October 28, 2009


While he fusses a lot in the evening, Ben is the happiest baby you will ever meet first thing in the morning . . . after his breakfast, that is. He was just grinning from ear to ear this morning while he and Jack had a little bonding time. You have to really imagine Jack saying all of this in a high-pitched voice, mimicking how he hears us talk to Ben:

"Hi Ben! Hi Baby Brother! Do you want to grow up and play bideo games with me?*"

"What's your name? Is it Bennett . . . orrrr . . . is it my name? It's BENNETT! He said his name is Bennett!"

"Do you know that your name starts with 'B'? Yep. It does. It does. It's spelled B-3-4-5-6-BEN"

*Just a note . . . we don't have video games. Well, Kyle does, but I think he's played maybe twice since Jack was born. But Jack talks all the time about wanting Ben to grow up so that they can play "bideo games" together.

October 27, 2009

Delaying the inevitable . . .

Sign #423 that your child is ready to be potty trained . . . when he is sure to bring a book before he tells you that he's wet or poopy and needs to be changed, so that he has something to read while you do so.

He's so ready. I'm so not.

October 25, 2009

"You grow 'em big . . . "

Something we've heard quite often since Bennett was born is, "you grow 'em big!" As if we'd just harvested a crop of pumpkins or something. I guess it's true, though. Our boys are both pretty big. Last night, our small group was over for dinner and Ina and Maria were talking about an 8 month old who was already 24 pounds. And I sheepishly reminded them that Jack was 20 pounds at 4 months and 23.5 pounds at 6 months. Yikes.

That said, I'm so curious to see how much Ben weights at his one month visit on Wednesday. He was bigger than Jack was when he was born and was back to his birth weight faster . . . so will he be heavier than Jack was at one month?

Ben is finished with 0 - 3 month clothing and is wearing mostly 6 month stuff because 3 month and 3 - 6 month leaves him with a bare midriff or forces him to keep his legs bent because they won't stretch out all the way. Just typing this evokes tears and makes me think about how quickly his first day of junior high is approaching.

He has become really fun to play with and will smile and coo at us pretty much any time he has a full tummy and a clean diaper. We don't have to work for it as much anymore, and he's even smiling at Jack now . . . which I have to give Ben credit for because I don't always smile at my sweet little two year old when he's shrieking and roaring an inch from my face.

Ben likes to sit and look at things dangling in front of him and his hands have just started to catch his eye. Every so often, he holds it out and just kind of stares at it as if to say, "WHAT IS THAT THING?!" We've caught him sucking his thumb a few times, but mostly just sucks on his fist while he's waiting for a meal. He's not a fan of tummy time, but made it a full four minutes on his belly before he started fussing this morning. I consider that to be a huge success.

We've switched to disposable diapers for a little while because the cloth ones were causing MAJOR chafing and peeling on his legs and tummy, but we're hoping to be able to switch back soon. I need to devote an entire post to that some time . . .

We're beginning to settle into a new "normal" but we still have a long way to go. I'm really liking being back at work a little bit each week and Ben cooperates for the most part. Jack really likes having Kelsey come play with him three times a week, too! It's good for both of us.

I must confess that I thought having a second child would be much easier than it is. I figured, I've done it all before, it should be easier this time right? And I guess it might have been a tiny bit easier than it is now, but this time around, I also have a two year old. And I own a business. I often find myself wondering what I would have done during all the time Jack slept right after he was born if I hadn't gone back to work right away. I guess I'll never know.

There are so many similarities and differences between Jack and Ben at this age, but I spend a lot of time saying, "I have no idea if Jack did that." or "I cannot remember what we did with Jack in this situation." This blog has come in handy for remembering some things and more often than not, we're dealing with new situations that arise as a result of being at home more than we were when Jack was born. Jack hated being swaddled and didn't like the pacifier much. Ben won't sleep long unless he's swaddled and uses a pacifier to go to sleep. Then again, I'm much better at swaddling this time around. Jack would always fall asleep in the bouncy seat as long as we kept it moving but Ben won't fall asleep unless we're holding him or unless he cries screams himself to sleep in the car seat. Jack hated the swing and Ben does as well, so we're wondering if maybe the one we have isn't that great.

Christmas card season is in full swing and I had no idea how much fun it would be to work with return customers! It's like getting together with old friends. THe other day, I had not had A SINGLE SALE by 8 PM which gave me a lot of time to catch up. I thought it might be my first day without a sale in more than 15 months, but when I woke up the next morning, I had sold three designs before midnight. So the streak is still going.

Anyway, life is good around here. How are things with you?

October 20, 2009


:: Today, Ben realized that when he's riding in the sling, he can just lift up his head and see me. He did it today, and I looked down and smiled at him and he just grinned back. He did this four times in a row . . . lifting his head and smiling. It was the highlight of my day. If only I could manage to get a picture of that adorable little smile . . . it would be the highlight of your day, too.

:: We skipped church on Sunday because, well . . . I'm afraid of the flu. Tons of kids in the school districts that surround our church have been out of school with the flu/swine flu. One district had more than 1/4 of their students out today.

Recently, someone tried to calm my concern by reminding me that a lower percentage of people have died from the swine flu than do from the regular flu every year. Um, so what? I just want my kids to NOT GET SICK. I've read so much about the flu viruses, vaccines, etc. and my verdict? Any side of any argument on this issue can give you convincing information. I really just want to keep my boys healthy. That is, of course, my first priority. But besides that, a trip to the doctor plus anti-viral medication? $150 or so. And don't even get me started on how much it would cost if one of them had to be hospitalized.

I had been considering finding a day care to send Jack to for one or two days a week, but now I'm wondering if that's even a good idea. But what am I going to do? Not leave the house until May? Skip church all winter?

:: Last week, I tried on my winter coat and it was REALLY tight. I was really bummed. Kyle keeps reminding me that it's only been three weeks (almost four, now) but still . . . it doesn't feel good. I didn't start wearing maternity pants regularly until I was 25 weeks pregnant, so my reasoning is that I have a few extra weeks to wear them post-partum. Right? No? Anyway, I've been trying to work out or walk every day.

:: On Saturday night, Kyle stayed home with the boys and I took a solo trip into town to get a few things from Target. I had no idea how much I needed time to myself!

:: Jack's volume has increased incredibly since Bennett has come home. He shrieks and yells and hollers . . . I don't know if he's working extra hard to get our attention or if he's always been this loud and I'm just now more aware of it.

:: Unlike Jack, Ben LOVES his bathtime. I think some of it probably has to do with the fact that we know what we're doing a little more than we did when Jack was a baby. But, just like Jack, Ben HATES his car seat.

:: I'll leave you with a few pictures . . .

October 19, 2009

Sneak peek for Justine . . .

If only we could all be this photogenic. Seriously.

My processing time has increased dramatically now that I have two little ones to take care of, but in the meantime, here's a sneak peek for Justine from this weekend's session . . .

October 17, 2009

Thy power throughout the universe displayed . . .

Have you ever seen the Northern Lights? If not, you're missing out.

I was 23 the first time I saw them. It was November 5, 2001. Kyle and I had been dating for a couple of months and it was the first night he ever told me that he loved me. (insert "awwww" here)

He dropped me off at my apartment that night and was knocking at my door an hour later. As I looked out the window to see who it was, I half wondered if he had come to take it back. But instead, he had walked down from his house to make sure I didn't miss them. They were amazing. It was a memorable night.

I hadn't seen them again until last night. We're floor parents for Muffit 4 at Spring Arbor University and we had them out for a hayride. As the ride began, I saw two blurry streaks in the sky. I kept trying to focus and was thinking to myself, "Maybe I need to have my eyes checked. That's so weird." But then Kyle made a comment about them too. We couldn't figure out what they were. Maybe a cloud being lit by a really bright star?

About half-way through the hayride, Chuck stopped the tractor, looked back at us and said, "Are those the Northern Lights?" By then, they were all around (which is weird, because they're usually in one general area of the sky). They were still faint, but they continued to get brighter as the ride went on. It honestly looked like something out of a sci-fi movie . . . we all joked about an alien invasion.

I sat there in the straw, with Jack in my lap and Kyle next to me and just took it all in. I was in total awe of creation, and moreso, the Creator. I had planned to go back outside later when the boys were both in bed to see if I could get some pictures, but I got distracted and totally forgot.

I searched online for some photos to share. This one is amazing. I think they're farther north, so the lights are a little brighter than they were down here.

Edited to add: The link is about the lights last night, but the photo at that link is NOT from last night's lights. I thought it was, but I was wrong. It still gives you the general idea . . .

October 15, 2009

As overheard when I was about to surprise Jack with cheese-its for a snack . . .

Me: Jack! I have a surprise for you!

Jack: Is it a Wii?

Me: Oh . . . um, no.

Jack: Are we going to the Treehouse?

Me: Uh, nope.

Jack: What's my su'prise?

Me: Nevermind.

October 14, 2009

Lest I give the wrong impression . . .

Before Bennett was born, someone told me that having two kids was twice as hard as having one. And I now refer to that person as BIG FAT LIAR! It's about ten times as hard. While hearing parents of one child talk about having another makes me want to issue warnings and wave red flags of caution about being 100% ready for the challenge before taking the plunge, I know that these feelings will pass and that normalcy will come soon enough.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm miserable or that we're barely getting by. We are having fun. I am loving being a mom to two fantastic boys. And life is good. Here are some of the high points:
  • Bennett does not give smiles as freely as Jack did, but he did start sooner. Jack was three or four weeks when he started giving the coveted "social smiles" but Ben started over last weekend. He smiled really big for my dad when he was playing with him. He's smiled a few times for me when we were playing and he flashed Kyle a big grin shortly after his first bottle. We do get plenty of the gassy/sleepy smiles, but we have to work for the real thing. It's totally worth the effort.

  • I'm heading back to work tomorrow and Friday. I've been reminded that I have lots of maternity leave time left, but I am about to go insane being at home so much. I need to get out of the house and since Ben is fairly portable, and my office is big enough for a pack and play, it's doable. I think Jack is going to be thrilled to see Kelsey at our door tomorrow morning.

  • I don't have tons of time for tv, but there are a few new televisions shows that I'm loving . . . The Good Wife, Glee and Flash Forward, to name a few.

  • Getting so many Christmas card orders is REALLY getting me excited for Christmas. We've started listening to Christmas music (at Jack's request) and it just makes me feel . . . well, merry.

  • Ben slept REALLY well the last two nights. My night time routine is this (at least this is what I aspire to): Both boys get a bath around 6:30 or 7 and then we try to get them down for bedtime between 7 and 8, with a feeding for Ben.

    When Ben's down, we work on getting Jack down to bed if Kyle hasn't already had success with that. When they're both down, we work on laundry, watch tv, I catch up on orders and and e-mail and just try to relax. I get Bennett up to eat between 10 and 11 . . . right before we're ready for bed. He sleeps right through the feeding, but gets enough so that he's not waking us up 30 minutes after we go to bed. Then he wakes up around 2 and sometimes around 4. But two nights ago, he slept from 2:30 until 7 AM! It was glorious. Jack actually woke us up before Ben did.

  • The thrush looks remarkably better today. I know that we still have a long way to go and I'm not about to stop the medicine, but I have a more positive outlook on things. I should have mentioned yesterday that I am doing block feeding . . . only nursing on one side for every 2- 3 hours.

  • Bennett doesn't get to leave the house nearly as much as Jack did. With Jack, we were at camp every day. But we went from Monday afternoon until Saturday afternoon without leaving the house with him once! But he has had his fair share of trips to Target, has been to church the last two Sundays and has been to an embarrassing number of restaurants . . . I'm still working on getting meals straightened out.

  • Jack and I went on an "adventure" to the library and to buy a present for his cousin's birthday last week. It was my first little bit away from Bennett and a great time for Jack and I to spend time together. Bennett took his bottle from Kyle slowly, but did well. I'm thankful for that.

  • Jack had his first haircut the other night . . . it was long overdue. Kyle cut it and it's, well, really short. Jack has definitely moved from babyhood to boyhood.

October 12, 2009

I wish I could just give him a cheeseburger . . .

If you're uncomfortable with the topic of breastfeeding, I'd encourage you to read a different post. Like maybe this one about baseball. Or this one about Jack.

On Wednesday or Thursday, I was nursing Ben and Jack came up and laid his hand on my breast and said, "I'm gonna help hold his eat."

"Uh, his what?"

"His eat."

Later in the week, he told me that he wanted to help give Ben his "eaters." I guess by not giving him words to use, he just came up with his own.

Jack has had surprisingly little to say about the whole thing. I was so curious to know what questions he had and what comments he'd throw out there, but until he said that, he hadn't blinked an eye at the whole arrangement.

Those exchanges with Jack have been the only good things about breastfeeding over the last few days. Nursing has gone well from the beginning, but I was suddenly confronted with two things that are threatening to end it all: Thrush and oversupply.

If you've ever dealt with undersupply, you might be thinking, "Oversupply? That sounds great!" On one message board, someone even referred to it as a "blessing." But it isn't. From what I've read, oversupply leads to moms giving up on breastfeeding far faster than undersupply does because of the stress to both mom and baby, as well as the length of time it takes to get the problem under control. It's painful. It's stressful. Just read about it at the link, because I don't really have time to go into all of it here.

Starting on Friday, Ben stopped nursing well. He screams during feedings, eats for only 2 - 3 minutes at a time and he cried continuously until Saturday afternoon. And I am . . . well, you could just say that my cup overfloweth. SO, yeah. It's been stressful. Coupled with the thrush that he and I now both have, it's also been painful.

I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding to begin with. I remember that it wasn't until month 2 with Jack that I really became comfortable with it, and this time around I feel the same way. I hate being the only one who can feed him. I hate pumping even more. I hate being sore. I hate that it delays post-pregnancy weight loss. On the flip side, I love the time that Ben and I spend together. I love it that he's getting something so healthy for him. I love not having to clean and sterilize bottles (especially since we only have two of them). I made it 10 months with Jack before my milk supply ran out. I was hoping to make it a full year with Ben, but I'm trying to take it a week at a time for now. It can take months to correct oversupply, and I'm not sure I can handle it that long. Also, our prescription medicine for thrush is almost out and he still has it . . . as do I.

I'm going to try one other thing, as well. You know how in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," the dad thinks that Windex cures everything? Well, when Jack was little, my mom thought every ailment or problem that he had was related to a milk allergy (sorry, mom . . . but you really did). This time, though, it might very well be adding to the problem. So, I'm trying to limit my dairy intake, as well.

I'm praying that these things will resolve themselves quickly. Like before naptime is over and he's hungry again.

October 10, 2009

Life as we knew it . . .

Bennett is 2 1/2 weeks old and that's shocking to me. Not because time is passing so quickly . . . it's true that in some ways it is. But it's shocking because it feels like he should be much older than that. It feels like he's always been here. I can't remember a time before Ben was here . . . I can't remember what our schedule was like or how we operated.

I mean, I can remember some of the details, but I can't remember what it felt like. I don't know if that makes any sense at all. I was looking at pictures from August today and it really felt like it was a lifetime ago. It's so crazy.

While I was nursing Ben last night, I was fooling around with my iphone and inadvertently opened my contraction log.

That last contraction was timed in the car as we were pulling into the parking garage. Finding this took my breath away because I was reminded that the pregnancy is done, my labor is over and we've all made this huge leap into this next stage of our lives.

SO, yeah, life is different now. And I'm trying to figure out how it all fits together and what things are supposed to look like. I don't really want to have Bennett on a schedule, but we had fallen into a good "sleep, eat, play" routine and a great bedtime/nighttime routine as well. That has fallen apart in the last 15 hours or so and left us really concerned and confused about what is going on with him. But I'll write more about that later.

For now, just enjoy some of the new pictures I added this week.

October 6, 2009

Dear Jack, Month 28

Dear Jack,

You are only two years old . . . you are only two years old . . . you are only two years old.

This has become my mantra over the last couple of weeks because it's becoming harder and harder to remember. You have the mental capacity of at least a three year old, and are physically the size of a four year old. On top of that, I see you regularly next to a newborn baby who is less than 1/3 of your size. This sometimes causes me to have expectations of you that are higher than they should be, given your age.

You are only two. You behave like a two year old. You make the mistakes two year old children make. You obey like a two year old does. You are completely normal. So, I'm doing my best to remember that when I tell you to pick up your toys, it's completely normal for you to ignore me the first five times. And when I ask you to please not touch the computer, that it's normal for it to result in a time out. And when I tell you it's time for bed, it's normal for you to run away yelling, "I NOT SLEEPY!" And when I find a pile of previously folded laundry scattered everywhere around the living room and kitchen . . . that's right, it's normal.

I don't always respond well to your two-ness. The other day when I was trying to take you and your brother out of the house by myself for the first time, I was coaxing you to put on your coat and you kept ripping it off because you were sure it would be too tight in your car seat. So, I yelled at you. Worse than I've yelled at you before.


You started crying. I started crying. Ben was already crying. It was a mess. But you did obey as a result of my yelling. Later that day, you asked, "Mama, don't yell at me anymore, ok?" Ugh.

You are obsessed with television . . . which shouldn't be all that surprising, given that you're my son. Before I know it, you'll be handing me a schedule of what you'd like recorded on the tivo. You constantly ask to watch your shows . . . Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and most recently, Sesame Street. And it's so funny when you do it, because you always ask in a whisper, "Cam I watch a show?" It's barely audible, but I always know what you're asking because it's the only thing you'll ask so quietly. If I say no, you stomp and cry and plead. "JUST ONE EPISODE, MAMA?!"

I'll admit that since we've been home with Ben, I've given in more often. In fact, I use television as a bribe sometimes to get you to do what I need you to do. I let you watch three shows in a row yesterday in exchange for you sitting still for just ONE good picture with your brother. I'm not necessarily proud of this . . . but I did what I had to do.

A lot of things have become more lax since we brought Ben home. For instance, you had a pop tart for breakfast last week. Seriously. You've eaten more junk in the last month or so than you have in the rest of your life combined. We've started to make up for it this week and will hopefully resume a more balanced diet, but I definitely have let things slide more than I used to.

I guess I write about these things this month to let you know that I'm not perfect. I know that you already know that, but I want to be sure that you know I'm aware of my deficits. I don't always do everything the way I'm supposed to do it. I don't always treat you the way I should. As far as parents go, I think I'm a pretty good Mom, but I definitely mess up . . . a lot. Having two kids has often exacerbated my lack patience over the last two weeks and I have probably messed up more than I used to.

I'm sorry for that. I know that it's normal for a parent to mess up like this sometimes, but it doesn't make me any less sorry. I love you, Jack . . . even when you touch my computer and run away from me or are in time out. I love you now with all of the challenges that come with you being two and will love you when I'm facing all of the challenges that come with you being twelve. And I will continue to mess up. And I will continue to love you.


P.S. I let you watch an entire episode of Sesame Street while eating a bowl of cheese-its just so I could write this letter. You can thank me later.

October 3, 2009


How'd you decide on his name?
Long ago, well before I was pregnant, I was sure that if we ever had another boy, we'd be in trouble because "Jackson" was the only boys' name that Kyle and I could agree on the first time around. Around that time, I was on Nicole's blog for the first time and loved the name of her middle son . . . Bennett. I mentioned it to Kyle and he loved it too. When I found out I was pregnant, we didn't remember it right away, but eventually came back to it and decided that it was perfect!

Nelson is my dad's first name . . . thus it became Ben's middle name.

Who does he look like?
His brother! He looks remarkably similar to Jack's baby pictures. But he looks remarkably different at the same time. It's appropriate that Ben's middle name is after my dad because he favors the Wietholter side of the family more than Jack did, but you can definitely tell he's a Luke, too.

How's Bennett sleeping?
This is a good morning for me to answer that. Up until now, he's been up quite a bit at night, but we think we traced his discomfort to a diaper rash and upset tummy. Last night, He slept long and pretty well, waking up only to nurse. I still feel tired, but not as awful as I have the last few mornings. I'm sick, too, which has added to my fatigue.

I've changed my strategy a little, too, regarding sleep and have tried to get to bed early, knowing that I'll be able to get stuff done early the next morning.

His REALLY long stretches of sleep start about an hour before Jack wakes up. He LOVES the sling and will sleep really well in there under almost any circumstance. I've been getting quite a bit done in the wee hours of the morning because he'll just ride in the sling.

If you know me, you know that I don't really sleep past 7 no matter what, so that makes it hard, too. I've tried to nap here and there, but it's usually pointless. Often, if I'm nursing laying down, I'll fall asleep for a little bit, though.

How's nursing going?
Extraordinarily well. He latched on with every little help right from the start. Jack never had major problems nursing, but it did take a lot more work. I'm sure that my experience has a little bit to do with it. I felt pretty confident going into it.

He would nurse all day if he could. After our second night of what I call the "all-he-can-eat" buffet, I decided that he had to use a pacifier if I was going to survive. The blisters and cracking were more than I could handle. Even with the pacifier, they're still a lot to handle.

How have his Dr. appointments been?
He had moderate bilirubin levels when we left the hospital, so we had to have him tested over the weekend and again on Monday. They're back to normal. THis is exactly what happened with Jack, so we weren't too worried. Our choice of pediatrician's office has been further affirmed over the last week. We've always loved them, and continue to be grateful for everyone in the office.

He was back to his birthweight on day 3 (DAY! THREE! I told you the kid nurses well.) so we don't have to go back until his one month check up.

When does open the shop back up?
It never closed. I was actually answering e-mail from the hospital. I didn't close up the shop at all because I'm entering the busiest time of the year. I've had some friendly criticism for that, but it's a significant source of income for us and I didn't feel like it would be wise. This has added some stress, but I'm caught up now and it's not seeming as bad.

Have you done his newborn photos yet?
I tried yesterday. Any confidence I had as a photographer of newborns has been totally shot to the ground. The kid will not stay asleep and I feel totally incompetent. My goal for today is to get ONE decent photo for the birth announcement. Just ONE. Why is it that neither of my kids like to have their pictures taken? It's killing me . . .