Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What do you get when you have a tween, a kindergartener and a baby?

It's strange being thrown into babyhood again, while also parenting an (almost) tween. I'm changing diapers and breastfeeding while dealing with the puberty and mood swings. Add in the antics of an active little kindergartener who wants a little more of mommy's attention, and our household has become quite an interesting place.

It wasn't until two years ago or so that I realized that parenting  a baby is nothing compared to parenting a big kid. Yes. You get more sleep and the tantrums are fewer. But, when you're a parent of a grade schooler, you're in the big leagues now. You're worried about so much more than how long they're sleeping and whether they're eating enough. It's real. And everything matters.

Having our baby Josie has made me realize that parenting a baby is not as hard as I believed back in the early days with Julie. When Julie was fussy or cranky or wouldn't sleep or eat, it was a huge insurmountable problem to me. How can I fix this? What am I doing wrong? Should I let her cry? Am I holding her too much? Am I not holding her enough? What if she misses a nap?  I would constantly fret I wasn't getting it right, and I was constantly searching for answers.

With Josie, of course, I'm trying to make sure she's happy and healthy. But, it's completely OK if she has a rough day or if I have a rough day for that matter. She's just a baby trying to figure out the world.

Parenting a 9-year-old however is  much trickier. In our eyes, Julie is still our innocent, naïve little girl--who just recently figured out the meaning of "ass." Up until a few months ago, she truly believed mascots were real. The secret was out when she saw a cheetah mascot remove its furry head during the school fun fair. She's a bit immature for her age, but she's beginning to figure things out, and question things, and understand adult topics. She wonders when she'll have armpit hair, and she writes about kids "dating" in her diary. She wants to be included in our big adult world, but she still wants to stay little. She told me so.

These years are so strange and tough. I know it. I went through it. You're stuck between little kid life and big kid life, and you're  not sure where you fit in. You long to stay in the comfortable world of little kids, but you know too much and you can't go back. And you, admittedly a bit curious about the real adult world.

Having Josie has been such a blessing for Julie. In two months, she has grown up beyond belief, and I think she feels a sense of purpose. And maybe she's ready to move on and grow up.

Meanwhile, I'm here to help her navigate the scary world and answer all her questions and help her figure out who she is. All while rocking her baby sister and playing with her little brother.

It's a crazy life, but it's a good one.

Monday, February 9, 2015

There are more important things than sleep. It's true!

Sleep was the most important thing to me when Julie was a baby. I was obsessed with it. By 2 months old, Julie was on a strict nap schedule and was sleeping 10 hours at night. I don't think she ever missed a nap in the first two years.

This meant a couple things:
1. I was basically housebound for four hours a day while she napped.
2. Naps took priority over everything else.
3. I would get super pissed if someone messed with my baby's schedule.
4. Baby Julie would get super pissed if anyone messed with her schedule.

Never would I think of missing a nap to do something fun. And I cringed when family members or friends wanted to rock her to sleep or hold her during a nap. That messes with sleep!! She needs her sleep!!

Of course parents learn as they go. The first child is an experiment, or so the cliché goes. You adjust your styles and beliefs, and try new things or get rid of ideas that didn't work the first time around.
With Johnny, I was a bit more relaxed. I wasn't so sleep-crazed, and of course he didn't sleep as well. He wanted to be rocked and held and he hated when the lights were out. So, I rocked him with the lights on full-force, as he gazed at the fans and the lights until he fell asleep. It took a good six months before he was sleeping through the night.

And then there's Josie. Our baby. If she so much as whimpers there are four people rushing to her aid. I'm not quite sure "cry it out" will ever happen with our Josie. She loves to be held and there are usually four sets of hands ready and willing to hold her. She doesn't cry too much, and I'm sure that's because there's always someone there to help her.

Recently, however, I've been trying to get her to sleep in her crib a little better for nap time. The other day I swaddled her up tightly, popped a pacifier in her mouth, sung to her and rocked her a bit. She seemed drowsy and ready. And I put her down almost asleep.

A few minutes later she began to whimper, and I thought, I would try and let her fuss a bit to figure it out. But, two little cries later, I heard singing over the monitor.

And there was the best thing in the world. Julie holding and rocking her baby sister and singing "Twinkle Twinkle."

Does that mess with our baby's sleep? Maybe.

But, I wouldn't give up a moment like that for any amount of sleep.

Third time around and it's just all about the love.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Weekend Getaway: Chattanooga

One benefit to moving so much is we've really been able to explore different areas of the country. Living in Georgia, there are so many fun and interesting destinations that aren't too far away.

Last weekend we headed to Chattanooga, Tennessee to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday. (Read my last blog for more birthday details.)

From our town of Alpharetta, Georgia, Chattanooga is about two hours (a little more with Friday traffic.) Because my dad loves Civil War history, this was the perfect trip for him. It's the spot of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War, and also the downslide of the rebels' fight.

History buffs will love Chattanooga with the battlefields, museums, electronic display of battles and re-enactments on Lookout Mountain in the summer, but there's so much more to the historic city. With a  small town feel, downtown Chattanooga is pretty walkable. And the downtown has plenty to offer---from the Tennessee Aquarium and Children's Museum to the Riverwalk along the Tennessee River. There are a bevvy of great restaurants too. Sugar's Barbecue was pretty awesome with its homemade sauces and grilled okra. Try Milk and Honey for some amazing gelato. And Urban Stack serves up some mean organic burgers. Best turkey burger I've ever eaten. Seriously!

Outdoor enthusiasts will love to hike around Rock City and explore the cave at Ruby Falls--home to the largest underwater waterfall.

Chattanooga is a little southern gem and worth the trip.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Happy 70th Daddy

Birthdays were always a big deal growing up.
My sister and I would start celebrating a week or two before our big day, and then our actual parties were pretty cool. I remember clowns and magicians, a trip to an amusement park, skating parties and swimming. Birthdays were special.

Except for our dad's. He isn't too fond of birthdays because he just hates the thought of getting older. So, we never made a big to-do of Dad's birthdays. Double chocolate cake and some presents and that's it.

Last Friday he turned 70.
You have to make a big deal of 70, right?

Kelly and I wanted to throw him a big party or take him on a special trip. But, this year's completely crazy with her wedding and our little Josie being born. Not to mention that we all live so far away.

So, we didn't make any big birthday plans.

But, mom and dad stayed with us from Christmas until last weekend, so we decided to take him on a little trip to Chattanooga...about 2 hours away from Atlanta.

It wasn't fancy or filled with tons of activities, but it was perfect for us. He loves Civil War history so we explored the Chattanooga battlefields and ate some great burgers and barbeque. There were little bundt cakes and plenty of homemade presents.

We hope we made Dad feel special because he's pretty special to us.

And one of these days we'll go all out for his big day.