McKevitts in Maui: 2015

We just got back from an amazing, week long trip to Maui. B and I both agree that it was probably the best vacation we’ve ever taken as a family. We went into it with very few planned activities or expectations other than to disconnect from social media (me!) and email (B!) and enjoy the time as a family and get as much beach time as was humanly possible. With B traveling for work, I am fiercely protective of our family time, and this week with just our five was exactly the refresh break we needed. Sometimes, in the hub-bub of everyday life, the things you have to do: the kid shuttling, the meal cooking, the house cleaning, the disciplining so that you don’t raise hooligans, can lead you to forget that family life is, at it’s core, supposed to be fun. I realized during this trip that this was our first trip that was purely us five. We’ve traveled a decent amount with the kids and always made vacations out of all of our trips, but often our vacation destinations were driven by seeing people we knew places, even if we stayed on our own. But anyway, back to the trip.

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You can pretty much break our trip into two parts: the travel, and everything else. Let’s just touch on the travel quickly. Flights from Denver to Maui were absurdly expensive, we were kind of thinking they’d be lower since August is not Hawaii’s busy season, but nope. Due to the fact that the flights alone are usually what we budget for our annual vacation, and also not knowing if it would be better to have a quick layover to break up the sitting or do it all in one swoop, we didn’t splurge for the direct flight from Denver to Maui (lesson learned: splurge for the direct flight).  So, on the flight out, we left Denver at 5:45 am and had a quick layover in Phoenix, before taking a six hour flight from Phoenix to Maui. The flights were torture. I’m not a great flyer. I’m not an anxious person usually, but flying brings out a certain level of anxiety that I’m not used to. Suddenly everyone on the plane is not to be trusted (I’m the same way in movie theaters now, too…to the point where we just don’t go to movies anymore), and take-off and landing tie my stomach in knots. But this isn’t about me. The big kids were awesome. We generally don’t allow technology for flights, but based on the fact that we’d be flying for 8 and a half hours, we broke our normal rule and downloaded as many Stella and Sam Sprout episodes to B’s iPad as we could. I also bought a few little dollar store activities, and the kids slept for about 2 hours of the Maui flight. It was a long haul, but the big kids didn’t complain once. Peter, on the other hand…made a name for himself. As soon as we took off from Phoenix, Peter fell asleep in the Ergo – he’d been awake for 5 hours at that point since we woke him up at 3am.  He woke up an hour later, and I distracted him for a good hour with stickers. And then we reached sheer exhaustion but the toddler doesn’t want to sleep point. And I would say that Peter screamed on-and-off for two hours of our 6 hour flight. To the point where the next morning (at 5:30am) when I was on the beach with my time confused youngest two, a man stopped and said “Peter! I remember you from the plane. I’m not the least bit surprised that you’re awake at this hour.” At least he had a good sense of humor.

But the beauty of  Maui is that the second we were in our rental car, the flight portion was behind us. We stayed on the Northwest side of the island. I grew up going to Maui for Christmas with my Dad’s side of the family and we always stayed in Kaanapali, and this time we were a little further North towards Kapalua. It was so fun to be back in a place that some of my best childhood memories are tied to with my own family. I think that’s what made this trip so special to me – exposing my kids to something that was a huge part of my childhood. But also, exploring a place I knew with my husband and seeing it through different eyes. It’s so neat to see how your view of the world changes as you’re exposed to new people and things.

So anyway, Maui. We mostly played at the beach and in the pool, with a couple little activities mixed in. Or room had a full kitchen, so we ate breakfast and lunch or dinner in the room and ate out one meal a day. We’d wake up (early…because…time change) and hit the beach within 30 minutes of being awake. We found a sweet beach early on that has a huge reef about 300 yards out, so it protects the shore from huge wave breaks and makes it the perfect, safe place for little kids to play in the ocean. I forced B (seriously – had to force him) to play golf at Kapalua on Monday, and that was the day I took the kids to the protected beach. We had the best time floating, building in the sand and pretending that we were a family of fish. The next day, Tuesday, I decided we should all go to Kaanapali beach. That beach is truly beautiful and the quintessential sandy beach, but the waves were intense. Tom, Nell and I all got knocked over and tossed by a huge wave as we were exiting the ocean: I realized the tides were getting a bit high for my comfort being in the water with a 5 and 3 year old, so we body surfed a wave in, and as I was carrying them out of the water, the undertoe combined with a huge wave behind it and we were thrown under, tossed around and landed on our backs (me still gripping the kids with all my might) with B and random strangers running at us to help. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life and from that time on, we decided to play it safe and stay at the little wave-less beach.  We redeemed Tuesday by eating a delicious lunch over the ocean at Koa’s Seaside Grill on Front Street in Lahaina. Delicious food, and gorgeous views.

On Wednesday, we woke up and headed straight to Baby Beach with B so that he would see that not all the waves were terrifying. And once B saw Baby Beach, that was our home base for the rest of our vacation. We had several people at the hotel with kids our kids ages who had similar big wave experiences ask us if we had found a beach that was good for little kids, and B told everyone about Baby Beach. I said, “Good thing we’re leaving in a few days, our secret little spot is going to be so crowded now that you’ve told everyone about it!” It truly was like a hidden gem that we had all to ourselves for most of each morning – which is funny because we found it by googling “Best Beaches for Kids in Maui”, but maybe not everyone googles? After spending the morning at Baby Beach, we headed back to our hotel and I rented a standup paddle board for 24 hours. The first day was really rough on the ocean outside of our hotel, but the second day was beautiful and we had a blast.  Wednesday night we went to the Maui Nui Luau. I warned B that they can be a little hokey, but it’s a neat way to see a bit of Hawaiian tradition and culture. It was indeed hokey, but it was fun, the food was good, and the kids thought it was the best. Which truly, is all that matters. In the future, we’d probably skip the luau, but if we did do it again, we’d probably choose a different one.

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Thursday was sort of a repeat of Wednesday – we woke up, went to the beach where B and I took turns snorkeling while the other stayed with the kids, swam in the pool, did some stand-up paddle boarding, and then went to Whaler’s Village and ate dinner on the beach at Hula Grill. Peter was not the most enjoyable at meal times this trip. He’s in a phase where he doesn’t eat much, and he’s squirmy. So B and I were passing Peter back and forth to try to keep him from ruining everyone’s meal. I’m sure we looked like a hot mess. When we were done, our server came over and said, “All done? Well, today is your lucky day. Another table has picked up your meal.” He told us that the table had already left, and we’re pretty sure it was a couple that was sitting behind us who at one point picked up a crayon Peter had thrown on the floor. B and I were both dumbstruck, and honestly felt a little guilty, but then we told ourselves, “They wouldn’t have done it if they hadn’t wanted to, and we’ll just have to remember to pass it on someday”. We laughed as we were leaving and I said to B, “They either saw us and thought ‘Man, those two are in way over their heads, let’s buy them a meal.’ or they said, ‘What a sweet family, don’t you remember when our kids were that age, let’s buy them a meal.’” We’re hoping it was the latter, but something tells me the first one might be more realistic.
Friday we woke up and went to breakfast in Lahaina, then went to our favorite baby beach. We spent the morning splashing, floating and sand playing. After naps we went back to Lahaina and had the most delicious Hawaiian Shave Ice at Ululani’s, then did a little bit of shopping and went to see the Banyan tree. It was our last night in Hawaii, so we ate dinner at the hotel overlooking the beach and watched the sunset and schemed about how we could extend our trip by another week.

Saturday we did our traditional wake-up, hit the beach and play. We came back and showered and did final packing before checking out of the hotel, then headed to the East side of the Island to look around. We ate at lunch at the Flatbread Company before heading to the airport. We decided that based on Peter’s age and phase, this was not the trip to eat at Mama’s Fish House, but we will be back someday, hopefully with a less scream-y Peter in toe, and then we will have our delicous fancy meal.

 

The flights home were long and made us ready to be home. So maybe that’s why you do it – so that once you’re on the flight, you feel ready to be home and not sad to be leaving Hawaii again. It was a red-eye flight with a layover in Dallas (yes, that’s past Denver. I told you the flights we got were awful. Next time, direct it is.) Peter screamed for about an hour, but did fall asleep for the part of the flight where everyone else would want to sleep. I didn’t sleep, and during that time Peter was crying and I was trying to settle him, I got plenty of evil looks from a not very pleasant newlywed bride. But what can you do? We’ll never see her again, and someday, maybe she’ll be traveling with a 17 month old and I hope that people treat her more graciously.

 

So what would we do differently? Direct flights. And we’d stay an extra week. Here’s a video I put together of our trip:

 

Spring…Or Something Like That.

Colorado is a weird place in the Spring. We have beautiful January days – 70 degrees when we’re outside in barefeet and tank tops. And then there’s February, which is normally dreary, followed by March, which is drearier still. But by April, we usually start to warm up. And we did, a bit – we had some nice April days. But for the most part, I feel like we haven’t really had Spring here in Colorado this year.

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We worked with a landscape designer to get a front yard plan done in March with the intention of planting in April, but April didn’t let that happen, and now we’re half way through May and we’ve had chilly, wet days. I’m not complaining at all – we need the moisture and it will be hot soon enough.

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But this morning, Nell and Pete and I planted flowers in the front porch planter. Last night, our new patio furniture was delivered. Because, it’s time. It’s time for some color. It’s time to eat outdoors.  It’s time to stop waiting. Hopefully Memorial Day weekend will give way to good planting weather for the rest of our front yard, but I’m thrilled to have taken the first few steps to Spring…although at this rate, we might have to skip straight toward summer.

Easter Recap

We had the best Easter Weekend this year. I love Easter – I love hosting Easter because it’s so easy, but this year I gave that up, and we kept it low-key. I often feel like if we don’t host so that both families can attend, I feel pressured to make it to both families for every holiday – but our families live an hour and a half apart. But I’m 30 now, so I’m more reasonable . My brother was in town, so we went to my parent’s because we don’t see him very often, and B’s parents came to Tom’s soccer game on Saturday and came over to the house to do Easter Baskets with the kids after that. It was perfect – no pressure, no racing across the state of Colorado to see everyone in one day – perfect.

 

We died Easter Eggs on Saturday morning with Kool-aid. So simple and easy. We hard boiled a dozen eggs, lost two to some violently boiling water, and should have boiled two dozen because the kids had a blast. Next year when Peter’s a part of the action, we’ll definitely have to up our Egg count.

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Easter morning, a certain almost 5 year old woke the whole house up to go see the Easter baskets. The kids were pretty smitten. Our Easter Bunny keeps things VERY simple – a few candy filled eggs, a book, a small toy (our bunny opted for Legos over yet another stuffed animal…) and this year a new water bottle for each kid. And they were pleased as punch.

Easter Morning After we did our own little Egg hunt at our house, we loaded up and headed down South to my mom and dad’s house – we went to my old Elementary school for Easter Mass, then spent the rest of the day at my parents’ house, visiting with the family and letting the cousins play together. We took some family pictures, ate some really good food, and drank mimosas.

Easter Pictures

There was another egg hunt in my mom and dad’s backyard, and a LOT of backyard baseball.

Easter Day It was a perfect way to celebrate Easter – centered around Church and family with a little bit of candy and fun, just as it should be.

Updates…

I have plenty of things in my head I could blog about…but life just gets so busy, and three weeks after Valentine’s Day how interesting is my valentines mantle? Ha! So here’s my typical “All the pictures in my iPhone catch-up”. Truth be told, I’ve been going back and forth about blogging and social media lately. And by lately I mean over the last two years. In my commitment to disconnect more frequently (and during the day) from technology, I post to Instagram far less. I rarely sit down at the computer during the day, and at night, on the weeks B is home and not traveling, I like to spend time with him. I deleted Facebook from my Phone for Lent and won’t be adding it back after it’s over — I was on the brink of just deleting my personal Facebook account, but decided to just remove the quickest access I had to it instead, so I only see things if I actually sit down at the computer, which is rare.  And can I say? It’s kind of nice. But then there’s the outlet of the blog – I like writing. I like the occasional family post, the pictures and the recaps of what we’re up to at this stage in our lives. I like sharing the occasional house project, but I’m a mom of three kids with a husband who travels 60% of the time…house projects are few and far between! And that’s okay – this is our life.  I love the community that so many of us built together 7 years ago when we all started blogging. But as our kids have all gotten older (and more numerous!), there’s less time. And more concern over privacy and kids. I don’t have a good answer, but I know the longer I wait to blog, the harder it gets to come back, so I’m recommitting to this old blog for the month of April to see how it goes.

So here we go, a quick catch-up:

I finished my third full Whole30 (my January Whole30 I didn’t finish, so I’m not counting that one) on March 15th. I lost 13 pounds, a couple inches all over and felt great – 6 of those 13 pounds were weight I gained over the holidays and the month of January, but the other 7 put me below my “happy weight”, which is awesome. I’ve done a great job of keeping with the eating – with the occasional treat here and there. B and I flew to Charleston last weekend for a wedding, and while I didn’t deny myself any foods I truly wanted, I definitely was conscious of how food made me feel. After three Whole30s, I’ve realized that I’m sensitive to gluten. Not intolerant, mind you – I like to be very clear on that in this gluten free world we’re inundated by – but just sensitive to it – it upsets my stomach and while I can deal with the discomfort, I feel better (and weigh less) when I avoid gluten, so that’s what I plan to keep doing. In the past, good craft beer has been the reason I’ve reintroduced gluten, but after this last Whole30, beer didn’t even taste good to me. (My first Whole30 recap is here).

 

With food kind of figured out, I’m turning my mind towards working out again. In January, I started P90x3. I loved the workouts, I felt strong and loved being in a daily workout routine…but I gained weight while doing it. And that was in conjunction with the failed Whole30 – part of why I gave up on the Whole30 in January was because I was annoyed at the scale. My friend and BeachBody coach was a huge part of getting me back into working out -and eating clean – last April. We both had newborns, and we both had baby weight to lose, and she was inspirational, challenged me to eat clean while doing a month long commitment to workouts through her accountability groups (if you’re looking to get started with a workout program, Jessica and her accountability groups are awesome – not perked to say that at all, just sharing the good :) ), and that’s when I found the Whole30. Jessica has been awesome talking me through the Beachbody programs and helping me find a program that works for me, so, I am starting 21 Day fix on Monday. I will be honest, I’m mostly doing it for the workouts. I’m scared to change my eating because I know that paleo and Whole30 work for me, but I will follow the 21 Day fix food plan as it fits into my paleo diet and am looking forward to the portion control portions of the program. But to fit this into my paleo diet, that means no grains or dairy (though I have promised to give vegan Shakeology a try) for me.

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B is traveling a ton for work, but he’s loving his job, and the two of us have figured out how to make it work. Thankfully, Facetime helps both the kids and me while he’s gone, and before he took the job we talked a lot about how important it was to me to not feel like having him around got in the way of our routine once we adjusted to his travel. The traveling husband and how we’re making it work with our marriage and the kids is probably a post of it’s own, and one that will continue to evolve…and I’m determined to blog more in April, so maybe I’ll get to that. But the long story short is: When B is home, we teamwork it like we always have, and when he’s gone, we talk multiple times a day so that he knows what’s going on, where we’re at with the kids, and how the week is going as a whole so he knows what he’s coming home to and he can pick up where he left off. It’s a lot of work, but doing that work is the most important thing for our family right now.

Thomas is in the homestretch of PreK and getting excited for summer. He’s playing soccer right now, and starts swimming lessons with Nell in two weeks. He’ll play T-Ball this summer (he’s psyched to finally be old enough – his June birthday put him past the cutoff date last year by 4 days). He’s getting more and more into Legos, but sports still reign supreme in his life. He’s a sweet, sensitive and fun kid, and we’re loving this stage of life where he’s doing “bigger kid” stuff, but still so small. He turns five in two months. Somebody hold me.

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Nell Caroline is 2 and a half, and you would know it. When Thomas was two and three, I remember telling people that his phases went in 3 month increments. We’d have a great 3 months, and then we’d have a rocky 3 months, although looking back at it I honestly don’t remember three month rocky stretches (ah, the gift of time and rose colored glasses!). Nell’s phases seem to go in about 3 WEEK increments. Which is exhausting, but thank goodness because the rocky stretches just about do me in…I can’t imagine if they lasted months rather than weeks. I went to confession at the start of Lent, and it basically turned into a counseling session about my sweet daughter, because my relationship with her was weighing heavily on my heart at the time. And it helped me enter these last 6 weeks with a different mindset – I’m trying to remember that I’m raising these children to be good people, to love God, and to share God’s love through kindness. And that starts with me. This is all probably another blog post in and of itself, but all this is to say that Nell and I are currently in a great phase, and I’m enjoying every second of it. I find myself thanking God each night lately for our good days, for his guidance as I navigate attempts at a whole new kind of attitude and disobedience, and for the sweet moments that remind me how lucky I am to have Nell’s perspective on the world.

IMG_7195_2 Peter Michael. B and I were gone for 4 days and we left our baby and came back to a toddler. He is into EVERYTHING. He’s walking, climbing, screaming when he doesn’t get his way and delighted by the sweetest, simplest things. I love 12 month olds, and I remember how hard it is when they feel independent but in reality are struggling to do anything for themselves. This baby boy of ours is so darn sweet – he’s snuggly and charismatic. I joke that he’s going to be our class clown, and I think he’s just going to be an easy going kid – used to rolling with the punches.

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And that’s our update. There are plenty of blog posts to come, and my goal is to blog 2 – 3 times a week this month. In reality, that will mean a lot of family posts, rather than a ton of house updates, but that’s our life right now. And I’m embracing it.

New Year, New (Personal) Decade, New Resolutions

Well, it’s 2015. I turned 30 on January 1st – a milestone I was happy to welcome. A friend asked me at Christmas Eve Mass how I felt about turning 30, and I told him honestly, “Well, I’ve been acting 30-something for the last five years, so might as well embrace it and make it official.” And truly, it felt a little anti-climactic. Quite honestly, the majority of our friends have about 7 years on us. We have a good group of friends that are our age, but they’re not in the same place in life as us – kids, houses, etc. It just seems that most of the people we meet in daily life – living in the suburbs with kids about our kids’ ages – are about 7 years older than us. So 30 wasn’t scary to me – I’ve had a healthy year after having my 3rd baby, and so I am entering my 30s feeling good about myself, my kids, my marriage and our circumstances in life. But there’s always room for improvement, and I’ve never been one to shy away from a New Year’s and Birthday resolution or two or three. I have a couple resolutions for the whole year, and a few things just for January.

 

January 2015 Goals

Whole30 – I’m embracing my 3rd Whole30 (read about my first one here) – I started the day after my birthday, on January 2nd.  I almost didn’t – B and I are having a joint 30th birthday party mid-month, and I am going to have a glass of wine or two that night, which I know means that this won’t be a real Whole30, so I considered just not doing it.  However, I knew if I didn’t commit to it, then I wouldn’t follow it – so one night of not perfect is going to have to do, because with travel and weddings and lots of 30th birthdays coming up, the next available month would be April, and I didn’t want to wait that long.

No Spending January - You can read all about our first No Spending January here and here. And then my No Shopping October here. Nothing new, we’re following the same plan we did last year, and looking forward to putting a little extra money into savings after Christmas.

Establish a Workout Routine - After Peter’s weight gain issues this summer, I dropped working out. And I tried to get back into it a couple times, and never succeeded. So, with spring clothes and summer swim suits approaching, I’m jumping back into it. I’m borrowing P90x3 from a friend to see how I like it, but while the Whole30 is going to handle any Christmas cookies I indulged in over the last month and help me feel great, I still would like to do a little more toning up.

 

2015 Resolutions

Be Present - This is specifically about me and technology. I do a lot of mindless phone scrolling throughout the day, and I don’t like it. I would rather play with my kids. So I’ve established a place in our home for my phone – I can go get it if I need it, but then I need to put it back.  I will still take pictures and occasionally post to Instagram, but I want to get away from constantly monitoring my phone.

Run Two Races. I was going to make this goal 4 – one a quarter – but the bottom line is that B is traveling a lot for work and I’m not going to bundle my kids up in a double stroller and take them for a run in the cold. Nor am I going to put them in a gym daycare so I can run on a treadmill in the heart of cold and flu season. So I won’t have a lot of run training time, but I’d like to get back into races this year, and two seems like a manageable number given limited training time.

So those are my goals for January and 2015 – what about you?

Merry Christmas 2014

B is off work this week and we’re enjoying lots of family time, so just dropping in to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy, healthy and safe holidays. Peace, in particular, is on my mind this Christmas season. Wishing you sweet moments with your families, loved ones and friends.

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Updates

- Last week we had a bitter cold snap. It was frigid.  I tried to snap a Christmas card picture of the kids in the snow:

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It didn’t go so well. We’ll be trying again…or just using the pictures we had taken at the beach this summer.

- But we did get a lot of snow play in when the kids were dressed appropriately. Last year I was pregnant with Peter and didn’t have a warm winter coat that fit, so I was kind of a dud of a mom when it came to snow play, so B had to pick up all of my slack. This year, we have Peter and he’s too young to be out in the frigid cold, so we made sure to take advantage of his morning naptime for shoveling and snow play.

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- Speaking of snow play, Costco snow gear for the win. The kids coats (Nell’s from last year and T’s is this year) were both under $30 (I think T’s was $29 and Nell’s was $23). Yes, every kid you pass has the same coat, but it’s a coat. And they grow out of them. Also, those Head brand ski mittens with the zippers that Costco sold last year? Best invention ever. I haven’t seen them this year, but I’m on the lookout to buy the next sizes. If you run across them, buy them for your kids: They are warm and the zipper makes getting mittens on kids so much easier.

- I was taken down by some kind of stomach bug this week and it was miserable. It came on slowly Monday and Tuesday and then knocked me out all day Wednesday and Thursday, but I’m feeling better now and hoping the rest of our family stays healthy.  Nell was acting a little rough on Wednesday, too, but she snapped out of it quickly. So, fingers crossed ***

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- Thomas and Nell decided that Nell was ready to “potty train” this week. B was out of town for work, I was knocked out by the previously mentioned stomach bug, and so Thomas took the lead on that, and she did fine. With that said, now that I’m back amongst the living and have taken control of the house back from the 4 year old, we’re not officially potty training her yet — I’m a big believer in potty training later rather than potty training for a year (which is what I believe potty training too early leads to) – Thomas was 2 years 10 months when I potty trained him in one afternoon and he never had an accident (and also has a totally different {perfectionist} personality than his sister, I realize), so that’s my preferred method. I’ll keep you posted on if my preference wins out. I’ve realized in parenting that it rarely does…

And that’s where we’re at! I’m gearing up for Christmas, B and I are both strict about “No Christmas before Thanksgiving” over here. Yesterday I turned on the Yule Log on Comcast just to show the kids because they’ve been singing the carols that Thomas’s class is practicing for his Christmas program and Thomas said, “Mom, it’s not Christmas yet!” Touche, kid. Touche. Thanks for keeping me honest, Thomas.

 

 

Updates

Sometimes it’s been so long between posts that it’s awkward to just dive back into posting.  So, here’s a random update post to get everyone up to speed:

Thomas started Pre-K three weeks ago. He’s at the same preschool he went to last year, but up from two mornings a week to three mornings a week this year. So many people in our area are putting their 4 year olds in 4 or 5 day a week Pre-K, and I just…can’t. I would send him only two mornings a week if that were an option. I’m not the least bit worried that my kid is missing out on something academic in Pre-K, but I am worried that my time with this boy is dwindling. Next year is Kindergarten – B and I are constantly debating the merits of redshirting our June babies for Kindergarten (a decision we’ll make for each child individually and based on the whole child), but even if Thomas goes to our local elementary school for kindergarten at 6 instead of 5, he’ll be in Kindergarten at his preschool next year. Which means I have 11 months left to cram in as much library, zoo, and play time as I possibly can before he’s in school 5 days a week. It goes too fast. Tooo fast.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.21.07 PM On that note, Nell is not in preschool. So many people in our area are putting their two year olds in preschool and I just…can’t. Noticing a theme here? Ha. I joke that Nell needs as much home influence as she can get before we send her out into the big wide world (true), but really I just like having my kids here with me (I will be the first to say I don’t know if I would look at this differently if we hadn’t been through what we’d been through with daycare when Thomas was an infant. But I have deep trust issues, now. Deep. And I don’t want my kids out of my eyesight until they can speak to me in full, clear sentences with details about everything that goes on wherever they are). However, because she is in her big brother’s shadow for so many things, I signed her up for a mom-tot gymnastics class at our local rec center. I don’t do generally do classes with toddlers because they’re…toddlers. Thomas took private swim lessons this summer and Nell signed herself up. Truly, Tom’s lesson was over, and Nell went over to the teacher and said, “I ready for my yesson, Miss Megan. I practicing my foats.” So she signed herself up basically, but normally, I wouldn’t put my 2 year old in swim lessons – she’ll learn to swim, she doesn’t have to learn at 2. However, gymanstics was something I thought Nell would enjoy, it was cheap, gave us something to do together but also something to do that’s just hers, and it only lasts for a month. And this girl? Thinks she invented gymnastics. Or “Mastics”, as she calls it. Day one, Nell was strutting her stuff. And the little boys in her class were following her around and Nell? Was. Not. Having. It. She wanted them out of her space. “I no want you follow me,” she would say to them. Oh that girl of mine. We talk to her a lot about having a kind and inclusive heart. But also? Totally okay with her doing her own thing, and not wanting people in her space. Keep it up Nell. Especially when you’re 16. Mmkay?
Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.21.19 PM Peter is 6 months old. Those 6 months flew by, but dragged on all the same. A colicky baby until well after 3 months, combined with severe reflux, weight gain issues, and general avoidance of sleep. It hasn’t been the easiest 6 months of my life. But he’s turning a corner. He’s sitting up, which I forgot until he started what a game changer sitting is. He’s seeing a chiropractor for his reflux, and showing improvement (he’s also just getting older). He’s eating solid foods – that kid loves himself some solids. He screams if you are not constantly providing him with food (we’ve always done a hybrid purees/solids thing for food with our babies…we introduce solids between 4-5 months due to both B’s and my allergies and skin issues and research that indicates earlier introduction might be better, so soft foods and purees at that point, but now that Peter’s 6 months, he’s doing well with regular food – potato wedges, avocado slices, chicken, etc). He’s just now at the point where he can pick something up off his tray and get it to his mouth himself, and when he’s more consistent with that, I think this baby is going to be hilarious to watch eat. Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.21.13 PM B started a new job on Monday. The new job is such a great opportunity for him – gets him using some of the business skills he gleaned in his Master’s program and just gives him a new group of people to work with daily. Sometimes, you just need a change. But, with this new job comes a less cushy schedule than before (he used to get home by 3:30 every day) and a decent amount of travel. So, we’re figuring it out. We know it will all work out, but it’s definitely an adjustment. An adjustment we always knew would come someday, but an adjustment nonetheless. Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.22.57 PM And finally, at the end of August, Shannon of Bottle Pop Party (the artist formerly known as Shannanigans) came to visit me. We had a blast drinking lots of wine, touring the state of Colorado and talking about how we were really good (and by good I only mean regular) bloggers when we had 8-5 desk jobs. Ha. It was a great week with my friend and my kids adored her. Next time we’re doing family vacays though, because Thomas and Nell really want to see “Gauge” again.
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Tongue Ties, Milk Supply, and Frenectomies…Oh My.

Remember when I promised you guys a kitchen update, but also mentioned I’d had some sudden milk supply issues? Well, kitchen update is on hold because I threw out the need to finish up the cabinets to focus on feeding Peter and figuring out why he wasn’t gaining as much weight as he needed to. And it was a stressful week, but one I learned a lot from. Then we went on a family vacation to the Oregon coast, and so now I’m back…with an update on the breastfeeding sitch, a couple posts in the hopper, and hopefully cabinet hardware arriving this week so I can finish up this kitchen project and show you pictures.

Okay, let’s back up. Since birth Peter’s spit up a good amount and was fussy and colicky, but he was growing beautifully, so I wasn’t too concerned about the reflux and figured that I would attempt to eliminate the triggers of his colic and reflux before medicating him. I went off every food that could possibly have irritated him, without much improvement. A few days before his 2 month appointment, my mom was over and I was at my breaking point: Peter had been screaming for days on end, it seemed. So I called our pediatrician and asked what our options were. They prescribed baby Zantac, and he was, I thought, a happier baby. He still spit up a ton, but he wasn’t arching as much while eating.  His colic was improving with age and the use of a daily probiotic drop, so the fussiness was less – but I knew reflux was still at play. Somewhere around 3 1/2 months, I felt like he was spitting up more and more. Everyone always says that it looks like more than it is, but I felt like he was spitting up significant portions of each feeding. He was also a fussy eater again – he ate quickly and then screamed, and then spit-up. Classic reflux baby, but we were treating it. Anyway, I expected his weight gain to have slowed, but since he was packing it on in his first two months of life, it didn’t cross my mind he’d be dropping growth channels.

So, at his 4 month appointment three weeks ago, I was expecting him to be around 13.5 pounds when his previous chunking would have indicated he’d be about 14 pounds – and he clocked in at 12lb 3 oz. I was horrified. I immediately blamed myself and my milk supply – it was my fault because I’d been working out and eating clean. Our pediatrician was out of town, so we were seeing our practice’s very thorough PA. Before I continue, let me say I totally understand where our PA was coming from in this story – she’s a medical professional and she wants to see babies growing. I tend to be pretty calm about medical stuff – I rarely take my kids to the doctor when they’re sick because I know that a virus is a virus. I don’t call for every fever, we use a lot of natural home remedies for comfort and let fevers and viruses run their course. But, I usually choose appointments with this PA when we’re trying to diagnose something outside of a well check – Nell’s GI issues, for example, because I know she won’t say, “Let’s wait and see what happens in a week.” When I get to the point  with an illness or dilemma where I decide we need a doctor’s visit, I want to know we’re going to examine every option. But for well-checks, I tend to prefer to see our pediatrician since she’s a little more on my level in terms of  remaining calm. But anyway, we saw the PA, and she was very concerned about Peter’s very slow weight gain (he did gain, just slowly). And I was a hot mess. Now, having seen our PA with all three of my kids, I think I can say at this point that she’s not the most pro-breastfeeding – the practice itself is, but this particular individual wants hard numbers, which breastfeeding doesn’t readily supply. At every single appointment during the year I nurse my babies, her first question is “How many ounces are you pumping?” – even when my one month old is growing beautifully and gaining growth channels. When I tell her I’m not pumping, she asks me to start pumping once a day so she has a number to go off of. I always say, “I pump when I need a bottle”. Her recommendation was to exclusively pump for every feeding so that I knew exactly how much milk he was getting and to supplement him with formula to fatten him up.

Now, I firmly believe that asking a mom to exclusively pump to see if she’s providing enough milk to her child is a sure fire way to get the mom to stop breastfeeding. I know that one of the ways moms – especially first time moms – are told to help bring their milk in is by pumping. I was told the exact same thing with Thomas, and I spent the first month of his life obsessing over how many drops of milk drip-drop-drip-drop-drip-dropped into those damn Medela vials.  Because breast pumps suck. And pumping is stressful. And I know for a fact that if I had to exclusively pump, I’d struggle to provide my children with breastmilk for the first year of their life. I’d try, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t go well. When I was working when Thomas was a baby, I had to pump three times during the day and twice after he went to bed in order to make enough milk for his bottles at daycare the next day – if I’d had to pump for all his feedings, I would have been pumping all day. I have many friends who have determined their milk supply by how much they pump, and quit before their babies are a month old because they aren’t producing enough milk. I also know there are circumstances where moms don’t produce enough milk, but generally speaking, I think that the United States is a little broken in how they approach breastfeeding and babies and weight gain.

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Obviously there was a weight gain issue for Peter – his reflux was part of it, he was spitting up a good portion of feedings, and luckily, he performed his spit-up routine in the office so the PA could see just how much he does spit-up. We switched his reflux medication from Zantac to Prevacid which made a difference in his spitting up and demeanor. But, we did pre- and post- feeding weights at that appointment, and he was only taking about an ounce during each feeding. Which brought milk supply issues to the forefront. So I panicked. I posted here and you guys were awesome. I posted on instagram and you guys were awesome. And then, when my friend who’s working towards her IBCLC certification got back from her family vacation, I called her and she came running over to my house.  Where she told me everything I needed to hear:  That this is not my fault. That eating a healthy diet and exercising do not affect milk supply – that my body would starve itself before it stopped producing milk and to not stop taking care of myself as a result of this. Then she told me that I have successfully breastfed two babies, plus Peter for 4 months, and I can get my milk supply back up. It will take work, but I can do it. She watched Peter eat, she witnessed his fussiness and agreed he wasn’t taking a full feeding, checked his latch (which looked fine) and told me to go to a breastfeeding group lead by a lactation consultant she really respects for pre- and post- feeding weights, and more ideas, because she wanted me armed with numbers information when we went back to Peter’s weight check the next week.

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So, the breastfeeding group was great, and the lactation consultant was amazing – encouraging and logical, which not all are. She spent a lot of time with Peter and me – at this point I’d been pumping after every feeding for a week, so my milk supply was much better than it was a week before, but Peter was still not taking a full feeding, and still screaming afterwards. She watched him eat and thought his latch looked fine, but because of his screaming and the fact that he wasn’t taking a full feeding, she checked him for a tongue tie: and he was indeed tongue tied. I was shocked. Peter was my best nurser from birth, and I couldn’t believe it would take 4 months for the signs to show up. She explained lots of possible scenarios to me, but the long story short was: get the tongue tie clipped, get my milk supply back up, and feed the hungry baby. She sent me off with a plan for continuing to improve my milk supply by pumping 2 – 3 times a day – such a relief after pumping after every feeding – and a baby weight gain plan which included supplementing Peter with 2-4 ounces of the pumped milk (or formula if necessary) 2-3 times a day until his tongue tie was clipped so he could nurse more efficiently. The next day, thanks to my milk supply rebounding due to all the pumping, and the bottle supplementation of the pumped milk, Peter was up 8 ounces, up a growth channel, and we had an appointment for his frenectomy the following day.

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The frenectomy was simple and done with a laser in a pediatric dentist’s office. It took a couple of days for him to start using his tongue, and we were on our way off to Oregon for vacation, but a few days into vacation I noticed that he was eating much longer and I could actually see his tongue when he was eating.   This whole ordeal also took place during a huge developmental period for most babies, and his fussiness has been better over the last few days since that  developmental period has past, as well. And that’s where we’re at: Feeding Pete’s still a priority, but he’s continuing to catch up on weight gain – gaining just under an ounce a day (Pediatrician wants to see 1/2 an ounce a day so he’s currently over achieving), and is generally happier. And I’ve got a few gray hairs, now.

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Updates

It’s been so long since I posted last that I figured I might as well throw a smorgasbord post at you so that I can get caught up and move on :) . So, here’s what’s happening at the McKevitt house these days:

 

1. We’re painting the kitchen cabinets. I will share a post with all the photos and my method and products when it’s done. We’re hoping to have the kitchen all put back together for Peter’s Baptism on Saturday, so hopefully I’ll have afters for you next week. But here are couple in progress shots I shared on instagram:

2. We went to my aunt’s lake house in the mountains for the Fourth of July. It was about 10 degrees cooler there than in Denver, which was awesome. We kayaked, lounged, read and relaxed as much as you can when you have three children 4 & under around.

 

3. I’ve been dealing with a sudden milk supply issue – I’ve barely pumped since Peter was born because I didn’t need to – he was a great eater in the beginning, and I’ve always offered him full feeds. But at his 4 month appointment the numbers showed that he’d gained very slowly over the last month. I’m frustrated – Peter’s reflux has him not taking full feedings – he often pulls off when I know there’s still milk available, which I’m sure has affected my milk supply. I’ve been eating really clean and working out, which I’m sure has also had an impact, but I also am not willing to throw the hard work I’ve done to get back to feeling like me out the window. Shouldn’t I be able to eat healthfully and still breastfeed my baby for a year? But, I’m committed to figuring it out. If you have any (semi-clean) milk supply boosters, send them my way, I need to fatten my baby boy up.

That’s all I can come up with for now! I’ll be back next week hopefully with a kitchen post!