Monday, November 28, 2011

Parental Leave is OVER!

Last Friday, Dan officially went back to work. (Yes, I have been incredibly spoiled by having my husband home for 6 weeks of paid parental leave. It pays to work for the state.) I have been simultaneously looking forward to and dreading this event. I wanted him to go, because I craved the routine that him working provides. I am a Type A personality, and I need to have things orderly and scheduled. That's impossible when you have another adult under foot all the time. But I also dreaded it because, as much as I've complained (and complained, and complained) about having him home, I have depended on him a lot. It's very helpful to have a 1/1 ratio of adults to children. I was able to do things with one child and know that the other was being entertained or at least kept an eye on. I guess that, even though my pre-babies career involved caring for multiple children at a time, often by myself, I was nervous about being alone with my own two all day long.

It turns out that all of my worrying was for nothing though, because Friday was a perfect day. Stephanie was more well behaved than she has been since we brought the baby home. (I think she might take after me a little, and crave routine.) She entertained herself while I fed Joseph, went right to sleep for her nap, and was cheerful and helpful all day long. Joseph didn't nap, and wanted to be held a lot, but he did allow me to put him in his swing or vibrating chair for a few minutes at a time so I could pick up toys, wash dishes, and prepare bottles. We spent the afternoon going for a long walk in the double stroller, and playing on the quadrangle of the University where we live. I took beautiful pictures of Stephanie running through the leaves, giggling uncontrollably. Joseph napped in the stroller the entire time. It was one of those picture-perfect days, and I felt an empowering sense of "I can do this!"

I know that not every day will be perfect. There will be days of illness, tantrums, rainy or snowy days stuck inside, days where I get nothing done and get frustrated/annoyed with one or both children. But Friday wasn't one of those days. And while i'm sure you'll be hearing about it when one of those days does occur, for now I'm happy and content with the fact that we not only survived our first day alone, but actually enjoyed it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Another Thanksgiving List

Ok, it's Thanksgiving morning. Happy turkey day everyone! Yesterday I wrote a "serious" blog post about the holiday, where I listed four of my blessings that I am really truly thankful for. As I sit here at 6:30am, listening to Joseph shuffle and snort in his swing (and cross my fingers that he stays sleeping long enough for me to finish my cup of coffee) I thought it might be a good time to list some of the small, sort of insignificant things that i'm thankful for.As you read this list, keep in mind that, while they may seem insignificant on the surface, they are actually very, very important for my well-being and sanity!

-My smartphone. I very rarely have time to use the computer anymore, so I depend on my phone to keep up with my email/social-media/blog addictions. Plus to check the weather, the news...anything I can do one-handed while holding a newborn in the middle of the night.

-TV. I watch a lot of it in the middle of the night, to keep myself awake during the epic feedings.

-My keurig. I can get a delicious, hot cup of coffee in about 5 seconds, which makes all the difference to me as I stumble into the kitchen at the crack of dawn.

-My microwave. Without it, I would be forever forced to drink luke-warm coffee, since it rarely stays hot long enough for me to drink it the first time around.

-Dunkin Donuts. Yes I have a keurig, and yes I brew Dunkin K-cups. But there is something about having someone else make and prepare it. It makes me feel pampered, and like i'm treating myself to something whenever I buy a coffee. And I swear, it just doesn't taste quite the same when it's homemade.

-The dust-buster. I hate mess, especially crumbs, which are par for the course when you have a toddler. These days, pulling the vacuum out every day seems like much too much of an effort (I save that for my once-a-week cleaning binges) so I depend on this little device to eliminate the many, many crumbs that fall to the floor after every meal and snack.

-Wine. Some nights I just need a glass to decompress.

-Friends (the show, not the real life kind. Although I'm very thankful for them too, of course.) No other show has the ability to make me laugh as hard as this one. And when i'm knee-deep in baby spit up, and listening to both of my children scream at the top of their lungs, a little Friends can go a long way.

-Chocolate. Similar to wine, it helps me decompress after a long day.

-Christmas music. It brings a smile to my face, and a warm feeling to my heart. The Christmas season evokes such happiness that anytime I feel down, I just play some seasonal music and everything seems better.

-Showering. There's the obvious things about taking a shower...feeling clean, refreshed, etc. But for me, the shower is the one and only place where I can be alone. (I don't even always get that benefit when i'm going to the bathroom. Stephanie is typically my constant companion.) Seriously, there are days when that 5 minutes in the shower really is the only time i'm by myself.

-Super Why. And Elmo, and Baby Einstein and Calliou. When Stephanie is deep in the throes of a toddler tantrum, I resort to one of these DVDs. (And ok, sometimes I also put them on when I want a few minutes of not having her underfoot. Like if I need to cook or feed the baby.)

So, there you have it. My list of things that I would be lost without. Small things? Sure. But things that really do make such a difference. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for this year that it would take entirely too long to list it all. So here are four of the most important blessings in my life that I am so grateful for:

-My family. I have two healthy, beautiful children, and an amazing husband. I thank God every day for them, especially because so many families are torn apart by disease, divorce, heartbreak, and the economy. But we are all healthy, my husband has a great job, and I am able to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a stay-at-home mom.

-The fact that we have a roof over our heads and food on our  table. I know that I do a lot of complaining when it comes to our small apartment, but there are families who don't know where they will sleep tonight. I never ever have to worry about whether I have food to put in my baby's bellies,or clothes on their backs. These basic necessities are things that many, many people in this country lack, so tomorrow I will say an extra prayer of Thanksgiving for the things that we are able to provide for our family.

-My friends. I have a few close friends who are there for me through thick and thin. We have been through so much together, and they know me inside and out. (And love me anyway!) They are the ones that I can call, text, or email at any time of day or night and know they will be there. I also many mommy friends that I can commiserate with and feel not so alone in this parenting journey. I have blogger friends that I might not know in real life, but that can make me feel better about any situation by a tweet or a comment on Facebook or my blog. I also have my mom and my sisters, who have become three of my closest friends. Not everyone is as blessed with such an amazing support system, and I truly appreciate that I have so many people in my life that I can turn to.

-Our extended family. Dan and I have parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins that we are close to and are always there for us. It make me feel safe and secure to know that my children have so many other adults in their life who love them.

Tomorrow on Thanksgiving day, as we gather around a plentiful table and talk about the things we are  thankful for, I will make sure to pause and really appreciate the bountiful life that I lead. I never want to take for granted the blessings in my life, and Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to stop and recognize all that we have. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, full of family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving readers!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Poor, Neglected Blog

I feel so behind on my blogging. I have a post that I've started, but it needs more thought and some revisions, and honestly...I don't have the brain power to work on it right now. Usually when that happens, I just let it sit in my drafts for a few days until I can really put time and effort into it, and in the meantime I'll write other, quicker posts. But, as you know, that hasn't happened this time. The following is a list of some of the things I've been doing instead.

-I've been getting a lot of Christmas shopping done, and spend a lot of time making lists, checking them twice (haha) and organizing the things I have. My plan is to finish one person, and wrap all of his/her gifts at once, and then bag them up according to family, and then when i'll be distributing them. (So for example, my sister, her husband, and her daughter's gifts will go in one bag, and since we'll be exchanging with them at the same time as my parents and other sister, each of their gifts will go in the same bag.) This will hopefully prevent me from either losing presents or forgetting to get/wrap something for someone. (I don't know if what I just wrote makes sense to anyone reading it, but in my head it works so just bear with me.)

-Since my children will be getting new gifts soon, i'm working on cleaning things out around the house. (Toys, clothes, other random junk that just piles up.) I have several bags to bring to the consignment shop, and several to donate.

-Joseph's Baptism is December 4th, so i'm semi-working on the celebration we're having afterwards. (I really need to do more for it, like buy supplies and work on favors. Instead, I've pretty much just been making lists of all the things I need to do.)

-I have not gotten more than 2 or 3 hours of sleep at a time, and while this isn't really bothering me, I just don't quite have the brain power to focus on writing. My brain feels sort of mushy. I know this isn't necessarily something I've been doing, but it is a reason for not writing.

-Joseph eats every 3 hours, and between feeding, burping, and changing, the process lasts an hour. That means I only have two hours between each feeding to get housework done and spend time with Stephanie. And somehow with two kids now, the house always seems to need cleaning, and there are mountains of laundry.

So, to sum up...I'm upset that I have not found time to focus on my blog, and because it really bothers me I felt like I needed to write an "i'm feeling sorry for myself" post, where I try to justify why that is. I know these are all just excuses, and that I could find time to squeeze in the writing, but other "stuff" gets in the way. It's my own fault, and if I really want to write, I need to just do it. I can't guarantee that will happen as often as I want it to, but just in case anyone has been wondering why there have not been frequent updates, you know!

Monday, November 14, 2011

1 Month

Dear Baby Joseph,
Yesterday you turned 1 month old. When I realized what day it was, I literally stopped in my tracks and took a minute to stare at you. 1 month already?? How did that happen? I feel like just yesterday you were still in my belly and seemed so cozy and content in there that I felt for sure you would never make your grand debut. But now a full month has gone by, and while I can't even remember what life was like without you, i'm in awe and wonderment at where the time has gone.

In such a short span of time, you have come so far, and we have made so many amazing memories. You're awake and alert so much more now, and you seem to be aware of the difference between night and day. You don't sleep through the night, but we've pretty much gotten your feedings down to only twice...1am and 4am. Which isn't too bad. I secretly love those quiet feeding times in the middle of the night, when your sister isn't jumping around and yelling at me to get her milk or a snack, and trying to climb into the rocker to rock with us while you eat. It's just you, me, and an episode of Friends on TV. Usually your eyes are closed the whole time, and you just drink, burp, and go right back to sleep. Those times are so precious to me, because I know how quickly they will be gone.

You also recently started putting yourself to sleep at bedtime, without needing to be rocked. After your 8pm bottle, we cuddle for a few minutes, and when you start to seem drowsy, I put you in your bassinet and you drift off to dreamland all by yourself. You might not understand this, but let me tell you...that ability is HUGE! It took forever for us to get Stephanie to fall asleep on her own, mostly because we would just rock and rock her, well past the point where she was in a deep sleep. After a while, she came to expect that she needed to rock in order to fall asleep. And as much as I adore rocking and cuddling with you, I know it's in your  best interest to start this process early, and so far it seems to be working. (Although last night, you fell asleep halfway through your 8:00 bottle, and were sound asleep when I put you in the bassinet. But, I guess every night can't be perfect, and you ended up sleeping until 2am this morning!)

Some of my favorite times with you are when I put you on my bed to stretch out, and you stare up at me with those wide, blue eyes and make your little owl face. You are so intent on staring at my face, it's as if you're memorizing every piece of it. I know what that's like, because i'm doing the same thing as I stare at you.

You also smiled at me for the first time last week. I was chatting away to you as you stared at me, and out of nowhere this tiny, fleeting grin flashed across your face. It filled my heart with such love and adoration, and brought tears to my eyes. Your first precious smile, and you gave it to me, your Mommy. I can't tell you how  loved that made me feel. Because I know you do love me, so much. When you're crying, all I have to do is pick you up, and you snuggle right into my neck and immediately settle down. And for all the love that you have for me, I have a million times that for you. Every single day I love you more, even when I think it's impossible that I could. You light up my life, and always make me smile. This past month has been so wonderful, and I know that as each month continues to pass and you continue to grow and develop, it will get even better. I can't wait to see what memories we make this month.

Always remember that no matter where you are, or what you're doing, I will be somewhere loving you with all my heart and soul. You are the most amazing baby boy, and I will never fully be able to express to you the joy that you have brought to my life. I love you a million billion!

Friday, November 11, 2011


I have not slept for more than a 3 hour block of time since Joseph was born. That's four weeks worth of no sleep, for those of you who aren't keeping close track of how old my newborn is.

After Stephanie was born, the lack of sleep drove me nuts. I was desperate for more zzz's, and frustrated every time I heard the cry of that little one in the middle of the night. I distinctly remember several times when I had to change her diaper in the middle of the night, which turned into changing her jammies, my jammies, and the changing pad cover, and I just broke down and started crying. I remember burying my head under the pillow in the mornings and begging Dan to please get up with her so that I could stay in bed. I couldn't seem to function with such little sleep. But oh, how things are different this time around.

When I hear Joseph cry out in the night, I wake right up and pick him up for his feeding. I don't feel my eyes start to close as i'm feeding him. I don't care about having to do a complete outfit change in the middle of the night, and when he doesn't fall right back to sleep after his bottle, I just rock him, cuddle him, and watch another episode of Friends on TV. When Stephanie starts to cough just as I've finally put Joseph in his bassinet and crawled into bed, I get right back up and go in to soothe her. When 6:00 rolls around (thank you time change), I get up with Stephanie, start up my Keurig, poor her a cup of milk and relish our quiet time together, just the two of us. I take her to story time and to the grocery store, I do laundry, clean the bathroom, make dinner, etc, etc.

I'm not bragging, or waiting to be patted on the back. I know this is not some huge feat that I've managed to accomplish, and there are mother's everywhere dealing with lack of sleep, and doing it with more than two children and less help than I have. But I had to write about it, because honestly, i'm proud of the fact that I've changed so much from how I felt after my last newborn experience.

I've thought about why things are so different this time, and I think it's because of a few different things. For one, my physical recovery with Stephanie was really, really difficult. My delivery had complications that I didn't have this time, and so my body needed sleep in order to heal. I also had never experienced anything like that kind of sleep deprivation before. It was a new experience, and I couldn't seem to adjust to it while also getting the rest my body needed. I was a new mom, struggling with all that that entails, and it was a lot for me to deal with. Now, I've been there, done that. I have adapted my life to having nights of little to no sleep, because that's what happens when you have children. They get sick, and you need to be up with them. They have nights when their teething pain keeps them up, and so you're up as well. Then there are the nights when they decide, hey, I just want to get up and play in my crib. And then you lie in bed and listen to them for hours at a time. I've experienced all of that.

I'm used to getting up early and taking care of Stephanie, so now I get up early and take care of both children. I it. And it doesn't seem that bad. In fact, sometimes I really enjoy middle of the night feedings. It's my one-on-one time with Joseph, it's quiet and peaceful, and I'm soaking up every minute of his newborn-ness. Of course, there are times when I complain about how tired I am, and I have to say I am looking forward to when this little boy sleeps for longer than 3 or 4 hours at a stretch. But in the meantime, I'm sucking it up and dealing with it, with minimal whining and complaining. I do it because i'm a mom, and that's what moms do, and when I see how much Joseph has grown and changed already, I just can't bring myself to dread our middle of the night bonding moments. So here's to a night of little sleep, but plenty of mommy-son time! (And if he decides to sleep longer...I'll welcome that too!)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Feeling Confident!

Yesterday was a great day. Since the clocks were switched back the night before, I expected it to be a long, never-ending, cranky kind of day. But I was happily surprised.

Since we had an extra hour, the morning didn't rush by in a haze the way it normally does. This meant we had enough time for everyone to get dressed, fed, and ready to go all before noon. Dan took Stephanie out to run a few errands, and Joseph was very accomodating during that time. He sat in his vibrating chair long enough for me to clean the bathroom, and then spent some time in his bassinet so I could do a few more things around the house. It felt great to see things looking clean-ish and uncluttered. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to me when there are clean clothes waiting to be folded, unmade beds, dishes in the sink, and toys all over the floor. It gives me anxiety, and I have been exerting a lot of energy just attempting to ignore the mess these past few weeks.

When I was finished picking up, I actually sat down and drank an entire cup of coffee while it was still hot. Joseph continued to be a happy baby for the rest of the day, and when Dan went out to do some more things by himself, both kids napped at the same time. It was quiet and peaceful, and I finally felt like hey, maybe I will be able to manage this when Dan goes back to work!

I know how spoiled I've been to have him home, and I appreciate having him around. But, I also feel like I've been depending on him to do so much around here, both for the house and with the kids. (Having a newborn that prefers being held in my arms all day to anything else means that I don't get a lot done.) But since yesterday  was manageable, even with Dan gone for most of it, I felt my confidence level go way up. I finally felt in control of my house and my kids, and I know that I will be fine when it's just me and the kids at home all day.

Friday, November 4, 2011

We have "Kids"

Last night Dan and I were having a conversation. I can't remember what we were talking about, or even the exact sentence, but at one point he said something about our kids. Then he said "Wow. We have kids. Not just a baby, or a toddler, but kids. As in, more than one. Wow."

I think that it's just now hitting us that we are a family of four. The dust has begun to settle, the newness has worn off, and we've adjusted to the fact that this is our life now. We have two amazing, beautiful children that God has blessed us with, and we're really feeling like a family unit. It is definitely challenging, and I so wish I had appreciated how easy it was when I only had one child, but I wouldn't trade having two for anything in the world.

One of my favorite parts of being a Mommy-of-two is watching the interaction between Stephanie and Joseph. Since he is three weeks old now (OMG how did that happen??), he is awake and alert much more than he was  before. He watches everything and takes it all in, and I love when his eyes focus on his sister as she whirls in and out of his line of vision. I look at it as a preview of things to come. At every stage of his life, she will be there, and he will learn from her (both good things and bad) and look up to her.

Stephanie is also enamored with her little brother. The first thing she asks for in the morning is Baby Joseph. (It used to be Daddy...clearly, he takes second place now.) When he burps she says "Excuse you Baby Joe-Joe", when he sneezes she says "Bless You Baby Joe-Joe", and when he cries she either says "It's ok!" or "Oh no, Paci Mommy!" (Meaning she wants me to put his Paci back in his mouth.) She loves to point out his head, hair, hands, and feet. When i'm burping him after a bottle, she'll come up and rub his back. She is so loving towards him, which makes my heart burst with pride and happiness.

I know that things between the two of them will not always be so sweet and loving. They will grow up and have fights and arguments. They will yell at each other, slam doors, tattle, and compete like all siblings do. But my hope for them is that, despite all of that, they will grow up loving one another, and be there for each other always. And in the meantime, I am absolutely embracing and enjoying the sweet moments between the two of them. Our kids.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Newborn Essentials

I recently read an article that detailed the "Baby Essentials" that every new mom should have. As I skimmed through the list, I definitely agreed with many of the listed items, but there were an equal amount that I have absolutely no use for. It made me realize that the things you need really do vary from child to child and mom to mom. I've even noticed differences myself, from things I used for Stephanie that I don't for Joseph, and things I use for him that I didn't for her. Below, I've listed 5 things that I couldn't live without for this new baby.


1. Boppy Pillow.
    I'm not breastfeeding, however I do use the Boppy on a daily basis. Joseph is a baby that LOVES to be held. I'm talking all day every day. My arm gets tired, so while i'm sitting down with him, I use it to help support them. I also use it for propping. If I need to put him down and don't feel like strapping him into his swing or vibrating chair, I just prop him up on the Boppy on the floor.

2. Baby Swing
     Stephanie didn't use the swing much at all. I remember thinking it was a waste of money because she honestly wasn't thrilled with it, instead preferring the vibrating bouncy chair. But Joseph adores his swing, and it's one of the few places that I can put him down and have him be content for 15 minutes or so. He'll also sleep in it on occasion, which is helpful when we're trying to eat dinner as a family and he's napping.

3. Playtex Drop-In Bottles
     We live in the dark ages around here, meaning we don't have a dishwasher. We're also bottle feeding, which means we have to take time to wash bottles. (I also have to say that I wouldn't put bottles in the dishwasher anyway. I'm much too picky, and prefer to hand-wash so I can be sure they're completely cleaned and rinsed.) Anyway, these bottles use disposable liners, so the only parts that need to be washed are the nipples and rings. Once a week I give the actual bottle a scrub, but for daily use, it doesn't need to be washed since it never comes in contact with any liquid. It is a huge time saver, especially since most other bottles on the market have 6 or 7 parts that need to be washed every time.

4. Waterproof Changing Pad Protectors
     When Stephanie was a newborn, we had to change her velour changing pad cover at least once a day, because I never realized that they make protectors that you can use to cover up the velour and keep it clean. I bought some before having Joseph, and it is truly a lifesaver. Instead of having to take time to change the whole cover while wrangling a squirming, screaming baby, I just fold it up under him if it gets dirty, and take it off and replace it with another one when he's dressed again. Easy and so helpful!

5. Halo Sleep Sack
    This is another item that I never had for Stephanie. She was born in February, and was swaddled at night, so the issue of blankets was never a problem. But we don't swaddle Joseph, and it's starting to get cold at night so I went out and bought a Halo Sleep Sack. It was an awesome purchase! It's basically a wearable blanket that you put over the baby's jammies, and it zips from top to bottom. Then, when you do middle of the night changes, you don't need to worry about taking it off, because you just unzip a little of the bottom, lift his legs out, and re-zip when you're done. It keeps him warm and snug at night, and there is no concern about suffocation from blankets. This is by far my favorite new discovery!

I'm sure there are other things that I find invaluable, but right now these are my top 5. I also wanted to list some things that I have no use for, but since both kids and my husband are sleeping, I think it's time for me to get some much needed mommy down time! And hey, now I have a blog topic for next time!

I'm linking up with Melissa from Growing Up Geeky today (8/21/12). Even though this is an old post, it still holds true as my list of best-loved newborn items. I teared up a little as I read it, because he doesn't use any of these things anymore (except for the bottles) now that he's a big 10 month old.

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