Merry Christmas

Dear Readers,

Life with two, mixed in with the holiday season, and self-prescribed maternity leave has left no time for blogging. I miss checking in with all of you, and I have many fun things to share (Teaser: my toddler is potty trained, I made super fun ornaments for Christmas gifts, and a good friend has re-inspired some challenging but much needed healthy changes to my lifestyle). Alas, I will wait until after the first of the year to resume my regular blogging. Until then, a very merry Christmas to you and yours. Love you!


Birthday Pleasures

Photo courtesy of Evil Erin

Today I celebrate another birthday. Is it just me, or does each birthday get less and less important as your focus shifts from inward to outward toward your family and friends? I have so much to be thankful for--most noticeably right now is my health and the health of my family. It's something so easy to take for granted until you see a slew of family and friends make trips to the hospital, and then you realize how blessed you truly are.

So, today, I am thankful. Thankful for health. Thankful for fall. Thankful for family. Thankful for friends. Thankful for my God. Thankful for the internet and FB which allows me to get over a hundred happy birthday notices throughout my day. Thankful for my daughters. Thankful for being able to work from home. Thankful for life and joy and peace. And thankful for fall treats--I think my ideal birthday party would be a huge gathering of friends and family around a bonfire, roasting wienies, singing songs with guitars, and doing lots of talking and laughing. Oh, and of course there would be lots of fall goodies like pumpkin bread with cream cheese frosting, baked apples, caramel apples, pumpkin scones, and anything else that includes pumpkins, apples, or could be cooked over a campfire.

What does your ideal birthday party look like?


Thanksgiving Centerpieces

photo courtesy of floodllama

Halloween is over, and I'm strangely open to the idea of putting up Christmas decorations already. Usually we wait until the day after Thanksgiving, but this year we will be traveling a bit, so my time at home will be cut shorter. In order to pacify my cravings to decorate for Christmas, I've decided to focus on fun Thanksgiving centerpieces--perhaps something I can work on with my toddler to take as a thank-you gift for the family who is hosting Thanksgiving this year. Whether it's an old farmhouse style table or a more traditional drop leaf table, there's always room for a handcrafted centerpiece, right?

So, dear readers, here is where I need your help. Do you have any ideas or links to creative ideas for Thanksgiving decorations? The folks at Babble have already sparked my interest with some turkey crafts and "Give Thanks" banners.

I've also been mulling over the idea of a turkey centerpiece without the tail feathers attached. Instead of bringing a fully assembled centerpiece, I'd have paper tail feathers and a marker to leave on the table next to the turkey. Throughout the day, each family member could write something he/she is thankful for on each feather. Then the feather would be added to the turkey so that by dinnertime we'd have a fully decorated turkey. What do you think?

I also just looked at some centerpieces that were predominantly blue in color. What do you think? Should all Thanksgiving centerpieces burn red, orange and brown? Or is there room for some cool blue or even hot pink items?

Are you going to decorate your table this year? Leave your ideas in the comments section so we can all partake. Oh, and of course, THANK YOU.


DIY Baby Mobile

During my fabulous and productive nesting stage, I cranked out quite a few crafts and projects inspired by baby #2. Here's a mobile I created and passed on to my lovely cousin for her baby boy. It was super easy and fun to make. There are so many fun things you could add to personalize it yourself (e.g. you could put a button in the center of each yo yo, you could paint the crafting loop a special color or add decorations to it, etc.)

First of all, here's a link to my inspiration. I love her use of primary colors, and you'll notice her yo yos are smaller than mine--I think I'd make mine smaller like hers next time.

Step 1: Gather your materials. Everything for the pinwheels is listed in this tutorial for making fabric yo yos. You'll also need some kite string and a wooden circle (I used one normally used for pulling thread tight for a cross-stitch or applique project.)

Step 2: Follow the tutorial for making an array of yo yos.

Step 3: Thread the yo yos together using kite string--add knots in the string after you thread each yo yo to determine where the yo yo rests on the string.

Step 4: Tie all of your lines to the wooden circle, balance, knot, and use a lighter to fuse the knots to keep from unraveling.

Step 5: Add kite string to the top to make two arcs that crisscross in the middle. Anchor those together with a long piece of string that you will attach to the ceiling.

The final product picture just isn't very glamorous, but I promise your project will be! This would be a meaningful and fun project to give someone as a shower gift--if you know the colors/theme of your friend's shower. Just be sure to also buy something off the registry--those gifts are always appreciated too.


Fall Recipes

Now that I'm getting my energy back and (sort of) establishing a routine with two kiddos, I've found time to make it back into the kitchen. Fall is my favorite time of the year, so I'm taking advantage of the season and doing as much baking as possible. Just thought I'd share some of the recipes I've either bookmarked to make or have already tried. Drink a pumpkin spice latte for me, and enjoy!

Pumpkin Swirl Bread (the "swirl" is cream cheese) Depending on when you want to munch on this, you could make it extra decadent and use it for French Toast.
Pumpkin Raisin Scones (These are delicious--best eaten fresh out of the oven)

And I'm just getting started!

Please share your favorite fall recipes--add a link to the recipe in the comments' section. I'd love to try it.


Life with Two

Baby M is almost three weeks old, and I can't believe I'm closing in on the one-month marker already. Yikes, time flies with two kiddos.

Just thought I'd check in with a few things I've learned so far in this transition to two:

1. It's easier and harder to have a second newborn. Easier because you don't have to look up answers every few minutes and try and find the best advice to go by--you finally trust your inherent mother's intuition to guide you. Harder because there's always another person to consider in every decision you make.

2. Transitioning to two is tricky (which is my nice way of saying it's hard). I hear that this is as hard as it gets. After this, adding more is no problem. Some friends from Norway told me they have a saying, "Having two kids is like having ten; having one child is like having zero." Isn't that the truth?

The simple fact is, no matter how stellar of a mom and multi-tasker you are, your time IS divided. There's no getting around it. It's not even fair to say it's divided because that implies an even 50/50 split. Right now it's more like 80/20--80 to my newborn/20 to my two year old. So when the two year old acts out or is needy, I understand. I almost hate to discipline when she acts out because I feel her pain. I really miss my exclusive time with my toddler. She's definitely getting the short end of the stick in this deal--at least for now. People told me not to fear how you were going to love a second as much as the first--it happens naturally. But what they didn't warn me about was the fact that I'd feel bad for my toddler because she was going to get the bum side of the deal to start with. Moms of one child, consider yourself warned.

3. Take all the help you can get--especially with your older child. When you factor in what a raw deal it is for the older one, on top of the six weeks you have to set aside and not pick up your heavier-than-fifteen pounds little one so you can heal, plus you add all the raging hormones that come with postpartum, you quickly realize that you cannot do this transition alone. Thankfully, my mom was here to help out the first week--and most of her helping involved taking my older daughter out to play at the park or run errands so my daughter could get a break from cranky mama.

The second week of my recovery I packed with play dates--friends who had volunteered to take my daughter for a morning to play with their kids. It was so helpful and appreciated that I almost valued it more than meals being brought in. I would seriously consider for the next sprinkle/diaper shower I throw that I encourage all the guests to sign up for a day to take the older kid/kids once the baby's born. It really made all the difference. Plus, there's something about having one baby that makes you want to shut off society and just spend time with your newborn; but there's something about having a second baby that makes you scream for help and dread mornings when you have to do it alone.

4. Cuddling is still just as wonderful as it is with the first. Another benefit to having my firstborn out of the house during recovery is that I still get lots of cuddling time with my newborn. A tiny baby sleeping on my chest, warm breaths on my neck, infant's chest rising and falling with each short breath . . . ahhh, it doesn't get any better than that. Easily one of my top-ten favorite things in all the world.

5. Louder is better. With a two year old in the house, it's almost never quiet. And that's wonderful because my newborn can/will sleep through anything. I can leave her in a room with a TV or radio blaring, I can run the garbage disposal, I can even pick her up and move her to a new location, and she can settle herself down and sleep through just about anything. It's such a blessing not having to tiptoe around my own home--especially considering how much the baby sleeps. I still have free reign in my home, and I like that.

6. A well-prepared home includes a drop station for baby in each room. No matter where I am in the house, I've always got a safe place to put the baby down at a moment's notice to chase/catch/stop my toddler from doing something harmful to herself. Currently I've got a swing in the kitchen, bouncy seat in the dining room, and pack n play in the living room; and I use all of them often. Plus, a swing in the kitchen has been sufficient so far for entertaining the baby while I prep food--and since I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, this is especially handy.

I'm sure I'll have more raw observations as time plays out.

Bonus observation: Netflix on my laptop has been the best present to me during this time of recovery. It makes the numerous feedings and late bedtimes a whole lot more bearable =)


The Birth Story

The suspicious one-eye look--she gives this to me all the time.

For those of you who don't know the details of my first delivery, let's just say it was forty-five long hours of intense pain management and unsatisfying results. When all was said and done, the only part of my birth plan still intact was my choice of which shots I wanted my baby to have within the first few hours of life. In the end, I learned how quickly the phrase "healthy baby, healthy mama" takes more precedence over any hopes, desires, and wishes for how your delivery will go. My first delivery was neither drug free nor intervention free, and I had very little knowledge of what the birth experience feels like because I only dealt with contractions--forty-two hours into the labor, I could no longer manage the pain or my body. I opted for an epidural and let go of my dream delivery.

I have since concluded it all went so long because my body was fighting the process of birth--it was like my body had a vice grip on the baby and refused to let her out because delivery felt closer to uncontrolled-chaos than natural human experience. Once I relented and asked for an epidural, which led to petocin to "move things along," sure, I felt wonderful (wonderful=I didn't feel any more pain), but I didn't feel anything else. I didn't feel the urge to push; I didn't feel the baby crowning; I didn't feel the afterbirth; I only felt the rush of emotions when baby girl was placed on my chest.

I realize this sounds dismal and pessimistic, but I'm only setting the stage for the euphoria I felt as a result of this second pregnancy going so differently. As I prepared for this birth, I battled a lot of fears because I had been so confident my first delivery would go one way, yet my vision was shattered with reality. I prayed, confessed, and believed for a specific type of delivery, but my hopes were thin--the first birth had been so long and traumatic that I had a hard time believing anything different could happen. Nevertheless, and I believe this is key, I didn't voice any of my fears nor give them more than a moment's notice in my mind. Talking to me before my second delivery you would have not had any idea I was battling any of this. I truly believe in the power of words, so the only confessions I allowed out of my mouth were I was going to have a healthy baby on September 10th, and it would be a short and easy delivery.

September 9th: I had my 39-week appointment in the afternoon. I knew that I would have the baby that weekend no matter how much progress I had made when she checked me. I didn't desire to try any sort of induction method that put me on the hospital's time clock (e.g., if they break your water, you have to deliver within twenty-four hours or they send you to c-section). I knew stripping my membranes was something I could try, but it didn't guarantee much of anything. If it worked, great; if it didn't work, I could still wait it out and let my body begin the process. So, I had my midwife strip my membranes and hoped for the best.

I was a "two and thick." My midwife, Kim, went so far as to ask me what I wanted to do if I went full term (which tells me she didn't think the baby was coming any time soon). I told her, "Well, I'm having this baby tomorrow or Saturday. But I'm willing to wait at least forty-one weeks before we talk induction of any kind." She said okay--knowing I had a big baby in there--and quietly reminded me, "I just don't want this baby to get too big and get stuck." I told her I wasn't afraid of big babies, and it'd all be okay. I even told the receptionist and the nurse, "Hopefully this is the last time I see you for six weeks. I plan on having the baby this weekend." They smiled and nodded politely.

That evening I had contractions that were slightly stronger than what I'd been experiencing since week thirty-two, but since I'd been contracting for so long, I didn't think much of it. That night when I went to bed, they got stronger, and I found I had to breathe through them. But, remembering how long my first labor was, I didn't get my hopes up. I forced myself to get some sleep (biggest regret from first pregnancy--I didn't sleep when contractions were mild). From 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM, every twenty minutes or so a contraction would wake me up, I'd breathe through it, and then I'd fall back asleep again.

September 10th: 1:00 AM I woke up from a contraction and couldn't fall back asleep. I finally got up and tried different techniques to see if they would change the contractions--ate a snack, moved around, sat on my yoga ball, etc., and they did change--they got stronger and more frequent. I started timing them and they were 3-4 minutes apart. Again, not wanting to get my hopes up, I kept myself distracted and breathed through the contractions. I found sitting on the ball made them more bearable, so I'd get up and work on my snack then race to the ball to sit and breathe through a contraction. With each contraction, I visualized myself opening up, and sometimes I even spoke to my body to open up and let the baby out. I was determined to not let my body fight this delivery.

3:00 AM my hubby's alarm went off (he unloads trucks at UPS for his second job); and I told him he should probably call into work. Five minutes later I second-guessed myself and said, "Well, maybe you could go into work, and I'll just call you when they get really strong." I was having a hard time shaking the memory of my first delivery, and I really wanted to labor as much as possible at home and save myself the embarrassment of being sent home for false labor. But the contractions persisted and got stronger. Within a few minutes I came back to the room and said, "Never mind, you need to get up and pack your bag." My hubby jumped into the shower, and I packed the rest of my stuff and the snacks I wanted to bring.

The next two hours were textbook labor--my body started cleaning itself out, I had my bloody show, and contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. The only thing that hadn't happened was my water breaking. I had my hubby draw me up a bath and I labored in there for about half an hour--the warm water made the contractions more bearable, but at some point I found myself moaning (basically lowing like a cow) to get through the worst of the pain. I hoped that I somehow missed my water breaking by being in the bath, and I got out and finished getting ready.

We woke my two year old and got her ready--I tried to keep her far away from me at this point because the moaning was getting pretty loud, and I was on my hands and knees for most of it. Finally, around 5:30 AM, we were all ready and out the door. In the car, I could no longer avoid my daughter seeing me, so when she asked what I was doing, I said, "Mama's acting like a cow. Isn't that the sound a cow makes?" She nodded in agreement, and I begged my hubby to hurry. When we arrived at my in-laws to drop her off, I told her, "Okay, honey, Mama's going to go and open baby."

She smiled and cheered, "Open baby? YEA!!!" It was the best thing she could've said.

We were at the hospital by 6:00 AM, and I moo-ed into my pillow while my hubby wheeled me to labor and delivery. They started to check me in at the front desk until I started moo-ing again, then they politely and quickly encouraged me to head to my room (yeah, I was that loud).

The contractions were intense, still 2-3 minutes apart, and I had a hard time answering questions in between. All I cared about was if Kim had been notified. When I changed into a gown, they checked me and said, "She's an eight. I'll get a table ready."

I wasn't sure I heard them correctly, "What am I?"

"An eight."

"Praise the Lord!" I exclaimed and almost cried. It was all working--this was going like I had imagined my first pregnancy going.

My midwife arrived in record time. She walked in on a contraction and said, "You little know-it-all. You told me you were going to have this baby this weekend. I think you did this with your first one too." (I did. I went into my 40-week appointment and had not progressed more than a half of a centimeter, and my midwife told me what we'd have to do if we went into week 41, and I told her, "Oh, I'm having the baby this weekend." That night contractions started.)

We commented on how quickly Kim had arrived, and she admitted she had another patient deliver earlier that night and she had arrived two seconds too late. She said she wasn't about to let that happen twice in one night.

6:00-8:00 AM I managed the pain through strong contractions. My hubby was right by my side through it all. I kept myself moving around enough that he didn't have to suggest much, just be there and encourage me. Kim kept suggesting breaking my water. She said I'd feel the contractions more, but it'd make things go faster. At first I didn't want to feel anything more than what I was dealing with; plus I didn't want any interventions if at all possible. Everything had gone according to textbook up until then, I was sure my water would break on its own.

7:50 AM I had only progressed to a nine, and I was starting to tire. I figured getting this baby out was worth weathering stronger contractions, and I'd have to deal with them at one point or another, so I'd rather deal with them at that point than wait until I was even more tired. "Let's get this baby out," I told my midwife, and she prepared to break my water.

Everything after that is a blur. She broke my water, I experienced the longest and most painful contraction yet, and I seriously wondered if I'd be able to make it. Kim checked me again and I was fully dilated and the baby had moved down. The room became a bustle of nurses and supplies, and the second contraction came on strong. At this point, I was on my side and could not move. I had my hubby's hands in mine and was almost face-to-face with him. When that contraction began, the decibel of my moans reached a new level. I was pretty much screaming at this point, even though in my head I was telling myself to keep it low and guttral. I couldn't hear anything people were telling me, and then all of the sudden I felt the urge to push.

I screamed, "I have to push! I have to push!" and when I took a quick breath, I heard them telling me it was okay to push. More screaming (my hubby's eardrums, thankfully, survived) and pushing. When I felt the head crown, yikes! Kim told me, "Okay, good, good, you're crowning now," and I screamed, "I know!" That was the most painful part, but thankfully after a couple of pushes, I felt the body slither out, and I knew it was over.

Kim said, "Okay, Dad, we're going to turn the baby over. What is it?" And I heard my hubby announce,

"It's a girl!"

My first words? "I knew it!"

Hubby later admitted he almost broke down after the announcement--so many emotions, so much going on, ahh, wow. It was 8:16 AM.

Proud papa

Baby girl was put on my chest for a moment. My first thoughts, same as my hubby's, "She looks just like our firstborn." Dark hair, puffy face, darker features. But, as time wore on, we realized she actually looks nothing like our firstborn (she wasted no time establishing her uniqueness). This time, you can actually see a resemblance to me (my first daughter took all of my hubby's good looks).

They took baby girl back, and within a few moments, I delivered the afterbirth (which I had been kind of dreading--I'd heard it hurts and I'd heard it doesn't hurt). For me, it didn't hurt at all, and I was even complimented on how big my placenta was, "Wow, way to grow a placenta." Hehe.

More blur. Baby girl scored a 7-8 on her APGAR. "Eight pounds, ten ounces" was announced, and my hubby asked,

"Did you hear that?" Yikes, I grow big babies, and this time I didn't even care.

One stitch later, and I was waiting in my bed for baby to be returned to me. It was so surreal, and over so fast. My body was shaking from it all, and I just wanted to cry. Wow, we did it. Wow, I made it without drugs. Wow, I have a girl. Wow, I don't know if I'd ever do that again without drugs. Wow, I can't believe it's all over. Wow.

By 3:00 PM, baby girl had a name, Madeline (pronounced with a short i) Rae. It means tower of beauty and wise protection. I've loved it from the first moment we started using it. More than not, she'll go by Maddie at home, but I love Madeline.

Within thirty-six hours, we checked out and were home. Driving in our van my hubby remarked, "Um, I can't believe we had a baby yesterday! And now we're driving around with her in the car." My thoughts exactly, but I felt great. Recovery has been night and day from my first. And it didn't take long for me to decide that I'll go drug free again.

I LOVED feeling everything happen. I love how quickly the recovery is going. And I love knowing my baby didn't have anything foreign pumped into her system within moments of her arrival.

Thanks for all of the congratulations and well wishes. And thank you, especially, to friends and family who have been so helpful since the birth--whether it's a visit, a meal, taking my eldest on a play date, or helping with household chores--I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you!

Me and my girls


It's a girl!

Dear blog followers,

I'd like to introduce you to Madeline Rae. Born Friday, September 10th, 8:16 AM. Eight pounds, ten ounces. It was, thankfully, a quick labor. Birth story soon to come. All is well. I'm in love for the third time in my life. Snuggling with a newborn is one of my favorite things in the world!


37-38 Weeks Prego

Photo courtesy of dizznbon (this isn't me =)

So sorry I've been neglecting you. These last couple of weeks have been a blur of productivity. My to-do list is sufficiently wiped out. There remain a couple of minor tasks, but I could go into labor at this moment and have nothing to worry about. That feels really, really good.

Speaking of going into labor, I am SO ready. I've been planning on this weekend (the 10th-11th) as my ideal date (even though I'm not due until the 18th), but if this baby popped out right now, I'd be thrilled. Even just waiting until this weekend is a bit trying on my patience. This stage (being completely ready and just waiting for the baby to come) is one of the hardest stages for me. I don't like being idle, but it's hard to do much of anything when you're this big. So, I feel like I'm wasting time just sitting and sitting and sitting and sitting and sitting and, well, you get the idea. I'm not a lot of fun for my two year old right now because I'm pretty immobile. Thankfully she's young enough she won't remember these boring days. It's like pulling teeth to motivate myself to cook dinner (I contemplated if it'd be more of a blessing to have people cook food before or after the baby's born--days like yesterday I would've welcomed a free meal and a no-dishes-to-wash kitchen).

Despite my whining (I apologize, whining ends here), I've remained fairly active. This week is packed with play dates and activities. We even managed a miraculous photo shoot with the cousins and all three children (2 and under) looked at the camera at the same time for three different shots. That's amazing! Labor Day weekend was spent jumping from party to party. We even drove over two hours to Arkansas to camp for the day with friends. There was a lot of walking involved, which I was fine with because it meant helping gravity do its work to pull this baby down. I even had some strong, consistent contractions on the way home, but nothing came of it.

A storm moved in (the edge of Hermine) today. They always saw low fronts will send you into labor. Again, I waited expectantly but to no avail. Here I sit looking at my rain-soaked yard and still not feeling anything new.

So my current dilemma is deciding how far I want to go in trying to naturally induce labor. I have a theory that people who tell you what worked for them (e.g., yard work, walking, sex, etc.) just happened to be doing those things before their body went into labor. Basically, I believe they would've gone into labor regardless of if they were doing those things or not. So the whole idea makes me skeptical. A friend of mine just told me about a pasta dish that's guaranteed to make you go into labor, but for some reason that made me queasy. I'm beginning to wonder how far I want to go taking God's plan and squeezing it into my own timeframe. I believe my body will go into labor when it's right and best for the baby, so shouldn't I just sit back and wait for that to happen this time? I'm torn. I'm really uncomfortable and really prepared for this baby to come now, yet I don't want to force anything. I believe the best experience will be the one my body triggers, not the one I force with my fast-forward button.

What do you think, dear readers? To naturally induce or not? Do you think it really works, or do you think your body will do what it wants to do when it wants to do it regardless of what you're doing at the time?

Another quick poll: Do you think I'm having a boy or girl? My gut flip flops on a daily basis, and right now when I picture myself with a baby, it's a boy. I think that's really bizarre because right now I'm leaning more toward wanting a girl--I would just love for A to have a sister close in age to grow up with. Plus, our play dates are stocked full of boys, so another girl to throw in the mix would be kind of refreshing. Either way, I'm curious to know what you guys think this baby will be. Just leave it in the comments section.

And if you're wondering, we're no closer to picking out a name than we were nine months ago. Our list (for both genders) is long and full of potential options. It took us twenty-four hours to choose A's name--and we already knew the gender and only had three options on our list. Who knows how long this decision will take. Is it possible to leave the hospital with a nameless baby? I may have the answer for you sooner than later ;-)


35-36 Weeks Prego

In the words of my two year old, "I wanna open baby!"

Two things I love about this quote. Number one, it tells me she understands the concept of pregnancy (to a small degree), and she's expecting a baby one day. Number two, the simplicity of her view on the whole situation just puts everything into perspective, doesn't it? Plus, it eloquently encapsulates everything I'm feeling right now--my anticipation, eagerness, excitement, joy, etc.

Well, I wouldn't say that I'm ready, but I'm close! Tomorrow my daughter's going to be at my mom's for the whole day. I plan to make a mad tear through my to-do list (see below), and pamper myself as well. Prenatal massage is scheduled for late morning. I can NOT wait! I don't feel the least bit guilty about spending these dollars. It's going to be bliss!

Here's my to-do list (and I've already marked quite a few things off, so this is a shortened version). Can we say type-A? It gives you a good idea of why I say I'm not quite ready for this baby to come; and it gives you a peek inside my head to see what's consuming my thoughts lately.

Finish editing projects (2 left)
Pack hospital bag (yep, after that big rant and lots of warnings from friends about early deliveries, I still haven't finished this. I do, however, have a bag started. And when I say "pack," that means I'm going to make a list of everything I want in the bag. I probably won't pack until I go into labor or closer to Sept. 11th--my self-prescribed due date).
Make a big-sister crown for A.
Paint picture frame (technically it's painted, but it needs another coat, and we ran out of spray paint--this should say "buy spray paint" too).
Hang picture frames (which won't be possible until after Saturday when my hubby picks up our furniture. Until then, it's just a task hanging over my head that I really can do nothing about right now).
Babies R Us shopping--any of the necessities I haven't received from my showers and still need to be purchased. (I've actually done most of this online, so I might be good to go, but you never know).
Type out (reminders, breathing patterns, pain management techniques, birthing positions, etc. as a) cheat sheet for my hubby. (Since we're going doula-less, he's the doula. I've been giving him tips every night so I don't overwhelm him all at once. And, the cheat sheets should cover all the basics).
Prep hubby's birthday (i.e., at least buy him a present--and maybe the ingredients for his cake/dinner. His birthday is six days after my due date. I know I won't be buying anything--unless it's online--once baby's here. I probably should plan family birthday parties, too, but those might have to wait until we see which day Baby Ninja actually comes).
Type out a food preference sheet--a friend has already volunteered to arrange meals for me; I just need to write down some suggestions/guidelines people can follow if they want.
Pack my daughter's suitcase (again, by "pack" I mean make a list for now).
Applique curtain (I made a curtain to cover the bookshelf in the nursery that houses my work supplies, books, and sewing. Right now it's plain white. Once the nursery is assembled, I'll pick something fun to add to the curtain. This is another task that has to wait till at least next week. It's pretty low on the priority list.)
Order baby shower present for another friend--I might be out of time for this one. May have to just contribute to group gift =)
Put up fall decorations in my house. (Fall is BY FAR my favorite season, so I go all out. I've got boxes of decorations organized on recently purchased handy shelves in my garage--thank you, nesting--and I know if the decor doesn't go up before baby arrives, it's not going to make it up this year, and that would make me very, very sad).
Prep camera and video camera--download all pix/videos, clear memory, charge, pack chargers.
Put together a nursing box (this is the box my daughter will only be allowed to pull out while I'm nursing. There will be special toys in there that she can play with during nursing times. The goal is to make sure she doesn't feel excluded during numerous baby feedings throughout the day).
Pick music I want playing in delivery room
Pay taxes (ah, the joys of being self-employed. The nice thing about the timing of this baby is I won't be making any more money this year, so I can pay through the end of the year and not have to worry about it again until next year).
Order baby shower gift for my cousin--she's long distance, and she waited to find out the gender of her baby (born yesterday--it's a boy!); so my family has put off buying her a present until now. I really want to find something special and practical!
Order mattress for crib--the semi-organic one I want is only available online. This isn't a top priority because I won't be using it for awhile, but it would help to have the mattress with bedding on it to really bring the nursery together. So I'll probably order it sooner than later =)
Finish photoboBoldok--free photobook on Picaboo right now. I'm trying to do a book with just December of 2009 in this one--that's how far behind I am. At least it's free. I'm liking the program so far, but Snapfish is still my favorite to work on).

I'll knock a good majority of this out tomorrow. I'll probably pack (really pack) after Labor day. And I plan to knock a few of the other things out after I finish this blog. Are you overwhelmed just reading this? Sorry, I actually feel more organized and calm knowing it's all written down, and I have a plan to be completely ready for baby.

As far as what I'm going through right now--I'm definitely bigger (pointier) and more uncomfortable than I was with my first pregnancy at this point. Sleeping usually leaves my hips feeling sore because of my belly's weight pulling on them all night. I'm gaining more weight than I did with my first--only a few pounds, but all of those pounds have been from this last month. I'm constantly hungry, and I'm craving sweets (especially ice cream) like crazy. So, instead of my average pound-per-week weight gain, I've been averaging two pounds the last three weeks. I keep remembering how hard it was to get rid of baby weight the first time around, and I'm trying to use that as motivation to put the spoon down and walk away from the sugar; but it's not working very well =(

I haven't made much progress as far as dilating or effacing, but that doesn't bother me. First of all, I plan to do as much walking as possible in the next week to get things moving. Plus, I've been resisting the contractions up until now. From this point on, I'll be welcoming the contractions and allowing my body to use them to prepare the baby. Plus, I had made no progress the morning I went into labor--my midwife checked me and figured I'd go until 41 weeks at least, but I started labor that night--so I know my body doesn't necessarily need to progress a long time in advance before labor begins.

Okay, time to get back to that to-do list!


Baby Shower/Sprinkle

Got my dress from Ross--stretchy, scrunchy, and black--hides a world of sins! (It's not even maternity.)

My shower, thrown by my incredible SIL and friends, used this wording on the evite:
A baby bookworm is on the way
Let's shower, Joy
our literary mama
with love and books

Although cards are nice
They're read once or twice
A book is a treasure
Forever and Forever
So instead of a card
To be put aside
Please give the little baby ninja
A book with your name inside, along with your gift

Could you pick a more perfect invite for an editor/writer's baby shower? I love it!

My shower was fabulous! And I'll tell you the key to making it really fabulous--not knowing the gender of the baby. I know that sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. If you don't know the gender of the baby, you're forced to buy from the registry (or buy practical stuff any baby could use). That means I had a shower packed with practical stuff (cloth diapers & accessories, baby shampoo, bedding, and gift cards). It's all practical stuff I know I'll use, so it's a big blessing.

I dare you to find one item in that bounty pile that I won't use and need to take back--double dog dare you!

I'll let you in on a little secret new moms won't tell you--cute gifts are usually just that--cute. They don't get used. They collect dust on a shelf in the nursery until enough time has passed that it isn't offensive to sell them in a garage sale or throw them away. Meanwhile, Mama is rocking her baby to sleep trying to count up the cost of all the cute-but-not-usable toys and clothes she got and wishing she had that extra cash to buy diapers, wipes, and fun items like humidifiers, convertible car seats, and baby thermometers (note my sarcasm). If you really want to bless the person you're buying for (this includes wedding presents too), BUY FROM THE REGISTRY!

Okay, rant over. Don't tell me I didn't warn you.

Back to my shower--the whole time I was opening presents, I kept exclaiming how wonderful each present was--and I meant it! It's encouraging and calming to know that after the shower my to-buy list has actually shrunk, and I might be able to invest a little more in my furniture and nursery decor. I don't think anyone (except the other mamas in the room) believed me, but it's true. I loved my shower and all of my gifts!

While we're on the topic of baby showers, I thought I'd share a few tips to keeping the shower affordable and a blessing for the mama-to-be.

1. Set your priorities and stick to them. If getting a big group gift is the priority (which it usually is for me--guarantees the mama is spoiled, which is most important), then don't spend all the hostesses' money on frivolous decorations, favors, and whatnot that's going to be thrown away after the shower.

2. Get lots of help. If anyone volunteers to help--say yes! Delegate the parts that cost money, so each person feels as though they're contributing yet not going broke in the process. Have everyone make something to eat/bring something to drink--again, it keeps costs down.

The lovely ladies who volunteered to host my shower (my sister is missing from this picture). I am so blessed to have so many people care enough to invest in my second shower. Thanks, ladies!

3. If you're going to splurge on a professional cake/cookies/etc., then cut the rest of the food costs way back so you're not breaking the bank.

These are my all-time FAVORITE cookies I requested. Mmm mmm good! Definitely worth the splurge!

4. Make it a come-and-go shower (check with your guest of honor first to make sure she isn't expecting a traditional shower, and be sure to state that it's come-and-g0 on the invite). Here are my favorite reasons for having a come-and-go shower--people are more likely to show up if they know they aren't going to get sucked into a couple of hours of games and sitting around talking to strangers. Also, if you make it a come-and-go shower, you don't have to do games--that means there's no money needed for the game supplies or the gifts for the winners.

But if you're going to do games, be sure to get lots of pictures of classic moments like this!

5. RSVP-ing is quickly fading away as a lost tradition. There are a couple of ways to deal with this. Number one, if you use evite.com for your invite (another great cost-saving idea), there's a better chance of people RSVP-ing, but it's still not a guarantee. The other nice part of an evite is it sends out an email reminder a day or two before the event and reminds people it's coming up. It also gives people a chance to see who's coming--if they see their friends are coming, they're more likely to show up--which means a better turnout for you.

Second valuable tip in lieu of RSVPs: In general, about 30 percent of the people you invite will come. So, as far as food and paper products go, if you're not getting a lot of RSVPs, plan on about 30 percent showing up. If you have a target number of people you want to show up to make the mama feel blessed, encourage her to invite anyone and everyone so that her total list is about triple the number you want to show up. This rule has yet to fail me.

BONUS TIP: As fun and romantic as a couples' shower sounds, it's usually a bust. Guys have a hard time wrapping their brains and their manhood around the idea of attending a "shower." And if the guy doesn't want to go, the girl won't show up alone. You'll probably have a better turnout if you keep it to the girls. And for the sake of your hostesses investing money in your shower, you'd rather have a good turnout than a bunch of leftover food, cute decorations, and empty promises from no-shows for a present.

Please don't think I'm being cynical. I know there are exceptions to all of these rules. I've had showers and attended showers that didn't follow these guidelines, and they were wonderful and a huge blessing. I just wanted to put some guidelines on the Internet that would be helpful to know if I was looking for baby shower advice. I think the most important factors of a shower are blessing the mama and having a good turnout--these are the top ways I can think of guaranteeing that both of those things happen.

Speaking of baby showers . . . in Michigan (my old stomping grounds), they call a shower for a second baby a "sprinkle." Here in Oklahoma, it's more common to have a "diaper shower" for the second one, and for the most part, people just fill your closet with diapers for the first few months. I have to admit, I'd never even heard the term "sprinkle" until recently. Is that a northern thing or do people use it across the country? Let me know in the comments section where you're from and what lingo you use for the second shower--or if you even bother having a shower for baby number two.
A friend of mine HAND KNIT this giraffe! Could it be any more perfect?


34 Weeks Prego

the roaming suitcases
**Photo courtesy of Noizyboy**

Just got a Babycenter email encouraging me to pack my bag for the hospital. I'm really conflicted on this advice.

A.) I would guess the majority of the people receiving these emails are first-time pregos. If that's the case, then the chances of them going full-term are pretty stinking good. Doesn't this just set them up for being even MORE anxious about the upcoming birth by having them pack FIVE WEEKS in advance? There's so much of a mental game during the whole pregnancy term--hearing everyone's crazy story and battling the fears that your imagination conjures up; being patient and letting your body do it's thing, yet being impatient because you're so uncomfortable and "they" say you can deliver a healthy baby as early as thirty-six weeks; "eating for two" yet not wanting to gain an exorbitant amount of weight so not sure what to eat and when; etc.--wouldn't it be more prudent to send out these emails with disclaimers or statistics.

For example, "There's a small chance (about 15 percent of you) who will go into labor in the next couple of weeks, so it may be prudent to start putting together a bag for the hospital." That way, if the person packs and then doesn't deliver the next day, they can calm themselves with the fact that they're part of the 85 percent of women who go into labor at forty weeks or later. (I completely made up this statistic for illustration purposes. Did you know 83 percent of statistics are made up anyway? Yeah, I made that up too.)

B.) Is this another sign that I'm going to have this baby early? I know everyone gets this email, but does everyone bother to read it? And does everyone get this riled up over it that they feel the need to blog about it? I'm guessing I'm in the minority here.

C.) Even if I do go into labor in the next couple of weeks, how likely is it that I won't have time to labor at home and pack my bag? I mean, seriously, we all know that most labors are over ten hours (again, I'm just guessing), so how come you couldn't use those first few hours of less intense contractions to distract yourself with some packing and prepping for the hospital?

Okay, the rant is over. I probably won't pack my bag this week or next. I figure September 4th is the soonest I'd go into labor (because that's my self-imposed deadline to finish all my editing projects), and I've got to push some of those last-minute hospital prep items off until then. I'll be fine, right? (Famous last words) We'll see how this plays out!