Second Haircuts

After the babies turned eleven months old, they had some seriously shagadelic hair going on. It was getting ridiculous, so I bit the bullet and booked for their second ever haircuts.  IMG_2051-22

After the fiasco last time, I decided to do the haircuts on a day our nanny was here, so that she could go with me as an extra set of arms and hands to hold and soothe babies.

This time, though, there was no freaking out and no crying! Both babies stayed calm the whole time. They weren’t, like, laughing and happy, but they were not upset. Emmett even started playing with the car chair he was in!

PHEW.

Also phew to get some of the masses of hair cut off–it was so thick everywhere!

But I was dreading how suddenly grown-up they might look…and I was right. 😦

What I didn’t plan on was the Dumb and Dumber hairline cuts around the babies’ faces. I wanted a lot cut off the front so that their bangs wouldn’t grow back in like five seconds, but isn’t it possible to have short hair at the top and front without it being shaped like a circle? At least Emmett’s hair sticks up at the back, so that hair height takes away some of the roundness. But Malcolm’s hair sits flat and so his whole head looks round. :/  Clearly I need to find an actual haircut to suggest next time we go to a salon.

Regardless, I’m still glad that they got a haircut! And I’m so glad they were calmer this time. Maybe someday they’ll be more animated and happy when we’re there.

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Look at these grown-up babies!!

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One Year

A whole year. Twelve months. 52 weeks. A year.

A year of being a mama.

I’m terrible with time anyway, but these months have been both fast, slow, easy, hard, and many other cliche opposite extremes. They have flown by at a snail’s pace.

Sometimes I try to remember last year, the experience of two babies on the inside of my body, and what a very strange and scary prospect it was. I remember how much it hurt to move while I was lying down, and I try to remember how really freaking cool it was to feel two babies rolling around in my tummy.  The kicking and the hiccuping and the salsa dancing on the inside of my body.  I also remember the uncertainty, the questions, the unknown of our future.

And now I have these giant babies, with faces and personalities, and I try to think back and reconcile, and think about them still being them, just on the inside. And it blows my mind.

I am still in such wonder and awe that these no-longer-tiny creatures grew inside my body. I mean, it’s a freaking miracle! And it happens all the time and everyone thinks theirs is a miracle, and it is.  But of course, mine are special, because they’re mine.

My birth experience was strange and surreal for me–it wasn’t wondrous or blissful or full of maternal joy. But when I held those little bodies up to my own body…it was perfect. Wonderful. Absolutely the best feeling I have ever felt. Not loud or obvious or fireworks. It was a quiet feeling of fullness, happiness, amazement, comfort, relief.

When the babies were teeny tiny, I would lean close to them to check their breathing, and every time I would be amazed and awed at the sound of their breath. They were breathing! Like real people! Who used to not exist! And now they did! Because my body literally gave them breath and life! Seriously–it’s incredible.

As they have grown and learned so many things, I have been truly amazed and agog to see the process of these tiny creatures growing and becoming. Once helpless blobs, and now moving, curious thinkers and explorers. Turning into people. It’s like a little miracle every day.

One of my favorite parts has been seeing my babies recognize me and smile at me. They know me! Their little faces light up, and my face lights up right back. It melts my heart a smidge every.single.time.

Every morning I am so happy to see my babies. Of course, every morning I am also exhausted and want to still be asleep, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that when I see them, I’m not tired anymore. (Well, temporarily, at least.) I can’t help but smile at them so big and feel so happy that they’re there, and that they’re mine.

Every evening we do bedtime stories in our living room. The babies are big enough and steady enough now that I can get them both sitting on my lap, and while my husband reads them a book, I just get to hold them, and squeeze them, and I kiss their sweet faces at almost every page. I can’t possibly hold them close enough or kiss them enough or memorize it enough.

They are so wonderful. And they’re mine!

I have two babies. This never ceases to surprise me and amaze me. I am a parent, a mama. A mother. To two small children, two small sons. These are common everyday words, but it still feels uncommon to me.

And they’re not technically babies any more. This never ceases to break my heart. It’s such a struggle to embrace the present, their presence, to live in the moment of what they’re like right now. My default seems to be wistful. They were so tiny at first. I didn’t pay enough attention, I didn’t know how much and how quickly it would change. I didn’t embrace it or memorize what it was really like. I was just trying to survive the days. And then the early days were suddenly over and I wasn’t quite prepared to move on so quickly. I’m trying to be more conscious about absorbing the moments now.

I hug them and hold them tight every day as much as I can. It’s never enough, is it?

Every day I get to hug them is the best day. It boggles my mind to think of all the days and years and changes to come, and what a privilege it will be to watch these little babies grow up. I hope I am worthy to be their mama. I am so happy and grateful I get to be their mama.

Oh, my sweet babies.

Sleep, sleep, sleep

The babies’ sleep regression lasted a little less than three weeks. It was the same kind of regression they had earlier this year (the 4 month sleep regression that hit them around 5.5 months; this 9 month regression hit around 10 months). As far as these things go, it probably wasn’t too awful–an hour to an hour and a half awake in the middle of the night, waking anywhere from 3 to 430. (I hear that a lot of babies wake up every hour or every two hours! I can’t imagine how difficult that is!) We would give them an ounce or more of food as demanded, and after a few days of this, we just brought them downstairs to sit and play quietly in dim light. No point in trying to stand around their room for an hour, and they were not about to play nicely in their cribs–no way, they were to be held, or they were to play.

This would have been easy to alternate between the two of us grownups if there were one baby. But we have two babies who both needed hugging and cuddling, and who both wanted bottles, so we needed two sets of arms to help them. Which meant both of us being awake for half the night (since we are night owls and were going to bed at 12 or 1am) and being super tired all the time. It really hit me after the first week. I felt like a zombie, desperate to get some rest. (But not, apparently, desperate enough to actually go to bed at a decent time. Night owl all the way!)

We/they eventually had a few days of better sleep and so we thought, phew, we’re in the clear. But then for close to a week, there were more wakings again. Not as long, thank goodness, but still being wide awake. We think there was some teething going on–their top teeth are erupting–and maybe some growing. Occasionally only one would be awake; sometimes the other would sleep through, and sometimes the other would wake up and realize he was hungry and wanted to play also.

During this little mini sleep thing, we noticed that they were protesting their room. They would wake up crying, and we would hold them, and if we headed toward the door and set foot over the threshold out of their room–the crying stopped like magic. Step back inside their room, waaaaah. Aha, babies, you won’t outsmart me! 3am is not playtime! Back to sleep you will go! They also did a lot more crying when we put them down for naps, even when they were clearly extremely exhausted and needing to sleep, just lots more crying and protesting that really wasn’t indicative of a problem.

So we began to do a very basic sleep training. Just a 5 minute wait period. We would hug and kiss them, put them down in the crib, give them a pacifier and a lovey, say I love you, and walk out. We would watch the clock and after 5 minutes go back in and lay them back down again without saying much, and leave again. Usually after another 2-3 minutes they would quiet down and go back to sleep. I don’t think I ever needed to go in a second time.

I didn’t keep track of what day we started this, or track the length of the cryings and waiting times. But in less than a week, they didn’t even cry for a full five minutes. And now, after maybe 2ish? less than that? weeks, they cry for less than a minute when we put them down or leave after a waking.

It’s not fun to hear the crying, but it doesn’t break my heart or anything. I know that they need to sleep, that they aren’t hungry or in pain. They just want to be awake and play, even if their little bodies say otherwise. I’m not torturing them, I’m not with-holding affection. They get plenty of snuggles and love from us during their awake hours. We are teaching them some boundaries and how to self-soothe. They need to be able to go to sleep on their own. (Well, I guess you could say that *we* need them to be able to go to sleep on their own. And that’s fair. Mama needs her space. Parents are people too.)

So we are fortunately that this sleep training ‘lite’ is working for us–the babies can help themselves, they can get to sleep and go back to sleep, which means they’re getting good rest and that the parents will be more rested too.

Well…eventually. I guess. We have still not recovered from the regression sleep debt, and the babies still have a wake up or two, short ones, overnight or too early in the morning, and we’re still going to bed too late. Now I’m having trouble going back to sleep after some of these wakings, which means that even when I have the chance to get extra sleep, my mind won’t let me. Torture!

10 months!

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Ten months! Double digit months! I can’t believe it.DSC_1024-001

This has been a big month–you are learning and doing so much! Here’s what you did and learned as nine-month-olds:

Emmett, big news for you this month–you finished wearing your helmet!

Obviously the biggest thing for both of you is that within the space of a week, you learned to get up on all fours, push backward, and then CRAWL! Yes, you are now crawling babies! Oh boy. I think you love being able to move around and explore.

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You’re also really improving your standing. We got you one of those activity tables that makes lots of noise. After the first week of playing with it, you became so much stronger and more stable on your feet. (And you love playing with that stupidly loud table! It is by far the most annoying toy to date.)

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One weekend we noticed that both of you were sitting up in your cribs, and yikes, we didn’t want anyone falling out! So the next day we had to lower the crib mattresses to protect you from yourselves. Kind of a little milestone to have ‘big baby’ cribs now!

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This month you finally graduated from always wanting to chew on your books to actually turning pages! You turn the book to hold it correctly, and you get it right side up about half the time, and you use your little fingers to separate and turn the pages. Oh my goodness, babies, it is just the cutest, sweetest thing.

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(And after you page through the book a few times…then you try to eat the book. 🙂 Several times I have found chunks of paper in someone’s mouth, freshly bitten off a corner. Yuck. Books are for reading, not for eating! Silly babies!)

In general you seem to love books already. We keep all your books in a bin in the living room/play zone, and this month you started bouncing and/or crawling to the book bin, leaning up and over to grab a book, and start reading! I can’t tell you how much I love seeing you be little mini bookworms! You love being read to, and turning the pages for us. I am so excited for all the years of reading we’ll all get to do together. So many stories await you!

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Oh, and I also got you some musical toys this month. Since you enjoyed the piano mat, but it did that annoying baby toy thing where, when you press something, it makes a bunch of noise instead of just one note. Apparently most baby toys do that, even the baby pianos. I just wanted to let you play with an actual keyboard that, when you hit a key, played only that note. I guess that kind of simplicity is asking too much of the current baby toy scene! Anyway, this month I went to Value Village and found one of those little eight key plastic pianos and a bigger, electronic keyboard. Sweet! You were definitely intrigued by the noise you could make, though you seem to enjoy even more turning over the things and banging on the back. Strange.

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Your Grandma brought down her full-size keyboard and WHOA is that intense! You make a lot of noise pressing the keys and pressing all the buttons that change the type of sound. It can get pretty loud, but you really like it. Again, I can’t wait until you’re old enough to know a little more what you’re doing and can play around with music. So much fun we’re going to have! Daddy can play the piano and looks forward to playing with you guys.

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Malcolm, you learned to clap this month. You only did it briefly though. Emmett, you sort of learned to wave, but again, only did it briefly. I’m sure we’ll start seeing both of those skills again soon enough.

Lots of feeding-related growth this month. First, after several easy months of feeding you in your Bumbo and Super Seat, you started getting wiggly, so we put you back in your high chairs for feedings. We also moved up to three meals a day of solids (mostly purees). You are doing really well with food and eating!

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You are working on picking things up. Emmett, you are doing well with your pincer grasp, very deliberately picking up a puff with your thumb and forefinger, and bringing it to your mouth. Malcolm, you still kind of rake over a puff with your whole hand and stuff it toward your mouth. Not quite as effective as you want it to be, but I’m sure you’ll get there soon enough.

You are FINALLY able (and willing) to hold your own bottles! Hallelujah! This makes feeding time SO much easier. I love it. We also started decreasing (slightly) the amount of formula you’re getting, since you’re getting more solids. In a few months you’ll need to be eating a lot more real food! When we remember to give them to you, you’re doing well with your sippy cups. You are great at picking them up and holding them up, and you mostly hold them the right way. It’s great to have for you in the car seats, since we can just stick them in the cup holders and you can grab them.

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A random super cute thing you started doing is crawling into our laps. When one of us is on the playmat near you, you’ll get closer and sort of pull or push yourself up onto our legs or lap. It is so sweet! You’re not quite coming in to snuggle, but now I am so looking forward to that. God, I still love holding and snuggling with you babies so much! I can’t wait til it’s a little more two-sided. 🙂

This month was the big fall consignment sale season, so I got a few new big toys. One was a little toy horse that rolls and rocks too. It was cheap and I figured in a few months you might like it. Well. That same day I put you on the horse and oh my, you loved it! You figured out how to sit on it, and you quickly figured out how to hold on to the handles, and then you figured out you could push up and ‘stand’ on the footbed. It’s like you’re saying “Giddyup, horsey!” So cute!

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We had our first real family vacation, to the Oregon coast. You dipped your feet into the Pacific Ocean! Hopefully we will return every summer at least once.

It is really fun to watch you learn and develop so much. I know there’s so much going on in your little brains, figuring out your bodies and the world around you. I’m always here to help and to snuggle you. 🙂

love love love,

mama

Milestones: Crawling!

On September 1, this happened: IMG_1244

Both babies were up on all all fours. Within a day or two they figured out how to push backward on their hands, and would back up around the living room/play area. Occasionally one of them would end up under a table. Silly babies. They also got really good at going from all fours to backing up to sitting on their bums.

One week later, Emmett did this:

The following day, Malcolm did this:

Aren’t these the cutest little halting crawls you’ve ever seen? I just couldn’t believe that they were actually crawling! And of course I had to entice them with things they love to grab: my water bottle and my big camera.

Two days later, they were getting a little more coordinated:

Oh, and by now Malcolm had found the stairs.

One week later they were practically pros:

It’s been a month and geez, they motor all over the place.

It’s adorable. It’s also insanely quick. We’ve slowly worked on making the living area safer, but man, they do find their way into everything!

It was really nice for these last few months, when they could sit up and stay in one place, happily playing and hanging out. Now that they are mobile, and increasingly fast, they require a quicker eye and ear. But it is nice that they can explore different toys and things. They still like to be near each other, and will frequently follow each other to a different part of the room. I swear they were playing follow the leader in the kitchen the other day. Of course, this also means that when one finds a fun toy, the other one is close behind to steal it. Sigh.

Sensory Bins, Take One

Earlier this month, I suddenly thought to myself, “Oh my god! I’m stunting my babies’ growth by not doing sensory bins! I need to do sensory bins, stat!” And then I looked at pinterest and like twenty resulting blog posts about sensory bins.

The main thing I kept thinking was, “But my babies are going to eat everything.” Which put most of the bin ideas right out.

But I did see one with giant pasta shells and plastic links. I already had links, so I went to the dollar store for a couple cheap, small bins, and WalMart for some cheap big pasta.

I was all proud of myself and my new sensory bin. I sat the babies together and set the bin down, anticipating all kinds of fun and exploration.

Immediately, Malcolm grabbed a shell and put it in his mouth. Emmett grabbed the bin and shook it until it was empty.

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Malcolm did also figure out he could bang two shells together to make a nice sound. So he alternated between eating them and clapping them.

Sigh. So much for exploration and growth and Pinterest-worthy anything. Oh, babies.

Then I realized that I could easily do a water sensory bin, too! And even easier than the pasta one! They love splashing in the bath and in the baby pool. So just put some water in a bin and let them go to town!

So I filled the second bin three-fourths full with water, and put it in the kitchen, then brought the babies over.

After half a second they started splashing splashing splashing away.

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I quickly realized that I would need a towel for the water being splashed onto the floor. I ran upstairs and grabbed an extra bath towel from the linen closet. By the time I got back, less than sixty seconds later, all of the water was out of the bin and on the floor.

Sigh. Oh, babies.

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At least I have backup activity if the babies get bored–give them some pasta shells to eat or a bunch of water to spill on the floor.

Milestone: First Haircuts!

The babies have been getting seriously shaggy-haired. It was time for professional help, so I made an appointment at Little Clippers for the day before their nine month ‘birthday.’ It seems to be THE place for baby/kid haircuts in the Portland area. Of course, it’s in one of the Portland suburbs, which meant the total time (travel+haircut+travel) could cut into danger territory (ie, overlap with feeding and/or nap or something). But I figured I should just do it already.

I know that this is traditionally an emotional event for mamas, and that a lot of them either cry when their baby’s hair is cut for the first time, or just don’t get it cut at all. However…I haven’t really felt that. I did feel a pang knowing that this hair being cut was their ‘original’ hair they’d had in the womb. But I’d already trimmed their mullet wings a few months ago and had saved snippets of hair; I also knew that this salon did a special thing for First Haircuts.

Anyway, I was a couple minutes late for our appointment, made even later because I had to put both babies into the double stroller in order to get from the parking lot to the salon. Can’t just pick up two babies and all the stuff and waltz in!

I was asked what cartoons or shows they like to watch. I was like, “um…I don’t know?” thinking, they’re nine months old, why would they be watching anything at all? What makes this place kid-friendly is A) kid videos playing at each station to entertain and/or hypnotize the kids to keep still, and B) cute ‘cars’ instead of regular barber seats.

The second I got both babies down into their cars, they both starting bawling. Like loud, seriously upset crying. I think they were just confused and overwhelmed and overstimulated. New people, lots of noises (they hate loud sounds like hairdryers and blenders right now), lots of bright colors and moving screens and mirrors. I think it was just all too much for them.

So–two screaming babies and of course there’s only one of me. I picked up Emmett because he seemed more freaked out of the two. I did my best to soothe Malcolm while not being able to pick him up or do much at all. I grabbed his pacifier from the diaper bag and tried to hold it in his mouth. This only sort of worked.

I said wryly to the ladies, “…And this is why I don’t take them out by myself.” I seriously pondered just leaving, if it was going to be such a disaster. Argh. But we were there, I figured we should just power through it and it would be over fairly quickly.

Malcolm quieted a little, but was still clearly unnerved. Another lady came over to hold the pacifier for Malcolm and try to calm him down.

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His stylist finally got to work, but Emmett was still really upset. I put him in his seat anyway as he continued to bawl. Huge tears rolling down his little cheeks. He continued to sob as his stylist got going. And of course, me being the terrible mama that I am, I had to grab my camera to document everything. I mean, come on, this was my babies’ first haircuts!

The chaos definitely helped me not feel emotional or anything. If anything, I was stressed, not sad.

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By the end, Malcolm was totally quiet and Emmett was only sniffling. The stylists worked really quickly and in broad strokes to get some shape/control to the babies’ hair.

And now for the rest of the photos. They make me laugh in such an ‘awww’ way.

Here’s a couple more of Malcolm:

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Just look at that face! Poor baby!!

And here’s Emmett.

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So much hair!

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Awww, poor baby!!

In the end, we got in and out fairly quickly, considering the meltdowns. I do think it was worth it so that their hair wasn’t falling down into their eyes. They do look a lot older with “real” haircuts, though. By the time they need another haircut, I think they’ll be ready for the experience and it will go smoother. I hope so anyway. 🙂