Friday, November 30, 2012

November, Month of Thanks

Thanksgiving. Let's do this!
Thanksgiving is possibly my favorite holiday! It’s all about family, food and giving thanks! I’ve loved seeing so many friends share what they’re thankful for each day on Facebook, but I didn’t want to personally bombard folks with my daily notes of thankfulness. It’s a great exercise though and I’ve kept note of what I’m most grateful for throughout the month. Below is my list of thanks by day. J

As my father in law shared in his Thanksgiving sermon, detailing the nitty gritty for which we’re grateful, versus only giving thanks for the big things in life, is really humbling and enables to more fully see how fully God cares for us.

Month of Gratitude
1.     Girlfriends and a much-need night out!
2.     Lil’ O! He’s so much fun!
3.     Good wine and great friends who joyfully babysit Lil’ O and let us escape for a couple hours.
4.     Husby and that he takes great care of our son and lets me sneak out for personal errands.
5.     That my friends and family on East Coast are safe despite the effects of Storm Sandy.
6.     Privilege of voting and knowing final outcome is all part of God’s plan.
7.     Progress on food truck disaster relief project and a relatively calm day at work.
8.     Night out with Ms. E plotting baby shower awesomeness for Lulu.
9.     Hot Mama! I fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans!
10.  Tag teaming with Husby. We’re a great team!
11.  Our veterans and a nap allowing me to be extra productive.
12.  Amazing, locally grown oranges – they’re ugly but the best tasting oranges I’ve ever had!
13.  An upcoming vacation.
14.  Helping hands in planning Lulu’s baby shower.
15.  G’ma coming to the rescue and playing with sick Lil’ O while I stayed home with him, but had to work.
16.  Traveling to Ohio! Thanks for relatively smooth travel with Lil’ O.
17.  Lil’ O is such a trooper! He’s easily adjusting to ET zone and enjoying exploring a new place.
18.  Grateful for a down day connecting with family and letting Lil’ O catch up on sleep.
19.  Opportunity to see friends in Cincinnati.
20.  An afternoon out with the ladies of the fam and seeing my beautiful sister-in-law try on wedding dresses.
21.  Vacation! Time to play with Lil’ O and to reconnect with family. Plus, awesome hand-me-downs for Lil' O!
22.  Thanksgiving service and feast with family galore.
23.  Relatively smooth travels home and minimal fuss by Lil’ O. He’s becoming such a good traveler!
24.  Lazy Saturday with my guys and a visit with G’ma and G’pa for Thanksgiving leftovers and pie.
25.  Productive day including ordering and wrapping baby gifts to welcome new bundles of joy.
26.  Job in a creative field and the occasional indulgences it affords us.
27.  Fun night out seeing a movie and having dinner with a good gal pal.
28.  Healthy baby boy! Lil’ O had a smooth 9-month check-up and is in the 95th and 99th  percent for weight and height.
29.  Starbucks coffee, holiday ginger bread and Christmas carols!
30.  Discovery of a new blog, The Shine Project and the encouragement it gives. A new writing project at work and opportunities overall.

My guys chilling on vacation.

How refreshing! An exercise in positivity can really help lift up and spread joy. And, with December starting tomorrow, I’ll be getting into the Christmas spirit by singing carols, sleuthing for that perfect gift for the folks on my list, drinking hot cocoa, and continuing to reflect on the small and big things that have made this year so fulfilling.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Beyond Post-Prego Diet Food – Exploring CSA Produce

Some women are super cute pregnant. I don’t believe I was one of those women. I got huge! I gained 55 pounds and I can’t blame it all on Lil’ O, who was born at the large, but perfectly respectable weight of 8 pounds, 12 ounces. I’ve been dieting. I’ve been exercising. I’m super close to achieving my pre-prego weight, but not my pre-prego body. I’m coming to terms that all those cute clothes in my closet may not fit again, but I’m still eating right and working toward that magic number on the scale.

When I focus on healthy eating, there’s an interesting trend in our house. While dieting, I cook more. And, when I cook more, we eat more adventurously. Yet, despite my large arsenal of cookbooks and cooking magazines, I’ve been intrigued by the movement for more community-supported agriculture, or CSAs. Here’s how it works: For a regular fee, we get a weekly box of fresh, in-season produce from local growers. Simple, right? Wooed by the allure of trying new things, especially veggies, as I work to stick to my healthful eating resolution, we made the leap and joined.

A box of new produce each week can be a bit intimidating and time consuming – after all, we want to be sure we eat up all those delish veggies before they go bad and before we get another box. For now, we’re doing a three-week trial run leading up to Thanksgiving to see if we can keep up the veggie-loving pace.

Now, I’m honestly not sure if this is the best use of my time, but exploring new veggie options does have worthwhile merits, at least in theory: we’ll eat more veggies by exploring new flavors; by knowing more veggies, we’ll be able to introduce Lil’ O to more tastes; and, if I do this correctly, we’ll be eating more healthfully (and maybe I’ll finally lose that last little bit of weight). And, if it does turn out to be too much work or too time consuming, we’ve chosen our initial intro to be a week-by-week subscription, meaning we’re not locked in to a six-month or annual subscription and stuck paying for produce we potentially can’t finish each week. Hopefully, we can stay on this healthy eating band wagon, but we’ll see. And, if we don’t, I resolve not to feel guilty about it. We’ll still be eating our veggies; the dinner side dish repertoire may just be a bit more mundane. Not the end of the world.

If you’d like to follow along by checking out the recipes I’m finding to use up all this crazy, fresh and potentially obscure produce, check out my dedicated Pinterest board where I’m currently housing my recipe finds and noting any successes.

Ants on a Log!
Thanks to some celery in a recent produce box, I introduced Husby to this childhood classic.
Truly, somehow he'd never eaten these before! Glad I could fix that!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Eight Months!

Wow, my little guy is not so little anymore. It’s hard to recall just where the time has gone, but Lil’ O is now eight (and a half) months! He is such a blessing and joy. At eight months he’s still a chill, sweet, happy little dude, but some of his more favorite things lately, in addition to eating (wow, does he get eager for meal times!), have been bouncing and bopping, especially to music; crawling and exploring; verbalizing/yelling and trying out new sounds, and playing and chewing on toys. Chewing you ask? Oh, yes, teething is happening in full force - Lil' O has six teeth and is working on some more! 

Sigh, I remember when we would cuddle in the morning and he’d fall asleep in my arms. Now he’s more interested in exploring his world and asserting his independence. At every stage though, he brings such joy.

Weekend Warrior

Lately it seems like I’m confined to getting the bulk of my personal and/or home tasks done over the weekend. Sigh. I’d much rather get these things done bit by bit, but lately my weeks seem to be booked! There have been some fun things, like a recent, much-needed night out with some girlfriends and cooking all the fresh produce we get via our new weekly produce box, but largely I’ve been busy trying to keep up with work. Yeah, the masses call work a “day job,” but us PR gals are available around the clock, plus I’ve lately been needing the evening hours after Lil’ O goes to bed just to keep up with my work to do list. I’m not complaining, but it is making it more challenging to stay balanced and to do some of the things I like to do in my down time. For example, reading for fun is progressing at a snail’s pace; I barely had time to prep for the Bible study we were hosting and Husby was leading; and, as you may have noticed, I’ve not been good lately about keeping up with this blog. I have a post for last week half ready and had meant to finish and post it during the week. Clearly, the week escaped me and it never got to posted. So, immediately following this post, you can catch my musings on Lil’ O achieving the 8 month mark. He’s getting so big!
So, though weekend warrior is usually a term for weekend-only exercise, I’m expanding it to also include the caffeine-induced hyper drive necessary for working moms – or maybe parents everywhere – to keep up with the kiddos and get all the things done personally and around the house that slipped through the cracks during the week. I can't yet imagine what weekends will look like when I have more than just Lil' O and Husby to keep up with! My weekends lately include cooking breakfasts and such in prep for the weekly crazy, menu planning, grocery shopping, gardening (attempts), running sundry errands, laundry, attempting not to lose touch with friends, Saturday morning exercise (which is so far the only day I’m consistently exercising, sigh), and maybe some cleaning and whatever new baby task is needed for the week. (This week it was Husby installing new car seats and us starting to tackle baby proofing the house since Lil’ O is now crawling). Lil' O is napping, so I'm off! Bring on the caffeine!
I hope all the other parents and friends out there are having a more relaxed weekend, or that you're at least, like us, finding pockets of time for fun with family and friends. :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Not to Do List

The past couple weeks have been crazy busy at work and the reason why I’ve been silent across social media, including here on this blog. Sorry to fall off the radar, but something had to give. It actually reminded me of some pearls of wisdom from a women’s church event a couple years ago where I had the privilege of hearing Shauna Niequist speak. She made the excellent point that we can only have it all when we decide what it is that we want and we don’t do all the other stuff. In other words, balance is a choice. Her “not to do” list included things like baking for the bake sale (she said she’d buy the cookies, thanks anyway). That thought that we can’t do everything, but by choosing what we won’t do, we get more of whatever we want, has stayed with me. And, since I am doing my best to prioritize time to do things like play with Lil’ O, spend time with Husby, experiment in the kitchen, write and hone my photography skills, below is my current list of what I’m NOT doing in order to make time for those more important things. Enjoy. 

  • Cook every night – Husby actually does most of our weeknight cooking. Love that man!
  • Pack creative lunches – Instead I tend to prep everything for the week on Sundays, or grab leftovers or a pre-prepared salad each morning before I leave with Lil’ O. Boring, but it’s effective.
  • Make beautiful cakes or baked goods – When I bake, the goal is that it tastes good. Period.
  • Work full time – Crazy weeks aside, I’m slated to work 35 hours/week and love the flexibility and additional time with Lil’ O that affords me. So grateful!
  • Crafts – I love them, but rarely do crafts or DIY projects. Lately I’ve been more focused on taking pix of Lil’ O!
  • Pick up Lil’ O from daycare – I am sometimes on deck to pick up our little man, but usually this goes to Husby since his work schedule more easily allows it.
  • Watch sitcom TV – Husby and I watch some sitcoms together on DVD, but otherwise I’d rather read.
  • Keep up with celebrity news – Honestly I don’t really care. I’d rather keep up on what my friends and family are up to.
  • Go glam daily – Becoming a parent has helped me chill and not be as concerned with what others are thinking about my appearance. I still want to be pulled together, but sometimes it’s nice to forgo full makeup and opt for comfort.

I’m sure there’s more and that this list will and does change with the seasons, but for now that’s what I’m not doing in an attempt to spend more QT with my guys.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Working vs. Stay-at-Home Motherhood

There are some days and weeks when I honestly wonder if I’ve made the right choice by going back to work. I really enjoy my job and the people I work with, but I tend to question myself when the balancing gets tough. This is when I try to remind myself that I chose to go back to work, a luxury that I know not all moms enjoy. I also remind myself that maternity leave, during which time I was essentially a stay at home mom for a couple months, was no walk in the park. I was exhausted from "performing" for Lil’ O throughout the day; and, despite my best efforts, he had far less stimulation and socialization than he now enjoys at daycare. I was tired all the time and the return of daytime structure that going to work provides has been extremely refreshing for me. Still, sometimes I wonder…

So, to help shed light on what that alternate life might be like, I’ve turned to my good gal pal Ms. E, a stay at home mom (SAHM) with an adorable little guy born May of this year: Lil’ Sir. He’s Lil’ O’s best bud. All responses that follow are courtesy of Ms. E. (Thank you!)

Q: Please describe a typical weekday.
A: Lil' Sir is almost always up for the day between 6:00-6:30 a.m., regardless of whether he slept through the night (right now, he's generally up for a feeding once nightly). Since my husband Mr. B is up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready for work, he will get Lil' Sir, change his diaper, and bring him to me in bed before he leaves for work. Then Lil' Sir has breakfast while I play on my iPhone, and afterward we smile and coo at each other for a while until he gets bored and wants to go play. He kicks around on his activity mat while I pump and eat breakfast, and we watch the “Today” show until his first nap around 8:00 a.m. Lil' Sir usually takes four one-hour naps a day, and is up for two to three hours in between. He also nurses every two and a half to three hours during the day. In the late mornings, I do housework, take Lil' Sir out for a run with the stroller, shower, etc. I try to get out of the house for at least a couple hours every day, ideally more. Our activities include: errands, runs/walks, trips to the park, and a weekly playgroup at my church. We're home in the early afternoon for more housework, dinner prep, and hopefully a slightly longer nap (so that I can join in!). Throughout all of these possible activities, I am playing and interacting with Lil' Sir much of the time he is awake since he is uninterested in independent play for more than five to ten minutes at a time. In addition to his activity mat, we practice sitting up, play in his jumper, read books, dance and sing to music, and play with toys. Mr. B gets home around 5 p.m., and we will sometimes all go to the rec center together, so Mr. B can work out and Lil' Sir and I can sit by the pool and people-watch. Otherwise, I am getting dinner together while Mr. B and Lil' Sir hang out. We eat dinner and play together with Lil' Sir, and bath time is around 7:00-7:30 p.m. He is down for the night between 8:00-9:00 p.m. Then I might have a glass of wine, watch some TV with Mr. B, and get a few evening chores done before I'm in bed by 10:00 p.m.

Q: What’s your favorite part about being a SAHM?
A: There are lots of wonderful things about being a SAHM! I particularly enjoy our relaxing mornings together, when Lil' Sir is in a happy mood and we rarely have anywhere to be. I also love being "front and center" for everything he is learning, and being the point person to provide his window into the world. Because we are around each other so much, I feel like I'm able to closely observe him as a little person and get to know his personality. I'm looking forward to coming up with interesting ways to help him interact with the world around him as he gets older. Also, I get to witness almost 100 percent of his giggle fits and snuggle with him far more than anyone else. Since giggles and snuggles are the main payment for parenting, they’re very enjoyable for me.

Q: What’s your least favorite part of being a SAHM?
A: Getting the giggles and snuggles has a flip side – I also get almost all the dirty diapers and crying fits, which are not enjoyable in the least. I admit I've broken down in tears more than once during the day when Lil' Sir simply won't nap and I feel very isolated and lonely. All of my close friends with (or without) children also work, so I rarely get to see friends during the week aside from my church's playgroup (where most of the children are toddlers rather than infants, so I am partially isolated there as well). We've had to make a number of financial sacrifices to allow me to stay home, so there's not a lot of money for me to go out to lunch, take Lil' Sir to the zoo, etc. There are days when I am simply desperate to escape the house but can't think of anywhere to go where I wouldn't spend money, so I just stay home. The finances also limit the amount of "girls' nights out" and things that I can do to get a break from baby care. In the end, the good definitely outweighs the more challenging aspects – I hated my old job/career and can't imagine having to leave Lil' Sir at daycare so I could sit resentfully in an office that I despise.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do around town with Lil’ Sir?
A: The best things are the things he enjoys, and he certainly makes it known if he is not enjoying an activity. We tried to go to the "parent-friendly" movie showing a few times, and he screamed so loudly for so long the last time we attempted it that I swore it off for good! My son most enjoys freedom of movement and other people – so we have the most fun kicking around on a quilt at the park, or hanging out at church playgroup where he can see and interact with new people.

Q: How do you balance taking care of Lil’ Sir and having time for your husband?
A: That's definitely still a work in progress! Mr. B has a challenging, exhausting job, so he usually just wants to sit and relax as much as possible during the weekdays. That's hard to do with an attention-hungry infant around! Neither of us has family in town, so any kind of regular babysitting is out. We do have neighbors who are close friends, and are lucky enough that they will babysit for free once or twice a month so we can go to the movies, meet friends for dinner, etc., and we do the same with their toddler daughter. I also make an effort to talk to Mr. B about his work and other non-baby related topics so we can stay connected outside of our mutual adoration for our son.

Q: What do you do to keep balanced?
A: Also a work in progress. There a few little things I try to do now, since I'm unable, as stated previously, to get out and away from the baby very often. I love to read, so I make an effort to keep a book near where I am nursing or rocking Lil' Sir to sleep, so I can read while he is otherwise occupied. I also take him running with me when I can, another hobby that I enjoy from my pre-baby days. I recently moved my own bedtime back by about 30 minutes so I could implement "Wine O'Clock" after Lil' Sir is in bed, giving me the opportunity to sit quietly with a glass of wine and wind down from the day. I am strongly introverted, so interacting with my son all day leaves me very tired and drained by nighttime.

I hope this gives you a little insight into the perspective of one relatively new SAHM!

Lovely Ms. E with her Lil' Sir
Copyright: Pridmoria

UPDATE: Ms. E is now blogging over at Life Tossed Together. Check her out!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Foodie Friday: Paella Night

Our dear friends recently cooked up paella and a full Spanish-themed menu. We dined on amazing made-from-scratch paella, olives, smoked nuts, salad, cheese and bread. Delish! Ms. E’s husband is the chef behind this paella. He cooks it up for a lucky group of hungry folk about every six months and Husby and I are lucky enough to be among those invited. There was a slight glitch with this batch, though: it was SO stinkin’ hot outside! It reached up to 108 degrees in our inland-San Diego suburb. Guh! Since they live nearby, don't have AC and we were already using our AC for Lil' O (and let's admit it, ourselves), we offered and they gladly accepted to move the party to our place. Whew!

So, we had a somewhat impromptu dinner party at our place. Five couples, plus three baby boys and a 1-year-old little lady with plenty of Spanish food for all. It sounds like a lot, especially given the impromptu nature of the party changing venues, but we learned a fun secret. Hosting a dinner party is way easier when somebody else does all the cooking! Go figure! Cohosting took a load off for both couples, and since we both have little guys (Ms. E and her husband are the parents of Lil’ O’s best bud, Lil’ Sir), it was a welcome relief to get a break and still host a fun night in. Watch out! We may be co-hosting dinner parties all the time in the future!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Helping Hands

It truly does take a village! I’d be lying if I gave anyone the impression that caring for Lil’ O is easy or that I have it all under control. In reality I have an amazing group of people surrounding me that help care for him and that amazing network allows me to have some time for myself. Because, let’s face it, keeping this mom happy helps everyone. So, this is a public thank you to everyone who has helped Husby and me take such wonderful care of Lil’ O. These precious individuals and groups have eased our way into parenting and I’m so grateful.

First and foremost, Husby is there for constant tag-teaming and support. As my spouse, he’s my partner in life and he’s certainly a partner in parenting. Seeing my husband as a parent has made me appreciate him in all new ways. I’m so grateful for him and so appreciative of his help in caring for Lil’ O. Being able to tag team is huge! Especially in the wee hours of the night/morning during the first few weeks of Lil’ O’s life. Since I had a (not-by-choice) c-section, Husby, Lil’ O and I all stayed in the hospital for four days following Lil’ O’s birth. I didn’t mind much since, beyond staring at Lil’ O and attempted nursing, my focus was made fuzzy by healing. Gingerly walking to and from the bathroom or around the post-partum maternity ward was a big deal. So, given my limited physical capabilities, Husby changed nearly every early diaper and responded to a lot of Lil’ O’s cries while we were in the hospital and for the first couple weeks we were home.

If you’re one of the brave souls that’s a single parent, please know you have my utmost respect and admiration! Single parents, more than any other, need the help of a loving support network.

Religious Community
Our church family has been so supportive, especially when we first came home with Lil’ O. The first two weeks home we didn’t worry about a single meal. They kept coming to our doorstep! The women of the church, led by our pastor’s wife, brought us full meals for dinner every other day for those first two weeks. It was amazing! And, it was so nice not to have to worry about food as we were adjusting to being home with Lil’ O.

We have friends who also kindly came by with meals for us in those early weeks. They also provided a taste of the outside world. By necessity, I think, parents become isolated when they first bring home that bundle of joy. Having our friends come to visit really helped us remember that there was still an outside world and provide a window into what current events we might have missed.

We also have friends that ran out for diapers after we’d had a full day of doctor appointments and are happy to watch Lil’ O so we can get a break. Good friends indeed.

Daycare Provider
I would not be able to go to work and focus on work if not for our amazing daycare provider. Husby found them by searching our local YMCA site and we loved the vibe since our first interview. It’s an in-home daycare close to our home with a mom fully dedicated to Lil’ O and two other little babes. This is where Lil’ O spends his days Monday through Thursday. (My mom, aka G’ma, watches Lil’ O on Fridays.) My little guy loves watching all those kids play and interact! We think he’s an introvert since he isn’t quick to jump into the action, but he sure does enjoy taking it all in.

This is a big one! Husby and I both dearly love our families and I’m so blessed that my parents and Sistah are here in town. My mom, G’ma, has been hugely helpful. She cleaned our place before Lil’ O was born and cleaned a few more times during my maternity leave. Once I settled into rhythm with Lil’ O after Husby went back to work, G’ma also came by weekly to take care of Lil’ O and give me a break. Those weekly visits were also helpful and gave me someone to talk to. Knowing that babies need to hear language, I kept trying to talk to Lil’ O, but being by myself I was running out of things to say!

My parents and Sistah are also on speed dial for babysitting duties. It’s been so, so nice to have dates with Husby out of the house and on our own. Don’t get me wrong, we love Lil’ O dearly, but having a babe has forced us to be more purposeful in connecting with each other, whether by our at-least-weekly at-home date nights or by escaping the house and all its distractions for a few hours. And having ready sitters has made that possible.

So, thank you to all these folks and more who have helped Husby and me! We and Lil’ O thank you and love you!

I hope all the other parents out there also have amazing support networks to turn to. I admit, it takes some humility to accept the helping hand, but it also takes off a load of stress. If you don’t (yet) have a strong network of helpers to turn to, look to these groups of people in your life. I bet they’d be willing to help, especially if it means time with that precious child.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Foodie Friday: Figs!

Welcome to my first Foodie Friday post! I’m passionate about food and eating fully, though ideally healthfully. I make no promises as I'm learning that balancing life with Lil' O and Husby can take many turns, but it is my goal to post a foodie note weekly and share some of my foodie outings and kitchen feats.

We start with the sweet, sweet fruit that’s taking over my backyard: figs! A lot of my experimenting in the kitchen lately has been trying to use up these sweet jewels, but I must admit our tree is producing far, far more than I’m able to cook, dry and jam. Little did we know when we bought our house how much work a full-grown fruit tree requires. At peak season, which is August through October, we could easily harvest pounds and pounds of figs twice each week. So, if you know of any fig recipes worth trying or want to come over and pick some fresh figs, please let me know! The comment section is open. ;)

Since not everyone will rush over to help with the harvest, though, try finding some fresh figs at your local farmer’s market. They are super good in a variety of recipes and are elegantly simple and refreshing with a little bit of cheese to cut their sweetness. Recommended cheeses include smoked gouda, blue cheese or goat cheese. But, for those who’d like to cook up some fig-infused goodness, here are two recent successes from the batch of fig experiments I’ve been trying lately: honey fig scones and sun-dried figs.

I love scones. Hands down, it’s my favorite thing to make. This is largely because it seems you simply can’t buy a good scone just anywhere. So, it seemed natural to find a scone recipe using figs. This one is a winner. It got the coveted gold star in our household, meaning it’s pretty amazing. My first batch tasted great, but came out a bit flat (see pix). My second time around, I wanted to make them a bit healthier, so used whole wheat flour and they came out perfectly! I swear switching the flour is the only thing I did differently, but it sure seems like another adjustment was made based on the results. I’ll have to try them a third time to be sure I can replicate these awesome fluffy whole wheat results.

Sun-Dried Figs
The internet is an amazing thing! I came to the realization, after looking at so many fig recipes, that with all these fresh figs now, if I needed dried figs later in the year I’d be upset I didn’t take the time to dry my own figs. Only problem is that I’m a city girl and have no idea how to dry fruit. Luckily, there’s this crazy thing called the internet and you can type in questions and find instructions! Yay! So, that’s what I did. I searched and found instructions, then followed them (mostly). My amendments: I used cheesecloth instead of tulle and put my figs in the sun for about four days to really be sure they were good and dry. Next time, I think I’ll try putting a food tent over them as well, since bugs still tried getting to the figs through the cheesecloth. Overall, it worked really well! I just had to remember to put out the figs in the morning before I got Lil’ O up and began our morning routine. (FYI, mornings aren’t my thing, so remembering something outside of the routine was a bit of a challenge.) Thankfully, I prevailed and we have a small batch of dried figs! Weeee!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nursery Décor & Dreams

One of my best girlfriends, Lulu, is having a baby! This lucky little one will be joining us sometime in February and has two adoring parents eagerly waiting. In addition to beginning to research baby shower cuteness (yes!!!), I got to thinking about all the wonder of decorating a nursery. I have a few pregnant friends, some near and some far, and I love watching the process they each take to decorating that now-precious room that fills up with so many dreams. In honor of my prego gal pals, below is some nursery decorating inspiration, as well as pix from the grand opening and ribbon cutting of Lil’ O’s room, before he arrived and we knew he was a him or how awesome becoming parents could truly be. Enjoy.

Balancing Tip: Decorate *before* that bundle of joy comes along and ideally before the third trimester. After a certain point, nesting aside, there’s little inspiration to move, let alone decorate. Plus, Husby and I both really enjoyed having Lil’ O’s bedroom done early and just sitting there thinking of all our dreams for him and praying for the life to come. I hope all the parents-to-be out there get a similar blessing of time and reflection.

Nautical Nursery 2
Baby Girl Safari Nursery
Homemade Touches
Hunting Lodge Nursery
Winnie the Pooh Nursery

And, finally, Lil' O's nursery is below. We didn't know he would be a little boy, so we had to decorate in a gender-neutral way. This was somewhat challenging, but I really like the end result. The theme, if there is one, is simply "color." And, the beauty of decorating without knowing the sex of our child is that this nursery will serve kiddo #2 just as wonderfully, even if that babe is a girl. :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012


These past two weeks have been a whirlwind! Forgive me as I catch my breath.

After much planning and anticipation two of our dearest friends were married two weekends ago. The wedding and reception were beautiful. Husby was the best man, so *very* involved, leaving me juggling home duties and Lil’ O’s care for the couple weeks, especially the immediate week, leading up to the wedding. No wonder I got sick. Sigh. Thankfully, my MIL and parents helped tons during the wedding weekend so Husby and I could enjoy the festivities, but also keep Lil’ O happy, not too overstimulated and on his daycare/naptime schedule. We did mix it up a bit and bring him to the rehearsal dinner to meet everyone, but I left with him early so he could get to sleep. Lesson learned from leaving that venue: do not carry the 20lb kiddo in his car seat while also wearing high heels. Sore back, strained arms and bruises result. Noted.

Then, last week I had a super crazy work week, which included a quick trip to NYC. The trip was a blast, but also my first time away from Lil’ O. I think I managed ok, but more on that in a future post I’m sure.

So, that’s a quick snapshot of the whirlwind. More soon, but taking this week to get back in the swing of things and recalibrate. Phew!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First-Time Air Travel with Baby

I knew the day would come that we needed to travel with Lil’ O, but was still dreading it. Husby and I saw some brave parents traveling with their babes over the Christmas holiday when I was still pregnant – some were newborns, still fresh, cuddly and warm, others were toddlers and on the move. We knew as we watched those parents that our days of speedy travel were coming to a close and our next flight would be with our new babe in our arms.

At the end of July, the day immediately following my birthday, it was time. The annual summer trek to Minnesota is near and dear to both me and my husband, but especially to Husby, and was especially important this year since we missed participating in this week of family bonding last year. Plus, the added element of Lil’ O finally meeting some his family, including his adorable cousins, upped the ante. We had to be there. Nevermind that air travel from San Diego to the Twin Cities was daunting or that we’d need to drive another four hours to get to the lake home. The fated day of traveling with baby had come.

Now, this is one of those examples where a lot about my husband helps balance me. Before dating then marrying Husby I was super Type A and intense about everything I was involved with – not necessarily a bad thing, but not very balanced. If summer travel had been left to me, we probably wouldn’t have gone. Not because I didn’t want to be at the lake or see family, but simply because the thought of all that travel with a five-month-old baby was (and remains) scary. We did it though and have survived to tell the tale!

Despite our thorough planning, there were of course some bumps in our travels, and not just from turbulence. There were also some challenges once we were at the lake home and spending a week outside of the comfort zone we’ve created for ourselves with Lil’ O. Thankfully, much of the baby paraphernalia that help us care for Lil’ O was already at the house thanks to my wonderful MIL and amazing SIL. Here is a rundown of our top challenges and successes from our week of travel and how we managed to cope and adjust. I hope they’re helpful to others prepping to travel with baby.

Challenge: Travel with baby means travel with car seat and stroller.
Solution: I desperately wanted to leave behind these key baby items, but all the blogs and forums I read said to absolutely bring our own. Thank you collective parenting wisdom of the internet! Evidently renting a car seat with our car rental could pose numerous issues, including our lack of familiarity knowing how to install the seat, a possibly dirty and germy seat, and introducing yet one more foreign element to Lil’ O when he’s already out of his comfort zone doing something all new. So, we brought our own and besides having a bit more to carry it worked out really well! We flew through security, even with the extra items. We bought a cover for the car seat base and seat in advance and once at the gate Husby got gate check tags for those bagged-together car seat items and our stroller frame. We dropped those off as we boarded and picked them up once we landed. Easy peasy! And, since it was our own well-loved seat, base and stroller combo, we knew exactly how to use it all and quickly install it into the rental car. Score! Love when early preparation and research pays off.

Challenge: Take-off and landing on a plane is hard on baby ears.
Solution: I’d also read up on this one before we left, so we were armed with bottles and/or pacifiers at the ready for the ascent and descent both ways. Happily, we learned that the change in pressure doesn’t bother Lil’ O too much—he was too focused on his bottle.

Challenge: Lil’ O is used to sleeping in his crib and in the dark, not in my arms on an airplane with people waving at him.
Solution 1: This was the moment that we’d been dreading and it didn’t disappoint. Once Lil’ O got tired on the plane, he gave us all his normal “I’m tired” cues, but we couldn’t put him in his crib or a Pack and Play. All we had were our arms in which to hold him. As his cries got louder and I got the distinct deer-in-headlights look, my husband wisely discerned that desperate times call for desperate measures and whipped out a bottle. I was reluctant but didn’t have any better ideas, so I dutifully fed Lil’ O a small bottle that he didn’t need. Thankfully, that little bit of food calmed him (yes!) and got him so milk drunk that he started to doze (hallelujah!). Once he finished the bottle, I quickly inserted a pacifier and in his sleepy stupor Lil’ O didn’t notice the difference. He then proceeded to suck and soothe himself to sleep while laying peacefully in my arms. He stayed that way the whole flight there.
Solution 2: We tried the same thing on the return flight, which was an evening flight and we thought would work well since Lil’ O would think it was time for bed. Wrong. Though he was tired, he again didn’t understand why we wouldn’t just put him in his crib. We tried the bottle trick that worked so well on our first flight, but there was no repeat performance, just frustration from Lil’ O. Since he was at least tired, he was mostly calm in my arms and found my voice soothing. I then proceed to calmingly say “Boom, boom, boom, who is a wonder / Boom, boom, boom, you are a wonder” over and over for the next thirty minutes. I tried changing it up, but he liked the boom, boom, boom sequence better than anything else I tried, so I stuck with it. Soothing mommy voice and strategic use of the pacifier ultimately worked. I then used all of my yoga skills to cross my legs such that my lap was as big and flat as possible and he splayed out across me and slept for the remainder of the flight. Phew.

Challenge: High heat and humidity, both new for our SoCal baby, caused Lil’ O to be irritable.
Solution: Poor guy was so hot! The lake home has no AC and temperatures reached into the 90s with some strong humidity. We were hot too, but this was Lil’ O’s first real encounter with heat and humidity. He didn’t like it, especially when trying to nap. So, solution time! The basement was the coolest part of the home, so my SIL and BIL graciously let Lil’ O sleep in their quarters for his evening nap. Thankfully that didn’t interfere with our nephew’s napping and it helped Lil’ O tremendously. We spread out a blanket on the floor, moved the monitor downstairs and left him to it. He fell asleep quickly and without complaint. Yay! Fun surprise, though, is that we found without the constraint of crib walls our little guy rolled over and woke up on his tummy twice. Rolling, here we come! Other than napping, we simply tried to spend as much time as possible with Lil’ O in the cooler basement or out near the water when there was a strong breeze. Thankfully the heat broke after a couple days with a loud thunder storm in the middle of our fourth night.

Challenge: Once the heat broke, Lil’ O was still fussy.
Solution: Sigh. Well, at least now we knew his fuss wasn’t just the heat. Seems little man is teething something fierce. We came prepared with kiddo Tylenol and were forced to use it (though sparingly) for a couple days while at the lake home. It thankfully did the trick.

All in all it was certainly more stressful than previous vacations, but not too bad. Lil’ O got to meet more of his family, Husby and I got a little time to rest and relax (see previous post for those glorious moments of peace and fun), and we have now entered the corps of parents who travel with kids. Hopefully our next travel trek, which will be for Thanksgiving and amid masses of other traveling families, will go even more smoothly. Here’s hoping and praying.