Saturday, January 23, 2016

Week 34 & 35: Big Baby Boy!

Week 34:

Ava has a few new interests and abilities:

She likes to play hide and seek! We call it peek-a-boo. We run around the house and I try and hide around the corner from her and then I pop out and say "peek-a-boo"! She loves it and asks for more every time I stop!

She's learning new body parts! She's understanding "arm" and "leg" more, and her new favorite is "neck"! She has also become interested in the creases of the inner arm (elbow pit??) and my arm pits! She likes to play with my hair (I think we may have moved passed pulling it...for the most part) and I've caught her playing with her own hair a few times!

I can tell she's putting short sentences together because she looks at me with such meaning and intent when she talks. The trouble is, is that we don't always understand what she is saying! 

She's getting good at undressing herself! She giggles the whole time while I promt her to take off each article of clothing before her bath!

Running errands with Ava is becoming more tricky. She now demands to walk, which is fine when we are walking from the car into the store. But once we get into the store, I want her to be in the cart; she does not, and she proceeds to throw a fit. Sometimes it doesn't bother her, but it is becoming something we have to deal with more frequently. She's craving that independence more and more!!

This girl is getting tall and is reaching more and more things. I'm trying to stay one step ahead of her and I am SO thankful the kids' rooms have big closets because I'm able to just throw things in there when I need them out of reach!

I spent most of this week not feeling well. Serious sinus congestion and a runny nose. I've gone through a whole box of tissues and do a lot of mouth-breathing. I'm beginning to wonder if it is a sinus infection! I haven't had one of those in about 5 years! I can't taste my food and I am just so plugged up and miserable. What I really want is some Mucinex and Advil, but I can't take those while pregnant!

I really enjoy wearing my support band! It's been helping a lot at the end of the day!

I've decided it's a good time to start wearing my fake wedding bands. My real wedding ring is getting a little tricky to get off, and I don't want it to get stuck!

I'm really into sweat pants and eating apples. Honey crisp apples, to be exact! A little pricey, but they are the perfect combination of sweet, juicy, and crisp!

I'm having lots of Braxton Hicks and my belly gets all lumpy since Liam is getting so big!

Lots of appointments! Me, Ava, and Liam have all gotten checked on recently. My new doctor here wanted me to have an ultrasound of my kidneys because there is often a connection between a bicornuate uterus and kidney troubles. Ava went in for her ear infection, and I might have to go in for sinusitis...but I'm really hoping it was just a nasty cold! We go for a hospital tour in a few weeks. I guess I should start thinking about packing my hospital bag!

This is so crazy!! I feel nervous and excited and terrified. I can't wait to hold tiny Liam! But I'm dreading returning to zombie mode...and I'm scared for the breastfeeding pains...and I worry how Ava will do with all this change. I just keep thinking, yes the beginning is hard, but after 3/4 months, I will have settled into a new "normal" and I will feel better!

Week 35

Well, it turns out I don't have a sinus infection, but it was close! Each day I feel a tiny bit better and use a few less tissues. The doctor gave me a nasal spray and told me to do sinus rinses, rest, and drinks plenty of fluids. I've been running the humidifier and sleeping like a ROCK at night, although I wake up so tired still!

The doctor also briefly checked on Liam just for safety measures. Little stinker was back to being transverse! He could tell just by feeling my belly! Now that he's bigger (my app says 5 pounds!!) its been easier for me to distinguish between when he is head down and when he is transverse! He flips around a lot and it determines my comfort level. It's harder for me to sit upright and play on the floor with Ava when he is sideways. Head down usually gives me more pelvic pain, but I actually prefer it that way because at least my belly doesn't feel so stretched! I guess it is a good thing we are doing a c-section because it looks like we won't be able to count on him to stay head down!

I've started to make some progress in Liam's room! I've organized the piles and pulled out the bulk of the items from storage we will need. I've filled his dresser and started to work on the layout of what will go on the walls. I'm sorting Ava's toys and putting the "baby" toys in his room. I like to sneak away occasionally and just sit in there! I don't do it as often as with Ava, but it really makes me feel calm despite the nagging feeling that I'm not ready. Ava keeps me busy and I don't have as much time to sit with my thoughts and dream about Liam's arrival. And I think that's an important part of preparing for a baby, is to sit in the quietness and dream about your sweet baby. At least it makes me feel better! Kind of like the calm before the storm! I feel a lot better now that some progress is being made! I've even made it into the guest room to get things more settled in there as well!

I'm having some really weird feelings. My Ava baby longer a baby...and it's really becoming apparent lately. She doesn't really play with her big toddler toys, and she's ready for more pretend play toys and is moving on to skills like counting and categorizing. WHAT?! We are discussing getting her a potty chair. She is consistently hiding in her bedroom when she poops in her diaper and she has been dry after her nap. She has also started clutching her diaper and I ask her if she pee-peed and usually she either runs to the bathroom (I think because she thinks I'm telling her that I need to pee-pee and she wants to go with me) or she runs to her room to be changed. Sometimes she just jabbers something to me and runs off, so the correlation isn't 100% there! But I definitely think she would be interested in a potty chair!

I had a conversation with Ava this afternoon in which she really demonstrated what she understands. I was changing her diaper and I told her we were going to go to the commissary. She said "cahhhhh" and I replied, "Yes! The commissary!". As I put her down, I told her to go find her shoes so we can go bye bye. As I finish up in her room, she returns with a matching pair of shoes (she has always picked 2 that match...and strangely enough they always coordinate with her outfit) and she sits down so I can help her put them on. Then she said "carrr", and I said, "yes, we are going to get in the car, but first mommy needs to put on her shoes too". We left her room and Ava went to get my shoes without me saying anything else to her. She dug out one and I dug out the other! She watched me put my shoes on and she said "buh-bye"..."yep! Time to go buh-bye! Let's go get in the car and go to the commissary!".

Blew my mind, that child did. That was about 3 sequential events that she put together!

She loves to do this skip-hop-gallop thing and dance around on her tip toes. She can almost get on the couch by herself and she can reach things at the edge of our bar-height table and the kitchen counters. She loves to drag the dish towel around the kitchen (drives us nuts) and she still puts random things in the trash can, so we really have to pay attention to what she takes into the kitchen!

She enjoys snooping in the fridge when we are trying to get things out of it. Sometimes its for a swig of her milk, and other times she tries to steal the coffee creamer from the door.

I am gradually making the necessary adjustments for Liam's arrival that will affect Ava. I pulled her playmat out and we have that in the living room again. We had to switch the mattresses to the cribs because the one with Liam's is super soft and too squishy for a new baby. We will switch the chairs in the two rooms; a recliner will be much more comfy for those middle-of-the-night feedings and those times when we fall asleep trying to get little baby back to sleep. Nursing will be more comfortable in that recliner than in the glider chair. I'll bring out the swing and we will probably install the car seat soon. These all seem like minor changes, which they really are, but in Ava's eyes, they may not be. I don't want to overwhelm her and do too many things in one day. I've already put up her big toddler toys too, so I'm just changing one or two things every few days. I just want to be sensitive to her. It's been an eventful 2 months with this move, and now she is going to have a new baby in the house. I'm trying to remember my days with just me and Ava are numbered; soon she will have to share me and I won't be able to focus on just her all day long. I think it will be hard for both of us! I'm pretty attached to my little girl - I'm hardly ever away from her.

I had another check up for Liam, and we had a quick ultrasound. There was a clear image of his foot on the screen, and the doctor said, "that's a big foot!". He took a quick measurement and I told him Ava was always in the 40-50th percentile in utero and was 7 pounds, 14 ounces at birth. He said, "yeah, I think this baby is going to be bigger than the 40th percentile!". He said he has plenty of fluid around him which is why he's able to move around so much. I've been sensing that he's going to be a bigger baby! I've been uncomfortable and I just feel bigger. Although I'm not quite ready for him to arrive yet, I'm so ready!! I want my range of motion back and to be able to enjoy getting down on the floor with Ava. Obviously that will take some time after birth, but I'm looking not being pregnant anymore!!

I'm shocked I'm saying that.

Pregnancy with Ava was blissful until the last couple of weeks when I started to get uncomfortable and antsy. This time around, there's been a lot more going on and change and stress, and so I'm feeling those things much earlier this time. I'm feeling very ready to get back to my new normal! I'm always tired. And usually uncomfortable. And I miss doing lots of fun things with my Ava girl. I think that's where I feel like I'm failing the most - she doesn't get to do much besides stay at home. And part of that is because we just relocated and don't know anyone to playdate with or fun places to take her yet. And I have no energy. And we can't walk to the park. Gah. I'm sure these next 5 weeks will fly by, but I can't help but want them to be over! They are going to be the hardest ones yet. I'm ready to hold my baby boy in my arms instead of push him out of my ribs and wince every time I have to reposition myself in bed.

Lots of exciting things are happening!! I got the official call from the hospital that Liam is scheduled for the 22nd and I go in for a pre-op appointment the week prior. This is going to be SUCH a different delivery!! We go in for a hospital tour soon and my weekly appointments start after my next one!

(sorry this post seems like such a mess...I type a bit every few days so if my thoughts seem to be a bit disconnected...well, it's because they are!)

Ava is really into rubbing and hugging my belly. We are spending more time telling her that baby Liam is in there and he will come out soon!

And she said the sweetest thing the other day...

"hi Liam"

except it sounded like "hi bia". Sometimes it sounds closer to "hi bee-um".

I love it!!!

2 babies is going to be a lot of work, and I know the beginning is going to be hard...

but I can't wait!!!

I can't wait to see Ava and Liam together and all the mischief they will get into!

It's kind of a nice feeling to know that I can relax a little bit with this baby. I've done this once before, and I know that when things get tough that it won't last forever. I'm hoping I'll be able to enjoy the newborn phase a bit more this time, and we are hoping that Liam will be a better napper than Ava...20-30 minute cat naps made things rough for those first 6 months!! Every baby is different, so I look forward to meeting Liam and seeing what his temperament will be. We were SO LUCKY with Ava...she was a happy baby who practically never cried! She is still the same happy girl, but with the toddler attitude to go with it!

I'll stop jabbering now and save more random thoughts for the next post, haha!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What To Feed Your Toddler (And HOW To Do It!)

It's becoming a frequent discussion now that I have a 1.5 year old: what do you feed your toddler? Toddlers come in all shapes and sizes, with different abilities and preferences. On top of that, those abilities and preferences can change weekly.

Or hourly.

That is the joy of raising a tiny human!!

My daughter was exclusively breastfed until 6 months, with no solids introduced during this time, per her pediatrician's recommendation. I knew I wanted to do Baby Led Weaning, which her pediatrician had actually never heard of and wanted me to do purees instead. But I chose to follow my own plan and continue with Baby Led Weaning; I had done a ton of research and had seen other babies thrive on it. So at 6 months, in addition to breastfeeding, I started Ava on table food, and she took to it better than I could have hoped! After she got better at not gagging and had tried a variety of foods, we began offering her whatever we were eating for dinner. Fast-forward a year, and that is still what she gets - what we are eating, or leftovers from the fridge. We don't live in a restaurant where she gets to pick from a menu of options, and that is the philosophy we intend to keep as she gets older. I do let her pick between 2 things once in awhile, like which kind of cheese or what fruit she would prefer.

At each meal, Ava is presented with a plate of food, and she gets to decide what she eats from the plate and how much. I don't make a fuss over what she chooses to eat or how much. I might encourage her to try something on her plate if she hasn't touched it, but I try to stay hands-off during her mealtime. The relationship we have with food is a very important one that begins at a young age - I think we can all remember instances from our childhood when we had to eat something we didn't like or we had to eat everything on our plate.

As a parent, I am in control of when Ava eats and what she is served, and Ava is in control of what she chooses to eat off her plate and how much

Only occasionally will we pull a different option, and that is usually if I've made something new and she doesn't like it, or she is sick or teething and we just need her to eat something. And even then, its something basic like yogurt or a pb&j - I don't cook anything extra.

To me, a "successful" mealtime with Ava means she explored her food with her senses. I obviously want her to eat, but if she's not interested in that aspect of the meal, then she is welcome to touch or rearrange her food, dip her finger in it, lick it, use a spoon to move it around, whatever! (*Throwing food or wiping food on herself are not acceptable mealtime behaviors and she is redirected or the meal is over if she continues.*) Interaction with food through smelling and touching is still positive mealtime behavior. I would still say that Ava likes to eat pretty much everything, although now that she's older, we have no idea if she will actually eat it or not. For example, she loves broccoli, but sometimes she won't even touch it.  And I'm ok with that! Some days I don't feel like eating broccoli either.

It's tempting as adults to demand that our kids sit still, don't make a mess, and focus on chewing and swallowing their food.

But you will lose this battle if those are your expectations.

Let me tell you a story.

A few years ago, when I was a preschool teacher, I had a 4 year-old boy in my classroom whom I will refer to as "Brad". Brad was new to the classroom setting and was struggling at mealtime. He didn't want to eat a thing. Ever. He kept saying he didn't like the food, but he wouldn't even touch it, let alone taste it. This went on for a week or two, and my co-teacher and I were trying to brainstorm how to encourage him to eat. Brad was a half-day kiddo, so he went home shortly after lunch was over, but a kid who doesn't eat anything is not a good thing, and we wanted to help him. We noticed during classroom activities that he could not identify pictures or toy replicas of most fruits and vegetables. It kind of triggered a lightbulb moment, and we asked Brad what foods he ate at home. "Chips, cookies, pizza rolls, hot dogs, donuts..." and his list went on in a similar fashion. It was hard to keep my game face - this poor kid was fed pure junk at home. And he knew nothing different. I realized we needed to be more sensitive to his issues with food, so I decided to sit with him at mealtimes and try a new approach. I made our interactions quiet, as I did not want his peers bringing any negativity to the situation. I asked him to try the peach slice on his plate. After he declined, I asked him if he wanted to smell it. I had a plate of the same food in front of me, and I modeled smelling the peach. He kind of smiled and watched, and I continued. "Do you want to touch it with your finger? Poke it with your fork? Do you want to lick it?!" His smile got bigger. He had kind of a shy but silly personality - he was such a sweet boy - and I could see him becoming interested. He eventually touched the peach, just the tiniest bit, and he beamed! And so did I! I backed off, and that was his interaction with the peach for the day. I left the meal on a positive note; that was great progress to me! We continued in this manner at each mealtime, until I didn't have to model or sit next to him. A couple of his peers who were at the same table had stepped in: "Hey Brad, do you want to try it? It's yummy!" It was really sweet to see his peers cheering him on.

And then one day, it happened.

Brad tasted the peach, without any prompting, and he exclaimed, "I like it, Ms Katie! I like it!"

Everyone was so happy!!! It was a proud moment for sure!!

From that point forward, I encouraged Brad to interact with his food however he pleased, and he began to try more foods, until he was eating the majority of what was on his plate. There were still foods that he would say "I don't love it, Ms Katie", to which I would reply with a smile, "That's okay, Brad!" and leave it at that.

Moral of the story? Pick your battles. Make it fun. And if you can, eat with your child. Model eating the food you want them to eat; this has helped Ava and was a part of Baby Led Weaning. Mealtimes should be a relaxed, family activity whenever possible.

- - - - - - - - - - -

If Ava doesn't eat well at one meal, it's not a big deal because she gets a snack in a few hours anyway. She will eat when she's hungry enough. Sometimes as adults we don't have an appetite at mealtimes, either.

There are a few exceptions to our mealtime "rules" with Ava. We have discovered there are a few foods that she will always ignore the other options on her plate because they are her favorite - macaroni and cheese, french fries, and sometimes eggs. So we anticipate this and only give her a little of the other items we want her to eat since we know she won't touch them. She asks for more, and we give it to her. Its a battle that's not worth fighting, and we know to offer her something else at her next meal so she can get a balance of healthy options for the day.

So I encourage you to find out what makes your child tick, and use as many positive interactions as you can during mealtime! It's not always easy, and I still struggle with it sometimes, but it's not worth the stress to try and control it.

Here are some examples of what Ava is served and what she actually eats:

What she was served: Crescent roll pepperoni pizza, mixed veggies with lentils, mixed fruit
What she ate: the cheese and pepperoni from the pizza, a few bites of veggies, a bite of crescent roll, and one bite of fruit.

She didn't eat a whole lot, but she spent a lot of time at the table and enjoyed picking apart the crescent roll. That was a new food she had not tried before. Lots of positive food interactions!

What she was served: cheese ravioli, mixed veggies (I gave her a lot because she won't eat the green beans or carrots), mixed fruit (I hardly gave her any because she hasn't been eating it much lately)
What she ate: almost all the ravioli, all the peas and corn, no fruit

What she was served: Taco soup, mandarin oranges
What she ate: the beans and corn (asked for more and ate a few bites), all the oranges (asked for more and ate it all), then she asked for more so we gave her some cheese.

She's not always keen on eating meat, so we allow it to slide. She had a really good appetite at this meal!

What she was served: grilled cheese, pepperoni, mashed potatoes, mixed fruit
What she ate: the cheese from the sandwich, licked the pepperoni, moved her spoon around in her potatoes, and ate one fruit.

This meal was not a big success in terms of her actually eating, but she still had a lot of positive interactions with her food.

What she was served: chicken sausage, peppers, pasta, cheese, oranges.
What she ate: all the cheese, all the oranges, most of the pasta, sucked on some peppers and spit them out, ignored the sausage.

She was given this same meal at lunch the next day; she only ate cheese.
We served it to her again for dinner - she ate ALL of it and asked for more!

(Just an example of how unpredictable meals can be. No need to worry about it! For Ava, I would not worry about a lack of an appetite unless it went on all day. One meal is not a big deal.)

What she was served: chocolate chip waffle, bananas, blueberries*
What she ate: most of the waffle, one banana, all of the blueberries*

*The blueberries were from the freezer so they were mushy once thawed. If they were fresh, I would have halved them since they are more plump and the big ones can be a choking hazard if left whole.

What she was served: grilled cheese, green beans, a fruit "squeezie" (I think most call them pouches)
What she ate: all of her grilled cheese, all of her fruit squeezie, and a few green beans

She took forever to eat at this meal. I wasn't sure she was even going to eat the grilled cheese because she was just picking the cheese out. But I just let her be and 20 minutes later she was taking bites out of her sandwich! I have to help her with the fruit squeezie or else she will squeeze the crap out of it and make a ginormous mess. She was so eager to eat it as soon as she saw it - they are a treat in our house!

What she was served: Macaroni and cheese with peas and carrots mixed in, tuna, pears
What she ate: ALL of her mac and cheese and had seconds, tried the tuna but spit it out, no pears.

This was one of those meals that I give in to what she wants. She devours mac and cheese, and this time because the veggies were mixed in, she ate those too! She eats mac and cheese by the handful! I probably should have given her a spoon but that would have meant a lot of it would have ended up in her lap. And I was starving and I just needed to sit and eat, too. 8 month prego said "next time"! I was happy she tried the tuna, and was not surprised at her reaction! 

What she was served: fish sticks, mixed vegetables, strawberry jello
What she ate: all her fish sticks and asked for more (she ate 4 whole ones!), all of the jello, picked at the veggies.

I think fish sticks might be the next thing we add to her "non-negotiable" list of not wanting to eat anything else on her plate! She loves them! The jello was new and I DEFINITELY spoon-fed it to her. I didn't need jello all over her/the table/the floor/the walls.

These are all examples from about a week's time, during which she was battling an ear infection, so her appetite (and mood) was a little unpredictable. But as you can see, I try to give her a variety of foods, but sometimes she does gets a lot of the same things (she got a lot of mixed veggies this week, and she almost always gets a banana at breakfast). Food for your toddler does not have to be hard!! Keep it simple! We do a lot of canned or frozen vegetables, and a mixture of fresh/canned/frozen fruits depending on what's in season.

I hear a lot of toddlers don't like meat, so you can substitute with beans, eggs (scrambled or hard boiled are great options), cheese, nut butters, lentils (freezer section, people!! Go explore your grocery store!!), and yogurt (watch the sugar content in some brands that market towards kids). Don't stress if a meal or two doesn't go well, just try again next time! 

If you and your child are already at the point where mealtime IS a battle, it may be time to establish some ground rules. It may be hard, but the reward of a child who eats will be worth it! Think of it like weaning from a pacifier, potty training, sleeping on their own in their crib/bed, or any other "growing up" skill you'd teach them.

Present them with food you have chosen at mealtime. Make sure you have at least ONE food they have had before on their plate so they have something familiar. This is probably not the best time to serve them something they've never had before.

Model eating and interacting with THE SAME FOOD you have served your child.

Resist the urge to make demands, yell, argue, or say things like "one more bite of ____ and then you can have _____". That is manipulation and you want to avoid that. Letting them have control over what they choose to eat is important.

Keep all your interactions positive! It's hard, but you can do it! (You can talk to them about their food: "I like to eat pears because they are so juicy!" or "I pretend my spoon is a digger and I dig my mashed potatoes!" or whatever you think will appeal to your child).

DO NOT CAVE  and offer them anything other than what they were served (at least during this "training" can be more flexible later on). You will undo your work to create new mealtime expectations!

Give them time to sit in front of their food, even when they blatantly refuse their food. They need to have time to change their minds. If sitting turns into them throwing a fit, show them how they can smell their food, touch it, poke it with a fork, and so on. Try to create those positive interactions!

DON'T show that you are upset if they choose to not eat anything (even if you are raging mad). Your child's healthy relationship with food begins with YOU.

The meal is over when either the child is finished, they are having improper mealtime behavior (throwing food, etc), or they choose to be done eating.

I promise, your child WILL NOT STARVE if they do not eat anything at that particular meal. If they ask for different food, simply tell them they can eat again at snack time and leave it at that. No negotiating, just move on to the next activity of the day. You can also keep their plate of uneaten food and offer that to them if they say they are hungry. I have heard of many households handling meals in this way, and it WORKS! Offer them a healthful snack later (NO TREATS) and enjoy a fresh start! Don't hold previous mealtimes over their heads.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, repeated exposure to the same food will eventually lead them to voluntarily trying the food on their own (remember my story about Brad??). But it takes many, many times for this to happen. That's why Ava always gets all the food groups on her plate, even if I'm doubtful she will eat it. She can look at it, touch it, smell it, whatever she wants. I just don't put much of it on her plate if I anticipate her ignoring it so the waste is minimal. 

Go easy on yourself. And go easy on your child. This stuff is hard!

Questions? Other ideas? Feel free to comment with what works in your house!

Thanks for reading!

I would just like to add that I fully support every parent raising their own children how they desire; that is within your right. There is NO ROOM for "mommy wars" on my blog! I am not a doctor, and if you feel your child has underlying issues with food, talk with your pediatrician. I am just a well-trained preschool teacher with an ECE degree and stay-at-home-mom who wishes to share ideas and inspire others to be the best parent they can be. Raising children can be quite a challenge and I think it's nice we can support each other here! That is all. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Week 31 - Week 33: A Delivery Date!

Week 31

This weather is crazy!! We had to go buy shorts for Ava and I had to dig out my maternity shorts again! I caved and turned the AC on for about an hour the other afternoon. The house hit 74 degrees and I was melting! The humidity is super high, too. It's been odd to have temps hit 80 in December! I feel like I am in some sort of strange land full of heat and lizards and sand and pine needles and fire ants and the occasional palm tree!

I feel like Liam is SO BIG! According to my app he is almost full length already; he will spend his remaining weeks filling out! He's already over 3 pounds, too! My belly is stretching. I've really been feeling it. It feels like a side cramp from running, but across my belly! My back hurts. I get Braxton Hicks contractions a lot. I feel pretty good in the first half of the day, but the afternoon and evening I get "needy", haha! It's almost like Ava knows and wants me more because of it. A few days ago she insisted that I hold her while cooking dinner. It was really convenient and fun. She is mastering the art of throwing fits. She really likes when I play on the floor with her; that's all she really wants. But that's not realistic at this point in my pregnancy. I play on the floor for as long as I can, but that's not very long! And I feel bad. I try to do everything I can, but when those darn contractions kick in, I have no choice but to go relax on the couch. I try to keep things interesting for her, like let her play in Liam's room or get out new things she hasn't gotten to play with before or let her play with my jewelry (her fave!). New toys from Christmas are helping! She still has a short attention span so it is still work to keep her focused!

Week 32

Ava is becoming quite the chatterbox! She really likes to say "buh-bye" and says it whenever she leaves the room, or when someone else does. It's really cute because she will kind of lean and wave at us and say "buh-bye!" a few times and wave a bit more and then she'll run off down the hall! It makes us laugh every time! Her favorite word is probably "elbow" and she says "dah-dee" alllllll the time! Mommy? Not so much. If she's crying she might say it. We are working on "again"; she says "ah-gee!" and she'll say "corn": "corrrrr" and "banana": "nah-nuh".

Ava is starting to exhibit some early potty training signs: disappearing when she does her "business"! She retreats to a corner and squats for a bit or runs to her room and re-emerges - stinky!! She enjoys coming to the bathroom with me when I go and we got a faucet extender so she can wash her hands at the sink. She already loves to climb her stool to brush her teeth at the sink, and it occurred to me that I need to start hand washing with her. I want to give her as much independence as she is ready for!

She has also been enjoying her new swing in the backyard! Chris built her a swing set - it's nice to have since we are no longer in walking distance of a park. I'm realizing she is outgrowing some of her baby toys...there are some that she doesn't even touch anymore! I have soooo much work to do in Liam's room - I keep putting things in there and then just shutting the door. At this point in Ava's pregnancy I had her whole room put together and some of her laundry done! It really is different with your second! I am feeling the pressure to get his room in some sort of order, but bending and leaning for any period of time is hard now! With Liam reaching 4 pounds, my belly really has its own gravitational pull now! I really rely on my arms instead of my abdominal muscles to get up out of a chair or off the floor. Rolling over in bed is seriously a chore and I usually feel a lot of pelvic pain and tenderness in the round ligaments if I'm not careful. My wedding ring still fits and I can still see all my veins and tendons in my feet, unlike at this time with Ava! So maybe I won't be as swollen this time! I think weight gain has been comparable; I'll admit, I don't really care as much this time around!

It's been kind of an busy eventful week. Ava came down with a cold of some sort; we assumed it was teething again. Her bottom canines are about to cut! We were having to tag-team her during the day. She was very fussy and not much made her happy. I cannot physically handle her when she's fussy because she does a lot of kicking and just general thrashing around so I have to put her down, and that makes her more mad. Sometimes when something upsets her, whether its a toy that keeps falling down or she can't turn a page in a book or she gets hurt, she is more mad than sad...and she wants to be left alone to cry! And then she has a hard time calming down and she just cries and cries no matter what we try to distract her with! She's an emotional girl! By Tuesday morning she was just miserable and we decided to take her in. It was a good thing because she had an ear infection! I was actually relieved to hear it because at least we could get medicine to help her! It was a loooong wait at the pharmacy and fortunately I thought of quietly turning on some Taylor Swift, and that helped a lot! The pharmacies on post are all take-a-number, and there are a lot of retirees that use the pharmacies as well, so the wait usually averages half an hour. She does not like to be in her stroller for long unless it is moving! And I can't take her out because then she wants to run. It was a long morning. Her lunch was late, but she barely ate anything, so I gave her the meds and put her down for a nap. I went in to the dentist earlier that morning for tooth sensitivity after a filling a month or two ago. Fortunately it was an easy fix - just my teeth hitting awkwardly and filing it down quick was the solution. It feels better already!

I had another check up! Ava was mesmerized by the sound of Liam's heartbeat! We have a c-section tentatively scheduled for February 22nd! 2/22! He will have an easy birthdate to remember, assuming he doesn't come early! We discussed getting tubes tied, and the doctor said that's fine but he will continue to ask me if I am 150% sure up until literally the second he starts the procedure. I feel like at this point we are 99% sure. I want to pour myself into our two kiddos, and I feel like I can be the best mommy to them with our family at this size. There's not much more I could want than 2 miracle babies! We continue to talk about it, and the more we do, the more ready we feel to do the procedure.

Liam's movements have really changed in the last couple of weeks. They feel more like real baby movements than alien jabs! Lots of limbs rolling across my belly and what I imagine to be a little babe just happily squirming around! The movements have really slowed down and are much more coordinated, but they do hurt a bit as he has less and less space in there! Some days my belly feels really tight and I'm uncomfortable for a lot of the day. It's really hard for me to not be productive. I still feel like there's a lot I'd like to do, and that I need to do. But I keep up with the cooking - I've started my freezer stash!! So excited!! And I keep up with the light chores and laundry when I remember, so the rest can wait. I'm starting to want naps again, but I can also have been feeling the urge to nest here in the last week or so, so I'm hoping that is what will get me motivated to finish Liam's room! And do the last finishing touches on the guest room before our helpers arrive!

Week 33

I finally caved and bought a belly support band. I've only had it for a day or two, but it already provides relief!! I plan to only wear it as needed, which is usually in the afternoon/evening. I think its really going to help get me through the end of the day. I am getting NOTHING done. Ava is much happier when I'm off the couch and playing with her, so I'm hoping it will help with that, too. Although little girl is going to have to get used to it...I will be out of commission for a few weeks until my incision heals! I'm not looking forward to that. I think Ava will hate it. I guess we will just deal with that as it comes!

Speaking of Ava, we are now doing hand washing with her and she LOVES it!! I got foaming hand soap and that faucet extender and she smiles so big the whole time! Sometimes if she's a crank, I will ask her if she wants to go wash her hands and she goes running to the bathroom! When we pull into the driveway, she gets excited because she recognizes that we are at home and says "ohhhhhm!". She really likes to eat off of utensils and has gotten pretty proficient at feeding herself with them. Food still falls in her lap a lot, though! She likes to run her messy hands through her hair during meals. Makes for an excellent hair-do! She is really into the ABC's and loves to hear the song and then looks around at her toys to find letters. I found an adorable ABC wall plaque at the dollar spot at Target. I hung it up and she loves to look at it and starts dancing and says "ceeee" and wants us to sing! It's pretty cute!

She's feeling a lot better but still has a wet cough. She was draining SO much, so that doesn't surprise me. A new part of her bedtime routine has become watching daddy go down the hall to feed the kitties after he tells her goodnight. She'll look at me say, "kee hah-gah? Hah-gah?" ...meaning, "kitties hungry?" It's cute to hear her string a few words together - she's getting better at it! She thrives off of routine. Which makes me nervous for Liam's birth, but I guess there's no way around it.

I can't believe we are just 6 weeks away from meeting Liam!! I guess I really need to get with it and put his room together!