Friday, May 31, 2013

Life Lately

Life lately in bullet point format:
  • This weekend is Isabelle's 6th annual dance recital.  She called me at work today and said, "Hey Mom, I'm making a list of everything I need to pack for rehearsal tonight.  I think I have it all under control, I just need you to stop and pick up some bobby pins, okay?".  My heart literally almost burst with pride: A. Because she made a list and B. Because she is such a pro at this stuff, so confident, so professional.  I can not wait to watch her on that stage.
  • Shawn and I somehow managed to get both kids in bed by 7 pm last night (they were both exhausted from swimming all afternoon).  We took advantage of the free night to ourselves and watched "Django Unchained" and ate a lot of ice cream.  I loved the movie, it was classic Quentin Tarantino: dark humor, just enough gore, amazingly developed characters, and one liners for days.  And I somehow managed to stay awake through the whole thing: a legit miracle these days.
  • Our garden is bursting with produce right now, so much so that I've been spreading it around to friends and family and storing things away in the freezer for later.  Every single one of my expectations for the benefits of a raised bed garden have been unbelievably exceeded.  We are learning so many lessons along the way and have already decided on a few things we will do differently next year, like expand and create several different beds for instance.  But it has been such a fun year of gardening and I look forward to piddling amongst my plants every night.
  • Speaking of gardening: this is such an informative blog:
  • It's the start of summer and everyone is super into fitness right now, bikini season and all.  I have friends doing boot camp classes, CrossFit, vertical barre.  I must admit: I am jealous.  I am still exercising as much as my pregnant body will let me but I am so excited to hit the gym REALLY hard without the limitations of pregnancy.  Swimming is my saving grace right now: I try to get into the water as much as possible and just move the whole time.  Feeling weightless, getting sun, and burning calories all at the same time.  On that note, it's time to head into the kitchen for a snack...

    I stole this photo from Ashley: Brees on the boat, cracking a smile after I let her sip on
    my coveted cream soda.  That little smirk makes up for any grumpy toddler 
    behavior displayed before said soda drinking.  

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Preparing for Baby v.2

  1. Sign up for childbirth classes and get started on your labor and infant care preparations.  If this is your first time around or you just want to brush up on your skills, it’s a good idea to pop into a breast feeding class as well.  Most hospitals and birthing centers even offer sibling classes for your little ones.  Isabelle went to a big sister class while I was pregnant for Brees and learned about infant safety, how to properly hold the baby, and what to expect when the baby came home.  She even got a tour of the maternity floor!  It was such a great way to make her feel involved and informed.
  2. Prepare for a few diagnostic studies this trimester.  Most women get an ultrasound during the second trimester to check on the baby’s growth and development and to find out the sex of the baby.  You will also get a glucose screening to rule out gestational diabetes.  Your doctor may discuss further studies depending on your obstetrical history and age such as an amniocentesis and a multiple marker test to rule out chromosomal abnormalities.  Talk to your partner and decide whether these tests are right for you and your family.
  3. Begin developing a birth plan.  There are tons of examples and how to guides available online to assist you in the process and to help you consider all of the decisions that will soon come your way.  Talk to your doctor and find out your hospital’s policies and procedures regarding childbirth to ensure that your wishes can be met.
  4. Discuss maternity leave in further detail with your employer.  Decide when you will leave for maternity leave and for how long you plan to be out.  These are all tentative dates, of course, as pregnancy and childbirth do not always follow a schedule but it’s good to have a plan in mind and give your employer time to prepare for your absence.  I plan to work all the way to the end of my pregnancy so that I can save all of my paid time off to spend with the baby. 
  5. Take a tour of the hospital or birthing center where you will deliver.  Discuss game day strategies with your partner like where to park, who to call, where to bring your older children, etc.
  6. If you don’t already have a pediatrician, start meeting with different doctors and choose one.  A great place to start is asking other mothers who they use and what their experience has been.  Make sure that the doctor you choose is within your insurance preferred provider network.  Most pediatricians require you to fill out a small packet of paperwork before your delivery so that they have all of your information, insurance included.  Your pediatrician will want to know your wishes regarding circumcision, breast or bottle, and post delivery procedures such as vaccines and blood work.  Discuss these things with your partner beforehand so that everyone is on the same page.
  7. Go on a babymoon.  Seriously, with all the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s important to put in some one on one time with your significant other, even if it’s just a quick weekend getaway.
  8. Research child care in your area.  Again, asking other mothers who they use is a great resource.  Ask lots of questions, take a tour of the facility, and observe the childcare workers in action.  Discuss when your baby will begin attending daycare so that a spot can be reserved for you.
  9. Begin making a list of baby items you want/need/have.  Separate them into categories like sleep, feeding, clothing, etc. to make it a little less overwhelming.  Friends and family will want to help, regardless of what number pregnancy this is for you, so share your lists and start crossing things off slowly.
  10. Remember to rest, eat healthy, take your vitamins, drink lots of water, and exercise regularly.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Three Day Weekends Forever Please

Three day weekends can really make you smile, can't they?  It's amazing what just ONE
extra day off work can do for a person, how much more refreshed and revitalized it can
make you feel.  We did this past weekend right: the perfect blend of rest, work, and play.
I didn't feel the doom and gloom of a Monday workday hovering over me, I just felt free.  
On Friday: I went grocery shopping after work and got this week's meal planning
schedule taken care of.  I had a certain meal in mind all day and I took my time choosing all
of the ingredients, changed out of my work clothes and spent the next few hours in the
kitchen getting everything just so.  We sat down to a meal of salmon and crab, coleslaw
with fresh tomatoes and bacon, grilled asparagus, and tortellini with fresh basil and roasted
red peppers.  I felt so completely satisfied after that meal, every single pregnancy
craving served.  And Shawn gave me a big 'ole kiss and ran out for ice cream before bed.  It
was perfect.
On Saturday: We hit the river with our best friends.  Lots of mamas and daddies and babies
on the boat, swimming in the cool water, sipping on cream soda.  There's nothing better to
me during pregnancy than swimming, finally feeling weightless, floating in the sun.  Brees
was in a terrible mood for the first part of the boat ride and stayed glued to me, literally.
She relaxed after a nice swim and a turn "driving" the boat.  We later realized she was
terribly constipated, I'm sure the bouncing up and down on the water didn't feel
especially great to her tummy.  She made "it" happen after we got home, if you know what
I mean, and was back to her sweet and cuddly self in no time.  We spent the rest of the
night having a big slumber party: 5 adults and 6 kids.  We ate fajitas and chocolate chip
cookies and fresh peaches and stayed up REALLY late talking the way only best friends can.  
It was a wonderful day with especially wonderful people and we drove home the 
next morning feeling brand new.
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On Sunday: We took lots of naps, watched movies, and stayed in our pajamas all day.  
Because sometimes you just need a day like that.

On Monday: We all woke up really early and started our chores.  Shawn went to
physical therapy while the girls and I power cleaned the whole house.  We all had lunch
and then spent the rest of the day floating in the pool, listening to music and sipping on
sweet tea.  We grilled shish kabobs for dinner using squash, zucchini, and peppers from
our garden.  The girls cried when it was time to go inside and they realized they would have
to finally get out of their swimsuits.  We were all a little sunburned, I cut up some aloe for
after shower skin soothing.  As we said our prayers together before bed, we all thanked
each other for the best weekend ever.    

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

26 Weeks

This week, the fatigue of early pregnancy came creeping back in, making me yearn for my
bed before I even left the house in the morning.  I'm sure it was all due to the fact that I was
on call and had to work extra long hours and Shawn was out of town but I'm too stubborn
to admit that my work schedule may have been a bit too much, especially when I didn't
have the help of my husband that I am accustomed to.  I thought that it would be a good idea
to schedule my call week for when he was gone, though, because then I would be free and
off work when he came home.  File under: ideas that sound good at the time but end up
making you want to stab yourself.  The girls and I managed, though, with the help of my
mom and dad on the nights I got called out to see patients.  And I rewarded their
very understanding and good behavior with doughnuts and late night movie parties in the
big bed.  It was nice to spend some alone time with the girls, to break some of our house
rules all in the name of spoiling.  One or both of them slept with me every night that Daddy
was gone.  We ate waffles for dinner and made late evening ice cream runs.  I loved having
the two little Daddy's girls all to myself, if only for a short while.  It was a good bonding
time for the three of us.
Sleep is becoming more difficult. The midnight bathroom trips are becoming more
frequent and I've had to add a few more pillows to our bed to cushion my growing body.
The baby sometimes wakes me up at night with his kicking and squirming.  He is such an
active little thing.  He gets the hiccups several times a day and his movements are now
visible to those of us on the outside.  The girls love resting their hands on my belly and
feeling him move.  Their eyes get so big when my belly jumps and moves, I think that it
makes the whole concept more "real" to them.  There's a brother in there and, judging by
his actions so far, he's going to have a personality to match his vibrant big sisters!

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The Start of Summer, And So Much More

Our summer officially started this week!  I have had so many things to write down, pictures
to take, memories to record.  But, I must admit, I've done a really poor job.  Because that's
not what this week was all about.  This week was for rushing home from work to join my
family for a late afternoon swim in the pool.  It was for soaking in the warm sun,
running barefoot, and spending lots and lots of time in my garden.  And every time I tried to
sit in front of my computer, I just kept glancing out the window at the beautiful weather
and my feet were up and running again.
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Shawn returned home this week from a week long trip to his home state of Arizona.  He
was able to spend time with his family, including his father who has recently had some
health issues.  He was able to reconnect with his loved ones, many of whom he has not
seen since he was discharged from the hospital last summer.  I think that he found peace in
the desert, a sense of closure that he has been longing for.  Going back there was part of
his healing process and he returned with a new sense of purpose and inspiration.  We
missed him like crazy and anxiously awaited his return: both of the girls asking me every
single day, "How much longer until Daddy gets home?".  The poor man was barely able
to breath for the first few days he was home as there always seemed to be a girl or two or
three in his arms, breathing him in, welcoming him back.  But all that waiting and wanting
was so worth it when he sent me this photo: father and son.  The happiness the two of them
felt being together again, it was palpable through the screen.  I was so happy for my soul
one, happy that he was happy.  That's what love is all about, after all.

Isabelle completed the third grade this week!  She worked so very hard this year: attending
a new school, making new friends, mastering new skills.  She was awarded the "Effort"
award, something I felt so proud for.  Because she did, in fact, put in a tremendous amount
of effort and she earned the grades to prove it.  She earned mastery levels on all her
reading exams, a subject she used to struggle with.  And she improved in all of her math
scores thanks to many long night at the kitchen table, studying with Shawn or myself or
her tutor.  Isabelle is the kind of kid who wants to succeed and will work as hard as it takes
to do so.  She is very aware that, with her diagnosis of ADD, she will most likely always have
to try a little harder than the next kid but she has accepted and embraced that truth.  And
I truly believe that she knows and appreciates how much her parents are rooting her on,
how hard we will work to help her reach her goals.   It is our mission as her parents to
empower her, to encourage a positive and strong sense of self, to instill the value of hard
work and determination in our daughter.  And with each passing school year, we all grow just
a little bit stronger, a little bit smarter, and a lot more patient and grateful.  Learning is truly
a lifelong process in every way.  On to a fun filled summer with our soon to be fourth grader!


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Friday, May 17, 2013

Green Gifts

It's Friday, it's Friday!!  And, more importantly, it's almost the end of school and start of
sweet summer!!  We are all so excited about the end of school around this house that we
are about to burst!  No more homework, no more 6 am wake-ups and rushing to the bus
stop, no more evenings burning the midnight oil preparing projects.  We will have a
whole summer ahead of us to slow down just a little bit, something we are all in need of after
a very busy school year.
This weekend, we spent an afternoon preparing a gift for Isabelle's teacher in appreciation of
a wonderful school year.  Teachers are such an influential and essential part of our
children's development, spending their days nurturing and empowering our little ones.
They are literally preparing future generations for the big bright world and I don't think
they get the recognition they deserve.  I am so thankful for the amazing educators Isabelle
as had in her life: her teacher this year was the most patient, compassionate, and
inspirational woman.  I know that Isabelle will look back on the third grade and remember
her teacher with great admiration and respect.
As a small token of our appreciation, we made a little succulent garden in a ceramic pot with
a handmade card.  I love the idea of giving plants as gifts: it's something the teacher can
keep on her desk or at home and remember my child by.  I decided on succulents because
they are so easy to care for and require very little green thumb ability: an important
element when you're not sure whether the recipient of your gift is actually a gardener or not.  

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We also made green gifts for Mother's Day and for my cousin's wedding.  I purchased 
ceramic planters at our local nursery and made mini-herb gardens that are perfect for 
kitchen windowsills.  I planted herbs that are common and easy to care for, herbs that 
my loved ones will be able to use on a daily basis like basil, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, 
and oregano.  For the wedding gift herb garden, we made a card with the inscription, 
"Marriage is like a garden".  I wrote a note on the inside about the need to nurture a 
marriage, to give it the attention it deserves, the importance of everyone involved to feel 
as though they are getting enough love and light.  I love the idea of this little garden finding 
a home with this loving couple as they start this new journey in their lives together.

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Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without 
feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.  
~Lindley Karstens

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

25 Weeks

We celebrated Mother's Day this week: Shawn and the girls taking me out for sushi
(pregnancy friendly choices for me, of course) and then an after dinner stop for
doughnuts. We spent the whole weekend together, working around the house, spending
time with family and friends, making cards and desserts and little herb gardens to give away
as gifts. I checked a few things off my baby to-do list including purchasing a few
organizational items for the closet the two little kids will share and packing away unused
items to bring up to the attic.  One of the nurses at my OB's office gave me a book to keep
notes and a checklist of baby items to keep in my planner.  She handed it to me with a
wink, "You probably don't need this since you're an old pro".  Little did she know how much
I LOVE making lists, regardless of the number of times I've gone through this.  I am
preparing for this baby as thoroughly as I have the two before him, that's just my nature.
I have always felt that the more prepared I am for the baby, the more I can relax and
enjoy him when he gets here.  And when the proverbial shit hits the fan and the
unexpected happens: like the time we came home from the hospital with a newborn baby
Brees to a leaking hot water heater and a flooded hallway, we can rest a little easier
knowing that the little things are done. And so I set a few goals for myself each week,
little tasks I hope to accomplish to make the coming days of sleep deprivation and
constant breast feeding a little more manageable.
We celebrated my cousin's recent elopement this weekend with a big party at my aunt's
house for the whole family.  Nothing says entertainment like a 25 week pregnant woman in
a party dress dancing to "Brick House".  But dance we did: Shawn and I and my big
belly, laughing and dancing the night away.  And it was during the wedding reception
required slow dance to "November Rain", my husband with his arms around my
expanding waist, gently stroking my hair as I rest my head in that perfect nook in his neck,
it was during that moment that I felt SO loved.  It was one of those nights: twinkly lights in
the trees, love all around, my dress swirling in the cool night air, Belle and Brees weaving
in and out of the dance floor with their crew of cousins.  In that moment, I felt so complete,
so beautiful, so cherished.  Every woman deserves to feel like that every once in a while.
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

To Us All

To my girls, Mother's Day is a special day to let Mama sleep in a whole extra 10 minutes.  
It's all about making cards from construction paper and pipe cleaners, covering the 
kitchen table in glitter and glue.  It's helping Daddy with breakfast and bringing Mama a cup 
of her favorite tea: vanilla chai.  It's helping with the dishes and giving as many hugs and 
kisses as possible.  It's a hydrangea plant for the backyard and ice cream before bed.  To 
my girls, Mother's Day is for making Mama feel special in simple but meaningful ways, 
just how she likes it.

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To my mother, Mother's Day is a difficult reminder that her mother is no longer with us.  
Since my grandmother passed away four years ago, my mother has struggled on Mother's 
Day, feeling the sadness and grief of losing her mother all over again.  She is thankful for 
her own children and grandchildren and enjoys the many ways in which we love her yet 
she still can't shake the emptiness she feels since losing her mama.  And so we all gather 
around her and give her as much energy and love that we can, knowing that, someday, it 
will get easier for her.  

To Shawn's mom, Mother's Day is a phone call from her one and only child.  It is a card in 
the mail, flowers on her doorstep, well wishes from several states away.  This year, though, 
it will be an extra special time as Shawn arrives in Arizona just one day after Mother's Day.  
He will spend a whole week with his mama and their extended family, catching up 
and reconnecting after a long year away.  This year, she will get to hug her son and soak in 
his love.


To me, Mother's Day is a reminder of how precious the role of "mother" truly is.  It is a 
special blessing and a pink carnation during Sunday Mass.  It is a big breakfast and 
my brother's BBQ.  Mother's Day is a day off from doing dishes, sunbathing in the 
backyard with a good book while the girls take their naps.  It is a time for my husband to 
thank me for blessing him with our children, a time for my parents to tell me how proud 
they are of me.  It is a chance to stand back and take it all in and to reflect on how, through 
all of the exhausting and emotional hard work that is the journey of motherhood, I am so 
truly blessed to be called "Mama" by these two, soon to be three, babies.


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