Little Miss Sunshine

Dear Emma,

I still can’t believe how fast your first year is flying by! You are 10 months old today, although you look like an 18 month old because of your size. You’re continue to top the charts in both height and weight, which makes it hard to keep you in clothes for more than a few weeks at a time! Luckily for you, your mom & grandmothers love to spoil you with cute outfits. 😉

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We finished your time with the helmet a few weeks ago now, which has led to leaps and bounds in your development. I think it was harder for you to do things on your tummy with the helmet on, but now you’re sliding, scooting & army-crawling all over the place. Most recently, you’ve mastered sitting up from a supine position. Gotta keep a closer eye on you now… you like to get into EVERYTHING. Just like your brothers. Lord help me! Haha.

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Unlike your brothers, we’ve noticed a lot of progress in your communication skills recently too. You are waving, clapping, high-fiving, and say “hi,” “mama,” “dada,” & “bubba.” Chatting with us (ESPECIALLY Alex) is one of your favorite things to do. Eating is pretty high up there too…. when you see someone else eating, you demand that they share whatever it is with you! Your favorites are pasta & fruit.

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Although you’re definitely not shy about letting us know when you’re less than pleased about something, overall you really are such a sweet, happy baby. Despite having a lot of ear infections lately (pretty sure tubes are on the horizon for you), you are always smiling with those cute little dimples of yours. Your presence truly lights up a room, and everyone who looks at your adorable grin can’t help but smile back. That’s why I like to call you our Little Miss Sunshine. 🙂

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By the time I write again, you’ll probably have had your first birthday and be walking!In just a couple of months I’ll never have an infant again. After these last 5 years, that’s such a bizarre feeling to me. But I’m also so excited to see what the coming months bring for you!

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All my love,
Mom

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Bows Before Bros

Dear Emma,

How quickly your first year is flying by! You’re just shy of 7 months old now. So much has changed these past few months since I last wrote, yet so much has stayed the same. You did eventually get a helmet to help address the skull asymmetry caused by your torticollis, as well as starting physical therapy to help stretch & strengthen your neck muscles. The helmet isn’t exactly the cutest baby accessory out there, but we’re making it work. 😉 Part of being the first girl after two boys is that you end up getting dolled up quite a bit!

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You’ve also started eating solid foods– no teeth yet, so just soft foods so far. I haven’t pushed this as hard as I did with Alex & Charlie… maybe because you’re my last, maybe because I haven’t had the time/energy to deal with it as much as I did with the boys. But you do seem to enjoy most of what you’ve had so far…  except green beans. You put those in the “hell no” category!

Also in that particular category is dairy. You’re still on a dairy-free formula because the consequences were disastrous when we tried to switch you. We also let you try some cheese (on pizza) recently, with even more disastrous consequences. :-\ So I feel pretty certain in saying you’re lactose-intolerant, much like Alex & Dad.

Milestone-wise there have been lots of changes & developments too…. you’re starting to sit independently, just for a few seconds at a time. You have been able to roll back to tummy as well as tummy to back. And oh my, can you babble! You LOVE to “talk” to yourself and to anyone else willing to listen. Wonder who you get that from? 😉 You’re able to hold things and enjoy toys more these days, but your favorite things to play with are still (1) your feet and (2) your brothers.

What hasn’t changed: you’re still large & in charge. At your 6 month checkup, the pediatrician said your height, weight & head size were that of an average 10 month old. =-0 Another constant is your happy-go-lucky attitude. You have a smile for just about everyone and are a generally content baby, only fussing when you’re hungry, tired or sick. You recently went through a pretty long & crazy bout of illness that involved croup, a double ear infection, pink eye, and general cold symptoms all taking place over the course of 2 weeks…. and even through all that, you were a trooper!

Thank goodness you’re still a wonderful sleeper as well. You go to bed around 6 and sleep until 7ish, sometimes waking up for a quick bottle around 5ish/sometimes not. And you always, always greet us with a big smile first thing each morning. It’s my favorite way to start the day. 🙂 Life with three little ones gets pretty hectic, but Dad & I have been working hard on making sure you each get some one-on-one time with us. For you & I this is usually bedtime. I look forward to it all day– a bottle, stories, & cuddles with just the two of us.  I also usually take some of that time to catch up on current events while I hold you until you fall asleep (thanks YouTube). I’m trying to soak in every little bit of baby-ness that I can!

And I know Dad feels the same way. You are such a joy to all of us. 🙂 It’s only been 7 months but it already feels like you’ve always been here– the icing on the 5 layer cake of our family. We love you so very much!

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All my love,
Mom

On the move!

Dear Charlie,

9 months old now… I can’t believe your first year is already drawing to a close! It’s been a busy month, especially for you. This month you have focused a lot on learning to crawl. You’re actually not 100% there yet, but you’re really close! As I mentioned last month, for the longest time you were only able to scoot yourself backwards. In the last couple of weeks you finally succeeded in scooting yourself forward via a sort of “Army crawl” and that is primarily how you’ve been getting around recently. Just in the last day or two though, you’ve started consistently getting up on all fours and doing that characteristic rocking motion that precedes crawling. Even just with the Army crawling though, you’re ALL over the place! I feel like I need to grow a few more arms to keep both you and Alex from getting into mischief. Just last night, after bath time I let you crawl around in your PJ’s while I got Alex into his PJ’s… in less than a minute you’d knocked over your humidifier, then snuck up and grabbed Alex’s pajama pants (which I hadn’t put on yet) with one hand while swiping at Alex’s bottom with your other hand, which resulted in your hand getting diaper cream on it. Oy! LOL.

You have your 9 month doctor’s appointment next week, and although you’re behind where Alex was at this age I’m not too concerned just yet. We’ll see what the doctor says of course, but honestly I think it’s just part of second-child syndrome in that we don’t have the kind of time to work with you 1-on-1 like we did with Alex (so sorry about that!) and there’s always so much chaos going on around here that you’re pretty content to just observe. You’re still a VERY happy baby, and you are gradually progressing with your milestones, so I think you just have a laid-back personality & are fine with the way things are for now. Growth-wise, I expect you’ll be in the highest percentiles again as you’re starting to bust out of even size 12 month clothes! I had all of Alex’s stuff through size 12M stored in your closet, but had to go up in the attic for the first time in quite awhile to get the 18M stuff. I can’t believe how quickly you’re growing!

Still no teeth yet– one has poked through a bit on the bottom, but has just barely pierced the surface & it’s been that way for over a month now. We had some rough teething nights for a couple weeks while that was going on… but thankfully it was nothing that a bit of pain medication couldn’t help with. Your lack of teeth has not held you back from eating solid foods though. You’ve had everything from bananas to broccoli to meatballs (appropriately cooked and cut of course), and you’re a very enthusiastic eater. Most of the time you gobble it all up and cry for more! You’re also getting pretty good at drinking from straw sippy cups… in the last month you’ve gone from just managing a few sips to drinking an entire 8oz of formula out of them, which is helpful when we’re out & about. Admittedly, I’m looking forward to being done with bottles!

I have to watch you and your brother closely at mealtimes though– sometimes he tries to slip you things that you can’t have yet. Just last night, you guys were finishing up your respective dinners while I was at the sink washing dishes when I hear Alex say “Charlie’s eating a carrot!” I had given him some raw baby carrots to eat, and he’d managed to slip a small piece of carrot over to you & it was in your mouth– yikes! Major choking hazard! Luckily Dad was able to smooth talk you into a big open-mouth grin while I held you facing downward, and he retrieved the deviant carrot. We had (another) talk with Alex about how you can’t have his food, but I think it’s more confusing to him now that you eat so many of the same things– including carrots, but of course I serve them to you steamed. Sigh. Lesson learned.

Other than all that it’s just life as usual around here. We’ve been enjoying the beautiful fall weather and all the fun fall/Halloween activities this area has to offer. Here’s some of my favorite pictures & videos from the past month:

Reading with Grandma– we had a surprise grandparent visit a couple weeks ago!

Going down the slide with Dad! Your face cracks me up here– you’re like WHAT the heck are we doing?!

That same day Alex decided he wanted to push you in the swing for the first time. He’s done it many times since & is getting the hang of it!

More often than not, while I’m cooking or doing dishes in the kitchen I let you sit on the floor nearby and play with toys. This has helped me discover just how dirty my kitchen floor is… particularly on a day you were wearing black sweatpants and had learned to crawl well enough to find the more obscure corners of the kitchen. :-\ But you love hanging out in the kitchen with me…

… and have even decided to start “helping” with the dishes. 😉 You are so strong, you’ve pulled that entire bottom rack out of the dishwasher before– YIKES. Gotta watch you like a hawk!

Enjoying some food (I think this was one of those baby teething biscuits)– you get so excited to try new things! The other night I let you try some bites of the greek yogurt I was eating… and you literally did a happy dance every time I held up the spoon for you. LOL.

Avocado is another food you really like. And this is a good example of “second child syndrome” — what should’ve been a somewhat quiet/peaceful eating video sounds like we’re sitting in the middle of Wonka’s chocolate factory. Luckily you don’t mind!

Reading a bedtime story. 🙂 Still my favorite time of the day!

Another story, this time before nap.

Enjoying the attractions at a local fall festival. We sat you in there and you looked at Alex’s crazy driving antics like “OMG, what am I getting into?” 😉

Speaking of Alex’s crazy driving antics, he has taking a keen interest in pushing your stroller when we go on our evening family walks. He’s very stubborn about not getting any help with it, which of course makes me super nervous… the two of you end up stuck in the grass a lot. :-\ He’s getting better at it though!

Another way to help me in the kitchen– pre-mixing my spices for recipes! This was for roasted butternut squash– and oh my goodness you looooooooved the resultant squash. Dad & I did too, so this is now one of our go-to side options for dinner.

Painting your first pumpkin! I had to encourage you to get into it, but once you got started you enjoyed yourself. 🙂 Your tummy a slight blue tinge to it for a couple days though!

Trying to get a picture of your hair here, to show you how curly it’s getting! Very different from Alex’s hair at this age. It’s so cute! I wonder if it will stay curly. Given my & Dad’s hair textures, you’ve got a pretty good shot.

This was how you felt the first time you managed to propel yourself forward with just your arms. It was kind of an awkward push/face-flop and it didn’t look enjoyable to me either…

… but you’ve since learned to use your hips & legs as well, so your “Army crawl” has gotten much more comfortable & efficient for you!

We went to our first Halloween party this past weekend! We went with a Sesame Street theme for the family’s costumes this year– you are Elmo, Alex is Cookie Monster, I am Abby Cadabby and Dad is Oscar the Grouch. Your costume is a touch too big but that’s okay, you don’t seem to mind. 😉

Okay, so getting your 9 month picture was TOUGH. I remember with Alex what a big PITA these last few monthly pictures are, once you start getting into rolling/crawling and moving around…. for you it was all of that, but also the fact that you LOVE playing with your feet, which blocks the view of the monthly sticker!

This is what you thought of my trying to keep you from rolling or playing with your feet. :-\ We were about 50 tries in & both extremely frustrated by this point.

Finally Dad stepped in & saved the day– he was entertaining you from the edge of the crib, so we were able to at least get a smile + feet down + on your back picture. You’re looking at Dad & not the camera, but I’ll take it! Haha. We also had your professional 9 month pictures done last week, but I don’t have them back yet. I daresay they turned out better than this though!

So even though this video doesn’t show you much, I thought it was worth sharing here because it’s really about you. Pretty much since you were born, the “theme song” of our household has been “Charles in Charge” (which is an old 80’s tv show theme song, actually). We sing it all the time when we’re doing something with you. A few weeks ago I was changing your diaper and singing “Charles in charge of our days…” and all of a sudden Alex pipes in with “and our nights! Charles in charge of our wrongs and our rights!!” and it just cracked me up. I didn’t realize he’d picked up the lyrics, but given how much we sing it around here I’m not surprised! The other song we sing with you a lot, which Alex has also memorized apparently, is one I made up at some point early on… it just goes “Charlie Bean, Charlie Bean, cutest baby ever seen!” Actually I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned my nickname for you– ever since you were a newborn I’ve called you Charlie Bean. I have no idea why, I guess because you’re tiny & round like a bean? Haha. Anyway, I almost always call you Charlie Bean or sometimes just Beanie. 😉 Or, when you’re getting into trouble I call you Charles John… which is happening more & more frequently these days now that you’re on the move!

Anyway, I think that’s about it for this month! We’re quickly coming up on your first holiday season… and just a hop, skip & jump after that is your first birthday. ACK! Lots of wonderful new adventures in store for you over these next few months, but man I’m starting to get sad that your first year has flown by so fast & you’re so quickly moving out of the baby stage. :-\ This is such a wonderful age, and you are such a wonderful baby…. how did I get so lucky?!

Until next time, Charlie Bean! 🙂

All my love,
Mom

The One Milestone I Never Wanted to See

Dear Charlie,

Well it was bound to happen sooner or later… the last couple of months were so crazy that I completely missed your 7 month letter, and now you’re just a few days shy of 8 months! I’m so sorry, but I promise that this letter will be nice & long to make up for it. 😉

So the night after I last wrote, you woke up in the middle of the night struggling to breathe. You were making horrible seal-like sounds that I had come to recognize as “striders” from when Alex had croup the week before, and knew that you had come down with croup as well. 😦 I tried all the things the doctors had told me to do with Alex, but unfortunately none of those things worked & you were getting worse. Things like this can be very serious for a baby so little, and therefore around 8am the next morning I decided to take you to the hospital. Luckily we live only 15 minutes away from a wonderful children’s hospital, so I took you there. There was only one person ahead of us in the waiting room when we got there, but you were doing so poorly that the lady checking us in called a nurse out and she whisked us to the back right away. They immediately gave you a special breathing treatment and an oral steroid to help reduce the inflammation in your throat. You were okay with the breathing treatment for the first 10 seconds or so, but once you realized that you couldn’t take the mask off of your face your FREAKED OUT. Having to keep that mask shoved on your face while you thrashed around and sobbed, in the emergency room surrounded by a crew of doctors and nurses looking on, was the most horrible and heartbreaking moment I’ve had as a mother so far.

I wish I could say that was the end of it. Although you did improve a bit after that, your breathing gradually began to get worse again and they had to administer another breathing treatment about an hour later. And then a third. At that point the doctor came back in and said that if you started to get worse again after that third treatment, they were going to have to admit you into the hospital overnight. It was around noon at this point. When she came back to check on you, your breathing still wasn’t where she wanted it to be, and we agreed to have you admitted overnight. When the hospital doctor and nurse came in to process you into the hospital, I just completely lost it and broke down crying in front of them both. On the one hand I was mortified that I couldn’t even control myself enough to talk to them, but on the other hand this was my first time having to take a child to the ER, let alone be admitted for an overnight stay in a hospital, and I’d never felt so sad or scared in my entire life. My heart was breaking, and I felt so incredibly helpless. They were nice about it but it was still a pretty awkward moment for them. Anyway, they wheeled us up to your hospital room and got your medical history (not much of one there!), hooked up to all the monitors, and otherwise situated. This was around 2pm and one very kind nurse finally brought me some lunch. I hadn’t eaten anything other than a hasty granola bar in since dinner the night before. Dad was stuck at home with Alex, of course. The attending doctor told us that our goal was to have you go at least 6 hours without needing a breathing treament. Once you got to that point, you’d be able to go home.

The hospital crib was nice in that you could prop the mattress up on an incline which helped you breathe a bit, but you were scared and completely thrown off your typical sleep schedule by then, so for the first 8 hours or so you would only sleep if I held and rocked you, which required me standing and holding you just so in order to keep you close enough to the monitors.

You eventually did get to a point where you slept in the crib, but various nurses and technicians came in constantly to poke and prod you with various things to check your vitals & such. So, I don’t think you slept much more than an hour or so at a time & I had to feed you a few times during the night, which I hadn’t had to do since you were a newborn. But, we got through it and actually didn’t need any more breathing treatments throughout the night. The next morning you were in good spirits, rocking the hospital clothes:

And we were released around 10am! I kept you home with me that day & the next day. You improved drastically over those couple of days and were almost entirely back to normal by the third day, so I sent you back to daycare and went back to work. I’m so blessed to have a job that allows me to work from home (so I didn’t have to take any time off while you were sick, and a good thing too because I’m still trying to earn back the time I took off for maternity leave earlier in the year), but we aren’t allowed to telework more than half our time in any given pay period so I simply had to get back in the office. I felt guilty about sending you back to daycare (even though you were much better, you still had a small cough)… but such is the plight of a working mother I suppose. I enjoyed our time together while you were home with me though. You are such a happy baby in general, and were in such good spirits given all you’d gone through. Everytime I looked over at you while I was working on my laptop, this is what I saw:

So all in all, you took the whole thing much better than I did. Even now almost 2 months later, reliving it all while I’m writing this I started crying again. “Baby’s First Hospital Stay” is simply NOT something a mother anticipates writing about in the baby books… but it is what it is. I hope that was the last time I ever have to take a child to the hospital. And I have to say, if I’d had to guess I would’ve totally picked Alex to be the first one I had to take to the hospital… :-X Really surprised the first trip was for you. Glad it’s over! Everyone’s been more or less healthy since then. We all had another little cold about a month later while we were on vacation in Hampton, but that was drop in the bucket compared to this croup business!

On to happier things– you’ve had some much more positive milestones these last couple months too! You now sit up 100% independently for long periods of time, which is nice because you can hang out in shopping carts and high chairs much more easily. You’ve gotten so big that we finally ditched the bucket seat and went to a rear-facing “big boy” seat. Although I miss being able to easily get you in/out of the car without waking you up, especially since you nap in the car or stroller a lot on the weekends, the whole apparatus was just getting way too heavy for me to handle.

Also, you’re now very much a baby on the move! You’ve perfected the art of getting from Point A to Point B just by rolling, and are trying desperately to learn how to crawl. You can get your upper half off the ground as well as your lower half, but never both at the same time yet. Sometimes you’re able to Army crawl a few inches when you’re really motivated, but most of the time you just end up pushing yourself backward. When we’re hanging out in the playroom, you invariably end up pushing yourself under the bed at some point…

LOL. With all this mobility comes a lot of discovery and more interactive learning. You love playing with your big brother, and never want to be far from his side. If he has a toy, you want one too (preferably the same one he’s playing with 😉 ). Luckily Alex is still quite indulgent of you most of the time, although there have been a couple of disagreements over toys. I don’t know why I bothered saving the infant toys, as you are just as content to play with Alex’s stuff… or just to be in his presence! He makes you smile like no other. 🙂

The same goes for food– you’ve come a long way in that area as well. Now you actually manage to consume a good portion of what I put in front of you, rather than just smearing it all over yourself and the tray. 😉 You’ve had a pretty big variety of things, and so far the only thing you didn’t seem to like is broccoli. I suspect it was more of a texture than a taste issue. And again, whenever Alex is eating, you want to be eating too! Your highchair is directly across from Alex’s seat at our table, and the two of you entertain each other at every meal. 🙂 You’ve been teething and your first bottom tooth has made an appearance, although it’s just barely broken the surface so far…. but lack of teeth has not stopped you from devouring food, that’s for sure! I just try to keep it somewhat soft & manageable for you. I have to watch you like a hawk though, especially at restaurants, because whenever any food comes into your vicinity you try to grab it, whether it’s yours or not…. so sneaky! You’ve also pretty much mastered using straw sippy cups, which is great because I’m looking forward to being done with bottles!

Teething has led to some rough nights around here as well. After having to bring you into bed with us a few nights in a row, I finally broke down and started giving you some Motrin before bed. Since I started doing that, things have been much better for all of us.

One other milestone to celebrate– although I was the only one to witness it. While we were on vacation in Hampton, one morning you woke up extra early (around 5am) ready for your first bottle of the day. Naturally I was somewhat slow-moving, and in your frustration you stopped crying for a second and said in the saddest little voice, “Maaaamaaaaaaa!” Pitiful, but adorable nonetheless and I am counting that as your first word. 😀 LOL. It almost negated the fact that you had me up at 5am on a vacation day! No other words since then, just lots of random vowel noises/babbling.

All the shenanigans with everyone getting sick led to your 6 month photo session being several weeks late, but we got them done eventually… and they came out really cute!

Our photographer, Jeni, is always kind enough to let me get a few photos with you… and this one was my favorite of the two of us together. Everytime we tried to get a cheek-to-cheek picture, you would turn and give me big sloppy kisses! 🙂

We’ve been on lots of adventures this summer, and you’ve been soaking it all in and participating where you can. But mostly you’ve just been taking lots of naps in the stroller or baby carrier. Thank goodness you’re such an easy baby who doesn’t mind napping in an assortment of conditions! I don’t have you on as strict of a schedule as I did when Alex was this age… in part because we’re too busy these days to stay home the amount of time that requires, and in part because you rarely want to nap for much longer than an hour at most. So, you end up taking 3-4 short naps per day, rather than the 2-3 long ones Alex used to take at this point.

I think I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story…

It’s never hard to get pictures of you smiling! You are such a happy, smiley baby– all we have to do is look at you & you bust out a grin. 🙂

I think you have the most fun when we’re hanging around the house, because that’s where we can give you the most attention & where you have the most freedom. When we went on vacation, you spent a lot of time in the stroller or baby carrier…

Checking out the Virginia Living Museum

You slept through your first trip to the beach, and woke up just in time to enjoy the nearby playground afterwards!

Tuckered out after a busy day at Busch Gardens

Catching some shuteye with Papa at your cousin Michael’s birthday party

… but you did have some fun moments too!

If nothing else, I know all of our family and friends down in Hampton were happy to catch up with you & see how big you’ve gotten! 🙂 You’ve enjoyed a couple of baby playdates recently as well…

Hanging out with Miss Avery, who’s a couple months older than you

Playing some tunes for Miss Scarlett, who’s about 6 months younger than you. You look like a giant next to her– it was a real eye-opener as to how much you’ve grown in such a short time!!

Now that fall is upon us, we’ve spent most weekends out enjoying the gorgeous weather and all the fun things that happen around here in the fall. You slept through most of a local fall festival a couple weeks ago…

But were awake and enjoyed the festivities on a Potomac pirate-themed cruise we did last weekend!

And now as I wrap this up, you’ve just turned 8 months old. This year is flying by SO incredibly fast! I know I say that in every letter, but it’s true. It blows my mind to see how close we are to having TWO toddlers around here… Oy! Lord help me! 😉 But in all seriousness, I am so excited to see what the future brings for our little family. Watching you grow and develop has been such a huge joy for all of us, and it’s hard to imagine life without our sweet Charlie-bean now! We love you so much!! ❤

All my love,
Mom

Big Eats, Little Feats

Dear Charlie,

You’ve blown past 6 months & now we’re on the downhill slope towards 7! I’m sorry your letter is late this month… there’s been a nasty cold/virus from hell circulating through our family the last couple weeks. Unfortunately, it seems to be hitting you now as you’ve been coughing for the last day or so & had a slight temperature when you got up this morning. Thank goodness it’s the weekend and you can lay low for a couple days. I feel like you guys are “THOSE kids” who are sick much more often then everyone else we hang out with. Not sure why that is. The only thing I can think of is that we are pretty big social butterflies in that you guys go to daycare, plus I run a decent-sized weekend playgroup. So, you’re exposed to a lot of other kids & that means a wider variety of germs. Oh well, it is what it is. I just wish you guys had waited a little longer so I could have saved some leave time back up.

Speaking of the playgroup, I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I started it! Alex was around your age then. And now you’re reaping the benefits too, as many of our friends have also had babies/younger siblings this year. Mommy friends for me, toddler friends for Alex, baby friends for you… win-win-win. Even Dad has made a couple daddy friends! 😉

Anywho, I love the 6 month mark because that’s when things start to get interesting! In the last month you’ve gone from this….

To this!

I didn’t think this was possible, but I think you love food even more than Alex does. 😉 Now that you’re at the age where we can let you feed yourself a bit, you’ve really risen to the challenge. You’ve always been great at fine motor skills, so this gives you a chance to practice them some more. Similarly, you’ve gotten really into holding your own bottle lately. This is one of my favorite milestones & I’m so glad you’re into it, but your skill is not quite up to snuff yet… so every feeding goes something like this: I hold the bottle for about 10 seconds, you snatch it from me and proceed to get milk EVERYWHERE because you want to experiment with positioning the bottle, I take it back and try to resume a calm feeding, you grab it again & I think “screw it, he’s gotta learn somehow”… and then you start to make a mess again. And invariably, Alex is nearby so you’re doing all this while you’re trying to squirm around and get in a position where you can watch him while you drink your bottle. You’re actually not the only one interested in learning how to feed you your bottle:

Alex has been asking to feed you more & more often lately. I keep wondering when the novelty is going to wear off, but the two of you still love each other to pieces. I actually think now that you’re more interactive and able to hold/”play” with things, you guys enjoy each other even more.

Climbing on Dad’s back together. I see a lot more of this in your future!

Checking out the pool together at a friend’s birthday party. This was your first dip in a pool! You liked it. Not a great picture of you, but you wouldn’t stop looking at Alex! We’re heading down for an extended Hampton visit Labor Day weekend, and I plan to take you on your first beach trip then.

Alex was telling you all about the animals on this little farm toy.

I was surprised that this month I ended up with so many pictures with me in them, and not that many with Dad… usually it’s the other way around! That last one is my favorite. Snuggling up with you two for a bedtime story is the best part of my day. 🙂

A couple of other things you’ve been working on this month are sitting up and crawling. You are getting a lot better at sitting up– you can usually hold it for a minute or two at a time, depending on how motivated you are. I don’t have a lot of pictures of this either, as usually my hands are tied up in making sure you don’t fall over & hit your head on the ground. You are nowhere near crawling yet, just bending your knees and wiggling in some sort of attempt at an army crawl… this doesn’t really do anything but spin you around in circles, or flip you over onto your back. You still don’t really like tummy time but will stay there if I catch your interest with a toy or something. Despite not being able to crawl, you have managed to become mobile! You recently figured out the fabulous skill of moving by rolling. Now that you can roll back-tummy as well as tummy-back, I notice you rolling away more & more frequently. One time I left you on the floor in the middle of you room while I went to grab something, and in the 2 minutes I was gone you’d managed to get yourself almost to the door! Admittedly, I am a little nervous about having two children on the move. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I suspect we’ll be putting “baby jail” back together sometime in the next couple months.

The only other major event that happened this month was your first big trip. You & Alex spent a whole week down in Hampton while daycare was closed for vacation. I can’t wait until I have some leave saved back up, so I can just take that time off of work. But for now, the grandparents generously stepped up to the plate and offered to take care of you guys. Up until this point I hadn’t even had you away from me overnight yet, so a whole week was a HUGE leap. You did great but oh man, it was SO hard for me. I missed you & Alex more than I ever thought possible. Dad & I tried to spend our time doing lots of fun things that we wouldn’t typically get to do with two small children in tow, but we still found ourselves wondering what the heck we did with ourselves before we had kids. LOL. Such little beings take up such a huge space in our lives and in our hearts. 🙂 We were both extremely happy to have you back at the end of the week. Here’s a picture of you & Alex hanging out with your cousin Tori while you were down there. Tori really stepped up to the plate & did a phenomenal job helping take care of you both during your visit. Dad & I were both really impressed!

Other than that, we’ve just been “living the dream” as Dad says. It’s so true. Our life may not always be picture-perfect and things can get a little crazy around here, but you & your brother really are such a blessing to us. Nothing makes me happier than seeing your smiling faces, hearing your giggles & giving you lots of hugs + kisses. Being a working mom with a baby + toddler is not always easy, but it’s always worth it. You are such a happy baby– you almost never cry unless you’re hungry, or sometimes if you get left in a room by yourself for too long (other than your crib). You have a smile for everyone you meet. And you have the BEST little smiles! 🙂

Here are a few other photos & videos from our adventures this month:

Your first bathroom selfie! This particular day you discovered your tongue and kept sticking it out at everyone. LOL

Practicing for the 4th of July fireworks! Unfortunately it ended up being rainy on 4th of July this year, so we ended up skipping the fireworks and settling for sparklers at home (although you had gone to bed by that point– maybe next year!).

Hanging out with your cousin Shayla!

Playing with your feet– still one of your favorite pastimes. 😉

Bouncing– one of your new favorite pastimes!

Now that you’re so good at rolling both ways, I’ve noticed that you seem to like sleeping on your side the best, or your back. Almost never do you sleep on your tummy. I’m a side/back sleeper also so I can relate! Dad & Alex both prefer sleeping on their tummy, which looks so uncomfortable to me. Anyway, I love watching you sleep… although I don’t get to do it these days as much as I used to. Yesterday was the first time in awhile that you fell asleep in my arms. I’d gone in there to pick you up & soothe you, as your congestion was keeping you from falling asleep as easily as you typically do. I picked you up and sang to you (“Sunshine” of course, that is my song for you & Alex which I sing to you both quite frequently). It didn’t take you long to fall asleep in my arms, but I stood there and held + rocked you for awhile anyway. I looked at your peaceful face, smooshed up into the crook of my elbow & felt that heavy weight of you against me that is 100% trust and relaxation, with your little hand on my chest. This not being my first rodeo, I know now how all too quickly this infant phase will fly by & how soon you’ll be too big for me to hold that way (although sometimes Alex still asks me to “hold him like a baby” and I happily oblige him)… and therefore I’m trying so, so hard to soak it all in. Being a parent is the most bittersweet thing… I feel tremendous pride as I watch you grow and learn so many new things so quickly, but on the other hand there are many times where I desperately think “Oh my dear, won’t you please stay this little?”

Until next time, Charlie-bean! 🙂

All my love,
Mom

The Saga of Swaddles (Charlie Strikes Back)

Dear Charlie,

You’re just over 5 months old now… coming up on half a year already! Each day you’re becoming more and more interactive. You seem to be happiest when someone is talking to or playing with you. If it’s not nap time and no one’s paying attention to you, you get upset! Luckily your brother gives you TONS of attention. 😉 You also really love holding things and have gotten pretty good at reaching out to grab toys or other items that you want. For this reason I keep a small rattle along with your “bunny lovey” in your carseat to help keep you entertained.

Speaking of your interests, it is clear that you’re more interested in sitting & observing vs. moving around. I find it interesting to note the differences between your personality & your brother’s personality that are evident already. At this age, Alex was rolling all over the place and getting up on hands & knees in preparation for crawling…. but he was nowhere near being able to sit up independently (he was pretty late to master that skill; it was more like 7 months). You on the other hand HATE being on your stomach for very long, don’t roll much (but it does occur more often than it did a month ago) and crawling seems very far off for you… but you are already getting good at the “tripod” method of sitting, so I suspect you’ll have sitting up mastered within the next few weeks:

The other skill you’ve been working on recently is eating! We started baby oatmeal and pureed baby food with you this month, which you took to quickly. Now you enjoy some oatmeal for lunch and some type of fruit or veggie for dinner every day… and when we finish you’re usually fussing for more! So far other than oatmeal you’ve tried green beans, avocado, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, and pears. There doesn’t seem to be anything that you don’t like so far. 🙂

So as you can see, you’re well past the newborn phase of life and pretty solid into “babyhood”… this seems to be where the development of skills and milestones seems to shoot ahead at a rapid pace for the next couple of years. Then one morning we wake up and the baby has been replaced with a little boy! Having just gone through this with Alex, I know all too well how fleeting this period of life is & am trying to soak it in with you as much as possible. I live for the weekends, because that’s pretty much the only time I have to just hold you and watch you sleep anymore…

You can see in this picture, which was taken a few weeks ago, that you were wearing one of the last remnants of the “newborn” phase– the swaddle blanket. At your 4 month check-up, the pediatrician stressed that we really needed to work on breaking you of the need to be swaddled while sleeping because it poses a safety concern, should you roll over in your sleep during the night. So we tried to help you gradually ditch the swaddle by leaving just one arm out for awhile, then wrapping the swaddle around your tummy so that both arms were free, and finally ditching the swaddle entirely. It led to all of us getting much less sleep for awhile, but you were making steady progress until one day you decided that going unswaddled was for the birds! Out of the blue you refused to sleep AT ALL and cried endlessly whenever we tried to get you to lay down and sleep in your crib. Finally we gave in and put the swaddle back on you, and everyone enjoyed a good night’s sleep. I suspect that you are/were teething as we can see the telltale white spots on your bottom gums, and perhaps the discomfort from that made it difficult for you to settle down and go to sleep without the swaddle. I felt guilty about giving the swaddle back, but it was clear that you were going through something and just weren’t ready to be rid of the swaddle just yet. We decided to give it a few weeks & then try again, but a few nights ago you beat us to the punch! You had another night where you could NOT fall asleep and cried endlessly, squirming your arms around within the swaddle. After trying everything I had in my bag of mommy tricks with no success, I finally opened the swaddle to see if that might help & BOOM! You were out like a light and slept soundly all night long. Since then you’ve been swaddle free and haven’t looked back. It’s funny– Alex did the same thing, but it happened earlier on with him. I guess it just goes to show that each kid has their own agenda & their own timeline… and you just have to watch their cues & let them tell you when they’re ready or not ready for things like this.

And so ends the Swaddle Saga. Phew! 😉 I’ll be packing up and getting rid of all your swaddle blankets within the next week or two, along with your entire wardrobe in size 6 months (which you grew out of a few weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to pulling it all out of your closet). Anyway, other than that we’ve just been living the daily grind during the week, getting into a few adventures on the weekends and just enjoying time together as a family. Your brother especially is never far from your side…

I tried to get a picture of Alex kissing you while y’all were riding in the double stroller, but wasn’t quick enough. He insists on sitting facing you rather than facing the back of the stroller (as is intended) because he wants to be within kissing distance of you at all times. LOL

Drying off after bathtime. Sometimes I put your little infant tub into the big tub so that you & Alex can take baths together. He likes to entertain you with his Sesame Street bath puppets!

A couple of firsts this month: your first carousel ride and your first shopping cart ride! 🙂

Snuggles with big brother while I attempted to take your monthly picture.
Already you guys interact and play together so much despite you being so little and unable to do much. I’ll be curious to see whether your relationship improves once you’re able to run around, talk etc… or if it will deteriorate because you’ll be able to snatch toys and argue! I’m sure it will be a bit of both, but hopefully more of the former. That phase will be here before we know it, as quick as you’re growing!

All my love,
Mom

Stepping Out with a Chunky Monkey

Dear Charlie,

You’re 4 months old now! Considering I just wrote you a couple weeks ago, I don’t have as much to update you on today. However, we did have your 4 month checkup with the pediatrician yesterday and you clocked in at 18lb12oz and 26in — you’re quite the chunky monkey! The doctor said that everything looks great, and she as well as all the nurses kept calling you a “Gerber Baby” because you are just so perfectly cute! And who can blame them….

My only real concern that I brought up while we were there is the fact that you’re not rolling consistently yet. I’ve seen you do it several times, but it’s very rare. Given that Alex was rolling all over the place by this point, I couldn’t help but worry a bit. (And of course I know you’re not supposed to compare your kids, that each baby is different…. But honestly it’s really hard not to do this.) The pediatrician said that since we’ve seen you roll it’s clear that you CAN do it, and it’s most likely a personal preference that you choose not to. She told us to keep giving you plenty of tummy time & you’ll get there. Most of the time you like to squirm around in circles on your tummy, and still don’t really like to be there for more than 5 minutes at a time. We’ll keep trying!

You do at least have pretty good head control now, so you get to enjoy more things like this:

(And Alex has been enjoying it too, as you can see! Haha)

You get more social every day, much more so than Alex was at this age actually. You’re happiest when one of us is tickling you or helping you “dance” with your arms and legs. You’ve even started to giggle a bit! 🙂

This past weekend you got to be extra social on your first long road trip to WV for Nana’s family reunion. I think everyone enjoyed getting to meet you, and vice versa. All things considered, you did pretty well in the car (although I unfortunately can’t say the same for your big brother :-/). The real disaster was actually the hotel room– having all four of us try to sleep in the same room was a hot mess! Everyone kept waking each other up, so no one got a wink of sleep. It was so rough that we decided to cut the trip short and come home Sunday night instead of Monday morning… and boy were we all glad to sleep in our own beds/cribs and have that last day to catch up on our rest! Dad and I have agreed that we won’t be doing any more long trips, particularly with overnight hotel stays, for quite awhile. It is just too much for us, with two kids so young. Oy. Haha

Uncle Robbie enjoyed playing with you… until you pooped on him. LMAO!

So the next big thing for you will be starting to eat a little bit of food, as the doctor gave us the OK to do so whenever we think you’re ready. You do have a bit of reflux and I think some “solid” food might help with that, so we’ll probably start you on some oatmeal or pureed fruit/veggies for dinner sometime in the next few weeks. I’ll be sure to take some pictures & videos of that when the time comes! Until then, here’s a few other peeks at what you’ve been up to the last couple weeks:

You actually don’t sleep in this very often anymore as (1) you’re almost too big for it and (2) you do really well sleeping in your crib, but I still use it around the house as a convenient/portable place to put you out of harm’s way when I’m busy with Alex or other tasks. On this particular day you were hanging out in there while I took a shower… I was planning to put you down for a nap in the crib when I got out, but you had other ideas. You love this little crinkle elephant as well as your loveys and rattles. In general I think you’re just really into trying to grab and hold onto things, not just toys but people’s hands/fingers as well. Whenever you drop a toy or I extract my fingers from your grip, you get sad and cry until give you something else to hold!

You & Alex doing some puzzling before dinner one night. Alex always wants to sit next to you at the table, shows you all of his toys and tries to get you to hold them. You stare, coo and smile at Alex constantly. In fact, it was really hard to get your 4 month picture with Alex in the room (which is pretty much always, he sticks to me like glue) because you kept wanting to look over at him instead of the camera. Much to his dismay, I had to kick him out of the room for a few minutes and managed to get these:

DUCK FACE! Haha. This was hands-down my favorite outtake. 😉

Towards the end of the session, you discovered your feet & that was that– you had eyes for nothing else!

Sadly the Caps did not make it to the Stanley Cup this year, but you enjoyed rooting for them in the playoffs! Every time I did this you’d break out into a grin and even giggled a little bit. Super cute! Please excuse my annoying “baby voice.” LOL

I think that’s all for now… Until next time, Charlie bean! 🙂

All my love,
Mom

All my love,
Mom