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Liam is O N E!!!

Well, he went and did it - little Liam, little 8 pound, 5 ounce Liam, turned one year old!!

We had a little party for him this weekend to celebrate. And I made one of those chalkboard posters for him, and it really made me stop and think about these last 365+ days with him.

Liam was born 5 days early. My due date was February 27. He could have been a leap year baby!! How crazy would that have been?!

He was heavy and I carried him low. I had lots of pelvic pain with him. I remember during the last few weeks that I disliked squatting to get things out of the bottom of the fridge because it felt like he was going to fall out!!

My sweet little boy entered this world via c-section, and it was pretty amazing. I was unconscious for Ava's delivery, so this was my second child, but really the first birth I actually got to experience.

And it was love at first sight, for sure!

My sweet little surprise.

Liam is quite the little man! I can't get over just how much he's changed in the last few months. Few weeks, really. Some things are little, like how he used to cry for almost every diaper change. But not anymore! He does still get a little irritated to be on the changing table, though!

And some changes are BIG. He is fully weaned now, which if I'm being honest, is a HUGE relief for me! Ok, the word "relief" isn't exactly the right word, but I'm so glad I was able to breastfeed for his first year, and I am more than ready to close that chapter. I loved that relationship, but I also love having a little more freedom! It's been a challenging several months with Chris gone, and I'm needing a bit more space and time to myself, apart from my children, whom I love dearly, of course. I was just ready to not be needed in that way anymore!

So I'm feeling pretty refreshed after my trip to Las Vegas and am looking forward to the months ahead with my two toddlers!!!

Liam's sense of humor is starting to come out more! Ava was always such a happy baby, and nearly everything made her smile! Liam is more conservative with his smiles - as a baby, at least. In the last month or two, he's really loosened up and he is loving to giggle and amuse himself! He loves to be chased or to "chase" Ava - he's a fast crawler but he hasn't gotten the motivation to give walking a good try! He pushes his walker all over, as well as chairs and other big toys. He's got the strength, but he isn't quite ready to do it alone yet! I'm honestly really really excited for when he starts walking and running - he and Ava are going to have so much fun together! And just in time for the nicer weather that spring brings! I can't wait for more outside time, and 2 kids running in opposite directions at the playground, haha!

Liam loves to carry toys in his mouth while he crawls around! Makes me laugh every time! He has really taken to a sippy cup and transitioned to whole milk really well! I'm so thankful that Liam followed in Ava's footsteps and sleeps well at night!! It certainly was some serious WORK to get both kids to sleep through the night. I committed to sleep training both of them, and I don't regret that for a second. It does mean that my kids don't nap well or very long in the car, and can't really nap in new places or when we are out and about. But my parenting style is routine and schedules, so it fits in very well! I've put in the hard work, made some tough decisions, and it has paid off!

With that being said, all children and mothering instincts are different! Hug a tired momma today - it is NOT EASY to be sleep deprived!! Sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique, for goodness sake!! Sleep training isn't everyone's cup of tea and I fully understand that. I just don't want anyone to think that it was "easy" for me to get my kids to sleep through the night, because that was NOT the case!! I made some sacrifices and made decisions based on what was best for my family. And I also respect those who are against sleep training - that's called listening to your mommy gut and doing what is best for your family!

Liam also eats like a young cow. A typical breakfast for him is 2 waffles, a banana, and yogurt. At 11/12 months old!!!! He is a hungry, hungry hippo!! He inhales food so fast! Ava, on the other hand, is much more selective and usually eats less than Liam! Baby Led Weaning has worked out so well for having a 1 year old and a 2 year old. Ava is always sharing her food with Liam, which is sweet, but it's hard to stop her before Liam gets ahold of it. If it's something he can't have, he gets really really upset when I have to take it away! So now I just try to have snacks that both of them can safely eat. And since Liam can manage table food, that's actually a pretty long list! They eat the same foods at mealtimes and there's minimal modifications that I have to do for Liam. Sometimes it's just a matter of serving something in smaller pieces or cooking it instead of serving it raw. Big, hard crackers and raw apples, carrots, and celery are pretty much the only restrictions, but Liam could even have those if I julienne them! BLW has made life with 2 toddlers much easier! I think there is a misconception that babies can't have certain foods because they have no (or few) teeth. But have you ever stuck your finger in the mouth of a teething baby?! They have incredibly strong jaw muscles!! Liam manages food just fine without molars!

I am just so, so excited for this next year with my babies. I love the phase that Liam is in - it is my favorite age!! Ava is becoming a little (stubborn) helper and is like a second mommy to Liam! Springtime always feels like a fresh start, and even though it is so awful with daddy gone, we still have to get through this hard separation and find ways to be joyful! I can't wait for digging in the dirt, playing in sprinkler, mealtimes outside, and that delicious summer breeze!! I can't say we will be going to the neighborhood pool very often as 2 kids who can't swim kind of terrifies me, but we will at least have a baby pool in the backyard!! (If anyone would be up for helping me be 1-on-1 with my kids at the pool/lake this summer, please let me know!!)

Ugh. I have so many emotions all the time. Happiness, joy. Thankfulness. STRESS. Sadness. Emotional exhaustion. Strength, determination. Desperation. Numbness. Annoyance. Loneliness. Self-discovery, personal reflection. Gratefulness. LOVE. Heartache. Compassion. Concern. Protectiveness (is that a word??). Fear. 

And sometimes I feel most of these things all in one day. It's like my life is one giant oxymoron!

But, all we can do is move forward!! We are now, finally, on the downward slope of this deployment. We still have a looooooong way to go, but we are doing it!! One day at a time!!

Gosh this post got way off topic. But blogging is like my therapy. Thank you for reading and keeping up with me, haha!

To sum up Liam's birthday, it was wonderful and sad. I love my little boy, and it was hard without daddy here to celebrate with us. I'm thankful for Facetime so Chris was able to be a part of our celebrations. Watching Ava and Liam play is one of my favorite things in this stage of my life. In a time of separation, it is what brings a smile to my face. And what keeps me going. Having kids during a deployment has been harder than I ever imagined, but it is also what gives me the most motivation and joy.

Let me tell you, I sure have learned a lot about myself in these last several months. I think we learn the most about ourselves during our times of struggle, and how we persevere and look for strength. I'm learning what it truly means to be there for those people that you love, how to ask for help, as well as saying "no" when my load is too heavy.

I wish I could say this deployement is almost over. But it's not. There's still a lot of struggle to go. And my family will continue to have good days and bad days.

But in the meantime, I will *try* to enjoy every moment with my kids, ignore the messes, and smile as much as possible. And allow myself to sulk once in awhile, too!


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