Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

June 19, 2018

Peas in a Pod


Can you tell which child is which? Answer key at the bottom of the post

“Who does she take after? Nicole or Alexis?” Was a frequent question right after Dana’s birth, followed by “Did they all have this much hair?” The latter question was much easier to answer – yes! – as for the former? Alexis maybe? I remember studying Dana’s face from the hospital recovery bed, trying to see either big sister in her features. Dana’s face was rounder like Alexis’, but her hair resembled Nicole’s. She simultaneously resembled both of her big sisters, and neither of them at the same time.


My three kids as two week old newborns

When friends and family asked a few weeks after birth, I’d tell them that Nicole had the most hair of the three, Dana second and Alexis’ third. That’s what my memory lead me to believe. Seeing them side by side I think Dana might take that crown.

Now that Dana has filled out a little there’s no question she’s a near carbon copy of Nicole. If I wasn’t the family photographer, I’d swear I wouldn’t be able to tell some of those photos apart. And I used to think Nicole and Alexis looked so much alike as newborns! Ironically, everyone tells me Dana looks like Nicole whenever we’re out and about. I don’t see the similarities as clearly between 5 year old Nicole and baby Dana, though I do find there baby pictures nearly identical.

Dana’s personality is still starting to show, so it’s hard to say which one of her sisters she will take after there. So far she seems to be a mellow baby, like big sister Alexis. She’s perfectly content to hide out and nap in the ergo during weekend outings, and rarely cries. Although she can’t stand to hear anyone else cry (a phenomenon I don’t remember with either big sister).

I’m pretty amazed at how early sisterly love takes hold.

Alexis still hugs and kisses Dana every chance she gets, first thing in the morning, after breakfaste, before leaving for school… Even if it’s only been a few minutes since the last hug and kiss. Dana adores the attention, even when it nearly knocks her over. The other day at dinner she got so excited when Alexis walked past her on her way to the bathroom, waving her arms and doing the happy baby dance. Alexis turned to her and said “I go poo and pee, then I give you hug and kiss! Okay, baby?” It was pretty adorable. She tells me all the time that “I like Baby Dana.”

Nicole can often be found sitting next to a fussing Dana, singing or dangling toys to entertain her. She tells me she loves the baby, and the baby is so cute. I’m surprised baby cuteness would register to a not quite six year old, but it really has! She loves showing off Dana whenever the two of us pick her up from camp, referring to Dana as “her baby.” Not “her baby sister”, but “her baby.”

Watching their relationships develop with each other is my favorite part of being their mom.

So which child was which? Top left: Nicole, Top right: Dana, bottom left: Nicole, bottom right: Alexis.

June 10, 2018

Dana at Five Months

Dear Dana,

I have a confession to make. I still keep thinking of you as my itty bitty newborn. That’s partly because you are my last and I want to hold onto this baby stage forever and partly because, in a lot of ways you still have newborn traits.

Unlike you’re two big sisters who were on to the bigger bottles and drinking 6 ozes after only a couple of months, you still prefer a more modest 3 or 4 oz snack more often. Even overnight it’s rare you’ll take five oz at once as measured by pumping output afterwards. (I think that may be why you’re still waking up regularly once a night, that tummy just isn’t as full). Speaking of sleeping, you still have some newborn traits there as well. While you’ll occasionally nap for a few hours in the crib, you prefer frequent newborn cat naps on mommy. You’ll fall asleep nursing and wake up within a half an hour, refreshed and recharged. I rarely have a chance to put you down in the crib before your quick snooze is over.

You know how you’re not like a newborn? You insist on sitting. You get upset whenever we set you down on your back, either in your gym or on your blanket. You want to be vertical! I came down stairs once a few weeks ago to find you sitting next to daddy on the couch as he played with you, huge grin on your face. You looked so proud of you’re new found independence. We put you in the corner against the arm rest where there is at least some support, but you like to lean forward and do it on your own. It won’t be long now until you’re a completely independent sitter.

This month you started out the month officially a thumb sucker, just not when mommy has her camera. I can see this is becoming a game to you! The thumb sucking was short lived. Mommy picks up the camera, and the thumb comes out of your mouth with a huge grin. While you continue to suck it every once in a while, you’re using your hands more to explore your world lately.

We start solids next month and you seem R-E-A-D-Y. You have always been interested in what we’re eating. Day 1 at the hospital you would stop nursing and watch with interest when I crunches on some candy hearts. We were amazed at your ability to focus so early. To this day you stop what you’re doing and watch earnestly when someone near you is eating. You reach for nearby food, and making the tall tell chewing motions with your mouth. More importantly, you seem to need more than just milk to keep you satisfied. You may not be drinking much at each itteration, but you are requesting a meal more and more frequently.

Love Always,
Mommy and Daddy

May 12, 2018

Dana at Four Months

Dear Dana,

Shortly after you turned three months we moved you to the crib. I was reluctant, both sad you would no longer be beside me at night and worried we would disrupt your nighttime sleep, but we thought it might help with your napping and I wanted to get you used to the crib before the four month mark when most babies develop strong preferences about where and how they sleep. I’m happy to report you handled the change like a champ. You had an extra wake up the first night, but that was the extent of any descriptions, and you do seem to be napping better. I can usually get at least a half hour sleep cycle out of you in the crib, and lately it’s been even longer.

The other big change this month? You drink from a bottle now! You’ll drink between 3 and 4 ozes for Daddy. The trick was to switch nipples. I think you were frustrated with how much effort it took to get the milk came out of the bottle since you weren’t used to it yet. We tried a cheap freebie nipple that came with a package of ready made formula. Even though it was a “newborn” flow nipple the milk came out so fast you couldn’t help but gulp, and that triggered the sucking reflex. It was too fast for you, but once you realized the milk would come out of the bottle you were able to get the mechanics down. We switched you back to a nipple that was more your speed and you now you have no problem with the bottle. I’m happy to report you still prefer me.

This month you started really smiling. Really, really smiling. We could get smiles from you before, but they’re nothing compared to the ear to ear grin wide open mouth grins we now get from you now! And so easily! We could have called it a wrap at your monthly photo shoot with frame 1, it was seriously that good! No practice shots needed for you. I cannot wait to hear your first giggles. I have been giving you raspberries on your tummy and nibbling your neck, but so far you aren’t taking the bait. Maybe next month.

We got you to take the binky a few times this month, but not for very long. I mentioned it to your pediatrician who said at this point we’re unlikely to change you’re preferences. You may look so much like you’re sisters, but you’re determined to be wildly unique, aren’t you? You’re going to keep mommy on her toes, that’s for sure!

Love Always,
Mommy and Daddy

May 9, 2018

Bye Bye Productivity

The lack of sleep is starting to get to me. Most nights are usually split into two rounds of two to three hours each. As a result I feel myself being more and more sluggish as a slog through my todo list. I need to retool my approach, especially now that Dana is awake more during the day. More awake during the day means both fewer product hours on my phone while rocking her, and fewer productive hours while she’s napping in the crib. I try and reserve those few precious night time hours for what passes as sleep in this house.

I have a bit of a packing problem when it comes to tasks. During the day I have only pockets of free time, five or ten minutes here or there. In order to more easily find tasks that fit the time available I created a label for five, fifteen, and thirty minute tasks with a catchall “unknown” when it’s hard to estimate. I’m still trying to keep tasks short, but some just don’t fit the short mold. Now I have a “Quick and easy” filter for short tasks with either an approaching due date or no due date so I can knock out more. I can also find tasks that fit the blocks of free time I have.

As an aside, I now know I have approximately 28.6 hours worth of non reoccurring tasks on my plate, not including all the “unknown time” tasks or all the reoccurring cleaning, household and business management I need to be doing on a regular basis. No wonder I feel so perpetually behind.

For me, keeping things approachable is key to keeping up with the task list. That’s why I focus so much on short, micro tasks. The tasks list itself needs to be approachable too. I found if a project had 30 or more tasks, my eyes start to glaze over as I scan through the list, and some tasks fall off my radar. I have seven projects (personal, household, business, photography, etc) and created a variety of sub projects. I now have a “Datayze” sub-project and a sub-sub-project for new features, as well as a sub-sub-project for bugs. Cleaning now has different sub projects for tasks specific to certain rooms (e.g. bathrooms). It may seem like organizational overkill, but it appears to be helping.

Not all tasks are created equal. Mess may stress me out, but cleaning is not a critical task. I can skip a round of dusting, or three. Clean bathrooms will not help my business grow, nor my kids grow. How important a task is depends partially on when it’s due, and what category it’s in. To help me find the critical tasks amount the less important, I made a filter based on project and due date. To help ensure my task list doesn’t remain gigantic forever, I made a filter for outstanding tasks that have been on my list for forever.

I suppose if I continue reduce my task list by choosing to do less. My blog has been really hurting lately. I used to write posts while rocking Dana, but now rocking time has become brain storming time for my business. Many posts sit half edited on my phone. I suppose of all the things I’m doing these days, journaling is the least important. I don’t have to go back and finish them. But I enjoy going back over old entries and reliving old memories (even the bad ones). It’s kind of like how I feel about Facebook. For now I’m going to try and keep up with it, even if that means back posting.

I know I can’t keep up this fevered pace forever. Nor would I want to. Things should start to get easier once we have more sleep in this house.

With three kids with varying abilities and attention spans, it’s not easy to keep everyone engaged, stimulated and entertained simultaneously. Five-year-olds can be reasoned with, but infants are not known for their patience and understandings. Nor three-year-olds for that matter. As on top of things as I’ve felt during the days when it’s just Dana and I, the weekends with all five of us have felt a little crazy. That started to change this weekend.

Up until this point we had largely been trading off: one parent with the baby, the other with the older two. As the sole food source for the baby, I’m typically on baby duty while Domingo manages the girls but that only lasts so long before the girls start getting antsy for some mommy time of their own. Antsy often leads to attention seeking and misbehaving. Compounding the problem is the fact that none of the girls like hearing each other cry. Dana, especially, ratchets up the decibels to an unprecedented level whenever she hears her big sisters’ cry. (There is no way this kid is suited for daycare!) So weekends have felt a bit like trial by fire.

This afternoon I was sitting next to Dana in her gym, tickling Alexis under her chin as she lay across my lap. Nicole was besides us, working on one of her new puzzles, interrupted by the occasional Mr. Tickle Finger. I was watching all three girls myself, without any electronic crutches, while Domingo was simultaneously clearing the table from snack and setting up a new art project, and no one was bouncing off the walls. This weekend we did sight words, homework and math exercises. It was almost like I have five and a half years of parenting experience under my belt!

I’m still sometimes a little intimidated at the prospect of watching all three simultaneously, but it’s nice to start building some confidence. Domingo’s got a number of work trips queuing up for this summer. I need to go from feeling confident two-on-three, to feeling confident one-on-three. We’re getting there.

April 9, 2018

Dana at Three Months

Dear Dana,

And just like that we’re at month three. All months seem to fly by, but this past one was turbo speed.

This month we’ve been introducing the bottle. At first you were completely uninterested. We tried to get you to play with it, touching the nipple to your lips so you could smell the milk. A drop would dribble out to give you a taste. Instead of being intrigued, however, you’d suddenly realize you were hungry, and insist on me, even when I was hiding in another part of the house. After a few weeks you are just starting to get interested in the bottle. Last week you suckled with it for the first time ever, and drank an once for Grandma. I have full confidence now that you know how to drink from the bottle, since you did take some, it’s just a matter of preference. I can’t say that I’m terribly dissapointed you prefer me.

You’re still pretty firmly preferring your fist to binky, but we’re working on it too. I have less confidence that we’ll be able to change you’re mind on that one. I have only gotten you to keep it in your mouth a handful of times over the past month. Your fist, on the other hand, seems to live in your mouth. You will sometimes get just a finger in your mouth, and I’m sure it won’t be too long before you discover your thumb.

In terms of development, you are grabbing with two hands now. We have to watch you like a hawk as you, little miss, have two very eager sisters who want to share their toys. We have to constantly tell them that you are too little for their toys. The other day I found a mini my little pony figurine in your bouncy seat. Given you are too little to fetch it yourself, and mommy and daddy certainly didn’t give it to you, I’m going to have to credit your over generous sisters with that one.

Speaking of big sisters, you adore yours! You, Grandma and Alexis had quiet the long chat over lunch recently. Alexis kept asking us to translate your baby speak and you loved the attention. Nicole gets the biggest smiles from you (I’m going to have to recruit her as my photographer’s assistant). One of your favorite times of day is in the playroom just before bed. You love sitting in your chair, cooing and watching your sisters as they play. The time is second only to bath time in your eyes.

After a week long visit from Grandma and Grandpa, and with both big sisters home for spring vacation, we’re a little off schedule. You were having a decent nap in the crib almost everyday, but lately you struggle to stay asleep more than a sleep cycle. Our intention was to move you out of the rock n play and out of our room this month, but the timing doesn’t seem right. Besides, I am not ready for my itsiest bitest to grow up so quickly.

Love Always,
Mommy & Daddy

April 6, 2018

No Longer Like Squatters

In December Domingo and I finally figured out what to do with the big empty space by the entrance way. It’s intended to be a living room, but we already have the oversized family room with more than enough space to entertain friends and family. What we needed was a work space for the kids, a place to do homework and art projects. We moved their table from the upstairs playroom downstairs, and purchased a book bag shelf with cubby to house their book bags and all their supplies. All that was missing was a seat for adults to sit and watch the kids or read to them. I ordered a love seat online to complete the space.

I was amazed at the quality of the love seat. It was only slightly more than the very uncomfortable Ikea couch I had been sleeping on post giving birth, but with an incredibly soft fabric and a supportive cushion you could just sink into. I couldn’t help but think about replacing that canvas colored ikea couch, as well as the medium reddish brown rocking chair with the upholstery coming up besides it.

I felt kind of ridiculous replacing perfectly functional furniture (not exactly frugal!) but I’m so glad I did. The ikea couch and old rocking chair clashed. Neither was particularly comfortable, the rocking chair hadn’t aged well and the couch never was. It just seemed to disconnected. So hodgepodge. Neither felt particularly like they belonged. Not only does the new stuff match, but it’s much larger and fits the room better. Every time I walk down the stairs, turn the corner and catch a glimpse of the new furniture I feel content. Everything fits together. It’s as though we planned it. That added sitting space from the longer couch will be useful as our kids grow!

Between the new furniture, the filling of the last empty space and the new wall decorations and it’s finally starting to feel like a family lives here, and not like we squat here. After almost 3 years, it’s probably time to finish putting together the house.

March 27, 2018

Eight Anniversary

I cannot put into words how wonderful Domingo is, and how lucky I feel to have him in my life. Every year I think this is as good as it gets, and I cannot possibly love him any more. Yet here we are, each year more in love than the year before.

One of this year’s sweetest moments was from January. While waiting for the induction to start at the hospital, Domingo told me he brought something for me. Since I had been on the gestational diabetics diet, I wasn’t allowed any of the sweet treats I love. During that time I had had a particularly strong desire for chocolate donuts. Domingo had packed a small package of mini chocolate donuts in his hospital go bag. That way, the moment I was given the ok to eat, I could satisfy my sweet tooth. It was an especially sweet moment because he insisted I eat them all, even though the hospital cafeteria closed at 3pm and he was left with only vending machine as his only option.

It should be no surprise that the sweetest guy in the world is father to the sweetest girls in the world. Alexis is better at remembering to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ than I am! Her favorite saying these days is “you’re the best!” and will thank you for the smallest things. Nicole is amazingly empathetic, and will often take the lesser toy or snack because she doesn’t want to see her sister be sad. A few weeks ago little sister was scolded for purposely annoying Nicole. Nicole told me I was too harsh and gave Alexis a hug, telling her she only wanted her to be happy.

I still can’t believe I got exactly the family I was hoping for. My business continues to grow, in no small part due to the support of my family encouraging me along the way. The wildlife around our house is a photographers dream. A few days ago I saw, and photographed, my first coyote.

What more could a person ask for?

March 12, 2018

Dana At Two Months

Dear Dana,

Nothing tugs at a mamas heart strings more than her last baby growing out of newborn size clothes, or newborn diapers, or needing the newborn insert removed from the car seat. You passed all three milestones at once, right around six weeks. You’re now up to 10lbs, and the 30th percentile for weight. There’s no denying that my itty bitty is growing. I’m trying to soak in as much of your newness as you as I can; your velvety soft skin, the sweet new baby smell, the silky soft hair atop your head and the peach fuzz in back. As happy as I am to see you growing, a piece of me wishes you’d stay this way forever.

New things you are doing this past month include smiling, holding, and coo-cooing. You started smiling just after you turned one month. You’re still really good at what Daddy and I call “concern face”, a furrowed brow and skeptical stair, but now you’ll just back and forth between the biggest smiles and concern. In terms of holding your very good at clenching your fist around my hair when I hold you, and once held onto the hem of my shirt when you wanted to nurse. You’re even good at hooking the toys of your gym with your toes. I thought it was just coincidence, but you’ve done it multiple days and I have the photographic evidence! You’re not grabbing yet, but should something venture near you, it’s yours.

We’ve been working on napping in the crib, and I’m happy to report it’s getting easier. You’ve had two long siestas (2 and 3 hours) and a whole bunch of half hour catnaps. At night you’ve blessed us with some 10-11 hour stretches, although 7-8 is more typical, and there are some days you wake up after just 5 for a feed. We’re still not on much of a consistent schedule, but we’re getting there. I can time the morning nap fairly reliably at this point. Once the afternoon hits I’m fallowing your lead when it comes to nap time.

You have discovered your fist and have given up interest in your binky. I even tried different types of binkis. No dice. Your fist is far superior. This month we’ll be introducing you to the bottle. Your two big sisters are eager to lend a helping hand!

Love Always,
Mommy and Daddy

March 10, 2018

Adding Dana to the Wall

One sign that it’s time to update the photos on the wall? When the kids can no longer recognize themselves in the. An disagreement started the other day about who was who. Both Alexis and Nicole where convinced the photo of a 18 month old Nicole was them. And that three month old photo of Alexis? Alexis was sure it was baby Dana and nothing could convince her otherwise.

I had wanted to get photos of Dana up on my wall for a while. All I needed was the motivation. Cue said motivation.

The top photo of Domingo and I is from our honeymoon, I suspect it will stay there forever. The photo of the three girls together will likely as well. Those are such special moments. I’m considering keeping the Nicole as an astronaut as the quintessential Nicole photo. I’ve been meaning to replace the photo on the left of Domingo and I with a family photo, but it’s still proving challenging. Alexis and Dana photos will likely be replaced some day with their quintessential versions at some point.

Alexis is so adorable. She noticed the new photos right away and actually thanked me for putting them up! She is amazingly consistent about always using her ‘please’, ‘thank you’s and ‘your welcome’s.

This weekend I also put up the butterfly footprints on our wall.

I had a bit of a dilemma with these. I had previously done Nicole & Alexis’ prints back when we moved into the house. At the time Dana was a daydream. I loved the frames I was using, and knew they may no longer be manufactured should I want to add another set of prints a few years down the line. So I purchased an extra frame in case the daydream came to be. I actually purchased 4 extra frames to cover all possible scenarios. A 4×6 frame in case I had the prints of a newborn child to add. Two more 8x10s in case I wanted to take all three kids’ prints from the same time period, but also wanted to keep the existing prints for my memory chest. And finally, a 10×14 as I couldn’t be sure how big a possible five year old’s feet would be and thought there was a chance I might need a bigger size. I over think everything.

I meant to also purchase a 5×7 increase the 4×6 wasn’t big enough, but there was none in stock. Wouldn’t you know the one frame I needed for Dana was that 5×7, which never came back in stock?

I thought Dana might looked tact on if I used a different frame. But I also liked the existing frames, and couldn’t find a close enough match. The solution? More butterflies! We now have two sets, when we moved in to our forever home, and when our family became complete. It might be a little too much for some people, but I like it. I did consider taking Nicole’s newborn foot print and faking a third set so I have one from when each girl was a baby, but six butterflies is probably a little too much, even for me.

Next up, a collage three years in the making. I just need to find the strength to move some furniture first.

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