Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bennett at 3 Months

This was the first month when Bennett's monthly photo shoot occurred on a day when he'd been at school. So after picking the kids up from daycare, we hurried home and  quickly took pictures while there was enough light and no spit up on anyone. (However the shoot did have to wait for June to change into a dress, as is the norm these days.)

Bennett always has his hands in his mouth these days. I'm sure it's just him 'finding' his hands, but it has certainly made him extra drooly these days. Sometimes he'll start chewing/sucking on my arm and before I know it I'll have be completely covered in slobber.

I feel like he looks so much like June at this age. But in this picture below, I think he looks just like his cousin Kai used to look.

Bennett started daycare this past month, which means we also stopped going to my Mommy and Me support/play group. I'm really going to miss it. It was offered through my medical provider, and there was a whole wave of us who had kids within 4 weeks of each other. So we could all compare what our babies were up to and really sympathize with the challenges.

Bennett rolled over for the first time just today! It was from belly to back, but he's also really close to rolling from back to belly. 

We try to give him lots of tummy time but he gets frustrated after about 5 minutes.

Right now Bennett still wakes up once or twice before 6 AM, when I bring him into bed with me. I nurse him in bed and he usually falls back asleep for an hour or so. I use that time to snooze a bit or get up and start getting June ready to go. He takes several naps throughout the day, but they're pretty short in duration and not at all regular right now. 

He loves kisses on his neck, making his legs pump back out and in and when we sing songs to him...especially the "Hello My Name is Bennett Man" song that Michael made up.

And I'll leave you with a picture that June wanted to take of the teddy bear:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Back to Work

I went back to work on Thursday.

The days and weeks leading up to it were tough. I was so worried about Bennett's ability to nap in the crib, so there were many frustrating days spent trying to get him down (then try getting him back down, and again, and again) in his crib. Although on my last day of maternity leave I held him in my arms for a long nap, just because. I remember there came a time where I realized that June couldn't nap in my arms...because she was too big or because she simply didn't want to. I don't know when that time came, or when it's going to come with Bennett. I was just feeling very dramatic and wanted to hold him for what felt like the last nap ever.

Drop off was okay. The teacher went to pick him up out of his car seat, which spared me from having to physically hand him over. I actually thought I was doing great - I was too busy rushing around the room making sure I'd filled out everything and placed everything in the right place. Then it was time for me to go.

I looked at my little baby, probably my last little baby, and was overcome with sadness at walking away from him. He wasn't crying, he was just laying against the teacher's shoulder with his common somewhat surprised expression on his face. And I was saying goodbye to my sweet, slow days with my baby. The days where he would smile big open smiles at me for thirty minutes straight. From here on out, the days will quicken and fill with work and hustle and morning routines. (See that?! How quickly I forget the frustrating moments and quickly dip into nostalgia and mommy amnesia! My maternity leave was surely all honey and rainbows!)

I cried and asked if I could give him one more kiss. I leaned in, realized I was absurdly close to a grown woman I hardly knew and hadn't brushed my teeth yet, but gave Bennett two kisses anyway.

In the parking lot, another teacher found me making my ugly cry face and gave me a giant, warm cushy hug. She promised me that it would be fine and it would get easier. But part of the problem is that I don't want it to get easier, do you know what I mean? I don't want to be desensitized to missing my baby.

And yet.

And yet, it was nice. It was nice to get home and pour a cup of coffee and realize that I would get to drink it while it was still hot. It was nice to hear my colleagues welcome me back and tell me how glad they were that I was back in the game. (My inbox of 800 emails was not so nice.) It was nice to be asked about an issue, to give an answer and hear, "I hadn't considered that. Good point." (Not that I wasn't making good points to Bennett on my maternity leave. He's just not into giving praise yet.) I guess I'm saying that it was nice to be back in the adult realm, and I don't think that makes me a terrible mother to admit.

That doesn't mean that I didn't sprint out of the house at 5 PM to get to my kids. Bennett's first day was okay. He didn't eat much and was therefore pretty cranky. Seven different teachers came up to me and said, "I got to hold him today!" Which to me meant, "He was fussing and someone had to hold him at all times." He took a few short naps.

He did much better on Friday, still napping only in small amounts but at least he drank full bottles. I was so relieved, and instead of having a hungry and tired baby at pickup, I had a baby who smiled and cooed at me.

It's a new season of life, and another short season is behind us.

I'm just hoping, desperately hoping, that we can find balance. That I can still feel close to Bennett, give him some one-on-one time, even if he won't get as much as June did. That we can be happy and fulfilled and nurtured. But that's what everyone is hoping for, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day Trip to the Gold Bug Mine

Sunday morning started out early (as most do around here), and we had that restless feeling of wanting to get out of town and do something different for a change. We considered our options and decided to check out Placerville. It's a rural town about 45 minutes from Sacramento that was historically a big locale during the gold rush. 

After the drive over, we stopped in the adorable downtown to get a bite to eat. There happened to be an old car show going on.

We stopped in a secondhand bookshop (at June's request - I was so proud!), had a look around and then headed to lunch.

We ate at a restaurant called Z Pie which serves all kinds of gourmet pot pies.

Then we headed to the Gold Bug Mine, which was a real working gold mine back in the day. The grown ups got hard hats because of the low ceiling and we put on sweaters since it was only about 50 degrees in the mine.

It was so fun watching June. At first she was a little scared to go in and asked if there were any bears in "the cave." She was still a little reserved when we first got inside since she saw movement down the mine. Once she saw that it was just more people, and those people promised there were no bears, she really opened up. She was running around singing and happily spotted some tiny frogs.

Michael and I had a great time, too, although the claustrophobia kind of set in. Once you realize how far from the entrance you are, and just how much rock and earth is suspended above you, the prospect of earthquakes and cave-ins seems not only possible but likely. Of course the mine has been standing for a hundred years now, so as Michael said, if it caved in right then we just had to accept that it was our time to go.

After that, we panned for gems. June only got marginally wet and we did find some pieces, so it was a success.

But we weren't quite ready to retire off our findings.

There was also a stamp mill on site where they would extract the gold from the other rock from the mine.

I found the process fascinating, especially since it was told by a man dressed up as (and playing the role of) Black Bart, who was also my Dad's alter ego when he would wrestle me and JP as kids.

They had some minerals and rocks on display and plenty of other educational information. The map behind Michael in that picture above was a visual of all of the gold deposits found in the state of California. It was pretty impressive (and we were right in the thick of where gold spots were heaviest) and it makes sense why so many people moved out west hoping to strike it rich. (Although I hope they were better at panning than us.)

We drove the scenic way home.

Unfortunately this led to a very late nap, which led to a positively hellish bedtime for the Junebug. She  was pulling out all the stops when it comes to stalling ("I'm thirsty, I need to go potty, I don't like that shadow over there.") We had to pull out all the stops to get her down without waking up the baby, but I did stop short of threatening that Black Bart would come get her.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

DIY Elsa and Rapunzel Yarn Hair

I've undertaken a new sewing project. I'm trying to make a Princess Elsa dress for June, which is proving harder and harder to get the motivation to complete. In part because the fabric is really hard to work with, and in part because late night tantrums have me wondering why I'd spend my precious hour before exhaustion hits sweating over a sewing machine instead of with a glass of wine on the couch. 

So last weekend, with the dressmaking stalled, I got to work on a smaller project that was much quicker to complete. I wanted to make an Elsa braid to go with the dress. I knew June would love it because she is always wanting to play with my hair and drape it over my shoulder like Elsa wears it. 

To make the braid, I bought one package of very light yellow yarn from Hobby Lobby. I figured that the light yellow could work for Elsa hair, but it could also work for Rapunzel hair. 

I measured out how long the braid should be and added on a few inches since braiding hair shortens the length. It just so happened that the total length of my "hair" was the distance around the four legs of one of our kitchen table chairs. So I flipped the chair over onto the table and wound the yarn in a big circle around the four legs until I had a nice thick layer of yarn. 

I cut the yarn at one point and looped the yarn around one of those stretchy headbands on the other side. 

I secured it to the headband with a single piece of yard, then braided the whole thing and tied it off again. 

June had watched me make this whole thing. I told her that I was making her some "hair" and that it could be Elsa or Rapunzel. The problem with this is that she pretends to have Rapunzel hair a lot. She does this by taking a Moby wrap, holding it behind her neck and then walking around the house while it trails behind her. 

Like this:

And this:

So once she heard that I was making Rapunzel hair, all of a sudden she didn't think the braid was long enough. It couldn't be Rapunzel hair because it wasn't even touching the floor! She didn't even want to leave the braid on, so disappointed was she. (Did I mention about the tantrums?)

So I tried it on. For demonstrative purposes only, and not because I wanted to pretend that I too had a giant blonde braid.

At this point, I took the leftover yarn and made June some real, long Rapunzel hair. I know, I'm encouraging the tantrums, spoiling, etc. I know. But I just...was going to throw away (or compost!!!) the extra yarn anyway, and...I don't have any other excuses. I just made her the stupid extra hair. I'm a terrible parent. 

I used the same process but this time wound the hair around the entire kitchen nook table and chairs. Snip and secure to another headband (from the ones I bought in bulk back when I made the tutu dress) and we were done. 

So that's how we came to have not one but two fake yarn hair pieces around the house. 

I obviously need to make a third one for Bennett.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pottery Painting with Bennett

A couple of weeks ago, Bennett and I went to a pottery painting place in town. I searched for one of those chain places (like As You Wish) figuring that surely Sacramento had one. Maybe I wasn't searching the right way, but I couldn't find one! Instead, I ended up at a locally owned and operated place called Alpha Fired Arts, which I adored. They are a large space that isn't just devoted to pottery painting, they have a full clay studio, ceramics classes, supplies store and I assume many other things. Pottery painting is just a small part of what they do. 

I was actually the only person there painting pottery, but there were lots of other people milling around, discussing art and projects. I'm not sure if they were all employees, or if they were just 'regulars,' but they were are so nice and familiar with each other, laughing and chatting away. 

The woman who showed me around was so sweet, was charmed by Bennett and helped me when it was time to get his foot prints.

They also got a kick out of the Moby wrap and how happily sleepy Bennett was the whole time inside. (This was before he started his short-napping schedule.) Although I did paint most of the piece while standing and bouncing back and forth, holding the owl bank in one hand and the brush in the other.

So June has a piggy bank that has her footprints on it. (See blog post HERE.) I thought we'd do a bank for Bennett but once we got there, there were lots of bank options. The pigs were cute, but I thought it might be cute for Bennett to have his own animal, and the owl kind of fit with his outdoorsy/mountaineer nursery theme.

And of course I was impatiently awaiting the time when we could go pick up the finished product!

We're keeping it on top of the mantle right now until the novelty wears off. June's a little too interested in it and we're trying to keep this little guy intact as long as possible.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Around the House Lately

In the name of full disclosure, keeping-it-real, etc., I'll tell you that things have been tough around here for the past week or so. Bennett's sleeping habits during the day have changed...he only naps for very short periods of time. Doesn't matter if I'm holding him, he's in the Moby or if I put him down in his crib. He'll only nap for about 20 minutes, and sometimes will wake after only 5 minutes in the crib.

I then spend 30 minutes trying to get him back down, bouncing and walking and doing anything else in my power to get him back to sleep. Then he wakes again soon, lather rinse repeat.

He sleeps so little that he's always tired and fussing. Since he sleeps worse during the day, he's sleeping worse at night. Since he naps so little, he gets tired again soon, so he falls asleep while nursing and doesn't get a good feeding in. My shoulder, back and arm hurt from all the bouncing. And, as I'm sure you can imagine, listening to all of that crying sure is great for the nerves and self esteem.

I'm just tired and worried. Worried that going to daycare is going to be a disaster, worried that he's not going to be able to nap there, that he's going to be dependent on a person bouncing him to sleep and there won't be enough people to do that for him.

So to distract myself from all of this, allow me to post a few pictures from around the house lately.

(Daddy giving Bennett his first bottle in preparation for daycare)

Catching June nursing her baby.

Good thing he's so cute.