Strawberry Fields Forever

And ever and ever and ever…

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Ryan and I took the kiddos to go strawberry picking the other day. I know there are those among you who claim that good strawberries only come from California, but the Oregon berries have them beaten by a mile. Smaller and sweeter and a season that lasts all of about two weeks.

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Katherine was very excited. Obvi.

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Mark showing me his strawberries, and hiding behind them, apparently.

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I told Mark a dozen times that we shouldn’t eat the strawberries (because dirt) and we had to save them for when we got home. Then, I looked at him and he had half a berry in his hand.
Ann: Did you eat some of the berry?
Mark: (through a stuffed mouth): Yes.
Ann: Well, no more because we have to save them.
Mark: Okay.
I looked away and looked back and now there was no part of a berry in his hand.
Ann: Did you eat the rest of your berry?!
Mark: Yeah.
Ann: The green part too?
Mark: (while making gross face) Yeah.
Ann: Well, spit it out!
Sigh.

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Ryan used to pick on his family’s farm, so he was really far ahead of me and the kids. Mark dutifully ran back and forth to move our orange placeholder flags and send messages.

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We left when Ryan’s box was full and we had 20 pounds of strawberries between the two of us. So, I spent the better part of the next 24 hours cleaning and hulling strawberries.

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Beautiful!

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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. 🙂

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!

She’s here!

Yes, it’s been awhile, but I promise it’s all worth it. A little over a week ago, I got to see this face for the first time:

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Welcome to the world, Katherine!

Instead of the traditional birth story (I don’t have that kind of energy), I thought I’d give you some bullet points.

  • I still was in denial that I was in labor… even after knowing what it felt like already.
  • I managed to teach for my online classes the day she was born; I kept sitting on the couch and trying not to let contractions happen. When they did, I told the kids that I had a cold (which was true) and that I needed to cough (which might have also been true).
  • Having a cold and coughing whilst contracting is not the most fun I’ve ever had.
  • If you get three veins blown when they’re trying to get your IV started, do not be surprised when you wake up a week later with bruises all over your arms.
  • She came hard and fast — we checked in to the hospital at about 6:30pm and she was born around 2am.
  • Katherine was so tiny, it only took one push to get her out (I know, I know, hate me all you want).
  • Changing into your own clothes is essential after giving birth.
  • Hospital visitors are awesome. People who bring dinners and let me sit down for a little while are awesome. Having your mom be willing to help take care of you and your kids for a week is awesome. 🙂

There’s no way that I could possibly update you on everything that’s happened here in the last week, but I will say that Mark is mostly handling things like a champ. He has his moments (what two year old doesn’t?), but he’s incredibly loving toward Katherine and wants to give her hugs and kisses and says, “I hold the baby?” all the time. It’s the most wonderful, touching thing I’ve ever seen. I’m not foolish enough to think that this kind of peace will reign here forever, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it while it lasts.

With that, I need to go and figure out about a thousand things and make some lists and straighten up a little to get ready for Mark’s second birthday (WHAT) tomorrow! 🙂

Okay, I might snuggle the litle baby, too. 🙂

Mark and Mama Monday 10 and 11

Mark and Mama Monday didn’t happen last week for… some reason? I don’t really remember why. There was something… oh well. Welcome to the inside of a brain of someone who’s nearly 38 weeks pregnant. Sigh.

Anyway, we did Mark and Mama time on Friday! Which worked our great because we were supposed to go and hang out with some friends at the pool, but then Mark came home with some gross stuff coming out of his eye on Thursday and one trip to the doctor later: diagnosis pink eye.

Aren’t you glad I spared you the photos here?

But, he’s been a champ and is SO GOOD at doing his eyedrops. He calls it “raining in my eye”.

So, finger painting it was! He kind of liked it? He has this thing where he doesn’t mind his hands being dirty, but he DOES mind them being wet and/or sticky.

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Consequently, he wanted me to wipe off his hands every minute or so.

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This week, we did manage to get in some fun time today. We went to storytime at the library (I’ll spare you the details and pictures as we’ve done this before) and we played with Play-Doh at home! Woohoo!

Mark has played with Play-Doh before at the babysitter’s house, but never with us. He got some in his Easter basket, so we busted it out on Monday.

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I love watching his little hands work as he tries to get them to do the things he envisions in his mind.

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Finally, after his nap, I snapped this photo of him when he fell asleep again on me.

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I’m always so touched and amazed at how no matter how big he gets, he still finds a way to “fit”. When he was a newborn, he would wiggle until his head was on my chest, right over my heart; I love that he hasn’t lost that love for snuggling.

Easter (better late than never!)

It’s been nearly a week since Easter, but I’m going to post these photos anyway. 🙂

Coloring Easter Eggs:

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Wait, what’s going on in there? Mark was really excited about how the eggs changed color, but he wasn’t too wild that it took so long. 

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Aunt Molly must have said something funny. 🙂

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Strawberries are one of Mark’s favorite foods, so it’s easy to get a smile for the camera when he’s shoving them in his mouth. 🙂

Easter Morning All Dressed Up:

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Someday he might really be that much taller than her. 

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The three!

Hunting for Eggs:

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The Easter Bunny makes us look for our baskets, too. 

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“Right there!”

At Grandma and Grandpa’s:

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Mark was quick to figure out that there was good stuff to be found inside the eggs. So was Dada, apparently. 

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Mark and Aunt Marissa. 

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Mark with Grandpa and Grandma.

He is Risen, Alleluia!

Mark and Mama Monday 9

This week was not the Most Fun Ever for the Mark Man, but sometimes you just gotta get some things done. Plus, my energy level is significantly lower now than it was a month ago, so I think more of our Mondays are going to be closer to home from here on out.

This week, we got Mark new clothes! Kind of! We’ve been really blessed that we know two families with boys a year or two older than Mark and they’ve been very generous in passing along the clothes their boys have grown out of.

Can I just say that I don’t love the changing of the clothes day? I’m definitely the person who just wants to change all of the clothes out on one day instead of doing it bit by bit. Clothes from different brands fit differently (why is that? can’t we all just get along?), so some of them fit differently and a few of Mark’s 18-24 month stuff still fits.

But, I can’t handle it. I want all of the stuff changed out in one fell swoop. So, all in one day it is. Plus, Mark kept holding up all the clothes and saying, “Cute!” No, we haven’t been preparing for a new baby here. Not at all.

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And I have a super helpful assistant.

Not.

Then, after picking up some clothes for Baby Girl from a friend of ours, we had to get Mark an outfit for Easter at Old Navy. He was well-behaved (albeit trapped in a cart), so we got frozen yogurt!

It doesn’t matter what flavor I pick as long as there are strawberries and whipped cream — that’s all he really cares about.

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Cold! Yum!

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And the twos are almost here

Don’t get me wrong. I love the age that Mark is right now. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every age he’s been so far. But this one is getting to be a little trying.

Like most kids of this age (from what my friends have said), he’s started with “Mine!”, which is just perfect timing with Little Girl coming along soon. Yay. In addition, he’s started “play” hitting us sometimes. It’s really more like tapping than hitting, but it’s not a far cry from hitting, so we’re working on getting him to stop. Sometimes it’s just because, but sometimes it’s because he’s angry. So far, we’ve had good success with the “you can hit a pillow or the couch when you’re angry, but not people” and that usually works.

“No!” is also becoming more common, but that’s to be expected as well. I try and give him choices when I can (I always make sure I’m okay with either outcome!) to make him feel like he has control sometimes, and that’s proven to be helpful. I’m also on a crusade to make sure that no one asks him, “Okay?” at the end of a sentence unless they really want his opinion. Because he will give it. At top volume, often.

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What, this isn’t the most effective way to help out on Switch Out the Clothes Day?

 

 

 

 

So that I’m not a total Negative Nan, I’ll tell you that there are some super fun things about his current age.

Today, Mark started saying “Yes” to things. Before that it was “Yeah” and before that it was “Please”. So, we’re moving closer to the “right” responses. 🙂

He is so, so sweet when he wants to “see” the baby in my tummy and when we talk about his baby sister. It’s really touching. I’m hoping it keeps up for when she actually gets here and is actually being all up in his business. 🙂

Mark loves to play outside and loves digging in the dirt.  He’s also a lot more into playing pretend than he used to be and it’s fun to watch him be in his own world with his trucks and tractors.

Overall… almost-two isn’t too bad. It has it’s moments, but overall, I love interacting with my little guy like the person he is.

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First Slurpee taste… it was “cold!”.