Tuesday, May 16, 2017

John Paul Turns 2! With a Lightning-McQueen-Themed Birthday Party!

Well, here I am, being cliche as always . . .

I can't believe my baby boy is 2! How do I possibly have a 2-year-old?!

John Paul Fulton, you light up our days! You love to play and read and explore and it's just amazing to watch you take this world in.

One of your favorite places to be is on your learning tower in the kitchen. Whether we're making a recipe together (and you excitedly shout "RECIPE! RECIPE!") or you're watching us prepare our meals or you're playing with the water in the sink, you're a happy boy just to be up on our level.

You love to eat, but only the foods you want at the exact moments you want them. Chocolate is a big hit, as well as hummus, pickles, Chic-Fil-A, berries, smoothies, and pretty much any carb. Although something that's a huge hit one day will not necessarily be well liked the next day. You keep us on our toes, big kid. You are willing to try new things, but only so long as we don't have any influence whatsoever on that decision. You like to go at your own pace while exploring food, and you know what, kiddo? That's ok with us.

We stopped our nursing relationship right around the time you turned 16 months. Actually, I should say you decided to stop all on your own. We were down to only nursing right before a nap or bedtime. And then one day, you just didn't want it anymore. You arched your back away while I drew you close to nurse, so I decided to just put you in your crib instead and you fell fast asleep without it. That was it! I was 4 months pregnant at the time, so I'm pretty sure I was mostly dried up and you didn't feel like all the effort was worth it for a few measly drops. But, while a bit of an out-of-the-blue ending, it was so easy on both of us and for that I'm grateful.

You love being outside these days, especially while Dad is out there with you getting work done. You especially love pushing your toy lawnmower around, and I'm sure your Dad is looking forward to the day (many many years down the road, I'm sure) when you can mow our lawn for us.

Mr. Exploration, you are! And our yard is the perfect place for that.

But the thing you love more than anything else right now is . . . anything on wheels.

Cars, trucks, trains, buses, cement mixers, mail trucks, garbage trucks. You are so adorably obsessed. We can see a busy street far past the field in our backyard and you love watching out the windows waiting for your favorite vehicles to go by. We'll be eating dinner and you'll excitedly announce "CEMENT MIXER! RED CEMENT MIXER!" as one drives past.

I've even caught you turning random objects into vehicles: a french fry, a wooden block, a pencil. You zoom them around the table or the couch or your plate like you do your cars.

The obsession is real. And real cute. I think it all started on your first birthday when one of our guests brought you some Thomas the Tank Engine trains and train tracks. You immediately knew how to play with them and have been attracted to things that go ever since.

You really love your tricycle too! Thank you to Memere and Poppa for that one! You can zip around the house so quickly on that thing. And for your 2nd birthday, they got you a balance bike! So we're excited to see you learn that too.

Books are another big favorite in our home. We could read your books for an hour straight and I don't think you'd be bored, not a bit. You'd just keep bringing us more and more books until we run out of steam. Some current favorites include The Little Blue Truck series, Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, 1,000 Things That Go, and The Busy Bug Book.

In the past few months, we've started to see you develop some big feelings and you don't always know what to do with them. Tantrums occur on the regular these days. And we hear the word "NO!" from you on repeat. But we know that's all just because life is hard for a toddler. While you love to explore, it's hard to learn that the world doesn't work exactly the way you expect. For example, balloons caused a bit of a meltdown here recently because they floated up instead of falling down like all the other objects you're used to. Hard stuff, kiddo. But we're here to love on you and (most of the time) remain patient while you continue to learn.

Of course, we really rocked your world when we brought home your little brother just a few months ago. He's loud and sometimes smelly and he takes up a lot of our attention. Attention that used to be all for you. But, despite the occasional meltdown from that, you're adjusting like a champ. And you really do love your little brother. You ask about him regularly, you like to find toys for him and grab his burp cloth when he's got a little spit-up or saliva on his face, and you always remember to give him kisses by the end of the day. It's amazing to watch you interact with each other and I'm sure it'll get even better as Jude learns to interact back more and more. You two will be the best of friends, I just know it.

Something you're so great at is sleeping, thank goodness! You take a 1 to 3 hour nap once a day and sleep about 11 hours straight overnight. What a blessing that is for us! And I'm sure it makes you a happy boy too!

You're also great at talking. WOW, are we impressed by what you can say! And how quickly you learn to say things these days. You're pretty good at the Hail Mary, the prayer before meals, and the alphabet. You also like counting, but it's never quite in order . . . "1, 2, 7, 9, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 . . . " And you love to sing, although never quite on key. Ha! It's ok, we have time to work on that. Current favorites are The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Life is a Highway, and anything from the Moana sountrack. It's amazing what you pick up on without us even realizing! Just the other day, you greeted a new neighbor by saying, "How's it going?" Ha! When did you hear us say that? Probably about a million times if you already know how to spout it out during the exactly right situation. Still, it always catches us off guard and it's always so hilarious and cute when you talk like a grown-up.

John Paul Fulton, it's a joy to be your mom! Thanks for being patient with me as I learn how to do this mom thing. You force me to be a smarter, kinder, better person every day and I mostly love that. While it's not always easy, it's still such a blessing to live this life with you, kiddo. You fill our hearts 'til they're exploding with love every single day. I'm so so so grateful.

So to celebrate our big boy turning 2, we threw a Lightning-McQueen-Themed party at our house! We had about 25 guests in attendance, half of which were young kiddos!

Upon entering our home, guests were greeted by this homemade cardboard and construction paper version of Mack! The counter behind him held all the drinks and was made to look like his trailer.

We turned our family room into a giant car play area. We bought the bunting flags and road tape on amazon and used several recycled cardboard boxes to make a tunnel and some ramps. And we used our couch pillows to create an off-roading area. We bought a set of 20 Hot Wheels cars so each kiddo had at least one to play with, and at the end of the party, everyone took one home as a favor.

We also had the first Cars movie running on our projector throughout the party.

The food was the most fun to put together. I especially loved coming up with the cheesy names for all the food, obviously each related to a character from the movie.

In case you're curious, here are the recipes I used:
Pickle dip
Mac and cheese for a large crowd
Simple slaw

We ordered the cake from a local cake bakery and it turned out so cute!

I think he liked it . . .
Some pictures of our many adorable guests . . .

Since our sunroom isn't really furnished yet, we were able to put some rented tables and chairs in the space so our guests all had a place to sit.

I found this Lightning McQueen pinata on amazon and especially loved that we didn't have to beat it with a stick to get it open! It had 12 pull strings hanging from the bottom and only one pulled the whole thing open. My lovely husband held it up and made sure he saved the special string for last. :)

I stuffed the pinata with healthier, non-candy items: yogurt-covered raisins, chocolate and plain teddy grahams, and stickers. And the kids still went nuts for all of it, so we call that a big win!

We asked guests to bring diaper donations for the local pregnancy help center instead of gifts and almost everyone obliged! John Paul still ended up with 2 gifts to open, but considering the number of guests that we had, I was pretty pleased by that.

Check out the diaper donation stash we ended up with!

Overall, it was a fun day! Not gonna lie, I don't think I'm cut out for these Pinterest-perfect parties every year (or I guess twice a year now that we have two little ones!). It was great to have such a fun project to throw my creative energies into, but it was also very time consuming and just a little stressful as the party got closer and closer. We pulled it off and I think John Paul really loved it! So maybe I'll be singing a different tune when the next birthday rolls around. And it ended up being totally worth it. Buttttt, we shall see. We shall see.

 Happy 2nd birthday, John Paul Fulton! We love you, big boy!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Jude, Three Months

Jude is 3 months old! 

Just over 14 pounds!

Not sure. He'll be remeasured at 4 months. 

Guys. Jude's daytime sleep is amazing. At least two 2-hour naps a day, usually more like 3, and some catnaps too! But nighttime sleep. UGH. It's been ruffffffffff. I don't think he slept longer than 6 hours straight this past month. And that's rare now. Most nights involve at least 3 wake-ups. John usually gets him back to sleep a time or two, but he also wants to eat a time or two as well. Oyyyy. Let's just say we're hitting the coffee hard around here. And also scratching our heads because John Paul was not like this. He was sleeping through by 2 months if I'm remembering correctly. It all went downhill when we had to stop swaddling at night (he was starting to show signs of rolling) and he developed a middle-of-the-night stuffy nose, I think due to reflux. Both occurred around the same time and that's when his longer stretches stopped. Womp womp. 

Firsts this month
-Lots more control of his fingers/hands/arms. He can pick up toys and hold onto them and move them around. And he can purposefully put his hand to his mouth to suck now. And put his hands together. I think I even saw him stare at his hand a time or two, which is one of the weirder milestones that the pediatrician checks for, but there you have it. 
-Lifting up his head to 90 degrees (or close) during tummy time.
-GIGGLES! Jude is TICKLISH! He occasionally giggles when you tickle his armpits or neck or tummy. Sometimes just changing his onesie will do it. SO CUTE.
-He was smiling lots last month, but now it's even more smiling!
-He was also cooing last month, but this month it's more like he's having coo conversations with us: more consonants and changing vowel sounds. Cooversations. ;)
-Seeing farther distances. He spotted John 10 feet away and tracked him across the room! 

Bubba. And gooey baby, because his smiles are just so gooey!

Other things to note
-Another Schweitz baby, another flat head. See picture above for reference. John Paul ended up with a flat head around this age and we were referred to a neurosurgeon who recommended a helmet. Ultimately we decided to skip the helmet since the flat head actually seemed to be getting better by the time we saw the neurosurgeon, and it ended up being the right decision, as John Paul's head looks pretty normal now. But Jude's flat head is uneven since he prefers turning his head to one side when he sleeps, the same side every night. So we're having to see a neurosurgeon again and we'll probably have to consider a helmet again. This kiddo naps on his tummy, so it's not like he's on his back all the time. And we also wear him or hold him a lot when he's awake. So yeah, no idea how to prevent flat head over here. Any idea?

-Also just like John Paul, Jude loves to stare up at fans. I even caught him cooing at one once.

-His two favorite toys currently are crinkle paper and a bell ball (pictured above). I'll put the crinkle paper under his feet and he'll kick and kick and kick with such excitement.

-We're still not even close to cloth diapering full time. Prob still 10% of the time with Jude. Oh well! We'll get there.

-So you remember that PUKE SPEW thing I mentioned in Jude's 2-month update? Well, he's back at it again. Probably once every three days. It's definitely because he's being overfed, but he keeps giving me signals like he's hungry (rooting around), so I keep feeding him and then PUUUUUKE. I'm covered, he's covered, and usually our bed is covered. I'm trying to be even better at reading his hunger signs now, so we've been MEGASPEW-free for several days now, but I doubt the trend is over. We invested in a waterproof mattress protector in the meantime.

-During tummy time one day he was *thisclose* to rolling, but didn't quite figure it out. I bet by next month we'll have a roller on our hands.

-Jude and John Paul shared their first bath this month and they both loved it!

-We experienced our first family illness this month and it was miserabbbbble. The night before Easter (which I was supposed to host, mind you), I started puking and continued to puke for 3 hours straight. Then I spent 24 hours recovering. Then my milk supply tanked because I was dehydrated from not being able to keep much down for those 24 hours. Then two days later John got hit with it. And then two days after that John Paul got hit with it. And then, just when I felt things couldn't get any worse, I got mastitis! I honestly have never felt so low in my life. It was so hard with both of us adults being sick and then taking care of a sick kid AND being sleep deprived on top of that because: see note about Jude's sleep. We survived, but I'm hoping and praying that doesn't happen again for a long, long time.

-John Paul continues to adjust well to big brotherhood. He doesn't love every moment with Jude, but most of it he's cool with. He especially likes yelling "BURP CLOTH" whenever Jude has the tiniest bit of drool coming out of his mouth. Sometimes he'll even run across the house to grab it for me! He also likes to occasionally show Jude what he's playing with with a "See, Jude?" He knows where we store all of Jude's toys (it's a small collection because: 3-month-old) and he'll pull them all out and pile them next to Jude while Jude gets some floor time. And every night, John Paul says "Night night, Jude!" and attempts to give him a kiss on the lips before he runs off to be put to bed. It's heart meltingly cute.

^^My boys in their natural state: Jude attempting to suck on fingers and John Paul getting as close to Jude as possible and loudly saying "Juuuuuude."

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