Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Baby + Toddler Thanksgiving Survival

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! The past holiday weekend included a few milestones, including our first flight as a family of four. Happily, Lil' Chica did well and nursed or slept much of the four total flights we took to get from San Diego to Ohio and back. Traveling and the holiday with baby AND toddler was significantly more challenging, though, than when we simply (ha!) traveled with Lil' O as a baby. Oh, in hindsight, those were the days. Admittedly, the kiddos were angelic on the airplanes. In the case of Lil' O, this was mostly thanks to copious screen time, something that we limit at home, but that he constantly asks, begs and bargains for. Keeping him wrangled and with us in between flights was the challenge. He wanted to run and we tried to encourage that, but he also wanted to run AWAY. That was less than angelic. How do parents with three or more kids travel?!

Aside from chasing our toddler, though, the holiday weekend went quite smoothly. So smoothly that it must be commemorated. Here's what helped us get through the holiday and even enjoy the company of family.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mommy Alone Time

My wildest introverted daydream has now been realized! I am home alone. Alone! There is nobody but me in the house. Sigh, it’s glorious. Mommy alone time is a coveted thing for all moms, especially those of us who are introverted. There’s no escaping children. Those adorable chubby hands reach for me when I’m in the bathroom and Lil' O has even begged to join me in the shower. (It’s in these moments that Husby thankfully runs intervention.) But, still, the best alone time I get is late at night when everyone is asleep. It counts and it’s wonderful. I get so much done! Now that I’m back to work, I also get daytimes at home with just the dog. So nice, but even still there’s always someone to interrupt my train of thought, to take care of, to be sure I’m not literally tripping over or walking into. Really, this pup is constantly nearby! You'd think he was a herding animal.

We started this week sending Knute to doggy daycare during the day. He’s been at this facility when we’re out of town, but today is his first daytime-only visit. To start, it’ll be once every other week. Poor pup desperately needs to socialize with other dogs and while we have been taking care of new baby and juggling Lil’ O, he has fallen to the bottom of the priority list. Sure, he’s still walked once a day and gets to hang with us, but it is so clearly not enough for our high energy, high anxiety dog.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

First Week Back to Work

Baby #2 is here and I’ve now been back to work a full week. It’s high time I updated the blog! And, finished up things like sending out birth announcements. Hmm, whoops. Go figure, having a newborn in the house made things a bit crazier and has allowed for a lot less sleep.

Going back to work was at least easier with Lil’ Chica than with Lil’ O. I think that is largely due to it just being the second time around. My maternity leave with Lil’ Chica, while it of course had its ups and downs, was smoother than with Lil’ O. I think I realized more of what I needed to do (and not do) to stay sane. As a result, I did things like getting out of the house more and caring about mess and schedules less. I also mostly persevered with breastfeeding – more details to come – and that made it easier to be mobile than with Lil’ O. (Since I had early supply issues with him that the doctors were concerned by, he got a bottle really early, never looked back, and I took to pumping. Being tied to a pump is extremely limiting!!)

So, going back to work…I’m happy to report that I did pretty well. Monday was the most difficult day, but I put aside my missing Lil’ Chica and really, really focused on the new assignment I’ll be spending my days on with work. I love a new challenge and it helped that I hadn’t been at the computer much during my leave. So, coming back to strategic thinking and writing felt refreshing. I did sneak some breaks to look at pictures of my little girl, though. She sure is a cutie. Each subsequent day this week got easier and I'm grateful that I already have assignments coming in and deadlines to meet, all of which will help keep me focused.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Welcome Lil’ Chica, A VBAC Birth Story

She’s here, she’s here! Lil’ Chica *finally* made her grand entrance one week and one day after her much-anticipated due date. Later than anticipated and still right on time. And, once she decided it was time, she came pretty quickly! Maybe a little too quickly.

It all started the Tuesday after my Friday due date. Got that? Four days after my due date I finally got a sense that something was happening. Turns out, it was what’s called “false labor.” I don’t like this term. While it didn’t progress and bring my baby rushing into the world, I still think my body was working and preparing. So, sure, not the labor I was looking for, not as intense as it’d get, but also not “false.” Bah.
Since my due date came and went, and because I refused to schedule an induction, I got the lovely addition of nonstress tests every few days to be sure Lil’ Chica was still doing well. All looking good! Despite these assurances from the tech, I did ask about the position of the baby. This came following prompting from my doula who thought the baby might be slightly twisted, which would explain some of my start and stop labor nearly every day. (When the baby isn’t quite in position, contractions can start and stop to help the baby make the turn and get into the best possible position of birth.) Sure enough, though Lil’ Chica’s head was obediently down, her face was looking right at us, meaning she was posterior, or sunny side up, and needed to turn around. Ugh! That was Friday morning, one full week past my due date.

Following the news of Lil’ Chica’s posterior position, Husby and I went that same day to a specialized acupuncturist to hopefully get labor going. I was convinced from talking to my doula and friends that after one session, I’d be in full labor. Sadly, that wasn’t quite accurate. I mentioned to the acupuncturist the baby’s position and they added a couple needles to help her turn. All of this was meant to “open me up.” It worked at least in part. My mucus plug was lost later that afternoon. Wow, that thing is gross! Following acupuncture and Lil’ O’s bedtime, I also then did a circuit of exercises to help turn baby into position. Brutal, but it seemed to do the trick! Contractions that I could tell were the real deal started at 4 a.m. We waited until 6 a.m. and called our doula to come on over. We were going to have another baby!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Power of Nesting

I have just a few more weeks before the supposed arrival of our baby girl. Crazy! She could of course deviate and not come punctually on her due date like her brother, but the guess date is the best we have at this juncture. I’m both geared up for birth – I’ve been doing lots of prep in anticipation of what I hope and pray is a successful VBAC attempt – and not quite ready for a newborn. Yet, I know the time is coming to a close; and, due to depleting energy stores, some of my late night surges of productivity have been recently replaced with reflections on the wonderful life God has given me with Husby, the joy that Lil’ O brings and how life is about to change. I’ve also taken to wandering our little home and noting all the things we’ve gotten accomplished these past few months as Husby and I have nested and made our home ready for our baby girl. Some completed projects are of course bigger than others and we certainly enlisted help, but I’m proud of all we accomplished, big and small. Below is the tally, plus some pictures.

Projects Completed
  • Decorated and transitioned all of Lil’ O’s stuff to his new big boy bedroom.
  • Prepped nursery for arrival of Lil’ Chica, complete with baby gear and freshly laundered clothing, swaddling, accessories and more. 
  • Home contractor crew built new backyard shed and Husby built a stand to store firewood.
  • Home contractors installed new kitchen shelf for my cookbooks, which I’ve since maximized and started to decorate.
  • Husby installed insulation and flooring in the attic to maximize attic storage space and ease of use.
  • Hung pictures in main bathroom.
  • Installed new home office.
  • Rearranged some furniture as we explored what to keep and what to purge.
  • Donated clothing, too-big luggage, filing cabinet and small bookshelf.
  • Recycled various dead electronics that had been collecting dust in the garage.
  • Planted some new edibles.
  • Purchased bench and planted a new aloe plant alongside the side of our home for a bit of added interest.
  • Cleaned and oiled the kitchen cabinets. 
  • G'ma deep cleaned some of the house in need of extra TLC.

The nursery, now ready for Lil' Chica
New shed, mostly for yard tools, but also serving as Lil' O's toy "garage"
Goodbye ugly over-sink lamp, hello recessed lighting & cookbook storage
New Craigslist bench and aloe plant

Yet More Remains…
I’m really proud of all we’ve accomplished, especially because it’s so hard to get ahead of routine maintenance with a toddler. Along these lines, I must confess that much of what we did finish was through teamwork – often one parent entertaining Lil' O while the other did some house task or by enlisting help – and/or completed after Lil' O's bedtime, often in the wee hours of the night. And, despite our best efforts (and lack of sleep!), this list is not meant to imply that our place is pristine. Far from it! In fairness, below is a short list of what more we could do, but likely won’t before baby. We’ve simply run out of oomph.
  • Install more sprinklers and refresh plants in the front yard. Curb appeal is not the best right now.
  • Install drip sprinklers in the backyard to ease vegetable plant watering.
  • Plant grass in our backyard's "bald spots" and fertilize the full lawn. The whole scorching summer heat has kept us from this one, so maybe next spring we'll tackle this one.
  • Add attic insulation – another task that requires waiting for the summer heat to break.
  • Add curtains to Lil’ O’s room – I have no idea what I want there!
  • Sew curtains for our master bedroom, which is honestly sad since I have all the stuff (minus thread) and this would take maybe a half hour. Ok, probably an hour since my sewing machine and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms.

Hmm, there’s probably more, especially when it comes to cleaning and organizing, but this will have to do. Baby countdown is in full effect.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lil’ O’s Transportation-Themed Big Boy Bedroom

My sweet little boy is now fully transitioned to his new big boy bedroom. Sniff! He started sleeping in his new big boy bed in mid-June, but we only completed the finishing touches to his room this past weekend. It’s great that he’s sleeping in there, but that has certainly made it harder to get into his room to add any final touches. As I suspect is true with most parents, the majority of our time to get much of anything productive done is while he’s sleeping. But, not to be outwitted by a toddler, we got it done nonetheless! Muwahaha!

Without further ado, below are the grand reveal pictures of Lil’ O’s new transportation-themed big boy room. My goals was to play up his natural love of cars and trucks and make the room kid-friendly so he’d be excited by the transition, but also hopefully spark his curiosity and inspire adventure. We’ll see about that loftier adventure goal, but he at least likes the room. Phew!

Closet organization triumph

The transition itself went really well. We talked it up for a month or two before it was actually time for Lil’ O to move from the nursery to the big boy bed and room. I think that helped a lot to make the transition go smoothly. By the time the ceiling was fixed, he was very eager to sleep in his new big boy bed. As the protective mama, though, I thought he might still get scared. Nope! We moved his stuffed animal friends from his crib to his bed and he felt right at home. He didn’t even get out of bed to explore after we tucked him in. I credit this last piece to his nap routine at daycare, but I was still quite impressed and sad as I watched the video monitor and whispered goodbye to my baby. I’m so proud of my little boy and excited by who he is becoming, but these transitions are making this pregnant mama sentimental.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Preparing for Baby – The Looong Purge

Forward momentum in Operation Big Boy Room was halted due to a leaking pipe dripping onto the ceiling of Lil’ O’s future room. Bah! We had a friend, who is happily also a plumber, come by to fix the offending pipes, but due to their placement in the attic, he had to cut into the ceiling. Attic insulation raining down was not exactly the décor or vibe I was going for, so the big move for Lil’ O was put on hold.

We were really grateful, though, that this all happened before the big transition. It would have been much more confusing for our little guy if he moved, had to go back to the nursery, and then made the transition a second time to his big boy room. There’s a silver lining in everything and we count our blessings.
Despite this ceiling mishap, my nesting instinct has remained in high gear. I am not to be thwarted from making our home ready for baby’s arrival! Sure, I need to hold on Lil’ O’s new room transition, but there is still so much to be done.

So, I switched gears. In place of moving big items out of our catch-all room so it could become fit for a toddler, I spent the last month (yes, it sadly took that long to get our go-to handyman out for the ceiling fix and some other projects) going through the smaller items, mostly files, that had been languishing and collecting dust. I found old pictures, files from college and a whole host of papers I no longer need. Most files were shredded or went straight to recycling, but there may also be a healthy crop of Throwback Thursday pictures coming soon. ;)

I also spent some time researching how to best organize Lil’ O’s new closet, since I will be keeping half of it for some of my things. Toddler clothes aren’t that big, right? Sigh, we love our house, but getting ready for kiddo #2 is definitely stretching my ability for creative in-home storage. I mourn our lack of a coat or linen closet. If we ever move, we’ll look a bit more closely for those closets.

Stay tuned for the big reveal of Lil’ O’s new big boy bedroom. It’s nearly done and he’s sleeping there already since he was really eager for his big boy bed. He was pretty patient as we waited to get the ceiling fixed, so I can’t blame him for eagerly making the new room his own, despite its lack of finishing touches. His move is also making it easier to prep for Lil’ Chica since I now have late-night access to the nursery. All will be ready soon. Six more weeks until Lil’ Chica is due to meet the world!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Resolutions Report Card

While it’s officially spring, it’s been crazy hot and dry this week, causing numerous wildfires throughout San Diego County. While the rest of the country seems to be basking in their first rays of spring sunshine, we’re battling scorched plants and worse. Thankfully the fires haven’t gotten that close to us yet, so our focus has been on staying cool and trying to keep our sad little plants alive through the heat. This focus on the outdoors (and the seasonal gardening section at Target) has reminded me of my somewhat neglected New Year’s resolutions. That’s because one of my main resolutions was to plant something, ideally something edible, each season. I haven’t failed entirely in this as we did plant a persimmon tree, strawberries and a couple gardenia bushes this winter, but as I’m nesting inside the home, gardening has hardly been my focus of late. 

So, with this admission and self-inflicted kick to the backside, I’m evaluating the progress, or lack thereof, of all of my supposed New Year’s resolutions. Below is my self-graded Resolution Report Card.

Keep a Thankful Jar: C
Ok, so I haven’t done diddly squat with this yet. But, I have things in my head! That counts for a something, right? Here’s a quick rundown of what’s happened so far this year that I’m super thankful for, and may even someday soon get put into a jar, so we can remember all our blessings come New Year’s Eve 2014. Or, maybe I’ll just keep a list; that seems more realistic…
  • I’m Pregnant! Yup, that’s right, prego with #2. Super blessed and all seems to be going and growing smoothly J
  • New Job! Lots of changes afoot here. This new gig is more hours, but allows me to work from home and realize a full-time salary. Since we’re expecting #2 per above, these are both great perks. Plus, I can now officially put on my resume that I’m a writer! Pinch me, the dream is alive!
  • Husby Promoted! I know, it just keeps on coming! It’s a miracle our heads aren’t still spinning from all the changes that took place in January and February.
  • Influx of 2T and 3T clothing for Lil’ O from gal pal Jay, my sister-in-law and a wonderful grandma in my church community. I even called Ms. E over to share in the bounty of 3T goodies as there’s no way Lil’ O can possibly wear all of these awesome items.
  • Birthday visit from Meema and G’pa. The Ohio grandparents came out for about 10 days around Lil’ O’s birthday to soak in some sunshine and celebrate with us. It was such a joyous time!
  • It's a girl! We decided to find out the sex of the baby this time around and the verdict is that we’re expecting a girl. We’re so excited to meet her!
  • Maternity clothes from a lovely, fashionable neighbor. I don’t need much, but am of course pregnant in the warmer months this time around when most of my previous maternity wear is geared toward winter, so some super cute, new-to-me pieces are a total score!

Plant Something (Edible) Each Season: B+ 
As I mentioned above, we did plant things this winter, so we haven’t failed yet. Those plants are even still (mostly) alive! I have a plan of the plants we want to plant this spring, and we’ve got a few new edibles planted in the past few weeks, but I don’t have much of a plan beyond that yet. Hopes are high, but I need to find a local nursery that’s better stocked than our local Home Depot and the heat is already taking a toll on the grass and some of the things planted this winter. Gardenias, I’m especially looking at you! The one positive, I suppose, is that Lil' O and Knute do really enjoy when we bring the watering can or hose out for some manual plant watering.

Allow Myself More Grace: B 
Happy to report that I’m doing ok here. Trying not to be quite so Type A and hard on myself, but to shrug a bit more off and let things go. There is a toddler pretty much running this house after all. I’m still striving, but if things slip I’m working to just say “oh, well” instead of beating myself up over whatever it may be. Progress, solid progress.

Did anyone else make New Year’s resolutions and even moderately stick to them? I’d love to hear more about your goals and progress, remembering of course that self-grace must be doled out heartily. No guilt trips!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Girls’ Weekend Getaway in San Antonio

Last weekend I ran away and met up with a great friend for a weekend of tourist attractions and relaxation. This was my first time leaving the fam that wasn’t for work, but sometimes staying sane, balanced and happy as a mom necessitates taking a step back. At least, that’s a lesson I’ve been learning. I’m much more patient with my little man when I’ve had some time to myself and feel taken care of. Knowing this and recognizing that I’m soon going to get even less me time thanks to Baby #2, a weekend getaway was sounding ideal. With Husby’s blessing, I connected with one of my best friends from college, who I hadn’t seen since her wedding about five years ago (yikes!) and is also now the mom of a toddler, and we planned our getaway.

The Destination
We decided to meet in the middle to maximize our time together and keep it truly just to us girls. She is in Maryland and I’m in Southern California, so “the middle” truly meant the middle of the country for us. My friend, I’ll call her Babe since that’s her go-to nickname for her gal pals, had really wanted to visit San Antonio, but missed her chance a few years back, so we decided that would be our destination. I’d last visited in middle school with my family and remembered the city fondly, especially the lovely River Walk. Plus, the layout of the city allowed us to stay in the downtown area and walk to nearly all the sites.

The Sites
Before arriving in Texas, it was hard for us to connect by phone thanks to the time difference and our respective work and family demands. So, we each did some research on what we wanted to see while in San Antonio and compared notes the week before we departed. Thankfully, we both mainly wanted to see the tourist attractions downtown. That made it easy.

The one place I wanted to see, but was too far for us to visit during our brief weekend trip is the new San Antonio Culinary Institute of America campus. I love the CIA campus near Napa, so would have loved to see this newest location, but it wasn’t in the cards. Next time I’m in San Antonio perhaps. ;)

Still, we did manage to see the River Walk; the Alamo; Hemisfair Park, including a trip up the Tower of the Americas; La Villita; El Mercado; San Fernando Cathedral; and King William Historic District; mostly traveling by foot, but also including a bus tour around the downtown. We both remarked on how liberating and strange it was to see only what we wanted versus also working in a trip to sites like the Children’s Museum and scheduling around naptimes. Ah, the life of moms! The one glitch in our sightseeing travels, and the reason for some especially festive photos, is that we went to San Antonio in their final week of three-week Fiesta, their biggest party of the year that stretches throughout the city and is supposedly bigger than Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Not exactly what this prego had in mind! But, we made the most of it, both braving and trying to avoid the crowds. So, now we’ve not only experienced San Antonio, but also conquered Fiesta!


The Balance

Me and Babe!
Babe and I were both gone from our families Friday through Sunday, returning in the evening, so we could maximize our time together, not miss too much at home and take off minimal time at our respective works. Because we met in the middle, we had nearly all of Friday afternoon and into the evening to catch up. Then, we had all of Saturday and Sunday morning for sightseeing before we headed to the airport. It was so lovely to have the time to reconnect with my friend and to recharge. Beyond the weekend of fun, since I was traveling solo, I could also do things like indulge in a book during the flight (versus entertain or hold a little one on my lap). It’s the little things. Upon my return home, Husby noted that he thought it was the ideal amount of time, from his perspective, for me to be away. I agree. I got to see explore a new city and reconnect with my friend, but also didn’t feel that I missed all that much at home, especially thanks to numerous texts and pictures throughout the weekend from Husby, or at work. Lil’ O didn’t even seem to mind my absence. He was just a bit extra glad to see me Monday morning.

Success all around. And, ah, we had such fun!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nesting is Real

The instinct to feather the nest while pregnant, also known as nesting, is strange. It doesn’t seem to make sense, at least from the outside, and I know I scoffed at it before becoming pregnant with my first kiddo. But, now? I’m living it big time. Something happens and all those little projects around the house – some of which have nothing to do with baby – must be completed. There’s now a deadline. Because, especially after our first, we know nothing will get done for a long while after the baby is born.

Maybe that’s why I’ve catapulted into nesting phase even earlier this time around. Over the past month I’ve been excited and eager to complete previously forgotten projects. And my zeal has brought Husby along for the ride. There’s still more to do, but in the past few weeks we have done quite a bit. Take a look.

Home Office Complete!
The work-at-home office space is now complete. Admittedly, this was mostly done, but my desire to complete projects got this looking more aesthetically pleasing and more functional in record time. Husby hung another shelf, boxes were laboriously painted the perfect color to add pop and more has been brought over from other, random corners of the house.

Big Boy Bedroom
Lil’ O will soon be transitioning from his current room, the nursery, to a new, big-boy room. It’ll be a transition in many ways, but it makes the most sense to keep the nursery as is and let him “upgrade” rooms. In prep, we’ve been purging and moving what was previously in this catchall room to other areas of the house. And, as things move out, there’s room for fun new things, like transportation-themed décor and a map decal of the world. Woohoo!

Storage Upgrade
This one is all thanks to Husby. It’s been on his list to put plywood down on the attic beams to better use the space. Doing that means also putting down insulation in between those beams and the new plywood flooring. It might seem small, but our attic is now so much more usable! Husby even took some of the leftover plywood and added it to the rafter beams in our garage. More kid stuff, more storage. Check!

There’s certainly still more to do, but our list is getting shorter and I still have another 15 weeks to go before this baby girl is estimated to arrive! So, next time you see a pregnant woman in overdrive, especially if it’s related to a home improvement project, just blame the nesting urge. It’s real. ;)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Gender Reveal Party & News!

As I’ve settled into the new job, pregnancy is feeling more and more real. And, since we didn’t find out the sex of Lil’ O until we met him face to face, we decided to go the other route with this little one and find out if it’s a boy or girl early. This is probably our last baby, so we wanted to get both experiences. And, since we enjoy a good party, we hosted a gender reveal party to share the big news. Not even our parents were in on the surprise. 

Yup, it's a baby!
First, we had the almighty sonogram. Regardless of the fateful picture showing a boy or girl, the ultrasound is such a cool experience. It really made it sink in that I am indeed very pregnant and in another few months we’ll have another precious little one to love and cuddle and nurture. After nearly 20 minutes of official sonogram pictures and measurements, it came time. Husby and I decided to learn the news together there with the technician, so we could keep it more intimate and also to each adjust to the news either way. Just as I was extolling the virtues of one, the technician announced it was clearly the other. Wow! Good thing we found out there, because we both needed proof. We hadn’t done this part with Lil’ O and we had no idea what we were looking at in most of the pictures.

We had a couple weeks to sit with the news and plan out the party, in part because I had a week away for work. We planned and prepped, but mostly kept it low-key, opting for BBQ and a few simple sides to accompany the “Get the Scoop” ice cream social theme and gender reveal cake. I collected “votes” from both our families to learn what they each thought the baby would be and pulled together a flyer using a template from blogger  Confetti Sunshine. We shared our version of the completed flyer with family just before the party – it was a fun way to keep the out-of-town family part of the experience. We wish everyone could come out, but living on the other side of the country makes that difficult and we know it. The day of the party, we took votes from friends and kept mum through lunch. Then, we got Aunt La on the phone, began taping for those who couldn’t be reached and served up dessert. It was such a fun experience!

Eagerly awaiting the news

And, ultimately, we got to share that we’re having a GIRL!!! We are so thrilled! We would have of course been happy regardless, but it will be really special to have both a boy and girl. Plus, it’s about time I got a female in this house. ;)

Let the little girl shopping begin!