Thursday, September 17, 2015

Life lately

Blogging three days in a row?!?! That hasn't happened in years! Here's a few snippets of life lately - aka the iPhone photo dump....

Playing tourist with our Dutch visitors at Crissy Fields & Twin Peaks, San Francisco...

Snuggles with Dadda - the littlest was especially happy to just lay down on the floor with him after he returned from a business trip...

Making the most of the heatwave with iceblocks after dinner...

Ikea playdate & Austin's first soft serve cone...

Keeping busy with the littlest while the big bro is in preschool...

Dinners at Off the Grid (incl the most delicious hot dog I've ever tasted)...

Lots (and lots and lots) of drawing time with Ollie... He now asks us how to spell people's names and writes it out without any help (often backwards, but still a decent effort). I loved seeing how he's progressed in the last year - in 2014 I was depicted as a Mummy monster, now I've been upgraded (?) to robot status :)

And lots of playtime and enjoying the last of the warmer weather!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

And just like that, he's eighteen months {Austin Mitchell}

He'll always be my baby, but this kiddo - he's lost the baby chub and is just looking (and acting) more and more grown up every day. Last Friday marked one and a half years for our Austin, and what a little sunshine he is - even though we're in the midst of the terrible toddler tantrums.

At 18 months, Austin Mitchell...

... Sleeps like a champ. He's consistently slept through the night since he was around 8 months old except for teething. Those bottom 2 year molars were hard work! He sleeps 7pm-7am and takes one nap a day, 1-3.30/4pm-ish.

... Has all his teeth except his top two year molars.

... Has a handful of words (mama, dadda, GO, more, again, bubbles, dinner, dog, there, night night, dummy, drink) but mostly chooses to communicate with funny little neighing sounds (like a horse - he whinnies) for yes and frantic head shaking (or dropping to the ground and screaming) for no. People always comment that although he's not super verbal, he comprehends everything. Everything. Kid doesn't miss a beat and we have our own little way of figuring out what he wants.

... Is a fussy eater one week and demolishes everything the next. For awhile there he was convinced he was vegetarian and refused all forms of meat and lately his preferred meal of choice is chick-fil-a sauce. Straight out of the packet. No nuggets or fries required, preferably just a dummy close by for dipping.

... Loves getting new shoes. You have no idea. For boys, my kids probably do have a decent collection of shoes (I'm ok with the fact that I'll likely always just be a boy mama so I'm determined to dress my boys with style) and Austin is so proud whenever he gets a new pair, be it brand new or hand me downs from Ollie. He sits on the step to the laundry room to get them put on and then proudly walks around the house stomping his feet and staring at his toes with a sweet smile :-)

... Copies his big brother all. the. time. Everything Ollie does ('tricks', funny noises, fake falls, anything) Austin immediately does too. They are the best little buddies.

... LOVES his dummy and his sleep sheep aka 'sheepie'. He carries it around by the ears and takes it to bed for nap & nighttime, laying there gently rubbing its ears while he falls asleep. He loves that thing so bad, it's worn and dirty (I do wash it but within hours he's dragged it outside again) but it's his comfort toy and super sweet. We had weaned him off his dummy so that he only had it for nap & bedtime, but with teething he got free range again and I have a feeling it's going to be a challenge to wean him off it completely.

... Started struggling with some separation anxiety. He's been in the nursery at church since he was 2 months old without an issue, but over the last month has been having a hard time and I've had to be paged for the first time ever. I also had this problem with him at the gym childcare while Mitch was away. It's that age :-(

... Loves picking Ollie up from school. He runs into his classroom, finds Ollie (usually on the floor in circle time), gives him a hug and goes up to the teacher for a sticker like the big kids.

... Is super affectionate. He gives the sweetest hugs - he really wraps his little arms around your neck and squeezes in tight - and big mwah! kisses. He also loves to blow sloppy raspberries and laugh at himself.

... Still has that huge, ear to ear, eye wrinkling, full face, award winning SMILE. It's something really special about our Austin; his smile. It's so sweet but often cheeky, so warm and loving. Everywhere we go people comment on how happy he is and how sweet his smile is.

Happy 18 months our sweet baby Austin! Your two year birthday is looming and I'm just loving seeing your little personality develop. We are getting more and more glimpses of the little boy you are fast becoming and although I miss the baby days, every day with you is such a treat sweet boy. We all love you Austin Mitchell - or 'baby babe' as your big bro loves to call you :-)

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why hello there, September

Somehow, we're half way through September - not that you'd know it, given the extreme heat we've been facing recently. I have to say, I enjoyed this summer a lot more than I thought I would. I was nervous about having all that spare time with two tiny humans underfoot, but it actually worked out beautifully. Unlike Australia, day camps are a big thing here from age 3+, but we made the decision to only do one camp this year for Ollie, VBS. Although some weeks we went a little crazy without the routine of preschool and mothers group, I'm so glad we had all that time together. It was just me & my boys. There is going to come a day when he is begging me to go do all the different camps with his friends, and I know that day isn't far off. But for now, it's mama (and brother) time.

We did find some kind of casual routine in the summer. Tuesday playdates with a friend. Weekly walks to the library to get new books and play a little. Afternoon walks with a neighbor for froyo. Thursday dinners at Off the Grid, our local food truck gathering. Swimming lessons every Friday and riding my bike & trailer to Philz every Friday afternoon to meet Mitch and let the boys play on the plaza. And regular visits to fun places like Happy Hollow and the junior museum & zoo. I even started braving the park (just one particular park) with the boys again after naptime. We spent our weekends doing family activities - the beach, aquarium, hiking, even a weekend away and some camping with friends. I've been up early every morning, working hard at the gym like never before and have lost some stubborn kilos, toned up and met some goals. I might not be quite where I want to be just yet - still much more toning to go to combat those tuckshop lady arms, but I feel like I'm the healthiest I've been in years.

To be honest though, the summer didn't begin well. I got ran into by a car while I was buckling Austin in and lost a car door (and had to drive a rental minivan for a couple weeks - I don't know what was worse, getting physically hit or having a 'slidey door car' as Ollie called it). We experienced the grief of loss, losing another pregnancy in the first trimester. There have been family health issues, crises back home and it's often been so hard to be so far away.

But we made it. It's September. I'm still reasonably sane. And although I initially felt a little negative about what this summer would hold, I am thankful for these past few months. The days were often exhausting, but satisfying. Ollie is growing up so quickly and this time next year he'll be in kindergarten 5 days a week. I think it's going to take me the next year to prepare myself for that transition. Summer of 2015, you didn't start well but it sure did end happily.

September. Bring. It. On. I'm excited to see what this next season has in store for our little family.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Normalise it

Blogging has taken a bit of a backseat lately as I've just been kicking back and enjoying the summer with my boys, but now that we are back into some form of routine with school, I'm looking forward to finding my voice once again. This post today has been on my heart for awhile however as I've hit the end of an era yet again. My sweet baby Austin is weaned. The milk bar is closed and I feel like my baby has just grown up overnight. We made it to almost 15 months; a little shorter than I had been hoping but still a decent effort. Stress caused my supply to go from low to virtually non existent - poor kid was essentially sucking on air, so I made the decision to end our breastfeeding journey. It wasn't easy. We both shed some tears. For the first week, he persistently pointed to his former milk supply exclaiming buh buh and trying to lift up my shirt while we snuggled over a bedtime story.

It didn't take long before he was happily taking a cup of cows milk instead, but still - this mamas heart has been sad. I had felt the end was nearing anyway as he was getting more and more distracted, but not having it end mutually is something I wish didn't happen. I had been hoping that as he got older, it would just naturally fade out as it did with Ollie. Oh, how I miss those milky snuggles. The way his chunky little fingers would comb through my hair as he fed. The satisfied milk drunk, sleepy smiles. I still get my snuggles but my baby just seems to have grown so quickly these past couple of months. He runs, he has words, he drinks cows milk. He still needs his mama, just like his big bro, but he's getting to be more and more toddler (including lovely tantrums) every day.

With our breastfeeding journey now ended, I've been reflecting on the past year. Trying to breastfeed a baby with a busy toddler underfoot wasn't always easy, especially in those early weeks and months where he was eating every two hours. With a one bad bout of mastitis and a few instances of blocked ducts in the early stages, we had a couple of little challenges but persevered and I'm so thankful we did. While I truly believe the most important thing is just feeding your baby - bottle OR breast - I'm really thankful that Austin and I had a really positive breastfeeding relationship that lasted as long as it did. While breastfeeding did come easier second time around because I wasn't as completely and utterly clueless, Austin still had to learn and we had to find our rhythm together. Breastfeeding is natural but it does not come naturally - it's a learned skill, for both of us.

Between two kids and all our travels, I've breastfed in a lot of strange places and it's been an interesting experience discovering the different attitudes towards breastfeeding in the USA. I've been mulling over my thoughts on it for some time but haven't been able to find the right words. This photograph I saw online today just summed it up for me.

I feel like the USA still has a long way to go in terms of attitudes towards and perceptions of breastfeeding. It's normal. Natural. Healthy. It's just feeding a baby. Nothing more.

Lets normalise it.

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