Monday, June 25, 2012

Giving me a run for my money

These 2 appear to have teamed up on me-- both in sleep tactics, as well as scare tactics.


Don't let those bashful little faces fool you; there's a whole slew of scamming going on with these guys.  How can a baby and a toddler possibly team up against their mom?, you might be asking yourself.  And I would be asking myself the same question.

But sure enough, they have.

As soon as this one has started sleeping through the night...

(8-6!!!  Wooohooo!!... Well, who am I kidding?  That only happened yesterday, but hey, a win is a win.)

Now, this one is waking up in the middle of the night with more bad dreams and other excuses...

What, you don't think an after-dinner walk to 7-11 for slurpees was a good idea?

I'd have to agree.

And this probably didn't help with the allergies that constrict his nostrils, burn his eyes, and give him an all-around hard time sleeping:

The ol' throw dirt in my own eyes because it looks fun.  Gets him every time (and me). 

Ok, so we have some work to do with sleep.  But can we stop giving mommy quasi-heart attacks every day, please?

Niall strategically placed this guy...

at the top step ever-so-perfectly, so that when I glanced down the stairs while holding Brendan, it would be under me; not in front of me.  Just the right spot for me to trip and fall down the whole flight of stairs.  Thank God for my cat-like reflexes ;)

And Brendan... you're a little young to be so good at hide-and-seek:

He can't crawl yet, but he is able to use telepathy and/or magic to move from the middle of the floor to other off-limits places in the 2 minutes that I'm gone while brushing my teeth.

Oh, is that funny?  You're 5 months old, how do you know funny?  Well, I guess if Big Bro says it is...

Don't worry, help is on the way.  And by help, I mean violent dragging.

Glad you guys are so amused.

But I think the real clencher today was when I was lathering up Brendan's sunscreen on the bed and turned around for 2 seconds to spray Niall's legs... aaaaand, cue baby swan dive off the bed.  Again, the cat-like reflexes saved me.  (Did I miss my calling in life?  i.e. stunt man, goalie, cat impersonator).  Caught that little sky diver in mid-air, head down. 

Life Lesson #471:

If your baby can roll-dodge/ use any form of telekinesis/ has no apparent fear of death, don't put him on the bed for sunscreen application.

Got it, thanks life!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Facing Fears with Daddy

There comes a time in a toddler's life when they realize that fear is a real thing.  No more peering over the side of the bed and continuing to scoot off, unfazed by the fact that you are about to plummet onto your head.  No more attempting to put your hand over an open flame because you think the colors are cool and exciting.  Baby boy knows he's gonna get burned.

And such is life; learning from experiences and mistakes that there are certain things you only want to do once and then you know it's not worth risking it again.  Sometimes this is a good thing (in the case of the open flame and falling off the bed), but sometimes it makes me sad to see this once carefree little adventurer become so cautious.

Especially because "Nature Explorer Niall" is definitely one of my favorite Nialls.

As he's getting older, Niall is unfortunately learning that there are bad guys and monsters, that it's easy to fall and get hurt, and that some things are just plain scary.  So, he's suddenly becoming fearful of things that he is and always has been totally capable of doing...

But that's where daddy comes in.  Sometimes, as a mom, I feel like I'm either being too pushy or too coddling; but daddy always seems to know how to find just the right balance.

He knew that the slide was out of the question that day, but Matt was determined to take it slow and find something that he and Niall could tackle together and feel brave about on their Father's Day celebration in the park.    

We don't go to the park as a family very often, so I warned Matt that there was a lot of stuff at this huge park that Niall was not going to want to do, but somehow daddy exhibited the perfect amount of enthusiasm, understanding, motivation and encouragement.  That's what dads do-- they step into the fire first and prove that everything will be ok.

And sure enough, Niall climbed that impossible web...

All. by. himself.

There's no way that I could have ever gotten him to do that.  And that's what I love about Matt.  These guys are pretty lucky.

And so am I :)

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Friday, June 15, 2012

The Life of the B-man

There's always that adjusting period when somebody new comes into your life. It happened when Matt and I first got married and learned to adapt to each others' annoying habits (I'll just vaguely leave it at "OCD" for Matt). It happened with Niall, when we learned to function on a few hours of sleep and never leave the house without a spare diaper. And it's been happening with Brendan; getting 2 small boys on the same schedule and packing a bag comparable to what someone might take on a backpacking trip through Europe every time we go out for a few hours.

It's been tricky at times, but we're finally getting into our groove. My 2 little boys have lots of needs, many of them conveniently happening at the same time when I don't have enough hands to please everyone. But no matter how crazy things get, the B-man has definitely found his place in this family.

There hasn't been a day in my recent memory when Niall hasn't woken up and immediately asked where Brendan is, if he is sleeping, if he can wake him up (and then ignoring my pleading "NO!" and doing it anyway), or wanted to share one of his big, sharp edged trucks with him.

I am finally starting to get into a little bit of a schedule for my own sanity, which is nice. No official nap times yet, but I know that there's 1 long one in the early morning, a short one in the early afternoon, and a decent one toward the end of the day. And I've got the feeding times down to a tee.

It's really been fun now, though, because he's not just your average eater, sleeper and pooper (the infamous personality traits of a newborn).  He's a total ham, smiling for anyone who glances in his direction; he has the world's worst gas (but always rips one with a smile); and he is the only person I know who is glowingly happy at the very second he wakes up.

Here's a typical day in the life of Brendan (or Brendy Bops as Niall and I like to call him):

The first hour of the day is what I like to call "happy time," where Brendan will sit in some kind of baby contraption without fussing.

And just being really cute, in general:

It usually buys me about 30 minutes of no-holding time... but on a good day, Niall will come over to play with him and I might get a full hour!

Unless something like this happens:

Ok, enough babysitting for Niall.

Then, we go out for a morning activity and Brendan people-watches from his shaded throne:

Then, Niall takes a nap and I try to get some small sliver of something un-baby/child-related... but, as fate would have it, Brendan has decided that this is the time of day that he will not be taking a nap and will need my undivided attention and cuddling.

So we have a photo shoot, instead:

Emails, blog entries, my marketing work, laundry and cleaning will have to happen at some other non-existent, undisclosed time.

Dinner time!

The B-man has started eating his first solids.  I started rice cereal at 5 months with Niall, but I've been desperate for sleep, so it was 4 1/2 with Brendan.  Unfortunately, rice cereal isn't quite the sleeping pill I thought it would be.  My day still begins at 4am.

Next, it's off to the bath.  But not before another photo shoot and simultaneously peeing on mommy :)

Finally, bed time stories with the boys.  Brendan stares at the cover of the book in complete awe, longing for the day he can sit with his big bro on the other side of those pages:

Ahhh, bedtime... Sweet Silence... (but not until after pinning Niall down on the bed to brush teeth, the standard begging for extra stories, long discussions about how there aren't any monsters in the house, and a good 30 minutes of crying from Brendan).

I'm not gonna lie, the end is one of my favorite parts of the day... but I definitely can't wait to see these guys again tomorrow and start all over again.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Goodbye, Sleep

I'm no sucker when it comes to toddler manipulation about sleep. I need that sweet shut-eye just as bad as you do, kid, so don't mess with me.

I kept Niall in the room with us until he was 4 months old- just until he outgrew the bassinet and then it was into the crib in the nursery. Time for mommy to sleep again.

He's always been an early riser; that's just part of his genes, I think. So I've adapted to that. I actually do better when I get up early, too-- it's just a matter of that initial dragging myself out of bed.

Things were working for us for a while there...

Then came the doozie that I never could have prepared myself for... a YEAR AND A HALF of all kinds of crazy sleep issues.

He would suddenly wake up 2 and 3 times a night at 9 months old. Then, he would scream his head off for an hour at bed time shortly after his first birthday. Then, he would wake up for the day at 4am. Then, he learned to climb out of his crib. Then, he decided he would stop climbing out of his crib when we got him a toddler bed. It went on and on.

It was beyond frustrating, and we tried all kinds of sleep training methods. Things eventually got better-- as in, he would sleep well maybe 4 out of 7 days of the week.

Finally, shortly after his second birthday, things went back to normal.  The ol' 7:30-7.  The gift that keeps on giving.  I have to give some credit to the hours of "My sleep book"-making, white noise machine researching, consistent routine creating, and tot clock color changing... but mostly, it was my incessant pounding into Niall's head that he would not be coming out of his room until the sun came up.

Somehow, some way, somewhere out there in the universe, God had mercy on my soul and allowed this boy to get some sleep (and me, as well).

Now that Niall is in a toddler bed, I park that safety gate at his door every night, ensuring that I will not be disturbed from my precious 6 hours of sleep (now I am losing that other 2 hours because of Brendan; ah, the circle of life).

But what do you do when your kid can finally speak and tells you that he's been having horrible dreams about this?...

I'm not kidding you-- it was 2am the first night, Brendan had already woken up once and I was just about to lose my mind when I heard Niall crying at the gate.  After letting him cry there for a half hour, I went to tuck him back in when he told me that he had a bad dream about a big, blue man who was in his room.  "He was MEAN!"

Ok, that's pretty scary.  I would want someone to hold me and cuddle me back to sleep if I saw that.  Into bed with us...

The next night, 1am, it was this:

Earthworms.  "OLD Earthworms... MEAN earthworms!!"  Hmmm, something along the lines of this guy?

Ok, fine.  Into bed with us.

Now I see an ugly future ahead... this little smart guy could come up with something every night of the week if he wanted to.  But how can I turn him away if he's really having nightmares?  I thought that I had come up with every scenario, always resulting in me walking him back to his bed.  Now I feel like a monster telling him to suck it up after having some pretty horrifying visions. 

My new plan is to catch up on sleep when my kids are in high school.  Coffee time.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

The Terrible "Halfs"

Niall consistently hits the "terribles" right around his half birthday marks.  He had some TERRIBLE one-and-a-halfs and then went back to being a sweet little angel (...well, about as much of an angel as a toddler can be).  Well now he's hitting the terrible two-and-a-halfs.

Here's what the one-and-a-halfs looked like:

(no more TV today, pal)

And here's what the two-and-a-halfs look like:

(too cool for school)
It's very deceiving, I know.  See the difference?  The first is genuine frustration and the second is a smug little devil who can say "Just try me" using only his eyes.

Now I have to put out the disclaimer-- Niall is a REALLY good boy 75% of the time.  But the other 25%, it gets ugly.  As in:  he turns ugly, and then I turn ugly.  It's what I like to call "the perfect storm."

It's weird, though, because he's not a huge temper tantrum thrower, but he's doing these little devilish behaviors that are so strange and I sometimes don't know how to correct them.

For instance, he doesn't do anything maliciously, but he has recently started throwing things at his friend's heads for fun.  It's like he thinks it's a game.  I take the toy away, give him a time-out, he cries, moves on to something else eventually... and then goes right back to it, even though I've disciplined him. 

Yesterday, he decided to run away from me in the parking lot and almost got hit by a car.  As it was happening, my voice turned into this horrifying manly bellow as I screamed "NIIIAAALLLL!!! NOOOOOO!!"  (imagine Will Ferrell being shot in the neck with a dart gun tranquilizer in Old School).

Apparently, my angry voice scared him so much that he pooped... so when we got home, instead of letting me change his diaper, he ran around the house laughing uncontrollably and kicking me whenever I tried to pin him down for the diaper change.

There have been a lot of days like this lately.  And sometimes I find myself staring out the kitchen window, taking deep yoga breaths, chanting "Ommm" to myself while Niall throws diapers and sippy cups at me, cracking himself up.

But then I think back to the previous day when Mr. Hyde was Dr. Jeckel, saying really cute things like "Come on noodle, we can do this!" (referring to his trouble getting his pasta to get onto his fork)... or "Oh, time out over! I gotta work!" (because he likes to do "yard work" with his lawn mower and weed whacker).  

And suddenly, I'm rejuvinated.

Ready to take on a new day of tickle fights, sweet hugs, and of course, the occasional shoe thrown at my face ;)

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