Sunday, October 23, 2016

Baby Boy is 8 Months!

How can this be??? 8 months seems so "old"! My tiny baby boy is growing fast!

I would like to start this post by saying

DEPLOYMENTS SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

The distraction of learning to juggle life without Chris here has kind of worn off now that it's the new normal, and it has completely worn me down. Kind of like the feeling you get after the adrenaline has worn off - I'm pooped. My to-do list just gets longer and longer since it takes me so long to get things accomplished. Now I just feel lonely. It doesn't matter how many things I pack into my day, how many places we go, or how many people we see. It doesn't change the fact that he is gone. The house is really quiet at night. It's no fun to watch tv night after night after night after night without him. Eating all of my meals alone (or with messy children alone). We are approaching the holiday season and I'm already sad he's not going to be here for any of it. It makes me the most sad that he's not here to watch our babies grow, and that he's missing life events and milestones and firsts with our kids.

That is hands down the hardest part for me so far.

It's been 2 months. That's it. And I feel like it's already been an eternity. And I really don't know how in the heck I'm supposed to do this for another 10 months.

I can't even imagine what this is going to be like when the kids are older and can ask questions and share with me their feelings about daddy being gone for so long.

UGHHHHHHHHHHHHH sorry, Liam, for hijacking your post with sadness and complaining!!

On a more positive note, Liam is loving life!! Except when he's tired or mommy moves more than 2 feet away from him! He is going through separation anxiety BIG TIME right now! He cries whenever I leave the room, or if a stranger looks at him often times that will set him off too.

Liam's favorite foods are everything squishy, mainly. He's had all sorts of things, from bananas, green beans, and sweet potatoes to beef stew, baked potato soup, and peanut butter toast! While he is incredibly messy, he's getting better at putting food directly in his mouth! Sometimes there is so much food in his lap when he's done, but sometimes he surprises me and it all ended up IN his tummy! He still just chews on a sippy cup, so no real progess there.

Liam likes to sit and reach for lots of toys, and often times Ava will lay her head in his lap and they play. And by "play", I mean Liam grabs Ava's face and pulls her hair and she laughs and kisses his belly and feet and legs! She just loves her baby! She's very concerned with him at mealtimes and when his tray is empty, she is sure to notice! "More green bean, Bia?" Seriously, it's so cute!! When I put him in his chair for a meal, Ava climbs his chair (we have a counter-height table) and hangs out with him until food is ready. Most of the time she brings him toys and puts them on his chair, too! I'll ask her to come and get the cups out of the fridge and she will take Liam's cup to him. She also likes to help wash him in the tub! She is becoming a really good mommy's helper! I cherish that personality trait she has - she is pretty caring for a 2 year old! She takes a lot of interest in what mommy does all day and it's coming out in her pretend play. She loves to change her baby doll's diapers, wash her babies in her play sink, clean the floors, do laundry, and her newest imitation is putting on makeup, lotion, and taking pictures of her baby dolls using a toy phone! I could sit and watch her play all day; it's so adorable!

Liam has just started figuring out how to get to the floor from a sitting position! He just casually reaches out for a toy, and then just keeps leaning...and leaning...until he leans to the side a bit and wiggles his legs out from underneath him! He thinks he's pretty smooth!

He can pull to stand by himself now, too! He is on the move - crawling is just around the corner, I'm sure!

He leans forward in the car seat to anticipate getting picked up. He's beginning to raise his arms to me when he sees me coming! We are working on some sign language - "more" and "all done" at mealtimes! I sign "more" to him, and he smiles really big and kicks his legs! I help him do the sign and he gets more food. I think he's catching on!

The kids have giggle fits in the car sometimes! Ava will call out to Liam and I see him looking at her and a huge smile spreads across his face, and then Ava laughs, and then Liam laughs!! It's so fun to see them make each other so happy! It certainly brightens my day. I've even seen them passing a toy back and forth to eachother! There's a gap between them, but I saw yesterday that Ava had a pillow, then Liam had it, and then Ava had it again a bit later! I'm getting to experience them entertaining each other, which provides a few moments of being able to mentally check out from mommy duty. But not for long - I have to continually watch to make sure Ava doesn't bring Liam something he shouldn't have or that she isn't being too rough with him.

Ava has been different this month. Last month she was really difficult, and this month she's been really sweet and kind of...fragile. Ava is not really a cuddly child. She didn't like to be cuddled as a baby, like at all. As she became a toddler, she eventually came around to the idea of giving and receiving hugs, and then eventually she'd ask to sit with you just to hang out - but not for more than a handful of seconds. But lately she has been asking for me to hold her all the time. It could be after she trips and falls, when she's tired, or just because. I'm not sure if it's due to her seeing how needy Liam has been lately, or if she's just going through a phase, or if she's missing daddy and this is how it's surfacing. So it kind of makes me sad because I really wonder if it's the latter of the three. We talk about daddy a lot and I tell her I love daddy and that I miss him, and I ask her if she loves daddy and if she misses him too. I tell her it's okay to miss him and I make sure she has her daddy doll to hug. She never really responds when we talk about missing daddy, but I know she's listening and internalizes it in her little mind. She knows the sound of the FaceTime ring and the alert for a text message from him. She always gasps and says "daddy!" and if I'm not in the room to hear it, she brings my phone to me if she can reach it! What a little sweetheart. She's started paying more attention to our family photos on the walls. "Daddy, mommy, baby, girl". She calls herself "girl" - but I've finally gotten her to say her name!!!!! She calls herself "Ah-bah". I love it. We are working on saying "My name is Ava". Her vocabulary continues to explode and I'm hearing more 3- and 4-word sentences! She likes to look for "big trucks" when we are out and about in the car, she stops in her tracks when she hears an airplane or a train, and motorcycles always catch her eye.

I have to say, I'm really missing one-on-one time with my girl. And sometimes I feel bad because Liam doesn't get one-on-one time with me, either. I feel like they both deserve undivided attention from me. That is my latest mommy guilt issue. Liam's napping isn't very regular yet - he's still teetering between 2 and 3 naps each day. But I think I'm going to work towards staggering their bedtimes a little so Ava can have some quiet time at the end of the day with just mommy. The last several nights have ended up that way, and Ava really enjoyed some playtime in her room with me. Plus she has started picking out longer books to read at bedtime, and Liam just can't appreciate stories before bed. When that boy is tired, he lets the world know! And if Liam is going to be a crank, Ava shouldn't have to let that ruin her bedtime story and be rushed through hugs and kisses just so I can go nurse Liam and put him to bed. I liked the idea of simultaneous bedtime for the kids, but I think their needs have changed. Maybe we can go back to simultaneous bedtimes once Liam is weaned and/or Chris is home again!

There needs to be more hours in the day - I can't keep up with everything! I'm hoping this next month I can get better organized, or my kids can work through their intense neediness! There have been many times they have both been crying messes because they need to be held. I can't count how many times I have hauled 50 pounds of crying children up and down the stairs!

Overall I'm keeping a pretty good attitude about everything, which is pretty important for surviving this separation. I definitely hit my limits and I get cabin fever (and so do the kids!) if we spend too many days in a row in the house. For this reason, we all enjoy our weekly trip to the grocery store! We all get out and get to do something different, and we all love food! Ava is starting to reject sitting in the cart, so that battle has begun. But the only way she will learn is if we continue to practice the expectations for her! So sometimes I end up being that lady in the store with 2 screaming children. Sorry not sorry! Find something else to gawk at!

I've learned to pick my battles a bit. Sometimes I look the other way when Ava jumps on the couch. It has really helped that Ava has picked up on the new routines since daddy is gone. We upgraded Liam to a convertible seat awhile ago so it's been a bit challenging without the infant carrier - I have nowhere to set him down! She knows we put brother in the car first and she puts her hand on the tire (and idea from my sister!) and waits until it's her turn, and then we go to her door. My biggest fear is that in the 15 seconds my head is in the car buckling Liam in, that Ava would leave my side in the parking lot. But she does so well! She knows that as soon as we get in the house to sit down and we all take off our shoes. And she'll carry a bag in and she knows I put them all right by the pantry. She does really well about 98% of the time at going upstairs for naptime or bedtime or stinky diaper changes, and then sometimes I have to chase her and carry her upstairs! She's always thrived on a routine, so it's helpful to us all if we stick to it. And then if we deviate, she knows it's something special! Like a little roadtrip to grandma and grandpa's house! Occasionally we stay up late, sometimes just her and I, and maybe I'll put on a show for her in mommy and daddy's bed, or we have a late night snack, or just some quiet playtime in her room.

I'm finding new ways of parenting, and I'm realizing what's truly important. The whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is so cliche, but it is so, so true! I'm ready for next summer to be here already!!