raising a mommy

raising a mommy
my little family

Thursday, October 16, 2014

an update on our family of four

It's been quiet around here as we get used to being a family of four. The Baby is now six weeks old, so I thought it was time for an update!

Paige still loves being a big sister, which is such a relief. The novelty of having a little one around hasn't worn off yet, and she's still eager to help whenever she can.

I recently decided, out of respect for the teenager that she will be someday, not to share about bathroom habits online.

Some of Paige's favorite things to do recently include playing with the neighbor girls and going to the park. If we can get both at the same time, even better! She's a bit timid at the park - she likes the little kid swing where she sits inside it and can't fall out, but she doesn't like to swing too high. She also doesn't usually like to go down the slide. Every now and then she'll hold our hands and slide down. Baby steps!

Until now, Paige has been a self-inflicted vegetarian. She wants nothing to do with anything meat related. Then today, we were playing with the neighbor girls, when I told her it was time for lunch. She didn't want to leave, so I said that she could stay and eat chicken or go home and eat noodles. So we stayed and ate chicken. Peer pressure and the desire to continue playing with someone else's toys are very strong motivators!

As for Mark, here's how he's doing so far at six weeks:
Mastered Skills (most babies can do)
Lifts head: Yes indeed. We haven't been great about getting him tummy time, but he's still getting strong. When we hold him up on our shoulders he can hold his head up for a good 30 seconds before he needs a little break.

Responds to sound: If being soothed whenever he hears "Your Song" by Elton John counts as responding to sound, then yes. And he sometimes seems to react to our voices a little bit, too.

Stares at faces: Yes he does, and who could resist staring back into those beautiful steel blue eyes? He's a charmer already!

Can see black and white patterns: Um...probably, but how can you tell?

Emerging Skills (half of babies can do)
Follows objects: Maybe a little bit. He would rather stare and Mommy or Daddy.

Oohs and ahs: Not yet, but he sure is working on using his voice!

Advanced Skills (a few babies can do)
Smiles: Only when he's gassy, though I swear she smiled at Paige the other day for real. Big sister can have the first smile - I'm okay with that!

Laughs: Not yet, but with as dorky as his father is, it's only a matter of time.

Holds head at 45-degree angle: Not yet, but again, he needs more tummy time!

This boy is a chunker! He is currently wearing a 6 month sleeper (he's only 6 weeks!) and it's big, but not comically large! I guess the fact that he nurses almost constantly is paying off!

Mark likes to take baths. And by likes, I mean he may be crying and fussy, and when I get him in the tub, he stops crying. He just kind of looks around and kicks his feet and resists my attempts to clean his chins. (There are at least two of them. He's working on a third.) He doesn't even mind getting water dumped over his head. It's pretty remarkable to me.

I think we're past the stage where Mark wakes up every hour or two to eat, so that's helpful! The other night, I think he even let me sleep for a little over four hours! Amazing!

Other than constant tiredness, Nate and I are doing well. Nate's back at school and giving tours for the admissions office while eagerly awaiting the start of basketball season, while I'm at home playing with babies and trying to crochet every now and then. I started running about a week and a half ago, which has dramatically improved my mood!

Paige discovered a love of black olives. That's mommy's girl!

So little! This was Mark on his due date. We are so grateful for an "extra week!"

Snuggling with Daddy!

Three generations of Van Luongs

My aunt included these as a gift for Paige when they sent a baby gift for Mark. She absolutely loves building with her Legos, and she gets so creative!

Shortly after this, we stopped swaddling him.

So here's a great story for you. We took a walk one day up to Daddy's school. We were walking around one of the main buildings, when Paige heard music - a brass ensemble practicing for chapel that day. She asked if we could go in the church and see the instruments, so we did. Then she didn't want to leave. So we stayed for chapel. She found this teddy bear in one of the "quiet" bags at the back of church, and spend the second half of the service baptizing it. She would stick her hand in the font, make a cross on its forehead, and say "Jesus loves you very much." I am not making any of this up.

Matching diapers! Excuse the blurriness - it's hard enough to get a decent picture of one moving target, much less two!

How sweet is this? Paige loves little brother. We think she'll grow on him as soon as he's old enough to defend himself from her well-intentioned attacks.

Nothing like a little snuggle time in the morning!

Click here, scroll down to the last picture, and read the caption. I'll wait.
Did I call this, or what? I'm not even kidding.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

thankful: day three

Coffee coffee coffee. We had a rough night last night, and so, today, I am thankful for coffee. Nothing more needs to be said on the subject.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

thankful: day two

So I may have missed a few days, but that's okay. To be honest, I'm really not in the mood right now to reflect on things I'm thankful for. I'm pretty crabby. We've been fighting a potty training battle with Big Sister for the last few days, the Baby has been extremely demanding this morning, my allergies are acting up, I can never seem to have a counter free of dirty dishes, and I just want to run. Seriously, I think if I could just lace up my running shoes and have 20 minutes on the trails, I would be in an exponentially better mood.

But this is where I am in my life right now. I am grateful for the amazing family and friends who have surrounded me. I am grateful for the fact that the Baby only woke me up twice last night. (Sort of. That's twice between midnight at 7 am, but I'll take it.)

But you know what I'm most grateful for right at this moment? The fact that I have been able to nurse my children. Not all women have the desire or ability to do this, but I have been blessed with both. It has not always been easy. There were times with Big Sister that I woke up every two hours at night to pump just so I would have enough to send with her to day care the next day. When the Baby was brand new and nursing every hour...well, you can imagine how that felt!

However, I have been blessed with abundance. In fact, I am excited to be well on my way to making my first donation to Mother's Milk Cooperative to help babies who wouldn't otherwise be able to reap the benefits of a mother's milk. Not only have I nourished my own sweet Baby, but I've got a store of about 50 ounces taking over my freezer - only 450 to go before I can send in my first donation!

Well, friends, I now have coffee in my system, my Zyrtec is kicking in, the Baby is napping relatively peacefully, and Big Sister is babbling in her bedroom. Hubby should be home in about 20 minutes, and then, as soon as the Baby is fed, I'm free to head outside for a nice relaxing walk. With maybe a few intervals of jogging thrown in, just for sanity's sake!

Friday, October 3, 2014

thankful: day one

I did this awhile ago, but thought I'd have another round. It's never a bad idea to spend a few minutes a day reflecting on something for which you are grateful, right? And November seems like such a cliche month for it! I was going to do this whole "31 days" link up deal this month. I even have some of the posts started. Then I realized that it was just too much commitment for me right now, and I should think smaller. So here goes.

Today, I am thankful for my healthy legs. They get me up and down the four flights of stairs to get to my apartment multiple times a day. My thighs may touch, and they may be pale and not as toned as they once were, but they can do laps around the living room carrying an upset infant at 3am if that's what I need them to do. Aside from a few stress fracture incidents in college, my legs have never let me down. (And let's face it, those were really my fault anyways!)

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Paige Eileen Mae: 31 months

As of last month, my baby girl is officially two and a half! In my defense, I did have this post started well before August 9th. Then life happened and we realized that the move we had known about for over a year was actually happening in a few weeks, so we had to pack. It's funny how things can still sneak up on you when you've been planning them for so long...

Anyhow - two months in one update! Here we go!

Paige has learned her last name! We talked about it a little bit one night while we were reading to her (one of those awesome personalized books where the animals spell out the kid's name), but she was pretty adamant that her name was "Paige" and nothing else. Then, all of a sudden, a few nights later, she was dancing around at church during VBS telling us that her name is Paige Luong. We didn't think it stuck, but I guess, once again, we underestimated her! before long she also learned that Mommy and Daddy have the same last name, and Nugget will too.

Paige is starting to grasp the very beginnings of the concept of spelling. She knows what letters certain words start with, and if we ask her about other words that start with the same sound, she can usually get them. (For example, she knows the "baby" starts with "b." If we ask her what "ball" or "bubble" start with, she can sometimes get it right - with a little prompting!)

Paige has felt her little brother move before, but she never really acknowledged that it was him. In the last two months, however, if finally clicked. Towards the end, whenever we would be snuggling and she'd feel him, she'd sit up and get this little smirk on her face.

One of the greatest quotes she learned this month: "Stinky ear cheese is no good!" (We may have let her go a bit too long without a bath. She didn't actually have any ear cheese, but her feet were getting awfully ripe!)

We enjoyed a week long visit to my parent's home in Wisconsin in July, and I think Paige had a pretty good time. I know my family had a good time with her! Grandpa loves to golf, so now when she goes to visit them, she has her own set of golf clubs. Within ten minutes, Uncle Adam had taught her to correctly identify each of her three clubs. That's right, my two and a half year old knows what a driver, iron, and putter are. I'm not sure I knew that before this lesson.

She was a real trooper all throughout the move - she got a little unnerved towards the end when everything was boxed up, but all she did was cry a few times and be extra snuggly. She actually seemed to grasp the concept of "We have to put all of our things in boxes so we can take them to the new apartment. Then we'll get them out again." So that helped. It's so nice to be able to explain things to her and be rational. I know we're pretty lucky to be able to do that with a two and a half year old. I've had more trouble reasoning with some adults than I do with her!

She got settled into our new place very well, and even enjoys having some neighbor girls to play with. I definitely think the socialization will be very good for her!

On September 4th, Paige became a big sister! She still likes her little brother, almost a whole week later, so we're pretty thrilled about that. It's definitely been an adjustment for everyone, but she is taking it remarkably well. She'll act up a little bit from time to time, but as long as we're intentional about spending time alone with her and talking to her calmly, she's pretty good. It's hard to stay patient when you're dealing with newborn sleep deprivation, but it's ten times harder to yell at your oldest (because we have an oldest and a youngest, now) and make her want to listen to you even less!

Here are a couple picture highlights from the last two months. Okay, a bunch of picture highlights. I just couldn't choose, and pictures upload way faster in the cities than they did at our old house!

Playing with friend Sophie at church.

Paige saw Grandma using a hair dryer. Pretty creative!

Playing with friend Esther!

Paige loves to help me crochet. I will gladly sacrifice a hat to let her practice!

One last picture in front of our "old house."

Paige got Auntie Jenn a baby for her birthday. She even offered to baby-sit. What a sweetie.

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Rebecca, for the next few photos. Find out more about her and book your own photo shoot by checking out her website here!





Paige loves having a park less than a block from our new apartment! We haven't been taking full advantage of it, but now that Nugget's out and I'm a little more mobile, I think we'll definitely have to utilize it more during the last few weeks of decent weather!

My dress from when I was a kid. Hello, late 1980s!

When I told Paige we had to walk up to Daddy's school, she insisted on wearing her backpack, in which she packed a teddy bear and a bottle. Just in case of an emergency.

Showing off her new shirt at the hospital!

Watching over baby brother.

She still likes him...

And LOVES to play on the floor with him. I have a feeling that if I left them alone together for more than a minute, I would come back to find Mark buried under a pile of toys that she wanted to share.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

top ten tuesday: blessing a new parent

Today's blessing:
Listening to my two and a half year old babble in bed while she's supposed to be napping. We've been though some hilarious mash-ups of Daniel Tiger, VeggieTales, and the story of what's going to happen when Mommy and Daddy go to the hospital when Nugget is born. Usually they're in song form.

It's no secret that people love babies. The newer, the better. They're so tiny and cute (some actually cute, some cute just because they're so tiny) and they don't stay that way for very long, so when someone has a baby, most people want to get in there as soon as possible and meet the new little one. It can't be helped, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. However, there are some things that need to be taken into account. I hope to address some of them here with a positive spin - giving suggestions, rather than telling you what you've been doing wrong. I hope this list is helpful, and if you have anything to add, I hope you'll leave it in the comments! So, without further ado, here is this Tuesday's Top Ten List:

Top Ten Ways to Bless New Parents

  1. Feed them. When you're not sleeping for more than two or three hours at a time, the last thing you want to do is have to worry about dinner. When you come to visit a newly expanded family, bring something nutritious for them to eat. Prepared meals are wonderful, though maybe check ahead first. If they've had four other people bring them food that needs to be eaten within 48 hours, there's a lot of waste that could be happening! Prepared meals that you can all enjoy together are wonderful, especially if they come with a post-meal dishwashing service. Freezer meals are great, too. Be sure the meal is carefully labeled so the family doesn't have to guess at what it is and how to prepare it! Snacks are good, too. I've gotten rave reviews about my Grandma's Homemade Granola. I packaged it in those tiny little 1/2 cup containers so mom could have one next to her to snack on while nursing, and I was told that it was great. I was also just told about this site called MealBaby. I guess you can sign up for free, then you create a calendar and list of your favorite foods or restaurants in your area. People can sign up to bring you food on certain days, and the gifter doesn't have to worry about making something the family might not like. I don't know much about it, but it sounds intriguing. What do you think? Brilliant or presumptuous? Personally, I would rather be sure that I'm bringing something the family will enjoy at a time that is useful for them!
    A freezer full of meals and veggies...dream come true!
  2. Clean for them. Offer to sweep the floor or wash a load of dishes before asking to hold the baby. And mean it. If they say no, ask again. Chances are, they would love some help, but feel silly accepting.
  3. Let them shower. I remember some weeks after my first was born, I averaged two showers a week. Not great. Yes, you can put a newborn in a crib or swing while you shower, and even if they wake up, you know they'll be fine, but it's nice to know that they're in the company of another caring adult in case they start crying. And if you have a toddler, too...well, they can do plenty of damage if they go unsupervised for even 10 minutes!
  4. Let them sleep. I have read about the elusive simulnap. (This is when multiple children nap at the same time. It may be a myth.) Be kind and offer to take both children off mom and dad's hands for an hour so they can get some sleep, too.
  5. Feed them. Sometimes restaurant gift cards are the best things you can give a newly expanded family. Family friendly places are great - Perkins, Baker's Square, or Applebee's kind of places for "nicer" sit down meals, or Subway, Jimmy John's, Chipotle, Panera, Noodles, etc for your faster "oh crap it's 5:30 and I forgot that we need supper" kind of meals. This way, they can enjoy a meal (maybe even leftovers) and not have to clean up after it. Win win!
  6. Don't overstay your welcome. Short visits are usually best at first, unless you're busy cleaning or occupying a child or two so mom and dad can nap. Here's a hint: if you know mom is nursing baby and she says something along the lines of, "Well, I think it's {insert baby's name}'s lunch time!" that probably means you should go. Unless she specifically prefaces it with "Feel free to stick around, but..." Then use your best judgement.
  7. Don't surprise them. Do not show up at their house unannounced. Call or send a text ahead of time to find out when would be best, and be willing to be flexible. If you make plans to go visit at 9:00 the next morning (with an offer to bring muffins or cinnamon rolls, please!), then don't be offended if you get a text at 8:00 saying "{Insert baby's name here} just fell asleep for the first time since 1:00am. Can we reschedule?"
  8. Don't feel obligated, but if you want to give a gift, be thoughtful about it. Baby gifts are fun. I know. The little tiny outfits with bows or trucks or dinosaurs are so cute! And the stuffed animals? Darling! However, in some cases, they may not be the best way to bless a family. It may lose some of the fun element of surprise, and definitely may not be as "cute," but if they family does not have a gift registry, you can't go wrong by asking what they would like. We have boxes of toys from our first that she didn't ever play with, and are still finding outfits that were given to us that still have tags on them. We are currently living in a pretty small apartment, we have plenty of people to lend us clothes, and, as I stated before, we have enough toys to occupy a day care full of babies. However, our changing table is in desperate need of a new pad and we're hoping to use newborn cloth diapers this time around. I know it's more fun to buy a giant stuffed teddy bear or a little flowered dress with ruffly bloomers, but honestly, some new parents would rather have one cloth diaper than either of those. Seriously. Money or gift cards are always appreciated, too. Though, again, don't feel obligated. (Well, maybe just a little obligated. A new baby is a pretty big deal!)
  9. Go for a walk with them. Now, this may not be for everyone. Some moms may give you a death glare or laugh hysterically at you if you suggest going for a walk. I would appreciate it. However, I am one of those weird people who get extremely crabby if I go too long without physical activity. And sometimes it might be nice to have someone else to push the stroller!
  10. Feed them. Are you noticing a trend here? Before you stop over for your pre-planned visit, call and ask if you can pick up anything from the grocery store. As a new parent, it's so easy to not realize that you have less than one sippy cup full of milk left in the whole house, and, in my house, that will not fly!
So there you have it. Moms and Dads, what other suggestions do you have?

Monday, September 1, 2014

end of "summer" wrap up in bullet points

Today's blessing:
Coffee with hazelnut flavored syrup. Had I remembered how delicious the stuff is, I would have dug it out long ago!

Oh my goodness...where has time gone? Please tell me I'm not the only one that feels this way! I can't believe it has been over three weeks since my last post. I can't believe we are done with internship year. I can't believe my baby is two and a half and will be a big sister any day now (sooner rather than later would be fine with me!). I can't believe how much life has changed in the past month, and how much it will continue to change in the next month.

Here are some "highlights": (not necessarily meaning the best parts of the month, but some of the biggest or most important.)

  • Paige officially hit the 2 1/2 year mark on August 9th. She is remarkable in just about every way imaginable. Her only fault is that she still shows no interest in potty training, in spite of the fact that she is physically ready. She can go through the night or through naptime with a dry diaper, and she often tells us when she's going, but she does not want to sit on her potty chair. A little frustrating, but certainly not the worst thing she could do! (Or not do.)
  • My mom came for a few days before we moved and basically packed up our house. It was beyond frustrating for me to not be able to do as much as I wanted, but I tried to be good and rest! Moving at 8+ months pregnant is not fun!
  • I'm not much for baseball, but last month, we had the opportunity to go to a Twin's game with Nate's ministry team and sit in the Champion's Club. Friends, if you've ever wondered why the amazing expensive seats behind home plate never fill up until a couple innings in, let me tell you: The occupants of the seats are all busy stuffing their faces at the buffet. Seriously. I am not kidding when I tell you that I ate for three hours straight and was not hungry again until supper the next day. And I'm pregnant, so that's seriously messing up my every three hour eating schedule! Then, once we did make it out to the seats, they certainly didn't suck. The worst part about them was that the batter who was warming up blocked part of my view of the game. I think we lost, but I'm not sure. And honestly, I didn't really care.
  • Then we moved. I could do several entries about how amazing everyone was - helping up load the truck in Fulda, helping up unload the truck in St Paul, hauling all of our belongings up to the fourth floor (technically the third, but sort of the sixth...it's a weird set up!), and taking such good care of us (particularly preggers) during our first weeks here. I hope you're not offended when I just say that you were all AMAZING and without you, we would probably still have half of our belongings in the back of a moving truck God knows where. And when I say fourth floor, I mean no elevator.
  • Now we are more or less settled in. Of course there are still things that could be straightened and moved around and organized better, but I'm pretty sure that will be the constant state for the rest of our lives, so I'm not going to worry too much about it. We've been enjoying our time the last few weeks getting ready for Nugget (who is not due for another 10 days, but really could come any time now and it would be fine), exploring the neighborhood, and getting together with friends and family. It's hard to make plans too far in advance, because we're hoping that this week or next will be interrupted with a newborn, but we're trying!
One of our parishioners brought over the most amazing sweet corn from their garden, and Paige couldn't get enough of it!

"Excuse me, Mr. Mauer, but I can't see the game."

One last family picture in front of our "old house."

We moved back just in time to celebrate Auntie Jenn's birthday. Paige got her a baby, because, well, who wouldn't want a baby for their birthday? She even offers to babysit when we go over there.

Paige wanted to help me crochet. Proud mama.

There's a great little playground less than a block from our apartment. Paige really seems to like it!

Swinging with Daddy!

And showing off her Gopher pride on the day Uncle Adam moved back to school a mere eight blocks from where we live. It sure will be nice to have two of my brothers so nearby!