Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Conversations with Kiddos, early 2015 edition.

These posts are my favorite. Olive is starting to make more and more appearances in these funny conversations. Here is the first half of 2015 edition. Olive age 2-2 1/2, Penny age 4-4 1/2.

O: What mommy eating?
M: Nothing.
O: Smells good, mommy's treat. Mommy eat chocolate chip.
(Busted! I can never sneak treats anymore.)

P: We have these special markers at school. They're called magic markers!

P: Mom, do you know why I need sparkling water?
M: Why?
P: Because sparkling water helps me burp, and I need to burp.

D: Do you guys want a big piece of pie or a little piece with ice cream?
O: I want a big piece and ice cream!

P: (While drawing a picture) This dress is blue when I draw it but when you look at it online it's pink.
(Remember the dress that broke the internet back in March?)

O: I'm going to ask Julian what his favorite part of the day was. (puts ear up to his mouth) His favorite part was nursing.

O: Daddy, why you pee like that?
D: I'm a boy. This is how boys pee.
O: Is that your vulva, Daddy?
D: Well, kind of I guess.
O: Oh. Daddy and Julian have that kind of vulva.

P: Mommy, want me to show you a way to check the weather instead of just looking on your phone? Go outside. Play. And then just see if it's snowy, rainy, sunny, or stormy.

P: I don't even remember why I'm upset, I just can't stop crying.

M: Olive, you get your cast off next week. Are you going to be brave?
O: No.
M: Are you going to cry?
O: Yes.

P: Anyone who wants to do the ballet with me can. But, Mommy, if you want to do it, you shouldn't do the jumping jacks because you might break the floor.

D: Penny, what kind of car do you want when you grow up?
P: Don't ask me what kind of car I want. Just ask me whether I want a car with doors that open or doors that slide.

P: Julian just wank! (winked) He's a wanker.

O's teacher: Olive, do you want some juice?
O: No, I want a margarita.

O: There's O's everywhere! I saw two o's!

P: Oh beautiful! You did a beautiful job, Mommy, putting butter on my bagel.

P: (30 minutes into our drive to vacation) Daddy, I don't think we should go to Lake Michigan. I think we should just turn around and go home. This is taking too long. I thought we would be there by now.

P: Mom, how do you make pink lemonade? The inside of a lemon is not pink.

P: Olive, there's the house you were born in!
O: Yeah! I was born there and you guys were all born at the doctor.
P: Daddy, why was I born in a hospital?

M: I get frustrated because we are always late.
P: We aren't always late. We were early once. Mom, do you remember that one time I was the first person at school?

M: Olive, do you like your new lunchbox?
O: No.
M: Oh. Should I give it to N (friend)?
O: No, I'm going to love it after I take a nap.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Plastic-Free July

We are a week into Plastic-Free July, so time for an update. This is my third summer doing Plastic-Free July, and I've been working towards being plastic-free and reducing my waste since 2012. By this point, the "big 4" of plastic straws, bags, bottles, and cups/lids are gone from my life. I haven't used any of these things in years, and the habits of carrying my own reusable bags and drinking containers are second nature, and if I happen to be without one of these things, I figure out a way to go without (this is a great motivator to never be without a reusable coffee cup!). The only exception is when I sometimes don't get the chance to refuse a straw in a restaurant before the server brings a water glass with a straw already in it, but I'm not sure this is really considered my waste if I haven't asked for it and didn't get the chance to refuse. I do try to stop them before they bring drinks, but sometimes they are sneaky and quick! I really dislike this habit of restaurants mindlessly putting straws in drink glasses–they really should wait for people to ask, but I digress.

So, I'm doing the full challenge this year, and so far so good. My dilemma bag includes the following:
  • Cheese wrappers. There is a little cheese shop near me that sells cheese in paper, but it is insanely expensive artisanal cheese, and I can't bring myself to pay that much for cheese, especially for my kids who eat a lot of cheese. Instead, I have been buying big bricks of cheddar or huge bags of shredded mozzarella at Costco where at least the packaging ratio is decent. I do sometimes buy sliced deli cheese in my own container at the Whole Foods deli counter, but I've noticed that those big blocks they slice from are packaged in plastic and wrapped with plastic wrap between slicings, so it doesn't seem a whole lot different to me than buying at Costco.
  • Half & Half/heavy cream. In Omaha, I was able to get milk and heavy cream in returnable glass bottles from Burbach dairy, and I mixed my own half & half. Here in Chicago, we have Oberweiss milk in glass bottles, but they do not sell heavy cream. I think they use it all in their creameries to make ice cream. So, I'm still searching for a source for cream in returnable glass in IL. In the meantime, I am buying half & half in the half gallon cartons from Costco. It's ultra pasteurized, so it lasts a month, which is about how long it takes me to use up that much in my coffee. This month, I also bought a small carton of heavy cream to make whipped cream for a 4th of July dessert. Those cardboard cartons are lined with plastic and have the plastic cap/spouts.
  • Almond milk. My kids and I prefer almond milk over cow milk in our cereal and for drinking, so I buy this about once or twice a month. I can only find it in the same cardboard cartons as mentioned above. I have made almond milk in the past, and it is delicious, but it doesn't keep very long, it is expensive to make from almonds, and it's a little too time consuming for my current life in this moment with 3 kids under 5.
That's everything in my dilemma bag so far. I also wanted to make note of a few small victories so far this month in refusing plastic.
  • Olive broke her leg a few weeks ago and got her cast off this month. She was very upset by the experience of getting her cast off and wanted a lollipop. I took pity on her and was about to run into a store to get her a lollipop. I considered the challenge and decided to get her a cake pop from Starbucks instead. The barista handed it to me in just a square of waxed paper, and it totally did the trick for cheering her up. Treats like this are very rare around here, but it was nice to find a plastic-free solution even for this unique circumstance.
  • We have this fun dine around town event once a week in our neighborhood. You buy a book of tickets, and the restaurants have special items that you can get for a ticket. It's heavily focused on take out food, and then one of the streets is shut down and tables are set up in the street with live music. Last week, I packed some reusable dishes and silverware, and we were able to enjoy the event without any plastic waste. We chose some items that were packaged in paper or foil, and in some cases, certain items were normally packaged in plastic, but the restaurants were wonderfully accommodating and served us on our plates instead. 
  • Yogurt. I was in the habit of buying yogurt in large plastic containers at Costco, but I found it in returnable glass at Whole Foods from a creamery in Indiana (Traderspoint). It's a lot more expensive than the yogurt at Costco, but I decided to splurge for plastic-free July, and we'll see what happens after the month (I might be hooked–it is super yummy!). I'm also stretching it by mixing in more granola and fruit than I normally do, so a little is going a long way.

Anyone else doing the challenge? How's it going for you? What's in your dilemma bag?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Interview with my kids

 I last interviewed Penny in September 2014. I aim to do it every 6 months or so, but better late than never. Olive is chatty enough to get an interview too. Here are their interviews from 6/20/15.

What is the meaning of life? The meaning of life? I don't even know what you mean.
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a race car driver.
What brings you the most happiness? My dad
When do you feel the most loved? When I hug my mom and dad
What are you afraid of? Dinosaurs and monsters
If you had one wish, what would you wish for? A magic box that when you open it you turn into a magic princess that's at a surprise party concert.
What is the funniest word? I love you, poopie.
What is the hardest thing to do? Fold.
What is the easiest thing to do? Draw.
What is the best thing in the world? My drawings and birthday parties and the birthday party I just went to.
What is the worst thing in the world? Trying to whistle
What makes you mad? When my parents don't listen to me.
What is the meaning of love? I don't even know what you're talking about. What are you writing?
If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it? I would pay for everything in the whole wide world, and I would buy 10 hundred and a billion music boxes.


Olive 6/20/15
What is the meaning of life? No
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a superman. I want to be a astronaut.
What brings you the most happiness?  No
When do you feel the most loved? (no response)
What are you afraid of? Ice
If you had one wish, what would you wish for? Cake
What is the funniest word? music
What is the hardest thing to do? Music.
What is the easiest thing to do? Music.
What is the best thing in the world? (no response)
What is the worst thing in the world? (no response)What makes you mad? Penny
What is the meaning of love? Love
If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it? Climb up it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Katie's Veggie Dip

I'm posting this recipe so that I can find it easily–purely selfishly motivated. I think lots of you will enjoy it though. My friend Katie gave me the recipe, so I'm calling it Katie's veggie dip.

1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (can sub white)
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Himalayan Salt
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Dried Parsley
1/2 tsp Dried Dill Weed
Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix until well combined. If possible let sit in refrigerator for at least a couple hours for flavors to mix. Stir again before serving.

It's super yummy with cut veggies. It would also make a great spread for a veggie or turkey sandwich/wrap. Penny even dipped her grapes in it. Quotes from my kids:
Penny (4) "It's delicious with grapes."
Olive (2) "I like this hummus."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Spotlight on Julian

Sweet boy is four and a half months. He recently found his thumb and loves to roll onto his belly and suck his thumb. He is very good at self-soothing and will even take a pacifier (only one of my children to do either). He is also just about to get his first tooth. I can feel it below the surface. At his 4-mo checkup, he clocked in at 90th percentile for height and 60th for weight.

Julian and I have been doing a mom/baby yoga class once a week, which is fun for both of us. He smiles and coos at me while I do poses, sometimes holding him, sometimes next to him or over him.

Julian is super smiley and easygoing. He is awesome about hanging out, taking everything in while I buzz around preparing meals, cleaning up, etc. He's so rarely fussy–it kind of blows my mind that he can be so chill. He loves the activity gym and the bouncy seat. He's not a huge fan of the rock n play or the bumbo. I've been wearing him quite a bit while we're out, but he's getting to the point where he wants to see what's going on and doesn't want his face pressed up against my chest unless he's super sleepy or wants to nurse. He's super happy if he can see around him, so I've started wearing him in the Ergo hip carry and want to try out some hip carries in my mei tai and woven wrap. Maybe ring sling too, but I always find it difficult to get comfortable in that one. I've also put in a request from my local BWI library for a soft structured carrier that he can face out in. There are several models out now that give good support for the baby and the wearer for forward facing (Ergo 360, Beco Gemini, Lillebaby complete...), and I think Julian would enjoy trying that.

Otherwise, Julian is doing all the baby things–cooing, rolling, gumming, kicking, smiling, etc. I am soaking in all his baby sweetness and just love this boy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Spotlight on Olive

Big news in Olive's world is that she's been out of diapers for about a month. She's even dry overnight most of the time, which is pretty awesome. We had been trying to get her interested in the potty for awhile, but she had been resistant, always saying no that she didn't want to try to go or even sit on the potty. One morning her diaper was dry, and I convinced her to sit on the potty by giving her a chocolate covered raisin to hold. Once I got her to sit there, she peed, got to eat her treat, something clicked with her, and it was pretty much smooth sailing from there. Maybe a handful of accidents over the course of a week, and then bam, done. For a few months there, I had 2 kids in full time diapers and one kid in nighttime diapers. Even so, we haven't used a single disposable diaper since January 2011. And now my diaper laundry has dropped dramatically.

Olive has a really fun personality. She is pretty easygoing, and she loves joking around and being silly. She is also incredibly intuitive and emotionally intelligent. She is in tune with how others are feeling. In little sister fashion, she absolutely must be included in whatever is going on. But she also loves to play the big sister role by "mothering" Julian. Lucky girls gets to play both roles. Her favorite play activities are babies and coloring. She also loves to play outside in the sandbox and pour/mix/concoct with sand and water, and she loves to read books. Helping in the kitchen is another favorite, although she has to work very hard to have enough self-control for that task. Surprisingly, she's really not so into TV. Whenever I put a show on, she watches for 5-10 minutes and then wanders off to do something else.

I've seen huge growth in Olive's language and comprehension over the last few months. She expresses herself very well, using complete and complex sentences, and I love to hear her having full-on conversations with Penny. She's also more predictable and more willing to go along with what I ask her to do. She also has great social language. She tells me often out of the blue that she loves me, and she asks things like "how did you sleep last night, mommy?" or "how did Julian sleep?"

Olive starts school/summer camp next week. I'm sure she will have a bit of an adjustment, but I think she will love it and transition fine. She's very used to being in the nursery at church or the gym, and she does well with babysitters once we actually leave (there is a freak out as we go out the door). It's just a 2-hour twice a week program, which is perfect for her age I think. She's still in a crib and still takes a 2-hour nap in the afternoon. Right now, she has her own room, but we are thinking about moving her over to Penny's room sometime this summer.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spotlight on Penny

Penny completely amazes me with her imagination and creativity. She spends her mornings at preschool, which she loves. She keeps telling me that she wants to stay for lunch and afternoon preschool, but I'm not ready to have her at school all day! After lunch, we have quiet time while the little ones nap. She usually does art during that time, and I love to see what she makes when she's hard at work. She loves to cut and glue little paper sculptures, and she's recently started making up and building games. Today she made a game about hedgehogs (pictured) that eat logs and have a woodpile. There were lots of tiny pieces of paper involved, and my favorite rule was that the person who made up the game goes first.

Penny also loves to paint, color, draw, and write. She loves to make cards and send them in the mail. I just got her some return address labels with her name on them. She is starting to sound out words and uses creative (adorable) spelling to write messages.

Penny recently got her first pedal bike after using a balance bike for the last year. She loves to ride her bike in the alley or at the park. She also loves swimming and wants to do yoga. I signed her up for ballet, and she told me after class that it was too long and too much exercise. Ha!

Penny likes to help me in the kitchen. We bake together and she sometimes helps me make dinner. Muffins, cookies, sweet breads, etc. are some favorites. I want to try our hand at homemade fruit snacks or fruit leathers.

I have found 4 to be a difficult age emotionally. There is a lot of emotional coping skill development that is still emerging (is this a nice way to put it?). We have lots of meltdowns over seemingly minor things, but we just keep working at it. Slow and steady, one foot in front of the other, quiet and calm reinforcement to use words. Well, that's what I aim for–sometimes it's not so easy to stay calm. In other ways, four is a great age. I love that Penny is more and more capable, so we can do more together, and she is great helper and a caring and kind big sister. She seems to have a strong bond with both of her siblings, which just warms a mom's heart.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Settled in IL

Well, we made the final move to IL and are settling in to our new (old) neighborhood. We are just a few blocks from where we lived before and in the same school district. We bought this gorgeous 1912 brick bungalow. It's a beautiful house and has been well-maintained and updated, but we do have some projects we've been working on and some more in our vision. It is really nice to be able to take our time and think about what we want to do longterm.

The move itself went pretty smoothly. My mom came for 9 days, and Josh had a few weeks off before he started his new job, so we were really able to get a lot done in that time, even with 3 kids. Julian is 12 weeks old now, and he's doing great. He is a total textbook baby so far–predictable and easygoing for now. I know things could change, but it was really nice to have his relaxed attitude while we were moving and settling in. He weighs 14 pounds now and is all smiles most of the time.

I'm still trying to figure out what our schedule will be like with activities, school, etc. I was able to get Penny into a preschool to finish out this school year, which is awesome for her. She would be totally bored otherwise. She's going 5 mornings (which feels like a lot to me, but that was the minimum). This summer, she and Olive will go to a summer preschool program at another school where Olive will go 2 mornings, and Penny will go 4. I really like 4 mornings for Penny, but she keeps pushing for more and wants to stay for afternoons. I'm not ready for that! I did join a gym, but I haven't found a yoga class that fits my budget with childcare–I'm trying to be active. It's good for me in lots of ways, but I really miss yoga. I might tough it out at the less pricey gym for now and maybe join the more expensive one next winter when the weather turns. Trying to make this one work for now. With the nice weather, I've been outside a lot and am getting my exercise pushing the double stroller and wearing the baby! I'm also trying to figure out my moving-towards-zero-waste shopping routine here. There are a lot more bulk options here than in Omaha, but that means that there are potentially more grocery stops. I am of the once-a-week grocery shopping persuasion, and there's not really one store in particular where I can get everything I want/need. There is a co-op opening in my town this summer, so I am super excited about that and really hoping it will be my one-stop shop, plus farmers market maybe. I opted not to do a CSA this summer, but I might regret it!

I've been really struggling with how to keep blogging as part of my life. I'm not sure what to write about or what's interesting, and it's hard to make the time for it when I don't have a great idea that I'm excited about. I keep thinking I should blog more often but keep things brief, but then it feels like such an accomplishment to sit down to blog that I feel like I need to write some long thing. I don't know–maybe it is time to retire the blog rather than drag it out for months without writing?

I'm definitely still CDing, but it's just so totally routine at this point that there's not much to say. Julian has never been in a sposie, which I think is awesome. The only time Olive wore them was in the first few days when she was too small for even the newborn diapers I had. Even though I'm very much committed to using cloth diapers, I'm not quite as excited or vocal or into advocating as much as I used to be. I didn't even participate in the Great Cloth Diaper Change this year–it was right after our move and a 45-minute drive from my house and I just couldn't find the energy. Lame. Is it that I'm just busier with the day to day of 3 kids? Is it that I'm spread more thin with other volunteer stuff (I've gotten into breastfeeding support and am doing quite a bit of work on that front)? Did it just run its course? Am I just going through a tired phase trying to get back on my feet? I'm not sure really, but I should probably cut myself some slack. It's been a busy year, and my family is happy and healthy and the kids are thriving, so maybe I will find more direction once we settle into more of a routine and schedule with activities and whatnot.

A few quick photos. Penny started wearing glasses a couple of weeks ago, and she's looking so grown up. She is a great big sis and loves having a brother. She is very sensitive to what Julian needs. Olive is too, really. She gets very concerned if he is fussy and is always fussing over him and helping to make sure he has what he needs, or what she thinks he needs (see babydoll in the picture below).

Some things I'm hoping to share soon: some of the little projects we've done on the house so far, photography, the cloth wipes routine that has finally worked for me.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Moving & 6 weeks

So, we have some big news around here. We are moving back to Chicago next week. This time, it is our choice. My husband quit his job and accepted a new position with a company that will not move us. He gave his notice two weeks ago, and we move next Thursday. We made the decision in December/January and he accepted the new job then, but we kept things quiet so that he could continue to stay in his old position until the baby came and we were ready to move. It's been so weird to not talk about it here and even with real life friends. I'm terrible at lying and also terrible at not disclosing what's really on my mind, so that was an exercise for me. But now it's nice to have everything out in the open. I was itching to blog about it before I was allowed to, but then once he did give notice at work, things got kind of crazy and hectic and then I kind of forgot to post about it here.

Just a few days before Christmas, Josh had an interview in Chicago, so I flew with him for the day so that we could look at houses after his interview. We knew exactly where we wanted to live and found a house that we really love in the perfect neighborhood. Then, Josh got a few really good offers and found a position that is a great opportunity for him with a great company. We sold our house pretty painlessly, which was amazing considering we've only owned it for 10 months. Basically, all the pieces fell into place, and when the universe lays it all out for you like that, you just go. We have packers/movers again, the same company who has moved us before. They will pack us next Monday and Tuesday and then load us up on Wednesday. We will travel Thursday. Josh and the girls are driving, and Julian and I will fly. I've reserved AirBNB places on both ends to help ease the stress of the move–we'll move out of our house before the packers come, and then we'll have our AirBNB place in IL for about a week while we wait for our stuff and start to get unpacked. We've had great luck with AirBNB. It's usually about the same price as a hotel room, but you get a kitchen and multiple bedrooms, which makes a huge difference when traveling with kids. We used it when we lived in France and have also used it while moving the last time and for little trips here and there.

Even though there is a lot going on and lots of craziness of moving with a newborn baby and two other young children, etc, this is such a great thing for our family that we can't help but just be excited. We also loved living in the Chicago area, loved the progressive community and close friends we made there and are super excited to raise our kids in a place that really feels like a good fit. The stability will be awesome too. This is our 6th move in 4 years (Penny's 7th address), but I'm hoping to stay in this next house for 20 years! It is so exciting to think about getting involved in the community, putting down roots, and being able to make plans for longterm.

In other news, Julian is 6 weeks old today. He weighs 11lb, 10oz, which is great gain for him. He is a super chill, content baby, and I feel so blessed to have this sweet soul in our family.

He was baptized this week, and we were very lucky to have some family come to town to celebrate with us. We have a great church here in Omaha, so it meant a lot to us to have his baptism here before the move. He also started smiling this week, which just melts my heart. Here are a few other photos of the last few weeks.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New normal

I took a couple weeks away from the blog while Josh was home. My mom was here for 10 days for Julian's birth and then a week afterward. Josh went back to work while she was here, and then he took 2 weeks off after she left. It was so much fun to have him home for those 2 weeks. We had lots of time to bond as a family. It was also nice that he had the chance to see some of the activities that the kids and I do, attend parent-teacher conferences, and just kind of see what our days are like. He thought he was going to be overwhelmed and exhausted by being with the kids all day, but he really enjoyed the time and was sad to go back to work on Monday. We really treasured the time, and I'm so grateful that we had it.

So this is my first week solo parenting 3 kids, and so far it's going pretty well. Julian has just fit right into our family and we're carrying on, just with another body. Julian is pretty easygoing so far and just kind of along for the ride. I feed him when he wants. He sleeps when he wants, etc. I've been wearing him in a mei tai, which is more comfortable for me with his size than my ring sling. I really like the mei tai for this age, but it is a little bulkier to pack than a ring sling (similar in size to packing an Ergo, but maybe a little smaller/more compact).

We have some great friends in Omaha who have been bringing us meals, which has been so deeply appreciated. I won't have to start cooking again until this weekend, and it really is the best gift. If you're ever wondering what to do for a new mom, a meal is really and truly the best thing!

The girls seem to be adjusting fine to having a new baby in the family. They love to hold him and touch him and oooh and aaaah over him. We've been able to pretty much keep our same routine, which I think has helped to make things run more smoothly. Here's our rough schedule:

6:30-7:30 girls wake up, Josh starts them on getting dressed and breakfast before leaving for work (and makes coffee!). Meanwhile, I get up and feed Julian.
7:30-9 make sure everyone is fed, clean, etc. I've been letting the girls play in Olive's room while I take a shower. Julian is usually pretty happy in the morning, so he either sleeps or does some quiet alert at this time.
9-11:30 Penny has school during this time. The little ones and I go out and do something while Penny is at school: kids play center, music class, gym (Olive goes to the nursery and I hang out with Julian in the lounge!), library, etc. Julian sleeps in his car seat or I wear him in the mei tai.
11:30-12:30 head home for lunch. Sometimes Julian stays asleep in his car seat while I get the girls fed. Sometimes I juggle holding him and doing everything else.
12:30-3pm Read with Olive and Penny, put Olive down for a nap, spend a little time playing with Penny and then start her quiet time timer. Julian nurses through this or I just hold him. Once the house is quiet, I can sometimes get him down for a nap in his bassinet. He tends to get a nice long nap in the afternoons while the house is quiet–it would be awesome if this would continue! But even if he's awake or I'm holding him for a nap, I still get some nice relaxing down time.
3pm-5:30pm This is probably the hardest time of the day. The girls get up and have a snack. They get to watch a show as long as they have earned it (we have an incentive system for this). Then we kind of play at home and get dinner together. Julian likes to cluster-feed or be bounced/held during this time. The girls tend to get cranky and stir-crazy, so it's good if we can get out of the house and get some wiggles out. Otherwise, I try to sit down and play a board game or card game or do some kind of focused activity with them. Once the weather gets warm, this will be a perfect time to play outside.
5:30-6:30 dinner & clean up. I am usually nursing Julian through dinner.
6:30-7:30 bath/bed routine. We give Julian a bath every few nights, and then I take care of getting him dressed and then take him into the basement. He cluster feeds, so I just watch some tv or whatever while nursing him. Josh does bath, pjs, books, snack, and bedtime with the girls. They do pretty well with their bedtime routine and go to sleep pretty easily these days.
7:30-9 Josh and I get a little time to watch a show or catch up on life stuff while Julian cluster feeds, and then he is ready to settle down for the night by about 9.
9pm-7am Julian sleeps in a bassinet by my bed, and when he wakes at night, I nurse, and then he usually goes right back to sleep. And then it begins again.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Birth & Newborn Photos

Just a quick little post today to share some birth photos. Here is the video our photographer put together (it's 20 minutes, so be warned):
Julian's Birth Story

I also have a link to a little studio mini-shoot of the three kids we did when Julian was a week old:
Julian's Newborn shoot

There is nothing like beautiful professional photos. So grateful to have all these gorgeous shots of my kids!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Julian's first week

Ok, 6-pound baby (Olive 39w):

10-pound baby (Julian 40w).

You guys, WHERE was this dude hiding?! I still can't believe he was so big.

I've been cooped up with Julian for the last 6 days while my mom has been doing all of the things I normally do with/for the girls. They are totally running her ragged, and I am so grateful that she is here and willing to do this for us. It's been really good for me to rest physically and bond with Julian, but I'm definitely struggling emotionally. I feel a bit isolated and lonely. Josh is back at work while my mom is here, and then he will take off 2 weeks once she leaves this weekend. We planned it this way to spread out the help, but I miss him, I miss my time with the girls, and I miss seeing friends/doing the activities that we normally do. I'm also so tired. My milk supply is not good, which makes for long sleepless nights, and hormones paired with lack of sleep leaves me weepy and fragile. Baby blues I guess, which I never really experienced in this same way before.

We are working on the supply issues. I feel like it should be easier since I've dealt with this before and know what works or doesn't work, but it doesn't actually feel easier. It is so hard to feel like my body doesn't work right and I can't meet this simple basic need for my child. This domperidone controversy only further complicates things and makes me feel shitty since I can't find anyone in Omaha to prescribe it for me. This is one of the frustrating things about living in Omaha where options are fewer. Domperidone is a much safer and better drug than Reglan, and it is perfectly legal for US docs or midwives to prescribe it, but there is some political junk with the FDA, so nobody wants to do so. I do have some leftover, about a month's supply, and I will figure it out.

A few favorite photos from Julian's first week. I am still waiting to get our birth story photos back.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Introducing baby Julian!

He is finally here!

So, we last left off on Tuesday when I was about to head to my 40-week midwife appointment. My favorite midwife, Heather, was on duty Tuesday, and we talked at length about all my options going forward. We had a discussion about risks and benefits of different choices/scenarios going into the "postdue" period, and I loved that everything was a discussion, not a "here's what we will or will not let you do". I kind of wished Josh had been at that appointment with me because there was a lot to think about. At the end of the appointment, she checked my cervix. It was my first check this pregnancy, and I was at 5cm, 90% effaced, station 0. Once she did that check, she felt pretty confident that I would be going into labor any day. She offered to strip my membranes and said that she thought it would put me into labor that night. I decided not to do it yet because the next day was my birthday, and I thought I would feel guilty if I chose to do an intervention that might lead him to be born on my birthday. I wasn't sure he would like sharing a birthday with his mom, and if he were to share his birthday, I wanted it to be completely his choice. Funny enough, our photographer later mentioned that she was born on her mom's birthday and hated it, so that was good validation for me that I had made the right decision!

We had a bit of a stressful Wednesday with a snowstorm and some childcare kinks to work out, so I wasn't terribly surprised that things didn't get going in the middle of that. By Thursday, my mom had flown in early to help us out, and I decided I was ready for a membrane strip. Josh took the afternoon off to head down to the birth center with me, and the other midwife was on duty Thursday. I had the strip at 1pm (6cm at that point), and then we went and walked around in the area for a few hours. It was nice to have some time just the two of us. I had contractions all afternoon, many of which I couldn't walk through but still wasn't sure if it was active labor. It is really awkward to work through a contraction in Target! They felt like they were getting pretty close together and more intense, so around 6pm we went back to the birth center and called our photographer. Once I checked in there, everything pretty much shut down. Contractions slowed way down, cervical check showed no change, and we decided to just head home. I was feeling discouraged, but we went to bed at home and I slept okay.

I woke up the next morning (Friday) kind of an emotional mess. It had been a stressful couple of weeks, I was discouraged by labor that had petered out, and also just felt like something might not be quite right. My mom told me to go do something relaxing that morning, so I went for acupuncture and a massage. I felt a bit better after that but still not great, so I called my midwife to get her thoughts. Heather was on for Friday and the whole weekend, and we decided I should come in and get a non-stress test and fluid check. I had originally been planning to wait until Monday for that testing, but I needed the peace of mind. Josh and I were planning a lunch-date, so he just went with me. We ended up having to wait a little while down there, so we ordered Jimmy John's and snuggled up and watched a movie in the birth center. Testing went fine, and around 2-3pm Heather did a cervix check (still 6cm) and stripped my membranes again. She said she is more aggressive with the membrane strip than the other midwife, and it definitely felt different. She also told me she was glad I had come back to the birth center the night before even though I ended up going home–she felt strongly that I shouldn't wait long before coming in, so that was validating. I dropped Josh back at work and headed home. I was trying to decide if I should take the girls out somewhere to play–they'd been home all day, but Penny just wanted to play in the snow in the backyard. I had more contractions from 3:30-5:30. I didn't time anything, but they were similar to what I'd had the day before. By 5-5:30, they seemed to be getting closer together and stronger. Josh was planning to go to happy hour after work and be home by 6. I called him at 5:38 with an update, and he left the bar to come home. We ate some dinner and then left for the birth center at 6:15. I called our photographer but told her not to head out yet since I didn't want a repeat of the night before. She was 30 mins away, so she headed out anyway (smart girl!).

I got to the birth center around 6:45pm and was feeling a little discouraged because contractions had slowed down on the ride down there. I had maybe 4 in 20 minutes. Heather told me that if I had progressed at all, she wanted to break my water and get things going. She felt pretty confident that once my water broke, things would progress, and Josh and I were both feeling pretty ready to have the baby. Plus, it seemed like being somewhat in control of the labor was the right decision for me given how quickly I tend to progress once things really get going. I was 7cm, so she broke my water at 6:53 and immediately things got very intense. I had some very serious contractions very close together. I couldn't sit or lie down–I pretty much stood up and leaned into the bed during contractions, moving my body to try to get as comfortable as possible. Primal instincts really came out in me, just listening to my body, moving how I needed to move, and I definitely made some primitive sounds. I was working very hard for 20 minutes, and Heather started to fill the tub. Around 7:15, I started to feel like pushing was close, so I got in the tub. Again, I just felt like my body knew what to do, and I just needed to follow my instincts. As I started to push him out, I was pacing myself to avoid tearing and applying counter-pressure with my hand. I got the head out, and then I paused. I felt like I needed a break but wasn't sure if I could take a beat or if I needed to get him out. Heather reached down and gave a little check/assist, and then I got him the rest of the way out. As I was pulling him up, our photographer arrived. Julian Stewart was born at 7:18pm on Feb 6th.

He seemed big, but every jaw in the room dropped when he weighed in at 10lb 3oz. I would never have guessed he would be a 10-lb baby. Length was 20.5" and head circumference was 15". So much for all the newborn-size clothes and diapers I had stocked up on. Penny and Olive were 6lb 14oz & 6lb 13oz, so it didn't even seem like a possibility I'd have a 10-pounder. I also didn't feel like I looked that different this pregnancy, so where was he hiding? We stayed at the birth center for about 4 hours and then were home by midnight. During that time, Julian nursed a lot, I snacked on cookies, peanut butter bread, and cranberry juice, and we made lots of phone calls and texts. Our photographer stayed for a couple of hours, and then she came over at 5:30 this morning to be there to capture the girls meeting their brother for the first time. I am so excited to see the pictures she took. Stay tuned!

We are so thrilled to have sweet Julian in our family and enjoying getting to know him and adjusting to life as a family of 5.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

40 Weeks (3 days)

Weeks pregnant: 40
Baby size: small pumpkin
Total weight gain: +35 lb
Total waist gain: +12"

Physical stuff: Still physically feeling surprisingly good for being 40 weeks+. No real signs of labor. I've been doing all the walking, acupuncture, bouncing on a stability ball, etc. that you're supposed to do to try to get baby out. I had a massage and a very gentle chiropractic adjustment. I've also started acupuncture to induce labor. My first session was yesterday, and I have 2 more scheduled. I loved the acupuncture–it was super relaxing. She told me that if baby isn't ready, nothing they do will make baby ready, but that acupuncture can be helpful if baby is ready but the body needs a trigger. Given the car accident/stressful January, I feel like this could be the trick for me. So far, he seems pretty comfortable in there, but given my past experiences with birth, I don't expect to have much notice. Labor tends to come suddenly and intensely for me. And tonight is a full moon, as a few people have told me!

Emotional stuff: I'm feeling a little anxious to get baby out because of childcare arrangements. My poor mother-in-law has been here for 8 days waiting to meet her grandson and ready to help with the girls. She has been incredibly patient and hasn't put any pressure on me, but it will still be such a shame if she has to leave without meeting him. My mom will fly in on Saturday, and it will be a big bummer if I don't get to take advantage of her full week of help. I feel like I'm wasting all this time that I could have extra help with the baby and the older kids, so I'm kind of bummed/anxious about that. I'm sure that's not helping matters, so I'm really trying to relax and just let it be. It might be a good idea to reconsider the travel plans before she gets on a plane, so we will think about that. I downloaded a hypnobabies track designed to induce labor. I've listened several times, and it's really relaxing and interesting/hard to describe. My birthday is tomorrow–what a cool birthday present it would be to have a baby! Please send some positive energy my way for a healthy delivery very soon!

Baby prep/birth prep: I have a midwife appointment tonight, and I need to ask about what happens over the next week or so if baby doesn't come. Acupuncture today and tomorrow, and then can do up to 2 more days of it after that if baby doesn't come. Otherwise, all my plans involve having a baby by now! Both girls were born by this point, so I feel like this is a bit odd for third baby? But I've also just heard that boys tend to go longer, so...who knows. Patience.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

39 weeks (4 days)

Weeks pregnant: 39
Baby size: Mini watermelon
Total weight gain: +35 lb
Total waist gain: +12"

Physical stuff: Physically I am feeling pretty great. Except, I am super sore from a car accident on Monday. Yes, a car accident–WTH?! Who gets in a car accident at 9-mos pregnant? I was driving Penny to school and this lady ran through a stop sign right into me. Thankfully, we were all safely buckled in and the impact was not in the door, so we walked away fine. I did spend the better part of the day in the hospital so that baby could be monitored, which was just kind of boring but fine. Everything seems fine with baby, and the girls weren't phased at all. Olive does enjoy recounting the crash in her 2-year old jargon, which is adorable. But otherwise, I feel like baby has dropped a bit, so pressure in the cervix but otherwise I'm surprisingly comfortable.

Emotional stuff: I kept thinking that baby would come on Monday (1/26), but that was the day I had the car accident, so I guess I was having premonitions about the accident. When you're 9-mos pregnant and feel an impending event, you assume it will be the birth. Even though we were physically okay, I was completely in shock when the accident happened. I was just really freaked out, and it has taken me a few days to start to feel normal again. If baby had been ready to come this week, I'm pretty sure the stress of the accident and dealing with new car seats, repairs, rental car, etc. would have kept him in anyway. So now that that's all handled (I'm driving a minivan loaner!), I feel like I need to decompress and tell baby that it's okay to come out. I started listening to my Circle + Bloom meditations yesterday, scheduled a massage for tonight, and am just trying to relax and get in the birth zone.

Baby prep/birth prep: Midwife is predicting an 8-lb baby. I'm a little skeptical based on my size and the fact that I feel like I look exactly like I did with the other two at this point, but I would love to have a 7-8 lb baby. The girls were both just under 7lb, and I think a little bigger baby would make breastfeeding a little less stressful starting out. My new Hygeia pump arrived this week–I am so excited to have a Hygeia this time, and even better that insurance paid for it.

To do list:

  • unpack baby clothes and gear/set up
  • write out instructions for helpers who come after baby is here
  • make list of people I can call to watch the kids when I need to go to the birth center
  • freeze a couple of meals And my sweet friends have a meal train set up for me, which is so amazing and the best thing anyone can do for us with a new baby!
  • freeze lactation cookies/other snacks
  • order breast pump through insurance
  • meet with birth photographer
  • pack bag for birth center
  • postpartum supply list
Done! I also scrambled to get a new infant car seat, which arrived today. We had already installed the baby seat before the accident, so it needed to be replaced. Even though I feel like we are pretty good about installing car seats, being aware of best practice, and reading the manuals, I still made an appointment with a CPST. After the accident, I just felt like it would be good to get everything checked out. So now we wait. Any time now, little guy. We are ready for you!!