Motherhood, the Second Time

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Throughout my pregnancy, I wondered whether I could handle another baby. I was confident I wanted a second child (I’d like to have three or four kids eventually), and I felt like I was really starting to get the hang of this mom-thing with Leo. (It only took about 4 years… that’s probably normal, right?) But I wasn’t sure how I’d handle all the challenges a new baby presents along with taking care of Leo and making sure he was still getting plenty of love, attention and parenting time.

We’re a little over a month into this new adventure, and I’d have to say I think I’ve adjusted pretty well. In fact, mothering seems so much more comfortable this time around. I can’t really tell whether it’s because I’m not “new” at the mom thing anymore and have realized there’s no need to stress over the small stuff. Or, if Alex is just a little bit easier of a baby than Leo was. I’m guessing it’s probably a combination of both.

Seriously, Alex is very chill. He cries when he’s hungry and when I’m changing his diaper. (There’s something about a cold wet wipe against his little baby butt that he doesn’t love.) Other than that, he’s a pretty content kid. I get up twice a night to feed him, but it’s pretty regular so at least I’ve been able to adjust to a somewhat comfortable schedule to accommodate it. Overall I’m probably getting around 6-9 hours of sleep a night. (I realize that will probably only be 6 when I’m back at work and can’t partake in the morning naps like I have these past few weeks.) But for now, it’s working well.

Honestly though, Leo wasn’t exactly a problem-baby. We struggled with irregular sleeping and he had a touch of colic where pretty much nothing I did could make him happy. But in reality, I know lots of other moms with babies that have struggled much more than we did. And Leo’s adorable smiles made it tolerable.

I really think the biggest piece comes from the experience I have under my belt. I’m not over-analyzing things like I did with Leo. I don’t spend every waking minute trying to read everything I possibly can on the internet so I can be super mom. I just flat out don’t have time for that. I have to be mom, and keep the house intact, and get the groceries, and spend time doing fun things with Leo. So my approach is much more fluid this time around. Alex just comes along and gets things done with me. Not even six weeks old and this kid has made several trips to the grocery store, to work, to daycare, to the park, to Kansas City and Emporia and lots of places between. He’s my mobile, go-with-the-flow baby.

The thing I’ve loved best about motherhood the second time around, is to see how much Leo loves his baby brother. I smile every time Leo stops what he’s doing to come over and give Alex a kiss. And when he helps try to sooth Alex in the car. And when he tries to play with Alex. And when he tells his daycare friends, “Come look at MY baby.” Seeing their bond, even at this early stage, is more special and means more to me than I ever could imagine. Leo’s an excellent big brother and Alex is going to love him so much!

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Leo Lately, May 4

It’s been almost a year since my last Leo Lately post, but it’s been so much fun raising this kid that I haven’t made time to document the experience the way I should. He’s become such a comical little guy. The things he picks up, how he processes the world and the way he’s started to express himself constantly amaze me and crack me up at the same time.

Here’s some of my favorite Leo-ism lately:

    • IMG_5958“Let’s shoot bows!” This year Santa brought Leo his first bow and arrow set for Christmas. Ever since then, Leo’s been particularly interested in going downstairs where Tony’s created a nice target practice area. Tony & I shoot at a target about 12 yards away in one lane, and Leo shoots at his inflatable deer from about 3 yards in another lane. It’s been fun watching Leo learn proper protocol when it comes to shooting and retrieving arrows.
    • Jeff Whippy. Leo was a big KU basketball fan this year! While he still struggles to watch games for any long period of time, he’s always quick to cheer for the Jayhawks. He specifically loved finding his favorite player – number five – on TV, whom he called, “Jeff Whippy” (Jeff Withey).
    • “Can I have some candy?” This year Leo’s really started to figure candy out. Ever since Valentine’s Day, we’ve had a small stash of candy that he’s received from school friends and family that we keep on top of the refrigerator. Leo asks several times a day if he can have some candy, doesn’t matter if we’ve just woke up in the morning, or if he’s finished dessert. In his mind, candy’s always a possibility. In reality, I think his requests maybe work 2-3 times a week. (Thus the ongoing stash.)
    • IMG_6330T-ball time. Leo’s been excited to get back into playing T-ball this year. We just wrapped up a 4-week skills session through Parks & Rec, where for the most part, he was a star. His interest is even stronger this year, and he’s even happy to go out in the field and wait for his turn to bat. Next week he’ll have his first official practice for a T-ball team. I can’t wait to see how he reacts to an actual game experience. He’s watched Tony & I play for several years now, so he’s pretty pumped to get a turn!
    • “You heard me.” Leo’s speech continues to improve, but sometimes it’s still a bit difficult to understand what he’s saying. (Particularly with his growing vocabulary and the fact that he doesn’t usually talk very loud.) Every now and then when he says something, and I’ll respond, “What did you say?” Leo will come back with some attitude, “You heard me.” It cracks me up every time.
    • “Can we go visit the neighbors?” Over the course of the last month or two, Leo’s become really interested in going over to visit our neighbor Rod when we get home from work. Rod’s in his 80’s and spends a lot of time in his garage which overlooks our house. I think both Leo & Rod enjoy seeing each other. Leo’s always telling me he needs to go over there to “help.” It doesn’t matter if they’re fishing or burning, he’s convinced that they need his support.
    • 35022_976861913912_1017375801_nBig brother. At Leo’s 4th birthday in March, we let him know that he was going to become a big brother. Up to that point, we’d been talking with him for several months about having a baby someday. (He’d become pretty obsessed with the idea around October of last year that we really needed a baby.) When we’d have these hypothetical discussions, Leo was always insistent that we needed a baby boy. Once we told him that we actually were expecting, Leo did a total 180. From that point on, he was only interested in a sister. So six weeks later when we found out that it’s a little boy coming in September, we were a bit nervous how Leo would react to the news. Initially, Leo was great. You can see in the video we shot where he told the family. But about 10 minutes after we finished he was laying in bed, and out of no where said, “But I wanted a girl!” He’s pretty much adjusted to the idea of having a little brother, and is very excited, but every now and then he still asks when he’s going to get a sister.

Leo Lately, June 19

It’s amazing to look at my last Leo Lately blog post. It’s only been four months, but it seems so long ago! Over that period of time, Leo’s personality has continued to blossom and his speech has improved greatly. (According to the speech therapist at USD 501 he’s gone from being understandable 14% in February of the time to 58% of the time in May- yeah!)

Here’s some of the fun things Leo’s doing and saying lately:

  • “But I want to right now.” Whenever I talk about future plans that get Leo excited, he wants to do it immediately. Whether it’s baseball practice after daycare, going to visit Grandma Vickie or just playing with Tony, Leo’s ready to go.
  • T-Ball time. We’ve had mixed results with Leo’s first t-ball experience. He really likes to play, but still struggles with the idea of having to participate without mom by his side. I’m sure the fact that he was only a few weeks over the minimum age limit has a lot to do with it. Hopefully next year he’ll be ready to be a bit more independent at practice.
  • Let’s play outside. Leo loves being outside. In fact, we don’t really spend a lot of time inside at all unless we’re eating dinner or getting ready for bed. Leo’s usually out back drawing on the driveway with chalk, riding his tricycle or driving around in his powered car that the landlord left in the garage for him to play with. When we’re at grandma’s house, Leo loves to play in the sandbox or help water the plants.
  • Goldbug. Leo loves to spend time looking for Goldbug in his Richard Scarry book. He received it from Tony’s parents as a gift, and it’s one of his favorites to look at before bed time – especially if that means mom and Tony are going to help!
  • “I want to see Carson.” Leo’s found his first official buddy outside of daycare. He loves spending time with Carson, his cousin-to-be. Leo asks about Carson a lot and really enjoys being able to play with him when we go down and visit on the weekends. They have a lot of fun together. : )
  • Dinosaurs & Hot Wheels. When Leo does actually play with toys, you can usually find him with a series of Hot Wheels cars or a couple of his dinosaurs. He’s at the age where he’s pretending, developing stories and using the toys to act things out. It’s pretty cute.
  • Shapes and counting. Leo has a pretty good grasp on counting to 10, but he’s starting to try to count even higher. It’s pretty cute because he’s consistently skipping a lot of numbers… 9, 10, 11, 14, 18, 19, 32, 99! We’ve also been working with him on learning basic shapes.
  • Growing up. While we’re still battling with the whiney stage, it feels like we’re making some progress. For the most part, bath time is becoming more peaceful and he’s been great about allowing me to put in his ear drops without a fight.
  • My fruity boy. Leo loves fruit. He is always asking for strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. He loves apples and bananas. If only I could get him to give veggies a bit more consideration!

  

Leo Lately, February 6

Leo has been super cute lately. It’s so much fun to watch him growing and learning. Here’s a few of my favorite highlights:

  • Holding Hands, Anywhere. Leo wants to hold my hand when I’m driving (and he’s in his car seat in the back), when we’re walking into daycare, when he’s laying in his crib getting ready to go to sleep, when we’re on the couch watching a movie. And he’s usually not content just holding my hand, he’s also quite likely to kiss my hand, hug it or be rubbing the top of it.
  • Not Why. We’re starting to slowly get out of that phase. He still asks, but not as frequently. Now he likely to respond and try to converse about what I’ve said.
  • Big Helper. Even though he’s not always a help, Leo wants to try. He loves to stand at the sink and drop dishes into the soapy water. He likes to get the broom and “help” me sweep the floors. He’s always eager to push the cart at the grocery store and likes to put things into the basket.
  • Potty Training. We’re really just beginning the potty training thing. He’s got the hang of it at school and is wearing big boy underoos there, but we’re still doing pull-ups at home. I try to make sure he’s going to the bathroom every hour, and he’s almost always able to pee. Marshmallows provide great incentive.
  • TuTee. Leo loves playing with Tony. When I pick him up, he asks where Tony is and now is starting to ask about Tony’s family. We visited them this past weekend and Leo really enjoyed playing with Tony’s nephew Carson and “Tutee’s daddy” and “Tutee’s mommy” and “the baby” (Tony’s other nephew).
  • Daycare. The last few months have been a bit turbulent at daycare. Leo does great when he’s there, but occasionally drop-offs are a struggle. He just doesn’t want me to leave and cries and grabs at me. It’s so hard to leave, but I know he’s fine after they’re able to get him involved and playing with the other kids. I wish I could figure out what triggers the bad drop-offs so we could avoid them.
  • Speech Therapy. Leo’s been seeing a speech therapist for almost a year now. He’s made a lot of progress, but as his ears got bad over the last few months, his speech has regressed. We’re moving forward with a second round of tubes and will also have his adenoids removed later this week. Hopefully that will help us jumpstart the progress again. He’s talking a whole lot, can hold conversations and has a pretty big vocabulary. It’s just really hard to understand him, even when you’re use to it.
  • Blue and Buzz. A few months ago, Leo really loved Woody and watching Toy Story 3. Now he’s on a Rio kick and loves Blue, the main character. As far as Toy Story goes, he’s still a fan but not watching the movie as much. And he’s really shifted to become more of a Buzz fan now.
  • Angry Birds. What started as an attempt to get Leo playing education games on my iPhone turned into a big Angry Birds obsession. When we were looking at the new games I downloaded for the first time, his eye caught the Angry Birds icon and he yelled, “Angry Birds!” He was pretty awful at first. He wasn’t able to shoot the birds in the right direction, let alone finish a level. Now he’s getting pretty good at it. It’s amazing how quickly he’s picked it up. It’s probably not the best iPhone game to get him involved with, but it’s pretty handy when we’re shopping or out somewhere and we need a distraction.
  • Ornery Boy. I love Leo’s sly little smile when you catch him getting ready to do something, or you say something silly that he’s not expecting. Unlike his full smile, his ornery smile is usually only on one side with his lips closed.
  • Love You. My heart melts every time Leo tells me that he loves me.
  • Singing His Heart Out. I don’t always know what Leo’s singing, but it’s pretty common for him to wake up from his nap and lay in his crib for a bit singing to himself. He’s also started singing the alphabet anytime he sees big letters (tonight it was on the Hobby Lobby sign).
  • Fruit Snacks and Cheese. Leo’s favorite snacks right now are fruit snacks and cheese of any type. I try to keep both on hand at all times, but it definitely helps that Leo’s open to cheese sticks, slices or a chunk off a block.
  • Got You and Hiding. Leo’s favorite games are to wrestle and “get” people, and to hide from people. His hiding usually entails getting under the blanket and laying on the floor or on the couch and then telling you that he’s hiding.

My Hardest Job

Being a mom is tough. Real tough.

There are some days when I just don’t feel like I’m able to give enough… not enough time, not enough energy, not enough patience, not enough balance. There’s always lots of love, but I worry it’s not enough for Leo to really know.

I wish there was a manual. Something to help guide me so I knew I was doing things right. All I want is to raise a happy, healthy boy. Well-adjusted. Well-behaved. Intelligent. Independent. Kind-hearted. (Hopefully athletic.)

Sometimes I think I’m on the right track. Other times, I’m not so sure. Sometimes nothing I do seems to be right. Nothing I try seems to work. I can’t get him to calm down, to be happy, to understand what he’s saying, to stay strong and not give in and take the easy route.

I know it’s always going to be challenging. But I’m hoping, praying, that as Leo’s speech improves, things will get just a little easier. I will know what he’s saying and he’ll understand me better, and we’ll be able to talk through things.

Until then, I’m just going to keep doing my best and looking for the manual…