Thursday, October 29, 2015

Reece at 12 Months

Twelve.months.old. How can it be? My baby is a year old (already? finally?)! While I'm getting teary over our last little one turning one year, Eric is jumping for joy that soon he'll be walking, running, and playing baseball (okay, maybe not soon). It's pretty crazy to think about the fact that it was entire year ago that I was dying to get this kid out of me. Suffering from miserable heart burn and prodromal labor, I could not wait to get the real thing underway. And, then, as it always does, real labor began, and we finally got to meet our little boy.

The other night, a friend was asking for some advice about her one month old, and so I went looking through some of my old blog posts to see what Reece was up to at that age. Pretty soon, I was reading through all of the monthly updates (and not at all focused on giving advice to my friend!) and getting emotional thinking about how much has changed and how big my baby is now. I feel like this has been the fastest year yet! Do they continue to go by faster as you age? Is that it? Or is it the fact that this was the first year of our last baby? I don't know.

This kid, though. He's been a handful lately; it seems that he's figured out that whole whining thing, and he's got it down. There's been a lot of "follow mom around and bounce on my heels until she picks me up" going on where there used to be a lot more "I can hang out here with these toys or just pull all of this stuff out of the drawer while you do that, Mom." It's a phase, I'm hoping. I can't really say what's causing it, either. He has started using his one sign--"more"--to let me know when he really wants something, whether it's milk, a snack, or a ball that's stuck under the table. He's figured out that the sign tells me he needs something, and he's willing to use it for anything now!

Nonetheless, we've made it. Through all of the many phases of the first year. As I was writing that message to my friend, I couldn't help but think I'm so glad that we're past that. Her daughter is a month old, so they're still building up to the six week cranky stage. Man, that was rough; I'll take a little whining alongside a whole lot of laughing, playing, and smiling over that any day!

Although, let's be honest. He's still not sleeping very well. I'm willing to admit that I think I held some pride in the fact that I "trained" my first two children to sleep well. The first few months with Kennedy were rough, but we put in a lot of work, and it paid off. She slept well in her crib from what I remember after about 4 months. Now I'll admit that I don't remember all of the details (another friend referred to it as "divine amnesia"), but I swear Cade slept well from day one. But not Reece. I've tried everything I tried with the other kids. I've followed all of the rules (though there probably is one about not changing time zones in the first year or something); I've tried all of the tricks. The kid just doesn't sleep well, reliably. A night or two a week where he sleeps straight through. A whole lot of nights where he wakes up a couple of times. Usually one really bad night a week. That's pretty much what we can count on with this kid. His napping is still a bit erratic. We're doing well if he takes one 45 minute nap and one 90 minute nap, but it's not happening with any consistency lately.

He certainly can eat with the best of them, though. That was not a trait that Kennedy possessed until she was about...six? seven? haha! This week alone he's had Korean BBQ (beef, pork, pickled radishes, kimchi pancake), Thai food (pad thai, chicken satay, rice, he skips spicy stuff!), roasted tomatoes with balsamic vinaigrette, and lentil soup. I'm sure there's more that I've forgotten, but that's the gist.  He loves pesto (thankfully, since everyone else does too!) and anything covered in it, too. His favorites are still cheese, olives, tomatoes, and any kind of fruit. He is starting to get a little more wary of my fingers, though. He used to trust me completely, and open his mouth wide for anything I was trying to put in it, but it's starting to make him a little nervous, I think! He's still downing plenty of milk, and I still haven't put any more effort into making the switch to cups, other than trying it every few days. I think we're going to have to go cold turkey on that.

As far as his movement goes, not much as changed. As you can see from these pictures, he's still as quick as ever. Even after I put him in the basket, it was still a challenge to get a picture of him with all of the letters in the proper order standing up. At least I was able to contain to one area for awhile with these fun new toys! (And yes, there were some hilarious outtakes from this session. He did manage to fall out of the basket in his urgency to reach the "E." He was also quite upset when he had put all of the letters back in the basket and couldn't reach them again, as in the photo below.) He's still a ways of from walking, though, just like his older siblings. I'm hoping that he waits until about 14 months, as they did. He only takes one step when we hold his hands, but he's getting faster at cruising around the furniture. This week he started letting go of the furniture and just standing for a second or two at a time, so he's thinking about it.

Based on the "subtract my weight from our weight" method, he weighs about 23 pounds; that is huge compared to Kennedy and Cade, but pretty normal for this age, I think. We obviously haven't been to his one year appointment yet, but I'm not sure that everyone else thinks he's as chunky as we do. Kennedy was 14 or 15 months before she hit the 20 pound mark, and we had to move her out of the infant carrier. We switched this guy out when we got to the States, so no new milestone at this point, as I don't plan to turn him around to face forward anytime soon. Too many crazy drivers in Seoul! The nine month clothes are officially too small, and he's comfortably in 12 month clothes now.

And, of course, if you happen to be in Seoul on Sunday, you're all invited to come celebrate our little pumpkin! We'll be missing our friends and family on that day, but we're so grateful for all of our new friends that are here to celebrate with us...I still can't quite picture our apartment with 30 people in it, so we'll see how it goes!

Happy first birthday to our baby boy! We're so excited to watch you grow up into the wonderful little man we know you'll be. We're so grateful that God gave us you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Birthday Month!

Whoops. Blogging kind of hit the back burner last week. I guess I should've known that I was missing something when I was starting to feel caught up on things! I read an entire book, in addition to get Reece's pictures taken and edited, and all of the other regular-life-things.

This past week has been a little rough as we've been more house-bound than any of us would like. The air quality has been terrible lately, so our bike rides and trips to the park or playground have been eliminated, and it's making us all a little stir crazy. The kids need that time outside to run around, and I need that time to have some quiet! The pollution always keeps it warm, too, so it's been in the upper 70s (more like 80s in our apartment), but we can't open the windows. The worst part is that the air is usually good in the fall, so we're at a loss as to why it's so bad lately. It's sad knowing that the air quality has gotten worse every year that we've lived here.

I'm in full swing for Reece-birthday-party-prep right now, which includes things like making applesauce (from the soft, yucky apples that no one would eat) for his birthday smash cake. Roasting pumpkins (squash, really) for birthday party desserts. Crock pot cooking black beans for chili. These are things I.will.not miss whenever we move back to the States.

I know that I used to make applesauce from scratch, and so do many of you. I had never once cooked dried beans for soup, though. And, I didn't make applesauce just because my cake recipe called for it! I also roasted squash, but not because that was the only to get pumpkin for pumpkin bars. I would buy the little pie pumpkins at the Farmer's Market because they were cute and decorative--not because I was actually going to bake with them! Nonetheless, this is the stage that we're in now, and I can either endure it or embrace it, so I'm doing my best to embrace it!

This year, things were a little busy around Kennedy's birthday, so after I dropped Lindy off for her bus ride to the airport, it was time to get to work. She requested breakfast burritos for dinner and dessert at home, and since Cade had soccer until 4:30, it seemed that would be the easiest thing. So, I threw together Double Chocolate banana bread "cupcakes" topped with peanut butter frosting, and I have to admit that they were pretty good, especially since we all know I don't bake! I'm getting there...

My own birthday was pretty great yesterday! Eric took the day off to hang out with Reece and me. I napped when Reece did (wasn't I supposed to be done with that months ago? wasn't he supposed to be sleeping through the night by now?! instead of waking up every two hours like a newborn??), we had Suji's Deli for lunch (good ole American food) and went out for Korean BBQ for dinner. That is my very favorite kind of day--no cooking and no dishes! We were supposed to go on a long bike ride, but with the air the way it is, that wasn't an option, but I was more than happy to take naps while the big kids were in school!

Now, it's time to try to put something together for dinner before I head to school to watch the fall production of Antigone. I'll try to get back to this blogging thing regularly again soon. I keep thinking that after Reece's birthday, things will start to calm down, but the reality is that the day after the party, Eric leaves for Week Without Walls in Jeju. Pretty soon, it will be Thanksgiving and before we know it, Christmas will be here! It's time to get on the ball!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Reece at 11 Months

Oh, Reece. You do keep things interesting, little boy! Since this is so late, you're less than three weeks from your first birthday. And I just got your 11 month photos done! October--with all of its craziness--always flies by!

And speaking of flying, sometimes it appears that is your method of travel. You are so stinkin' quick! The other day, I had to take pictures of the giant messes that you left behind as you moved through the house. Every toy out of your basket and spread across the living room. Every towel out of the drawer and spread across the kitchen. Every snack, plastic containter, and canned food spread across the pantry. Oh boy, do you keep me busy! I finally contained you in the Jumperoo for 20 minutes so that I could get all of the messes cleaned up at the same time. Such an accomplishment for this mama!

You've had your first full-blown cold this past week, so I've also been chasing you around trying to wipe your nose before you rub snot all over your face with the back of your hand. Sounds fun, right? You have not been real big on sleep with this cold, either. No rest for the weary. Last night, I got about 4 hours of sleep, as you pulled a 6-month-old Reece move and talked in your crib from 2-3:30, letting out a good cry every 20 minutes or so, just to be sure that I wasn't sleeping either. You can be a stinker!

Generally, though, you are one happy kid. At home, playing on the floor. At the store, smiling at the ajummas. At school, getting passed around by students. On the go, hanging out in your stroller. And we are oh-so-thankful! Your go-to is a smile on your face and babble in your mouth. I wish that I could get a good video of all that you have to say!

You love reading books--especially those with flaps, now that your dad has taught you they're there. You will sit and look at this farm book for about 10 minutes before moving onto something new--and not many things will hold your attention for that long these days! You like any toy that makes noise, but you prefer those things that aren't toys at all, of course. A couple of baby wipes, a tube of sunscreen, a pile of clean clothes. Those are things your dreams are made of!

You are still a long way from walking, just as your siblings were at this age, and I'm perfectly okay with that. You might take a step, if we hold your hands and encourage you, but two is your limit. While I'm just fine with you being limited to crawling for now, I will be glad when the day comes that you can stand in the elevator. Trying to juggle a diaper bag, a bag of groceries, the inevitable cup of coffee, my keys, and you in the elevator is rarely pretty. And to think, I struggled with my garage door button didn't work when Kennedy and Cade were babies. Life was rough.

Sleep: We were planning to have you sleep in the pack'n'play in our room while Lidi was here last week, but you made it clear that was not your plan. After screaming for 45 minutes, and refusing to lay down at all, I gave in and moved you back to your crib. Lidi got to sleep in the living room, and that was just fine with you! You really haven't been sleeping well since that evening, and as a result, we are not going on the staff retreat this weekend. It's just not worth it to me. Sorry, guys. There will be a day when you sleep through the night consistently, and I will have forgotten all about these days. I look forward to it! (You have been napping okay, though it's been a bit of a challenge to put you down...let's just keep that up, okay?)

Eating: You're still a champ in this area! It was around Kennedy's first birthday that she got really sick, and she stopped eating many foods that I'd been able to feed her before. I'm hoping that doesn't happen to you. So far, the only thing I've noticed that you haven't been eating since getting sick are my homemade refried beans. Kinda hurts my feelings, kid. You still like On the Border refried beans. Anyway, some favorites lately have been...well...just about everything. You downed the Salsa Chicken Casserole I made the other night. You really enjoyed pizza this week (at least it was homemade!), and you had a party with your spaghetti last night. You love plain yogurt with mashed blueberries in it, cheese, and any fruit. You still like chicken, olives, and tomatoes as your go-to lunch foods. You're not a big fan of broccoli, but you do like green beans.

You still drink milk like it's going out of style, and I'm not really sure how I'm going to get rid of that fourth bottle or how I'm going to switch you to cups. I know. I really should be working on that. I've tried all of our cups (once each), and you've drank a little and then been done--until I pour it into a bottle. Then, you down it. I think I'll worry a little more about it after you have your one year checkup and I see where your weight is. I think you're looking pretty healthy and may not need the 28 ounces of formula you've been drinking every day after the one year mark. We'll just wait and see. (I've been mixing in some cow's milk, and I don't think your tummy is loving it, so we're going slow on that transition, too.)

And by the way, now that you've figured out that you can clap to sign "more," you're totally on board with sign language. "Not only does everyone laugh and smile at me when I do it, but I get more food, too?! Win, win!" You're all over it!

Everything else: You got two more teeth on top about two weeks ago, and it was rough there for a little while. You are enjoying the ability to chew food better now, though. You spend a lot of time with those teeth together and your little jaw pushed out. You've got the "tough guy" look down. With it has come some nasty teeth grinding that's driving me mad!

I was pretty excited to see that I got some decent shots this month, though for every one of you looking at the camera and smiling, there are ten of you crawling toward me trying to grab the camera! I was proud of myself for pulling out the tripod so that I could get some shots of the two of us together doing things that we have spent a lot of time doing in the past year. I've been meaning to do this for--oh--about the last 10 months, but I finally made it happen!

We love you so much, our happy little man. I can't believe that it's been nearly a year since you've joined our family!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Happy 9th Birthday, Kennedy!

To Kennedy on your 9th birthday,

Well, my dear, you may notice that this letter is a few days late this year. Your birthday month has continued to get busier every year, and this year you really felt the crunch, as you birthday arrived right after Chuseok, and you were returning to school.

So, this is a few days late, but it's worth it. One of my favorite parts of writing these letters is looking through old pictures to find cute shots of you. In the somewhat transient lifestyle we live, we don't have photo albums on our shelves to look through on a regular basis, but we are grateful for the technology that allows us to have all of our pictures digitally regardless of where we are in the world. You love to look through them, as well. Pictures of your friends and the places you've been are incredibly important to you.

I really enjoyed looking through the pictures of you right around your first birthday, as you brother's quickly approaches. Your life was so very different than his has been in the first year. Your dad and I may have not been good with a camera, but we captured you having a lot of fun with friends and family--just as it was. I love to see how there were the exact same pieces of you then that we see now. A girl who loves to decorate cookies and loves to read. A girl who loves to have a lot of fun, but has her serious moments just as often.

As we all prepare for some potential major life changes this year, we will spend a lot of time revisiting old memories and reminiscing about the different stages of our lives.

We will all struggle through various emotions, and if we're honest, it's going to be hardest on you. You feel everything so well. After watching Inside Out last summer, you admitted that you feel Sadness the most--she's the one who is in control in you--and that's okay. We just have to be prepared for it and to help you see the Joy in situations, as well.

You've encountered some major changes this year, as well, with the addition of a baby brother, and you handled it like a champ--as we knew you would. You were so excited for this baby to join our family, and you have shown him so much love! Some of the novelty may have worn off're not adamant that you get to feed him a bottle every day anymore, but you still love to play with him, carry him around, and even change his diaper sometimes. You've always been a great big sister to Cade, but you and Reece will always have a special bond because you never get mad at him!

We love you so much, our only little girl. You are incredibly smart and hard-working. Not everything comes easily to you, but you're so willing to put in the work to have everything--from your homework to packing lunches--come out just right. You're strong and courageous, bold and fun-loving. I'm so very proud of you!

Your mom
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