Sunday, July 28, 2013

At last!! My nursing saga is finished!

Dear Diary,

Last weekend Nicholas watched the kids for a bit more than 24 hours so that I could go to Atlanta to spend a night away with my friend Juliet just us...with no kids! Even the drive was relaxing as I got to listen to a book on tape and drive Nicholas's Camry instead of the van! Juliet and I went to IKEA, ate dinner there, chatted a lot, and slept through the night without the sound of crying children! It was awesome! We probably got more talk time in during those hours together than the previous five years! I miss you, Juliet! I wish we lived closer!

Now I will try to stop ending each sentence with an exclamation point.

This trip came at a perfect time, too, because I have been trying to wean Leo from nursing since he was 12 months old. I tried the "don't ask, don't refuse" method. He almost always requested. I tried taking away a feeding at a time and got down to two feedings a day several times, but each time he got sick and we would inch our way back up to three or four feedings a day. Add in trips and poor sleep and a tired mama, and I just wasn't getting anywhere. So, I decided that when I left Saturday morning, that was going to be my last feeding and I was going to stop nursing Leo cold turkey. (Well, I would still pump as little as possible just so I wasn't in total pain.)

Saturday went great!! Nicholas texted me lots of cute pictures of the kids playing. They had Easter Egg hunts, he introduced them to The Sound of Music and they loved the children and the music, and they even did great at bedtime! (Thank you, Nicholas for being a wonderful husband who is willing to watch two kids solo so I can get a break!) But at two AM, Leo woke up and did not go back to sleep except for about sixty minutes between then an 7:30. I got home around 11 and could not get Leo to take a nap. Finally at one o'clock I loaded the kids in the car, swallowed my pride, and tried driving to get Leo to nap. It took 72 minutes of driving and then he only slept for 40 minutes. I almost gave up that day and nursed him. But I hung in there, called my mom for a pep talk, and we got through the night, too, with a bottle of breast milk. Leo is taking a bottle a little now, but that is okay since he doesn't take a paci and we can't have one in the house since Olivia gave up her's in June. (I know! That is another story. Close friends, family, and loyal readers may remember my plan to get rid of Olivia's paci by the time she was 6 months.  We finally got down to one paci and when she wanted the toy I had bought one of her friends for her birthday, I made a trade. Olivia regretted it later, but we fought our way through for about seven weeks. She hasn't asked for one in the past few days, and I hope that is over!)

Some pictures that Nicholas texted me on Saturday of our silly kids!

--eating cinnamon rolls

--pretending to be a person with a cane

--getting some "work" done

--staying occupied!

So, my nursing saga is finally finished. I thought I would be more emotional about it or cry on the last time, but I was just done! My goal had been six months given that I only made it one month with Olivia (due to lots of things...not the least of which was jaundice, she was a terrible sucker, I never made enough milk for her, and then she had a cow's milk allergy), so I never would have dreamed that I would have made it so long with Leo. This just teaches me that every child is different and that different things work for different people. Honestly, in another situation, I probably wouldn't do it this long again! But, I'm glad for the bonding time with Leo given that he has had to share everything with Olivia since birth. At least we had some very special time together that didn't involve big sister. (She is so glad I am finished, as she was jealous of that time.) Now I try to give them both extra cuddles and love! Leo is rarely asking to nurse now, but is enjoying being snuggled before bed by Daddy!!

My mom said one time that some of the happiest days of her life were the days she started nursing her children and those when she stopped. I can see that!

- Christine

Happy TEN Years to us!!

I usually don't post about Nicholas's and my dates, our trials, our triumphs, or our anniversaries. My thinking is that those things are between us and Nicholas is a private person. My family of origin never made a big deal of anniversaries, perhaps for obvious reasons. When I married Nicholas, his family (parents and grandparents) sent us cards on our anniversary, and I was surprised. But through the years, I realize what an important thing it is to really celebrate our anniversary--between the two of us, with our extended families, and with our kids because our anniversary really is the anniversary of our family beginning. And each year is something to be proud of, something to reflect on, something to remember. And it is something amazing and worthy of celebration.

Since we knew we wouldn't have a babysitter on July 4th due to our travels, we treated ourselves to a six hour date at the end of June. We had our favorite babysitter Caroline watch the kids while we did a matinee and then dinner at our favorite restaurant Evangeline's. Nicholas still didn't have leave to chew yet, but I had called ahead and they had dishes that could accomodate him. We had a really nice time, as we always do on our monthly date nights. I feel young to be out with Nicholas without the kids, and the amount of talking we get in without Olivia chatting us up is enormous!

We celebrated on the Fourth with Nicholas's extended family, and received cards and even some water bottles made of tin since that is the traditional ten-year gift.

I debated whether or not to post on Facebook, but I did eventually post:

 Ten years, four graduate degrees, one house, two babies, and one tenure promotion later, I love our perfectly imperfect life! Happy 10th Anniversary!

And I do! It feels like forever and it feels like yesterday that Nicholas and I said our vows and made this commitment to each other. Through ups and downs, unbelievably joyous wonders and heartbreaking moments, I'm so glad to be going through life with you, Nicholas.

On our anniversary date, Nicholas was already looking forward to the next ten years and what they will bring. I feel like we have packed so much into the first ten that just fostering what we have created so far will be enough. But, of course, there will be so much more, and I am excited to be meeting it together!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Kentucky/Indiana Trip (Part 3: Aunt Stephanie)

We spent the last leg of our trip with my sister, Stephanie, and her family. The first night, we braved the heat and took the kids horse back riding at Mom and Dad's, even though they are living in ND right now. Steph and Brandon bought two old horses that are perfect for the little ones to ride on. They are taking care of the entire farm while Mom and Dad are gone, and I am thankful that they are there to do so. It is so nice to be able to share some of my childhood with Olivia and Leo. The horseback riding reminds me of the old horses we rode daily in the summer times growing up! Those summers from the time I was about eight to fifteen are vivid in my mind!

 Olivia, Abby, and Craig had a ball riding horses, and Stephanie was a wonderful hostess! Sorry for the bad pictures, but I only brought my phone.

This was the attempt to get a picture that looked like Olivia was riding by herself!

The little boys hung out in the stroller mostly, eating puffs...

And sharing water! Ha! This was Leo's idea!

But, actually, all the kids shared water. So, that night when Craig, Abby, Stephanie, and Brandon got a stomach bug, we knew it would just be days before we got it. Ugh. And we all did, except me, thankfully. Throw in a trip to the ER for Nicholas for a secondary infection he had, and we ended up staying a few extra days so that everyone could recover!!

We did do a few things, though! The kids went to VBS two nights when they were well:

We went to the pool. This is Leo trying to figure out why Luke is sitting next to him!

And we played a lot! The cousins get along amazingly well! Abby and Craig are so patient, helpful, and loving to my kids! I hope my two get along as well as Craig and Abby!

Here is Leo on the stairs from the basement to the main floor. He loved the stairs and got the hang of going down them, too!

We had a lot of play time...

in the basement

with trains...

cuddling time... Leo loved to plop on Craig and Abby!

We checked chickens, gathered eggs, and picked vegetables almost daily, too, which was fun for my city kids! Stephanie cooked dinner most nights, so I was off duty, which was a nice break for me.

Luke was adorable in his little play pen!

And we even got to celebrate Abby's 7th birthday on July 11 because we were delayed! Abby, the animal lover, got a beta fish and habitat for her birthday! We all went to Rural King that morning to get other farm things for her, too!

Setting up the fish tank

I don't know many 7 year old girls who would want to decorate their cake with farm animal figurines! Abby is so sweet!

Leo really enjoyed the cake and the visit!

I had a really great visit with Stephanie, too, since we were at home quite a bit and the kids played so well together! I miss her and am thankful that she lets us just come and stay whenever we want. I am thankful she lets me call as much as I do, too. What a wonderful thing it is to have sisters! I love both of mine so much, and hope one day we will all live a little closer so that all our babies can be close.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Indiana/Kentucky trip (Part 2: Mutti)

We had a great time spending time with Mutti, too! The kids made a fort and played:

Mutti bought them both a guitar, but only one is pictured here. They LOVED them!

Mutti also had play dough and little animals for the kids to play with. She has a whole bench full of toys just for them, which is super fun for them to get into!

Mutti swung Olivia over her head so much playing with her that I was totally amazed her arms didn't fall off! Olivia is 35 pounds!

Leo really liked the play dough!

On the Fourth of July, we went to Aunt Judy's for cousin Bella's birthday party. Judy got gifts for Olivia and Leo, too, which was super sweet!

Carly, Chris, and Bella

Judy and Olivia

Carly, Bella, Chris, and Mia

Bella with her presents!

Leo liked being strolled in the baby doll stroller.

Olivia "helped" Bella blow out the candle!

Uncle Chuck and GG!

Uncle Chuck and Leo checking out the toaster:

It was wonderful to get to visit with Mutti and the Haagas!