Anna’s First Year of Preschool

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May 15, 2015 marked the completion of Anna’s first year of pre-school. She attended Avalon Christian School, just down the road from my parent’s house.

Anna loved school and we’re really happy with our decision to send her. According to Anna, her favorite things about school were painting with celery, the big scooters in the gym, and when Miss Teresa (her teacher) danced silly.

We saw a lot of growth in Anna – especially towards the end of the year. As you can tell in the side by side picture above, she physically grew a couple of inches. She also came out of her shell a tiny bit. She approached classmates outside of school to say hi on a couple of occasions. That may not be a big deal for your kid, but it’s huge for Anna. She can also write and recognize her name, write the entire alphabet and recognize several words, and count to 29 without help. She learned several songs with motions and how to play several games. She shines as a rule follower and thrives under structure. Her teacher told Anna, and us, that Anna was hands down the best listener in her class.

Below is a picture of all the kids who attended Avalon during their last day of school program/graduation. Anna is visible in her special red dress and got to stand next to Landon, “one of her best friends from school and at the Y.” In the middle is a picture of Anna with Miss Teresa, her teacher, who is an amazing woman. The picture to the right is Anna with Miss Jenny, the assistant teacher. We didn’t interact with Miss Jenny much, but anyone who devotes their life to spending every day with a bunch of 3 year olds is obviously special and wonderful. Anna really likes Miss Jenny so she must be great because Anna doesn’t like just anyone (and she’ll be the first to tell you).

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Below is a picture of me with my crew. Bennett won’t be going to school next year, and obviously neither will Caleb, but we look forward to sending them to Avalon, assuming we’re still in the area. They sure grow fast, don’t they?IMG_1244

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Caleb’s First Birthday

On April 29th, Caleb turned 1.

And guess what.

He was sick.

The morning of his actual birthday, we were at Parkview Hospital with Anna so she could have some dental work done. It was fairly extensive so it was done under anesthesia. Caleb and Bennett spent the morning with Grandma Jane and Drew got the day off work.

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We didn’t do anything too special but grilled out for supper and had cupcakes for dessert. Just the 5 of us. Caleb sure liked his cupcake!

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As the week progressed, Caleb kept getting more and more sick. Bennett wasn’t doing too hot either. Anna had just gotten over a cold so we were pretty sure we knew what was going on. We decided to have the party anyway – partly because it was also Anna’s rescheduled party and we couldn’t handle canceling on her again.

The day came and Caleb slept until 10:15. I woke him up so who knows how long he would have continued sleeping. By 11:30 he was ready for a nap again and I woke him up at 4:15 because the party had started. He just wasn’t feeling it and spent most of the time on someone’s lap. We tried opening gifts but didn’t do a cake smash or anything like that. He was in bed by 7:30. Around 6, Bennett went from bad to worse. He seemed to just have allergies and woke up the next day just fine.

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Anna had a lot of fun, and ultimately, she’s the only kid who might remember it.

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My grandparent’s made the drive from Illinois and Courtney and Corey came from Indy. That was fun and special. My parent’s were there, obviously, as were almost all of the Manny’s. Dick and Esther represented the entire Feipel family, which isn’t unusual, but a little disappointing nonetheless. Some of them had other obligations, which is understandable, but most just didn’t come. Our neighbor’s came and we grilled out and had a great time! I made a bunch of cupcakes – something I’ve never done – but I think they turned out okay.

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We didn’t do any special theme. Third kid problem, haha.

By his first birthday, Caleb was walking and had three teeth completely through with 3 more in the works. He can wave goodbye and night night and has his own little way of saying each. He says Dada and loves to eat graham crackers and bread. No joke. He likes to play with balls and cars but has not mastered the art of sharing or playing nice, ha ha. He can make a great dinosaur noise and is smiley as can be.

All in all, it was a great time. I’m done with first birthday parties and looking forward to a few years of cake and ice cream with grandparents before parties with friends and sleepovers start.

Hard to believe this tiny, blonde haired babe is 1!

The Breakup

*This is a long post about breastfeeding. You have been warned.*

Just before Caleb was born I read an article about the hardships of having your last baby. The part that struck me the most was the author explaining the anxiety she felt each time she held her infant baby while he slept. She would get anxious fearing that it would be the last time she would ever hold him all curled up next to her in the tiny ball that infants have a way of curling into.

I was 9 months pregnant when I read that. Imagine the waterworks that flowed forth.

With each milestone that Caleb comes through, I remember that it’s the last time I will watch one of my own children develop in such a way. It’s bittersweet, to say the least.

In this article, the author also talked about the sadness she felt when she thought about weening her baby from nursing. At the time I thought, “not me.” I nursed all three of my kids because it worked for us, not because I’m some breastfeeding advocate. Experts and formula manufacturers have concluded that it is definitely the best way to go, but it’s not the only way. When each of my children was born I hoped they would nurse. But it was mostly because I didn’t want to spend the money on formula and I knew it helped most women lose the baby weight faster. So you can see, pretty selfish motives.

I nursed and supplemented Anna for 8 months. Bennett went 10 months but he nursed A LOT! I didn’t set a goal beyond 6 weeks and each of them just kind of finished when they finished. I didn’t make a decision, it just sort of happened. When Caleb made it to 8 months and then 10, I was excited but still looking forward to the day that I could burn my nursing bras and other nursing things.

I admire the selfless mommas out there who feel a deep connection with their babies while they nurse. Who love every minute of it. But it’s not like that for all of us. Every time I craved a glass of milk or a pb&j and had to get passed it because Caleb couldn’t tolerate it, I resented him just a teeny tiny bit. Every time I HAD to get up with him in the middle of the night to feed him because Drew wasn’t lactating, I resented Caleb and Drew just a tiny bit. Every time I wanted a second beer or an afternoon cup of coffee – I looked forward to the day I would quit nursing. And allergy season with no Benadryl – nursing had it’s downside.

I just didn’t ever love it.

But then Caleb neared his first birthday. I was in no way opposed to nursing him beyond that but I started to be a little concerned with his lack of interest in table food. He’d happily eat a pouch or cracker but he pretty much just wanted to nurse. I know women who think that would be awesome but I’m not one of them, and my family isn’t one of those families.

So I started investing in sippy cups and stressing over what kind of milk he would drink. Pumping and I don’t get along so continuing to pump wasn’t really an option (although I’m still pumping). He doesn’t tolerate dairy – so no cow’s milk. And he got sick every time I ate peanut butter, so I wasn’t sure almond milk would work (it does). Anxiety was setting in.

And then it happened. The Monday after his first birthday, he bit me. And I yelped because, well, he bit me. He cried so hard and I was broken. Then that night, at about 2AM, he bit me again. I firmly said, “no,” and he just cried and cried. And he clutched me and sobbed. And I sobbed with him. And I’m crying now recalling it.

For 4 days I tried to keep nursing but he wouldn’t. He would go to latch and then clamp his mouth shut and cry. And he would hold on tight and twirl my hair and just cry. And I would cry. And he would look at me like I hurt his feelings. Like I told him he was a bad kid.

Here’s what would equate it to: a bad breakup. He hurt me and I reacted poorly. I could forgive him for what he did, but he just couldn’t get over the way I handled it. And so we broke up even though neither of us wanted to. Even though neither of us were ready.

Can you relate to that heartache?

It hit me like a train that I didn’t see coming.

I knew we were near the end. I had started taking steps to begin the end. But that’s not how I wanted it to go.

It took Caleb almost 4 days to accept it. To move on to a bottle and table food. He’s still not doing awesome at the food part, but he’s drinking from a bottle OK. Anna and Bennett neither one took a bottle after their first birthday but this is different.

I still might burn my nursing bras. But I think I’ll take all of my nursing tanks and sew them into a quilt that I can keep forever as a memory (joking).

As much as I wasn’t in love with nursing, when I reflect back I can at least acknowledge how amazing it is. God created our bodies to sustain a human life. And I did that. Damnit. I did that for almost 3 years.

I’m sad that it’s over. I’m mostly sad how it ended. But my heart is so full of joy that it happened (how’s that for cliche?)