Buster · Family · Personal · Wacey

Takeaways from Life with Two

brothersWe have two boys! Two. Bert and I look at each other in disbelief sometimes that we have kids, as in plural, as in more than one child. I can officially say I’m Married with Children, although thankfully Bert’s not Al Bundy (sorry, Al), and it’s weird and great all at the same time.

We’re about five weeks in, and because I know you all are waiting to hear how it’s been going (no? Oh) I’m going to share with you some nuggets of wisdom that I have learned:

If your room and your toddler’s room share a wall, get two sound machines. That way you will avoid the fun merry-go-round that was our Friday night involving one kid waking up, settling back down, and then the other kid waking up and then waking the other up , and then both waking up again because they’re so restless and making too much noise, and then you waking up (read: not waking up because you we already awake) and deciding that hell, Starbucks is only 17 minutes away so everyone get in the car but wait one second while I Amazon Prime this new sound machine.

Diapers. I don’t mind changing diapers, but it gets comical when you have a contest about who changed the most poopy ones in one day, or when you have both boys laying down to get diaper changes at the same time and the smell is overpowering and hilarious.

Wacey looks enormous.

Buster looks squishy and floppy.

Being exhausted and having a screaming toddler is a new kind of hell, but one that I’ve thankfully not visited much since apparently we can function much better on much less sleep than we used to. I guess that’s good?

“Gentle touch please” only goes so far, and then your toddler on purpose steps on his brother’s face.

Buy the big diaper bag.

Get prepared for your always-adorable, usually-the-center-of-attention toddler to really up his game at the grocery store since everyone immediately wants to coo over the baby. Be prepared to have conflicting feelings about this. Is it adorable, or mostly adorable with a side of slightly weird? Also be ready for that toddler to turn into a demon sometimes. Can you blame him though?

That same toddler will be amazingly tender and sweet to his brother, giving him kisses and begging to hold him, staring at his face and holding his little hands, and then do a complete 180 wherein you’d better move fast, lady, or your kid’s about to put an Crayola-colored, frustration-induced Uruk-hai handprint on his little brother’s face. Or step on it, as mentioned above. That’s only happened once, as I now know the warning signs.

Going out with only one kid is like a vacation. Going out with just the baby means you might forget he’s there. Not literally, though. Just figuratively? Going out with two kids requires planning and snacks, and not being in a hurry, but I highly recommend it.

Fed is best, fed is best, fed is best. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, and if you’re the person doing the telling, stop it before I slap you upside the head.

When you go visit a friend and you’re early, driving around with sleeping baby in the backseat listening to podcasts (S-Town did NOT disappoint, someone please tell me they’ve finished it because I want to know their opinion re: mercury poisoning) is glorious. Add a smoothie onto that and man oh man, you’re living large.

Wearing the same sweatpants every day for a week is somehow more acceptable when you have two kids. I’m okay with this, because I have been. Week=three months, ps.

You’ll get a lot of questions about who looks more like who, and if you think the babies look alike. I think all newborns look like potatoes, but Buster looks like a potato that could be Wacey’s brother, so the answer to all those questions is yes.

Pumping becomes a whole new adventure once you get a car adapter, and your toddler yells “PUMP!” every two seconds while it’s on. I have to make sure I’m off the ranch before I get ‘er started, though, because I would rather be the Weird Anonymous Lady Pumping While Driving than Weird Anonymous Lady Pumping—Wait, That’s Cassidy, What’s Going on There?, while praying the blanket staying intact over the general frontal region of myself. I have no problem talking about pumping/nursing/breastfeeding/etc., and no shame, but you have to admit that a Human Milking Machine is a little weird, much less a mobile one.

It’s easier the second time around. I know it might not be the same way for everyone, but for me, it’s been vastly, extremely, outlandishly, scarily easier this time around. So much so that I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. My recovery was much faster, and I somehow avoided becoming a completely psychotic hormonal mess. I don’t mean to say it’s been easy, though. Just easier. I know a little  more what to expect, what to do, what’s normal. Buster only woke up once last night, though, and gosh that was a fluke but it was a glorious fluke that made me long for real sleep soon.

On that note, if you have a fitbit, don’t look at the sleep tracking part.

While we’re on sleep: you forget HOW LOUD NEWBORNS ARE AT NIGHT. THEY TURN INTO GREMLINS. Between the snarfing, heavy breathing, gagging, snorting, wiggling and the geriatric goat noise that is apparently the trademark of my Johnston Boys, it’s amazing those little babes get any sleep at all.

Your heart will get very, very full. Even when you’re exhausted and begging the baby to sleep, your heart will be so full. You may not know it, at that moment, but it is.

When both kids are crying, you and your husband will look at each other and try not to laugh at the zoo that is now your life.

You need Jesus. Lean in.

Your house that you kept reasonably clean with one baby will now resemble a barnyard that had a visit with a tornado that just went though a toy store. Go with it. Your kid’s eating off that dirty floor? You see that, I see immunities. 

Good books are clutch for late-night feeding/pumping/nursing/holding baby sessions, points for being able to immediately download them on devices with dimmable screens. I’ve legit read 20+ books this month, let me know if you need recommendations. I got you.

Buying an outfit that makes you feel like a million dollars in your in-between body stage is worth it. Do it. Especially if you have a social engagement or any event that you’re nervous to attend! Here’s mine.

It’s harder with two to slow down and enjoy your babies, especially on their own. But try, it’s so worth it. Also, get those two babies in your bed in the morning, because there’s nothing sweeter than brother snuggles. Until the hangry sets in and it’s breakfast all around, but for five minutes it’s so great.

We keep finding ourselves looking at Wacey’s pictures when he’s Buster’s age and just a little older, feeling nostalgic and excited for what’s next all at once.

Mostly, life with two means get ready for all the feels.

 

On The Ranch · Wacey

Branding with a Toddler

Happy Monday, and happy post-Easter sugar coma recovery! We spent the weekend relaxing, hunting eggs, and having fun with cousins, and now we’re all shaking our sugar sillies out and soaking in the sun and green grass.

Green grass means spring, and on ranches all over the country, spring means it’s branding season, as you probably know by now considering I’m sort of in love with branding time and don’t care who knows it!

Some ranches have one or two big brandings, or a whole month where they do nothing but brand. We brand in about ten small groups of 80-120 because we need to keep the cows in manageable groups for AI and it works better for us to keep them separate. So, one or two mornings a week you’ll find the whole outfit at one of the camps branding calves. This includes our littlest cowboys, too, and I get lots of questions about what I do with the boys while we’re branding since there are horses, calves, vaccine guns, ropes, branding irons, and the branding fire, and absolutely none of these things are toddler friendly.

Until this year, Wacey was confined either in my Solly wrap (when he was a baby baby) or my Ergo carrier (when he was bigger), or strapped into his stroller in the branding pen. I’ve also seen people used Pack N’ Plays for this purpose too–Wace didn’t care for that but I’ll try it again with Buster because I like the idea that they can have a little freer movement happening. We have a running joke that all of the ranch horses can be advertised as “stroller broke” should they ever be in a sale since they’re around the strollers so much!

stroller broke

ergosolly tuckered out

Since he’s bigger and more mindful of things (and of us) than he was last year, our Biggest Little Cowboy has been allowed to “help” this time around, and he really, really enjoys himself. Buster is, of course, not allowed to join in on the festivities in any other capacity than being strapped to my person in the Solly, which he prefers since he sleeps the whole time. If the weather sucks or it’s too windy, I’ll put Buster in the backseat of the pickup with the windows cracked and let him snooze. He prefers this scenario to being blown around and getting dust in his eyes, and it’s easy to check on him since the pickup is right there in the pen.

Even though Wacey loves helping, he’s still a toddler, and thus has about a five-minute attention span and an insatiable need for snacks. After three brandings so far, here’s what seems to work for us.

A pen and notepad. My responsibility at brandings since I seem to be perpetually kangarooing a tiny human consists of making a list of the calves we brand to keep our breeding sets and inventory straight. Wacey likes to follow me around with his record-keeping supplies and write his own notes. Bonus if he gets to use a pen that’s typically off-limits, like one of Bert’s ballpoint pens (off-limits due to his inexorable desire to draw on my leather sofas, both of which are currently sporting some WJJ original artwork).

notes

Snacks. I bring lots of snacks, including a little tupperware with some mini m&ms–those things will buy you lots and lots of time. He spent a half hour at one branding last week burying the m&ms in the dirt and then uncovering them and eating them. Rinse and repeat! #immunesystemsupport (right?)

dirt

Cups and bowls and other things to put dirt in. Playing in the dirt is always a big time, so I keep plastic containers (Take n’ Toss cups, tupperware, ets) handy so he can have a little dirt-scooping sesh in between helping daddy. This is also helpful in pens where he can’t be in the middle of things because there’s not enough room and he needs to be occupied in another pen or behind the fence.

playpen

Gates. When all else fails, or Wacey needs to be completely out of the way, I stick him in the nearest alley and watch him while he opens and closes gates!

gates

Dad. Bert lets him help him wrestle calves or give shots when he can, which basically consists of Wacey running around behind Bert yelling “Moooooooooo!!! Dada! Moooo!”

wrestling

The big, major disclaimer here is that one of us (or another responsible adult) is always with him, or he’s tucked safely out of the way. All the guys are always on the lookout for him, and we would not allow him to be loose like he is without the crew being on board. The guys are really good about being patient if he wants to help, or letting me know if they’re on an inexperienced horse so we can take a little more care to keep the boys safe while that horse is in the branding pen. It truly takes a village (or a ranch!). It also helps that Wacey lives for this stuff–he knows that he won’t be allowed to participate if he doesn’t mind us, and that’s the worst-case scenario for him. It’s also nice that we brand in the mornings when everyone is fresh and not overtired and it’s isn’t too hot. That helps keep us off the Overtired Struggle Bus, which is a super fun place to be when you throw in all the branding chaos and the mid-afternoon “Why aren’t adult naps a thing” slump.

Basically, we try to make branding pens as fun and safe for the littles as we can, while planning for complete meltdowns, bad weather, the dreaded Hangries, and the other livestock-related variables, while praying that everything goes off without a hitch.

Sometimes it’s a major success, and sometimes it’s a disaster, but it’s always a good time. Also, I am 100% convinced that there is nothing cuter than babies in cowboy hats, so that helps.

 

 

Buster · Family · On The Ranch · Wacey

First Branding of the Season

Saturday morning I loaded up the boys for the maiden voyage of the double stroller and we moseyed on down to the barn to brand our first set of calves! It was Wacey’s first year to get to “help” (in past years he’s been strapped to me in a carrier or in his stroller) and he had an absolute ball.  In between M&M breaks, he helped me take down numbers on his own notepad, and helped his daddy wrestle calves.

Buster spent the morning snoozing in my Solly wrap, which has occurred so often with Wace and now Buster that it’s a ranch joke that my kids could sleep through Armageddon. I don’t know if it’s the wrap, or genetics, or a combination of both, but the ability of both my boys to nap through the din of branding with cows and calves bawling, everyone talking and carrying on, horses snorting is absolutely uncanny. I love it, though. They get to snooze, I get to work, and we’re all happy!

Branding season is one of my favorite times. The first (and last, haha) ones are always kind of festive, and Saturday was no exception. We had the whole crew there, plus some neighbors, and a delicious brisket lunch in the barn. It was warm, but not hot, and not windy, so it was a lovely morning and a great start to the spring season.

I can already tell that ranch life with two boys is going to be so fun. Messy, sticky, hilarious fun. It’s also going to keep me on my toes–Wacey has no fear when it comes to calves and horses, so the minute he’s allowed to be horseback by himself we are in for some wild west adventures, let me tell you.

PS–doesn’t that little cowboy hat just kill you?! He’s starting to insist upon wearing it almost all the time, including with pajamas.

maiden voyage of the BOBwrestling calves 2mmswrestling calvessolly

Happy Monday! I’ve got a mountain of work (and laundry) to get done this week, which I’ll be doing in between wrangling babes, sweeping the floor that is now apparently applying for the position of Wacey’s Second Sandbox, and pumping. #momlife.

Speaking of #momlife, get thee to the nearest place wherest thou gets thine audiobooks (that was weird, remind me no more Olde English), and get Jim Gaffigan’s Dad Is Fat. SO GOOD.