Duke Anthony Felecos: 1 Year Old!

My sweet baby Duke,

This has by far been the best year of my life.  I prayed for you and have imagined having kids for so many years, the fact that you're here and you're mine still shocks me sometimes.  You have brought more joy, laughter, happy tears, and love into my life than I ever could have imagined. 

You came into the world a little more fast and furious than we were expecting 1 short year ago.  I had been telling your Daddy my entire pregnancy that he needed to COOL IT in thinking that we would be in some crazy speeding rush to get to the hospital and that we would have hours and hours in which I would labor at home before we even went to the hospital.  I was so very wrong and ended up being the one begging your dad to go faster on our drive to meet you, 1 very short, contraction-filled hour after my water broke. You can read all about that here and here.

I've learned so many things as a new mom- and I've learned to trust myself and my instincts.  I have a lot more confidence now than I did a year ago, but to be honest, being your mom has always been fun.  It's hard, don't get me wrong, because being a parent means you are 'on' all the time and more often than not you have to put someone else's needs before your own, but I've never smiled more.  Sure, we lose some sleep, but I've never loved 3 a.m. more than when you are cuddled up and  fast asleep on my chest.  Our priorities are so different now, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  You are worth every minute of sacrifice, and knowing this time is so fleeting has us soaking in each moment as you continue to grow and learn each and every day.

You are adorable and people comment on your little face every time we leave the house.  You are so sweet and have a hilarious personality.  You are a lover in every sense of the word and you love hard.  Physically, you want to be hugging, tackling, kissing, licking, or smacking those you are most fond of whenever you can.  Someday we'll teach you how to be a little more gentle. 

You're fascinated by Capone and even though you want to be his best friend, you are a little hesitant because he isn't always welcoming you with open arms.  You love books, playing with any toy or thing you can find, climbing the stairs, being tickled, and eating.  Oh my you love eating.  You don't love your car seat but still do well on long road trips.  You get most frustrated when you haven't seen us in awhile and we immediately have to put you in your seat after picking you up.  You are a really great sleeper and love snuggling in with the fuzziest blankets we can find. 

You love being around people, especially other kids, but you aren't shy about needing some one on one mama time if you're feeling overwhelmed, sick, sad, or scared.  You are so LOUD.  I literally don't know what to do when we're around other super quiet {maybe normal??} kids because you can be heard from a mile away.  It's so funny and really shouldn't surprise us at all...your dad and I certainly have never claimed to be quiet people.  You have my eyes which is something I really hoped for- it's a Merrigan thing, and I just love it.

I was so happy as I sat in your room this morning and nursed you that we made it to this milestone.  You haven't been exclusively nursed since 9 months, but I can't explain to you how much it means to me to have been able to do this for you for 1 whole year.  It creates an indescribable bond and warms my mama heart.

Thank you for teaching me patience.  Thank you for making me a mom.  I promise to always love you the most, to protect you in every way I can and keep you safe. I promise to always give you a place to call home and I promise to always try to be the best parent I can be for you.   I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you sweet boy, but let's take our time getting there.  Every day with you is a joy.  Happy Birthday baby Duke!


P.S.  I will probably call you baby Duke until you're 35. :)

Duke's First Pumpkin Patch

I got to take my sweet little nugget to the pumpkin patch last weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and mom.  Unfortunately, Dennis had to work, but to be honest, the patch was so picked over at this point in the season that he didn't miss much actual pumpkin picking.

We managed to snag some great pumpkins that the owners had already picked and they are all set up on the front porch! I think we're going all natural this year and saving the carving for next year.  Duke loved crawling around and checking things out and relishes in any time he gets to hang out with his cousins.

They had two adorable bottle calves on the farm that we got to feed and my nieces loved it. I'm not sure Duke even knew there were animals standing in front of him, but I enjoyed it either way. Ha! We've had bottle calves at my parents house before so I've fed lots of them but it was awesome to see the girls experience it for the first time and those babies were SO CUTE!

We snapped some hay bail pictures in between S playing Queen of the Mountain on them.
I got real weird with some pumpkins and took a variety of senior picture-esque photos {I'll spare you} and had to get one that accurately captured just how pregnant I feel some days.
Obsessed with this kid.
Overall the weather was perfect, the pumpkins were perfectly lumpy and we all had an awesome time.  This weekend we have all sorts of fun family coming into town for DUKE'S FIRST BIRTHDAY.  I was informed this morning that they were celebrating him at daycare today and I almost burst. My sweet baby is celebrating his birthday with his friends at daycare?!  All the feels. Get ready for all sorts of sappy 1st birthday posts next week!

If I don't make it back here before the weekend, I hope you all have an awesome rest of your week! Well done on making it over the hump!


Hello Friday! All Things Fall Edition

It's been a whirlwind of travel and work events the past 3 weekends so I am beyond excited for a local weekend without too much on the agenda.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't totally unprepared for Duke's birthday next weekend, so I totally see a Target trip in my future but that's basically my favorite place on earth so all good there.  I'm going to dive right into 1 terrible thing that happened this week and 4 things that we are hoping to accomplish this weekend before I unplug and get to it! Happy Friday friends!

one spiders, alligators, and sharks OH MY {read: things I'm terrified of}

I've always had a super irrational fear of alligators and sharks considering I grew up in Colorado and South Dakota.  I used to be convinced that there were alligators in the river and that surely anytime I step foot in the ocean, I'd see a shark.  More recently, I have become absolutely terrified and disgusted of spiders!  We have far too many of them in our basement and if it weren't for the storage and location of our washer/dryer, I would NEVER go down there.  Anyway, on Tuesday night I had to run down there to switch out some laundry and there was a big, black, hairy spider in the laundry basket.  I immediately freaked out, tipped the basket over and started spraying the spider with any container of cleaner that was within reach. I must have looked like a lunatic.  That nasty thing suffered through window cleaner, starch, bug spray, almost bleach, before I dropped a gallon of paint on him.  Any tips for overcoming this fear?! I seriously couldn't shake the anxiety off for an hour and kept picturing it coming after me.  -_- 

two pumpkin patching

I have no idea when the last time was that I was at a pumpkin patch, so I am super excited to get to one this weekend.  Unfortunately Dennis has to work because of multiple weekends off for travel, but he's a good dad and doesn't want Duke to miss out on an experience he surely won't remember.  Either way, I better get at least one cute picture of my boy frolicking with all things fall and snag a few pumpkins to put on the front porch!

three fall festival

It's the annual fall festival at my niece's school so I'm hoping Duke and I can check it out on Sunday for some yummy food and silly kid games.  Any excuse to hang with family and support a small private school is good time spent in my book.
four football fan

Hooow cute is this little baby bronco fan?!  Dennis' best friend Tim got Duke this sweatshirt when he was itty bitty and I remember thinking "Man it's going to be awhile before he can wear that!"  Well, awhile has arrived and I must say he looks so cute in it, you'll be seeing a lot of it this fall/winter until he grows out of it and passes it on to baby #2.

five birthday/Halloween prep

I don't know what I was thinking would happen, but naturally this month and all of the festivities have totally snuck up on me! I know I can attribute much of this to my inability to get anything done August/September due to sheer baby sickness, but now we need to get back on track and make sure Duke's 1st birthday and 2nd Halloween live up to the hype!  I haven't totally decided on his costume {I have a couple options to return depending on what we decide} but I can almost guarantee he will be little pudgy pumpkin. 
1- because I can
2- I think it's a requirement of childhood
3- his daddy is likely going to decide all of his other costumes until he's old enough to pick his own.

Last but certainly not least, I am sooo excited to spoil one of my lifelong best friends at her baby shower this weekend!  She is due in about a month with her first and I am really excited to help her celebrate her sweet baby girl.

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you have a wonderful Fall Weekend!



Breastfeeding while Pregnant

Oh yes you read that right.  If you've seen this post, you know how much I've enjoyed breastfeeding and how wonderful my breastfeeding relationship with Duke has been. As soon as I found out I was pregnant {and possibly even a little before} I started to notice that my supply was changing and Duke was getting much more frustrated when feeding which absolutely broke my heart. I would in turn get anxious and worried which does nothing for the let down process.  Anyway, one of the first things I googled after finding out we were pregnant was if it was okay to breastfeed and be pregnant at the same time.  It is.  I was so tired and breastfeeding was getting super uncomfortable so I was battling a mixture of pure mommy guilt and feeling plain old selfish.  This combo is bad on a good day but being hormonal, pregnant, and feeling completely out of sorts anyway, I wasn't handling things very well!

We started introducing formula and Duke took it just fine.  He was a champ and has no issues with a bottle {those days were so awful in the beginning when he refused!}.  I gave myself a lot of grace and had many conversations with Dennis explaining how much I needed his support, knowing that we wanted to avoid formula if possible, but it just wasn't in the cards anymore.  As always, he was incredibly supportive and I finally started to relax about the # of nursing sessions I was having and just do what worked.  I was still pumping at work until I got back from a work trip to Minneapolis at the end of August {I transitioned to only pumping in the morning on that trip}.  Now, I nurse Duke first thing in the morning when he is sleepy and snuggly and the rest of the day/evening is formula.  I no longer feel like I'm wrestling an alligator during feedings and Dennis and I both get in good snuggle time when he's taking his bottles. He also sleeps 12 hours through the night-hallelujah!

I'm not sure how long we'll keep up the morning nursing sessions. I travel for work in November and December, so my guess is he will naturally wean off around that time, shortly after his first birthday.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to have a break before baby #2 is here!  We certainly didn't plan to have our sweet babies this close together so we're making some decisions on the fly and I'm doing my best to just goooo with the flow.  Apparently that is much easier said than done for this lady!

Anyone out there have this same struggle?? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

Happy Wednesday!


Lawrence Weekend Rewind!

We had an absolute blast last weekend visiting a few of my favorite people and my alma mater in Lawrence, KS!  We started the weekend off with a drive down to Kansas City Friday morning.  It's only a 4.5 hour drive which is a DREAM compared to the drive to Colorado these days.  Duke napped for 3 hours of the trip which was also a huge bonus.  He's slowly figuring out how to sleep sitting up his new seat.  Love this nugget.
We met up with my friend Lindsey in KC and walked around Town Center, drinking coffee, shopping, and catching up!  Afterwards we headed to meet up with my friend Jenna at her sister's in Lee's Summit.  I was so excited for our babies to meet! She had her son 2 months after Duke so we have been texting each other back and forth for months about life as new moms and sharing some trade secrets.  Eli is the sweetest little boy and very observant.  Duke is much more of a rough and tumble kind of baby so it was hilarious to see the two of them together and Eli's reactions to Duke's overwhelming love...he was constantly trying to grab him and kiss him and smacked him in the face a few too many times.

We relaxed for the rest of the day, ate pizza at a brewery for dinner and spent the night catching up and having a few drinks {water for me of course}.  Saturday morning we headed out to brunch at a local spot that has FREE CINNAMON ROLLS!  They were SO GOOD and I couldn't believe they were free.  Duke thoroughly enjoyed them...
We headed back to the house for naptime and the first hour of Duke's nap looked a lot like this:
I ignorantly thought I could nap in the same room at the same time before Duke was asleep so he kept throwing everything out of his pack n play and then yelling at me with a huge grin on his face.  It's a good thing he's cute.  After successful naps for all, we headed down to Lawrence so we could go to KU and show our boys their future school {we can dream!}.
Always reaching for his buddy!

We went downtown for a deeelicious dinner at Free State Brewery after spending some time on campus and Duke was a champ all through dinner and managed to let his mama snap a few pictures until he was over it.  This expression is my favorite.
After we were sufficiently stuffed, we headed to our hotel for the night and laughed so hard as we tried to think back on all the people and stories we hadn't thought about since college.  I love these ladies and the fact that I can hardly ever see them and always pick up right where we left off, makes my heart happy.
Duke tried to wrestle Eli a few times and this shot is him trying to tackle Eli (in black) with some open-mouthed kisses. 
We put the kids to bed in one of our rooms {we were right next door}  and set up some iPhone-baby monitors so we could stay up way past our bedtimes and let the kiddos get some much needed sleep. At the end of the night, Dennis had to maneuver Duke back into our room and he managed to keep him asleep the whole time!  Unfortunately, once Duke woke up at 5 a.m. and realized we were in bed right next to him, he screamed his little head off until he got to come into bed with us.

The next morning was all smiles when he discovered a cute baby in the mirror.
We had brunch at a favorite local spot called 715 and it was to die for.  I had a breakfast sandwich on croissant with avocado, sundried tomato aioli, eggs, and bacon + I shared some crazy good cornbread with jam with Duke.  So much food. So good.
Another attempt at hand holding. It's a good thing Duke didn't realize just how much Eli hated it.
We capped off the rest of the morning with some walking around Mass Street before saying our goodbyes and hitting the road! 
Dennis, Duke and I drove through campus one more time before heading to my favorite coffee shop.
I worked at J&S Coffee almost my entire time at KU and absolutely loved it and the awesome owners.  The shop has changed quite a bit but the coffee is just as delicious as it always was. I sipped my granite mocha for a good chunk of the drive before switching with Dennis and taking a nap. :)

We stopped a half hour from home to grab a bite to eat and take advantage of a Target location for some errands and managed to make it home by 8!  We bathed the babies {Capone had spend the weekend at the farm with my parents} and collapsed on the couch before heading to bed.  It was one of those low-key weekends that is good for the soul and I feel so rejuvenated for the week!
Happy Tuesday friends! Thanks for reading way too many words and looking through one-too many pictures of our trip :)

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