May 04, 2018

Anderson: Four Months

Weight: 13 pounds 3 ounces

Length: 26 inches

Anderson "found" his hands and toes last month, but they have since become his favorite toys. He is constantly sucking on his hands and clutching onto his toes while he rolls back and forth. Anderson has also learned how to roll from his back to his belly, but in the process, has somehow forgotten how to return to his back and gets stuck on his tummy. Then he gets MAD. Mommy and Daddy keep telling him to stop rolling if he doesn't like it, but the second he is put on his back, he rolls to his tummy. And the grunts of frustration commence. It's a vicious cycle. Anderson has also learned how to "grab" things this month. No more "batting" at his toys. He grabs them with gusto, and usually takes them right to his mouth. 

At four months old, Anderson still loves his pacifier. It is VERY convenient for Mommy and Daddy to have a paci-loving baby. If he gets upset, popping his pacifier in his mouth usually does the trick, and his fussing turns into contentment. Anderson still loves snuggles, and has started to lay his head down on Mommy's chest and shoulder whenever she carries him. It'm Mommy' favorite thing EVER!  Anderson loves the monkey that hangs from his play mat. It's the ONLY thing that will keep him on his back. He also loves the rattle that hangs from his car seat. If he is crying in the car, and won't take a pacifier, shaking the rattle will calm him down immediately. But Anderson's #1 love is still Mommy. Daddy likes to joke that the reason Anderson doesn't sleep is because he's too obsessed with Mommy. He just wants to be with her for every minute of the day (and night). 

Unfortunately, Anderson has developed an aversion to breastfeeding lately. Mommy ended up with a kidney stone and had to stop breastfeeding for a few days while she took medication. During that time, Anderson developed an even greater love for the ease of the bottle, and gave Mommy some major resistance when she tried to get back to breastfeeding. Mommy and Anderson have been working on it, and he is getting better, but he will still have random "nursing strikes," so Mommy is forced to give him a bottle. Anderson STILL hates sleep. Nothing has improved on that front, and Mommy is still dying from sleep deprivation. She has spent a LOT of money trying different swaddles and sleep suits...but Anderson still insists on horrible sleep. People keep telling Mommy to let him "figure it out," but unfortunately, Mommy (and Daddy for that matter!) is a softy and can't handle Anderson's cries! 

Anderson: Three Months

Weight: 11 lbs. 14 ounces

Length: ??

Mr. Anderson has had several outings now that he has reached the ripe old age of 3 months! Being born during cold and flu season made for a VERY paranoid Mama, and she kept him pretty much indoors for the first two months of his life. Anderson has now been to the beach, to Sea World, and to the zoo. He is the BEST when he is on-the-go. Mr. Man has also started to laugh this month and it is pretty much the CUTEST thing ever. He talks and coos non-stop and is ALWAYS smiling! He has also found his tongue and is constantly blowing spit bubbles (which means that his shirt is always wet). Anderson has rolled from his belly to his back, but since he HATES tummy time (and rarely gets placed on his belly), it doesn't happen very often. Anderson has also found his hands, and has learned to "bat" at the toys that hang from his play mat. One "not-so-fun" milestone that Anderson experienced this month was his first fever. Big sister got really sick with a fever and a cold, but thankfully mister man only had a fever and congestion for one day. 

Mom. She's his favorite person in the world, and he seriously can't take his eyes off of her. He likes everybody, but he LOVES his mom. Daddy tries to get his attention pretty regularly, be he usually only has eyes for his Mama. Anderson has also learned to love baths and the shower, and is pretty content to hang out in either one. Anderson still loves to cuddle, and still loves it when Mommy "wears" him. He takes his best naps while being worn (or in his stroller) but rarely at home. Anderson LOVES being talked to and coos and laughs happily anytime someone makes eye contact with him. He also loves his swing, and will hang out in it while Mom makes dinner, or tends to his sister. He has become "okay" with being put down (a huge change from his first two months of life), and is usually pretty content to just hang out.

Still sleep. He surprises Mom every once in a while with a decent nap, but most of the time, he just takes cat naps all day long...and still wakes up anywhere from three to eight times a night. It's pretty much killing Mom, but since he's the sweetest baby EVER, she tries not to complain (but doesn't always succeed). Like his Mama, Anderson hates loud noises. He goes from perfectly content to crying almost inconsolably if startled by a loud noise. As mentioned above, he also hates being on his belly, so tummy time happens very rarely. And strangely enough, Anderson HATES being burped. He gives VERY loud cries of annoyance whenever he has to stop eating in order to burp. It would be funny if he didn't make burping almost impossible with his back-arching and crying (which seems to keep the burp from coming out).

Despite the long list of "hates," Anderson is actually a REALLY happy baby. His moments of discontent are pretty rare and short-lived, and he spends most of his days with a smile on his face, happily watching the antics of his sister or following Mom with his eyes.

Anderson: Two Months

Weight: 10 pounds 14 ounces

Length: ??

The best way to describe Anderson is: "Smiley." He learned how to smile early, and they just get bigger and bigger the older he gets. Anderson is getting more and more alert every day. He has finally ventured out of the "sleepy newborn" phase, and loves to analyze the world around him. Upon meeting Anderson, most people comment, "wow! he looks like his sister," followed by, "he's so alert!" Both statements are accurate. Anderson continues to do well when "on-the-go," during Mommy's morning walks. He seems to be okay with his car seat and stroller, which Mommy and Daddy are SO grateful for (since his sister was such a terror). Anderson is getting better at nursing, but still fights it at times. He had a bottle for the first time this month, and took it like a champ. But unfortunately, he seems to prefer the bottle to nursing, lazy boy!

Loves: His sister. His whole face breaks out in a smile if he can hear her voice. Anderson also loves being "worn" in the wrap, and falls asleep the second Mommy wraps him in close to her. He still loves to snuggle, and unlike his sister, actually loves being cradled and held like a baby. 

Hates: Sleep, unfortunately. During his first month of life, Anderson could be described as a decent sleeper. But now, he has fallen into the category of "world's worst sleeper." His regular naps only last 25 minutes, and he still wakes up five or more times a night. It has been hard on Mommy since she also has a toddler to take care of, but everyone is managing (barely).

Anderson Ford

I had myself convinced that I would have him early. After all, his sister had come 10 days before her expected arrival date. Anderson was due on the 30th of December...which was the absolute perfect date. I would get to enjoy Christmas, sans baby, and we would get that tax write off, because there was NO way he was coming after that. He was going to come early, remember?
So when the end of the year came, and then went, with still no signs of a baby, I started to lose my mind. I had never gotten uncomfortable with Wren. I had loved every moment of my pregnancy with her, right up until the end. With Anderson? I would have paid anything to just get him out. But the days continued to pass, and he still stubbornly refused to come. At that point, I thought that I was going to be pregnant forever. But in the early morning hours of January 3rd, I woke up with uncomfortable cramps, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I had been cramping here and there for weeks, so I didn’t get my hopes up, but as those cramps became contractions, I pulled out my phone and started to time them. They weren’t consistent, so I mentally prepared myself to be disappointed. But, by four in the morning, they started to get uncomfortable, and so I got out of bed and started walking around my room to see if I could get things moving. At that point, Graham had woken up and he started to time the contractions with me. I debated going outside and walking our neighborhood, but by 5:00 am, I knew things were happening, and Graham called in to work. He hopped in the shower, and I collected our last minute items and packed them up. By 6:00 am, the contractions had become consistent and were five minutes apart. I knew that it was time to go, and so we headed downstairs. Thankfully, Graham’s sister and her husband are living with us, so we gave them the heads up, and left Wren blissfully sleeping in her room.
I have been through labor before, and thought that I remembered what labor felt like, and to a certain extent I did. But I think your brain must intentionally dull those memories, because man oh man, I did NOT remember contractions being that painful. By the time we had gotten everything loaded, and by “we,” I mean “Graham,” my contractions had gotten pretty unbearable, and I remember one hitting me right as we were getting into the car. I kind of crumpled to the ground, with my hand on the door, and couldn’t stop the tears. Graham had to open the door for me, and physically insert me into the car. Dramatic, I know, but those things HURT. As we drove to the hospital, I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything, and the box of crackers in my hospital bag were not going to cut it, so we stopped at 7-eleven and picked up a granola bar, a banana, and some energy drinks for Graham.
We got to the hospital by 7:00 am, right as the shift was changing, and they took me straight back to triage to assess my progress. Perhaps the funniest moment of that process was when Graham followed me back to triage to drop my bags off. The nurse informed him that he needed to go back to the front desk to check me in, and Graham nodded, but continued to walk to the room with us. The nurse turned to him and with voice raised repeated, “Dad! You NEED to go to the front desk and check Mom in!” Graham just stared at her blankly for a moment, and with barely concealed annoyance responded, “I’m aware. I’m trying to set these bags down so I can get her insurance card out.” I had to turn away so the nurse didn’t see me laugh. It takes a lot to get Graham legitimately riled up, so to see him barely holding it together was pretty funny. The nurse realized how out of line she had been, so she spent the rest of our triage experience trying to crack jokes with Graham. He wasn’t very amused.
Anyways, back to the story! The nurse checked me, concluded that I was dilated to a four, and although my water hadn’t broken, I was definitely in active labor. Things moved right along from that point. They asked me if I would like an epidural (duh!), and got me situated in my room. I had tested GBS positive and asked to get started on my antibiotics immediately. I knew that I needed to get two rounds in before Anderson was born, or else I would have to stay in the hospital for 48 hours so they could monitor him. They got all of my IV’s in, and we were in business. By this point, it was about 8:30 am and my contractions had become VERY intense. My labors move quickly, and I was feeling it! My mom arrived (Graham had called her right after we had gotten to the hospital), with a breakfast burrito in hand (Graham’s request), and I continued to breathe through my contractions. After what seemed like forever (even five minutes feels like an eternity when you’re in labor), the anesthesiologist came storming in and informed us that he had five minutes to get my epidural going. He needed to get to another patient who was getting prepped for an emergency C-section, so time was short. As such, he didn’t wait for me to be in the middle of a contraction when he inserted the needle (which is what they did when I had Wren), so I FELT it. Graham told me afterwards that it felt like I was going to break his hand because I squeezed it so hard, but that thing HURT. I had made it pretty far (dilated to a seven), and my nurses told me that at that rate, I probably could have made it to the end without an epidural, but I didn’t want to. This girl does NOT handle pain well, and an epidural is the greatest invention on the planet. I have gotten lucky with both of my epidurals. With both Wren and Anderson, I was able to feel my contractions. I knew when to push, and didn’t experience the absolute numbness that some women do. There was pain, but it was manageable and productive.
After the epidural set in, things calmed down a bit, and I was able to chat with my nurse, and swap jokes with Graham and my mom. But things did not stay calm for long. As I said earlier, my labors move quickly, and by 11:00, I was feeling like I needed to push. The nurse checked me again, and I was at a 9. My water still hadn’t broken, but she said it was “bulging” and would probably break with my first push. She called my doctor, and told her delivery was imminent. My contractions had become pretty painful again, and I was breathing through them at that point. I kept moving from side to side because the urge to push was becoming unbearable. The nurse was trying to hold me off as long as possible so that I could finish my round of antibiotics. They’re supposed to take four hours, and it had only been three and a half. The nurse basically pushed the last of my antibiotics in as quickly as she could, and I was ready to go. My doctor arrived soon after, and pushing commenced. With Wren, I had pushed for almost an hour. Anderson decided to make my life much easier. As my nurse had predicted, my water broke on the first push. By the second push, the doctor was telling me what color his hair was (blonde), and by the third push, he was out.
Anderson Ford Russell was born just before noon on Wednesday, January 3rd. My first response as the doctor held him up was, “he’s huge!” and he most definitely was. Mr. Anderson weighed a whopping 8lbs. 15oz. and measured 22 inches long. My second comment, as they placed him on my chest was, “he looks just like Wren!” and while he has his own look, he definitely resembles his sister.
Life has been a blur since Anderson arrived. A tired blur. But a joyful one. He is the SWEETEST little man imaginable. His Dad and I like to say that you can look into his eyes and just feel his sweetness. He looks back at you with such adoration, it's humbling. He's close to being the "perfect" baby (if such a thing exists), but his HATRED of sleep keeps him from achieving that lofty title. We're so grateful for our little Anderson and love him more than we thought imaginable. It is SO true that love is infinite.

Wren: 2 Years

Weight: 24 pounds


Where to begin? Wren is no longer the baby and becomes more of a grown up little lady every day. As always...Wren TALKS! And talks. And talks some more. It has become so fun for Mommy and Daddy to carry on such in-depth conversations with this little miss. It helps that she is able to express herself so well, and tantrums are often avoided because of it. Mommy's sister always make fun of her because she asked WAY too many questions as a child. Wren is definitely following in Mommy's footsteps. "What is that," comes out of Wren's mouth about 1,000 times a day. Wren has also taken to singing. All the time. She can identify her favorite artists when they come on the radio. They include (but are not limited to) The Beatles, Chvrches, and Ben Howard. She sings along to her favorites, and knows ALL of the words to a lot of songs. She has a set "song list" that Daddy has to sing with her every night, and they have to be sung in the same order. They, of course, are all Beatles songs and include: "Rocky Raccoon," "Piggies," "Blackbird," "Octopus's Garden," and "Martha My Dear." Additionally, whenever a new song comes on the radio, Wren asks, "Who's that, Mommy." Mommy has to answer with the name of the artist...and Wren will remember who sings that song the next time she hears it. Wren expressed an interest early on in using the Mom and Dad bought her her own little seat and a step tool to go with it. Wren even used the "potty" a couple of times, but after two days, decided that she was no longer interested. So, potty training has been put on hold for now. Wren can identify all of the colors (including obscure ones like "silver" and "clear"), can name all of her shapes, can say most of the ABC's, and can count to 20 (but regularly misses numbers 17 and 18 for some reason). 

Wren loves her "art projects." She asks to paint and color almost every single day. But she won't paint without her "napron" (apron with an "n") on. She knows that she gets to pick a "prize" out of the dollar spot at Target every time Mommy takes her shopping, and inevitably picks out something to do with art. Wren also loves play doh and bubbles, Mommy's two least favorite kid activities. As always, she loves any and all animals, and asks to go to the zoo on a daily basis. Wren also loves Disney movies, and has her definite favorites. They include: "Lion King," "The Little Mermaid," "The Aristocats," Finding Dory," and "Mary Poppins." Wren also still LOVES books more than almost anything. Her favorite book right now is her "Finding Dory: Look and See" book. She has EVERY single item in the book memorized and can find them all with zero hesitation.

Sharing. Seriously. Wren loses her mind whenever one of her little cousins has the audacity to touch one of her toys (or anything that she has claimed as "her's") and let's them know her displeasure almost immediately. It's a struggle, but Mommy and Daddy are working with her on it. They're just a little bit nervous about how things will go down when her little brother starts to be completion for her toys...Speaking of her little brother, Wren hates sharing Mommy and Daddy's attention with Anderson, and sometimes takes her frustration out on him. Luckily those occasions are pretty rare, and most of the time she is pretty gentle and loving with him. Wren continues to hate anything that is loud, with the vacuum and the blender at the top of the list. She always asks Mommy and Daddy to "keep [her] safe" whenever she hears a loud noise. Wren has also developed a lot of "fears" lately and is scared easily. She particularly hates the squid from "Finding Dory," and won't watch "Coco" because it's too scary.

It's difficult to encapsulate Wren into one short blog post. Her personality is SO big and ALL-consuming that I could go on forever, but I'll stop there. Needless to say, we are pretty obsessed with her and are SO grateful that she's our's.

February 20, 2018

Anderson: 1 Month

When I found out I was pregnant with Anderson last April...I had a bit of a panic attack.
Okay, that’s an understatement. “Mild nervous breakdown” is a more appropriate description.  The thought of going back to what I call the “trauma of the newborn phase” had me freaking out. Sleepless nights? Colic-y babies? 8,000 diapers a day? All of it just sounded overwhelming to me. Having Wren was the hardest thing I had ever done, and I just wasn’t ready to go back to that dark place again. That was my mindset through my entire pregnancy.
I know, super positive thinking.
And then he came.
And the minute I looked at him, every negative thought that had flooded my thinking for the preceding months fled.
He was mine.
And I wanted every perfect inch of him.
I won’t lie and say it has been easy. Sleep deprivation, a nursing baby, and a needy toddler would defeat even the most stoic of contenders
But the joy is there.
It took me a while to find the joy in motherhood the first time around, and I’m thankful that hasn’t been my experience this time.
Little man is already a month old. So, here’s what he has been up to:

Weight: 9 pounds 14 ounces

Length: 23 inches

Like big sister Wren, Anderson started smiling pretty early on at three weeks old. They were timid, little half-smiles at first, but by week four, they were taking up his whole face. Also like big sister Wren, Anderson struggled to gain weight at first. He was a sleepy eater, and REFUSED to eat (shaking his head and screaming) if Mommy tried to feed him before he was ready. He only “maintained” his weight for the first two weeks, but overcame that hiccup pretty quickly. At one month old, he is now a voracious eater and is gaining weight like a champ! Anderson is a decent sleeper, sleeping for four-five hour stretches on some nights and only two hour stretches on others. He’s a light sleeper though, and seems to stir at the slightest noise.

Much to his Daddy’s delight (the “cuddler” of the family), Anderson loves to be snuggled in close. He’s happiest with a pacifier in his mouth, and his face squished against whoever’s holding him. He also loves being carried against Mommy in the wrap, and will snooze for hours when wrapped up. Like his sister, Anderson likes to be “on the go.” He is content to ride around in the stroller and does really well when Mommy takes him on her morning walks.

Bath time! There’s nothing that gets Anderson screaming faster than a dip in the tub. While Anderson doesn’t “hate” his car seat (he does MUCH better than his sister ever did), there are times when he expresses his displeasure at being put down and forced to ride in the seat. And while he doesn’t “rage” as often or as long as his sister did (she would scream EVERY time she was put into her car seat), his cries are much more intense than her’s. Mommy and Daddy often say that they have never heard a baby cry as loudly or as fiercely as Anderson does. Luckily it doesn’t occur too often.

Overall, Anderson is a content little guy as long as he is being held and has a pacifier in his mouth. But if you put him down, watch out! This makes getting tasks done a little difficult, but it’s nothing that a baby carrier can’t fix!

December 18, 2017

Hawaii 2017

Say what? A blog post that is NOT about the little Banshee? I know, crazy. But for the first time in (almost) two years, the boy and I did something without Wren. So, it needed to be blogged about for that reason alone. Plus, I's Hawaii. Who wouldn't want to blog about THAT?
My VERY generous parents decided last year that they would take one child+spouse on their yearly Hawaii trip. Last year, my sister Justyn, and her husband Dan, were the lucky winners. This year? It was our turn. Graham and I hemmed and hawed about whether or not we should take the time off/spend the money, and remained on the fence for quite a while. Then, I got pregnant. So I decided for us. We WOULD go. Because with two kids, who knows when we will ever be able to get away? The trip was booked, and we eagerly anticipated the day we would hop on a plan and fly to paradise.
That day finally arrived on October 5th. Our bags were packed, our itinerary planned (because I don't do trips without a meticulous plan), and our spirits almost giddy at the thought of  a week without a toddler in tow. We arrived in Kauai where my parents picked us up at the airport, and drove us to our little paradise within paradise, the Westin resort in Princeville.

Day 1:
This was our "Explore the Island" day. It was a bit gloomy, and a lot rainy, so a drive around the island was the perfect solution. We started on the North side of the island at our home base in Princeville, and drove all the way to Waimea Canyon on the East shore, and back. Our stops included a cute plantation town town called Koloa, lunch at Puka Dog, a quick trip to the Russian fort, panoramic views of Waimea, a stop in the mountain town Kok'e, dinner at Verde's, and dessert at Pink's. It was a full day, and we FELL into bed to gear up for our adventures on day two.

Day 2:
We started the day with a drive into Kapa'a. Once there, we took kayaks up the Wailua River and through a narrow offshoot overgrown with trees. It was seriously magical. Then, we hopped off our kayaks, and hiked through the muddiest trail on the planet to Secret Falls. I was seven months pregnant, and my mom had just had foot surgery six weeks earlier, so we were a comical pair. We did pretty well keeping up with the group, but I'm pretty sure we gave our tour guide a heart attack a time or two as we slipped and stumbled up the trail. At the base of the falls, we ate lunch, fed chickens, and swam in the freezing cold water of the pool (Graham even braved the cascade of water directly below the falls). I don't think I've ever seen such beautiful scenery in my life.

Day 3:
We started the day at church and attended the cutest little branch in Hanalei. After that, day three became our "beach day." We were determined to find a good snorkeling spot on the North shore. I had pored through our guide book, and read all of the blogs for the best spots...but unfortunately, the nasty weather, and strong winds made snorkeling pretty uninspiring. But we persevered. Our first stop was Ke'e Beach (with a quick detour at the "Dry Cave" and Haena Beach). The water was rough, and so we moved on. Next was Hanalei Bay. The snorkeling was, again, nonexistent...but we enjoyed the views (and our lunch) there, and moved on. Our next destination was Anini Beach (but not before we stopped for shaved ice at the Wishing Well), where the water was much more calm and the snorkel gear FINALLY came out. We didn't see much, but enjoyed the bathtub-temperature water, and again, the lovely views. We continued our North Shore beach-jumping, and ended up at Kalihiwai Bay to watch the surfers. Dinner was pizza at Hanalei Bay Pizzeria. Our crew always loves to explore, so even though it took most of the day to find a decent beach, the day was WELL spent!

Day 4:
Day four was our tubing excursion with "Kauai Backcountry Adventures." This was probably my favorite activity of the trip. The day started with a trek out to the former Lihue Plantation, where we hopped on tubes and floated down irrigation canals that were hand-dug in the 1870's. We traveled through a series of five tunnels, with head lamps turned on, and bumped and crashed into one another down the entire mountain. We finished our tubing adventure by 3:30, and drove over to Poipu to try our luck at snorkeling once again. Jackpot! the place was teeming with fish, eels (yuck!), sea slugs, coral, and ONE sea turtle. Graham was in heaven. It was his goal through our whole vacation to swim with a turtle, and his wish came true on day four. We finished the day at Puka dog (again) and made our way back to home base on the North Shore. Because we spent most of our day in the water, I didn't take any pictures on my camera. So you'll have to let your imagination work to envision how FANTASTIC our day looked.

Day 5:
The boys set off on their much anticipated "Kalalau Trail" hike, while the girls relaxed around the pool. Then, we met up, and headed back to Poipu to visit Allerton Gardens where we got to tour 80 acres of beautifully landscaped and lush garden scenery. We finished the night with a stop at some tide pools, and ate dinner at Street Burger in Kapa'a.

Day 6:
Okay, by this point in the trip, I was REALLY starting to miss our little girl. We Facetimed with her every day, and knew that she was having a blast without us...but the sheen of being toddler-less had started to fade by day six. But we soldiered on. We started day six with the best snorkeling of the trip at Tunnels Beach on the North Shore. Then, we stopped for more shaved ice at The Wishing Well. After a quick shower, we headed to Kilauea Lighthouse and toured the grounds there. We finished pretty early (it was HOT at the lighthouse), and decided to check out a couple of waterfalls in Kapa'a. We ended the night by eating in, and walking around our gorgeous resort. 

Day 7:
Our last day in Kauai. Day seven was really laid back...and entirely picture-less. We ate lunch the the Hanalei Bread Company (yum!), and did a whole lot of shopping. Then, we spent the rest of the day sitting by the pool. We cooked dinner in our hotel room, and finished up our last night with dessert at Pink's.

While we were sad to be leaving the following day, we were also ready to squeeze the heck out of our little girl. We had missed our little banshee, and counted down the hours until we could see her again. Paradise was everything we had hoped for, but we were ready to get back to our chaos.


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