All About Alena

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It’s been 12 days since our little girl made her appearance! I thought I would tell you a little bit about her so far. I’d like to come back to the blog soon and write about my pregnancy and her birth, but for now I’ll just give you a few details about her and share some of my favorite pictures.

Her name:

Alena Abigail. Alena is pronounced a-lay-na. It means “bright, shining light.” Abigail means “source of joy.”

Alena’s likes:

This girl loves to eat! She cluster feeds, sometimes for hours at a time. But then she’ll take a good long snooze, so I’d say it’s a fair exchange.

The bouncy seat! This is very similar to big brother Lucas, and she even turns her head to the right, just like he did. She likes to sleep in there and will hang out there when she’s awake as well.

Mommy is her favorite for obvious reasons. Lucas is quite sure he’s her second favorite with Jaime bringing up the rear. I’d say there’s a tie for second ūüôā

Alena likes getting her hair washed! I think she appreciates a good scalp massage.

She likes snuggles and kisses. It’s a good thing, because none of the three of us can stop kissing her and holding her.

She likes her hands up by her face and sometimes sucks on her fingers or fist.

Alena’s dislikes:

Diaper changes! I mean, they really are the worst. She does not like being cold.

She likes getting her hair washed, but hates getting the rest of her body washed.

She does not appreciate being passed around when she’s found a cozy spot.

Recognizable features:

Alena has a full head of blackish brown hair. I’m sure you can guess where that comes from!

Her eyes, nose, and cheeks look a lot like big brother Lucas’s.

She has very long fingers and very long toes. They look just like mine.

Clues to her personally:

Alena will let us know very loudly if she’s upset. However, when she’s done expressing herself (and we’ve rectified the issue) she’s able to calm her self down and be content without much intervention from us.

She seems a bit more laid back and independent than her brother…at least for now!

She’s also more flexible and will sleep in a variety of places and nurse or take a bottle. Yay!

She’s a tough little one. She had jaundice and endured what seemed like countless heal pricks. If she was being held when they poked her, she didn’t cry. If they put her on a table she cried but would stop immediately when back in our arms.

Lucas is a loving, doting big brother. He’s eager to help and showers her with affection. It’s so sweet! It’ll be fun to see how their relationship develops over time. Alena stares intently at him, I’m guessing because of the contrast of his dark, dark eyes. He was the first to get a smile and although I’m sure it was involuntary, he felt pretty proud.

Jaime and I are doing well too, and adjusting to our life as a family of four! We feel so blessed and thankful for this precious new baby. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Thirty-seven weeks

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In some ways it feels like the pregnancy has flown by. Well, at least to me. Betsy might give you a different answer. When we found out Betsy was pregnant it was hot and humid. In the last month, Lucas has missed eight days of school due to snow, ice, and polar vortexes (vortices?). I guess the change in weather is as good as any indicator to show how far we’ve come.  This past Wednesday, Betsy reached week thirty-seven of the pregnancy. It hasn’t been an easy road to get to this point. Betsy recently went back on IV antibiotics. Her breathing wasn’t quite where it should have been and in an effort to make sure she is in the best possible place heading towards labor and delivery her doctors decided it was the best course of action. Betsy also came down with a stomach virus (which she got from Lucas, which he might have gotten from me) which has been pretty draining. Still, she’s made it to thirty-seven weeks and that feels like a pretty big deal!

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The day we found out Betsy was pregnant (miss you summer)!

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Thirty-seven weeks!

It’s particularly significant because Lucas was born at thirty-six weeks! The story goes something like this: unsuspecting couple is having a quiet night in; they decide to watch a movie; pregnant wife suggests some ice cream; dutiful husband goes to fetch ice cream; husband returns with ice cream only to find his wife’s water has broken; frantic couple rushes to the hospital; baby is born twenty-seven hours later. Just like in the movies! We were caught off guard, to say the least. Betsy was bound and determined that this time around there would be zero chance that we weren’t ready for the arrival of our little one. The baby’s room has been ready for close to two months. All of the baby clothes have been washed and put away. Hospital bag has been packed since about November. ūüôā The infant car seat was installed a couple weeks ago. We have the name picked out (true story, Lucas was born so early we hadn’t even decided on his middle name yet!). We feel ready!

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We’ve got a name, even if all my suggestions were rejected! ūüėČ

Of course, we have no idea just how big a change we are in for. It’s been seven and a half years just the three of us. And in the last few, in particular, we’ve found a certain equilibrium. That familiar, family dynamic is bound to be disrupted with the introduction of another human being. Last weekend we had one last “Lucas gets to make all of the choices” day. After church and a quick lunch we headed off to a park nearby to check out some great horned owls who nested and had babies. Then it was off to an arcade for a couple of hours of fun and games. We finished the day seeing The Lego Movie 2 and snagging some of his favorite chicken quesadillas from Qdoba for dinner. Of course we are all thrilled for the arrival of our baby girl but we have also loved every minute of being a family of three!

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Betsy and Lucas tearing it up at the skee-ball lanes!

So, yes, all is well! We feel blessed. We feel ready. We have no idea what weeks 38-40 will bring! And we are looking forward to introducing our little girl the next time we post. ūüôā

P.S. As it’s International Women’s Day, I thought I would take a moment to pay tribute to all of the extraordinary women in my life. First and foremost, my wife Betsy, who has done what seemed impossible and soon will be the mother of two all while educating children and finding all of my stuff! To my mother Debbie and my mother-in-law Mary who raised 10 children between them without even one iPad (how, I’m not entirely sure!) and who are now a huge support to Betsy, Lucas, and me. To my sisters Tina and Ede and my sisters-in-law Carolina, Kristi, Julie, Laurie, and Carrie who are all raising families and pursuing meaningful work. I salute you all!

Dreaming Still?

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Have you ever woken up from a dream so vivid that you thought it was real? The kind of dream where you are almost surprised to find out it was a figment of your imagination? I haven’t! I almost never wake up even remembering my dreams.¬† I’m sure there is a psychological explanation for that. Betsy thinks it’s weird. It probably is.

Lately though I’ve felt like I have kind of been stumbling around in a dream. A vivid dream that feels real but hardly seems possible. Back in July we found out that Betsy was pregnant. Pregnant. We are overjoyed! It is a blessing that we did not imagine ourselves experiencing again. We had always wanted a second child and a sibling for Lucas but time and circumstances seemed to suggest that it was not a part of God’s plan for us. And, after a period of sadness and disappointment, we found true peace and were truly in love with our family of three. For the last seven years we have developed a rhythm and equilibrium and so much love among the three of us. And now we are going to be four? It hardly seems real.

But of course, it is real.

I am reminded daily by Lucas’s musings about his soon-to-be little sister. His excitement is palpable.

“Dad, do you think Lightbulb (we are keeping the real name a secret for now) will like animals?”

“Dad, how big is Lightbulb this week?” (Asparagus? Celery? Squash? I always forget!)

“Dad, I can’t wait to show Lightbulb her new room!”

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Lucas getting some practice holding his new cousin Elías.

There are other, daily, reminders that there is actually a baby on the way. Betsy is getting bigger and bigger. We can all feel the baby kicking regularly. Betsy has nearly eclipsed the 31 week mark. Generally speaking this pregnancy has been significantly tougher on Betsy.¬† She was really sick during the first trimester and there were some really rough days. Even some days when she thought she might not make it to 31 weeks. Still, she bore it all with a smile. Betsy’s lung function has held steady throughout the pregnancy and for that we are grateful. She completed a round of antibiotics over the holidays which actually gave her a much needed boost.

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There’s either a baby in there or an alien!

Still feeling the positive after the effects of the medications, Betsy has moved on to a serious nesting phase of late. Betsy has been busy washing up all of the baby clothes and setting up the baby’s room. Lucas was born four weeks early and honestly we could not have been less prepared. Betsy is determined not be caught off guard this time around even our little girl decides to make her entrance to the world before the due date.

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More pink this time around!

In spite of all the circumstantial evidence, sometimes I’ll still look over at Betsy and say, “WAIT.¬†You’re having a baby?????” Most days I really do have to stop and pinch myself to be sure I’m not still dreaming. I’m pretty sure I’m not. ūüôā

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Can’t wait to meet you sweet girl. ‚̧

 

 

40 Part II

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As you may recall from Jaime’s recent post, 40, I am not the only one in our little family to reach the four decade mark this year. I’m not sure if Jaime has worked up the courage to identify himself as a 40-year-old yet, but as of today, he is! Welcome, partner!

I was strictly forbidden to make a fuss over this big birthday. Jaime doesn’t like to be fussed over. So we will be having a quiet celebration today which unfortunately includes an evening school activity for Lucas. Being the first-rate father he is, Jaime will likely be sweating away with hundreds of people in the multi-purpose room at our local elementary, wondering if he’ll be deaf after this evening along with the rest of us. Maybe not the way he thought he’d spend his 40th birthday when he was 20, but at least we’ll be together. I think we’ll be able to squeeze in lunch out and some gifts as well.

What follows is just a *small* fuss, not a big one. I wanted to share some of my favorite things about Jaime on this momentous birthday. I’ve known him since we were 12 so I have a few years of experience to draw on. I have to say, he just keeps getting better.¬† Without further ado, I present, 40 wonderful things about Jaime!

Jaime’s personality:

  1. He is really funny! He makes me laugh all the time and can tease Lucas out of almost any bad mood with his crazy antics (pretending to fall out of his chair, doing silly dances, talking in funny voices, etc).
  2. He has a temper too (Lucas…apple…tree…), but he’s very quick to apologize and admit when he’s wrong which I love. And honestly, the occasional heated discussion keeps things interesting.
  3. Jaime’s hair has a personality of its own. I just recently met someone at church who said, “Oh, your husband is the one with the hair.” You would think that a statement like that wouldn’t narrow down the pool of husbands by much (I mean, most have at least some hair and the guy didn’t even use an adjective!), but everyone knew exactly who he meant. I do love his hair and its personality.
  4. He’s a good listener. (As long as Real Madrid isn’t playing ūüėČ ).
  5. He’s generous.
  6. He’s helpful.
  7. He’s also forgetful! But that is one of those things that Lucas and I laugh about, poor ‘ol dad and his forgetfulness. We pretty much love it.

Lovable quirks:

  1. CDs and DVDs must be straight in their cases. And alphabetized if at all possible.
  2. Jaime likes all these weird bands and musical groups no one has ever heard of. I don’t know why, but I find that endearing.
  3. Jaime likes clothes and clothes shopping more than I do. He choses most of Lucas’s clothes and any hand-me-downs we get have to pass his inspection. Shoes are of special importance. I mean, we can’t have our son out there wearing uncool shoes now, can we?
  4. Jaime loses everything and can’t see what’s right in front of his face. Why is this making the list of things I love you ask? Because after all these years, it’s so much a part of him it has become lovable. Hearing the words “have you seen my [insert whatever he needed five minutes ago in order to leave on time]” will always give me a sense of purpose in life.
  5. He says he doesn’t like people, which makes me laugh. The truth is he doesn’t really like meeting new people and feels he has plenty of friends already. But he’s a great friend to the ones he already has and accidentally makes new friends regularly.

A responsible adult:

  1. Jaime has a lot of jobs…a “normal” job, a job coaching soccer, church responsibilities, and extra household duties to help support our family due to my limitations. He does it all without feeling sorry for himself.
  2. On top of the aforementioned things and his crazy schedule, Jaime does most of the routine yard work now that I can’t do things like mow the lawn or rake the leaves. I’m not saying he does it exactly when the rest of the neighborhood does it, or that the neighbors haven’t occasionally raised an eyebrow at the length of our grass, but in the end, he always gets it done!
  3. Jaime does all the grocery shopping. No further elaboration needed.¬† What’s not to love?!
  4. Jaime cooks a lot too and he’s really good at it.

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    Two cooks in the kitchen here!

  5. He washes, dries, and folds laundry. Sometimes he puts laundry away ūüėČ .
  6. He bakes all our sandwich bread. This often happens after Lucas is in bed at night and sometimes after I’m in bed too because of all the other stuff he does. Lucas is very spoiled with the homemade bread and if we ever buy a loaf from the store, he will ask when he can have the good kind again.
  7. Jaime is a really good coach. He’s good with the kids and good with the parents (both of which are important). He thinks he’s not a patient person but after seeing him wrangle a large group of wild Kindergarten boys at soccer practice week after week last year, I beg to differ. (Imagine trying to keep a bunch of loaded springs in a small container.)

An amazing Father:

  1. Lucas and Jaime are extremely close. This is because, from day one, Jaime pitched in as an equal partner in his care.
  2. Jaime is very generous with his time as a dad. Even though he has a million other things to do, he volunteers to coach Lucas’s soccer team so they can have that time together and because Lucas really, REALLY wants Jaime as his coach. He also takes time off work to attend class parties and go on field trips when he can.

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    Lucas isn’t the only kid in this picture who loves having Jaime as a coach!

  3. Jaime is selfless too. I can’t count the number of games of chase, wrestling, fighting, tickle monster, and other similarly exhausting-for-a-40-year-old-but-exhilarating-for-a-seven-year-old games that Jaime has engaged in after a long day at work and soccer. I know it’s not easy and I really love that he does it anyway.

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    Wrestling! (Blurry because they were obviously not holding still).

  4. He’s willing to play almost anything with Lucas. “OK Dad, I’ll be Batman and you be Catwoman. Dad, Catwoman says ‘Meow, meow’ after everything she says and make sure you use a high voice, ok?” Jaime is not too proud to meow in a high voice.
  5. Jaime and Lucas still snuggle in bed together every night. I’m not sure who loves it more. It’s very sweet.
  6. Jaime’s usually very patient with Lucas. When Lucas loses his cool Jaime will say, “I remember what that felt like as a kid,” or “I used to hate that so much, too.” Showing empathy and sharing stories from his own childhood help Lucas work through some of his fears and frustrations.
  7. Jaime and Lucas share a lot of the same interests, but definitely not all. Jaime is good about letting Lucas pursue his own interests without trying to mold him into a carbon copy.

A loving and supportive husband:

  1. Jaime likes to do special things for me. He picks out thoughtful gifts, he plans surprises when I need to be cheered up, he makes birthdays and holidays memorable. By some combination of nature and nurture, he’s passed these qualities on to Lucas, so I feel very loved!
  2. Jaime has never once made me feel guilty for all the extra work he does or the¬† financial, emotional and physical strain my cystic fibrosis places on him. He accepts it, sees meeting those challenges as part of who God has called him to be, and does an awesome job bearing the extra weight. I’d be so lost without him!
  3. He still wants to spend time with me which I love. He’s always inviting me to come have lunch with him or asking if I want to go out on the weekend. At bedtime I often hear him tell Lucas, “I can only snuggle for ten minutes because then I need to go and see Mommy for a little while.”
  4. He’s good at encouraging me. When I feel like my life or my health is falling apart, he’s ready with examples of why he thinks I’m doing well and ways he thinks I’m doing a good job managing. If I’m nervous about a doctor’s appointment, he’ll find a way to come with me.
  5. He’s encouraging but also realistic. He doesn’t try to cheer me up or sweep my pain under the rug with platitudes or empty promises of “I know this will get better.” He dwells in the hurt with me when I need him there. He also revels in the victories with me and celebrates the joys. He’s a true partner in life, for better and for worse.
  6. He has a lot of confidence in me which gives me more confidence in myself.

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    Photo by Jess Marie Photography

Lucas’s list (I asked him what he loved most about Daddy and here are his responses.)

  1. Daddy is my coach and plays soccer with me. We also watch soccer together.
  2. He takes me on adventures!
  3. He loves me.
  4. He watches shows with me.
  5. He takes me trick-or-treating.
  6. He packs my lunch on school days (I can’t believe I forgot to add this one to my list!!)
  7. I like doing homework with Dad. (Like doing homework? Again, apple…tree)
  8. He lets me chase him around.

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    Photo by Jess Marie Photography

I promise this all adds up to equal 40. (The numbering is not cooperating). The point is, Jaime is a wonderful man. He is God’s gift to me and to Lucas, and to many others as well.

Happy Birthday, Jaime! I hope this decade is your best yet. It won’t be dull, that I can promise. We love you so much!

 

Progress

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on Betsy’s blog. She’s had a few weightier things to write about recently, and we thought it would be a good time to lighten the mood with a Lucas diet update! Back in June I wrote about our attempts to wean Lucas off of baby food.¬†It’s really hard to believe that less than six months ago his diet consisted mostly of pure√©d fruits and vegetables and liquefied chicken mixed with various baby cereals. A lot has changed since then and we’ve learned a lot about our boy¬†in the process!

Lucas eats a lot of different foods. ¬†He eats grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken quesadillas, cheeseburgers, beef empanadas, homemade chicken nuggets, pizza, kale chips, apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, peas, corn, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, avocado, broccoli, tomatoes, graham crackers…oh, and pancakes. That’s a pretty substantial list! We were worried that Lucas’s diet might not be as healthy after he transitioned to solid foods but so far that has not been the case. Grilled cheese is still his favorite!

It's a bird, it's a plane...no, it's Lucas eating a cheeseburger with a side of banana and cucumbers!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s Lucas eating a cheeseburger with a side of banana and cucumbers!

Gardening helps.¬†Over the summer Betsy planted a garden and Lucas got really into it and helped water the plants and harvest the produce. His willingness to try something new seemed to increase if he had just picked it. His favorite? Kale! Betsy used to mix it into his “green”¬†pure√© but now Lucas prefers it in crunchy, chip-form.

So do Bubble Guppies.¬†Bubble Guppies is one of Lucas’s favorite kid shows. There was an episode recently where¬†the Guppies go to “Fruit Camp”and participate in a race with obstacles (i.e. trying new foods) along the way. Gil earns a point for the team by eating a carrot. Then Deema is faced with the last and most difficult obstacle: broccoli. She hesitates at first but tries it and finds that it’s “delicious!” Well, that was enough for Lucas to ask for some broccoli too. I’m not sure if he really likes it or if he only likes it because the Bubble Guppies like it. Either way, he’s added another healthy vegetable to his diet and, unfortunately, so have I.

Thanks a lot, Deema.

Thanks a lot, Deema.

Texture still matters.¬†There have been some real head scratchers along the way. We¬†experimented with¬†some pretty tried and true kid favorites like macaroni and cheese and ravioli but Lucas really didn’t go for them. Strange because what kid doesn’t like macaroni and cheese? It turns out that he didn’t like the texture. Too rubbery? I’m not sure exactly. But the good thing is at age four we were able to have a conversation about it and we agreed that if he tried some other foods, we could replace ravioli with something that he liked better!

Appearance matters too.¬†We’ve still had the occasional meltdown over food. A month or so ago¬†Betsy and Lucas had come with me to a soccer game and we decided to go out for pizza afterwards. I was thrilled. For the longest time I had just wanted to have the freedom to leave the house and not worry about packing an entire meal of baby food to take with us. Lucas was excited too…until the pizza¬†arrived. It had a much thicker crust than he was used to. It wasn’t quite deep dish but still it was different enough for him to deem it “not pizza”. After a lot of patience (from Betsy) and persuading (also Betsy)¬†he did eat some of it. Since then we have limited our patronage to pizza joints¬†that have¬†a hand tossed crust option¬†on the menu. ūüôā

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (again!).¬†Lucas has¬†absolutely no¬†sweet tooth, just like his mother. Despite my best efforts, Lucas has zero¬†interest in cookies, donuts, cake, or candy. For his birthday, I went all out and made a cake decorated with his favorite farm animals. I even made a frosting barn! Lucas admired the artwork but wanted nothing to do with eating it. Betsy was no help either. So I ate the whole thing myself (I’m not sure whether to feel proud or ashamed). One of Lucas’s little friends from church got him to try a cookie after the service one Sunday. He gave it the old college try but after a couple of bites he gave it to me to finish. He really doesn’t like sweets.

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My masterpiece: The Barnyard.

Traditions.¬†The town I grew up in is about 15 minutes away from where we live now. There is a bakery in that town that is famous for its fresh baked German soft pretzels. They only make them on Saturdays. Lucas really likes his carbs and so one Saturday not too long ago I was determined to see if he would try a pretzel. He also likes salty things (just like his mother) so I thought it might work. Well, he was hooked after one bite. And it’s now become a weekly ritual. It’s great because it gives Betsy a chance to sleep in, Lucas and I have a fun morning out just the two of us, and then we all have soft pretzels as a late breakfast when we get home. We have the leftovers for breakfast on Sunday.

Saturday's new tradition!

Saturday’s new tradition!

All in all, Lucas has made a ton of progress¬†and we are super proud of him! It’s been fun to see him try new things and like most¬†of them. He even tried seaweed at preschool the other day!¬†That’s right, my son prefers seaweed to cookies. Who would have ever guessed?

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

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People say that you are like your parents and your children are like you. Of course each person is a unique, but it is undeniable that certain¬†attributes¬†get passed on from one generation to the next. Sometimes they are physical characteristics, other times they are personality traits. People are often proud if they pass on their height or their athletic prowess to their children.¬†But there are also things that you wish your kid¬†did not inherit, particularly when it’s an idiosyncrasy that¬†you can’t blame on anyone but yourself.

Like father, like son. Crazy hair.

Like father, like son. Crazy hair.

Lucas has, for some time, struggled with eating. He¬†has always been very particular about what he puts in his mouth. Our pediatrician reassured us that this was not unusual toddler behavior. She would probably find¬†it even less peculiar¬†if she had known me when I was Lucas’s age. I, too, was a picky eater. Legend has it that I was four years old before I knowingly ate a vegetable. Of course my mother did her duty, hiding¬†pur√©ed carrots and other veggies in my pasta¬†sauce without my knowledge. But it would be an understatement to say that¬†I was averse¬†to¬†trying new foods.

If not¬†for my parents intervention, I would probably still be quite content¬†with a diet consisting only of hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti. At some point, however, they decided that enough was enough. I was going to try new foods. It was painful. The first new food that I tried was strawberries. It went over pretty well.¬†The second new food that I tried was peas. To this day it is one of my worst childhood memories and one of my least favorite foods! I probably sat at the table for three hours¬†stubbornly refusing to eat¬†the four green peas that were on my plate. Eventually frustration got the better of my poor mother, she plugged my nose to force me to open my mouth, and shoved in the peas! They stayed down for a good five¬†seconds before my gag reflex took over, spewing those four little peas and whatever else I’d had for dinner all over me and the kitchen floor.

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Lucas sizing up peas for the first time.

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The jury is still out…

My mother has been very gracious about our¬†current parenting predicament¬†but I think privately¬†she’s probably had more than one¬†good, hearty chuckle. To be fair, Lucas is a much better eater than I ever was. From the beginning he has eaten¬†a healthy variety of fruits (bananas, berries, apples, pears) and vegetables (kale, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, sweet potatoes). He eats whole grains and lean protein (chicken and pork). What is the catch? Even at 3¬Ĺ years old, he has insisted on eating these foods only in pur√©ed form. He has consistently rejected solid foods, apart from a few¬†exceptions. Our pediatrician encouraged us not to get frustrated¬†about this considering that his diet was extremely healthy, even if the way in which he consumed those foods was a little unorthodox. After all he could be eating only hot dogs and macaroni…

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Lucas with his cousins Joshy and Sophia, both baffled by Lucas’s complete lack of interest in the cookie he is holding.

Betsy has patiently¬†followed this advice¬†even though she was the one tasked with¬†making Lucas’s baby food (no small endeavor!) for the last three years. I will admit to being more than a little frustrated on more than one occasion. I just wanted him to try something! A cracker, a cookie, anything! The most frustrating times were when we knew we’d be out of the¬†house for meal time and would have to pack up an entire suitcase (slight exaggeration) of bottles and jars so that he could eat.¬†I desperately wanted to be able to just go out to dinner and order him chicken nuggets off of a restaurant kids menu. No fuss. But Lucas was resolute. Maybe even a little¬†stubborn…

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Unwavering.

As with all things, it’s about timing. We wanted Lucas to try new foods but we also didn’t want to ram our heads against the wall. In the last several months Lucas has shown a lot of growth in other areas (potty training and sleeping in his own bed at night) and a lot more flexibility, in general; so we thought we might be close to a breakthrough on the food front as well.¬†Then one day out of the blue, Lucas asked to try a carrot. He’s been enamored with carrots for a while, probably because they are his favorite color of orange. But he’s only ever¬†pretended to eat them. Well, this day he ate one¬†– one, tiny, miserable baby carrot! A few days later we were out of the ingredients to make his baby food so we decided to just take the plunge and try.

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We could be here for a while…

It hasn’t been easy but it’s not been nearly as bad as we might have imagined. Lucas¬†has tried a lot of new foods (and only puked a few of them back up)! Some of the foods he has loved, others he doesn’t¬†care for as much.¬†Sometimes it takes ages for him to work up the courage to open his mouth.¬†Sometimes it takes silly songs or crazy antics to get him to try one bite. It often takes A LOT¬†of wine for Betsy and I to get through the dinner hour with our sanity intact. But he is doing it!

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Grilled cheese, apple slices, carrots, and potato chips. Progress!

The biggest breakthrough was the night that we all ate the exact same thing for dinner: homemade chicken tenders and¬†fries, apple slices and carrots. I am really proud of Lucas. I’m also extremely relieved because deep down I’m pretty sure that he got his pickiness and stubbornness from me! Maybe in 25 or 30 years Lucas will have a son that isn’t too keen on trying new foods either. I can imagine¬†myself saying to him, “Well, when you were his¬†age…” I’ll be sure to do my chuckling behind closed doors.

A Shout Out (To Anyone Who Is or Was or Ever Will Be the Primary Care Giver to a Toddler)

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There have been a handful of occasions since Lucas was born when Betsy has gotten sick and needed to take several days to rest and recover. We are really lucky to have all of my immediate family living within a 15 mile radius and we have been blessed with great friends who also live close by. We are extremely grateful for all of them and their willingness to pitch in and help look after Lucas when Betsy can’t (or shouldn’t).

Sometimes, however, the responsibility falls to me. I am thankful that, for the most part, I have a very flexible work schedule. I can stay home in the morning and work from home in the evening if Betsy needs a few extra hours of sleep. I get a lot of vacation days that I can use liberally. My boss is very understanding of Betsy’s health situation and both allows and encourages me to put my family first. Not everyone has that freedom.

So at the beginning of the month when Betsy got sick, I ended up taking off a Thursday, Friday, and Monday. It’s not easy taking over as the primary care giver for a three year old. Lucas and Betsy have their routines and places that they go and things that they do. I don’t always know how to play “the right way”. I think I do an okay job overall, though. I really do have a ton of fun when I spend the day with Lucas. He’s a laugh! But he is also pretty full on. FULL. ON. I am completely decimated at the end of a day of trying to wrangle that little round ball of toddler energy.

A momentary pause in the action.

A momentary pause in the action.

One of the days I was on the clock, I had to stop by the facility where the soccer teams that I coach train and play. After I was done in the office I took Lucas out on to one of the empty fields and messed around for a couple of hours. And when I say messed around, I mean we ran up and down the field, which is a good 70 yards, chasing and kicking Lucas’s green soccer ball and then tumbling to the ground as he imitated the big kids he sees when he comes to watch my games.

Another afternoon we went to Jungle Java, an establishment which offers an indoor jungle gym for the kids and the caffeinated nectar of the Java bean for the parents (much to Betsy’s chagrin, I’ve never picked up the coffee drinking habit). Jungle Java has become one of Lucas’s favorite places in town. Lucas is still not quite big enough to manage all of the ups and downs. He went in all by himself once and got stuck and since then I’ve had to follow him up to make sure he can traverse all the obstacles. There is a lot of squatting and climbing and hoisting and army crawling involved in an afternoon at Jungle Java.

Trying to keep up with Lucas in the maze of fun at Jungle Java.

Trying to keep up with Lucas in the maze of fun at Jungle Java.

On the Monday, a refreshingly warm day, we drove down to the Toledo Zoo which is another of Lucas’s favorite destinations. It’s a very walkable zoo. If you happen to be there with someone likes to walk, that is. Lucas, however, prefers to run from one exhibit to the next. And when he’s not running he’s usually riding perched up on my shoulders. It is definitely a work out!

Sometimes I get home from work and Betsy looks like she’s ready to pass out. ¬†Even on days when they don’t have special events, there is still non-stop action. Apart from our outings, Lucas subjected me to an inordinate amount of good old rough-housing: incessant jumping and wrestling and tickling and laughing. Oh and Lucas loves to run laps around the dining room table. Did I mention that?

Life's a blur when your three!

Life’s a blur when you’re three!

It’s good for me to spend a day (or two!) in Betsy’s shoes because it reminds me of what a big task she has on her hands on a daily basis. How my mother did it with four or how my mother-in-law did it with six or how my sister does it with three, I’ll never know. My guess is that there must have been a secret bottle of whiskey stashed away somewhere.

So if you are a mother or a father (this is 2015 after all!) that stays home with your young children – I salute you! And to my lovely wife who chases after our own stampeding toddler day in and day out – you are my hero!