Friday, September 30, 2011

Traveling with Baby

Don't worry.  He didn't ride in the trunk!
Did you think I'd decided to take a permanent vacation?  I didn't really intend to take such a long blog break, but it was good for me... Our beach trip was wonderful, but travelling with a baby is NO JOKE.  It has taken me the last three days just to recover and feel like my life is somewhat back to normal; plus, I go back to work in FIVE days, so it was nice to just soak up some lazy time at home with my boy.

Anyway, Erin at Blue-Eyed Bride posted a "What to Pack" list for traveling with a baby today, so I thought I'd share my list too.  I know several of you commented that you were planning trips with babies soon, so hopefully this will help.

Here's what I packed for Sam's five day beach trip:
Note: Pumpkin is just fall decor... It did NOT go to the beach! ;)
Pack n' Play and sheet
Sound Machine/ Digital Clock
Night Light
Snap & Go Stroller
Stroller Sun & Bug Cover
Portable Beach Bed
Bottles
Bottle Warmer
Dishwasher Basket (didn't use)
Large changing pad
BIG box of diapers
2 packages of wipes (too many)
Sleep Sack/ Swaddle Wrap
3 Blankets
Video Monitor
5 Pajamas
8 Onesies (too many)
3 "Outfits"
1 Hat
Lotion, Bath Stuff, Diaper Cream, etc. (bathed in sink)
3 Burp Cloths
Pacifiers
1 Book
Pump & Parts
Baby Bjorn (didn't use)
Activity Mat (didn't use)
Thermometer (DID use - I'd also recommend baby Tylenol)
Diaper Bag
Car Seat (obviously)

A few other comments...

- The sun is SERIOUS. I might write more about this later, but Sam still managed to get sunburned despite all the protective measures we took.  Please learn from my mistake and go WAY overboard when it comes to sun protection.  (If you have something negative to say about the dangers of sunburns on itty bitty babies, please keep it to yourself... Trust me, I've beat myself up enough.  He survived, and we learned.)

- On our second to last morning, Sam spray-pooped (there is no other way to describe it) ALL over the bedroom of our friend's beautiful brand-spankin-new house.  We were mortified to say the least.  Thankfully, we were able to get everything completely cleaned up (thanks to OxyClean - on the carpet - of all things), but I'd travel with carpet cleaner and a TARP next time.  ;)

- Plan for an EXTRA-long car trip.  Sam was an angel in the car (truly), but we still had to stop every three hours or so for about an hour to feed, change, etc.  It made a normally seven hour car trip closer to ten.  Jeff and I love being in the car together, and always allow for a leisurely trip; but it is worth nothing that our days of "hurrying" anywhere are over.

- As mama marchand warned me, this vacation was completely different from every other vacation I've ever taken.  I LOVED having Sam along and getting to celebrate my mom's *30th* birthday with her; but it definitely required a lot more flexibility and planning (total oxymoron, but there is no other way to put it) on everyone's part.  At times, I felt like I was the oldest woman - sitting under an umbrella, going to bed early, etc. etc. - and my mom and her friends were spring chickens!!  BUT... I wouldn't have had it any other way.  Our trip was a nice (and much-needed) break from housework and busyness.  Plus, I loved the quality time with Jeff, my parents, and our dear friends the Thompsons.  Oh, and the beach was BEAUTIFUL too.  I'm not exactly rested from the trip, but I am refreshed. 

Traveling with a baby: Harder?  Yes.  But, better? SO much. :)

Approximately three minutes later it POURED down rain. 

P.S. My mom took lots more pictures that I need to get from her camera.  Keeping up with our big camera bag just wasn't a priority most days.  Hopefully, I'll post more photos soon!

P.S.S. Did you know that both traveling and travelling are considered the correct spelling?  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BRB

Source
Ya'll, in approximately six hours, I'm going on vacation... with a TEN WEEK OLD!  Ahh!  Right now, I have two loads of laundry going (so Sam doesn't have to be naked the whole time), a FILTHY house, and not a single thing in a suitcase.  Awesome. What has happened to me?

I am SO excited to get out of town for a few days before I go back to work (two weeks from today), but it is s.t.r.e.s.s.f.u.l. traveling with a baby on board - I'm already a bit crazy and we haven't even left yet.

So, why am I blogging when I have ten million other things to do?  Just to let you know that I'm not going to be blogging for a few days.  Weird, right?  But don't worry, I'll BRB (that means "be right back" in case you aren't up on text lingo), and I've got lots of fun stuff coming up for ya - including, I'm sure, tips on traveling with a new baby (or a list of what NOT to do).

See you on the flip side (aka Monday)!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tips for Visiting a New Mom

A close girlfriend in town had a baby last week; and as I prepared to go meet the little fella, I thought about some of the ways people blessed us after Sam was born...

I've said this about weddings for a long time, but it is totally true about having a baby too - You will see the entire experience completely differently once you've been on the other side of it.  I'm sure every mom is different, but here are some tips for visiting a new mom based on my experience:

 Um... Don't take one of these?  Not that it isn't awesome, but she won't need it.  If she's anything like me, everyone will know she's a new mom by the bags under her eyes and the poop on her shirt. 

1. Call before you stop by.  Actually, a text is even better, because no new mom is just sitting by her phone... This puts the response in her hands and doesn't put her on the spot if she needs to say "no".  Either way, don't just pop in!

2. Offer to wash your hands as soon as you get there.   I don't know why, but I always felt awkward asking people to do this - like I would offend them or something - even though I really did want them to be aware of germs.  Luckily, Jeff was good at asking people for me, but I always appreciated it when people just did it on their own. I still do really. (Also, it's a good idea to be relatively clean for your visit.  Don't come from the gym or doing yard work.)

3. Don't expect to hold the baby; but if mom or dad offers, be sure to give it your full attention.  Even if you are an expert, new parents are nervous so sit down, use both hands, and support their bobble heads.

4. Take a meal.  We were soooo blessed by meals after Sam was born.  There was no way I had time to cook but boy was I a hungry mother! :)  The first few weeks I was all about casseroles and pasta, but  by week three I was really craving fresh vegetables and protein.  One of the very best meals we received was a Cobb salad with everything already cut up and individually packaged - we ate it for days!!  (Also, if at all possible, avoid anything spicy and take food in disposable containers so mom doesn't have to worry about the dishes.)

5. Keep it short.  Unless it is a really close friend or they specifically ask you to stay longer, keep your visit to about 30 minutes max.  Mama's tired!

6. Give Mom privacy when she is breastfeeding.  It is a whole new territory for her.  Use that time to take out the trash for her or see yourself out.

7. Pay attention to the dog - bring him a gift or treat if you can.   I'd imagine this goes for other kids too! 

8. Ask if she need anything and follow through. Some of the most thoughtful things people did for me involved quick texts that read "headed to Babies R Us, need anything?"  Veteran moms also lent me things that I didn't want to "invest" in until I was sure they'd work for us. 

9. If you bring a gift, insist that she NOT write you a thank you note and mean it! (I have a girlfriend who had her biggest postpartum breakdown after her mother-in-law delivered a carload of gifts from her friends.) She probably still will, but at least she knows you "get it."

10. Avoid giving advice unless she asks for it... And even then, tread gently. 

11. Truly excuse her appearance and the shape of the house - and try not to hate her if she really does have it all together. Her day will come. ;)

BONUS: Tell her how great she looks, and that you can't believe how much weight she's lost... Even if it's not true!


I'm NOT speaking directly to ANY of our visitors... About 99% of the time, people were/are WONDERFUL.  Most of the "advice" I'm giving is on things that people DID do for us, that I never would have thought about before having a baby.  FYI.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What Would You Do?

The Situation:
After church today, Jeff and I (with Sam, of course) went to MensWearhouse so that he could get fitted for a tuxedo for his brother's wedding.  When we got there, the "tuxedo fitter" (I don't know what I should call her) was already working with two men, so she asked us to have a seat and wait for a few minutes.  Sam was asleep, and Jeff went to the restroom - so with little else to keep my attention, I took to simply awkwardly staring watching her interact with the two guys before us (like you wouldn't have done the same thing).

She was a cute girl, and I noticed her dress right away because it reminded me of one I have that I haven't pulled out since pregnancy (note to self).  I also noticed - to my horror - that one of the buttons on her dress had come undone right below her belly button (my eye-level) and was gaping open. 

The Internal Dialogue:

I would want someone to tell me if I was exposed.  (Trust me, I think about this a lot... It is frightening being a woman and standing in front of teenagers all day.)

I should probably just mind my own business. 


But, what kind-of woman would I be if I just left her in this shop with all these men and her dress gaping open?


I will embarrass Jeff if I say something.


Jeff wouldn't understand... It's like "woman code."  I have to tell her.


But how???


The Big Mouth:
She motioned to the men to follow her back to the fitting rooms and I saw my opportunity to "save the day" fading... So, with no real planning on my part, I just blurted out: "Ashley, I'm sorry, one of your buttons is unbuttoned on your dress." (Note: I only knew her name because I heard her tell the other men... We did not know each other.)

The Reaction:
I'd imagine she blushed, but I don't know because I couldn't look her in the eye.  But, she looked down at it, said that it "just [wouldn't] stay buttoned" like she knew it was that way all along (which, kind-of made it awkward for both of us), and then walked away saying to the guys - "Well, that was weird."

...And I was the mortified one.

For the next ten minutes, I just sat there sweating and re-playing the scene in my mind.

In my defense, I really had her best intentions in mind.  I genuinely tried to be discreet (although I don't think I was successful in this because I panicked) and kind.  I truly would have wanted someone to tell me - even if it was embarrassing, at least I wouldn't notice it in the bathroom later and wonder how many people had seen my belly all day.

As it turned out, she didn't end up helping us - but a co-worker instead.  Coincidence? Probably not.

When we got in the car, Jeff told me all the things I did wrong... Mainly, "calling her out in front of a bunch of 'dudes.'"

Now we are home, and I feel terrible about it, and I want to know...

What would you do?

Do you tell someone when they have food in their teeth or toilet paper stuck to their shoe?  And, maybe even more importantly, would you want someone to tell YOU if the roles were reversed.

What's done is done now.  I can't change it; and, I'm fairly certain going back in and apologizing would only make matters worse. But, I can learn for next time...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Questions Answered!!

Happy Fall Saturday to you all! It is the perfect day for coffee-drinking, football-watching, blog-reading, chili-cooking, and house-decorating.  Hope you all have a good one!

Recently there have been several random questions in the comment section of my blog, so I thought I'd take some time to answer them today...

Sam's baby book is from Ruby Love Designs on Etsy.

My friend Amanda and her mom gave this to me at my first shower.  I LOVE it.  It is just the right bit of trendy and simple.  Filling it in isn't overwhelming, and I happen to think it is perfect for a little boy because - let's be honest - he probably isn't going to care that much about it when he gets older.  Plus, I use my blog to record all the day-to-day stuff, so I only needed something for the basics.  There are lots of great designs and every "extra page" you can imagine.  

Sam's monthly onesies came from Watch Me Grow on Etsy.

I chose these because I liked that the numbers were sewn on instead of just stickers, and I think they are adorable.  Now that I have a real live baby, I realize that there is a reason so many people use the stickers - not all babies are the same size.  I've been lucky so far with Sam (good ole 50th percentile), but if your baby is a tiny bit big or small these wouldn't work well.  I would imagine the seller would customize if you waited to order until after the baby is born and you have an idea of his/her size - but I don't know for sure.

Sam's birth announcement was designed by Lifelines but we had them printed at www.uprinting.com.  I was VERY pleased with the price, quality, and service. We ordered 5x7 Flat Greeting Cards on 14 pt. card stock gloss.  We got 125 cards with a PDF proof, and they came in about three business days for a total of $53.00 dollars (including shipping).  My husband is a "deal hunter" and this seems to be one of the best sites out there for printing.  

My shirt in this post is an oldie from T.J. Maxx.  Thanks for all the compliments on it!  For a second, I felt like one of those fashion bloggers that has to put captions under her photos telling where every sock, earring, etc. comes from.  Loved.it.

I think that about does it.  If I missed your question, feel free to email me at e@emyselfandi.com. 

By the way, NONE of these companies gave me anything to recommend them - I like them and am happy to pass on good businesses.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Day in the Life

I've been wanting to do one of these posts for a while, one because "all the cool kids [in the blog world] are doing i"; and two because I'm going back to work soon and I want to remember these sweet days home with my boy.  Then, Baby Rabies (one of my new favorite blogs) posted a link-up yesterday with this same title... It was destiny!

Jeff has been out of town and I wanted the day to be as "ordinary" as possible so I could capture all the little moments that come and go so fast these days, SO I waited until Thursday to record my day. THANK GOODNESS I did.  Sam was a little angel! It was one of those days that went just the way I would have planned it... Glorious!  Rest assured that if I had chosen Wednesday instead, you would have only gotten pictures of a crying baby and me pulling my hair out! ;)

Anyways, here goes... A Day in the Life

(Thursday, September 15th, 2011 - Sam at 9 Weeks)

6:00AM - Sam wakes up for a quick feed and diaper change. 


*I should note that he slept EIGHT hours for the first time ever the night before!!  Hallelujah!  Also worth noting:  His DAD, on the other hand, was apparently bitten by a spider during the night so we still were up at 3AM.  Go figure!

6:30AM - 10AM - Sam snuggles with Jeff in bed while I make coffee, pump, blog, etc.  When Jeff gets ready for work around 8, I get back in bed and "nap" with Sam.  I try to get up by 9 to feed him; but on this particular morning, we just felt like sleeping in. I'm so glad we have a baby that likes to snooze and snuggle as much as we do!

10:00AM - Sam eats breakfast while we watch Kathi Lee and Hoda on NBC.  (I love this show because they drink wine at 10AM.  You can't beat it.)  Then, he has some play time in his crib while I take a shower, etc.


We had to do  a few scenery changes; but, for the most part, he was happy and content! (Please excuse the purple Elephant... It wasn't really as bad as it looks.)

11:15AM - I put Sam in his swing (which he usually hates) so that I could get the stroller together for a walk, AND he fell asleep! Normally we walk with friends around now, but today we didn't any specific plans so... Who am I to stop a man from his morning nap?


While he slept, I pumped again, caught up on emails and blog reading, and... he was awake 30 minutes later! (So long "To Do" list!)

12:00PM - Feeding & tummy time.  I even captured this roll - riveting, I know.


1:00PM - Jeff comes home for lunch.  While I make PBJs, Sam & dad hang out.


2:00PM - Sam naps for a little bit in his pack n' play while Addy and I work on his Baby Book.  (Don't be fooled into believing I do this every day... I am WAY behind and just happened to think of it today because I wanted to mark that he slept through the night; plus it was the perfect procrastination for laundry.)  He was awake and hungry by 2:45.


3:00PM - Our friends Megan and Adam stop by to show off their brand new baby Noah.  I was so excited to meet him that I completely forgot to take a picture.  Ugg.

4:30PM - We meet Kathryn at Target to check out the new Missoni line.  Kathryn is grumpy when we get there because they only have kids stuff and lingerie left - she leaves.  Sam and I wander aimlessly for a bit, and I convince myself that going back to work will be "fun" because I will wear cute clothes. He loves Target.

Bangs + Humidity = Hideous
6:00 - 8:00PM - Jeff comes home from work.  More feeding for Sam, then he catnaps in the kitchen while we make dinner - Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti (very good).  Daniel stops by just in time to hold Sam so we can eat.


8:30 - 9:30PM Sam's bath, book, and bottle.  I'm not going to lie, we are VERY lax about his nighttime routine right now... This happened to be a good night.  One thing we do try to do every night is have Jeff give him his bedtime bottle (this is pumped milk from the morning) and rock him to sleep.  We got this idea from Moms on Call and it works nicely for us.  It is a good time for the boys to bond while I clean up from dinner, straighten the house, and have a little alone time before bed.


10:00PM - All three of us are tucked in bed for the night.  (Because, you know, twelve hours of awake time is way too much for me.)  Sometimes Jeff and I will stay up for a bit and watch TV etc., but most nights we go to bed pretty much when Sam does.  If there's one thing we've gotten down about this parenting thing it is the "sleep when the baby sleeps" part.  We are big fans of sleep.


So, that's our day.  If you are still reading the monstrosity of a post, thanks for humoring me. On a TRULY perfect day, I would have also had a good quiet time, exercised (still haven't started the 30 Day Shred I planned to start on 9/1), and maybe taught Sam something like reading or math... But, this was pretty darn close! :)


Oh, and in case you were wondering, that "sleeping through the night" thing... He DID IT AGAIN last night!

Three Bible Studies That Have Changed My Life

Today's "Show Us Your Life" at Kelly's Korner is about favorite Bible Studies or Devotionals.  I admit that I haven't been nearly as committed to Bible study as I'd like to be since Sam was born (or even before that, really), but I wanted to jump in and share three books that have particularly influenced me during three very different seasons of my life:

First, Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall & Debbie Jones.
This book is probably super out-dated now, but I read it my Junior year in high school after my first heartbreak. It really spoke to me a lot about guarding my heart and making sure it belonged to the Lord FIRST.  I have given this book/ recommended it to more young woman than I can list.  If you are in a season of waiting for the Lord to provide a husband (or even a boyfriend - which sounds ridiculous to me now, but it was my reality when I first read this), it is a great study.  

Next, Captivating by Jon and Stasi Eldredge
I'm guessing that this one is going to show up on lots of lists today... It is a BEAUTIFUL book about the heart and soul of a woman.  I first read this in college when Jeff and I were dating and talking about/ I-was-waiting-anxiously-for marriage.  I'm not sure any book has ever spoken so directly to my spirit.  I still think about this book ALL the time when it comes to understanding how I am made and how that influences my relationships, etc.  I've read it more than once and recommended it to me many girlfriends.

And, So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore.
I am actually reading this book right now (also one that I'm sure will pop up a lot today) and really loving it for this season of my life as a new mom etc.  Motherhood, like most other big milestones in life, has really revealed some of my biggest insecurities and the lies I believe about myself.  Beth Moore has an incredible way of being wise and powerful in her words, but also ordinary and gentle.  For me, now is the perfect time to read this book; but, it would speak to women in many different stages of life. 

That does it for me - although there are LOTS more books I could recommend if I wanted to keep going.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what other women have shared at Kelly's Korner today.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Easy Canvas Prints & September Sponsors

Way back B.S. (before Sam), the awesome folks at Easy Canvas Prints contacted me about doing a review on this here blog.  Even though he was just the size of a head of cabbage (or somewhere around there) then, I knew only a picture of our boy would do... So, they waited patiently until I had just right the photo for canvasing (is that a word?). As soon as I saw this one from our photo shoot with Howard, I knew it was the one.


Working with Easy Prints was - you guessed it - easy. Not only that, but it was fun too!  Their website is set-up so that you can make all kinds of decisions to perfectly personalize your canvas.  They have five sizes to choose from, or you can customize it to exactly the size you want. Then, you select your wrap thickness, upload your photo, choose a border, do optional color finishing and retouching, and preview your image.  Ordering was simple, and it arrived at my front door ready to display in less than a week.  

The best part? Prices start at just $29.99 and, for a limited time, they are offering a 25% discount and free shipping on ALL purchases - you can't beat it! 


I went with an 8x10 and the image wrap - see how the picture continues onto the sides?  I honestly LOVE it!!  It is the perfect addition to a gallery wall to spice things up a bit and add some eye-catching three dimensional elements.
photos on canvas

Even though I got this print for free, I'm definitely going to order more from Easy Prints.  I can't recommend them enough - and you know I wouldn't lead you astray!! :)


Also... 

Just a reminder to check out my other sweet September sponsors: Stella Jewelry and Stella & Dot.

You know how I feel about Stella Jewelry, and Stella & Dot just released a new line of handbags that I'm obsessed with!  :) 



And finally....

Sam's birth story is posted over at Spearmint Baby today.  Go show some love! 


That's all folks!  Have a good Thursday!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

2 Months!

Sam is two months old!! People still comment about how little he is when we are out; but, when I look at him these days, I feel like he is SO big and grown-up.  I honestly don't know how I'm going to handle it when he really is a big boy... These newborn days - as hard as they can be sometimes - go sooo fast.


Month two has been really good.  I am more confident as a mom.  I know my boy.  He is feeling better, is a little more "scheduled," and seems much happier.  We are a pair.


Size - 11 pounds, 8 ounces; 22 1/2 inches long; 15 1/2 inch head (still in the 50th percentile across the board). He outgrew the little newborn insert in his car seat last week, so he's looking like a big guy in his "Snugride."  He is also wearing size one diapers exclusively, and 3 month outfits.  I have packed up all the newborn and some of the 0-3 month clothes now... It made me sad to think that I couldn't just pull them out for him to wear next summer like I do my own clothes at the end of every season.)

With Dr. Beazley - who was also my pediatrician - at his two month appointment.
Development - This month has been big in terms of development.  Sam can hold his head up for about 30 seconds, sometimes longer.  When he feels like it, he can hold his entire upper body up during Tummy Time and has rolled from his stomach to his back about five or six times.  When we hold him, he feels SO strong - sometimes like he is going to arch and push right out of our arms.  He is also much more alert and makes lots of fun not-crying noises now.  Plus, we LOVE those smiles!

Personality - We are still figuring this out.  Sometimes our guy looks like this - happy as a clam:
And a moment later he looks like this - mad as a hornet:

Haha!  Overall, I love seeing our little fiesty guy's personality develop more and more.  He can definitely scream and make me crazy, but he also giggles and smiles and laughs until we both are glowing. He is particular about the way he likes things; but, I would expect nothing less from him.  I think he gets his "spunk" from me. It will serve him well one day. :)

Eating - Every day is a little different in this area.  For the most part, Sam has worked out his own three-hour feeding schedule that seems to be working well for him.  For a couple of weeks, I was almost exclusively pumping because his nursing sessions were so short and difficult; and, his gas seemed to be better with a bottle.  BUT, now we are doing about half and half, and I think we both are happy with that  until I go back to work. (When he does eat from a bottle, it's about 4 oz. and close to 6 at bedtime.)

Sleeping - Sam isn't quite sleeping "through the night," but he is pretty darn close.  After we made a few changes to his nighttime routine around five weeks, he has been pretty consistently sleeping 5 - 6 hour stretches at night (and sometimes 7).  At least as long as I'm not having to get up for work, I actually kind-of like our very early morning feedings - it is a sweet quiet time with my boy.  Most nights he sleeps from 10ish to 4ish and then back to sleep for a couple more hours after that.  During the day, his naps are hit or miss.  Some days he does great and has these glorious two hour naps in his own bed.  Other days, he only wants to be held and cuddled to sleep in short little spurts.  I'm a little worried about these sleeping habits when he starts with the babysitter next month, but I'm hoping he will work it out for himself without too much "training" from me.  Wishful thinking?  We'll see.

Likes/Dislikes - Sam LOVES his daddy - no one quite gets smiles like he does!  He still loves the outside - in fact, I've discovered that outdoor dining is the key to my social life these days!  He's also starting to show more interest in some of his toys, and he REALLY likes his elephant Wubbanub.  (We NEVER leave home  - or even a room - without it.)  He likes riding in the car and strolling, and he still loves bath time. He also really likes having his diaper changed - that's when we get the most smiles - but NOT having his clothes changed.


Jeff says he also likes Hokie football, but that's only because he hasn't seen the Tigers play yet! ;)


P.S. Is it bad that I'm still wearing maternity jeans?  I absolutely cannot bring myself to switch back - they are SO cozy and prevent a serious muffin top.  Be honest!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Other Side

I don't think I believe in letting an eight week old cry-it-out (today), but sometimes you just have to take a shower... 

I put him on his back in his crib like the books say I should, at least he will be safe here.  I pull out toys - ridiculous because he has never once shown any interest - and his stuffed purple elephant.  I turn on the canned music from his sound machine, and I say a quiet prayer.

There is a few second reprieve when I lay him down - the change of scenery, the light coming in through the plantation blinds.  But, like clockwork, they come again.  He screams out, and then it is full on.  I walk away, but I know the tears are there.

In the shower, I let the water drown out the crying.  I relax, if only for five minutes.  

As I do my final rinse, my body tightens, and I prepare myself for the race - the inevitable ten minute dash from toothbrush to blow dryer to closet while my heart races at the shrieking baby in my background.

I turn the knob and wait for it... But I find silence instead.  Towel-drying, I fight the urge to peek... Surely he has cried his little body to sleep.  The risk is too great, the possibility of five more minutes - too enticing.

Then, I hear it.... 

Only it's not the scream I've grown accustomed to - but a coo, a gurgle, like a morning chat with himself.

Around the door frame, I see him then - smiling, talking, staring at his purple elephant - and now I'm the one in tears.

I don't know if we are all-the-way there just yet; but I saw it that morning - the other side - and it is beautiful.

  

I'm linking this post over at The Extraordinary Ordinary for the first "Just Write" party.  Go visit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Working Moms (& Winner)

Hi there.  Happy Monday!

We're struggling here... After a lovely weekend, Sam is g-r-u-m-p-y today.  (Ok, ok, I get it... No more Grace's Pizza for mom.  Tear.)  We are doing a lot of bouncing and head rubbing and pj wearing today.  Goodbye productivity - we'll try again tomorrow. :)

Speaking of productivity, have you seen the previews for the new movie I Don't Know How She Does It starring Sarah Jessica Parker?  (I'm feeling a girls night this weekend.)


It seems to be all over the media circuit these days, and it is striking a little too close to home for this new mom... I have only THREE weeks left of maternity leave, then it's back to the grind.  I'm trying to soak up these last weeks; but,  I'm beginning to freak out a little.  I can barely get a single thing done when I'm home all day, much less working full time too...

Here are the five things that are important to me and I'd like to be able to maintain most days once I go back to work:

1. Spend sweet time with my baby boy.
2. Spend quality time with Jeff.
3. Exercise.
4. Cook & eat healthy meals.
5. Keep my house relatively clean and laundry up to date.

Am I crazy?  I don't feel like these goals are unrealistic, but it is honestly SO overwhelming to think about right now.

I really don't know how I'm going to do it; except, I know many of you already do...  It's got to be possible, right?

So, tell me, how DO you do it all?

I'd LOVE some tips and advice - pretty please! :)



And, in other news, congratulations to KittyKerri for winning the Stella Jewelry giveaway!


Thanks to everyone who participated... I loved reading what you love about being a mom - those are things I need to remember on these kinds of days.  :)  (Girl, email me to claim your prize!)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering

Free printable here.

I want to write something deep and meaningful about what I remember from that day ten years ago.  But, the truth is: I remember sitting on a desk in the journalism classroom watching the second tower fall, I remember knowing in my mind how HUGE this was - how America as I knew it would never be the same - but, I really don't remember much more about that day or the broken days that followed.  

I was 17. It was the start of my senior year.  I was worried about who I would go to Homecoming with and whether or not I'd get into college.  

Now, ten years from that day, I'm sad that I didn't "get it."  When we are young, we are SO selfish (heck, I still am.)   But, in the years that have followed, if one word could describe my feelings about September 11th, 2001, it would be UNSELFISH.  So many people gave their lives that day.  So many people - whose lives were FOREVER changed, and not just by tougher security at the airport - were bound together by love and hope.  So many people have devoted the last decade to protecting our country.

Today, I remember. I remember for America.  I remember for New York.   I remember for my precious baby boy who woke up smiling and innocent; but who will study 9-11 in his history classes and grow up with a moment of silence at 8:46AM on this day every year. And I remember for all those people that never got the chance to.




P.S. I forgot to post the Stella giveaway winner yesterday; and it just doesn't seem appropriate today.  So, you get an extra day to enter, and I'll announce tomorrow.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Expectations

Earlier this week I chatted with a girlfriend who is about to have her first baby any day now.  As we sat in her clean house (she joked that she felt like she was preparing for "freaking royalty") and Sam napped in his carseat beside me, I was taken back to the last days of my own pregnancy.  In some ways, that feels like AGES away, but other times - like that afternoon - it feels like mere days ago.  We talked about her plans and philosophies for parenting, and - I kid you not - her responses could have come directly from my mouth two months ago.  

As we talked, my mind jumped back and forth between two places...

On the one hand, I mourned the loss of my own expectations.  As you've probably already figured out from this blog, the first few weeks of parenthood didn't really go the way I had "planned."  It wasn't that they were bad exactly; but, I had done a lot of reading and research and even soul-searching, and I genuinely thought I knew who I would be as a mother.  As it turned out, I had no idea.  Motherhood so far, for me, has been about letting go of a lot (most) of my expectations and re-defining my role as "mom" with a real baby in mind - not just the one I imagined for nine months.  Hearing my girlfriend talk about the things I too believed or wanted to do but just didn't work out made lies like "you failed" or "you can't go back now" whisper at my core.  For a few minutes, it made me doubt some of the decisions I've made and ways I've done things, and wonder if I should have been more disciplined when it came to scheduling, or crying, or sleeping those first few weeks.


On the other hand, I fought the cynic in me that wanted to yell out - "Ha! You just wait! I thought those things too, and they don't work in real life! Parenting is nothing like the books make it seem!" But, the reality is that it might actually go that way for her... She might have a baby that is adaptable and independent right from the start.  Despite what my experience tells me, people use these "techniques" all the time, and things turn out just fine for them... And, I guess, if I'm honest, that kind-of makes me a bitter beaver. I wanted that too; I was no less committed or prepared (heaven knows I prepared), but that wasn't the baby I was given... That was what I wasn't prepared for.


When I got home, because I wanted to torture myself just for the heck of it, I decided to pull out my ole Babywise* book (the one I put away around week three because I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown) to see where we were "supposed" to be.  When I flipped to the Sample Schedule for an eight week old, I realized that Sam's natural day to day routine looks, ironically, almost identical.  It was an "Aha Moment" as Oprah says... There are MANY roads leading to the same place.  My route may look different from other mothers and babies - and really, why would I expect any different? - but the ultimate destination for us all is a healthy, happy baby.  Finally, my heart could rest - at least until the next decision had to be made.

Expectations are a tough monster.  It goes completely against our very human nature to have none (especially during pregnancy - for goodness sake, they call it expecting for a reason!); but, they rarely do us any favors... Do I wish I'd prepared less? No. Do I wish I'd expected less? Absolutely not.

It's a lesson I have to learn over and over and over again... My plans are not God's plans.  God chose SAM for me.  God chose to rock my world a little bit with a baby that cried a lot and wasn't nearly as scheduled and organized as his mother. I am COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the woman I was eight weeks ago; and, somehow, I think I'm still turning out to be a pretty darn good mom - maybe even a better one than my expectations would have allowed me to believe...

*A quick word about Babywise - which, FYI, isn't the only "expectation" I'm talking about, just one of the more tangible ones:  Those of you that warned me to "be careful."  You were right.  I should have taken those words more seriously... It is a dangerous thing to set ALL your sights on one thing. That said, I'm not anti.  I've heard too many success stories to argue for one minute that it doesn't work.  And, I honestly don't think it is "cruel" or "unnatural."  I just think all babies are different.  It didn't work for me this time, maybe it will next time.  I'm glad I know about it... But, I'm also glad I've broadened my horizons a bit.  That's all.

Oh.
And, don't forget to enter my bracelet giveaway here.

L-O-V-E (A Free Printable & A Giveaway)

I've been typing typing these last few days and finally getting some (more recent) thoughts on motherhood into words.  I'm excited to share.

BUT... Until the posts are just right and I pose snap some photos that fit the topics perfectly to go along, I thought I'd leave you with these two treats:

First, this is a printable I found here that I adore. (If you go the website, you can download a larger version ready to print & frame for FREE!)
Really, I should just not write anything and let this sum it all up.  It's beautiful, and SO true.


And then, with that theme in mind, my sweet sponsor Stella Jewelry is giving away one of her very popular love bracelets.


To win, just visit her new website here, and comment below telling me the item you "love."  ;)


For a bonus entry, tell me (in a separate comment) what makes you love motherhood.  I'll announce the winner Saturday morning.

Sam is at Grandma's today, so I'm catching up on cleaning and blogging.  More tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Welcome Fall!

Friends, I LOVE fall.  I'm not even going to lie and pretend like I like summer. Of course, being a teacher, I look forward to the time off, but you can have your frizzy hair, sunburns, and spaghetti straps.  After the worst summer on record - both temperature wise and hot/sweaty/fat wise - I was never so glad to see Labor Day come and mark the end of summer.  

Welcome Fall!

We celebrated by doing absolutely no labor and, instead, staying in our pajamas literally all day, watching movies, eating "chicken in the crock pot," and organizing my life (more on that later).  It was POURING down rain which only made me happier - weird, I know.  I am so glad it's cozy season. :)

Here are a few things I'm looking forward to over the next three months (in no particular order):

Sam's new fall outfits I picked up on Sunday at Baby Gap

I figure this will be the only year I can get away with putting him in sweater leggings - no?

The Clemson vs. Virginia Tech Football Game


Our schools only play each other every four years (or something like that), but when they do it is rivalry at its finest at our house.  So far the Tiger's track record isn't too great, but I'm not giving up hope.  This year we are going to the game with my friend Meg and her husband (I'm stocking up on Clemson fans) and there is a lot at stake... The winner of the game will determine where Sam goes to college.  (P.S. Is a 12 week old too young to go to a football game? I'm being serious.)

The Sinkland Farms Pumpkin Festival


Our friend Lisa's family runs this, and it has become a fall tradition for us.  The farm is beautiful, and I love a good corn maze. ;)

Sweaters

Here's one I'm currently coveting from JCrew - perfect for the aforementioned football game.

Fall weddings

Truth be told, I wish I'd gotten married in the fall; it just isn't very practical for a teacher.  I love all the colors and cute decorating ideas.  This year, we have my cousin Lauren's wedding on October 8th and Jeff's brother's wedding on the 22nd.  I can't wait!

Starbucks Caramel Apple Cider

Source
I realize I'm the only one in the world, but I don't really like Pumpkin Spice.  This, on the other hand, is heaven in my mouth!

Halloween


Halloween is a BIG deal in our neighborhood - our street is even closed down and the neighbors give out hotdogs.  This year, I'm so excited to have a baby to dress up so we aren't just the weird ones with a dog in a too-small pumpkin costume. (Not that Addy won't still be in costume.)

What are you most looking forward to?


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