Little Sprout turned 6 months old on Saturday so I thought I’d do an update of how we’re all doing, six months into becoming a family of four.
Our baby is petite (10th-15th percentile at most visits so far), but still has delicious cheeks and thighs. She has an adorable little fuzz of light brown hair. Roo is hoping she’ll be a brunette (like Roo), rather than another blonde (like me and Tadpole). She has a funny little smile with her tongue sticking out, which we see a lot of. She also has a crazy maniacal grin with her mouth wide open, which she saves for things she gets really excited about (like the sight of her brother).
So far Sprout is a mellow baby, and is very tolerant when a nap or meal doesn’t come right away. This is helpful trait in a second baby! As much as we try to protect her schedule, it’s often thrown off by other things we have going on. She is very patient with discomforts of various sorts. A few weeks ago she had an allergic reaction to penicillin (which she was taking for an ear infection) and spent about 72 hours coverd in hives. Poor baby! But even then, she was only mildly fussy.
We’ve also been amazingly lucky that she sleeps well. From early on (and without any sleep training), we’ve been able to put her in the crib and she’ll just…go to sleep! It’s just in the last few weeks that she has started to cry when we tuck her in, but the fussing doesn’t usually last long. I’m not sure how we got so lucky! (And I’m a little nervous about jinxing things just by writing this!) She goes to bed around 7, and then I get her up for a dream feed before I go to bed around 10. She’s still waking up once in the middle of the night to eat most nights, and I’m very ready to get an uninterrupted night’s sleep. But I actually prefer the nights when she wakes up to the few instances where she has slept though the night, because when she doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night she is up for the day at 5am! If she wakes up in the middle of the night, we at least can both then go back to sleep until a more reasonable hour.
The other night we had the first instance where we put Sprout down on the floor, turned around, and came back to find her in a different place than where we had left her! She has figured out how to log-roll over and over across the floor to get around. This is both exciting and terrifying. Up until now we’ve enjoyed a window where Sprout was young enough and Tadpole old enough to each be left unsupervised for a few minutes while I ran upstairs to get a new diaper, went into the kitchen to stir the dinner, etc. It is going to be less and less possible to do that with Sprout. Thinking of this has made me grateful for the age gap between our kids–I’m not sure how parents manage when they have more than one kid who needs constant supervision.
Sprout has been grabbing for our food and staring intently at us as we eat for a while now, but we just started feeding her solids a week ago. Part of the wait was because we wanted to be sure the crazy allergic reaction had settled down. But part of it was that we knew just how much work is involved in adding in solids–finding the time for an extra meal, the massive messes, etc. I’m glad we finally started, though. Sprout LOVES solids! Our mellow baby is a fierce eater, and the sight of a baby spoon with some carrots on it gets the crazy open-mouthed smile. I don’t know what percentage of the food is making it into her belly versus being smeared all over the place, but she’s certainly enjoying the experience.
It’s hard to believe that these are Tadpole’s last few weeks of preschool. We’ll all be sad to leave the small friendly community that we’ve been a part of for the last three years. Tad has recently been having more meltdowns than usual (including a half-hour long sobbing fit because we asked him to bring his water bottle in from the car), and I think he’s having lots of big feelings about this transition. This summer he’ll go to a few day camps (mostly at Roo’s work), and then he’ll start kindergarten in the fall!
He’s currently obsessed with sharks and other underwater animals. We’ve let him order (used) books as his reward for getting a certain number of stickers during his morning routine, and he has chosen about five different shark books. We read them over and over, and he stores up every bit of information. He can tell you all about whale sharks versus thresher sharks versus mako sharks. He knows about shark anatomy and feeding habits and habitats. He has also taken to drawing underwater scenes with a variety of different creatures. It’s interesting to watch our kid develop and to see how much of who he is seems to well up from deep inside him, rather than being the result of Roo’s or my influence. Both Roo and I love to read fiction, and we often bring home some of our favorite kids’ stories from the library for Tad. He has enjoyed some of our choices, but for most bedtimes he chooses to read more nonfiction, mostly about animals. If I were reading these books on my own, I would find them horribly dull. But it’s hard not to enjoy Tad’s excitement about learning new things. And it is fun to have a shared store of knowledge. I once mentioned that the cookie cutter shark (look it up) gave me the heebie-jeebies. So now one of Tad’s favorite things to do is to whisper “cookie cutter shark” to me, or to pretend to be a cookie-cutter shark taking a round bite out of me. It’s a fabulous game.
Tad is still crazy about his sister. He comes running into her room as soon as he hears her wake up from a nap, and he has lots of silly nicknames for her. He also often sticks his head in her lap so that she will pull his hair–and then complains loudly about the hair pulling.
I think Roo is very ready for the school year to be over. She has had a good year in terms of interactions with her students, but a couple of her co-workers have been behaving really strangely. I think she is excited (and a little nervous) about being home with Sprout all summer.
I’ve been at my new job for almost three months now. It’s going well overall. I don’t have very many clients yet, which makes the days feel long, but I think things will pick up soon. I’m doing good work (or will be doing good work when there’s more work to do!) and helping to support my family.
One thing that I haven’t been able to figure out is where I can fit in exercise in our new life. At my old job, I worked 11am-8pm one day a week, which meant time to fit in a run after Roo took Tadpole to school that morning. So I usually was able to go running once a week, go to the climbing gym in the evening every week or two, and maybe fit in a family walk on the weekends. But my new job is 8-4 every day, and I’m responsible for taking Tadpole to school on my way to work. The only way to fit in a run in the morning would be to get up at 5-something, which just feels like too much. It’s hard to exercise in the evenings because I don’t want to waste the little bit of time that I have with the kids, and after their bedtimes it’s hard to find the energy to do more than clean up the kitchen, pack lunches, and maybe watch a little TV. Weekends are hard because they tend to fill up with family activities (and I’m not good about setting aside time for me). I’ve managed to go running on the weekends every two or three weeks, but I miss going weekly. I have been making it to the climbing gym on a weeknight (leaving after dinner but before the kids’ bedtimes) about once every two or three weeks. Maybe in the summer when it’s light out later I could go for an evening run? Or I may be able to fit in a morning run during the summer when Roo is able to take Tadpole to camp. I know that I feel much better both physically and emotionally when I’m going running every week, so I’m working on figuring out how to fit it in.
Logistically, having a second kid has made our lives much more complicated. Coordinating two drop-offs and two pick-ups each school day can get a little hairy. And adding one new family member has somehow resulted in about four times more dirty dishes and about seven times as much dirty laundry. It has meant less sleep and less down time for Roo and me (because there’s almost always someone who needs our attention).
Despite all of this, I’ve found the transition to life with two kids has been less overwhelming than I’d thought it would be. I think there are a variety of factors that are responsible for this. Sprout’s mellow personality makes a huge difference (especially in contrast to Tadpole the “frisky fritter”). One other big difference is that we’re not adjusting to life as parents. For me, the jump from non-parent to parent-of-a-newborn was a huge transformation. The jump from parent-of-preschooler to parent-of-preschooler-and-baby just isn’t the same kind of fundamental shift. Even in terms of logistics, adding a new task to the system (packing two kid lunches instead of one, for example), involves an adjustment to the system, but not creating a new system altogether. And some routines that we have already created (like taking turns sleeping in on weekend mornings) continue to be very helpful. Also, the fact that we have done this before helps a lot. There are many times a day when I remind myself that we somehow survived this particular developmental stage once, so it’s likely that we will again. And we know more about who we are as parents–there’s lots of big-picture parenting philosophy stuff that we already have negotiated.
So that didn’t end up being so short after all–there’s a lot to catch up on when I don’t post very often. Overall, we’re doing well. Happy, exhausted, frazzled, excited. We’ll see if I still feel this way in a few more months when Sprout becomes more mobile, and both kids are running in opposite directions, Sprout is trying to swallow the tint pieces of Tadpole’s toys that litter the floor, etc.!