Sunday, December 23, 2012

23 Months!

The next time I post Ben's update he will be TWO and we will have another little guy filling our lives with joy.  It doesn't seem real that nearly two years have gone by since I held my first little treasure in my arms.  Parenthood is such a blessing to Andrew and I and having Ben in our lives is one of the greatest joys.

Teeth:  I am excited to say that Ben's tooth count is up from 12 to 16!  In the past week he cut his four incisors and the drool that is streaming out of his mouth is beginning to slow.  They aren't all the way through yet but the little tops have poked up through his gums.

Height/Weight:  We go to the doctor next month but he continues to grow a little taller and is starting to add a bit more meat to his bones.

Clothing:  24 months, shoe size 5

Hair:  When he wears something red it looks strawberry blond but in other colors it just looks blond.  I did trim up a little in the back because there were a few random long strands, but we haven't had an official haircut yet.  Maybe in another month or so we will get a real cut

Communication:  The word explosion from last month continues as our little mimic picks up new words/phrases every day.  I think his first real sentence was "Tessa Marie, go away!"  (Our dogs have middle names when they are in trouble.)  If you have ever met Tessa, you know that this sentence is probably repeated at least once if not 10 times per day and is most often used around meal times.  He has started saying "please" instead of just signing it and will ask specifically for different things such as his "orange jacket" or "rain jacket."  It is so much fun having him communicate with us and he picks things up quickly.  He very cutely knows the name of my doctor and calls him Dr. Oula (for Dr. Osula) and grandmom and granddad are actually sounding more and more like real words rather than just the "g" sound.

Skills:  He can spell and pick out the letters of his name, although he refers to himself as "Bum."  He is starting to learn his colors and is pretty consistent with blue, yellow and red.  He is also learning how to count.  Puzzles with individual sections are a breeze and he sorts shapes and identifies them with confidence.  When reading favorite books he can fill in words when I pause while reading.  He is getting more and more proficient at singing his "ABC's."  He can kind of jump but still doesn't fully trust his feet.  He is learning opposites such as up and down, light and dark, heavy and light, hot and cold.  When he thinks something is heavy he uses a deep voice and occasionally grunts as he tries to lift it.  He is learning the difference between day and night and is aware when it is dark in a room.  He loves to point out the moon and stars in the sky at night.

Loves:  This month brought new loves into Ben's life.  With the Christmas season upon us, he has embraced the decorations, cookies, and excitement with much enthusiasm.  When we brought our Christmas tree home after cutting it, he gave it a hug in the kitchen before we set it up.  Every morning his face lights up when he comes downstairs and sees the tree and if it is not plugged in already, it is our first task.  He loves looking at the ornaments and taking off and putting on the ones he is allowed.  He loves the decorations around Fredonia such as the snowflakes on Main Street and the wreaths on Water Street.  At his grandmom's house he enjoys the candles in her windows.

One of the highlights of the Christmas season for Ben is the train set that is on display at the local hardware store.  I love it when we stop in and he finds Dave or Bob and says, "Choo-choo please," so that they will turn it on.  We have spent a lot of time staring at the moving train in recent weeks.  He is learning how to say "Merry Christmas" and if he sees a Santa will say, "ho, ho, ho."  He loves putting together a manger scene puzzle my parents sent him and likes putting in the baby Jesus piece.  He is very excited about the presents stored Caleb's crib and one day he climbed into the crib and I caught him lightly touching them.

He had a blast making cookies with his grandmom, great grandmom and Aunt Joanna on his final day as a 22 month old and very seriously put frosting and sprinkles on a few.  Eating the dough and final product were the highlights.

He loves the learning tower Andrew made him and we have spent many hours hanging out in the kitchen playing with water, play-dough and helping to cook.  If anyone is in the kitchen he wants to be in his tower.

He often takes a bath in the morning now while I am getting ready for the day/doing laundry and he loves playing with his backhoe in the tub.  Bubble baths area fun part of his day but a real highlight is when he gets to take a bath at grandmom's house.

At night time he loves to read a few books, sing a couple of songs and get "snuggles" from both his mommy and daddy.  We don't think that there is anything much cuter than hearing his little voice sing himself to sleep in his room.

What We've Been Up To:
 Our stroller runs have decreased due to the size of my belly but we still try get out for a walk every day that the weather allows.  He is very excited about the double stroller in our living room and we tried it out one day with his friend Isaac.  Our weeks are filled with errands, going to the doctor, playing at home, going to "Mommy Group" (where he gets a name-tag--pure toddler excitement), hanging out with his friend Isaac and spending time with his family.  His transition to the big boy room continues to go well, even though he occasionally falls out in the middle of the night.  He sleeps for a solid 11 hours most nights and takes a 2 1/2/ hour nap every day.

Our little family of three has enjoyed this past month getting ready for both Christmas and Caleb.  Watching Ben embrace and absorb the world around him is amazing.  He fills our life with laughter and love.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Benefits of Pregnant Exercise (for me)

A couple of days ago I blogged about pregnant running and my experience this time around.  As I approach my due date and am still trying to waddle through a few miles three or four times a week, people look at me in disbelief as my humpty dumpty belly leads the way.

This morning I am going to teach my last bodypump class.  I taught three times a week for most of my pregnancy but for the last 6 weeks have taught twice.  I am a little relieved and a little sad that I am finished after today.  I will miss my classes (and the workout) but do know it is time to let my body rest a bit before labor.  I am still going to try to run until the day I deliver because I am quite the addict.

This pregnancy has been different from my first and I think a lot of that is due to the amount of exercise I have gotten throughout the duration.  For me the following are some benefits I've found from keeping up a fairly normal exercise routine:

1.  Less weight gain.  With three weeks to go until baby day I am on track to gain 15 pounds less than I did with Ben.

2.  Low blood pressure--yesterday at my checkup I had the highest blood pressure I've had this pregnancy a whopping 110/60.  Keeping active has allowed my blood pressure to stay low and has kept swelling at bay.

3.  Low blood sugar--I ate a lot of donuts and bread during my first trimester, they were the only things I could keep down most of the time.  With all of the sugar I was eating I wondered what would happen with my gestational diabetes test.  Instead of having high glucose levels however, mine were on the very low end of normal which my doctor attributes to my activity level.

4.  Better sleep at night--until recently where my belly has hindered my sleeping, the days that I exercise I sleep so much better at night.  My body is able to relax because it is actually tired rather than just feeling tired from the baby growing.

5.  Better mood--I am incredibly grumpy when I don't exercise.  I need exercise like Andrew needs coffee.  Even not pregnant, days off from running/exercising leave me feeling like a grouch.  Keeping up with exercise this pregnancy has made me so much happier most days.

6.  Better self image--going along with the less weight gain I feel like I am really only gaining what is necessary for Caleb to grow and be healthy without a lot of excess which makes me feel happier about myself.

7.  Keeps my bodily functions functioning (if you need more explanation, send me an email.)

8.  A healthy baby--healthy babies are born with or without exercise but studies have shown that women who do exercise have babies born at a healthy birth weight, have more efficient hearts, and may have better memories than babies of women who don't exercise.

9.  A shorter labor (hopefully)-- My sister in law recently told me she read that on average fit women only push for 27 minutes.  We'll see if that is right soon but the hope of pushing less is enough to spur me on to continue exercising until Caleb arrives!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On running pregnant

When I became pregnant with Ben I was asked a lot, "Are you going to keep running?"  I would answer yes and I thought I would run a lot more than I actually did.  The hills of Morgantown, a full time teaching job and uncertainty over exactly how much I could do kept my runs under four miles a couple of times a week.  I completely stopped running at around 30 weeks but I can't remember ever having a week where I ran more than 12 miles total for the week during the entire pregnancy.  I walked a lot but didn't really do much running.  My walk at the end was very much a waddle as I made poor Andrew shiver in the cold all bundled up while I was sweating in a t-shirt.  I ended up gaining more weight than I originally wanted (about 44ish pounds) and didn't really enjoy having all of that weight to get rid of.

My first run post Ben occurred when he was 2 weeks and 6 days old.  I wasn't comfortable but it was manageable and nothing hurt worse than before so I kept at it running a couple of miles a couple of days a week.  Once I received the official "Okay" to start exercising I did a little crossfit and started running more.  I hated feeling like I had to train my body to exercise all over again and it felt like I'd never run a step in my entire life.

When we found out I was pregnant with #2, I was already about 7 weeks along and while I felt a little off (because I was pregnant and didn't know it) during some of my runs, I was still doing about 30-35 miles a week and teaching body pump 4 times a week.  Once the first trimester nausea set it I watched my weekly mileage plummet but any day that I felt a little bit like running I did.  There were mornings where I tied my running shoes and immediately felt sick so I would walk instead.  As my pregnancy continued and I started feeling better I ramped my mileage back up and until two weeks ago ran between 20-30 miles a week--with a big week of 37 miles thrown into the mix. I did a half marathon at 25 weeks and maintained a weekly long run of 9 miles until 33 weeks. Total I have run a little over 800 pregnant miles.  Now, at 36ish weeks pregnant my running is slowing down.  I am still making an effort to get out there but my mileage goals are gone, my speed goals are gone and I figure that every step I run right now will make it a little easier on the other side of pregnancy.  A huge positive from all of the running/teaching body pump is that my weight gain has been significantly less this time.

What I've learned about pregnant running...
1.  The bigger I get, the more weird looks I get from people.
2.  A pregnancy support band is a MUST.  It helps hold up my rapidly growing stomach, helps with lower back pain and just makes me feel more secure.
3.  If I make a decision to cut back on mileage/running back to back days it takes me about two weeks to actually follow through.  A couple of weeks ago I said I wasn't going to run two days in a row but I still tried to do it.  This week however, I am only running every other day in an effort to conserve some energy.
4.  It is okay NOT to run.  There are days I just haven't felt great and taking a day off is okay
5.  Never wear a watch!  (Pace, time, distance--none of them really matter when you are growing another human.)
6.  I can eat whatever I want before I go for a run and it doesn't bother my stomach.  (when I am not pregnant I can't eat much at all before running)
7.  I have to stay REALLY hydrated.  If I am even a little dehydrated while running I get side stitches really quickly and have to walk.  It took me a couple of times of this happening to figure out what was going on.
8.  Running with a dog becomes nearly impossible at around 35 weeks
9. I actually have to listen to my body--when not pregnant I tend to ignore minor aches and pains
10. It isn't as hard to do as people think.  People are a little bit in disbelief that I have run as much as I have.  Running pregnant for me isn't that hard as the weight gain is very gradual and my body has adjusted each week to what I am asking it to do.  Right now as I near the end it is getting a lot harder but so is everything else!

Monday, December 3, 2012

22 Months--or the month where Ben became a "big boy"

Excitement in our home is growing everyday as we anticipate the arrival of baby #2.  Ben is growing and learning so much so fast that Andrew and I are constantly in awe of our adorable little boy.  I think every month I say that we feel blessed by having him in our life and this month is not an exception.  His sweet personality, easy going nature and love for everything around him make him a joy to be with every day.

Height and Weight...taller and heavier--he doesn't go to the doctor again until his two year old check up so you'll just have to trust me that he is growing.
Teeth:  Still 12--by next month I really think that he will have another one or two.
Clothing:  All 24 months
Shoes: size 5 in most shoes are still a little big but 4 is a little snug

Skills:  He can identify a lot of his letters, shapes, and is starting to count.  Colors are still a mystery and everything is "blue."  I wonder a bit if he is partially color blind like his dad because he is learning other things at such a rapid pace.  I would love to say he is potty trained but he isn't.  I think he could be if I were more committed but at the moment, squatting down to his level in the bathroom is getting harder and harder as my stomach gets bigger and bigger.  He goes when we ask him but isn't holding it through nap or sleeping at night so we will hold off a little longer.

Communication:    Every single day he learns new words.  Over the last month his vocabulary has really expanded and words that he already said are getting clearer. He is starting to string words together and saying simple sentences.  He impressively says things like "microwave" and "chocolate milk."   He is adding ending sounds to words.  He loves to sing and some of his favorites are, "ABC," "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," "Wheels on the Bus," and "Old MacDonald."  He loves to sing with his daddy playing the guitar.

Loves:  Balls, books, trucks, tools, puzzles, his penguin, and his dogs.  He plays well independently which is wonderful.  He LOVES to hang out in his new learning tower in the kitchen to play with play-do, watch and help me cook and play in the sink.  He continues to love playing in the bath and if it were up to him he would bathe at least three times a day.

Transitions:  This month was our month of transition for Ben.  We moved him out of his baby room and into his new big boy room.  Ben and I shopped for his mattress, sheets, dresser, etc.  He loves his new blue room with his star quilt that Andrew's grandma made for Andrew in high school.  The first week he got up and down frequently when we were putting him down but after the initial training period, he sleeps incredibly well in his new bed.  He talks about his big boy room and seems proud of his new place to sleep.  When he goes into the baby room he calls it "baby room" and doesn't seem to miss his crib.  I love putting him to bed and snuggling with him before he goes to sleep.

Highlights from the Month:  Aunt Joanna came to visit when she was off for Veteran's Day.  Ben soaked up snuggles and loved seeing her.  It is so much fun to watch him recognize family members and to talk about them when they aren't around. He celebrated his second Thanksgiving and loved the candles on the table.  He identifies turkey by saying "gobble, gobble" and was a great helping making a pumpkin pie.  He met his cousin Lauren for the first time which was adorable and I am sure once she is bigger they will be great buddies.

All in all it was a wonderful and busy month.  Andrew and I are continuing to prepare for the new baby and Ben gives my stomach a lot of kisses and snuggles.  We can't wait to see what a good big brother he is going to be.  I know I am going to miss him like crazy when I am in the hospital.  He is such a joy!