Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Amanda and Christiana's Sleep-over Party

Last night went pretty well! Amanda and Christiana went to bed around 8 pm. Talitha went to bed around 8:30 pm. Everybody slept until about 1 am and that is great! I don't mind getting up in the middle of the night if I'm able to go to bed by 9 or 10 pm. I woke up because I needed to pump and then I *may* have woken up Tali when I went in to check to make sure she was still breathing. Am I the only one who worries about that kind of thing when the baby sleeps longer than I do?

About 3:30 am, Mike woke me up with Amanda in his arms telling me that "pretty much everyone" was awake. Amanda woke up needing to go potty and when Mike went in to get her, Christiana woke up. Apparently, Tali had been squawking for a little while already. Since we hadn't discussed whether we were prepared to deal with the consequences of trying to get Amanda and Christiana back to sleep together under these circumstances, I just took Christiana out and put her back to sleep in the crib in our closet when I went to pick up Talitha.

Amanda and Christiana went right back to sleep and Talitha nursed and then went back to sleep in the bassinet in the living room. She slept until 7 am and the other girls got about at 8 am. All and all a good start to the process of having two little girls sleeping in the same room.

Just for reference, we have two bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs. The sleeping arrangements have been: Tyler and Tony each have a room downstairs, Amanda sleeps in a crib in her room, Christiana was in a crib in our closet and Talitha was in a bassinet in our room or the living room. There is a single bed in Amanda's room but is doesn't have a guard rail yet and Amanda is very content in her crib so that's why we set up the pack-n-play for Christiana.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We've been...

Doing a little strolling, a little biking, a little babywearing and a little housekeeping!
This is the stroller I found on Craigslist the weekend before Talitha was born. I bought it from my neighbor just a mile or so from my house. It's very nice and will work with one of the carseats that we have.
I usually go out walking with my neighbor who had the little girl in January. We both wear our youngest babies. She also has one toddler in a stroller and two preschoolers on bikes.
On this day, we were going to pick up a trike for Amanda from one of the other neighbors. Have I told you how awesome our neighborhood is? She learned to pedal pretty quickly and wants to go out and ride her trike constantly!
I've been doing quite a bit of babywearing lately. Many times when Amanda sees me putting a baby on my back, she wants one on her back, too. Here we are doing dishes with our babies.
That's a pretty big vacuum for such a little girl! She doesn't mind. She spent a long time running that thing around the living room.

In other news, Amanda is potty trained. A big change came in January when I finally brought a little stool upstairs so that she could climb on the potty herself.

Talitha stayed in bed on Sunday night from 8 pm until 5:30 am. However, since she's still in our room, I was awake from about 1 am when I first heard stir. I had get up to pump and then I was sure she would be waking up soon so every time she began to whine or grunt, I would start to prepare to get out of bed. Last night things were back to normal, but there's hope.

I've lost 38 of the 43 pounds I gained with Talitha's pregnancy and can wear my regular jeans again.

Tonight, I put Christiana in a pack-n-play in Amanda's room. Christiana no longer needs to be super swaddled. She's in the socked p.j.'s and a sleeping bag. I put them together at naptime the other day and neither one slept as expected. I'll let you know how the night goes.

Mike is such a good daddy!

Mike often takes Amanda out for adventures.

Here they are reading books from their trip to the library.

Here are somethings he picked up from their trip to the grocery store. Afterwards, they went out for dinner. I can only imagine how many people have been blessed to see this great daddy and his adorable little daughter out and about.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

One Month and A Week

I love this lovely blue sleeper. It goes so nicely with Tali's blue eyes. I'm pretty sure they are going to stay blue, too.
I completely missed Talitha's one month photos last week because all three little girls decided to catch colds. It always starts with Amanda. They aren't real sick; the are just whiny, clingy and not sleeping well. Everybody is on the mend but illnesses certainly throws our precarious balancing act off kilter.


Talitha's sleeping, or not sleeping, patterns are shifting. She's been sleeping for longer periods at night but then she has been awake and fussy more during the day. Which is really only a slight improvement. However, she is showing signs of going to sleep better on her own and staying asleep for longer periods. She has developed some baby acne this week, is wearing 0-3 months clothing, screams in her carseat and when I give her a bath, smiles often and spits up more often. I started cloth diapering her this week, too. I'm not enjoying it. I feel like it's so time consuming and haven't figured out a good system for organizing her diapering supplies. I won't feel bad about using disposables more often than not for a while.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Milk For Two and More

Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I looked forward to the day when I would have enough milk to provide for all of my adopted daughter's needs. I wasn't exactly sure about the process and spent some time researching and asking around. While nobody had any real specific ideas for my situation, a number of concerns were raised. Some the concerns were resolved in January when it became apparent that I probably wouldn't be nursing Christiana. Here are the rest of the concerns and how I addressed them.

First of all, I knew the new baby would need colostrum. I thought I would pump after each feeding the hospital to simulate having twins, but the nurse said Tali would provide enough stimulation and frankly, I was tired. I didn't start doing any pumping until my milk started to come in on the Friday night after she was born.

The second concern was getting Tali on a good schedule. My doctor and the hospital nurse were worried that I would pump and then Tali would need to eat. However, since I use the principles from Baby Wise* and wake my babies to feed them every three hours, Tali was on a good schedule from the first day. I also used the techniques I learned from the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic to make sure Tali was taking a full feeding each time I nursed her. I made sure she nursed for 20-30 minutes with a good suck/swallow pattern and could be confident that she was getting enough to eat. Then, I would pump after nursing Talitha and used massage and pressure to help bring my milk down when I became engorged.

Finally, I was concerned about a fore milk/hind milk imbalance. As my supply increased, I was concerned that if I always nursed Talitha first on both sides, she would only get the fore milk. So, I began to vary whether I nursed her first or pumped first. Or I would only nurse her on one breast and then pump both breasts after the feeding.

My strategy seemed to work and I was pleasantly surprised to be able to pump enough milk by the fourth day for all of Christiana's feedings. That made all the nausea worthwhile. Obviously, holding Talitha for the first time and welcoming her into our family made all the nausea worthwhile, but I was able to welcome two babies without the eight months of nausea. My only disappointment in adoption was not being able to provide a full supply of breast milk for my girls.

My milk supply continued to increase and I began to think about donating to a sick little boy I had "met" in blog land. The post his mother wrote about his rash helped us identify Christiana's rash. However, her little boy was still suffering from allergies and rashes. She had tried to find dairy-free breast milk for him, but hadn't found a donor. I had planned to go dairy-free for Christiana because she showed signs of being intolerant to dairy, too. Even though Christiana seemed to be tolerating breast milk with dairy, when this little guy's mom said she would gladly accept the milk, I decided to cut out the cheddar cheese which was the only dairy I had been eating. My heart goes out to this family because of what I went through with my food allergies and because I know how much work she put in trying to induce lactation for him.

I think it is wonderful and amazing that I have been able to produce 50-60 ounces in addition to what Talitha drinks. I knew it was possible based on the success of some of the moms who have posted on Milkshare but I'm thankful that I have been so productive and can provide milk for two adopted babies. I'm not sure how long I can keep up at this level, but I'm happily eating lots of extra calories, drinking lots of fluids and taking good supplements. I'd like to tell you I'm getting plenty of rest, too, but you know better than that! :) Right now, I am pumping every three to fours hours. I'd like to reduce the number of times I need to pump but I try to pump before nursing Tali these days because otherwise my let down is overwhelming for her. As her schedule changes, mine will change too.

*As a disclaimer, I don't agree with everything in Babywise. I prefer to balance our approach with the advice found in Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child. While Babywise suggests that you should always put your baby down awake, Healthy Sleep Habits just encourages you to make sure everyone is getting as much quality sleep as possible. Depending on the baby, the parent and the household situation, sometimes that means co-sleeping and sometimes that means letting the baby cry it out. We have used principles from all three of the resources I've linked to in this post to help us have well-fed, well-rested babies and avoid the crazy nighttime problems that lingered well into the school years with our boys.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sharing

A few weeks ago my mom came to visit and help out with the kids. The previous time she had visited, she had taken Amanda outside to play but she had looked a little bored having only Amanda to care for. So, I talked her into taking Amanda and the neighbor boys sliding when she came to visit on this day. The neighbor boys are three and five and their mother also had a baby in January.


A good time was had by all. It even looks like Grandma was having fun, too!

It did take Amanda a little while to catch on the concept of sliding. She didn't understand why everyone kept going back up the hill after they had slid down.
All of this snow is gone now and the woods look very different. I hardly noticed winter this year because I've been so preoccupied. Usually February and March are really hard months because I am so sick of winter but not this year. It almost spring and I can't wait to get outside more often.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Full House


Yesterday we headed out for our first family trip with our full house. Not that we are saying we're done having kids because our house is full, but that the hand we have been dealt is a Full House: Three queens and two jacks!
It was only an 1 1/2 hr drive. Amanda and Christiana chattered and Talitha slept. Tony and Tyler listened to their music in the back. We arrived a little late, but not as late as my mom who forgot about Day-Light Savings!We had a great day visiting with family including some special out of town relatives. It was a divine appointment that we all visited my grandma on the same day. It was wonderful to have so many hands to hold the babies.

The little girls were good on the way home, too, but spent the evening being cranky and recovering.
Do you recognize these guys? I know it's been I while since I've posted pictures of them. That's because it's been a while since they've let me take pictures of them. They're pretty proud of their new clothes. I spent a long time shopping online with them in the clearance section of their new favorite online store helping them put outfits together. It isn't my style or what I would prefer to see them wearing, but I got them looking more dress-up and put together than I've seen them in a long time. They are being who they want to be and that will change with time and experience so we are just rolling with it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

That's Better




Eight Months

At eight months, Christiana is almost sitting alone. She's very excitable and still throws herself backwards frequently. She has two little teeth on the bottom. She drinks about 7 oz. every four hours during the day and sleeps for 12 hours at night. She is starting to hold her own bottle. Most of her rash has cleared up although she still scratches her neck and ears if she's given the chance. I still super-swaddle her when she's in bed but she is getting better at breaking out of the swaddles during the night. I have stitched socks to the sleeves of a couple of shirts in order to prevent the scratching. She loves toys and books and grabs at everything that comes close to her. She likes to snuggle with Baby Tali. She loves to play and laugh at Amanda. She is noticing that she is being held less and complains in the hopes that we'll carry her around. She is very happy wrapped up on my back. She is very interested in eating but I'm just not ready to add that to our life yet. Maybe next month we'll start her on some foods.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Three Weeks with Technical Difficulties

Talitha is on a great schedule during the day. She eats well every three hours and sleeps great in her own bed in between feedings. But when the sun goes down, everything changes. I'm not sure why or what to do. Sometimes it seems to be tummy complaints. Sometimes she just wants to be held. Perhaps, it's just seems like she fusses more at night because I have only her to attend to. She might fuss when I lay her down during the day but she falls asleep by the time I am able to pick her up again because I'm busy attending to the other girls.

Sleep training is a really hard process. I'd rather be potty training. It's difficult to listen to the crying and to know when it's better to let her fuss or just pick her up. It's crazy to be going through the process again so soon but we know the rewards. Christiana has been sleeping great for months now. Things are different with Tali because I am nursing and can just bring her in bed with me and nurse her when she fusses during the night. However, in the long run, we are aiming for better quality sleep for both of us. If she's in bed with me, she wakes up every two hours.

Every day and week that passes I know we are getting closer to more sleep but that would mean she's growing up and no longer a newborn. It's too bad all the sweetness of newborns comes with so much sleeplessness.

We ventured out to home school co-op today. It went fine because there were plenty of people to hold the babies. Christiana was much better than expected. She's been a bit crabby lately but there were no signs of fussiness until it was time to go. Tony was a big help although I think he felt a little embarrassed pushing the stroller and walking in with Amanda. He'll get used to it. When he was helping carry the girls back into the house afterwards, he said that he couldn't wait until the girls were all walking. "And not slow walking like Amanda." It will come soon enough. Then I'll be saying, "Tony, go catch your sister!"
Blogger and my camera let me down today. The macro button got pushed so the photos from today and yesterday didn't allow close focusing so the camera focused on the blanket behind Tali instead of her face. And blogger won't post the second photo horizontally. I don't know why but it occasionally turns my photos for no good reason. I don't have time for technological glitches. I just need things to work! :) Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Little Mommy

Things got off to a pretty shaky start when we brought Talitha home. I came in first and met Amanda at the top of the stairs. Mike was getting Tali out of the van. She had started crying when we pulled into the garage. Amanda heard her crying and said, "Baby Ana! Baby Ana!" Then Mike put down the car seat, pulled off the covers and let Amanda see Baby Tali. A look of complete confusion crossed her face. She backed away and climbed into Mike's arms. She wouldn't come near Baby Tali for the rest of the night, but preferred to cling to Mike. A few days of missed naps probably didn't help her reaction.

Baby Ana looked at Baby Tali the same way she looked at the dog we had over last week, "What is that creature and what is it going to do to me?" By the next, morning every one was feeling better and Baby Tali was welcomed more enthusiastically by the girls. They don't pay a lot of attention to Baby Tali, but Amanda has enjoyed mothering and playing with Baby Ana. She's so good getting her toys to play with, pushing her in the swing, pushing her in the stroller or sitting in the laundry basket with her.

Helping feed Ana her bottle is a new novelty and she's pretty serious about it being her job. Ana is very tolerant of Amanda frequently removing the bottle from her mouth. I try to put it back in and Amanda says, "No, I do it!"

Even though it doesn't seem like Amanda's paying much attention to Tali, she is watching me. When I was nursing Tali, Amanda went and got her baby to nurse. She even says, "Ouch, ouch, ouch," just like her mama.

Minnesota Caviar

When most people talk about ice fishing, they are refering to sitting over an 8 inch hole with a fish line and hook dangling down through the ice. You can't see the fish and you only know you've got something on your line is because the rod's flag pops up. This can be done just sitting out on the bare ice or in nice little houses with windows, T.V.'s bunk beds and card tables.



In my family, ice fishing means dark house spearing where you are sitting in complete darkness leaning over a gaping 1 ft by 2 ft hole in the ice watching huge northerns come into your hole and go after the poor bait fish dangling from the ceiling or your wooden decoy. When you see the northern come into your hole, you quietly grab your spear and prepare to throw it into the water and hit the fish just behind the gills. It can be very boring for a long time and then extremely exciting. I went spearing many times as a kid but have only partly speared one fish. I didn't hit it well enough so my mom had to retrieve the spear and hit it again in order to bring it home.



My mom took Tyler and Tony to her house for the weekend for one last winter hoorah. Ice fishing, downhill skiing, and ice skating were all part of the weekend plans. Tyler speared 3 northerns and really enjoyed it.



Through out the year, Friday Fish Frys are a tradition at my mom's house. When my grandpa was alive, he always did the frying. Northerns are very bony fish, so it is always a process to pick through and get out all the bones. Even while eating fillets, we would hear the warning, "Watch for bones!" However there is one "part" of the fish that has no bones; the eggs! Many of the fish are females who are getting ready to lay their eggs in the spring so they are plump full of delicate fish eggs. The eggs are definitely my favorite!
I can't eat the traditional batter fried eggs, but enjoy them pan fried in a little bit of olive oil with sea salt and black pepper. Mmmm! A special breakfast treat!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Helping Daddy

This is the Keeroo adjustable high chair. I've been looking at these chairs for over a year. I orginally saw the Tripp Trapp which is about $100 more. So, far we're pretty happy with the chair.

I knew I wanted a good adjustable chair for when I started teaching Amanda because proper posture at the table is so important for writing comfortably. We used boat cushions and boxes on the floor for the boys. We bought this one and Mike is planning to make us a couple more.







We did take the straps off because then Amanda can get in and out by herself. We leave it at an angle to the table to she can scoot over to one side and eat at the table but then still get down without help.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Just What We Needed

Today a package arrived from one of my super sweet bloggy friend, Kristi. Before sending us a care package she asked if there was anything we needed. I tried to think of fun things we needed but came up with stuff like bibs. Thankfully, she knew just what we needed.
She sent three of these little dresses for the girls. She did an awesome job on guessing the sizes that the girls will fit into this summer. We have three adorable little girls so putting them in adorable matching dresses is really more a requirement than an option! Amanda liked the box, too. :)
And we definitely needed to introduce our girls to Princess Tiana! I haven't seen the movie, but was disappointed with the reviews because the poor girl spends most of the movie as a frog and that it was a little scary, but it didn't dawn on me that there was going to be lots a great movie merchandise in her pre-frog beauty.
By the way, we chose Christiana's name before we learned about the movie, but I think she will enjoy having the option of sharing her nickname with a movie star.
Thank you, Kristi! You're the best!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Two Weeks Old









At Tali's two week appointment on the 5th, she weighed 9 lb. 14 oz. and was still 21 in. Tony was 9 lb. 13 oz. at his two week appointment and he got up to 27 lbs by 7 or 8 months. Yikes!

Written in Thread

There's something special, something permanent,

Something beautiful, something timeless,

About seeing your baby's name,

Written in thread!

These burp towels were gifts from Amanda's foster family in Texas. We received the first one on the day the family who had loved her, cared for her and called her by a different name, placed her in our arms for the first time. Adoption was such an uncertain experience for us and seeing the name we had chosen for this little girl was very memorable.

We were very sweetly surprised this week to receive a very large box from Amanda's foster grandma that included Talitha's burp towel and these wonderful hooded bath towels. They are thick and beautiful and the girls will love to be snuggled up in them after baths.

How did she know I really needed some color in my bathroom?

Thank you, Mary Sue!