Monday, July 21, 2014

Updates, Shiloh is 8 Weeks and Leaving for Washington...

We are well into the summer vacation for the kids and with the start of Ramadan earlier this month we have been pretty house bound and the affects of that are very much being shown by Peyton and Graham. They are getting restless, bored and I don't blame them. My well intentioned "activity jar" hasn't been much of a help because I haven't had a free hand to get everything together as Shiloh refuses to nap throughout the day at all…a 20 minute nap here and there but nothing substantial no matter what you do! However if you hold her you might be a longer nap but you get nothing done! Peyton and Graham have been great in entertaining themselves, working together to get things done and I am so thankful for their independence and understanding but they are still kids and I know it is getting to them…the boredom, mom's lack of time and staying inside which is why we are all ready to leave for Washington tonight!!! 

Although we would have made it through the summer if we had to and at times it has been overwhelming and a little stressful preparing to travel with our new family of five….I am so thankful we didn't have to stay here and that we are heading to Washington and that John will be with us the entire time! Such a blessing that he has as much vacation as he does and I am thankful for the extra help that he will be. Things always run smoother at our house on the weekends and now I get a month with every day being the weekend with him! 

Not going to lie….preparing and packing for an extended vacation with a newborn and staying at our house for the first time has been slightly crazy and overwhelming at times. Thinking through what we need for Shiloh and determining whether we should bring it from here, buy a second version to stay in Washington and then just preparing for our summer plans for our family and for house projects….we have been busy! But we are all packed and ready to go and have a really great summer planned! We are trying to be realistic on what we will be able to accomplish with the house with a new baby and picked easy, quick and not labor intensive projects such as finishing up the master bedroom (paint and bedding) and then painting a couple of other areas. Most of the house work this summer has been going already! We have a contractor who has been working on replacing the back upstairs windows, repairing the porch, replacing siding that has rot, patching up the siding, a new paint job and new gutters. We also have a new fence up, and are doing a new front door and exterior lighting. It is a lot of much needed work and I can't wait to see the end product. They have already started painting and I am sure it is going to be crazy to see the complete transformation when we arrive. It will be a major before and after picture!

Shiloh had her 8 week doctor's appointment last week and her immunizations. I was so looking forward to this appointment only so I could know how much she weighed and I was excited to hear she was 11 lbs 9 oz! She is also 22.8 inches long! I don't have the percentages and when I look them up I get varying numbers but she has an appointment later this week with our pediatrician in Washington (nothing is wrong, I just have all the kids see a doctor there when we are home) so I will get her percentages then. The doctor here said she looked great! 

Other updates and developments I want to remember about Shiloh are…

  • She refuses to nap! I did Baby Wise with both of the older kids and she is following it as much as I can but Shiloh is having a hard time with the sleep aspect. Part of it I think is gas and tummy issues but other part is that she is pretty easily over stimulated and also just doesn't nap right now :( I was reading past blogs about both of the older kids around this age and Graham refused to nap anywhere but in my arms and Peyton only in the swing and I know they grew out of it by 12 weeks so there is hope…I just forget about all those details and it was throwing me for a loop this time why she wouldn't nap and I was getting worried! Probably because sleep is even more precious this time than ever :) It has been very time consuming trying to get her to nap and going in and out of her room throughout the day at 10-20 minute intervals which is why I am so glad John will be home for a month to help so one of us can continue to working on her naps and the other can be with Peyton and Graham
  • Although she doesn't nap, she still sleeps at night from 8-10 PM, 10 PM - 3 AM and then from 3-7 AM. 
  • She loves her bath time in the big tub and her bath seat. 
  • When packing for Washington I packed all her 6 month clothes as she is just under the starting weight of 12.5 lbs for all of them but is long enough to wear them and she is pretty close to growing out of the 3 month clothes and I didn't want to bring them for her to wear for a week.
  • Shiloh is smiling so much now and is cooing. She often tries to coo and smile at me during her 3 AM feed when I am swaddling her back up and it takes all my strength and energy not to look at her and smile back….I don't want to encourage her to stay awake and want her to go back to sleep easily. Yesterday she was on her play mat and cooing and smiling at the owl. 
  • She is taking a bottle at either her 7 or 10 PM feeds and doing great. We went to a bottle for one of the evening feeds to give me a break. Mostly so I could go and spend time with friends and watch the Bachelorette during girls night without taking Shiloh and then with going to Washington so I could go have a drink of wine or go out for dinner with my family, just some flexibility. And since Peyton refused bottles I wanted to make sure that wasn't the case this time.  Often it is 3 ounces of breast milk and 1 ounce of formula. Even if I have enough expressed milk I still make sure there is just a little formula so that her body stays used to it in case I need to add more at some time. 
  • Overall she is a happy, sweet and super easy baby. She rarely cries and is just smiling all the time. She is pretty easy to settle down even when she is super gassy. She just loves to socialize with everyone and doesn't want to leave the party!

I think that is about all happening around here. We leave tonight for Washington and although are not looking forward to the long flight with three kids we are incredibly excited about the rewards at the end of it! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Six Weeks with Shiloh

Shiloh turned six weeks old last Thursday! Hard to believe but it has been six weeks since we welcomed our sweet Shiloh! What a busy six weeks it has been! 

First some updates and developments on sweet Shiloh…

  • She grew out of her newborn clothes several weeks ago and is in 3 month clothes filling them out nicely. Very hard for mommy to fold up and put the newborn clothes away :(
  • No official stats from the doctor (she goes in about a week or so) but we believe she is right around 10 lbs based off of our very accurate weighing using Wii Fit. 
  • She smiled for the first time just after five weeks and is smiling more and more! Probably the best fuel for a sleep deprived mommy! She smiled the other day for Peyton and it was great to see Peyton's excitement over it. 
  • She is following Baby Wise pretty well and we are on a pretty consistent eat, play, sleep schedule during the day with her eating every three hours. Her "play" time is getting longer and she is more alert during the day. She is in the more alert stage of development and is watching people, looking around more and taking everything in. 
  • She is sleeping from 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM and then again until 7:00 AM consistently which has been great! She started this schedule around four weeks on her own and it is working great!
  • Shiloh is a very gassy and fussy baby. During the day you can tell she is gassy and she recently started spitting up and having bad hiccups but at night it is rough. We started giving her gas drops before her late afternoon feeding which helps get everything to start passing but she is still fussy. I have cut out dairy, have only a cup of half caffeinated coffee a day and cut out most other foods and it doesn't help, she is just a gassy baby. We are just waiting for time to pass and for this phase to pass. But in the meantime we have a very fussy baby from 7-10 PM. If she hasn't settled by 10 PM she is up pretty much all night and miserable which has been rough. Thankfully we have only had three or four of those nights. I am not sure if this fussy/witching hour, is worse than the other two kids because looking back they were fussy during those times but it feels worse only because when you have two other ones you are so much more exhausted.
  • Thankfully as fussy as she can be from 7-10 PM she is super happy and easy going during the day. She follows her schedule pretty easily and will fall asleep relatively easily. She fell asleep on her play mat the other day! She is overall a happy baby. It will be interesting to see her personality develop in these coming weeks once we are out of the five-six week fussy stage.
Check out her cute leg warmers! So much fun!
  • She has only slept in her crib (and her mattress is raised at an angle) once and sleeps instead in her rock and play bassinet thing that keeps her at angle. She falls asleep pretty easily after you swaddle her on her own but with her reflux and gas pains she likes the angle of the bassinet. Occasionally we still have time to get to have cuddles and she sleeps on mommy! 
  • Shiloh loves her pacifier….just like her sister….and uses it often!
  • Shiloh has taken a bottle of breast milk a couple of times and did great, we are trying to be better about giving her a daily bottle (but I can't find the time to pump) so we don't have any issues later on and so everyone can be involved in feeding her
  • She is starting to "coo" and grunt back to you and in response to you which is always such a sweet sound
  • Shiloh is such a loud sleeper! She grunts and moans and stretches so much in her sleep! I keep thinking she is awake and when I check on her she is sound asleep but just making noises. I thought Peyton grunted a bunch but Shiloh has her beat. She is so loud! She also loves to stretch and stretch when she wakes up….it is very amusing. 
As for me and my recovery, it has gone really well when I consider that this was my third c-section and I had two other kids to care for even if I had the best of intentions to rest and take it easy. I do feel like my incision is much more tender than it was the other two times which is different. I do feel better physically than I did with Graham probably because I was much more intentional about taking it easy and letting things go. Thankfully at six weeks I am physically able to do everything around the house in regards to house work, taking care of kids and am up and moving easily. I am exercising some by walking and doing light upper body workouts. I tried some more cardio based/plyometric/leg workouts and quickly realized it would be too much for me and so as much as I would like to do leg workouts and more intense cardio, I know it is best in the long run for me to stop and be slow in resuming exercise. And I am looking forward to being in Washington where we can do more walks/hikes! Thankfully I have lost a good amount of the pregnancy weight already which I very much attribute to me gaining much less weight this pregnancy (better food choices and chasing other kids around), breast feeding, making deliberate food choices post pregnancy and caring for the big kids!

All dressed for the day!
As for adjusting to having three kids…it has been a little overwhelming at times…sometimes easier than I expected and then often times harder. Mostly what has helped is living in the moment, focusing on the current day and not getting overwhelmed or consumed about future events or how far we have to go to get back to "normal." I am finding the days are flying by and often times I have no idea where the time went. Just meeting everyone's basic needs of getting clothed, fed, diapers changed/help on the potty, naps, referring playtime…fills my day. I feel like I go from one kid to the next meeting a need and then continue to cycle through. It is busy! I have also been much more overwhelmed than I thought I would about going places with her and with all three kids, even to a friends house and just the change in adjusting back to having a baby to care for instead of just two independent kids has been an adjustment. But after six weeks I feel like we are finding more of a grove and things do get easier each and every day. Our house isn't completely trashed although we did have to have a marathon laundry day of ten loads over the weekend and I am starting to make dinners at times (so thankful for our freezer meal stash) and we are getting back into a groove….we still have a long way to go though! But I am thankful for the ability to just sit back and enjoy this moment and this day and know that it will too quickly pass. 

Other big news for Shiloh was the arrival of her passport and other documents she needed to leave and enter Saudi! It was a pretty intensive process of getting a declaration of birth, then a Saudi birth certificate and then a translated birth certificate and then the passport and then applying for an iqama (residency visa) and then applying for a multiple entry/exit visa BUT six weeks later it all arrived and she is ready to travel! Such a huge praise that it all worked out and came in time for our flight back to the States in just a couple of weeks!

Shiloh has her passport and is ready to travel!
I will say that one of the biggest stresses and hardest things to not be in the moment about is our flight back to Washington in a couple of weeks. I have no idea why but the idea of flying with Shiloh overwhelms me so much! I would fly anywhere in the world by myself with the two older kids but the addition of a baby freaks me out even knowing that John will be with me. Part of it I think is that I have never flown with a lap child. And just the whole vacation/leaving comfort of home with a baby overwhelms me. I think I worry about it being hard like it was when we flew with Graham at ten weeks and moved here, although the flight wasn't hard the transition to being here was hard BUT I take deep breathes and remind myself that this is a vacation and we are not moving across the world with a ten week old baby like with Graham…this is a very different situation!

Our sweet Shiloh
It will be interesting for sure to see what these next six weeks bring and to watch Shiloh grow and develop! We will be in Washington for most of it and we are all looking forward to being able to go for walks and runs…..we will be ordering a new running stroller…a BOB….and it will be waiting for me when we get to Washington, hikes, the farmers market and enjoying beautiful weather and family time with our sweet little girl! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shiloh and Her Siblings

Both Peyton and Graham were so excited about Shiloh coming and having a baby sister and thankfully that enthusiasm continued once she arrived. Unfortunately though they both have been sick off and on since we brought her home. My kiddos are hardly ever sick but of course as soon as a new baby comes they have had runny noses, coughs, a vomiting episode, two 24 hour fever episodes and they have had to stay away from the baby. They have both been so understanding and great about not touching her, staying away from her completely at times and knowing that it is only so they don't pass their germs to her. Thankfully it seems like all that has passed and we can now have lots of sibling cuddles! 

I am so incredibly blessed!
I have been the most surprised at Peyton and how much she wants to help and how understanding she has been. She asks to hold Shiloh more than I thought she would and is so willing to help grab stuff and want to play with her. She has been really understanding that a baby takes a lot of time and often time away from her and she has been willing to sit with me while I am feeding and just read a book or talk, or just wait patiently while doing something else. She has matured significantly and has been a huge help. 

The other day, our house cleaner wasn't able to come that afternoon due to a scheduling conflict and I wanted to vacuum, Shiloh was being fussy and Peyton asked if she could try to play with her on her play mat and see if that helped. It did help and I managed to get away and vacuum the house while Peyton played with Shiloh. It was sweet and I loved walking by to check on them and seeing her playing, singing songs and Shiloh just looking at her in wonder. Sweet sisters!

Graham adores his sister and every day makes sure to tell her good morning and good night and all about showing Shiloh love. He often refers to her as "my baby," and always walks by saying "hello my Shiloh." His sisters are certainly lucky to have a brother who adores both of them! 

Many of my favorite moments these past few weeks have been watching the interactions between the kids and I am constantly reminded how blessed I am by these amazing kids!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Little Fish and Mermaid

Since Peyton was about six months old we have put her in swim lessons. At first it was for a fun activity for us to do together and then when I realized she had no fear of water it was for safety issues and now it is because she LOVES swimming! She has so much joy when she swims and seriously smiles while under the water and as a parent it brings me so much joy to watch her do something she loves and see her progress in it! 

Practicing her backstroke starts!
Peyton decided at some point this spring that her current goal for swimming is to make swim team this fall. She would see the kids going up there for practice and would ask about it and then one day told me that she wanted to be on swim team. She asked her teacher how she gets on swim team and decided that she was going to work to make it. So determined! The tryouts are September 5 and she has to swim one length free style and one length backstroke to make the team for her age group. She has been very determined and has worked really hard in her lessons to get ready. I am so proud of her and it has been great to see her set her mind on something and work for it. And at the end of lessons at the end of June she was able to do both!! Such a proud mommy moment!! 
Waiting with her friends to swim
Unfortunately lessons are not running in July which means it is up to John and I to take her to the pool to keep practicing which is super hard since I am the one who should be taking her with my swimming background and because I am the one who attends her lessons and knows what she should be working on but I am also the one attached to a newborn! But John has been taking her and since Peyton is so determined she has been working on things on her own and at least is getting some swimming in. I have her signed up for a two week group swim lesson in Washington and then also am in the process of setting up some private lessons the other weeks we are there. Then when we come home she has a swim clinic the week before tryouts to help refresh her on things. We really wanted to make sure that we were supporting her as much as possible and setting her up for success at making swim team!

Here is a video of her doing her free style for the first time the whole length of the pool, this was before I had Shiloh so she has progressed tremendously much since then and has gotten more confident and stronger! I don't have a backstroke video :( but that has actually been the easiest for her and was able to do that at the end of the fall swim season. 

I really hope she makes swim team mostly because I want her to achieve the goal she has set for herself. I remember ready an article awhile ago (before my kids were in any activities) about supporting our kids and not being another coach/critic in their lives but a cheerleader and watching Peyton go through this and how hard she is already on herself I really see the importance of being her cheerleader and supporter. I always make sure to ask if she had fun, or tell her to go have fun while swimming or that I love watching her swim because she looks like she is so happy. 

Graham also is a water baby and just loves to go to swim lessons. He has been taking them since he was a year old and although is a little more tentative than Peyton he has no fear in comparison to other kids his age. This season he was in a class without mommy and grew so much in his swimming! He can do streamline and kick off the wall a good distance and then kick back all by himself. He can kick using a noodle or kick board the whole length of the pool and is starting to learn how to move his arms. I don't think he will be our swimmer like Peyton but knowing he can swim and can either flip over on his back and kick to the wall or on his front and save himself is huge. Swimming is such an important skill to have especially living around so much water here!

We are so thankful for the instructors we have here and how much time and love they pour into our kids swimming development. It will be an interesting fall with hopefully Peyton being busy with swim team and swim meets, Graham still doing the swim lesson program and me possibly doing the mommy and me swim lessons with Shiloh!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Last Day of School…Next Stop …Kindergarten

Before I knew it, the last day of school arrived! This school year seems to have flown by and thankfully we were so busy with adjusting to having a new baby I didn't have time to really think about the last day of school and how next year my little girl is off to Kindergarten…all day long….still hasn't hit me!

Last Day of School - June 26, 2014
First Day of School - September 1, 2013
Peyton has done amazing in K4 and I have been so proud of what a leader she is in her classroom and even more confident she has become. Her teacher has commented on how much she seeks to include everyone and encourage everyone in her class and I have been able to see it as well when I have been in her class for various things. She has a confidence that I certainly don't have even as an adult and it very impressive. I have loved being able to go to her classroom and help out and attend field trips and see her in her element. 

At the beginning of the year I asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up and her responses were dentist and doctor, now at the end of school her responses are, "dentist, engineer and veterinarian." She often asks how she is going to manage three jobs and also still have kids and she has come to the decision that she will just have me watch them because I know how to handle it :)

Peyton loved PE and Art at school and those were easily her favorite days. For someone so analytical, it seemed odd that she loved art so much but I think she loves creating things, imagining things and seeing them come to life through art. She also loves to use her hands and build random stuff using household objects like milk cartoons, and cereal boxes and more. We currently have a parrot habitat and a pirate ship around our house made of random items. She loves to think through things and figure out how they work and build them…the engineer side of her coming out!

As hard as it is to imagine having a kindergartener, I am so incredibly confident in her ability to succeed and know she is more than ready! I am however soaking up the time and treasuring these summer days with her because I know that our time together is going to be drastically reduced come fall and that is the hardest thing for me. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Plans for Summer….

One of the benefits of living overseas is the huge amount of vacation days that John has. We are so thankful for the extra time he has off from work that allows for long vacations and multiple vacations during the year. At the same time it is really hard at times to plan/use all those days and make sure that the department you are in has coverage and coordinating everyone's vacation requests especially in the summer when everyone is wanting to leave. So, you have lots of back and forth with vacation requests… we had this year! 

We requested to leave end of July, was told no and so we planned for a summer in Saudi. Not ideal but we were going to make it work and came to a place where we were being positive about it. Then we found out just a little bit ago that he was going to be given his vacation time and so off we go…in a month….to Washington for five weeks! Thankfully we have been on top of getting Shiloh's passport and all her paperwork done so it should be ready by the time we leave. We are however having to change our frame of mind from staying put and getting through the summer to flying home with three kids, and a busy summer in Washington! Lots of planning, preparing mentally and checking off lists! But we are so excited to be able to introduce Shiloh to my dad and sisters and have a summer in Washington! And John is with us the entire trip…flying both ways and hanging out with us for five weeks…that might be my favorite part!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Unfortunately for Father's Day this year I was incredibly sick with a 103 fever that lasted for five days. Thankfully it was just a virus and not an infection but because I was recovering from the c-section and breast feeding the doctor warned me that it would take awhile to get better since my body was pretty depleted and he was right….it was rough. So, I had tons of ideas of some activities for the kids to do leading up and how we were going to spoil daddy for the day but instead John took care of all of us and especially me which if anything shows what an amazing partner and father he is.

I did however work on one gift prior to having Shiloh so that was together and ready for daddy… is a weekend away in January 2015 to run the Dubai Marathon! John has talked about running a marathon again and wanted to do one overseas. This one was close by, I could use airline miles to fly him there for free and so I planned it all out for him and now he just has to train :) He supports all of us so much in achieving goals, encouraging us and we want to do the same for him.

My boys!!

Even if I had been feeling great I couldn't have put together enough gifts or activities to show my appreciation and how much we value John. He is an amazing father and partner in parenting and I am so incredibly thankful for him! It has been a honor to watch him grow in both roles over the years and our children are very blessed!

Daddy with his two princesses

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Fun With G in Saudi

A couple of weeks before Shiloh arrived we had the wonderful surprise that G was going to come and visit. It was truly a surprise that she was going to make the trip over here and we were all very excited. G arrived one week after Shiloh was born and it was so nice to have her here to see our life here in Saudi, have an extra set of hands with the older kids and with Shiloh and the companionship of my mommy! No matter how old you get or how many times you have gone through having a new baby there is something about having your mom with you! 

It was really hard for me though to not be able to be up and going and showing her all around our life here and resting instead. John did a wonderful job stepping in for me and showing my mom around our life here. 

They visited the beach on camp and my mom went most mornings after helping getting the kids off to school to enjoy the sun!

John took my mom and the kids into the town next to our camp as well as into the more major shopping area to show her around. They also went to the craft store to pick up supplies to make Peyton a Halloween costume! Peyton wants to be Cruella De Ville and it was a great project for my mom to help pass the time here and it turned out amazing! The evenings that everyone went out was hard to not be going with them but it also allowed time for Shiloh and I to cuddle and relax and slow down without the big kids which was nice. I loved hearing about my mom's reaction to things when she came home too….from the family/singles sections and just various things that have become normal for me and to hear it from her perspective was amusing. Her comments about the fence around camp and feeling like you are caged in also brought back memories of how much I struggled with that feeling in the beginning as well and showed how far I have come! 

One of the last days she was here I decided to try and venture out with everyone and go to a local souvenir type store that has nice imported things from around the Middle East. My mom found lots of goodies and we experienced our first outing with all three kids complete with a meltdown from Graham. Fun times! We went to the mall and had dinner and since we were there on a Friday night it was wild and my mom got the true Saudi experience. It was fun! 

I am so thankful that my mom was able to come out and see our life here. I always feel like she sees a crazy/wild version of me and the kids with being out of our element and on vacation in Washington and although it was still not how we are normally it was a better representation of our family and life here. And when we first found out she was coming it was when we thought that we were not going back to Washington this summer so it was even more special to know that she was able to come and meet Shiloh. While she was here though we found out that John's vacation ended up becoming approved and  we found out that we will be able to go back to Washington for the summer. As of now we are planning on leaving July 22 through August 25 and John will be with me the entire time! We are just working on finalizing Shiloh's passport, residency visa and entry/exit visa with the Saudi government and we will be good to go. It made G leaving much easier knowing we would be seeing her in six weeks or so.

Thank you G for coming to visit and for the tremendous help you were! We are all so thankful for the time we had with you! See you soon!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Graham Preschool Graduation

Graham's teacher organized a graduation recognition ceremony for all the kids who will be attending the K3 program at the elementary school next year. It still amazes me that both Graham and Peyton have attended preschool with Ms. Swati and now they are off to the big kid elementary. I am so thankful for all the time, effort, passion and love she has poured into my kids!

I was so thankful my mom was here because I have no idea how I would have managed everything since the graduation was exactly two weeks after I had Shiloh! Shiloh attended and wore a cute dress and bow but no one saw her because I had her all covered up in her car seat with her cover on so no kids would touch her and pass germs along!

The K3 program next year is either mornings or afternoons and after much consideration and looking at the timings I decided to request afternoons. Peyton will be gone all day now (she is home for lunch) and I couldn't imagine getting everyone up and going (especially since for K3 they don't ride the bus) in the mornings and I also realized that I am a much happier and more energetic mommy in the mornings and I would rather Graham have the best side of me. My hope is that Shiloh will have a good long afternoon nap that will give me some alone time in the afternoons! We will see…either way it is going to be a new adjustment having Peyton gone all day and dropping off Graham at the big kid school!

Graham has done amazing at school this year and loves to go! He has so much confidence and really loves his school. It has been so nice to watch him run into his class and then pick him up and hear him tell me about his day with so much enthusiasm. Proud of my little graduate and onto the big kid school!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Shiloh's Newborn Session - 8 days old

When Shiloh was 8 days old I started to work on some newborn pictures of her. It was much harder to do a newborn shoot of your own baby than I anticipated! Between recovering from a c-section to Shiloh smelling mommy and having a hard time settling it took a couple of days to get all the shots I wanted! And then to edit them took forever because life is crazy busy! But I have all the images (and someday will get to editing them all) and am thankful for the memories!