Experiencing the Middle

Tomorrow Daphne starts school. This is significant and I have many emotions, but at the same time it feels so different than when we started school with George.

George was our first. We didn’t know what to expect with him. I was overcome with fear and anxiety on how the experience would be for him.

With Daph, we are more familiar with the process, and she will even have the same teacher that George did in preschool. We know that she is in the best hands to bring her into the school atmosphere. She will be just down the hall from George, and there is comfort knowing they will be so close together. He has already said he will watch for her at recess.

But there are still emotions being here in the middle with her.

I don’t have the fear of the unknown like the first time around, but I also know she isn’t my last. I feel excited for her. We all seem more ready for the experience. I don’t feel the hesitation that I did with George, nor the bittersweet that I know will come with Wally being our last.

Do I worry about how the experience will go for her? I mean come on, have you met me? I am always riddled with anxiety, however, I am finding myself at peace much quicker with her. I am so excited to see her go off to school.

She has never been out of our house for any type of school, and one hour of gymnastics once a week for the last year is most social interaction she has gotten outside of our family. So in a sense there is still a lot of unknown of how she will engage with her peers. But I know as soon as she warms up, she is going to make some great connections.

I really feel like she is going to soar. The brain on this child is limitless, and I know we have only tapped into a small portion of her capabilities here at home. She has a heart of gold, and the kindness that she has for others will take her far. She is the type of child who will flourish in a school atmosphere, and I can’t wait to hear all about her experience. This time around all I can think of is all the great things she will have access to and how much she will enjoy things. I am not worried about letting go with her at all.

Which is somewhat weird because I am sad thinking of some day this little girl won’t sneak into my bed and her sweet little voice will be a distant memory. Also you would think being a female, I would be worried about all the social pieces that come down the road with her and school. But I am not worried at all. I am ready to see how she embraces the challenge and confronts the pressure head on. She is so strong-willed and tough as nails. I don’t know what it is about this transition that seems just so natural and normal for her, and again there is so much peace with her going. She is far more a stronger person than I ever was, and she is so smart and capable.

Maybe there is just so much going on around in our lives that I just don’t have time to really wallow in how she is growing as I did with George. Who knows?! But I will take not having a breakdown in front of her teacher because I am so caught up in the ‘what if’ emotions.

She has been living in George’s shadow for most of her life, and now Wally takes up some of the attention that was aimed at her. Again, she is our middle. So I am thankful to see her go off into school where she can start making her own path independent of her brothers.

With George I think we were all scared when this day came because it was all new to us. When it comes to Wally’s time, I know I will be the most emotional parent there because it will be a sign of all the littleness leaving our house. So for now, with Daph, we are able to really sink into this time and enjoy it. It is nice to experience it like this for our middle child.

Here’s to you Daph and all the things you will learn this year, and the person you are becoming.

Walter-9 Months

Walter-9 Months

Weight:  18 pounds

Health: No big health concerns, but he is cutting the top four teeth. I can tell that he is uncomfortable, but he hasn’t had any fevers or rashes like my older kiddos when they were teething.

Diet: I have made it another full month of exclusively breastfeeding him! I honestly cannot believe that I have made it to NINE months! I really didn’t think we were going to make it all the way through this month. It has been a little tricky. He is only wanting to feed for 5 minutes max for each feeding, and a lot of that he spends crying or biting me. I have almost doubled the feedings throughout the day, and he is often waking up in the middle of the night. But we made it through another month. We will be adding formula for at least one feeding starting next week, as my freezer stash is completely out. Walt feeds 6-9 times a day, and on average it adds up to 1 hour of nursing. My app says that we have had 173 feedings over this last month, and spent a little over a day nursing him. I have also pumped 25 times over the month. We continued with solids this month, and he seems to be liking it a lot more. We added asparagus, crackers, rice, noodles, tilapia, salmon, hamburger, cauliflower, and peas this month.

Clothes: He is in size 6 month in clothes and size 4 in diapers.

Sleeping:  We normally get him down around 8:30pm. He has started crying a little when I put him down the first time, but if I rock him another time, he usually will get to sleep the second time. As I mentioned, he is waking up in the middle of the night lately. Most of the time I will do a quick nursing session, and he will go back to sleep. He is getting up 1-3 times a night, and I never know what to expect. During the week, I get him up at 5:15am to do the first feeding of the day, and then he goes back to sleep. On the weekends, we sleep in until about 7am. He typically takes two naps during the day, but they aren’t usually very long. He is still sleeping in the zipadeezip. He moves so much in his sleep. He is never in the same spot when you glance at the monitor. We did have to move the crib down because he is starting to pull up, which is another level of terrifying.

Likes:  He loves the “That’s Not My” book series. He starts waving his hands and trying to grab at the animals anytime I get these out. Apparently he loves volleyball. I took him to his first game, and he loved the noise and music and cheering. He kept jumping around and waving his hands every where. He love mirrors and his kick-and-play piano. He loves all his family, and he usually has smiles waiting for all of us.

Dislikes:  He really hates the prep time it takes me to get him set up for feedings. He screams at me for the few minutes it takes me to get unwrapped or switch sides. He has also started getting really upset if I leave a room he is in.

Nicknames: Walt, Wally, Wally Bear, Wally Olly, Waller, Wallace, Butters, Sweet Bean, Stinkerdoodle, Waltie baby, Cutie baby, Sweetie baby, Baby guy, and Baby Walter. I think the most common are Wally, Wally Bear and Waltie. Apparently we really like nicknames.

Milestones: We are right on the cusp of crawling. He can get to all fours, and he rocks himself back and forth but just not forward yet. He can pull himself into a sitting position.

Quirks: he does this fist pumping/waving motion with his arms stretched out wide when he is excited about something.

We parents are:  busy. Tom got an intense homicide case at work that affected a local family business we frequent. So that has taken up a lot of time, and he put his heart and soul into finding the person who committed the crime. I am so proud of him for following his intuition and not giving up on the leads. August in Higher Ed is just a busy month. I feel like a blinked and the month is over. I am feeling really good going into this year though. There is a lot of great energy on campus, and it is hard to believe this is my seventh year at CC. I really love my job and what I get to do every day. While August is a lot, it is one of my favorite times on a college campus.

Big kids are:  enjoying the last days of summer. This is our last week before they start school. They both started fall soccer. George is loving the fast pace of the first grade team, and Daphne is still trying to figure it out. They both love Wally and try to make him laugh all the time. Both of them have tried to carry Wally, which I don’t fully trust from either of them, but it is sweet. We also got to celebrate George turning seven which is so crazy to think about!

In case you are curious, here is George at nine months and Daphne at nine months.

Before I know it, Wally is going to be the seven year old! It goes too fast!

George Turns Seven

Lucky seven.

I was processing George growing another year older, and I think with every age, there is a different kind of weight to it.

But with seven, it’s like all that was of being little is gone. We have truly entered the big kid years.

George had so many pivotal moments this last year, most notably starting school and becoming a big brother again.

It was so fun, and emotional, to see George becoming a person away from our family unit. He now has a whole life that we are on the periphery of. He has relationships and experiences that we are not instigating, which is hard to let go of, but magical at the same time.

Seeing George this last year has highlighted his strengths, but also reminded me that I have no idea what I am doing as a parent still.

He is a full throttle kind of dude. When he zones in on something, he is all in. He has unwavering commitment to people and ideas. When George is determined to do something, we best be getting out of his way. It has been a challenge to parent him at times to understand where is the line to give him the freedom to be his own boss, but also letting him know when there are limitations. We don’t need to supervise him as much, but he still does need guidance because he is seven. There is definitely a balance that we are working through to expose him to new ideas and tap into his natural curiosity. I want him to have that kind of passion in his life. I want him be able to dedicate himself fully to projects and relationships, but I also want him to do it strategically and in a healthy way.

We have entered a new phase where he questions logic on everything, and the little kid magic is starting to disappear. It was quite the difference watching him react to Disney versus his sister. He wanted to break down the logistics of how rides work, who was behind the costume, and let everyone know that it wasn’t real. We are entering into more intense conversations of real world things especially as he engages with people more outside of our family. It is exciting to see him develop his world-view but also a part of me is sad the days of Christmas Tree Truck guy is gone.

He still loves to play though, his stories and worlds have just evolved. I love watching him create these different scenes and act out his characters. He is so good with details and setting up entire landscapes. If you were to come into our house, his room is constantly a construction zone due to Lego City government and trying to navigate the dinosaurs that have escaped Camp Cretaceous. Our living room is actually a war zone with hundreds of Army men, or squadrons in his terms, that are ready to get on the helicopters he strategically has in safe zones. The sun room is the new wild west with an elaborate train system getting people to and fro. On the driveway, he has his “mud creek” construction team who is always changing the layouts of piping and blocks to help with the rain fall. My new favorite is playing Harry Potter with him where we basically play an elaborate hide and seek game around the yard screaming spells at each other.

George is incredibly smart. He takes in information like a sponge. He loves to give you random facts about things, and he always has something to say about every subject. ALWAYS something to say and a story to tell.

On the flip side though, he is one of those people that if he does not care about the topic, he is not going to put his energy into it. For example, he says he hates reading and writing. However, he loves to make signs for the various worlds he has created with toys, and cataloging his finds in his notebook. But, because he has chosen the topic, he perfects the writing. We have had to navigate some pieces here since at school you don’t always get to choose the topic or activity or timing. So we are constantly trying to be creative on how to refocus his energy and tailor it to him, but also work within other’s expectations.

If he does focus and put his energy towards something, watch out. I truly believe that he is the type of person who is going to invent some thing some day or cure cancer because he doesn’t think in conventional methods. His mind is always going trying to see beyond the simple and dissect things. That’s why it is so hard with academics. I want him to do well and succeed, but at the same time his intelligence cannot be harnessed in the same way that I defined academic success. It’s definitely a humble reminder especially since my job is student success on the college level.

I am in awe of his confidence and passion. While it is sad to leave the littleness behind, I am excited to see what the new year brings and see where his interests continue to take shape.

If you will excuse me, this newly seven year old wants to make a tornado in our kitchen.

Walter-8 Months

Walter-8 Months

Weight:  He is 17 lbs.

Health: No big health concerns, but this month he has been a little fussier than my even keel baby normally is. I think there are a couple more teeth coming in.

Diet: I have made it another full month of exclusively breastfeeding him! My supply is going down when I am pumping, so I am not sure if it also going down when I am at home. The last couple weeks have been extremely difficult for us in this arena. He is only wanting to feed for 5-10 minutes for each feeding, and a lot of that he spends crying or biting me. I have had to add additional feedings throughout the day, and he is often waking up in the middle of the night. I just am not sure what is happening as I didn’t have this occur with either other kid. They were both on formula at this point. I am worried that he isn’t getting enough. But he is growing so I guess there is that. He just seems easily distracted or impatient with me. Walt feeds 5-7 times a day, and on average it adds up to 2 hours of nursing. He was going around 4 hours between feedings during the day, and then this week is about every 2-3 hours. My app says that we have had 159 feedings over this last month, and spent 2 days nursing him. I have also pumped 17 times over the month. We continued with solids this month, but we haven’t been pushing it too much since he still doesn’t seem too interested. He does really like strawberries, peaches, and green beans. We added sweet potato fries, yogurt, and applesauce this month.

Clothes: He is still in size 3-6 month in clothes and size 3 in diapers.

Sleeping:  He is still fairly good about going to sleep when we put him down in the crib. We normally get him down around 8:30pm. As I mentioned, he is waking up in the middle of the night lately. Most of the time I will do a quick nursing session, and he will go back to sleep. During the week, I get him up at 5:15am to do the first feeding, and then he goes back to sleep. On the weekends, we sleep in until about 7am. He typically takes two naps during the day, but they aren’t usually very long. He is still sleeping in the zipadeezip, and this kid cruises around in his sleep. He started consistently rolling to sleep on his stomach. He often rolls to the edge of the crib and gets him self stuck between the bars. It is terrifying.

Likes:  Daphne and Tom are his favorite people, and they can always get smiles out of him. He only cuddles with my mom. He loves blankets, and he is always trying to bunch them in his fists. He is putting everything in his mouth, so it has been helpful to have the pacy around. He really loves my watch and putting it in the relax mode.

Dislikes:  He really hates the prep time it takes me to get him set up for feedings. He screams at me for the few minutes it takes me to get unwrapped or switch sides. When he is having a non-chill moment, he does not like for you to be sitting. We should not relax to calm down!

Nicknames: Walt, Wally, Wally Bear, Wally Olly, Waller, Wallace, Butters, Sweet Bean, Stinkerdoodle, Waltie baby, Cutie baby, Sweetie baby, Baby guy, and Baby Walter. I think the most common are Wally, Wally Bear and Waltie. Apparently we really like nicknames.

Milestones: I think we are so close to crawling. He did a full plank today. He props his arms up, but hasn’t quite figured out how to get his legs up just yet. He does scoot himself backwards everywhere. He has started grabbing at books and becoming more invested as we read to him. He did have a lot of firsts this past month with our vacation. He did so great on the planes. Most of the time I would nurse him, and he would just pass out. He was not a fan of the beach though. With all of our adventures though, he was so good just chilling in the stroller as we carted him around the Orlando area for a week.

Quirks: He only rolls from his back to his stomach. I could not even tell you the last time I saw him go from stomach to back. Wally is unaffected by fireworks. This face is also a constant where he looks like he is sucking in his bottom lip.

We parents are:  doing alright. It was a weird month with our 4th of July party and vacation. I feel like we just got back to our routine this past week. I will say that it was our best 4th ever, and Tom really out did himself with our firework display. The vacation was a blast, and I am so glad we were able to create some memories like that for the kiddos. Work has picked up with back to school prep activities for me so I feel like my brain is constantly on the go. I also have been in the office quite a bit but never on the same days each week, so I never really know what day it is.

Big kids are:  doing pretty good. They loved our Florida trip, and they still talk about it daily. George had summer school this month, which was fun to see him find a groove again with his new class. He also did a state soccer tournament this month, which was an adventure. We concluded our first t-ball season, and quite possibly our last. It is very clear that he is not going to be a baseball star, but he sure did have fun building mounds in the gravel dust! Daphne is Wally’s biggest fan, and she is the Wally whisperer if he is having a bad moment. They are both obsessed with each other. It will be fun to see them continue to bond. It is hard to believe that this is her last month before school starts for her. We have been watching the Olympics, and that has been fun watching gymnastics with her and seeing her recognize things from her class.

In case you are curious, here is George at eight months and Daphne at eight months.

I spend a lot of my time just staring at him. He is just the most precious little guy!

Walter-7 Months

Walter-7 Months

Weight:  He is 18 lbs. He is definitely my biggest baby!

Health: He is having a little rough patch with these bottom two teeth coming up. No known ear infections, but he just seems restless and uncomfortable more.

Diet: This is the longest I have made it on the breastfeeding journey without using formula, so I am really proud of that. I have been on campus a lot more this month, so I have dipped into our freezer stash a lot since I am only making 10 oz on the days when I pump and he eats 15 oz. I have been contemplating pumping extra on the weekends to extend the time that we are exclusively using breastmilk, but then I saw my thoughts from last month about my promise to myself that I am not going to pump extra this time around. Remembering how it affected me with George and Daphne is a good reminder that it is not needed, and I don’t need that guilt put on myself. So my resolve is to only pump when I am at work on campus, and we’ll continue to just see how long that takes us! Walt feeds 5 times a day, and on average it adds up to 2 hours of nursing. He is going around 4 hours between feedings during the day. My app says that we have had 135 feedings over this last month, and spent 3 days nursing him. I have also pumped 33 times over the month, which is almost 3 times as much as last month. Can I say how much I hate pumping? I am really hoping that I will still be able to do a hybrid work situation come the fall because I honestly think it has done wonders for this journey and my mental health. So we’ll see what transpires as I have a new boss and the new school year begins. We did start with solids this month, and he just doesn’t seem interested. He tolerates the experience for a few minutes then just wants to be done. The only thing he seems excited about is strawberries. We have tried avocados, black beans, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, eggs, broccoli, and zucchini.

Clothes: He is size 3-6 month in clothes and size 3 in diapers. He is going to be swimming in his 4th of July stuff since it is all 6 or 9 month things…He seems like he is so big now though!

Sleeping:  Sleep has been a little trickier this month, and I think it has to do with his teeth. For the most part anytime we lay him down, he will eventually go to sleep. He goes to bed around 8pm. His pediatrician did recommend that we cut out the last feeding and see if he would seep through the night. i was really hesitant to do that, but she said the fact that I had to wake him up for that feeding meant that he may not need it and I may be interrupting good sleep instead. So we did cut that down, and for the most part he does sleep from 8pm until we get him up the next day. During the week, I get him up at 5:15am. On the weekends, we sleep in until about 8 am. The last week he has been waking up in the middle of the night some, but I think it is more of a comfort feed with his teeth more than him actually being hungry. He typically takes two naps during the day, but they aren’t usually very long. He is almost exclusively sleeping in his crib in his room now. I would say that 9/10 times, we are able to put him down awake, and he falls asleep within 5 minutes. He is still sleeping in the zipadeezip, and this kid cruises around in his sleep. He is all over that crib!

Likes:  Daphne and Tom are his favorite people. He still loves to be rubbed like a dog on his belly and under his chin. He chews on basically everything. He loves to be bounced up in the air or be lifted like an airplane. He started using a pacy this month. I think it has been helpful with the teething.

Dislikes:  He really hates the prep time it takes me to get him set up for feedings. He screams at me for the few minutes it takes me to get unwrapped or switch sides. Nursing on a plane next week should be a good time. He is not a fan of eating real food, which has been so different than the first two monster eaters. They would eat everything until they turned two, so maybe this means he won’t become a picky eater later on?

Nicknames: Walt, Wally, Wally Bear, Wally Olly, Butters, Sweet Bean, Stinkerdoodle, Waltie baby, Cutie baby, Sweetie baby, Baby guy, and Baby Walter. Tom has really gravitated to calling him Wallace with Daphne. I think the most common are Wally, Wally Bear and Waltie.

Milestones: He is sitting on his own. He went swimming for the first time. He just lays back in the floatie and lives his best life with us pushing him around.

Quirks:  He will let anyone hold him. He is 100% chill. This month has been a little tricky to nurse him because he thinks it is swimming practice and acts like he is trying to win a gold medal in the freestyle.

We parents are:  surviving. This was a hard month with losing Grace. Tom got to go to a really cool training for firearms instruction this month. He was living out his dream for sure, and it was such a full circle moment thinking back on this time last year. We celebrated our ten year anniversary without much hooplah because of kids and training, but it is still an amazing thing for us to have made it this far. There used to be down times at my job, but summer has proven to be busy as ever. Although we did get approval to hire another position in my office, so hopefully that has some trickle down affects with taking things off our plates because we have been operating as a four-person office even though it has been a year and a half with only three of us.

Big kids are:  living their summer lives. They both sleep in super late and stay in jammies pretty much all the time. George did go to VBS with his grandma for a week this month, and he seemed to have a really good time with that. We also started Tball, which is an experience for us all. Daphne is really becoming quite the entertainer. She loves to sing and dance, especially when Wally is her audience. She has to give him a kiss and hug a thousand times a day.

In case you are curious, here is George at seven months and Daphne at seven months.

I cannot express how much joy he brings into our lives. Wally is just the bestest baby guy!