Thursday, January 26, 2012

Let the good times roll...


Gabe is 12 weeks TODAY and 3 months from today, Mia turns 3.  It's as if I've blinked and we've been transported through time.  It seems like just yesterday I was taking Mia to Gator Fred's with Ashley & Meli and letting our little 2 year olds run around, and now they're almost the big 3.  I'm just trying to hold on before they grow up too fast before my eyes...

11 weeks, 6 days 

Meli & Mia, posing on the statue

Gabe's first carousel-ride

We went to the zoo yesterday, courtesy of said friend Ashley, and Mia & Meli had a great time. Gabe didn't mind it so much either...he slept through most of it :)  The above picture might have been one of his few awake moments. 

My parents were in town this past weekend and Mia and Gabe both enjoyed spending time with Mommo & Papa Jack.  And Uncle Luke & Aunt Allison.  Sometimes we take for granted how nice it is to live in the same community as family, but Mia & Gabe are blessed with some pretty good aunts & uncles (that also includes you, Uncle Brian & Aunt Amanda!)

Snuggling with Mommo
This was the 2nd time that day Gabe fell asleep on Papa Jack
First, note that Mia loves holding Gabe.
Then, note the crazy Mia-insisted, Maddie-inspired 'do.
One of the very few pictures of me with both keedz
And likewise, one of the very few picture of Greg with both keedz
It's been a busy but good January.  I'm 29, Greg's about to be 28, and we'll be welcoming lots of friends into our home in February. Can't wait to crack some skulls with Jenn from La Gallina Pequeña and see baby Will, and laugh till I cry with Mike & Angie and see baby Ellie.  Let the good times roll...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Growing into The Mommy Life

A couple of weeks ago I ran into a former acquaintance from FC and while we were talking, she paused and asked me, "So, tell me, do you love being a mom?" and for the first time in a while I didn't hesitate to say, "Yes, I do!" I still have problems admitting that at times; there's an internal fight with the Megan of yesteryear and the Megan that I am today.  You see, it wasn't so long ago I didn't think mothering would be in the cards for me...

When I look back at my youth, I sometimes think I thought too much and I thought about all the things moms "have" to do, and to be honest, I looked at my own mom's life and thought, "Wow, everyday, it's the same thing." Not that my mom didn't do it joyfully, because to be honest, I never really saw her complain.  But it was up in the morning, getting the kids going, cleaning up the kitchen, doing laundry, paying bills, running errands, shuffling kids (I guess since we were all spaced out it wasn't always all 4 of us at once!), making dinner, cleaning the kitchen again and if she was lucky, sitting down for a minute.  As a feeble-minded youth, I just didn't see the fun in it.  And of course, I was selfish. More of self, and less of Thee.  I was immature.

And then (I know I talk about it frequently but to blog is semi-therapeutic and I'm constantly reevaluating this, since it's been the biggest catalyst in my life for change), after I realized there are a few good men out there--aside from family members and good-friends-who-were-boys that I just couldn't fathom settling down with--and Providence landed me with Greg, I figured we had a few more years before the childbearing began.  Hahahahahahaha.  God really laughed at that plan, just as he laughed at my plan to finish my grad school internship right after we got married so that we would only be a single-income family for about one college semester.  Looking back I figured there was a purpose for that setback, to not be in school full-time, or not be interning, or not be earning any real money.  I didn't know when I'd realize it or when I'd figure it out and I still don't know if I fully understand it all, but it taught me one thing.  My timing isn't always God's timing, even if it stinks.
Of course, when I did finally graduate, and got a job, and then almost immediately got pregnant, I think I really felt out-of-control.  The best laid plans oft go awry.  Could that not be a life statement for most of us??

When we lose our locus-of-control, often our "happiness" or internal contentment diminishes.  And this is what I think about often.  I didn't immediately enjoy motherhood because I wasn't prepared for it. I didn't think it was in the cards in the short-term future.  I was not in control.  I was not willing to accept what I thought I'd be giving up.  And do you know how hard that is to admit?  Aren't young Christian women supposed to yearn for the call of motherhood? Is it considered selfish to not desire that role instinctively or immediately?  Well at least for me, those instincts hadn't kicked on just yet.  It had nothing to do with my own mom or other mothers around me, yet I felt guilty for feeling that way, like I was offending their being.  Before we got married and talked about kids, I figured the desire to be a mom would grow the longer we were married.

And in the middle of all that, Mia was born, and her birth was great, really really great.  There's not a single thing I would change about that.  When I reflect on it, it was such a serene, peaceful and beautiful day when my world was literally rocked.  The day I became a mother.
But I can't change what all happened after that.  It was rough. Really really rough.  And having Gabe's birth experience and the days thereafter to compare with Mia's, I realize just how different things could have been, but weren't. I realize now why I wasn't immediately happy as a new mom.  I unfortunately had some lingering baby blues.  So, when you're asked that infamous question, "Don't you loooove being a mom?", I almost resented it.  How could you ask me that??  It hurt.  She's small. I feel guilty.  I can't figure out this breastfeeding thing. I feel guilty. I keep getting sick. Why won't I get better? And I have a blood clot. What's wrong with me?  Pounding. Pounding. Pounding.

It gave me little chance to bond with a tiny, precious baby girl who is growing up into a delightful, strong child.  And I just didn't know how to be.
Finally, though, I got back some sense of control.  I found some purpose and I found some structure.  I found a community, and God gave me a group of people with whom I could work along side and feel productive. I felt useful, even if I was in a totally different role than I'd planned.  And to this day, it is still a little embarrassing to admit all those feelings that I had, but as a former counselor, I know you need to honor those feelings, or at least let them pass through, many times in order to move on.  You don't have to act on the feelings and actually BE selfish toward your child, or drop your responsibilities and walk away, but you can acknowledge them, have your peace, and move on.  And that's what I'm doing. Which is why I think I am enjoying the mommy life.  It is the toughest, highest calling I've ever known.  But these two munchkins are my arrows that will eventually be getting ready to launch, and just as God does a work in me, I have a work to do in them.



Let me do right by them. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

sigh

This little guy slays me...


Things I want to remember about this time:
  • How Mia squeals with delight when Gabe opens his eyes or looks at her
  • Mia's impressions of Gabe's mannerisms "He doing this" [acts out his movements]
  • How Gabe smiles and already sort of flirts ;)
  • Mia saying, "You might check the mail, mommy?"  "I want something" "I want some daddy" "I doing this" "Mommy, mommy. You go here and I'll go there. Stay RIGHT there.  Now go to sleep and DON'T wake up." "Nice to meet you, nice to meet guys...nice to meet people!" "Be funny, Mommy, be funny" (which means laugh).
  • Singing "don't do that, don't do that, don't do that" to herself.
  • How Gabe looks so similar but is so different from his sister (chill, better sleeper *knock on wood*)
  • How busy we are but how much fun we are having - how BLESSED we feel
  • How I don't always "carpe diem" but am trying to appreciate the special "kairos" moments


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cloth Diapering, Round II (this time, with a newborn)

This post is dedicated to my SIL, Jenna, who is expecting her first baby (a boy!) in February.

I just finished reading a very timely blog post over at The Cloth Diaper Whisperer about attempting to exclusively cloth diaper from the newborn days on forward.  I didn't start cloth diapering Mia till she was closer to 4 months, so by that point in time, she was big enough to fit into Fuzzibunz pocket diapers in the smalls (I believe she was around 13 lbs).  I also started using bumGenius 3.0 one size pocket diapers in the smallest settings for Mia at that time as well, which is what her stash eventually completed transitioned into.

However, with young Gabriel, I wanted to start cloth diapering sooner than I did with Mia. I had a feeling he wouldn't fit into Mia's one size diapers initially as she has stretched out the elastic (which--good news--can be replaced!), so I registered for some newborn diapers on Kelly's Closet and decided I wanted to try lil' Joeys, XS bumGenius AIOs, XS Fuzzibunz, and some GroVia AIOs in the Newborn size.  I also received some prefold covers (Thirsties and Bummis), along with some prefold inserts (like Bummis prefolds).  Plus, a friend loaned me some Kissaluvs and some prefolds -- not sure what brand they are, but they are pretty absorbent!

My take on the diapers initially:
Loved the lil' Joeys.  They fit Gabe really well right away and contained most leaks.  Since he's just over 12 lbs now, though, they are not fitting as well anymore and may need to be retired :-\  I will be sad to see them go as they are quite absorbent and have special lining inside to contain leaks. I started off with 2 of these and eventually added 2 more, thus 4 total.

I was actually happy to be reunited with the Fuzzibunz.  Something about their designs are so simple and user-friendly, but they are not as absorbent for longer stretches, so I would not recommend them overnight if your baby sleeps long periods of time or for super soakers.  Also, they are for up to 12 lbs as well, so Gabe will soon be retiring out of those.  I only had 3 FB.

I could essentially say the same about the XS/NB size of the bumGenius.  I had 4 of these total.

The other brand that was new to me, aside from the Lil' Joeys, were the Grovia Newborn AIO diapers.  I bought them because they were on sale and the reviews were pretty good, but I have to say they weren't my favorite diapers. I just had too many leaks with them because they weren't tight enough around Gabe's leg to prevent from leaking onto his clothes.  It's a bummer because the prints were super cute!  I might try to resell these with the hopes they fit onto a different baby a bit better.  He's probably worn them 5x or less, for all 3 of them.


I also tried Thirsties covers with Bummis organic cotton liners, but when Gabe was under 10lbs, I just couldn't get them to fit right. I'll admit I was a total NEWB when it came to prefolds and covers--the system that has been around the longest--but after having used pocket and AIO diapers for so long I was messing it up and causing leaks, plus the covers were just too bulky.
Thirsties Duo Wrap cover
Bummis Diaper Cover
However, he is really starting to fit into his Thirsties & Bummis covers, and with the small stash of prefolds, we might be able to start making it work!  I'm still experimenting with how I fold the prefolds in the diapers, but I'm getting more and more excited about this, because I believe having prefolds & covers as an option will help me as I transition him into bigger-sized diapers (or when Mia is more proficient at potty-training and no longer requires her bumGenius 3.0 one-size diapers!).



I also won 2 Swaddlebees diapers in size small last summer on a Fluff Friday giveaway on the Cloth Diaper Whisperer blog (see, dreams DO come true), and he is starting to fit into those. I think as long as I figure out the right snap setting, we'll be free of leaks.
I need to really rotate these two because they'll probably only fit Gabe for 4 more lbs, and as quickly as he's growing, that could mean only another month and a half!


To boil it all down, I've been pleased with using most of the brands, except as much as I wanted to like GroVia, they just didn't work for us.  My only regrets looking back are not using all the diapers sooner. Since I didn't have a "complete" stash by my standards (somewhere between 16-20), some days I was hesitant to use any of them because I wasn't sure I could wash them all every single day, but I should've just done what I could, because now he's growing out of the bumGenius XS, Fuzzibunz XS, and the lil' Joeys (11 diapers total).  So, I've been using a combination of disposables (Huggies Pure & Natural, mostly) and cloth throughout these past several weeks.  I didn't really even use cloth on Gabe for probably the first two weeks, and I think that's pretty normal.
Gabe in a Thirsties cover (upper left) and Bummis cover (bottom)
I couldn't change the fact that the prefolds and covers didn't work for us at first, but now that they are I'm feeling like I'll be getting my money's worth out of those.

And as long as I replace the elastic on the bumGenius OS diapers that I have been using for Mia the past 2.5 years, I'll really be getting my money's worth from those! I already have 20 elastic replacement  kits, ready to go, as soon as I figure out just how to use that new sewing machine I got for Christmas!

The Takeaways:
There are dozens of cloth diaper brands out there now, and as as I've been following Kelly Wels, DiaperShops.com and TheClothDiaperWhisperer.com for the past couple of years now (either on Twitter, Facebook, or through my blog), I constantly see other brands I'd be interested in trying.  The best pieces of advice I can give right now for newbies/first-timers are to try a few brands and see what you like. You can always re-sell what you end up not using; people actually do like to buy used cloth diapers because it saves them money!  If you have a boutique or cloth diaper retailer locally, check them out as well, because seeing the diapers hands-on makes a big difference.

I'd also recommend, if you do want to cloth diaper exclusively, to get some sized-diapers to help you get going in the beginning, like the lil' Joeys or the XS Fuzzibunz, BumGenius or even Happy Heinys.  Those brands all tend to get good reviews.  Then, when your baby is a bit bigger, he/she can probably easily fit into the one-size diapers that adjust with snaps or velcro as your baby gets bigger.  Or, you could splurge a bit more and get diapers in every single size (small, medium and large) and your baby will probably be in each set of diapers a shorter amount of time, meaning they take less abuse and are in better condition for the next baby!


This blog sums it up well: How do I get started with cloth diapering? by Diapershops.com


It can be quite an investment to get going when it comes to cloth, but it so much more satisfying to cloth diaper a baby and not spend at least $20 a week or more on disposables.  You can see the data to compare the costs here.  I love that chart!

Phew! That was a lot of information, I know! Hopefully it is as helpful to someone else as it is for me to summarize.

And, if you're so inclined to start shopping, let me put in a shameless plug for MYSELF as I'm an affiliate of Kelly's Closet.

This link below will take you to the site, and for each sale, I get a 5% commission.  Hey, whatever floats your boat!


Photo Credit: KellysCloset.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gabe's Birth Story, Part II

If you missed Part I of Gabe's Birth Story, click here.

[Disclaimer: If you're a dude, one of my brothers, or generally uninterested in the minute details of a woman's real, live, all-natural birth, then you may want to skip this one!  All you need to know is posted at the end of this story (which means you'll have to skim through it and see totally safe pictures anyway). /End disclaimer.]

So, where did we leave off last?  Oh yes, that's right...we were beginning the drive down to TGH.

Since it was midday, traffic was slim to nil and we cruised down the interstate and took the Crosstown to get on over to the hospital. Dealing with contractions in the car is never fun, but it's part of the ballgame so I just rolled with it as much as I could.  As soon as we got to the hospital and began the valet parking experience, I started contracting again. I'm sure the valet men see it all the time: women trying to exit their cars only to find themselves stalled in an unusual standing position, working through a contraction.  Yes, that was me.

The next little bit was sort of a blur to me, as I just wanted to get all the business of triage behind me and focus on the rest of my labor, but I was taken by wheelchair to triage, with Greg and Stephanie, our doula, aside us, where we began the triage process. A nurse came in and checked me and said I was between 4-5 cm and almost completely effaced (was it 75%?).  On my chart she put a 5 and they admitted me.  We were able to get a room with a birth tub, which also happened to be overlooking the bay and as far as labor and delivery rooms go, it was pretty nice! Very scenic.  Not that I spent much time looking over the waters and considering the deep abyss that lies below, though.
Once we were admitted in the room, the doctor for the day stopped by and shared his greetings and went over the plan: I would labor for a few hours and then he would come check me again and see how things were progressing.  And if they weren't progressing, we'd talk about what to do next.  That little addition at the end was slightly worrisome as I didn't want to consider that there could possibly be any other options than this baby exiting my body the way nature intends but I didn't really let my mind go there. I just said okay and worked through more contractions.  For some reason unbeknownst to me, while we were in our room, a couple of nurses had to go through this laundry list of questions that were really irksome to me to have to answer.  Why these questions, why now?? Fortunately, Greg answered most of them and I just tried to get as comfy as I could while I waited for them to leave.
While they were wrapping up, my doula rubbed some labor oil and another aromatherapy blend on my belly (which she also had done before we left the house, and did a couple more times during labor) asked if I was ready to get into the birth tub. That sounded really good right about then, so I said yes and Greg, Stephanie and I made our way into the bathroom (sounds funny in retrospect) and with a little assistance I got into the tub.

Ahhhh....immediate relaxation.  Well, as much as one can relax in labor.  Something about laboring in water is quite soothing and chillaxing, and by that point (the rush of the morning, getting to the hospital, being triaged, being asked silly questions), I was ready for things to calm down a bit. Sometimes getting in the tub stalls labor for some women; I learned that at the birth center, but I was okay with a little stalling if I meant I could have some time to breathe and get a grip on things again.
I spent a good while in the tub--at least an hour--working and breathing through contractions, and telling myself to let the baby down and out when I was working through a tough one. I tried to visualize each contraction doing something purposeful--moving the baby down--so that I wouldn't fight it.  My doula played some music on her phone (New Age Essentials on Pandora if you're looking for some good birthin' music!) and turned off the lights so that it was very peaceful.  She and Greg just kind of observed while this happened and were there to provide support or chat with if I felt like it. But I can tell you from 2 birth experiences now, I rarely feel like chatting during labor!

There came a point when I felt it was time to get out, so I got out of the tub and sat on the toilet -- almost the exact same sequence I had in Mia's labor -- for a while to see how things felt out of the water.  And it was more intense.  I sat there for a few minutes until I heard that the doctor would be coming back in soon to check on me.  I couldn't believe it had already been a few hours, but it was and I gradually made my way out of the bathroom and to the bed. I must pause here and say my nurse was amazing. She stayed totally out of the way, and when she needed to check the baby on the monitor every so often, she wheeled the machine as close to the bathroom door as possible and strung out the cord as much as it would stretch so she could place it on my abdomen without my having to move hardly an inch!  She was very accommodating.  I also only had a heplock on my arm so that I could move around without being attached to a pole--that was all by request, too.

I was waiting for the doctor to come in and my contractions felt less and less tolerable.  I was getting antsy and kind of annoyed he wasn't there yet.  I thought he was coming; I got out of the bathroom and out of my zone to be checked and here I am uncomfortable just waiting on this bed!! Where's he at?


Finally he arrived, checked me, and said I was at 8cm.  Eight centimeters? Only eight? To be honest I was a little disappointed. For all that time I had spent laboring and knowing my labor with Mia lasted about 12 hours total, I was fully expecting this show to almost be done.  He said my bag of waters was still intact and at this point there were 2 options: break my bag of waters and we'd probably see a faster arrival of the baby, or wait it out and let my body do it on its own, which would probably take longer.

I asked him if we could briefly discuss it, so I spoke with Greg and my doula and I told them, "I'm ready for this to be over; maybe we should just break it?" and my doula agreed that at this point, it wasn't as risky an intervention, as normally I would not necessarily accept an artificial rupture of the membranes (to learn more, read here). In my case, since we were so close to the end, it can help speed dilation. We called him back in and said we would break it, so he scrubbed up and got the items he needed to do that and it broke. Being graphic here--it felt like a really really warm gush of water flowing out of me, almost a relief, followed by a very strong, intense and mighty contraction.  That contraction about sent me over the edge and I was ready to jump out of my own body and off that delivery table.  I felt that little baby's body come down strong and I felt an urge.  My nurse checked me after the next contraction and said I was fully dilated and complete and she called the doctor back in.  He had originally come in the room just after 4:30, broken my bag of waters some minutes after that, and was supposed to be off-shift at 5pm, but when he heard that I was complete and ready to push he came back in, got his delivery scrubs on, moved the bed a bit, changed the lighting, and called the newborn baby nurse.  This is when things got REAL and I was still in shock that this was really happening.

I remember Greg and Stephanie looking at me excitedly.  "This is it! We're about to push this baby out and meet him!" I'm sure that's what their faces meant.  In my head though, I was still thinking, How are we gonna do this? Do I remember how to do this? What if I have one of those agonizingly long pushing phases that lasts hours upon hours? Dare I say I watched a few too many birth shows this time around and despite pushing Mia out in probably 30 minutes, I just did not know if I would be so lucky this time.  The nurse and my doula helped me get my legs into position, and Greg was back by my head encouraging me through the process.
I will say that at the first pushing contraction, I pushed like a newbie. I'm embarrassed to say I screamed a bit and my nurse had to lovingly get in my face and tell me not to scream and that I needed to use my legs more for leverage and focus on where I was putting my energy in pushing so that it was most effective.

During the next contraction or two I started to figure it out and pushed as much as I could using all the coaching I was getting. I was following my own body's cues as well as the feedback from the whole delivery team.  Let me just tell you it is hard to push a baby out!  Our bodies were designed to do this, I truly believe, but getting the baby through that birth canal ain't necessarily always an easy business.  Once I started focusing on the task at hand, the process really worked itself out.  I'm still amazed at how short a time it took for the baby to work his way down and out.  With lots of excitement and positive feedback from the nurse, our doula, and Greg, after another contraction he was crowning, and by the next contraction he slithered his way out and was HERE!  All in all, it probably only took 10-15 minutes with probably 4 pushing contractions for Gabe to be born. I was
lucky
blessed!

They immediately placed the baby (who had to be named) on my abdomen with a towel and we gently scrubbed him off a little while he lay there. He was very calm and content as much as I can remember, and all I felt after he was born was this feeling of sheer relief and shock--much as I did with Mia--that this labor was OVER!  I was so thankful and Greg said I kept on saying, "Thank goodness, thank goodness, thank goodness!" as soon as he was delivered.  It's incredible how you go from one extreme while you're pushing (please let us be done with this business soon!) to incredible joy and pride as soon as the baby arrives.

first moments with mommy

happily posing with our newest addition


If you're a male reading this and get queasy easily then skip this paragraph...the placenta very quickly was delivered after that, and was a healthy red color, much different than Mia's.  What a relief to see it in such better condition and not to have to stand up and squat to deliver it like I did with Mia. Not fun!

The medical team really respected our wishes that the baby and I be skin-to-skin for the first hour, and let us bond and just chill while he and I were both checked out post-delivery.  I finally got a good look at him after the doctor left and realized he looked like a Gabe to me, which is the name we were both leaning towards the entire pregnancy.  Greg agreed and so we chose the name Gabriel Charles.  Gabriel is a Hebrew name, which means "God is my strength," and is the angel in the bible who told Mary she would be Jesus' earthly mother.  Charles is Greg's middle name and his maternal grandfather's name.  So, like Mia, Gabe has a family name, a biblical name, and his initials match Greg's like Mia's match mine!

hat crocheted by our doula


just after his newborn assessment
After the first hour, Gabe was given his newborn bath and assessment and we found out he was 6 pounds, 2.5 ounces and 19 inches long.  I was pretty jazzed to have broken the 6 pound mark, which was my "goal" this time around.  For the next little bit, we just hung out as a family and waited for Mia to arrive with Aunt Allison and Aunt Amanda, and Gabe just cuddled up with his while he was swaddled.

first family of 4 photo



About two hours later, we were transferred to our recovery room in a different area of the hospital and got to hang out as a whole family for a while before Mia went back home with Aunt Allison.


She quickly got accustomed to him, even though in this picture she clearly seems more interested in the Burt's Bees chapstick than she is of her little brother.  Right away she was trying to share items with him and she wanted to see his hands and his feet.  It didn't take her long at all to assume the big sister role.  

To "evaluate" the hospital birth as compared to the birth center birth, Greg and I were really pleased.  Our entire medical staff was very accommodating and respectful of our wishes. Our nurse was jazzed we were going all-natural.  There were never any tense heated moments or disagreements about our intentions or our wishes.  Everything was respected, even letting the cord pulse a little bit longer than may be usual before it was clamped and cut.  I later found out Greg accidentally left the birth plan in the car (oops!!) so he had whispered all our requests and preferences to the nurse during that "annoying" question and answer period when we first taken to the delivery room.  
I can safely say as much as we were able, we almost had a birth-center like birth at the hospital.  There are a few things that are impossible to compare, like the clinical nature of the hospital to the home-like nature of the birth center, or working with a midwife versus a doctor, but as far my actual labor & delivery experiences goes, I felt respected, heard and validated.  Which makes it sound like it's all about me, but I know from enough research, women can have feelings that linger for years regarding the birth experience they didn't get.  All of that was important to me, and for my feelings about my baby, and I'm very thankful our prayers were answered.  

So really, if you made it this far, or if you're just skimming the story, all you really need to know is, thanks to God, Gabriel was delivered safe and sound. Sigh.Of.Relief!

Monday, January 9, 2012

2 kids? Whatevs...

As a parent I've become all too familiar with the "My child is so cool and amazing, look what he/she did here, bla bla bla, JINX!!" and then next thing you know, whatever fantastical, amazing, super sweet thing your kid was doing is completely reversed and you've shot yourself in the foot.  It's like you almost don't even want to admit to the good things because before you turn around, they'll be gone. It's silly to think and live life like that but we've all been there, so that's probably why we do it.  

I got to catch up with Miss Ashley and Tiny Meli today at the park while Meli and Mia ran their hearts out and as mommas we got to catch up.  As usual, I enjoyed it and the weather was nothing short of awesome.  This is why we live in Florida. In January.  It's sooo pleasant and I daresay I can feel the sun on my face just a few hours later.  As Ashley is expecting #2 in July, she was asking how it is with two, and I've been thinking about this a lot lately (not only because it's a common question, but also because I've been trying to evaluate it myself), and it's not as scary, bad or awful as I thought. Man, I make it sound like a real dream, don't I?  Some moments of some days I'm hating it, like after the park today when Gabe was hungry, Mia insisted she have (caffeinated) tea in her open/no-lid cup and I said no, and that mommy should hold her, and she basically became hysterical. I blame that on her being overly tired and within 45 minutes later of that episode, she was knocked out cold in a nap on her bed (and Gabe's tummy was full). 
'bout the only time I've ever seen this face on him!

But fo' reals, maybe it's because the early days with Mia were not what I pictured and harder than I imagined (and she was a blessed shock as it was) that this feels loads easier.  Even though there's 2.  Perhaps you've heard people say they didn't think they could love anyone more than they love their first child, and are curious if they'll love their second child just as well.  Maybe something happens to your brain too, because I think I thought I'd potentially find every moment super overwhelming, but something has shifted in my brain and I recognize, "Okay, this is our status for now, and we're gonna figure this thing out.  I'm not going to NOT be able to handle it, and well, should that actually happen, I have this backup team of support.  (And GOD, but that was sort of a given.)" 

I'm not singing from the rooftops every night, proclaiming my blessings (although, maybe I should - everybody needs a little hope these days), but for all the momentary earthly stresses and hiccups, I could say we could do a LOT worse.  Let that not be an invitation, though!

So, with what little experience I have with two so far, let that either be an encouragement or at least something to chew on for those in that I'm not sure if I want another one boat.  You know who you are.

Moving on, I had a great birthday weekend.
Greg and I rented Midnight in Paris on Friday night and I am not ashamed to say I loved it. It was like  European history meets art class meets travels in Europe meets classic literature.  I was taken back in time and well, the actors did a good job too.

Birthday breakfast companions

Saturday morning, we hit up First Watch for breakfast, and then Greg and I saw Sherlock Holmes 2 while Luke & Al watched the children.  For dinner, we ate Ginger Garlic Chicken, which you should DEFINITELY make, and had Chocolate Cupcakes with frosting.  And then I finished up the night by doing something I never imagined I would do at 29 years of age.  I voluntarily watched about 75% of the Republican Presidential Candidate debate.  Who.Am.I???

Sunday night, Luke & Allison had us over for dinner where we ate another amazing meal, and were showered with some gifts.  All in all, it was a great birthday weekend.  I hardly feel 29, but I do feel blessed!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bring it on, 2012!

Happy New Year! I'll save you the trouble of hearing, "I can't believe 2011 is already over" and just get on with it. We had some great holiday times. And...I can't believe they're over!  (Yikes, I just said it again.)

Somehow, we managed to get Christmas taken care of even if we did it all by ourselves--with a two and a half year old and a newborn. There were a few chaotic moments, but thanks to online shopping, baby carriers, and understanding spouses, we got the job done.  

Shopping at the mall 3 days before Christmas - crazy but driven!

Gabe's 1st Christmas (Eve)
[gluten-free] Fettuccine Alfredo - a new Christmas Eve tradition?

Mia got a massive dollhouse from Santa.  Greg & I ordered a dollhouse off the internet the week before Christmas for a better deal than we found on Craigslist for used dollhouses and with free shipping before the holiday, but when it arrived we were flabbergasted at its size.


We almost wondered if it should have been returned for something smaller or if we should have saved it, but it was our "BIG" gift (literally) so we wanted to try it out. We figured if it didn't work, maybe she'd forget about it and we could swap it out.  Fortunately, it found a home (no pun intended) in Mia's room.

If it fits, it [doesn't get shipped back]!
We technically celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve since Sundays are already so chaotic with church services but we still stayed in the holiday spirit throughout the weekend. It was like one big long celebration.


Gabe & Mia on Christmas Day

Greg had the whole week and we all enjoyed having him around -- Mia especially.  We had our actual Christmas dinner on Monday. There were just too many presents to open (all our out of town family sent their presents in the mail so we had an opening fest nearly all day Saturday), too much going on Sunday, so pushed that back to Monday night.

We had beef tenderloin steaks, Pioneer Woman's Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin, Ginger-glazed carrots, and Flourless Chocolate Cake for dessert.  It was a similar menu to last year but scaled down just a tad because it was just the four of us.

Making the dinner, however, was a bit of a mess.  I started on the potatoes first and put them in the oven at a toasty 400°F.  Unfortunately, as soon as the dish was put in the oven, even though it was covered by foil, some of the cheesy cream mixture spilled over the side onto the bottom of the oven floor.  A few minutes later, all the smoke alarms in the house went off because the spill was smoking the oven.  And the alarms continued for the next couple of hours as I still had almost every other entree item to cook in the oven (minus the steaks).  Boo!!  It woke Mia up, but Gabe slept through the whole thing. We had to air out the house, which meant opening up all the doors and letting our neighbors know how awesome I am at using the oven.  OOPS. #fail


New Year's Eve we celebrated with family friends.  We technically didn't ring in the new year at midnight; all of us with kids left the party by 8 or 8:30, and all of us were in bed by 10:45 or earlier.  I'm not so much interested in staying up late anymore these days...


Now that the holidays are over it's back to getting into some kind of routine and keeping things moving.  
I sincerely hope I can keep the blog updated more regularly--at least better than I did the last couple months of 2011. And I DO have the birth story part II written and ready to post, if I can get myself to push the "Publish" button.  Once it's out there, it's out there.  

Gabe's been a dream baby though as far as all things baby go.  Some of the things that are different about him are just temperament-related; he's pretty chill. And some of the other things are purposeful parenting, or just being more chillaxed about everything in general.  He's still pretty go-with-the-flow so I intend to enjoy that as long as it lasts although before I know it, he'll probably be requiring a bit more structure in his schedule. He may already feel some structure though since Mia has a schedule of her own.  We'll see what happens.  

Coming up soon: cloth diapers on a newborn, the birth story, and maybe some new meal plans?  That's a wrap for now!

LOVE this picture...