Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cozy Cocoon

Ladies (and gentlemen? Do I have any male readers? I don't even know), you all know that this has been a hard year for us. Although the pregnancy ended truly as well as it could have, and so much better than we expected, the stress was intense for both Steve and me. I feel like I've aged four years in the past four months. And although I don't normally mention stuff like this on the blog, we've been hit pretty unexpectedly with a bunch of drama essentially since coming home from the hospital. And, to be frank, it's left me feeling very emotionally exhausted. We have been feeling attacked and gossiped about and it's truly detracting from the joy we are feeling from having Maddie home and healthy, and the celebrations of having our happy family together. I have been overwhelmed with it the last few days especially, and I hate the fact that I can have two beautiful children snuggled up in my lap and all I can think about is a bunch of negativity.

I don't normally plan out blog posts in advance, I just find myself writing them in my head and once I get enough "written" and it seems like it will be at least somewhat coherent, I go ahead and publish them here. And when I found myself "writing" this post tonight while putting Anna to bed, I felt such a sense of relief and peace, and I knew it was something I needed to do. I am going to say goodbye to you all for a while - I just want to disconnect and cocoon our little family, and enjoy life and end the year on a good note. I need the mental and the emotional break, and I hate that you all are going to feel the ramifications of that, but I feel that this is something that I need to do.

The entire time I have had this blog, I have treated it as a personal journal. I plan to have it printed as a gift to my children, as a chronicle to how much they are loved and a document of our family's life and adventures. I don't plan to compromise the integrity of that end-goal so please don't be surprised if you see the blog go private at some point in the near future. I would like to continue doing the updates on the girls and my personal posts, and I feel like going private would help me feel like I'm still in my cocoon, whether that's a rational thought or not. If I do go private, it won't be permanent, and I promise that as soon as I feel like equilibrium and peace is restored in our little kingdom, I will bring the blog back just as public as it ever was.

I will also be disconnecting from Facebook for a while, so please pardon my "radio silence" and I hope to be back with everything soon.

Sending love to all of you!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Due Date Day!

Today was my official due date! My due date was always kind of irrelevant - Maddie was always measuring a week behind, and then it felt like every time I would go to the doctor they'd move my c-section date up, but today marks the full 40 weeks of pregnancy nonetheless :-)

I am going to celebrate today by posting Miss Maddie's birth announcement - I have been hearing reports that the printed announcements made it into mailboxes today so hopefully I am not posting a spoiler, NBC Olympics style.

MaddieBirth

Monday, August 6, 2012

Picture Post!

Sorry if any of these have been posted already - I am way behind on pictures!!

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This bag of shoes from Tammy kept her entertained for seriously about a week.
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Playing at Zoey's house
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Somebody got into my underwear drawer, hahaha
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She loves to sit here and pretend to do her makeup
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Sharing her stickers!
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Anna discovers a box of cereal on the table and Kingsley wants some!
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You know that saying about how you know a toddler is up to no good when everything goes quiet? Yup.
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Stickers + big boxes = Happy Bean
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Babby!
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Playing with her flash cards



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Around the Home

We've been busy this last month, catching up on housework and projects from me being out of the game for so long. We have been very thankful for an easy c-section recovery this time around and I thought I'd share some of the results of our productivity. I'd love to hear what y'all have going on around the house or garden!

1) We finally set up a budget in Quicken. Mint.com was great for what it was but there were a bunch of annoying and cumbersome quirks that I usually didn't have the mental energy to really work around. Maybe I was just doing it wrong or maybe our budget was too complicated, but we finally just ended up buying Quicken and getting everything set up in there. I am optimistic with the budget because it is very realistic and will still let us save a good bit every month. I will be going back to my weekly account reconciliations and making sure we stay on track!

2) We also finally set up a 6 week dinner menu plan. We have been talking about doing this for probably years at this point, and we just never did. I would plan out dinners for the week, maybe two weeks, but never a cohesive plan like this. I have already noticed a difference with the weekly grocery bill! Right now it's just on a sheet of notepaper, but I am planning to set it up as a Google calendar so I can access it anywhere, and I am also planning to create a document each week outlining the recipes' shopping lists - the theory being that once all of the weeks are done, I can just print it and have my shopping list ready to go vs. having to look up all the recipes again.

3) We have been using our garden! Oh, this has been so much fun :-). We got a little backed up with all of the produce, so I've been making a concerted effort to use only fruits and vegetables from the garden. So far I've made tomato basil soup, a tomato basil omelet, zucchini bread, eggplant parmesan, and roasted yellow squash, in addition to our regular salads and herb snippings. We've also got two pretty good-sized pumpkins growing, and we have those slated for our annual pumpkin beer as soon as the weather starts to cool down! We've also been keeping notes on what grew well and what didn't, so we can have an even better garden next year. I guess soon we will need to work on our fall and winter plantings, right? So that's next on our list!

4) We've gotten our cabernet sauvignon wine and our pinot grigio wine bottled, and another batch of cab sitting in the fermenter. Steve and I love drinking wine together and this has been such a fun venture to try our own - I hope it all turns out well!!


What have you all been up to? Any fun projects? What are you planting for the fall?

Product Post

Moms who are about to join the "2 Under 2" club always ask what they need to buy, and I had been asking the same questions!! Luckily for us, we had almost everything we needed from Anna's babyhood so we didn't have to buy much, but we did add a few things to our baby collection and I thought it would be good to share.

Arm's Reach Co-sleeper 



We actually didn't even have to purchase this, my awesome friend Kelly loaned us hers since she is out of the newborn phase for the time being. Even though we have the crib in our room, I love this co-sleeper because I can pull it right up to the side of the bed (we left the side up, so it's more a bassinet than a co-sleeper right now). It also has wheels, so I have found it handy to be able to wheel Miss Maddie into the bathroom while I shower, or into the nursery while I put away laundry or take care of Anna. It is very nice having a safe and portable place to put the baby down while we're upstairs, so I highly recommend this co-sleeper!

Baby K'Tan Breeze Carrier


You might remember from Anna's babyhood that I was a huge fan of the Moby wrap (and still am!!). That style of wrap is perfect for preemies and newborns. However, now that we are on the go and outside a lot, and I am usually taking care of a toddler, I was interested in trying a wrap that had similar holds as a Moby but didn't require the tying aspect. I wavered on buying this wrap for ages but I am so happy I bought it. It was a little tricky trying to guess what size I needed, because Madeline was still so small and there wasn't a store nearby that I could try it on, so I ordered two sizes from Amazon and went with the one that felt the best and returned the other one. It is super simple to put on, and this particular Breeze style has a soft mesh side as well as a regular cotton side, making it a little bit cooler to wear. So Moms of preemies or newborns, I  recommend checking out the Moby or the K'tan. And make sure to check Craigslist and consignment stores, because I see them both on there frequently!

Baby Doll


Anna's baby doll was actually a gift from SuSu, and we already had her doll stroller from Christmas. I have loved having this because Anna can take care of her "babby" (rhymes with Gabby) while I take of Madeline. The particular doll that Anna has is the Bitty Baby from American Girl, and it has a little bottle and even a little cloth diaper. This is a great way to help Anna feel included and to help her participate in the day-to-day process of taking care of a newborn.  

Double Stroller



After a trip to the mall with both girls and I ended up carrying my 26 pound toddler while wrestling an over-packed diaper bag and a stroller with a car seat on it, I finally bit the bullet and bought a stroller. Since Anna pretty much hates riding in the stroller, I opted for a Sit-and-Stand style stroller and I went with the Joovy Caboose. Am I madly in love with this stroller? No. But it handles surprisingly well, and it was a great price, and I didn't have to buy a separate car seat adapter, and it was by far my favorite sit-and-stand that I test-drove. Anna seems to enjoy sitting and standing on it. I am very hopeful that by the fall, Anna can be persuaded to sit in a double jogging stroller, but for right now, this stroller is great for running errands and trips to the mall, and hopefully the zoo and the aquarium!

Amazon Mom/Amazon Prime

If you haven't signed up for this program yet, do it! Amazon Mom gets you discounts on products like diapers, wipes, etc. and you can even sign up for a handy Subscribe and Save program through Amazon Mom that gets you further discounts. After the discounts, Anna's diapers are $4-$5 cheaper than Target, which is bigger than any coupon discount I've seen. The biggest advantage that we have found though is the free 2-day shipping on pretty much everything we need. We had this with Anna but I appreciate it even more now, because it saves me a ton of trips to the store. And anybody that has to load up a kiddo (or two) and cajole them into not having a tantrum while you're shopping knows that a saved trip is priceless!! The last time I checked, new Amazon Mom members got a few months of Prime for free, and I also believe they had some kind of special where if you are a student, you also got more months for free, but I don't know if that's still going on. We pay full price for the Prime membership and for us, it's definitely worth it!

The only other thing left on our eventual to-purchase list is another camera for the video monitors, but we don't really need it until Anna gets moved into her big-girl room and Maddie gets moved into the nursery.

See? Not too much extra stuff needed :-). Other moms of 2 under 2, any other things that you bought?

Maddie's One Month Old!

Our beautiful Maddie-girl is ONE month old today! It's still weird to think about how she should still be inside my belly, but we are so glad that she's here and she is thriving!!

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There isn't a whole lot to report. She eats and sleeps a lot, and she goes through a lot of diapers. But our little peanut is thankfully starting to fill out, and I estimate that she is somewhere around the 5 lb mark now. We go on Wednesday for a weight check so I am very interested to see what that scale says! She is still in preemie clothes but starting to edge her way into some of the bigger preemie and smaller newborn clothes that we have. We did move Maddie into newborn-size diapers just yesterday, mostly because we already have a bunch of them and I was tired of going to Target to buy the preemie-size (Target is the only store around here that reliably has the preemie size stocked and I never thought far enough ahead to order them online!).

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When we got home from the hospital, Steve happened to mention to SuSu that we were having a hard time finding small preemie hats, so she stayed up late one night to knit Maddie some! Isn't this one cute?

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Miss Maddie is starting to be awake for a little longer at a time - up until recently, she would basically only wake up to eat and then she would conk right back out again. Now she will stare at all of us, and poke her head up when I have her lying on my chest for some tummy time. Maddie even watched a few seconds of the Olympics the other night ;-). She has the prettiest dark blue eyes and I keep trying to catch them on camera. I think she definitely looks more like Steve, especially those eyes! She also loves bath time - I bathe her in the sink and I keep her in there as long as the water stays warm because she seems to enjoy it!

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First bath!

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Happy girl!

It took us a couple of weeks to get everything calmed down and caught up, and to settle into a routine. Some days still feel a little chaotic between Anna's schedule and Maddie's needs, but I think we are doing a pretty darn good job now that we've got our feet under us. I can't even begin to say how appreciative we were of all of the meals and goodies and gifts that were dropped off at the house - the dinners and breakfasts were seriously such a relief for us and we had no idea going into it how much those meals would help. And it was SO touching to open the mailbox and see boxes full of adorable preemie clothes (and even some gifts for Anna!), especially because we had so few outfits coming home from the hospital. So to everyone who cooked for us or shopped for us, THANK YOU!!!

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Speaking of our new routine, we have also started venturing out of the house - with both kids!! We generally start our day with breakfast, then Stevo heads to work and I pack up the girls and go to the park for a little bit before it gets too hot. Then we come home, eat lunch, Anna takes a nap (and I try to take a nap too - this momma is more than a little sleep deprived!), and then we have a few hours to play and clean before dinner, bath time, and bedtime. Anna goes to bed fairly late now, between 8 and 9, so I have just an hour or two to relax and cuddle with my sweet new baby before it's time to hit the hay. Although I have so much fun with Anna during the day and I love being able to interact with her so much, I do very much cherish the time that I get to spend alone with Maddie - with my feet up after a long day, and that cuddly little girl curled up on my chest. She is just so happy to be held and snuggled, and I am happy to oblige!! On the weekends, Steve and I have started using a "divide and conquer" strategy - he gets some Daddy/Daughter time with Bean and I take Maddie to do the grocery shopping and errands.

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These pictures were all from the one day that I pulled out my good camera to try and get a picture for Maddie's birth announcements. They were too cute not to share!!

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Now that she has gotten a little bit bigger, I have felt comfortable moving Maddie into a wrap carrier, which has made getting to cuddle with her throughout the day infinitely easier. I am able to wear her to the park and out running errands, and even just around the house as we work and play. It also helps keep her away from curious toddler hands, although Anna still gets plenty of opportunities for baby kisses and hugs. Anna has also started helping me burp Maddie - what big sister wouldn't like the chance to smack her little sister on the back??

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The other fun thing about getting out of the house again is that Maddie is quite the center of attention. People are always coming up to talk to me and to sneak a peek at her in the wrap or car seat. And I joke that there might be a Madeline-inspired baby boom, because I keep getting told that she causes some serious baby cravings!

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I think that's just about it for this month's post - I've got a couple of more posts coming (they're starting to get backlogged in my brain!!) including a picture post, so I'm sure you all will get your fill of the Forbes family soon!