Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Life with Elise: Week 1

Written Saturday, March 28th

I can't believe Little Miss Elise is already a week old!  This week has really flown by and we have had so much fun.  We are all enjoying Elise so much and are so in love.  This first week my mom stayed with us and Ty was home from work so we pretty much always had 3 adults to the 2 children.  There were a few times Ty and my mom headed out to run errands during nap time and Carter woke up while they were gone so it was just me with Carter and Elise and we did just fine.  Carter is smitten with Elise and she is super chill and easy going so it's pretty easy to be honest.  We also had lots of visits from Uncie J and Uncie Taco and my dad traveled back up to see everyone Monday evening and again on Friday for the weekend.  It's been a bit of a constant party around here!  In the mornings Elise would wake up to eat and Carter would wake up while I was nursing her.  My mom would go in to get him and I would either get up when Elise finished eating or go back to sleep for a little bit.  If I went back to sleep Carter would want to come lay in bed with all of us after he ate breakfast.  I loved those moments when we were all in bed together snuggling!
Elise already loves her Oma!
My recovery has been pretty good.  I'm getting so much more sleep than I got when Carter was a newborn.  Carter went an hour in between feedings and Elise goes for 2-3 hours, sometimes even 3.5!  That extra week of plumping up in my belly sure has made a huge difference!  I feel like a human being and can function really well!  My tear this time has been a little bit worse just because of where it's at.  It tends to get rubbed more when I walk and is just more sore than what I remember from before.  In the beginning it hurt so much to pee that I held back tears while I was going, but it has already gotten SO MUCH better!  Tuesday, at 3 days postpartum, my mom and I took the double stroller out for a half mile walk.  Then on Thursday we walked 3/4 of a mile to Jeremy's house.  Mom pushed the stroller and I carried Elise.  On Saturday we walked a mile with Jeremy and I carried Elise in her baby carrier.  It has been so nice to get back into exercising already and I'm hopeful I'll be run/walking by the 5k I'm signed up for on April 18th.  Even if I'm not run/walking by then I'll be able to walk the whole race for sure! 

With Carter I was so afraid to take him out in public with him being premature and born in the winter, smack dab in the height of flu season.  I haven't felt that way at all with Elise.  I feel so much better this time around and Carter needs to get out, so we have.  We were discharged from the hospital on Sunday after just over 24 hours in the hospital and it felt so good to be home and to be with Carter.  I had missed him even more than I had expected!  We took our first trip out of the house on Tuesday when Elise was 3 days old.  My mom and I walked with Carter and Elise in the double stroller to the library.  Then we went to dinner at Panera and I even nursed Elise while we were there.  I always felt so weird nursing Carter in public even with a cover-up on, but it hasn't bothered me at all with Elise.  On Thursday when Elise was 4 days old she rode in the baby carrier while Carter played at the Children's Museum.  Then we had a picnic at the park by the museum.  That evening a tornado touched down in a town about 15 minutes from us and then went through downtown so we spent about an hour and a half in our tornado shelter in the garage.  Carter and Elise both did really well although Elise was upset and wanted to nurse pretty much the entire time we were in the shelter.  She didn't eat much, I think she just wanted to suck for comfort.

When Elise was only 3 days old I left her at home with her Oma for the first time while Ty and I went to a visitation for the dad of one of my friends.  It was hard to be away from sister, but we weren't gone long.  Then on Friday when Elise was 6 days old I took Carter out for a special mommy/Carter playdate.  He needed the special time with me and I enjoyed being alone with him, but after about 30 minutes away from Elise I was starting to get emotional and wanted to head home.  I knew she was in great hands with her Oma and she even ate almost 2 ounces I had pumped before leaving!  Carter had so much fun and was much better behaved after our special time together.  He really needed some mommy time and I was glad it made him feel loved and special!

I don't know why and I was surprised when it came out of my mouth, but I call Elise sister all the time.  I'd say I probably call her "Sister" more than I call her "Elise".  She really is the sweetest, most easy going little baby.  She loves being in her baby carrier, snuggled against my chest (and I love it too).  She also sleeps well in her bouncer and her swing even when they aren't turned on, though she isn't a fan of her Pack N Play and doesn't like sleeping in it.  She nurses really well and is an efficient little eater, she'll eat for about 10 minutes on each side.  Usually I change her diaper in between sides to help her wake up.  Then she typically poops her diaper while eating on the 2nd side which results in another diaper change!  We were all surprised by how many poopy diapers she had during the first few days.  She'd already had 3 poopy diapers about half-way through the day she was born!  We suctioned out her nose one night because she seemed to be struggling more than usual to breathe.  We were both prepared for it to be horrible, but she shocked us by sleeping through it!

My milk came in Tuesday evening and sister had such a hard time with it.  She would start to eat, but then she'd pull off crying and snorting.  It was frustrating and would take me 15-20 minutes to finally get her latched on and eating.  I hadn't even mentioned it yet at our doctor's appointment when he mentioned she was really snorty and asked if she was born quickly.  We said she was and he told us that when a baby is born too quickly and the pushing isn't as controlled sometimes the baby's nasal passageways can get pinched causing them to be snorty and have trouble breathing, especially when they're eating.  I felt so bad knowing I in part caused her to be so snorty!  If you look inside her nostrils you can see they aren't open like they should be.  He said she should grow out of it.  She's already eating much better and only struggles to latch due to difficulty breathing and snorting on occasion.  Just like her brother, Elise sucks her thumb!  Carter didn't find his thumb until he was a month or two old, but Elise has already figured it out.  If she's hungry and I don't get to her quickly enough I'll find her contentedly sucking her thumb when I get to her.  It blows my mind!  I guess it shouldn't though since she was sucking her thumb during one of her ultrasounds.  I brought in a 3D ultrasound to compare her face and Jeremy pointed out she liked having her hands by her face even then.  She pretty much always wants to sleep with her hands resting on or near her cheeks.  For that reason swaddling has been a no go for her.  If we do swaddle her we have to do it with her arms up and her hands by her face.

Carter and Harper both love Elise so much!  Harper follows Elise from room to room and lays near her to keep an eye on her.  She doesn't like it when other dogs get too close to Elise.  Carter doesn't like Elise crying and tries to console her.  He'll say "It's okay, Issy Eese" and if she is still crying he'll kiss her over and over trying to get her to stop.  If he's kissed her an absurd number of times and she's still crying he'll then yell, "Stop it!!!!" in frustration.  He also shows her how to put her thumb in her mouth when she cries.  He'll go over by her and start sucking his thumb and get close to her face for her to see.  One day my dad was changing Elise's diaper and she was crying.  Carter didn't like her crying so he yelled, "Mommy, c'mere, please!"  When I came in the room he told me, "Issy Eese cryeet" and pointed at her, wanting me to make her stop.  If you ask him what his sister eats he'll tell you, "Mommy milk".  The first time he saw her nursing he said, "Issy Eese eat mommy!" then he put his mouth on my arm and pretended to suck my arm.  Carter knows Elise sleeps in our room with us.  One morning he woke up at 6 am and asked to come to bed with mommy, Issy Eese, and daddy.  It was too cute!  We brought him to bed with us and he slept for about an hour in our bed.  When Elise is in her bouncer Carter likes to sit by it and manually bounce it for a while.  Then if it turns off while she's in it, he'll say "oh no, oh no" and run over to turn it back on for her.

I am enjoying this adventure as a family of 4 so much!  It is so much fun to have a girl this time because although things are similar, there is also a newness to it.  Diaper changes are fun because they are a little bit different.  One of my favorite parts of the day is getting Elise dressed in the morning.  All of her clothes are so adorable and I can't get enough of her sweet headbands with bows and flowers.  She is such a snuggly baby, just like her brother was!  She likes to be snuggled up on your chest to sleep and would be completely content if she were to be held all day long.  If I put her in bed next to me, she snuggles up close to me and nuzzles into my chest.  I love having her in the baby carrier or on my chest so I can easily lean down and kiss her little head.  Her cheeks are so soft and chubby that it is impossible not to kiss them.  Her little legs are so skinny and adorable that I giggle every time I see them.  When she has her eyes open she really looks around and is so alert.  I'm so glad I get to spend all of her infant moments with her.  I can really soak them up without going back to work looming in the back of my mind.  It has also made it easier to pass her off or leave her at home so I can give Carter some solid one-on-one time which he desperately needs.  When I look at Elise I'm so filled with love I get teared up.  I feel so lucky to have two such perfect babies.  Neither of them have health issues and they are both so snuggly and sweet!  Since the moment Elise came into our lives she's made them even happier, richer, and even more full of life and love.  We've enjoyed each day and I'm excited for what is to come!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekly Learning Theme: Spring

Before Elise was born I planned out a Spring Learning Theme and an Easter Learning Theme in hopes that I could continue to do at least a few themed learning activities in the weeks after she was born.  I'm so glad I did because it has been really nice to be able to pull out fun activities to do while Elise naps in her bouncer or hangs out in my arms watching Carter.  This week I had both my mom and Ty home helping which made it a lot easier to get things in because there was always someone around to grab the wash cloth I forgot to set out before giving Carter finger paint or pick up a last minute material at the store.  We'll see how it goes next week when it's just me and Ty and then the week after when I'm alone with both babes.  I may end up spreading some themes over multiple weeks or taking a few weeks off. 

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have updated our objectives from the original ones we focused on because Carter mastered those skills.  I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives.  Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually.  The highlighted objectives are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:
  1. Take turns in a simple game.
  2. Understand the meaning of mine, his, hers.
  3. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).  
  4. String beads or other objects.
  5. Count to 3 and understand what the numbers mean.  
  • To create a spring sensory bin I left the beans from our St. Patrick's Day bin in the bottom and then just threw in a small craft nest I had from Ty's grandma, some small eggs, a few birds, and the flamingo feather Carter found during a trip to the zoo.  Carter loved to play with the bin and also enjoyed looking through his Hatched book to see what other animals hatch from eggs.
  • Carter and his Oma planted some flowers in a pot in the backyard.  Each morning Carter would use one of his little toy cups to water the seeds and they'd check on the seeds to see how they were doing.
Watering his seeds.

Playing with his shovel and pail.
  • We made wind streamers out of a toilet paper roll and crepe paper.  I planned for Carter to color the toilet paper roll and add stickers, but he saw me get out the finger paint for our robin footprint craft and wanted to paint it so we switched to paint.  Then as I was digging through a craft box looking for scissors to cut the crepe paper he saw some foam flowers and wanted to glue them onto his toilet paper roll so we also used those.  He had a blast gluing the flowers on and ended up covering the entire roll with them because he wanted to use the glue.  When the rolls were dry and the crepe paper was taped to them we took them outside to play with in the wind.  He and his Oma ran and laughed watching the crepe paper stream along behind them.  It was precious!
    Adding glue to foam flowers to decorate his wind streamer.
    Painting his toilet paper roll.
    Elise supervising craft time.
  • It rained one night so the next day Carter put on his rain boots to play outside.  He played in some puddles and observed worms.  His Oma even made him some puddles to play in using buckets and his swimming pool that were in the backyard.  After observing worms with Carter I really wanted to get out a worm farm I had used in class in an observation center, but I knew it would be a lot of work and Carter probably wouldn't be super interested so we decided I'd hold off on that activity until next year when he could enjoy it a bit more.
  • Another day I got out a few flower pots and seeds Carter's Gma had sent.  First I let Carter play in the flower pot with soil and gardening tools.  Then we planted the seeds and watered them.  Carter had so much fun playing in the soil and did a great job planting the seeds.  Before we planted the seeds I poured them out for Carter to look at.  I even mixed them up and had him sort them based on what they looked like. 
    Planting the special seeds from his Gma.
    Exploring and sorting the seeds from packets.
    Watering his newly planted seeds.
  • Using a toilet paper roll, peanut butter, and bird seed we made bird feeders for the tree in our backyard.  While Carter and I made our simple feeders, Ty made one using a bottle, dowel rods, and bird seed.  Carter enjoyed picking where the feeders went and talking about how birds would come to our tree to have a bird party.
    Rolling his toilet paper roll in bird seed.
    Smearing peanut butter on the toilet paper roll.
    Helping daddy pour bird seed in his fancy bird feeder.
    Watching Ty climb the tree to hang his bird feeder.
  • On a day that had a slight wind but wasn't too windy we went outside to blow bubbles.  Uncie J was over at our house and Carter had a blast blowing bubbles with him.  Then I showed Carter how he could wave the wand and allow the wind to blow the bubbles.  He did a great job blowing bubbles that way as well.
  • We have really been enjoying all the sunshine we've had lately!  This winter was very cloudy and overcast with hardly any sunny days.  One day while we were outside we played with our shadows.  I showed Carter that when I jumped my shadow also jumped.  He thought it was hilarious and would do different actions and laugh while his shadow also did what he had.  It was fun to see real shadows after playing with and talking about shadows during our winter week when we discussed Groundhog Day.
    Making his shadow jump.
    Pointing at his shadow.
  • I used our flower cookie cutters to trace and cut out 3 different kinds of flowers on construction paper.  Then Carter sorted the flowers based on their shape.  Once he had them sorted, we counted to see how many flowers were in each pile.
  • We took a magnifying glass outside and used it to observe nature.  We looked at flowers, dirt, and bugs.  Carter would use the magnifying glass to look at something, then drop it and run a lap around the yard, picking it back up to look at things and then starting the process all over again.
  • I saw an adorable idea for making a spring tissue paper wreath here.  I cut out the middle of a paper plate and showed Carter how to rip small pieces of tissue paper off and stick them in glue on the wreath.  I then sat back and let him add the glue, rip pieces of tissue paper off, and add the pieces to his wreath.  When he was finished and it had dried for hours because he used an absurd amount of glue, I added ribbon to hang it with and a little ribbon bow.  It is hanging on our back door and looks adorable!
  • I saw an adorable robin footprint craft here.  I just knew Carter had to make it and when Elise arrived before our spring themed week she got to get in on the action too.  I was so excited to add her footprint to the paper and Carter loved seeing the difference in the size of their feet.
    The finished product.
Special Snack:
  • I planned to use our flower cookie cutters to make special spring shaped foods to eat during the week, but it never happened.
Make Believe:
  • Using Carter's ball pit we pretended to be birds and built a nest with blankets.  While we built it we looked at the small bird's nest from his sensory bin to see what it should like look.  We also looked at books with bird nests in them.  Then we pretended to be birds in the nest and I pretended to lay 2 basketballs eggs which Carter was not impressed by.
Carter playing in our nest.
  • We sang "I See the Wind" to the tune of "Hush, Little Baby".  The song was written by Jean Warren and goes like this:
I see the wind, when the trees bend low.
I see the wind, when the leaves all blow.
I see the wind, when the kits fly high.
I see the wind, when the clouds float by.
I see the wind, when it blows my hair.
I see the wind, most everywhere.     
Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We headed to a park by the Children's Museum where I knew there would be lots of ducks and geese.  Carter loved watching the ducks and geese and even got to feed them some corn he found on the ground.  We plan to go back again later in the season to see if there are any ducklings or goslings.
    Scooping up corn to feed the ducks and geese.
  • While on a walk we searched for new flowers and blooms.  We also pointed out birds and looked to see if they had or were building nests.
Elise with some daffodils we found on a walk.
Carter stomped through the daffodils, but didn't smash any of them.
Careful to walk through the flowers without stepping on them.
  • Throughout the week we talked a lot about wind.  We happened to go to the Children's Museum on a day when they were performing a science experiment.  The experiment was all about air and how air moves things.  They used fog so the kids could see how air moves.
    Trying to catch fog rings while Uncie J held him up.

  • Spring Joy by Liesbet Slegers
  • Me and the Seasons by Liesbet Slegers
  • Bunny Bunny Catkin by Cathy MacLennan
  • Sleepy Bee by Alice Schertle 
  • Pooh's Perfect Spring Day by Random House
  • Good Morning, Chick by Mirra Ginsburg
  • Puppies and Piggies by Cynthia Rylant
  • Spring Is Here by Will Hillenbrand
  • Spring Is Here by Taro Gomi
  • My Garden by Kevin Henkes
  • Birds by Kevin Henkes
  • Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • My Spring Robin by Anne Rockwell
  • Two Blue Jays by Anne Rockwell
  • Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
  • It's Spring by Linda Glaser
  • Spring by Cynthia Amoroso
  • Finding Spring by Carin Berger
  • The Listening Walk by Paul Showers
  • Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin
  • Mouse's First Spring by Lauren Thompson
  • Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steve Schmur
  • Who Likes Rain? by Wong Herbert Yee
  • Everything Spring by Jill Esbaum
  • What Will Hatch? by Jennifer Ward
  • And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano  
  • The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle