Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Things I am Obsessed With: Summer 2014 Edition

So, I am officially over summer. No offense summer lovers, but I am fair skinned (so I can't be in the sun for long periods of time) with a 17 month old (so he can't be in the sun for a long time either). Our house doesn't have air conditioning (nobody in the PNW does), and we are going on 4 months of temps in the 80s. Over. It.

I am ready for fall. I want sweaters and boots and pumpkin spice everything.

Here are a few things that made me hate summer a little less.

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter Ice Cream: No explanation necessary.

Old Navy Linen Drawstring Shorts: I got these in 2 colors for $10 each during a sale a few months ago. Are they "mom shorts" yes. But I am a 31 year old mom, and these are long without being bermuda length, and the drawstring allows some disguise of my muffin top. So whatever. Lame mom shorts.

ELF Jumbo Lip Gloss Sticks: I am not really a lipstick person, but I guess part of being in your 30's is wanting a little color on your lips. Or maybe it's just being tired. I started with the nude color, and have now amassed the berry and the red. They are sheer and creamy without being sticky. I really really like these. I also like them for traveling because they don't explode if you open them on a plane, and they can double as a cream blush or eyeshadow in a pinch. Ok, maybe not the red one for eyeshadow, but you get the idea.

H & M little boy tank tops: Great for little boys who tend to run hot like mine. We have gotten so lucky with hand me downs, that I have only bought clothes for Nash a handful of times. When I do, H & M is the place I like to get them. No stupid character clothes or shirts with dumb sayings on them (for the most part). The cotton is so soft, the clothes are great quality, and they are actually less expensive than Old Navy and Target if you hit a sale. And they look so cute!

Homemade alcoholic slushies: You know, because of the whole "no a/c thing", and the whole "deal with a hot screaming toddler all day" thing. (Why does being hot make everyone so crabby?) Please, if you have an ice cream maker, do this right now. Ours didn't even 100% freeze because it was 85 DEGREES IN OUR HOUSE. It was still amazing.

Does anyone else have a summer obsession? What am I missing out on? There's always next year...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

For All the New Moms... And the People That Love Them

I hung out with my sister-in-law yesterday morning. She has a cute little 9 week old. He cried some (as 9 week olds tend to do), he ate, he spit up, and he slept some too. He doesn't sleep through the night (which is also the norm for a 9 week old).

We were talking about how when you are the one with the fussy baby or the baby who wakes up every two hours all night or the one who fusses when he eats (the list goes on) it seems like everyone else's baby is perfect.

Probably because we see photos like this...

But what people don't realize, is that for every moment of calm, there are 100 moments like this...

Oh, the screaming. Not to mention the sleep deprivation, poop, pee, spit up, and the night screaming. Night screaming gets its own distinction because everything feels about a million times more stressful at 2 am as opposed to 2 pm. It's just the way it is.

But it's not just people putting on a face for social media. To an extent we see what we want to see, and also, if someone posted about their crying baby every time they cried, it would be ridiculous. They would post every five seconds. So they share the cute smiling pics because (for those of us who don't have perfect babies) those moments are more rare the first few months, and that's what you want to remember anyway.

Really there is nothing that prepares you for how hard it is taking care of a newborn. No matter how much you want it, how much time you've spent with babies, how many books you read, how long you've tried: taking care of your own child is a whole different ballgame.

So I've been thinking about babies all day, and my sis and I talked about a lot of this stuff. I wanted to write it down for all those new mamas. And really these are just the things I wish I could go back in time and say to myself.

1. You don't know anything.
That's the bad news. The good news is, neither does anyone else! Not Babywise, not Dr. Sears, not your best friend, not that bitch at the grocery store who tried to tell you that your baby should really be wearing socks. Nobody knows, because if they did, there would only be one book, and everyone would follow it, and everyone's baby would be on the same schedule, and life would would be perfect. But every baby is different, and what works for one won't work for another. But you will figure it out eventually. Maybe. Hopefully.

2. All the things you are stressed out about will work themselves out eventually. I promise.
That is the number one thing I wish I could go back and tell myself! When Nash would only nap in a carrier, I was convinced it was a bad habit he would never break. When we finally got him to nap in his crib, we still had to rock him to sleep until he was 5 months old. Well, guess what, after 5 months, we could lay him down awake, and he puts himself to sleep. He was ready. It's not like there are 15 year olds out there whose moms still rock them to sleep every night! (I hope.) The crappy phases will end, and a year from now, it will seem like the blink of an eye. I know that doesn't fix anything now, but I promise, it gets better.

3. Please keep posting cute pictures.
People will find out eventually when they have their own kid how much it sucks, right? Just kidding! But seriously, I think it helps morale so much to have other people say "What a beautiful baby!" or "Wow, out and about and looking great with a one month old! Super mom!!!" They don't need to know that it's the first time in a month that both you and the baby are wearing non-pajamas at the same time. They also don't need to know that your pants were covered in spit up, that's why the picture is from the waist up. Anyone with kids knows what a big deal it is just to get out of the house, so if you get a moment of feeling like super mom from posting a cute family pic from the park (from the 30 seconds that the baby wasn't screaming), then I think that's a good thing. 

4. On the flip side, don't be afraid to get real.
I love how much awareness people have now about loss and infertility. Seriously. However, I think it makes people feel like they can't complain AT ALL lest they hurt someone who is dealing with one of those things. I know I definitely felt that way after the loss of our nephew. Who was I to complain, when my baby was here and healthy?! Unfortunately, being aware how lucky you are (and I promise, I know) doesn't make the actual day to day care of a newborn any easier, so the guilt hits you like a ton of bricks. It's ok if you don't love being a mother all day every day. It doesn't mean that you don't deserve to be a mom; most moms feel that way. You don't need to shout to the world how tired and frustrated you are (but if that helps, go for it), but I hope you have some people in your life that you can be real with. It makes it so much easier and makes it feel less lonely. 

5. You're doing a great job!
I promise. Nobody is judging you when your baby won't take naps. It is not a reflection on your parenting every time your baby cries. You are doing great! Babies cry and that's ok! Also, your baby loves you. I was really convinced for a good 5 months that my baby hated me, but it turns out he doesn't. When he falls down, he wants a hug from me. When I pick him up from Sunday school, he sees me and runs straight over. You'll get there with your baby, too. :)

And to the people with a new mama in their life/neighborhood/family:

1. We don't need your advice... unless we ask for it.
Maybe you raised 6 kids, maybe you run a daycare or a preschool, maybe you read a book, but guess what. Kids are different! Sometimes I just need to vent and hear someone say, "That sucks, but it will get better." We have Google, books, forums, and blogs to give us all kinds of information (usually conflicting). If you try to solve our problem by saying, "Have you tried this?" we have probably already tried it. Just be there for us. If we say, "Did your kid ever struggle with napping? What did you do?" of course share what you know! It's awesome to have a support system of people who have been there that we can go to for advice! But only if we ask.

2. PLEASE don't tell us about other people's babies.
I don't want to know about how your neighbor's daughter slept 10 hours straight at 4 days old. I don't need to know that your cousin made so much milk she could have fed three babies. Save those stories for six months from now when I am less of a crazy tired hormonal zombie, ok? When you ask how my baby is sleeping, and I say "He gets up every three hours", and you tell us how your brother/daughter/grandson slept through the night at one week old, we hear, "You are doing this wrong. If you were a good mom, your baby would be sleeping through the night like this other baby." I know you didn't mean it that way at all, but we are trying so hard just to get through the day (and night). Don't compare, just say, "That's great!" or "That's exactly what he should be doing at that age!" Ok?

3. Thanks for being there.
Thanks for meals and laundry. For mowing the lawn and buying us coffee after a long night. Thanks for calling before you come over. Thanks for not staying too late so that my husband and I can have some precious alone time after we put the baby down for the night. Thanks for coming to our house so that we don't have to get a sitter. Thank you for inviting us to things even though you know we can't go, so we feel like we haven't lost all of who we were before we had kids. And thanks for being there. We couldn't do it alone!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

1 Suitcase • 3 People • 11 Days

I've mentioned before how I love to make packing lists, and how said packing lists are very different now that we have a kid. Over the last few trips, I have finally figured out how not to overpack, and for our last two flying trips, we have brought only one suitcase, a carry on size. Before we left for Colorado last month, I took pictures of exactly what I packed so that I could remember for future reference. And since I LOVE reading about what other people pack, I thought I would share it here. (I actually do love reading about it, I wasn't being sarcastic. See some of my all time favorite packing posts here, here, and here.)

A few caveats:
• We did laundry once, which meant we didn't have to pack as much as we would have had to if we hadn't had access to laundry.
• We have a child who requires a car seat, and carseats check for free. If you use a zippered car seat bag, there is room in there with the seat to shove a package of diapers or a packing cube or both. We have never had a problem doing this, and we always put baby stuff in there. We also always have extra space in our backpacks that we could shove those into if someone got weird about it. 

What you see in this picture is everything we brought! The orange packing cube peeking out of my duffel is the "diaper bag" and has diapers and wipes. Since Nash is out of the baby phase, we just needed that and some snacks. And I have a medium sized purse that easily fits in the duffel too.

Our gear:
(Basically everything but the backpack was gifted to us by my parents over various holidays. Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
• Lots and lots of packing cubes of various sizes. Most of them are medium and large E-Bags.
Vera Bradley Grand Traveler (the color I have isn't available anymore)
• REI Daypack (similar one here)
Babies R Us Car Seat Bag (This one has fit both our infant car seat and the convertible one that he is in now, just not at the same time.)

And now, what we brought. The pics are self-explanatory... Because I put words on them.

So there you have it. One suitcase for the entire little family. We aren't packing experts, but we're getting better!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How I Fed My Baby

um, this is about breastfeeding. so don't read this if you don't want to read about that. ok? I don't even say the word nipple though, so it's not that bad. except for just then. that's the only time, I swear...

Have you noticed that it's world breastfeeding week? I have seen no fewer that twenty posts about it over the last few days. Often people accompany their breastfeeding pictures with sentiments like, "The best feeling in the world!" or "It was such hard work, but so glad we stuck with it!" or "Giving my baby the food she was meant to eat!" I'm totally not bashing these women, that's great! It's the way nature intended, but it just didn't work for me.

This is a story I've been wanting to share for a while, and I guess seeing all these pictures of people breastfeeding made me actually do it. Because it is hard, and sometimes no matter how you work at it, it just doesn't happen. So in honor of world breastfeeding week, I thought I would share my breastfeeding journey, or lack there of. If you have had a similar journey, I hope you know that you aren't alone.

This picture is from the day Nash was born. The first time he ever ate. (Can you tell I had just been in labor for 100 years?)

That first day he was super tired, but his nursing was ok. The second day it was totally fine, and we were discharged. He was a champion little eater. It still totally hurt, but it does for everyone at first. When Nash was three days old, we had a mandatory appointment with a lactation nurse. They do this thing where they weigh the baby before and after they eat, and he got about an ounce and a half of milk during the 30 minute feeding. My milk had come in and I hadn't even realized it! I didn't even leak! (That was red flag number one.) Apparently 1.5 ounces for a few day old baby was just fine, and at his 10 day pediatrician appointment, he was back to his birthweight.

The first two weeks were great. He seemed to be really awake during the day compared to other newborns, but he ate well all day long, so he slept well at night. After the first week, he would usually sleep a 5-6 hour stretch followed by a 3-4 hour stretch.

It was right around the 2-3 week mark that things started getting crazy. He had a growth spurt and ate literally every 60-90 minutes for a couple of days. After that, eating time was fussy time. (That was red flag number two.) He would pull away and scream after eating for a minute, so we would switch sides, he would eat for another minute, scream, and on and on. Naps became non-existent, and after his night feeding, it would take 60-90 minutes of him screaming, and me or Mike rocking to get him back to sleep.

This was basically what my entire day was like for the next two months. Just screaming.

The only naps that were taken were in a carrier. And we couldn't sit down. He had to be in the carrier and moving.

Since he wouldn't nap and he fussed when eating, we thought maybe he had reflux. We tried medication for a few weeks, but there was no difference.

My mom came to visit when he was 8 weeks old, and she sort of suspected that he just wasn't getting enough milk. One night (after cluster feeding and bedtime feeding) Nash wouldn't settle down, so we decided to try giving him a bottle of formula just to see. He ate 5 ounces, which is a TON, especially since he had finished all of his feedings for the day so he should theoretically be full. For some reason I still didn't really believe he was starving, so I figured I would see what his weight was at his 2 month check-up a few days later, and we kept giving him a little bottle of formula at bedtime just in case.

The confirmation came when Nash's weight had dropped from the 75th percentile at birth to the 25th percentile at two months. I was convinced.

I went to the lactation center at the hospital the next day. A baby of his weight should have been getting 4 oz a feeding. They did the weighing thing before and after a feeding, and he was only getting ONE OUNCE! Yikes. That was a real punch in the gut. The nurse I met with that day was kind of militant, and she said that in addition to Nash sleeping so well at night, giving him a bottle the last 4 days made my supply drop. Ok... She prescribed a strict regimen that would get my supply up, all I had to do was put forth some effort. She also wanted me to talk to my OB about prescribing me a heart medication, because in some people this heart medicine has a weird milk increasing side effect. When she said that most OBs won't prescribe it (you know, since it's a HEART medication), I was like, "Um, nope." But I had the rest of her regimen in hand. The next 3 weeks were a nightmare.

I had to nurse like normal (which basically was a lot of fussing and screaming because there wasn't enough), then offer a bottle of formula so that he would get full. Then I had to pump to try to increase my milk supply. THEN, since Nash was eating every 2 hours, I would get a 20-30 minute break (during which I would try to get Nash to take a nap in the carrier) and start all over again. I would also have to pump after he went to bed, but before I went to bed, and I would have to wake up every few hours to pump in the middle of the night even though my baby slept all night long. Pumping took 20 minutes a side and the most I ever got was 3 ounces. Most of the time I got 1 ounce, even those middle of the night pumpings.

I was also taking fenugreek, a separate herb elixer, eating one million calories and countless grams of protein, drinking tons of water, and crying a lot. Haha! It was exhausting! Did I mention this just happened to coincide with my husband's final month of grad school, so I was basically doing all of this on my own? (Not that he isn't super helpful, he is! He just had a LOT going on that month that had to get done so he could graduate.)

After 3 weeks of this craziness we went back to the lactation center to see how much my supply had increased. Instead of 1 ounce per feeding, he got 1.4 ounces! Yeah, we still weren't even close. The nurse I met with this time was SO MUCH nicer, and she said to me, "What do you want? Is breastfeeding your baby the most important thing to you or is it a happy baby?" She knew that my body just wasn't doing what my baby needed it to do, and she made me realize that a happy, full baby is more important than how he gets fed. She was releasing me from feeling any guilt, because she could see that what we had been doing the last few weeks wasn't sustainable, and it also wasn't increasing my supply, so what was the point? I basically love that nurse.

So we began formula feeding and never looked back. I would still nurse before giving him the bottle, but within a month he had stopped all together. And guess what? I don't feel bad about it. Not even a little. I'm not sad breastfeeding didn't work, because a bottle worked so well. He was happy, I was happy. It was a win win. Also, this study just came out. Of course breast milk has so many great immune boosters, but long term, there is no difference between breast fed and bottle fed kids.

The point is, however you feed your kid, great job. You're feeding them, that's all that matters.

And just for fun, check out Nash a day or two before we found out he was starving. His arms were SO skinny and his face was gaunt.

And one month later, a few weeks into formula feeding. So much better!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Colorado 2014: Vacation by Cities

We got back last week from spending eleven fantastic days in Colorado with family and friends! We were so grateful for so much time there, and it was a great mix of relaxing days and seeing people and places all over. Here are some of the things we did, not necessarily in chronological order.

• Lots of time on my parent's deck, watching storms come in over the mountains.
• Naps with dogs.
• Nash got to catch up with some of his little lady friends (and us with their parents).
This was them in Colorado last July, and now this July. Time flies.
His fun little friend who is just 2 weeks older than him.
• Noodles & Co. (twice), Sonic, Chick-Fil-A (three times), and Dunkin Donuts.
• Alcoholic otter pops made by my mom, along with lots of her other excellent cooking.
• Fire pits and s'mores and sunsets.
• Lots of great time with my family.

• Breakfast at The Buff with my sister and my good friend Tory. With a view of the flatirons, no less!
• Tried some fun beers at Avery Brewing Company.

• Went to service at Ascent Community Church, co-led by my college ministry pastor and the youth pastor that I did middle school ministry with while I was in college.
• Dinner with the Colorado fun friends and families!

Fort Collins
• We got to meet this sweet little boy, the son of my good friend Taylor!
Future best buds.
• Lunch at La Luz. The potato burrito was amazing!
• Then we sampled a few beers at Odell...

• Mike and I (and Kaela!) saw The Avett Brothers (and rainbows) at Red Rocks! It was such an amazing show at the best venue in the world.

• Got to taste some Breckenridge bourbon.
• Ate lunch at an old favorite, Kenosha Steakhouse.

• Spent the night at my family's cabin. Unfortunately the altitude did not agree with Nash, so I had to drive him back down to Denver at 4 am. Womp womp.
• At least Mike, my dad, and my sister got to stop at another old favorite when they drove back at a much more reasonable hour.

• Toured (and tasted) Stranahan's with friends.
• Dinner and margaritas at the Rio. Duh.
• A quick beer at Our Mutual Friend. I got to try a Brett beer. Finally!
• Went to a really fun lecture series put on by The Denver Museum of Contemporary Art called Mixed Taste. We saw Soul Food and Salvador Dali, and it was really fun, especially because the Soul Food speaker brought samples. :)

Whenever we weren't out and about, we were probably parked on my parents couch watching movies. It was magical. Special thanks to all of the friends who took time off of work, spent time driving, etc to hang out with us. And a VERY special thanks to my parents for hosting us, and to them and my sister for being so fun and for babysitting. :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

June Recap

Ok, I know June isn't over yet. Small detail.

Also, I'm going to start with May 31st. Our friends Chad and Ashley got married in downtown Seattle! It was such a beautiful wedding, and it was extra fun because several of our good friends from Colorado flew in for it since Ashley is a Colorado girl too.

my hot date and me
Mike left directly from the wedding to go to a conference in Montreal. He took a cab to the airport and caught a red eye. LOOOONG night for him. I got to spend the next few days hanging out with friends who were still in town enjoying the amazing weather.
a little doof at Gasworks Park
Nash and I had dinner at the beach one night. I do love living in the Pacific Northwest.
Next up: the Butler birthday extravaganza.

June 5: Noah's 1st birthday (If you haven't heard Noah's story, visit his mama's blog.)
It was a sad day, but it was also really neat to see how many lives he has changed in one short year. We decorated his special place with balloons and we wore rainbows and we missed him very much.

Over that weekend, we were able to get together with Mike's family to celebrate all of the family June birthdays. Noah on the 5th, me on the 10th, and Mike and his brother John on the 11th. We had BBQ at a park and the boys threw the football around for a while.
Big Butler birthday party at the park

pre-birthday party with some local craft beers while Mike's parents babysat
June 10: My 31st birthday (I can't say thirty and flirty and thriving anymore.)
My mom and sister flew in that morning for a visit! We just ordered pizza, my brother and his wife and baby came over, and we all hung out. That's basically what I always do for my birthday.

June 11: Mike's 33rd birthday! (and John too!)
We went out while my mom and sister babysat! We had margaritas, way too much Mexican food, and ended the night at our favorite neighborhood pub.
June 11th was also the due date of Noah's baby brother, but it came and went with no baby. Then on Sunday, June 15th (which just so happens to have been Father's Day!) we got the call!

Baby Miles was born that morning, and we got to meet him when he was just a few hours old!
I might have started weeping uncontrollably when I walked in, I pulled it together for this pic.
I have never cried such happy tears in my whole life!
We also came back a few hours later with Nash! I had never visited people in the hospital after having a baby before I had my own baby. When Nash was born our hospital was super strict about visitors checking in, and no kids were allowed unless it was a new baby's sibling. I just assumed that all hospitals were like that, so the day after Noah was born and we went to visit, we left Nash with my sister. When we got there, we walked right in and didn't have to sign in or anything. It makes me crazy to think about that we could have totally brought Nash with us that day, and it makes me so sad that Nash and Noah never got to meet. Needless to say, we were so excited for this to happen!
We are so so so grateful that he is here and he is healthy! We visited Miles (and his mom and dad) at home a few days later, and oh my goodness. I can't explain how much joy we had seeing them with their baby boy AT HOME! Not that any of the pain from last year has gone away at all, but oh man, Mr. Miles has brought an incredible amount of joy into the world with him. Love that little dude.
Due to the arrival of baby Miles and my family being in town at the same time, Nash got lots of grandparent time this month!
eating ice cream with Papa (Mike's dad)
eating doughnuts with my mom (I promise we feed him food other than sweets)
lots of family in town to celebrate my grandmother's 75th birthday
Nash is now a 27 pound 34 inch tall 15 month old. He wears 2T and never stops moving. He has been fussy lately due to getting in 4 molars at once, but the last few days he has been more back to normal, whatever normal is for a toddler. He just figured out how to climb onto furniture, and now he does it all day long. Sometimes he climbs up, and lays back like he's going to watch a movie or something. But that only lasts for about 15 seconds before he climbs down and does it all over again.

We also recently acquired a bike trailer for free! Thanks, Buy Nothing Bothell! Nash loves it, even though he has to wear a helmet. (Go here to see if there is a Buy Nothing group in your area. It's such an awesome community.)

We also made a summer fun to do list. Our bike trailer helped us cross the first item off of the list: bike ride! We are excited to cross off more!

pardon my 6 year old handwriting :)