Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ten months and....

....he sleeps!

He finally sleeps!!!!!

We're not quite at sleeping through the night status, but we have finally reached a fairly normal afternoon nap schedule and length as well as a more predictable nighttime sleep pattern!

You don't know how relieved I am.

I'm going to be totally candid here, because I know there are other moms that read my blog, and they may find themselves where I was at mid December. Here's the deal. After two months straight of not sleeping more than two hour stretches, I experienced feelings of despair, and resentment crept in over the lack of sleep. I struggled to feel the love for my youngest, non sleeping baby. He cried for what seemed like "all the time", and together we were one miserable pair. I knew this wasn't normal. This wasn't "me". 

I sought help. 

I got help.

A diagnosis of sleep deprivation and late onset post partum depression caused us to re-evaluate how we were dividing up the duties of nighttime feedings, so that I could attempt to refuel my tank and get back to feeling like myself. For the record, NZ has always offered to get up and take on feedings, but Gino was primarily breastfed, and it just made sense to me to take on feedings since NZ works outside the home and needs a functioning brain for his line of work.

We alternated getting up with Gino for feedings, and after a few nights of Nick taking on the first feeding and providing G with a bottle of formula, he was sleeping a 4-6 hour stretch. I'd wake up for the next feeding and breastfeed, and lo and behold, Gino would be awake again within an hour and a half. It was frustrating.  About this time, I had taken Gino to the pediatrician for something unrelated and we found out he had dropped from 50% in weight to 5 % in weight for his age. His last visit was in September,  just before his sleep issues began...I had an aha moment and realized my supply must've dropped when I started working out regularly in September. 

Desperate for sleep and happiness (and a healthy baby), I called it quits on breastfeeding. 

I waited to post this in case it was a fluke, but we've now had a month of only 1-2 wakings per night which still isn't sleeping through the night, but it's a hell of a lot better than where we were at the previous three months. I am one relieved and happy mama again. Gino is happier, cries less, and even sprouted two new teeth unbeknownst to us this last week.

So, word to the wise. Do what you have to do to stay sane during these early years. There's no shame in seeking help. Have no shame in waving your flag and calling in reinforcements. Do it for your kids. Do it for yourself. 

You'll see the light again, and boy is is bright and beautiful. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Feliz cumpleanos Sal y Carlita

Ever since I took the kids to Santa Barbara's Old Spanish Days parade last summer, Sal has been obsessed with cascarones. For those of you who aren't familiar, a cascarone is a hollowed out egg shell which is dyed a bright color and filled with confetti. Party revelers crack them on one another's head for good fortune and luck. 

He was adamant he have these at his birthday party. So adamant, that we started making them back in November. I saved & cleaned out our eggs and dyed them. He got to skip a few naptimes to cut up confetti and fill the eggs with me. 

He was pumped to bring them out to share with our family and friends who came to celebrate. He even nailed his great grandma with one!!!

Nick grilled up some carne asada and we set up a taco bar for lunch. My sister made the most awesome Sal & Carla fiesta themed cookies and I made sprinkles cupcakes for dessert.

Our neighbor brought out her miniature horse and gave the kids carriage rides. For as much as Carla loves horses she wasn't so sure when I took the reins!

Nick hung a piñata and Carla and Sal gave it their all trying to break the dang thing open. With a little of Nick's muscle, it came crashing down and my kids were in sugar heaven. 

A huge thank you to all that came out to celebrate 2 & 4 for our birthday twins. 

Christmas 2015, a month later

How did I miss posting about Christmas?

We had a great Christmas this year. We celebrated with my mom and step dad the week before, NZ's parents the morning of, and my dad's side on Christmas afternoon. This split family stuff is no joke!! Lots of family, lots of visits, but with that comes lots of love. 

Our kids definitely felt the love this year. 

On Christmas Eve, our kids opened this year's Christmas pajamas. Sal and I put out cookies and a cold one for Santa and   left him a nice little note. 

On Christmas morning, the kids came out and opened gifts. Santa rewarded them all with the toys on their list. 

We took off for Santa Barbara around noon, with the kids all asleep in the back seat. They snuck in a quick hour nap and were ready for round four of presents and hugs when we arrived at my grandma's. 

We had a wonderful dinner and headed home with sleepy, happy kids in tow. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Rainy day box

It never rains in CA..like, ev-er. Hence our drought that's caused lawns to go brown and showers to be cut shorter. 

We've been warned that El Niño was coming and that we'd be getting a triple dose of rainfall and winter like weather but I didn't actually believe it. 

And then came Saturday.... 

...And Tuesday and Wednesday this week. 

Rain, rain, rain.

In my house that equates to decibel levels that are off the charts, lots of whining and lots of bored kids making bad decisions. 

When we lived in China, our summers were spent surviving torrential downpours and monsoons. I came up with a box of activities that my son was only allowed to play with when it rained--so that it felt like a special treat when he got to pull out the box and find something that he wanted to do. 

We called it the rainy day box. 

Now that we are back in California and are actually experiencing real rainfall, I decided to make a new rainy day box for my kids to enjoy. 

I bought a large sterilite container and took a trip to the dollar store and target dollar bins to start filling it. 

Here's what in our bin:

Pony beads
Foam heart shapes
Pipe cleaners
Glue sticks
Stamps and stamp pad
Large serving spoon
Muffin tin
Bubble wrap
Write on wipe off letter book (dollar tree)
Coloring books

I also had on hand:
Wood alphabet puzzle
Geo board and rubber bands

My 4 year old and 2 year old both enjoy age appropriate activities with these materials. 

Here's what we like to do:

Pompom sorting:
Materials: muffin tin, tongs, spoon, pompoms

My daughter (2) enjoys pinching and grasping them with the tongs. This works fine motor skills and helps build finger/ pincher strength that will be beneficial when she starts writing. 

My son (4) enjoys sorting by color, shape and size. He also likes to pick them up with a spoon and balance them as he walks from one end of the table to the other. 

Pony bead sorting:
Materials: muffin tin, pony beads
This is an activity that my younger kids aren't allowed to participate without my full attention due to the small size of the beads. My son likes to sort by color and then count each cup to see which color "won" by having the most. 

Pony bead bracelets:
Materials: pony beads and pipe cleaners

Kids string pony beads onto pipe cleaner and can make patterns or just be random depending on their ages. Sometimes I lay a sequence out for my son and he tries to copy. 

Bubble wrap jumping:
Materials: bubble wrap and wiggly kids

Lay the bubble wrap out and encourage them to jump away. 

Stamping/ coloring:
Materials: stamps, nontoxic stamp pad and lots of paper. 

Stamping and coloring. What's better to pass a day? Pro tip: keep wipes handy. Ink tends to get everywhere-- if say, you have to turn your back to change the baby. 

Confetti making:
Materials: hole punchers, paper

This activity is good for preschoolers to help develop their pincher/squeezing muscles for writing. My son likes to make confetti. 

Foam shapes:
Materials: foam shapes, paper, glue
My daughter is super into (eating) glue sticks, so I am trying to teach her what glue sticks can be used for. She glues the paper and then presses a heart on the paper. We talk colors and sizes (big/medium/small). My son usually sorts by size or color. He's a sorting master. 

Materials: geoboard and rubber bands

These are great for little hands and trying to make shapes and designs. My father in law made ours but they're available on Amazon as well. 

Coloring books:
Materials: coloring book, crayons, markers

This activity is self explanatory. I stocked up on coloring books and these fantastic write on/wipe off activity books at Dollar Tree. 

I rotate one of our puzzles into our rainy day box so that it seems new each time they play with it, without me actually having to buy new puzzles all the time. 

So, there you have it. A bunch of ideas to help keep you sane and your kids busy on your next rainy day. The only thing that could make a rainy day even better was if Starbucks started delivering. 

A mom can dream, right?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Thanksgiving 2015

I'm so behind in updates to the blog! 

..and again, I blame a lack of sleep.  It's no joke, guys. It's torture. 

Sleep issues aside, we were fortunate enough to have both sides of our families join us for Thanksgiving in our home. This was the second year we've hosted, but our first with kids everywhere. Thanks to the help of aunts and uncles and cousins entertaining the little ones, we pulled it off. 

Nick cooked a wonderfully moist turkey and we did standard fixin's like mashed potatoes & gravy, yeast rolls, peas and stuffing. 

The best part of it all was having everyone together. Our kids got to meet their cousins (some for the first time!) and we were able to spend time catching up on the last four years. 

Already looking forward to next year. 

Enjoy the pics..
Snuggled up on an cold CA morning

Watching for our cat through the fence


G with grandma sandy

Carla with cousin Jared

The newest Zentil's (born 8weeks apart)