Saturday, December 26, 2009

Giveaway - Itzbeen Timer

A couple weeks ago, I posted a list of my top 10 baby essentials. So now I’m wondering… do you agree with my list? If so, what’s your very favorite item from my list, and why? Or, what did I miss? What would the number one item on your list be? Comment on one of those questions, and you’ll be entered in this month’s give-away for an Itzbeen Timer.

The Izbeen Timer is a wonderful little device that helps sleep-deprived new parents keep track of how long it’s been since baby last ate, slept, had medicine or had a diaper change. Timers can be set to give reminders for the next time baby is due for food, meds, diapers or a nap. Additional features such as a nursing reminder switch, illuminated display, clock, and soft nightlight make this the perfect baby aid in those early months.

When you comment, make sure you include your first name and e-mail address so we can let you know you’ve won. You also might also want to add your e-mail to the mailing list for this blog so that you know when we have our next contest! The deadline for this contest is January 7th. Good luck!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good Morning Sunshine!

Moving from one child to two hasn’t really been that much of a change for me.

Except for the mornings I work.

Prior to Kasia’s arrival, James and I had the morning routine down to a science. Despite my 25 minute commute to work, I could get us up about an hour before I had to clock in. Enter Kasia. I now have to be up at least two and a half hours before I need to arrive at my desk. Ouch. What could we be doing for two and a half hours, you ask? Here’s how a typical morning goes.

• Wake up to Kasia cooing and wiggling around.
• Savor the moment for a just a little bit.
• Feel good about the morning because I carefully prepared the night before. Lunches are packed. Clothes are set out. Shoes, coats, mittens, hats and bags are sitting by the door, ready to go. I am super mom!
• Get up.
• Change Kasia’s diaper and change her into clothes for the day.
• Sing Itsy Bitsy to her a few times so I get to see her sweet baby smiles.
• Put Kasia in her bouncy seat because she doesn’t seem hungry yet.
• Turn on the shower.
• Walk into my bedroom to get my clothes for the day.
• Hear James get out of bed.
• Turn off the shower.
• Go turn on PBS kids for James (thank you, Sid the Science kid, we love you in this house).
• Ask James if he wants breakfast.
• Confirm that James does NOT want breakfast now.
• Comfort Kasia who is starting to cry because she is starting to get hungry.
• Debate feeding Kasia before getting in shower. Decide on a quick shower.
• Turn on the shower.
• Watch as James comes in the bathroom to tell me that he is now ready for his breakfast.
• Tell him he’ll have to wait.
• Endure 4 year old whining because he is sooooooo hungry.
• Watch James grudgingly return to the living room.
• Take a quick shower while sporadically peeking out the door to see if Kasia’s whimpers have emerged into a fully blown cry.
• Get dressed.
• Pick up Kasia to feed her and realize she has pooped through her outfit (seriously, the girl poops through at least one outfit a day. Up the back of the diaper. Suggestions?? Anyone??).
• Change Kasia while she cries because now she’s really hungry.
• Nurse Kasia while James continually asks for breakfast which I have forgotten to get him prior to sitting down to nurse Kasia and which I cannot get now that I’ve starting nursing without the risk of spraying milk everywhere if Kasia de-latches (My apologies to any men who are reading this, although I’m guessing there are very few men who would even begin to read this much less make it this far into it).
• Finish nursing Kasia.
• Get James his breakfast. Explain (again) that cookies are not breakfast food. Endure 4 year old whining that cookies are not breakfast food. Feel guilty because I don’t have the time to sit and talk with him while he eats and fully explain what healthy foods are and why cookies do not meet those criteria.
• Go to the bathroom to put on make-up and dry my hair.
• Put Kasia on the floor next to the bathroom, forgetting that she now rolls over from her back onto her tummy but doesn’t actually like tummy time for more than a minute and can’t yet flip herself from her tummy to her back. Try to put on make-up while flipping her from her tummy to her back repeatedly. Give up and go get the bouncy seat from the living room.
• While in the living room, see James jumping on the couch. Ask him to stop.
• Ask James if he wants more breakfast.
• Confirm that he does NOT want more breakfast.
• Ask James to get dressed in the clothes we picked out last night.
• Return to bathroom to put Kasia in bouncy seat.
• Turn around to see James asking for more breakfast.
• Tell James he probably doesn’t need more breakfast, seeing as how he had just said he was full.
• Give into James’ tearful pleading for more breakfast because I am worried that he will be hungry at school and go get him more breakfast. Explain (again) that cookies are not breakfast food. Refuse to give into the 4 year old tears on this one.
• Return to bathroom, where Kasia is starting to fuss.
• Return to living room to get nuk for Kasia.
• Notice that James is feeding his cheerios to the cat. Ask him to stop.
• Return to bathroom and give Kasia nuk. Feel guilty that Kasia is fussing and and I am giving her a nuk rather than picking her up because I need to dry my hair.
• Dry my hair.
• Pick up Kasia and snuggle her for a bit while walking to the living room to check on James’ progress with breakfast. Try not to notice that there are more cheerios on the floor than in his mouth.
• Ask James to get dressed in the clothes I have put out. Endure 4 year old protests that I have picked out the wrong clothes, despite the fact that the clothes were okayed by the 4 year old the night before.
• Return with James to bedroom to pick out a new shirt.
• Put Kasia down on the floor.
• Realize she has spit up on my shoulder.
• Debate whether it is faster to put on a new shirt or to try to wipe away the spit up and dry the spot with a hair dryer. Decide to change my shirt.
• Ask James to pick out a new shirt and put it on.
• Pick up Kasia and go to my bedroom to change my shirt.
• Return to James’ bedroom find a shirtless James playing with his football figurines. Suppress the urge to yell as James turns to me and says in his little 4 year old voice, “hey mama, wanna see my football game?” Take a breath, realize that one minute isn’t going to make a difference to the world but will make all the difference to James, and sit down to watch him.
• Tell James that we really need to get dressed and go to 4K/daycare. Endure his sadness at not having more time to play. Feel guilty for being a working mom.
• Help James finish getting dressed.
• Put Kasia in her carseat.
• Play the “I’m going to get my shoes and coat on before you!” game with James.
• Let James win even though I’m really really fast at putting on my shoes and coat.
• Ask James to stay by the door with Kasia while I go get Kasia’s milk out of the fridge.
• Return to the door to find James gone.
• Sigh.
• Find James.
• Exit the house to find frost on my car because we haven’t yet gotten all the boxes out of the garage and into the house so that we can get the cars into the garage.
• Put the children in the car.
• Scrape the windows on the car.
• Start to back out of the driveway.
• Try to shut the garage door.
• Remember that we can’t get the garage door to shut with our garage door openers and so I have to go into the house to shut it. Make a mental note to figure out why the garage door won’t shut with the door opener.
• Go in the house, shut the garage door, exit out the front door.
• Drive to James’ 4K/daycare center.
• Get my snuggles from my little boy in the car because I know he will refuse to give them to me once anyone can see us.
• Lug Kasia and her infant seat into the 4K/daycare center with James and I.
• Help James hang up his coat, check him in, take him to his classroom, and talk briefly to his teacher, all while trying to keep Kasia out the reach of curious, germy 4 year old hands.
• Give James a High-5 to say goodbye (remember, no hugs or kisses) and leave him in his classroom. Pray that he knows just how much I love him as he navigates his little four year old world on his own all day long.
• Return to car.
• Sing “Itsy Bitsy” to Kasia as I put her in the car so I can see her baby smiles one last time before work because I know she will fall asleep on the ride to her daycare .
• Drive to Kasia’s daycare.
• Hand my sweet, sleeping little girl over to her daycare provider.
• Kiss her cheeks; take in her baby smell one last time before I leave. Feel the familiar tugs at my heart as I whisper goodbye.
• Drive to work to “begin my day.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

Review - Bundle Me

I am not a fan of winter. I’m even less a fan of winter now that it involves dressing and undressing two kids in winter clothes every time we go outside. There are few things more annoying to me as a mother than the tedious task of dressing a baby in warm winter clothes only to find that I then have to adjust the car seat straps to make the baby in the winter clothes fit in the car seat. And when it’s really cold out, the task gets even more cumbersome. Not only is it annoying to try to make car seat straps fit properly around an infant in a snowsuit, it’s nearly impossible and it’s not recommended for safety reasons. The alternative of trying to wrap baby up in warm blankets only to undress her when putting her in the car seat, only to wrap her up again to exit the car, is even worse. Luckily for me, I must not be the only mother with a hatred of straps and buckles and zippers and blankets, because someone invented Bundle Me.

The Bundle Me is my new favorite baby supply. It’s an infant car seat cover that pretty much eliminates the need to put a baby in winter clothing (sigh of relief here). It’s more than a car seat cover, though. It’s kind of like a baby sleeping bag that fits snugly into an infant car seat. The bottom part of Bundle Me is designed with a soft, warm material that lines the bottom of the car seat where baby sits. Well designed holes allow for the car seat straps and buckles to be fed through the fabric so that they continue to work effectively to keep baby safe. The top part of Bundle Me zips onto the bottom part to cover baby and keep her protected from the chilly winter weather. This top fabric is made of the same soft, comfy material and is designed so that it can be folded down below baby’s arms when she is in the car but flipped up to protect her from wind, rain, or snow when you are carrying her from the car to the store or vice versa.

Bundle Me has been a lifesaver with Kasia. When James is busy getting dressed in all his winter gear, I just put Kasia in her carseat, throw a hat on her, zip up the Bundle Me, and off we go! She often falls asleep in the car; when we get back inside from our travels, I just have to unzip the top part of the Bundle Me (it unzips all the way off) and I can let her keep sleeping away. No need to get her undressed or even take her out of the car seat. With all the trips we make in and out of the car to get James to and from places, the Bundle Me has been a life saver for us. Oh, and it’s machine washable and it washes up really well. Dirt, spit-up, you name it—it all washes out.

The bottom line: If you live in a cold climate, Bundle Me is a baby must. It’ll keep baby snug and warm and will keep mom from going crazy with winter gear struggles. Once you have a Bundle Me, you’ll never believe you did winter without it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top Ten Baby Essentials

There’s a plethora of baby gear out there these days. Beyond the basics of clothes, diapers, and food, what does a baby really need? Here are the top 10 baby supplies that help Kasia and I get through the day.

1. Soothie brand nuks. Also known as the magic nuk in our house, this pacifier is just like the one they hand out in hospitals. It’s the only one that Kasia will take and I never leave home without it.

2. Car seat cover. There is nothing more annoying than having to put a baby in and out of winter clothes and then having to adjust and readjust the straps on the infant car seat to make them fit snuggly depending on what baby is wearing. A car seat cover takes the place of warm winter clothes and is a life saver when I am going in and out of the car multiple times throughout the day.

3. A good swaddling blanket. Especially in the first 6 weeks, Kasia LOVED to be swaddled. When nothing else calmed her, swaddling did the trick. You could just see the calm come over her face when she was snuggled up tight in a blanket. A good swaddling blanket is big (but not too big) and light-weight so baby doesn’t get to warm. Find a good one and you’ll never believe you survived without it.

4. Sleep sacks. To keep baby safe from SIDS, the AAP recommends not keeping blankets, pillows, comforters or quilts in the baby’s crib. Short of cranking up the heat in the house, what’s a mom to do? Invest in a few sleep sacks to keep baby warm throughout the night. Not only do they keep baby warm, but they allow for quick and easy middle of the night diaper changes.

5. A really good infant carrier. Great for fussy babies; just plop them in and do some housework or go for a walk. Good for both mom and baby! For James, we used the Ultimate Baby Wrap. It’s a bit complicated to put on but is so very comfortable. Kasia prefers a generic baby carrier that has straps and buckles. Whatever the flavor, a carrier is a must.

6. A boppy pillow. With all the baby feeding that goes on in the early months, your arms are bound to get sore. Enter the beautifully designed boppy pillow which lets you and baby relax and bond while she eats. Kasia and I use ours every day.

7. One-piece sleep-and-play outfits. Oh-so-cute dresses, shirts and pants are wonderful for special occasions. But most days, there is nothing like the ease of soft, comfy one piece sleep-and-play outfits for Kasia to hang out in. She even looks more relaxed when I put her in these. No messing with socks or buttons required.

8. A baby swing. Okay, not all babies need a swing. James didn’t. But Kasia sure does. Our swing is a lifesaver when my aching back and arms need a break but she doesn’t want to stop moving. It’s also wonderful when I really need to get something done. In fact, she’s napping in it right now so I can finish writing this!

9. Baby links. Kasia loves to hold, bat at, and mouth hers. Links are great first toys because they are so easily portable, are a breeze to clean (just throw them in the dishwasher), and can be attached to a car seat so they aren’t lost when you are out and about.

10. A baby gym with a mirror. Kasia loves to lay in hers, bat at the hanging objects, and coo to herself in the mirror. She’ll entertain herself for up to 30 minutes at a time in her little baby gym. Mommy bliss.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

All Mixed Up

It seems to me that growing older is a study in mixed emotions. Even more so when you are a mom. As if to prove this point, these past few weeks have been jam packed with nothing but mixed emotions for me.

First, as I mentioned in my previous post, we recently moved. Despite my excitement about moving into our new house, it was a bittersweet experience to leave behind the home where we became a family. As I packed up, I kept coming across symbols of all that we had gained, and lost, during the seven years that we lived in that home. I found the LiveStrong bracelets from when my mom was sick. The piles of cards sent by friends to help us see the love that remained when she died. The bills from medical treatments we endured as we tried to become a family. The paperwork that contained the very first picture we ever saw of our beautiful baby boy, half a world away. The three positive pregnancy tests which announced that our baby girl was about to come into our lives. Seven years seems like such a short time and yet the young couple who moved into that home would barely recognize the family that left it. So many memories built in one little house.

As soon as we moved into our new home, Kasia began meeting some developmental milestones. Most recently, she began rolling over (go, Kasia, go!). We all cheered her on as she twisted and contorted her little body until she got it to finally flip over. I am amazed that I am just as thrilled to watch Kasia learn new skills as I was to watch James do the same. I thought perhaps it would be different with the second child (been there, done that), but it’s not. Every new milestone fills me with joy. But with each one, I am also startlingly aware of how quickly time is passing us by. I’m already starting to lose my tiny newborn baby girl. So I hold her a little more tightly because I know it will be gone all too soon.

James has also hit a new “milestone,” this fall. At almost 5 years old, he’ll no longer kiss or hug me goodbye in front of his friends (I’ve learned to get my snuggles in the car before we go into 4K) and he has even cried when I’ve come to pick him up because he wants to stay and play with his friends. I am, of course, delighted that he loves his school and his friends. He’s figuring out who he is and is beginning the slow process of separation from me. It’s his job to do, and it’s mine to let him do it. But oh how I miss the days when I was his whole world and he ran to me with open arms and a huge smile after a long day apart.

I’m also back to work three days a week, and Kasia is doing so well at her new daycare. I really like my job and I am truly a better mom when I work. I take great pleasure in being able to help the children and families that I serve as a speech therapist and I love to immerse myself in the work that I do. And as strange as it sounds, I sometimes need time away from my children to help me recognize how much I enjoy being with them. So I am glad I’ve returned to work. And yet my heart breaks just a little each time I have to kiss Kasia’s sweet baby cheeks good-bye. I still feel like she is an extension of me and every minute away from her seems a little bit wrong.

And, of course, the holidays are upon us once again. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my dad and my step-family, among others. It was a wonderful weekend; we ate and played and talked. After 5 years of my mom being gone, I finally feel like I can enjoy this new normal with this new family. I love our step-family and am eager to continue to explore and establish these relationships. Nonetheless, there will always be a small part of me that desperately wishes for my mom to suddenly walk down the stairs of my childhood home, envelop me in a hug, and sit down to play with the grandchildren that she’s never met.

So many feelings, so little time. Somehow it seems like it should all be clear cut, with each moment only containing pure joy or sorrow. Motherhood should be either easy or hard; either happy or sad. Instead, it’s full of bittersweets and grey areas. But I guess that’s what makes it the grand adventure that it is. :)