Eli's Toddler Room Reveal!

I think children's rooms are by far my favorite kind of rooms to decorate. There's just this "anything goes" mentality where you can go crazy with color and types of decor and somehow it all works. While I was super sad to see Eli's nursery go (to see all the details, check this post). We ended up turning his room into baby girl's nursery and letting Eli move into the guest bedroom next door. (I was also sad to see that room go!)

It was so fun to work in a bit darker, moodier room - if you've seen the rest of the house, you know I LOVE white and this is the only room in the entire house I haven't painted. The color was perfect for creating a little boy's room and worked well with much of what we already had. My main goals with both of the nurseries was to: 1) As much as possible, use what we already had on-hand. 2) Spend as little money as possible on anything additional we needed. 3) Unless we already had it, DIY all the artwork (see point number two).

So here it is!
I picked up the Kallax bookshelf from Ikea and styled it with things from Eli's old nursery and a few sentimental items we inherited when my father-in-law passed away. The grey bins we already had from Eli's nursery and the woven ones are from Ikea. They hold clothes, books and special toys I keep hidden away for crib time. (ps. Having toys that can only come out at crib time, makes it WAY more appealing!)

The chair is from West Elm, we read with Eli a lot and we really wanted to be sure there was a cozy spot we could hang out in while we read. The pillow is from Target and the side table is from Eli's old nursery. The curtains are what we already had in this room (I believe they are originally Ikea) and I just added black-out lining to them so they'd be toddler-ready.


I made the bear tapestry with materials we already had at home. I just drew the bear on some old blue fabric, cut it out and used fusible webbing to put the bear on a piece of linen-blend fabric I had. To make it more "tapestry-like" I stapled it onto furring strips and hung it with screw eyes and twine. It was super easy

The pouf is from Etsy - the shop had a great black Friday deal running if you purchased two, so I picked up one for Eli's room and one for Colette's nursery. The rug is Ikea. Ever since it came out I've been dying to find a place in our home for it, so as soon as we decided to give Eli a new room, it was the first thing I purchased. 

The crib is Ikea and the artwork and arrows (tutorial here) are all from Eli's old nursery. The tiny, little zebra and owl are from Eli's old mobile. Eli now sleeps with a pillow and a blanket; the pillow is from his old nursery and I made the blanket as a Christmas gift for him. 


You also might recognize the light. We just swapped lights in each room. So Eli kept the drum light and the guest room chandy went into Colette's nursery.


A month or so after Eli officially moved into this room, I picked up this utility cart from Ikea. We realized we needed a space near his crib to hold a few small items - things like his water (he always asks for a drink before bed), tissues for runny noses or small spills, and his glasses while he sleeps. We also store his socks, extra hats and gloves and diapers and wipes in it. It's not the most beautiful, but it's super functional.

And that's the room! It's super cozy and fun to spend time in. Now that we have toys and books in here, I've found all four of us spend a lot of time in here reading together, playing on the floor, watching Eli climb on and jump off the pouf, and just generally play around. It's such a fun space to be in!

Let Him Be Little: Why We're Not Rushing Out of the Crib

When we got pregnant the second time around and found out that our children would be about 20 months apart, all sorts of questions swirled through my head. Mostly about sleep: Do we move Eli to a big boy bed? Do I transition him to a toddler bed first? Do I just use the guest bed with a noodle or something in it? Or should I just keep the crib? Do we have them share a room so we can keep the guest room? Or maybe just shove a crib in the guest room and let one of them sleep in there?

See, a lot of questions.

Let's just get to the nitty gritty, I'm terrified to get rid of the crib. I really, really love having Eli sleep in a crib - I mean, here are the pros: He's contained, doesn't try to climb out of it (yet), will give me about a 1/2 hour of crib time in the morning in it, still fits in it comfortably even though he's pretty tall for his age, and the biggest and most important reason? He sleeps like a rock star in it (most nights) and still gives me 2-3 hour naps in the afternoon in it.

The cons? Saving money by not having to purchase a second crib, and potentially getting to keep the guest room if he can learn to sleep in a queen bed.
Ultimately, the pros of the crib won. I had heard enough horror stories about transitioning children to "big kid beds" that I just didn't want to mess with it. We ended up going with the cheapo Ikea crib and I'm already just as happy with it as I am with our more expensive Babyletto Hudson crib (the one pictured above). We also went with a cheaper mattress and mattress protector than we had before (second kid problems), but again, so far, we've been really happy with everything. In the end for us, spending about $160 bucks is totally worth our sleep.

As far as separating them into two rooms, for all of the pros I listed above, both Mike and I felt strongly that they were separated. We hope to have Colette sleeping in her nursery around five weeks like we did with Eli, and again, we value our own sleep so much that we'll do anything to try to give them both the best "sleep oasis" possible to encourage lots of it.  

Originally I was planning on just adding the new crib to the guest room and having Eli sleep in there - he doesn't need a changing table or glider or anything any more, so we thought that'd be easiest - but as it turned out, it was physically impossible to fit both a crib and a queen bed in the guest room. Well, you could do it, but you wouldn't be able to open the closet door, or, in another arrangement, you'd have to vault the crib to get into bed every night ... not ideal. Or really physically possible. So the guest bed went on-loan to a family member, and the entire room went to full-on toddler.

While I was so, so sad to see Eli's nursery go since I worked so hard on it, it's been super fun to work on two new kiddo rooms! Over the next few posts I'll be sharing both their rooms. I was on a massive budget while decorating them, and really the mantra was "reuse, reuse, reuse - or make for free," so while there are lots of things I would have liked to do, I had to reign my dreams in, which was actually a really good decorating challenge for me. I'm excited to show you all how both rooms turned out!

I'm curious to hear what those of you who have two plus kiddos did when another arrived. When will you/did you transition your child from crib to bed? How did it turn out? What impacted your decision?

This Is How I Feel, XIX

After every. single. contraction. (Before the epidural.)

When I think about how wonderful working epidurals are.
In the middle of the night when Colette's crying for the zillionth time for reasons I can't figure out, and I'm just trying to hold it together. 

The morning after an all nighter because - a newborn and a toddler. Duh.

When thinking about how they usually make you wait at least a half hour after you request an epidural before actually give it to you.


After I got the epidural and I couldn't feel anything but pressure.


When wondering why the hospital can't provide better cafeteria food.

When I'm changing Colette's diaper and she's crying because it's cold.


About every sleep-solution book. Ever. 

The first few times I woke up in the middle of the night at the hospital and remembered I had a new baby.
After delivery in the middle of the night, when the nurse wants to come in and check my blood pressure - AGAIN. 

When I accidentally forget to support Colette's head and it flops all over the place and I'm hoping no one noticed.


When Colette's bawling in a public place and someone tells me, "Oh, she must be hungry." 

When I hear Colette make a noise in the middle of the night and am worried for a second it's going to turn into something more - but it doesn't. 

When anyone besides me makes Colette cry. #mommabear

Colette's Birth Story

In some ways I feel like this story needs a long preamble, one that explains where I've been, and what attitudes, expectations and preconceptions I came into Colette's birth with. Yet I won't go into it here - because most of you know my story if you've been a long-time reader. But I also know there are lots of new faces here, so if you're one of them, you may want to check out Eli's birth story, as well as this post I wrote about a year later after I became pregnant with Colette, when I finally realized I had some healing to do after a traumatic birth experience. 

Okay, on to Colette and her story. 

I went to bed the night before feeling a little different. For some reason, I had an inkling that something would happen sooner rather than later, but I'd been wishing to be done with the 40+ week pregnancy for far too long and didn't want to get my hopes up, so I pushed the thought away. I'd been having back contractions since about 36 weeks, and would often wake up in the middle of the night from them. They were painful and annoying, but never wrapped around to my stomach and always went away with a warm bath - so I knew they weren't true labor.

Around 3:30 a.m. on New Year's Eve, I woke up again to back contractions, but this time they were wrapping around to my stomach. They felt exactly the same as what I'd been having, but were coming regularly at eight minutes apart, and my stomach was finally hard as a rock each time one came. I laid there for about 45 minutes, thinking "This is it! It's finally over! Yay! She's coming! Holy crap, I have to do this now. I have to face my fears. Stop! Stop! I'm not ready!"

I turned to my husband, Mike, waking him up and telling him I was finally in true labor and I was going to go shower. When I stood up, my water broke - or maybe that was just the first time I noticed it - not really sure on that one - so I hurried to the bathroom as fast as a 40 week preggo woman could (ummm, not very fast). I took a shower and as time went on, I realized that there was a lot of blood accompanying my water breaking - like, A LOT. And it didn't stop. Of course I was Googling, "How much blood with water breaking," and all sorts of other search terms that would tell me if I should be worried or not, and from what I could tell, it didn't seem like there should be as much as there was. I called the on-call doctor and he suggested we come into the hospital right away.

I was disappointed we had to go into the hospital so early, as I had wanted to labor at home for as long as possible. And at that point, the contractions weren't too bad and were still about eight minutes apart, so I almost felt silly going in.

But Mike called his mom to come watch Eli, and within the hour we were at the hospital. I was dilated to a five (Yay!) and was told by the triage nurse the blood wasn't a big deal. It was a lot, but it wasn't a concern. I never did get a reason why on that one - I forgot to ask as we were checked into a room fairly quickly to start the waiting process for baby girl to make her grand appearance.

Mike had texted my doula earlier that morning to let her know I was in labor, but he told her we'd let her know when we wanted her to actually come - no sense in having her just sit there and stare at us while we stared back at her waiting for my contractions to get a little more lively. As soon as I got into the room, I went to labor in the tub, but quickly found the contractions were slowing down to about 10 minutes apart while I was in there.

So I got out, and Mike and I walked the halls to try to speed up the contractions. And this is where I started to notice how different this labor was from my first. Mike had me laughing out loud between contractions as he jigged by the nurses, made jokes about my waddle, and did high kicks (not even kidding) after I made it through each contraction. Fairly quickly, contractions started coming about three minutes apart and were much more painful, so we went back to the room and found I had dilated to a six. (A bit bummed about that - I mean A LITTLE MORE PROGRESS FOR ALL THIS PAIN PLEASE!)

I lumbered myself onto a birthing ball while Mike texted the doula to head on over. Turned out, she was too sick to come, so she notified a replacement doula that I'd never met to come fill in. I was super disappointed my original doula wouldn't be able to make it, particularly because I knew my Midwife was away on vacation, so a random OB would be delivering my baby - which meant two of my "team" members besides Mike were missing. I started getting a little discouraged at this point. The people who knew my story, my fears, and my hesitations couldn't show up and I was starting to feel alone, and even a bit angry that they weren't there for the big show.

But I didn't have long to dwell on my feelings because the labor was progressing quickly. Soon the replacement doula showed up, she was nice and friendly and got to work immediately offering suggestions to make me more comfortable, giving Mike tips on counter pressure, and even whipping out essential oils to help with my nausea. Soon the OB showed up and low and behold, it was the same OB that delivered Eli. She walked in and I was all like, "You delivered Eli! Do you remember me? Do you want to see a picture?" #proudmomforlife

She smartly brushed away the photo offer (I mean, I was in no position to whip out my phone and find a photo.) and said that she did in fact remember me, and verified it with saying, "Eli came out OP (sunnyside up), didn't he?" Well, yes, ma'mam, that he did.

The OB wanted to check me again, just to verify the nurse's check was accurate, and to see what position baby girl was in. With a grim face, she told me Colette was also OP, but brightened as she said that unlike Eli, most OP babies do "turn" in labor through contractions, so this baby probably would.

"Yeah, fat chance for me," I thought.

But this is where the doula really showed her skills. Right away she got to work, suggesting a couple of really, really, really weird positions for me to labor in. She said I needed to labor through 10 contractions in each position and together they should help turn baby.

Honestly, I would do ANYTHING to not have an OP baby again, so right away I got started laboring in her suggested positions. Each position was super hard work, and not nearly as comfortable as laboring on the ball with counter-pressure and a cool cloth on my neck and all that good stuff. Anyone who's had a child before knows that in most contractions, you just sorta try to relax and "ride the wave" of each contraction, breathing through them so you can get to the next "break." But with this, I was working super hard. I still needed to breathe through the contractions, but I was also lifting my belly with my hands while doing a squat against a wall, or nearly falling off the bed - seriously, the doula and Mike had to hold me onto the bed while I just sorta hung there and held my legs in really weird positions while pointing my toes.

I can't even explain it people.

It was bizarre.

I'm sorta trying to block it from my memory. Particularly trying to block out what I must have looked like while doing it. Poor Mike.

But (spoiler alert) it worked.

After about 30 contractions in these weird positions, the contractions started speeding up like crazy, coming one after another, after another, with no breaks. I started to throw up, and even felt the urge to push a bit. The OB checked me, saying I was showing all the signs of transitioning, but whomp, whomp. I was still at a six.

I about died. I know it's not about the numbers. I know that. But in that moment, all I could think about was Eli's birth and how I stalled out at 7.5 for 10+ hours and how that was going to happen to me again because Colette was OP, just like him. I started having flashbacks and feeling trapped and scared and completely, totally, entirely discouraged.

"I want an epidural."

But you're so close!"

"Don't care. I want it now."

"But you're transitioning Laura, you can do this!"

"I know I can, I've done it before, but I don't want to. Epidural. Now."

The nurse, doula and I went around and around like this for a few minutes. They were encouraging me to hold out. I was adamant and firm that I wanted an epidural. And I basically just kept repeating, "Give it to me. Now."

So they ordered it up and in no less than 10 minutes the anesthesiologist was in my room. He knew my story (I assume from my letter?) because he came in and right away told me this time, my experience would be completely different. And he'd make sure it was - promising to stay with me until we knew it worked and that he would redo my epidural as many times as it took - but, as he assured me, it'd only take one try.

I immediately liked him. His bedside manner was a far cry from the last interaction I had with an anesthesiologist, and I could tell he was genuine and kind. I turned my back towards him to prepare for the epidural and in the time it took for him to prep his stuff and have me sign my life away on the waiver, I had three contractions one after another. Each of them more intense than the next. He put the needle in, I laid back and the OB said she wanted to check me immediately - I was a nine.

Right away, I started to feel relief. Everything went tingly from my stomach down. Not completely numb, but tingly. I could still feel lots of pressure, and could even tell when I had a contraction. It didn't hurt, it just felt like I was holding a bowling ball between my legs that was about to fall out, and I could feel more pressure in my stomach when I had a contraction.

As the meds kicked in, I began to cry, and I turned to the anesthesiologist - and yes, I most definitely told him I loved him through a face full of tears.

Completely platonic of course.

He left pretty quick after that.

One more contraction, and I was a 10.

I started to push and it was a totally out of body experience. There was no pain, no fire, no burning. Just pressure, that's the only way to describe it. I started to smile. I let out a laugh. I made a joke. And then I laughed at my joke! I was having fun! I shall be funny!

I obeyed the nurses as they told me to "push through my bottom!" And I alerted them when another contraction had come, asking each time if I was allowed to push. No longer was my body involuntarily pushing, I was choosing to push. It was bizarre. And amazing. I had no idea birth could be like this. Dare I say - enjoyable? I was giggling, I was so happy. And I instantly became so much more excited to meet my daughter.

About 10 minutes into pushing, Mike stepped away and told the room he needed to sit down, he was about to faint - yep, just like with Eli.  Poor guy. I turned to him and felt actual empathy for him. And thanks to the epidural, I said to him, "Oh Mike! You okay? You can do this honey!"

Like.

WHAT.

I was giving birth. Pushing out a baby. And I was able to care about another human being besides me. I was NICE to another human being. If I could have, I would have gotten up and offered Mike something to eat I felt so good.

While he took five, I continued to push and after a grand total of 20 minutes of pushing, baby girl, her dark hair and big lungs were out in the world and in my arms.

I smiled. I cried. I was overjoyed. Happy. Thrilled. Moved. Just absolutely in awe of my beautiful daughter. My heart felt like it might burst with pride, happiness and joy.

I inspected her all over and just couldn't get over her squishy cheeks, big eyes and THAT HAIR.

I mean.

Please.

Where did that come from?!

I don't even care.

My baby was finally here and I could barely believe it. I still needed to process so much of what happened, but in that moment, all I wanted to do was soak. her. up.

My baby girl. My love. My New Year's Eve party. My daughter. My Colette.

She was here.


How To Survive The First Few Weeks With A Newborn

There's this rumor floating around that says the first few weeks with a newborn are all snuggles and cuddles and TV-show-binge-watching for the new mom. 

If you've been there, you know that's maybe 25 percent of it, probably more like 20 percent. 

Here's how it all really goes down - and how you learn to adapt. Evolve. Survive.

Let's just get all the romantic notions out of the way, mmmmk?

The first few nights are pretty good. You still have a fairly large false sense of self control in place. Depending on the birth, you're likely feeling the new-mom high, ready to quickly and eagerly meet baby's every tiny need - like making sure they are swaddled tight as an egg roll, oohing and ahhing over their first poop and each wet diaper, and protecting their sweet, smooshed noses and torpedo heads from the ghastly talons they came out of the womb with. 

Then you're sent home from the hospital. You're both relieved to be away from the nurses that pester you every two hours for a "little blood pressure check here," and a "little painful uterus shove for shrinkage there," and petrified that they're actually sending you home and trusting you to care for this somewhat amphibian-like human being that you've already nearly lost among the straps and buckles when you put them in the carseat on your way out the hospital door. 

You likely sit in the back seat, right next to the baby, monitoring their breathing and backseat-driving the heck out of your husband because each and every turn is a little too fast and a little too tight. Even though he can barely drive over 20 mph himself for fear of roughing up his precious cargo in the back. 

And then you're home. 

The first couple weeks are full of adrenaline, excitement and Flying By The Seat Of Your Huge Pads and Yoga Pants. It's scary, sure. And you have no clue what you're doing. But that little alien is ruling your world in a way that is both amazingly mesmerizing and horribly torturous. And so you are confused, but consumed. And you actually manage to get by for a time not really realizing how incredibly sleep deprived - and frankly, insane - you are. 

But quickly, you learn. 

It is on.

Out of nowhere, your sleep depravation hits a high point and your body can no longer function on one hour naps here and there throughout a 24 hour period. You no longer have capacity to nurse, or pump, or fill bottles, or a combination of two, or heaven forbid - all three - every two hours, without falling asleep in the middle of a diaper change, the only thing waking you back up is the warm little trickle of pee on your face your undiapered newborn aimed at you.

During the day, you begin to feel like you should at least start to be productive, and so you brush your teeth and then spend the rest of the day shuffling around, aimlessly trying to do something while really doing nothing at all. 

You will likely begin to cry more than your child for reasons you cannot comprehend or explain, making your husband wide-eyed and terrified as he encourages you to get some rest, but all you can talk about are nonsensical phrases about diapers and nipple cream and wanting to scrub poop off the wall that's been festering for over a week. 

During those first few weeks and months you begin to forget what day of the week it is and there are moments when you can't figure out if it's actually night time or a rare total eclipse of the sun. You eventually forget your own phone number and even your address, and become too afraid to leave the house not only because you're afraid the baby will lose it while out and about, but because you're afraid you're so tired you'll never be able to find your own home again.

It's an understandably confusing time when all logic goes out the window. Be not concerned. You'll likely remember the difference again when your child is, oh, 32?

You begin to hallucinate, hearing phantom cries even as you stare at your baby sleeping soundly in the rock n'play right in front of you, and you think you hear your husband come home randomly from work at one in the afternoon - a terrible trick which includes the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. 

The first few weeks with a newborn are debilitating, consuming, wonderful, misery, happiness, joy and agony all rolled into one. It's amazing how a teeny-tiny human being can rule your entire universe.

So here's what you need to know about how to survive. 

Expect nothing. And I repeat: Expect nothing. 

But if you must expect something, expect that nothing will go as planned, and then I believe you will be properly prepared. 

To survive, you must trust that you are not in control, and that your best efforts are truly enough for this little life form entrusted to your care. It will be hard and scary and confusing. Sure, you will have moments of mental clarity and triumph, but then again, I must warn you, the very second you feel like you know what you're doing, something will change and you'll be back to square one, lost and confused, and reminded of your complete and utter lack of knowledge and skill as a parent. 

And so you solider on. Because in reality, everything is as it should be. 

If you don't know what you're doing, then you're right where you need to be, doing exactly what you should. 

And here's the shining truth that keeps us as mothers carrying on - no matter the stage our children are in. Each and every day of motherhood - but especially those first few weeks - will be full of frustration, pain, confusion and some downright terrifying moments. But then, each and every single day the fog will clear for a moment, maybe two, and you'll see in your baby some awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, amazing, marvelous, miraculous moment that will completely erase your memory for the moments of terror that preceded it. 

There are very, very few guarantees in parenting, but this is one: That each day, you will get a little bit of hardship and a little bit of magic. And that in turn guarantees that you will always undoubtedly, undeniably, unquestionably, adore, admire, cherish and wholeheartedly love your new baby and do anything for them. 

Your love for them will always, always, always be pure, unadulterated and undefiled. 

And no amount of sleep deprivation, confusion, exhaustion, stress or anxiety can change it, bend it or break it. 

Your truest guarantee is that you won't be able to comprehend how much love you have for your child. 

And so in turn, there is really nothing I can tell you about how to survive the first few weeks with a newborn. Because you already have everything you need. 

The love that floods your heart the moment you meet them is what will get you through. 

It is all you need to survive. Carry on, warrior. 

Like this post? Here are some of the top posts for new moms. I also share a whole lot more on this motherhood gig over on Facebook (Oakland Avenue)Twitter (@oakland_avenue) and Instagram (@laurawifler) and I'd love it if you followed along!

Eli - 21 Month Update

Naps: One nap a day, around 1 p.m. for two to three and a half hours.
Feeding: Two percent milk (16-20 oz./day), water all day, table foods three times a day with a snack after nap.
Clothing: 24 month and some 2T
Bedtime: 7:30 - 8 p.m. Sleeps 12-13 hours each night.

Eating: 
No true change here. Overall he eats everything. His latest favorites (beyond cheese and carbs) are peas, clementines, peanut butter and beans. He really likes to stab the beans and peas with a fork, so I wonder if they're a favorite more because they're a game, than the actual taste. Whatever works!

Sleeping: 
Another great month for sleeping. He had a lot of late nights with the holidays though, and usually we find when he goes to be late (after 8 p.m.) he wakes eariler, like 6:30 or 7 a.m., so we really try to get him down around 7:30 p.m. when we can - to ensure we can sleep in too! Mike has been home a whole bunch over the holidays and paternity leave for Colette, so many mornings we've brought Eli into our bed so we can sleep longer. Eli loves snuggling with us and it really is bliss - but I fear we've created a bad habit. Almost every morning his first request when we snag him from the crib is, "Bed? Sunggle? Nigh, nigh?" It's adorable on the days it works with our schedule, but not so adorable when we can't and he ends up in tears, begging us to not change his clothes but to take him to our bed. Oh dear.

Development: 
His words continue to explode with growth. We get quite a bit of three words in a row. Or lots of one word sentences that sound like a full one. Like "Play. Come on. Teepee. Elephant." Aka: "Come into my teepee and play with me and my elephant."

He actually is getting better with colors, and usually gets it right with his second guess. As with most stuff, he's way better when it's just Mike and I working with him, than when other people are around or there's lots going on and he's distracted. He's getting better and better with songs and it's so cute to see him finish a line from a song by shouting the word. He can count to six, but it's lots of guessing after four. Or he'll just repeat, "six" over and over again. So I guess he can't really count to six. Just about to six.

He continues to be more brave with climbing anything around. He loves climbing on things and shouting, "Watch!" (Above.) with a huge grin and he's almost always willing to do stairs now rather than be carried. Which is good for me now that Colette is here!

Another really fun thing is to see him remembering people. We work with pictures of people a lot to learn names, and getting all the Christmas cards in the mail has definitely upped his identification game. He can even remember other things about people, like "Papa, Iowa." It's pretty amazing.

Likes/Dislikes: 
Books, music, coloring and just general, "Play! Toys!" are big likes this month. He's really into grabbing someone's finger - he'll come to someone and request, "Finger?" and pull them to where he wants to play - usually his new teepee. He loves music and dancing (Above.) and will often break into spontaneous dancing for Colette, dancing next to her bouncer while shouting," Dance!" He also requests Mike and I to sing to him all. the. time. He even has soundtrack requests, "Jesus" (Jesus Loves Me), "Victory" (Victory in Jesus), "Grace" (Amazing Grace), "Wheels" (Wheels on the Bus), "Big" (By God is So Big) and AB's (The ABC's) are his current favorites.

He loves going to see his friends and I just love a morning when I get to tell him we're going to play with them. He gets so excited and is extra obedient and will start shouting his friends names while sprinkling in the words, "Fun! Play!" He's also still really into animals and I swear he thinks there's an alligator in our backyard. He constantly goes to the back window to point and shout, "Alligator!" along with "Birds! Squirrel!" and other animals that actually live back there.

Hmm, donno, we do have a pond, so maybe he thinks it's in there? Nearly every day he requests we go to the zoo, so we took him to a local zoo over Christmas and he nearly passed out from excitement. He spent the entire time running from exhibit to exhibit asking for more. Seriously, we didn't even use the stroller we brought. I think he slept for four hours that afternoon, he was so worn out!

He also loves being outside. He always has, but it's another level now that there is snow. He constantly requests to play in the snow, and thankfully Mike's been great about taking him out. He loves shoveling and while it used to get kinda annoying when we had a fresh snow that needed shoveling - these days there's a huge celebration in our house when new snow comes because it's, "Shovel time!"

Dislikes are the same as other months  - not getting his way, having to stop playing to "listen to mommy/daddy," and all the other usual stuff.

Momma/Daddy Update:
We're doing awesome over here. We've only been a family of four for just over a week, but already it's so fun. We've loved watching Eli love on his sister, and it's been fun to have life slow down this past week to really enjoy both kiddos. We spend a lot of time in our bedroom, hanging out on the bed and just playing around. Eli looks like a total beast next to Colette and we keep asking each other if he really was that big before Colette arrived, or if he suddenly went through a crazy growth spurt overnight. Having Colette around is a good reminder of how fast this time goes - hard to believe only 21 months ago, Eli was just as small as her! So we're reminded to soak up our time with both of them because it truly does go so fast.