Monday, July 30, 2012

There Are Just...No Words....

Okay...maybe a few words. Ink pad. "Nap time."

The look on her face...she knows she is in a whole new level of trouble than she has ever been in before. We were so upset we didn't even yell. It was that disturbingly quiet kind of fury. We had the carpets cleaned last week. 

I remember saying, "Look - Tiana's black." And then cracking myself up when I realized what I said. :) 

Just for the record...maybe because it was Sunday, Joci's life was spared. :) She lived to roast marshmallows on the grill. She didn't like eating them but she liked roasting them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

13 Tips for a More Meaningful Maternity Leave

As my maternity leave for baby number two is coming to an end, I wish to share my new found knowledge of how to have a good, meaningful maternity leave for any other working moms out there.

1. Take the full leave. I don't know what your job does or doesn't offer for maternity benefits, but the FMLA guarantees you twelve weeks of leave. Yes it's unpaid. Find a way to take the full twelve weeks, no matter how much it hurts your budget. Your baby deserves it. You can always make more money. You can never nurture your newborn baby again.

2. Lower Your Expectations. I always think I'll get a ton of crafting, home improvement projects, and gardening done. I think I'll read a ton of novels and even write one. Heck, I even think I'll make my bed every day. Never happens. Realistic expectations include getting dressed almost every day, showering four times a week, and taking out the trash once in awhile. And that's okay. Maternity leave isn't about you having three months off to do whatever you want - that would be summer vacation. See tip #13.

3. Get Amazon Prime. If you're living under a rock and don't know what this is, it is a membership program with It costs $79 a year. You get free two-day shipping on eligible items and streaming videos and even free popular Kindle books. I live in a farming town 30 minutes away from Wal-Mart and the two-day shipping has saved my life. Batteries for the baby swing. Deodorant. A kiddie pool for my 3 year old. A swamp cooler. On a Monday I may realize I need something. I think I'll get out the next day to get something (Tuesday) but that doesn't happen. It might not even happen on Wednesday. And it takes a lot of courage to get dressed and look presentable, put two kids in a hot car (and my newborn screams the entire time she is in a car seat not matter what I do) and drive 30 minutes and take on the chaos of Walmart then drive 30 minutes home. Not fun. If I order what I need on Monday, I have it by Wednesday delivered right to my door. I don't even have to put pants on. Seriously - ask for a Prime membership for your baby shower. It will be worth it. 

4. Don't Cut Your Hair. Babies grab hair. They spit up in hair. New moms have less time to spend styling hair. I get why new moms cut their hair. I say don't do it. Wait until the maternity leave is over. If your hair is long enough to put in a ponytail or bun, it is easier to keep out of the baby's reach/spit up range than chin-length hair. New hair styles take a few weeks to learn how to style and like. You won't be styling your hair very much. You'll probably end up hating your new shorter 'do because you can't take the time to get used to it. You'll feel frumpy. And if your hair is long enough to pull back, you're not getting any benefit. 

5. Buy New Pajamas. You'll be wearing them a lot. It's a new little treat for you. Make them cozy, comfy, presentable (i.e., no excessive cleavage in case you have to answer the door in them), and appropriate to the season. 

6. Entertain Yourself During Nighttime Feedings. Nighttime feedings are hard to wake up for. It helps when you are engrossed in Firefly on Netflix and you're somewhat excited to get up at 4 a.m. to see what will happen between Malcom and Inara. Find a movie, TV show, or book to entertain you during those late, late feedings and you might actually kind of look forward to them. (Aside from Netflix, I love reading my Kindle while I feed the baby because I don't have to worry about turning pages and holding a big book open with one hand.)

7. Don't Plan Too Much. This is a variation of tips 2 and 13, but it is worth saying. Don't spread yourself too thin and allow yourself to be flexible. I planned six family visits to do in 12 weeks. Too much. We accomplished three and postponed the rest. I've also learned that I don't plan to do anything before 10 a.m. I just can't. 

8. Make a Lunch Plan. If you are a working mom like me, you are not used to being in charge of lunch. It sounds silly, but this was a big adjustment for me. During a 12 week leave, PB & J and Ramen noodles only satisfy you for maybe two weeks. Make sure to plan lunches like you do dinners. And make sure they are easy. Some of my favorites - mini pizzas made on English muffins, quesadillas (I love to put Ranch dressing, cheddar cheese, and cold-cut ham between two tortillas and fry up), and fruit smoothies. 

9. Buy Extra Socks and Underwear. A few extra pairs will buy you a day or two before you have to do laundry. Totally worth it. 

10. Take People Up on Offers of Help. People always offer to help. "Let me know if you need anything." People really want to help. But they don't always know how. Don't be afraid to let them know what you need. Do not deny them the opportunity to provide service. And don't be afraid to ask for help before you have a mental breakdown! For me, I had to ask my neighbors to help with yard work - lawn mowing and garden weeding. And of course, watching the baby while I napped or went to the dentist. 

11. Stock Your House with Easy Food. Sometimes you can plan meals, shop, and cook. Sometimes you can't. Easy, healthy options will prevent you from eating a bag of chips for breakfast and last year's Halloween candy for lunch and feeling like crap for the rest of the day. Suggestions for healthy, easy eats: fresh fruit, Swanson's frozen pot pies, frozen pizzas, canned soup, canned fruits and veggies, etc. 

12. Know Your Local Resources. Do you have a grocery store that delivers? A drive-through pharmacy? What local restaurants deliver? Does your insurance support a call-in prescription program so you don't have to go to the doctor for medicine? Is there a grocery store or gym that has free child care? Sometimes this means spending a bit more money, but when it comes to your sanity, these things can be life savers. I don't always like paying the higher prices to shop at Fred Meyer, but my 3 year old can play in their child center for an hour and I can shop so much easier. Sometimes it is so worth it. 

13. Remember What Maternity Leave Is For. These twelve weeks are to nurture and bond with your new baby. If you happen to organize the basement at the same time, great. But if not, that's okay. Spend your energy in the right place and never feel guilty about putting off a chore to rock your baby and snuggle her close. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Noelle's 2 Month Stats

So Noelle officially turned two months old last week, but she had her check up today.

She weighs 11 lbs. 13.5 oz  - fiftieth percentile.
Her length is 22.5 inches - fortieth percentile.
Her head is 40.5 cm - ninety-fifth percentile.

The shots were pretty darn sad and I've spent the better part of the day snuggling this little sweet girl, though I hate it when I accidentally touch her owie and make her cry. :( Boo.

Still...she had some smiles for her mama. 

This photo is a couple weeks old but it is so darling. I love Noelle's smile. I also love that without me knowing about it, Joci put her favorite doll in the swing for Noelle to play with. Warms my heart. 

This isn't the greatest photo, but look at the grin on Noelle's face. She just beams any time her big sister plays with her. They are going to have such a special relationship, I can already tell. 

If I were to make some predictions about Noelle, I would guess that she will be right handed. I think she'll walk earlier than Jocelyn (she was 14 months). She will be outgoing and social and a chatterbox. 

For comparison, here is Joci at 2 months. 

Length: 23 inches (little over fiftieth percentile)
Weight: 11 lbs 2.5 oz. (fiftieth percentile)
Head: 39.5 cm (fiftieth percentile)

Pretty close, actually!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Nip Slip Confessional

I was browsing through a celebrity gossip website slideshow about celebrity nip slips.

I rolled my eyes and said to myself, "You are famous and being photographed all. the. time. And you know it. Is it really that hard to keep your headlights under wraps? If I were a celebrity, I would never make that mistake."

And then I remembered...

Waimea Falls.




And I had to get off my high horse.

Waimea Falls Park, Oahu, Hawaii

Because I have had a....nip slip. Shhh!!!

And was photographed.

No, I am not posting the photograph.

Waimea Falls in Oahu, Hawaii, is located in a beautiful botanical garden. You hike the garden and then find yourself at the beautiful freshwater falls and gentle pond below. It is common to swim in the refreshing waters - very refreshing after the humid hike and very, VERY refreshing in that it is not saltwater. It's tradition to sit on the rocks under the falls and let their waters rain down on you. It's a perfect photo op.

Justin and I did exactly that.

As we were posing under the falls while my mother took our picture, I suddenly looked down and realized I was having a wardrobe malfunction. I panicked, pulled up my suit, thinking the rushing waterfall had simply pushed my suit down. No. The strap had broken. In half. Please remember that were dozens of people swimming around us and waiting for their turn under the waterfall. This certainly did not go unnoticed. And please remember my mother was photographing us from the bank.

I used my hands to cover myself and dove into the water, and screamed. While treading water, Justin managed to use my hair tie to tie the strap in place so I wouldn't have to walk home naked (or covered by a towel).

After the incident with my MacGyvered suit

So now I have joined the ranks of Paris Hilton, LiLo, Tara Reid, Courteney Cox, Rihanna, Kirsten Dunst, Rachel McAdams, Janet Jackson, and dozens of other celebrities in the Nip Slip Club. 

I am grateful that my wardrobe malfunction was actually a wardrobe malfunction. And not because I was stupid enough to think that a plunging strapless dress would actually do its job in keeping things covered.

Now it's your turn. Dish. Have you ever had--or come close to having--an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction?

Monday, July 16, 2012

More Arkansas Photos

Wow, it's taking  me a long time to get through my Arkansas photos. Here are some more. 

Our car. Did I mention that we wrecked it on the way to the airport to fly home? At the hotel, someone was parked behind us where they shouldn't have been and we backed into them. So Noelle has already been in her first car accident. 

Washington Regional Hospital where Noelle was born.

After placement.

First bath

We took a trip to War Eagle Caverns near Eureka Springs. The tour of the caverns was advertised as handicap accessible so we figured that meant stroller accessible too.

The water is so green because the river bed is lined with slate and stone instead of mud. 

Beginning the tour. There was one other couple with us. They were from Texas and the woman was terrified of bears. The guide had a lot of fun with that, being in a dark cave and all. When he found out we were from Idaho, he said that explained why we were so cool with the bear jokes - we are used to living near grizzly bears...the kind that actually eat people. 

A scene from the movie Frank and Jesse was filmed right here. They have left all the props in place. Jesse James actually used the War Eagle Caverns as a hideout, so that part of the movie is accurate. I haven't seen the film yet but feel like I should. 

We saw a lot of interesting things in the caves like a newt, a bat, and copper veins. Justin even saw a baby badger or raccoon or something. This is a picture of gold. 

As we were driving back to our hotel in Fayetteville after the caverns, we were admiring the beautiful scenery. Justin then asked, "Where are all these Ozark Mountains I keep hearing about?" 

"We have been touring them for days," I replied incredulously. "The train ride? The Civil War battlegrounds? The caverns? All in the Ozarks. Not only that, we've been in the Boston Mountains, which are the highest and most rugged part of the Ozarks."

Justin was dumbfounded. He knew that "eastern" mountains weren't like "western" mountains, but he still expected more. I suppose we are a little jaded since we can see the Grand Teton from the highway near our home and Justin grew up in the shadow of Yellowstone National Park.

View of Heart Mountain where Justin grew up. 

I suppose it would be nice if the rest of the world refrained from naming land masses "mountains" unless they break the tree line. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Motherhood - You're Doing It Wrong

 Do you know how to do motherhood?

In case you aren't sure, here are some tips.

  • If you give your baby a binky, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you swaddle your baby, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you co-sleep, you're risking your baby's life and you're doing it wrong.
  • If you don't co-sleep, you've fallen victim to ignorant doctors and you're missing out on wonderful bonding time - and you're doing motherhood wrong.
  • If you bottle feed, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you breastfeed past a year, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you let your child watch TV, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you don't have five nurturing, Montessori-based sensory type activities for your preschooler every day, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you do on-demand feeding, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you try to schedule your baby, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you're not feeding your child organic baby food, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you give your child medicine, you're doing it wrong. 
  • If you use alternative pain management/healing methods, you're doing it wrong. 
  • If you put your kids in time-out, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you don't do time-outs, you're doing it wrong. 
  • If your child isn't potty trained in a weekend, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you don't wear your baby in a sling for several hours a day, you're doing it wrong.
  • If you work, you're doing it wrong. 
  • If you stay at home, you're probably too frazzled to be doing anything right. 

Does it ever feel that way to you? 

It sure does to me. It's usually the internet that makes me feel this way.

Let me tell you what prompted this post. On Facebook, I am member a mother's support group. I don't personally know many of the women in the group--they aren't my personally added Facebook friends. I posted something about how both of my kids haven't been automatic binky lovers. The first reply I got back was from a woman I don't know who as a speech pathologist wanted to tell me it was her professional opinion not to use binkies after six months.

After a rough day of fussy Noelle--and me wishing to heaven that she would take her binky--it just set me off. I don't even know this woman. I did not ask for information/advice about duration of binky usage. Her unsolicited advice made me feel like a bad mom for wanting Noelle to take a binky--and yes, I fully intend for her to take it beyond 6 months old. With Joci, I found most of the binky benefits came when she could actually reach for it and pop it in her own mouth.

I did a little research and found that the American Academy of Pediatrics is fine with binky use through the first year. My girls' pediatrician is fine with it until age 2. I know kids who use the binky to three and beyond. Different moms do different things. And I got to say that at 30 years old, I don't know anyone my age still addicted to their binky. People end up fine.

Still, I was irked by this woman's unsolicited advice. I was irked that it got to me. I tried to take a step back--count to ten--and be fair. Perhaps this woman has had personal experience in her profession that makes her more conservative on binky use. Things I don't know about. On the flip side, this woman surely doesn't know that I was a thumb-sucker until I was nearly thirteen and would rather have my child use a binky until five years old than go through the embarrassment, speech issues, and orthodontic issues of long-term finger/thumb sucking.

It's easy to go online and feel judged. Or at least feel like a failure. Reading blogs, articles, magazines, books, whatever...doesn't it seem like you can't do anything right? Every technique is analyzed and criticized by experts of all walks. Sheesh! What's a mom to do?

There are days when I am an awesome mom. I am happy and disciplined. I have structured, fun activities. I don't yell. Heck, I even have pants on those days. I am SUPERMOM! Those are the days I blog about. And then people think I am awesome.

Look! We went to the park and had an educational sensory activity. I am such a good parent!

And there are days when we have Eggo Waffles for all three meals and Gummi Bears for snack. Pants most definitely will not happen. A bra probably won't either. The television is on for 7 hours straight and I feel pretty good when we watch something from PBS because at least it's educational. These are the days when everyone in the house is bound to end up crying simultaneously at some point. These days I go online and see other supermom blogs and I start to wonder if Pinterest has a tutorial on how to tie a noose out of repurposed shoelaces and pipe cleaners.

Messes everywhere. Now why don't I drink again?

I want to read more stuff online that says: you didn't cry today, new mom--good for you! You fed your children and played with them--good for you! You put pants on today--good for you! Your child loves you--good for you! You loved yourself today--good for you! You're doing the hardest job in the world, day after day, without any PTO, and even if it takes Eggo Waffles, hours of PBS, and offensive amounts of Diet Coke, you are in the thick of it. You aren't walking away. You are raising your children.


Good for you.

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Hiney May Be Getting Tighter

I have been in denial about my changing body for a long time. But the truth is, I am 30, and there is no more denying the truth. The number on the scale has crept up little by little over the years. Initially, I hated these changes, but I slowly got used to them. Hey, I had the body of a woman. It's not natural to look like I did at 17. I have curves and volume and a lot more confidence. I dress modestly and really didn't see a reason to fight to have a Hollywood bikini body. And really, my weight is still healthy. Why kill myself?

Still, I didn't accept it without a fight. I try to eat healthier. I've signed up for the gym a couple times. I trained for a 5k and ran it. But I couldn't keep up with any exercise routine long-term. I didn't even get the point where I could see results. Other than being able to run (ahem...slowly jog) five kilometers without walking - that was an improvement.

So I just learned to accept things. I tried to focus on being healthy; not just skinny. When I got on Pinterest, I vowed I would never pin all the fitness tips or fitness "inspiration" photos that honestly serve to depress and torture most women. I was content with my shape.

Until...things got saggy. And new textures appeared that I didn't like.

I wanted to try to tighten things up. Not to drop a size or to show off. Just to be healthier and take control of my aging process.

I've tried a few things. Nothing stuck. It was time to try something new and make. it. stick.

So I found a brief and easy exercise routine on Pinterest. Something that looked like I could commit to. Fro the record, I hate to sweat and I hate exertion. I hate cardio. I would rather lift weights all day. So I had to find something I could and would do. I found this "routine" and I started doing it last week. 

30 Jumping Jacks
5 Pushups 
25 High Knees
7 Burpees
10 Crunches 
7 Squats
5 Pushups
10 Crunches 
5 Pushups
7 Squats
30 Jumping Jacks
1 Minute Wall Sit
5 Pushups
25 High Knees

I looked at the calendar and realize that I had started it on July 1. Perfect! I made a commitment to myself to do this routine at least twice a day for the entire month of July. I didn't know whether or not I would see results, but my goal was more about perseverance than results. The results will come, but only with dedication. I needed to develop the dedication. So after talking to my husband, we decided that I can "reward" myself with an unnecessary purchase if I do my exercises twice a day for a month.

And if I do, I get to buy a new set of pots and pans to replace the set I got for my wedding and have hated for eleven years. They do not need to be replaced. They are fully functional. But, man, I hate them. My eye is on this lovely Paula Deen set.

So, today is July 9. I have been doing the routine for 9 days. I hadn't even looked into the mirror until today. And guess what? Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but I do think my stomach is a little less muffin-toppy and my rump seems to be a little less saggy. Woohoo!!!

I have miles to go, but I am happy that I have persevered for 9 days (big accomplishment for me!). And I am looking forward to my new pots and pans.

Do you exercise? What motivates you? Do you feel you have a  healthy body image?

Noelle is 2 Months Old

Guess who is 2 months old today?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Arkansas Sight-Seeing - Pea Ridge Battlefield

Another one of our outings in Arkansas took us to the Pea Ridge National Military Park - a Civil War battlefield. While I enjoy history in general, the Civil War is an era that I really don't know a ton about. So I learned a lot here. 

I won't bore you with all the details - suffice it to say the Battle of Pea Ridge was an important battle that secured Missouri for the Union and also gave the Union control of the Mississippi River. The South was favored to win the battle, yet a series of miscommunication, bad weather, and arrogance gave the victory to the North. 

There was a museum and then a drive-through tour of the battlegrounds, which are kept to look the same as they did in the 1860s.

Also, the Trail of Tears went through this same area in 1830.

Justin with a replica cannon.

From this ridge the generals could see their entire armies - about 10,000 troops. It's probably a fair statement to say that it was really, really rare for a general to witness an entire battle. 

The tavern that became a hospital

The amputation center

Years later, soldiers from both the Union and Confederacy started having reunions and erected this monument. What a true testament to the camaraderie built during war that soldiers of the opposing sides were brought together because of their shared experiences in hell. 

Justin ended up with three ticks. We're from Wyoming and Idaho and never had ticks. Weird. Well, thanks to Google and two siblings who are nurses, I removed the ticks with my eyebrow tweezers.

How cute.


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