Thursday, August 29, 2013

Remember that time I had five jobs?

Let's take a quick jaunt back to a few months ago.
When I was working five jobs.

Five jobs, you ask?

That's according to my calculations.

I was a teacher.
Which is pretty much 2 jobs.
Teaching kids by day.
Planning to teach said kids by night.

I was a new mom.
Definitely 1 full-time job.
No explanation needed.
{Especially for those who are currently taking on this role}.

I was an exclusive breastfeeder.
2 jobs.
Because it's not just the nursing.
It's the pumping (job in itself). Washing. Cleaning. Prepping. Freezing.

Five jobs.

But things are a bit different these days.

For so many reasons.

I'm no longer a teacher.
No longer a new mom.
{Almost} no longer an exclusive breastfeeder.

And just like *that*.
I feel so happy.
So normal.

I find myself smiling more.
Laughing more.
Breathing more.

And that balance I was completely unsuccessful in finding last year?
I've got it.

I could shout it from the rooftops.

But I won't.
For fear I would lose my balance.
And fall off the roof.

I'll be honest.
I took too many things head-on last year.
And to no one's fault but my own,
I burnt myself out.


Especially (and unfortunately) with teaching.

It's just like me.
To go in day one expecting to change the world.
I dove in too deep.
Too soon.

All while trying to figure out how to be a really great mom.

The hardest part was that I felt so completely out of control. 
So clueless.
I just had no idea what I really wanted.

All I knew was that I couldn't keep up that pace. 
I could keep up that pace.
But I no longer wanted to. 

It was a choice. 
To go completely against my instinct. 
To de-busify. 
And take out the one thing that was consuming my life. 
Which for me, was my job. 
A job that took all of my time, energy, thoughts, and emotions.

I realized I must enjoy everyday moments with my family. 
Because these moments are fleeting. 

Now don't get any crazy ideas. 
I'm still me.
I'm still ambitious, determined, energetic, and put everything into tasks that are given to me. 

Now I control what I do with my time. 
I enjoy time. 
I have time. 

And the crazy thing is that I'm still working.
I wake up an hour earlier than I did while teaching. 
I *technically* have a longer work day than I did while teaching. 
I don't have summers off. 
Or a spring break. 

But I do have Fridays off. 
And a lunch break. 
And a setting that is not all-consuming. 

I'm able to wake up, go to work, do a good job, enjoy the people I work with, and come home. 
And when I'm home, I'm home. 
That last one?
That's a biggie. 

It's the best of every kind of world. 
I still work. 
Which allows me to feel like a productive member of our fam.
And, I get out of the house. 
And, it makes my time with Lyla so much sweeter. 
Because I actually have time now. 

And guess what else?
I can do ME things too. 
Like blog. 
Get my hair done. 

So this is what freedom feels like?
Can't forget happy too.
I'm diggin it. 

*Sidenote: I am incredibly thankful for my time as a teacher. I learned so much, grew as a person, met lifelong friends, am confident that I did change (at least a few) lives in my too-short career, and developed a deep appreciation for teachers everywhere. 

I will always be a teacher at heart, but my heart belongs somewhere else.

Look at me.
I'm on my lunch break.
With my baby.

How things have changed.

So thankful.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Mommy Files: Cloth Diapers Part III

My last post on cloth dipes.

I took a brief hiatus. 
Needed a little break from thinking about baby poo. 
But I have just a few more thoughts to add. 

You can check out what I've already had to say here and here

I definitely want to reiterate. 
I'm no poster-child for cloth. 
However, we've been using them for a whole year. 
And will continue until Ly is potty trained. 
And hopefully will use on babe #2 someday. 
(Because let's be honest, that's when you noticeably start to save the cash-monies). 

 Plus, it is nice to jot down everything I've liked.
And not liked.
*That's important too.*

So here is a quick snapshot list of our personal must-haves when using cloth. 

1. Diapers. Well. You obviously need those. Personally, I feel it's worth the investment to purchase a brand that provides reliability and quality. I've talked to a few people who scimped and bought cheaper diapers, then had to replace them. Doesn't that completely go against one of the main reasons to cloth in the first place? You get what you pay for is all I'm saying. We love Fuzzibunz Elite One Size. They typically run about $19 a diaper, and they will absolutely last with a second bambino + any others (whom are not currently in the plans). We really love them because they're sturdy, and you can throw them in the dryer. *Huge selling point for me*

2. On-the-Go Wet Bag. These are the perfect hideout for your dirty cloth dipes when you're on-the-go. I tend to stick with disposable diapers if I plan to be out for most of the day, however, I still need a place to put the cloth diaper Lyla is wearing. I always make sure to pack one of these guys. They're so handy because they fit in your diaper bag, and no wetness or odor leaks out. And you just throw them in the wash with the rest of your diapers. 

3. Bum Balm. Lyla has a super sensitive bum. So, she has gotten mild cases of diaper rash or chapped cheeks from time to time. (With cloth diapers, you can not use any kind of diaper rash cream with zinc oxide or cod liver oil, like Desitin. These creams will cause buildup, and your diapers will lose their absorbency and begin repelling/leaking.) So, we have to use something more natural. I prefer Thirsties Booty Love or Grandma El's Diaper Rash Creme

4. Pail Liner. Gotta have a place to put those stinkies. We use a "dry pail system". All that really means is that we throw our diapers into the diaper pail/liner and wash every day and a half. (Rather than a wet pail system...which is exactly how it sounds: wet). We throw all dirty diapers into this Planet Wise Dry Diaper Pail Liner and then throw the entire thing in the wash when it's time. So easy, it's embarrassing. 

5. Diaper Pail. Gotta have a home for the pail liner (see #4 above). We scored a super-cheap pail on Amazon. No need for fancy shmancy. Just need something to contain the odor. And in the case of a few major dirty diapers that tend to stink up the room, we just throw in a Scentsy bar or dryer sheet for an extra boost of freshness. 

6. Detergent. Cloth diapers don't mess around. They can start leaking if you don't use the right detergent. The one we've found to work the best and be the most economical is Charlie's Soap. Which again, we purchase on Amazon. *We're Prime Members, so we get free 2-day shipping. So much better than running out to Wal-Mart.* On Amazon, just $13.00 for some Charlie's Soap. And that lasts about 3 1/2 months or so. 

7. Diaper Sprayer. Highly, highly, highly recommend. Especially at the beginning. And especially if you're breastfeeding. We bought the Bum Genius diaper sprayer, and it's so simple! It hooks up to the waterline connected to your toilet, and it sprays any extra goodies away. It was so helpful when Lyla was exclusively breastfed and hadn't transitioned to solids yet. The dirty diapers needed some extra help really getting clean, and rather than the old days of swishing it around in the toilet, this sprayer does all the work for you. I don't use the sprayer as much these days though as I just plop everything in the toilet. But every once in awhile, I still need to sprayer. *Bonus: Can be used as a bidet as well. ;)

Well there you have it.
Hopefully you don't think I'm too weird.
Clothing really is fun.
And *gasp* not that hard.
And *double gasp* considered cool in big cities.

So that makes me cool.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Twelve Months

12 Months: 08/19/13

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this.
The fact that I have a one year old. 

A sweet little one year old whom we are so very proud of. 
And love more than anything in the world. 

This month, you've grown significantly. 
The most we've seen yet. 
Not in size.
But in skill. 

It's like you've been saving up all your tricks. 
After all these months of little to no movement.
And all of sudden, without a speckle of warning, you're moving.
And surprising us with all kinds of things. 

Like your disappearing act. 
Where I have a brief instant of panic because I'm not sure where you scooted off to. 

Or how all in one week you began sitting up from a laying down position, taking steps with help, trying to climb things with our assistance, and pulling up for the first time in your crib. We walked in, and there you were. Standing there. So proud. Then you oh-so-gracefully sat yourself down. Like a lady. And you've been showing off all kinds of floor exercise/ballerina moves. Seriously, we still can't figure out how you contort yourself into such positions. 

We're proud. 
Incredibly proud. 

Gross Motor and Development Update. We actually had your first Child Development Consultation today. Dr. Andrea did all kinds of things to check on your gross motor skills. You weren't too sure at the beginning, but by the end, you jabbering away telling her your whole life story. 

Dr. Andrea told us pretty much word-for-word what we've been told by your pediatrician and our good friend in RI who specializes in children's PT. You have low muscle tone. Couple that with your laid back and content-with-just-sitting-there-looking-cute personality, and you've got yourself a motor skill delay. 

Bottom line: There are no major problems. In fact, as long as you continue to progress, we don't even have to go back. Low muscle tone is something you were born with, and it simply means you have lower muscle strength and aren't able to control your muscles as well as others your age. I asked if you will always have low muscle tone, and she said yes. But she gave us plenty of exercises to help strengthen your muscles. And as I've mentioned before, you're quite we're hoping to use that to your advantage. 

You do have some goals to meet before 14 months. If we reach these goals, you don't have to go back to physical therapy. You should be cruising across furniture, standing independently, and squatting to pick things up by 14 months. We're really looking for some progression from where you're currently at. And the good news is that the "normal" walking range goes all the way up to 18 months. So, we have plenty of time to work on that too!

Although it made me a little sad today watching you struggle and giving your all to try to do certain activities, I had a major reality check. As I looked around, I noticed other little boys and girls who were there for much more serious problems. I saw parents who looked tired, run-down, desperate, and willing to do anything to help their child. I had a few moments where I fought back tears. And I felt sort of...silly for being there. But Dr. Andrea said we had good reason to be there, as many come to see her when it's too late. 

Today was humbling. I walked away thanking the Lord for a beautiful, healthy little girl. We are so blessed. And I am incredibly thankful. 

Stats. We actually had your 12 month appointment today after your physical therapy appointment. *Tough day*. Unfortunately, this was a shot day. And you decided to skip both of your naps. Needless to say...tomorrow's a new day. But, I found out at your wellness checkup that you lost a pound. :( You went from 50th percentile to 35th. I actually walked out without your stats paper, but if I remember correctly, I think you now weigh 18.9 pounds. 

Dr. wasn't overly concerned, but we have to go back in 6 weeks for a weight checkup. Time to start fattening you up!

Eating. You're still nursing once in the morning and once at night. And you take one bottle (I still have frozen breast milk that we're using up) mid-afternoon. You eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one-two snacks. And, we plan to start you on whole milk this week. You eat anything and everything we give you, and you're getting better at using a spoon. 

Vocabulary. You've got quite the repertoire of syllables and sounds down. But. I'm going to be honest on this one and only count words that you actually say and know the meaning of. You know, like when you make the "mmm" sound, you're clearly trying to say "magnetic" or "multiple". *Just kidding. I'm trying really hard not to be one of those parents.* Anyway. Your current vocabulary consists of dada, mama, ball, bye-bye, hibook, and GiGi swears you're saying pops. Oh. And when you don't know how to say something, your default is bup. Like when you see the puppies, you point and squeal "bup". 

Big Changes. You *finally* have 4 teeth. This top, right tooth caused a lot of trouble. 6 weeks of red, swollen gums with a tooth bulging and so close to the surface. We said for 6 weeks straight, "I bet it cuts tomorrow". Until finally, it cut through this month. Odd because we had very little problems with your other three. Happy this little guy made it's debut finally!

You're drinking milk from a sippie - no more bottles! {Well, except for when you're feeling particularly needy.} 

And you've started sucking your thumb again. The thumb-sucking went away for awhile. But it's back. You really love to do it while rubbing a lovey. Positive = you easily comfort yourself. Negative = no clue how to stop you from doing this one day.

Cognitive Skills. Every change with a baby is so exciting. But I find the cognitive growth to be fascinating and truly amazing. 
  • Pretend. You really just pretend to eat things. It's so cute. You'll use any surface really, but you prefer to "eat" out of our hands. 
  • Pointing. You started pointing a couple of weeks ago. At nature. At pictures in books. At the dogs. Every morning, you wake up, point to your bookshelf, and say "booh, booh". My sweet little bookworm. 
  • When we ask you a question, you throw your little hands in the air, as if to ask a question back. Sometimes you even say, "Whaa". *That didn't go on the vocabulary list because you simply repeat it after we say it. Does repeating a word count? 
  • This might be under vocabulary as well. But you are doing such a good job signing "more" and "all done". And you have a pretty good understanding of "all done". The other night, Daddy was giving you a bath. He was splashing your body and face, and you loved it for awhile. Then, you got a pouty face like you might cry, and you signed "all done". So cool!

Loves. You love so many things right now. Such a fun age!
  • Reading. I mean, you say "book" every morning when I wake you up. You really love turning the pages and getting your books out of your book basket. Makes this teacher heart go pitter-pat. 
  • Taking things out and in. You love taking all of your toys out of your toy basket. Your "cooking utensils" out of the pot. Puzzle pieces out of the puzzle. And you love dropping things inside of other things. Blocks into cups. Toys into baskets. You could do it for days. 
  • Opening and closing. You really like when books have little flaps to open. And you have little doors on your Zany Zoo that you are obsessed with opening and closing. 
  • Dropping things. Food. Sippie. Toys. Books. Anything that makes a loud banging noise on the floor. 
  • Animal noises. *That Mom and Dad make* Your favorite is when a sheep says "baa-baa" or a monkey says "eww-eww-ahh-ahh". You crack up for days. 
  • Your curls. Ok. So maybe, this is one of Mom's loves for the month. But what an adorable phase. 

  • Hearing the word "no". You usually cry. We really only tell you no when you try to touch something you shouldn't or when you try to take Dad's glasses. Seriously. You are obsessed with taking off people's glasses. So, you hear "no" often. 
  • Waiting for food. You have no patience. 
  • Getting your mouth wiped after eating. 
  • Being "all done". You just really like food. (Which is why I'm so confused why you lost weight this month.)
It was a great month, Ly. 
You had your first birthday. 
One awesome little birthday bash. 
And you're movin and groovin. 

Mama's only going to do monthly updates from here on out. 
So many big girl things ahead. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Breakfast at Lyla's: Party Deets

Still recovering over here.
Still finding remnants of a good celebration.

The first of many birthday parties to plan.
And for the FIRST, we started off with a bang.
Because your party was fabulous.

Don't get too used to it though.
Next year is going to be a bit...simpler.
I'm thinking a few pizzas and some party hats?

Because mama went a little overboard this year.
But I couldn't help it.
It was so exciting once I got going.

The Breakfast at Lyla's theme was very fitting.
And incredibly fun to plan.

All I really knew was that I wanted something classy.

Just like the sweetie I was planning it for.

Instead of going the glitz, glamour, and bling route,
I decided I wanted a more shabby chic spin.

Instead of traditional Tiffany blue, I incorporated a more modern mint. 
With fresh, blush-colored flowers.
Sprinkled with white baby's breath.
And plenty of milk glass and mason jars.
With a side of mint-colored swirly straws. 

My super talented friend designed the print materials.
She brought all of my ideas to life.
Everything turned out better than I'd imagined.

The invites were perfect.

And she made adorable table labels for the food.
I went back and added little pearl decals for a simple, classy touch. 

The menu included:
Fabulous Fruit
Marvelous Mimosas
Posh Parfaits
Classy Quiche
Debonair Danishes
Simply Sweet Cupcakes
Sophisticated Sausage Puffs

She also designed and printed the cupcake toppers.
I cut out each little circle.
While watching Game of Thrones.
So, don't look too closely.

Before I go on, I must add a bit of reality to this post.
I'm no domestic goddess.
I mean, I can read a recipe and all.
Except when I get distracted while chatting with a friend.

Then, I do things like accidentally double the butter.
Then try to double everything else to make up for it.
Then ruin 2 dozen cupcakes.
And finally settle on the next 2 dozen.
In that whole process, I lost 24 of my special Etsy-ordered polka dot cupcakes.


And that frosting?
The secret is a lot of butter.
And powdered sugar.
And whipping cream.
Then a giant plastic bag with a corner cut out.
Just call me Martha.

My amazing friend also made thank you tags that read, "Thank you, Darling".
I stuffed the little treat bags with cereal.

And my favorite printed detail from the party?
Beer labels!

Dad brewed a super-special breakfast brew. 
Infused with cara, cara oranges.
I don't know many one year olds who have their own breakfast brew.
But word on the street is that it was quite delicious.

Some other fun details...and the secrets behind them.

A fabric-strip banner. I'd like to pretend that I'm super crafty and just-so-happened to have these fabulous fabric scraps lying around. I didn't. I strategically bought them.

Chalkboard birthday messages. I may be a teacher at heart, but my handwriting is awful. I googled fonts and copied them to my chalkboards.

Watch-Me-Grow banner. This was SO fun to make. However, I'm sure there was an easier way. I stenciled the numbers onto scrapbook paper, traced, and cut them out. Then glued onto doilies. Lots of time. But I love how it turned out. And I wish I was a photographer. Then, maybe I would have gotten some decent pics.

Smash Cake. Again. SO fun to make. However, I trashed the first one I made. And it took me like an hour to get my little swirlies how I wanted them. And I still wasn't happy. FYI - frosting melts when it's humid. Like everything else I made...don't look too closely. ;)

Oh. And I decided to bring out Lyla's dresser/changing table from her bedroom for the dessert and mimosa table. It totally completed the look. Conveniently, I was able to grab a diaper from the top left drawer mid-party. Bonus!

And I can't forget to mention my parents.
Who steam cleaned our carpets.
And took me to Sam's for a major grocery rendezvous.

And my in-laws.
Who always seem to bail me out.
After I realize I'm in over my head.
When I always underestimate time.

And my amazing husband.
Who is just the best.
All the time.

And to my Chunkin.
For giving me the best year ever.

What a birthday celebration, indeed.

I need a nap.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 52: Happy Birthday

As of 4:21 this morning, I have a one year old.

One year.

A year full of surprise.

One of the happiest years of my life.

Most everyone who knows me probably placed bets that I would cry today.
Happy tears, of course.
Proud tears.
Bittersweet tears.

But no tears for this gal.
No sir-ee.
Just like my wedding day.
Too happy to produce any tears.

Happy First Birthday to the sweetest little lady I know.

It was so wonderful to celebrate YOU this weekend.
And it really was a blast putting everything together.

Lots of planning.
Errand running.

All things I can do *by the way* with my newfound freedom.
Holy Moly.
I love freedom.
And I love being mentally present for these moments.

Your little soiree was quite the celebration.
Baby friends.
Adoring family.
Sweet *girly* presents.
Absolute perfection.

The theme was Breakfast at Lyla's.
And completely Lyla.

I plan to write a party-detail post tomorrow.

But for today,
I just want to focus on you.

So happy birthday, Sweet Chunkin.
We love you more than we ever dreamed possible.

Thanks for one great year. ;)