Friday, January 31, 2014

State of Address on the Breast

I've been back in the breastfeeding game for two and a half months now and it's as challenging and rewarding as I remember. I shared some of my journey while nursing Tory herehere and here but in a nutshell, breastfeeding didn't come easy for me. I struggled to produce enough milk for her, felt completely bogged down by the pressure of being Tory's only source of nourishment and ultimately stopped nursing at seven months when my supply completely dried up. Looking back, it'd be a fair assessment to say I was manic about the whole thing. I wanted nothing more than to feed my child, but I never felt relaxed about it; never felt like I was doing it right. I still have some "mom guilt" about the relief I felt when it was all over.

The second time around, I promised Andi (and more importantly, myself) I wouldn't sink to that dark place again. If breastfeeding worked, great. If not, I know first-hand formula is not the devil. It's just food. Two days after Aden was born, a fill-in pediatrician suggested I supplement with formula after each nursing session to help him bounce back to his birth weight. I didn't let the doctor's advice shake me, though I didn't agree with it. I did as I was told (kind of, for a few days) and as I watched Aden grow, I knew I was doing alright by him.

This time I'm doing things differently and overall, my entire breastfeeding experience has been much more enjoyable. First, I'm feeding on demand. In my first months as Tory's mom, I was strictly by the book. If the "experts" suggested my two-month old should be eating every 2-3 hours, I waited exactly until that time to feed. I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin as a parent and instead of listening to my gut (or my own mother, ha!), I followed as directed. In hindsight, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this and I really think my lack of frequent nursing stunted my milk supply early on.

Now, I'm pumping daily. I don't love it (does any nursing mother?), but pumping once a day has begun to build a milk supply in our freezer. And in turn, I don't feel guilty leaving Aden in the care of grandma or a babysitter. It allows me to have walk away and have a moment to breathe once a week. Oh, how I remember the stress of pumping when I was nursing Tory and painfully watching as barely any milk was produced. The less I produced, the more pressure I felt. This time, I have a stock-pile to rely on because I started from Day 1. I don't pump a huge amount, but it's a "slow and steady wins the race" kind of thing.

Also? I'm also not apprehensive to feed Aden formula. Let's pretend Andi had to travel to Paris for a week of work and asked me to join him. Would I? Oh, heck yes, and I wouldn't feel one pang of guilt about feeding Aden formula while I was away. (Okay, maybe one pang would be felt, but I'd squash it like a bug).

I started taking Fenugreek from the start, drinking boatloads of water and eating oatmeal every day. I think the Fenugreek is helping boost my supply (I think it helped last time too, but its gesture was too little, too late). I carry a Camelbak water bottle with me everywhere I go and set a personal goal to drink at least 5 bottles a day. That's 125oz.

It sounds like I'm just as obsessed about it all this time, but truly I don't feel that way. I scold myself for not reaching out to a lactation consultant for help back then. I had so many deep feelings of anguish over breastfeeding and while I did ask questions of my OB and pediatrician, I wasn't speaking to the right person. For example, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me there were different sizes of nursing shields for Medela pumps and I was floored. You mean to tell me I've been shoving my giant-sized boobs into tiny breast shields for two years for no good reason? I bought size 27mm cups and oh my lord, they are amazing. I'm producing more milk when I pump and more importantly, my nipples don't feel like they've been through the wringer. Shame on me for not sourcing more help for myself back then.

I can honestly say breastfeeding is a much more positive experience now. I'm so lucky I'm able to stay home full-time which really allows me to be there for Aden when he needs me, and also to pump a back-up supply of milk on my own time without the pressure of returning to work out of the home. I'm truly thankful for this second chance.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Sleep, Wine and Valentines

1. Last night was another sleepless night in our house, bouncing between both kids' cries from the hours of 11:00pm - 6:00am. I'm amazed at how well I'm operating on no sleep. I used to be someone who required at least 8-10 hours every night and now I'm lucky if I get 2-3 hours in a row. I see no light at the end of the tunnel and accepting that fact has helped my mental state immensely. This isn't getting any better! Get used to it, lady! When my mom visited a few weeks ago, she asked me when I thought Tory would finally start sleeping through the night. "She has to sleep eventually, don't you think?" Honestly, no, I don't. I've given up on trying to crack the case of sleep with that girl. (It should be noted my awareness of Starbucks drive-thru's in a 20-mile radius of my house has increased vastly in the last two months. God bless liquid energy.)

2. On a related note, last night was Aden's first time sleeping in his crib. My big boy has nearly outgrown the baby bassinet and as I mentioned in my Day In The Life post earlier this week, I think Tory's waking him prematurely in the mornings with her loud yogurt-demanding, tantrum-throwing ways. Part of the reason I slept like such crap last night was because he was in his own room. We have a video monitor and I could see him sleeping peacefully in his crib, but I still felt nervous about him being so far away from me. The good news is, I think he'll transition to sleeping in his crib just fine. He was still up to eat every three hours regardless of where he slept. I, on the other hand, was more awake having to physically get out of bed every few hours (x2 because I was already doing that with Tory). Also, it breaks my heart a little bit that my baby boy is already sleeping in his own room. If I could, I'd probably let him sleep next to my bed forever. Okay, that's a bit of an over-statement; more like, a few more months.

3. A dear friend made us a meal after Aden was born and included these homemade chewy granola bars. I've made a few batches myself since then, and it's safe to say I'm addicted to them. They are so good and the recipe's almost impossible to mess up. I used almonds and dried cranberries in one batch, chocolate nibs and raisins in another. One time I used honey and another time I used maple syrup. I want to make some with coconut flakes and pistachios next time (not necessarily together). These granola bars are the only breakfast I can fit in some days and are almost always my go-to snack mid-afternoon. I've been using the Pampered Chef brownie pan my mom and dad gave me for Christmas and it works perfectly for this recipe. I decreased the cooking time to 15 minutes because the surface area is much smaller than the pan suggested in the original recipe.

4. Yesterday, Tory and I made Valentine's Day cards. We painted her hands red and stamped them on construction paper and I did the same to Aden's feet. Surprisingly, he was a really good sport about it! Later, I assembled the hand and footprints into cards and made one for myself to save in my scrapbook of stuff from the kids. (Yes, I made my own valentine. Ain't no shame in my game and if I don't do it, who will?) The card to "Mom and Dad" (aka: me) was sitting on my nightstand last night and Tory picked it up. "I make this for you?" she asked. I told her she did and we recapped how we'd painted her hands earlier in the day. She opened the card, held it up close to her nose and read, "Happy Valentine's Mommy." I nearly died from the cuteness.

5. My birthday's coming up next month and I've decided to ask for a Sonicare toothbrush. I feel super old requesting such a lame birthday gift, but I think I'd really like it. I'm also going to ask for a new iPhone (just because) and an imaginary gift card for babysitting time from my in-laws. My most cherished thing lately (aside from my husband and kids, obviously) is to hole up in a quiet corner of a coffee shop and just be by myself for a while. The mental recharge is gold.

6. Nine weeks: nine weeks is how long it took Tory to take a chill pill with Aden. Things are by no means perfect around here, but all of my advisements to "be gentle" have finally started to sink into her brain. Sometimes, Tory still pesters Aden on purpose just to get a rise out of me but 80% of the time now, she's being more gentle with him. I hope (hope, hope, hope!) this means his allure is wearing off. Aden's becoming more tolerant, too, and the other day I even caught him smiling at Tory. Big improvement over shrieking at her very sight. Because of this, Tory and I have had the best few days. It's such a breath of fresh air to not be constantly calling her down all the time. Prayers for patience = answered.

7. Andi joined a wine club last month and it's been something new and fun to do. We already drink plenty of wine, so at least this helps me creatively step outside my Apothic Red comfort zone. This club's different in that you get a minimum of three bottles of wine a month. You rate them based on your liking and by the sixth month or so, supposedly you're only receiving wines you absolutely love because the palate profile is refined to your personal taste. So far, we loved two of the three wines we tried last month and I'm excited to see what shows up on our doorstep for February.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Cabin Weekend with Friends

As cold as this winter's been, I really glad we have a place to retreat to on the weekends. Friday afternoon, Andi and I packed up the kids and headed to the cabin. Sure, it's cold as crap there too, but it gives us a chance to escape reality for a bit and if weather permits, get outdoors to enjoy the winter season.

We spent most of the weekend with our friends Josh and Krista and their little daughter, Hannah. Krista's parents have a cabin on Pipe Lake, so they're the perfect couple to hang out with there. They embrace the cabin lifestyle and love to snowmobile and go ice fishing right along with us. The kids play for hours, the guys do "boy stuff" outdoors and Krista and I get in plenty of girl-talk. The only thing that could've made our time together any better this weekend is if Krista would have been able to enjoy an adult beverage as she's 37 weeks pregnant. Soon enough though -- I just learned her water broke and she's in the hospital having their second baby! I love how Tory and Aden have friends their age to grow up with at the cabin. I can picture Tory and Hannah taking the paddle boat out to the islands on the lake in a few years to meet boys (Oh goodness, is that scary to think about!), or the little babies wiggling around on a blanket by the lake shore next summer.

Friday night, Josh, Krista and Hannah brought dinner over to our cabin and we spent the evening talking and letting the kids destroy the house with toys. The little girls have so much fun together. Tory and Hannah act like sisters fighting over a Minnie Mouse doll one minute and sharing jelly toast with each other the next. When Hannah went home Friday night, Tory said, "Where did Hannah go? I miss her" in the cutest pouty voice ever. Just adorable those two.

Saturday, the boys went snowmobiling for the day while Krista and I stayed back at the cabin with the kids. It's a little sad that I didn't get much QT with Andi this weekend as he then had to work on Sunday, but he's so excited about snowmobiling this winter and I'm glad he got the chance to get outside and burn off some stress. Someday, it'd be fun to get a babysitter and go snowmobiling all four of us, but with Krista near her pregnancy due date and me with a newborn, it's just not the best time for us girls right now. At lunchtime, Krista and I drove to Barronett Bar and Grill with the kids to meet the guys for a bite to eat. The kids were so well behaved at the restaurant and it was actually a pretty enjoyable lunch as far as dining with two toddlers and an infant goes. The guys snowmobiled back to the cabin while Krista and I drove the kids in the car, then put all the wee ones down for naps.

Saturday night, Andi grilled steaks on our new cabin grill and we shared dinner again with Josh and Krista. We loaded everyone up in the Ranger ATV and went ice fishing for an hour or so around dusk. There's something so cozy and cool about drinking beers in a tiny 7x10 shack with toddlers bopping around eating snacks and climbing all over everything. We didn't catch any fish, but it was fun nonetheless. Krista joked to Andi it was the Ranger ride on the lake that caused her water to break late Sunday evening. I don't doubt that to be true... eek!

The little girls were beyond delirious by 8:30pm, so we called it an early night. Sunday, Andi had a work event in the Cities, so we left the cabin mid-morning. It's getting harder to leave our little slice of paradise every Sunday. When we packed up this weekend, the snow was falling amongst all the trees and everything looked so peaceful outside our window. I could have easily cozied up by the fire and stayed there another day.

One of the best things about cabin life is the community we've created -- or rather, become apart of -- there. We know our neighbors at home in the Cities and definitely stop and talk to them when we're playing outside or walking down the drive-way to get the mail. At the cabin though, we truly care about our neighbors. They've become our friends. We spend time socializing on the weekends, our kids are growing up together and it becomes increasingly difficult to come back home to "reality." Andi and I both feel so lucky to have these people and this special place in our lives.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Day In The Life: Winter 2014

I'm participating in Laura's quarterly Day In The Life series again. Thankfully, she chose a time frame nine weeks into my life with two kids (how thoughtful of her!), so I had a chance to document what life's like these daysBlogging Free time comes in ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I'm granted a few glorious minutes to myself during the day and others, I'm rocking greasy hair and counting the minutes until 5 o'clock wine time. So is stay-at-home-mom life, right? Anyway, most days I feel like I got this parenting-two-kids thing in the bag. Here's Thursday, January 23, 2014. (It only took me three days to type all this up. Heh).

Tory is 2 years, 5 months old
Aden is 2 months, 4 days old


2:15am: Tory calls out for me for the first time tonight. When I glance at the clock perched on top of our dresser, I'm shocked (as sad as that is) that she made it this far into the night. At 2 1/2 years old, she really should be sleeping through the night every night, but that's not our little girl. Andi and I have come to accept it. I go into Tory's room next door to ours, re-start her Sleep Sheep sound machine and take a seat on the little pink stool beside her bed until she falls asleep. It only takes a minute and she's back to dreamland.

2:20am: Once Tory's asleep, I crawl back into my own bed. Aden, who's sleeping in the bassinet near my side of the bed, stirs almost immediately. He starts to cry, so I pick him up to nurse him. He's due to eat around 3:00am anyway.

2:30am: Tory cries out for me again, so I nudge Andi and he gets out of bed to go sit with her. She has a cold and starts having a coughing attack, so I mentally kick myself for not giving her some medicine before bedtime. She seemed fine during the day though.

2:35am: Andi crawls back into bed. Tory must have fallen back asleep.

2:40am: While Aden's eating, he fills his diaper so I get up to change him. Meanwhile, Tory calls out for Andi this time, so he goes back into her room to soothe her back to sleep. It's basically musical bedrooms at this point. 

2:50am: I'm burping Aden when Andi crawls back into bed again. I lay Aden down to sleep in his bassinet, refill my water bottle in the kitchen and use the bathroom. Back in bed by 2:59am. 

3:10am: I'm wide awake now, so I read a few blogs on my iPhone. I'm so far behind in reading all my favorites, I make myself turn off my phone and go to sleep. The more I read, the more awake I'll be. I close my eyes and listen to the sweet baby sighs and snores coming from Aden beside me. 

4:00am: Just when I'm finally asleep, I hear Tory cry out for me. I go into her room, pick her up, grab her pillow, baby doll, sippy cup and bring her into our bedroom to lay down. I know I shouldn't do this, but I'm tired and need sleep however I can get it. I'm sure she knows I'll eventually cave at some point in the night if she wears me down enough. And, so goes the circle of crappy sleep. I caution Tory to be quiet so she doesn't wake Aden or Daddy. She says "okay, Mommy" and snuggles right into the crook of my arm falling fast asleep. 

5:30am: Aden wakes up. I feed and put him right back into the bassinet to sleep. I was having some crazy dream where Andi and I moved into a new house, so we had boxes everywhere. I went to get my haircut from my sorority sister (who I maybe saw on Facebook recently??), but an intern was there and he botched my haircut. Then in my dream, Andi and I were running from my dead-beat step-dad (which is really weird since my parents are still married) to find a hidden treasure of inheritance money. I think whenever I'm really sleep deprived, I fall asleep hard and dream the strangest things. Anyway, I finish with Aden and snuggle back into bed.

6:35am: Andi comes into the bedroom to say good-bye as he's leaving for work. Tory gives him a hug, then demands yogurt from me. She whines and carries on until I pull myself out of bed to retrieve some from the kitchen for her. Then, I turn on a Dora episode and try to steal a few more winks of sleep. 

6:42am: Just kidding... Aden wakes up. I think it's about time to move little man into his own crib because Tory wakes him up before he's ready almost every morning now. She says "hi, brudda, hi buddy" obsessively while trying to lay her head on his stomach. He is not amused. 

7:15am: I move this party to the living room and lay Aden in his swing. He falls back asleep immediately. Tory and I head to the kitchen to make breakfast. She requests pancakes with blueberries and whipped cream on top. I have oatmeal and coffee. God bless coffee. Seriously. I ask Tory if she wants some of my oatmeal and she says "um, probably I not." (Everything's "probably I not" or "probably yes" these days).

8:00am: This morning Tory has gymnastics class, so I get her dressed in a pink leotard and black leggings. She requests a ballerina bun on top of her head. I take the opportunity to get dressed as well while Aden's still sleeping. I wear the new pair of Columbia Omni-Heat pants Andi just bought me because it's super cold outside today. Extra pumped because these pants fit (!!) and I couldn't comfortably button them just a few weeks ago.

8:30am: Tory's playing nicely so I actually have a few minutes to myself. I clean up the breakfast mess in the kitchen and check my email.

9:00am: Aden wakes up. He's had a poop-plosion during his morning nap, so I change his diaper and get him dressed for the day. I wonder if I should give up on my beloved Pampers for another brand? He shoots poop right up his back at least once a day lately. Maybe he's just hit that stage of babyhood? I remember Tory going through this, too. PS: Why are babies clothes so dang hard to get on? This little plaid one-piece is adorable, but a nightmare to pull onto my chubby guy.

9:15am: I feed Aden once more before we head out for the morning. Tory climbs onto the arm of the couch next to the rocking chair, then falls onto the chair and bumps Aden's head. I comfort Aden while reminding Tory the arm of the couch isn't a safe place to play. Gah.

9:30am: Rush, rush, rush to load everyone into the car. This is the worst part of parenting, I swear. I chase Tory through the kitchen and living room trying to put on her coat and shoes, then pack her into the car first. Next, I load Aden into the car, along with the diaper bag and Baby Bjorn. Thank goodness for an attached garage. Tory requests her sunglasses because it's "too sunny, Mommy!" so I grab the kid's pair stashed in the pocket of her car seat. Toddler necessities. We pull out of the drive-way at 9:42am and I'm impressed all that only took 10 minutes, though now I'm exhausted. Down the street, I forget where we're going and get honked at by another car for stopping at a stoplight in the wrong lane. 

10:00am: We're five minutes late to gymnastics because there's an accident on the highway. Tory asks, "Mommy, almost?" wondering how much longer. Lots of rushing again to get everyone unloaded out of the car which is a sucky part of Minnesota winters - it's so cold outside, we have to hurry indoors quickly. I unload Tory first, carry her to Aden's side of the car and then remind her to stay close to my side as we're in a parking lot. I grab Aden's car seat and the diaper bag while keeping a hand on Tory's coat. I'm impressed how well Tory listens during this process. It definitely makes my life easier. 

At gymnastics class, Tory's once again apprehensive to participate. It's preschool nervousness all over again. Once the class splits into smaller groups and she's paired with the female coach, Tory does much better and soon she's running around like a crazy maniac. Apparently, it's the male head coach she's not sure about. (Unrelated: the head coach is a 1980's Olympian and is remembered for one of the worst Olympics bloopers. Click here to see it. One word: ouch).

11:00am: Andi surprises us at gymnastics for the last 10 minutes. His office is close by, so it's nice for him to sneak away and see Tory in class for a bit. Afterwards, the owner recaps an incident involving a carbon monoxide leak at the studio this past Monday. I don't love the way he plays it off like it wasn't a big deal because, dude, it's a really big deal

11:30am: As soon as we're home, I hurry into the house to feed Aden. He screamed the entire way home from gymnastics because he was hungry. Poor guy. Tory plays around us in the rocking chair / pokes at Aden until he looses interest in nursing. He spits up again, so I jot down some notes on my phone about his eating and spitting up to follow up with the pediatrician.

11:45am: I plop Aden in the swing and make lunch for Tory and I. We've been eating sandwiches and leftover chili from Aden's baptism all week and I secretly love it. Tory also has vanilla yogurt with blueberries and I let her count out how many she'll eat. 

Noon: Aden's fussy and tired, so I put him in the Baby Bjorn and shovel food in my mouth while Tory eats her lunch and watches Umi Zoomie. I may or may not have dropped juicy tomato on Aden's shoulder. Sorry, kid.

12:15pm: With Aden still in the carrier, I clean up the kitchen again and then I move him to the swing so I can pump. Tory says "Mommy, I probably all done" with her lunch.

12:30pm: I quickly wipe Tory down and the massive amount of yogurt smeared all over the table. I change her out of her gymnastics clothes and get her ready for nap time. Did I mention Tory's back in diapers? Oh, yeah. New sibling potty training regression. It's a real thing. 

12:45pm: If I time it just right and I get Tory down for a nap as soon as Aden fall asleep after lunch, I can sometimes score a few minutes of dual nap time in the afternoon. I quickly read Tory three books and tuck her into bed for sleep.

1:00pm: Light's out for Tory. "Too dark in my eyes," she tells me. I ask if I can rub her back. "No, only Daddy rub my back" she says. I promise her we can make valentines after nap time if she goes to sleep. She snuggles Minnie Mouse and is out without much of a fight. This definitely is not typical of most days.

1:22pm: Both kids sleeping! Wahoo! I brew a cup of coffee (my second of the day) and sit down with my computer. I should throw in a load of laundry or something, but ....

1:40pm: Welp, that didn't last long. Aden usually sleeps for a good two hours in the afternoon, but not today. I nurse him while looking up a recipe for dinner that'll use up the obscene amount of broccoli we have in the fridge. 

2:00pm: Since Tory's still asleep, I decide to do a little photo shoot with Aden. If she's awake while I take pictures of him, she demands to be in every one and Aden loses his patience quickly. It's no secret Andi's the photographer in our family, but I get a couple good ones of my boy and his baby blues.

2:15pm: I put Aden back in the Baby Bjorn and attempt to edit photos from the day, but he's fussing too much to let me. I chug my cup of coffee and walk around to shush him. 

2:30pm: Tory wakes up from her nap. It's a decent one by her standards - one hour. She's pretty grumpy (which is typical after she wakes up) but she's also crying that her tooth hurts. I look inside her mouth and sure enough, she's getting her top two-year molars. After a few more minutes of crying, I give her some Tylenol for the pain. Five seconds later she says, "It's not working, Mommy."

3:00pm: Aden is still awake and fussing in the Bjorn through all of this. I can tell he's tired, but he just won't give up today. Tory's still crying about her tooth, so I bounce between the both of them crying for me. Ahhh!

3:15pm: I distract Tory by pulling out the craft supplies to make valentines. I cut heart shapes out of coffee filters and have her color them with markers. Then we spritz water on them so the marker bleeds around the filter. "I need put more water on it," Tory says and the filters are basically soaked through. Whatever. She's having fun.

3:30pm: As I'm cleaning up the craft mess, Aden starts crying again and Tory tries to reassure him. "It's okay, brudda. Mommy coming. Mommy, Aden mad! He needs you!" It's pretty cute the way she tries to take care of him and I'm proud of her for being so gentle. She slips on a pair of my green flats and says, "Okay, I gotta go to work. Bye."

3:45pm: Aden finally falls asleep again. Life is hard when you're a baby. His signature sleeping move is to casually throw a hand over his face emphasizing pure exhaustion. While he sleeps, Tory and I play magician. She says, "Ladies and gentleman!" as she whisks a baby blanket on and off her doll house. I ask her if I can sit beside her on the floor for the magic show. "Uh, probably not. That's my spot. You sit here." 

4:00pm: I throw in a load of laundry downstairs and fold another one on the living room floor while Tory and I continue to play. 

4:15pm: We switch to playing doctor now, which Tory's very into these days. She gives me a shot in the arm and listens to my heart with the stethoscope. "Say ahhh, Mommy," says says. Tory looks in my mouth. "I have a diagnosis. You have bugs in you mouth." I ask what's the cure and she shrugs her shoulders. Ha! Well, what in the world should I do about that?

4:30pm: Both kids need baths tonight so I get started by running the bath water, grabbing jammies and diapers, lotion, towels, etc. I get Tory setup with toys in the tub while I wash Aden in the baby bathtub on the sink counter top. He isn't a big fan of the bath tonight for some reason. Really, he's been more fussy than usual all day long, so I finish his bath quickly. At some point, Tory tells me she needs to go potty (which, remember, she's in diapers now) and I can't leave Aden unattended, so I tell her she has to get out and use the toilet by herself. She crawls out of the tub and I half-help her while keeping another hand on Aden, but it's clearly a ploy because she doesn't want to use the toilet when she's out of the tub. I convince her to get back in the water so I can finish up with Aden. Once he's done, I wrap him tightly in a blanket and lay him in the bouncy seat while I wash Tory. Then, I get her dressed and clean up the bathroom. 

5:00pm: Tory's whining she's hungry, so I get her a string cheese. Aden's screaming from the bouncy seat because he's hungry, so I bring him into the living room to nurse. Just as I sit down to feed him, Tory gets ahold of the spray bottle we used for the valentine crafts earlier and pinches her lip in the plastic lever piece. She's crying hard, so put Aden down and go tend to Tory. I get her set up with the iPad and her string cheese on the couch while I feed Aden again. Holy geez, my head hurts. Wine time yet? I think so. 

5:30pm: Andi calls and says he's going to be home early. Thank goodness! Suddenly, I'm exhausted. He asks if he should pick up dinner. I tell him I was planning to make chicken with broccoli, but I haven't gotten that far yet. We decided to figure out dinner when he gets home. 

5:45pm: Andi's home. Wahoo! He takes over making dinner - teriyaki chicken, broccoli and sweet potato fries. I pour myself a glass of wine and start shoving Cheez Its in my mouth because I'm suddenly starving. Andi cooks while we recap our days. I'm holding Aden because he's still fussing. 

6:00pm: Andi unloads the dishwasher. I make Tory some macaroni and cheese. She whines at my feet because she wants to eat it while laying in my bed. Um, no. 

6:15pm: Surprisingly, Andi and I enjoy eating a warm dinner together at the dining room table. Aden's asleep on my chest in the Baby Bjorn. Tory's laying on our bed watching Paw Patrol. She's probably watched too much television today, but I don't care at this point. I'm zapped. 

6:45pm: Andi cleans up dinner while I change Aden's diaper and pick up toys around the house. Andi reads Tory a few books before bedtime. Since Aden was born, Andi does Tory's bedtime routine and I love listening to them together at night. 

7:15pm: I attempt to sit down to blog, but Aden starts fussing shortly after I do. Andi comes into the bedroom after Tory's asleep. We watch New Girl together while I walk around the room, bouncing and shushing Aden. My arms are aching!

7:45pm: Aden is asleep, but wakes up when I lay him down in the bassinet. I pick him up and continue more bouncing, rocking and shushing.

8:15pm: Aden's finally asleep again. Andi and I watch a re-run episode of Duck Dynasty. I'm so tired tonight. I can barely keep my eyes open. 

8:30pm: Andi and I are both feeling snacky, but I cannot eat junk food... cannot eat junk food ... cannot eat junk food ... so I can drop these last few pregnancy pounds. Andi makes some nachos and I fall victim to them. Dang it! I think about typing up this post for half a second, but I'm way too tired. I read for about 30 seconds and I'm asleep. 


It's interesting how documenting the details of the day really puts things in perspective. I wrote earlier in the week about my necessity for patience with Tory as she adjusts to life with a new baby in the house. I think, like a lot of things, the reality of something isn't as bad as it seems inside your head. It's easy to get frustrated and focus on the negative. We still have our moments of struggle, but overall I was really proud of Tory on this day (and all week, really) of how much better she's doing around Aden.

I also forgot about the down and dirty details of newborn life. Feeding, shushing, changing diapers ... and repeat. Holy cow, I'm a human food truck. I remember being so aware of this stage with Tory, but I guess I'm well enough adjusted to "mom life" these days that I didn't quite realize how much my life revolves around Aden's schedule. Eat, sleep, poop. Eat, sleep, poop. That is seriously all I help a little person do these days.

While this post seemingly took forever to draft, I'm glad I took the time to document a day in our life right now. Time moves so quickly with little kids. It was fun to capture all the little moments of the day, then read back and realize just how lucky we are.

The End.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The (Nearly) Impossible Task of Obtaining a Birth Certificate

Tickets are booked for our end-of-winter getaway to Cabo San Lucas in just over four week's time. As temperatures dive once again into negative digits around here, I will be the first to say I cannot wait to feel the warm sunshine on my face.

Just. Cannot. Wait.

Our trip isn't 100% a go just yet, though. We still need to secure the kids' passports and it's been quite the process in doing so. In order to get the kids' passports, we need both their social security cards and birth certificates to prove their parental guardianship and U.S. citizenship. We have those documents for Tory, but we've been waiting for what feels like forever for Aden's birth certificate to arrive by mail. A few weeks ago, I started to get nervous we were running out of time to receive it, so I called our state's department of records to verify the status of Aden's birth certificate. Of course, it's next to impossible to get a live person on the phone, so I listened to a ridiculously long message prompt and left a few phone and email messages for someone to get back to me. An employee finally responded last week and suggested I re-submit a request for Aden's birth certificate since I hadn't received it by now. They also said there's currently an eight-week turnaround on birth certificate requests. Uh, eight weeks? We leave for our trip in just over a month. If I didn't get ahold of Aden's birth certificate ASAP, then I wouldn't be able to get his passport before the trip. And obviously, if he doesn't have a passport, he can't leave the country ... which means, neither would I. BIG PROBLEM.

None of this birth certificate business even made sense to me. When Tory was born, the birth certificate arrived by mail a few weeks after she was born. I didn't have to do anything but fill out some paperwork in the hospital at the time of her birth. But, Tory was born in St. Paul and Aden in Minneapolis. Maybe the two cities (which are in different counties) had different procedures? When I contacted the department of records to ask about this for Aden, the person (via email response) asked if our personal check had cashed for the birth certificate payment. Andi and I were both confused by this because we didn't even have checks with us in the hospital, but we both remembered completing the birth certificate paperwork in the hospital. We'd never paid for a birth certificate. So, I contacted the hospital and they were of little help. They told me hospitals don't file for birth certificates because it's a legal document and that I should contact our state's department of records for next steps. Been there, done that. Now what? We were running out of time.

I looked up the department of records' local office and Andi and I finally decided to go there in person to talk to someone live. This, of course, required scheduling an appointment on Andi's very busy calendar during the work day. We bundled up the kids and braced to painfully stand in line with them at the government office to speak (reallyplead!) with someone to give us Aden's birth certificate. By some sort of sweet luck, it was all as simple as visiting the office and "picking up a copy." I'm still shocked and a little confused by this. I have a hard time believing that every single person in the entire county makes a special trip to the department of records office shortly after their baby's birth to physically obtain a copy of their child's birth certificate. I mean, for real? That's apparently the way birth certificates are distributed ... at least in this county.

Regardless, we now have a copy of Aden's birth certificate in hand and are able to apply for his passport. So, next step: to have passport photos taken. We could've done this at the post office, but that sounded like more trouble than it was worth. I hauled the kids to the nearest Wal-greens this week and had both their pictures taken there. We'd attempted this a few other times with Tory and she threw major tantrums in the store. Tory's very into playing "go to the beach" lately (because we do so much of that in January in Minnesota - ha!), so I told her we needed to take her picture so we could go to the beach. She was all for that. Aden's photo was easy to capture thanks to a tip from Erica suggesting I place a white blanket behind his head in his car seat. It worked like a charm. Aden's picture is super cute, but Tory looks a little dorky in hers. Oh, well.

Now with photos in hand, Andi and I were ready to take the whole family to the post office to file for the kids'  passports. Andi called ahead to a post office near his office to verify they processed passports because not every branch does these days. We'd heard horror stories of people waiting in line for hours to file their passport paperwork, so I came prepared with tons of activities to occupy Tory, as well as the iPad. Luckily, we only had to wait about 20 minutes. We don't have their passports just yet, but we were promised them within 1-2 weeks since we paid for expediting. I'll definitely breathe a sigh of relief when we have them in hand.

Seriously, why are these things such a process? It's 2014 and we're still required to make in person visits to pick up / file paperwork and pay for it all with personal checks. Crazy. Just glad it's all behind us now (hopefully!) and it'll all be worth it when we're digging our toes into the sand in Cabo.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Aden's Baptism Day

We baptized Aden last Sunday and what a lovely, lovely day it was. Our little boy is now one of God's children and I feel a huge sense of relief and content.

A little back-story: Andi and I baptized Tory in Nebraska at my parents church. We'd just moved into our house shortly before she was born and had yet to find a church in our neighborhood we loved. That was perfectly fine at the time (my mom hosted a very nice celebration in Tory's honor), but really stunk for us to travel all the way to Nebraska to baptize her in a church we didn't even belong to (my parents/family did, but still). Shortly after we learned we were pregnant with Aden, it lit a fire under our butts to find a church by our house to not only worship in, but baptize our second baby.

Our new church is the perfect fit for our family. We love how welcoming the congregation is, the pastors are fantastic and they have a Wednesday night weekly church service that fits perfectly with our cabin lifestyle. (We can still be active in church AND go to the cabin on the weekends - score!) This time, it wasn't very convenient for my family to be the ones to travel for baptism, but this is where we live and it was important for us to have Aden baptized in the church we belong to.

We asked my sister Ashley, brother Adam, and Andi's sister Lindsay, to be Aden's god-parents. Aden slept right through the church service, including the actual baptism. Standing up in from to front of the congregation and having splashes of water on his head didn't seem to phase him one bit. He wore my brother's baptismal outfit (which is 23 years old!). My mom said Adam swam in the outfit on the day he was baptized and it barely fit my chunky little man - ha! Good thing we didn't wait one more day for the ceremony.

I selected this verse for Aden's special day because it seemed to best summarize my hopes as a parent for Aden's relationship with God:

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be there wherever you go." Joshua 1.9

So, the party afterwards: Months ago before Aden was even born, I began planning for the reception at our house following the baptism ceremony. I searched Pinterest, but there wasn't many decorating ideas. I found a "God Bless" banner on Etsy, but it was $32. It just seemed nuts to spend that much money on something I could easily craft myself. Skip to last week when I finally got around to pulling things together for the party happening in six days. I went to the local scrapbooking store to make the "God Bless Aden" banner using the store's die-cut machines and learned they were going out of business. The die-cut machines had been sold and they barely had any supplies left to purchase. I bought an alphabet stencil, some ribbon and blue and white paper ... and guess how much it all cost me? $35 and I had to make the dang thing myself! It turned out really cute, though, so I'm glad I did it. I also purchased some white pillar candles for the table centerpiece and tied blue ribbon around each one. I tied it all together with a pretty blue, silver and white table runner.

I served two soups (chili and cheesy vegetable), deli sandwiches, a relish tray, chips and dip, and cake. Everything went over really well. It was a simple, but perfect lunch menu. My sister and mom were poking fun of me late Saturday night when we were prepping the food. I'm very much a recipe follower and they're both "throw it all in and somehow it all tastes good" cooks, so having me in charge in the kitchen was a change of pace. (I nearly had a conniption when my sister threw the diced potatoes in the vegetable soup too soon. "Wait! Nooo! It's not time!") A big thank-you to my mom, sister, and Andi's mom, Janie, for all their help pulling everything together.

Happy Baptism Day, little boy. May you develop a strong and loving relationship with God and remember He is with you always.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Aden's Two Month Check-Up

I took Aden to his two month well-child doctor's visit yesterday. I was anxiously awaiting this appointment for a number of reasons: first, he's growing like a weed and I really wanted to know his official stats; second, I've been curious about his tendency to spit up since the early days and I wanted to discuss the symptoms with our pediatrician.

Our pediatrician went on leave for double knee replacement the day Aden was born, so we've been seeing fill-in peds. at the clinic over the last two months. I'm sure they are all very qualified doctors, but none of them were our doctor. Each of the fill-ins' opinions on topics varied slightly so I was never 100% comfortable believing anything they told me. The doctor/patient trust built over time wasn't there, you know? Thankfully, my regular pediatrician is back and I was able to have all my questions answered.

First, the fun stuff: Our bouncing baby boy weighs 12 lbs. 12 oz. (60%) and is 23" tall (47%). His big ol' noggin is in the 76% measuring 40 cm around. It's so strange to have a relatively big baby as Tory was always on the lower end of every infant measurement. It makes me feel great as a breastfeeding mother, actually, because I know he's eating and growing from the nourishment I'm providing.

Not so fun: Aden received three shots at the check-up and man, was he PISSED OFF afterwards. My little boy who rarely cries screamed and carried on for a good few minutes. His face turned the color of a beet, he held his breath and wanted nothing to do with nursing. Whoo boy, does that hurt a momma's feelings.

Regarding the acid reflux, the doctor agreed Aden does have some reflux. He did not think treating the reflux with medicine was necessary however, because Aden is clearly getting enough to eat. Really, Aden doesn't seem super uncomfortable when he lays flat; he just spits up so it wasn't a matter of him being in pain or anything. I told the doctor how I've propped his mattress for sleeping and how we always keep him elevated especially after he's eaten and the doctor thought we were doing all the right things to combat the spitting up. So, we continue to do what we're doing. I'm relieved Aden's reflux isn't severe enough for medical treatment. The less drugs entering his system, the better obviously. It is a bit of an inconvenience to continually keep Aden elevated at all times, but it's not the end of the world. So, problem solved. Sort, of.

I'm feeling so fortunate lately for this little boy of mine. He is such a blessing; so smiley and good. I know how lucky we are as parents to have a healthy, happy baby and we don't take it for granted for one second.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Minnesota Christmas

We're well into January so this post will be of no interest to anyone but myself, but I wanted to take a quick minute to recap our 2013 Minnesota Christmas. Originally, we were planning to celebrate Christmas with Andi's family on December 15, but Andi's mom was feeling under the weather that day so we rescheduled for January 3, 2014. None of us wanted to wait that long, but there weren't many available dates between us until after the New Year's holiday since we spent the week of Christmas in Nebraska this year and Andi traveled for work the week following. When January 3 arrived, we had to postpone again because Andi's dad came down with a serious case of influenza and we didn't think it best to expose anyone to his sickness, especially Tory and Aden. So, we rescheduled our Christmas gathering again for Thursday, January 9. Poor Aden was the one who was sick with a cold this time, but we went ahead and held Christmas for Andi's family at our house anyway. If it wasn't then, I'm not sure when we could've all gotten together to celebrate!

Being on a week-day evening and with a sick baby that week, I kept things low-key with heavy appetizers for food, beer and wine. Andi's mom, Janie, was a big help in pulling everything together. She brought chicken wings and mozzarella sticks to munch on and I added a large selection of meats and cheeses. It pained me to pass up a holiday and not pull out all my fun dishes and charger plates, but I was feeling pretty over the holidays by this point. Sad, but true. I'd been itching to take down the remainder of my Christmas decorations all week, but left them up so it'd still feel festive. Despite the late start, we all had a great time together.

Tory has been very into "parties" lately, so I prepped her before nap time that Grandma, Grandpa, Lindsay and Kyle were coming over later for Christmas. She insisted on making decorations so we threw together a last-minute red and green paper chain to hang from the ceiling. My friend Lindsey had given the kids each a set of Christmas outfits when Aden was born, so I dressed the kids in those and they were so, so adorable.

After dinner, we quickly moved into the gifts portion of the evening since we were on limited time being a week-night and work day for everyone the following day. We let Tory open all of her presents first and she was excited about each and every one. She did take a little prodding to keep going as she wanted to play with every gift after opening it. We finally gave her our Christmas presents from "Mom and Dad" and the My First Dollhouse and suitcase were big hits with her. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen her sit and play with something as long as she has that dollhouse! The creative play she has with all the people is pretty funny to listen to.

Poor Aden just wasn't feeling like himself due to his cold, so I rocked him in my arms for most of the evening. If he could have been, I know he'd have been excited about his new PBK Anywhere Chair and all the clothes he received from everyone.

We gave Andi's mom, Janie, a new iPad Mini and she was so shocked when she opened it. She kept saying she thought it was a set of cards, so imagine her surprise when she realized it was something even better! She does so much for us, we really wanted to give her something special.

Now the holidays are officially over for us and we're moving full steam into 2014. It's hard to imagine what the kids will be like during our next Christmas holiday (Aden able to open his own gifts and Tory nearly 3 1/2 by then). Christmas is always a magical time, but it's even more so with little kids. I can't wait to see what the next year will bring.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Letters to Aden: Two Months


You're two months old now, little buddy. Just like I knew they would, these last eight weeks have flown by in the blink of an eye. With Thanksgiving occurring days after you were born, then the Christmas season following, it's been a busy few weeks around here. 

In that short time, you've grown like a weed. You now weigh 12lbs. (I'm guessing, based on weighing you with our at-home scale), wear 3-6 month clothes and size 2 diapers. It blew my mind (and broke my heart a little) how quickly you were in and out of the 0-3 month clothing stage. Isn't that the peak of babyhood? When you're still teeny tiny and rely on mama for everything? Suddenly you've got chunky little thighs, a big round belly and the cutest grin I've ever seen. Soon you'll be hitting big physical milestones and I'm just not ready for it. You're growing up far too quickly if you ask me. Slow down, little mister. Stop it right this instant.

In addition to smiling, this month you started to coo at us with lots of "ah goo's." You'll also grab onto our fingers now. You still like taking baths and will smile from ear to ear while you're in the tub. You love your swing and particularly, watching the mobile rotate around on it. I busted out the activity mat this month for you to use and so far, you don't seem like the biggest fan. Part of it is because you tend to spit up every time you're laying flat on your back and the other part is because your sister insists on laying beside you. Two's a crowd sometimes, you know what I mean? Especially when the other party has lots and lots of energy.

You're eating about 3-4oz. of breast milk every 2 1/2 - 3 hours now, but really aren't on any kind of schedule. At night, you're usually asleep for the evening around 9:00pm and sleep a good stretch until 1:00am or 2:00am. Then it's feeding time every 2-3 hours from that point. During the daytime, you take the longest naps from 7:00am - 9:00am and 12:30pm - 2:30pm. You're sleeping in the bassinet (the same one all my siblings and I used, as well as your cousins) right next to our bed. I keep the mattress propped at an angle as you'll spit up when laid flat on your back. Until we see the pediatrician at your two month well-child visit next week, I'm not comfortable having you sleep by yourself in the nursery. I'm fairly sure you have acid reflux so it makes me nervous having you out of ear-shot while you sleep. I don't mind waking up / checking on you at night because you're an arm's length away and nursing sessions are usually a quick 20-30 minutes. Rarely do I rock you to sleep. You prefer to eat, burp and lay down after a nighttime feeding, or you're content to look around on your own before drifting to sleep. You sleep best when you're bundled up tightly as you love to be warm. This past month, winter temperatures dipped down overnight to -36 degrees in Minnesota (the coldest in two decades!) and the amount of clothing I had you dressed in was ridiculous. You wore a fleece sleeper to bed with socks and a onesie underneath, a Sleep Sack blanket, a knit hat, were wrapped in a warm blanket ... and your ears and cheeks were still chilled! Believe me, the heat in the house was pumping, but it was just so cold outside. I think you inherited my poor circulation, but as long as I keep you warm, you sleep pretty well for your age.

This month, you caught your first cold and I felt so, so bad for you. My always-happy little guy was  pretty uncomfortable, especially at night, and it's really the first time I've seen you that way. There wasn't much I could do for your congested head but rinse your sinuses with saline and comfort you the best I could. Your plugged nose make it difficult to eat and you spit up much more than usual. There's things I love about having a winter baby, but all the colds and bouts of flu going around aren't one of them. Due to the season and also because we're a lot more "on the go" than I was in Tory's early days means sickness is bound to happen. Let's just hope you stay healthy from here on out.

You're still such a calm little boy. Honestly, the first time I really heard you cry with authority is when you weren't feeling well last week. Even then, you sounded like a little lion cub with a tiny rowr. You're just so content most of the time and are happy being carried around in the Baby Bjorn, or chilling in your baby swing. It might sound strange, but I dream about running away with you for a day so I can spend some one-on-one time snuggling you in my arms. I have this intense feeling of mommy guilt, like I'm not spending enough time oohing and ahhing over you, and I want drink in every little part of you before you grow up too quickly. It's just that life with two kids is so all encompassing and there's not too many quiet moments around our house these days. Don't be mad at me, little boy, if I have to share my attention with your sister, or the house, or fifty million other things happening in our lives. Know this Aden: I love you more than you'll ever know and I'm doing the very best for you I possibly can.

Love always and forever,