Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ellie is 2 months old!

How did I neglect to post Ellie's current stats after her checkup at the pediatrician?! 
Weight: 11 lb 1 oz - 55th percentile
Height: 22 3/4 inches - 64th percentile
Head circumference: 15 1/4 inches - 49th percentile

Ellie was a little late for her date with Hoppy this month.  She is currently 2 months and one week old - close enough to pass for her 2 month pictures, right!?

When my mom saw these pictures, she mentioned how funny it is that Ellie is almost exactly the same size as Hoppy at this point - and in this first picture they seem to be postured the identically as well!

This little girl just gets sweeter by the day.  When I talk to her, she gets quiet and still, focusing in on my face.  Then she breaks out in the biggest smile and usually tries to talk to me!  I love our little girl-chats.  

She also loves it when I rub lotion onto her face!  She closes her eyes and smiles.  It's hilarious.

Ellie will never remember her first trip to the zoo (yesterday!), but I will always be taken by this picture of her as we walked around looking at animals.  It is my favorite picture of her yet!

Grandpa is always eager to get a little Ellie time.  She loves to listen to him talk and usually tells him what she's thinking about.  He's good at getting smiles out of her, too.

I am amazed by the difference one month makes.  I looked at Ellie's 1 month pictures last night and was shocked at how big she has gotten!  She DID start out as a little peanut.  But her head control, level of engagement socially, and responsiveness to her surroundings have increased so much.

Here's what she's up to these days:
- Schedule: sleeps most of the day with a few brief 'awake' periods.  Struggles in the evenings from about 9pm-12:30am... she'll eat, need her diaper changed, try to fall asleep, wake back up, and the process starts all over again just about every hour.  She typically falls asleep for the night around 12:30am and sleeps until 7am-ish with a feeding at 3:00am.  Not too bad... just need to get her to bed earlier and I'd be really happy (and more rested myself!).

- Feeding: Ellie is now on Nutramigen exclusively.  She has a milk protein and soy protein intolerance, and was extremely gassy and fussy while breastfeeding and while we tried out soy formula, even experiencing a day or two of bloody diapers during the transition.  She's much happier with this new formula, and will be on it until she's 8-12 months old.  

- Temperament: Ellie is easygoing, and loves her momma right now.  At night she seems to only fall asleep once she knows I am laying in bed next to her bassinet!  Up until this week, she loved to be swaddled before sleeping.  Now she seems to prefer having her arms free, and we have graduated from the swaddling blanket to a sleep blanket (a sleeveless sleep sack that zips up around her jammies).  She loves to be held up on my shoulder so that she can use her strong neck muscles to look at the world around her.  She's not yet aware of Robbie, unless he falls into her or tries to soothe her with his own paci (!).  We try to keep these interactions from happening altogether, but are not completely successful.  She is very particular about certain things - she enjoys her paci but only when she is in the mood (otherwise she spits it out or gags!).  If she decides that she's done with her bottle, she'll push it out with her tongue and make a disgusted face (similar to her mom's, much to Rob's dismay!).  She cannot stand to have a wet or dirty diaper on, and will cry until it is removed and replaced with a nice dry one.  All of these things are so different from when Robbie was a baby!  It's true that each baby is individual, even within the same family.

- Appearance:  We have no idea who Ellie looks like. (Do you!?)  She sometimes strikes me as looking similar to some of Robbie's baby pictures at times.  It will be fun to watch her grow and see more of ourselves in her features (or not!?).  She has long eyelashes that are light, and long fingers.  Her hair is still dark, occasionally looking a bit auburn.  She doesn't have any birthmarks, moles or defining spots anywhere which I think is sort of odd!  She's filling out more, now that we've sorted out her eating issues.  I love her rounded cheeks and big (for her body!) belly.  Her arms and legs are still slender, and her ankles are impossibly dainty!  I know this won't last for long.  If she takes after me, she will be a chunk of a baby by her first birthday. :)  I will try to find a picture of me at 1 year old and scan it in... you will be thoroughly entertained.  I promise.

We are so thankful for this little girl - sometimes I just look at her and have to remind myself that there were times during the pregnancy that we were not certain about the health of this baby.  I never want to take the health of our children for granted, it is such a blessing.  I  mentioned to my mom recently that as Ellie shows us more of her personality, I find myself more and more attached to her.  We have always loved her, even before we had laid eyes on her.  But the unfolding of who God has created her to be is such an amazing, endearing process.  
We love you, Ellie girl, and are grateful that God chose us to be your family!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hippy takes one for the team

The runner-up title to this post: "And I thought DIRT under his fingernails was gross...".

It's curious that these events would transpire while Rob is out of town.  It's almost as if Robbie knows I am holding down the fort by myself...

This is the second morning in a row that I have gone into Robbie's room to get him up for the day, only to be greeted by the rank stench of poop immediately after opening the door.  Fine, he usually wakes up with a poopy diaper.  No big deal.

But this is ALSO the second morning IN A ROW that I have discovered that my son has put his hands down the back of his diaper and practiced finger painting with his poop on the crib sheet.

And tragically, this morning Hippy also got finger painted.

I'm sorry Hippy.  
You did nothing to deserve this.  I hope you enjoyed your first bath in the washing machine.  You look good as new and smell even better than before.  What a loyal friend you are, to still stick around.

In other news, Robbie will only be wearing one piece, footed pajama's to bed from here on out.  He hasn't figured out zippers... yet.

*I almost documented this post with a few pictures, but decided against it.  You're welcome.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Not exactly Jehova's Witnesses

A few weeks ago, just as Rob and I were giving the kids baths and getting them ready for bed, our doorbell rang.  We stopped what we were doing for a split second and looked at each other with that look that says 'Are you expecting someone?  No?  Then should we ignore the door or interrupt bedtime and answer it?'

I decided that we couldn't ignore the door (that's just rude!), so I laid Ellie down and went to see who was there.  I was curious.  We get a fair amount of random people selling things door to door in our neighborhood, but this late?...

When I opened the door, 2 little girls were standing on our porch, clipboards in hand.  One of them was holding a bowl with a towel over it.  I recognized them as being children of the family that just moved in a few doors down earlier in the summer, but I had not yet met them.

My mind started to race.  Was something wrong with their parents?  Were they selling something? (in the summer?!)  I smiled and opened the door and said 'Hi!...'

I wish I had brought our video camera with me.  What transpired next is by far the funniest thing that has ever happened to us in this house since we moved in.

With a straight face, the older girl with the clipboard politely began...

Girl:  'We're conducting a survey. Can I ask you a few questions?'
Me: 'Sure!'  {tentatively thinking, 'on behalf of whom?'}

Girl: 'Do you think the economy is going to get better?'
Me:  ::momentary pause::  'Yes, eventually.' {Did your parents send you to try and find out what kind of people we are?}
Girl: ::makes a tally mark on a sheet of wide ruled paper... I can't help myself and I peek over at it... there are 3 questions, all with 2 columns drawn beneath them.  She is keeping track of the answers she is getting from... people!? Neighbors?! I begin to wonder if I'm going to see my answers pop up somewhere unexpected.  And if I'm giving the right answers.::

Girl: 'Ok... um, are you allergic to anything?'
Me: 'No.'  {A little personal for never having met, don't you think? Continuing to be bothered by the nagging questions I have no answers to: who sent her? Why don't they just come over themselves and say hello? Do they think we're weird? Not healthy? Unfit to live next to them?}

Girl makes another note under her allergy column that says 'none'.  It's very unofficial looking - 3rd grade chicken scratch, maybe.  But I'm getting nervous about what else she is going to ask and who she is going to be telling my answers to.  And yet, I continue to play along!  Somehow I cannot tell a girl who is one third my age that I'm done with her survey.

Girl: 'Alright, last question.'  She glances at her partner in crime, who continues to hold the mysterious bowl covered with a kitchen towel.  I haven't seen it move, so I'm pretty sure there isn't a snake or large bugs or anything like that under the towel.  But it's making me nervous. I keep one eye on it.
Me: ::finally:: 'Ok!'
Girl: 'What do you think is in my pocket?'  ::And then she starts to jump up and down, smiling! Something is rattling in her pocket.::
Me:  ::Are you kidding me?  Desperately trying not to laugh out loud, or look around for a hidden camera:: 'How about candy?'

She makes one final note in the 'pocket' column... CANDY.  She does not answer whether or not it's candy. 

Girl: 'That's the end of the survey.  And now, for your grand prize!'  ::She looks over at her little sidekick, and gestures with both hands towards the mysterious covered bowl like Vanna White or those girls in skin-tight, red sequined spaghetti strap dresses on The Price Is Right.::

The girl with the bowl looks at me for a moment with a half smile before pulling the towel off the bowl and peering down into it.  The smile fades as she examines the contents resting inside and then sizes me up again.   She appears to be halfway between embarrassed and mortified.  I look into the bowl and see a few broken crayons, a penny, and some candy I think?  I can't even remember exactly.  I'm weighing my options at this point - politely pick a 'treasure'?  Say 'thanks but no thanks, I have enough crap in my house'?, when the little girl saves me by sheepishly saying,

" don't have to pick anything if you don't want to."

Me: 'Ok, then. I think I'll pass.  Thanks girls!'

And with that, they skipped off to the next house, and I shut the door.  Rob came out to the landing and asked who was there, and as I tried to explain, I started to laugh so hard I couldn't even talk.  Why am I so paranoid?  They were just 2 bored little girls, entertaining themselves by knocking on their neighbors' doors and asking what I'm sure they thought were very clever questions.  The whole thing was so random though.

Whenever I'm in a bad mood, I just replay this scene in my mind and it always makes me laugh out loud.  I think I'll make time this week to take the girls and their family a plate of cookies, formally introduce myself, and welcome them to the neighborhood. 

I'm sort of hoping for another survey night in the future, and heaven forbid they pass up our house...!

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'd rather have a spork

Robbie is a sponge right now.  He is up for trying anything, whether it's talking and saying new words ('cupcake!', 'trash can', 'cookie'), helping me around the house by picking up his toys or throwing diapers away in the garbage, or venturing into the land of big boy activities.

Recently we introduced the concept of the potty (via a fun kids book, teaching him to be aware of when he's peeing / pooping, and practicing sitting on his little potty fully dressed).  He loves the discovery of it all, and I love the idea of attempting early potty training when the short window presents itself, in order to avoid spending another $80 per month on diapers.

Another area we are working on is meal time - manners and the use of plates, bowls, and utensils.  We kicked off the idea of eating like a big boy a little while ago by getting Robbie a booster seat that allows him to sit at the table with us instead of in his high chair.  He loves it!

He's getting pretty good at using his fork and spoon, and actually begs for them at meals if I forget to set them out.  I have found that we have the most success with the fork and spoon if Robbie is not ravenous.  When the boy is hungry he just grabs fistfuls of food and jams it all in his mouth; the spoon and fork are dead to him.

A particularly good day of progress...

Fork in one hand, spoon in the other!  The more utensils you hold, the faster you can shovel food into your mouth... apparently.

Righty or lefty?  ...hard to tell.

Reverting at the end of the meal and grabbing the applesauce with his hands.  
You can see from his face that he knows he should be using the spoon.
Hand in the cookie jar, anyone?

Apparently I didn't feed him enough... a toe-snack was in order.

I'm hilarious!

Ellie has been doing a bit of her own growing up lately as well. 
After a week of particularly awful sleeping (meaning very little), and lots of crying, I decided to shake things up.  No more sleeping in her car seat or swing... I laid her down Sunday evening in her bassinet and sat next to her, patting and shushing, praying for progress or a sleep miracle.  I used my other free hand to page through the sleep books I had used when Robbie was little, and came across the suggested sleep pattern for infants Ellie's age. 

It all came rushing back!...

I couldn't believe I had forgotten that around this age, babies can't just be schlepped around with you all day, wherever you go, and be expected to feel well-rested.  They need more structure to their schedules, and they still need a lot of sleep.

So I immediately decided to be more intentional about Ellie's schedule and sleeping habits.  The only place I lay her down now is her bassinet (which, it turns out, she loves!).  She is always swaddled tightly for bed, and I use a soft sound machine.  She cried it out a few times, and now she puts herself to sleep all day and night long!  She has consistently slept through the night several times for me (anywhere from 6 to 10.5 hours in a row!), and I feel so much better because of it.  Ellie is so content when she is awake, too.  She continues to be such a great baby overall.

Looking older, and a lot like daddy!  (Don't you think?)

Favorite activity: gazing at whomever is holding her, cooing and smiling!  
And generally being cute.

Hanging out with Dad at the end of the day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A little bit of New Jersey in Wheaton

Grammy, Papa, and Uncle Ryan flew all the way from New Jersey last weekend to visit us and meet Ellie!  The time always flies by when we are together and we hate to say goodbye.  But we had so much fun; Robbie showed off his new walking skills and Ellie got to meet some of the most important people in her life.

Uncle Ryan is always a good time!
Robbie loved playing with him, but got a little stage fright when it came to showing Ryan his mad basketball skills.  (We'll have this fixed by Christmas, Ry...)

Papa takes in his new granddaughter!!  
What a lucky girl you are Ellie.  Your Papa loves you so much.

Grammy with her babies!  
(Don't you just love Robbie's expression!?)  She could single-handedly feed Ellie while totally cracking Robbie up.  I was careful to take good notes.  ;)

We had a great time celebrating Grammy's birthday (on a smaller scale than we would have liked, due to obvious circumstances!) with a homemade lasagna dinner and birthday cake.  On Sunday we were able to all go to church together while my mom stayed at our house so Robbie could nap, and both Rob's and my family had a quick lunch at our house with us.  Then the guys went to Wrigley Field for most of the afternoon while the ladies and Robbie enjoyed a carousel ride (his first) and stroll through the mall (read: air conditioning).  We rounded out the visit  with a trip to the Arboretum Monday morning before everyone had to leave.

Rob and I feel incredibly blessed by both of our families; it is so special to watch your own children interact with your parents and siblings.   Thank you again so much for making the trip to come see us, Grammy, Papa, and Uncle Ryan!  We love you so much and already miss you terribly.

Now if only we could take away all of those pesky states between Illinois and New Jersey...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Please Hold...

*UPDATE!...  I don't know how it happened so quickly, but the blogging-hiatus is already over!  Thank you notes are in the mail, Ellie's now sleeping in her bassinet and has some rhythm to her nighttime sleep and daytime naps, and I am getting 7 hrs of sleep at night, usually only to be woken once for a feeding!!  (I think it is a combination of those sleep books I invested in back when Robbie was little, and the grace of God.  But mostly the grace of God.)

Dear readers of our blog:

I will be taking a brief blogging-hiatus. 

I need to sort out Ellie's sleep issues (she and I FINALLY went to sleep at 4am for the night last night / this morning... and got 3 hours of broken sleep... no good!).  

I also need to catch up on thank-you notes for the sweet gestures, gifts and meals you all showered us with after Ellie's birth.  I am so embarrassed that I'm not done yet.

It just doesn't seem right to sit at the computer when I need to be catching up on sleep or writing thank you notes.  So you can peek into our lives once again after we've caught up on things!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The view from here...

... is decidedly better than what the high chair has to offer!

Now if I could just get him to stop dumping his plate, banging his fork on the table, and turning around to smear his greasy hands all over the kitchen window... probably not happening since he IS a kid, right?

Who can keep up with this?

Trying to squeeze through the railing - thankfully, he doesn't have a prayer of fitting with that enormous head!  (He gets it from me so I'm allowed to say that.)

Just another day of dumping something out and running.  Please note that he has jammed as many cookies into his mouth as would fit before taking off.  Smart boy.

We can see everything you're doing - it's a split level, honey.
The view from the family room...

At this point I had just resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to sweep and mop the floor, so why not let him play in the mess for a while and be happy?  And of course, take more pictures...

And this is how I found him when I got him out of bed this morning...

My first thought was, 'Oh good - another sign that he's closer to the potty-training phase!  Able to participate in dressing and undressing himself.'  Thinking like a mom can't be avoided... I am so ready to NOT buy diapers for 2 babies at the same time!  We already have the potty, a children's book about using it, and yesterday I taught him how to say 'poop!'...  We are on our way, but I plan to take it slowly and just talk about the whole thing for a while before taking any action.

And yes, he sleeps with 3 blankets, 2 stuffed animals and no less than 2 paci's.  We are the picture of crib safety and boundaries.

First Haircut!

I got tired of trying to cut Robbie's hair on my own (read: wrestling him in the tub and trying desperately not to poke or cut him with the shears, only to snip my own finger and bleed profusely!) and took him to Kid Snips last Friday before his Grammy, Papa and Uncle Ryan came to visit. 

It was cute and fun (for those of us spectating) and Robbie walked out looking adorably grown-up!

Buckled into the car?  Check.
Cape in position?  Check.
Tricking small child into thinking it's just playtime in a high-up toy?  Check.

It didn't take him long to figure out what was going on, and although he held out for a while and focused on 'steering' the car with enthusiasm (as he is known to do behind ANY wheel), he eventually broke down and cried.  (Even the paci couldn't soothe him.)  It was pitiful and hilarious all at once.  Is that bad to admit?  Clearly I continued to take photos, like any good mommy during a first haircut experience.

I was especially pleased that the clippers were used to clean up around the back and edges, just like a normal adult haircut!  It looked so neat and clean and, well, professional.  I'm retiring my shears for good.  

After the torture was over (but not before I had to sell a kidney to pay for it - seriously? $16? And yes, we will be going back... haha), Robbie got a very official certificate complete with a lock of his hair and picture of his new do.

I put it up on our fridge.  I am a sentimental mess like that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Not Me Monday"

This morning, while changing Ellie's diaper, she did not projectile-poop all over my leg, arm, and the bed linens.

That's all for now.

(*Coming soon - photos of the wonderful weekend visit from Rob's parents and brother!)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Donuts make (almost) everything better

After the events of yesterday, I decided that this morning would be a donut morning (and fully caffeinated coffee for me!  Finally!).  Robbie slept in until 8:30am, and because the Bible says that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father, I counted my blessings this morning as I snuck in a few extra hours of much needed sleep.  It might sound funny to be thankful for a late sleeper, but I have run this concept past other mommy-friends and we all agree that when our kids sleep in at times that we ourselves need more sleep, it is clearly a gift from God.  :)

We put on clothes that would pass as daytime clothes, and schlepped our bed-headed selves to Dunkin Donuts.  

Clearly, Robbie enjoyed his breakfast treat.

(Check out his molar on the lower right side!)

Then when we had consumed enough sugar and caffeine, it was time to play on the outdoor toys inside.

Climbing on...

Talking to his bike... trying to steer and turn the wheel side to side.
Unfortunately, it was in the stationary position and the wheel could not be turned.

This really frosted Robbie...

Temper tantrum.

Banging on the object of his frustration.  If there had been a paci in his mouth, he would have yanked it out of his mouth and thrown it forcefully to the floor right around now.

"Get me off this thing."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Quick Update

**Update - a few photos to go along with the story.

Tylenol... everywhere... 

**Original Post:

Because I thought you'd find it entertaining...

I took Ellie in this morning for a follow up exam, per the pediatrician, after the digestive-drama we experienced last week.  All is well with her - she will remain on Nutramigen until the doctor thinks it's time to either try soy formula again, or until she can start the changeover to whole milk at 1 year.  During the appointment this morning I left Robbie at home with a sitter.

Clearly, this is not the entertaining part.

This is:

When I got home from the pediatrician's office, I gave Robbie a hug and immediately noticed little red bumps all over his face and torso.  What!!!  I paid the sitter and let her leave while I thought about what to do.  Head right back to the doctor?  I decided to call the nurse instead.  I had laid Ellie down in her swing in the kitchen and was trying to feed Robbie lunch while I dialed the nurse.  I think the beginning of our phone call started with me saying something along the lines of, "I was just in the office an hour ago with my daughter, but while I was gone my son developed these red spots..."  I explained his symptoms, as well as what our last 4 or 5 days have been like, and she immediately suspected Roseola.  I looked it up later in my baby books that list all of the childhood illnesses, and Robbie fit the profile to a T.  So that explains the high fever Sunday through Tuesday.  I am praying that Ellie doesn't get it, and am washing my hands every 5 minutes and ran all of the pacis in our house through the dishwasher.

If that's not enough, imagine what the next few moments looked like: me filling a syringe with Children's Tylenol for Robbie, but struggling to get the push-part in and inadvertently shooting pink sticky medicine all over our kitchen curtains and window.  (I might have said a bad word under my breath.)  Meanwhile, Ellie has been wailing away while I was on the phone and is still crying to be held.  Robbie is pitching blueberries off his tray and banging his plastic plate, either because the illness has stolen his appetite or because he's just changing his eating habits (meaning not eating at all, it seems like).

My kitchen looks and sounds like a battlefield.  I wasn't even sure where to start... but I decided on Robbie because if he is neglected when he is done with a meal, he gags himself and has recently ended up vomiting as a result.  I'm just not in the mood for that today, plus there is enough mess for me to clean up!  Ellie falls in line next and then the drapes.  

Actually, come to think of it, the drapes are still in a heap on the floor of the laundry room. 

(After the mayhem... resorting to a bath to clean up from lunch and provide relief to some itchy ears.  I thought this pose was hilarious.)

A feast for the eyes...

Grandma Edie meets Ellie for the first time at the lake house!

Grandpa Bob finally gets to hold Ellie - when he first saw her he teared up!  He loves his grandkids and 3 great-grandkids. 

Even cousin Corey got in on the baby-holding.  Ellie is the tiniest baby she's held on her own, and she was so proud that she asked me to go get her mom so that she could see!

The cousins enjoyed playing with Robbie and were so sweet towards him.  Robbie learned Scott's name, and would say 'Cot!' when he wanted to play with him.

Aunt Joy participates in a feeding, and also got Ellie to smile numerous times at her!  Even Ellie can't help but be happy around Joy.

Because I post more pictures than I can count of Rob like this with the kids, it's only fair...
(by the way - this is how the Armbruster women like to sleep.  Mouth open.  Ellie sleeps like this, too, when she's on her back!)

Meeting Uncle Collin for the first time during the 24 hours he was home.  He moved from Oklahoma City where he was in training for Air Traffic Control to South Bend, IN where he'll work at SB Regional Airport!

In trying to capture what Ellie really looks like right now - which is harder than you might think with an infant - I took about 50 pictures!  This one was the winner.

Robbie getting down on Ellie's level to get a closer look.  He shows a fair amount of interest in her and often comes over while I'm holding her to nuzzle her and give her kisses!  He is also my best diaper-changing-assistant, fetching diapers and wipes for me and then quietly watching as I go to work.

Sweet girl...

Robbie had his first sprinkler experience recently - he loved being sprayed and just stood there, soaking wet, trying to figure it out!  He wanted to touch the sprayer that was spinning without getting wet, so he walked around the perimeter of the yard to the other side of the sprinkler, thinking he could get around the water.  When it kept spraying him and his plan was spoiled, he sat down in the grass and cried for rescue.  Adorable.

A few weekends ago the Bellitos and Larsons came for a visit so the kids could play and to meet Ellie.  Robbie and Charlotte showed Luke and Ryan Bellito some love!

These two... melt my heart.  Holding hands - it was supervised date.  Although I'm going to have to insist that Robbie show up with clothes on next time.

Resting after a long day, looking a lot like Daddy...