Thursday, March 29, 2012

Things My Children Have Taught Me

Unconditional love

How to survive on little to no sleep

To appreciate the small things

That not having the right book, food, toy or sippy cup can be a horrible travesty

That a smile from a baby can make even the worst day seem like the best one

Snacks are imperative if any shopping is going to get done

Cuddling up with a sleeping child can make any troubles disappear

If there's a puddle, it's made for jumping, and if there's a rock, it needs to be picked up and examined

Grass stains are a fact of life

Scrubbing explosive poop out of baby clothes isn't fun, no matter how many (many, many, many) times you do it

How amazing and wonderful it is to watch a young child struggle to accomplish something, and then finally get it and feel so proud

The toys you think you kids will love? They will gather dust

Those same toys will become magical and amazing if they are at someone else's house

It's ok to let kids indulge in a little TV (Super Why taught Stephanie her letters)

When you read Pinkalicious over and over and over again, you start to actually like it

And the #1 thing my children have taught me is this:

           When you become a mother, the world seems to shrink down and consist only of the tiny bundle placed in your arms. Nothing else matters as much as this miracle you have been blessed with. And as much as you try, the love that you have for your child can never be explained or measured or compared to anything else.

*Today I linked up with Mama Kat's Writers Workshop. The prompt was Things Your Child Can Teach You

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We Saw A Helicopter

Last weekend we took a trip to the mall. We let the kids meet the Easter Bunny, then we stopped for lunch at the food court and did a little shopping. By the time we were done, we were all tired and ready to head home.

I held Stephanie's hand as we hurried along on our way through the mall to the parking lot. At the very last "middle of the aisle" vendor booth there was a man flying a remote control helicopter. I briefly glanced at it, but barely registered that it was there. All of a sudden I heard "OH Mommy, LOOK!" Stephanie had completely stopped walking and was standing in awe, finger pointing at the helicopter, mouth open in amazement.

My first reaction was to tug her hand and irritably say "come on, it's late, we're tired, let's go!" But something made me stop just as the words started to form.

Instead, I knelt down next to her, looked up at the helicopter and said "Wow! Look at that helicopter flying in the air! That is so awesome!" And you know what? From that perspective it really was. It had lights all over it, and from the level of a two-year old it looked huge, and it was flying all on it's own! She had no idea there was a man with a remote controlling it, in her mind it was magical.

She shrieked delightedly as it swooped and dove, and her eyes sparked with awe. A minute later, the man landed it, and we moved along. It took less than 5 minutes to detour, but it made all the difference in the world. Stephanie felt validated because I took the time to see what she saw, and didn't brush it off as silly nonsense. Dan and I were relieved because we hadn't had to deal with a shrieking temper tantrum because I dragged her away before she had a chance to watch for a few minutes.

This simple moment made me feel warm and happy, and that feeling stayed with me for the rest of the day. It can be so easy to rush through life as an adult, and expect our children to just go along with us. We snap at them, we hurry them along, we have our minds fixed on where we're going instead of the journey we take to get there. But one of the most amazing qualities of children is their ability to see the small things. To them, the journey is the important part.

I would never have thought that a remote control helicopter was special or fascinating. In fact, I would never really have noticed it. But to a 2 year old, there has never been anything as magical as this piece of metal, covered in lights, soaring through the air. I think we can all benefit from taking a few minutes to seize these small moments, and view the world through the eyes of a child. You never might just find a helicopter flying through the mall!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Saturday's Top Five Laughs Blog Hop

I'm joining Melissa over at The Mommyhood Chronicles for top five laughs of the week!

1. We have a volleyball court right next to our apartment. When we were getting in the car this week, Stephanie stopped and watched the college boys playing with no shirts on. All of a sudden she said (very loudly) "Mommy, they NAKED!"

2. Stephanie loves listening to Adele's "Fire to the Rain" song. She can identify it as soon as the first three notes come on the radio. A few days ago, as the song came on, she said "Fire to the Rain! It's my song!"

3. A conversation we had tonight:
    Me: What's your name?

    Stephanie: Megan

    Me: No, that's my name. What's yours?

    S: Little Girl

    M: Well, you are a little girl. But what's your name?

    S: Cutie Pie!

4. Joseph has been babbling so much lately, and he has a very low, raspy voice. I told him once that he sounds like an old man. Now, every time he talks, Stephanie says "Jo-Jo sound like an old man!"

5. We've been going for a walk every day, and Stephanie always asks to go "Under the tunnel." (We walk under the bleachers of a football field. When you come out the other side, there's a giant Dunkin Donuts advertisement on a billboard.) When I asked Stephanie later where we went on our walk she said "To the Hot Coffee tunnel!"

I love the funny things that toddlers come up with, and love that joining in on this blog hop has forced me to remember and write them down (which I haven't really been good at...most of these happened yesterday or today!)

*If you enjoy reading A Baby Makes Four, and you're on FB, come like my page! :) *


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Almost Made Me Feel Like A Failure

At the beginning of March, I noticed so many cute ideas for St. Patrick's Day crafts, activities, and food. The internet was full of ways to make the day (and the days leading up to the day) extra special for young children. I loved all the cute things I saw, and was excited to implement some of them with Stephanie.

As it got closer and closer to St. Patrick's Day, I kept reminding myself to get some supplies for crafts, and think about the "green" food I hoped to make. Yet every day passed without me doing anything.

Finally it was March 17th.

I opened my laptop first thing in the morning and was inundated with other people's photos on Facebook and Twitter. Leprechauns had arrived at their houses overnight and made a mess. Adorable crafts had been executed and were displayed prominently in houses. Breakfast tables were set with green plates, napkins, silverware, and food. Shamrocks were everywhere. But in the Taylor house? Nothing.

I started to feel like this was a major mom-fail. The guilt began to creep in. But then I stopped myself. I'm trying so hard not to feel guilty about the little things. In the grand scheme of our life, did this really matter? No. Stephanie is two. She wouldn't even know it was St. Patrick's Day if I hadn't told her, and even when I did tell she had no idea what it even meant.

So I chalked this up to an opportunity that I didn't take, but not an opportunity to feel like a failure. In future years, when I am getting more sleep and the kids can really appreciate it, we will do more to celebrate these little holidays.

And at least they looked extra adorable:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Joseph's 5 Month Letter

Dear Joseph,
You are 5 months old now, and are such a sweet, happy baby boy.

You've had a busy month, and have been reaching so many new milestones. You're very active now, and aware of everything that is going on around you. You recognize our faces, and practically throw yourself at me when I get near you. You have the most adorable belly laugh, and smile all day long. (Except when you see the camera come out!)

You started eating solid foods this month, and LOVE them! We started you on single grain oatmeal, which is your favorite. You like fruits and vegetables too, but you smack your lips for oatmeal. When you see the bowl, you start waving your arms and legs in excitement, and if i'm being too slow to feed you, you'll grab the spoon from my hand! Feeding you has become so much fun, it's one of my favorite times of day because you are so thrilled to be eating solids.

*Your first food experience

You're also finally doing better with your bottles. We switched you to a gentlease formula, and it has made a world of difference. You still don't sleep through the night, but the formula switch has eased your gas issues, which gives us a few solid hours at a time over the course of the night. Thank you for that!

You are never in your bouncy chair anymore, and hardly ever in your swing. You made the move to the exersaucer, and it is your favorite place to be! You play with all the toys, and make the music and lights come on.

*Loving your exersaucer

Your favorite toys are now Mortimer the Moose and Sophie the Giraffe. You love to chew on both of them, which soothes your poor, swollen gums. (You have been teething for quite some time now, but still no teeth other than the rogue canine that popped out when you were 3 months.)

*You roll from your back to your tummy whenever we put you under your playgym

It amazes me how much you learn and grow every day. You're so curious about the world around you, and use your hands and mouth to discover all that you can. Even when I think my heart is so full it's about to burst, I find that each day I love you a little bit more. Thank you for being the sweetest baby boy there ever was. I love you a million billion!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Thank You Dear Readers!

I just wanted to write a quick note to thank all of my readers for coming back to my blog, being so supportive, and helping me grow this space. I appreciate each and every one of you!

For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter or aren't friends with me on Facebook, I wanted to let you know that I created a  "Baby Makes Four" page on facebook. I would love for you to like the page and connect with me so I can get to know all of you better. If you've already done that, thank you. 

I also had to share my major "blog technology" accomplishment with you. I spent a long (too long) time yesterday figuring out how to put icons on my homepage that allow you to connect with me via facebook, twitter, and pinterest. Seeing as how I am so incompetent at things like this, I was very proud of myself! It's the small things like that that make me happy. 

I am excited to continue writing and growing with this blog. I have met so many wonderful people through here, and truly feel like I am part of a community. Thank you for sharing this parenting journey with me!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Break Part 1

I've mentioned recently that Dan has been working A LOT. It's a busy time of year for him, so he's been leaving the house first thing in the morning and not returning until 10 or 11 at night. It's been a long, tiring few weeks for all of us, so when he came home Friday night we were over-the-moon about the fact that he would be on vacation for a full week.

Every day this week has been spent together as a family, getting quality time that we don't usually get in the rush, rush, rush of daily life. On Saturday morning we gave the kids leisurely baths, which is quite a luxury these days considering the fact that Joseph is usually screaming in his swing while I soap and rinse Stephanie as quickly as possible. Then Dan suggested we go out to breakfast, so we headed for a diner we had never been to before. The place was small, clean, and family friendly, and our kids were perfectly behaved. It is definitely easier to relax and enjoy a meal when your kids aren't having screaming temper tantrums or throwing food all over the place.

On Sunday we left the house at 10am and didn't return until 4 in the afternoon. We spent all day shopping for diapers, food, and household stuff. I can't remember the last time I was able to cross everything I need off of my list in one day. Shopping trips for me these days usually involve lugging both kids into a store and realizing that when they're both in the cart, I only have room for the barest of necessities. It was also nice to have an extra set of hands around to shuttle the kids in and out of the car, entertain them on long lines, and most importantly keep an eye on them while I went to the bathroom!

We lucked out with gorgeous weather this week, so on Monday we met up with a friend of mine and her two boys at the playground. We were in short sleeves and no coats thanks to the unseasonably mild temperatures. Dan and Stephanie ran around climbing, jumping and generally having a blast together while Joseph slept in his car-seat and I was able to chat with my friend. It was very relaxing, and so fun to see the joy on both my husband and my daughter's face. We capped that day off with a long stroller walk in the afternoon.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Dan came with us to story-time. Stephanie was thrilled to have her daddy there watching her as she sang songs, danced around, and even listened to the story. We went across the street to the playground afterwards, and then home for a nap. We went a pizzeria for dinner, and then our first ice-cream run of the year.

As important and fun all of this family time has been, we've also been balancing it with couple time, reminding ourselves that we were husband and wife before becoming Mommy and Daddy. A relationship needs attention and nurturing all the time, but especially when life gets busy and out-of-control like it has been for us lately. We knew we needed time for ourselves without the children, so on Friday when Dan came home from work at 8pm, he went out and got us a pizza. We sat at the table together at 9:00, eating and finally catching up on our lives from the past few weeks. I can't remember the last time we had an uninterrupted hour of talking like that!

On Saturday night we put the kids to bed, played a game of scrabble, and had a glass of wine. It was fun, relaxing, and we didn't need to leave the house. I highly recommend at home date nights!

On Tuesday night, Dan planned date night for us. He booked a babysitter (my sister) and set up plans for us to meet some friends at a local bar for trivia night. This bar has been a staple in our relationship from the very beginning. It was our go-to place in college, and before the kids came we were there every week for happy hour on Friday's. As soon as I walk in the door, i'm hit with memories of laughter, friends, and fun. We didn't end up winning the trivia game, but we had great company, good food, and a martini (ok, two!) for me.

This week has been just what we've needed as a family. Sometimes it can feel like we're hamsters on a wheel, doing the same routine day in and day out, over and over again. But when you have a chance to pause and just enjoy yourself for a few days, you realize that it's all worth it. If Dan hadn't been working so hard I don't know if we would have appreciated this week as much as we have been. The next time things get crazy busy, i'm going to remind myself of this and how these moments of family togetherness make it all worth it in the end.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sibling Love

Last Friday was a long day alone with the kids. After dinner, I put Joseph under his play-gym, let Stephanie sit on the couch to watch a Baby Einstein video, and curled up in our plush blue armchair with my book. (I like to try and read in front of my kids a little bit each day so that they see how much I love it, and will grow up with an appreciation of books. With all the interruptions, I tend to re-read the same paragraph over and over without really comprehending it, but at least i'm putting on a good front.)

As I sat there not really reading, I watched Stephanie slowly slide off the couch. She sat on the floor for a moment, and then crawled over to baby Joseph. She got up on her knees and watched him quietly. Then she ever so gently laid down next to him under the gym. After a minute or two she reached over and rubbed his belly, gave him a little kiss, then got up and crawled back to the couch.

This entire scenario only lasted a few minutes, but it was the highlight of my week. It perfectly captured the love that exists between brother and sister. My hyper, energetic, and often un-social toddler showed me the peaceful, calm, and loving big sister that exists under the surface. I felt my eyes well up with tears, and my heart swell with pride.  The fact that she did this all on her own, with no prompting or prodding from me made it even more special. 

 All too often my first instinct is to interfere. To say "Be gentle! Be careful!" "Watch his head!"

Or I will try to force their interactions. "Give Joseph a kiss." "Look, Joseph is smiling at you!" These prompts are often met with a resounding "No!" But when she thought my attention was elsewhere, she every so carefully spent a precious moment interacting with her little brother. What a great lesson for me to step back and observe, and let the two of them have their time together without mommy always being in the way. 

I know that there will come a time when the two of them don't always get along. They will fight, as all siblings do. But I hope that there are always these moments of calm between them. The love and support of a sibling is an amazing thing to grow up with, and I am so happy that my children will have each other to lean on through the years.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Don't Think It's Luck...

One of the things I hear from a lot of people is how lucky I am to be able to stay home and raise my children. Some people say it because they're envious of my job, some say it because they belittle my job, and others say it just to have something to say. No matter the reason, it's one of those phrases that rubs me the wrong way. Let me explain.

I consider myself very blessed to be a stay-at-home mom. But to say i'm lucky implies that the job fell in my lap  without any thought or planning on my part. In fact, the opposite is true.

 As I mentioned here, I've always known I wanted to stay home and raise my kids. It has always been something I valued, and when I met Dan, I discovered that it was important to him, too. Since we both felt the same way, we started working hard even before starting our family to ensure that we would be able to achieve this dream of ours. When we both had full-time jobs, we scrimped and saved so that we would have extra money for when I became pregnant and stopped working. Living this way has become a habit for us, and so being frugal isn't even something we really think about that much. We do our best to save money wherever possible, while still enjoying life and not giving up the things that are important to us.

 Dan's job has always provided us with a place to live, and while it's not ideal, it's a sacrifice we've chosen to make so that we can afford to uphold our lifestyle with only one income. He also works long, unpredictable hours, which can get annoying and frustrating. But we put up with it, and work through it, because it's what we have to do. And so far, our hard work is paying off  perfectly. I love staying home and raising our children, and Dan loves that he is able to provide for our family and enable us to live our dream.

I know most people don't mean anything when they say we're lucky. They're using it as another word for blessed, which we most definitely are. But I can't help wanting to explain to people that hey, we work very hard for this life we live! It isn't always easy, and sometimes it isn't fun and sometimes we struggle. But we make it work because it's what we feel is best for our family.

Are there any things that people say (probably harmlessly) that just rub you the wrong way? Please share!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Random Post About Nothing

I feel like I've been neglecting my blog lately. It's been awhile since I've had that "I MUST write about this today!" flash. I haven't gotten that flash today, but figured I'd write anyway. Here are some of the things that have been going on lately.

-Dan has been working until 11pm every night for the past week and a half. The first few days I felt like I was going to pull my hair out. Dinner, bath & bedtime is the most challenging part of our day and I felt overwhelmed doing it all by myself. But after a few days, we all got used to it, and it's been going really smoothly. My kids are awesome and (for the most part) have taken pity on me and behaved well.

-Joseph started using his exersaucer. He wasn't thrilled with it at first, but now he loves it. It's position next to the TV helps too. This boy loves him some Baby Einstein.

-I bought Stephanie new sippy cups. I'm sure this seems like a weird and boring tidbit of news, but it's big in our house. We'd been using the Playtex sippys that require those little flexible plastic valves to be spill-proof. After using them for a year, most of those pieces got moldy and were thrown away. I can't seem to find replacements, and we were down to two of them. Which meant I was constantly washing the same two cups over and over throughout the day. Finally I said "enough!" and bought different cups. It's very freeing to know that I can just grab another sippy from the cupboard when she decides she wants milk instead of the juice and water that she already has.

-I took the kids out on a major shopping excursion all by myself yesterday. First we took a trip to Babies R' Us. I had some returns, and Joseph needed food. Then we met my sister and niece at a local toy store for a Dr. Seuss story-time. The woman who was supposed to read never showed up, but the girls had fun making crafts and running around the store. Then we all went to lunch at Panera. Afterwards my sister went home and I took my two little ones to Trader Joes, Children's Place, and Carters. They were both on their best behavior, and it felt nice to be out of our apartment for the day.

-I finally read Two Kisses for Maddy by Matt Logelin. I don't read his blog often, but I knew his story, and had been wanting to read the book for quite awhile now. His touching memoir on losing his beloved wife and having to raise their newborn daughter alone brought me to tears. I highly recommend it!

-Joseph still doesn't sleep at night, but he's been giving us 2 and 3 and sometimes even 4 hour stretches at a time, and it is so refreshing. I know it's pathetic that I feel so refreshed after such a small amount of sleep, but after a month and a half of waking every hour on the hour, any longer stretch feels like a full night's sleep.

-I'm slowing getting back on track with my weight loss. I've slowed down the snacking, upped the water intake, and do some ab work every day. Once Dan's work load slows down and he's home at night, I can start doing cardio again.

Ok, are you bored yet? If you've kept reading in the hopes that there would be something more interesting at the end of this post, i'm sorry to say, there is not. However, I will work on trying to find some inspiration!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February Photo Recap

Well, it's March already, which means time for my February Photo-a-Day recap. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I only remembered to take about half of the pictures. (New goal for March is to take it every single day!) Of the ones I remembered to take, here are my favorites, with the prompts that inspired them.

Dinner. This was what was left of our Chicken Pot Pie. It's one of my favorite meals because everyone loves it, and I can put it together in about 6 minutes, throw it in the oven and forget about it.

Heart. I made Stephanie a heart-shaped waffle for her Valentine's Day breakfast.

Drink. A medium hazelnut, skim only from Dunkin. My daily drink habit, which I have since given up for Lent. It's a pretty big sacrifice for me.

A favorite picture of myself. From my wedding day. Not a professional picture, and this copy is a picture of a picture, so not the best quality. But I love it.

Green. Baby Joseph's bottle ring. And the sweetest little baby face to go along with it.

Money. Any spare change we find goes in the Minnie Mouse piggy bank!

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