Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sweet 16

Stanton here. Brandi wanted me to be the guest blogger this month, but I'm a bit late. Chaselyn's trips to the park have been quite telling as to how big she really is. She is totally fearless, but still shows good discretion in getting down from high steps. She goes down all the slides and explores all by herself, but will still let me help her if she needs. The swings make her giggle uncontrollably, so of course we push her until she's sick of it.

Other big girl activities she has started include expanded dressup, feeding Baby her bottle and mastering Wii Ski.
Her new class at daycare is not a favorite for any of us. She is trying to switch from two naps to one, so a lot of nights she is cranky and goes to bed pretty early. She cries a lot even before we put her down at school and is a little too excite when we pick her up. She seemed to really enjoy her first two rooms, but not this one. I've been told that she asks for the bed for a second nap, but they can't let her have it everyday. It seems to me that if a little baby wants to take a nap and will sleep through whatever is going on in the room then LET HER TAKE A NAP. Of course, it's actually probably a lot of trouble for a child lie there quietly and not get into anything.

Now that Chaselyn faces forward in her seat, I have been riding the the front with Brandi in the car. On the way to Arkansas for the Peek weekend, she read one book for 45 minutes. That seems like a long time for a baby. That weekend was a lot of fun as it always is. Ed commented that we may give the Walatons a run with the goodnight sequence. My parents house slept 19 people on Saturday night, so that's 342 "goodnights".

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mommy B's necessities

Below are a few things that I'm happy to have discovered as a new mommy.

1) Arms Reach mini co-sleeper -
This wonderful invention is just perfect for new mommies and daddies who want baby close by when they sleep, but don't want to share bed space. The co-sleeper was introduced to me by Jeanne Hill. She had one for her kids and offered her used one to me. Honestly, when she asked if I wanted it, I had no idea what it was. Then when I got it and we set it up I thought that it would be useful for a while and good for travel back to AR especially. This thing quickly became Chaselyn's bed. If you are planning on nursing, I cannot stress how much I would recommend this wonderful contraption. The baby is right there beside you. You don't have to walk all the way across the apartment/house to get the baby for those 3 am feedings. Just pull the little tot out, attach to milk source, put her back when she's done. (Note: many times I would just pull Chaselyn in to bed with me while she nursed. This often led to us both falling back asleep. It kind of contradicted the co-sleeper, but I wouldn't replace those cuddle times for anything.) Also, the mini version is fairly compatible with travel. It's kind of heavy, but if you use it as the child's bed like we did, they get the advantage of having their usual bed anywhere you go. We ordered a new one like the one pictured above for Jacob, it should be on the door-step when we get home today!

2) Swaddling blankets-
These are not to be confused with regular old receiving blankets. These things are life savers. Chaselyn was a little cuddle-bug. We had to wrap her up like a burrito every night, arms and legs fully secured. If not, she would find some way to hit herself in the face and wake herself up. One of our good friends Rachel gave us one of these kinds of blankets for Chaselyn. We kept that thing either in the bed or briefly in the washer at all times. They are bigger than typical blankets 44" square rather than 32" square. That extra room allows you to continue to wrap little baby up for much longer than the standard blankets. When Chaselyn was little, we could only find these at specialty shops and they were $15 - $20 a piece. But now, you can get them from Target 4 for only $26.99. I actually got some off the shelf at the Target in Ft. Smith last fall and intended to give them as a baby gift to someone else, but I forgot and they sat in the sack. Then we found out we were having little Jacob, so we're keeping them. They're also very light weight, so they work well for shielding baby from the sun or even covering for nursing.

3) Hooter hider-
Again, a must for nursing moms. And if you have a crafty mother-in-law or friend or other relative, you may be even more in luck. My mother-in-law fashioned one of these for me on the cheap. If I remember correctly all the materials cost about $8 rather than the $35 for the official product. And, if you have someone make it, you have more fabric options. Very good for outings with the nursing baby, family functions, and when company comes over.

4) Resale shops- No picture for this one. The best ones are generally very localized. My favorite local resale shop is "Smarty Pants". Especially for tiny babies, you can find brand new or barely worn clothes for much lower prices. I've noticed that the clothes start showing up with more wear at about the 12 month size when the kids get mobile. But you can still find good deals, especially on some of the name brand deals.

5) Hands-free nursing bra - Ok, we're going to go with no picture on this one too, because the pictures look kind of ridiculous. Also, I don't actually own one of these, but plan to soon. If it works as promised, it will be a very handy dandy tool while trying to pump at work and at home. Without such a contraption, you're stuck there holding bottles and suckers for about 20-30 minutes each time you pump throughout the day. Sounds like a nice break and a good excuse to stop working. And it is, but just think, no one knows what you're doing when you're pumping. You can still use the excuse of pumping but now you can do work or blog or look at a magazine or read a book or whatever. I don't think I like the idea of pumping while playing with my little ones as displayed in some of the pictures, but to each her own. I'm very hopeful and the reviews seem positive. I would love to hear if any one has personal experience.

As you can see, these items are more focused towards making life easier for Mommy. An important task if ever there was one. I'm sure I've left some amazing products off the list that I'll remember are super wonderful once Jacob comes, but for now this is my list.

Oh, and I just posted a pregnancy update about an hour ago, so don't miss out on that post just because this is the latest post. :) Hooray double post day!

Weebles wobble but they don't fall down

Anyone who has seen me in the past couple of weeks is now fully sure that I am indeed going to have a baby. There's no mistaking my large belly for a beer gut or maybe just putting on a few pounds. I have a baby belly. And I love it...most of the time.

Sure my back hurts a lot lately. And yes, I'm already sitting right around the weight I was when Chaselyn was born. And I'm pretty sure Jacob found a way to kick me in the spine last night. And maybe I do waddle like a duck if I don't concentrate on how I'm walking. And sometimes I can't get up off the couch without some help or rolling myself out.

On the upside, I get to feel the most amazing little kicks, punches, rolls, and hiccups inside my belly. And the bump provides a nice little shelf for Chaselyn to sit on. And I have a constant reminder of the wonderfulness of God's creation. And I can pretty much play the pregnancy card at any time to get a way with a lot, like not cooking dinner, taking naps in the middle of the day, getting out of household chores, etc.

Jacob Logan is growing, and because I already feel like I'm big, I think he must be big too. This only encourages that rouge part of my brain to entertain the idea of him coming out earlier than mid-May. I keep telling myself that it's not going to happen and I'm going to have to wait the full 40 weeks, but I honestly can't shake the feeling that he'll be here sooner.

I don't know much about what's going on in there though. I've had a couple appointments since the gender ultra-sound, but for those I've just been weighed (big jump in the last 4 weeks), the doctor measures my belly (right on track), and they listen for Jacob's heartbeat (holding steady at 163). And that's all I know.

So that's how things are going with little Jacob. 32 weeks down, 8 more to go.

p.s. Chaselyn's 16 month update should be appearing soon. We've run into some technical difficulties in the processing. I rely on pictures to remember what we've done in the past month and the pictures keep getting left on the hard drive in Stanton's office. It will be done this weekend though.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Who am I?

Following up on the last post about being an adult, I find myself often questioning exactly who I am. I feel like with all the big life changes over the past couple of years and as I anticipate the changes to come in the not so distant future, I'm not sure exactly who I am any more. I think that's why figuring out how to decorate the house and even figuring out what background I want for my blog seems so confusing. I feel sometimes like I have a multiple personality disorder. There's the Brandi that is strong and independent, and the Brandi that just wants to sit back and be taken care of. There's the Brandi that is bright and cheerful and there's the Brandi that's more laid back and mellow. And most of all, there's the Brandi that I want to be and the Brandi that I'm afraid I am.

On a daily basis, it's not too hard to figure out which of these Brandi's are dominant. But on a larger scale, decisions are complicated by my changing opinions. Part of me wants to decorate the house like the fun pictures I see in magazines and on HGTV. But then, part of me knows that Stanton and I have labeled our decorating style as "Functional Comfort". And often the kind of wacky things that look interesting on tv don't really jive with our current scheme. I have found some outlet in stuff for the kids though. I am determined that our kids will grow up with bright, lively decorated kiddie rooms. I want them to have a place to go and have fun and that spurs their imagination. But what about the common areas? Do I let the whimsical fill the home or do I acquiesce to the more subdued vibe?

More personally, what is my own style? I've been a t-shirts and jeans type of girl forever, and I'm not at all saying that I've changed. But some days, I would just like to look nice. A little spiffed up. But I can't at all translate what I like on other people into outfits that work for me. I always feel like I'm trying to fit in to someone else's clothes on the rare occasions when I do dress up. And I know the day is coming when Chaselyn is going to need some help with all the girly things. I want to be in a place of understanding and knowledge when she gets there. But I'm afraid I may be about 20 years to late in making an effort to learn about all the girly things.

I've also been trying to figure out what I really enjoy. Stanton and I haven't been out on a date in a long, long, long time. We had planned our anniversary dinner (13 years and counting) for last weekend. But he got sick, so it was a no go. But it honestly wasn't that big of a deal. It wasn't as if we had some great and magical evening planned. We had arranged for some friends to watch Chaselyn, and we were going to go out to eat and maybe to a movie, or something. But, the closer we got to our official date night, the more I realized that we didn't really have anything to do. Neither one of us could think of something that we just really wanted to do. The main reason we haven't gone out on many dates is because we both so value the time we have to spend with Chaselyn. And we eat lunch together almost everyday and have plenty of time to chat at lunch and on the way home and after Chaselyn goes to bed. So, it's not like our relationship is struggling. It's just not what I picture it should be I guess.

So, am I losing myself? After being identified as a student for so long, now that that role has faded away, who am I? It looks as though I'll be the stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). But what does that look like? I will no doubt struggle with the SAHM that I want to be and the reality of the situation. Am I already beginning to lose myself in my kids? When I look at my core, the main thing I tend to focus on is how to help Chaselyn and Jacob succeed. What do I need to do for that to happen. Is that how it's supposed to be? It can't be that way forever. I know eventually the kids will grow up. Then will I really have to do a soul search to find myself again? I don't mind putting so much focus on the kids, if that's what they need. At the same time I don't want to be a helicopter mom.

This crisis is enhanced by my recent decision to NOT go home for spring break. For the first time ever, I won't be at my parents house during the week long break. Instead of running home to mommy and daddy like I usually do, I'm attempting to be responsible and catch up on work at home and at work before Jacob comes. I understand the logic. I made the decision. And yet part of me wonders what has gotten in to me.

So, I guess I've lost myself. If you find me, please let me know.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Me, an adult?

It's a question I've been asking myself too much lately. I cling to most things juvenile. I still like kiddie cartoons, I love Disney movies, I'm always up for a good Happy Meal, and I don't take myself too seriously. And fortunately I have found a life-long mate who not only supports my kid-like behaviors, he encourages them. But lately, things are getting a little too serious around our household and we don't care for the stress it's causing us.

We were doing great for so many years. Even having a kid of our own didn't really phase our attempts to stay young at heart. Sure there's extra responsibilities with a baby, but they're so much fun! And as you all know Chaselyn is an excellent baby. Not just because she's mine, but because she actually is one of the most easy-going little precious beings you've ever seen. And besides, you hear all the time about babies having babies. That was not the huge stepping stone to maturity that we feared it would be. I think the changes really started taking effect after Chaselyn was born. So, I've compiled a list of things that will make you feel more grown up. If you don't want to, steer clear of these things.

1) Buying a house - Sounds innocent enough. Buy a good house, move all your junk you had hidden in all the nooks and crannies of your apartment into 3 times the space, live happily ever after. Unfortunately, things start to nag you. Things that you never considered before in the apartment setting, because it either wasn't your responsibility to take care of or it wasn't worth the effort to change since apartments are only temporary living spaces. Home-ownership makes you want to watch HGTV and see how to fix up your perfectly good house cheap. You spend time thinking about all the things you want to change in the house to make it just right. It starts with ideas like "Someday I would like to redo the kitchen." There's nothing wrong with the kitchen, it's just not exactly your dream kitchen. Stuff like this isn't too hard to repress, because the fact of the matter is, there's just not money to think about a project like that right now. So, what can you do to change things up a bit? Paint is relatively cheap and makes a big difference. But where to start? The living areas seem like the first choice, but that's a huge decision to pick a color for the living space. Maybe a bedroom? Well, one bedroom is currently covered in Razorback memorabilia and the other houses the baby. Plus, within a year, you know that things are going to get mixed up with the next baby. And is there a possibility of a third kid someday? Should you stick with neutral colors on the walls so that the rooms can be switched out as a boys room or a girls room? And speaking of which, where are these kids going to sleep? OK, no painting for now. The cycle (at least for me) continues with urges to change something, but indecision as to how to make it happen. Oh, and did I mention that there's the constant bother of the stuff in the closet and still for us, the stuff in the garage. The stuff didn't bother me too much in the apartment. We put it where ever it could fit. But now, it seems like it needs a specific place or if there's nowhere for it to go, it needs to go out. I can't stand to throw things out though. I don't think I'm so much of a hoarder as cheap. What if we need that box full of stuff later, even though we haven't missed it since moving in last July? Then I would have to BUY that stuff again. What a waste of money! Note that I haven't even started on the general upkeep of a house. This is one area that has been greatly changed by Chaselyn's arrival, but even without her stuff, there's still plenty of new chores. There's the newness of caring for a yard, and you have to walk farther to do laundry, and carpets and floors are now actually in your possession, meaning that if there's a stain, you are responsible for it. OK, that's enough of a rant on that.

2) Graduating - Yes, it's the culmination of all those years of hard work studying and writing and learning. Congratulations! Now, they want you to work an 8-5 job, M-F, without extended holidays or a 3 month vacation. Perhaps they'll entice you with promises of some business travel - turns out that usually that's exactly all you get to do- travel, do some business, travel back. And you may think "Hey, I put in a lot of work to get that nice graduate degree. I'll earn more money, I'll be well respected, and I can finally take a breather from all these late nights thinking and studying." The part about the money is probably true, the second part, should be true, the third part is just an out and out lie. It turns out that your hard work has earned you the right and privilege to be thought of on a higher tier. That's nice for the ego. Unfortunately, by getting the education and persevering, you just proved that you could handle whatever they want to throw at you. The more you succeed, the more people expect you to succeed. It's logical, but I was caught off guard and was in for a rude awakening. That's how the real world works apparently. If you do a good job at something, you get to be excited about that accomplishment for about 5.3 seconds and then you have to get on to the next task. Also, the real world doesn't seem to have as many hard deadlines as before. You have to rely on your own motivation and satisfaction in your work to keep you on task. Either that or you have deadlines that are totally unrealistic and only serve to frustrate you. I spent a good long 8 years in college. I had some rough times, but it was overall a good experience for me. I went to class, I did my homework, I took exams. I did what I had been taught to do from the age of 5. I must toot my own horn and say I'm an excellent student. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that the rest of the world really needs a professional student. So, in the words of the great Billy Madison, "Stay here as long as you can!"

3) Aging - So, you can't actually do anything about this one, but you can be aware of it and try to ease in to the more mature you. As I spent that time in college, I was obviously a college student. I was comfortable with it. And as I taught intro classes each semester, I recognized that the age gap between me and my students was getting a little larger. But that was ok. It was the headgames of the people that were actually closer to my age that threw me. In my brain, people who had real jobs and houses and kids were older than me, my students were younger. It turns out that some people get jobs and buy houses and have kids much earlier than my life plan called for. This summer will be my 10 year high school reunion. Do you realize that some people will have children that could be up to like 9 years old that you didn't even know existed. A 9 year old child and they're the same age as me?! That's crazy. As far as I know, most of the people I was close with in high school are just beginning to start their families and such too, but there are those who heard the call to be mommies and daddies much earlier. It's mind boggling. And some people will have had major career changes by the 10 year reunion. I haven't even had a single career, much less one to change to. And besides all those people you haven't seen in 10 years, be sure you're keeping tabs on those closest to you. Somehow, my sister fast-forwarded her life and is in college now. College? Rachel is not that old is she? And my oldest brother just celebrated his 34 birthday. That's like mid-30's territory. He's can't be that old. And my other brother is getting married this summer. They just bought a house and he has a job and she does too. What's happening? And my parents are grandparents. I know I'm part of the problem there, but really, are they old enough? They don't seem older than they did before, but they're transitioning into playing the grandparent roles in the family dynamic as opposed to the mom & dad roles. I just don't know what to do.

4) Making plans - Whether it's what you need to get done this week or where your life is going to be in 5 years, just don't do it. From my experience it just blows up in your face. Fortunately, most of the time the change in plans results in something way better than ever expected, but you still have the frustration of learning to let go of the path you set. So, maybe you can plan meals for the week. But don't be surprised if something comes up and the meat you bought spoils in the bottom drawer. Or maybe you've carefully planned a budget and committed to following it to the dime. Just be sure you leave a little dough in a section labelled "Well I never would have seen that coming." And if you've planned something for more than 1 year out, I'll try not to laugh.

These are just a few of the things I'm learning these days. I'm not real sure if they'll help you or if they even apply to you, but at least maybe, just maybe, I can more easily recognize these stressors in my life. Hopefully, that leads to a more productive and happy Brandi.