Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 4 months

June 16, 2017

Wiggling her way off the blanket already (and always looking to see what her big sister is up to).

Sleeping: Lark hit the 4 month sleep regression early and hard. Starting a week or so before I headed to California (I made a quick trip with Lark a few weeks ago to surprise my sister for her birthday), Lark started to wake up more in the night. Since I was going to be traversing time zones with her, I decided not to sweat it. In California she adapted fairly well, doing one 5-6 hour stretch, but then would be up about every 2 hours after that. And of course just as she assimilated to the new time, we headed right back to Amsterdam, where sleep continued to decline. After many bad weeks and things getting progressively worse, I started doing some gentle sleep training, which I’m happy to report has been working out quite well. Her naps are phenomenal, and while bedtime is still a little bit of a struggle some nights, she’s cut down her night-waking to once a night most nights (though, not last night! Gah…)

How we’re adjusting: Sleep has been a struggle for the past month, which tends to be hard on everyone. I contracted a particularly nasty case of strep (probably at least partially due to my lack of sleep) which made all of last week miserable. Luckily, having been through the whole sleep debacle before with Prim, I’m addressing issues earlier with Lark, which is proving to be helpful and less intense. (We did hardcore sleep training with Prim at 7 months after she had been sleeping poorly for soooo looong.)

Lifesavers: I recently purchased a sound machine for Lark, since I noticed that she was being woken up by every little noise, and of course then had trouble getting back to sleep. The sound machine has been amazing so far, and I think will be especially helpful when we eventually move Lark into Prim’s room. I’m sure they will inevitably wake each other up occasionally, but having the white noise helps muffle some of the noise at least.

Latest trick: Lark has rolled from her back to her belly, and is soooo close to rolling belly to back now. She has also figured out how to move across the floor a bit through a series of wiggles and kicks. It’s hilarious to watch her rotate across the blanket like a clock arm, ending up on the hardwood floor somewhere.

Sweetest things: Lark now takes all her naps upstairs in the crib (as opposed to the crib in our living room or in the carrier) and I have a monitor downstairs to hear when she wakes up. She sometimes wakes up crying, but often wakes up now and enjoys a little solo time in her crib, squealing and chattering to herself. Hearing her high-pitched calls over the monitor downstairs is so, so cute.

Favorite thing about this age: Lark is right in between the sort of “new baby” phase and the mobile phase. She’s clearly trying to move and grab things now (no doubt envious of her very busy big sister), but still maintains a lot of that “new-babyness” that’s so sweet. I love that more of her personality is coming out, but I have to admit that I really enjoy the fact that she isn’t too big or busy to nap on the go in the Solly wrap yet (it’s just so sweet, and such a short time that they do this!)

Life Abroad

A Tour of Our Amsterdam Apartment

May 17, 2017

I finally got around to taking a few photos of our apartment, in case you’d like to see how we’re living out here in Amsterdam!

We have a 3 bedroom flat that spans two floors above a woodworking shop. Not having residential downstairs neighbors is great — the shop is closed in the evenings and on weekends, and they aren’t bothered by the sounds of life with kids (aka Prim running laps around the apartment). We have a private entry from the street, which is awesome because we can store our stroller downstairs (lugging two kids up these Dutch stairs is quite enough).

Up the first flight of stairs is the living space, which includes a living room, dining room, kitchen and outdoor terrace. Upstairs we have 3 bedrooms, a small laundry room with washer and dryer, and a bathroom with separate toilet.

Our flat is located on a quiet street in the heart of de Pijp neighborhood — it’s super close to the city center and tons of great sites, stores and restaurants, but we’re lucky that we don’t live on a loud and crazy main road.Our street at sunset. Sometimes the light here in the evenings is just insane!This is a photo from last June of our front door. The plant out front was in full bloom and it looks like it’s going to be blooming again any day now.This is also an older photo, we’ve since picked up a couple of toddler chairs which we purchased secondhand for €10 — such a steal.Someday I will have a kitchen with more than a small slice of counter space. Not today though.Look at that tiny Prim! This big shelf in the living room helps store and corral all the toys.Our outdoor terrace is so nice on warm days — we felt so lucky to find an apartment with outdoor space.The view from the terrace feels pretty “Dutch.” I love it.Lark’s crib, which will eventually be moved into Prim’s room.Prim’s crib (which is usually full of books and many other stuffed animals. The girl loves her “stuff!”)Prim’s room and the guest room (below) both have these built-in desk things that we tried to get the landlord to remove before we moved in. He didn’t want to remove them which was kind of annoying (they take up so much space!) but the one in Prim’s room actually works well as a changing table at least.Our guest room (slash where we fold clean laundry — ha).Our room (which is so hard to photograph due to it’s A-frame construction).The outdoor terrace through the seasons.View from our front windows.View from our back windows (in winter, obviously).This is the Amstel River, which is just down the street from our apartment.And this is part of Sarphatipark, which is a 5 minute walk away.

We feel pretty lucky to have found such a great flat in such an awesome location. When the weather is nice, I feel like I could live here forever.

And seriously, we have a guest room — what are you waiting for??

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 3 months

May 16, 2017

Tummy time tends to be a group activity in this house.

Sleeping: Lark continues to amaze me with her nights. She generally nurses around 7:45pm and goes down by 9pm for the night. She generally wakes up once to feed around 4 or 5am and then goes back down until she’s (inevitably) woken up by Prim prancing into our room between 7 and 8am.

How we’re adjusting: We’re feeling comfortable being a family of four these days. We’ve got a trip to Barcelona booked and are looking at a few other trips this year as well. Traveling with two kids isn’t always easy, but we’re determined to take advantage of our proximity to so many amazing European countries and are going to explore with our little ones while we’re here.

Lifesavers: One of the few things we purchased before Lark’s birth was the BabyBjorn bouncer with the toy bar. It’s been so helpful to have place to set down Lark while I’m cooking dinner or emptying the dishwasher, and she’s recently discovered that she can touch the toys on the toy bar, which is pretty fascinating (and pretty cute, too!) The best part about this bouncer is that it can fold flat super easily. I can lug it upstairs on the nights KC works late so that Lark can hang out while I bathe Prim and get her ready for bed.

New sibling: Prim has adjusted so incredibly well to being an older sister — I’m honestly so thrilled. It’s not that I didn’t expect her to love Lark, but I really thought that adapting to having a new baby around would be a bit more of an adjustment. Prim, however, has had nothing but love for little Lark since the moment we brought her home. All throughout the day she will walk up to Lark and give her a “kiss!” and “snuggle!” or even read her a story (either in her nonsense language, or with the words she remembers from the books we read all the time). She has also recently started coming up to Lark when she’s upset and saying “Ok, ok, sorry!” and patting her “just like mama does” — it’s so ridiculous and sweet!

Sweetest things: Lark has started cooing a lot, which is adorable in and of itself, but when Prim starts talking to her and she looks right at her and starts cooing back I can hardly take it. The only thing that can cure my baby fever at this point is more cowbell.

Favorite thing about this age: Lark is really starting to discover her voice, which is one of my most favorite parts of the newborn phase. Just like Prim around this age, Lark does these sweet high-pitched calls and loves having “conversations” with a big grin on her face. I have a feeling that Lark may end up being just as chatty as Prim in another year or so!

Motherhood / Primrose

Motherhood Update: Prim at 2 years (!)

May 9, 2017

Prim’s birthday dinner was the most toddler-ish meal, maybe ever. We let her eat her cake first, which was followed by her eating ketchup… by itself. (We never have ketchup at home, but I had made homemade chicken nuggets and decided to let Prim “live it up” with dip, which apparently means just letting her eat straight ketchup. Mom of the year!) Luckily she ended the meal by devouring a mountain of the green beans I had made, so it didn’t feel like a total mom-fail. And she left her chicken nuggets and roasted potatoes completely untouched, because of course.

Saying: Prim continues to expand her vocabulary and is now speaking in full sentences. She’s still big on commands (“Mama sit right here!”) and I’m so enjoying this phase between language fluency and baby-talk. I always want to remember the way she uses the word “in” — “Prim in the outside,” “Prim in the couch,” and the way she pronounces words like flamingo (“slimma”) and music “zisic.” She also has this uncanny ability to turn single-syllable words into what seems like two syllables (most notably, the sing-songy way she says, “Hiiiii Laaaaaaark!”)

Prim’s Favorite Things: Prim has recently become somewhat attached to a small Jellycat lion. The lion recently came on a walk down the block to the mailbox with us and she held his paw just like I hold her hand. The most hilarious of lion’s adventures, though, has to be the day I walked in on her with lion in the bathroom — he was sitting on top of the closed toilet seat and Prim proudly announced, “Lion poops!”

Reading: The Gruffalo, Flora and the Flamingo, The Gingerbread Man, The Wonderful Things You Will Be, and Whose Nest.

Latest trick: Prim has the funniest little personality, which is all her own, but it’s interesting to see the things she clearly picks up from KC and me. She is regularly throwing out phrases now that I know she’s gotten right out of my mouth. Her go-to words when she drops something (“Shoot!” or “Jeez!”), her exasperated “Come on!” when she’s struggling with something (which usually comes out when I’m having trouble with the zipper on her jacket or sleep sack), and the way she will randomly toss out, “Goodness!” while she’s climbing down the stairs. (I worked hard to clean up my language once Prim started talking, which is good since my new “exclamations” seem to have really made an impression!)

Favorite toys: In addition to the Gruffalo book, Prim received a set of Gruffalo wooden alphabet blocks and a scooter for her birthday from us, and so far both are quite a hit!

Sweetest things: Prim seems to think that the phrase “I miss you” means the same thing as “I love you.” Given that we’re thousands of miles away from our families and tell them we miss them regularly over FaceTime, I can see how she’s made this assumption. At least once a day Prim will come up to me and say, “Miss you, Mama!” to which I will respond, “I love you!” which is followed by Prim saying, “Welcome!” meaning: “You’re welcome.” It’s so silly and sweet, just like Prim.

Favorite thing about this age: We listen to music most of the day, and have done this since Prim was teeny-tiny. Prim has recently started singing along to some of the songs and singing to herself in her crib. Hearing how much of the lyrics she has managed to pick up from the songs we sing is fascinating, and listening to her sing to herself is pretty much the best thing ever.

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 2 months

April 17, 2017

Sleeping: So far Lark has been a pretty amazing sleeper. Most nights she does one long stretch of at least 5 hours and generally sticks to a minimum of 3 hours between feedings after that. I don’t know how long this will last, so I’m just enjoying the sleep while I’ve got it. (And the upside to the two month vaccines was Lark sleeping 9:30pm to 7am that night — life-changing!)

How we’re adjusting: We’re all enjoying being a family of four. Lark has proven herself to be a true Dutch baby, as she loves going for rides in the bakfiets. She could be screaming bloody murder when we strap her into the carseat, but as soon as KC snaps her into the base on the bakfiets and starts pedaling, she’ll calm down immediately and either fall asleep or just sit quietly for the entire ride.

Lifesavers: It’s been interesting to see how Lark differs from Prim, as I think it’s pretty easy to approach second (and third…) babies with the same tricks that worked on your first kid. Lark does not nurse to sleep, except in the middle of the night (which is both a blessing and a curse), and still cannot stand to be swaddled. She’s also completely apathetic about her pacifier, but loves white noise (perhaps because she spent nine months in my belly listening to a very loud toddler??) The Sound Sleeper app has been a lifesaver with both kids, but especially with Lark. When I know she’s tired but fighting sleep, the only thing that will make her stop flailing and finally calm down is the vacuum sound from the app. (Prim was a fan of the hair dryer sound when she was about Lark’s age. It was a godsend when she was wailing in the carseat while we were stuck in that awesome Bay Area traffic!)

New sibling: Prim still loves her sister (photo evidence above, which is Prim telling Lark stories in her own little language) and her acting out for attention has actually been pretty minimal; which is sort of surprising, given that she’s just weeks away from her second birthday and the “terrible twos.” This is not to say that the adjustment hasn’t been challenging at times. Prim definitely has her moments where she is “very two.” So far my approach to her acting out has been to talk to Prim a lot about the transition (which is basically what I do with everything for Prim… ha!) I make sure to praise her good behavior and work hard to give her one-on-one attention each day. When she starts acting up I try to name how she’s feeling (“It seems like you want some attention from Mama. I know it can be hard when Lark needs so much of my time, but [screaming/banging/whatever] is not ok.”) and give her some attention after a small break (since I don’t want her to think acting out = positive attention). When I sit with her at night before she goes to bed I make it a point to tell her how proud we are of her, what a good sister she is, and how much we love her.

Sweetest things: Lark has started smiling recently and is on the verge of laughing. It’s amazing to see how much she’s changed in just a few short weeks, going from a sleepy newborn to being more and more aware of her surroundings each day. It’s especially adorable when Lark sees Prim’s face and breaks out into a huge, gummy grin and immediately starts cooing at her. It’s as if she already knows that she’s got a best friend and partner in crime for life (these girls are so lucky!)

Favorite thing about this age: Lark’s days and nights are getting a little more predictable, but she still isn’t on a hard and fast schedule. I love feeling a little more confident managing her days while still having the flexibility to go out with her anytime of day, since she can still sleep anytime, anywhere (babies — they’re so portable at this age!)