Thursday, March 27, 2014

Exhausting

Because burping is just THAT exhausting. She wouldn't even wake up as she burped. This is what happens when you're too busy to nap during the day as a five month old :)

nom nom

Noshing on an apple!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

my girl

Even folding underwear and matching socks is fun when Cassidy is in the mix. The amount of joy this girl carries with her everywhere she goes is unreal :) And contagious! I love her!

Another unsponsored Apple post

Why not have two plugs for Apple products back to back on my blog...

I plopped Cass down next to her big bro this morning while I finished getting dressed. She.was.thrilled to look over his shoulder during his morning iPad time.

And HOW on earth is my girl already this big?! She looks like a little girl, not a baby, in this picture!

Baby's first selfie

In the last week, I've noticed Cassidy has become intrigued by my iPhone. Reaching for it, straining to see the screen, etc. And unlatching during nursing to see what I'm looking at on my phone. Time to start playing on my phone less and focusing on my baby more during those times :) I pulled up the camera and put it on the ground in front of her and less than 2 milliseconds later she'd taken her first selfie. It's like babies are born with the ability to manipulate an iPhone these days!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sitting tall and getting a taste

Cassidy's "big thing" these days is working on sitting up on her own. This week she's started doing so well! She doesn't quickly fold in half any more :) (For a throwback, check out this post of when Troy started sitting. Cassidy is about one week older than Troy was in this pic! Realizing my children do look quite similar to each other in their baby pics!)

We had avocados in the house and I'm going to let Cassidy start trying some solid foods now, so she got a taste of her first avocado. She was not much of a fan. This is about as angry as my girl gets below :/ As soon as I took her out of the highchair, she lunged for my shirt, as if to say, "Mom what WAS that weird green thing!?"

First Day in the Nursery

I decided that it was time for my little peanut to try out the nursery at church during a Sunday service. She did absolutely great, hanging out in the exersaucer and watching some of the bigger babies munch on their cheerios, I hear :) I'm so thankful for our Kingdom Kids ministry at the Vineyard, allowing us to fully participate in the service while our kids are loved on by such great volunteers!

Happy 4th Birthday Madelynn!

Cassidy was such a good sport for wearing her party hat at Madelynn's birthday party this weekend :) She looked pretty stinkin' cute in it too.

There's the birthday girl!

These styrofoam airplanes were a great hit with all the kids! We'll definitely be picking some of these up as a fun addition to a playdate, or just a special treat to have on hand. Troy loved putting the plane together with Daddy and then flying it around the party! Happy Birthday Madelynn!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Warmest day of the year (so far)

Friday we saw the warmest temps we've seen yet in 2014! We first enjoyed a picnic at the park with some friends and checked out a new (to us) park that we literally pass several times a week on our way to church (on Lincoln, between University and Bradley). It was a huge hit with our kids and we'll be going again and again!

Troy maneuvered the balance beam skillfully.

Cassidy nearly passed out in a baby swing.

We spent all afternoon in the yard. I had some smiley kids soaking up all that sun!


And we rounded out our day with Troy's first baseball game! We went to the Illinois baseball game. His quote of the day, as soon as the game started, was, "Mommy, I don't know how to play that game!" It was his first intro to the sport ;)

Clapping for them and enjoying some popcorn snack.

Cassidy got lots of snuggles from Ms Laura while the game marched on. 

Dirt

Do you ever have those moments as a parent where you're literally letting the words come out of your mouth and already second guessing them? One such time a few weeks ago, I was talking to Mike while he was on the road and Troy just casually sits down next to me with an apple he had taken from the counter himself to snack on. I told him he needed to ask next time and Mike challenged me to encourage him to choose healthy snacks instead of treating it like he did something wrong. True dat. Nothing wrong with grabbing an apple.

Enter one warm day this week as I sat in the yard on the phone with my grandmother and I started to tell Troy to stay out of the dirt with his trucks. I quickly realized he's outside, he's a kid, and there's no reason for him to stay out of dirt. My Gramma also chimed in with a story from when she was raising her kids and she told her son to go outside, to which he replied he didn't want to because she was just going to yell at him for getting dirty. She said after that she never made a big deal about dirt again :) Hopefully I can keep myself in check and not yell at him for playing in the dirt next time!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cassidy is 5 months old!


Cassidy is 5 months old, getting bigger and changing every single day! Here's her monthly news :)

Eating: Cassidy is eating about 8 times a day these days. She will stretch out her feedings if she's not around me (at daycare or in someone else's care) and feed about every 2-3 hours if we're together. She takes a 4 or 5 ounce bottle if she's not with me. This next month will bring some solid foods in the mix, as I started Troy with fruits/veggies after 5 months and my goal is to replicate the same eating habits Troy has developed with Cassidy :) Get ready to love your veggies, girly!

Sleeping: Cass still isn't much of a napper :/ She takes 2 or 3 naps, usually less than an hour each. It doesn't give me much time during the day where she's just sleeping, and now that big bro doesn't nap, my day feels pretty action-packed with these two. She is a happy girl though, so she just doesn't need a LOT of daytime sleep to function and be happy. Still a good night time sleeper, with a few sleep regressions over the last month and then improvements again. "Typical" is going to sleep around 7:30 and up once, maybe twice, in the middle of the night. One night this week she slept all the way through (7:30-6:30) but that still doesn't happen consistently.

Playing: Cassidy likes reaching for toys and putting them in her mouth. She likes things she can move (like toys on her jumperoo) or balls or rattles to shake. She likes when Troy brings her toys to play with :) She's a whole lot of fun in the playing area!

New things she's doing: Stayed with a sitter and big bro for the first time! Mike and Gramma have watched her before, as well as our daycare workers at church, but I'd yet to leave her for small group or anything in the evening. She did great with Miss Erica! She is loving being outside. Walks in the stroller, hanging out in baby swings, etc. She discovered her tongue. She's *almost* sitting up consistently. She does it at first and then tips forward after a few seconds. Getting stronger and stronger though!

Clothes: Mostly 3-6 month, but they're getting switched around this weekend. She's ready for 6-9. We were blessed with many, many hand-me-downs from a friend so we have lots of clothes in many sizes to come! So thankful! She's wearing size 2 diapers but I will be buying 3s next time we need some. I've had to buy very few diapers so far, as we had a "diaper shower" at church and are just finishing up the last box from that event! Once again, so thankful!

Likes: TV (sigh). It is what it is. Toys. Walks. Riding in the Ergo (yay!) Baths. Sitting up. Jumperoos and Exersaucers.

Dislikes: Not much really :) She's a pretty happy girl!

Nicknames: My nicknames for her-Peanut and Sunshine. Troy's nicknames for her include Pretty Girl and My Best Baby Sister :) Rarely do we call her Cassidy, she's almost always just "Cass".

Stats: Cassidy weighed in at 15 pounds, 12 ounces (72%ile for weight) and 25 inches (71%ile for height). She was, as Dr Tripathy said, a "very well proportioned little girl!"

Monday, March 17, 2014

Much overdue... a post on breastfeeding

Warning: super-long and detailed post about breastfeeding ahead :) 

Quite often, the topic of breastfeeding comes up in conversations with friends. Just recently, some of the questions I've been asked are "Are you still enjoying it?" and "Are you glad you kept doing it?" I've blogged several times and mentioned in passing my breastfeeding troubles with Cass and I thought it was about time I tried to best sum up what these first five-ish months have been like, since its been full of (mostly) ups and (some) downs. I know that many, many people face difficult issues when breastfeeding and want to blog about our experience in hope that it'll encourage others :) And if you don't want to read about all the details, feel free to check back for my posts tomorrow :)

As I've posted before, I totally understand and respect the choices moms make for their babies, whether it be breastfeeding versus formula feeding, some combo thereof, or whatever else feeding their baby looks like. Each family gets to choose their preferred way to feed their baby and I think its important, no matter what, they feel supported in that choice. For me, my choice for my kids is to breastfeed them. After 15 months of a great breastfeeding relationship with Troy, it wasn't a question for me when Cassidy arrived. I was so, so excited to breastfeed again and naively expected it to go smoothly since I'd "been there, done that" before. 

When Cass was born, I think she latched on and was nursing like a champ in the first hour after she was born. I so enjoyed that first overnight in the hospital, just a few short hours after she was born, with Mike asleep on the couch, just cuddling and nursing my baby all night long. She was SO alert that night (once again, mere hours after she was born) and just stared at me with those big, beautiful eyes. It felt wonderful. The lactation consultants came and saw us and quickly left and wished us well. 

By the time Cassidy was five days old, my milk had come in and she was back up to her birthweight. Jaundice was almost completely gone and she seemed to be thriving. I, on the other hand, was in PAIN. At first I just chalked it up to the adjustment of starting breastfeeding again but after a couple days I realized something was wrong. The day my milk came in, Cassidy's latch got all messed up and she was having a hard time feeding the proper way. Someone asked me how you know you have a bad latch and I said you just KNOW. Plus she wanted to eat around the clock. Literally every hour. There were no breaks.

I took her to the lactation consultant the next week when things weren't getting better and we realized she'd lost weight and was below birthweight again. I was so upset. My baby was no longer "doing great" and I was still in pain. I had no idea why. I spent the next day in bed, snuggling Cass, feeding her as much as possible and trying to get her weight back up. We went back the next day and her weight had stayed the same. Not dropped further, but not up either. The LCs were still encouraging but suggested we try a nipple shield since we were having such issue getting a good latch. I was bummed but willing to try it. That coupled with "tongue exercises" was our homework when we left.

They also told me to start supplementing if she still seemed hungry after a feed. I really, really didn't want to supplement but one night she wouldn't sleep and seemed hungry and I found myself at Walmart in the middle of the night buying formula for the first time ever. Once again, I have NO judgment for people that use formula, but I was crushed. It just wasn't my plan. Things were not going well, I was hormonal and something I fully expected to be problem-free just wasn't turning out that way.

So I found myself breastfeeding with a nipple shield, topping off with no more than 1-2 ounces of formula a few feeds a day, and pumping after feeding in an effort to boost my supply. Her weight started to go up, and I thought we'd never be able to get back to exclusive breastfeeding and I was headed to using formula full time (In retrospect, we were never that close to "needing" to do that because I was just topping off each feeding. And a very encouraging La Leche League leader told me just that, that I was NOT far off from exclusive breastmilk again.) But breastfeeding works on supply and demand, so supplementing with formula doesn't do anything to help boost your supply since baby is taking more than you're making. One particular day, I think Cass was exactly two weeks old (a Sunday), I seriously thought I was going to stop breastfeeding all together. But you can't just stop abruptly, so I kept nursing her and just knew I would use formula as needed.

That lasted literally hours. That night my mom was staying with us and I had nursed, topped off with formula and headed to bed in the late hours while my mom took care of her. So she wasn't hungry. But she wouldn't settle down. My mom brought her in to me and said maybe she'd want to nurse again. And sure enough, she did. She settled right down and went to sleep. And I knew in that moment I had to keep trying, that there was something still so right about it, I wasn't ready to stop. The next day I was back at pumping and using formula as sparingly as possible in an effort to get her back on 100% breastmilk.

Unfortunately my milk supply had taken a bit of a nosedive by this point. On day five of supplementing, I was starting to wonder if this was going to work after all and by that point I had become SO determined to try to make it work. I had a lot of help from my mom and after she left, friends in town, that week with Troy so I could just focus on breastfeeding. On day five (a Thursday), my friend Anne picked up Troy for the day and prayed for me. I had just supplemented before she arrived and couldn't pump ANYTHING, which was so sad for me. She prayed my milk would return in plenty for Cass.

I didn't have to supplement again :)

Things quickly turned around. 24 hours later we'd gone all day with a satisfied baby (even milk drunk!) and I knew in that moment we were going to be okay. I took her in for a weight check after about 3 days of exclusive breastmilk and we were doing great. The lactation consultants were very surprised we hadn't touched formula in days. Things were back on track. I baked lactation cookies, drank mother's milk tea and took fenugreek (an herbal supplement) to keep my milk up for a few weeks. I prayed a LOT, too :)

I was just happy that Cassidy was doing so well, but it certainly was time to take care of me too. Little by little her latch improved, the nipple shield helped us nurse comfortably and even though feedings took a LONG time, it was going so much better. In all honesty, I wasn't even thinking about ditching the nipple shield because I was just so happy she was eating at the breast. I did visit my midwife around the 4 week mark and got a prescription for what's known as "all purpose nipple ointment" and safe for breastfeeding. It was awesome. Mike and I joked that it was made of "magical unicorn spit" since it was so hard to get it filled at a pharmacy :)

Things continued on that way for awhile. I learned about lip ties and tongue ties and started to suspect Cassidy had them. I took her to my pediatrician, who referred us to an oral surgeon a month later for an eval. He basically said that it wasn't significant enough to cause serious problems and wouldn't recommend correcting (i.e. laser surgery) them. That response is pretty typical for doctors untrained in ties though, and if I had wanted to pursue it, we could have gone to a second opinion out of town (and out of pocket). Since we were still doing well, I opted to let it be and keep doing what we were doing.

Fast forward to Cassidy at three months old. She was gaining weight wonderfully, and her super happy self. I felt fine and breastfeeding was mostly pain free. I was usually starting feedings without the nipple shield and then using it if it started to hurt. I was at a conference we were hosting with Vineyard Churches from all around the country and having a great time. At one point, I prayed for a woman from Oklahoma I believe, and then she offered to pray for me. I was holding a sleeping Cassidy at that time and she ended up praying that I "wouldn't have a single physical need unmet." She was a total stranger and I hadn't mentioned anything about breastfeeding struggles. Literally, after that I went to the nursing moms room to feed and had my very first entire feeding without the nipple shield since we started using it. I still carried it in my bag for ages, why, I don't know. It felt great to be done with that and to get back to the relative "ease" of breastfeeding I remembered from my days with Troy.

Since then, things continue to get better and better. I have found so much joy in this part of my mothering to Cassidy. I feel so much more confident feeding her on the go (and out of necessity, need to do this much more than I ever did with Troy, since all I was worried about was him!) I can feed her in a couple different baby carriers, which I NEVER mastered with Troy. It's awesome. I was able to enjoy an entire overnight away with my hubby to celebrate my birthday with an abundance of milk stored in the freezer. Confession: I actually cried when I totaled up how much I had in preparation for that trip. I couldn't pump even an ounce in those first weeks, so having more than a dozen feedings worth of milk was pretty overwhelming.

I take a lot of selfies while nursing. I would say no clue why, but I know why. I'm HAPPY. I'm so glad we are where we are. I'm incredibly thankful for every moment and for the incredible support system of my husband, family and friends I had around me to make this work. And I'm soaking it all up because I know it won't last long in the grand scheme of life as a mom :) Thank you to all of you for your support and encouragement in this area!

Happy St Patricks Day

This may be one of my least creative holidays so far. No crafts, not even a themed dinner (though there WILL be a corned beef in the crock pot tomorrow, just had too many leftovers to eat today). But I just had to post this pic of my little cutie wearing her green today. Especially as she was sporting this hand-me-down bib from her big bro on his first St Patty's Day!

Visit from the grandparents

We had day visitors yesterday as Gramma and Grampa made their way down to spend some time with us. Troy was pretty excited when he walked into the cafe at church to see them waiting for him...surprise!




After lunch, both kids were happily playing with their grandparents and Mike and I were sent upstairs to take a nap :) A few short minutes later, our realtor called with a showing in 60 minutes. We all sprang into action to get the house ready to show. It was SO helpful to have the extra hands :) Our first showing to kick off a hopefully successful spring in the housing market for the Cunninghams!

Outside Time with Madelynn

We had a visitor for a couple hours on one of the warmest days of the year so far. Literally less than five minutes after our friend Madelynn arrived, we were off to the park! Think they were excited much? :)



For a fun throwback, check out the first time I took these two to the same park in our neighborhood :) Mads was barely walking and Troy was the one in an infant carrier!

Sibs


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Memory

Confession: I love playing games. I remember playing them a LOT as a kid. And I still enjoy them as an adult. So I'm really excited for my kids to grow into the game-playing phase of life. Today, we played our first game, as I decided Troy was finally old enough to grasp "Memory". He called it "playing cards" and asked to play it again about an hour after the first time we played it. Here's to many, many more board games now that I have a "3+" aged kid :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

First time on the diving board

Okay, today was the first day in nearly three months of swim lessons that I felt a *bit* overprotective as I saw one of Troy's instructors line them up at the diving board while the other one demonstrated. I thought surely they would NOT be taking them off the diving board, but  I have to remind myself that Troy is the youngest in the class (and one of the most fearless!) and as my friend with slightly older children said, "they really like to get them to do everything early so its not a big deal later." 

Okay so they demonstrate and who is the first kid to volunteer to climb up there? Mine :) I am so proud of my boy! Sorry for the low quality, really far video, but if you look closely you can see him!

More outside photos

Here's a little more from our last week, the first warm days. Let's forget the fact that it looks like a blizzard outside today. It'll all melt tomorrow I hope :)

Cass likes riding in her stroller like a big girl, watching what's going on.

First time in a baby swing!

Swinging high :)

Troy wouldn't take his jacket off yesterday when we got home from church. He said it was so he could go back outside. And Cassidy I might have been a little excited for all those cute springy dresses hanging in her closet and had to put her in one yesterday. Pretty sure she loved being in something light with her baby legs hanging out :)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Playing at Lake of the Woods

Today it was over 50 degrees and we met up with some friends for some sunshine and fresh air at Lake of the Woods in Mahomet. Troy was thrilled that I wasn't yelling at him to stay out of puddles and I just let him go to town in the puddles and mud. He was SO tired he crashed as soon as we left and was not very happy when he was woken up to be changed out of wet clothes :) Can't wait to spend even more time there this year!

"Just hold on til spring"

This has been a long winter. Really, really long. Usually, winters in C-U have a few breaks in the cold where its in the 30s and we can get out to the park from time to time. Rarely is there continuous snow on the ground, any winter. Without a doubt, there have been challenging moments this winter. I'm going to even say the most challenging moments I've faced yet as a mom. (Sorry, does that sound a little dramatic?!) As I've been praying through things, I felt God say, "Just hold on 'til spring." Not that spring was going to magically potty train my kid or any one of a million other things, but that was the word I got and what I've been holding on to for weeks now...

So here it is. The first glimmers of spring. This week the cold finally broke and even though we still need to wear coats and hats, we've gone for walks three days in a row. And are headed to the park after Cassidy's nap when she gets up soon. My daughter had not been for a "real" walk in her stroller yet in her short little life until this week. That's how long this winter has felt.

There's so much good going on with our family and I'm so grateful. Cassidy has started putting herself to sleep for naps and bed. A week ago she seldom did that. Now she's doing awesome, when we're at home at least. I forgot what an incredible relief that is when babies start doing that.

Troy's behavior is markedly improved from where it was a month or two ago. His naptime is gone now and bedtime comes earlier. Giving Mike and I great time to hang out and watch Jimmy Fallon after both kids are in bed. (One day later, that is. We don't stay up that late!) Speaking of Mike, he's home for a few weeks right now. Grateful.

Our house is back on the market. We don't know when we'll see movement on it but the thought that we could be moving to Mahomet later this year is certainly exciting.

All that to say, spring is here. We may still see cold days, but those sub zero temps are hopefully a thing of the past. Welcome, spring!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Dinosaur Jesus song

I posted this on Facebook the other day:
Today as we were talking in the car, Troy started talking about Jesus. Eventually he said, "we sing songs about Jesus." I told him yep and asked him what his favorite song was, thinking I was going to get some great insight into my three year old's fav worship song. His response? "The dinosaur Jesus song." Ummm yea...

So people instantly asked how that song went and I hadn't even thought to have Troy sing it. First thing this morning I asked him and this is what his response was:

Song: Dinosaur Jesus Song
Lyrics: Dinosaur, dinosaur, Jesus loves me, I have a sheep, I have a sheep (repeat)
Copyright: Troy Michael Cunningham, 2014

Campus Visit

Troy had an appointment at the language lab at U of I today and it was just barely warm enough for us to spend some time walking around afterwards. But we did! So much to look at on campus. Here's Troy walking down Green Street :) Uncle Brian referenced the Bee Gees "stayin' alive" strut when he saw this photo.

We stopped in Dunkin Donuts for a perfect mid morning treat of munchkins. He LOVED sitting at the tall tables among the college kids and saying hi to people. So glad we get another trip back to campus for Cassidy's first appt at the infant lab in a few weeks!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"a little spring out there"

Troy looked outside this morning and saw the grass emerging and said, "I see a little spring out there Mommy!" Yep, sure is! I knew it would be warm enough for a walk today so we headed out this afternoon (33 degrees, woo hoo!) Forget the fact that my son did NOT want to go outside because he was convinced it was going to be cold out there. His last few times outside for play haven't been very enjoyable I guess :)

But once we got going, I heard him shout how fun this was. Definitely the highlight of the day because spring is COMING! It felt great to go for a "real" walk around the neighborhood, and easily the longest walk we've had since Cass joined our family. Yay!

Monday, March 3, 2014

"my best baby sister"

Lately Troy has floated the phrase "hers my best baby sister" a few times. I think I melt a little every time it happens. Today when I put this little sister onesie on her I thought I should blog that. And yes, this is how my daughter was dressed to accompany her big bro to swimming lessons. I told another mom there that perhaps she was a little overdressed, and the mom responded, "you have a girl, you don't need an occasion to dress her up!"