Summer School [Write Your Name Worksheets]

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As Colin and I watched yet another episode of Fraggle Rock, I came to the conclusion that perhaps I used school as a crutch this past year. Now that school is out for summer, I better get back at it. Teaching my child, and better parenting in general, that is.

Colin and I were coloring yesterday and I decided to write out his name in block letters and let him trace it. He loved it. We said the letters together and he felt so proud when he traced his letters. He is by no means close to signing his John Hancock to anything, but it got me thinking that maybe I could make our own “worksheets” and have him practice tracing his name. Practice makes perfect!

I just opened an Excel spreadsheet, chose the Arial Bold font and then chose the outline option for my letters so that he could trace inside of them. I decided to do both upper case and lower case versions of his name, but I might also write out the alphabet in upper and lower cases as well for practice. Any other ideas for me? I’m dumb.

A quick 15 copies later, and Colin was screaming for his “Warheets! Yesssss!”

It’s a simple enough project to mock up and it amuses Colin for a solid 20.  Which around here is pretty major. Now what to do with the remaining 12 hours of my day? Any ideas?

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End of the Year Teacher Appreciation Card

Today is Colin’s last day of school. God help me. Summer is upon us.

This is the first year Colin has gone to “school.”  And yes, I do consider it school based on the fact that there is tuition, he goes for about 15 minutes a week, and he knows one more language than I currently do. And, no, that language is not gibberish. So, let’s make that two more languages than I speak.

We love love love his school. We love his teachers and the wonderful staff there. They all know Colin by name and they *like* him, which means a lot for a parent. Especially a parent of Colin. Colin is *spirited*- he is definitely his own person- enthusiastic and wild, stubborn and very smart. They know him and all his quirks- both the good and bad.  His teachers have infinite patience with him and they have definitely made some very positive changes in him this year. Sure, some of that comes with age, but it also comes with excellent (and very very patient!) educators.

So with that being said, I was at a loss for an end of the year “gift” for his teachers.  So naturally, I googled it.  And the one thing I read over and over again was that teachers appreciate being told they are wonderful, just not with a mug that reads “World’s Greatest Teacher.”  I was tempted by the “World’s Goodest Teacher” mug, but the whole anti-mug sentiment was clear.

Considering home-made goodies, or even store bought cupcakes? Something, perhaps, like this? [God, I love Parks & Rec]

Treat Yo Self

Don’t.  I mean, yes, Treat Yo Self (always!), but don’t give baked goods. At least, that’s what I read on the internet. And everything on the internet is gospel.

No, teachers appreciate being told, literally, that they are wonderful. With words. On a card. Not a mug. Or cupcakes. No matter how rad those cupcakes are.  So Colin and I went the simple route with a personalized card made by the main man himself.

We took a little trip to Paper Source (sadsies, Shannon wasn’t with me this time) and picked up a set of enclosure cards, a pack of plain white cards, green envelopes, and a “merci” stamp and stamp pad. [Colin attends a French language pre-school, so “merci” was not only cute but appropriate.] With our supplies in hand, we got to appreciatin’!

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Basically, you need paper and crayons or markers or stickers, or what have you. For those of you with preschoolers- stamps are where it’s at. Get some. Let ’em at it.

We picked up a little gift card to enclose with our note as a little something extra- it took everything in me not to attach a note: “Treat Yo Self!!”

Or whatever the equivalent is, in French. 😉

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Here’s to a great summer, everyone. KIT! Friends Forever! LOL!

The Look for Less [Pottery Barn Graham Chandelier Edition]

‘Sup Homies.  It’s been a minute, huh?  We are busy with end of school year shenanigans and just general family busy-ness. At least the pool is filled and functioning, Colin’s signed up for swim lessons, and we’ve got the newly installed central air up and running. In short, apologies for being out of sight, and I am sure, out of mind.

Oh, did I forget to mention our upstairs bathroom flooded our kitchen? All night long? While we slept? And this all happened the same week we were having our central AC installed? And our ADT security system? I stopped looking up when someone would walk through the door, there were that many contractors here. I also stopped looking at our bank account. Sadsies.

Longest week of my life story short,  we are in the throes of insurance adjustments and about to embark on a kitchen renovation.  Sorry.  Mah bad.

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Sometimes life just gets too “too” and so blogging takes a back seat.  And the possibility of a kitchen and bathroom reno in the dead of summer with two small kids is overwhelming. When the adjuster is discussing asbestos remediation and helpfully explaining alternative housing options and a daily food budget given “you have two small kids”  and saying things like “hopefully you still have your moving boxes to pack everything up!” (nope, thanks!) you get the sweats and your heart starts racing.  Suddenly a full kitchen reno isn’t that exciting. It’s a pain in the you know what.

But, we will be fixing the bathroom. Not having a toilet or sink or FLOOR for that matter is a pain as it turns out. Who would have thought? And of course, there’s the kitchen. The floors and cabinets are considered dunzo. As you can see, the ceiling has been torn down, and for the last month, covered by a tarp. Klassy.  And so I’ve been spending and obscene and very unhealthy amount of time watching home decor shows and perusing Pinterest, trying to get ideas. Too many ideas, probably.

This past weekend, while Kase and Colin were enjoying the indoor water park during an impromptu weekend getaway, Jack and I dozed on and off, ate on and on, and somewhere in between caught the pilot episode of “Fixer Upper,”  a new show on HGTV. Yup, I know how to spend an afternoon holed up in a hotel room! Anyway, love the couple on the show, especially the wife, who I would love love love to hire to decorate my entire house. Kase even agreed. But, But! Even more, I loved the kitchen they (She-Joanna) designed. And what particularly caught my eye was the kitchen lighting:

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Lovely, am I right? So naturally, I must have this chandelier. It’s just a perfect mix of traditional and streamlined modern aesthetic that we love.  The one used for the show was from Shades of Light, and I’m too lazy, er, I mean, busy, to find it. But their lighting is ridikalus expensive, at least to this cheapskate, so I looked elsewhere.

First, I thought of Pottery Barn, because, well, that chandy screams, “PB”! And I was right. Enter, the Graham Chandelier:

Pottery Barn Graham Chandelier

But, But! I can always count on Overstock for an alternative:

overstock iron 5 light chandelier

Same look. $70 less. And actually, a closer match!  Even better? It’s 4″ wider in diameter, so it makes a bigger statement. Bang for your buck, I say. Hey, every penny counts in a renovation, right? That’s what Kase keeps telling me, anyway.

Good Luck High Fives

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Two years ago, my mother in law and I walked down Boylston Street, pushing a 7 month old Colin in a stroller, as we watched the last participants of the Boston Marathon cross the finish line in front of Marathon Sports.

I had tears in my eyes. Here it was, 6pm, and they were still coming in. No fanfare, save for those of us still milling around. No tape to cross, no banners. The barricades were down. Business returned to normal. And yet, no matter.  They were going to finish. It was a real testament to the human spirit.

Yesterday, Kase and I took our two children to watch the start of the race. One of the fun benefits of our new town is that we host the start of the Marathon. Year after year, residents open their homes to host runners from all over the world. We even hosted a co-worker of Kase’s who was running in the race for the fourth time. I wanted my boys to have this experience- to stand among the crowd, feel the overwhelming positive energy of both the spectators and the runners.

My boys. We had no qualms about bringing our two small boys to the start line of such a momentous event.  I am sure other parents felt the same way. This was an event that celebrates the human spirit. The inherent goodness of people. That no matter what heat one participates in, whether in a wheelchair or as an Elite runner, they are celebrating their good health, their ability. Their gift. Runners recognize that no matter the reason behind that bib number, they are able to do something many of us cannot. They do it for themselves or charity. Some run alone and some run literally tied to another person, guiding them for 26.2 miles.

And for those who can’t run? We watch. We cheer. We smile like fools as thousands of athletes run by. We stand for hours on the streets of our communities and cheer for family. For friends. For complete strangers.  We cheer for their determination, for their spirit.

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What I will remember from yesterday morning is the sheer number of people lining the streets of our small, quiet town. I will remember watching runners stretch on front lawns and mingle with their families as they got ready to join their corrals. I will remember the police officers who entertained Colin by revving their motorcycle engines and offering him a seat on their vehicles.  Who, quite possibly, became some of the first responders later that day. I will remember the young woman we spoke to, who was going to “hop in” to the race, to join her friend in the third heat. For fun. I will remember the race volunteers, hoisting bags full of discarded clothes into charity trucks.  I will remember the scores of children lining the street, including my own son, handing out high fives to the runners as they went by, “for good luck.” I will remember how he smiled and laughed, and how they did the same in return.

It was a magical experience.

And next year? We will do it again.

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The Look for Less [Black Cap-Toe Flats]

I know I’m hitting you with a lot of Looks for Less, but when you have to rejig your wardrobe and have a slight shopping addiction in addition to that, then you have to find those deals where you can. And here is another.

I was supposed to be at the mall returning items (isn’t that always how it goes?), and happened by the Payless and  the cutest pair of patent leather cap toe pumps in the display caught my eye. I don’t usually venture into Payless unless the display beckons me or I’m drunk at 2:30 in the afternoon and window shopping in New Orleans with my sister. That’s another story for another day.  Annnnnyway, lucky for me, the display pair were just my size and on sale to boot. Get in my Double City Mini, shoes!

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I know. I love them, too. Turns out, these are all over the stores this season, most notably at Banana Republic. For $80. Get real, Banana. Get a job, learn the value of a dollar for chrissake and then, get real. DO YOU KNOW WE ARE IN A RECESSION?

Look For Less Cap Toe Flats

Clockwise from Top: Banana Republic/ Payless/ Yosi Samra

The Look for Less [Didn’t I Tell You That Edition]

So here’s the thing about being postpartum again. None of my clothes fit. Yes, I would love to be that woman who bounces back to her pre-preggo weight and body a mere two months after pushing a baby out. The reality is: notsomuch.

Most of the time, I feel just fine about this. I am working out again, I’ve got a good amount of energy, and for the most part, I am eating well. But then? I step out of my sweats and try and put on a pair of jeans. And then I change my outfit eighty times because “I look fat!” which usually leads to me breaking out into a sweat from the sheer effort of it all, which doesn’t help to make me feel any less out of shape and/or fat. And then I cry. It’s a vicious cycle, really. Well, I assume it is. I’ve only ventured to get dressed in real clothes twice. It was exhausting.

Now, for the record, I know I am not fat. I don’t really even like the word. But I am too fat for my old wardrobe, and that’s the truth. The main problem is that in my sweatpants of denial, I hadn’t accepted the reality that lies between maternity wear and my old clothes.  I know for a fact that my body will return to me. One day. A day in the not so distant future, I hope. But in the meantime? Ain’t nobody got time for that. It was time to invest in some new clothes that can tide me over until then.

The Look for Less Didn't I Tell You That

But you know me. I’m cheap. I like to shop. I just don’t like to spend money. You got me? I love me some J. Crew, but that store repeatedly makes me cry and then I must avow to never talk to them again, no matter how often they email me or text.

The beauty of this is that most of the places I like to shop? Love cheap bastards like myself. For instance, I’ve never bought a single thing at full price from Old Navy or the Gap or Banana. This is due to the fact that pretty much every single day, I get an email that tells me they are running an online sale. It’s like those Macy’s ads for their “One Day!” sales that just happen to be every day. Or is that just me? Anyway,  you go online, pop a few items into your cart, run the total above $50, and get free shipping. Then, a few days later, the magical UPS man comes and brings you pressies! I love pressies!  I try on my spoils in the comfort of my own home, cry in private and then return the crap I don’t like to the store. Old Navy is my recent go-to for flats. They are so cute. Love them.

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My other favorite thing is that due to the economy, other stores seem to be following suit. I think that once a week for the past month, Loft has done a 50% off everything in the store thing. Or 40%. I went in before I had Jack and they were doing the 50% off thing. I thought maybe it was buy one, get one 50% off, or 50% off of one item, but no. It was 50% off everything. I went back a couple of days later (Kase and I were trying to walk the baby out at the mall) and they were doing a “Spend $100, get $50 off”. Soooo basically, another 50% off sale.  Just be straight with me, Loft. I’m no good at math.

The Gap also runs a lot of sales. And they often do additional off of sales prices. I got a pair of Boyfriend jeans for $12 and a pair of loafers for $10 at a 40% off sale. I’m not great at math, so I’m still not sure how that happened, but whatever. I don’t ask questions. I just swipe the old debit card and waddle out of the store.

Then there are the stores you scoff at. You know the ones I am talking about. But let me tell you. By just walking into those stores I vowed to never enter, I got some sweet deals. A J Crew knockoff bubble necklace for $10 at Wet Seal and  knockoff cap toe flats? $20 at Payless. Yes, Payless. And they aren’t the first pair of shoes I’ve purchased there. And loved.

And then there is the old standby: Target. I love me some Target.  Target is usually my go-to when I want something trendy, like a chambray shirt or mint colored skinnies . They are also a good spot for shoes. Love my leopard flats.

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So while I restock my wardrobe, I’m not breaking the bank. Though sometimes I do feel like that girl in the Sears commercial when people inquire as to where my necklace is from, or that they like my shoes. I’m all “Erm, Payless?” But hey: At least I’m not crying, or sweating profusely from excessive wardrobe changes. So that’s a start.

So You’re Having a Baby. Congrats. PS: I Lied.

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One of the most popular posts on this blog is the one titled “So You’re Having a Baby. Congrats. Now Go Buy This.” It was basically a very long and long-winded list of know it all first time mom blatherings.

The comments are all very kind and agreeable. Which begs the question. Where are all the comments saying “Oh, first time mom. Young grasshopper. You have much to learn. Also? STFU.”

Because seriously? That list? Is stupid. If I had used it for this kid? I’d be up a creek.

Oh wait.

Let me explain. I had a kid not even three years ago. His name is Colin, though you may know him as the Despot. He was quite the little dictator. Still is, actually. And he dictated things to us all day long. All night long. And I took notes. And then I shared those with my friend. And then I decided to publish those thoughts on my blog. I was a Mom Who Knew Things.

For instance, while we had a slew of cute little pacifiers, Colin would only accept the Soothie brand they gave him in the hospital. Ergo, my declaration that Soothies are the only pacifier worth pacifying. Don’t bother with any other pacifier. Go with the Soothie. Your child and my child are the same. You will thank me later.

Guess what? Jack? The Tiny Tyrant? Who shares my son’s genetics? Turns out, he prefers the Avent brand pacifier. You know, the ones we bought in bulk when Colin was born and ended up tossing in the trash when it became clear he wouldn’t take one. You know, the ones we don’t have in bulk now, because we took advantage of the sale Target was running on SOOTHIE PACIFIERS and bought out the entire rack like we were on an episode of Extreme Couponing. Christonacracker.

Speaking of Avent, we got that pacifier as part of the “Bottle Starter Package for Indecisive Second Time Parents Whose Bottle of Choice Has Been Discontinued.”  That’s right: Our go to bottle, the one I touted as “The Bottle” has apparently been discontinued. So we found ourselves at the Target, all glassy eyed and slack jawed over bottles. It took two different trips to finally pull the trigger on a bottle. We chose the Avent because…..well, no reason really. Just because. It was there. I only bought one, so we could test it out first, and it worked. I guess that’s my new advice. If possible, buy only one bottle. Limit the damage.

Remember my little crack about how crappy Aden and Anais blankets are and how you only need them if you need to shield your child from the paparazzi? That was a cute joke. I still smile when I read that one. And remember how you only need a Miracle Blanket when swaddling your child? Because you will HAVE to, just absolutely HAVE TO swaddle your child because they become demonic and attack themselves when sleeping?

I lied. Again! I know!

I don’t swaddle Jack. Well, we did at first. With those “stupid” (actually not really at all) Aden and Anais blankets. They were awesome. Then we stopped. Laziness, I guess. We were tired. That was one more step standing between me and sweet, sweet sleep. That’s what happens with the second child, or so I hear.  (“So I hear” will be my equivalent of the lawyerly “allegedly”) Anyway, I only tried swaddling again the other night again after noticing Jack’s horrible acne won’t go away. And then? I used a WOOMBIE! Not a Miracle Blanket! See? I have become a lying liar who lies. PS- The Woombie works too!

Oh, but before I put him in the Woombie? I bathed him. In a baby bath tub. Yup, the same item I told you you don’t need. Confession: I have a house now, so I have room for a baby tub to hang around and kick and swear at.  So I got another one. And what did I use to bathe him? I got the super expensive California Baby soap. Why? Just cuz. I wanted to try it. And it makes him smell nice. I still use the Aveeno with Colin, but baby gets the $14 baby wash. Cuz I’m crazy. And a liar.

And just to top it all off? Jack loves the swing Colin hated. Jack hates the Baby Bjorn Colin loved. So instead of using the Ergo, we use a wrap. Yes, I WEAR MY BABY.

And folks? This is just the beginning. He’s only a month old….apparently, I’ve got a lot to learn.

The Look for Less [Dressy Sweatshirt Edition]

So as a second time around mom, I find myself firmly back in my yoga pants and sweatshirt combo again. We’ve talked about this before. But. But!  It seems as though the mainstream fashion houses are getting with the program. May I introduce you to the ‘Fancy Sweatshirt” courtesy of J. Crew:

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I saw this in person at the store, but in navy.  They had a really cute striped collared shirt layered underneath and a chunky necklace, ala my pal Mary. OhmygoditssocuteIdied. I was all, “YOU GET ME. YOU REALLY GET ME!” because all I’ve ever wanted was to feel validated wearing sweats to a nice restaurant.

And then I discreetly threw up in my mouth when I saw the price: $118.

“YOU’RE SLOWLY TRYING TO KILL ME, J. CREW! DON’T EVER TALK TO ME AGAIN!!”

And then I bought my clearance rack necklace (totes cute btw) and headed out. Sadsies.

But then the other day I headed into Forever 21 (yes, I know I don’t belong there, but I’ve been told they have the holy grail of skinny jeans at $11, so whattdya gonna do?) and spotted this, haphazardly on a rack:

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Size small, natch. Which in regular person sizes is basically Barbie clothing. I became a crazed woman. “Colin! Follow mommy!! THIS WAY!” My poor toddler.

Finally, with the help of a 13 year old sales associate, found my size elsewhere on the second floor. Yes, the second floor. This particular Forever 21 fancies themselves a department store evidently. Nice accessories department though.  PS- Forever 21? You carry waaaay too much inventory. But I’ll deal when I can get a J. Crew knockoff for $22. Thankssomuch.

Of course, I can’t find this particular item online, or I’d link to it. You know, when you have 256 sweatshirts online, one of them should be what you carry in the store, but I’ve got two kids and not enough time in the world to navigate that website. Hell, navigating the F21 website could very well be a full time job.

I’d take it if they paid me in fancy sweatshirts.

Fat Tuesday [Marinated Steak Tips]

A month into second child territory, I decided to venture back into the kitchen. Well, I venture into the kitchen about 80 times a day. Girl likes to eat. But I decided it was time to stop living off of takeout and frozen meals and actually cook my sweet little family a meal. A real meal, that I had to, like, go to the grocery store to provide. And didn’t come from the freezer aisle.

I decided to make steak tips. I don’t know why. I’ve never made them before. I’ve never even ordered them in a restaurant. I do know that other people like them, so I figured, why not?

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I got home, and like any seasoned chef, googled “how to broil steak tips.” This was at 3pm. Apparently, I got a late start, given that I needed to marinate them for at least 4 hours. We’ve got a strict 7pm bedtime deadline in our house these days, so 4 hours was not on the table, so to speak.

Oh, and also? This marinade you speak of, recipe? How do I go about that?

So I googled again: “steak marinade recipe” and came across a recipe, that, miracles of miracles, I actually had most of the necessary ingredients for. And it was good.

Altogether, I marinaded the steak tips (cut into 1 inch cubes) for about 2.5 hours. When I moved the steak to the broiler, I took the leftover marinade and cooked it down to a nice sauce we drizzled on top. Yum town.  And I don’t think I am just saying that because I’ve only been eating pizza and Chinese takeout for a month….

Steak Marinade (adapted from here)

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 minced garlic clove

Pepper to taste

Directions:

Cut steak tips into 1 inch sections and place into dish. Cover with marinade and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.  Allow to rest at room temperature for 3o minutes before broiling. Place 6″ under broiler for 4 minutes per side. Serve hot.

To use the marinade as a sauce, simmer under low to medium heat for 3o minutes.

I served the steak with, what else? Twice baked potatoes. That may or may not have been picked up ready made from the meat counter. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Coming up for air….

Today, I get thrown to the wolves.

The wolves in this scenario are my children. And yes, I know I chose this.

Kase returned to work today after a glorious month long paternity leave. The past month? Has been great. This next phase? Will be filled with lots of Sprout and AppleTV provided Pixar films.

We’ve adjusted to being a family of 4 pretty well. Colin, especially. When he can be bothered, that is. The things I was most worried about were non- issues. Things like Colin being aggressive towards his new brother, or just having a hard time adjusting in general. Of course, so far, no issues. It helps that we’ve been spending extra time with him, doing fun stuff like taking him bowling and going to 3D movies. That might change now that Daddy isn’t around to pal around, doing “hart” (Art), playing blocks and finding videos of rocket launches on Youtube. But for now? He’s great.

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I didn’t know it was possible to fall even more in love with your kid. He’s becoming such a …kid.  He is still cracking me up- such a ham. Last night as I put him to bed (in his new big boy toddler bed, natch), Jack was crying downstairs.  Colin looked at me and did a spot on impression of Jack crying, saying “Baby Jack!”  Ham. The other night after dinner? He cleared his plate. Just got up from the table and cleared his plate. He looked a little lost as to where he might deposit it when he got to the kitchen, but still. Where do they learn this stuff? Bless his little heart. Makes me so happy and proud and sad at the same time. He’s really growing up. It’s probably a good thing we have a newborn to soften the blow.

Speaking of that new baby….

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Jack the baby is great. He is a chill little character. Cries when he’s hungry or when you interrupt his feeding by burping him. But I’m the same way, so ….  Otherwise? He’s pretty easy. If we could just get those pesky every-two-hour feedings out of the way, we’d be golden.

We had some rough patches- I was basically, for lack of a better word, bullied into breastfeeding at the hospital and ultimately ended up getting a nasty case of mastitis on Valentine’s Day. Thanks, Jack! Such a little valentine. Mastitis? Is the worst. Maybe I’m a wimp when it comes to my boobies, but Jesus H. Christ. No. Just no. I’m not trying to join the debate on breastfeeding vs. pumping vs. formula. I’ve tried it all, so I consider myself informed. We knew going in what works for our family.  We were disappointed to have our confidence shaken by the staff at the hospital. Adding mastitis to the mix almost sent me over the edge. It took me out for a few days. And made up my mind to give it up. My boobies? As Colin might yell: “MINE!”. So formula it is.

With the switch over to formula, Jack had bouts of horrible projectile vomiting. I now understand the term projectile vomiting. Projectile is a very accurate descriptor.  We were encouraged to take him to the Emergency Room over the weekend. After 24 hours on Pedialyte, we switched over to another formula and it’s been a bit better since. He’s gaining weight and doing well, save for a recent and very bad case of baby acne. And male pattern baldness now that he is losing all his luscious baby locks.  But I read that comes from the maternal side, so I only have myself to blame.

We are desperately trying to catch up on sleep- of course, it’s been better since I stopped pumping. We love having a night nurse come every other evening. It’s been very helpful- though it makes the nights she is not here a little harder. But we’re just spoiled… 😉 I highly recommend getting a night nurse if you have the means. Not that we do, but we decided this is a short term solution to a (hopefully) short term problem. Oh, but I should say if you’re breastfeeding or pumping? Don’t bother with a nurse. You will only resent your husband as you death stare at him, peacefully snoring sleeping while pumping or feeding, and when he wakes refreshed, you might want to scratch his eyes out. MIGHT. You’ll probably settle for yelling at him. But if you formula feed, just go on and hand that baby over!  Enjoy 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. That is, until your toddler wakes you up at 2:30am, screaming “Mommy!” and you bring him into bed where he lies on top of you. But enjoy it until then.

(For those of you in the Boston area, we are using Boston Baby Nurse.  Carol, the owner is wonderful to work with, and we love love love our nurse.  In fact, we hope to keep her on during days so I can get some one on one time with Colin to do activities and stuff.)

So that’s where we are at. Well, literally speaking, we are camped out on the couch watching Toy Story 2 and eating Cheerios. Later, we go to school. But so far? I think I got this…..

But say a prayer for me anyway.

“Aww, Baby!”

Jack William is here!

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And we’re hiding out here…..

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#babysfirstblizzard

Luckily, we were scheduled for an induction on Tuesday, which went smoothly and quickly (!) and were able to discharge ourselves from the hospital before the big blizzard hit. We are enjoying being home, all warm and cozy, surrounded by family, and getting to know Colin’s little brother. Colin, surprisingly, is also excited about getting to know Jack, or as he calls him, “Aww, baby.”

“I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.”


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I’ve watched the movie “Up” about 4,000 times. That is not an exaggeration. The first time I watched it I was pregnant with Colin. I might have cried.  Might have. Hormones.

Turns out, despite the fact that I’ve watched it over and over and over again, I’ve failed to really listen to it. It’s always on in the background- a placeholder for me to get things done around the house. But yesterday, as Colin and I enjoyed a lapless cuddle on the floor, I was touched by a quote by Russell:

“That may sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most”

Preach, Russell. Preach.

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I have to try and remember sometimes that my life is not my blog. I would love for you to think that, but it’s not.  My life is not always Pinterest or Instagram worthy. My life is yoga pants and the miracle of DVR. But you know what? It is those “boring” moments of being a stay at home mom that I remember the most. I need to stop whining about useless contractions, being tired and achey  and just take in these last days of my time with my first baby. And sure, most of that time will be  “boring” stuff: Building blocks, cajoling naps, negotiating school outfits, imitating plane noises, making “sammiches” that are then thrown out whole, because now someone wants yogurt instead. But hearing his sing song “Thank you, Mommy!” and “Lub you, Daddy!”  I’ll try and remember that these boring moments *are* life.

My life. And I love it.

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Superman to the rescue

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Yes, I’m still pregnant. But besides that? I have a confession: Over the holidays, we deterred from our normal schedule. That schedule included nightly baths. We got lazy and complacent and when we asked if it was time for bubbles, we were met with a “no!” and we went with it. And getting out of that habit? Was a bad, and smelly, idea. And may have resulted in pink eye.

Now, this is only significant because Colin used to love love love bath time. Literally, he would run up the stairs when you asked if it was time for “bubbles.” Once we moved, he also got into the habit of doing “rain” – showers, in our new bathroom. We went with that, too. Some days, the kid got washed up all nice twice in a day.

But then? He just decided he hated baths. Just in time for me to be 36 weeks pregnant and not able to fight him on it. Every night. I dreaded it. And then he got pink eye and I put my foot down. He was *not* going to be that dirty kid with the pink eye. Gross. But for nights, as I wrangled him into the tub, he screamed and screamed and broke into hives, he was so upset. And being 800 months pregnant and emotional, I was at a a loss. Who wants to literally fight a two year old into a bath tub using force? Not this chick. I mean, I love getting kicked in the belly as much as the next pregnant lady, BUT. He needed a bath. He needed to like it. What the hell happened?

One night I actually asked him that. I said to my two year old, “What the hell happened!?” That is when you know you have hit a wall. I had nothing.

He scrambled out of the tub, climbed into my lap and wanted to cuddle, right there on the bathroom floor for a good ten minutes, just sniffling. We both may have cried. This couldn’t go on.

I’ve noticed lately, Colin’s been on a “Super hero!” kick. This mild interest started after Halloween, so I can only assume someone came to school dressed as a Superhero. Now? Mild interest has morphed into full blown obsession.

I love obsessions. They translate really well into “incentives.” Lay people, or people without children may call these “bribes.” Such an ugly word.  Don’t judge till you’ve been there.

So I did what any mom of a two year old expressing interest in Superheroes might do: I got him a fun Superman t shirt with detachable cape for Christmas. He wanted to wear it every day. He discovered a Batman soap dispenser at Target and decided it must be his. He loves his “badman.” Santa gave him some big boy toothbrushes for Christmas, too. Spiderman and Wolverine, I think. Loves em. And his new race car ramp set? Has a “Daddy,” also known as Superman.  The resemblance is shocking. Every night as we get dressed for bed, he asks for his super hero shirt. We’ve got a couple in rotation now- Spiderman, Superman, Batman- so we’re set. I just do laundry more often. That’s fine.

When I was cleaning out our linen cabinet while nesting, I found the Batman soap dispenser, which had somehow gotten crammed behind some other toys. I got him, along with “Daddy” and some other super hero race cars and put them near the tub. And for the second time that evening, I asked Colin to come for “bubbles.” I was met with a resounding “NO!” until he spotted them: the superheroes. And that crazy boy? Broke into a run.

And then the kid stripped himself butt naked.

Every night, and every afternoon since, if I’m being honest, Colin runs upstairs for “bubbles.” Getting dressed every day has gotten a lot easier as well with our plethora of Superhero options. We just got a Superman vest and long tee combo, and a new Spiderman soap dispenser, too. Thanks, Target Clearance Section! Today, he warmed my heart when he pulled out his bathroom stool, got his toothbrush and brushed his teeth without prompting.

Maybe he was just tired of being stinky. I don’t know. I just hope this trend continues.

Superman to the rescue.

Put a tray on it.

A little secret I haven’t mentioned here on the blog is that we are hiring out help this time around. Which means a few nights a week, we will be welcoming a stranger into our home.  She will help with the baby while Kase and I sleep. I’m still pinching myself over that one. Kase and I agree that hiring a night nurse is cheaper than divorce. Or so we assume. That is generally how we come about to most major financial decisions, by the way: Is it cheaper than divorce? If so, we tend to go for it. Not sure Suze Orman would agree with this strategy, but it’s working for us.

But the point is: This (highly qualified and welcome) stranger will have access to our home. To our bathroom. To our laundry. To our kitchen. To the nursery. So in my nesting frenzy this weekend,  I walked around the house like a stranger and tried to figure out what needed organizing. I asked myself questions like, “Where would I find this?” “Where would I look for this?”  And then (30 minutes later, after a much needed break) I walked around again as my lazy self and said, “self, how can you avoid going upstairs again?”  But that has nothing to do with the actual organizing aspect of this post, just illustrating I was tired.

Another little no so secret I have? An addiction to trays. My motto should be “Put a tray on it.” Or rather “Put it in a tray.” Seriously. Trays. Everywhere. Mostly from Target or HomeGoods. Cheap, in other words. Cheap and holding all my crap. But freeing up usable space. And making it pretty to look at, which is just as important in my opinion.

Looking to increase all those usable spaces and get things organized for strangers as well, I tackled our laundry/bathroom situation on Sunday.

I’ve already talked about the bathroom reorg, especially in regards to post partum recovery. In the laundry area, I had already set up a little laundry essentials tray.

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I just used some glass jars to corral all our detergent pods and then grabbed a little dish to use for emptying pockets of change and other crap. I then washed all the last of the laundry I had been too lazy to tackle, which gave me the tops of my washer/dryer back. And also the top of the table next to them for folded clothes, which, ahem, was its intended purpose. In the little wire caddy, I leave all our folded socks. I find it’s easier if I just leave them there we can just grab and go. Do you do that? I feel like we’re always ready to dash out the door and yet, never wearing our socks or shoes. Seriously, I’ve left the house in my slippers before. Eh, whatever. Anyway, now the laundry room is ready. We’ve been told the nurse will most likely do laundry through the night as needed. I learned last time around that people like to offer to do laundry after you have a baby. Let them. It’s awesome.

In that vein, expecting that we will also have visitors of the non-paid variety, I tackled the some other common areas.

An area we have set up that worked well when welcoming visitors over the holidays was our coffee station in the pantry. This may seem random, but as any new or veteran parent knows, coffee is very important. At least that’s what I hear. I don’t drink the stuff: I’m a Coke gal myself. COLA. But Kase does drink the stuff. Well, he drinks the fancy drinks- lattes. So as one of his Christmas gifts, I gave him the new Starbucks coffee maker thingy. Now he can make his fancy coffee drink and stuff. It’s way easy. Plus, now he has no excuse to leave the house. We like it.

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Anyway, before our guests came, I just rounded all the coffee stuff onto a tray so I wasn’t constantly running to the kitchen for sugar, spoons, mugs, etc. I’m a good hostess in that I hate hostessing, so I try to head off any annoying requests before hand that will require me to leave my perch on the sofa. 😉 In addition to what’s on the tray, I keep all the “pods” for the machine above in the cabinets within easy reach and viewing. This whole set up sits right next to our pantry sink, so water is readily accessible if you need to clean anything up.  The only thing I wish I had done differently was print out instructions for making the coffee. Live, learn.

If we end up using formula again, I’ll probably whip up another tray with all the necessities you need to grab at a moment’s notice and keep it near this area.  Formula tends to get everywhere and is a pain to clean up, so having it on a tray is a big help.  Never mind the bottle washing station. But I decided that’s for another day.

Or rather, my swollen feet called it a day and suggested we watch Downton Abbey. So we did. I just do what I’m told.

Make Room for Baby

Kase told me I am in full on nesting mode. I’m not so sure because I thought you nested when you had energy.  Something I have been severely lacking since about week 3 of this pregnancy. I didn’t think you nested simply because your brain finally allowed those awful sweet memories from the first month flood back into your consciousness, sending you into a mild panic.  Or maybe the issue is that I am having horrible contractions, am in constant pain and can no longer fit into any of my maternity clothes. All of which means that (I hope) this baby is coming soon. It also means that I better get this house in order because soon enough? A baby disaster is about to hit it. Yay!

One thing that I never realized the first time around is just how much stuff a baby brings along with him. Stuff you never considered before: Sure, you’ve got pacifiers, wipes, bottles, etc. But beyond that? There is also the stuff you require if you’ve given birth. Basically, I had “stations” in every part of the house. All willy nilly like. I just moved stuff from place to place as I needed it. And then I would call to Kase from the bedroom and be all, “ACK! I need ______! Hurry, please!”

In the family room I had a makeshift side table with all my nursing crap scattered on top.  Since I was pumping, there was also all the pump crap  that goes along with it. If we had visitors? I got to pick it all up and bring it to my bedroom, where I just dropped it wherever worked and then spent the entire time looking for things that got left behind. Rinse. Repeat.

In the bathroom, I had all my medical necessities. Mamas know what this means: creams and pads and spray bottles and I don’t even know. I blocked it out. Just know that the top of the toilet was a little pharmacy. Not cute.

Basically, I was just a hot mess. Not organized at all. Which isn’t a huge deal when it’s just you, your partner and a tiny person. There’s no problem in yelling down the hall for your husband to bring you more nipple cream. Add a toddler and visitors sharing a bathroom and it’s better to get it under control. It makes things so much easier as well. And not as awkward. Though shouting “nipple cream” is fun. Especially in front of your dad. Try it.

The main thing? Is to have organized and usable surfaces. There never seems to be enough *room* for all that stuff. So I started with getting my stuff contained and organized, which then makes more space available. For the stuff you forgot about but desperately need. That happens more than I like to admit.

Saturday, I tackled the nursery. We still didn’t have a side table for the glider and if I nurse or even pump, I will need a table. I learned that much the first week last time. I managed to snag this awesome table at Target this past weekend and I love it. It ties in the modern lines of the nursery with the natural wood of the lamp. And it’s nice and compact, so it fits. Which is important. But it also holds my necessities, which I corralled into a cute little basket (also I think from the new cottage line at Target). And there is still space! For more crap!

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When you are nursing or pumping or just rocking a little baby to sleep, I find it useful to have the following right on hand:

  • Pacifiers (if you use)
  • Water or something to drink (I got this cute water bottle at Target on clearance for $4)
  • Snacks (Welch’s Fruit Snacks were evidently my snack of choice the last time around. I found these in my pump bag)
  • Lanolin or nip cream
  • Baby Lotion
  • Breast pads
  • A blanket (on the back of the chair)

Now, the last time, this was all scattered about. This time? I’m a pro. So I got a little basket. I recommend a basket. Or tray. Or box. Whatever. Just contain the crap.

I will make a similar basket for the family room. Or use a covered box of some sort since we’ve got a toddler who has. to. touch. everything. And then dump it out. The important thing is to have everything at hand, but contained as well. And to avoid climbing stairs. Can’t stress that enough. AVOID THE STAIRS.  And hey, if you or your husband need to pick it all up and take it to the playroom? All the better. I’ve got diaper stations around the whole house, and that system seems to be working, so we’ll just do it for the new baby as well. Live, learn and all that jazz.

The other area I remember needing some organization and clutter control was the bathroom. So on Sunday, I headed out to HomeGoods and got some organizing stuff for the bathroom, and more importantly, for the post partum aspect of this epic journey.

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On the back of the toilet, I added a canvas tray. This will hold all those post partum goodies I narrowly avoided discussing earlier. Sorry! I’m only familiar with what I dealt with last time (I didn’t have a C Section, so can’t speak to that recovery) but I know I’ll have some awesome stuff hanging around on top of the toilet, like Tucks pads, ice packs, spray bottles and creams. Last time I just kind of threw them all up there and let me tell you: trying to pick off the floor your various medicines three days post partum? NO BUENO. Crying may ensue. Or hysterical laughter. Either way, people will think you are unbalanced when they hear you through the door. Do yourself the favor: Put it all in a box. Shoebox, cardboard box, what have you. Contain it. And for God’s Sake. Don’t drop the soap  spray bottle. 😉 Oh yeah, and keep a waste basket nearby. For now, you can pretend those pretty makeup brushes and Q-Tips are those other essentials I’m talking about.

And of course, I straightened up our bedside tables. I needed this for right now, not just for when the baby comes and my room turns into the nursery. This is what happened last time. All available surfaces were taken over. It was all very hostile and aggressive. So I am expecting that to happen again.  In reality, I should have done this a while ago. But we only got bedside tables about two weeks ago so there’s that. Before that? I just kept everything on the floor next to our bed, which is also sitting on the floor. But we finally buckled down and bought some IKEA lack tables and our bed frame is on order. It’s time to straighten things up.

My bedside table looks like a pharmacy. For a very unsexy old person with health issues. I’ve got my stretch mark cream, lip balm, hand lotion, about 18 packets of Zantac 75, empty water bottles and my glasses. Since not only am I a sore pregnant lady with indigestion, but I’m blind, too! I don’t know how I got pregnant, if you are wondering. All that’s missing is a heating pad. But only because I didn’t need it this week. Hot mess. Anyway, I threw out all the trash and then finally used my white storage box from Ikea and threw all the various bits and pieces in there, along with phone and Kindle chargers. I don’t know what the box’s purpose really is because the design is actually horrible, but it’s a wood box with two inserts, and I bought it, so I might as well use it. I added another clearance water bottle (for taking my Zantac before bed and around 3am each night) and my new alarm clock. Did the trick:

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Now when the baby comes, I’ve got room for my nipple cream. Yay!

Kase’s side also got a little spruce up. Mostly because I was excited we finally had tables, and also because  someone got a new alarm clock/ iPhone player for Christmas and it needed a home. Bonus? Now he has room for more of my nipple cream when the baby comes! ;P

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So thoughts? Do you have any go-to organization stash tricks? Any vets out there with more suggestions?  What am I purposely forgetting? Tell me.