Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Helpful Gifts for Infants and Toddlers

I know, I know... Clothes and toys - clothes and toys right? It's what people like to buy and I get it - I love buying that stuff too - but now that I have 2 years under my belt I can tell you that there are a few other gift ideas that would make moms and dads SUPER happy and also be great for their kids.

I know, personally I always felt bad when Katie didn't get to wear clothes that people had bought her before she grew out of them and I feel like it was a lot of wasted gifts when we didn't get to wearing them. I also know I hardly ever have to buy her clothes because her grandparents provide her wardrobe which is AWESOME - and I don't mind - but I know some people really like to pick out all their clothes for their kids themselves....

So - here are some ideas for fun gifts that will make everyone happy!

  • Gift Certificates to
  • Gift Certificates to local area activities/classes
  • (Katie goes to a gym class now once a week and it's $40 a month - so if 2 people gave her $20 GC's or money with a note saying - for gym class - that would be a whole month we wouldn't have to pay for and she LOVES the gym so it's win, win)
  • Tickets to local events/concerts
  • Does the little kid in your life LOVE the wiggles? Or Elmo? Perhaps money or tickets for an Elmo Live or towards a pass to a park or tickets to an aquarium would be nice
  • Even better - if you wanted to go with them - it could be a whole outing where everyone gets to do something fun
  • Hand Me Downs - if you have clothes that no longer fit your kids - PASS THEM ALONG!! Save some sentimental items... but pass them along - if you are saving them for kids for later on, there is no guarantee the size/season will work - so pass them along to your friends and you should end up with a whole little personal network for sharing hand me downs!
  • Books - my kids love books and the dollar stores have TONS OF REALLY GOOD ONES - so you can get an awesome gift for like, $5- Katie never tires of getting new books.
  • Craft supplies - sometimes it's hard to keep up with little ones, so if you are crafty and the kid you are shopping for has a craft challenged parent - perhaps you can make a gift basket like this:
  • Watercolor Paper, Watercolor Pencils and paint brushes - you could even draw a picture on the first page to give them an idea of what to do:)
  • Stickers and sticker books - Katie LOVES STICKERS - she never gets sick of them - the dollar store has tons of them as well.
  • Check with the mom before you get a character item. My friends daughter LOVES Dora - and has everything Dora under the sun - I'm sure she'd love it if people checked with her before they bought another Dora doll in case she already has it- or in case her daughter has outgrown it yet. We have the same issue with Thomas- I'm afraid she's gonna get sick of it and we have so many trains already I'd hate for someone to spend the money for nothing
  • For newborns - you could make a gift basket of baby medicines... like Vapor Bath, Children's Tylenol, Mylicon, Diaper Rash Cream - they have these kids already assembled - but sometimes the items inside the kits are expired or recalled, so it's best to make your own kit by buying the items individually!
I hope this gave you some ideas for fun and different gifts... Post ideas that you have for stuff you've been given or that you have given to others:)
I'm not saying clothes and toys aren't fun and well received, I'm just saying that being a stay at home mom with one salary - I have realized it can be fun and helpful to think outside the box when it comes to gifts for new babies and toddlers.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


O.k. if there are any squeemish/sensitive guys or gals reading this - now is the time to go to another blog for a day or two:)


O.k. I never thought of myself as a hippie, or old fashioned or any of the other stereotypes that traditionally go along with breastfeeding. I don't think I had given it much thought until I had two friends who got pregnant at the same time - one who was going to breast feed and one who wasn't.

Now, I understand it's not for everyone and to be honest I almost think of it as being a fad kind of like knitting, that comes in and out of fashion as the years go by - but I personally think it's an important fad and one that I fully support and encourage.

Don't be scared - I don't mean la leche league encourage which is like, scary obsessed women who pretty much tell you you are a horrible parent if you don't breast feed - I mean I would like to share my 2 experiences with you and hopefully it will help you either be able to breast feed longer or make you consider it if you weren't going to consider it before.

When I had Katie, I was super surprised that I decided to try breast feeding. No one in my family had ever done it and I didn't realize it was so important to me. So, as soon as she was born the nursing began.

At the hospital, the nurses are quite hands on in both a good and bad way. When I say hands on, I mean I had never had so many people touch, manipulate, squeeze or contort my boob in my life. They all had different suggestions about the best way to hold her and how to get her to latch on properly. etc.... We also took a breast feeding class at the hospital which I HIGHLY suggest for anyone considering it as it really does explain a lot and is super helpful.

Unfortunately, Katie was not as enthusiastic about breast feeding as I was. She was LAZY. She would literally snack for about 4 - 5 minutes and then pass out for enough time that I would think it was safe to put her down and then she'd wake up and snack some more. I kid you not, I was feeding her about 20 times a day - do the math - it was RIDICULOUS!

But I persisted for 3 full weeks. Then I decided to try to pump and bottle feed the breast milk and lo and behold - she ate less frequently because it wasn't so much work to get the milk out.

It was great because I had found a way to limit the amount of times I had to feed her, but it was awful because that started 2 and a half months of me pumping full time with a SINGLE, MANUAL pump to get her enough milk to only have to feed her one or two formula bottles a day for supplementing.

I tried a hospital grade electric pump, but wasn't getting as much milk as I did with the manual - so I took it back and stuck with the manual. Had I known about different sized breast shields for the electric pump - I have a feeling my pumping ability would have been stretched out way longer than 3 months.

So, needless to say my breast feeding experience with Katie wasn't fabulous - but I was able to mostly breast feed her for 3 full months and as much work and effort as it was - I am glad I did.
There is no way to prove it - but my kid has only ever gotten colds - and in her 2 years of life - I would say she's had maybe 5. Period. No other sickness or ailments besides teething and I'd like to think part of that is because of the breast milk.

Now... fast forward to Ben. I had full intention of breast feeding and was expecting him to be like her. When he was first born, I realized how tiny and difficult it could be to get them to latch on at first - however he latched on in the first 5 minutes and nursed for about 45 minutes and we haven't looked back since. My milk came in the first night we were home and I swear to god I feel like Dolly Parton - but that will adjust itself and regulate once this little monster settles into a regular routine.

So far, he is eating about 10 - 12 times a day - which is what it should be. I haven't had much discomfort because I started using Lansinoh Lanolin to rub on my nipples in the hospital and it works wonders. A nurse in the hospital also told me I could use Olive Oil and it would help a lot too - so I have tried that as well.

No chapped, hurting nipples here!

Now, Ben has started cluster feeding which means he will go a long period without eating (luckily at night for about 3 - 4.5 hours) but then he will wake up so hungry that he will eat for what feels like 2 hours. Which I will happily deal with so that I can get the sleep at night.

He is also going through a growth spurt - so I think that's why he's eating so much at the moment.

Thank god for my husband who is taking care of Katie full time during the day for me so that I can concentrate on getting Ben on schedule. Katie is also doing very well and not getting jealous, or ANYTHING and handles me breast feeding very well. So, it's going to be a long few weeks but after we get settled in a routine, I will be able to go out and about and not have to worry about formula or carrying water around or finding a place to warm a bottle and I can't WAIT!

So... here are my suggestions for breastfeeding success/happiness!

  • Good nursing bras/tanks - you will need to have access to your breasts full time, especially the first few days so tight or long shirts are out of the question.

  • Drink lots of fluids and eat plenty of snacks (I'm a thirsty, hungry breast during the day and still have lost 15 pounds already which is amazing as I swear each of my boobs must way 5 pounds on their own) My best friends doctor once told her husband to feed her every time the baby was eating - when asked what he should feed her the doc said - a sandwich - now that's a bit ridiculous and extreme but - I do think you should drink water EVERY TIME you feed and you should have healthy easy to eat snacks available within reach.
  • Get yourself a nice cover up so that you feel comfortable feeding in front of guests. I have the BE BE AU LAIT cover and it's AWESOME - because it has a special band at the top which makes it bow out so you can actually see and watch the baby the whole time you are feeding - unlike regular covers that are like draping a blanket over you and the baby which I feel are suffocating and which don't allow you to see what's going on.
  • Get fitted for your breast pump properly. I had no idea with Katie that I had to get fitted for the breastshields that go over your boob. All pumps come with Medium Sized breast shields - here is a picture of what it's supposed to look like.
    I just figured out I need an XXL (TMI - sorry)- which is QUITE a difference from the medium and which is making a huge difference in my comfort and amount of milk I am able to pump. So, check it out and make sure yours are the right size.

  • If breastfeeding in front of guests is uncomfortable even with a cover at first, I vote you limit your guests for the first few weeks so that you can ensure you establish proper latch, etc.... you will be glad you did when you can pop your kid onto your boob with one hand under your super chic cover and feed with no effort at all in any situation at a moments notice:)
  • Have a breast feeding kit handy for night time feedings. I have a special table next to the chair I typically feed in that holds the remotes to the tv, a bottle of water, a snack, (currently cheddar cheese combos - not the most nutritious I know) my lansinoh, some diapers and wipes, burp cloths and hand sanitizer. and my ipod which is where I track all my feedings.

  • I keep it all in a basket and can just grab the basket for any chair I choose to sit in so I have everything I need right there and it makes my nighttime feedings SO MUCH MORE pleasant.
I realize not everyone can breast feed successfully and I realize not everyone wants to and I think that's perfectly ok. Like I said - I just wanted to offer some support in case it's something your thinking about. But definitely research it because breast milk does amazing stuff and has incredible health benefits for you and baby not to mention your wallet... Sure you will be spending more money on healthy, foods for you - but that's WIN WIN - especially if you want to lose your pregnancy weight quickly.

However, I do think that even if you are 100% set on bottle feeding, that you consider at least nursing while you are in the hospital so the baby can get the colostrum which is supposed to be SUPER packed with immunity boosting goodness, and important vitamins for them. Especially since you have nothing to do while you are at the hospital but enjoy your baby and get spoiled by nurses - so take advantage and try to give your baby a boost and who knows you might decide you love it and decide to continue or you might decide it's definitely not for you and not have any guilt over making that decision.

I'll tell you this. Once I started breastfeeding Katie and made the decision to add formula - I had SERIOUS GUILT - like catholic level guilt (which is funny) especially when every time I picked up a bottle of formula, I read BREASTMILK IS BEST - so it delayed our introducing formula by days because I just couldn't pull the plug and ignore the message. So if you think you're going to feel guilty too... give it a try and then you will know you made the right decision for you and baby!

I hope this helps at least one person out there who is lost in the breastfeeding world of constant feeding the first 4 weeks. Just know that it should get better after the 4th week. Meaning you should be able to feed the baby between 8 and 12 times a day and they should eat more efficiently which means they won't eat for 45 mins at a time. And I promise the ability to feed your baby anywhere, at any time, with nothing but a cover will be well worth it.
Once you get established, you can also pump bottles for your husband to help out at night and it won't mess with your supply and then hubby can be more involved and you can get more sleep - win win!

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

GUEST POST - Finding new mommy friends!

YAY! I'm happy to announce our second Guest Poster!!!!
Christine Bouchard

Today's topic is:
How do you find local mommy friends

Let's be honest - once you have kids - some of your friendships either thrive or fail.
Some of your friends who don't have kids will step up and be amazing support and be fun for your kids and some will disappear. It happens to us all.

Add in living in a "new" area and you have a whole other level of difficulty in terms of establishing new friendships with people who you have things in common with.

Unfortunately, the only criteria cannot be having children as I have learned myself from a FAILED play date experience. Granted, I am in NO POSITION to be turning away friends as I my "good friend" count is pretty low at the moment - it's also not good to keep getting together with people if you won't enjoy it - just because they have kids. Especially if the kids won't necessarily get along either.

Christine touches on this with the following post and I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions as I am in the same position myself - in the market for new friends.

In fact... as I found out yesterday - there are apparently match making websites out there for married people who want to have affairs - so why isn't there a matching website out there for parents like us who need to add to our roster of support and laughter?

Ladies... perhaps this is a business opportunity we should work on ASAP!!! Think about it - we could be the next Zuckerbergs!

Here is Christine's post:

OK so I’ll admit it I am a total loser or at least I feel like it. I wasn’t exactly popular in high school but I would say at least 95% of the people I graduated with knew my name.

I had a close group of friends-mostly guys, in college I commuted but I still had my sorority sisters and then it happened… I got married and moved, so this caused me to make new friends. I had a great group of them too. We’d go out on Friday nights, have BBQ’s on Saturdays, hang out in the evenings and just talk at someone’s house and then it happened again…we had a kid.

Now I sometimes wonder why I even own a cell phone when I can’t think of who to call.

I still have my old friends but since none of us are living in the same place as where we started our friendships they don’t fill the void of who do I spend my day-to-day friendship time with.

Sure I have a lot of people I call friends but most of them are older with older kids so they don’t have to live the early to bed hermit life we have going on. Those that are our age are either still rocking the single world or if they are married, they have yet to start their baby making days.

Now for some reason my husband could care less.
He is perfectly content with hanging with our kid, the guys at the fire department and me of course. I however, need more interaction and I need it with other mom’s. I think it would be easier if my husband wasn’t working every other weekend and it is just JC and I looking for things to do…there is only so much mall time my small budget can handle and only so long my little man will let me shop for as well.

So this is where I have a problem…why are all my mommy friends online and not local so they can come over for an afternoon glass of say sweet tea
(it’s only proper when you live in the south)
While our kids play together? How do I make mommy friends?

I swear I stare jealously of women that are out together with their kids.
This is particularly hard for me since I work all week so mom groups are out, I run into mom’s in my neighborhood but that might be one night at the park or one day at the pool but then it might be weeks before I see them again.

I look at JC and wonder how kids do it? How do they just start playing with someone and by the end of the day they are best friends? So here I am as one mom to a group of others asking
“How do I make friends?”

If you need some ideas yourself check out this website

-Christine Bouchard

O.k. Annie again and let me tell you this hits close to home! We moved to a new state 6 months after Katie was born and I felt LOST being a full time stay at home mom in a new town/state with no one to talk to except my online community.

Now... first and foremost I want to say that my online network of moms has been INVALUABLE to m over the last year and a half. I don't think I would have survived moving and being out here alone without you all and Facebook has been a wonder at helping me make strong connections with people that were only acquaintance before I had a child. Christine for instance is someone I went to high school with and we knew each other but weren't particularly close... Now, 11 years later, (ouch that hurt to say) we are finding that we are SO SIMILAR that we would probably be spending every other day together if we lived in the same vicinity! However, multiple states separate us and without the ability to physically get together - it's not the same as being able to call someone over for coffe/tea or wine!

Now, I am SUPER lucky in that when we moved here - there was already a young family with a daughter living in the 2 family we rent. So, it was an instant friend for Katie and for me. Even luckier - we actually get along and have some things in common, so it's a very valuable and reciprocal friendship and not just a play date once a week.

I also found another good friend by park stalking. I know, I know... it sounds awful - but the reality is - we met one day at the park and started talking and I think we both knew we weren't like "the other mothers" - you know who I am talking about - the "park" moms who show up in designer clothing with their $5 lattes and sit on the benches and talk trash about the other people in the park - very Mean Girls and not my style.

Unfortunately, I didn't see her again for a few weeks or maybe it was months... either way - I was bummed that I hadn't taken that chance to get her information - then I finally saw her again at the park and we talked and exchanged information and found out we were considering signing up our daughters for the same mommy and me class. That conversation set me over the edge and made me sign her up and we haven't looked back since then.

DOUBLE LUCKY - her daughter is the same age as Katie and she also watches another little boy who is 2 months younger than them. So - it's win win for all of us!

If it hadn't been for the park and going out of our way to reach out to each other - we wouldn't be where we are today.

I am still in the market to add to my roster. I'm a very social lady and Katie is great at playing with other kids - so I look forward to what you all have to say and hope that I can take some of your tips and use them to find more friends for all of us.

OH And a final thought - I totally understand when it comes to the husbands being different. My husband is the same way - he doesn't need as much social interaction as I do - and I find it hard to understand that as I'm sure he finds it hard to understand why I get so sad sometimes that I don't have too many people to call over for a girls night or to chat with over a bottle of wine at the end of a long week. But we support each other in our personal preferences for social interaction and whereas I would rather go to Starbucks and learn to crochet for the night, my husband is happy going to the REDBULLS soccer games, sometimes by himself and it works for him and it works for me!

Ladies - let's chat!

Christine - thanks again for bringing about a VERY IMPORTANT and relevant topic for us.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Labor sucks but Delivery is a piece of cake Part DEUX

O.k. so I left off where the cute German doctor who didn't know my name had just allowed Dave to be my support person during the spinal block/epidural sticking/placement. If you've ever had one, you can imagine my surprise at that because it's only like, the most important part of getting anasthesia and SUPER dangerous since they put the feed into your spine.

While they were inserting it - and I was crying and still shaking and everything else - the lady had moved a little monitor thingy to my toe - so I was like, "Did you just put something on my toe what the hell is on my toe???" and apparently that was hysterical because the nurses kept saying how despite what was going on, I kept making them laugh - so I suppose there was no real danger considering I was able to joke still.

So.... fast forward - the line is in (it took like not even a minute ) and dreamy german doctor shot some magic liquid into the line and as soon as it hit my body, the pain was gone.

That shit is no joke.

Now, I guess my blood pressure worried them at that point, but I was in pain free heaven apologizing to everyone and Dave because I thought I had just sprained his neck I was pulling on him and concentrating so hard while they did the block.

(P.s. I think they should always let husbands be that person - as it made me way calmer and made me feel safer somehow to have it be Dave that I was talking to while they did that - so perhaps if you cry enough - and you like your husband enough, they will let you do the same when your time comes!!!)

It's now like 12:20 and all the chaos has settled. I am laying peacefully in my bed talking MORE AND FASTER than I normally talk (yes I am dead serious)- completely doped up.

Apparently, something is in that magic little shot can make you extremely warm and itchy - so I was talking very intently about how itchy it was, and scratching all over my body and I kept telling the nurses that I could never be a junkie if this is what it feels like! I was super concerned with them knowing I couldn't be a junkie as I repeated this for about 20 minutes here and there. It was seriously trippy!

But, I was pain free, felt a million times calmer and was ready to have this baby. So, all we had to do was wait.
and wait
and wait

Drugs slow down the labor process and as fast as he had been coming pre-epidural, he slowed down ten fold as I stopped dilating until about 7 PM later that night. Which ultimately was ok - because I was comfortable so at the end of the day - I'm ok with that.

My wonderfully, adorable doctor came over after his office hours, my sweet nurses kept checking on me and joking with me and refusing to let me eat (bitches ;)) and Dave and I tried to find something fun to watch on tv - which ended up being Princess Bride which I like, but am not super fond of - but dave LOVES, so I let him watch it.

The doctor came in and checked me, broke my water and said within 2 hours we should be done. He also suggested we stop the drip a little early because it was slowing things down and I told him I trusted him - so to do it. He assured me we could always put it back on.

They put me on pitocin around 8 and then the doctor came back around 9.

They checked me to see if I had dilated, chatted a bit, got organized - made the table do it's transformer thing. (I am obsessed with the transformer tables - they seriously amaze me) We found out Dave wouldn't have to hold my leg this time, which made me very happy and then he got dressed into his delivery gear.

He said - we should be able to do this quickly and peacefully and not rush and not too hard.
I told him "before we start this, I don't need any mirror and I don't want to feel him crowning so you don't have to worry about any of that!"

I pushed like 5 peaceful, easy times and by 9:13 - Ben was on my belly getting cleaned up.

I'm telling you - delivery is a breeze for me. I could deliver babies all day - it's the labor part that sucked this time.

All in all, it all worked out PERFECTLY.
  • Our parents were all together - taking AWESOME care of Katie
  • she wasn't freaked out at all and took visiting VERY well
  • I had saved my dad from going to Canada
  • Dave had made it through delivery feeling kind of ok considering he had the flu
and we had a BEAUTIFUL baby boy with a full head of hair who wasn't wrinkly which are my only 2 requests from my newborns when they come out!

The only down side was my 2nd night in the hospital I had to send Dave home because he had taken a turn for the worse and looked and sounded awful and I wanted to make sure he got a good nights sleep - so I spent that night alone. At the end of the day - I need him as healthy and ready to go as possible - so I sacrificed being cared for and having support that night so that he could spend time with Katie and get some sleep - I'm a mom through and through what can I say?

As for now. My recovery is going AWESOMELY- I've barely even taken any pain meds today and feel like a million bucks. I am ten times more recovered at this stage than I was with Katie . Ben is doing very well with breastfeeding and had made my milk come in by the first night home.

Hello Betty Boobs... that will be my next post - so if you have experience with breastfeeding - I'll be looking for it:)

Gotta go feed my man - we both just woke up from a 2 plus hour nap:)

Thanks for reading.

Hope it wasn't too detailed for you.

Labor sucks but Delivery is a piece of cake

SURPRISE! I have come back to the blogging world with a new person to talk about! Ben decided to make his appearance very painfully, and suddenly on Thursday.

Here is my story for all of you to laugh at.

I went to the doctor on Tuesday to get checked assuming the doctor would tell me I was dilating - he told me I wasn't dilating and that he would probably see me the following Tuesday for my next appointment. I left his office dejected and sad as I was sure that I was feeling things and I thought time to be pregnant was over. I was super stressed about logistics regarding where my father would be, (he commutes to Canada every few days for work) who would stay with Katie, what time of night it would be etc.... so news that it wasn't gonna happen made me sad.

My parents decided to take Katie home with them for a few days so she could get a change of scenery and I could rest as dong things with her were physically getting harder. So, we said... let Katie go on an adventure with her grandparents and we'll re-group in a few days to see what the next plan of action is.

I had 100% resigned myself to the fact that he would be coming this week - so I set out to rest, relax and enjoy my few days of quiet before Katie came back and we had to start logistically planning all over again.

I woke up Wednesday morning and Dave was sick. He said he though the had the flu. My husband doesn't stay home unless he's REALLY sick - and he called out of work. So I sent him into the bedroom on quarantine and then left the house for the morning to run errands and hopefully stay germ free. Then I came home and cooked him a special dinner. Made some chili to freeze and then watched Date Night.

Dave slept/rested all day in the bedroom and then we set up the sofa bed for me so that I could stay away from him that night. About an hour after he went to bed (10 pm ish) as I was catching up on Greys Anatomy on demand - I started having contractions. At first, I ignored them - then they got stronger and I literally laughed out loud.

My father was scheduled to drive back to Canada sometime in the middle of the night, Dave had the flu and I had just decided to get a pedicure and do laundry all day Thursday.

I waited out the contractions for a few hours - let Dave sleep - tried to call my parents to make sure my dad didn't go to Canada (they didn't pick up the phone and I'm still bitter about it and sharing it with all of you. They get an F for being prepared for GO TIME) However, Katie was safely sleeping in her room at their house - so they MORE than redeemed themselves in the end, I am simply sharing how much irony there is involved in my story.

So... I finally try to take a nap and the contractions get stronger - so around 3 am I went into the bedroom and rubbed Daves back and said... Honey, I'm sorry - but I think we're having a baby today! So he woke up with me and hung out and we counted contractions until the morning.

They were getting closer together but weren't very long. Dave's parents were on their way to my parents house to visit with them and Katie as they hadn't seen her in so long - so we had to call them and tell them to bring their GO bags as we thought they would be staying down here for awhile. (they are from Maine)

Here's Where the short version starts

Then when the drs. office opened, we headed in, With our hospital bags, etc...
At 10 am - the Dr. checked me and said that I wasn't really in active labor and wasn't dilating - so that I should go home and walk and come back anytime during the day if I thought it was getting worse - and he would check me. He also mentioned that it could be pre-labor and I might not go back to see him until Monday.

Devastated - we headed home and stopped at Panera Bread since he said I could eat as I wasn't in labor.

We got home and all hell broke loose. In the middle of texting one of my local friends, they all of a sudden kicked up about about a million notches and in the matter of an hour they were so bad that they were 2 - 3 minutes apart and I realize now that I was also having back labor.

Now... here is a little back story.

My labor and delivery with Katie were CAKE. I barely felt pain, had an epidural that kept me comfortable - pushed for 20 minutes and had a beautiful baby. My recovery was a little rough - but the actual labor and delivery was a cake walk. I slept the whole time and didn't even need any hand holding or coaching.

Fast Forward to Thursday morning at 11:55 - back labor - contractions every 2 minutes and me being unable to stop hysterical crying and apologizing to Dave over and over.

We got back in the car - went to the doctors office. It was the longest 15 minute ride of my life. Having back labor and contractions in a car is not something I would suggest for anyone. I cried hysterically as we walked into the office and I had 2 contractions before I was even in the exam room.
The doctor came in and his face changed and he checked me and said I was 3 cm dilated but obviously not doing well, so he would send me to labor and delivery. (me still hysterically crying - apologizing to everyone)

We got in the car - drove the 3 blocks to the hospital - I had 2 more contractions including one on the way into the building. Yes, I was THAT girl, holding onto the doorway gritting my teeth, crying through a contraction.

They wheeled me upstairs in a wheelchair (I walked in on my own with Katie) and they started the "in-take"

Then I really became THAT girl. Back labor is no joke - I was not prepared. I was the SCREAMING, CURSING, HUFFING AND PUFFING lady that you don't want to hear when you are checking in to labor and delivery. I swear to god, my body was taken over by a demon. I am not normally like this. I was writing and arching my back and yelling and telling the nurses and Dave to shut up when they said it was ok and almost over.

However, as soon as the contraction was over - I was back to myself laughing and joking - so I guess it could have been worse.

At one point I had to pee - (they were still registering me, etc....) So Dave helped me over to the bathroom and the nurses said - you can pee - but don't push!!! I was like.. .WHAT? OK I'm on it - then proceeded to have 2 contractions - one while walking - one while peeing - that is an experience let me tell you!

I got back into bed and they FINALLY drew my blood to get me started - everything seemed to be going ok - although I was still in pain. Dave went to move the car as it was still in front and the nurses left to get stuff.

I was sitting on the edge of the bed when I had 3 more HUGE contractions - so severe that I tried to find the call button to get the nurses cause I thought he was coming - and instead hit the light button and had to sit in the damn dark screaming and writing until I could re-focus and hit the right button!

During the last one - I broke down again and was hysterical crying and freaking out and sobbing - I saw Dave coming back with our stuff and the anesthesiologist walking in to total CHAOS.

The next 5 minutes went like this.

The anasthesiologist didn't even get my name - he kept saying, Miss, I'm sorry I don't know your name but I am going to give you the Mercedes Benz of pain medicine to help you out.

I wasn't even officially in the system yet - and they hadn't run my blood work (which is kinda mandatory before giving anything)

So apparently my crazed, freaked out, appearance was severe enough that they all thought it was best if they give me a SPINAL BLOCK immediately. (that's what they give when you get a c-section. So, between 11:45 ish and 12:30, I had dilated from 3 - 7 with back labor and I had been given a combo spinal block/epidural. Which made my blood pressure drop so they kinda freaked out and did some stuff very fast to make sure I was ok.

They even let Dave hold me while he put the epidural line in - which I highly doubt is usually permitted - so they must have realized I was in that bad of shape....

That was just the first part of our labor experience this time around.
I gotta go feed the baby and then I will come back with part 2 - sorry it's so long. I know some people like details:) And it is really kinda a funny story in the end:)

Be back soon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Having an identity part 2

So, in writing my post this morning, I left out the other important aspect of being a whole person.
Having an individual identity outside of your kids AND your marriage.

Before I had kids I really invested myself in work. Work was who I was.
I had a few hobbies at the time, but between working FT and going to school at night - there wasn't much time for hobbies.

Once I quit and decided to stay home with Katie AND move even further away from everything we knew - I found that I had lost myself.

I didn't have friends who lived close by, or who would come visit me often. No siblings to gab on the phone with or have over for coffee - no work friends to meet up with at night.
It was me, Dave and Katie.

So, I started going to the library and met some very nice ladies there who got me back into crafting. So I started knitting and crocheting AND reading all at the same time.

I started going to the gym and found the time to be so rewarding to just get out of the house and do something that was ALL FOR ME that made me feel good and that I knew was making me healthier and less stressed for my family.

I started an online book club (which is pretty much defunct at this point - the holidays killed us, but for a few months there we were kicking ass and reading books once a month and meeting in an online chat room.

I found people on FB and re-connected virtually. I joined a book/knitting club.

I was a member of my colleges Alumni board of Directors for a time which filled a void in my life that staying home and not working had created.

I started blogging.

These are all things I did for me first and others second. These are things that bring me joy and stress relief and frustration all at the same time. A little frustration every now and then never hurt anyone.

Luckily I have 2 good local friends here - one who lives downstairs and has and a 3 year old
(fate right?) and the other I met at the park one day and we just hit it off and started talking (she has a 2 year old) So I have been lucky enough to make good friends that also have children that are GREAT friends to my daughter. Most of our activities revolve around the kids, but that's ok - because we all have fun. And occasionally we leave the kids and husbands and actually get out alone for a few hours too because it's not just the kids that we have in common.

If it weren't for all of these things - I could not be a good mother to my child. A miserable, unhappy or lost person is not capable of being the best person they can be. I truly believe that.
I have noticed a HUGE improvement in myself since I have found all of these things to do and since I no longer feel like, "just a mother."

What things do you do for yourself already and what things would you like to be able to do for yourself but you haven't had the chance yet?

Having an identity/life outisde of your kids

Tough topic - but something I think that needs discussing and I certainly am interested in all of your opinions as you have been the greatest supports for me lately, aside from my local friends here in Jersey the past few months!

Having an identity outside of your kids.

I am lucky to be madly in love with my husband. I know that sounds kind of silly and kind of obvious - but I realize that in today's day and age of quicky divorces and couples therapy and "irreconcilable differences" that I am one of the lucky few who really is married to her best friend.

Sure, we both do things that irritate each other - he moves at a snails pace for certain tasks and likes to take his time waking up in the morning, whereas I'm a tasmanian devil starting as soon as I open my eyes in the morning running through the house doing things to get my day started - but at the end of the day we can laugh about it and it works.

Laughing is important. We laugh all the time.

We got married because we chose each other to spend the rest of our lives with. Kids were an afterthought. When we were getting married, I can't even remember if we had discussed kids - although I always knew I wanted some. We talked about work and school for sure because we were both setting out to begin our careers and we both WANTED careers - so that was important to us both. But, kids I think we decided would come later.

We were married for 2.5 years before we decided to have Kaitlyn and our decision was made on an airplane. (no - I'm NOT talking about the mile high club ladies) We had just spent 3 AMAZING months living and working in San Francisco and prior to that we had had 2 FULL years of traveling around the US and world together. We were both working and happy in our jobs and decided that we had started to check off some of our "life" list things so maybe it was time to start thinking about kids.

We returned from SF in April and got pregnant in May. Apparently it was meant to be!

I love my daughter. For those of you who like or love working, (I fully understand that distinction can change every day) you can understand what a sacrifice it can be to decide to give up a career path to stay at home with kids. Not only financially - but personally.

I love working. I loved being tied to a blackberry and accountable at all hours. I always checked my email at home. I didn't go to work at 9:00 and forget about it at 4:55. Work was a part of me.
I love being challenged - which is why I went back to school while I was working FT to get a masters in Human Resources because I loved the field so much I wanted to get my degree so I could progress within it.
When I decided to stay home and move closer to my husbands job so that we could have more family time together - that was also a sacrifice. I was leaving the town we had made home, local friends, being closer to our parents and my job.

However we were gaining the ability to be together more - just the 3 of us. My husband now has a 5 minute commute. If I need him during lunch time because I need a serious mommy time out - I have that. He helps grocery shop and cook and spends alone time with Katie all the time.

It's a wonderful life. I don't mean to sound braggy - but for all the sacrifices that we made, we really have a very happy and fulfilling home life. As a couple and a family.

Which brings me to the main topic (sorry... it's taking so long)

My husband and I still enjoy spending time away from our kids. I think it's important that he have the ability and desire to go out after work one night and do something JUST FOR HIM. I also think it's important that he spend alone time with our daughter - the same way I get alone time with her during the day. She calls them dates and she loves them.

On a Saturday afternoon, he might take her to the little zoo close by - just the two of them. I don't feel we have to be together every free second of every day. I don't think it's necessarily healthy. And I certainly don't think I should feel bad about being left behind in a quiet house.

My parents are amazing with Kaitlyn and will stay overnight with her and have even started taking her to their house for a few nights so we can have some peace and quiet. (especially since I've been pregnant) I don't feel bad about that. She has a GREAT TIME! She is super well prepared for the fact that when this baby comes, mommy and daddy won't be at home with her and she might be with someone else for 2 days. I think it's going to be less traumatizing than if she had NEVER stayed with anyone else.

I think as parents you are MORE THAN ENTITLED to time alone. I think that as parents you have to have an identity outside of your children. I mean, after all - you were a person before you had children weren't you? With interests and hobbies and a social life. So, I don't think that should be put entirely on hold until your kids "leave the house."

Now, I haven't left the country or even traveled away from her by plane and I don't know that we'll ever do that because I have travel issues and the thought of leaving her behind freaks me out- but I don't think that if you take a weekend to get away from your kids that it makes you less of a parent or less dedicated.

Now, if your kids are at your parents house every other day and you are out partying and never spending time with them and resent being around them - that's something else.

I'm talking about having a healthy relationship with your husband away from the kids and having some sense of personal identity that is separate from your kids. I love going away for a night and going on hikes and walks and trying new restaurants - things we do WITH and WITHOUT Katie. But, let's be honest... when is the last time you were able to sit at the bar at a local gastropub and listen to a live band that just started playing for an hour with your kids? I've never done it, but we were able to do it one night while she was with my parents and we went to dinner and the live band just kinda showed up and it was awesome.

We came home refreshed and relaxed and ready to go back to parent mode.
I don't think that I should feel bad about that and I don't think that there is anything wrong with having a life outside your kids. I personally think it's the healthier of the 2 options.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Special Dollar Savings Plan

Good morning ladies!
As I await this kids arrival I have started reading a new book called Somebody's Gotta Say It by Neal Boortz. If I haven't shared this already, I read a lot. I use it to help me sleep better at night so I go through multiple books a month. My dad recommended this one to me.

My dad mentioned in particular the last chapter which is a special Dollar Savings Plan that the author swears by. It's a VERY simple concept and makes total sense and is fail proof from what I can tell.

I know people talk all the time about how they just can't save money. No matter what they try - it doesn't work.

Personally, I use automatic deposit to build our savings fairly quickly and that has worked for us for the past 5 years of being married. Plus anytime we come into unexpected money, it goes into our savings account as well - including tax returns.

However, this plan has prompted me to start a special dollar stash of my own and I challenge you all to try it with me for at least 2 months!

Yup, that's right - it's a CHALLENGE!!!!

Here is how it works... You don't ever spend dollar bills. You stash them away old school school style in a can or something fun and don't touch them until it's time to count them all up and see how much you have saved.

You can carry and spend cash as usual. But every time you get a dollar - you set it aside and at the end of the day you empty out your purse or wallet of all the dollar bills and put them in your savings container. He suggests having a few special dollar bills that you use for tips or tolls, etc... but that for the most part you refuse to spend dollar bills.

I say, start thinking of them like pennies... Who really spends pennies on a regular basis?

He said that when he started using this method he was shocked at how quickly he had saved and how easily it was to forget about the dollar bills so he didn't feel like he was missing out on anything or sacrificing.

Now, personally I am a slave to my debit card and I tried to go on a cash only diet and failed miserably because I never go to the bank. So, I will have to change my actions a little bit to include carrying and using cash instead of my debit card.
But, we all know this is better for your check book anyway - as you ALWAYS OVERSPEND when using cards... I think what's 20 bucks here or there and then check my balance and am like... OH :( that was a lot. The same principle applies to the dollar savings plan - it's a dollar here and there and it ends up amounting to quite a bit.

So... I think I am going to use it to save for a super fancy haircut at my favorite hair salon for a post baby makeover outing!

What are you going to try to save yours for? I might even decorate my super fancy savings can, especially if this baby doesn't come and my parents take Katie back to their house for a few days - I'll have a lot of time on my hands and will need to be entertained!

So... goodluck, I hope it works and I hope someone accepts the challenge with me:)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spacing your kids out

I was asked an interesting question and thought it would make a nice blog post!

How did I decide when to have the second baby???

I think this is a question that most parents think about pretty intensively these days seeing as how there are so many more ways to control if and when you have more children these days.

For me, I was surprised at how easy it was for me to make the final decision to stay at home with Katie. I wasn't sure I would be able to handle it Full Time for a long time but then once we got home and I started my maternity leave I found it to be incredibly easy to make the final decision to give up my pay check and stay home. Part of what made it easy for me is that my husband had just been given a very nice promotion and raise, so my paycheck wasn't going to be as sorely missed.

We have always been good at saving and we have made the decision not to buy a house for awhile, because to me, I'd rather rent and have more money every month at my disposal than have the perks of owning a house. I also have no interest in dealing with flooded basements, leaking roofs, shoveling snow or busted boilers... so for us - renting works until we figure out for sure where we want to live long term. I think the absence of a mortgage and maintenance on a house provides tons of cushion in our budget, and I'd rather have that cushion - especially since I'm not working.

Even though I made the decision to stay home with my children for now - I do fully intend to go back to work. Sometimes I miss it more than words can say and I have gone through many times when I have been severely bitter about being "stuck at home" because I miss the social outlet, control, and order that a normal job provides.

I got my masters in Human Resources before we had Katie and it's a field I fully intend to return to. I don't think I could be a housewife - I just don't have it in me. Not that I'm bashing housewives - because I fully understand how much work and effort it is to RUN A HOUSEHOLD and have kids at home, because that is truly what we do. It's just that being that we will always live in the more expensive parts of the country due to my husbands work - I just don't think we could afford for me to be home full time and I think that I would go crazy without an office job. Even if it's part time somewhere or consulting - I need to have deadlines and meetings and phone calls and emails. It's just how I am happiest.
I will be the frazzled mom going to PTA meetings, checking my blackberry and scheduling work meetings around my kids activities. Wondering why the heck I am trying to do it all, but knowing that work is something that I won't be able to give up completely.

Because I was getting the bug to go back to work as Katie was getting older and not "needing me" as much - it was either - go back to work - or have the second baby as far as I was concerned. So, we opted to have the second baby. I didn't want to put her in daycare and then go back to work for a year or less and then take off again to stay home with the next one and I fully intend to stay home with the next one for about a year - so I felt my clock was ticking in terms of being able to get back to work. I also think it will be nice to have kids close in age for a few reasons.

1) If they end up liking each other - they will be great friends - probably once they leave my house and have graduated college - but still - the potential is there
2) I wasn't looking forward to the idea of having to go back in time to sleepless nights and diapers, and breast feeding etc.... after having too much time off from that with an older child.
3) I want to go back to work - soon.
4) We happen to be in a situation where my husband works 5 minutes away (by design) so our family time is plentiful and awesome. It makes having children even more fulfilling because we can spend time together AND spend time apart and neither of us feels too frazzled because it's not like he has a long commute or anything. We can each go to the gym and not be bitter or stressed or sad because it's not overwhelming.
5) My husband and I plan to do some seriously awesome stuff once the kids are out of the house and we feel the younger we are when that happens - the more awesome our adventures together will be:)

Now, we haven't decided fully whether we are done with 2 or not. We both come from small families which makes me sad because I don't want our kids to be all alone when we are gone. So, there is always a chance I will have 1 more (only 1 more unless we have a freakish twin incident) so that I can ensure that my kids will have family to grow up with - but we are VERY far away from making that decision.

I do, however, feel that if we have a 3rd, we would like that one to be kind of close in age to the other 2 - so that there isn't a huge age gap - however I realize that getting pregnant and having children is NOT ALL SCIENCE and precision - so if we end up deciding that we REALLY REALLY want a 3rd, I am sure we will welcome it whenever it decides to make its appearance and make everything else work around that.

I have heard so many different theories on what the perfect age gap is and what the worst age gap is, etc... I truly think that there are many variables involved for making the decision that works for you. Some people space their kids out every 3 years and say it's the best thing they ever did. Some people get pregnant as soon as they physically can after having the first, and they say that's the best gap - it all depends on you, your spouse, and your situation. Just remember that the older your first child gets, the more shocking it will be to going back to infancy.

I haven't had to carry a diaper bag since November when Katie was potty trained. She has been sleeping through the night IN HER OWN ROOM for a good year now for the most part with a few teething/sickness incidents here or there. She is in bed between 7:30 - 8:00 and the rest of the night is ours until she wakes up between 6:30 and 7 in the morning. Dave and I usually trade off every other day getting up with her so the other one can sleep in until 8 if we really wanted to (and if our bodies let us)

We have only been living this luxurious sleep lifestyle for about a solid 8 months now - but let me tell you - it's gonna be an adjustment when this boy makes his appearance sometime in the next 13 days and we have to go back to nights and days being mixed and breastfeeding all the time.

But I just tell myself - he will grow up too - and someday soon we will get our luxurious sleep schedule back and we will have an amazing family to show for it and our kids will be the best of friends from day one and they will be millionaires who will take care of us when we are older as a thank you for all the sacrifices and decisions we make for them now...

How did you decide to space yours out??
Remember there are NO JUDGMENTS allowed on this page - so if it wasn't particularly a decision that you actively made- that's alright - it happens all the time:) But share your story and tell us how it turned out for you - good, bad, will you change it next time? Will there be a next time? Do you think you have the magic number for spacing it out? Do you not even think about spacing at all?
One kid only? Tell us why - we want to hear it and talk about it!!!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Food Waster/Kitchen Inefficiency

O.k. O.k. so I'm obsessed with couponing to the point where I feel guilty if I end up at the grocery store without my little coupon folder and it has saved us a crazy amount of money since January 1st. In January and February alone coupon saved us close to $275 dollars on things like groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc...

So I am well on my way to contributing even more to the "family" bank account - however I'm awful at wasting the food I've just saved money on.

Every few months I have to clean out the freezer and throw away mystery meat or even meat that I have taken the time and effort to label with name and date, but then it gets stuck in the back and is like, 6 months old before we find it again...

I also tend to have about 5 pasta/salsa jars open in my fridge at any given time - none of which I remember when I opened them and all of which I am afraid to use or eat because I never really know how long they stay good for once they go in the fridge.

I do try to make a "meal plan" although these days it's more of like a shot in the dark than an actual plan - I buy ingredients that can make certain things and then sometimes don't make those things.... so I have to get better at sticking to the plan.

So..... Here is what I am going to attempt to do

  • Leave a sharpie in kitchen so I can label things going in the freezer and sauce jars (I had actually started doing this about 2 weeks ago and find it helps TREMEMDOUSLY)

  • Freeze more. I made a baked ziti the other day to freeze when the baby gets here and decided that I needed extra sauce, so I used 1.5 jars of sauce. I need to put that extra sauce in a freezer bag so that it doesn't get thrown out in 2 weeks and so we can use it when we eat the baked ziti cause I HATE dry baked ziti:)

  • Put a list on the fridge of the big stuff I bought and the MEAL PLAN. This way it will remind me at first glance what I bought and what I was intending to make so I don't end up eating cereal for dinner because I don't feel like digging out all the ingredients.

  • Start storing pantry ingredients together that make meals. I saw this on a blog and thought it made perfect sense... For instance - once I have all the canned stuff I need for chili - put them all together on the same shelf so I don't have to waste time looking for everything only to find out I'm missing something.... (I love organizing... can you tell???) If I had the space, I would even put them in little baskets all together and label them - but alas I have limited space, so grouping will have to do for now.
Those are the things I am going to try very hard to work on over the next few weeks so that they become habit and natural. I don't like buying and eating processed foods, so we cook A LOT - which is why I need so much organization. I don't mind spending more money on real food - but I do mind that I waste it.
My husband is AWESOME at taking leftovers for lunch and once I'm done incubating this child, I am sure I will be able to go back to eating leftovers - at the moment I'm more of a cereal for lunch kinda girl because leftovers don't appeal to me at all.

What things do you do to keep your kitchen organized and efficient? Share tips with how to make sure you don't let something sit in the fridge too long only to throw it out.

How do you tell how long something can safely be in the fridge before throwing it out?

For example, Pizza sauce... when I buy a jar - it says use within 7 days - I'm kind of a stickler for that kind of thing - but then the other day I bought pizza sauce in a squeeze bottle (not particularly air tight) and it said to use within a month - so what the hell is the difference?

Sour cream?
Pasta Sauce?
Apple Sauce?
Orange Juice?
Cream Cheese?
Ricotta Cheese? (3-5 days max)

All of these are things that I tend to not use/throw away after a week of sitting out opened. How long do you let these things sit in your fridge?

Do you have any tips for favorite meals to make to eat that day and then freeze a second batch for later? I already do that for ziti and lasagna and chili and even pot roast - but what other dishes freeze and defrost well? I remember the fog we were in when Katie was born and I want to make sure we have good options to take out and heat up versus ordering out or a bowl of Rice Krispies at 9 at night when we remember to eat!!!!

Looking forward to your tips.

Oh... and do you guys want more info on couponing? What types of things are you interested in? The last time I had a peapod delivery - I ended up having a coupon for half of the items I bought. I have gotten so used to having coupons for things that I almost don't want to buy anything until I have a coupon for it because I know I will get one and I hate the idea of paying more than I should.

I have also used the Rite Aid deals numerous times since my first posting to score free or almost free items between coupons/sales and their register reward money. It just takes a bit of effort and some time (especially in the beginning) - but it becomes habit and you get faster and it's SOOOOOOOO worth it!

Happy Monday!