There’s two of them.

One of the things I think most mothers having a second baby worry about is… the first baby. Will the older sibling like the new baby? Will they hate it? Will they try and eat it in the middle of the night?

These were my fears, too. I think I was especially worried because since I started working from home and having more time to spend with Mark, we’d become quite the dynamic duo. He was (and still is) a great sidekick and I didn’t want him to feel like he was being replaced (because, obviously, he’s not).

I was so nervous when Ryan brought Mark to the hospital to meet “the baby” for the first time. What if Mark didn’t like her and tried to push her off the hospital bed while I was holding her? Luckily, Mark was SO excited to meet her and immediately asked “Mark hold the baby?”.

So far, not much has changed. He’s still super in love with her and wants to hold her and kiss her and give her hugs all the time. She’s so little that it’s a little like Lenny from Of Mice and Men and I’m a little worried he’s going to squish her with his hugs, but I can’t say no when he wants to show her a little brotherly love.

Mark is also wonderfully helpful with Katherine. “Baby crying”, he’ll tell us (as if we can’t hear her). “Hat fell off” and “It’s okay Baby Katherine” (when she’s upset) are his other favorite phrases.

As I mentioned before, I’m not foolish enough to think these blissful days of sibling love are going to be around forever, but I’m definitely going to enjoy them while they’re here.

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In other news, it’s funny to me how much Katherine is like and not like her brother all at the same time. Mark was very regular in his feeding schedule at this point, and she’s becoming more so now but isn’t nearly the every-three-hours-or-else kind of baby that he was.

One of the more touching things, though, happened the other day when I was done feeding Katherine. After burping, she wiggled herself down to have her head directly over my heart. Mark used to do the same thing when he got up to nurse in the middle of the night.

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Oh, be still my mama-heart. 🙂

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On Family Leave

You may have seen this video circulating all over social media the last few days. It’s from John Oliver’s show, “Last Week Tonight” (it airs on HBO, so fair warning there are a few off-color jokes).

Oliver (mostly) hits the nail on the head. We can’t say that we love mothers and that they deserve all kinds of gratitude and respect when we, as a culture, make it so difficult to carry out the vocation of motherhood.

But, I would take it a step further and say that paid Family Leave is just as important as paid Maternity Leave. I’m writing this post while snuggling a newborn and watching my two-year-old pretend to cook me some eggs using a skillet, a wooden spoon, and some goldfish. Where did he get the idea to cook? From my husband who’s currently making dinner in the kitchen. How does he have time to make dinner? Family Leave.

Now, Ryan doesn’t get paid leave, per se. He’s cleaning out his sick days so he can be home with us. Good thing, too, because I go back to my online teaching job later this week after three weeks off. I don’t accrue sick days with my current job, so my leave is mostly unpaid (I did get some pay for doing my lesson plans ahead of time, and for that I am very grateful). If Ryan didn’t have the time off, I’d been sending Katherine to the babysitter with Mark two times per week at the ripe age of three weeks. So, Ryan’s doing a lot of diaper changes, cooking, and playing with Mark; he’ll be taking over even more stuff once I start teaching again. It’s a lot of work, and it’s also one of the reasons it gets my goat when people say he’s “on vacation now!”. Um, no. Work for your family at home is *the* real work — ask any stay-at-home-parent. 🙂

Yes, it is my choice to work (and, it should be noted, to go back to work; my employer was obviously very willing to give me all 12 weeks unpaid if I wanted it), but I work because we like our budget to balance — not because I buy expensive clothes or we go on vacations. It would be nice, though, if I didn’t *have* to work during this time with our newborn. It would be nice if American society valued parents and showed it through legislation.

So, until a law gets passed, I’m going to enjoy smelling this little baby head, eating scrambled goldfish from the hands of my two-year old, and being thankful for Ryan’s leave time.

And I’ll leave you with this face:

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7QT: First-two-weeks-with-a-new-baby edition

I can’t even begin to tell you how it’s the most crazy thing of my life that Katherine’s been here for two weeks already! Just like when Mark was born, I find myself thinking that I don’t remember what life was like before her and it seems so natural for her to be part of our family.

What’s the transition been like, you ask? What have the last two weeks entailed. Oh, so much. (You’ll have to excuse the photos because they have not been processed AT ALL.)

1. First family photo

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I just die of happiness every time I look at photos of the four of us.

2. Newborn pics

The fabulous Caitlin of Tales of the Elders was kind enough to take some newborn photos of Katherine and a few of the rest of us as well. 🙂 You know I’ll be posting them all over everything (the blog, the house) when I get them, so stay tuned!

3. Lots of visitors (both in the hospital and at home)

I can’t possibly include everyone that came to visit us, so here are a few:

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4. Mark turns 2!

Lest we forget the Little Man, he had a birthday and turned 2! We had lots of celebrations (on his actual birthday, the weekend before his birthday when my sister Laura and my dad were in town, a few days after his birthday when we celebrated with some friends, etc.) and he was in a fair way to be spoiled. In fact, I asked him if he wanted some coffee cake with his breakfast this morning and his response was singing “Birthday to you!” over and over again. 🙂

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The bubble lawn mower was a big hit — here the kids are trying to figure it out.

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This was on his actual birthday with an ice cream cake (excuse the out of order-ness of the photos… wordpress and I got in a fight).

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Ice cream cake is goooood.

 

 

 

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Four kids all two or younger… it was pretty great!

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5. The most beautiul weather

Ryan is on paternity leave right now (hooray!) and the weather has been great for taking Mark outside and letting him dig in the dirt and play ball to his heart’s content.

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6. Remembering all of those things that I forgot about the “Fourth Trimester” the last time around. 

There are so many, many things. I forgot how helpful chocolate is for dealing with everything, that my hair would start falling out (I thought that started later? maybe not), that I would feel like a zombie a fair amount of the time, how Ryan is amazing at diaper changes (even in the middle of the night!), how amazing friends and family are for bringing us dinners (yum!), and how sweet baby smiles are.

7. Getting to see Mark as a big brother

It is so sweet to see Mark as a big brother. He’s always asking to hold the baby (he calls her Baby Katherine) or kiss the baby, and he’s sure to let us know when she’s crying, as if we were unaware. 🙂 He’s been very helpful, too. The other day, she spit up after I fed her and he yelled, “Dripping!” and ran (pat-pat-pat-pat-pat) to his room to grab one of the burp cloths from the drawer and brought it to me. Adorable. 🙂 I’m not foolish enough to think the honeymoon phase of his adoration is going to last forever, but I’m certainly going to live it up while I can!

Want to check out other Quick Takes? Head on over here and get your fill!

 

Conversations with Mark

There’s lots that’s been happening over here (parties, birthdays, baby cuteness), but I thought I would post a few of the funnier Mark Conversations we’ve had over the last few weeks. 

Mark: Mama, church! (Points at Protestant church.)
Ann: Yeah, buddy that’s a church.
Mark: Priest?
Ann: Well, not every church has a priest.
Mark: Jesus?
Ann: Um, yeah, most churches have Jesus. [This question is a tough one to answer, the more you think about it.]

This is on repeat at least ten times a day.
Mark: Lawnmowers. Ask Dada.
Ann: That’s right, buddy, we’ll have to ask Dada if we’re going to mow the lawn today.
Mark: Lawnmowers loud. Shed. Bugs. Bugs are scary.

Mark: Drops.
Ann: For your eyes, yes.
Mark: Like raining in eyes.

[Ryan walking with Mark to a baseball game at school.]

Mark: Dada hat!
Ryan: Yes, Dada has his baseball hat on. Where’s your hat?
Mark: (grabs head) Oh no!

Mark: Nana! (Banana!)
Ryan: [Takes bite of Mark’s banana before handing it to him.]
Mark: Hey, Mister!