Monday, May 19, 2014

Marshall's 4th birthday party

May 3rd, Marshall turned 4. Don't even get me started on how that doesn't seem remotely possible! Since it fell on a Saturday we were able to have the party on his actual birthday. I went back and forth about where to have it. I'm a clean freak/perfectionist at heart so having it at our house with our unfinished projects and yard and worn out carpet did not sound appealing. Especially because I knew I'd have to do all the getting ready solo. A beautiful park with a huge playground sounded really appealing... but the more I thought about it, when we go to play dates at a park it almost seems harder to visit because the kids are running all over and need help or to be walked to the bathroom. Plus lots of his friends have baby siblings who would need to be nursed and changed or would be happier inside with the AC. And Marshall was adamant about having a "dinosaur party" so in the end our house won over because as unfinished and ugly as our yard is, kids LOVE it and I thought it would be easier to do dino activities and be able to put Emery down for a nap if needed.

I didn't really do any decorations. Just a few dollar store banners. I decided to spend the money I would have used decorating on toys for the party that the kids could play with later on as well.



My main goal was for the parents to be able to relax or take care of their babies (I think there were 6 babies all younger than Emery) while the kids just ran around and had a blast. So I didn't plan anything too structured and just organized our outdoor toys and set up a few dinosaur themed stations.

There was the "dinosaur small worlds" with all sorts of dinosaur toys, leaves, sticks, glass gems, mini trees and dirt to play with:

Marshall "helped" decorate the sign haha

Then there was the "fossil dig:"



I bought a mold on Amazon and Jerad made concrete fossils. We buried them and the kids excavated them with brushes and had fun rebuliding the skeletons.

There was also a "Tar Pit." We made oobleck (cornstarch and water) and added brown food coloring. It probably should have been black to look like tar but no one complained:) Then I got a set of these dinosaur skeletons to go with it.

The kids played with the skeletons covering and uncovering them, or just played with the oobleck with their hands. I didn't get a picture of the big tub of it during the party, but later that afternoon I split it into smaller tubs and the boys had round 2:


In typical hostess fashion, the minute the party started I didn't get any pictures, and don't feel like I really had the chance to talk to anyone... but I think everyone had a great time! We had thirteen 2-5 year olds, a few older siblings, and 6 babies 10 months and under. Plus our three kids!

Here are the only  pictures I managed to get:


This is Marshall's friend Everett. They're only 2 weeks apart and have been friends since they were babies:

I tried to get a family picture, and Marshall's friend Reese kept photobombing it:

Silly kids:


We did finally get a family picture. This is the first family picture I've rememberd to get at ANY of the kid's birthdays. And we aren't all looking at the camera. Babysteps I guess.

For the food originally I'd planned on doing "herbivore" platters of fruit and veggies, then "carnivoire" platters of different meats and cheeses so people could snack or make sandwiches. Then I decided that since it seems like kids are always too excited to really eat at parties anyways I'd go the cheap route and we had chips, salad, carrots and hummus, and bbq'd hotdogs. 

For the cake I'd been planning on making a 4 level carrot cake from scratch (carrot cake from scratch is what I made while in labor with Marshall as well). Then at 10pm the night before I still hadn't even gone to the grocery store so I decided to just buy a boxed cake mix... then changed my mind to break n bake cookies because that would be faster. Then I decided I didn't really even have time for that so I came up with this:

I thought it would be nice because everyone could just grab cookies, we wouldn't need plates and forks, and it wouldn't be messy.  6 of the kids at the party all are having birthday parties within the next 6 weeks so I knew ultimately no one would be cake deprived. My mom was scandelized at the idea of no cake so she brought an angelfood cake and strawberries and whipped cream too.

It was a lot of fun. All the kids played non stop and I think it was a hit. I was nervous that Marshall would be dissappointed because he kept insisting that there would be "real baby dinosaurs" at his party but he seemed to forget that part. 

Since there were so many people we chose to put the gifts inside and just open them with the family after everyone left. In previous years its been hard getting the boys to sit still and watch other kids open their presents at parties and understand that they don't get any. So I thought I'd spare the guests the whole ordeal and they'd have more time to play. Except apparently 4 year olds know the drill and multiple kids were confused that Marshall wasn't opening his presents. And Marshall kept saying "I want to open presents at the party like Hannah did!" (we went to her party the week before). In the end it was fine and we had a playdate a few days later where some of his friends came over and got to see the new stuff. This was the present aftermath:

And just like that, it was over. And he's 4. Which seems SO OLD, but he also acts like he's going on 30 so its not entirely surprising. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Checking In

Ha, I sat down last Wednesday night to write this, got interrupted, and never finished. We just finished up a one week stint of Jerad working out of town again.

It started off well. On Friday, instead of me having to ask and remind them 50 times as per usual, the boys got themselves mostly dressed on their own then willingly went in the bathroom and started brushing their teeth. Win!
We went to the library for story time, and afterwards to the butterfly release party for the butterflies that hatched from the chrysalis's they've had on display.

After naps, we spent the rest of the afternoon chilling in the backyard.

That night both the boys woke up once (they usually sleep through the night), and Emery woke up three times (she's only been waking up once or occasionally twice lately). Of course, none of the wake ups coincided so I didn't get much sleep. In the morning both boys were a little whiny and had stuffy noses. We had been planning on going to my friend Beth's welcome baby party so I text her to see if we should leave our possible germs at home or still come. She said to come, and I'm glad we did. The kids had a blast. And there was delicious food. And she has a delicious baby. There was a tree swing that Marshall and Miller were obsessed with:

We left a little early because our day was completely over scheduled. On the way home I stopped at Trader Joe's because I've learned over the years that being a solo parent is much more enjoyable if I have a few comfort foods, wine, chocolate, and lots of coffee and cream on hand. 

The kids took a quick nap then I woke them up to head to Marshall's friend Reese's birthday party. It was a Minnie Mouse theme and super cute. Somebody gave Emery crackers, so she was pretty much in heaven. 

They had a play structure, turtles, bounce house, trampoline, car ramps, water tables, and crafts for the kids. The boys had a blast! They also played a game where they passed some (bubbles) wrapped in layers and layers of newspaper around the circle and the kid who's turn it was would pick a "mouse-ka-tool" and had 10 seconds to try to unwrap it.

On the way back from THAT party, we stopped by at a going-away party for my friend Julie who just got a job in Arizona. We stayed just long enough to say hi, and drop off some "airplane survival" packages I made for her kids that had some busy bags, fruit snacks, and reusable sticker books. She's flying solo with three kids while her husband drives their belongings--yikes!

When we got home I was so exhausted and in all honesty, just counting down the minutes until it would be acceptable to put the kids to bed. Then Marshall climbed in my lap and said "can we sit on your lap and have some snuggles? It makes my heart happy."

That night was even worse. The kids again ganged up on me and all woke up multiple times. In the morning it was clear that they were all getting sick. Happy Mother's Day to me. No husband, no sleep, and three sick kids. My sister had planned an elaborate brunch at the beach with our parents and her inlaws and I told her I thought I was going to have to skip it. She talked me into going and it was definitely the right call. Everything was beautiful and the food was AMAZING. And she sent me home with all the leftovers:)

I'll do a separate post on that with more pictures later.

I planned to catch a nap that afternoon while the kids were sleeping, but of course none of them would nap. Emery always nurses before she goes to sleep and refused. I didn't think anything too much of it at the time, but it ended up being the start of a THREE DAY NURSING STRIKE. So we went outside. Marshall walked Buddy around while driving his Gator for about 45 minutes. They were both in heaven.

Emery also refused to nurse the rest of that day, and before bed. I tried pumping and she refused to take a bottle as well. She woke up numerous times that night but would not nurse or take a bottle... which is how I usually put her back to sleep. Needless to say I got about two hours of broken sleep.

Monday we were supposed to have a play date but I canceled. That afternoon all the kids fell asleep at 12:30, Emery and Miller slept 3.5 hours, I snuck in a 2 hour nap, and Marshall slept three hours in his bed, then came in my bed and fell back asleep... for another 4.5 hours. Yes you read that right, he took a 7.5 hour nap. There's been 4-5 times where he was sick or having a growth spurt and has gone down for a nap and despite me trying to wake him up multiple times has just slept until the next morning. SO I figured that was happening.

Except he woke up at 8pm ready to party. He was actually in the best mood he'd been in in DAYS and was being super sweet. Just wide awake. I told him he could eat dinner, then we could snuggle in my bed and watch a movie and then he would need to go to sleep. He said that sounded good, but at 9:30 when the movie was over he was still not tired (he usually goes to bed at 7:30). I sent him to bed anyways figuring that the darkness and sound machine might knock him out. Which I assumed it had until 10:30 when I heard him wake up Miller. They continued to party on and off till after midnight.

Emery had also refused to nurse all day/night. or take a bottle. I had some success with getting her to drink pumped milk through a straw, but not much. Marshall had a few nursing strikes as a baby but he would always take bottles during them. Miller had one and despite us seeing multiple specialists, never went back to nursing. So naturally I was panicking and assuming that was going to happen again. Unless you've ever been through it, you can't imagine the mental toll a nursing strike takes on the mother. It is so hard not to take it personally. It's funny (now looking back) because whenever someone freaks out to me about their baby going on a strike I always reassure them that its normal, the baby will be fine, their supply will be fine, this is what you do blah blah blah... until the tables are turned and it's my problem then I become a stressed out basket case.

So, that was another rough night. The boys slept better but I was having a horrible time comforting Emery back to sleep and stressed to the max that not only was she not nursing, she was barely (it seemed) drinking any breastmilk or water and I was picturing having to lug all three kids to the hospital for her to get IV fluids. I kept track of her wet diapers and she was fine, but that didn't help me feel any better.  That night she would only drink milk through a medicine dropper. It took me 30 minutes to get her to drink an ounce.

Tuesday morning after my 4am pumping session it was that thing where I felt awake and pretty good, and like I should just stay up for the day, or maybe I could go back to sleep for a few hours but then I'd wake up exhausted and feeling like I had a hangover. So, I decided to make a pot of double brewed coffee where you brew a pot, then dump it back into the coffee maker, replace the filter and add new grounds and brew another pot. I drake that and had a leisurely breakfast in bed and watched TV until the kids woke up.

They are so precious in the morning:

I decided even though they were still a little sick, I was going to send the boys to preschool from 8-12 (they didn't have fevers or any green snot) just so I could get somewhat of a break. I got everyone fed breakfast (this was the first day that Emery drank a full 4 ounces of breastmilk through a straw and had some pureed apples and squash too also through a straw), showered, dressed, lunches packed and loaded in the car before I realized it was only 7:15 and we were way ahead of schedule. Double brewed coffee works THAT good.

I don't remember the details from the rest of the day. It was still a crappy day. I was still pumping every 3-4 hours. I'd try to nurse, Emery would act like I was trying to poison her, I'd pump and offer her a bottle which she would refuse, then try it in a cup with a straw which she'd usually take. Around 6pm she drank about 2 ounces out of a bottle for the first time then before bed she finally latched on and nursed. I was in the worst most uncomfortable position because I hadn't been thinking she would but I was too scared to move and have her realize what she was doing and change her mind.

And just like that her nursing strike was over as fast as it started and there haven't been any problems since. I have no idea what caused it, maybe teething? Maybe her cold? Whatever it was that was the most stressful, inconvenient, sleep deprived days I have had in a long long long time.

That night the boys slept through the night and Emery only woke up once. Wednesday morning everyone was all smiles.

They're at this awesome age where they will all play happily together and the boys are patient if she takes their toys or ruins their game.

That afternoon was over 100 so we tried to cool down outside.

Emery thought the makeshift baby pool in the shade was the best thing ever.

Jerad started work at about 8am Wednesday morning in Twentynine Palms, worked straight through until he finished the project at 2am Thursday, got in the truck and drove 4 hours until he was too tired to continue, slept two hours on the side of the road, then drove the remaining 2 hours home arriving at about 10:30. He said hi for 15 minutes, then left to go work on a job that had to be finished in time for the inspection that was scheduled the next day. Good Lord. And we've only seen him a few hours since then.

Things are insane right now but if we can just survive the next week we are leaving for an 8 day trip to Havasu. My sister and her husband are going, and her inlaws who are for all intents and purposes our kid's third set of grandparents. That means not only do we get an 8 day vacation -- there will be built in babysitters! Excited is the understatement of the year. Just 6 more days till we leave!!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Emery Harper 9 Months

I can't believe Emery is 9 months old. Today! And that I'm posting this on time:) That is mostly due to the fact that she started sleeping like a good baby. This last month was hard. She had a big sleep regression and woke hourly. For weeks. And the only thing that would comfort her was me nursing her. So I've been a zombie. The hourly wakeups stretched to every 2 hours, then every 3-4, then last night she went to bed at 7pm, woke up ONCE at 12:30am and that was it until she was up at 6:30 for the day.

This isn't my first rodeo. I KNOW that sleep progression isn't linear and it has its ups and downs, but man, when you're in a "down" it seems like it takes over your life. Hoping we're on the up swing for awhile!

This month we took Emery swimming for he first time.

She loved it.

St Patrick's Day:

Her favorite thing right now is taking things in and out of baskets. She'll do it over and over and over.

Crazy hair:

She's getting easier to take on the boys playdates. She'll happily play in the grass, sit in the stroller, or swing. Even if it means she misses a nap she's usually in a good mood.

I asked my mom to see what clothes she had left from my sisters and I when we were little. She brought a big bag and I've been having a lot of fun dressing Emery up. I remember my littlest sister Addy wearing this watermelon dress:

And this sweater was mine!

I need to have her weighed at her next Dr. apt, but our scale puts her around 16.5 pounds. She's in 9 month clothing (and has been since 5 months) and if she follows in her brother's footsteps, will be until she turns a year.

Two weeks after she turned 8 months, her bottom front two teeth popped through. I can't believe it took so long. I've felt like she was teething forever with all the drooling, chomping, and fingers in the mouth. Both her brother got their first tooth the week before they turned 7 months old. She likes to be on her own timeline apparently since they were both crawling and cruising furniture by the time they turned 9 months as well.

She is a ridiculously happy baby. Like, the kind of baby that makes me want 500 more or to just bottle her up and keep her tiny forever. Then night comes and I remember what a horrible sleeper (until the last few days) she is and I think "no more kids ever. I can't do this again."

She loves Marshall and Miller so much. Her eyes light up the second she sees them. The feeling is pretty mutual. Marshall has been enamored with her since the second he met her, but this last month Miller has really fallen in love too. She likes to mimic sounds so Miller will lay with her on the floor and say something like "ma ma ma ma" then she'll try to say it back and they'll both just laugh and laugh and laugh.

Two nights ago she was able to stand up while holding onto something (the bathtub) for the first time. The boys were so proud and cheered her on.

She's still unsteady so I'm sure it'll be awhile until she's cruising along the furniture. She still isn't officially crawling, but she scoots and army crawls to get where she wants to go. She's eating solid foods 1-3 times a day, and nursing about every 3-4 hours so play dates and errands are getting easier because she doesn't always have to eat the second we get there.

Other current favorites include baths, and swinging:

You can see her teeth a little in the next picture. Another one of my hand me down dresses:

She's sassy and funny. She claps with one hand on the back of her other hand, waves, gives huge open mouth kisses, and if she does something that makes us laugh she'll do it over and over.

Going through old photos I found these of me around her age. I see a lot of similarities! Especially the mouth and hair:

This is her "funny face:"

Happy 9 months baby girl! I can't wait to see what the next month brings!