Sunday, October 12, 2014

Four Months Old

Nathaniel is 4 months old!! Can you believe it? How fast it has gone!..and slowly.
 I haven't really posted a ton about him on here. Partially because I haven't had the time. And partially because it has been overwhelming to think about how I could write everything that's been going on with him! I spent 25 minutes writing a post about everything we've been going through and then I deleted it all. It has been a tough 4 months but I think we are getting past it and he is outgrowing it. Every day gets a little bit easier, I think.
 He is becoming happier day by day. More happy-awake times means we are interacting in a more pleasant way. He watches Audrey and JJ like they are the most fascinating beings on earth. He and JJ are buddies and its funny how he tolerates JJ laying on him and being rough with him (already!). They like to lay down with him and do tummy time - which is great for me because it keeps them all entertained long enough for me to get some stuff done!
His 4 month check up was last week and he's a whopping 18lb 5oz! He's in the 95th percentile for weight and 85th for height - 27.5 inches. He's healthy as can be (aside from the lingering reflux) and he's finally starting to be happy! Cooing, talking, Squealing as loud as he possibly can, smiling at us, and really just engaging with us. He tolerates tummy time really well and will sit for a few minutes in his jumper, longer if I am sitting with him and talking to him. He does NOT like to be alone! He's ok if he can see us, but out of sight and he loses it.
I'm trying to get him on some sort of daytime schedule, or at least a predictable routine, but it isn't happening just yet. I think that is more my fault than his. We are so busy every day, always in and out of the house and not usually home at the same times every day. I keep telling myself that things are "just about to settle down" and we'll be home more, but that seems to always be just around the corner. If he would nap in the car seat, it would be a lot easier. He is still sleeping on our bed and he'll probably stay there for a while longer. He wakes a lot at night and getting out of bed at 2am is asking way too much of me.
 He is so peaceful when he sleeps!! Love his chunky little body. He has started laughing and giggling when we tickle him of course I torture him with neck kisses and tickles constantly!

Friday, September 26, 2014

FOURTH Birthday

Did you read that?? FOURTH BIRTHDAY?!!!
What can be said? Time Flies. Where does the time go? Can I press Pause? They grow up too fast. These are all so cliche, but all so TRUE. The toddler years are over. I look at her and realize that she is not a baby, she is not a mumbling wobbly toddler, she's a preschooler. She does puzzles, and tells stories, and studies bugs, and helps with her brothers. She isn't in to baby things. No baby dolls, now Barbie dolls. She doesn't scribble lines, she draws pictures. She has an opinion and makes it known. She skips and runs and SINGS so much. She has a heart full of joy and happiness and she spreads that to us every day.
I'll try to stop the sappiness and leave it at that. Now for the FUN! We had her birthday party this year at her gymnastics gym. It turned out great! We had 16 or so kids and they got to play some games, jump on the trampoline, do an obstacle course, that kind of stuff. We had pizza and cake (FROZEN, of course) and balloons. When we were loading up the car to go home, I leaned in to snap her seat belt and Audrey said, "Mommy, my birthday party was so great. Thank You". I was so happy to know that she had a good birthday!!

We went home and opened presents...OMG so many presents...too many. Of course she doesn't think its too much. She got some pretty fun stuff and so this week has been awesome while she and JJ explore them all. Big things she got this year were dress up clothes (my mom made an awesome ELSA dress which she will wear at Halloween), Barbies, Frozen stuff, Princess stuff, clothes..stuff like that. Josh made her a dress up closet to hang her play clothes and store her shoes/tiaras/jewelry etc. It turned out so perfect! She loved it and now it sits right in the middle of our living room. Which she loves, but we...need a bigger house. :) My gift to her was tickets to see Frozen on Ice next month. I can't wait!

On her birthday I sent in a picture from her birth and every year of life so far, along with a few highlights of each year of her life. The teacher talked about it all and hung her photos up in the class for a couple of days. Special Day. We took her and JJ and Ian over to Kid Junction (kind of like Chuck E Cheese) for lunch and some play time. We ended up being the only ones there! I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. Good (easy) for me, but I wonder if they wanted other kids to play with. Anyways, it was fun and wore them out and after a quick dinner, the kiddos were all in bed pretty early.

Remember when I was first posting about her? And that stupid harness? Read about her first and third birthdays too, but not her second because I apparently never blogged it. Which is a shame since it was such a great age and a great year.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Montessori School

Audrey had her first day of Montessori school a few weeks ago. She goes 5 days this year, 3.5 hours each day. We made this decision in the spring..although we liked her preschool last year, we had done a lot of research on the Montessori method, toured the school, and ultimately decided that we wanted to try this school out and see how we like it. 

The school does a 2 week long "phase in" schedule, which is basically just a modified schedule for the kids. So the first day she just went in for a half hour to see her classroom and meet her teacher. The next couple of days were one hour, then the next few days were 2 hours, and so on until we reached the full 3.5 hour day. They suggested the students bring a plant to their classroom so they can have the responsibility of taking care of something living, and to "beautify" the environment. Audrey and I went to the garden center and she got to pick out a little plant that she liked and she got to choose where in the classroom to put it. 
On her first day (after meeting her teacher) we dropped her off out front of the school and that was it...she walked in with the teacher and left us in the dust! JJ was very upset to see her go. I didn't realize until that moment that her leaving for school would be an adjustment for him too. He probably doesn't remember last year that she went to school, and after having her home every day over the summer, it must have been scary for her to just get out of the car and leave. He sure does love his big sister!

And that brings us to the next thing. JJ is now going to Montessori school as well, twice a week for 3 hours. With everything going on with Nathaniel (that's a whole other post), it has been really hard on the kids. They get very little attention from me most days. I had hoped that with Audrey being in school, JJ and I would have more one-on-one time since he doesn't nap in the mornings anymore. I figured yeah, I'd put Nathaniel down for a nap after we drop Audrey off at school and then its all me and JJ time after that. Well, that isn't happening. Instead, we drop Audrey off and listen to Nathaniel cry the whole way there and home. Then we all come inside and I immediately turn on the TV for JJ so that I can tend to Nathaniel. Most times that means taking him upstairs in an attempt to get him to sleep, then coming back downstairs and walking/bouncing/jiggling him trying to get him to settle or fall asleep, feeding him, changing him, and on and on...and point is, JJ gets nothing. No attention. No cuddling while we read a book. No playing. Just TV or playing by himself while I handle The Baby That Never Sleeps. He eventually does fall asleep but by that point I'm frustrated and stressed and have a short fuse and while I try my best to wipe the slate clean and treat the "big kids" fairly, they just aren't getting what they should be getting from me. SO ANYWAYS...we decided that JJ could benefit from being in an environment where he doesn't have to listen to crying and can do more stimulating activities than watching Little Einsteins. 

He went two days last week and his third day was today. Teacher says he's doing great! He and Audrey get out of the car together and hold hands walking into school. SO cute. He doesn't even look back to check on me and doesn't cry or anything! Teacher says he is very confidant and sure of himself. That makes my mama heart happy. I really think this experience will be good for him. He's never really spent much time around kids his own age since most of our friends are actually Audrey's friends. I have seen him with some other toddlers and..well..he's kind of rough. He pushed a kid once over a train even though he already had like 4 and the other kid only had one. I don't want a bully baby. Those kids aren't fun. And I don't want him thinking the whole world is what exists at our home...lots of baby screams, fighting with his big sister, etc. yeah, so this will be good, this will be good. I'm obviously still trying to make myself comfortable with the fact that my baby boy is already out of the home and in someone else's care.

Audrey is still adjusting as well. We talked all summer about the fact that she would be going to a different school this year. She toured the school with us and we drove by it a few times and talked it up. She seemed ok. But once she started going for a couple of days, she realized what "new school" actually means. Her old friends aren't there. Her old teacher isn't there, nor her old classroom or her old routines. This must be tough on a 4 year old. While she says that she has fun at school and never has anything bad to say, she also still says she misses her old school and wants to go back. She asks about her "old" friends daily so we are making an effort to see them pretty regularly for playdates or picnics. I reached out to the mother of a girl in Audrey's class whom she says she talks to and eats snack with. We are having an after-school picnic/play date next week, so hopefully seeing someone from school outside of the classroom will make her a little more enthusiastic about being there.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Writing Emails

Tonight I am enjoying some peace and quiet. The kids are all asleep and Josh is upstairs in bed. I uploaded some pictures to the computer and sat down to write a blog, but instead decided to write emails to the kids. I am feeling a little sensitive and emotional and didn't really want to spill my guts here, so I figured I could lay the sappiness out in an email for them to read many years from now. I get like this some nights after the kids go to sleep. Its like all day I want a break but once they're asleep I can't stop thinking about them, how wonderful they are, the funny things they do, the joy they bring to me..

But anyways.. If you haven't sent them an email, please do! I have never opened any of the messages so I promise that they are confidential and will be read only by the kids when they are grown up! Dear.Audrey.Falcon and Dear.Joshua.Falcon at gmail dot com. Nathaniel will get one soon enough, I'll let ya'll know once it is done.

SO, in an effort to keep up with the blog, I have some recent photos, but not a really meaty post. I pulled out Maria's nice camera and have been playing around trying to document our days around here.

JJ loves two things. Wrestling - but that's hard to take photos of when I am pinning him to the ground. And trains. Usually he doesn't get to play a lot with them because big sister is always bossing him around and not letting him do what he wants with them. Today Audrey was out with my mom and Nathaniel was sleeping, so we pulled out the trains and played for a while. He's happy just pushing them around and around the track.

Audrey is all about her dolls right now. She has the 12" Disney princess barbie dolls (I think she has 4 or 5 of them, plus some of the princes) and also some of the smaller Disney princess figurines. We also got her the Anna and Elsa castles (from Frozen) and she plays with these ALL DAY LONG. She sleeps with the dolls. She takes them everywhere we go. She is always asking us to play with her and we do when we have time. Its nice when she has girls her age to play with, because JJ just doesn't know how to play the way she wants him to. It is frustrating for her, I'm sure!

Nathaniel is seeming bigger every day. Today was a good day because he napped pretty well for me. He even had stretches of awake time where he was quietly enjoying his bouncer or sat and cooed and smiled with me. He has such a big smile and its easy to forget my exhaustion when this face is looking at me.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer 2014

As I said in my last post, we've had a pretty busy summer since Nathaniel was born. Audrey graduated from preschool the week after he was born, so that was our first family outing. They sang a couple of songs and the teacher said a few words about each child and their special or defining qualities. She called Audrey "Ms. Giggles" because she is always smiling and giggling. She said Audrey brings a light and happiness to the classroom. What a wonderful thing to hear about our little girl.
Look at that side by side photo of her first day of preschool and her last day of preschool. She grew so much! You can even see the maturity in her posture and her smile. She is so much more confident and sure of herself.
Maria, Jason, and Marcelo came that weekend for a big family birthday party. We haven't seen Jason in a few years and we haven't seen Marcelo since last summer, so it was really fun to have them here. Audrey loves her big cousin and had a great time dancing the night away with him at the party! Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of that because I stayed home with Nathaniel.
I had about a week home with the kids after Josh went back to work and before Lexi and Tiernan came. We spent that week mostly at home, had some friends over, running some errands, and mostly just trying to figure out how to handle three kids. We played in the pool and I bought them a sprinkler so they were able to enjoy some time cooling off on those hot days!

  We spent the 4th of July weekend getting out and about. We watched the fireworks with some friends from Audrey's preschool. It was fun to do together, but our poor kids go to bed so early that they were exhausted by the time the fireworks started and so they weren't really that excited. haha! Maybe next year...
The following night we met up with some more friends for Manassas Park's movie in the park night. The movie was Monsters University. The kids were super excited but since they were up so late the night before, and the movie not starting until long after their bed time, they were super tired. We tried to relax and have a good time but Audrey and JJ were both running around crazy and wild, and then the baby started fussing so we knew it was time to head home. 
Lexi and Tiernan got here a couple of days later and we had such a wonderful time with them. It was so nice for me to have my sister here to talk to and laugh with, and watching the cousins play and have fun was great for us. Lexi was incredibly helpful with the kids and cleaning. She even cooked a bunch of freezer meals that I can pop in the oven for dinner on those days when I don't have the time to cook. She's amazing!

We had some fun outings including a trip to the farm and a day trip to the beach with Grandma, Grandpa, and Ian. We went to a beach on the bayside which was perfect because the waves were nothing and the water was shallow enough that the kids could play and swim. I think we are going to make another trip there this summer with the family since I doubt we will fit in a real family vacation considering the newborn and all!

We spent a day with the whole family over at dad's. The kids had fun swimming and running around together and I had fun eating all the food, as I usually do. :)

Lexi and Tiernan headed home on Tuesday, and David and Debbie came in on Friday. We mostly took it easy while they were here - eating out, shopping, spoiling the kids. They loved all the extra attention! It was nice to just have an easy, quiet weekend with some extra helping hands.

They left Tuesday and then Saturday the kids and I drove up to meet Maria so they could spend a week with her. And that brings us to now! Its been Josh, me, and Nathaniel all week and boy has it been nice! The kitchen stays clean when I clean it. Although I still don't get to sleep in (Nathaniel wakes at 6am) its different when I get up and don't actually have to talk to anyone or do anything for anyone. I can get up, have my coffee while holding him and watching the Today show. We've been really lazy this week and haven't gotten much done around the house, but I have been able to get a bunch of errands done that I've been avoiding since I don't want to do them with all three kids. Audrey and Joshua have been having a ton of fun with their grandma, too. They have been going to the pool, chuck-e-cheese, and yesterday got to spend the day at Sesame Place (think Disney World but for Sesame Street)! The first day they were gone, Josh and were like, "OMG WE CAN DO ANYTHING WE WANT!". So we did. We had our morning coffee while reading the paper (the coffee wasn't spilled! The paper wasn't ripped/colored on/or thrown onto the floor!). Then we decided to put on some Netflix and binge-watch a new show - Breaking Bad. We watched like 5 episodes. Of course it wasn't like the old days where we could just sit there...we were basically watching it while also handing the baby back and forth while he fussed/cried/napped on us. But still we got to watch TV during the day and neither of us fell asleep 10 minutes into it. We also took a break to go to Home Depot where we were able to buy some stuff, but more importantly, we were able to walk at a normal pace and just look and roam rather than running through as fast as we can before a kid disappears or starts crying or has to use the bathroom or otherwise melts down. Another nice thing about the kids being away? Dinner. A couple of nights I just didn't eat. One night we ate at 8:30 pm. Quite different from the normal dinner time of 5:30!

The first few days I didn't really miss them. Of course I thought of them all day long and wondered what they were doing, but I was enjoying the quiet. Now its been almost a week and I'm ready for them to come home. I miss Audrey's sweet voice and JJ's loving cuddles. 

{I do not miss nonstop laundry and dishes}
{{This post was written while they were still gone. They are back now and laundry and dishes have resumed, but I love the craziness, I can't deny it!}}

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The New Normal

Now that I've (finally) updated that we had the baby, the next logical post is how we are all adjusting. We're 8 weeks in at this point, and while I feel that we all have adjusted well, I can't really say for sure just yet! We've had so much going on since Nathaniel's birth that we still haven't really settled in to the "new normal" yet. We had family staying with us when Nathaniel was 10 days old. Then Josh went back to work when he was 3 weeks old. He planned to take 4 off, but went back early because I felt like I had a good handle on things. So I had a week at home with all three by myself and we stayed pretty busy seeing friends and doing different things. Then Lexi and Tiernan came to visit for a week so I had a lot of help there. Three days after they left, Josh's Dad and stepmom came to visit. So again I had help! Then 4 days after they left, the "big kids" Audrey and JJ left to spend a week at their grandma's in New Jersey! So in all those eight weeks, I think I've had a total of 2.5 weeks alone with the kids. I've been very lucky to have all the help, because I think I would have lost it by now without everyone!
However, in those weeks that I've been alone with the kids, I've learned A LOT:
1. Don't ever take 3 kids under 4 years old to Chuck-e-Cheese by yourself. Everyone will leave in tears.

2. Also the playground. It is a challenge.

3. Frozen meals and places that deliver dinner are a lifesaver (thanks to EVERYONE who made and brought us meals!!).

4. The third baby doesn't really need to be bathed that much. ;)

5. Baby wearing is key to survival with three little ones.

6. Two kids in diapers = changing a diaper every hour, at least.

7. Preparing to go anywhere takes 2 hours.
That's the tough stuff. Audrey is pretty easy, except that I have to get out of the house with her because of her energy level. She can't stay inside all day. This is hard because, as I said above, going fun places with all three of them is really hard. JJ runs in one direction, Audrey in the other, and then the baby starts crying. Always. And then Audrey realizes she has to use the bathroom (a PUBLIC bathroom, while holding JJs hand and wearing the baby on my chest), and then JJ needs a diaper change. OVERWHELMING.
JJ is the hardest one right now of the three. He's at the BEST age - my favorite. But part of this age is that they are so interested in everything and so curious, yet they aren't mature enough to realize danger. They still can't control impulses. Which means when something catches his eye, he pursues it immediately. This is why people put leashes on their kids. Not saying I'm there (YET) but I can see why they do it.
Nathaniel is easy in some ways because he still sleeps a lot. Unfortunately, he doesn't like to sleep in the car seat, which means that our outings are often set to a soundtrack of screaming baby. What was that, Target cashier? I can't hear you just take my credit card its fine. I realize now that the only way to make this better is to start wearing him in the carrier more when we go out. I don't prefer it, but both at home and when we're out, it seems to make the most sense and keep him happy, so that's where we are.
Now for the fun stuff! The big kids LOVE their baby. I knew Audrey would. She liked talking to him in my belly, kissing him, etc. So when he was born and she got over her disappointment that he wasn't a girl (poor thing), she started loving on him right away. "Isn't he so cute? Look at his cute little toesies, and fingers. Hi Baby, I'm your big sister". She is such a little mommy and I love it. She takes to it naturally as though she understands that sometimes babies just cry and need extra love and attention. I was cutting chicken for dinner one night while Audrey and JJ watched TV. Nathaniel started crying and before I could get to him, Audrey came over and popped the pacifier in his mouth and held it there while she rocked him in the swing. She didn't say a word about it, just did what needed to be done. I just stared at her, taking in that moment. She is simply amazing. She also learned how to open the gate to the stairs which I was initially stressed about. But then the other morning when I was cooking breakfast, we heard Nathaniel start fussing in my bed. I tried to finish up what I was doing, but before I could, I heard Audrey open the gate and run upstairs saying, "Ok Nathaniel I'm coming!". When she got up there I heard her on the monitor, "I'm here little buddy. I'm here for you, you're ok". She was rubbing his head and talking so sweet to him when I got up there. She just has the sweetest heart and I love how much she loves her brothers.
I was very surprised at how Joshua Jr has taken to the baby. I was worried about him. I thought, because he is only 18 months, that he wouldn't understand what's going on and would have a hard time with the baby crying, the attention the baby gets, and the overall changes in our home. BUT. From the first moment he met his baby brother, JJ has blown me away with the amount of love he has for Nathaniel. He ran into the hospital room right to the bassinet (how did he know baby was there?) and tried kissing and caressing the baby. It really has been like that ever since. He tries to climb into the baby's seat with him and give him hugs and kisses, he touches his head gently, smiles at Nathaniel, and tries to tickle him. Of course I have to be careful that he doesn't accidentally get too rough, but for the most part he seems to know to be careful. There have been a few times where JJ has gotten angry with me (because I told him no or lack of attention) and he's pulled his arm back as though he is going to hit the baby. He also tries to sit on my lap when I'm nursing, which is tough but I'm trying to make it work. Just have to rearrange some things. :) I will say one of the frustrating things is that JJ doesn't understand that when the baby is sleeping, we need to be quiet and leave him alone. Oh no. JJ still wants to scream loud and see what the baby is doing. He's always bumping into Nathaniel's swing and often wakes him up. I've been starting to put Nathaniel upstairs more for his naps to avoid this altogether.

So that's it! We've been taking each day as it comes, and sometimes that means watching more TV than I would like, but we're still in survival mode. Whatever it takes to get through the day...

You may have noticed that all of these pictures were taken at home. And they are wearing jammies in most. Yeah. That should explain what its like around here!