Sunday, November 1, 2015

halloween '15

I loooooove dressing up. And dressing up my kiddos is one of my favorite "selfish perks" of having children (along with baby showers and knowing you can always leave uncomfortable social gatherings "because of the kids" - I mean, just kidding...).

And even though I couldn't get out the sewing machine to whip up anything fancy this year (Fiona's Pack 'n Play is taking up residence where my sewing table used to be) we dove into dress up season hard. The first was for a little photo shoot for my sister's birthday.

 Little Harry!

 Little Hermione!

James and Lily Potter in the Mirror of Erised!

This was super fun and took me just a few minutes to pull together. The only thing I made was the Gryffindor tie for Hermione that I also draped over Fiona's neck to be Harry's scarf. The robe for both Harry and Hermione is just my black turtleneck draped over their shoulders, but it looks pretty good! Happy Birthday, Aunt Beka!

Next was Hanover's official trick-or-treat night which is almost always way before Halloween. We were a Lumberjack and his woodland creatures. ;)

I made crochet fox and bear hats for Jaina and Fiona (the pattern is no longer available online). And I made fox and raccoon tails for Jaina and me. Did you know you can make these realistic tails with just regular yarn and a wire pet brush? Pretty nifty. I have nasty scars down my arm from the brush slipping out of my hands and scratching me, though.

Just these few pieces were totally doable - even with a colicky baby and a precocious 3-year-old underfoot. The nice thing about crochet is that if the conditions are just right you can actually work on it with a baby sleeping on you.

Look at that cute little bear cub. Last minute I realized I needed mittens for her, so I stuffed her little fists into socks. Her hat fit really well, Daddy just didn't have it pushed down all the way. ;)

Lastly, we did a daytime trick-or-treat at a local shopping center. Just for fun, I dug out last year's Red Riding Hood and wolf costumes and made Fiona the little old granny. Too cute!

I have my hair up, hence the cone head.

Jaina is having the time of her life organizing and rearranging all of her candy. Not even eating it, just putting it in piles, telling me how many of each kind she has, and explaining which 10 are her "favorite". She really doesn't grasp the concept of favorite meaning one right now, and it weirdly (and irrationally) drives me crazy. ;) So all hope of "sharing" some of her candy after she goes to bed or throwing out the really yucky stuff has gone out the window since she's taken a very careful inventory. She's one smart cookie.

If you want to see our other family costumes you can check out The Flintstones and the original Red Riding Hood crew.


Friday, August 14, 2015

fiona's birth and the bed-in

Introducing, my daughter, Fiona Ruth; born at 3:14am, July 29th.

 She was 7lb. 4oz., 19 in. with lots of fight in her!

Birth Timeline:

July 13th - Cervical cerclage removed at 36.5 weeks. Go out to Buffalo Wild Wings after. Leave the restaurant, and realize baby has DROPPED. Looks like that little stitch did it's job!
July 17th - Doctor declares me 3cm dilated, 80% effaced, with baby's head engaged! We expect to go to the hospital any minute.
July 18-27th - Nooooothiiiiiiing haaaappeeeeens.
July 28th 7:30am-1:00pm - What a nice chill day. Maybe I'll shave my legs and blow-dry my hair for the fun of it. Heck, let's paint our nails. Huh, I'm having more Braxton-Hicks than usual.
2:00-3:00pm - Yeaaaah, I should start writing these down. And maybe clean the kitchen.
3:00 - Call Zach on his way home from work to say I hope he wrapped everything up cause they might tell me at my doctor's appointment today that this is it. Contractions are 10 minutes apart but completely painless. Just a tightening and release. Jaina and I speed-clean the living room.
4:00 - Put bags in car on the way to doctor's appointment just in case.
4:20 - Doctor doesn't think I'm in real labor yet, but, hmmm, blood pressure is elevated... we're gonna send you to the hospital anyway.
6:00 - Meet Dad at York Hospital, say goodbye to Jaina, head upstairs. Contractions are 6 minutes apart and utterly painless.

6:30 - My good friend, Meredith, is my nurse. Yay! Labs for possible preeclampsia all come back negative, as expected, but they decide to have me check in anyway. Contractions are 4 minutes apart, moderate intensity, but still just feel like a blood pressure cuff tightening. What the what?
8:30 - We get set up in our own room. I find out that because of my prior c-section I'll need to be hooked up to a monitor constantly to record Baby's heartbeat. That's kind of a bummer cause it means I'll have to stay within steps of the bed rather than shower or walk around which I had been planning on to manage pain. I bounce on the birth ball for a while while Meredith holds my monitor in place since Little Lady was being stubborn and making it difficult for us to hear her heart.
9:45 - Midwife comes in and breaks my water. Woosh! Here we go.
10:00 - Um, yeah, this isn't comfortable.
10:05-11:45 - I AM EARTH MAMA, HEAR ME ROAR!!!! Do. not. touch me.
11:45 - Still only 4.5cm dilated. Epidural requested.
12:15 - Anesthesiologist arrives
12:45 - Aaaaaaaaaahhhhh..... Dim the lights. Zach falls asleep immediately. I close my eyes and settle in for the night.
1:15 - Nurse switches me to my other side and has me put on oxygen to help Baby's heart rate stay where it should be. I sleep between each contraction, but they're getting uncomfortable.
2:00 - Why does my butt hurt?
2:15 - I think I'm supposed to call if my butt hurts. If it still hurts at 2:30 I'm calling. ZZZzzz...
2:30 - Heyo! Baby's very ready to come out. Wake up Zach. He basically has a heart attack.
2:40 - My bed magically transforms into a piece of gym equipment, and they watch while I do a practice push. Midwife and nurse immediately gown up. For some reason I become very concerned about Zach and keep asking if he's okay.

3:14am - Roughly 10 contractions later I manhandled this baby out of me. Seriously never been prouder of any accomplishment. She was born face up (!!!!), and presented forehead first which is supposed to be quite a bit harder to push out. She also had her cord over her shoulder and across her body - Miss America sash style.

I had the most amazing epidural. I couldn't feel any pain, but I felt all the pressure and knew right where she was. That helped so much. Also the handles. Once they brought the handles up on the bed I rocked it.

She was so healthy and ALIVE when she came out, and it was pretty amazing to have her right up on my chest immediately. There were lots of perks with Jaina's planned c-section, but man, nothing beats that immediate contact with your kid.

3:30 - The midwife calls an OB in to do my repair stitches, and - yay! - it's my favorite doctor at the practice. So I got to see her while she fixed me up.

4:00-5:30 - After they finished with me and got Fiona all weighed and cleaned up she came back to me and nursed like a champ. Baby instinct is pretty incredible.

6:00am - We got to our room over in maternity and realize a new day just started. Only we didn't get to sleep the night before... It's gonna be a long day.

It took me quite a while to get over pulling that all-nighter. The highlight of that day was watching Jaina meet her baby sister. She was so sweet and basically clobbered her with kisses.

I didn't get to sleep much that night either. It felt like people were coming in my room all night long. And never while we had Fiona up to feed her. Grr.

My fancy homemade hospital gown. ;)

Then the next night Little Miss wanted to eat literally every hour. Friday morning I finally had a nap for an hour and a half. That was my longest stretch since Monday night. Yuuuuuuck. 

 Her profile is already so different since her face has come un-smushed.
That's what coming out forehead-first will do to ya.

I saw a mom online compare that first post-partum week to John and Yoko's bed-in. I totally agree, except with a lot more bodily fluids. ;p I was only steps away from a bed or couch for over a week. You're in a whole different dimension. It's uncomfortably intimate, tender, and intense. You can be deliriously happy one second and in the very depths of despair the next.

We've been this new family for over two weeks now, and I just feel like I'm crawling out of the postpartum bed-in cave. I finally returned all the texts I received. I'm beginning to be interested in what's going on in the outside world.

I don't know if other women experience this, but I feel like my mind was operating on over-drive the week after Fiona's birth, but I had no strength or will to express all the thoughts I was having. What this results in is whole essays written in my head while I sat nursing Fiona all night and day but then not being able to get any of those words down even if I got to a notebook or computer moments later. You'll just have to trust me when I say I had so many glorious thoughts on motherhood, birth, mortality, and pain. I think I mentally solved a few women's rights issues too. Too bad the world will never know... ;)

 Dressed and ready to go home!

Here's one snippet of something I was trying to work out:

People often look on postpartum women as angels. These serene madonnas holding court from their hospital beds. But what if we changed our perception of new mothers from angels to warriors? Wounded warriors who've just fought the biggest battle of their lives. Madonnas are silent, stoic; a sweet facade against which a precious baby sits. 

Warriors have a story worth hearing. People ask a warrior about the wounds received in battle! A madonna sits there LITERALLY BLEEDING, in a haze of hormones and maybe narcotics, muscles aching, body alternating between sweating and shivering, and sweetly answers questions about her baby - glossing over any of the unpleasant details of her birth.

Not sure where that was headed, but that's just a glimpse of what a brain high on adrenaline and every other hormone sounds like. There should be a nursing app that also has a voice recorder to capture all of the musings women have while they feed their children. ;)

So that's Fiona Ruth's birth story! I was soooo happy with how it went. She's doing so well. Jaina's doing great. Zach and I are getting there. ;) I'm trying not to be impatient waiting for our routine to fall in place. We'll get there.

More about Fiona's name to come. It took me two weeks to write this, so don't hold your breath. ;)

Monday, July 27, 2015

candyland birthday party

Jaina turned THREE last month. This was one of those milestones when she actually seemed to change overnight. Three-year-olds can do simple addition (3 people in our family + 1 baby = 4 people in our family). Three-year-olds have vivid imaginations ("Pet my doggy, Mommy!" It's a string.). Three-year-olds like to pick out their own clothes (usually every piece in exactly the same shade because it "matches"). And three-year-olds ask "Why?"

I had a blast getting her party ready. We chose a Candyland theme together months ago, and I've been pulling things together.

With New Baby on the way and being on "no lifting" orders from the doctor, I was determined to keep this year's party as low-key as possible. It was really nice to just have the party at our house, however squished it may be, and casually set up over the course of the week.

However, coming up with a candy-themed menu for a kid who's only ever had, like, 8 pieces of candy (not kidding) was rather tricky. We got creative, though. Everything within little hands' reach was fruit, vegetables, popcorn, and cheese. They had to ask to get to the good stuff.

Here's a tip on the cupcake-cones. Do NOT store them in an enclosed container. 
They become a soggy mess. Had to make round two the night before the party.

Babybel Cheese Pops

My friend (and practically cousin), Laura Harbold made these gorgeous Candyland gamepiece cookies for the party. Hire her! She is so talented. And they tasted great, too. Sugar cookies with lemon icing. Yum!

I just had to have the game pieces from the Candyland version I grew up with. The classic gingerbread men were a must. Thankfully I found someone to borrow the old game from since the one Mom and Dad had must have disintegrated over the years! These guys (washed, of course) became the cutest little cupcake toppers. I also used Starburst for the game path and the sugared Air Heads gummi rainbows.

The tortilla pinwheels on the left are one of my favorite appetizer recipes. They have roast beef, asparagus, and horseradish in them. Way yummy.

The cloud in the background was from the Rain Baby Shower I did a few years ago. The candy garlands were painstakingly threaded by me. Not sure I'd do it again. They were a sticky, gooey mess to make, and gumdrops and marshmallows are surprisingly heavy. The fishing line stretched a bit over the evening, but thankfully didn't fall down completely. 

Definitely the best version of Candyland. Princess Lolly is so cute!

Favors were just as hard to plan as the menu since I know our friends don't really do candy with their kids either. I found really cute ice cream cups for each kid, added stickers, crayons, coloring cards, one of Laura's special cookies, and a toothbrush. ; ) I also found the cutest little cupcake rattle for a tiny baby who was at the party! I was tickled about that. 

To make the coloring cards, I downloaded coloring pages that fit the theme, resized them to fit four to a page, and printed them out on card stock. I really like how they turned out, and I'll definitely use that for favors in the future.

Ten minutes before the party was supposed to start a huge rainstorm rolled in. Half the party was supposed to take place outside, so we had to bring things in pretty quickly. One part of the decor that isn't pictured is the giant lollipops and cellophane wrapped candies I had out front.

We started with a life-sized Candyland game for the kiddos. We taped a construction paper path from the front sidewalk, past the lollipops, to inside, through the living room, kitchen, and dining room, then it was supposed to go out back and end in the castle tent.

It was extremely hard to find graphics for the 80s version of the Candyland characters, but I eventually found some that someone had made. I made posters of each character and had them at all the "special" game spaces.

Two kiddos actually remained focused till the end! Yay! Pretty good for a toddler game.

She knew the pretzels were the only thing she could help herself to. I think she ate half the bowl.

I made Jaina's cupcake bow for the party. First time I've ever attempted the whole "boutique bow" thing. It's harder than it looks.

Over my shoulder you can see Princess Lolly and the lollipop game space on the ground.

Playing with the fancy new baby carrier!

Yup, totally pulled a Ryan Reynolds and put baby's feet out the bottom. We figured it out later.

Just three very pregnant mamas making candy necklaces with for their kiddos.

Even with the rain and only having my point and shoot camera this was my favorite party for Jaina so far. She really had fun and loved having her grandparents and friends over. She kept showing everyone her favorite foods and decorations and "introducing" them to all of the character posters. I'm glad my girl loves to party as much as I do!

Party Credits
Party Styling: Kara Hallead of Kara's Domestic Life
Desserts: Kara Hallead and Charlotte Sprenkle
Gingerbread Gamepiece Cookies: Laura Harbold
Peppermint Lollipops: Inspired by Find It Make It Love It!
Kool-Aid Marshmallow Pops: Inspired by The Decorated Cookie
Tablecloth fabric: Joann Fabrics
Favors: Party City & Dollar Tree
Sandwiches: Giant Food Stores