Newborn Essentials, take 2.

Fall2018-20

Are we out of the newborn stage yet? Maybe? I’m not sure exactly what constitutes being out, but I feel that there is a decisive shift once babies are on a schedule, napping easily in their own space, are generally more predictable, and the idea of being able to write down instructions for a babysitter doesn’t seem completely impossible.

Some things were so familiar this time around. Neither of my babies was a pro at nursing, both adored the heat and scorned air conditioning, both looked especially like Winston Churchill, and both chilled out in those super low weight percentiles until about four months when I glanced down and realized we had chunksters on our hands. But a lot was different this time around. Some things were easier. I didn’t stay up panicked while the baby slept, and I knew now that sleeping infants are NOISY and not to pick them up at every sound. I didn’t get surprised when naps got worse before they got better, and I happily started giving a bottle of formula earlier, when it became clear that Etta needed more than I could give by the end of the day. Some things were harder. Having two means it is a special sort of insanity around bedtime, and any other time that both need something at once. My own hormones and emotions were rockier this time around, even as I was aware that Etta was objectively easier than Henry was.

One thing that was nice going into baby 2 was not panicking about needing all the stuff, firstly because we have what we need from Henry, and secondly because I know that you don’t need much. Does that mean I didn’t Amazon Prime random things in the middle of the night a bunch those first couple weeks? Nope. But I did feel less panicked about finding gear to fix “problems.”

Still, there are some things that I wish I had known about or used the first time around because they have been AMAZING on round two. Of course, every baby is different, so who knows if Henry would have loved them like Etta. Here’s a round up of my must-haves for the second round of newborn insanity.

Sling. With Henry, I used all those wraps and things that take like ten minutes and a tutorial to put on. With Etta- ain’t nobody got time for that. She has lived in the sling since birth and still does usually one nap at least every other day in it. It is so fast, easy, secure, and has a pocket. It doubles as a nursing cover or blanket or burbcloth or towel as needed. We just started using a normal carrier this past week, but she still prefers the sling above all else.

Tiny sound machine. We used these sound machines for Henry but the charge code breaks so easily and we got sick of them. I snagged this tiny one for Etta and it charges with a USB cord and can be tossed in a stroller or carseat to help a baby stay on their sleep schedule on the go… which is all the time for second kids. Also, this one gets loud enough to drown out an entire high school marching band that stops to do their homecoming drill team routine in front of your house during naptime. ASK ME HOW I KNOW. Though not for Etta, we also got this wake to sleep clock/sound machine for Henry this past summer and love it, mostly because we can trigger the light remotely from our phones if we want him to sleep later or be allowed up earlier.

SwaddleUp. Henry loved normal swaddles. Etta screamed like she was being tortured for a solid hour after being put in one. My brother’s MIL suggested this one and Etta instantly loved it. Plus, it made her look like an adorable dog bone. It is also so much easier than any swaddle and you don’t have to worry about it sliding up over their face, causing you to push it down neurotically and wake them up. Again, ASK ME HOW I KNOW.

Probiotic drops. Etta had terrible reflux and weeks 2-6 were brutal for all of us until my SIL and pediatrician both recommended these drops. I am a hardcore traditional medicine fan, and we also started some reflux meds, but these probiotics go a long way to helping too.

Rocking chair.We have one in Henry’s room and though we could do without one to have for Etta’s midnight rockings early on. NOPE. His was too big for our room, but we found one to fit and it saved us. Is it ridiculous that we are rather minimalist and now have a 1-1 rocking chair to bedroom ratio? Yes. But did it save our sanity and allowed all the snuggles and soothing we needed to give? yes.

Infant Insert. We have had this stroller since Henry and added the attachments to get two kids on it and love it. I used the bassinet at first, but then a mom at the park loaned me her infant insert which allowed way better double seat configurations and kept Etta more comfortable and thus, napping better on the go. (Are you noticing a theme here? If a parent tells you something was essential, it basically means it helped people get more sleep.)

Things from Henry’s early days that still earn MVP status.

Rock n play. We used it until 4 months and then switched to a mini crib loaned to us from a friend. Hopefully by the time Etta outgrows that, we will live somewhere with space to put Henry in a twin and she will migrate into his crib. I am such a fan of the RnP and really believe it helps teach independent sleep and self soothing and once again, the transition to the crib at 4 months was totally painless.

Puj tub. So nice to not be storing a massive baby tub.

Bjorn bouncer chair. I recommend this to everyone and mine has made the rounds of our Capitol Hill friends with infants. It has kept both of my babies so happy, allows me to put them down, and folds flat and small and doesn’t look ugly while up. You might be noticing another theme which is borrow or get used everything you can for those newborn months. So many things have such a short window of use and I can guarantee someone WANTS to loan you all this stuff just to not have it take up space in their house for a few months.

For those of you with two or more, what are the newborn things you found you really used the second time around?

PS: Other “essentials” from Henry’s babyhood.

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Fall Friday things.

The first Friday that actually feels like fall! I become more a member of team “Summer Forever” every year, but when we were dripping sweat at a fall festival last week, even I started thinking I was ready for some cool breezes.Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

We are planning on some cliché fall adventures this weekend, in addition to trying to rest off some colds, because everyone in our family just can’t stop getting sick. I blame toddlers and their inability to avoid licking everything and then my inability to avoid kissing them.

Some things that have been in my mind, on my person, and on our table lately.

Wearing…

I’m always on a hunt for a good lipstick and I love this one, in Brunch. It feels like butter, which James says is how I compliment anything I really love.

Since I have a long way to go before my post-partum hips fit in the majority of my jeans, I’ve been loving these. They are sold out every five minutes, but keep restocking!

I also snagged this dress during a warehouse sale and love it. (POCKETS!)

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Eating…

Since we finished our last Whole30 in mid-September, we have continued to eat paleo on weekdays, whatever we want on weekends. It is a really nice rhythm of fasting and feasting that has us feeling great, but also able to enjoy eating out or with others much more easily. I’ve been loving some of the baked goods from this site, especially this pumpkin bread and these chocolate chip cookies. I am also late to the 2 ingredient ice cream game but I am HERE AND HAPPY.

Of course if you aren’t eating paleo, you should make these now because they ARE SO GOOD.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetThinking over…

Beth Moore, and the challenge of faith and politics in a two-party system.

Thoughts on effective self care.

Ways that I can orchestrate a vacation at this castle in Jamaica (I just need like 14 of you to come!) or this private island in Belize.

Happy weekend all!

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Lately we’ve…

…been riding the metro a lot, just because TRAINS ARE LIFE for a certain toddler. Plus, the metro allows us to have an outing indoors for rainy days, and my wild child is surprisingly calm and still on public transport. We are especially into riding the metro to the airport, getting coffee, and letting Henry watch the planes from the main hall (pre-security), or grabbing lunch at Chick-Fil-A. Fall2018-14Fall2018-17Fall2018-16Fall2018-21Fall2018-25Fall2018-26…been building a lot of forts. Pillow forts, blanket forts, book forts, chair forts- Henry can’t get enough. And I can’t get enough of being invited inside to snuggle. Summer2018-330Summer2018-331Summer2018-327Summer2018-329Summer2018-325… been going to the doctor way too much. The back-to-school germs have slammed Capitol Hill  hard, and an especially nasty strain of HFMhad Henry the sickest I’ve ever seen him. It went away, ultimately leaving a double ear infection with a side of pinkeye. Fall2018-3Fall2018-8Fall2018-4…been really thankful that the full time jobs I applied for this fall didn’t pan out. My part time position does not make any money after childcare, but it gives me time for the train rides and the forts and the doctor visits and the cuddles and the books and the discipline and the growing and stretching and learning that our family is doing right now.

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City kids.

SPring2018-32Back in May -which seems like an entirely different life- we spent a morning out at Frying Pan Farm with some friends. We love this (free!) farm and have met some of our VA friends out there a couple times. Animals to pet! Farm equipment to climb! Mud to stomp in! Fields to roam! A playground for picnics! I meant to share pictures… but then a certain baby girl showed up several weeks early and a whole lot of things didn’t get done. So here, better late than never, are some pictures of my city kid loving on the country.

SPring2018-33SPring2018-34SPring2018-35SPring2018-36See? Soooooo pregnant. And so happy to not be waddling around like that anymore. SPring2018-38SPring2018-39All summer I craved a yard. I love this city life we live, love the parks and museums and markets and activities. I love the community of urban motherhood that exists just by walking outside my door. But this past summer was really hard too, and so many times I thought how much easier life could be if I had a back door that opened into a yard, a yard where I could send Henry to run and play and explore when getting outside of the house with a newborn just felt like too much. I longed for space to store a stroller that wasn’t our car, and an entrance that didn’t involve flights of steps and lots of hauling. When we visited our families in Kentucky and Indiana at the end of the summer, Henry was in total bliss, his behavior and moods perfected by the endless space of country living and free play. It just compounded the conversations James and I have so frequently. Should we move out of the city? Is this life GOOD for our kids? Does it ask too much of them? Does it set them up for success, does it set us up for success as parents, or are we constantly “disciplining” things that would disappear in the face of more air and sun and space?SPring2018-40SPring2018-43I don’t have answers to those questions that scroll across our conversations on repeat. And they have woven themselves into so many blog posts and I know you are tired of hearing them. It’s because parenthood has made me acutely aware of how every decision reverberates through other human beings. But this blog post isn’t actually to wax poetic about the country and how much Henry needs freedom to run, or how the air and grass and space are what are missing from our life. It was going to be that, because those things are all true, and days like our day at the farm or our time with family remind me of that. And we do plan on someday getting that space, that grass, that life. But for now, we have city kids living a city. And lately, I have been treasuring the beauty of that. SPring2018-45SPring2018-46James often has really long days and intense weeks at work and lately there was an especially rough week where he left before the kids were up and got home long after they (and their mother) were in bed almost every day. Of course, that was the week Henry got a terrible case of HFM and Etta started childcare and my semester was gearing up and it was really, really, REALLY hard doing it on my own. Only in the city, the blessing can sometimes be that you aren’t alone, but rather stuffed in around so many people. Often, this feels like a restriction, but lately, I have been overwhelmed at the community. People like my upstairs neighbor, who will text me when she hears Henry start having a tantrum and say “I just put my cat in the stairwell for Henry to play with.” She always carries our packages up since she knows my hands are frequently full, and usually stops at 5:30 to invite Henry on a field trip to her apartment while I get to dash around and restore some pre-dinner order. People like my neighbor-turned-friend who lives in the building behind us and often shows up with paleo treats that she made extra because she knows we are lways on some sort of Whole30 kick. People like all the residents on our corner who showed up when we taped signs on the doors announcing a clean-out-your fridge potluck/block party. Henry’s godparents and so many good friends live within walking distance, but I also love how all the random members of city life that make up our community. Henry knows the dry cleaner and the baristas at coffee shops we frequent and the staff at The Pretzel Bakery and the old man who always sits on his porch in the evening and the nuns who walk by our house on their way to pray. I love that our kids are growing up shoved into a crowded and vibrant community full of so many different types of people. Obviously- that is possible anywhere. But the shear necessity of sharing space in the city brings it into sharp focus. I hope that living in this city is teaching him to love his neighbor, whoever they may be.

I also just love watching Henry navigate city life. I love that he knows how to ride the metro and LIVES to ride the bus. Sometimes I drive him to James’ office when after work just so he can ride the bus home. He is shockingly competent at directions and navigating Capitol Hill, often calling out which way we should go before I even get to an intersection. He is at home in a world so different than the one I grew up in and I am insanely proud of that.SPring2018-47SPring2018-49Because ultimately, whatever home we raise children in is the only place they know how to thrive. I’m remembering that as I long for more space and delighting in knowing my kids are learning to conquer the city.

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The moments we [don’t] plan.

Summer2018-250Summer2018-251Summer2018-252Summer2018-254Summer2018-255Summer2018-256Summer2018-257Summer2018-258Summer2018-259Summer2018-260Summer2018-262Summer2018-263Summer2018-264Children are a lesson in lowering your expectations.

We all think we know what it will be like when we have kids, how they will act and more importantly, how we will act. We come into parenting with so many foolish expectations of how everything will go, all the beautiful moments we will share, and our children spend the rest of their lives dismantling that notion and building reality in its place. I know this, and yet I still routinely  fall prey to the trap of anticipating how a certain moment or experience will go, only to be disappointed when the reality of my very real toddler doesn’t line up with whatever fantasy I imagined. The gifts you thought would be received a certain way, the “firsts” you imagined framed in glorious celebration, the special experiences that would be shared with reverent awe- those don’t usually go as planned.

We are a baseball family and I love it, love going to  games together, watching them at home, and cheering on James’ favorite team. We hauled Henry to so many games his first summer, mostly because our extroverted-since-infancy baby would happily snooze or smile in the crowded and hot ballpark, versus cry and fuss at home. That kid has grown to love any and all sports, and we were so excited to take him to a baseball game this summer, now that he would really understand what it was. James couldn’t wait to share their first father-son ballgame together, to watch and bask and revel in the glory of the great American past-time.

Instead, Henry got super high on sugary food about an hour into the game, didn’t want to stay in his seat, and ended the evening by running in deranged circles and screaming. We had still had fun, but it was not at all the holy baseball moment we had imagined and honestly, that was disappointing.

But then a couple weeks ago, James was watching a baseball game on a Sunday afternoon during naptime. Henry woke up and I carried him still snuggly in his sleepsack and dropped him on James on the couch while I went to go get Etta. Instead of hopping up and running around like he always does, Henry burrowed in as close to James as he could and started asking questions about the game, about the players and the team and what everyone was doing. He cheered as James cheered, called out the phrases that James fed him, and for much longer than I could have anticipated, he snuggled in and shared some Sunday afternoon baseball with his Daddy.

He still talks about it all the time, that baseball game he saw. He wants to play it every day, loved when James and his brother played catch when we were in Indiana, and treats every stick as a baseball bat and every round object as a ball. The magical baseball moment we wanted didn’t come when we planned it, but rather on a quiet Sunday afternoon when we leaned in to Henry’s interest and made time for extra snuggles and explanations.

That’s the thing with toddlers, and I’m sure it will be true in some way at any age: they don’t just fit into the mold of Life With Children, and trying to squeeze them in there only ends in frustration. Instead, I’m learning to take the magic moments as they come, to love them as they come, and to make space in our days for them to happen. The moments we could never have possibly planned are the very best of all.

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Etta, etc.

Since it’s pretty much been the Henry show lately on this blog, here’s some smiley Etta-bird for you, carrying on the tradition lately of Etta pics+random links. Summer2018-344Summer2018-345This girl knows that diaper changes, nursing sessions, and having her reflux meds administered are some of the few moments she gets undivided attention, and they are her happiest and smiley moments. I usually stagger their afternoon naps just slightly so that I get about 20 minutes to snuggle this one uninterrupted and bask in her coos because I feel so sad that being a dreamy easy second baby means you get less attention. But Etta, we love you so! So does your brother, and I apologize for the many hazards his love causes you, like when he covered you in toy trucks earlier this week. I promise where he comes from it means he loves you.

Some things!

My neighbor made more of this detox salad than she could eat and I was happy to take the extra. It is pretty intense on the detoxing front and also really hearty and tasty.

I’ve seen lots of people sharing this article about rewards versus punishments, and so much of it resonated with things we have been trying with Henry lately. I have alllll the thoughts about discipline and its place in intentional family culture… and someday I will write them down. Maybe. Hopefully.

I made this Whole30 potato gratin recently and it might be my favorite Whole30 dish to date. Eager to try it again with a mixture of potatoes, zucchini, and squash, inspired by this dish.

Of course, if Deb says you should never cook at home, maybe you shouldn’t.

This article hit all the nerves: Mothers as Makers of Death.

“The private actions of the mother’s mind—her scholarship, perversions, miscellany, narcissism—are swamped by the bureaucracy of parenting. A ticker tape hurtles across the mother’s brain listing all of the things she must remember: spoon, bathing suit, milk, booster shot, sign-up, pickup, 3:15. These lists are a form of paying attention, which is a form of love. Love, a wise woman once told me, is how you make the other person feel. Love is how you make your child feel. You accomplish the list. And then the list, indomitable, grows anew.”

I love trying different cosmetics every time I need to replace something and I also love using combo moisturizer/color/sunscreen instead of foundation. Just got this one and I am LOVING it.

My birthday is next week and when James asked what I wanted, I said to see a movie… with my girlfriends while he handled the bedtime crazy. So a big posse of us are going to see a chick flick Sunday night. Crazy Rich Asians, or Mamma Mia 2?

Happy weekend!Summer2018-341

 

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Midwest late summer.

After spending a couple days in Kentucky, our road trip continued up through the Midwest to visit James’ side of the family. First stop- Cincinnati to visit James’ sister and her family! Behold- Henry and Etta’s cousins:Summer2018-228Summer2018-229Summer2018-230Summer2018-231Summer2018-232This kid was in heaven having cousins to play with and all their cool toys to explore. (Of course, for little kids playing together, having fun doesn’t look that much different from not having fun, as any excess of emotion leads to tears.) If Henry was in heaven, I was even more so getting to spend time with my SIL Laura. This girl is an amazing mother, and the older my kids get, the more I find myself reaching out to her for wisdom and support. Summer2018-234We tried to survive the endless driving of this trip by maximizing sleep driving. Thus, we drove from Kentucky to Cincinnati early morning (Etta slept) and then left to drive on to Indiana after dinner and baths so that both kids would sleep and we could drive without stopping and enjoy adult road trip joys. Podcasts! Conversation! Music that isn’t the Moana soundtrack! (Not that I’m tired of those tunes- nope.) It worked most of the time. There was one catastrophically awful nap where Henry screamed most of the time, but on the whole, it gave us lots of driving in peace and helped us only have to resort to Daniel Tiger on a tablet for about 2 hours out of the 30 total that we spent in the car. But I digress. Following Cincinnati, we headed to James’ parents’ house in northern Indiana. And again, I went back to sleeping in while other people woke up with my children and let them wander outside in stages of undress.Summer2018-237Summer2018-238My in-laws have an epic garden that puts my aspirations of someday keeping a single basil plant alive to shame. Remember last summer when Henry spent the whole visit eating green beans? This summer was the Visit Of The Cherry Tomatoes. He loved helping pick produce, and managed to not eat everything. We took a giant bag of fresh stuff home from the garden, and Henry spent the next week excitedly announcing that “I pick it wif grandma!!!” every time I made dinner. Summer2018-239Summer2018-241Summer2018-242Summer2018-243Summer2018-244Summer2018-246Summer2018-247What’s this? An Etta cameo! Summer2018-249We celebrated my brother-in-law’s birthday while there, and Laura and her family came up from Cincinnati for it. More cousin time!Summer2018-265Summer2018-268Summer2018-269Summer2018-271Happy birthday uncle Thomas! Summer2018-274Almost the whole family- just missing uncle Philip. Love this tribe that I married into!Summer2018-278Summer2018-287Summer2018-297We went to Charlottesville this past weekend to see my brother and his wife (back from Sweden!) which means that in a one month span, we got to spend time with every single family member scattered across the country. What a gift. You will be spared endless photos of that trip because I completely forgot to take any, but I’m sure you can imagine what they would be: Henry, pawned off on family members and loving it.

This summer didn’t have any trips beyond those solely devoted to time with family, and you know what? That’s just fine with me. These are my very favorite people.

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