Monday, September 8, 2014

Real fast x 4

I don't know why the idea of a well thought out blog post seems monumentally overwhelming, but it does. So let's be quick about some things and maybe I'll start blogging more than once a month. Ha.

1. Gardening.
I'm not a gardener. I like to grow things, and I've kept an herb garden for the past few years (minus this year with the move), but I do not itch to get outside in every spare moment I have. Unfortunately, or perhaps not, I bought a house with an acre of overgrown, unkempt land.

This was the view from our front porch. The ivy has been pruned back (it's covering a ugly cinderblock retaining wall), the tree in the center has been pruned, and the large leafy plant that appears to be growing out of the ivy has been pruned back to make it easier to remove completely. The large green tree to the right is still there- it's about as tall as the house and there are many of them! Not sure what to do with that yet.

We clearly have the ability to grow grass... but we also have a nice rocky, 
desert landscape going in that one corner. Nice, huh?

 This would be a lovely close-up of the world's saddest and ugliest pathetic excuse for a fence. I'm not sure what's holding it up (though it's not really that upright at all). The only thing keeping us from tearing this out (yes, Moby can escape from it) is the fact that we saw someone walking *just* behind our fence line the other day. Our fence line sits well within our property line. It was pretty creepy (it's all green space behind us), so despite it's pathetic existence, it gets to hang out just a bit longer until we figure out a plan. And so I can delude myself into a notion of safety.

We've got some amazing trees. We've also seen some awesome backyards in the surrounding area. We have the biggest lot in the neighborhood and have the perk of sitting in the back of a cul-de-sac. I really love what our property could become. Thomas and I always joke that we're going to fall in love with this house and then have to turn right around and sell it.

For now, it's just sort of terrifying-looking.

2. Nap fighting. What is it with tired kids fighting naps? Margaret took three naps a day for the longest time, and we've since moved to two. It means more flexibility in our schedule and I love it. Except for the 20-40 minute period before almost every nap (no exaggeration, I get maybe one to two naps a week where she goes right to sleep). I should be grateful that she sleeps through the night, and doesn't fight going down at night, and I am! But this period of incessant talking, yelling, and uber creepy wall scratching (that last one is the stuff of nightmares) is exhausting too.

I KNOW YOU'RE TIRED. STOP LYING TO ME AND TO YOURSELF, MARGARET.

 cute though...

3. Making friends is hard. I'm set up for failure given my current daily social interaction is a one year-old who says three words and puts most of her possessions in her mouth. It leaves me nervous and feeling like everything out of my mouth sounds weird. The introverted thing isn't helping either. Forced social gatherings aren't my jam either. 5 weeks and counting.

4. So it was upwards of 90 degrees not long ago, and we have no air conditioning. So we bought a ceiling fan. It was 54 degrees last night and it's 64 now. Pacific Northwest, I cannot predict you!!

Off to go check on the nap boycotter.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tiny Little Human, Happy First Birthday


Dear Margaret-

Hey there, Jellybean. It's a week after your first birthday and I'm just sitting down to write this. I can assure you, that is absolutely a testament to how busy you keep me!

You're crawling around like a champ now, getting into anything and everything that interests you. We are living in Washington right now and are doing some home repairs. We widened a wall, but have yet to finish the sheetrock. I am constantly pulling you away from the end of that wall- the rough sheetrock that crumbles between your fingers must have a magnetic pull. On the opposite side of the wall that your crib is on is the couch. It scared the living daylights out of me to hear your fingernails on the wall behind me- you woke up so quietly! I walked in to find that you had been amusing yourself by pulling the outlet covers off the 4 sockets near your crib. Needless to say, my heart flew into my mouth as I pushed your crib to the middle of the room and swiftly ran into the living room to order some more intense wall covers via Amazon. They haven't gotten here yet. Your crib is still in the middle of your room. A sleeping island.

It's hard, little one, to discipline you. You know how to say two words "uh-oh" and "Dada." {People may be surprised to know that "uh-oh" actually came first.} So when you get into something you're not supposed to (frequently), it's generally a game of redirection (an all-day game). You have a few toys you love dearly, but your favorite things to play with (that we actually allow you to play with) are cups, keys, wooden and plastic kitchen utensils, books, and boxes. Pulling out those things are how we redirect you to a more suitable activity.

I wonder how to keep you independent, given that at the moment, you are an only child and have at least another year before some sort of preschool. I love being your constant companion, but I want you to realize that you can be your own companion. But even when I have those thoughts, I realize you're already so good at that. You can keep yourself busy in your crib with board books and soft blocks while I grab a shower. I can keep watch from the kitchen or the couch while you amuse yourself in your toy basket. I wish I could take credit for those things, but you've almost always been quite content to play by yourself. You even play in your crib when you wake up.

Notice I didn't say play quietly, because that isn't a word I'd use all that often to describe you. You have found your voice for sure, keeping up a constant stream of jabber almost all day, narrating your activities to me or to yourself. Going out in public or to church can be interesting, should you feel the need to make some sort of public announcement. "Shhhhh" is totally lost on you. Rarely are you mad, you're just... emphatic. Though if you could pare down the emphatic speeches you give for 45 minutes before naps, that would be stupendous.

Some of your peers started walking long ago, but you are content to wait until you feel the time is right. Just as you did with sitting and crawling, nothing will stop you once you put your mind to it, but nothing can persuade you if you're not ready. I like that about you, little girl. You love to pull up on things, peering to see what might be on a surface that was previously out of reach. I try to make sure that you won't injure yourself terribly or do anything that is inherently dangerous, but you've hit your head a few times. Much as it pains me to see you cry, it's nothing a cuddle and a kiss won't fix. But (lest anyone reading this think me negligent or lazy), after 2 hard falls, you became incredibly careful about pulling up and getting down. I won't let you crawl into the fire place or down the stairs anytime soon, but you know some consequences now, and have adjusted your actions accordingly.

Hey, some adults don't even know how to do that. :)

"...through the eyes of a child..." is one of those oft quoted, almost cliched phrases you'll hear once you grow up. It is true though. Your dad and I remind each other frequently (usually when you become fascinated with some object that is mundane to us), that you're new to this world. Only here a year! I forget that sometimes, tiny human. You're adapting well to this wide world. You might be a little wary if I were to pass you off to someone, but you're quick to smile at anyone in a checkout line. You soften the gruff exteriors of some humans who have been here a much longer time. I hope you continue to carry that with you. It doesn't hurt that you have two tiny bottom teeth, eyes that seem to have turned brown, and a sheepdog look (I swear, we'll go get your fourth haircut soon). The pigtails you've been sporting lately really seem to disarm people. And I feel a little justified when people tell me you're a really, really cute baby. Your personality is only strengthening by the day, and we are excited to see more of it in the coming year. 

Margaret, I love you. (And Dad says he loves you too.) I am so lucky to be your mother. I am truly grateful for the lessons you teach me and the joy you bring me. You are a delight. And a handful. I have no idea how I got so lucky. Coming to see you in your crib when you wake up in the morning makes it *almost* irrelevant that you've been waking up with the sun lately.


Girl, you (and your hair) are the best. I love you.

Happy first birthday.

love, love, all of the love,

Mama

(could you say that for me soon?! I've been waiting.)

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

House Tour: the before

You might think we are, as the kids say these days, cray after you see the photos of the house we just bought. Rest assured, it was the best one that we saw after meeting the following very important criteria:

-not an hour away from Thomas's work
-not in a shady area (there was one house where we refused to get out of the car)
-within our budget
-the walls were not crumbing (seriously)

After that, pickings were slim. But when we walked into this house after a very discouraging first day of house hunting, we felt like this could be the home for us. We closed a few days ago and it already looks like a completely different house. Today I'm only going to show you a few pictures of the house before we got it (no, that's not our stuff) and some empty-house pictures (of course, all taken in a rush as I'm running around). Sorry, all of the good stuff has to wait until tomorrow!!

I'll try to explain the layout a bit so you feel like you know what you're seeing.

 Split-level home - not my favorite, but it's okay. Tile will eventually be replaced with
laminate, and the carpet on the stairs will be replaced with new carpet.

 This fireplace is even bigger than it looks here. Still mulling over
some ideas for it- and how to make it look smaller.

The rest of the living room.

 Hallway- first left is the kitchen, second left is the master, straight ahead is the hall bath, 
Margaret's room on the far right, living room on the right.

Tiny kitchen! It'll almost be a gut, but layout will remain very similar, if not the same.

Kitchen opens to the dining room (ugliest and most dangerous chandelier ever), 
and sliding doors open to the back deck.

Mid-demo- nasty carpet pad that had been laid upside down. :( Master bedroom.

Weird closet situation. Two closets for this tiny room, but a vanity sort of area in between. 
We took the counter and cabinets out already!

Hall bath. The color is green, but the massive trees we have outside reflect
even more green into the master and the hall bath.

Going down the stairs at the entry, you come to our second living space. 
The bifolds go into a closet and the garage door is to the left of that.

That is not my Corona airplane. For reference, window is on the same side of the room as the stairs.

This bizarre set of doors leads to the guest room (left) and the brown bathroom (right).

Really wasn't kidding about the brown. There are 3 shades of brown on the walls and 
brown tile on the floor. A brown toilet, brown sink, and brown shower complete the look.
Pity you can't get the full effect with the shower curtains in the way.

I promise we aren't crazy. We saw lots of potential in this house and are excited to love on it for the next four years. It's already been a lot of work (grateful to have had my family come to town for a few days to help), and it's only just begun. Can't wait to show you some demo and after pictures tomorrow (I'll pull out the real camera tomorrow)! It's already looking like a different house.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Quick Thought

"Gah, he's just acting so Bipolar today! Up one minute, down the next!"
"This popcorn is so addicting. Seriously, I just can't stop."
"I'm just so depressed they canceled that show."

We all do it. I've done it innumerable times. Whatever I'm saying is just a touch more funny or emphatic if I add one of those words.

It's not just that it minimizes my experience with Bipolar disorder. (It does, just a little. Okay, sometimes a lot.) Worse, it minimizes the way we react to those things.

Oh, you're addicted to popcorn? Just stop eating it. Oh you're addicted to drugs? Just stop taking them. Just stop.

Having mood swings? Just think about how other people are feeling and calm down. Being happy is a choice.

Except not, right?

Because it's just not that easy or as simple as we make it seem with our words.

And sure, most people probably don't mean any of it. I'm not on a quest to ban these words from existence, barring diagnostic phrases. I won't hate you or think less of you if you mention someone being "bipolar" in a conversation when they really aren't. And I just wasn't thinking when I said "addict" or "bipolar" or "depressed" either. But when I never think about what an addiction truly is, or what it means to call someone bipolar when they're not, when we are faced with those disorders for real, are we truly prepared for how to deal with them?

{And I do mean deal. Not dismiss.}

Your words have power, sometimes more than you could ever be aware.

Choose them wisely.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Making it through the first months - or how to win at baby showers


Okay, first can we take a moment you gawk at my professional blogging prowess?
Thanks.

I get a lot of questions about what products I use with Margaret. Let's face it, there's a lot of stuff that babies use and the first time I went into Babies R Us to register, I turned right around and walked back out. It's crazy. While I'll be the first to admit that I've never owned a real diaper bag, think a wipe warmer is useless, and my diaper genie is a $10 Ikea pail with a grocery bag in it, there are some handy things that make life easier for new parents. And if you bring any of these things to a baby shower- you're a winner. Everyone else will bring clothes- you'll bring the real goodies.

Every single one of these things is personal. This is just what has worked for us. I'm not going to shame you for using a different car seat, pacifier, or bouncer (how mean do you think I am?).

1. Bright Starts Bouncer- This is basic, but it's got a removable toy bar and a vibration feature. That vibration feature alone is worth the $25. We needed nothing fancy, just a safe place for baby to hang while I grabbed a shower. This stayed in our bathroom until Margaret was 7 or 8 months old. (I found a version of this one at Ross for $18).

2. OXO Perfect Pull Wipes Dispenser- I know some of you are questioning this $20 expenditure, but Thomas and I agree on this one 100%. It has a weighted insert that holds down the wipes so you can pull out just one at a time, one handed (that is SUCH a big deal). Then you just get these dirt cheap refills and stick them in!

3. Gerber Gauze Diapers- Nope, not for cloth diapering. These make the best, most absorbent burp rags out there. Target has the best price (about $15 for 10) on these and get at least 10, but 15+ is good to have, especially when they go through their spit up phases. Too plain? Dyeing them or sewing some fabric on them spiffs them up quickly.

4. Chicco Caddy- Or any simple frame stroller that goes with your infant car seat. Lifesaver. You need to get toilet paper, but the baby just fell asleep in the car? No problem, just click the carseat in the stroller and go. That huge storage basket, 2 cup holders, easy fold, and key box make this one a winner (thanks Ken!). My advice: skip the travel system everyone tells you to buy (heavy!) and skip buying a real stroller. Get this one and a car seat you love- then at 6 months when you've used a stroller and know the important features you want, get an umbrella stroller or a big, full featured one. Take this all with a grain (or a hundred) of salt.

5. Burts Bees Baby Face Wipes- Or Johnson & Johnson makes a similar product. So your baby's umbilical cord is still attached and you're forced to give sponge baths that result in screaming like your sponge is made of knives? No? Just me? Well then, I guess you won't need my advice and these awesome wipes that scrub everything, full head of hair to toe.

6. Itzbeen Timer- Also known as the FLIPPIN' BEST THING EVER. Sorry for the yelling, but I cannot love this thing more. I should have taken it to the hospital- that's how awesome this is. It's not really a timer, more of a stopwatch. You press the button (bottle for nursing/feeding, diaper for changing time, ZZZs for sleep, and the * for whatever- I recommend it for any postpartum meds) when you start feeding or change a diaper. It eliminates the need to store all of that in your really tired brain. It's been 3 hours since the last diaper change? Check that stinker. It even has a little switch at the bottom to tell breast feeding mamas which side they last nursed on. It has a nightlight and a backlight, so you can check it out at 3 am. Breastfeeding or not, this is amazing. Another winner for both me and Thomas.

7. Nuk Orthostar Pacifiers- There are a million out there and it's really more about what your baby will take, but I loooooved these for the simple fact that they were all one piece (100% silicone). No water to get stuck in the various parts. The only downside- I've only ever seen them at Babies R Us and they only seem to exist in 0-6 month sizing (we just switched to another Nuk pacifier when we moved up sizes).

8. Chicco Keyfit30- Love this car seat! It was a gift from a very good friend/coworker of Thomas' and I will be forever grateful (thanks Jasmine!). It's very highly rated and installation is a dream. If you are a one carseat family, like us, you'll appreciate how easy it is to get the base installed (2 minutes, really) and just click the seat in. It's also very easy to fly with and install in a car without the base. It's a little more expensive than a Graco SnugRide, but for us, the installation was a big selling point (of course, in addition to how safe it is).

9. Aquaphor- This stuff is a favorite of my mom and my late Aunt Tina, so naturally, my uncle got us 2 huge jars for Margaret (best gift ever, Uncle Tim, thank you!). We use it as a diaper ointment almost every change, only using a little zinc oxide ointment if she's starting to show a little redness. This also works great for dry and chapped skin. A little goes a long way- it took us 8 months to get through our first big jar. Also comes in tubes for your diaper bag.

I just listed 9 things, but just thought of at least 7 more while doing it! So prepare yourself for another awesome round of How to Win at Baby Showers coming soon.

*A note about pricing. Baby stuff can be wicked expensive. Stock up on 20% coupons at Babies R Us, and price check wherever you are. Car seats go on sale eventually, lots of daily use items can be bought via Amazon's subscribe and save feature. Places like target.com and diapers.com also offer subscription features for things like diapers, ointment, and baby wash. Update: Zulily! This week is baby week and I've heard there are going to be some pretty amazing deals on Chicco car seats and more! Hurry!

Stock photos from Amazon

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Friday, June 20, 2014

On Moving

 Green below, gray skies above. Coolest little random park off the highway.

You know what stinks? Moving. The packing, the cleaning, the goodbyes. But you know what I love? That in recounting any bit of my crazy, fast, and always-drawing-the-short-end-of-the-stick move to my military or military spouse friends, I always get a "dang, that does suck" instead of a "whelp, this is what we signed up for!" Signing up for things may mean that Thomas knows the gist of what's going to happen. Marrying Thomas means that I'm along for the ride. But it doesn't make it any easier, you know? And I know that it's really okay to be frustrated about what's going on.

We are under contract for a house, and we are very grateful. But nope, I won't be sharing any pictures because the deal is far from done. When it is, I'll blow your mind with photos of this swank 80's masterpiece (he he). So we are 3,000 miles away, trying to read inspection reports and make very big, very expensive decisions from afar.


Backing up, a bit: we spent a week out in Washington last week (see above). We flew out at the last minute, and went on a whirlwind of a tour of the area we will be living in. We looked at well over 15 homes in 36 hours and made a decision the next day. We spent a few days signing contracts and finalizing some things before catching a red-eye and flying back to our baby girl. Then my milk stopped flowing.

I know, you're thinking Hold up. What? To make a long story short (and I may write about this later): Margaret had an epic slumber party with the grandparents while we were gone. I hauled 2 (!!) breast pumps out to Washington to keep my milk supply up - pumping in airports, parking lots, and hotels (bless the women who do that daily- I am beyond impressed). But despite all of that work, I came back home with major supply issues. I'm probably producing about 40% of what I was. Maybe even less. I can only feed Margaret in the morning and maybe at night. After going strong for ten months, it is incredibly disheartening and sad. It makes me cry. It has nothing to do with formula (which, praise be, she has taken to with few issues). It has everything to do with not ending this on my terms or Margaret's terms. As far as increasing my supply- I try to let Margaret nurse as much as I can, I started drinking mother's milk tea, and am praying hard. It's just not as flexible as it once was.

Summertime is a huge military moving season, so our move date has gotten pushed further back than we would like. We are still trying to figure out the best way to handle everything. We wanted to avoid moving ourselves, but we will have to see what happens. I don't like to speak ill of the Navy/my husband's employer, but suffice it to say that things are and have been rough for the past month. Certain things have not been handled properly and we are suffering as a result. That's all I will say.

That being said, it will be okay. People have done moves on shorter notice and a further distance, and we will handle this one just fine. Maybe not with the grace I would like to have all the time, but most of the time, that's what I'm going for. We will be fine. We are stressed and short-tempered and tired and over-worked and beat but we will be fine.

I know. I took a picture of my food. Know that it pained me to do so.
Also know that it was insanely freakin' good. (@Matt's in the Market)

In good news, we might have just the teeny, tiniest, littlest bit of excitement about moving out to the Pacific Northwest in a few weeks. It is insanely beautiful out there and everyone we met was just so kind and friendly. Thomas did try to order sweet tea the first day (didn't pan out so well), and there's no Chick-fil-a, but the seafood is pretty spectacular and we can make our own tea.

Look at me, being all optimistic.

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