George Gabs

I could listen to George talk all day. His sweet little voice just melts my heart, and he says some of the funniest things. So I want to start documenting those things before I forget.

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Here are some of the phrases and words that he has had.

For the longest time he called his cousin Ava, Eva.

He likes to drop parts of words like “liveries” is deliveries, and “arm” is alarm.

Broccoli is “backoli.”

A piggy bank is a “moneyer.”

Uses is “oozes.”

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Caterpillar is “lalapiller.”

Pretzels is “printzels.”

He says “full it up” for fill it up. And “hot it up” to warm things.

For a long time he called a police car a race car.

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We live next to the capital of Missouri, and every time we drive by, George says “There’s the catapult.”

A yoyo is a “sticker roller.”

A peacock is a “peahock.”

Before we got chickens, he used to call them “brockers.”

A pepperoni pizza is a “macaroni pizza.” He does know the difference of pasta macaroni.

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A chimney is a “smoker arm.”

An ostrich is a “raustid.”

Fire sparks are “jumpers.”

A microwave is a “counterwave.”

He is so smart, but there are moments where he uses these phrases that remind me how small he really is.

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My Georgie

Today you turn FOUR.

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The day you were born I knew that everything I expected about parenting was thrown out the window.

Experiencing the NICU with you, I was terrified. I felt like it was a mistake to be trusted to take care of you since I couldn’t keep you out of harms way as soon as you came out. You didn’t come with an instruction book. No matter how many books or articles that I read, I knew watching your sweet face fight to breathe on your own that I would fight to catch my own breath for years to come when I look at your face.

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You are nothing like I imagined, but you are everything I need. It was no mistake that we were put together.

I still have no idea what I am doing most days, but we are on this ride together.

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You make me laugh every single day with your stories. I love listening to your sweet voice. I wish I could just record all of our conversations. You see the world for its beauty and simplicity, and you remind me all the time to pause and to breath it all in. How you piece things together is astonishing to me.

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You are so smart, and I am so proud of everything that you learned this year. You know your ABCs, and you can write most of your letters. You know how to spell your name, and you can count to 20. You love doing crafts and infusing your own imagination into it all. You sing the sweetest songs, and I hope I never forget how you sound right now. You know things like what a counter weight is and why it is necessary. You use words like humongous and adorable and a whole host of adverbs that I feel are above a 4 year olds vocabulary.

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You had new experiences this year like Vacation Bible School and Gymnastics which both made it clear you have no concept of how to stand in lines.

You are so passionate, and you love so hard. Georgie, I hope you never lose that sense of wonder towards those around you. I wish I had your confidence and commitment.

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Energy just pours out of you, and while it can be frustrating trying to reign that in at times, it is also one of the things I love most about you. When you put your mind to something, you go all in. I also love how much you release your emotions through your facial expressions. Your face tells me everything I need to know about how you are feeling inside. I hope that you never lose that sense of sharing your feelings with me or the world.

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And I forever want to remember this time where you hardly go anywhere without your purple shoes (crocs), and that you put your pants on backwards because the drawstrings give you a tail.

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Ever since you were born, God has been teaching me to let go of you and trust in the plans He has for you. You have been my greatest teacher. As I said last year, I continue to pray that I can gracefully let you go and let you grow, even though it may leave me breathless.

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Georgie, you bring so much life to our days. My favorite moment of every day is waking you up and seeing the smile on your face as you embrace the day.

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You are my bestest boy. I can’t wait to see how you continue to grow and see how you knock the wind out of me this year.

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Milking In Progress

Since it is World Breastfeeding Week, I figured it was about time to reflect on my breastfeeding journey the second time around.

This time things were drastically different than my nursing experience with George, which you can read about here and here.

It’s crazy that I helped her grow from day 1 with my own body, and we made it a year!

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3 month, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months

Let’s set the scenery differences:

With George, he was rushed into intensive care almost immediately after birth. I didn’t see him until 24 hours after he was born. There was no option of feeding him when he came out of the womb. I was pumping from the start. Not to mention he was in the NICU for 10 days, and he honestly didn’t actually feed from me until he was released. Because he started with bottles, we had a very rocky start.

With Daphne, she naturally started within the hour of her birth. She took to it like it a champ. The only reason I started pumping was to get my supply going since she was so little.

With George, shortly after he was born, I picked up and moved over two states, started a new full time job, and started house hunting while Tom was trying to get out of the Army. This is stressful when you don’t have a newborn.

With Daphne, I already had a job, and we weren’t moving. The Army was very much in the past. Enough said on the level of stress I was experiencing.

With George, I had no idea what I was doing, which with my personality causes a lot of anxiety.

With Daphne, I had some idea of what to expect, which made me go in with no expectations.

And that my dear friends, is the biggest reason why I was able to breastfeed Daphne for a whole year.

I went in expecting nothing.

Since I set the bar so low, I didn’t have any anxiety about anything as far as nursing her went. With George, I cried almost every day for his first four months, until I decided to supplement. With Daphne I think I cried just once due to breastfeeding.

Because I was more go with the flow, I was able to actually enjoy the time I had with Daphne.

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I wouldn’t go as far to say I loved breastfeeding…

It was still a pain to be confined to my office three times a day and manipulate my schedule around it. People expect you to move your schedule around, but I held fast this time around that I would get it 3 times a day. Sometimes this makes you feel guilty that you are being selfish and that it is coming off that work is not a priority. It is hard to find the balance some days.

It was still a pain to have to lose sleep to nurse her before bed and nurse her when I woke up. It would have saved so much time to just give her a bottle.

It was still a pain to have to plan our outings around her feeding schedule and making sure that anywhere that we went was nursing friendly.

However, I felt a new sense of confidence and power this time around. I was able to recognize what an awesome feat it was to help nourish her with each feeding.

This time we were able to exclusive nurse for 6 months, and we continued to nurse (with one formula bottle a day) until she was 13 months.

This time I did things like nurse in front of people other than Tom. I nursed in the middle of the zoo and baseball stadiums. It was like I was able to let go of the anxiety of it, and was able to just do what nature intended.

I also call it a triumph that I actually nursed her after she got several teeth. I never imagined I would continue once she got teeth, but for the most part I didn’t have issues. She only bit me once, and that is a pain I never want to relive again.

Here are some other practical things that were helpful going into this experience:

  • Having a sanitize option on our dishwasher-This cut down so much time in cleaning bottles and pump parts every night. I would just rinse things out, and pop them in the dishwasher instead of laboring for an hour each night hand washing everything.
  • Reusing pump parts throughout the day by keeping them in the fridge-Also cutting down the time cleaning bottles and parts each night.
  • Have extra pump parts. I think I had enough to get through 4 days before using the same ones over.
  • Getting a hands-free pump bra-Totally worth the investment.
  • Blue Gatorade-I still had supply issues in the second half of this journey, but I do think the Gatorade helped.
  • I never kept track of how long we were feeding. With George I had an app and tracked it all. This time having the freedom of just following her lead made it much less of a chore.
  • This time I didn’t worry as much about what I was wearing. I wore dresses and work clothes that typically weren’t nursing friendly all the time. I just accepted that I would be half naked in my office while I was pumping. I love my wardrobe, so just bringing a cardigan and having a blanket that I could put on while I was pumping was enough to make it not so cumbersome to undress each time I needed to pump. This meant I didn’t feel so frumpy and drab with a small selection of clothes because I didn’t care. I spent too much time fussing about those little things the first time around.
  • A nursing cover like this was a blessing. So much easier to use than any of the covers I tried with George.

I wouldn’t say I came to love breastfeeding. Pumping I think dampers any kind of affection you could have towards this responsibility. It really is an investment of time to commit.

However despite that, I will say that I cried the last few nights I was breastfeeding Daphne. I never realized the bond I had with her during that time until it was almost gone. I am very proud of how far we came as a duo, and that I was able to have that time with her.

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This was after the last time I nursed her.

I also did struggle with some guilt when we stopped because she refused to drink anything for a week or two after I ended nursing. I felt like she was on a strike for severing that relationship with her. But it was time for me to move on. My supply was really low. I was barely making a bottle with four 30-minute pumping sessions each day, so it wasn’t worth my time and effort at that time. I didn’t want to get to the point that I got with George where I was angry and resentful with the process. With George I spent 2 extra months more than I should have trying to make it work, and making everyone in the house miserable because I was struggling so much. I knew this time that was not a road I wanted to go down again. So we ended on a high note after making it a full year!

Breastfeeding is hard. It demands a lot out of you-time, energy, your body, etc. My first experience was difficult, and I could have just said no this time around. However, I am so glad that I tried again. Was every moment easy? No. It still sucked at times (literally). But I was able to get more out of it, and thus Daphne got more out of me (also literally).

I will never forget the overwhelming sense of pride to be a mom when I nursed Daphne in front of a room full of other nursing moms at the Royals’ stadium. I seriously was so overcome with joy at what we were all accomplishing that I almost cried right there. It was a really powerful moment for me. It was beautifully humbling to be in that room. There were new moms and seasoned moms, some were pumping and some were with our babies straight at the source, all of us with our boobs out doing the best we could to take care of our kids all the while watching a Royals game. A priceless moment that motivated me on many occasions throughout this past year.

So again my advice is to go in with no expectations and just do what you can do. Your baby is not going to hold a grudge (in the long run) that you kept them fed whether that is with formula or breastfeeding. I stopped at a time with both kids that made sense and worked for us.

I am proud of myself with the 4 exclusive months/7 total months of breastfeeding with George. And I am proud of myself for the 6 exclusive months and 13 total months of breastfeeding with Daphne. Neither one makes me a better or worse mom. I am grateful that I had the support to try this breastfeeding adventure. I am proud at the success we had with it, and was able to acknowledge when it was no longer the best option.

It’s all a triumph.

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I will leave you with the lyrics to a classic 90’s sitcom theme song….Step by Step…It says it all as far as how I approached breastfeeding the second time around.

Step by step
Day by day
(Day by day)
A fresh start over
A different hand to play
Only time will tell
But you know what they say
We’ll make it better
The second time around

Daphne-14 Months

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Weight:  24 lbs.

Health: She has been super fussy this month. She has a total of 8 teeth, and she is working on 4 molars. She gets diaper rashes really bad, and there really isn’t a remedy that we have tried that works (and we have tried a lot). She also got her first real injury. She fell in the bathroom on the trashcan rim. She had a giant bruise on her face. It’s been there a couple weeks now.

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Diet: Daph has been a great eater. This week she has been a bit picky, but I think it may be the teeth. She has started the toddler thing that every night is something different and it is not a guarantee that she will love something day to day. She loves sweet potatoes and raspberries. I stopped nursing her right before she was 13 months. She went on a milk strike right after that, and she is just now drinking milk regularly. She loves to drink water though.

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Clothes:  She is in 9 month clothes. She can wear a few 12 month clothes. She is still in size 2 shoes, and size 5 diaper.

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Sleeping:  We have been putting her to bed around 7:30/8. She generally stays asleep most of the night. She hardly sleeps past 7am. She still has two naps a day, and she is really sticking to two hour naps.

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Likes:  She LOVES to wear her robe, which is a 3T size. She is obsessed with her elephant backpack. She believe it is her duty to close every door in the house. She adores George!

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Dislikes:  Diaper Changes. She does not like being left out. She wants to be all up in George’s business which is hard for her when he doesn’t want her around.

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Milestones: She can climb up and down stairs. Girl is practically running now. She gives open mouth kisses and will give you hugs when you ask. She says ni-ni (night, night). She can climb, which is terrifying because she isn’t super safe about the getting down part.

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Nicknames:  Daphie, Sisterbear, Sis, and Daphie Girl. The two most common are still Daph and Sister.

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Quirks:  She will sing along with you when you sing her lullabies. She will mimic your laugh. When she is drinking, it’s like she stops breathing she is taking such big gulps. She tries to put on her clothes and shoes. She come pretty close to it too. She is also so smart. She follows directions really well. She puts things away where they are supposed to be, and even knows the difference between her toys and the dogs toys.

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We parents are: not too bad! Tom just switched departments, and he is now on a permanent day shift. It has only been a week, but I can already tell a difference in his demeanor and how George reacts to his time home. It is a much better department too, and offers more support to him as an officer. I am appalled at how he was treated over this last year, so I was glad he was able to move to a better place and have better hours for our family. We are gearing up for one of the busiest times for higher ed, but it is also my favorite time of year with my job. I just love all the new possibilities and seeing all these dreams begin with our students. And I am starting to finally feel settled into the director role, so I am really excited to see what my department does this year. Things are good!

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George is: amazing me every day. His vocabulary is crazy good. I just think how we thought he was delayed two years ago. He has recently started making up his own songs. I am constantly cracking up at this boy. He isn’t super fond of Daphne right now. He gets into his stuff too much and messes up whatever he is playing with, so he gets really frustrated with her. Then he’ll have moments where he is super sweet to her.

The dogs are: living their best life. With the kids home all day, they spend as much time as they want outside and rarely are alone. They adore Daph at meal time, and she even tries to share and feed them. Crosby is not appreciative of our new chicken friends. Grace is still the diva she always is.

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I love watching this girl come into her own. She is going to move mountains.

Here is George at 14 months.

Daphne-12 Months

This year and this girl.

She has been loving on us for a whole year. She is everything I hoped for and more.

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Weight:  22lbs.

Health: This month she has been fairly healthy. I do think she has allergies because we all got hayfever with the crazy pollen. Everyone’s eyes were a little puffy for a few days. She is still working on teeth. She has a total of 7 now, with a couple more on the way. I love the little toothy grin.

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Diet: I BREASTFED HER FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR!!! Whoop whoop! I really honestly cannot believe that we actually made it this long. I will start weaning her off over the next month. The only time she is actually interested is the first feeding of the day, so that will be the last one I cut out. During the week, I nursed her in the morning and before bed. She only had two bottles during the day while I was at work. One of those was typically a formula bottle. Depending on how well she nurses at night, she may get a 2-4 oz formula bottle before bed as well. On the weekends, for the most part we avoided the formula and nursed the whole time. She is eating three full meals, and generally eats what we eat. I hope that we can keep up the good eating habits. I mean she ate salad greens this month!

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Clothes: She is in 6-9 month and 9 month clothes. She is in a size 4 diaper, and size 2 shoe still.

Sleeping:  We have been putting her to bed around 7:30/8. She generally stays asleep most of the night. She hardly sleeps past 7am. She still has two naps a day, and she is really sticking to two hour naps. It will be interesting to see how real milk will change her patterns.

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Likes:  I am fairly positive that she would live upside down if she could. She loves to be dipped. She is really into stacking things. She is loving the “That Not My” book series from Usborne. She loves George. He can always make her laugh, and she is starting to follow him wherever he goes. She is going to be into music; with whatever is playing, she is dancing. She loves playing with plastic bottles. She beelines it for outside whenever the door opens. She likes George’s trucks.

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Dislikes:  She does not like to be done eating. You better have food on her tray. She still has a general disdain for most people. (Her party could be interesting tomorrow…) She does not like the word no. She is not a fan of when the dogs are barreling through the door. She is pretty much done with the day at 5. She can be kind of grumpy if she isn’t eating at this time.

Milestones: She has taken a few unassisted steps! She won’t do more than 3 steps, but she does them! She still crawls so fast, so she seems uninterested on going any further.

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Nicknames:  Daphers, Daphie, and Daphie Girl. The two most common are still Daph and Sister.

Quirks:  She likes to pass things to people. She loves sharing her pacy with people. She also likes to use anything as a walker: books, chairs, buckets… She likes to pull things off the shelves or out of containers, but then tries to put them all back.

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We parents are: still tired. It’s been a crazy month with various things in our world. We are building a playground for the kids, and by we I mean Tom. It looks amazing so far. I had my 33rd birthday, and we got to see Lion King live! So good! I also had two people (grown people that I work with) ask me if I was expecting again, so there is that…I had lots of feelings about it at first, but I am really trying to not let it get me down like the time I cried after my niece said something similar when George was 9 months old. (Not my best moment…) I am proud of what my body is doing. A HUMAN SURVIVED OFF MY BODY FOR ALMOST TWO YEARS. It’s ok if there is still some extra to love around me!

George is: such a ham. He will have really good days, and then some really bad not listening ones. And he has been really into screaming lately because he has “loud in his mouth.” He also has been commandeering Sister’s pacies and hiding them in his room or hiding himself while he “gets it wet” for Daphne. He said he has to test it out for her. We are in trouble with this one. He LOVES that we are outside almost every day. That has helped with some cabin fever. He is getting really good at writing his letters. He makes up his own songs. I am so proud of how much he has learned!

The dogs are: ridiculous. They are pretty much barking at everything these days. Crosby wants to be outside all day. They are a mess, but we love them anyway.

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I thought George grew fast, but this time was such a whirlwind. While it was tough, I feel like we enjoyed the process more and were much less stressed this time around. Daphie has been a fairly easy baby, so that helps. She is such a dream. Even though these little baby features may fade, I am excited to see her personality continue to develop.

Daphie Girl, you are such a light in our days. I am honored to be your mom.

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Here is George at 12 months.