Sunday, February 27, 2011

I have Issues

Not long ago, I wrote an entry all about my new double stroller for D and the baby. I chose a double stroller for them based on everything I have learned about strollers in the past 5 years as a mom. My likes, dislikes, what is REALLY important, and what is not so important. I have yet to fine the PERFECT stroller, but I do know what I like and what I don't like.

I really like the Baby Jogger City Micro Double I got for the boys. It folds up compactly and fits through all doorways. It also holds each child up to 50lbs. It fits the bill in many ways!

After being a mom of little kids for quite some time, I have learned that I need multiple strollers. I do not know how moms do it with only one. I need a double for when I have 2 small children in a place where they need to be contained. Or when we are out for a LONG day of walking - going to DC, the zoo, the amusement park, etc... I have learned that I need a single stroller because I don't always take multiple children with me. Also, I know that D is going to outgrow the need to constantly use a stroller. He will begin to walk on some outings probably in the next 6-9 months. I will not want to be lugging the double stroller around on everyday errands when he isn't riding in one of the seats :-)

I will admit I have a bit of an addiction when it comes to strollers. I have known about this for quite some time, but didn't realize how bad it had become until I counted just HOW MANY strollers I have owned in the past 5 years...want to take a guess?

Its kind of embarrassing...

I have owned 12 strollers!

Each stroller has a story as to why I purchased it and to why I no longer have it. I must share with you my stroller journey because I believe there is much to be learned from a mom who has owned 12 strollers.

1. Eddie Bauer Travel System - I bought this stroller/car seat combo for C when I was still pregnant. I did NO research on this. I simply found it on sale at Big Lots for $99. (I have learned a lot since then...) I hated the car seat, so I consigned it as soon as she outgrew it. I liked the stroller, but when I was pregnant with D, I figured I wouldn't have any use for a single stroller any more. I gave it to a pregnant teenager at my church who was in need of some baby equipment. I don't regret giving it to her at all, but I do regret getting rid of a perfectly good stroller.
2. Britax lightweight stroller - I was SO excited to be getting this awesome lightweight/umbrella style stroller. It folded up well and didn't take up near as much room in my trunk at the travel system stroller did. Too bad it didn't turn well. My mom couldn't steer the thing AT ALL. It was impossible to steer one handed (if you were carrying a drink or something). It quickly became a huge pain because of the steering. I was sure there was a better answer - I consigned this and only lost $10 in the whole deal :-) I continued to use the travel system stroller instead (until I gave it away of course).

3. Fisher Price Sit N Stand - I figured this was the answer for my newborn and toddler daughter a few years ago. I bought it at a consignment store and I only paid $90. What I didn't take into consideration was that it was HUGE, HEAVY, and HARD to turn. I hardly ever used it because it was just a pain in the neck. It took up the entire trunk of my van. I sold it on craigslist for exactly what I paid for it :-) Not a bad deal.
4. Baby Trend Fixed Wheel Double Jogger - My mom bought this for me when I was pregnant with D so that I could stroll in the outdoors with both my kiddos. She bought it from a consignment store and only paid about a $100. I used it quite a bit for walks and outdoor outings. I decided I wanted to upgrade to a swivel wheel double jogger after using this one for about 18 months. I sold it on craigslist for $100 :-) Which is exactly what my mom originally paid for it. Not bad at all!
5. Cheap Umbrella Stroller - I acquired this cheapo umbrella stroller for FREE when I purchased my Graco infant car seat for D. Babies R Us was running a special where you got a free umbrella stroller with the purchase of some sort of baby gear item. I still have the stroller. We have only used it a handful of times. One of the wheels doesn't turn at all. Mostly, my kids push each other around the garage in it.

6. Lightweight Jeep Stroller - I bought this stroller for D when I realized I did indeed need a single stroller despite having 2 children small enough to ride in a stroller. I thought it was the answer to all my stroller issues. It was compact, lightweight, and cute. Too bad it made my little baby slouch and slide forward in the seat. He just looked very uncomfortable in, he was sitting more on the small of his back than on his behind. I consigned this stroller. I am sure I lost money in the deal, but I didn't care. I didn't like the stroller.
7. Graco Quattro Tour stroller - I bought this stroller for D at a consignment store for only $40. I bought it because it did it all....flat recline, huge basket, ratcheting canopy, cup holders everywhere, and it turned easily. I loved it. I loved it so much that I still own it and use it almost daily. The ONLY downside to this stroller is that is is huge. It folds up huge and its huge to push. I keep wanting to get rid of it and just use something smaller but every time I try a smaller stroller, it fails and I end up back with this one. I just can't shake it...I love all its features too much.
8. Graco LiteRider - I bought this one when I was still seeking out the perfect lightweight stroller. It resembled all the features of the BIG Graco but it was more compact and was much lighter. I LOVED it!! I used it for quite some time before my husband accidently left it on the loading docks of Ikea one evening. *Sigh* It was an accident of course. We were just so excited about our Ikea purchases that after loading our furniture and kids in the car, we hopped in the van and drove off....leaving the stroller there. Clearly, we lost money in that deal.
9. Chicco Liteway - I bought this one as a replacement to the Graco that got abandoned at Ikea. I used it for about 2 months before deciding I didn't like it. The crotch strap was just way too short and it looked extremely uncomfortable for D, now a toddler. I still had my receipt, so Babies R Us allowed me to return it and get back every dime (they have an amazing 90 day return policy if you have a receipt).
10. Baby Trend Navigator Double Jogger - I bought this one to replace the fixed-wheel double jogger after I sold it. I only had it for about 30 days. It was just way too huge and the fabric seemed flimsy. I thought it may rip at any moment. Thanks to the Babies R Us return policy, I got back every dime.
11. Baby Trend Expedition Double Jogger - This is the double jogger I ended up with since it was a nice sturdy canvas material and it was smaller than the previous jogger (the Navigator). I liked this one quite a bit. The cons were that it didn't fit though doorways....or on the Metro here in DC....or on the escalator...or through metal detectors in museums. It became an "outside only" stroller. This is why I decided to sell it and go with my new current double stroller. I just sold it on craigslist last week. I paid $180 last summer. I sold it for $120. I don't feel bad about getting an entire summer's worth of use for that $60 difference.
12. Baby Jogger City Micro Double - My current double stroller. Again, it fits through doorways, maneuvers like a dream, has a decent sized basket, has pockets on the backs of both seats to hold things, and holds my children comfortably. I think its a great stroller and I look forward to using it for years!
This whole journey leads me to where I am today. I currently use the big heavy Graco Quattro Tour single stroller for D. It stays in my van and is used almost daily. It takes up just about the ENTIRE back of my van. Its is an awesome stroller but when I travel, it just takes up way too much room - at least as much as a large suitcase. Many times, I have thought about just leaving it behind. Unfortunately, I have to make room for it because I HAVE to have a stroller for my son! With 3 children, traveling is going to be tight as it is. I need a smaller stroller. I don't want to sacrifice any of the features though....But, it will not be posible to drive to Atlanta with my van packed as full as its going to be AND drag around this monster of a stroller.

So in just a few weeks I will be purchasing my LAST stroller. (It better be the last anyway) I have done tons of research and have read gobs of reviews. I have even watched youtube video stroller reviews. I found a stroller that indeed "has it all" but after playing with it in person at the baby store, it doesn't feel very sturdy. I am pretty sure that would annoy me. It is this one...the Peg Perego Pliko P3. Sadly it will not be my stroller.
So, I am going for a different stroller that feels good, looks good, gets great reviews, holds a child up to 50lbs, has a full recline, turns on a dime, holds a decent amount in the basket, holds my tall children very well, has the best sunshade on the market, has plenty of accessories to add on if needed, folds up easily and very compactly, and is within my price range. I can either let D ride in the stroller and wear the baby in a carrier or I can use it for the newborn. Its a very versatile stroller :-)
Its the Baby Jogger City Mini and I think it rocks!
It better be my last stroller. Ever!

It will be No. 13....Lucky 13!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Extreme Nesting Spurt

Great news! My sister had her beautiful baby on Feb 24 after a LONG day of labor. By the time the doctor finally confirmed that her labor was officially going nowhere, my sister was more than willing to have a C-Section to meet her little baby boy. He is absolutely precious. Both mommy and baby seem to be doing well! I can't wait to meet my nephew in June :-)

Hearing about her labor and delivery made me acknowledge that in about 2 months, my own little one will be arriving - whether I am ready or not.

I decided that we HAD to deal with the baby's room sooner rather than later...that and the fact that my hubby will be out of town here and there in the next 2 months. We headed to Home Depot to finally buy the paint and get started on creating the perfect room for our newest blessing...

It took several hours of taping and painting after we got our other two kiddos in bed, but the room got painted in a beautiful light aqua blue color. My artsy husband even made a gorgeous display for the letters of the baby's name above the crib. The following morning, we added the wall appliques that match the baby's bedding and made sure all the furniture was arranged just right.

The room is BEAUTIFUL! It is way more than I ever hoped it would be actually. I loved the bedding we bought a while back and I had hoped that the room would be soothing and peaceful for the baby and for me whenever I rocked/nursed/changed diapers in there. It IS all of that and more.

I have loved all three of my children's nurseries for different reasons. With C, I wanted it to be girly. My mom helped me create a perfect room all done up in pink and green. She even made custom curtains for our oddly sized windows. The room was amazing. I loved to just sit in there in the weeks before I gave birth just relaxing and day dreaming about what motherhood would be like...

D's room was also wonderful! I did his room in bold colors of yellow, red, and brown. I loved that it was a bit "different" from your typical boy-colored room. I didn't want it to be filled of shades of blue. I loved it. I remember rocking in the glider weeks before his due date just savoring the beautiful room and, again, day dreaming about what it would be like to have another baby in the house.

N's room is no less special. The aqua blues and greens are so peaceful. I am pretty sure this is our last baby...meaning that this is my last nursery. I wanted it to be perfect. I did it based on my own personal preferences. My favorite colors. My favorite theme. For me, thats the ocean - and soft shades of blue and green. I was thrilled when I found bedding that was all of these things. I was even more thrilled when my husband got the paint on the walls and the room finally took shape.

The room has only been finished for about 48 hours, but I have already sat in the glider and rocked in the peace and quiet several times (even when the power went out last night and I sat in there with a candle, haha!). I like to glance around the room and picture what it will be like in just 2 short months when I am changing newborn diapers at the changing table, laying a swaddled burrito baby down for a nap, or nursing in the chair. Since this is my third baby, I really do know what to expect. For the most part anyway. I expect to be stressed. I expect to be overcome with love and affection for my 7lb newbie. I expect to be peed on. I expect to cry in the glider as I rock the baby and try and get him to sleep. I expect to wince in pain as he latches on to nurse in that first week or two. I expect to stare at him and watch him sleep. I expect to cry tears of happiness when I am holding him and sharing those ever so special mommy-baby moments with him. For now, I can just sit in the glider and imagine what it will be like to be a mommy of three...

So, without any further delay, here are the pictures of the room! I must say that the pictures don't really do the paint color justice. Its a light aqua, so it doesn't show up very well in the soft light. Just trust me, its awesome :-)
And then today, to keep with the "nesting theme" I bought a nursing pajama. I don't usually care too much for the the official "nursing" gowns sold at maternity stores. They tend to gape and expose me way more than I prefer, haha. I prefer normal PJs that have button front access to make nursing easier. I found this one at our local outlet mall. I love it. I can't wait to nurse in it! For now, I will sleep in it as usual...but I have to unbutton the bottom section, haha. Later, I hope to keep the bottom buttoned and unbutton the top to feed the baby! Fortunately, this one also came with a matching tank my belly stays covered AND I match! Awesome.
From the front...
And one from the side because everyone likes to see a pregnant woman's side profile picture :-) I am now 31 weeks!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Soldier Husband

When B enlisted in the Army a little over 3 1/2 years ago, I was so proud. I was proud that he was choosing to sacrifice so much to support us, his family. He was sacrificing a lot of freedoms that are given in the civilian work world. He was choosing to go to Basic Training where he would be challenged both physically and mentally in a way he'd never been challenged before. He was choosing to be in a "contract" that would not allow him to quit when it got too hard or demanding. Overall, he was choosing US over everything else in his life - our little nuclear family took precedence. He was allowing me to be a stay-at-home mom to our 12 month old daughter. Something I'd dreamed about my whole life....something he and I had talked about for years.

He was going to provide us with job security, guaranteed housing, new experiences, wonderful health insurance, and a sense of pride for our country like we'd never had before. He knew he would have opportunities for advancements and training to learn and develop more as both a professional and a soldier. He was able to go into the Army doing the exact job he wanted to do - which was very close to the same job he had been doing in the civilian world.

He is a Multimedia Illustrator, or a graphic designer - a 25M (pronounced 25 "mike"). I am not going to say he's loved every minute of being in the Army because there have certainly been times when he's been rather miserable. I seem to remember one night during the Soldier of the Year competition where he had to spent the night outside on the ground in the rain freezing cold. I can remember many times that he has come home from "ruck marches" with blisters all over his feet - blisters the size of silver dollars. It hurt to watch him limp across our kitchen floor. I have seen him and his team covered in dirt and sweat from days of walking during training exercises. I remember that some of these men didn't even feel they were clean enough to come inside our home and sit and drink some ice water. Even the promise of air conditioning wasn't enough to make them come inside. He didn't love getting shot with a taser or getting pepper sprayed all in the name of training. He certainly didn't love being away from us for 3 Thanksgivings and 2 Christmases...a total of 21 months in his first 36 months of service.

I remember so many of these times where I know he didn't LOVE his job. But then I can remember many times when he did. When he designed printed material to be used by important people, for important causes. When he saw his design on a billboard or in a newspaper. When he got to travel and see parts of the world he'd never dreamed of seeing. When he was told by the "higher-ups" what a wonderful job he had done or how he was an excellent soldier. When we accepted our homes in both NC and then here in the DC area and took the first walk through. We have loved what the Army has provided for us. He has loved his job when we had our son 2 1/2 years ago and never paid a dime for the prenatal care or birth. When we have been able to get our child the speech therapy he's needed without having to pay anything out of our own pockets. When he got a letter of recommendation for a new position that made me beam with pride. When he got orders to move here and work in one of the coolest jobs in the world. Those are just a few times where he has LOVED his job.

I have learned that the military life isn't for everyone. I've made friends who have loved being married to the military. Their husbands have served many years and will most definitely be retiring from it when the time is right. I've also had friends who felt trapped and limited by the restrictions the military has put on them. They have counted down the years/months until they could get out.

Deployments and separations are hard on us all. I have met many couples in the civilian world who have never been apart from their spouse for more than a few days in 30+ years of marriage, but for us military wives, being apart is just part of life. I hate it just as much as the next woman does. But, to me and my husband, the sacrifice our family makes when we are apart is STILL worth the benefits the military has to offer for us.

After 3 1/2 years, my husband has been promoted twice. I am so proud of him. He is an exemplary soldier. He always stands out amongst his peers no matter where he goes. The Officers and Senior Enlisted guys always take notice of him. He is going to succeed in the Army - no matter which route he chooses in the future. The possibilities are almost limitless for him..stay enlisted and progress through the ranks, become a Warrant Officer, become a Commissioned Officer, go and live wherever we want and recruit new soldiers for a few years, go teach up in MD where he received his own training, stay here in DC and continue working for the White House Communications Agency...switch jobs and do something else that he's never thought of before.

No matter what, I know he will succeed. I will always be by his side. I will always be proud of him. I will always think he's the best looking, hardest working, most loyal soldier out there.

He surprised me with this picture in my email inbox the other day. I've been wanting to drag him somewhere to get a recent "soldier" picture of him for quite some time, but he had one done at work because he needed one for a military design contest he is entering.

I know I talk all the time on here about my children, the littlest loves of my life, but I really felt like I wanted to share with you a bit about the greatest love of my life, my sweet husband. The best provider and best friend I could ever have imagined. I am more proud of him than I've ever been in myself...

Just a few more of my favorite "soldier pictures" of him.
My husband is the one with the buzzed head. He has since then let his hair grow some, haha :-)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Babywise Post

If you've ever read my little profile thing over on the right-hand side of my blog, you may have noticed that it says we are "Babywise following." Some of you may know what that is. Some of you may not. Some of you may hate me for it or think I am evil and some of you may nod in agreement that it is awesome.

There are LOTS of opinions on the "Babywise" method of sleep training. I want to tell you mine. My blog = my opinion.

This sleep training method is actually officially from a book called, "On Becoming Babywise" by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. It was handed to me by my very first pediatrician when my first child was born. He handed me this book at her 3-day old well-baby check up. I then met with the lactation consultant. They both recommended this book and its methods. As a 23-year-old brand new mom, I immediately took it home and read it! I was desperate for any kind of "manual" as to what to do with my 7lb bundle of love.

I had no idea it was a controversial book. I had no idea some people thought it was terrible. I only knew that my doctor, the man I trusted with the health of my child, handed it to me and recommended it. I read it and begin applying its principles right away.

Here the gist of it...babies need a routine (notice I DIDN'T say schedule) to regulate their little body systems. We generally do the same thing every day ourselves from the times we eat to the times we sleep. Our newborns are really no different. Since they have just emerged from the womb a short while ago, they aren't really pros at this. They need guidance. Thats where mom and dad come in. Babywise calls this "Parent-Directed-Feeding."

Here is the routine that Babywise suggests. Eat, play, sleep, eat, play, sleep, eat, play sleep...etc. Each "eat, play, sleep cycle" should last about 3 hours, give or take 30 minutes or so. This sounds super easy and straightforward if you've never had a baby, but if you HAVE had a baby, you'll remember that babies like to fall asleep while nursing or bottle-feeding. They get so cozy that all they want to do is suck, suck, suck...suck....suck...eyes close...suck....eyes close again...........suck.......eyes close for good..........

Many moms will just assume baby is tried and is ready for a nap. They may hold them or lay them down, but most will not encourage the baby to "finish eating." This is where Babywise will differ. I agree with this point 100%. In order to regulate baby's little body, they need to take in a full feeding at feeding time. This means that 3-minute-long nursing session that just ended in baby conked out still latched on to the breast didn't cut it. Babywise would encourage moms to stimulate baby somehow (toe tickling, unswaddling, shifting positions, etc) to urge baby to keep eating. Baby will most likely startle a bit and gladly keep on sucking. The goal is to TRY your best to get baby to take in a full feeding. That way their tiny belly has a better chance of staying full through this whole eat, play, sleep cycle. Thats the goal at least.

The next hurdle is keeping baby a wake for a bit. As a newborn, this is challenging, haha. Fortunately, diaper changing counts as "play" as does bath time, burping, bouncy seat or swinging. Most newborns will be done with this activity time fairly quickly. Its okay if they then transition to sleep time. The next hurdle is to try and allow baby to sleep until the next "feeding time" which should be roughly 3 hours from the beginning of the previous feeding time.

If baby wakes up early, Babywise would suggest trying to keep baby happy with a few extra minutes of "activity time" before immediately feeding again. HOWEVER, if baby isn't interested in this and just seems to be rooting and lip smacking - very clear hunger cues - FEED HIM! Babywise never ever says to deny your baby food (this is where people make horribly wrong judgements about this book - it is very clear when it says to always feed your hungry baby)! Its pretty simple really. Try and distinguish if baby is hungry or just awake. Then either feed him or keep playing with him until its time for the next on-routine feeding.

The whole goal of this is to make it about 3 hours between feedings with an activity and a nap in the middle. Eventually, both my babies did fall into this routine. Sure we had some cycles that lasted a whopping 1 1/2 hours. Some lasted 3 1/2 hours. My son even took to "cluster feeding" when he was about 2 weeks old and ate every single hour. All of this is okay. In my mind, the Babywise routine is a guideline, not rules written in stone. I believe it is okay to take its principles, analyze them a bit, and then pick and choose what you'd like to take from it.

I did have to wake my babies out of a nap to nurse if they were sleeping past the 3 1/2 hour mark. My goal was to regulate their little bodies to eat full meals in an appointed routine. Plus, I didn't want to assume we were down for the night and head to bed at 10pm only to be woken up at 10:30 by a hungry baby...I preferred to wake baby up at 10, feed him, and then put him back to bed for the night. This just made more sense to me.

So, all I've talked about is feeding and not really about sleeping yet. Thats kind of the point. The sleep comes when feedings are well established. Once baby gets on a nice 3 hour routine (which can take a few weeks), baby will then start going in longer and longer stretches in the middle of the night between feedings.

*As a note, for the first 2 weeks of life, I allowed baby to go up to 4 hours between nighttime feedings. After 2 weeks my pediatricians (had different ones with both kids) said that I could let them sleep as long as they wanted between feedings in the middle of the night.

For example, we'd do the early evening feeding at say, 7ish, and then stay up to feed again around 10pm. We'd skip the "activity time" and get baby to sleep and lay him in the cradle. In the beginning I'd wake him up to eat again around 2am (4hrs between feedings), but later I'd let him go longer. By about 2 weeks old, both my babies were able to go almost 5-6 hours between middle of the night feedings. I remember being woken up by a hungry baby more around 3-4am. I'd feed baby and get him back to sleep.

Eventually, this just kept getting stretched longer and longer - not by ANYTHING I was doing, but by the baby himself. By about 6-8 weeks old, I know I was waking up around 6am(ish) for the feeding rather than in the "middle of the night." This is just how it works when your baby is on a nice routine during the daytime hours. Things fall into place because baby's body is regulated to be hungry during the day. You can also be sure that baby is taking in enough calories during your 3-hour cycles during the day to keep them full longer through the night.

In baby language, eating at 10pm and being asleep by 11pm, and not waking until around 6am is sleeping through the night. Glorious!!! Both my babies had no problem achieving this goal.

The next beautiful milestone was eliminating the 10pm feeding...I don't remember exactly how it happened with my daughter but I know with D it happened all on his own and rather by accident when he was 12 weeks old. I fed him around 7pm as usual and after being awake for a bit, he fell asleep in my arms. I was going out to dinner with my sister so I transferred him to my mom's arms and I headed out. (I am sure I left her with some pumped breastmilk or something in case he woke up while I was gone). When I returned home in time to feed him his "final night feeding" by 10pm, he was still in my mom's arms. He was so very much asleep. Rather "limp noodle like." We may have tried to stimulate him a bit to rouse him, but quickly gave up. I decided to just swaddle him and lay him down in his crib. I figured that the worst that would happen is that I'd be up again in an hour feeding him. The best - he'd sleep until his usual 6-7am feeding!

When I heard him cry, I glanced at the clock - it was 7am!!! He made it the whole night - nearly 12 hours without a feeding in the middle. I am sure my poor breasts were ready to explode, but I'm sure I didn't mind. He probably took in a nice huge feeding that morning, haha. He did that every night after that.

And ladies and gentleman, THAT is how my babies were both sleeping 12 hours at night by the time they were 12 weeks old.

"On Becoming Babywise" teaches WAY more than what I have just discussed. It gives methods to teach baby to fall asleep and stay asleep on his own without using any sleep aides or props such as nursing, rocking, bouncing, or the swing. The authors suggest starting this from the beginning, but it never went that way for me. I didn't ever feel comfortable letting my brand spankin' new baby fall asleep without my help. In fact, sometimes it took an hour of rocking and bouncing to even get him asleep!

Probably around 12-16 weeks is when I began to work on training my babies to fall asleep on their own. I know with D, I started once, and he didn't get it, so I waited another month and tried again with success. This process involved some crying. Some days more than others. It wasn't painless but it wasn't overly painful. Eventually I was able to slip my baby in his sleep sack, rock him for a minute and then just lay him in his crib (awake by tired) and walk out of the room. He would self soothe with a paci or his thumb and fall asleep on his own. I KNOW he was easily doing this by the time he was 6 months old. I am not quite sure when he began doing it, but I know it was sometime between 3-6 months :-)

I am not a strict Babywise follower. The authors suggest this whole process should begin at birth. I believe the eat, play, sleep routine should start as early as possible, but there should be lots of room to wiggle in those first days. Milk is still coming in (if mom is nursing) and cluster feeding is very normal. I choose to take the Babywise principles and use what I shared. I believe the "routine" is the key to good sleep and eating habits for an infant. This makes sense to me. I have had success with two babies by using these principles.

The reason I even wanted to write this is because I am getting a little nervous about the arrival of my 3rd baby. Not really the "arrival" but the "bringing home" part. What if he doesn't adapt to this routine like my other two did? What if he doesn't stretch his feedings out in the middle of the night? What if he wants to cluster feed every hour at 1am, 2am, 3am, and 4am? Ahhh! I am a little overwhelmed at this possibility, haha!

Only time will tell how baby boy will settle into our family :-) I also wanted to write this for those of you that have heard horrible things about the Babywise series. This is how a real mom took the book and used it. I used my common sense and the book's principles and was able to achieve healthy sleeping and eating habits. I have raised two healthy children using these "Parent Directed" principles. I couldn't be happier with the results. Please feel free to comment if you've read, used, tried, hated, etc, the Babywise book. I appreciate other's opinions.

Just remember. I respect you for your choices as a mom. Please respect me for my choices as a mom. :-)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An AP Correction

My last blog entry was about my own personal parenting style and how it compares to the style of Attachment Parenting. I am glad several of you liked the post. I loved your feedback :-)

I am pretty interested in the whole topic of parenting styles because I love being a parent and I love to learn from others. Afterall, I would NEVER have thought about cloth diapering until a college friend began blogging about her cloth diaper journey. It peaked my interest and I began doing it too...the same goes for me with this pregnancy and delivering with a midwife instead of an OB. I am learning as I go and adapting my "style" as I learn and see fit.

Anyway, I wanted to make a quick correction about my last post. Upon doing a little more "research" into Attachment Parenting (AP), I have learned that what I called AP is actually more of Natural Parenting. Natural Parenting would be a bunch of "natural" techniques used in parenting. Attachment Parenting isn't really a set of techniques but rather a mindset that uses baby's cues as the guide.

So, here is a real life example of an AP mama (fictitious, of course)...

Mom's first baby, a girl, loves to be held and snuggled. Mom can't carry her sweetie around all the time, so she buys a great baby carrier and ends up "wearing" the little girl quite frequently. The baby is happy and the mom enjoys wearing her at home and when they are out and about.

Mom's second child, a boy, has a different personality than his big sister. He isn't quite the snugglebug that sissy was. He gets hot in the baby carrier and fusses quite a bit. He doesn't fall alseep and seem to love it like his sister did. Mom discovers that he prefers the bouncy seat at home and the stroller when they're out, so she ditches the carrier and uses those things instead.

This mom is still practicing Attachment Parenting because she is simply adapting her "style" to her individual baby's needs. She isn't saying, "well, I baby wear, and sorry little guy, you're going to have to learn to love it too." She is simply meeting the unique needs of her children.

Make sense? It does to me. This style focuses heavily on baby's needs and preferences. In my mind, mom kind of "goes with the flow" and parents as baby leads.

Attachment Parenting and Natural Parenting overlap quite a bit simply because many babies "prefer" a lot of natural techniques such as being worn, being breast-fed on demand, and co-sleeping with their parents.

Natural Parenting techniques would include natural childbirth, breast-feeding, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, non-vaccinating, non-circumcising, making homemade baby food, get the idea. I think Natural Parenting is pretty self-explanatory.

I must admit that I am actually rather confused about Attachment Parenting now that I have learned a little more about it. I can clearly see that I don't do a whole lot of Natural Parenting - other than breast-feeding and cloth diapering. I do however believe that I do what is in the best interest of my unique child. I am willing to adjust my "style" for each child I have to some degree. I definitely do not see myself as rigid and unchanging from child to child. This makes me think that maybe I do ever-so-slightly fall into the AP category.

On the other hand, I also believe very strongly that the baby's needs are not the only needs in the family that are important. My needs as well as the needs of my other children must be taken into consideration.

This is why I will not co-sleep. I need my sleep - and so does my husband. I need "deep" sleep without the fear of rolling over on the baby. I also need time alone with my husband. A child in the bed would very much interfere with the health of our marriage - to me, without a healthy marriage, a family will fall apart. I realize that a lot of families successfully co-sleep and have healthy marriages and feel that they get adequate rest. That is perfectly fine if it works for them. I do not aim to judge. I am just saying that it isn't what will work for me and my husband. Plus, I truly don't think it would be fair to my other children. They would LOVE to sleep in-between my husband and me every night, but we do not allow this. I think they would feel that it is unfair if their new brother did.

I will also begin to "sleep train" my baby around 8-9 weeks of age with the goal of baby sleeping through the night by 12 weeks. This has worked nicely for both my previous children and I will try it again with the third. If baby no. 3 doesn't adapt quite as easily, I will try other techniques that I have not previously tried. I can't "make" the baby stay asleep, so all I can do is do my best to teach him how to fall asleep and stay asleep as best as possible. The rest is kind of out of my hands, haha. I will be doing a follow up post all about how I have done this "sleep training" in the past and how I plan to do it in the future for those of you that are interested in the specifics. :-)

If this baby like to be worn in a baby carrier, that is fine! I will gladly wear him. I love to snuggle and kiss my children!

Of course, I will cloth diaper that cute tiny bum.

I will very much try and breast-feed exclusively for a minimum of 6 months - hopefully for a full year. I do realize though that if I fail at this task, I will not have failed at motherhood. Forcing breast-milk to a baby that has some sort of milk allergy is never a good choice. Either is continuing to breast-feed exclusively if baby is losing weight. These medical issues require mom to adapt. I am 100% willing to place baby's needs above my own "breast-feeding goals."

Anyway, I just wanted to clarify the difference in Attachment Parenting as a "mentality" and Natural Parenting as the techniques so often used. I am leaving a little more confused than when I came. I thought I was not very "AP" but now I see that maybe I do have a few AP tendencies. Fortunately, I don't care how you label me. Labels do not make or break a mom. In fact, I'm not sure why we even have labels. Its really quite confusing to me!

And just for kicks, here are some recent pictures of how my new little guy is growing :-)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Parenting Styles

There are so many things women disagree over. I am constantly amazed at how cold civil people can be to one another just about every time I sit down and begin reading online. My favorite website is (although I love love love to read all the comments on the articles on Yahoo's homepage!). I started going there because its a great place to research different kinds of cloth diapers and it is also an excellent place to buy and sell preloved dipes!

I have more recently discovered the vast amount of forums on different parenting topics on Diaper Swappers as well. I typically stay out of any real discussions. I find myself way more of a "lurker" than an active participant. For me its best to not even get involved in some of the issues discussed. Probably for me, the biggest reason is that I do not share many of their beliefs with regards to parenting styles.

Before I began cloth diapering, I didn't even know there were different parenting "styles," but since taking part in a rather AP (Attachment Parenting) trend - cloth diapering - I have learned a ton about that style! Mostly, what I have learned is that I am not into Attachment Parenting. Well, at least not very much.

If you are a 100% AP mama, you would have a natural childbirth - likely at home, exclusively breastfeed on demand, co-sleep with your baby (or toddler), wear the baby in a baby carrier, cloth diaper, never allow your baby to cry-it-out, and sometimes be a non vaccinating and/or non-circumcising family (I don't want to lump everyone in on this one though). I am sure I am leaving some AP practices out of that list. Many believe in child led weaning which means they will breastfeed until the baby/toddler decides to give it up. This is all a very child-led approach to parenting.

Let me stop RIGHT THERE and say that I am not against any of the AP style. I believe from the bottom of my heart that all moms and families do what they believe is right and what is best for them and their families. I do not aim to judge, ridicule, or condemn any well-meaning family for their choices.

I am writing this because I have learned what I am. Er, what kind of parent I am. Before learning all about Attachment Parenting, I don't know that I would have been able to take a stand on a parenting approach.

I have learned that I like giving birth in a hospital with pain medication. I choose to enjoy my labor by utilizing what modern technology and medicine has brought to us. I do not do this because I don't think I COULD have a natural childbirth. My mom gave birth without an epidural. My mother-in-law gave birth without an epidural. I have many friends who have done it without this modern pain medication. I KNOW that I could do it. I choose to have one nonetheless :-) To me, giving birth is an awesome experience even with the help of an epidural. I still pushed my babies out. I still felt them transition from the safety of my womb to the crisp air of the delivery room. No matter what, it is a wonderful and unforgettable experience!

I have learned that I love to breastfeed. I have not been able to do it as long as I would have liked to with either one of my kiddos, but I still love it. I am hoping with this third baby, that I can nurse him with much greater success. I have also learned that while I will always feed my babies when they are hungry, I choose a parent directed approach to parenting - and for me, this begins at feeding. Really, its very much like I feed my preschoolers now. I tell them when it is meal time. I call them to the table and make them sit down and eat. But, if C is hungry at 2pm, I will give her a banana or a string cheese. Its the same with newborns for me. They will eat AT LEAST every 3 hours...if they try and go longer, I will wake them up and make them eat (at least during the daytime hours). But, if baby is hungry after an hour and half...I will feed him :-) Its that simple. Its not really nursing "on demand," more like "on routine." This is not very AP approved.

I have learned from the very beginning that I do not co-sleep with my babies. For me, its a safety thing. I think I will roll onto them. I would never be able to fall into a deep sleep with a baby in the bed. My babies have and will always sleep in a cradle next to my bed and then transition to their own crib at about 6 weeks old. Thats just the way I roll. Its what I feel comfortable with.

Crying-it-out. Thats a tough one. I don't think putting baby to bed at 10pm and coming back in the room at 6am is appropriate for a 3 month old. I do think there is some serious sleep "training" that is needed. With that being said, I believe it is very possible for a baby to fall asleep in the crib on his/her own. Self-soothing is a beautiful thing if you allow baby to discover it. If you rush in to comfort and rock every time baby begins to whimper/pout/or cry, he/she can not learn this. My children have both been TERRIFIC sleepers from the beginning and I believe this is because I helped them learn how to fall asleep (and stay asleep) once they were capable of making it through the night without a middle-of-the-night feeding. This did involve some crying. My children were not harmed by crying. They know that I love them. I think we all are happier during our waking hours because we are ALL well rested. This is my two cents on CIO. I know other moms are adamantly opposed to this technique. Thats fine with me. Just don't bash me for allowing some crying.

I haven't done much baby-wearing in the past, but I actually do intend on doing more of it with baby no.3. I've learned more about BW (the lingo in the forums) from Diaper Swappers and I think its actually a really great thing if you have the proper carrier. Unfortunately, just as with cloth diapers, most "good" baby carriers are not sold at major brick and mortar stores. Most of them are purchased online. I have never had success with any of the carriers sold in Wal-Mart or Target. After reading these forums, I learned that there is a MUCH better way to wear the baby. I can't wait to try a Beco Butterfly carrier with my little guy one day (well, if I can ever afford one, haha!).

I do like to cloth diaper. Thats an easy one for me. I don't consider myself all that "green" like so many moms out there do, but I do recycle and try and do what I can here and there to save the planet. Its just not a huge passion for me...not like car seats and cloth diapers anyway.

I do vaccinate my children. I have never really questioned this practice up until this third baby. I have always done what my pediatrician recommended and on the schedule they recommended. After reading a ton of forums about moms who choose not to vaccinate, I decided to do some research into WHY they choose not to. This led me to learn WHY I choose to vaccinate. This time around, I will still vaccinate, but I am 100% more educated as to why I do it. I may actually delay some vaccines by a few months, but I certainly will not eliminate them. This is just my view. I am glad I did some research though. I love to learn when it comes to parenting.

I also circumcise my baby boys. To be honest, I haven't researched this practice. I circumcise because its still a popular thing to do in our society. I do not think it is harmful. None of the men I have ever known have ever had any ill repercussions because of the look of their penis (well, none that have ever told me about it anyway!). I have never heard any first hand horror stories of "I wish I hadn't been circumcised as an infant!" So, thats my view on that.

The biggest thing that I do differently than AP parents is that I use a Parent-Directed approach to parenting. Its really pretty simple to me. I am the parent. You are the child. I run the show. You learn to obey. I love you. I parent out of love. I always have your best interest in mind. Always. You will thank me for it later. You must learn to trust me.

This makes sense to me because very simply put, it is how the Lord is my Father. I don't see the whole picture, but He does. I am not to ask questions and always expect answers. I may get answers, but He does not "owe" me answers. He loves me more than I know. He runs the show. I am only called to obey and trust.

Okay, for me, this relates to parenting right from the start. I shared with you my approach to breastfeeding and then even to feeding my older children. It also relates to parenting with nap-time. My son WILL take a nap when I tell him to. For however long I deem appropriate. Of course there are days this gets a little messed up due to a cold, teething, or travel, but generally speaking, I lay him down when it is nap-time. I do not wait for him to crash on the couch and then allow him to sleep there. The same goes for bedtime. I do not wait until my children are at the point of exhaustion. Bedtime is at 7pm. This works beautifully for me because over time, I learn my children's true needs and can anticipate them. For instance, I know that my toddler is good to go from the time he wakes up until after lunch. But, we BETTER be home by about 1:00 because he is ready for a nap by then. I can anticipate this because I know his sleep needs. He will then sleep until about 2:30-3:00. This sets him up for a happy evening and a bedtime of about 7:00. I love a child with a routine :-)

Back to parent-directed parenting....I am the boss in my home. My 4 1/2 year old does not call the shots. When I tell her she can watch TV, she can. When I tell her she's seen enough, I flip it off. She often argues or complains, but she never wins. I know that no child needs to watch more than X amount of hours a day. I will then redirect her to make a craft, color a picture, or play with her dolls. I help her learn how to make choices and not get stuck on one particular thing (TV). She does not know what is best for her at 4 years old. She needs direction. She needs a parent - not a buddy.

Oh, and I make one meal for my kids. They can choose to eat it or they can choose not to eat it. This is how we do it. My kids have gone to bed with eating nothing more than a few pear slices for dinner since they opted to not eat their dinner. They will learn to eat what I cook.

I wrote all this out because this is what I believe in. I do not think moms that choose to parent in different ways are wrong, bad, or uninformed. I am surprisingly open minded when it comes to parenting. By this I mean, if you are happy parenting your way and your child is happy and is thriving, then go for it. I don't mind if you co-sleep and still nurse your 2 year old throughout the night. If it works for you and that toddler, then go for it! Its not the way I opt to to things, but that is okay. I will also not bash you if you choose not to vaccinate your children. I know you have most likely done a lot of research on the topic and if you feel comfortable without vaccinating, then go for it. If you don't mind waking up 4 times a night with your 8 month old, who am I to say that you shouldn't be doing it? That is my point. That wouldn't work for me, but if it works for you, then I will not judge.

Acceptance is the magic word. Thats the beauty of it all! After reading one too many debates in online forums, I will leave you with this thought.

Being a mom is hard work. I believe we should all be supportive of one another in our differing parenting approaches as long as our families are happy and healthy. Please feel free to give me advice if I ask for it. I do love to learn new things. But please do not bash me or any other mom because you do not agree with the way I do things. I will be kind and respectful to you and I expect respect in return.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

THE Stroller!

Drumroll please......

My new double stroller has arrived!
As with most things in my life, I thoroughly thought through and researched double stroller options. I even considered not getting a double stroller and just using a baby carrier instead. My issue is that my 2 1/2 year old is just NOT mature enough to be without a stroller just yet. I do not trust him in any store or at any doctor's appointment to not be securely fastened in a stroller. So, a double stroller became a must!

Then the big decision was WHICH double stroller. There are only about a million on the market and their prices range from about $80 up to over $700. Clearly, my budget was down towards the bottom of that range. D is pretty tall for his age, so that is a factor was a factor as well. I didn't want him to outgrow the stroller after only 6 months of use. Even now, at 4 1/2 years old, C occasionally wants to ride in a stroller when we are out all day - especially when we go into DC. I can assume D will be the same way. I needed a stroller that he would fit into for about 2 years.

This led me to this Baby Jogger City Micro. It holds each child up to 50lbs. It still fits my 45.5" almost 5 year old. It turns like a dream - even with one hand. It looks awesome. It has just enough of a recline to be comfy for an infant and a toddler. It folds up FLAT - like seriously flat! It easily fits through any doorway. And most importantly it was way on sale...and that brought it into my budget!

My kids couldn't wait to try it out. In fact, they were tearing into the box as soon as the UPS guy dropped it off. I can't seem to keep D out of it. He wants to be in it. Then he wants to push it. I need to put it out in the garage so he quits messing with it, but honestly, I am still enjoying looking at it and playing with it myself. I love it! And really, that says a lot. I have had more strollers than I can recall in my 5 years of parenting. Everything from a travel "system," a sit'n'stand, an umbrella stroller, and a double jogger. You name it, I've had it. This is why I was hesitant to buy another stroller. I find faults with everything. Then I sell it.

I am happy to say though, that this stroller seems like a winer! I will be selling my double jogger (that doesn't fit through a doorway...arg!) and using this exclusively. I may use that money and buy the baby his own new single stroller for when its just me and him (D's was bought from a consignment store several years ago, and though it still works, I may get the baby his own new one)....we'll see. Craigslist is my best friend! I can sell anything on there!

Check out the pics of my newest and coolest addition!

Flat fold - those little chairs in the background are tiny...the seats are maybe 15 inches off the ground. This stroller folds up flatter than anything I've ever seen!
We had to test it out with "Purple Baby" to see how a newborn will fit with the new insert I bought for him. It was perfect! "Purple" loved it :-)

Check out the headroom on this thing. Even my tall boy has several inches of torso growth before he will outgrow it. And C still fits pretty nicely too!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Our Vacation in the Making

I have been planning a vacation in my head for years now. Sort of. I've wanted to take a trip to Disney World since the day we welcomed C into the world...probably even before then. I know a lot of my friends have been to Disney multiple times and have a blast every single time. I have friends who have honeymooned there as adults and have had the time of their lives. I went once when I was in the 6th grade with my family and from what I can remember, we had a ton of fun. Our pictures sure are wonderful anyway!

When my good friend and I were pregnant with our first children 5 years ago, she and I talked about one day planning a Disney trip together since our kiddos are right about the same ages. It was fun to dream!

Now that C is almost 5, and D is 2 1/2 and our last baby is on the way, I can finally see our trip in the future. I didn't want to go when we had a newborn. I didn't want to go when I was pregnant. I wanted ALL of our family to be able to enjoy this trip. I think its because I know that this is going to be one big and expensive vacation and for us, and it may be a once or twice in a lifetime experience. We will not be going back yearly, haha.

With that being said, I have determined that we will go on our Disney World vacation in the Spring or Summer or 2013. I know it seems goofy to be thinking that far in advance, but hear me out...

B and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary in 2013 and as much as I'd love to run off to a faraway beach with him (seriously, I really do day-dream about this), I know we would have a blast if we went on a vacation with our children instead. Maybe there will be another time for he and I to do a getaway :-)

B will be VERY busy in 2012 with the presidential election. I have been told we will not see much of him from the Spring of 2012 through inauguration in January it sure would be nice to have a vacation planned in the Spring of 2013 when he rejoins our family :-)

Our children will be 7, 4 1/2 and 2 years old. Those seem like perfect ages to experience Disney World. Plus, we will not need any of the "baby things" that we would need to bring if we went any sooner.

Lastly, this will really be the first time that we will be able to afford this elaborate vacation. This gives us two years to focus on paying off debt (which we really want to do prior to splurging on a vacation). I think we will be in much better financial shape in 2013 than we are now. We just paid off B's car, so at least we're headed in the right direction!

See, in my mind, it just makes sense to begin thinking about our vacation in two years. I've even decided where we will stay based on the advise of other military friends. We'll be staying on the Walt Disney World property in the Shades of Green Hotel - a hotel especially for military families.

The prices and the amenities look amazing. I can't wait to begin planning everything for real! Okay, now back to day dreaming about Disney...and the dream vacation with my hubby. Do any of you guys have a timeshare we could use somewhere at the beach? :-)

Oh, and could you send us a nanny to watch our kids?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Toddler Nighttime Solution

My Big Boy D has been potty training for the last several months. He is still doing remarkably well and is down to only wearing a Pull-Up when we run out of the house for any reason (I do not trust his bladder on outings yet) and of course for naps and bedtime. For him, this is about 2 Pull-Ups a day since he typically stays dry when we are out and about.

Two Pull-Ups a day is really great in my mind. I mean, he isn't even 2 1/2 years old yet! Nonetheless, being the cloth diaper lover that I am, I hate buying disposable Pull-Ups. The $8.99 every 12-14 days makes me cringe every time I have to pick up a pack.

I have tried a couple different cloth pull-up style options, but they haven't gotten a good fit on my skinny little one. This is why I keep going back to the disposable Pull-Ups. I don't know exactly what the final straw was, but three days ago, I decided, enough is a enough. I have a million cloth diapers that still fit D. Why not just stick him back in a cloth diaper for bed time? Then we'd only be using ONE Pull-Up a day. That sounded like a good plan to me!

So, back in a diaper he went for bedtime. I was so excited to see one of my lovely diapers on his cute bum again :-) Even my husband commented how cute it was to see him in a diaper again.

I had actually already snapped the rise way down to make the one-size diapers teeny tiny for the baby coming in a couple months, so I had to unsnap the rise and stuff in a more absorbent insert, but alas, my Bum Genius diapers did it again. They held a whole 12 hours worth of pee and still got a great leak proof fit!

Plus, he looks completely adorable just before I slip on his PJs and tuck him into bed :-) Just thought I'd share our new nighttime solution. For those of you that are in the same boat...maybe a Bum Genius diaper would work for you too!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Future President

When your dad works at the White House Communications Agency, there is a lot of talk about the president in the house. We live close to Washington DC, so my kids are familiar with the White House and who lives there. They are also familiar with the Smithsonian and all the monuments. So, it shouldn't seem that strange that this afternoon, C turned the box from our new high chair into a presidential podium. I found her in the living room giving a presidential speech...odd, nah...I think its pretty normal for us :-)

The Build a Bear Surprise

We surprised the kids this past Friday with a fabulously fun day because well, frankly, they deserve it. They are awesome kids and we love them dearly. We rarely do anything super "fun" and spluge worthy because we are generally pretty thrifty with our activites. And of course, we function on a pretty tight budget.

But, all this came to a halt when we received our tax refund in our bank account Friday morning. We already had virtually every penny of our refund budgeted out for important things - like say, paying off our car and replenishing our savings account - but we did factor in a few fun items for ourselves and the kids! Yay!

I bought the kids a few Spring outfits, D got a new toddler bed mattress, the baby got a new high chair, and D got a remote control car (I am still not quite sure how that snuck in there!). Anyway, we ALSO budgeted in a day at Build a Bear for my little sweeties. They are very accustomed to wandering in the Build a Bear store to just browse around. We do it every time we're at the mall. C has only been allowed to make one bear in her entire life. D has never made one. After all, these little bears/bunnies/puppies dressed in life-like clothing can be ridiculously expensive. This is why we normally steer clear of the franchise for actual purchases.

Anyway, we told the kids we were heading to the mall so I could run an errand. First we drug them into Babies R Us so I could pick up a high chair for the baby. They went along like little troopers as we then headed to the mall. We didn't tell them where we were going and why we were there until we walked in the Build a Bear store and I bent down and asked C, "would you like to make one?"

Her little face lit up and she took one glance at the row of flat lifeless animals. She then made a split second decision and grabbed a purple fluffy puppy. Seriously, I think she thought I might change my mind if she took too long to decide on one, haha. Her decision was made in less than 5 seconds. We let D choose one as well, and of course, he also chose a puppy.

As usual in the store they stood on the petal while the employee blew the "stuffing" into their new friends. They kissed and rubbed the little hearts that they then shoved inside their animals. They bathed, blow dried, and groomed their little furry friends and then they chose outfits and filled out birth certificates.

As if the whole Build a Bear experience wasn't exciting enough for them, we then left the mall and took them to Chuck-E-Cheese for lunch (another place we have hardly ever in, maybe twice ever). The kids had a ball playing games and eating pizza. They won tickets and rode rides. B and I were so happy to be able to give them such a fun day. Even he and I had a blast!

Here are a few snap shots of the Build a Bear experience:
At the end of the whole day, as I tucked C into bed, she thanked me for the day. It may have been the highlight of the whole experience for me as her mom.

"Thanks for giving me this awesome day!" she exclaimed.

"You're welcome, baby. You deserve it." I said.

Although all I essentially did that day was frivolously spend way too much on stuffed animals, feed my kids pizza, and let them ride a few silly rides, I know in my heart that we built memories as a family. And in my mind, memories like that are worth $84 for one day of fun every once in a while :-)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Personalized Prizes For the Kiddos!

I love to go online shopping and I love it most when my packages finally arrive in my mailbox. I tear into them like a kid at Christmas!

Well, today was the most exciting package I've opened in a really long time! I just must share it with you, my blogger friends. It was from MommyGrams and More who partnered with me for my very first giveaway last month. These are my first items from her and I am 100% sure they will not be my last. The embroidered Big Bro/Big Sis shirts and the Turtle bib are extremely well made. They are absolutely adorable, so much so that the pictures cannot even do them justice :-) Just take my word for it.
My kids loved them so much that they tore off the shirts that they were wearing right in the middle of the kitchen as soon as I pulled these out of the envelope. They wanted to wear them immediately. It was so cute that they were just as excited as I was, haha. These are going to make GREAT pictures at the hospital when the new baby arrives!
P.S. I guess now you guys all know the baby's name :-) Yay for Baby Nathan! Isn't the bib just adorable? It is so very sweet!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Six Months In

As of today, have officially been in Virginia for six months. I can't believe it's already been that long! It still seems like I am adjusting to our "new" area. I have learned a lot of the roads and we have found our new favorite restaurants. I have joined a MOPS group and a PWOC bible study. We have also recently joined a wonderful church. C goes to pre-K and has made friends. Even D has made a friend!

I have made a good handful of friends at church and at some of my women's groups. Just last week I even played bunco with a group of gals from C's preschool. B is enjoying his job at the White House Communications Agency. He completed all his training and is now going on trips regularly. He has fit right in and is shinning in his job just as usual. He stands out no matter where he goes. :-) And he finally got promoted!

We have gotten D involved in speech therapy and are seeing a lot of progress. C played soccer in the Fall and is already planning her Spring athletics here on post. She's already looking forward to Cheerleading camp this summer.

We've also seen a variety of seasons here! It was scorching hot in August and freezing cold in January. We've seen snow and have had to buy a snow shovel for the first time.

Oh, and I have gotten pregnant and grown a baby in my belly for the past 28 weeks :-) I've enjoyed seeing midwives for the first time with this pregnancy - its been different but very exciting!

I'd say we've been pretty busy for the last few months, haha. For me, this has been a hard transition. I have missed my friends back in NC quite a bit. I guess I got really attached to the girls there when B was deployed, so leaving them and my house was really tough. I am so blessed to have found some friends here though. It has helped ease this transition greatly to have some friendly faces that recognize me and that come to expect me at various engagements. I miss my family a lot since I can't make the 11 hour drive quite as easily as I could make the 6 1/2 hour drive from NC. Fortunately, we've had my in-laws come visit as well as my parents and my sister and brother-in-law. Hopefully my in-laws and my mom will come back again when the baby is born in April. I sure will need the help!

I look forward to the next six months but I am definitely nervous about adding a new baby into the mix. I know he will fit right in, but I know it will take some adjusting to having a newborn around the house again - the crying, the diapers, the pacis, the baby food, etc. Ahh!

We'll be here in Virginia for several years, and I know that this place will become "home" to us. Its hard to see it now, but I am sure it will be hard to say goodbye when we eventually have to leave to wherever the Army sends us next. As friendships are formed and strengthened, leaving just never gets any easier. I think I have cried as I left every city we've ever lived in.

Here is just a few pictures of some of the things we've done since we've lived here. We've done A LOT! Here's to the next six months...and beyond!

Gone to DC with Family
Enjoyed a Fall Festival
Played in the snow
Completed Smart Start Soccer
Potty Trained!
Had my parents come for Thanksgiving
And here's how I looked when we moved here...
And here is how I look now...