Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fifteen months!

I will update this post after Charlotte's fifteen month check up, because I like to record how tall she was and how much she weighed at each well-visit. She seems SO grown-up to us, lately!!
She wears size four shoes and size 18-24 months (or 2T) in clothes. She is 32 inches tall and weighs 21.5 pounds. These measurements put her in the 95th percentile for height (again!!) and the 50th percentile for weight.

Charlotte loves BUSES, trucks, balls, animals (dogs are her favorite, but other animals are very exciting,  too), baskets/boxes, the playground (especially slides), dancing to music, waving, clapping, babbling to herself, "helping" (by emptying the laundry basket, taking silverware from the dishwasher, wiping things with a baby wipe, etc.).

Charlotte doesn't like
: waiting, being told NO. 

Charlotte is good at: WALKING!!!!!, playing independently, drinking a cup of milk at bedtime, climbing (onto furniture, up stairs, etc.), sleeping at least eleven hours at night, helping with all sorts of tasks (taking things out, putting them away, wiping off her body or a surface with a wipe, taking the silverware out of the dishwasher, etc. etc. etc.)

Words: ba (which can mean bus, ball, bear, book, or baby, depending on the minute), dada, WaWa (water), momma, baba (banana), ma (more!), and baby (which is the sweetest, most heart-melting thing my ears have ever heard!!)

Signs: no new signs this month

Animal sounds: cow, duck, dog, cat, pig (not really a sound, just scrunching up her nose and sniffing!).

Favorite foods: berries, bananas, potatoes, cheese, veggie pouches (I buy the ones with spinach and broccoli because those vegetables are so nutritious, but it's hard to get them into Charlotte in their solid form), chicken salad, guacamole. 

Least favorite foods: pork tenderloin, plain roasted chicken, and broccoli. 

Great things this month: her paternal grandparents and one uncle came to visit this month. She had a great time playing outside with them and showing off her tricks. We also took her to our prenatal appointment where she got to meet the midwives and hear her sibling's heartbeat. She cried. Ha. 

Words to describe Charlotte: explorative, opinionated, communicative, brave.

Parenting Challenges: This month, Charlotte had a few mini tantrums. She had a plan, and we didn't understand (or we said, "no"), and she got frustrated! Her most common reaction is shaking her head rapidly and pushing something away (or throwing it). I try really really really (really!!) hard not to laugh. I know she is struggling to communicate. I know we are used to her just going along with our agenda. I know she is a little human with opinions and preferences and feelings. We are trying to mostly ignore minor tantrums and explain that we will be happy to talk to her when she is settled. When she throws food on the floor, we spank her hand, say "no!" And redirect her attention.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hire me to create your baby registry

A few weeks ago I joked on Facebook that I wish people would pay me to create their baby registries. There are personal decorators and personal shoppers... Why not personal baby registry makers? I could be the very first!

Okay, okay. I realize that nobody is going to hire me for such a task. I assume most people actually like doing a bit of research and picking baby products that fit their own lifestyle, home, and family.

BUT! In case you don't like doing research or reading product reviews (what planet are you from?!), here is my complete list of baby registry suggestions. Most items were on our registry or we have bought for ourselves since Charlotte was born. Some, however, I've discovered over the last fourteen months and recommend them without any personal experience.

[Just for fun, here's a post about some of my favorite baby items that was posted on another blog when Charlotte was eight months old.]

Big (more expensive!) baby gear
  • Sakura bloom ring sling. (Read more about my undying love for my ring sling!!) 
  • Soft structured carrier (We have an Ergo, which we love! If I were registering today I would probably get the Ergo 360 instead, because it has the option to face your baby facing out for very short periods of time. I also hear great things about LilleBaby carriers and Beco carriers.)
  • 4moms Breeze travel crib, crib sheet, and bassinet sheet. (I cannot believe how easy this crib is to set up. I could honestly do it one handed, which is pretty amazing considering how many "pack n play" contraptions require a PhD to assemble. The major downside to this crib is that it is HEAVY. Just FYI.)
  • BOB Revolution SE jogging stroller (with adaptor bar for infant car seat). This is a great stroller, even without being used for jogging. Really easy to fold/unfold. Powerful and flexible enough to move over rough terrain, and a great turning radius. It's wide, though, so not great for shopping or getting through tight spaces. 
  • Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat (and extra base)
  • Chicco NextFit convertible seat (we got this for Charlotte just before Christmas, because she was too tall for her infant seat and we were getting ready for a 12 hour road trip to visit Joel's parents. We LOVE this car seat!)

Note: The above items are expensive, but definitely worth their cost. I think they're great items to be given by grand-parents to be, or by a group of friends wanting to pool resources for a "big" gift.
Also note: If you have more than one registry, or are open to shopping around, you can often find deals by comparing Amazon to some different stores. We bought our convertible car seat during an online sale at Babies R Us- we saved shipping because our local store had the exact one we wanted, and we picked it up the same day we ordered.

Nursery essentials
  • Any type of crib you like, though I suggest paying attention to whatever finish is put on the sides. Charlotte went to town biting on the sides of her crib and I felt somewhat less frazzled knowing that the finish was non-toxic. That should be a no-brainer for companies that make cribs, but I don't think it is. 
  • Any old crib sheets. 
  • A comfortable chair. We have an old rocking chair from the thrift store in Charlotte's room and while it's fine for reading a few books at nap time, it is not suitable for the constant feedings that happen in the early months of a baby's life. I plan to nurse any future babies in my bed or on the couch like I did with Charlotte, but if I'm creating the ideal registry, I say include a great, comfortable chair! 
  • A dresser that's the right height for dual use as a changing table. Charlotte's dresser is one that we found in a neighbor's driveway and I painted with love. It looks great in her room and is perfect for storing her clothes, but it's too tall to use as a changing table. We've changed her all sorts of places in the house, but mostly we just lay her on a towel on the floor. Gets kind of tiring on the knees after a while. :) 
  • White noise machine (we just use a big box fan; cheap and easy to replace! However, now that I'm thinking through where/ how our new baby will sleep, I wonder if it's better to avoid using a fan. Charlotte can't really sleep without it, which makes her a bit high maintenance when we travel...)
  • Humidifier (we have this one and like it)
Sleeping essentials 
  • Miracle blanket 
  • Halo Sleepsack Swaddle (we were given a newborn size in the fleece fabric and it was SO cozy for Charlotte's first few months. After that, the weather was warmer so we bought the next size up in cotton. Awesome!)
  • Sleep sacks in size medium and large. Charlotte sleeps in a size large cotton sleep sack by Halo. It's plenty big on her now, at 14 months, but I plan on putting her in sleep sacks until she is in kindergarten, so I hope they make them in extra large, too ;)
  • Aiden and Anais swaddle blankets (we didn't use these for Charlotte to sleep, but we tucked them around her in the car seat, used them as spit up rags, and sometimes I covered myself with them while nursing in public. SO handy and soft and beautiful! Highly recommend them!!) 
  • A set of TWO loveys. We have this set. Here's why I say to get TWO loveys: when we first stopped swaddling Charlotte, she was having a terrible time settling down to sleep. Friends recommended introducing a lovey at that time, and my brilliant cousin said I should get two of the exact same lovey. I looked around on Amazon and chose the owl set (because it's brown & less likely to show dirt). We have a set of two so we can rotate them out for laundering purposes, and in case one ever gets lost. I know people say that you can't choose the things your child gets attached to, and I believe this to an extent. BUT we introduced Charlotte's owl ("Screech") very intentionally and she is very attached. It's the only thing she has in her crib at sleeping times, so she knows it's associated with going to bed. PLEASE, parents-to-be... do yourself a favor and get TWO of the same lovey for this purpose! 

Feeding Essentials
  • Double electric breast pump, if you plan to breastfeed (you can probably get a comparable pump free through your health insurance)
  • Manual pump. I didn't have this at first, but I wish I had; I think it really would have come in handy when dealing with some discomfort and struggles when my milk came in. Also-- very handy for times when your babe isn't emptying the breast, but you want to signal your body to keep making milk!
  • Baby Led Weaning cookbook (more about BLW here)
  • 2-5 bottles, depending on your lifestyle. We recently bought one of these Lifefactory glass bottles and LOVE it. I'm not sure how this kind will work if transferring between the bottle & breast in baby's early days. When Charlotte was a newborn we used these, and they were awesome. But I prefer glass, so Lifefactory is my overall recommendation. 
  • Bibs!!! We had at least ten, but I sometimes wanted more. Small, basic cotton bibs are so helpful with young babies who tend to spit up. Now that Charlotte is eating real food, we use plastic bibs that can be rinsed quickly in the sink and hung up to dry before the next meal. 
  • Burp cloths. For this next baby, I have already made a commitment to buy burp cloths with a contour in the middle so they fit over the shoulder. We had a ton of random burp cloths when Charlotte was tiny, but my absolute favorites were the ones someone made us- they were a great shape and didn't fall off when slung quickly over our shoulder. 

Miscellaneous Items
1. Inexpensive foam bath cushion. We used this for about 8 months with Charlotte. She would take baths laying down on it as a newborn and when she could sit up, we sat her on it in case she tipped over. Then, when it wasn't necessary any more we threw it away. Best $7 ever spent!

2. Some type of swing or bouncy chair or the like. It's really nice to have a cozy place for baby to sit when not sleeping or being held. We received a used swing from our friends and it was great. My only complaint is that it is super heavy and can't be easily moved around the house. We also had a bouncy seat, but it was low to the ground and Charlotte didn't really like it once she was able to move around a bit.

3. Baby nail clippers, dye-free acetaminophen, Hylands teething tablets, baby thermometer, other first aid things.

4. We use cloth diapers, so two gifts we received from our registry were wet bags. Even if you don't use cloth, I definitely recommend registering for a wet bag. It is really useful for carrying wet swim suits in the summer, and soiled/stained clothing all year round.

I don't recommend registering for: blankets, clothing, stuffed animals, or shoes. People have given us MANY clothes and for some reason (maybe because Charlotte was born in January?!) we received an absurd amount of blankets, which do not get adequate use. Also- shoes are very weather and season specific. There's no way to know how fast babies' feet will grow, so I don't think it makes sense to buy many shoes in advance.

What am I missing?! Parents-- feel free to chime in here, to add anything you think is a great addition to my list! 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Grace in the gong show

My friend Melanie, who guest posted here a few months back, uses an expression that I think is really fun. She says, "It was a total gong show," or "What a gong show, right?!"

Melanie's Canadian, so I'm assuming gong show is a Canada-based expression. When I looked up the definition, to make sure I was using the phrase correctly, I got a lot of explanations, most involving hockey and most involving some sort of chaos and madness.

Gong show perfectly describes my trip to the midwife the other day.

Let me set the scene.

I had both Charlotte and Miles (the six month old I watch three days a week) that morning. Joel arranged for a sub to cover a few of his class periods; my appointment was at eleven and he had about two hours free. Miles was exhausted, but didn't fall deeply asleep in the car, so he was awake when we arrived at our appointment. I hadn't given Charlotte a snack at home, because I packed a veggie pouch, some hummus, and a few cucumbers and carrots for us to nibble while we waited. Joel played with Charlotte and kept her happy, but I was consumed by the fact that Miles was awake and fussy in his car seat. I knew he would fall asleep instantly if I wore him in the Ergo, but I didn't want to be just settling him in to nap when I got called back for my appointment. In hind sight, I should have just gotten the Ergo and given him at least a short nap. Hind sight is 20-20.

Things were running behind in the office (one midwife wasn't there that day), so we waited for an hour before being seen. By that point, Charlotte was antsy and clingy, Miles was completely over-tired, and Joel needed to leave in ten minutes in order to get back to school on time.

I tried AGAIN to rock Miles to sleep in his car seat, to no avail. He screamed and screamed. Charlotte got really upset by the Doppler machine and cried when the midwife listened to our baby's heartbeat. My blood pressure (somehow) was normal, as opposed to through the roof, which would have been understandable considering the stress I was feeling. 

When we finally left, two hours after our arrival, I got into the car and cried. I drove through McDonald's for "lunch" while Charlotte whined and Miles (finally!!) slept silently. We came home and ate lunch and Charlotte happily rode her bike around the house.

As I gazed upon her smiling face, I thanked the Lord for showing me grace, in the midst of chaos and stress and crying and frustration. 

Joel worked extra hard to take off for a few hours to support me at the appointment, without even being rewarded by the little drum of his baby's heartbeat. A little girl in the waiting room patiently played with Charlotte and shared her favorite stuffed animal (C. was in heaven!!). The nurse carried Charlotte downstairs to "help" her get something. The same nurse held Miles for the last thirty minutes we were there, so I could talk to the midwife in peace and give Charlotte some snuggles.

The whole morning was an absolute gong show, but what grace I received.

Showered upon me- undeserved, unrecognized (at first), and un-returned. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Charlotte in baskets

I started a silly hashtag on Instagram: Charlotte in baskets. (Or sometimes in her special box.)

Ha. She is such a funny girl... Wanting to be right in the action, among her toys, up close and personal. She will crawl over, grab the basket, and dive right in!

She's not 100% competent at getting OUT of the baskets, so sometimes a bit of whining is involved when she is "all done" playing. 

But it's hilarious nonetheless. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pregnancy update 2: baby #2

At fifteen weeks, I'm finding all the stereotypical second pregnancy jokes to be true in my life...

I can't always remember how many weeks along I am. I sometimes forget I am pregnant. My belly started to show a LOT sooner this time around. I can't slow down because I'm chasing a toddler all day. I'm already feeling this little guppy moving. (Though, I think I probably felt Charlotte earlier last time than I let myself believe. I remember thinking it might be movement, but talking myself out of it.)

Other pregnancy symptoms: Trouble remembering things, bleeding gums when I floss, minor aches and pains, difficulty carrying Charlotte, easily winded. I am NOT nauseous (anymore), thankfully.

I recently read a great post about a mom not feeling bad for her firstborn when her new baby arrived. She said something like, "I'm giving my child a sibling! A friend! A playmate! I'm not doing anything bad or hurtful, or messing up his life. Having brothers and sisters is awesome and is a special gift for the first child." It really resonated with me and I'm trying to keep that in mind as I wonder how Charlotte will adjust to life with her sister/brother this fall. I'm really happy she will have someone close to her age to play with and make adventures with.

I also try to keep that in mind when I feel guilty for not giving this new baby the mental time and energy we gave Charlotte during my first pregnancy. This baby is going to be so blessed by having Charlotte as a big sister. He/she is going to benefit from living in Washington and having his/her dad be a principal, and his/her mom staying at home full time (at least at first). I don't need to feel bad that this baby's start to life will be so different from Charlotte's, or that we aren't constantly thinking or dreaming about life when the baby arrives. There will be time for that, and for now, this little one is surely loved with a fierce, powerful love

Monday, April 13, 2015

It's always worth it

Last Thursday morning found Joel, Charlotte, and I on a six-hour road trip to Rochester, New York. Some of my college friends and I had planned a long-weekend mini reunion, to include eight adults, three one year olds, and a German Shepherd.

Charlotte was a champ in the car and was (of course!) totally beside herself with excitement upon meeting said German Shepherd. She didn't sleep well most nights, and there were lots of tears at nap time. She fed the dog directly from her high chair tray and crawled after the other kids, pushing a musical walking you all weekend long. 

On Sunday as we drove home, I realized all three of us were totally exhausted. The break in routine, the driving, the night wake ups, the adjustments to our "schedule"... All those things require a significant amount of physical, emotional, and mental energy.

But we were all smiling. Being with these friends gave me new life, new energy. Seeing my friends as parents and home owners and professionals can bring tears of joy to my eyes, if I think about it long enough. Watching Charlotte play with the boys (and the dog!) is a memory I will never forget. 

Our friendships and our get-togethers are different nowadays. We went to bed pretty early and woke up very early. More coffee was consumed than we ever drank in college. We interrupted our conversation to change a diaper or distract a toddler from jumping off the couch. But we made meals together, and sat around chatting, and ate dinner together, and explored the city, and played outside, and did the dishes, and chatted some more, and went out for dessert, and chatted a bit more. And then changed another dirty diaper. ;) 

So yeah, adventures with littles look quite different, and in many ways are more difficult (and more tiring!!). But reuniting with people we love is a good, life-giving adventure. And it's always worth it. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dear Charlotte, 13

Charlotte Adeline,

You are more fun now than you have ever been. I love your 14.5 month self sooooo much! 

You are silly, smart, and stubborn. Every day you communicate more and understand more of what I say. Every day you wake up smiling, ready to play and read and eat and explore. Every day you give hugs and snuggles and forehead "kisses".

You have figured out how to take a few cautious steps while carrying a toy. 
You are a master at racing your wooden police car down the hallway. 
Yesterday you climbed onto the coffee table and sat there, happily playing blocks without a care in the world.

I taught you to say "baby" in the van last weekend. My heart nearly breaks to see your little mouth move perfectly to form the word. You giggle proudly and clap your hands when I say, "Yay!!" 

We both get tired, little one. My belly is growing and you are getting taller and heavier each day. I get winded carrying you up the stairs and I know you aren't getting quite as many pick-ups as I could give you last month. I try my absolute hardest to make up for it by giving extra kisses, and sitting with you on my lap, and wrestling with you on the floor. 

Today I pushed you too long in hopes of your nap coordinating with the other little boy I watch. (Selfishly, I was wiped and wanted some time to read or take a nap.) But by the time I put you to bed, you were overtired and hungry and just upset. I brought up some grapes and snuggled you on my lap, where I bit each in half and handed the pieces to you, one at a time. We read three more books and I swayed by your crib as I sang the words to "This Little Light of Mine." You fussed a bit when I left the room, but I saw you snuggling your two Screech owls, burrowing your little head into the mattress. You were silent within minutes. 

I wish I could say that I'll always be able to comfort you so easily.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pregnancy update 1: baby #2

(This was written a while back; as of hitting "publish," I'm more than 14 weeks along in this pregnancy. But I consistently updated my thoughts and experiences when I was carrying Charlotte, and I love looking back at those posts. So I'm going to do a few pregnancy updates for this little guppy, even though it's a bit late in the game....)
I'm about eight weeks along now and have been feeling like I have the whole all-day nausea thing managed fairly well. It helps that I was pregnant with Charlotte so recently; I remember what worked and what didn't, in terms of feeling relatively alive for the first trimester.

I try to eat small meals or snacks about every two hours. If I notice some nausea, I quickly find something to eat. Most of the snacks that are appealing are NOT healthy (lots of trail mix with chocolate, donuts, and ice cream) but my meals are pretty decent in terms of nutrition, and I'm taking my prenatal vitamins so hopefully the baby is getting what he/she needs. I definitely managed to eat better in the second and third trimesters last time around, so I'm hoping to get through the next few weeks and then feel well enough to adjust my eating habits in a positive way. 

Last time, with Charlotte, I couldn't eat salsa at the beginning of my pregnancy. I remember thinking it was so strange because salsa is one of my favorite foods. Interestingly, salsa seems fine to me this time around, but I'm already feeling skeptical of hummus. I LOVE hummus, but in the past two weeks I have barely touched it, even though Charlotte eats it every single day. We shall see what comes of my relationship with hummus... 

Many mornings I take a short nap while Charlotte is sleeping. That REALLY helps me feel better for the day. Now if only I could stay awake past 9:30 pm... 

In a few weeks I have my first prenatal appointment. For the next five months I will seeing a midwife at the same place where Charlotte was born. Obviously we will have to transfer care when we move, so I am in the process of researching prenatal and birth options in Everett. 

Sometimes Joel and I lay in bed at night, talking about this baby. We marvel at how surreal it is to be pregnant again and confess that we sometimes feel guilty for forgetting that this little one will be joining our family in about seven months. It is an absolute honor to be carrying life again; this little guppy is no less loved or desired, but our life is different now and it's hard to give him/her the same kind of mental attention we gave Charlotte while she was in utero... It's strange.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Expecting Baby 'Berts #2!

Our family is so honored to share that we are expecting another baby 'Berts, due to join the family this coming October!

We cannot begin to fathom why we've been entrusted with the task of growing and raising one more sweet babe, but we thank our good God for this precious gift. It's amazing to see yet another door open and to hear yet another "yes!" in this season.

Still, our joy and celebration is always tempered by a bit of pain, as we know that others long for the things we have. Two good friends have recently lost babies to miscarriage, and our hearts break for these dear families. We recognize, too, that many families struggle with ongoing infertility and we beg the Lord for his hand of grace upon them.

I have hesitated to make any big public announcement, remembering the season where I wanted to have a baby, and where every friend's pregnancy felt like a slap in the face. It seems unfair to have two babies (not to mention two healthy pregnancies), so close in age, when others have none. My heart is heavy, even as I rejoice.

Here's an excerpt I wrote on the day we found out baby #2 was on the way. To God be the glory.
Sunday, Janaury 25, 2015

I knew it! All weekend long, I could feel in my bones that I was pregnant again. But, now, seeing that little + sign, my feelings are a mix of disbelief and relief.

I am so sad on the behalf of those who are still childless. Knowing the pain of infertility, even for a short time, two years ago, breaks my heart for my friends who want to be pregnant but aren't. I feel guilty for getting pregnant again, when I already have a delightful, wonderful child. It's enough to make me want to temper each announcement of our news with a tenderness toward those who might not be as thrilled as we are. But by golly am I thrilled!!!!

This new little one is no less loved or anticipated or joyfully expected than Charlotte was two years ago. We have always wanted to have more kids and I dreamed of them being close in age. 

Fall of 2015 is going to be an incredible time.
I'm so curious about this little life inside me.
I can't wait to meet him/her.
I can't wait to watch Charlotte be a big sister. She's going to rock that job.