Monday, December 15, 2014

An open letter to my fellow passengers

Dear Passengers on flight 892,
Some of you have already met my dear 7 week old son and you weren't impressed. He's kind of got a reputation. He cried while we were in line to check in for the flight, and I could see it on your face: "please don't let that kid sit next to me" you were thinking. I understand. I'm not sure I want him sitting next to me, either. But, I can promise you that if you're stressed out by this baby crying, then I will be too--way more than you are. Know that I've been a little stressed about this for weeks and doing research on flying with babies for even longer. I'm going to do my best to make this flight as enjoyable for all of us as possible. And I'm sorry, in advance, for whatever totally unpredictable thing happens. 
The Stressed Out Mom in row 35
Here's a lovely little shot of my kiddo (but this is not from the flight...just what imagine it may look like!). #brutalhonesty

Friday, December 12, 2014

Catching up on Reece

Well, I'm terribly behind here, and things are about to get worse as Reece and I fly out in just 3 days. I'm so excited that we're going to be home for Christmas this year! I'm a little nervous about flying alone with him, since I've never flown with an infant at all, so I'm just praying that all goes well! We couldn't afford the direct flight this time of year, so it will about 24 hours of travel from door to door, but we only have one short layover. He will sleep much of the time, no doubt...those long newborn naps strapped to my chest!

This time of year is always busy, of course. Adding a newborn to the mix has added to the stress level, but we're plugging along. Just not at the same speed we were before...or with the same energy! So far, Cade has been in 2 Christmas programs. Kennedy's is still to come this week, and unfortunately, it begins an hour after my flight takes off. Did you know that it's usually cheapest to fly on Tuesdays? Yeah, we saved about $300 by having me leave before the concert. Eric informed me that it wasn't worth that for me to be able to see it. (Sorry Kennedy! He'll pay for the therapy bills for that one!)

When I told her that I wouldn't be there, I also told her that I was going to ask her music teacher if I could watch one of the rehearsals instead. She informed me that parents were absolutely not allowed to watch (and trust me, I believe it! there are a lot of Korean parents that I can see begging to come in and watch those, too!). But, I had to tell her that sometimes there are perks to being a staff kid. Her music teacher and I are friends, and I had no doubt that she would let me come watch, so I'm looking forward to seeing the unpolished version on Monday morning!

Remember how a friend and I were trading family photo shoots? Well, we finally got our turn when Reece was just over two weeks old. The leaves were starting to disappear already, and the weather was starting to cool down, but we were determined! She doesn't have an editing program, so she sent me home with her SD cards and over 500 photos to sort through! No surprise it's taking me awhile to get through them! (and whoops! I forgot to take off my watermark...I didn't take these!)

That afternoon, Kennedy got to feed Reece his first bottle. He's been a finicky eater since birth and sometimes he just wails when I try to nurse him. So, we have times where I just pump and feed him a bottle to reduce a few of the tears on both our ends. Kennedy was thrilled that Reece didn't want to nurse!

That evening, we had a friend and former staff member come back to Seoul to visit and celebrate her recent engagement. So we went to a party and Reece made his first YISS debut, meeting many of our friends and co-workers. Yes, everyone got to hold him, and no, he didn't get sick!

The following week was pretty low-key for us. Reece and I were content to stay home for much of the week, with the exception of a few trips to school. It was the middle school's Week Without Walls, so all of the 7th and 8th graders were off in Hong Kong and Indonesia, respectively. Because we had a newborn, Eric was able to get out of the trip, so he was responsible for the stragglers left behind and playing principal for the week. It was nice for all of us to have a more relaxed week!

On Friday, one of the middle school staff members and the mom to a couple of the kids' friends invited them over for a play date. She also provided us with a frozen meal for dinner and gave Eric and I the freedom not to eat but to go out on a date (with a third wheel, of course!). So, we headed out to a (not very) relaxing dinner without our oldest two kids. On the walk back to school, we were accosted by students as they left the high school basketball game, so Reece got to meet many of my former students that evening.

Saturday was my first official day with all three kids while Eric headed off to play a double header for the championships. My only comfort was that it was finally the end of the season. Yes, they were champions again. And yes, he got the MVP award again. He's not playing again until next fall, and we're all excited for a long break!

In Reece's fourth week, he started giving us a few real smiles, which was exciting for all of us--especially the kids. We celebrated Thanksgiving, and we went to Cade's Christmas concert. In his fifth week, we returned to the Embassy to request a new CRBA (which we still haven't received--yikes!), and he experienced his first and second snow (though I don't know that he was aware that he was out in the snow!). We also returned to the doctor where we learned that, like the other two, he still has not returned to his birth weight. He weighed in at 3.6kg (he was 3.79 at birth) and measured 54cm (52 at birth), so he's long and lean. As a result, I'm having to push the bottle a little more when he doesn't want to nurse, but thankfully, after a few really bad days last week, he's doing much better this week in that regard. And, we had one night where he slept 8 hours, going 7 hours between feeds, so he seems to think he's doing okay!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reece's Milestones: Week 2

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a dinner with several newly married couples with no kids on Friday, so our kids got a lot of attention. "Uncle" Ross rocked Reece to sleep, patiently waiting out the crying. Later, he and the other "uncles" wound up the older two in a squirt gun and silly string fight. On Saturday, we had Thanksgiving with several other families, so there were ten kids running around a little, tiny apartment filled with people and food. It was crazy, but lots of fun! Reece is a month old and has celebrated his first Thanksgiving as I'm writing this, but I want to make sure that I've recorded the milestones from his first weeks, too.

These days, he's a little fussier than he was in the first couple of weeks. About every other night, we get a five or six hour stretch out of him between feedings. Much of the time, he sleeps that whole stretch, too. Of course, I don't usually sleep that whole time, but most nights I manage to get about four consecutive hours, and I'm thankful for that. I know it could be much worse...and trust me, we have tougher nights, too!

The following Saturday, when Reece was just over a week old, Eric decided he needed to play in his baseball game. Knowing that it would mean a long day for me with all three kids alone for the first time, he arranged a play date for the older kids for a couple of hours. The only challenge was that we all had to get into the car to drop them off, and we had to be on time because we were meeting them on the street corner near their house. Though Reece cried the entire time, we all got out and we were even on time! Eric picked the kids up on the way home from his game.

That night, Reece finally lost his umbilical cord, which was exciting. It's always such a relief to not have that hanging on anymore (even more so here because the stump was considerably longer). Reece also had his first bottle that afternoon. He has been a fussy eater on and off since the very first week. Sometimes when he nurses, he seems absolutely convinced that there's no milk, and sometimes I have more patience than others. So, on this day, I pumped while he took his first bottle. He didn't have another bottle for a week, but now he is taking a bottle at 11 pm, so that I can pump and go to bed earlier.

The next day was Sunday, and we all stayed home and tried to relax and get caught up on chores. At one point, Cade was looking at him and asked, "What are those little bumps on his cheeks?" I told him that it was called baby acne (poor baby got it really bad, but it's looking much better now!). A moment later, Reece sneezed and Cade asked, "What's a baby sneeze called, Mom?" It's a sneeze, Cade. Just a sneeze. Cracked me up!

Monday was our biggest day since Reece's birth because we had to go to the Embassy to get his passport. The list of items that we needed to have with us was pretty intimidating since we had to try to prove that Reece (and his parents) should be an American citizen. It turned out to be much easier than we thought, although there was a lot of waiting involved. To be expected, I suppose. In celebration of our success (and since we still had some time before the older kids needed to be picked up), we headed to the Starbucks right next to our bus stop. For some reason, I had thought this would be a good place to feed Reece, as well, but of course, after checking all three floors, there was only one table and two chairs available in the entire Starbucks and it was right in the middle of the room. It's a good thing I'm not too shy about nursing in public!

In addition to Reece's passport, we also had to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, which essentially operates as Reece's birth certificate in the States. This is an important document, obviously. Unfortunately, the man who helped us at the Embassy neglected to inform us that the CRBA would be mailed to us in the same envelope as the passport. So, in his excitement that Reece's passport had arrived, Eric threw away the envelope, as well as the CRBA. When he brought the passport to one of our HR people at school to work on Reece's Alien Registration Card ( much paperwork to make this kid official!), she asked where the CRBA was and he had no idea. We have had to go through a mad dash to request another one in order to get Reece's ARC. It's been a little stressful, to say the least! Yesterday, in 30 degree weather, wind, and snow, Reece and I had to trek back to the Embassy to have a letter notarized in order to request another CRBA. Hopefully, it will be here soon!

The remainder of Reece's second week was a little less eventful. Eric returned to school on Tuesday, so the two of us spent our days adjusting to just the two of us. I barely moved from my chair for 3 days, as I'd resigned myself to not accomplishing any household chores, and I was fine with it! On Friday, I decided it was time to leave the house again, so Reece made his debut at Friday morning Bible study at church. The ladies were all excited to meet him and my arms were excited for the rest!

I take at least one picture of this boy every day with my phone but haven't been very good about using the real camera. If you follow me on Instagram, you get a lot of #babyspam, and if you don't, well, then you haven't seen all of these pictures already!
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