Friday, October 10, 2014

Permanent Maternity Leave

It's finally starting to sink in.
At least a little.

At this moment in time, I am on permanent maternity leave.
I'm *gasp* a stay-at-home-mom.

I can't say this was ever in our plan. It's never even been a dream really. That is until Lyla was born just over two years ago, and I went back to teaching for a year. Priorities started shifting away, and I got sadder and sadder deep within my gut. And that sadness never subsided for me like it does for many other moms. So, I made some life changes, got an ideal new job, found more balance, and was happier than I'd ever been.

But now that we're expecting our second, and after a lot Saturday morning coffee talks, one too many morning-rush-blurs, the inability to take care of my own kid when she's sick, a super-jazzed-up excel spreadsheet of our budget, and the realization that working for me simply meant paying for daycare for two kiddos, we came to the conclusion that it would be best for me to stay home.

And I couldn't be more excited...or thankful.

I have no idea what this new gig will look like. It's quite difficult to imagine, really. And I don't exactly know how long of a gig it may be. I tend to get antsy easily. I like being productive. I like being social. I like using my brain. And, if we're completely honest, I like not having to check our bank account every 15 minutes to make sure I haven't spent too much at Baby Gap. That being said, however, I love being a mom. Every ounce of my being wants to be there for my kids, put more than half of myself into their lives, and stop going through life at such a rapid speed that I blink and suddenly have two teenagers arguing over the car. And although I do have an idea or two up my sleeve to help me with my desires to stay with-it and be a productive member of society (and hopefully bring in some extra income too), I am reminding myself that this time goes by in a flash. And I want to soak up every moment with my babies. Just enjoy. Just be. 

However, things started off a bit rough my first week on the new job. My hope was to have a good, solid week with Lyla. A few days for just the two of us before baby arrives. To make up for lost time, busy schedules, and future time that will be spent with a newborn. But my first day into my new gig, I was just sure I was going into labor as I woke in the middle of the night with stomach-flu-like symptoms. Same exact thing happened the day I went into labor with Lyla. All I could think was "I'M NOT READY. THE NURSERY ISN'T READY. MY HOSPITAL BAG ISN'T READY."

Well. Instead of me going into labor, my "stomach-flu-like symptoms" turned out to be the actual stomach bug. I was pretty miserable (and pretty 9 months pregnant) with a toddler at home who needed me. Because she, of course, came down with the bug too. Luckily, hers only lasted 24 hours. But in those 24 hours, I washed sheets a total of 6 times. And I lost a total of 4 pounds between last week's OB appointment and yesterday's. Where I found out I am indeed progressing, and it really could be anytime that baby makes his or her debut.

Could be in 2 weeks. Could be tonight. {And because I'm admittedly neurotic, I went back to look at my blogpost from a few days before Ly was born. Turns out, I am exactly at the same spot I was four days before I went into labor with her.}

Ugh. The anticipation. And I still don't think I'm quite ready. {insert nervous emoticon face}

And just as we're finally getting into the swing of things as we wait for "baby sister" (according to Lyla) to arrive. We've gone to story time at the library, she started "school" one day a week, and this mama has been hyper-productive. I've crossed things off my list that have been sitting there collecting dust for a good 6 months. And Gabe and I even went on our first date in, oh, probably 6 or 7 months, to celebrate my birthday. I had the best shrimp and scallop fettuccine alfredo and banana caramel bread pudding. And it was worth every minute spent in misery with a horrible tummy ache.

And oh my goodness the mood shift in this house. Everyone is more relaxed. And all around happier. Especially Lyla. It's amazing at how much of a buzzkill I was at the end of each day after work. Now, I have more energy and time for Ly, and she is just happier. Of course our blissful, dream-like state is about to come to a crashing halt any day once we bring home a crying newborn and jump back into a life of lack-of-sleep-induced comas. Believe me, I'm aware.

And in fact, because this baby loves squeezing the heck out of my bladder, I'm up all hours of the night. And every time I wake, I'm thankful I haven't yet gone into labor because I get one more day with Miss Beans. As excited as I am to meet our new babe, I do get a little misty thinking about how the dynamics of our family are going to change. I remember feeling the same way when it was just Gabe and I anxiously waiting for Lyla to be born.  Of course that sadness went away and was immediately replaced by the most incomprehensible joy we'd ever felt the moment Ly entered the world. And I'm sure that will happen again with new baby's arrival. But it's still bittersweet.

But while we wait, we will continue to utilize every moment of our weekends together as a family of three. And during the week, I am soaking up this girl time - just the two of us. Ly is at the cutest age, and I truly wish I could bottle up her two-year-oldness forever.

I melt over so many things... // When she pulls up my shirt and gives "kisses to baby sister" at random. // Or when she's playing for hours at a time sporadically stops what she's doing to look up and say "hi mom" as a little reminder she's still in the room and needs a moment of attention. // Talking on the phone to her and hearing her say "hi mama. I love you." or "happy birthday mama" in the sweetest little voice I've ever heard in my life. // Her warnings to "be careful" when I'm cooking over a hot stove or if I trip over something. // Her wanting to be a little adult by carrying around her purse and phone everywhere she goes or "putting on makeup" while I get ready. (No. I do not let her put on makeup. I give her my makeup brush and she goes to town). // How she tells any guest who leaves "see ya alligator". // Or when I had her test out the pouf in the corner of the baby room. She sadly walked over and said "Lyla in timeout." Bless her sweet little heart - I nearly cried. //

I would love to have a two year old for the rest of my life. It's just the best. And I'm so grateful I get this one on one time with her before babe.

So far, I sure am loving this new life. And I am unguilt-ily going to go enjoy every last sip of my homemade pumpkin spice coffee, finish up some projects in the baby room, and savor these quiet moments during nap time. Because these days are fleeting and going to abruptly come to an end very soon.

And call me crazy, but I couldn't be more excited for the chaos that is to ensue.

Bring on our family of four.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thoughts at 35(ish) Weeks

So here I am. Nearing the end of my pregnancy. Obeying strict orders from my husband to put my feet up after working all day. Trying to nurse my right cankle back to its original state. While I longingly watch as he sips on a glass of red wine.

It's nights like this where I'm just so ready for pregnancy to be over. Where I feel so limited in what I can do because of {take your pick at just about any pregnancy side effect: high blood sugar, fatigue, swelling, or nausea.} Let's just say, I'm not the kind of girl who handles limitations well. I want to do-do-do. All the time. Especially when there is so much left to do-do-do before baby arrives.

But of course, I snap out of it. And I'm often gently humbled. Because I am so thankful, so grateful that I am able to carry and grow a little human. Even if it takes a nasty case of cankle-itis to achieve. And as much as I am desperately looking forward to being done with the sciatic nerve pains and late night heart burn, I still want to remember it all. You know, remember the battle wounds and thoughts I had during this pregnancy. Like...

- Just about everyone I talk to, strangers included, asks me if I'm having a boy. I usually tell them that's what I think I'm having. I'm carrying lower, the heart rate has been in the high 130's, and all I can picture is a little baby boy. Even our nursery leans a little on the masculine side. Oh, and we only have a boy name. I mean not even one girl name in the running. Because of all of these things of course, the baby is more than likely going to be a girl. Either way, we can't WAIT to meet our baby and will surprised no matter who he/she is! And not finding out the sex is

- Although I definitely have good days too, overall, this pregnancy has taken its toll on me. I may have only dealt with "morning sickness" for 14 weeks this time around, (whereas with Lyla, I was sick 24/7 for 7 straight months) but I've had my fair share of infections, illnesses, and ailments that have beaten me to a pulp. I either had a cold or sinus infection every few weeks from January to July, I've had blood sugar and blood pressure issues causing me to faint, I failed my glucose test, I had a UTI, I've had pretty severe lower back pain for the past several months, my ankles swell the moment the temperature rises or I sit too long (which is all day every day at work), I've had strong and at times uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions off and on since 20 weeks, and I feel like a large, ridiculous walrus waddling and rolling about. Let's just say I cannot relate to my unicorn friends who love being pregnant and whose only pregnancy side effects are trying to find clothes that fit the extra 10 pounds they're carrying. ;)

- My latest doctor's appointment was the jolt we needed to send us into a we-better-get-moving-and-prepare-for-this-baby frenzy. My doc decided to check me because of my contractions and pressure I've been feeling. I'm measuring a week early and I've already started to dilate - just barely, but the process has begun. And we have a whole lot of nothing ready for this baby. No seriously, I'm not even sure where the carseat is at the moment. So this appointment was just the motivation we needed. And it's quite weird to know that I could be 35 (almost 36 weeks). I totally wasn't prepared for that. Then again, this babe could stick around like it's "supposed to" until the end of October. Not knowing is a killer for this controlling planner mama. But baby is in control here, and joke's on mom.

- There is no better word to describe this pregnancy than bittersweet. I truly cannot imagine putting my body through this again. But in the exact same breath, I can't imagine not ever doing this again. Ironic, eh? As much as I *most of the time* am ready for pregnancy to be over, I just know I will miss it and feel sad and nostalgic the moment the babe is on the outside. Funny how that works.

- There is absolutely nothing I love more than feeling this babe move. I know it's everyone's favorite part of pregnancy, but I sort of feel like I missed out on this with Lyla. No really. Of course Ly moved around and kicked, but very little. She was super quiet. In fact, when I checked into the hospital during labor, they asked me the last time I felt fetal movement. When I responded, "a week or so ago", everyone freaked out. Now I understand why. I get nervous if I go a few hours without feeling babe #2. And there's nothing I love more than feeling little legs and arms...even if they're jabbing me raw. It's still so sweet. Totally going to miss it.

- I always thought pregnancy brain was a cop-out. But oh no, my friends. It is very, very real. Lately, I've been doing the silliest of things - forgetting everyday words, not remembering how to perform the simplest of work tasks, and losing my keys on an hourly basis. But oh my word. Last week it hit a mama-needs-an-intervention level. I'm on a committee where each member is responsible for one meeting out of the year - to secretary for the meeting and bring food for the group. I've had it on my calendar for months. Well. I planned everything out over the weekend, lined up a babysitter, and had Gabe make a Sam's run for snacks while I made cupcakes for my meeting. But while baking on the Monday evening before my Tuesday meeting, I got an e-mail. I opened it, and it was from my director asking me if I was ok because it wasn't like me to miss a meeting. Yep. The meeting was on Monday, not Tuesday.

- We actually made some progress on the nursery this weekend. What in the world took so long? We had to tackle Lyla's big girl room, plan and execute her second birthday party, and begin potty training. {Yes, I made the dumb decision to try 3 Day Potty Training Boot Camp at 8 months pregnant. And although I'm now very thankful we stuck to it, I've never been so mentally and physically drained. A whole other blog post in and of itself). Now that all of those things are finished, we are finally starting and even making some progress on babe #2's room. I even had a couple of tearful, intimate moments sitting in the rocking chair and putting the sheets on baby's bed. Baby, I love you so much already and can't wait to meet you.

- Confession. I often forget how many weeks I am, I have yet to know what "fruit" my baby is, and I have no idea at any given time what organs are forming on a given week. Oh. And I eat deli meat and drink coffee almost every day. Does that make me a bad mom? Nah. It's just completely obvious that this is my second kid. And I'm so clearly a pro that I no longer have to follow the rules.  ;)

But seriously. We're having baby soon. And I am ecstatic.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Lyla's 2nd Birthday Picnic Party

It's 9:14 on Thursday night.

And I'm pretty sure it's the first time I've actually sat down to relax since exactly one week ago. Because one week ago, I was ignoring my very pregnant body {and every family member begging me to take it easy} as I planned, crafted, cleaned, grocery shopped, and prepared after work each night for a very special two year old's big day.

And a big day it was. We partied like it was our job.

The thing is, I vividly remember going into all of this swearing up and down that I was going to keep things very small and very casual this year. It really did start out that way: our parents, a few of Lyla's toddler friends and their families, and the idea to have a casual picnic. And although I may not have gone completely all-out like I did last year, I still overdid it. By a lot. And I've got the ankles to prove it. Exactly one week later.

I don't know why I don't just cater in, or at least for Pete's sake leave the baked goods to the professionals. I guess for the same reason I refuse to buy Halloween costumes - I like to put my special touch on things and somehow create a labor of love {even though my strengths by no means lie in craftiness nor the kitchen}.

This year's labor of love was the strawberry vanilla cupcakes. Why? Why do I feel the need to try a new recipe from scratch when I have several friends who run very successful bakeries? Especially when I have officially, for two years in a row now, managed to concoct a baking disaster. This year, instead of accidentally doubling the butter, I added too much strawberry puree into the buttercream frosting which made it runny. And let me tell you. Runny frosting, now matter how delicious, looks absolutely horrifying. So, my mother-in-law, for the second year in a row came to the rescue with extra confectioners sugar just in the nick of time -  40 minutes before the party began. I seriously had to talk myself out of throwing a full-on adult tantrum because we didn't have time {or enough frosting} to do fancy swirly-doo's with the buttercream.

You win some. You lose some.

But swollen ankles, lack of sleep, and runny frosting aside, it was all so very worth it. To see Lyla's face as she woke up and walked around the house saying "Lyla boothday pawty"and recognized that all the fun decor was for her!!! And when all said and done, I just can't ignore how much fun it is for me to plan and incorporate all the little details. I love myself a theme and creating a corresponding menu and signature drink. And since I couldn't partake in any adult fun, I stuck to the most delicious infused water I've ever had: Strawberry lime cucumber mint - obnoxious name, but seriously tasty.

My favorite detail was the party favors - everyone got to take home a honey bear from Grandpa Green's farm!

And of course we couldn't have pulled it off without the fam - surely they are used to me by now. Always running out of time at the last minute and pleading with them the night before an event to get their party pants on and "bring in the reinforcements". They're true saints, I tell you.

This year was no exception as I put everyone to work. If I saw anyone standing, I handed them something and gave them a job. Yes, even the birthday girl herself. She helped Dad chill the beer. And Bots was on babysitting/storytime duty.

But I have to say. My favorite part of the entire day was right before any of our guests arrived. It was just us and the grandparents. We took Ly outside for her big "present reveal". And I have never, ever seen such joy, and I will never forget her face.

Let's stop for a moment and talk about this wagon. I have to brag on Gabe. After several weeks of laboring in sweltering 100 degree weather, over a dozen trips to Home Depot, and more than $150 spent, he finished refurbishing his brother and sister's old childhood wagon.

So scratch the runny cupcakes, I guess my sweet husband wins in the labor of love department.

Oh. And we can't forget the part where Lyla was hysterical because everyone sang happy birthday to her. Poor thing really just can't stand all attention on her.

Other than the "Happy Birthday meltdown", our sweet bean had a fabulous time and loved playing with her toddler pals. I only wish I would have gotten more pictures of them all together. {Darn you August heat!} And she really loved playing with all her new treasures.

Well, another successful party in the books. 

But I really am sticking to my word as next year's theme is going to be "Pizza and Party Hats". And it may just be our family of four celebrating together. Because I'm sure I'll still be recovering come August next year. 

And I know this little party animal would likely agree. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happy TWO Years, Miss Beans!

Well, here we are. Rounding out Lyla's second birthday.

I sit here sort of speechless. Trying to take in the fact that I have a two year old.

Life has been so busy, with today being no exception, that I haven't really let that soak in. Until this exact moment.

Although last night, just as we began the tuck-into-bed process {and yes, it is exactly that - a process}, a wave of nostalgia, excitement, and a twinge of sadness came over me. I realized that as I kissed my little bean to sleep, she would wake up a two year old. Another birthday. Another year passed. Wasn't I just in the delivery room a few weeks ago?

Someone make it stop!

But I really am so excited to begin our new adventure into Two-ville. With the exception of the horrifying tantrum now and again, I have so enjoyed the toddler stage. And I can't wait for it to continue. Lyla is so curious, eager to learn, stubborn, quirky, gentle, deliberate, hilarious, and full of life.

And there are so many adorable things that have made quite the impression on my sappy, old, mama heart. But a few I really want to remember...

- I love her wild & crazy bed head in the mornings. No really. It's out of control.

- I love how she labels everything she comes in contact with: "Lyla's shoes, Mommy's hair, Sammy's food, Callaway's house..."

- I love how she stops every so often while eating to wipe her hands and mouth on a napkin.

- I love how the moment we get in the car she asks for "strap please" - the carseat strap that she has completely rubbed into a fuzzy nub while sucking her thumb on the drive home from daycare.

- I love bedtime...when I get the most love {and so does the "baby belly"}. I get eskimo kisses, butterfly kisses, and "real" night night kisses. But the hugs, oh the hugs tight around my neck are what really get me.

- I love how she mispronounces things. Like her "r's":  "bood" (for bird), "gwapes" (for grapes) and "boothday" (for birthday). Or how she says "Bots" (for Pops) and "Gams" (for Grams).

- I love how she gets modest or bashful in certain situations. Like when we ask her how old she is, she turns away, then gets a huge smirk on her face, and after a few seconds boldly proclaims "TWOOOO". Or when we tell her to say bye-bye to a friend, she won't do it at that exact moment, but then the whole ride home she says "Bye-bye Breckyn" and then the whole next week asks to go to "Breckyn's house".

- I love, love, love how she yells "Shoo fly" when she sees a bug of any kind. And lately, we've graduated to a simple "Shoo"!

I mean.

And to celebrate all the sweet cuteness that is our two year old, we started off her birthday with a little bit of extra pizazz to our morning routine. And by pizazz, I mean we put a few balloons in Lyla's room and woke her up by singing "Happy Birthday". {Listen. The kid is NOT a morning person. And  Tuesday's are our early days because she goes all the way across town to GiGi's house.} But she sure loved the balloons once she realized they were for her birthday.

Then, mom and dad went to work. Boo.

But once 5:00 hit, we picked up our birthday girl and celebrated with after-work drinks, birthday cheers included. A local brew for dad, water for pregnant mom, and milk for the birthday girl. When we asked if she wanted pizza or a burrito for her birthday dinner, Lyla excitedly announced "pizzarito"! {She didn't seem too disappointed when she simply got pizza. No "rito".}

And finally, Ly's very favorite part of her birthday: "cuh-cakes". She was a little apprehensive of the "HOT" candles at first, but then, she whipped out the smirk. 

And when the smirk comes out, you know it's time to party. 

And party we did.

Happy birthday to my most favorite girl in the whole wide world. We love you!