32 Weeks

What a whirlwind year. All of the sudden I’m 32 weeks pregnant today, 8 weeks (hopefully) left until we’re a family of 4. Where did the time go?

This pregnancy has been so much easier in a sense as I haven’t had time to focus on it. Every hour of the day seems accounted for. It’s only stolen moments that I can think about baby boy #2. Whenever he kicks or somersaults or hiccups I am reminded of his quiet presence, waiting to make his debut. My belly is so large that I imagine it’s hard to believe I don’t spend all my time conscious of him but as must be common with younger children, the anticipation is more subdued, more of a bear hug than a champagne toast.

I worry he’ll think he was less desired, less welcomed, less celebrated than his older brother but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. To know his brother only increases our excitement. Now we know what love can feel like and to know that is to understand the world is absolutely limitless. That we will love him perhaps more easily because our hearts have already been opened.

This year has been full of challenges. Some have felt well beyond my ability to handle them, but we are still here, still standing, still reaching out to the universe asking for more.

So, the countdown begins baby boy! See you soon!

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Feeding a Toddler Makes Me Want to Lose My Mind

I hate feeding my toddler. I feel dramatic saying this but it’s essentially true.

Feeding him baby purees when he was an itty bitty thing? Loved it, adorable. I didn’t care if he didn’t like it. I had memorized the whole “babies should try something 7 times before you give up on it” (I’m paraphrasing). He was getting all his important nutrients through breast milk or formula. Real food was just for fun. He spit out something? Oh well, we’ll try again another day.

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See? Adorable. 

Now our tiny baby who ate everything is a 19 month old toddler who changes his mind constantly. One day he’d eat quiche for lunch, the next he’d cry at the sight of it. Even when we realize today is a day for reliable favorites- hot dog, cheese, peas, etc. he won’t eat a bite. Fruit only, thanks! Serve that same meal for dinner- a total hit. Commence pulling my own hair out…

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Before quiche went out of favor. 

Logically, I know Haines can’t yet communicate things like, “I’m really not hungry. I had a big snack earlier.” or “Sorry, but I can’t eat another hot dog. I’m hot dogged out.” or even “My stomach is a bit out of whack today. Do you have some plainer?” Instead he cries and flails or joyfully throws his food across the table. My logical self tries to pick up the clues in this and not take it personally, but sometimes that’s asking a lot.

Throwing food is also one of my least favorite things. Again, Haines doesn’t realize that I’m trying to put off cleaning the floors and this is going to mess up my plan but it is SUCH A PATIENCE TEST!

Mainly I just flip between being annoyed that I spent the time to put together a meal for Haines that he could care less about and being concerned that he’s not getting what he needs.

But.

We’re working on it. More so working on us than him.

I wish we could eat more as a family as that often seems to help but we are rarely on the same schedule as Haines. He eats dinner between 5:30-6, only a few minutes after we get home from daycare and work. Organizing a meal for the whole family is pretty much impossible. So, we eat breakfast together when we can and sit with him when he eats his other meals.

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The key to taking a toddler out to eat is starving him beforehand and then offering him pizza from Benny’s. 

We’re working on just giving Haines a meal with a decent mix of foods we know he likes and things we’d like him to eat. If he only eats what he likes or if he doesn’t really eat anything, we try to let it go. Everything we read says children are resourceful, they eat when they’re hungry, don’t force it and so on. (We take turns saying this to whichever one of us is most frazzled by the dinner experience.) We often save the fruit portion of dinner until the end otherwise he just spends the whole time asking more blueberries (ba-boos) or applesauce (apps).

One day I look forward to all of sitting down and eating a meal together without asking my kiddo to take his foot out of his plate or where he just says, “No thanks” to a food I’ve offered him. One day…

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Ice cream is a pretty consistent hit.

 

 

Enjoying Pregnancy

We are quickly closing in on the third trimester! It’s so hard to believe. All of the sudden I find myself thinking, this pregnancy may be actually flying by. Just kidding, I have 13 weeks left. It’s definitely not, but realizing that this is my last pregnancy has had more impact on me than I would have expected. I’m relishing in the moments I didn’t soak up before. Every little kick and somersault, the little pains that irk me when I move from seated to standing, and the times Haines pulls up my shirt to check out my belly. (No, he has no idea what’s in there. I’m sure he thinks I should lay off the snacks.) I’m even thinking about having maternity photos taken… although in fairness, I’m still really cheap and very uncomfortable in front of a camera so I have a friend who wants to take my photo for free, call me!

I didn’t enjoy being pregnant with Haines. It wasn’t particularly painful or tough but the emotional turmoil I felt was constant. I really struggled with what becoming a parent meant, what it was going to do to my life, to my identity. I felt obsessed. My first pregnancy and many of the months afterwards was almost solely focused on processing what it meant to embrace my evolving sense of self while making room for the needs of another life. It was easy and insanely difficult all at the same time. There is nothing like being needed by your child to put aside your own needs without another thought. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to power forward, go without sleeping, live on snacks, etc. You can’t power on forever without a toll and I have learned to make the most of the moments I have to myself- even if it’s just nap time.

This process is not done, of course. I have no doubt I will learn this again with #2 and continue to learn with each phase of our lives.

But these days at least, I’m finding joy not only in Haines but in this pregnancy and anticipating the littlest member of our family. Where before I thought I might burst with fear, now I am a strange combination of calm and elation. I want to celebrate this time! But as baby #2 grows, I’m doing my best to make time for the two of us (me and the tiny, growing bun in my not-so-tiny oven). Once I have two children out in the world, there may not even be nap times to catch a moment of quiet.

Prenatal yoga// I won’t go on about this any more. If you’ve read any post I’ve written in the last few months, it’s been all prenatal yoga is the best thing since sliced bread. This is still true.

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Baths// When I was pregnant with Haines I was able to take a bubble bath every week. Now some tiny toddler keeps dirtying up the tub with his playground dirt and leftover dinner in his hair. For these last few weeks, there will be more baths. If I tell you I can’t hang out because I’m washing my hair, it’s a lie. I’m just reading a magazine in the tub.

Beauty regimen// I don’t know what else to call it, but I’m trying to slow down and actually pay attention to taking care of myself. Haines keeps me busy enough that repeatedly I get to work realizing I haven’t brushed my hair, put deodorant on or checked my outfit. I won’t look in the mirror until my first bathroom break at work. Clearly I’m not vain but I’m often disappointed when I get that first look. It makes me feel like a slob. So I’m slowing down. I’m remembering to rub almond oil on my belly, put mascara on in the morning and a couple bobby pins in my hair. It’s not impressive for sure, but I’m hopeful less people will look at me like I’m an injured whale.

Friends// These weeks I don’t get halfway through the week without mentally formulating a plan for some weekend social activities. I don’t care what it is as long as I’m chatting to someone else for an hour or two each day. It’s not enough to really satisfy my needs but it takes me from surviving to enjoying life. This weekend my husband sent me to beach yoga, we had friends for dinner, checked out a new coffee shop with a neighbor, and we’re going to a goodbye party.

Date night// Since Haines turned 3 months we’ve tried to take a date night every month. We have mostly been successful in this mission, but with number 2 on the way we’re trying to get in more whenever we can.

Only 13 more weeks to go y’all. No one panic.

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I’ll never let toys take over my house and other lies I told myself. 

There are toys all over my house. I actually strategically place toys in each room of the house. So not only do I do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I said pre-baby, I do it on purpose.

There are lots of great reasons to not let toys take over your house.

  • It’s not attractive.
  • It’s not welcoming to your adult friends, who you still want to hang out with you but struggle to make time for.
  • There is no child-free area. Nothing feels sacred anymore.

But alas there are toys in Haines’ room, toys in our living room, toys in our guest room (just extra books and a single wooden puzzle), toys upstairs in my office/craft area (I’m still waiting for my creative juices to come back so I can utilize this space), toys in each bathroom and toys in the kitchen.

Yes, it sounds awful. If you do not have children or your child is young enough to have not taken over your house, you might think I’m crazy. But I have shit to do. In every room of my house.

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Our living room is where we hang out and is where there is the most space so that’s where a lot of Haines’ toys are. Eventually I want to get to a place where they be easily hidden, but right now it’s just a goal.

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In the kitchen we have one lower cabinet that I have let Haines take over. Every time he leaves a toy out in the kitchen, that’s where it goes. I have also moved all his baby bottles there. He likes to throw them all over the floor. It’s not as annoying as it sounds. We’re working on him picking things back up. I’d say it’s a 30% success rate.

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I originally put these shelves in here for cute things like plants or towels. Ha!

The bathroom is one of the most important places to have toys. Sometimes your bathroom business is not quick. Sometimes you need a few minutes. It’s not as though your 18 month old can just wander around the house safely entertaining himself. No, he has to be in the bathroom with you. He might be satisfied taking your tampons and pads out of the bottom drawer for a few minutes but now you need to wash your hands, brush your teeth and check your hair. Time for a police car that makes siren noises and a book.

 

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To be totally honest, I only have toys in my office as part of my fantasy where I’m going to do work up there and Haines will entertain himself. This has never once happened. I only work up there during nap time and “work” is really cleaning up the piles of bills and other things I let stack up for weeks at a time. A girl can dream.

So I have toys all over my house.

Sometimes I also feed my child fruit when he refuses to eat the dinner I made him. Berries mostly. Yep, he throws food on the floor and then I give him fruit. Sometimes I cry about it too.

Several times a week he watches Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger, another thing I said I’d never rely on before he was born.

Even though I thought I’d only expose my child to awesome musicians that Tyler and I love, we listen Pandora’s Toddler Radio or Family Folk Songs every single day. In fairness, watching Haines try to do all the gestures to Wheels on the Bus makes my heart explode. Who knew, right?

 

Pregnancy Update: Halfway!

So we finally crossed over the halfway mark in pregnancy. According to friends my pregnancy is flying by… I’m not sure I feel the same way, but I’m enjoying it more than I did with Haines.

With Haines I was incredibly stressed about what it was going to mean to be a mother. I assumed I would feel an insane love for him but I didn’t know what that meant. I couldn’t imagine what that felt like and I certainly didn’t understand what a driver that would become in my life. I was worried about experiencing a loss of identity and missing out on the things I enjoy.

They weren’t unreasonable concerns. I did feel lost for a while in the fourth trimester. I felt overwhelmed and without purpose. My sole activity was just to keep Haines alive which wasn’t very fulfilling despite the joy I felt holding and loving him. I still struggle with finding time for the things I enjoy. This blog post will probably take a week to write and yet it’s all fine. I have a better sense of “this is temporary” and more excitement rather than nerves this pregnancy. Although the idea of having two children to chase is terrifying.

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Pregnancy has treated me very well so far. My nausea was worse in the first trimester than with Haines but it was still manageable. Our anatomy scan showed a healthy baby in there and so far our only concerns are:

  • My placenta is underneath the baby which is not where it’s supposed to be. We’ll get an additional ultrasound at 28 weeks to see if it moves, which is apparently very common. Worst case scenario is a c-section which is not the end of the world.
  • Making sure I get antibiotics before delivery to reduce the risk of group strep b this time. I definitely want to avoid another sepsis experience!

This are both things we can prepare for and although I think about them from time to time, I’m not overly worried. We’ve chatted with the midwives and the pediatrician on our concerns and feel pretty good.

I’ve discovered I’m waddling already, much to my chagrin. I’m just a waddler apparently. I’m making a bigger effort to exercise despite hating it more and more. Today I went to a High Intensity Interval Training class and made so many modifications that I wondered why I was there. Still, it helped to be in a class setting and I did exercises that I wouldn’t have thought of to do on my own. With Haines I severely reduced my exercise starting at 32 weeks. I’m hoping to make it that long again.

Otherwise life is pretty much:

  • Drinking gallons of water every day (Okay, I average around 90-100 ounces) and peeing every 45 minutes
  • Obsessively coating my skin in sweet almond oil to prevent stretch marks
  • Hosting family- tis the benefits of living at the beach!
  • Surviving 90F+ days with 80% humidity
  • Re-reading Great With Child for the second time (recommend!) as well as reading Fever Dream (recommend!), Educated (recommend!), And Now We Have Everything (3 out of 5 stars), and What We Lose (don’t recommend). My night stand stack of books is shrinking… but I have a back up pile ready!

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Every day I feel more kicks and somersaults which I am relishing. It’s a total gift to know this little guy who is a total mystery and yet I know more about him than anyone else. What a strange thing to be a mother, isn’t it?

I finished this all in one sitting. I’m beyond impressed with myself.

 

Grocery Strategy: Making Food Budgets Stick

Tyler and I have often said that if we didn’t like to cook so much, we probably wouldn’t have made it together. He likes death metal, I like folk music. He likes skate boarding, I like bicycling. He wants to go fishing, I’d rather read a book. We worked around all these things. I don’t listen to death metal but I will listen to punk. I spare him from my guilty pleasure country pop tunes (most of the time) and he’s open to hearing talented musicians of any genre that’s not jazz. Tyler used to take his skate board when I wanted to go for a walk (much harder to do with a baby and a dog) but will gladly ride bikes. I’ll happily go along fishing as long as I can bring my book. This may sound lacking in romance but what I think we really enjoy is each other’s company and we can do that outside over food then all the better.

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Hiking!

One of the downsides though of life with a tiny baby is cooking has been more functional than fun. We’ve struggled to be prepared at come meal time with ideas, food and the energy to accomplish actually making a meal. We’ve gone to bed without dinner in the last 9 months more than we have in our 7 years together. And yet our refrigerator is never bare. Between the downtown farmer’s market, our weekly Produce Box and general grocery shopping, we are much more likely to let food spoil and go over our food budget while we fall asleep at the dinner table. Our stomachs may be big (I blame baby- how long can I do that for?) but our eyes are bigger, at least when it comes to shopping.

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I’m not giving up our trips to the farmers’ market (mainly because it gets me out of the house) or our Produce Box (because local and love it- use my referral code to check it out!) Finally we’ve started to use meal planning to help us get things on track. We don’t use an app at this point (although I’d love some recommendations!), because Tyler is fairly anti-technology. This is our kitchen board with our meals for the week, our grocery store and Costco lists. I’ve also started putting what’s left in our grocery budget and alcohol budget (priorities!) on the board to help keep us in line. We’re about 3 months in and we’ve yet to make our budget.

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All the Stores

We utilize Costco primarily to stock up on organic meats, drinks and paper products as well as dog food. We bought a chest freezer from Better Than Never and use that to always keep meat on hand. If it came in jumbo packs, we use our vacuum sealer to keep it fresh and in reasonable quantities. Harris Teeter is our go-to for almost everything else. Like everyone else I, too, love Trader’s Joe’s but it drives me nuts that all their produce seems to be wrapped in plastic and there’s always something you can’t get there. Same with Aldi (although the cost savings is worth the extra trip). Tyler has been doing a lot of off-shore fishing and crabbing so we’ve been able to have a fish or crab night almost every week. In the colder months we’ll swap in oysters for crabs. Beach living has some serious food perks!

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Holding Ourselves Accountable

So basically every month I set what should be a realistic budget that we won’t possibly meet, even though we rarely eat out. What does this mean? We’re not actually using our budget. The very last thing I want to do is make us miserable or feel like a budget nag so instead I’m creating more touch points throughout the month. I tend to be in charge when it comes to money but if Tyler doesn’t know where we are, then it doesn’t help either of us. Basically, he just needs to be using our YNAB account more (YNAB is my the answer to everything.Use my referral code to see for yourself!) so he can see where we are in real time. (Okay, also sometimes I shop hungry and ruin this all on my own.)

When in doubt, freeze it.

There is always a point each week where I start sizing up the likelihood that our leftovers, produce, etc is going to make it much longer. Instead of shutting the fridge door, I’ve started to drop it in the freezer. Most items freeze well, even if you do need to repurpose them. Frozen tomatoes- great for cooking pasta or pizza sauce! Frozen leftover herbs- freeze in water or oil and drop in soup or sauce! Equally important is remembering to use said items. Checking the freezer before I start meal planning isn’t my strong suit but I’m working on it!

Make a plan, Stan.

We’ve made great strides in creating a meal plan each week. Before Tyler goes to work on Saturdays we hash out ideas while taking turns checking the fridge for needed items and running to stop Haines from pulling down the floor lamp. (Anyone else battling how to have light in your house without a baby knocking themselves unconscious?) Tyler wasn’t wild about meal planning initially but now we each pick a couple meals to organize so that it’s not one-sided towards one person’s preferences. Now we always go to the store with not only our grocery list but the meal list as well. The next step will be better incorporating ingredients across the week so we don’t end up with extra random items like cabbage, which we never know what to do with. (FYI green cabbage in your smoothie- no. Purple cabbage, yes.)

With our powers combined we’ll eat healthy, delicious meals every day and stay on budget. Next up, world domination!

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June: A Time for Balance and Reflection

This month has been a total whirlwind. It’s been pretty stressful and incredibly wonderful.

June has brought:

The realization that I can’t do everything.

I ended up having a wee little breakdown at work somewhere around the time my managers realized they’d given me too much to be responsible for. I’m working on delegating things more proactively and prioritizing more appropriately. Some things will just have to wait.

Similarly at home, I’m attempting to be a bit more relaxed about things. Contrary to my family’s beliefs our messy, often dirty home does bother me but by the time the baby goes to sleep it is hard for me to care. To be honest, it’s hard for me to remember. In the evenings I often think, what is it I said I was going to take care of tonight? I can’t remember it until way later. (Dear sleep, please come back.) I’m at the point now where I’m behind on birthday gifts, thank you’s, letters, cleaning, yard work, meal prep. The list goes on. In fact, I don’t think it’ll ever stop so I’m trying not to stress about it.

Adventures with baby

HEB turned 6 months on June 14th and every day it seems he has learned something new. This month he has found his voice and babbles or makes noises nonstop. He’s also found his tongue which is always sticking out now. We’ve started to introduce food and he’s on the verge of crawling. Our house is desperately in need of baby proofing!

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Nectarines should be worn as well as eaten.

Haines also took his first flights this month. We traveled two weekends in a row by plane which was totally stressful and honestly not that bad. He slept at least 50% of the time as it’s hard for him to resist a snooze in any mode of transportation. We were prepared the rest of the time with toys and our best funny voices. I don’t think any passengers hated us.

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We survived the Atlanta airport!

Quality family time

We don’t see any of our family nearly enough. Our closest family member lives only 4 hours away but we haven’t visited in over a year. Our other parents and siblings all reside in other states or countries so our visits definitely aren’t frequent. This month we got in two visits though which made June a pretty awesome month.

Father’s Day weekend Haines and I traveled with my mom, sister and her girls to Oklahoma for a long weekend. The newest member of our family got to meet my aunt and uncle on my mom’s side as well as several of our cousins. We were celebrating the life of my grandfather who passed away in October. It would have been his 99th birthday that weekend! While a sad occasion, I loved hearing the stories about PopPop- some familiar, some new to me. Our family is hardly ever all in one place so it was hard not to feel overjoyed at the chance to be with everyone.

Last weekend all three of us flew to Florida to be with Mum-Mum (Tyler’s mom). Unfortunately our reason for gathering was another sad one as Mum-Mum’s husband passed away a few weeks ago. He was truly a unique soul and I got to learn so much more about him during his celebration of life. We chatted with friends and family and saw so many great photos of Eric through the years! Just as the weekend before, the feeling of being together dominated. We hadn’t seen Tyler’s mom or his brother and girlfriend (BFF extraordinaire Natalie)  in several months and the reunion was much needed!

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 Time for reflection

We spent a significant portion of the month with family celebrating loved ones we can no longer be with. There is an obvious silver lining to this. We were reminded how important those individuals were and are to our lives as well as how grateful we are to have wonderful people in our lives. I have a healthy, growing son, a supportive husband, incredible friends all across the world, and a loving family from my parents to my siblings to the cousins, aunts and uncles I don’t often get to see. We’re a lucky bunch!

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