Friday, December 30, 2011

Chloe, Three Months

We're officially not in Newborn Hell anymore, hooray!!! Three months marks the transition to Baby/Infant/Small Person With Good Head Control. We're all VERY pleased to be here.

At three months, Chloe is pretty much the most smiley baby I have ever seen. She wakes up smiling, she goes to bed smiling, she even smiles while she poops. The smiles are the only reason I don't lose my mind when she wakes me up three times a night. Who can be mad at this face? WHO? 

Chloe's newest tricks include batting at toys, grabbing fistfuls of my hair, sucking on my cheek when she's hungry, and our very favorite...rolling from tummy to back! Rolling was today's accomplishment and there was much to do about it. Big brother even made up a little celebration dance to cheer her on which might have been the sweetest thing ever. Speaking of, this relationship between brother and baby sister is blossoming each day and I love it so much.

Chloe is still waking up at night far too often for my liking...most nights she's up at least 3 times between 8pm and 6:30am. I'm grateful that the wake ups are short and only to nurse and then she's right back down and asleep before her head touches the mattress. We're working on self-soothing and she seems to be making good progress. I'm hoping she'll naturally drop some of those wake ups and I don't have to start letting her cry but we'll wait and see. I just know I need more sleep otherwise my boss is going to wonder if my brain really did leak out my ears.

Another big transition this month was my going back to work and Chloe starting at her new sitter's home daycare. It's been so smooth of a transition for Chloe that you would think she's been there since day one whereas I spend approximately 7.95 of my 8 hours away hours thinking about her. But we've already been over that and it will get better, so help me god. It's a good thing we all adore her sitter and are really happy that we found her.

I'm so happy we're at three months because the hardest part really is almost over. I can't wait for these next few months when she starts to open up and become interested in her big new world. I know she'll do it all with a big smile on her face.

Monday, December 19, 2011

So that happened

I went back to work today.

Ugh. I don't even know where to start. I got up at a ridiculously early hour to make sure I had enough time and yet I was still late to work. I cried in the car on my way to drop off Chloe at her sitter's house. I cried when I walked out, leaving her in very capable hands, but leaving her nonetheless. I cried while pumping. Twice. I cried tonight thinking about how I have to do it all again tomorrow and the next day and the day after.

The problem here is me and I know Future Me will read this someday and wish she could reach back in time and smack some sense into me. Here is why I know it's all my issue: Chloe's sitter is wonderful and is already loving my girl hard. Everyone at work gave me a wide berth and no one demanded anything of me today. Noah had a crap day at preschool but his teachers didn't press the issue. I'm the delicate flower wilting from the anxiety and stress. I worry about the kids (more so Chloe because she's wee and new and utterly defenseless) even though I know they're fine. I worry about the commute and how to make it as fast as possible so I can get the kids home at a decent time. I worry about how we're going to structure drop offs and pick ups with two kids at two different places and make sure neither is the last kid left waiting(don't ask...this is my own personal, totally unfounded, issue). I worry about pumping and keeping my supply up and how best to store the milk at work. I worry about how dinner is going to get made when I have a loud, demanding three year old and a loud, demanding three month old all wanting something at the same time.

I'm tired just writing that all out. I'm sorry, Future Me. I know it will all be just fine and these things will work themselves out in time and I need to quit the complaining. In the meantime, do you have any advice on how to streamline life with kids while working? One kid was a cake walk compared to this circus.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Our Holiday Traditions for the Young and Old

Like many families with young kids, we're in the process of developing our own holiday traditions, apart from and including the ones we both grew up with. Christmas, for me, has always been a really special and magical time of year and I LOVE the day after Thanksgiving when houses begin to sparkle with lights and trees appear in the front window. I also love the day after New Years' when I'm so tired of Christmas and ready to chuck the tree out the back door. But the 30 or so days in between are my very favorite.

I hope to pass on this love for the holiday season to Noah and Chloe and convince my husband that his "grinch-y" attitude WILL rub off on them eventually. I think he's starting to come around. I've incorporated some of the traditions I grew up with into our family and have begun some new ones this year that I hope stick around.

1. Our version of Elf on the Shelf. On December 1st, Santa's elf makes his inaugural appearance and so begins the daily morning search for our favorite little elf. Our elf watches out for good and bad behavior so he can report back to Santa each evening...last year, I found that behavior improved immensely during the month of December. The elf is a win-win! (I did suck at moving him around each night after Noah was in bed so I'll have to get better at it. Noah's much smarter this year.)

2. The tree and decorations come out the first weekend in December (so that would be...this weekend! Hooray!). I grew up with a real tree and my parents still buy one for us to enjoy on Christmas Day (RIGHT, MOM? Don't let me down!) but Tim's family did the fake tree and we're now the proud owners of a plastic pre-lit tree. Don't get me wrong, the fake tree is EASY and looks beautiful but I do miss picking out the perfect tree, bringing it home, letting it "rest" on the porch before placing it in its spot of honor in front of the window. Now that I typed all that out I think we'll be getting a real tree next year. I want those memories for our kids because the tree is the pinnacle of Christmas for me. However, this year, what with the new baby and going back to work on the 19th (ARRRRRRGGGHHHHHHHHH, BLLLLLEEEERRRRGGGHHHHH) I don't think I have the capacity to deal with a real tree. Fake it is.

3. Buy this year's ornaments for the tree. I've been buying an ornament for Noah each year that reflects his current interests. I think this year's will be a soccer ball since he's started soccer class recently. I also bought Chloe a blown glass owl ornament and the requisite Baby's First Christmas ornament. I plan to pass these all on to them when they have their first Christmas in their first home.

4. Buy one new holiday/Christmas children's book to add to our growing collection. We'll read one each night before much do you want to bet the highlight this year will be Merry Christmas, Curious George?

5. Put up the Advent calendar. I would usually begin an Advent calendar on the 1st but I did not get my act in gear this year to pick one out or make one. I'm putting this on my to-do list for right after Christmas so it'll be ready to go for next year. I'm thinking small envelopes or pouches hung on the tree with a piece of candy, holiday activity or tiny gift inside. Or perhaps I will convince my mother to hand over her calendar from when we were little...for the kids, of course.

5. Cinnamon, cloves and an orange peel simmering on the stove. This reminds me of my house during the holidays when we were small. Love it.

6. Have Noah check the mail each day for new holiday cards. I'll have them hanging from lengths of ribbon in the living room so he can look at them every day and see our friends and family.

7. On the 23rd we'll do our Annual Spot The Awesome Christmas Lights Drive around the neighborhood.

8. Christmas Eve will be spent with Tim's family and then a short road trip to my grandmother's. Since Christmas Eve is a busy day, our evening will be pretty mellow. We'll have the Noah set out cookies/milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. We'll have them open one small gift from us (because the rest of the gifts are from SANTA and SANTA doesn't come until after bedtime...and a glass or two of wine) and then head to bed in their new Christmas jammies.

9. Christmas morning we'll wake them up and head downstairs for stockings and presents and merriment of all kinds. I think I'm going to make homemade cinnamon rolls our traditional Christmas morning breakfast. Growing up we always had a baked apple pancake and since we'll see my parents later that day my guess is my dad will have made one that morning. I won't steal his recipe until they no longer want to host Christmas Day then it's all mine (you hear that Sister and Brother...hands off!).

10. Christmas Day includes a visit with my family and mimosas and a big dinner and more presents. We'll end the day with full bellies and warm hearts and pie. I hope there is pie.

I was worried we didn't have any "traditions" started but seeing this all in writing comforts me. We HAVE started our traditions and they've created a pretty good base to build on. What's your favorite holiday tradition with your family?








Monday, November 28, 2011

Chloe, Two Months

Oh this girl of mine. She's everything that I had hoped for and more.

At two months, Chloe weighs 11 lbs, 9 oz and is 22.5 inches long. She's working really hard on the continued fattening of her chubby thighs and maintaining her deliciously smooch-able cheeks. I don't know about you but hammy baby thighs are kind of the best thing ever. Chloe loves to smile and show off the dimple in her left cheek...her entire face lights up when she sees her big brother. There is nothing like seeing a relationship start to grow between Noah and Chloe. Noah is already so protective of her and takes his role as her caretaker very seriously. He's in charge of keeping her blanket on her when she's in the swing and letting me know if she's spitting up. I love to hear his little feet come running to let me know his baby needs something. 

Chloe is slowly getting the hang of nighttime sleep. We're starting to see a longer stretch develop at night which means I'm getting a little more sleep. She's also getting better about going back to sleep after she wakes to nurse. It's a delicate game we all play and I am now wise enough to know that she'll switch it up on us tomorrow. I'm grateful she sleeps well during the day whether we're home or on the go...something her brother never did. He was a firm crib napper from day one and that really limited what I could do and where I could go. Not true of Chloe...she's game to nap for hours in her car seat. 

I don't know if this is true for every family but Chloe seems to be turning into the classic mellow second child. She rarely gets herself worked into a frenzy and even when she is up in the middle of the night she's never fussy. She's content to hang out in her swing or the bouncy seat while I'm otherwise occupied which makes getting things done a little easier. Toss a rattle or little toy her way and she's happy to bat at it over and over.

I'm looking forward to these next few months as she learns so many new skills and continues growing, all the while wishing she would stay small forever. In the meantime, I'll be over here munching on her hammy thighs.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful, oh yes I am

These two light up my life and make me thankful in so many ways.

All images by Katie Basil

Happy, sad, loud or quiet, my babies are my everything. Enjoy your holiday my friends. Be thankful for what you have today.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Great Toy Purge of 2011

Yesterday, after a very enlightening Twitter conversation with her and her, I embarked on the Great Toy Purge of 2011. My motivations were twofold: 1) Christmas is coming and we need some space in the playroom before it gets REALLY out of control and 2) I need to start teaching Noah some life lessons like the fact that not every child in this world has a ROOM full of toys. Both ladies employed the "pick out a few toys and we'll donate them to a less fortunate child" method of toy removal with excellent results. Both of their little guys got into it and really grasped the idea of giving toys to another little one who may not have as many wonderful things as they do. I was impressed and very motivated.

So I rounded Noah up and sat him down to explain what we were going to do. I was EXCITED! and used a POSITIVE VOICE! and kept mentioning how HELPFUL and GOOD this plan was! He bought in and we headed to the playroom. I asked him to pick out two toys and let him take his time deciding which ones he could part with. I encouraged him but didn't interfere with his decision process. Ten minutes later he had picked out the toys:

A blow up ball from a birthday party favor bag and one piece to a baby shape sorter. Sigh. I think we have some work to do.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Forty looks good on him

Six years ago I met a very special man who swept me off my feet and easily convinced me to spend the rest of our lives together. Today that guy turns 40 and I couldn't imagine anyone more deserving of a wonderful birthday than my husband. He's the best thing that has ever happened to me and I am so very thankful for him. Thank you, Tim, for loving me and our family and for giving me the greatest gifts of all. Happy 40th my wear it well.

All images courtesy of our talented friend and photographer, Katie Basil. 
Email me at belleplaineliving at gmail dot com if you're in the 
Chicago area and looking for a fabulous photographer!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chloe, One Month

My girl turned one month old a week and a half ago. Hold me.

At One Month, Chloe is sleepy during the day, nursing all night, and starting to share social smiles with us. The smiles are what keeps this mama going at 3 am. That and the swing...the girl loves her some swinging. Although Chloe is about as fussy (read: spit-y and grunt-y and gassy) as Noah was at this age, she's also MUCH easier to be out and about with. She naps on the go and at home with ease whereas her brother was always rather pissed about being in his carseat or stroller. Chloe adores her big brother and cranes her neck looking for him if she hears his voice. So far the sentiment seems to be reciprocal. Noah is so gentle with her and loves to pat her softly on her head when she starts to get fussy.

Chloe is classic newborn with her CRAZY sleep patterns and lack of any structured bedtime. I know I have a ways to go before I can expect any kind of consistent bedtime...I think this has been the hardest thing for me to adjust to. I had become so used to having the evenings to myself that I had forgotten that a newborn doesn't know 8pm from 8am. So we spend a couple hours every night attempting to create a soothing sleep environment...and then give up and turn on the tv. We'll get there eventually.

At One Month, my girl loves to snuggle and nuzzle her head under my chin. She adores being held and I am more than happy to oblige. I love this girl with all that I have...I really couldn't ask for anything more.

Behold the many faces of Chloe Elizabeth, affectionately nicknamed Spitty McGrunts:

Imma gonna get you...and your boobies.

What you just said was HILARIOUS...I think.

I'm mildly concerned with the situation at hand.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween 2011

Once upon a time there was a witch, her little black cat and an...astronaut?

The young astronaut acquired a full bag of candy loot and one spectacular light up toothbrush from a very wise old neighbor. Much fun was had until it was dark and he decided things were getting a little too spooky for his taste. Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Right now

...the baby is finally sleeping in the swing after a 4am wake up.
...Noah is stirring in his bed, stretching and yawning.
...the husband is in bed contemplating a shower and the busy week ahead.
...I'm in the kitchen, nursing the one cup of coffee I allow myself everyday, my cozy winter robe wrapped tightly around me, packing Noah's bag for school and getting his breakfast together.

This morning I really felt like a mom. It's up to me to make sure these babies are well-rested, well-fed, and well-loved. Noah will open his school bag today and there will be his Halloween costume all ready for their parade and party this afternoon. Chloe will soon wake up for her morning feeding and we'll sit on the couch together, snuggling and nursing while the boys get ready for school and work. I'm pretty proud of this role I get to play and am feeling rather grateful for all that I have.

What are you feeling grateful for today?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Very early observations on parenting two children

This two kid thing is no joke. I applaud each and every one of you who has two (or more) kids because you seriously kick some parenting ass. Before Chloe was born, I mistakenly believed that her newborn days would mirror Noah's--lazy days lounging around, catching up on housework, getting my hair cut while she slept in her infant seat, wandering around Target, etc. There are two variables I did not consider and because you all are smarter and wiser than I you can probably guess what they are.

Variable 1: A baby who won't sleep unless she's held. Noah was not like this. I was UNPREPARED.


On Variable 1, the girl demands snuggling all day and night. She's warm and cute so I comply but there are times when I have to attend to things that require both arms. Things like going to the bathroom, showering (side note: if you know me at all, you know I am a must shower everyday kind of girl...add in spit up constantly in my cleavage and I can barely stand myself if I don't get a shower in the morning), eating anything that requires a fork and knife, and, oh, sleeping myself. See, I won't co-sleep. I do not judge at all if that works/ed for you but I am TERRIFIED of rolling over on the baby and Tim is such a deep sleeper that he wouldn't notice if he did. She does sleep in a bassinet next to the bed so she's very close but apparently the sound of our collective snoring is not enough to console her at night. I spend an inordinate amount of time holding her sleeping on my chest while propping my eyelids open with toothpicks. This is why the iPad was a brilliant birthday gift...I read YOUR blogs in the middle of the night. Keep the content coming...I NEED it.

She doesn't do naps during the day either unless being held. Case in point, between that last paragraph and now she gave up on the swing, refused a pacifier, squawked at the vibrating bouncy chair, refused to be held upright or cradled so I broke out the Sleepy Wrap and forced her into submission and therefore a nap. A nap that will last only until I unwrap her and try to put her down. At that point all bets are off. (Side note #2: if you have a newborn on the way, get a Sleepy Wrap. It was recommended to me by numerous friends and has proved itself invaluable day and night. I love mine, LOVE.)

See, I KNEW this could be the type of baby I got but I wasn't PREPARED for it. There isn't anything I can do but hold her and sleep her as I can and wait patiently for the magical 12 weeks when we can Dr. Weissbluth her little tush. Why yes, I am a hard-ass parent when it comes to sleep. Girlfriend is going to get on a sleep schedule as soon as developmentally appropriate. It worked for Noah so I have my fingers crossed it will work for Chloe. Of course, different baby might mean a different approach but damn if I won't give it all I've got.

On Variable 2, O.M.G. How did I not take into account that the FIRST child would continue to require his high level of care and attention??? Am I the biggest idiot in the world? Possibly. I blame the pregnancy hormones for blocking that concept entirely. Noah is still here and needs to be fed, bathed, attended to, played with, dropped off and picked up at school (only TWO days a week...I wish we could afford more, for his sake and mine), etc. All this while taking care of a newborn who, as explained, loves being held and nurses constantly. This is a learning process...learning how to balance the needs of a three year old with the needs of a newborn. Someone is always going to be waiting for something and probably crying because of it. This mom and dad need to just GET OVER THAT ALREADY and accept it as reality.

(Random tangent: Did you know there is a rap version of Itsy Bitsy Spider? Why yes there is and we have discovered it thanks to Pandora's toddler radio station...Basho Mosko sings "Itsy Bitsy Spider, WORD". Word.)

Anyhow, this gig is tough. Please don't misconstrue this as complaining because I am delighted to have two kids whom I love and adore and are seriously cute. If you have any advice to share, please feel free. Alternatively, if you would like to commiserate, feel free to do that too. And if you are Erica, I bet this just solidified your decision to stick with one kid :) And now I am going to post this without editing it and SORRY for that but she's screaming, he wants lunch and I have to pee. BADLY.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chloe, Week Three

The girl, she grunts. All night long. During naps. While she eats. Staring at the mobile above her swing. Grunt, grunt, grimace. I've stopped being concerned and checking on her each time she makes a noise because odds are she's still sleeping/eating/staring. I call her my Piglet McSnufflepuss.

At Chloe's two week appointment, um, ah, last week, she weighed in at 8lbs 10oz, measured 20.5 inches, and a head circumference...crap, I forgot to write that down. Regardless, she's solidly in the 50th percentile across the board and I anticipate a sharp drop to 10-25th percentile at the 8 week appointment. I might birth them big, but they don't stay big. That's only if she takes after her brother who has never strayed above the 25th percentile mark a day in his life. We'll see what happens.

In summary:

Sleeping at night? Sort of. Sometimes. Last night, better. The night before, no. I have determined that the effects of sleep deprivation are felt most acutely about three weeks in aka RIGHT NOW.

Feeding? Breastfeeding is going just fine, thank you. I still hate the pump with every ounce of my being. Girlfriend dislikes tomatoes, garlic, beans and Chipotle. We're in discussion about that last one.

Activity? Other than staring at the ceiling/me/her brother, nothing much to report. Oh, she hates tummy time. SHOCKER.

Places visited? Target (many, many times), Costco, JoAnn Fabrics, doctor, zoo, Mema's house, neighbor's roof deck (where I had my first glass of wine and holy hell was that delicious), great-grandma's house.

All in all, Chloe is pretty fantastic and really damn cute.

A gassy smile that was followed by the world's loudest fart from a newborn.

He asked to hold her and my heart burst into a million pieces of HAPPY.

This is the classic Chloe Looks Concerned face and 
Noah just finished saying "I'm done, take the baby."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chloe, Week Two

We're finally getting settled into our new routine and I must say that it's going REALLY well. Of course, now that I put that out there the sky will fall and no one will nap ever again. I currently have two children napping AT THE SAME TIME, all the laundry done and dinner in the fridge (ok, FINE, leftovers from a casserole dropped off by a friend, potato potahto). I am so rocking this two-kid thing...until tomorrow.

Chloe is classic newborn...she sleeps most of the day and parties at night. The difference this time is that I know it ends. When Noah did this I thought my eyes were going to fall out of my head and I would never sleep again. I now know that I haven't really slept in three years so what's a few more all-nighters? My daughter (!!!) is scrumptious and beautiful and the most lovely addition to our family. We feel complete and I didn't even know we weren't until she arrived. We're really, really lucky.

Why yes, I DO nibble those cheeks all day (and night). Wouldn't you?

Friday, September 23, 2011


Our best girl, Chloe Elizabeth, arrived today at 4:02 pm, weighing 8 lbs, 3oz, and 19.75 in long. She's practically perfect in every way. We're madly in love.

More to come when we're settled back at home.

Monday, September 12, 2011

When raising a little boy... must be prepared for the turn that every conversation will eventually take: to poop. And all it's associated bodily functions.

Example the first:

Noah: Knock knock!
Me: Who's there?
Noah: POOOOOOOP!!!  (falls on the floor laughing)
Me: ...

Example the second:
(While watching Little Einsteins and becoming musical geniuses)

Noah: Mommy! The French Horn sounds like my toots!!! (again, falls on the floor laughing)
Me: ...

Example the third:
(Lesson courtesy of his father)

Noah: If I get eaten by a crocodile, then I become crocodile poop!
Me: Well, I suppose so. I hope you don't get eaten by a crocodile though!
Noah: I want to be crocodile POOP! (falls on the floor laughing, of course)
Me: Of course you do.
Noah: If I get eaten by a robot, then I become robot poop! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Me: Go discuss this with your father.

Example the fourth:

Noah: Mommy, you have beautiful eyes...and you smell like my toots!
Me: Thank you?

It's rare a day goes by where one of these conversations doesn't take place in our house. If you have a little boy-type baby, consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Without going into much detail, I walked into work this morning after a long weekend and found out one of my bosses passed away suddenly late last week while at a conference in Lake Tahoe for work. To say I am at a loss for words is an understatement. This man is the reason I work here; he interviewed me one early spring morning in 2004, found out we were fellow Illini and I was in. He liked to sing me his old fraternity songs and always had a hug for me when he was in the office. We traveled a lot together before I had Noah and we always had such fun on the road. He was at my wedding and danced with me in my big white dress and he in is dark, dapper suit. He was a good man, a very good man, and I will be forever thankful that I knew him. I'm just so sad baby girl won't have that chance...he was so damn excited to meet her.


Thank you for all of your solid advice on the potty training. I sat Tim down and explained to him that the Ones Who Have Gone Before Us aka You recommend we back off the kid and try again in a little while. Noah is clearly attempting to exert control over the situation and the building frustration on both sides isn't getting us anywhere. Amazingly, he did great most of the weekend with gentle reminders from us and no negative reactions to accidents (of which there were few). We'll keep reminding him but I'm not going to go hard core until the baby is here and we get used to the new normal. You people are so smart (and pretty!).


Speaking of baby, she's making progress. 2 cm and 50% effaced for those of you who a) know about these things and b) like to be fully informed. Tim is convinced she'll be early, I hope she'll be a little early, and my mother is banking on her not coming early because she'll be out of town end of this week and the beginning of next. All I know is I'm not sleeping, the BH contractions have kicked into high gear, and I feel like crap.


I forgot how much the last weeks of pregnancy kind of suck your will to live. I just keep telling myself that it's much easier with her IN than it will be with her OUT. Even if she will be all cute and snuggly and smelling like delicious baby. NOM NOM NOM.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Potty training... not going well. At all. I need your help. Noah seems to be regressing as in we were so sure he was ready for underpants, he had really gotten excited about using the potty, and he was letting us know when he had to go. Now, however, he's begun to wet his Pull-Ups all day at school, tells his teachers he's wet and he doesn't care, and yesterday afternoon he had THREE #2 accidents within an hour. One of them was in just shorts so I bet you can tell how that one ended up. Thank god for anti-bacterial spray and hardwood floors.

We have tried m&ms as rewards for each successful potty trip. We have tried bigger rewards for staying dry and using the potty over longer periods of time i.e. days. We have tried offering special outings as incentive to stay dry/use the potty and HE DOESN'T CARE. We have tried taking away bedtime books for days when he's wet or refuses to use the potty at school. We have tried taking away toys, outings, anything that seems "special" to him. He doesn't care. And when I say he doesn't care, I mean he tells me he doesn't care and is completely unfazed. It seems like rewards for GOOD behavior don't work and neither does punishment for BAD behavior.

We have tried explaining that "when you're a big boy who goes on the potty and not in your pants, you get to do special big boy things like go to the bounce house place/go to the fire station and sit in the fire truck/go to the pool/etc." and he nods in agreement and says that he'll be a big boy and go on the potty. And then...nothing. Wet all day. Most of his friends at school are potty trained and even the peer influence doesn't seem to be working.

I thought maybe it's that he's at school all day and they can't be on him like I can when we're home. But we've tried the "stay in for the weekend, run around without pants on, potty victory" party and it doesn't stick once he's back at school. Very rarely will he tell us he needs to go potty and will just his shorts, in his underpants, in his Pull-Ups, in his diaper. It doesn't seem to matter if he has something absorbent on or not.

I'm sorry this is rambling and slightly incoherent...I just don't know what else to do. What worked for you? Charts? More incentives? Taking away toys/books/trips? Do you think he's just not really ready and we need to back off for a couple weeks? Should we just back off and wait until after baby is here and things have settled down? Maybe try again when I'm home on maternity leave and we can focus on it some more?

Sigh. We've been at this for nearing five months and I am reaching my capacity to deal with it. This kid is smart, I'm pretty sure he gets the drill, he just won't DO IT. Any advice?

(P.S. Tim told someone the other day that I was a "mommyblogger" and my feathers got all ruffled and I was like "I write about more than our kid!" and then I realized that no....I don't. I have to accept the fact that I am a mommyblogger who writes about potty training. It's a thrilling ride over here, is it not?)

Monday, August 29, 2011

32 days, ice cream cones, and snip snip

I had a bit of a nervous breakdown this morning when I realized we are 32 days/4 weeks/ONE MONTH from having this baby. Oh dear. In Sara time, that's like TOMORROW. I apologize if every post for the next month is composed of "!!!!!!!" and "?????" and "Where is the ice cream?"

Speaking of ice cream, I am very much in love with the Nestle Drumsticks with the Caramel Center. Why don't they ALL have caramel centers? Whereas Noah was made up of gooey cinnamon rolls and apple pancakes, this baby will be composed of vanilla/caramel/chocolate ice cream cones dipped in peanuts and Chipotle chicken tacos (extra sour cream).

We spent the weekend steam rolling ahead on our "Pre-Baby To Do List". The nursery is allllllmoooosssst done which delights me to no end. I can't wait to share pictures with you's my happy place right now and I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting in the rocking chair looking around. I also patted myself on the back when Tim located the bin with the "baby accessories" i.e. the infant head support, bundle me blanket, swaddlers, nursing cover, etc. The back pat wasn't because he found it but because I was actually smart enough to box it all up TOGETHER. I believe that was in my pre-work out of the house days when my brain was slightly more functional and I had my act together. I totally deserved the back pat and self-congratulations.

And in the vein of oversharing (because it is what I do), it looks like Baby Girl Smith is going to be the last coming out of this factory. Mr. Smith has decided to shut down operations permanently following her birth. This is obviously a personal decision we made together (he slightly more FIRM on the matter than I, his beloved bride ten years his junior) but a small part of me is sad that the possibility of one more is off the table. I know he's right though: two kids is his limit. Two kids feels right for us. And last time I checked having another baby when one spouse wants one and the other does not is not exactly good for the marriage. All I know is that he better wait until I have fully recovered from birthing this baby because I WILL NOT listen to him complain about the "pain" or being "uncomfortable". I might toss a bag of frozen peas his way and tell him to buck up.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

35 Weeks

There are no words for the state of this belly. Seriously. No words.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Things I miss...

About staying home:
-the moment when you put your child down for a nap and close the door.
-the way I would sit on the deck during those naps, laptop in place, taking a little "me" time in the middle of the day.
-the way the sunshine streams through my bedroom window at 2 pm.
-the way the house was always so neat and clean and my closets were in some semblance of order.
-Target on Tuesdays at 10 am...aka the time of day when it's all moms, all the time, and the shelves are actually stocked.

About not being pregnant:
-my waist.
-the ability to buy new clothes that don't make me look like a beached whale.
-cute shoes with a heel higher than 1/2 inch.
-visiting the bathroom a few times a day and not a few times an hour.
-not having my internal organs used as punching bags.

About being 25:
-wrinkle-free skin around my eyes and no spots (what is with all the spots???).
-planning my wedding...that was so much fun and I secretly look at our wedding album on a regular basis.
-feeling earnest at work and thinking I had the world at my feet.
-Happy Hour.

It's ok to miss things as life changes. Anything you miss in yours?

P.S. Stop on by Style Lush today and check out how I got my craft on over the weekend...and a sneak peek into our baby girl's nursery!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A love letter to my first born, as he turns 3

Dear Noah, my sweet son:

For three years it has been just us, the three of us, growing, learning, and laughing our way through life. Ever since your beautiful birth I have been enamored with you. I have memorized the curve of your cheek, the deep blue of your eyes, the dimple in your chin, the way you fit snuggled into the crook of my arm no matter how big you grow. We're two pieces of a puzzle that always fit together, a mama and her little boy.

I drink you up on a daily basis and wish for more after you are tucked safely into bed each evening. I delight in all the new things you learn, the songs we sing, the silly games we create together that instantly turn a bad day into one that sparkles. I love hearing your voice call for me in the morning and the delight in your eyes when we meet at the end of a day apart. I love how you love me: deeply and without reservation, a mirror of the love I put out there to you.

You are so very special. You are not perfect and you never will be. You should never try to be. You should always be you...the you that you are becoming. You are funny and have perfect comedic timing. You are stubborn and emotional. You are so very smart and easily bored. You live for each moment and yet appreciate predictability. You are sweet with your kisses and fierce with your hugs. Each and every trait that makes you YOU makes me love you even more. I am so proud to be your mother.

I am humbled that I have been given the gift of raising you with all of the accompanying errors and accomplishments. There are days that I fret I am making too many mistakes, irrevocable mistakes, but then I see you sweetly share your sand toys with a little girl at the playground or apologize without prompting when you hurt a friend's feelings. It's those moments when I know I am doing something right.

As we get closer to your sister's birth, I want you to know that you will always be my baby boy. But just as our family will be transforming so will you. You will become a big brother and learn a whole new level of love and responsibility. I hope you come to love and adore your baby sister and I will do my very best to help you both foster a special relationship. You will always have each other and please don't forget that.

I will always be on your team, loudly screaming it from the rooftops or silently murmuring it from the sidelines. I will always protect you. I will always be the first to show up for you and the last to leave. I will always provide for you until you can provide for yourself and even then I will give you everything I can offer. I will never stop loving you. Ever.

Thank you for coming into my life and making me a mother. Thank you for making us a family. Thank you for being you.

I love you to the moon and beyond. 


(Yes, yes, this is a month late. Better late than never though, amiright?)

Monday, August 15, 2011

It all started with a bad salad

Want to know what can bring on sudden contractions at 33 weeks?

a) Food poisoning and subsequent dehydration;

followed by,

b) Getting into an accident with your car and a (most likely) drunk bicyclist in a downpour with your three year old in the backseat and yappy dog riding shotgun.

We've all recovered and baby is staying put but, let me tell you, there is NOTHING like major stress in two days when your husband is out of town to make the ol' uterus start acting up. The police officer looked rather concerned that I was going to have this baby in the middle of the street after the accident. To be honest, I thought there was a slight possibility that I would. Luckily, when the nerves calmed down, so did the baby and all was well.

Tim is never, EVER, going out of town again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tricky is right

Noah walks into his classroom last Friday morning, takes one look at his little buddy M, and declares to his teacher:

"Miss E, that M...he's one tricky fellow."

And then walks off to play.

I mean, where does he come up with this stuff? Last night he told me he was going to play in the sand on Mars. I asked him what color the sand was and he promptly replied "The sand on Mars is red!" and I fell out of my chair in disbelief. My genius son! How smart! It was only later that I found out from Tim that he learned that courtesy of a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode about space travel. Thank you, Disney.


The ladies in my family threw me a baby girl shower over the weekend and it was just lovely. There was fabulous company and food, I got to spend time with cousins who don't live nearly close enough, and of course there were the gifts. Oodles of pink and girly-type items have made their way into my home and I am tickled about it.

This baby girl is going to be decked out in all manner of feminine finery. Thank you, ladies!


Speaking of Baby Girl, she has a name! I think. What I mean is Tim and I have come to a compromise on her name and we've tentatively shared it with some people to get a reaction. So far, so good. I still don't know exactly why this baby naming thing has been so tough for me (us). Although the name we've chosen wasn't at the top of my list, and to be completely honest, not on my list at all until Tim and my mother brought it up, it's one that we both like well enough and don't have any previous associations with (totally my issues). It's relatively well-known and recognizable, in the Top 15 (ugh, but whatever, so is Noah...we're not going to win any awards for originality), classic and timeless enough to satisfy me, and works with our last name. On paper, this name meets all my criteria which is how it got moved to the tippy top of the list.

I still plan to come to the hospital with a back-up just in case she comes out and I'm like "OH NO, SHE IS SO NOT A _______________." At that point I will have just given birth so I get all veto power. Obviously.


I have had heart attack after heart attack talking to daycares lately about tuition rates and availability for an infant spot come January.

Problem A: Putting Baby Girl in daycare and keeping Noah at his current preschool full-time will cost us multiple THOUSANDS of dollars a month--as in more money than I bring home. I firmly believe that you get what you pay for when it comes to childcare so I understand WHY it costs so much (and we live in an urban city vs. the suburbs and that affects costs) but it still makes me wring my hands daily. I enjoy working and I really like earning a paycheck but it's hard when you know that paycheck (after taxes and insurance premiums) doesn't cover the costs of two kids in daycare. At that point I'm working because I like my job and not because it's making a financial difference for our family. In fact, we're LOSING money. (I know I have addressed this before but it's playing on a loop in my head and this blog is my therapy as has already been determined.)

Problem B: The waitlists are outrageous. Some are YEARS long. So when I mention January 2012 for a start date I just hear silence followed by a cheerful "We'll add you to the waitlist!" Underlying message: don't hold your breath, lady.

Problem C: Babies are super cuddly and snuggly and maybe I should just stay home forever and ever and kiss her cheeks all day. Wait, this is not a problem...perhaps a solution. No?

If you know any fabulous grandmotherly types in the Chicagoland area who would like to come to our house and watch one tricky fellow and his tiny sister come January, please send them my way.


How is it only Wednesday? How? Do we all agree it should be Saturday by now?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


A tragedy occurred yesterday much too close for comfort. My friend and co-worker came home after work to find that a two year old girl drowned in the pool at the in-home daycare next door. I'm not going to get into all the details because it's not my story to tell but I do know this: the woman was watching far too many children to keep tabs on all of them (TEN!), she wasn't licensed by the state to run a daycare, she has personal/home issues, and she's already been/being investigated by DCFS for another issue. The article in the paper said that the latch on the gate to the pool was broken and the little girl got inside and into the pool. The woman didn't notice she was gone until it was too late. I...I don't even know what to say.
I feel terribly for the family who lost their daughter in this tragedy. She was TWO. Noah was two just two weeks ago. I can't imagine losing him. I can't imagine losing him EVER, but at TWO? Forget it. It makes me shake even thinking about it. This tragedy (and I refuse to call it an accident because this woman put these children in harm's way by taking in too many kids and keeping them in an unsafe environment) brings up another issue as well: how do you know the caregiver/daycare/childcare facility you choose for your child while you work is safe? Each day I give to our preschool my child, my HEART, to protect and I pray to all the gods that he is returned every afternoon as safe as can be. There are no guarantees, this I understand. However, I hope that my gut and my maternal instinct prevail, guiding me to the right place and best decision for my son, for my family. I trust his caregivers to keep him safe and happy even though there will always be a small (read: very large, huge, giant) part of me that worries all day long.

It's stories like this that reinforce the idea behind state licensing and making sure DCFS and its ilk are doing their jobs. I don't think all in-home daycares are bad places and many, MANY, are run by skilled caregivers with the proper licensing and clean records. However, it's places like this one that make me want to scoop up my kid, run home, and never let him out of my sight. Not rational, I understand, but true.

To the family that lost their baby yesterday: I am so, so sorry. May you find peace someday and keep the memories of your little girl in your hearts always.

To the woman who runs the daycare: it's people like you who put fear in the hearts of parents. May you realize the irrevocable damage you have caused to one family and may you pay for this tragedy the rest of your life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Noah-isms or how my kid guilts me daily

Example 1:

Every morning when I go in his room to get him up:
"Mommy, is it a whole together day?" (Translation: Do we get to spend the whole day together? i.e. Saturday or Sunday)
"No, bud, it's a school day and you're going to have so much fun in the Yellow Room!"
"No, I'm not. I would have more fun staying home with you."

Example 2:

When playing in his grandparents' suburban backyard:
"Mommy, can I have a big backyard with lots of grass and trees and a swimming pool and sprinkler to run in?" (Reminder: we live in the city, not the suburbs, and don't have a spot of grass in our tiny postage stamp yard.)
"Someday, buddy, someday."

Example 3:

When discussing names for his baby sister:
"Mommy, we don't need a new baby sister. We have each other!"

Example 4:

When I arrive at school to pick him up:
"Mommy! That is a BEAUTIFUL dress! You look so pretty today! Can I have ice cream when we get home?"

He's the master of guilt and manipulation otherwise known as your average three year old. Tell me, does it end or do they just get BETTER at it?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Far too much detail about a trip to HomeGoods and nursery progress

Friday night I was in a bit of a funk. You know the kind...super irritated by everything and everyone, nothing was making me happy, I couldn't stand to be in my house one minute longer. Seconds after Noah was in bed I grabbed my purse and told Tim I needed to get out and decompress for a little while. When he asked where I was headed (because it wasn't the local bar, obviously) I said, without missing a beat, "HomeGoods" like some junkie who needed her fix. Is that weird? Do you go to HomeGoods to walk the aisles and commune with inexpensive, sometimes random, home decor? No?

Let me tell you, HomeGoods on a Friday night at 8pm is the perfect place to decompress. It's basically empty, the shelves are fully stocked in anticipation of the Saturday/Sunday rush to buy decorative baskets and cheap lamps, and there is no rush to get in and get out. I love it and this trip proved to be so much more than time to refocus...I hit the jackpot for the baby's room.

You see, I haven't done a thing to get her nursery ready. Oh, I bought a new crib and scored a matching changing table on Clist, but other than that I haven't painted the walls, found curtains or sheets or a crib skirt, nor purchased anything that could remotely be used to decorate a baby's room. By this point in my pregnancy with Noah, I had his room completely done and ready for his arrival. Poor second baby...she's already getting the shaft. However, this trip to HomeGoods changed all of that.

Right inside the door was a display of new sheet sets that had recently come in and one set was the PERFECT pattern for curtains: x-long twin set with a white background and geometric pattern in a coral-pink which is the EXACT size/color I wanted for floor-length curtain panels. I snagged it so fast and by sheer luck found a second set buried under the rest. BINGO...into the cart they went. My mood was improving quickly.

In the lighting section I found the sweetest lamp painted in the exact same coral-pink and a beautiful fabric shade that looks like a field of watercolor flowers. I grabbed that sucker and threw it (placed it gently) in the cart. With my energy up and my adrenaline pumping, I headed to the art know, the home of generic, yet perfectly pleasing, faux art. I scored a 24" x 24" canvas of a bird in it's nest. It's graphic and pretty and really colorful. I hesitated only because I thought it might be "too much" but then I remembered these words of wisdom from Her Royal Highness Candice Olson and every other designer on the planet: If you love it, it will work in your room. Into the cart it went.

My last score was an adorable owl pillow much like I have been seeing all over Etsy but at half the price (and also not handmade but beggars can't be choosers now can we?). When I got home and laid out my purchases I sensed an "aviary" theme happening and promptly logged into Etsy and ordered fat quarters of beautiful fabrics with a bird theme. I have yet to decide exactly what I am going to do with said fabrics but I have some ideas involving embroidery hoops. And I just now remembered I ordered two white ceramic birdhouses from West Elm to hang on the wall...I must have a thing for birds. Interesting.

If you've even read this far and thank you if you have, I'm sure you're wondering if I am going to turn said sheets into curtain panels BY MYSELF. That answer is no. Due to time constraints and lack of energy post-6pm, I pawned them off on my mother who is taking them to her local tailor where they will be transformed into beautiful lined drapery panels with a grosgrain ribbon trim. At least that's what I am hoping happens. Instead I plan to make the crib skirt using fabric from the remaining fitted sheets, some iron on hem tape, velcro and a crib skirt tutorial I unearthed online. If that doesn't work out there is this awesome place called Pottery Barn Kids that sells decent crib skirts for a shockingly high price. Or so I've heard.

I've begun painting the walls and the trim, I have big plans for a board and batten treatment on the lower half of the walls, and my house looks like a disaster zone from all the projects we started over the weekend. My mojo is back, people, and IT FEELS SO GOOD.

Pictures to come once things look a little more organized and less like an episode of "Hoarders".

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shameless self-promotion aka I write at Style Lush too!

Hey! Want to come visit me over at Style Lush today? I'm asking for your help with all things baby girl. Where do you shop for baby girl clothes? What is a "must-have"? Where do you find all those adorable hair clips/bows/flowers? Stop on over and tell me all your secrets.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Random things

Thing the first: THANK YOU. For all your lovely comments and for sharing your experiences and opinions on all things induction related. I still don't know what we're going to do but I have a feeling I'll just "know" as we get closer. What I do know is this baby girl is vacating my body somehow, someway by early October (by October 3rd to be specific because that is my 30th birthday and I WILL have a cocktail to celebrate, oh yes).
Thing the second: My OB's office informed me that I gained less than half a pound in the last two weeks. Guess who is having ice cream RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE to celebrate?
Thing the third: My husband snookered me into agreeing to a boys-only road trip to Florida in a few weeks. He's been so nice and attentive lately that I should have known something was up. And how can I deny a man a last road trip with his buddy, a weekend of wakeboarding, and fun in the sun before he becomes a father of two? Had I known I was going to get knocked up in January I would have FOR SURE booked a girls weekend ahead of time. Drats. (I did inform him that this was the last hurrah because as soon as he gets home he is MINE and he better get his work pants on...Daddy's got a nursery to paint and a crib to assemble and some attic-digging for baby gear to do.)
Thing the fourth: It's hotter than hell in Chicago. I don't know about where you live but I am dying here. I am very much looking forward to Saturday when I get to see K and Family for some much needed romping in the lake and sand dunes. Warning to anyone who may see me at the Indiana Sand Dunes: you are not seeing a beached whale. It's just me...impersonating a beached whale.
Thing the fifth (and then I am done): MAH BEBE turns THREE tomorrow! How did this happen? Where have the years disappeared to? A photo update of his third year will be posted sometime in the next, oh, month or so. I hope.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Induction? Yay or Nay?

I am currently facing the following scenario and wonder what YOU would do. If your OB told you that he recommended an induction at 39 weeks because of your previous rapid active labor (4 hours start to finish, 5 cm to 9.5 cm in 20 minutes, 3 pushes aaaannnddd here's  baby!), would you consider it?

I'm concerned about "forcing" the baby out a) earlier than 40 weeks, b) that an unsuccessful induction on a body that is not yet "primed" may lead to a c-section and c) I had such a good, relatively easy delivery the first time that I don't want to mess with nature. However, I am TERRIFIED that this baby could be born in less than two hours and that there is a very real possibility that I could not make it to the hospital in time. Last I checked, Tim did not complete a medical degree and is very unqualified to deliver a baby. Also, I don't have epidurals at home.

I also hope that my OB is not suggesting this for the benefit of his vacation schedule but I am too much of a pansy to ask. Obviously this is our decision to make but I want to know what you think. Would you consider it? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ah ha! Here's the crazy!

Wow, so I totally forgot how mind-blowingly CRAZY I can get during pregnancy. Why didn't you remind me? One minute I'm wringing my hands over the complete lack of planning for Noah's 3rd birthday party and the next I am crying hysterically that we have made no progress on the baby's room and I'm an awful mother because I don't even NOTICE that there is another baby coming in WEEKS and she doesn't even have CLOTHES...apparently long, run-on sentences are also a hallmark of my pregnancy-induced psychosis.
This is hard, y'all. I'm laying myself completely bare when I say this because I don't want you to think it's all sunshine and rainbows over here. I have good days and bad days, happy days and sad days. I know this is mostly due to the raging hormones but I also wonder if it's partly because I feel apathetic towards the arrival of this new baby. (I am SO SORRY baby! I promise I will be so happy when you get here!). People ask us what we're having and I say "a girl!" followed with "we're so excited and can't wait!" when truthfully? Her birth day is bearing down on me and I feel overwhelmed by the things that need to get done and how will I ever wrangle two children and go back to work 12 weeks later and afford childcare for two kids, etc.
Don't get me wrong: we want this baby. We have wanted her for a very long time. But wanting her and the reality of her coming are two very different things. I look at Noah and realize he is no longer my "baby". That makes me cry. He's less than three months from being a big brother and does he even understand that? Probably not. I worry how this baby, this stranger to our family, will affect him. Maybe that's the problem: she's still a stranger to us. Maybe that's why she doesn't have a name...we don't know her yet. How will she fit into our family? Will it be as seamless as everyone tells me? Will it just "happen"? Those of you who have gone before me..tell me how it all works out.
This is all the same (see: crazy) as my pregnancy with Noah and yet so very different (see: apathy). When I was pregnant with Noah all I could talk about was him and I counted down the moments until his arrival. His nursery was done and ready for him well in advance of his birth day. He was all I could think about for hours at a time and I moved in a dream-like state toward July 2008. Fast-forward to now and it is all so very different.
Ok, I feel better just getting all of that out. Hooray for blog therapy! Carry on!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Updates and 26.5 Week Belly Shot Because I Forgot the 24th Week

Bullets, hooray!

  • Noah got his BIG big boy bed last weekend. The crib made its final transformation from toddler bed to full-size bed and we’re lucky to be exchanging our guest room nursery queen size mattress with my parents’ full size mattress. For some reason, the full size seems so much more manageable than a queen. And have you noticed that adorable sheet sets for kids don’t come in queen size? It’s twin or full, baby. Speaking of sheets, I have spent far too much money at PBK and Target on shams and sheets and waterproof mattress pads and pillows to outfit his new bed. That doesn’t even include the duvet cover that I have yet to purchase because I can’t make up my damn mind about what I want. So he’ll have to survive with an uncovered down blanket for the time being. I don’t think he’ll care. It’s me I’m worried about.
  • Also a problem is the fact that I keep falling asleep at 8pm in his bed with him, twin rivers of drool coming out of our mouths. Noah loves this, I don't. I must nip this in the bud lest he becomes too accustomed to having Mommy sleep with him. Even if his bed IS far more comfortable than mine.
  • The bigger bed means I have to rearrange the furniture in his room. I don’t know if I can properly explain my love affair with rearranging rooms. It is borderline sick and obsessive.
  • The stairs are FINISHED. One year, people. That’s how long it took our lazy asses to rip up the carpet (June 2010), stare at the remaining beat up wood stairs (June 2010 – March 2011), decide the hell with refinishing and just paint the damn things all white (late March 2011), begin the process of screwing down a hundred years of squeaks, wood-filling, sanding, caulking, priming, painting and painting and painting (April 2011-June 2011). And ta-da! Squeak free, smooth painted gorgeous stairs.
            From this:

           To this:

           To this:

Lesson to impart because I am nothing if not helpful: gleaming white stairs + husband who forgets to remove shoes + preschooler who is perpetually grimy + cat who sheds a pound of fur a day + dog who shadows every human going up or down = constantly scrubbing the no longer gleaming white stairs. We may be investing in a runner at some point.

I hope this goes to show you that, while handy, we are slow moving when it comes to home improvement. I wouldn’t hire us to do any work in your home, just sayin’.

  • Behold the belly in all its 24 26.5 week glory: