I just scrolled back through to find my post about Eleanor on her second birthday, and after reading that, I am realizing just how big this last year has been for Eleanor…for all of us. The two obvious events – getting a new brother and moving to a new country. Although she had been to the US before, up until December, it wasn’t actually her country per say. She was born in Australia, and she spent the majority of her first few years of life there. It’s sort of hard for me to realize that she’s not actually going to remember living there, and she’s already started to forget some of the people she spent every day with, even though we often look through old photos and FaceTime our friends that are still there.
In the last year, Eleanor went from “beginning conversational” talking to “non-stop talker and singer.” Some of the things she says are unbelievable, and we laugh so hard. She expresses herself with her hands sometimes, and it’s so funny to see how she is like Robbie in that way. She has quite an imagination, and she’ll take us on adventures and missions all day. She has picked up a love for singing, and her ability to memorize songs is super impressive. I’m going to give that one to Robbie, too, because it takes me quite a bit of effort to memorize new songs. More recently we went to see the musical Annie at a local theatre, and you bet it’s been on repeat in the car ever since. She’s got most of the soundtrack memorized!
Some of Eleanor’s favorites over this past year have been dancing, more specifically ballet, and she will be doing dancing lessons for the first time later this month. I can’t wait to see this in action! She loves to help out in the kitchen, and when we got back to the States, my Dad had made her a kitchen helper, which is the perfect height for her to help. She loves dresses and having her nails painted, but she’s also not afraid to get messy and play outside. She loves to be outside, and I am so grateful for my parents backyard, which has been so wonderful as it’s warmed up. She loves singing! She loves reading books, and we’ve been to the library many times. She loves play places and playgrounds, although she’s gotten a little apprehensive on some of the bigger parts of a playground more recently. She also loves any sort of arts and crafts, and when she’s gone to summer camp at points through the summer, she’s come home with so many craft projects.
Eleanor – we love you so, so much, and we are so proud of the little lady you are becoming. You are growing in so many ways, figuring out the world around you and relationships, testing boundaries, loving hard and laughing much. We love being your parents so much, and we can’t imagine what this next year will bring! LOVE YOU!!! Happy 3rd Birthday my girl!!!
I am approaching a week overdue for this update, but hey, better late than never. (And I’ve definitely been much later than a week!!) Otis turned 9 months last Sunday, and once again, it snuck up on all of us. He just had his 9-month checkup, and it was mind-blowing when they gave me the follow-up paper that said to return after he’s one. Only a few more months!
Highlights & Milestones
Otis had a big month on the movement front. He went from army crawling and sort of scooting around to fully crawling, and the kid is crazy fast. I forgot just how fast crawling babies get. He is loving his newfound freedom to explore, and boy is he exploring. The other day, he was in the living room playing with toys one second, and all of a sudden, he was gone. We could hear him, though, so we followed his little squeals and yells and found him near the bathroom. He loves his baths, so I suppose that’s where he was heading. It’s a whole different ballgame figuring out what needs to be baby-proofed in my parents house. Not only is it much bigger than our flat in Australia, but there’s also a lot more for Otis to get into. Have I mentioned how easy it is to get into the dog’s food and water bowls?
Otis went to the water park for the first time this month, and it was his first time in swimming gear as well. He wasn’t a fan of the water part, but he definitely liked watching all the kids run around and play. The water was decently cold, and I remember Eleanor not enjoying water at this age. I’m hoping to get them both into some swim lessons soon, though, so they’re a bit more comfortable in the water before our trip to South Carolina in August. I’ve also learned my lesson after two failed attempts at the water park by myself with two kids – bring reinforcements!!
Otis’s top two teeth came in this past month, and he’s already working on more. He has gotten his teeth so much quicker than Eleanor did! His toothy grin is so sweet!
A few highlights were watching the Indy 500 Parade with some friends, as well as both kids’ first time to an Indians game. Otis also tried the swings at the park for the first time and really enjoyed that!
We got Otis a shirt this month that has a lion on the front and says “Little Guy. Big Roar.” It’s so fitting for him right now because he can seriously be SO loud. He is really into shouting, squealing and growling at the moment. I “think” he has said “Mumma” a few times over the last week, but it’s not repeatable at this point. Hopefully he’ll commit to saying that one first, though, because Eleanor said “Dadda” first.
Otis’s favorite game is peek-a-boo or chase around with Eleanor, and he loves the buildup the most. He laughs so hard when he’s getting his diaper changed and Eleanor runs back and forth to him. They’ve also created a little game where Eleanor will run loops inside the house and one of us will be chasing her with Otis “flying” in our arms. They both laugh so hard. It’s quite a workout after awhile!
Otis is a little guy just like his sister was, and he’s riding the bottom line of the charts just like her. He’s actually on formula now after a month and half of transition. It was surprising for all of us considering I breastfed Eleanor until 16-months, but it’s a perfect example of taking each child as a unique individual and doing what’s best for them. No comparison! He’s also sleeping through the night most nights now, which is so wonderful. Overall, he’s hitting a lot of milestones, and there seems to be almost daily highlights with this little cutie!!
- Food – avocado, bananas, crackers, rice, cheerios, some purees still, puffs
- His new water bottle like big sister’s
- Anything outside – backyard, front porch, long walks, parks, zoos, etc.
- People watching
- Exploring everywhere
- Peek-a-boo and tag/chase
- Gaga and Papaw
- Reese-y dog!
- Being thrown in the air, flying around chasing big sister, swinging, going down the slide (held of course)
- Bathtime and splashing
- Having to wait for food or a bottle
- If I leave a room too fast
- Being in the car too long (especially if he’s hungry)
How Am I Doing?
I’m not sure how/if I can answer this question fully. We had a major setback last week as a family that I’m not going to go into, but I’ll just say it rocked me a lot. Outside of that, which is sort of hard to differentiate but nonetheless, I am doing well. Eleanor and Otis are both doing well, and I feel like we are getting into a bit more of a rhythm at home. However, I would be lying if I didn’t say I am not as well as I was doing a week ago. Again, I don’t want to get into it, but I do know this – we will be ok and we will get past this. God is good. God is with us and for us. We are ok. So I’ll leave it there and finish with a cute photo of Otis working on his downward dog yoga pose. ;)
I love lifestyle photography. No surprise there. I love the idea of someone capturing those moments you want to remember forever. Not that the “say cheese” moments aren’t good or have a place, but for me, the giggles and “firsts” are just as important.
I got to follow our good friends Johnathan and Ashley around with their two kiddos as Gracelynn had her first ice cream cone! She was so excited!! They waited in line and ordered their treats – Gracelynn obviously ordered an ice-cream cone with sprinkles, every kid’s favorite right? As the woman in front of her handed her the cone, the worst happened and it tumbled, face down into the ground. All the sprinkles were smushed, and big, big tears began to fall from Gracelynn’s cheeks. It was quickly remedied and a new cone was provided, but I had to laugh at the moment. Eleanor still asks Robbie why he dropped her cupcake – – months later. These things stick with you apparently.
They strolled over to the tables by the little creek, watched the ducks and ate their ice cream all together. Even little Joshua snuck a few bites! I love this little family, and I was so grateful to see this special moment happen and capture it forever for them.
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Now let’s get to the photos!!!
What a month! And now we are 2/3 of the way to a year. Excuse me while I go cry in a corner!!!
Highlights & Milestones
A highlight for me this month is watching the brother/sister bond between Eleanor and Otis get stronger and stronger. Earlier in the month I posted a video of Eleanor doing some twirls in her room while falling, and Otis couldn’t get enough. He was laughing so hard! She’s so sweet to him, too! The other day I watched her go over to him while he was in his jumpy chair, and she said, “Oh buddy! Where’s your cracker? Did you eat it all buddy? Oh silly, you dropped it! Here you go, Otis!!!” It’s so sweet to watch her love on him and take care of him. He loves her so much, too, especially when she sings to him. On a recent trip, there were a couple moments on the drive that Otis was over it, and once I showed him a video of Eleanor singing, he was happy as can be. I am so excited to keep watching their friendship grow.
There were a lot of movement milestones this month. He’s rolling all around a room, shimmying himself around to get where he wants, planking, rocking on all fours and sitting up unassisted. He still loves his jumpy chair as well. We have an old one outside, and I think that’s his happy place – outside and jumping. He is probably only days away from crawling. He has it all down except for the arm part, and he’s starting to lunge forward for now. I can only imagine what it will be like when we have him crawling around and exploring.
He’s started eating more foods that have more texture – bananas, avocados, oatmeal, eggs, cheerios and raisins. He really wants people food now and has no patience for purees. I know Eleanor had a lot of these things at 8 months, but I think because he’s our second, he seems too young! I also think with your first you are hyper aware of all the new things to do and try and watch for. With the second, you blink and they’re 8 months!
We went on a road trip this past month to Washington DC to see my cousin retire from a 20-year Air Force career. Just before we went, I could see some movement happening on his top teeth, and he had a slight fever. I assumed they were related, but he was getting more and more uncomfortable. The fever wasn’t really going away much either, so I ran him up to the Dr. before our trip just in case something else was going on. She checked him out, and he looked fine, clear of any bacterial infection. She said he probably has some sort of viral infection and to watch it over the weekend. A couple days later, his fever subsided, and he had a rash all over. I’m pretty sure it was roseola, but fortunately, by the last day of our trip (our drive back), he was much better. His top teeth have mostly come through this past week as well. You can see them in a picture below.
This past month has f-i-n-a-l-l-y consisted of good weather, so we’ve been outside a lot more. We’ve gone on walks, to the zoo, to the park and more, and Otis is such a big fan. He loves to be outside. One of his favorite spots is sitting on the front porch, and he gets super excited with each passing car. He gets especially excited when the big work trucks that are doing construction at the back of our neighborhood drive by. At the park one day, he went on the swings for the first time, too.
Another highlight was a visit from our friends from Australia. They’ve done a huge trip around the world, and they were up in Chicago. We met them in Lafayette one afternoon, and it was so great seeing them. Kate had their little boy two weeks after Otis was born, and his name is Otto. We affectionately call them the “O-Men”. It was so good to see them!
- Food – fruit purees and people food (bananas, avocados, eggs, bread, raisins, broccoli and cheerios), baby mum-mum crackers and puffs
- Being outside – walks, parks, sitting on the grass, front porch watching
- Jumparoo chair still going strong
- Being tickled (and the anticipation of being tickled)
- Being thrown up in the air
- Any toys, especially his sister’s toys when she shares (which fortunately is most of the time at this point)
- Yelling and growling are his favorite sounds to make
- Do not take food (or anything) out of Otis’s hands if he’s playing with it…just don’t ;)
- Being in the car for too long if he’s tired
- When you don’t share your food with him
How Am I Doing?
I’m doing really well. This last month has been like a breath of fresh air in a number of ways – seeing old friends, making new friends, being outside. I’ve re-launched my photography business here in Indianapolis, redesigned my blog and started writing more again. I am dreaming more for the future and all the possibilities. I’ve started a mom’s “Summer Meetup” group that I am excited about. I’ve been doing a bit better with working out and eating well, hopefully continuing to improve upon that. A lot is going really well.
There are challenges of course in this season, but I am trying to be content where we are at and not rush things. I’ve learned so much over this last year about God’s timing and “withness” and to trust that, so I am hoping to remember that in the day-to-day when challenges arise.
I’m loving these times with the kids and figuring out our rhythms. I am trying to get us out a bit more on a daily basis, which I think helps Eleanor a lot. There have been some challenges with Eleanor over the last month or two that we are praying about how to navigate, but I think the more consistent our routine can be, the better. Otis is so chill and laid-back at this stage that it’s helpful when I have to work with Eleanor. And of course, I am optimistic and hopeful that the older Otis gets the more they’ll play together.
Until next month!
Someone recently made a comment to me about the fact that Otis was six months now, and as I thought about it for a minute, I realized that he was actually only a few days from seven months! This past month has been so fun with Otis. I feel like I remember around this time with Eleanor and how her personality really came alive. We are experiencing that with Otis right now, and I sort of feel like this is when the fun really gets started!
When I took his seven month photos the other day, he was laughing in half of them, and most of those laughs were in response to his goofy big sister. I love their little relationship, and I hope it continues to be so sweet.
Highlights & Milestones
One milestone for Otis is that he is not just doing one little roll from back to belly or belly to back anymore. I will put him down in one spot, and then five minutes later, he will be in a totally different spot, ten feet away. He rolls and rolls and rolls. He has also started the infamous “planking” that Eleanor did, and you can see the wheels spinning, trying to figure out how to really move. I’m sure he’ll be chasing Eleanor around in no time, and we will have to really think through any areas that need to be childproofed.
He started eating solids regularly this past month, and I’ll normally give him some for lunch and dinner. He LOVES pretty much any fruit I’ve given him, and his favorite things seems to be when I mix apples, pears and plums with a bit of rice cereal. He’s not so sure about peas and definitely doesn’t like avocado. The faces he makes when he doesn’t like a food are priceless. Other food things – he started attempting to drink out of a little sippy cup, and he also has tried some of those teething crackers. He didn’t like them at first, but now that he’s getting used to the texture, he likes them a lot.
Another highlight this month was a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Willingham! They drove up Easter weekend and stayed with us through the next week. It was so good to have them here, hanging out, and it was particularly special because they were here when Robbie got his job! Otis had lots of smiles for Grandma and Grandpa and enjoyed having them here for the week.
Otis wore his first bowtie for Easter weekend, and he was so cute! I may be biased, but I mean, come on, a little boy in a bowtie is pretty stinking cute! His laugh continued to get louder and all-encompassing, and he also started yelling loudly as a way of communicating. He gets so excited when people make loud noises back with him.
As the weather F-I-N-A-L-L-Y started improving, we were able to go on walks this month, and Otis really loves walking around outside. One of the days, we went to the Zoo for the first time, and he enjoyed all the different things to look at, even though he’s not really aware of the animals yet.
- Food – his favorites are definitely fruits (minus bananas), but he’s also started really liking the crackers as well.
- His jumparoo chair
- Rolling around the floor with toys
- Fans (still going strong)
- People – he LOVES people so much!
- Being raised up in the air/flying
- Sleeping on his tummy
- Sofie, rattles and his o-ball are his favorite toys right now
- Yelling :)
- Walks outside
- Being tickled
- Chewing on his finger (or anything basically)
- When you take anything away from him that he’s chewing on (ie a spoon)
- Avocado, zucchini and baby puffs
- Food that’s too cold
How Am I Doing?
I just went back to read what I wrote on my last post for Otis as a reference point. A lot can change in a month! The biggest change for me personally this month has been that Robbie got a job and started on April 9. The job thing was a big part of the transition piece for us. Everything was sort of waiting on this piece – routine, budgeting, planning, etc. His job came at the perfect time, and it is an AMAZING job. When I sit and think about it, I am reminded yet again of God’s faithfulness and with-ness. Over the past year or more, many of the things that we were thinking, planning and hoping for this next season have happened as far as this job goes. It’s a great company, it has a great culture, there are amazing opportunities for him to grow and learn but to still use all his experience and wisdom as well, it has great benefits for us as a family. I could go on, but I am so happy for him.
With him getting a job, I was anticipating the adjustment on my end as well. As normal as it is for most of the world, it’s not normal for me to not see Robbie all day, every day. We’ve always worked together. Even when I was primarily at home with kids, I was still on our leadership team and attending meetings throughout the day. Plus the fact that we lived next door to our work made a big difference – he could come home throughout the day if he needed, and I could go next door. I was excited for us to get into a routine and to feel out this new normal, but if I am being honest, I was nervous, too. It has gone pretty well so far, though, and I am learning our rhythms here. There are still a few areas I want to sort out better, and thankfully, the weather is allowing us to get out a little more, which I find really helps for all of us.
Overall, I am doing… ok. I have hesitated admitting that online so far, but I am learning that I need to be honest and open. I am grateful for so many things, I have learned a lot and I am excited for all God’s done in this season. However, there are hard aspects of this transition, and I am learning to be ok with admitting that. A few things have changed in my day-to-day, so I am planning to write a bit more about my transition. I needed a bit more schedule/routine/time and a LOT more courage to do this, but I know it’s worth it and something I feel God speaking to me about. Be on the lookout for that :)
Half. A. Year. Oh my! How is that possible? Probably a new baby, a big move, a huge transition and adapting to a new country sped things up a bit? Haha that’s probably an understatement. What a season, though, and to realize that we are already at this halfway point is mind-blowing.
Six months feels like that point where everything starts rapidly changing in a baby’s life. I remember this with Eleanor. It happened when we got back from holidays in the States. We left the day after she turned five months, and we returned six weeks later with such a different child. From that point forward, it felt like there was something new and exactly almost weekly. I remember making note of that – the rapid development I noticed in her!
Highlights & Milestones
I don’t know if this is a highlight or milestone necessarily, but it’s worth mentioning. Otis had his first appointment with our new pediatrician this month. It was technically his four month checkup, but because we just moved and it takes awhile to get in for an appointment as a new patient, it was done at five months. His next appointment will be closer to seven months as well because we had to space out the vaccines. After that, he should be on track with all future appointments. He did really well during that appointment, especially considering it wasn’t a short appointment per say. There was a lot to discuss and determine since we are new. I was really happy with the pediatrician overall, and I felt like it eased a bit of my fear in coming back to the US healthcare system. She’s been practicing for 30 years, and she seems to be very reasonable and not the type to rush to prescribe antibiotics every two seconds.
Otis is actually proving to be a little guy, just like his sister, despite arriving 2.5 lbs heavier! I was actually nervous when we saw his weight, and it calculated at the 6th percentile. I was expecting her to tell me to supplement or that he wasn’t healthy because that’s the “stereotype” I’ve heard here. She said the same thing our doctor in Newie said about Eleanor, though – “as long as he rides along that line then I am happy! Keep breastfeeding!”
A milestone this month was that he started rolling from back to belly (he actually did it for the first time at his doctor’s appointment.) He’s gotten quite good at it over the month. The only trouble is if he does it in his crib and gets stuck. This week I noticed he finished his morning sleep on his belly, though, and he seemed pretty content like that. He seemed a little confused when he woke up, though.
Otis is laughing a lot more and so much more talkative. I love when babies this age “talk” to you – so expressive. He loves watching his sister, whether she is interacting with him or just doing her own thing. He’ll find her in the room in two seconds! Almost every morning as he finishes his first feed, I’ll sit him up, and he’ll find my mom or dad in the room and get the biggest grin. It’s very sweet.
He loves playing in his jumparoo, and he gets really excited when people interact with him while he’s there, even if they’re on the other side of the room. He is interacting with his toys a lot more now, and I think it’s only a matter of time before he figures out how to scoot and eventually crawl. When he’s on his belly, he does a swimming-type move, so excited to get somewhere.
He cut his second tooth, and he now proudly grins with his two bottom teeth. It’s so cute! He is still a drooling machine, and I’ve had to buy some drool bibs for him so his clothes aren’t soaked all day, every day. It’s funny how different kids can be because I never had to do this with Eleanor.
We’ve given him a few purees at this point, but I’ve taken it pretty slow so far. He’s tried apples and pears, and he loved them both. I couldn’t get them in his mouth quick enough. This last week, I made some butternut squash puree, and he’s not quite sure about that one yet. The next one on my list is sweet potato, and now that he is officially six months, I will be actively trying new ones with him and eventually combining some.
I was waiting for all the teething pain to calm down before we worked on sleep training again. We’ve focused on it this week a bit more as he seems totally healthy and ready for it. Overall, he’s been quite a bit easier in this department than Eleanor. He seems to sooth himself rather quickly, especially now with his little elephant soother that he really loves. I’m still dreaming of a full night’s sleep, but I don’t think it’s too far off. Even though he does decently at night, his naps have gone downhill for some reason. He was taking 1.5-2 hour naps twice a day and a catnap later in the afternoon, and this past week or so, he’s gone down to the 45 minute naps that were Eleanor’s game. Hopefully we can figure that one out because 45 minute naps and me are NOT friends! (Especially when big sister is transitioning out of naps completely!)
Overall, he’s doing really well, and he’s a pretty easy, laid-back baby. His personality has been showing more and more, and we are loving getting to know our little Otis on new levels!
Photo below – “What is this white thing? I’m just gonna check it out…going…going…gone!”
- Toys: elephant crinkle toy, rattles, Sofie the Giraffe, his grey giraffe, jumparoo
- Foods: apples and pears are definitely his favorite (of the four that he’s tried)
- Being raised high in the air
- High pitched noises
- Being tickled – first giggles!
- Walks outside (Come on Spring!)
- His carseat toy that sings and lights up
- Big Sister!
- Chewing on everything (fingers, toys, his shirt sleeve)
- Medicine – we gave him baby Tylenol for the first time when his teeth were hurting him, and he loved it!
- Having to wait, even a minute, for milk
- Being cold (after bath time)
- Cold purees
How Am I Doing?
I am doing pretty well. Otis’s sleep is starting to improve, and that majorly affects me and my day. It’s so easy to underestimate the need for good, quality sleep each night. I think God gives us grace to deal with all the middle of the night feedings, but I think that grace can wear thin if it lasts for too long. Both of my kids seem to have improved a lot around the six month mark, but I think that has a lot to do with our own patterns and routines. All that to say, I am dreaming about the night I go to bed at 9 and wake up at 7! I am really wanting to get into a routine of waking before the kids, and it actually seems possible now. We got the light up clock for Eleanor, and she now wakes up at 7 or later, which is A-MAZING after 2.5 years of 6am wake up calls! I’ve tried to be very diligent about feeding Otis at 7am each morning as well, and it seems his body has gotten into that rhythm. Once I am getting more quality sleep, I am planning to wake early and get a good morning routine down. All these things are so helpful!
We are still adjusting to life back in the States. Robbie is working on the job thing, we are loving our church and small group, and we are catching up with new and old friends often. Now, if the weather could just catch up with the season, I think we would all be loving life. I can’t wait for the warmer weather here!!