Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Life as a family of four!

It’s only been 6 weeks since I wrote my last entry, but it feels like an eternity. Both Alex and Derek are growing up fast and changing every day. I really need to write more often. A few other blogs that I read regularly talk about their children and something daily that happened. I want to incorporate this into my daily evening routine. I will be eternally grateful when years have gone by, and I have so many more memories because of this idea. Another thing that I would like to do more often is scrapbook/journal the kids and their lives. I’ve been admiring other blogs who have been doing this lately. I began a Christmas scrapbook while on maternity leave where I plan to chronicle all of our family Christmas pictures as the boys grow up. I already have one other scrapbook of Alex’s first year growing up, and I plan to make a similar one for Derek. Then, I will begin creating a combined one of our life as a family of 4. So, four scrapbooks in all. Let’s see when I actually find the time to take this on!

What have we been up to?

Nana and Pepaw were finally able to come up and meet baby Derek during the first weekend in March. I can’t remember for sure, but when Nana arrived and walked in our house, she saw baby Derek and cried. He was sleeping in his cradle swing. I had a really nice conversation with Mom and Dad while we waited for Mark and Alex to come home for the evening. Pepaw was really antsy to see Alex! The next day, we went to the high school for a pancake breakfast and kid’s activities. It was really cold and windy that morning. We searched a long time for how to enter the school while I pushed Derek in the stroller. I had forgotten about my leg, started to run, and my leg almost buckled again. It was scary. The school was really crowded, but we had a good time. Alex played some of the children’s activities in the gym. It was so cute to see him trying to knock down cans and throw balls.

Aunt Diane came to visit us the following week. She brought lots of Christmas presents and even more presents for the boys. She is so good to them. In fact, Alex knows this and asked me right before her visit “Is Aunt Diane bringing presents?” He is probably going to love her more than Santa Claus. We visited the Cleveland Aquarium while she was here. I was super nervous about Derek having a screaming fit and/or Alex being in a pull-up while we were there, but it all worked out fine. Derek slept the entire time. We felt like we went through the aquarium pretty fast, so we did a second round through. I think Alex really enjoyed himself, and it was so nice to spend time with my sister.

During the 3rd weekend in March, we decided to take Derek to Indiana and surprise Mimi for her birthday. What an adventure that was. I knew it was going to be hard and test my patience beyond a level unimaginable, but I never realized it would take us 10 ½ hours to get there while stopping 12 times. We left at 9 am and arrived at 7:30 pm. Of course, eating breakfast and lunch, feeding Derek 3-4 times, and Alex needing to stop and use the bathroom multiple times could never all happen during the same stop. Alex did so well on the trip. We kept him in a pull-up during the car ride, and he didn’t use it once. He did have one small accident while he and Daddy played in a Burger King play area while I stayed in the car to feed Derek. He had some tummy bug that he was dealing with, so all in all, I was so proud of him. When we finally arrived at Aunt Barb’s house, the look on Mimi’s face when she saw me was so worth it. Her mouth dropped, and we both cried while I said “Happy Birthday!” She then realized that I lied to her by saying we were coming home for Easter. (I’m sorry, Mimi! It was all for a great cause!) The weekend was pretty good. Derek slept in his bouncy seat, and Alex slept in the twin bed with chairs against them in case he tried to roll out. We visited with everyone again on Saturday and Sunday before leaving on Monday. The trip home was shorter by one hour, but not at all any less stressful. Derek was pretty sick of being in his car seat.

The next weekend, I finally took Alex to the Lakeshore Learning store by myself. It was so nice to do something – just me and him. He had a blast. He played with lots of toys, and we spent the gift card that Aunt Barb gave him while we were there. He decided that he wanted these 4 colored rubber balls. They were deflated and in a bag. I turned them over to see the price, and they were $40! Not wanting to spend that much, I kept putting them down. He kept asking “Where are they?” Needless to say, we ended up purchasing them. The cashier blew them up with an air pump in the back, and his little eyes just lit up. We also left with a Marble Run, a new coloring book, and some other stuff. We spent the entire gift card! Then, I took him to Wendy’s and went grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s. He was such a good boy eating his cheeseburger in the shopping cart while Mommy shopped.

We also had Derek’s 2-month pictures taken and our first family photos. I just love how they turned out in spite of the fact that Alex refused to have his picture taken multiple times. We luckily got 3 good shots of Alex, and the rest of them turned out nicely as well.

Derek had his 2-month Well Baby doctor appointment where he weighed 11 lbs and 8 oz (I think). His Dr said he was in the 85th percentile for weight, and 50th for height. We also discussed the possibility of switching back to a more substantial formula since he was doing much better on the Zantac and Alimentum. However, not even a week later, he took a turn for the worse. He is now seeing a GI specialist, and we are still trying to figure out what is causing his pain. We first tried another formula, which had the amino acids broken down so his little body didn’t have to do much work. The specialist wanted to see if he had a milk protein intolerance. The formula made him extremely constipated and scared me with a bad diaper and yucky MSG ingredients, so that didn’t last long. We are now giving him probiotics twice per day, mixing bottles with Pedialyte, and he is about to start Nexium for the reflux. I’m hoping this does the trick. But the more people I talk to about Derek’s GI problems, the more people tell me their kids suffered from reflux too or they know someone elses baby who did. Many people have also said their babies just outgrew it between 8-10 months old. I’m hoping that is the case for Derek, and the medicine keeps him comfortable.

Derek has been so consistent in terms of growth and development as Alex was at 2-3 months old. His little eyelashes are super long, his eyebrows are growing in, and he is smiling at us quite often. He has just started giggling and kicking his little legs more and more. So, we recently pulled out the kickboard that Alex used to play with for his crib. He is enjoying that and his musical mobile too.

Easter weekend was quite busy, but very fun-filled for Alex. We started by coloring Easter eggs on Friday night with our friends the Piskula’s. Alex thought it was pretty cool to see the eggs changing colors. He wanted to play with them as soon as they came out of the water and before they were dry. He asked about them as soon as he woke up the next morning too. The Easter bunny came to our house on Sunday morning and filled Alex’s basket with Spider Man socks, a Spider Man bowl, a light saber lollipop, sidewalk chalk, a play doh bunny and chick, a paddle ball, and some other stuff I am probably forgetting. He also hid the eggs that Alex colored in our house, and he hid plastic eggs filled with candy outside in the grass. Alex had fun finding all of the eggs. It was so sweet and memorable.

Later that day, we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for another Easter egg hunt because the Easter bunny came to their house too! Alex and his cousin Joee hunted for eggs in their basement and found all kinds of surprises. I was pretty busy tending to Derek, so I didn’t get to see everything that he got from the Easter Bunny at their house, but I did see the eggs were filled with change, a watch, rubber balls, stickers, etc. Alex also received a cute basket filled with goodies too.

April is almost half over, but I’ve been busy planning for a little boy’s 3rd birthday party! I cannot believe he is going to be 3 years old. Time is sure flying by, and I get sad just thinking about it. However, we are going to enjoy this party, and I sure hope the weather cooperates. It is going to be at an outdoor park under a pavilion. We are having a little kids party (finally!), serving lunch, and letting the kids play on the outdoor playground. Mommy has certainly spent a lot of time planning the details. PLEASE DON’T RAIN ON THE PARTY!! :)

May will be filled with lots of activities. Mother’s Day is always special each year, and I am excited to be celebrating as a new mom again. We are planning to go back to Indiana again over Memorial Day weekend, and we plan to get Derek’s four-month pictures taken. It is my goal to work towards those daily memories and scrapbooks of the boys during the next month. Until then!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Welcoming Baby Derek!

I am a mom again! It’s been a tough 2 months since my baby was born in January, which is why I am just now blogging now about our new son who we named Derek Gregory!

My Pregnancy:

It was so difficult. I was nauseous most of the 9 months. I had heartburn the entire time during month #7, and then I was nauseous again. I had some scary bleeding around 10 weeks, and we were afraid that I had miscarried. Most days during the pregnancy, I would be so tired and/or sick that Mark would take care of Alex for the evening while I went to bed. On weekends, I would take multiple naps a day. We had the integrated serum screen test conducted during the first and second trimesters, and we were told the baby had an increased risk of Down’s Syndrome. We were sent to a perinatologist for an advanced ultrasound that would only be 50% accurate in searching for markers of Down’s Syndrome. And finally, because of the increased risk of Down’s, I had to have fetal non-stress testing (NST) in the labor and delivery department after each of my doctor appointments beginning at 35 weeks. During some of those weeks, I was only in the lab for an hour waiting for the baby to move around enough and convince the doctors that he would be able to handle contractions. Other weeks, I was there for 2+ hours waiting for his movement.

Also, I had lost 20 lbs immediately before becoming pregnant. I finally reached my pre-pregnancy weight after having Alex, so I promised myself that I would gain weight slowly, eat healthy, and exercise throughout the pregnancy. I ended up gaining 45 pounds…

My Delivery:

At my 39 week appointment, I hadn’t made any progress in dilation from the previous week, so my doctor asked me if I’d like for her to release the bag of waters from my uterus, and told me it may or may not put me into labor. I fully expected to be in the 50% of women for whom it doesn’t work. Well, it did work. I started having contractions at work around 1:30 pm. They were inconsistent, but were so much more painful. I started timing them and wrote them down around 2:30. By 3:30, I showed my co-worker Amy how I had been tracking them, and she told me that I better leave right away. I left work, called Mark, and went home. We decided that Mark would pick up Alex from daycare, and he called his mom so she could meet us at our house and take Alex with her. By the time Mark got home to pick me up & go to the hospital, I was in hard labor AT HOME! Somewhere in our half-hour car ride and in between contractions, I said to the baby “I can’t wait to meet you.” When we arrived a few blocks from the hospital around 5:00, I felt so much pressure that I thought I was going to have the baby in our car. I somehow managed to walk to the elevator and take it up to the third floor while Mark parked the car. When I arrived, I managed to mutter “Hi, I am in labor” when ringing the maternity floor bell. As I walked down the hallway, I felt my water break. The nurse who helped with my NST earlier that day assisted me to my delivery room, and I ran for the bathroom. I screamed for the entire first hour of being in that room. The contractions were so much more painful than the ones I had with Alex. Most likely because I was just beginning labor with Alex when I arrived at the hospital, and I had already been through that stage by the time I arrived at the hospital to deliver Derek. The nurse finally checked me, and said I was at 5 cm. I couldn’t take the pain and continued to cry, but they were having a lot of trouble finding a vein in my wrist to take blood and send to the lab for mandatory tests that occur before any work can begin. Only 15 minutes later, a new nurse finally found a vein, she checked me again, and I was at 8 cm! I started begging for the epidural, but they weren't sure there was enough time. A nurse called anesthesia and told him to RUN. The contractions were coming fast, and it took everything I had to sit still while they administered the medicine. I remember scribbling my name on all of the waiver paperwork and couldn’t read my signature at all. The anesthesiologist elevated my hip on the right side, which is common practice when they administer an epidural. It relaxed me so much that it took another 3 hours before I was ready to push. Somewhere in that 3-hour time span, I remember saying to Mark that I could feel and move my right leg, but my left leg was completely numb and I couldn’t move it. During the pushing, the nurse had my left leg and my husband had my right leg. With each contraction, I pushed 3 sets of 10 with both legs being pushed toward my abdomen. I pushed for an hour and a half. At some point, they lowered the dose of the epidural, so I could feel more of the contractions and have more productive pushes. The baby was sunny side up (face up), and my doctor had to rotate his body while I was pushing.

When he was born, I waited for his cry for a few minutes and asked Mark if he looked like he may have Down’s Syndrome. Mark shook his head and said “I don’t think so!” The nurses cleaned him off and said he scored either an 8 or 9 on his Apgar, but I cannot remember. They also recommended Kangaroo care since his heart was racing, and they placed his sweet little naked body on my chest. I just held him and stared at how beautiful he was.
About an hour later, the nurse advised me to get up and try to go to the bathroom. She helped me to the side of bed. I put my feet down and fell to the floor. They thought it was residual epidural at that point, so she helped me into the bathroom, but I couldn’t go. Thank goodness the nurse was holding me. Honestly, as frustrating as it was, I was grateful because it really frightened me when I fell. After moving into my post partum room, they helped me again into the bathroom, and I still couldn’t go. I ended up getting a catheter later that evening.

I told myself that when I wake up tomorrow, it will all be better, and I will be able to get out of bed and hold my baby. With no shower after giving birth, I finally tried to get some sleep around 2:30 am, but I tossed and turned all night. My thigh was tingly, and I couldn’t move my leg to turn over without waking up and physically moving it with my hands.

I had no improvement the following morning. Every time I had to get up to pee, two nurses had to come in my room and help me to the bathroom. I could not take a step unassisted without collapsing and without holding on to multiple items for support. The anesthesiologist came to visit and checked on my leg. After a few minutes of observation, he told me it didn’t seem likely that it was a result of the epidural and explained an MRI would likely be ordered by a neurologist who would come and check on me either later that day or sometime the next day. He also mentioned it could be femoral nerve damage, which isn’t common, but he remembered a lady who delivered twins and pushed for 4-5 hours who also had this condition. He also mentioned that her recovery was long.

Sometime after speaking to the anesthesiologist, one of the nurses told me how wonderful Derek was doing and she said “He’s ready to go home. He’s just waiting on you!”

Grandma and Grandpa brought Alex to visit us in the hospital later that evening, and it was such an emotional visit. I remember not wanting him to see me this way. When he arrived, the tears just let loose. He was so curious about Derek and brought him a gift, a little horse crinkle blanket. During that night, it became so clear to me looking into his eyes and realizing what a little boy he is. I tried hard to reflect on how he was as a baby, but I couldn’t remember. It made me sad for a moment about how much he has grown up. I just want to freeze my kids and keep them small and innocent forever. I cannot imagine them growing up...

The neurologist finally came to visit me on Day 2 around 5 pm. I showed him how I could move my left leg backwards and side to side, but I could not extend my left leg straight at all. He conducted a series of tests and ordered an MRI to rule out a blood clot at the epidural injection site. He also prescribed physical therapy and recommended a walker for me to take home. We received the results the next morning that everything was negative from the MRI.

On Day 3, I took an extremely difficult shower in the hospital using my walker and mostly sponge bathing myself. I was really nervous about leaving the hospital. All I could think about was how hard it would be getting into the car, getting up the steps into our house, getting into the shower at home and using the restroom. And then wondering shortly after these immediate challenges: Would I ever run again? I left the hospital with my walker and realized I could not carry Derek; I could not stand at a changing table and tend to him; I could not walk around my house; I could not leave my house…

We picked up Alex from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Derek bought Alex an Elmo play-doh gift set. We gave it to him – telling him it was from Derek. During the ride home, I turned around and just stared at Alex. He seemed so much different to me. I observed him peaking in Derek’s car seat -- curious who that was next to him.

My Recovery:

I cried a lot the first week at home. I got discouraged easily. Alex would say to me: "You're not sad anymore, Mommy." He brought home a nasty cough virus from daycare. I worried about Derek getting sick. I worried about Alex and how he was physically with the cold and mentally with having a new baby brother around the house. I couldn’t feel my leg, my knee, or my shin. It was hard to shower and took forever. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t walk around without bumping into everything with the walker. I couldn’t carry my baby. It made me nervous to think that this injury might linger and impact my life.

The first night at home was a blur. I sat in the spare bed in our nursery with my newborn because every time I laid him in his crib to sleep, he would wake up and cry. I didn’t want him to wake up Alex and Mark, so I just stared into outerspace for about 4-5 hours. It was the longest night of my life, and I didn’t sleep at all.

It was hard not being able to help more around the house. Mark handled everything and did a great job. He ran errands, he took Alex to daycare a few times, he did the grocery shopping, he handed me multiple things because I was stranded on the couch, he played with Alex, he made dinner, he took the laundry downstairs, he was amazing. I am so thankful he had a week of paternity leave because I wouldn’t have made it without him while I learned how to maneuver around the house and care for Derek in this new state.

About a week after we were home, I was able to take my walker into the kitchen and make tacos for dinner. While I was cooking, I spilled some water on the floor. Not thinking, I threw a towel on the floor and tried to wipe it up with my right foot (in turn placing all my weight on my bad leg). And I fell down in a awkward position on the floor. I was terrified that I broke my leg, but everything was OK. The next day my leg did feel a bit worse from the fall.

I did some Internet searching and found a Facebook group that gave me some hope of recovery. There are about 60 women in the group with varying degrees of this injury, even though it’s quite rare.

Physical Therapy:

I was fortunate enough to have home care services and a kind physical therapist named Lauren. In the beginning, physical therapy was VERY basic. Since my leg wouldn’t respond, it involved exercises in which I would *try* to lift my leg. She gave me 3 exercises at first and told me to do only 5-10 reps at a time. Each day my leg seemed stronger and stronger. Around week 3, my quad began to respond. I was able to move from a walker to a cane after 2 weeks.

Because I was limited in movement and to keep Alex & Mark from waking up in the night since Derek's nursery is close to their bedrooms, his cradle swing and Pack N Play has been set up in the living room with everything I need to take care of him. Our sleep schedule consists of me lying down around 9 pm each night in either the nursery or my own bed, and Mark stays up in the living room until around midnight or so to take care of him while I get in a good stretch of sleep. Then, I sleep on the living room couch for the remainder of the night in between feedings, that is...when I actually sleep. I've been having trouble getting back to sleep lately. I wear earplugs every night too. On Valentine’s Day, I tried to move Derek from his swing to the couch to change his diaper (approx 2-3 feet away). And I fell again. Luckily, I placed him on the couch before I hit the living room floor. The next day, I felt a small setback in my leg yet again from the fall.

Around week 5, Lauren felt that I was ready for outpatient physical therapy and I would continue to improve with more advanced exercises. I am still in PT, and my routine consists of a 10 minute recumbent bike warm-up, quad squeezes, leg lifts (Jane Fonda style), step ups on a bench, horizontal squat machine, hamstring curl machine, and currently a 10-minute ice pack for my knee at cool down because Javi, my therapist, noticed fluid in the back of my knee area. So, here goes my next challenge of getting rid of the fluid behind my knee...

Derek’s Growth and Development:

Weeks 1 & 2 were all about adjustment and getting into a routine. During weeks 3 & 4, Derek developed severe crying episodes related to what we believed at the time to be gas. We switched him to Gentlease formula, but it didn’t help. His doctor recommended that we try Soy formula -- feeling that maybe he was having trouble digesting milk protein. Then, he developed severe constipation. The crying continued all day long from around 11 am until 8 or 9 pm with 10 minute breaks when he would fall asleep, and then awaken soon after and start all over again. At his one-month Well Baby doctor appointment (he weighed 9 lbs & 6 oz), his doctor said these symptoms were characteristic of colic and that he would just need to grow out of it. I couldn’t stand the crying from the constipation, and since the Soy formula didn’t seem to be helping, we switched him back to Gentlease around Week 5. We had another full week of trying remedies to help alleviate his crying: bicycling his legs, running the dishwasher or vacuum cleaner, a pacifier, his swing, warm washcloth around his belly, running water from the kitchen sink, gas drops, gripe water, a warm bath, the list goes on. After numerous difficult feedings with straight legs, frequent hiccups, lots of congestion, and wet burps where his formula would come up and he would swallow it again but hardly ever spit it out, I found a condition online called silent reflux. All of the symptoms sounded just like Derek. We switched formula for the 5th time to Similac Alimentum, which is supposed to help with colic and we have now re-named it to “liquid gold” because it also happens to be the most expensive formula available OTC. I called his doctor and explained that I felt he had some form of reflux, but he felt that reflux was usually more pronounced than what I described. He said better techniques in burping and feeding him upright would help and to call him after the weekend to see if the new formula was helping. After another fun-filled weekend of crying, I called back that Monday. After an office visit, he prescribed Zantac for Derek, and he now seems to be doing much better. Sometimes Mommy just knows best...

Derek outgrew his newborn diapers after one month, and he has also mostly outgrown his newborn clothing. His car seat insert is starting to seem a little tight as well, so we might be removing that piece soon. When he was first born, I didn’t think he looked like Alex very much. Then, after 2 weeks and also looking at Alex’s baby pictures, I thought he was a mirror image with a slightly different nose and brown eyes instead of Alex’s blue eyes. And the older he gets, the more he looks exactly like Alex.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy those newborn nuances: giggling and smiling in his sleep, his tiny sneezes (that he gets from Mimi!), and facial twitches. Also, from the moment he was born, he has had remarkable head control and tremendous finger grip strength. And while Alex had a stork bite birthmark on the back of his neck, Derek doesn’t seem to have a birthmark anywhere.

I have really been enjoying my time at home with Derek -- especially dancing to music on the Sirius coffee house satellite music channel on TV. I like to look outside at the snow while we are dancing… I also find myself singing some of the same songs to him that I sang to Alex: Give Mommy a Burp, It’s OK, and I’ve invented a new one: “Take It Slow” because this baby can eat! He gulps down his bottles. At 7 weeks old, he is up to 5 oz every 3-4 hours. Just recently, he has started eating a bottle around 9 or 9:30 pm, and then wakes up only once around 1 or 2 am for another one until 5 am when this bottle is only about 3 oz. So at nighttime, he is doing 2 different 4-5 hour stretches! Hoorah! Maybe I actually will sleep again…

Alex’s Growth and Development:

Alex’s interest in his new baby brother is a blessing. In the beginning, he called him “baby brother” more often than he called him Derek. He also called him baby Rylee too during the first 2 weeks at home. Rylee is his baby cousin. When Derek cries, he will say “You’re OK, Derek”. He likes to kiss his cheek often and also his toes. He really likes to be “our big helper” too. Alex enjoys pouring bath water over Derek’s shampooed head. He also likes to hand items to Mommy and Daddy when we need them. We tell Alex often that someday Derek will grow to be big and strong, he will play toys with him, and he will be his best friend.

I must have been in a pregnancy haze, or perhaps it was post-partum hormones, but a few weeks ago, I looked into Alex’s eyes and couldn’t believe how different he looked to me: like an almost 3-year old boy who has grown-up a lot over the past 6 months during my pregnancy. It made me sad. I feel that I have missed out on some of his growing up. He has memorized books that Daddy reads to him at bedtime, he can zip up his jammies, he can catch a ball, he likes new shoes (he used to HATE getting new shoes), and so much more.

Perhaps the biggest milestone is that after 7 long months, Alex is almost fully potty-trained. After getting nowhere at daycare, we decided over the 3-day President’s Day weekend that we would put him in underwear to let him feel what the sensation was like when he went to the bathroom. We had a few accidents, but this combined with rewards (jelly beans and cookies), he did a great job. We started by using his potty chair and letting him pick out the underwear he’d like to wear for the day. We still put him in a pull-up or diaper at naptime and bedtime. Some days, he has been dry when he woke up, and some days he has gone to the bathroom while sleeping. It’s been 3 weeks now, and we rarely have to ask him if he needs to go potty. He usually tells us himself. He has now graduated to a toddler potty seat that attaches to a regular toilet, and soon we will teach him how to stand up when he goes #1. I AM SO PROUD OF ALEX!!!

I have always heard of the old saying “terrible two’s”, and I understand where parents come from. Although, I cannot help but wonder if “three’s” will be even more difficult for us. Alex has frequent tantrums and rebellious behaviors. Shortly after he turned 2 years old, his daycare teacher told us that he has trouble with transition – or going from one activity to another. I’ve tried telling him in advance “a couple more minutes and then we have to _______”, so he knows it is coming. It works only occasionally. I think I need to read a book about how to work with him better, so his tantrums are less frequent. I know this is common at his age, but I think I need to learn how to better deal with it, and of course, have more patience with him.

Another noticeable behavior (which is quite humorous) is his negotiation skills, which come into play when he is eating or going to bed. When he gets sweets/goodies, we will say “OK, just one. We are going to be eating dinner soon”, he will say “Just two cookies”. At bedtime, Mark will read him poems from Where The Sidewalk Ends. Mark will say “OK, two more stories.” Alex will respond with “Just three more…” And then, as we try to say goodnight, he will ask for you to sing him a song, for some juice, and just recently “I need to go potty”. As many items as it takes to stay up for just a few more minutes and not go to sleep. He is so smart. With his counting skills, building skills, and negotiation skills, I’m convinced his future career choice will be an accountant, engineer, or Wall Street trader.

Future Activities:

This entry is so long! I’ve been working on this post off & on for many weeks now. And I finally had the time to finish it. We are looking forward to going to Indiana soon. We are also planning to visit the Cleveland Aquarium with Auntie D as Alex loves the fishies. I would also like to take Alex to the Lakeshore Learning store soon before I go back to work to see the crafts and toys. We are having Derek’s 2-month pictures taken next week, and he will have his 2-month Well Baby doctor appointment in a few weeks as well.

It’s a hectic, but exciting journey that we have started as a family of 4!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Where Have We Been?

It has been a wonderful exciting journey as Alex has turned into a toddler. Complete with tantrums and learning about everything in the world around him, he has been nothing short of a wonderful son whom I cherish each and every day. I feel bad that I have not updated this blog more often, but there is a good reason for the delay this time: I have spent the last 6 months battling ongoing morning sickness because Alex is going to be a big brother!! We found out on Memorial Day that we would be parents again. This pregnancy has been so much more difficult as I feel nauseous almost every day. I have never vomited, but I feel sick constantly.

And now, as usual, it’s time to rewind back as far as I can remember and catch up on all his growing up.

I suppose the biggest change is that after spending 22 months at home with Alex from the day he was born, Daddy found a full-time job on March 1. Alex attended a franchise daycare facility right next to where I work from March until mid-September. In the beginning, it was an extremely difficult transition for me. I thought that Daddy would go through some transition difficulties too, and perhaps he did, but I was so overwhelmed with this new added role in addition to having 2 jobs and trying to make it to the gym a few days a week that it didn’t seem like he had a lot of difficulty in going back to work. Alex was sick 7-8 times, he had 2 different episodes of pretty bad ear infections, and we received sickness notifications for pink eye and strep throat outbreaks in his classroom constantly. I used a lot of my PTO days at work to stay home and take care of him. These illnesses were hardly ever brief as he ran a fever nearly every day when he was sick, and we could not take him to the daycare.

After being at the daycare for 3 months, he received his “report card”, which is more like a developmental report. Here are some highlights:

• Plays best with one child or alone.
• Cooperative and interactive with adults
• Easily shares toys and materials
• Uses utensils, cups, and sits in a chair at meal times
• No signs of potty interest
• Sometimes fearful or withdraws
• sometimes gets frustrated
• Uses single words, phrases, and short sentences
• Sometimes talks to other children
• Jumps, hops, skips, and bounces balls
• Uses paint, crayons, glue often
• Sits attentively for stories and songs
• Recognizes colors, numbers, and shapes (thanks to Team Umizoomi!)

** A quick word about Team Umizoomi, Alex was quite fond of the Nick Jr. show right before we started taking him to daycare. About a month after he started attending daycare, his teacher said to me “I didn’t know he could count to 25!” I responded that yes he skips a few numbers, but he is mostly there. This show has been so instrumental to him identifying colors, numbers, and shapes.**

Shortly after we started Alex in daycare, we stopped attending Little Gym. I was slightly disappointed because I enjoyed going there every week, and I felt that Alex was growing more confident in his balancing skills, climbing skills, etc., but he was sick nearly every Wednesday. We were cancelling our sessions, and when we attended, it was a mad rush to get there on time after work and also after the session, so Mark could get ready to leave again for his martial arts class. It was just too much to juggle.

In September, we made the decision to pull Alex from the franchise daycare and found an in-home childcare provider named Heather. It is the best decision we have made in a while because she is wonderful with Alex. Depending on the day of the week, he has 2-4 other children there to play with, and he enjoys her cat named Wilson very much. She has started working with him on potty training. We had started the process over the summer, but put it on hold when he stopped showing interest. He has gotten to the point of sitting on his small potty with his diaper off and bare-bottomed about 4-5 times per day. We are hoping that something will happen soon!


We have participated in a lot of family activities over the past 6 months. We went to Indiana for Easter and to celebrate Alex’s 2nd birthday, and then we held a birthday party for Alex at our house when we returned to Cleveland too. And of course the theme was Team Umizoomi!

In May, we went to the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds game with Grandma and Grandpa Malafarina. Mommy, Daddy, and Alex all had their picture taken with Slider, and Grandpa also bought Alex a Slider stuffed animal who sleeps in Alex’s bed every night.

We also spent Mother’s Day at the Cleveland zoo. Alex had started taking a huge interest with elephants, and the zoo had just opened their elephant exhibit, so Alex really enjoyed the zoo. And Mommy had a special Mother’s Day!

Nana, Pepaw, and Hannah all came up to visit us on Memorial Day weekend where we took Alex to the Thomas the Tank Engine tour at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. We went on a train ride with Thomas and had our picture taken with him too!

In June, we went to Memphis Kiddie Park with Uncle Ryan, Aunt Dawn, Cousin Joee, Grandma and Grandpa where Alex did not want to ride any other rides but the merry-go-round. He loves to ride the “horsies”. He also went on this mini roller coaster for toddlers with Daddy and a boat ride with Joee, but he didn’t enjoy them.

Because Mommy was tired of lying about why she wouldn’t drink any wine at family events, we told Grandma and Grandpa about Alex being a big brother in mid-June. I found a cute t-shirt on that said “I’m the big brother!”, and we showed up with Alex wearing the shirt during our Father’s Day celebration at their house.

Because I wanted to wait to tell Nana and Pepaw in person, I practically begged them to come visit us over 4th of July weekend. When I went into Alex’s room to change his diaper, Pepaw followed us & I put on the t-shirt again. I asked him if he read Alex’s shirt, and he said “What? You know already?” Pepaw thought we knew the gender already! Alex ran into the living room to show Nana his t-shirt, and she screamed with excitement after hearing the news. (Over and over again…) I had already told Aunt Diane a few weeks prior, so then we called the rest of my family at Mimi’s house to share the news with them as well.

In July, we finally bought a season pass to Wild Water Kingdom, which is a waterpark about 20 minutes from our house. The park has many kiddie slides, but Alex was pretty scared of the water. He loved the giant bucket that would dump water from high above every few minutes, but he really didn’t enjoy playing in the water very much. (I am learning that he is somewhat conservative in his adventures. When we think of new ideas that he might love, he usually does not.) We went to the waterpark about 4 times during the season, and on the last visit, we brought a picnic lunch in the cooler that we all enjoyed very much.

We also visited the Columbus zoo in July on what seemed like the hottest weekend of the summer. We kept Alex hydrated with water and apple juice often, but he sweat all day long. Alex got to see more elephants, tigers, the aquarium with lots of fishies, and he really enjoyed yet another merry-go-round that was at the zoo.

In August, we went to Indiana again for a concert that I had bought tickets for way back in March. Nana & Pepaw met us in Indianapolis, and they took Alex 2 hours back to their house, while Mark and I attended the concert. (What would I do without my parents? It seems to be the easiest way to get a date night with my husband, and they live 7 hours away…). We visited with Mimi on Friday, and then we went to Holiday World on Saturday with our friends Nick, Tiffany, and Spencer (and Nana came too!) It was another really hot day, but Holiday World provides free drinks all day long, so we stayed well-hydrated again. Alex rode the merry-go-round most of the day, but he also rode a fish ride (not his choice, of course).

Also in August, Alex’s new baby cousin Rylee Elizabeth was born! She is Joee’s new sister, and I guessed her birthday correctly. Rylee is a sweet baby, and it will be precious to see them grow up together.

In September, we went to the Colts/Browns game in Indianapolis because Aunt Barb gave Mommy & Daddy front row seats behind the Browns bench! Nana & Pepaw drove up to Indianapolis again to pick Alex up & then took him to Aunt Diane’s house to watch him while we went to the game. On the night before, we stayed in a really nice hotel downtown and went to dinner with Aunt Diane. We met at her house, and when we arrived, she had bought an enormous amount of stuff for the new baby and some things for Alex. It felt like we had another baby shower, and I am so grateful that she was able to help us with many necessities that we will need for the new baby.

Nana and Pepaw came up to visit during the first weekend in October, which was also when Daddy had an out-of-town conference to attend in Baltimore. He was able to spend some time with them on Saturday, and then his flight left on Sunday afternoon. I spent 2 days with Alex alone, and he was sweet on Mommy! I told Daddy that he needed to go out of town more often because Alex wanted to hang out with me.

We also went to Patterson’s farm last weekend with Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Jason, Uncle Ryan, Aunt Dawn, and Cousins Joee and Rylee to play in the kid’s area. Alex actually went down the slides in the woods and wanted to explore the kiddie mazes. He totally surprised me with his curiosity! We also went to Patterson’s other farm to buy some of their goodies: an apple fritter, apple cider, and some honeycrisp apples.

Halloween is coming up, so we will need to choose a costume for Alex. The merchant’s trick-or-treat in Hudson is Thurs. Oct 27, so we’d like to take him around again this year. I would like to get Alex’s pictures taken again since he will be 2 ½ at the end of October, and it might be a good time to think about Christmas pictures too, so perhaps we will wait until photography studios have their Christmas scenes ready.

We will be going to Indiana for Thanksgiving this year and spending Christmas here in Ohio since Mommy doesn’t want to take any chances on labor! I am due Jan. 25, but the week of Christmas this year happens to also be the same week (#35) that I went into labor with Alex. I don’t know what to expect this time.

We will be spending the next few months working on the nursery, buying a new infant car seat & crib mattress, buying a new car to replace the Mazda (just in case it is in fact a lemon), and saving for our monthly bills while I am out on maternity leave for 6 weeks without pay. It will be a busy few months!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Almost 2 Years Old

Alex is now almost 22 months old. He will be having his second birthday in a few short months. I cannot believe how quickly he is growing up. I certainly miss some of the stages in his life that have passed, but I also love watching him learn new things everyday. I've absolutely enjoyed every single stage of his development.

We have been quite busy over the past few months. The holidays have came and gone. This year, Santa Claus visited Alex! Some of the things he got for Christmas are: Thomas the Train Table, a toolbox, Crayola musical drawing tablet, Riding Race Car from Aunt Diane, Lego Duplo Blocks, Zu Zu Pet, a Snow Sled, many books, clothes, and jammies. He also received some cash that has since been deposited into his college fund. I'm sure I'm forgetting more... We stayed in Ohio for Christmas Eve & Christmas day, and then drove to Indiana and stayed through Pepaw's birthday, which was Dec. 29. It was a really nice holiday season. Here we are at Christmas time:

Here are some of his recent developments:

He still has a very short attention span when it comes to eating. We continue to feed him a variety of the same meals that we know he will eat. I would like for him to start eating different kinds of foods, but I know that might be asking for a bit much. A few weeks ago, we noticed that sometimes he does not want to sit in his high chair, so I bought this little toddler table & chair set at Big Lots. It has four different colored chairs, and he likes it. He does eat at it occasionally, but lately he would rather take all the chairs one by one and put them in the middle of the living room. If he is having trouble sitting still to eat, we sometimes have to "feed on the fly", but I've been trying to keep even that at a minimum since he's typically done eating completely at this point. I have had better success with him just sitting on my knee while he eats if he starts to boycott his high chair. Everyone says "He will eat when he is hungry", but it's really hard for me to accept that because of course Mommy & Daddy want him to be well nourished.

I am especially enjoying Alex's language development. It simply amazes me how many words and phrases he has started saying. He says: "Bless You", "Turn it on", "Downstairs", "And That One Too", "I'll Get It", "Thank You" and "You're Welcome" (which he says back-to-back), and he also says "Hi" quite frequently to inanimate objects like food or a tree. Hahahaha! Also, every question you ask him is met with an "OK". Unless it is "Alex, do you want to go night night?" To which he replies: "No".

He also knows 9 animal sounds. We will ask him: "What does a [cat, dog, chicken, frog, pig, cow, sheep, horse, bird] say?" And he responds correctly!

He has also learned how to sing some songs like "Happy Birthday to You", "Everywhere I Go", and most recently he is singing the alphabet A through G. This one in particular is really hard to swallow. I cannot believe my child is learning his ABC's. He is growing up ever so quickly. *sigh*

Nearly all of our friends and family think that Alex needs to submit a video to Steve Jobs with his iPad playing ability. In all seriousness, Alex thinks the iPad is his iPad. He has more games and videos on there than Mark or I do. His games include Bust a Marble, Simon, Elmo Monster Maker, Taking John, Paper Toss, Misty Island Adventure, Angry Birds, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, Cut the Rope, and Vegetable Samuri. Videos include his favorite Presto (a Disney cartoon with a magician and rabbit), Elmo's World, Bob Saves the Day, Yo Gabba Gabba, Olivia, and Blue's Clues. These have actually been quite a lifesaver in the car when we travel to Indiana.

We have also been Skyping quite often with Nana and Pepaw on the computer. However, Alex doesn't last very long... again it's that short attention span!

Little Gym:
We signed Alex up for another semester at Little Gym, which runs January through June. I think he really enjoys attending every Wednesday night. We have noticed his progress since we first started taking him. He is now more confident about exploring the different stations within the big room and much more skilled at taking steps down off of the mats. For quite some time, he was pretty scared to step down. Within the room itself, he especially likes the pull-up rings, the circular plastic tubes that he can crawl through, and the taller balance beam. He is also quite familiar with the structure of the class including the warm-up where we run in a circle with the whole group, the weekly "Skill of Focus", baby sign language, a review of the physical activity from the week before, ball time, bubble time, and finally the good-bye song.

At Little Gym, he understands when it's time to put things away after group activities, but he hasn't mastered the concept of sharing just yet. He will sometimes take away toys from other children when they are playing with them. But I take comfort in the fact that all of the other children also behave this way, so we will eventually start taking steps to help him understand how you don't grab something from someone's hands when they are using it.

Upcoming Events and Milestones:
As we are awaiting warmer/Spring weather, we are still hoping to take Alex sledding before the end of winter a few times. He still needs to try out his new sled from Nana and Pepaw, and I know of the perfect little hill about 10 minutes from our house in Silver Springs park.

We are also planning a trip to Indiana for Easter weekend, which also happens to be Alex's 2nd birthday weekend. It will be nice to celebrate his birthday with my family. I've already started thinking about his birthday theme and cake, and I'm excited about either Blues Clues, Thomas the Train, Bob the Builder, or Elmo. I've really got it narrowed down, huh?

We are going to buy Alex a toddler bed soon as well. He is getting really big in his crib, and the convertible bed that his crib converts to is a regular full-sized bed. We thought that perhaps a bed that was lower to the ground would be better suited for now. He rolls around A LOT while he sleeps.

And finally, we are going to begin potty training soon! We bought Alex a 3-in-1 potty chair a few weeks ago, and he says "Potty!" This will definitely be a learning experience with ups & downs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

4 Months Later...

As everyone probably knows, I have been so busy working 2 jobs that I barely have any free time. Lately, I've just been trying to get through each day. But this is one hobby of mine that I deeply regret neglecting for so long. The same lesson where I realize yet again how fast children grow up. I need to take the time to slow down. Herby's death has taught me that -- to appreciate others in your life each and everyday. You don't know how long you have with them. And yet, I fall into the routine of trying to just make it through the day. I know things will change soon, in God's time -- not mine. Until then, I can only pray, have faith, and watch my son grow up while sitting at a computer working every evening that I get home from the 8-5 job.

Since the last time I blogged, you'd think Alex would be driving by now considering how much he has grown and how much he has learned. I'm vowing to NEVER let this happen again because I know that I will inevitably miss countless milestones and memories.

Onward to whatever I can possibly remember in 4 months:

Obviously, Alex has been off of baby food as of the exact week during the last time I blogged. He will pretty much eat anything we give him as long as we cut it up into small pieces. For breakfast, he usually eats either his cereal or a waffle or mini bagel with some fruit, usually applesauce, jarred fruit, mandarin oranges, or a banana. Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner the night before, or a mini pizza, or mac & cheese, or quesadillas, or fish sticks, and then a Yo Baby yogurt. For his afternoon snack, he likes the Gerber cereal bars or arrowroot cookies with some juice. Dinner is whatever we eat, and we also try to give him a vegetable, but veggies are tricky. He likes corn, carrots, green beans (sometimes), sweet potatoes, and maybe a few more. He is especially partial to anything Italian (hmmm...go figure?) He loves spaghetti, pizza, cheese tortellini, and garlic breadsticks. Amazing how much things have changed since my last post. I think it was my goal to get him eating more regular foods, and he would balk now at any baby jarred food if presented to him for dinner! He has done really well with eating a variety of foods, but he can sometimes be quite difficult to feed. His attention span is short, and his teeth bother him a lot during meal time. (He has about 8 front teeth with 2 more side teeth coming in, and at least 4-5 molars poking through!!) We try not to force him to eat, and he is still growing, so he must be doing OK. Although at his last Well Baby visit, he was in the 14th percentile for weight and 75th percentile for height. Wish I knew how to fatten him up! Ice cream and cookies aren't working for him the way they work for me. :-)

We've finally established a bedtime routine that I enjoy very much. Alex usually gets his teeth brushed, a nighttime diaper, jammies, and then we lay down on the couch to watch about a 1/2 hour of cartoons before bed. Usually, we watch Blue's Clues, Olivia, or the Wonder Pets. I love this time together so much because he is a sweet little cuddler. I wish we could implement a story at bedtime instead, but Alex doesn't really like to listen to stories yet. He would rather turn the book pages really fast and maybe look at some of the pictures. Maybe when he is older, he will like to listen to Mommy and Daddy read him stories.

No More Bottle!!:
Yes, that's right! It's been over a week since he has used a bottle. It has been quite a struggle to wean him. It's been a crutch for him. We've tried countless sippy cups, and sometimes all of the them work fine, and sometimes none of them will work at all. This week, he certainly hasn't had his daily 3 milk servings, but he has also had a cold for the past 2 weeks. This weekend, he has been sleeping a lot more than usual, running the occassional fever, and eating much less. Although, he has been drinking lots of juice and water and always seems quite thirsty. I hope he starts taking an interest in food again soon because he needs some nutrition.

Related to the weight issues, Alex cannot even wear some brands of size 12 month jeans. A sales lady at Kohl's told me once that jeans can be really hard to fit on children. We struggle to find any pants that fit on his waist AND are long enough for his legs. I think we have 3-4 pair that work for now, but they are lounge pants. I need to find some dress pants that will work for Christmas pictures next weekend...

"Mommy", "Daddy", "Nana", "Pepaw", "Yellow", "Apple", "Ba Ba", "Choo Choo", "Thomas", "Elmo", "Ernie", "Bert", "Down", "Bubble", "All Done", "On", "Off", "Tookie" (cookie), "A Bana" (banana), "Tandle" (candle), "Window", "Moon", "Guitar", and "Wow" with a long drawn out "ow" at the end. I'm sure there are a hundred more. Alex's vocabulary is growing every day. He picks up words so easily. We can ask him to say something, and he usually will. He is in a replicating stage where he wants to copy whatever you're doing. I taught him how to raise both hands in the air when I say "touchdown". (It's so cute...) I also ask him "Where's your belly?" and he will lift up his shirt to look down at his belly. We can also tell him to dance, and he will squat up & down and shake his bottom.

Fall Events:
Last month, we took Alex to Patterson's Farm in Chesterland where he walked along all the pumpkins, and we took home apples, kettle corn, and some donuts. I always like visiting Fall Festivals each year, and since we don't live near Mapleside Farms anymore, we went to this place (even though it was still a 45 minute drive.)

Then, a few weekends later, we met up at Patterson's again with Mark's friends Todd & Debbie and their twin boys after learning there was a whole different section at Patterson's -- and specifically made for children's activities! There were slides built into trees, tire swings, pony rides, wagon rides, corn mazes, etc. Alex had a good time, and I think we did too.

We also had a busy Halloween weekend. Alex was Darth Vadar this year. We went with "cute" last year when he was a monkey, and this year we went with "scary". The first Halloween event was the city of Hudson's Merchant trick or treat. It was on Thursday evening, and all the retail stores in the square passed out candy. It was cute to see all the little kids dressed up in their costumes, but it was cold and some of the older kids were a bit pushy. Alex didn't walk very fast at the pace of the other children, and it made Mark feel a bit rushed. So, we "kind of" enjoyed this event.

Friday night was Boo at the Zoo. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo holds this event each year. We only had about 3 hours to see as many of the features as we could, and we were in a big group of people from 4 families (ours included), so it was also a bit hurried & rushed. After the zoo, we went to have a late dinner where I was positive Alex would be grouchy and ready for bed since it was 9 pm. As soon as we got to the restaurant, a Thomas the Tank Engine train set next to our booth saved the day. Alex was more interested in playing than eating (as usual.) But we certainly started thinking about Christmas ideas as a result of this toy.

In October, we also joined the Little Gym in Twinsburg. Every Wednesday night, there is a 45-minute session where Alex is learning how to develop his social & physical skills, and there are also language and singing sessions. There are bubbles, a basketball goal with dozens of balls to play with, monkey bars, balance beams, running, singing, and many more activities. Alex seems to like the smaller balance beam the best. It sits about 4-6 inches off the ground, and he will count to ten while he walks across the beam. He counts 1-5, and then skips the number 6 and says "Seben", then says 8 and 10. So, we need to work on the numbers 6 & 9.

The only other fall activity that we did a lot was visiting Hudson Springs Park. They have a great little playground that Alex loves to explore. There are 2 Little Tikes climbing towers with a little door at the bottom that he loves to peek through. We run around the tower and play a sneaky game where Alex squeals as we surprise him. He also loves the giant jungle gym where there are many colored shapes. This is where he picked up the word yellow, which he says ALL THE TIME. Yellow might be his favorite word.

Upcoming Events:
Well, I cannot believe the holidays are right around the corner. This Thursday is Thanksgiving, and on Friday -- Alex will be 19 months old. Then, we are getting his pictures taken on Saturday at JCPenney, and then over to Grandma and Grandpa's house for their family Christmas photos. We also had Nana take a family picture up at Hudson's gazebo a few weeks ago. Wouldn't you know they put up their Christmas tree the Monday after!?!? Oh well, I'm sure we will have a few good ones to send on Christmas cards. :-)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Walking and Talking!

Alex is 15 months old! So much has happened over the past 2 months… I am finally beginning to get my head above water and breathe again. I’ll rewind as far as I possibly can.

To begin, Alex finally started walking over Independence Day weekend. How ironic, huh? He had been furniture walking for quite sometime, but then he finally took his first steps while we were visiting Nana and Pepaw in Indiana. It was so nice that they were able to experience this milestone with us. I also think it could have been related to the StrideRite shoes that Grandma and Grandpa bought him in June. The shoes are supposed to help kids learn how-to walk, and we all laughed in the store about how funny it would be if he started walking after they bought the shoes. Sure enough!

Alex has started to talk as well. He has always babbled ‘ma ma’ and ‘da da’, even though I don’t think he knows what he is saying. He doesn’t actually look at us and say these words. However, I am sure he knows how to say “balloon”. He says “blu”. His nursery farm toy also speaks many colors to him, and when it says “blue”, he will repeat “blu”. His latest word is “Hey……”, and he says it like the Fonz from Happy Days.


I am hoping to wean Alex off his bottle and have him drink his milk from sippy cups only. I’d also like to have him eat more of our foods. For the most part, he still eats a lot of jarred foods because he only has 6 teeth. I always plan our meals for each grocery shopping visit, so I need to start thinking “Now, what can Alex eat in this meal?” when I make my grocery lists.

Alex really loves turning lights off & on, and opening/closing doors. If he is in the process of one of these activities, he’ll stay entertained for at least 20 minutes at a time.

He has also learned how to throw things across the room, such as Diet Mountain Dew bottles (thanks Pepaw…), coasters, diapers, (thanks again Pepaw…), his green goosh ball from Nana, and anything else he chooses to throw.

He is enjoying his Spidey Car now that he knows how to walk. We bought this toy for his 1-year birthday with the intention that he would ride on the car, but it also has the ability to walk behind and push the car with a handle at Alex’s waist level. Now that we have hardwood floors in the house, he is having a great time pushing this car across the living room and down the hall.

When it’s time to go to sleep, we play the Leg & Belly game. Alex will point to my leg or belly and wait for me to say what they are.

I’m sure that I’ve mentioned it before, but Alex certainly loves the song Hey Soul Sister by Train. In fact, he recently walked over to Mark’s computer and pointed because he knew Mark could play that song on his computer. When this song is played in a commercial on TV, he face lights up and he stops whatever he was doing. He also does the same thing when another song called Pure Imagination in a commercial comes on TV.

Father’s Day:
For Father’s Day this year, we went swimming at the community pool with Mark’s entire family. It was so nice to spend the whole day together. After only about 10 minutes at the pool, Alex fell asleep on Grandma’s shoulder in the water! I couldn’t believe that he could sleep in the water itself. We bought Mark a grill for Father’s Day. He has used it a few times, and I think he is really enjoying it.

The Big Move:
We finally moved out of our apartment! I didn’t think I would ever see the day. We moved into a 3-bedroom brick house in Hudson. Alex finally gets to sleep in his own room again. Because of the air flow in our apartment, we had moved Alex’s crib into our bedroom since it had an air conditioner, and his bedroom basically was taken over with our packed boxes in preparation for the move. He kept going in there wanting to play with his toys, and I felt bad. Now, we plan to rearrange his new bedroom soon to create a play area with his large white rug, bookshelf, and toy box.

Mark and I packed the majority of our entire apartment in one Saturday night in June. The entire move itself went very well, and the day we actually moved was beautiful – no rain and not too hot. The house is still a work in progress as we still have some boxes to go through and curtains/blinds to buy. But we will get there…eventually.

My beloved cat, Herby, passed away on July 13th around midnight on the Tuesday after we moved into our new home. I know this blog is supposed to be about Alex, but it is also about our family, and Herby was a huge part of our family. I was extremely distraught when I found him on the floor (and I still am somewhat). His passing was actually quite sudden. Even though he had cancer, I wasn’t expecting that he would pass away in this manner.

We started packing the weekend of June 26 because as I mentioned above, we went to Indiana for July 4th weekend. We were gone for 5 days. While we were gone, it was hot, and our apartment's living room air conditioner had been going in & out for the last month. We didn't leave it on while we were gone, and the pet sitter told us that Herby didn't eat much while we were gone either. He seemed OK the week in-between, but in retrospect, Mark didn’t feel like Herby was himself. He ate his food, but not as much as normal. I think he was stressed out over the looming boxes and the heat.

Then, the big move happened. We moved our bedroom first, and then put Herby in there with his food, water, litter box, & turned the "good" air conditioner on while we finished loading the rest of the apartment. I came back on Saturday evening to pick him up, and he hadn't eaten at all. Then, he never ate on Sunday or Monday either, and Mark said he threw up a white milky substance on Monday afternoon. I called the Vet, and she prescribed an anti-nauseating agent & an appetite stimulant -- thinking he was stressed out from the move. Although, she did say that Giant Eagle was the only place that had the feline equivalent of the meds he needed, so we went there. We made sure we followed her directions, and gave him the meds in conjunction with his daily steroid.

Mark came into the bedroom about midnight on Monday and said Herby was crying out, almost sounding a little loopy from the meds. I agreed with him, and we went to bed. On Tuesday morning about 6:30 am, I found him on the kitchen floor. I screamed and cried, called my Dad, and then called-in to work.

I do have some guilt and unanswered questions. I feel like I should have gotten out of bed when he cried out to see what was wrong; perhaps take him to the animal ER. I feel guilty because for the past 2 years that I was blessed to have him longer than the vets said -- I kept saying to myself: "As soon as [the wedding is over, baby is born, find a new job, etc.], I'm going to maximize my time with him because I know it's limited." Also, my feelings have changed over the past few years, and I would say things to him like "Get out of the way, etc." -- it makes me feel like I neglected him. I feel terrible...I miss him so much. He was a big part of my life for 9 years. It was just me, him, and a Uhaul when I moved to Cleveland.

And I just can't place my finger on what killed him? It must have been some combination of the stress of us moving out of our apartment, lack of eating, and the meds. I even have some concerns that the meds prescription was wrong and that's what killed him.

I wish I could have said goodbye. I promised myself that I would be there for him until the end; holding him when he passed away, but I didn't. This was mostly because I thought we'd have to euthanize him.

Coming Up:
I hate to end this post on a sad note, so I thought I would write a little about our future plans over the next month or two.

We are hoping to enjoy the last month of summer since we have spent so much time planning for this move. I’d like to take Alex swimming a few more times and to the kiddie park where he can play on the equipment now that he is walking.

We are also hoping to have cookouts at our new house, and I know Mark wants to have a cornhole tournament with some of his friends. (That is Alex playing cornhole in the picture above, by the way...)

I’d also like to explore Hudson a little more. A few weeks ago, I went to the Farmer’s market that is held every Saturday on the green in front of main hall, and I would like to take Mark & Alex there soon. I would like to shop for some new clothes at First & Main. There are so many clothing shops (Ann Taylor, Chico’s Talbots, Gap). There are also concerts up there every Friday and Saturday night. We are planning to attend a local church this Sunday, and a co-worker of mine also recommended a Hudson Newcomers group that we could join. Looking forward to exploring a new place!

Monday, May 31, 2010

13 Months Old and Happy Memorial Day

Wow! May 2010 just flew by... We've had quite a busy month starting with MOMMY FOUND A NEW JOB! After 9+ months of searching, we can finally move on with our lives. We are beginning to pack our apartment as our lease is terminated July 31. Although, Mark and I are going to try to get out sooner if we can. We recently looked at a house for rent in Hudson last Friday. It would be just perfect for our little family, but there are a lot of parties interested. I'm not surprised because Hudson is a nice, little community with a great school system. The house has 3 smaller bedrooms, hardwood floors, renovated kitchen with all new appliances, 2-car garage, fenced in backyard with deck, and a full basement with storage for all of this stuff we have accumulated. Another reason we are outgrowing this small apartment! We put in our application to rent the house this past weekend, so we shall see if we are accepted.

About our little munchkin:

1st Birthday Party:

We held his first birthday party on May 2nd, and it was just perfect. Mark and I just barely got all of the decorations up & food/beverages made before guests started arriving thanks to the help from my family at the last minute! We had so much leftover food: almost an entire box of pizza, grilled chicken salad, birthday cake, and I believe there is still some blue Hawaiian punch in the fridge from the blue ice cream punch I made for his party. Alex received mostly clothes, which is great! I won't have to buy him very much for the summer. We didn't have hardly any 12 month clothes for him prior to his party. He also received clothes in 18 month size, though I'm not sure whether he will be able to wear those for awhile. His little waist is so small that he sometimes still wears 9 month shorts/pants. He also received some cute toys at his party: a little wagon with blocks, a popcorn popper push toy, a musical lawn mower, a 2nd lawn mower that blows bubbles (won't THAT be great for a backyard!), and a Little People block set. He also received a cute bean bag chair with his name on it, and some cash. We are taking the money next Saturday to the bank to open a 529 account and combining it with the college fund we started for him. After 2 months of planning, his party was great. I only wished it would have lasted longer because we don't get our families together very often. Next year, hopefully he will have some friends for his 2nd birthday party, and we can have a children's party.

He also has a slight obsession with balloons since his party. We kept a few of them from his birthday party, and he crawled across the floor carrying a balloon. When they deflated, we trashed them. And just yesterday, I took him grocery shopping. There were many balloons at the checkout line, and he pointed up and said "blu". I decided to take him to the Factory Card Outlet store and buy him a new one to take home. The look on his face when we walked up to the counter and saw over 100+ balloons was priceless. It was like he hit the lottery!! We walked out with a plain red balloon, and the girl behind the counter said "Awww!"

Kiddie Park and Swimming:

Mark and I have taken many walks with Alex in his stroller over the past few weeks. We took him to the Middleburg Heights kiddie park a few weeks ago, and then again when Nana came to visit this past weekend. He is not a fan of swings, but the picture above is one of Alex's many trips down the slide. We also took him swimming for the first time on Saturday as well. He did SO well! I was concerned whether he would cry in the water, but we bought him a little intertube raft that has a mesh section in the middle where we placed his toys. We pulled him around in the pool and played peek-a-boo dunking under the water while Nana took some pictures. It was a terrific way to start the summer. I can't wait to take him to the Middleburg Heights outdoor pool when it opens next weekend.

Crib Moving:

Our "wonderful" living room air conditioner broke last night, so we moved Alex's crib into our bedroom. We had been discussing whether we would do this for awhile now, or at least until we move out in July. I remember how hot it was last summer because no air flows into his room, but he was so little and was still sleeping in his bassinet in our room at the time. It was quite the experience last night having him in our room. For the most part, he slept through the night just fine when he was in his bedroom with the occassional cry-out, but then he fell right back asleep when we did not come into his room. Well, now he cries out, and he knows we are right there, so he pulls himself up on his crib. It's going to be an interesting 2 months...


Alex is crawling just fine now on his hands & knees, even though sometimes he still does the "army crawl". He is becoming a master at furniture crawling. He actually got brave yesterday: While I held out a graham cracker in front of him, he took 2 small steps without me holding his hands. He will be walking within the next few months.


I am slowly getting over my phobia of Alex choking on chunky solid foods, and he is finally getting over the gag reflex of eating foods with texture. After conversations with Alex's doctor, I know it's important for his development to pick up small bites of food with his fingers and put them in his mouth. He likes small pieces of graham cracker, dried fruit pieces, and yogurt melts. We've also tried the small Gerber meals with Spaghetti rings w/ sauce and the meals w/ tiny pieces of corn, peas, turkey, pasta, etc. Nana says they smell like pot pie! I would like to eventually get back to making his food again in the Baby Cook, but we have just been so busy lately! I made his favorite bananas and cherries a few days ago, but that is all I've had time for lately. He has also gotten much better at drinking juice/water from a sippy cup. He used to be quite messy. Hopefully, we can start weaning him from the bottle soon where he drinks milk from his cup.

Ice Cream:

Alex is a HUGE fan! And who isn't? We took him to Honey Hut a few weeks ago, and he alternated quite frequently between Mommy's Cookies & Cream and Daddy's Pineapple Coconut. We also had Birthday Cake flavored ice cream a few days ago, and Alex's mouth hung open constantly yesterday when Daddy pulled out the Lemon Gelato.

I'm thinking that maybe he will no longer be in the 25th percentile for weight at his next Well Baby visit. Not just because of the ice cream though....I'm actually quite proud of how much we have increased his food intake over the past few months. He must have gone through a growth spurt at just the right time too.

Upcoming Summer Ideas:

We have a 4th of July trip planned to Indiana where I hope to take Alex to Rainbow Beach, which is Mommy's childhood community swimming pool (and hopefully they still have the kiddie pool). We'll probably come home with my usual favorites too: sweet corn and peaches.

We'll also take advantage of the Middleburg Heights community pool while we still live here. They have a great little shallow end where Alex can play in the water.

I'm hoping to attend a few family-oriented outdoor festivals in Cleveland as well, and I know we would like to visit Huntington Beach on Lake Erie w/ Grandma and Grandpa.

It would be great if we found a house to rent where we could buy a kiddie pool for Alex to play in the backyard.

Alex has plenty of summer gear for all of these activities: swimming outfit, sun hat, sunscreen, swim diapers, and a pool floating intertube!