Thursday, January 26, 2012

Above water

So I’ve been keeping my head above water with both kids on my own for the first time.  It hasn’t always been pretty, and it’s definitely not easy, but we’re getting through it.  The fact is, that this single parent kid-raising thing is helluva hard.  And I have a hard time not being bitter about the situation I’ve been put in at times.  It doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for everything I have, and that I’m not thankful for my husband’s job, but this is tough.


Ben is a pretty fussy baby.  I would say that at least 70% or more of the time he’s awake and not nursing, he’s crying.  Abbie cried a lot also, but it is absolutely exhausting to try to take care of Abbie and also deal with Ben’s incessant crying when I know I’m never going to get a break and just be able to pass him off to Mark for a few minutes so I can regroup.  He’s my responsibility all the time, and it’s extremely frustrating when I’ve fed him, changed him, rocked him, swaddled him and done everything else I can think of to get him to stop crying, and he still is.  It makes me start to think something’s wrong with him, even though I know that’s my over-active imagination.  When he’s crying, a lot of times he arches his back and throws his head back to scream, so I googled that.  Big mistake.  The two things that came up were autism and cerebral palsy.  So I worried about that for a good 48 hours, but I’m pretty much over it now.  His crying is subsiding a little bit, and I’ve read that the peak of their crying is around 6 weeks and it’s usually a lot better by 8 weeks.  (He’ll be 7 weeks tomorrow.)


Abbie has been VERY hard to deal with.  Her favorite word, and first reaction to ANYTHING I ask her to do is “NO!”.  It is beyond frustrating and half the time I just want to smack the snot out of her, which is flowing abundantly now as it is.  She is an incredibly strong-willed child, and I’ve gone more than one round with her about showing her who’s boss. (No, I don’t hit her.)  It took me a good 45 mins to get her to pick up her markers she had thrown all over the living room the other day.  I would tell her she could go into time out or pick up her markers and she chose the time out more often than not.  She can be absolutely infuriating at times, and it’s hard to like her when she acts like that.  I go between feeling sorry for her that her dad is gone and that she’s not the only one receiving my attention anymore, and just wishing she would behave and do what I ask and entertain herself for more than 5 seconds quite a bit.


Mark’s schedule, as it almost always is when he is gone, is much more free that it is when he’s home.  So he’s been going out to dinner every night with his co-workers/friends and going go-karting and going to bars, etc.  I’ll admit, I’m extremely jealous, especially when I talk to him when he’s on his way out the door to go have dinner with friends, while I’m dealing with a screaming baby and fighting my 2 year old to eat any dinner, all while going on not much sleep since I was up with Ben eight times during the night.


Thank God I have amazing friends over here.  My friend, Jessica, brought dinner over on Monday, and held Ben for me and kept an eye on Abbie so I could take a quick shower.  It was so nice to have her company and her food was great!  And Cassy came over last night and brought part of dinner for us and again watched the kids while I took a quick shower and kept me company.  I really, really appreciate their help.  Tonight I’m going to dinner with Jennifer and we also have plans tomorrow, so I’m trying to keep busy to make the time Mark is gone fly by.

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately.  I have a lot I want to say, but I just don’t have the time to get on the computer.  Hopefully when Ben is a little less fussy and I can put him down for more than 3 minutes without him screaming, I’ll be able to write much more often.  I  miss it!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

I’m famous!

A couple weeks ago I was at the post office.  I had to mail a stack of birth announcements I was sending out and also buy stamps.  I handed my stack of mail to the person behind the counter, who handed it to her boss who was behind her.  A third worker came to join the group and the boss handed it to him.  He looked at my stack of mail and said “Ohhh.  YOU’RE <my last name>!  You’re famous around here.”  I kinda looked at him, unsure of how to take his comment and he said, “You like to write letters huh?”  I told him I did and I was just trying to keep them in business.  =)

Apparently I send more mail than the average person, which doesn’t surprise me too much.  I’ve sent well over 200 letters in the last month between Christmas cards, birth announcements, birthday and anniversary cards and letters to friends.  I think letter writing is a lost art.  Hopefully I can pass my love of letter writing off to my kids.  I’m lucky enough to have friends and family that actually hand write me letters back also!

I do have to say, I miss having a normal mailbox to go check every day.  I have to go to the base post office to get my mail and they give you a ticket if you leave your kids in the car by themselves while you go check your mail.  So carrying a car seat with an infant in it, and wrangling a 2 year old while trying to check your mail and carry any packages back to the car by yourself is a real trick.  But getting real mail makes it worth the hassle!

Friday, January 20, 2012

We’ll see how this goes


Abbie watching the jets fly by.

It seems like every time Mark goes TDY, I get sick right before he leaves, and this TDY was no exception.  The day before Mark left I started getting a stuffy nose and sore throat.  My ears hurt, I had a ton of sinus pressure and a little pain and I had a fever.  Perfect.  Luckily ibuprofen is helping all my aches and pains, because that’s really all I can take at this point.  The joys of breastfeeding.  If I take any sort of decongestant, most likely it will dry up my milk supply also and I’m not willing to risk that.

I tried to warn Abbie that Mark was going to be gone this time.  She’s been really attached to him lately and every single morning when I get her up she asks where daddy is.  I tell her he’s at work and she says “Well he’ll be home later.”  And then when she gets up from her nap, she also asks when daddy is going to be home.  So I wanted to warn her that he was going to be gone for a couple weeks instead of him just disappearing and we’ve been talking about daddy leaving all week.  Mark also talked to her the night before he left and told her he was going to be gone for a while and she said “But you’ll come back, right?”  After we’d put Abbie to bed that night, she’d call out a couple times and ask Mark if he was still here or if he’d left yet.  He’d say he was still here and she’d reply with “Okay daddy.  I love you.”  It was pretty hard to listen to.  It’s to the point where I don’t get sad for myself that Mark is leaving, but my heart breaks for Abbie that she’ll be missing her daddy.  Thank God Ben will be oblivious to the fact that Mark is gone for a while yet.

I’m not sad that Mark is gone (well a little), but I am scared this time around.  I’m nervous about handling both kids on my own for the first time all day AND all night, especially with my lack of sleep and the fact that I’m sick (which is probably caused by my lack of sleep).  I still haven’t exactly figured out when I’m going to shower since I always do that when Mark gets home from work so he could watch the kids for me.  And I’m hoping I can handle Abbie’s bedtime routine by myself since Mark always helps with that also.  One of us would get Abbie ready for bed while the other handled Ben, since he’s pretty screamy in the evenings.  I’ll figure it out somehow and hopefully I’ll have it all down by the time Mark gets back.

Luckily things have been pretty good so far.  Ben is getting past his “cry all the time” stage, which is really nice, and Abbie has been really good about taking naps for me lately.  Today I told her it was naptime and she walked in to her room and was in bed by the time I got in there.  That is most definitely a first.  Now if she goes to bed at night that easily I’ll be so happy.  And if I can get Ben to go back to sleep without crying for an hour after his early morning feeding, I’ll be even happier.  I’m really hoping I can get him sleeping better in the next couple weeks.  I’m going to try to get him into a routine during the day to help him switch his routine at night.  I’ve been just letting him sleep when he wants to sleep during the day and now I’m going to try an adapted version of Babywise.  I don’t even have that book, but I know what it’s about and I’m going to take try to get him onto a loose schedule during the day so he switches his days and nights.  Wish me luck.  I could really use some more sleep right about now!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ben’s baby shower


This weekend my friends here in Italy through us a baby shower.  Brittney, Jennifer and Cassy coordinated the whole thing and they really went all out!  It had a Winnie the Pooh theme and they thought of everything!

The favors were jars of honey!  I loved that it was something that people could use!  And Brittney did a great job with all the tags.


And check out this cake!!!  Can you believe it?  It was almost as big as my wedding cake!  I wish there was a way I could keep all the characters on it, but they’re made of fondant.  Anyone know how to preserve fondant?


We ate good food and had fun talking.  Ben got passed around quite a bit, as he usually does when I’m around friends.  I love that everyone loves to hold him and help with him.  It makes up for the fact that family isn’t here to admire him.

Ben with Lisette, Tisha, Julia, Cassy and Taryn and Felicia!


I feel so lucky that all these people came out on a Saturday to celebrate Ben’s arrival, especially when we really don’t to spend that much time with our husbands.  I am so lucky to be surrounded by such great people while we live in Italy.


They had a onesie decorating contest and people got quite involved in it!  It was fun to watch everyone be creative.  I got to pick my favorite (which was REALLY hard) and the winner one a prize.


Jessica and her trio of iPhone’s for inspiration.


Cassy hard at work!


We also played a game where Jennifer brought out a tray full of things and then we had to try to remember everything we saw on the tray.  My memory has been pretty much shot so I didn’t stand a chance at winning that one.


Me with Jennifer, Cassy and Brittney and their onesie, which says “This is how I rock my moose-stache”.  (Mark’s call sign is Moose – hence the moose theme).  That’s also the diaper cake that Tracy made me!


Me with Taryn, Felicia and Kelia and their onesie that they used a Kleenex box for to get the lines straight.  Really cute idea!


Me with Kristin and Jennifer and the onesies they made.  I thought the iPood one was hilarious!!


Jessica and me – I chose her onesie as the winner.  It was a moose with a mustache drawn on it.  So cute!


I can’t believe all the work that Brittney, Jennifer and Cassy put into this!  I’m sure Brittney put hours of work into all of the things she made on her Cricut machine.  It really makes me one, because everything she made was adorable!  Jennifer hosted the shower at her house and had the whole place decorated with balloons and other decorations.  Cassy made these really cute Winnie the Pooh sayings in frames, which I will post about later since I am going to hang those in Ben’s room, along with some of the decorations Brittney made.

I’m really, really lucky to have such great friends!  (And now you need to all have babies so I can return the favors!!)  *grins* 


Friday, January 13, 2012

Staying busy


The month has turned out to be pretty busy for me, which is a good thing.  I like being busy and having some place to be every day.  It keeps me focused and gives me something to look forward to.  It’s just a lot more challenging to get out of the house with a newborn and a 2.5 year old in tow, but I’m figuring out our morning routine.IMG_4730

One of the things I have coming up next week is an appointment to get all of Ben’s paperwork done.  The base here tends to make things as complicated as humanly possible for just about EVERYTHING, and getting Ben registered is no exception.  We have his Italian birth certificate (which must be hand typed or something because they gave us 3 copies of it and every single one of them has the certificate number cut off of it….), but we still need to get his US birth certificate, social security card, tourist passport, no fee passport, visa and get him added to our soggiorno.  So you have to make this appointment on base, but they only do them M, W, and F and then they only have 3 appointments per day that you can come in to complete the paperwork.  And conveniently the entire office is closed between 11am and 1pm, when most other people on base would be available.  I swear this base purposefully tries to make things complicated and as inconvenient as possible.  Oh, and here’s a picture of part of the list of things we need to have together for this appointment…


Mark is leaving soon and I’m going to be on my own with the kiddos.  It’ll be a pretty big learning curve for me trying to handle the evenings by myself.  That’s what I’m most nervous about.  I’ll have to figure out how to make dinner and feed Abbie, while keeping Ben content.  Normally he’s pretty fussy in the evenings.  And when Mark is here, he usually gives Abbie a bath and gets her ready for bed and reads her books and then we both tuck her in.  Obviously I’ll have to do all of that myself and pray that Ben isn’t screaming his head off the whole time.  Abbie has a REALLY bad habit of wanting “just one more kiss” like 6 times a night and I don’t know how I’m going to deal with that because when I put her in bed, I’m going to be more than ready for a break from at least one kid, since Ben still doesn’t sleep worth a crap at night so I’ll have to deal with him all night.  Although, they do say things start improving around 6 weeks, so maybe I’ll get lucky and that will ring true, because Ben will be 6 weeks old next week.  I think I’ll be fine after I have the first few days under my belt, it’s just the anticipation of the unknown.


My friends here are throwing a baby shower for Ben tomorrow so I’m pretty excited about that.  Three of my friends have been planning it so I’m excited to see everyone and see what they have planned.  Abbie is going to stay home with Mark, so hopefully they’ll have fun also.

Time to go get something else done while Ben is sleeping and Abbie is at the sitters!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ben is a month old already!!



It’s hard to believe that Ben has already been with us for a full month!  Although, looking back, it’s been a pretty “interesting” month, to say the least.  I have decided that I’m really not that big of fan of the “newborn” stage.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Ben to death and wouldn’t trade him for the world, but I do not function well on little sleep.  I am a night owl, but by that, I mean I stay up until midnight most nights.  Ben’s version of being a night owl was at first to scream bloody murder from about 1am – 3am, and then he transitioned into the “won’t sleep by himself in his own bed from 4am-8am” stage, which is where we currently are.  Newborns cry a lot, and Ben has done his fair share of that, but his cry is much more “muted” than Abbie’s was, so it’s much easier to tolerate.  When Abbie cried, you could, no kidding, hear her outside and 2 houses over when she was this age.  Ben does more fussing than full on screaming, and even when he does get worked up, he just sounds like a grumpy old man.  It’s pretty cute.



Abbie is doing much better now that she’s had a month to adjust, thank God.  For a while there I was really wondering what the heck I’d gotten myself into with having two kids.  But Abbie is doing better and her meltdowns aren’t nearly as frequent as they were.  She constantly asks to hold Ben and she loves to help with him.  I’ll be holding him and she’ll come up and say “Give him to me.", like I’ll just pass him off to her.  I have no doubt she’d try to carry him around if I gave her half the chance.  Instead, I let her “carry” his feet when I carry him around.  He’s pretty tolerant of her being in his face and being a little bit rough at times.  Ben loves to watch Abbie and many times he’ll calm down if she starts to talk to him when he’s worked up.  She loves to give him his paci and put blankets on him when he’s in his swing.


I had lunch with Brittney today, who’s a nurse at the clinic on base, and she did a quick weight check on him for me.  (Thanks Britt!!)  He was 10lbs1oz with his clothes and diaper on.  So we guesstimated that he probably weighs around 9lbs 13oz without his clothes on, which means he’s up a full pound from his 2 week appointment.  I don’t doubt he’s getting enough to eat at all, which is a huge difference from when Abbie was this age.  I was constantly worried about my milk supply with her, but I’m not worried about it this time, mostly because I feel like I have enough milk for 3 babies most of the time.  I leak quite a bit, and I flood him sometimes when I’m nursing him.  Some nights we give him two ounces of formula in a bottle so he will drink from a bottle later on and also take formula when we’re out and about.  Makes my life a lot easier, but I’ve noticed I’m not nearly as self-conscious about nursing him when we’re out in public as I was with Abbie.  Ben doesn’t nurse nearly as much as Abbie did though.  Abbie used me as a pacifier half the time, but when Ben is done eating, he doesn’t want me to nurse him any more and wants his paci back.  Abbie was latched on to me pretty much the first 4 months of her life straight.


Just in the past week Ben has become easier.  He’s much more alert now and he’ll watch me as I move around and turn to look at you when you talk to him.  He’ll be perfectly content sitting in his swing or bouncy chair just watching what everyone else is doing for about 15 mins at a time.  He doesn’t cry as much in the evenings like he used to.  And we’re trying to get him to go to sleep by himself instead of us holding him and then trying to get him in bed without him waking up.  We learned that lesson with Abbie.  He definitely gets fussy when he gets tired so I usually nurse him if he wants to nurse, or we rock him until he’s drowsy and then try to put him in the bed while he’s still somewhat awake.  Usually he’ll wake up and cry when we put him down, but we just pat him and keep putting his paci in his mouth until he falls asleep.  Last night was our best night yet!  He slept from 12am-4:15am.  I nursed him from 4:15am-5am.  And then I put his paci in at 5:15am and 6:30am, and he stayed in his bed until 7:30am.  It was REALLY nice not spending most of the night in the chair.

And just to keep up the tradition, here are the Ben and weina dog pictures.  Some people measure their kid’s growth by having them hold stuffed animals in pictures (great idea!).  We’re the weirdos that put them next to the weina dogs.  (Sadie wasn’t a big fan of his screaming.)


Our little stud striking a pose.


Love them!!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Still here

I’ve had a few requests from friends to put more pictures of Ben up on here.  I had my camera set to take pictures in RAW format, and then discovered I couldn’t post pictures on here in RAW format, so I’m still trying to get those other pictures converted.  But here are a few pictures that I’ve taken in the past few days.  I’m not going to talk about him too much, because he’ll be a month old tomorrow and I’ll give all the updates in that blog.

But just to tide you over until I find the time to get that post up, here are a few pictures of our little Ben.




And here are a few of the pooks eating cookies.