Sunday, September 30, 2012

18 Months

Wow, you're (more than) half-way to your second birthday...  You know, I cannot remember life before you were born.  It's like you've always been here; yet, it really doesn't seem like that long ago that we were heading to the hospital to have you.  You (and your brother) are my world.  You are the single most loving, innocent, happy, frustrating, silly person I have ever known.

At 18 months you are:

A typical big sister.  You give tons of kisses and hugs, pokes and occasionally love taps.  You get pissed when you're not the center of attention for more than 0.5 seconds.  You love to share your things with Parker, but HATE when Daddy or I try to share your things with Parker.  You try to pick him up and soothe him (cutest sight I've ever seen).

Park says, "Lu, get out of my grill."

Repeating everything you hear.  You suddenly enunciate your words.  Example:  thank you used to be "di-di", but now it's "tank ew".  As a result, you seldom use sign language anymore...unless you're around unfamiliar people.

Climbing.  Climbing, climbing, CLIMBING!  I wish you would stop.  You have absolutely no fear.  You've fallen off our bed more times than I care to admit.  We've tried to stop you, but you don't listen for beans.  I guess you'll figure it out on your own eventually.

Using the baby gear as much or more than your brother.

Testing our limits every chance you get.

Really making us regret the positioning of that light switch.

Coloring on the walls.

Enjoying Golden Eagle Park, since the weather is a smidge cooler and Daddy joined the softball team.

Eating better than you have in a long time, but still eating very little.  You're more of an all-day grazer.  Oh!  And we introduced you to fruit snacks...kind of a big mistake...

Drinking significantly less milk.  I usually only give it to you first thing in the morning, naptime, and bedtime.  I would guestimate between 15-20 ounces per day.  

No longer potty training.  We bought a little potty, and gave up shortly after.

Funny.  You lay on the floor outside the bathroom door and say "Hi" over and over again.

Relatively well behaved.  We had a couple play dates this last month, and you only bit once.  Improvement!  

Taking one nap each day.  I put you down at noon, and you wake anytime between 1:30-3:00.  (I thoroughly enjoy the 3:00 days...)

Going to bed at 8:00 and waking at 7:30.

Able to wear a pony tail and pig tails.  Finally!!!

All teeth.  You have 14 teeth.  This month you cut two top molars and canines.

28 pounds and 33 inches, 90th percentile for both.

Wearing 18-24 month clothing, and sporting some sweet new kicks.

Healthy!  Just a yeast rash on your bum.

We love you, beautiful.  We can't wait for the holidays this year!  So many fun things that you'll get to enjoy this year!!!  The pumpkin patch, state fair, Thanksgiving Day Parade, meeting Santa, Christmas Lights, baking (or taste-testing), Christmas morning!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Busy Baking

I'm a busy person.  I am never content to sit still and enjoy the moment.  Here's what I mean by that...most moms use their maternity leave to rest, adjust to motherhood, and snuggle their new baby; but not me.  I am not like most moms.  My maternity leave is being used to start my own business.  My own bakery.  

Something Sweet by Tay is a family-owned and operated bakery primarily serving the Phoenix metropolitan area.  We offer all sorts of yummy things:  cookies, cupcakes, younameit.  If you're craving it, we can bake it.  Our specialty is Royal Icing Sugar Cookies.  They are unique, delicious, and completely customizable.  Served on a platter or as favors, these cookies are the perfect ending to any event. 

I hope you'll wish me luck on this adventure (and/or keep me in mind for all future baking needs).  As a thank you for your support I'm offering my readers a 15 percent discount through October 31, just mention Growing Baby Shelton when placing your order.  And be sure to "like" our Facebook page for future monthly specials and giveaways!

(If you're located outside of Arizona, don't feel bad!  Our Royal Icing Sugar Cookies can be shipped!!!) 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Well-Baby Visits

I hate going to the doctor (not that anyone really likes going); but I really hate going to the doctor with two kids.

Lucy was due for her 18-month visit, and Parker was due for his 1-month visit just a couple days later.  (Monthly birthday posts are coming, promise.)  In theory, consecutive appointments are great.  In reality, they are twice as much work, requiring twice as much manpower.  And, unfortunately for me, Casey couldn't get the time off work.  So I recruited Grammy for the job.

Naturally, we were late for our appointment.  (Russo's are biologically programmed to be late for everything, in case you were wondering.  And when offspring are in tow, you know we haven't got a chance in Hell.)  Lu happily stepped up onto the big kid scale, and weighed in at an impressive 28 pounds; she measured 33 inches-- 90th percentile for both.  Then she protested when Park got to go in the baby scale.  Parker weighed in at 11 pounds and measured 21.25 inches-- 80th percentile for weight and 10th for height.

Parker's assessment was relatively painless, and he didn't have any vaccinations this visit.  Dr. P mentioned one concern about his neck muscles on the left side.  He tends to favor his left side, because the neck muscle is tight.  We have to massage the muscle and be more diligent about his positioning.  She also commented on his congestion.  It's common for newborns to experience congestion because the change in environment and fluid in the lungs, but, at 5 weeks, that should have cleared.  We are to clean the house more often and thoroughly to reduce potential allergens.  Other than that, Parker is doing everything he's supposed to.  Good boy!

Lucy's assessment was super quick.  She's healthy and sassy, can't ask for much more than that.  Dr. P was impressed with her vocab.  The one issue she has is a little yeast rash on her bum, but it should clear with an anti-fungal ointment.

We emerged from the office over two hours later, after a flu shot and visit to the treasure chest.  I don't know that I'll ever be brave enough to attempt one of these visits solo...someone was either crying, whining, climbing, or rooting while the other was being examed.  The joys of 2U2! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I missed breastfeeding

I did not miss the leaky boobs.

(My kids will appreciate that I blogged about this in the years to come.  I know it.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2U2: Week Four (and then some)

We're still alive!  Are you surprised?  I am.

Blogging is near impossible as of late.  I have so much that I want to share, and absolutely no time to do so.  My life is consumed by these two tiny Sheltons between the hours of 6:30 am - 8:00 pm.  I'm tempted to blog during naptime, but then I lose my one opportunity to nap be productive around the house; and, of course, once the kids go down for the night, we like to have a little quality husband and wife time (or as we like to refer to it, an Entourage marathon).  I'm happy that I was able to keep up the 2U2 series for the first four weeks (albeit not always in a timely manner), but holy cow are these posts time consuming...I'll be doing monthly updates from here on out.

So, for the lazy or short-on-time readers, here is the condensed version of our fourth week:  my nipples are on fire (not in a good way), sleep sucks AGAIN, momma had a meltdown, there was a tarantula in our drive way, and I have mastered the art of leaving the house with two kids. 

Now for the long version:

Parker is still exclusively breastfed and nursing every three hours.  He's very alert during his waketime and nursing sessions.  Casey gave Parker his first bottle on Monday, and had no problems.  We are using my favorite bottle, the Playtex Nurser Drop-In.  I nursed Parker after he finished the bottle to help avoid nipple confusion.  We were anxious to introduce the bottle much earlier than we did with Lucy.  The plan is to feed Parker by bottle once each day so that he's familiar with it (you know, for those extremely rare occasions that I'm not around to nurse him).

Ok, so about my nipples (haha), for some bizarre reason they are both cracked.  Nursing is pretty uncomfortable for the first 30 seconds - no problems once Park is latched and my milk has let down.  I would have expected this during the first two weeks, but not the FOURTH.  What gives??   

I have been reminded once again that newborn sleep habits are not all the same.  Park decided to add a little spice to our daily routine over the last week...the 2 hour nap (and 3 hour schedule) are no more.  Sometimes he'll sleep for 45 minutes, other times he'll sleep for 1.5 hours.  I very, verrrry rarely have to wake him after 2 hours.  Maybe it's another growth spurt?  I put Parker down awake, but drowsy, and swaddled with his arms free.  If I catch him at the right moment, he won't cry at all or he'll CIO for 1-2 minutes.  If I don't catch him at the right moment, he'll cry for up to 20 minutes.  His waketime varies; I try to watch for his sleep cues after 60 minutes and follow his lead. 

Lucy is officially down to one nap.  I try to put her down at noon, and she'll typically sleep for 1.5 hours.  (Today she spoiled me with a 3 hour nap.  Thanks honey!)  She'll stay in her crib for up to an hour after her nap to read and play.  

Parker's bedtime is dependent on his last nap, usually somewhere between 8:00-8:30, and consistently wakes at 6:30 each morning.  The first two stretches of sleep are the best at 2-3 hours, after that its every 1.5 hours.  It makes for a very long night...

Lu's bedtime is at 8:00 and she wakes between 7:00-8:00.    

Lucy is in cloth during the day and a disposable at night.  Parker is half cloth and half disposable during the day, and disposables at night.  We are having a really hard time with prefolds this time around.  Parker soaks through them right away and then (understandably) wants to be changed.  I put him in a pocket diaper this evening and it fit really well on the smallest setting.  I might switch him to pockets full time, and then use the prefolds on Lucy. 

::shakes head::  Lucy, Lucy, Lucy...such a beast at times.  If she doesn't have my or Casey's full attention, she acts out.  It's the worst when I'm nursing Parker.  She'll swing from the curtains, stand on the coffee table, yank the night light or baby monitor, dump the contents of the laundry basket all over the floor, etc.  I've tried reading to her, cuddling, and even Barney DVDs, but nothing holds her attention.  Pinching was also a big problem last week.

Contrarily, she's starting to console Parker when I can't get to him right away.  She mimics what I usually do to soothe him - kissing his cheeks and rubbing his head or belly.  So sweet to watch!

We ventured out of the house several times last week.  We did some shopping, visited Grampy at the hospital, and even went to Story Time at the library.  It's a lot of work, but worth it to avoid getting cabin fever...because cabin fever leads to the one I had on Thursday.  The house was trashed before the day even started and I had absolutely no patience for it.  I went batshit crazy for all of 20 minutes, and then my friends and mother-in-law reasoned with me.  My expectations for myself and the house are up HERE and they need to be down here.

Oh, and we had a tarantula in our driveway.  First one in this house.  /dies

Another week down with two kids.  TWO KIDS.  I still find myself needing to be reminded.  We have not one, but TWO little lives that we are responsible for nurturing and molding.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the number of diapers I've changed and how few hours I've slept that I forget that...

"Hey Parker, eat this Cheez-It"
Bahahaha! "Mom, mom!  He doesn't like the Cheez-It!"
All the cousins!
Pointing out a bird or a plane...(or Superman)
Reppin' the Albert.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2U2: Week Three

Week Three had it's ups and downs...  We made some progress, and we're slowly figuring things out.  It hasn't been as easy as I expected or as hard as I remembered.  Somethings, like breastfeeding, are second nature now.  Other things, like sleeping, aren't as textbook as I had hoped...

Here's a recap of our third week:

Is going well.  Park is a great breastfeeder, still exclusively breastfed.  He's even starting to get chubby!  He nurses for 20-30 minutes every three hours.  He has been more alert, so I don't always have to change his diaper to wake him.

In an effort to help Parker get his days and nights straight, I decided to follow Kate's suggestion, and started waking him from naps after 2 hours (instead of 3 hours).  His typical waketime is 60 minutes, which puts us on a three hour schedule.  Parker goes down awake and swaddled.  Prior to this week, he laid there quietly until he fell asleep; but, this week, he's started crying-it-out.  The first time he cried, I checked on him immediately.  After checking his diaper and attempting to nurse, we decided to try letting him CIO; he cried for 8 minutes.  It was a little tough, but nothing compared to the first time Lucy cried-it-out.  He seldom cries for more than 5 minutes.

I also want to mention that we're swaddling a little differently than we did Lucy.  Our nurses in Postpartum told us to leave Parker's arms outside of the swaddle to reduce the risk of SIDS.  I leave his arms free or won't swaddle at all for naps, and then at bedtime I'll wrap his arms to make sure he stays warm.  (Hoping that makes breaking the swaddle habit a little easier in a few months!)

Lu is in the process of dropping her morning nap.  Sadness.  Most days she'll go down between 12-1, depending on lunch, and sleep for 1.5 hours; but sometimes she'll surprise us and take two naps.

We had some improvement from Week Two!  Park goes down between 7:30 and 8:30, and sleeps for 4 hours; I nurse him, change his diaper, and return him to the pack and play.  The rest of the night is kind of choppy...  After the first 4 hour stretch, he sleeps for 3 hours, then 2.5 hours, then 1 hour, and our daytime routine usually starts between 7:30 and 8:00.  So, still not perfect, but progress nonetheless.

Lucy has been going down at 8:00 and waking between 8:00 and 8:30.  (Which I appreciate mucho!)

Both kids are in cloth during the day and disposables at night.  Parker is a very heavy wetter compared to Lucy.  I don't remember Lucy ever soaking through a prefold when she was his age; Parker, on the other hand, soaks through in an hour.  It's disrupting his sleep.  He's still too small for pocket diapers, so, for now, it's disposables to the rescue.  During the day he wears prefolds and Thirsties covers.  Lu wears BumGenius 4.0 pockets or Thirsties covers with Flip inserts.  Ah, and I'm still laundering each day.      

Literally as soon as I hit 'Publish' on last week's update, Lucy turned into this crazy jealous thing.  She shrieks whenever Casey holds Parker, and she acts out when I hold him.  She climbs up on tables, on the baby swing, the stairs, she pulls everything out of non-baby-proofed cabinets and drawers, yanks out every.single.wipe, yells, hits, yadda yadda yadda.  She still loves her brother, but she does not love to share her parents with him.  She smothers Park with kisses and hugs and occasionally love taps.  (We're working on the hitting...)

Is it horrible that I'm ready to wave the white flag?  One kid is hard enough, but 2U2 is REALLY HARD.  This last week I questioned whether I was cut out to stay home.  What does that say about me if I think a daycare is more capable of handling my kids than I am??  Maybe it's Postpartum Depression, or maybe it's just sleep deprivation, but I feel overwhelmed sometimes.  I feel guilty for snapping at Lucy.  I don't know how other SAHMs spend their days with their kids - doing projects or something educational.  I feel unproductive - like, if I'm home, I should be cooking and cleaning, and teaching Lucy something.  Instead the house is trashed and we're living off those freezer meals that I made when I was pregnant, and I'm embarrassed when Casey walks in the door each night.

And on that note, here's some pictures of the kids to distract you from my depressing ass...

BOOM!  Big wheel!
We color coordinate our stand mixers and bath towels.  No big.
The neck strength on this one...sheesh

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Product Review: Dove Daily Moisture Conditioner

Fact:  I have dry hair...even after chopping off 10+ inches.     

Every time I get my hair cut, my hair dresser asks me what conditioner I've been using.  I then lie and say that I've been using an expensive salon brand to avoid her sales pitch.  I do this because I don't want to be lectured can't justify spending $20 on one bottle of conditioner.

Living in Arizona doesn't help matters.  Between the triple-digit temperatures and all that time spent in the pool (because of said triple-digit temperatures) my hair resembles that of a scarecrow.

Enter Dove Daily Moisture Conditioner.  Not only does it fall within my budget, it restores my hair to a silky smooth, healthy state.  Dove Daily Moisture Conditioner is made with a patented Micro Moisture Serum that replenishes essential moisture, and also protects hair from future moisture loss.  It's thick, rich formula targets the damaged hair and provides the nourishment needed for repair.

I love this conditioner.  (And Casey loves the way it makes my hair smell!)  I saw noticeable results within days of using this product.  No more frizz and no more straw; my hair is now soft and shiny.  I've even used my flat iron every day this week and haven't had a single flyaway or static.  Another reason I love this conditioner, it is virtually weightless.  I've been less than impressed with the conditioning treatments of other brands - my hair was left feeling greasy and gross; but, Dove Daily Moisture Conditioner delivered.  It made my hair feel light and natural.  (Now the real test will be when I see my hair dresser next...)             

Do you notice that your hair tends to become dry and rough in the summer months? Give Dove Daily Moisture Conditioner a try!


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Be sure to visit Dove® to get a coupon for $1.50 off Dove Hair Therapy products.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2U2: Week Two

I'm kind of a pessimist.  If you know me at all, this isn't news to you.  I like to expect the worst and then be pleasantly surprised when life doesn't suck.  So when Casey went back to work last Monday, I did just that.  Fortunately, Parker still sleeps a ton (well, during the day at least...), so most of the time it's just me and Lu hanging out while he naps; it's those short intervals when they're both awake that things get interesting.

Here's a recap of our second week:

All signs of engorgement are gone.  Praise God!  Parker is still exclusively breastfed and latching well.  I think his 2 week growth spurt started on Friday, so he's been eating even more frequently.  He tends to be more alert and interested during his nighttime nursing sessions; I have to change his diaper before switching breasts during the daytime nursing sessions to make sure he's awake.

Naps are Parker's strong suit, more so than nighttime sleep.  He extended his waketime over the last week and is now between 45-60 minutes.  Although there were several occasions that he surpassed his typical waketime and refused to sleep on Friday...when he was up for 6 consecutive hours...and again on Saturday, when he was up for 3 consecutive hours (you know, during our newborn session).  He naps for 3 hours, and I wake him almost every time.  I put him down awake but drowsy, and swaddled.  He still doesn't seem to mind all the noise from Sissy. 

Lucy is still taking two naps a day, usually at 10:30 and 3:30, and sleeps for 1.5-2 hours each time.  She goes down with her Boppy, blankie, sippy, monkey, and a book.  I love naptime.

To put it simply, I dread going to bed each night.  (Maybe I jinxed our good luck with last week's update?)  Parker has his days and nights mixed up.  He sleeps like a rock all day and is drowsy during his waketime; but, come nighttime, he's wide awake, usually for 60 minutes, and sleeping in 1.5 hour intervals.  IT'S BRUTAL.  Everything I've read says to wait it out, and that it will resolve on it's own, but that can take up to one month.  We usually end up bed-sharing by the end of the night because I'm just so desperate for sleep...  I'm frustrated.  I don't want to fall into the same bad habits that I did with Lucy (nursing to soothe, bed-sharing out of desperation, yadda yadda yadda).

I wanted to start CIO, but Parker had (still has) the worst congestion AND two clogged tear ducts (which seem to be better now)...and he's in the middle of his 2 week growth it didn't seem right.       

Lu has been going down at 8 pm, and sleeping in later and later!  Between 7:30-8:30!!!  Thank you, sweet girl!

Both kiddos are in cloth.  (Except for Lu at bedtime.)  Parker is in prefolds and Thirsties covers - seriously, it's the only cover worth purchasing.  I use The Newspaper fold (a.k.a. Angel Wing fold), and Casey uses The Twist.  We haven't had any leaks and that makes me one happy, happy girl.  We were able to stop circumcision care after 10 days, which has saved us some time and mess during each change.

I've been laundering each day, and we've never run out of clean diapers.  ::knocks on wood::  Lu is usually in BumGenius 4.0 pockets or a Thirsties cover with a Flip insert.  (Trying to keep the prefolds set aside for Parker.)

Lu is still very much in love with her baby brother.  She loves to give him kisses and hugs.  Sometimes she's a little too rough; she wants to play with him like she plays with us...which involves hitting, kicking, licking, etc.  This morning she got really pissed when I used one of her blankets to cushion him; she tried to yank it out from under him.

She hasn't shown any signs of jealousy.  When I'm nursing Parker, she's usually walking around the bedroom or couch (wherever we're situated) making a mess playing with her toys.  Sometimes she'll stand behind me and gently tap my back as I'm burping Parker.


It was a good week overall.  Parker's nasty umbilical cord fell off and we're all still alive (just tired).  We may even attempt to venture out of the house during Week Three.  Stay tuned!  

Monday, September 3, 2012

We make beautiful babies {Parker's Newborn Session}.

Parker's newborn session was originally scheduled for Monday, August 27, but we had to reschedule due to two clogged tear ducts and wicked congestion...  Fortunately for us, the always wonderful LaTricia Soucy was very understanding, and we were able to get together on Saturday.

Getting two kids to cooperate for pictures was interesting.  There was a lot of tickling, singing, and bribing...but it was worth it!  LaTricia captured some beautiful moments.  If you'd like to see the rest of Park's pictures, click HERE.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Postpartum Stuff

I'm not pregnant anymore!  Halle-frickin-lujah!!! 

Stomach sleeping. 
Pre-pregnancy clothing.

Dear God, it is good to be back. (Who am I kidding?  We all know I'll miss that big belly in approximately 6-9 months.)

**Warning:  Annoyingly positive tone to follow**

Recovery has been a breeze.  I can never say enough how much I loved my VBAC.  Anyone that's had a cesarean can vouch for how sucky recovery is...laughing, sneezing, changing positions, pooping...utterly EXCRUCIATING.  But with the VBAC, I was up and walking, and using the restroom, within 20-30 minutes after Dr. O finished my stitches; the nurses removed my saline lock after a few hours; and I was perfectly coherent throughout delivery and recovery.  I've only taken some Motrin and Tylenol for the soreness.  The bleeding hasn't been significantly worse than it was with my cesarean, like I expected it to be.  Things are still a little sore down when Lucy kicks me square in my lady area while I'm changing her diaper...  

I encourage anyone that's considering a VBAC to go for it.  You will be so glad that you did!          

Weight Loss
I started this pregnancy at 109.6 pounds.  And since I didn't take a final weight before leaving for the hospital, I'm going to use my 39 week bumpdate weight of 144.0 pounds as my end weight; which makes for a total gain of 34.4 pounds.  I am very happy with my total weight gain.  It was a huge improvement from what I gained with Lucy.  Towards the end, I abandoned all restraint and consumed an Icee a day.  My current weight is 125.2; which is a loss of 18.8 pounds.  I still have 15 pounds to lose (all in my belly, ass and thighs).  SUCK.  Here are my last belly pictures:


No sign of PPD for this girl.  Thank God.  (I was spared with Lucy as well.)  This past week was certainly more trying than the first, but, overall, I have felt so much more comfortable in my decisions and I've been able to enjoy the newborn stage. Life is exponentially better as a family of four, and I cannot wait to see what these two have in store for us.