.  Newborns inevitably need their mothers (and their mother's "equipment") more than their dads, so I don't get to spend nearly as much time with Mac as I'd like.  I do try to spend alone time with him every day, doing something fun like catch crickets in the front yard or play baseball, but I'm also still recovering from major surgery (and dealing with exhaustion and very sore/painful "equipment"), so I'm limited in what I can do.  I know sometimes that frustrates him.
Ryan is also limited in what he can do with Mim.  Right now we are implementing a divide and conquer strategy with the kids, not by choice, but by default.  They both require so much attention and energy, it's very hard to get anything else done or even all be together.  We love spending time with them individually, but I'm looking forward to the day that they can play with each other or we can all hang out together as a family without the jealousy.  Things feel so divided right now.  I love all the Mim time I get, but I miss my Mac time and time with my husband.  I know it's a phase and it will pass quickly, but it does feel isolating and lonely at times.    
But of course not everything is hard.  It's easy to love these two amazing kids and I'm falling in love with my husband all over again as I watch him with them.  Mim is the sweetest thing ever and Mac has turned into such a funny, smart and ornery kid.  I love watching as both of their personalities continue to shine.  They change so much daily that I find myself just staring at them, trying to memorize every little detail because I know just how quickly it all changes.  Maternity leave has been such a blessing.  Even though I never feel like I have the time (or energy) that I'd like, I love getting to spend so much time with these two.  The days and nights feel so long while you're in them, but the weeks are just flying by and I'm not ready to move past this amazing stage.  As much as I want to move past this tough time, I also want to stay here forever.  Such conflicting emotions.

So for now, that's where we are.  Still adjusting.  Still working on things.  Still trying to figure out how to be a family of four.  Eventually we'll get there.  And in the meantime, we just have to try to enjoy the ride, no matter how bumpy it may be.  Thankfully the views are fantastic and the company is top notch. What a fantastic journey this has already been.  I can't wait to see where we're going next! 

Anyone else having (or had) trouble with the transition?  
Any advice for helping toddlers deal with a new sibling?  I'm all ears!      

Monday, August 18, 2014

Eve of Eden Maternity

Before I get too far away from this pregnancy, I need to get this post up.  I apologize for not getting this up WAY earlier, but I completely ran out of time (and energy) towards the end of my pregnancy. Why is it that the first nine months seem to fly by, while that last month feels like 600 years yet you can't get anything accomplished?  Oh, one of the many things I will miss about being pregnant (kidding).

Anyway, a few months ago I was contacted by a clothing company called Eve of Eden about sampling some items from their maternity line.  They are an Australian company looking to expand here in the US and are available online and in a few boutiques.  They graciously let me choose a few items to sample from their online shop - how cool is that?!  Seriously, sometimes being a blogger is pretty fantastic!  

Maternity clothes are usually pretty awful - they're either super expensive or incredibly cheaply made (sometimes both).  They're also usually available in notoriously obnoxious colors or outdated patterns that look like a picnic blanket from the 70's.  I've had a hard time finding well-made pieces in neutral colors that can be worn repeatedly in a variety of ways.  However, I was really impressed with the selection from Eve of Eden's website.  So much so that I had a hard time choosing what to pick.  

After spending quite a bit of time perusing their website, I chose three neutral, yet fun, items that I didn't already have to add to my maternity wardrobe: (1) a white print maternity/nursing blouse; (2) a black ruffled wrap dress; and (3) a black tankini.  
I wore all three items multiple times over the last few months of my pregnancy.  I absolutely loved all three pieces - they were fashionable, well-made and comfortable.  The white top was perfect for wearing to work or out on weekends.  I wore it with jeans, with shorts and with slacks.  I plan on wearing it a few more times in the upcoming months while nursing.  It was really comfortable and fit well.  I loved the rouching and the sleeve length.  The tankini was perfect for wearing to the beach on vacation - it was supportive and actually really flattering (well, as flattering as maternity swimwear can be).  
But the little black ruffle dress was by far my favorite - you really can't go wrong with a wrap dress during pregnancy.  I loved the ruffle embellishment on the dress and the length of the sleeves.  It's made with a super soft stretchy material that surprisingly didn't collect as much dog hair as I expected it to.  I wore this dress out to dinner and to work events a few times and always got compliments.
36 weeks pregnant and rocking the ruffle dress

Fortunately for you, I will not be posting any photos of myself in the tankini...because no.  And the photos I took of myself in the white top were after a very long day at work and I look like absolute death warmed over, so just trust me on that one.  I kept meaning to retake them a different day, but it just never happened. Total blogger fail.  

Also, because we love you all SO MUCH, Eve of Eden has graciously offered a discount code for all my readers that would like to place an online order.  Just use the code RUNNINGLAW at checkout and get $AUS10 off any purchase over $AUS60.  They have some really cute stuff right now that would be perfect for fall - like this chambray shirt dress or this polka dot top - paired with some boots.  

If you're currently pregnant, I hope you'll go check out the Eve of Eden website. 



* Thank you Eve of Eden for offering me the opportunity to review your products.  Other than receiving the items free of charge, I was not compensated in any way for this post.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Dog Days of Summer - Julie



Hi Friends! I'm Julie...wife to Jon, and mama to Hudson.  I blog about life with a busy toddler over, my messy house, and my love for fruit snacks over at The Girl in the Red Shoes.
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Before we had Hudson, our golden retriever Wrigley was our baby. I've always been a dog (and cat!) person but having him was a new experience for my husband. We both love our golden boy so much and I just knew that once we started a family he would be great with kids.
And I was right!
 photo IMG_6944copy.jpgWherever Hudson goes, Wrigley is sure to follow. He kept his distance for a while (thanks to Hudson pulling his hair every chance he got) but now they are best buddies. They play with each other, chase each other, and love on each other. It's enough to make my mama heart melt.
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Hudson loves to feed Wrigley snacks (both the doggie and toddler kind) which I know is probably the number one reason Wrigley loves this boy. I can't say that I blame him! When I was pregnant I worried that our furry boy would be neglected...and it's totally the opposite. He is a member of our family and we wouldn't want it any other way.
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And although we have our fair share of toy stealing, snack snatching, and rough housing we wouldn't change one thing about the relationship between these too. These are the days I will never forget.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Dog Days of Summer - Natasha


Hello!  My name is Natasha and I blog over at Schue Love.  I'm a mama to Ethan, my wild and crazy two year old.  I'm convinced he and Mac would be best friends!  ;)
But long before Ethan, there was Wilson...our lovable golden retriever.  See how happy and unaware he is in the picture above??  He was so spoiled and loved on {he still is today!}...and really had no idea what it meant to have a baby brother come into his life.
Notice that look above now?  Wilson is the quintessential nervous nelly...he is such a people pleaser and I think he was really worried about what this new "thing" was and how they should interact.
They had some good moments in the beginning...
But most of the time though...he has those worried eyebrows...and nervous nelly expression!
I would say he "puts up" with Ethan now...who would love to rough house with him and ride him like a pony, naturally.
Poor Wilson looks a bit more defeated here...but I assure you he still gets his share of love, despite how he might look.  And I won't lie, it was an adjustment.  I felt pretty guilty in the beginning but have soon realized that he and Ethan will get to a point where they are best buddies.
The summer has been especially fun because Ethan throws the tennis ball for Wilson...which he LOVES.  They're already well on their way!

Now that we have our second on the way, I'm sure I'll deal with the same emotions that I initially did with Wilson.  It's hard to believe that there's enough room in our heart to love another, but I guess our hearts just grow!

Thanks to Sara for having me today!!  Give a love to Mac and Mim for us!

xo natasha

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Baby Mim - 2 Weeks

Dear Mim,

How do I even begin to describe just how wonderful these last two weeks have been, since you entered our lives?  I've struggled to write this post, partly because I'm scared to jinx us with bragging about what a good baby you are and partly because I'm still trying to process the overwhelming amount of love I have for you (or perhaps it's due to sleep deprivation and exhaustion).  I just can't seem to find the right words, which is why this post is being published days later than I anticipated.  Hopefully the words pouring out of my heart onto this page make sense and someday you will read them and know just how loved, wanted and adored you are.    
When I was pregnant I heard so many people say that when you have a second child, you question whether or not you can ever love that child as much as you do your first.  For some reason, I never felt that way.  I knew immediately upon finding out that we were pregnant that I could easily love you just as fiercely as I love your brother.  However, I was not expecting that love to be so intense so early in your little life.  With Mac, it took a while for me to really wrap my head around the fact that I had a child and he was mine.  With you, that connection was instant.  From the moment that I heard your cry in that operating room, I loved you more than I ever thought possible.  It took everything I had (and all those drugs), not to jump off the table and scoop you up.  I nearly took the nurse's head off because I wanted her to be gentler with you and get you wrapped up and warm right away. Those mama bear instincts sure didn't miss a beat. All I wanted was you...in my arms and safe. From that moment on I knew I would spend the rest of my life trying to keep you safe and protected.
The adjustment to your new home seems to be going relatively well; however, we've had our issues.  Mac is still having a very difficult time adjusting to his new role as big brother and you had a difficult time settling down those first few nights.  With respect to the latter, I think that just may be the case with all newborns - adjusting to a new place, with new smells and sounds is probably a bit overwhelming for a baby.  Your dad and I took turns bouncing, holding and rocking you for hours each night.  I think we may have gotten a collective 2-3 hours of sleep each night.  But by the third night and ever since, you've been surprisingly pleasant in the evenings. You want to eat quite a bit (still every 2-3 hours), but most of the time you will go right back to sleep after a feeding. You haven't really given us any long stretches of sleep, but at least you haven't been keeping us up all night crying (knocking on wood right now).  Hiccups, gas and dirty diapers seem to be the biggest obstacles to us all sleeping well in between feedings.  Once we get past those issues, we're good to go.
As for Mac, he's just being a typical two-year old adjusting to a new situation.  We're dealing with lots of tantrums, meltdowns over ridiculous things and pushing the limits/boundaries every chance he can get. We've been giving him a lot of special attention lately, which may be part of the problem, but he's having a hard time learning how to share his parents and adjusting to our new "normal" with me being home all day.  We knew it would be a tough adjustment, but we also know that it'll get easier for all of us as time goes by.  He does seem to really like you though and is always concerned about whether you're happy or sad. It's very sweet to watch him react to you and try to interact.  One of these days he's going to be your best friend and biggest fan.  Don't worry, we'll get there.
For the most part, you are such a good baby!  Well, I'm not sure if you really are that amazing or if we are just used to having a very difficult baby with your brother, so you seem easy in comparison, but either way, we love it!  Everyone told me that you'd be very different than your brother and you have proven that to be absolutely true. You do look like him, but the comparison ends there.  He loved to be swaddled; you love your hands out. He needed the white noise to calm down; you like it quiet.  He was a horrible eater; you are a rockstar eater. He never took a pacifier; you will chomp away on one.  He loved to be naked; you hate being cold.  He never cared about getting his diaper changed; you demand a new diaper every 20 minutes. He cried for no reason; you only cry for valid reasons.  We are so grateful that you've been so good to us these last two weeks and really hope that it continues (for the rest of your life, ok?).  
Slowly but surely we are getting to know you and your personality.  You're still not awake for long periods of time, but when you are bright-eyed, you're so inquisitive and expressive.  I love the faces you make and all your sweet noises.  You love looking at me and watching the dogs and the ceiling fan.  You are such a sweetheart and so wonderfully cuddly.  I knew you were going to be snuggly while I was still pregnant with you.  When I would sleep, you'd snuggle into a little ball, all nice and tight, way down in my belly.  When I'd move, it'd take a while for you to get repositioned out of your snuggle ball, which was sometimes really uncomfortable for me.  I'd prod and poke you through my belly, trying to convince you to move, but you'd stay put, cuddled up.  Now that you're out, not much has changed.  You love to be held and cuddled.  You curl up into a tiny ball of love in our arms and snuggle right in.  You are so comfortable and snuggly that it makes it nearly impossible for us to put you down.  You get held a lot.
Everyone has commented about how much you look like your brother, which I agree with.  However, as the days go by I think you are starting to look less like him and more like your own person.  I still can't figure out just who in our family I think you look like the most - right now you're a mix of your dad, your cousin Alex and my Grandma Bert. Strange, but beautiful.  You were born with dark hair and grey/blue eyes - the same combination Mac had.  I wonder whether your hair will stay dark like your dad's, light like mine or even red like Alex's.  You have the most elegant long fingers of any baby I've ever seen. And the longest skinniest feet - they look like skis with monkey toes!  Everyone's commented on your giant feet, saying that you're destined to be an athlete (and tall)!  You're finally getting your chubby cheeks back, after losing some of your initial weight in the hospital.  I love babies with chubby cheeks, so this absolutely thrills me.  You have a tiny Angel Kiss on your left eyelid and the most beautiful little lips and button nose.  I truly think you are one of the most gorgeous babies I've ever seen.  
Speaking of gaining weight, you are a champion eater and have been packing on the ounces these days.  At your two week appointment, you more than doubled the average newborn weight gain, which put you well above your birth weight!  Go Mim!  It's so important that you gain weight right now, so we're doing all we can to make sure you eat as much as you want.  Fortunately, breastfeeding is going really well for us this time around, which is a major stress relief for me and probably deserves an entire post on its own.  I have been so worried about this aspect of having a newborn,  as it was a huge point of stress for me the first time around (which you can read about here).  But you have made it easy for me.  You latched on right away with ease, my milk came in on day 3 (lots of it!) and we've been doing great ever since.  This has truly been a blessing and (despite the pain, which I hope will fade within the next few weeks) has quickly become one of my favorite things about having a newborn.  It really is amazing how different the experience has been this time around. 
So, in a nutshell, we are madly in love with you, little one.  I love spending my days with you in my arms and your daddy just can't get enough of you in the evenings.  These last two weeks have just flown by and I'm terrified that the next 10 will go just as fast, sending me back to work before I'm ready to leave you.  Actually, I already know I won't be ready.  It's going to be so hard and I'm just trying desperately not to think about it right now.  I'm soaking up every moment I get with you and seem to spend hours just staring at you, kissing you and smelling you.  Knowing you're my last baby makes it all feel so fleeting.  As excited as I am for you to get older, I'm going to miss having a baby around.  Just promise me you won't grow up too quickly.
Thank you, Mim for being a part of our family.  We are so happy to have you in our lives. You already have us wrapped around your long beautiful fingers and we wouldn't change it for the world.  We are so incredibly blessed.

Love,
Your mama 


Baby Mac - 2 Weeks

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Dog Days of Summer - Jenny

Hi! I'm Jenny and I blog over at the Chronicles of We. I am so excited to be here on Sara's blog today while she's loving on her new baby girl! Sara's blog was one of the first I started following and I blame credit her with my photography bug! I am a SAHM to a very active two year old girl named Callie. My blog is a little bit of everything! I blog a lot about my daughter and our little family, my adventures in running and weight loss, mom topics and the process of building our dream house on a lake!
I'm thrilled to be talking about something near and dear to my heart - raising a kid with animals! We have three fur babies two cats and the highlight of my post today, Winston, our dog. Winston is a Weimaraner who is full of energy even though he is almost five years old! If you met him you would think he was a puppy still! He is a big boy at 85lbs but has no idea how strong he is. Winston is the wimpiest big dog you'll ever meet - our cats boss him around including stealing his food! He has no alpha tendencies at all - he just wants to play and play. He's not much of a guard dog but if you heard his bark you would run the other way not knowing behind the bark was a happy dog wagging his tail thinking you are there to play with him!

While it hasn't always been perfect nor easy to have animals and a young child (oh the barking and nap mishaps in the early days!) these days I wouldn't have it any other way! Callie loves our animals and always wants to play with them. Well except when they try to take her food! I think Winston is her favorite but he's not always sure about her. He's a sweet dog but gets himself in trouble a lot either because of his food obsession or because he's a hyper spazz! There has been a lot of learning for him on how to play with a little person but we are finally starting to get into a groove!
She loves to mimic his play! I catch her regularly sitting when I tell him to sit and she LOVES to roll over with him! Callie also loves to "walk" Winston and will put his leash on and walk him around the house for at least 15 minutes at a time! It's a great winter or raining day activity!
Callie being her bossy self regularly gives Winston commands these days. She tells him to sit, to leave her food alone, to get down,  drop the ball, to stop (that never works haha!), and she calls him to "come here." The best part?! He's even started to listening to her a little bit. I give it a year or two and he'll listen better to her than to me. My favorite command is when she tells him to "calm down" (hand gestures and all) like she is in this photo below!
I can't help but love this photo. I can just hear Callie squealing with joy that Winston is playing with the ball she just brought him! At the same time I can see Winston being like thank you for standing three feet away from me crazy girl!
Winston can't help but play when she brings him his favorite toy - a ball!

We got this large ball about a year ago so they could play ball together without having to worry about Winston accidentally biting Callie's hand. It's still small enough he can get it in his mouth but big enough there's room for little hands. It's our favorite toy to let them play together with!
I am sure I complain about raising a kid and a dog together with the best of them. However I wouldn't have it any other way. Callie learns so much from having pets around and the joy they bring when the play together is just too precious for words!

Thanks again Sara for letting me share about my crazy dog today!



Monday, August 4, 2014

The Dog Days of Summer - Natasha

Hello friends. I'm Natasha from Hello! Happiness and today I am here thanks to Sara talking all about the Dog Days of Summer, and giving you the details about Chloe, our lovable CRAZY dog.
Ya'll are going to love this...I promise. It makes me giggle when people say "wait, you have a dog???" and I kinda laugh and say, yep, we sure do. I know most bloggers have their lovely canines and furry friends scattered all over their sites, yet it's not something I have ever focused on here at Hello! Happiness. Probably because our dog has a personality all her own.
Chloe is a German Short Haired Pointer and she is 8 years old... Jeff got her as an 8-week old puppy when he was in his senior year of college at UT and from day one, she was a nut. She was notorious for having accidents on people's beds, eating shoes, destroying anything of value, and never ever listening to Jeff. He planned on using her as a hunting companion so he sent her off to a dog boarding school when she was a puppy and it's safe to say she wasn't the valedictorian of her class, bless her heart. This might be something we still ridicule him for even to this day. However, I do have to say, she has the sweetest, most gentle disposition and is a great family dog, especially given the fact that the girls LOVE to ride her, wrestle her on the ground, pull her tail, and do anything to get her attention. I inherited her when Jeff and I decided to move in together and bought our first home, where she was babied like crazy and had her own room downstairs...easy life, huh?
Well, as you are well aware, not one, but two baby girls entered our world over the next 1.5 years so poor Chloe learned to take a backseat to the chaos that has ensued and was fine with laying on the couch next to us, just as long as she was included in all the family fun.

She LOVES to play fetch, loves nightly walks around the neighborhood (especially when we let her take a dip in the pond), can't get enough of some occasional steak leftovers, and makes a great snuggle buddy, though she still obeys anyone and everyone except Jeff. The only thing that seems to annoy her are the yorkies that live across the street that crawl under our fence to "play" with her...she isn't much a fan. Since we moved, she now spends the majority of the day out in the backyard, but sleeps in her crate inside and ALWAYS has a blanket over her at night because she loves it to be completely dark...so weird.

playing fetch with daddy and Caroline at our old house
 told ya she loves to cuddle...lucky she is so sweet to the babies and LOVES to give kisses
There you have it, a little show and tell about our dear dog Chloe! Thanks for letting me play along, Sara!