Early Bird -Update

December 24, 2009

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The first night, we put Bryce to bed at 6:30pm. She woke up at 6:50am. It was a Christmas miracle.

The second night, we put Bryce down at 6:30pm again and she got up at 4:45am, talked/cried for about 15 minutes (Justin says…I put in my earplugs), and then slept in until 6:45am.

Call me crazy, but I think we’re making progress!

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Early Bird

December 22, 2009

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We have a situation on our hands. Yes, our angel of a child, Bryce Anne Shacklette, has begun waking up way too early for our tastes. For months, it seems, she had been inching her way closer to the 7am wake up time, and now for whatever reason, she has been waking up earlier and earlier. This morning, she woke up at 5:15am, which is entirely unacceptable.

I’ve lodged a formal complaint, of course, filing it away in her baby book for all eternity, but that hasn’t thwarted her efforts in the least. Justin and I aren’t sure what to do. Yes, we have been parents to a baby before this, but who can remember what Clare did at this stage? Not us. So, most mornings, while we are letting Bryce “wait it out” in her room (crying), Justin and I try and problem solve. It usually goes like this:

Me: “Jesus Christ. It’s 5:15.”

Justin: (Silence)

Me: “Why is she doing this?

(long pause)

Justin: “I don’t know.”

Me: “What do you think we should do?”

Justin: “Well, we can move her bedtime later. But, that time we put her down late after the Biener’s house, she did get up an hour earlier. Or, we can try and move her bedtime earlier, but who knows if that will work. Put your earplugs in.”

Me: “Grrrrr…”

So, here we are, every morning getting up before the sun is even up and without a solution in sight. Yes, I realize that there are millions of parents out there that are up earlier than they’d like to be with their kids everyday. I know this. But, we worked really damn hard with Clare–getting her to a 7am (or later) wake-up time, and I’ll be damned if Bryce doesn’t learn to toe the line!

Tonight, we will try the earlier bedtime and see how it goes.

Fingers crossed.

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And in the blink of an eye…

December 20, 2009

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Caterpillar, Butterfly & Monkey

Shazam! It’s December. And, more than two months since I last updated my blog. What can I say? I’ve been busy. Having two kids– in case no one has told you– is a LOT of work!

Since I last wrote, I returned to work. My four-month maternity leave came to an end, and I went back to my job in advertising. Bryce did an amazing job adjusting to daycare. Other than taking short naps for the first couple of months,  she has taken to it like a kid in a candy store. The room is so cheery, filled with pictures and toys, and the babies are well-loved. What’s not to like?

I only wish that my adjustment was as pain-free. Instead, I returned to “the job” and landed on an account that was in the throws of a lot of work without enough of members on its team. My work life quickly became insane and my Wednesdays at home with my girls are usually spent with my iPhone in my hand sifting through hundreds of emails. Rather than risk my job by elaborating, I will instead say that I am taking the necessary steps to improve my situation. Hopefully, 2010 brings lots of good stuff.

In October, we welcomed Aunties Jessie and Shelva for a visit. This was their first trip out to meet Bryce and they spent a lot of quality time with their nieces, playing in the basement, outside collecting leaves, and preparing a kid-themed dinner (hamburger faces). It was lovely to see them both and we are looking forward to seeing them again, when they have their commitment ceremony at The Culinary Vegetable Institute, in Ohio, this summer.

Halloween was memorable this year for many reasons: 1) This was Bryce’s first Halloween, 2) Clare was really into it this year and got to wear her (handmade by Nanny) butterfly costume numerous times, 3) Clare and Bryce’s costumes went together (Bryce was a caterpillar), and 4) My grandfather passed away after 94 years of life.

Over Halloween weekend, Bryce and I flew home to Miami to be with my family after Poppa’s death. It was good to be home and see my brother, who was taking it very hard. For me, oddly enough, the entire thing was very anticlimactic. When we visited my family last in February of this year, I knew it would likely be the last time I saw my grandfather. I had said my goodbyes, cried, and mourned the loss of a fantastic presence in my life. Going home eight months later for his funeral, was very different for me than it was for most of the family, I know. Jay Burton Keys was one in a zillion. We are all lucky to have had him in our lives.

A month later, at Thanksgiving, we welcomed Nancy and Larry for a visit. We had a fantastic turkey dinner, which I did not have to prepare. The grandparents spent oodles of time with both Bryce and Clare. I got out for a haircut, yoga, and walks with my girlfriends. Oh, how I wish that we had family here. It’s so good for everyone— the kids, our family, our marriage and our sanity!

I can clearly remember other people telling us that when you go from having one child to having two children that it is exponentially harder. I’m not necessarily denying that this is true. It’s hard to quantify exactly what the hard parts are. It’s more about the lack of time that there now is for everything: yourself, your marriage, your other children, your friends, and on and on and on. Before, when it was just the three of us, we were two parents per one child. When one of us needed to get in some “me” time, it was okay because 1-on-1 with Clare was doable. Now, when one of us has to be out of the house, it’s 2-on-1 and that is not so easy. Bryce is a baby and Clare is a tornado! Yes, a whirling ball of energy that talks a mile-a-minute and has endless questions, needs, and demands. I, of course, (still) only have two hands and so that can be difficult.

One of the things that I have struggled the most with is the guilt that I feel. This guilt is like one of those glass prisms you hang in the window– each time the light hits it, a new color is reflected on the wall. For example, I feel guilty when I am giving Bryce my attention, playing with her on the floor, and blowing raspberries on her belly. I am worried that Clare will get jealous or her feelings will be hurt. I feel guilty that I am not giving Bryce enough of the attention that she needs/deserves because Clare’s needs are more immediate, LOUDER, and well, Bryce is happy to hang on the floor chewing on a plastic toy. I feel guilty when I get out for some “me” time because my husband rarely takes time for himself. I feel guilty that I work outside the home and my daughters are being cared for by someone else four days a week. Guilt…it’s not just for Jewish mothers anymore.

What’s been really wonderful these past few months is watching Clare get excited about Bryce’s growth. Bryce is no longer a newborn. She can sit, eat with us at the dinner table, pick up toys, roll over, and can recognize all of us. Clare calls Bryce her friend, and she will tell you about all the things that she and Bryce are going to do together, “when Bryce gets bigger.” Every once in a while when the fog clears for a few minutes, I get a glimpse of our future, of the girls as little people, friends, together, giggling, sharing stories, in each others rooms, and each others confidants. The mutual affection that they share is one of the unexpected gifts having a second child has brought. Not only did we create another member of our family, someone who will be in our lives forever, but we have given Clare a friend for life…a sister. It’s been amazing to see what that has done to and for her.

And, in the blink of an eye, Bryce is six months old. Kapow! I know I need to buckle my seatbelt now, because the next six months are going to be a wild ride. I remember with Clare all of the leaps and bounds that take place in a baby’s development between six months and a year. Hard to imagine that, over the next six months, Bryce will be standing, (likely) walking, and communicating with us (words/signs).  Look out, 2010, we’re headed your way.

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The End of a Beautiful Summer

October 8, 2009

Nothing says, “summer is over” more than falling snow. Today is October 8th, and it is snowing. I know, not a huge shocker, but still those rapidly falling bits of sky carry more significance for me today. It is our first snow, which means that summer is now just a memory. Goodbye summer and goodbye maternity leave. Tomorrow is my last day of maternity leave and Tuesday, after (a wonderfully-timed federal holiday on Monday), I will be returning to work.

How can this be? My eight pound baby girl just came home just yesterday from the hospital. Wait, that was June– and in the blink of an (often bloodshot) eye, my daughter is three and a half months old. I set up my maternity leave so that Bryce would be four months upon my return to work. That would have been the case, except that my little babe decided to spend an extra eight days on the inside. So, just shy of her four-month birthday, Bryce will begin daycare and I will return to work.

The reality that our time together –just the two of us– was coming to its end sunk in about three weeks ago. And, while we typically don’t stack our days with lots of activity, I have been especially thoughtful about not planning anything during this last week together. We have spent our days at home, getting in solid naps (Bryce) and lounging together on the floor smiling up at the red bird, ladybug and psychedelic fish in her play gym when awake. I’ve been more mindful of turning off the television, checking email later, and truly being present with Bryce. I know that these months together are something we’ll never have again, and I have done everything I can to slow down time.

Funny, I can vividly remember thinking and actually wishing for time to speed up earlier this summer during the haze of newbornness. “Please,” I remember thinking, “can’t we just skip past this part and get to the one year birthday?” Being careful of what you wish for has never been more true. I wish I could travel back to those weeks and whisper in my own ear, “This too shall pass. Hold on to these days.” For now here we are, and here I am with little bits of my heart breaking off over these next few days as I prepare to send my child to daycare and into caring hands that, while fantastic and experienced, are ultimately not mine.

I remember dropping off Clare for her first day of daycare and leaving the building in tears. I remember thinking, “How will they know what she needs? How long will she have to cry? Will she get the sleep she needs? Am I a terrible mother for not staying home with her?” Fortunately, her smile upon seeing me at pick-up was antidote enough for me to get past those initial worries, but the guilt I felt about returning to work is something not so easily shaken. I’m not going to get into the whole stay-at-home vs. working mother debate, because it’s just too emotional of a topic and there doesn’t seem to be any right answer. What works for one family will not for another. I just know that even though I like working outside the house, and don’t think I’d be very good at being home with my children 24/7 (for either them or me), I will always carry with me the working-mothers’ guilt–and that sucks.

This time around has been so different in so many ways. For one, I know that this will be my last baby, and therefore, my last maternity leave. I also know that being able to spend this much quality time with just Bryce is a luxury. From this point on, big sister Clare will be with us, and her toddler energy is enough to fill an entire room, not leaving much space for quiet baby games and discoveries. Balancing the needs of both girls is, and will continue to be, a challenge. But what has been so nice about these past (almost) four months together is that I have really enjoyed it. Being home with Clare on maternity leave was filled with new-motherdom, doubts, questions, anxieties and insecurities as to whether or not I was “doing it right.” This time, I know more, and I am more self-confident, so I’ve been able to really relax.

Returning to work brings with it a whole new set of concerns such as: figuring out how to get everyone ready and out the door each morning, putting dinner on the table inside an hour of returning home each night, finding the time at work to pump enough milk each day for Bryce at daycare, being able to spend some amount of quality time with each of my daughters before kissing them goodnight, and connecting with my husband each day on something more than child-related issues.  I am bracing myself for this first month back and hoping that we all come through it with nothing more than minor flesh wounds.

Bryce has been such an easy baby to be with and I am so grateful for that. These last few weeks she has found her voice and the squealing and “singing” that she does amazes us almost as much as it does her. When we put her down for naps during the day, she often sings to herself for a few minutes before quieting down and drifting off to sleep. It’s amazing. She has also found her feet in the last week and likes to curl up into the happy-baby position when she can get a good grip on her toes. We have also reached a wonderful (for me) milestone in that Bryce is no longer nursing at night. We are all sleeping through the night now and what’s surprised us both is how painless the process seemed to be. Though, that’s been a common theme with Bryce– whenever we are about to tweak something (i.e. stop swaddling) with her, we have typically held our collective breath expecting huge reactions or push-back and it never comes. She’s a good little bugger and we are super lucky. Hopefully she will adapt as quickly and effortlessly to being at daycare, too.

Hands down, I know it will be harder for me on Tuesday then it will be for Bryce. I love you, little girl.


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Happy Three Months, Bryce!

September 22, 2009

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Today Bryce is three months old. It’s hard to believe that three months has already come and gone. I can remember vividly in those early weeks praying for these months to fly by so that we could quickly skip past the rough nights and newborn phase. Of course, now I am recognizing that I need to be careful of what I wish for because too soon that little turkey will be walking and I’ll wonder, “Where did my little baby go?”

Bryce is really a great baby and we are incredibly lucky to be handed another “easy” kid. We have witnessed repeatedly what other parents have to sometimes go through when their second child arrives and is so much different than their first. Of course, Bryce is only three months old so we’re not seeing really who she will become and what kind of personality she’ll develop. Will she be outgoing and stubborn like her sister? Or, will she blaze a path all her own. Time will tell, I know.

In the meantime, this little charmer is full of smiles and happy 98% of the time. She sleeps well and is easy to put down. I still marvel at how easy it is with her and expect at any moment to be faced with a screaming tired child. So far, we’re in the clear on that one as she is a graduate of the learn-to-put-yourself-to-sleep training school. Phew.

Last night, after dinner, we went for a family walk while Clare road her bike. I had Bryce in the Bjorn facing out for the first time. She was a happy little clam checking out the world. So far, she’s taken well to new experiences. Over the weekend, we went to the pool (another first for Bryce) and she relaxed in the water as if she were in a hot spring.

Happy three month birthday, Bryce. We’re all watching to see how great your next three months will be.

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8 Weeks In

August 17, 2009

As I write, eight-week old Bryce is asleep in her crib. I count this as a small victory seeing as a week ago, I would still be sitting in her room, cradling her swaddled body, rocking her to sleep. Late last week we decided that it was time for Bryce to take a step forward and begin to learn how to put herself to sleep. Granted, we didn’t start this process with Clare until she was 12 weeks old, but thankfully Bryce has been a good student and is picking it up fairly quickly with not much resistance.

The past eight weeks have been a bit of a blur and I wish that I were doing a better job of chronicling it all here, but that’s something to work on, I know.

Bryce has woken up from her newborn haze and in the last couple of weeks has been giving away smiles to those that want ‘em.  Newborns are tough little bosses, so it’s only natural to feel like you are getting a huge pat on the back when their faces light up and flash you a toothless grin. Last week, while I held a sleeping Bryce in my arms, I was given a glimpse of something really awesome yet to come. In her sleep, Bryce let out a big ol’ giggle, “he he he” and my heart melted into a pool on the floor. Nothing is better than a giggling baby. Nothing.

Clare continues to make us laugh on a daily basis as is the job of any good toddler. She has developed this great sense of humor and has a flare for the dramatic.(Hmmm…wonder where she gets that from?) The amount of affection and love that she shows for her sister is pretty unbelievable, too. Bryce is the recipient of numerous hugs and “moochies” everyday from Clare. And, it’s definitely noteworthy to mention that when Clare finds her self hurt or upset, it’s often giving Bryce a hug that makes her feel better. Who knew the power of a baby?

In other big Clare news, we have officially entered into the “Big Girl Panties” era. Yes, Clare has made some pretty large jumps into the world of potty training and now wears panties every day (except for naps and nighttime). While she definitely has accidents (mostly when she’s having too much fun and doesn’t want to stop playing), she really has done great and we are so proud of our “big girl.”

My in-laws were out for a visit this month and it was so wonderful to have them here. They loved meeting Bryce and spending quality time with both of their granddaughters. We were psyched to have the extra sets of hands, and were able to get in some much needed Mommy/Daddy time. The fact that Clare is so comfortable with her grandparents helps greatly, too. While they were here, Clare would wake up in the morning and ask, “Where’s Granddad? Where’s Nanny?” And for me, a nursing momma, who spends 24/7 with Bryce, it was fantastic to be able to nurse Bryce and then hand her off to the loving arms of her grandmother! I got in a haircut, some errands ALONE, and was able to read and relax. We’re all looking forward to their next visit!

The pregnancy weight is still wrapped securely around my midsection, unfortunately. I actually went out on my first run in 9+ months yesterday, and now I am nursing some sore knees (go figure). Guess the old infrastructure ain’t so psyched about having to heft the extra lbs. Justin is quick to remind me that it took longer than eight weeks to take off the weight I gained with Clare, but knowing that I am not going to be pregnant again (Yes, we are stopping at two lovely girls!), I am more anxious this time to shed the weight and get back to my old figure. One pound at a time, I know.

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Long Overdue

July 9, 2009

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Yes, finally! I am terribly overdue (runs in the family, obviously) on publishing this post.

On the evening of June 21st, I began what would be a very short labor at around 10:30pm. Laboring at home until almost 3am, we headed to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning. I was 5cm dilated. The nurse called the doctor and told her that we were happy to have my waters broken if that would expedite things. Our doctor came in at 4am, checked me again (I was at 6-7cm and fully effaced) and broke my water at 4:15am. The next hour was INTENSE and INSANE and it all seems like a fog now. Our gorgeous and perfect daughter was born (without any drugs) on June 22nd at 5:29am after some wicked labor and two pushes. Weighing 8lbs and 7oz at 21 1/2 inches long, Bryce Anne Shacklette, was finally here (only EIGHT DAYS LATE).

Of course, looking at this absolute miracle…she was worth the wait. bryce

Since June 22, our lives have been, well, crazy. Now, when I say, crazy, I don’t mean in the “please-check-me-into-the-loony-bin” kind of crazy. I mean that we were all in a routine with Clare, our eldest, and shining star before Bryce’s arrival. Since Bryce’s birth, we have been trying to get back to that normalcy of everyday life with our “plus one.” It’s been an adjustment (more on Clare’s adjustment later), but we are managing and everyone has succeeded in getting fully dressed each day and swallowing at least one nutritional thing. I call that a success. Of course, bathing has become a little more infrequent, but hey, we figure it’s summer anyway and Clare’s getting in plenty of slip-n-slide time at school so that’s gotta count for something, right?

We’ve done our best to try and keep Clare’s life as “normal” as possible, which means that she continues to go to school four days a week and can I just say, “THANK GOD,” for that without sounding like a terrible mother? Honestly, I don’t know how other moms have done it all of these centuries–caring for a newborn with a toddler at home. It’s hard on those days when Clare is at home and thankfully, I’ve got the best husband in the universe, which enables us to have man-to-man coverage of our two girls.

Clare has been very excited about her new little sister and upon coming home everyday comes running into the house asking, “Where’s Bryce?” as if she might suddenly disappear as quickly as she came into the world. Of course, Clare has done her fair share of acting out but she is also two years old so, really, who’s to say that it’s all directly related to Bryce? Regardless, while we have seen an increased number of time-outs in our household, we are trying to give Clare as much undivided attention as we can. So far, Bryce has been pretty accommodating in that mission.

There’s so much more to say, but I fear that this post might go on forever, so I will just say that in my brief years as a parent, I have heard other parents talk about explosive poops–the kinds that hit the walls and end up everywhere. I had never really experienced that kind of display before…until TODAY. Yes, while changing Bryce’s diaper, she had the most explosive poop I’d ever seen and I had her feet positioned up over her head at just the right angle, I guess, in order for her to shoot mustard yellow (the dijon variety) across the changing table and onto the wall, hitting, me, her hamper, and the floor in the process. Wow.

…And you thought I was going to wax poetic about my expanding heart or something else equally as emotional. More on that another day. In the meantime, I leave you with these heart-warming photographs of the first days of Bryce’s two and a half week old life.

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