Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Meaning of Life


Us twenty-somethings spend a lot of time exploring our inner selves, looking for the niche - that certain something which defines us, inspires us to get up in the morning and face the day.

Some look for meaning in the work they do. Some delve passionately into religion and seek meaning in their faith communities and God. Others travel the world and learn who they want to be by surveying  cultures, while some are content to sit peacefully at home and knit garments for loved ones. Some even look for inner strength through physical strength. And some look for meaning in money, power, property, and possessions; or maybe living like a pauper without possessions. There are those who think relationships with others - romantic or otherwise - give them strength, and those who find strength in solitude.

I, for one, have worn many of these hats, but I have to say I never truly knew the meaning of life until Everett was born. I can honestly look back on my life over the last 10 years and think, "Damm I have it good." I married the right man, we saw the world together, we educated ourselves, and we pushed ourselves to physical and emotional limits we never dreamed possible. And now we have a physical manifestation of our love in parenthood

Sure, I am five pounds heavier than I used to be - "Jeff, would you buy me some cookies while you're at the store." 
I can't pick up and go whenever I want with a baby on board - "Ummm yes, would it be okay for me to bring this baby into the bar. I promise he's well behaved." (and yes, they let us in)
I had to quit running because there just isn't any time with a full time job and an infant - "I'll sign up for a half marathon again some day."
My house smells like casseroles instead of the gourmet meals we used to cook - "Jeff, we should find a tater tot casserole!"
I don't spend money on myself anymore - Jeff: "What do you want for Christmas?" Me: "Wouldn't these shoes be so cute on Everett?"

Who cares? None of this matters anymore, even though I used to think it did. I have to wake up at 5:30 every day to get our day started, and Jeff (my night owl husband) is there to help without a shrug or complaint.

Being a parent changes you, but only for the better. People always say to do things while you are young and without children. But friends, I say life doesn't start until you have children. I have loved seeing Jeff grow into fatherhood. I adore him more every day seeing the man he has become, and the love he has given to our son. I was happy before, but am now over the moon.

For what can be more exquisite than unconditional Love?

Not to say you should go out and have kids tomorrow. Take time to find yourself, make mistakes, see the world, kick stuff off your Bucket List. Then life will be even better when you bring a little one into your world.

"Marilla, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
-Anne Shirley

Thursday, March 21, 2013

We Be Trippin'

And I mean road trippin' fools.

2013 is the year of weddings! A couple weekends ago, I made the journey across the great state of Washington to attend my dear friend K's wedding shower. Having grown up in the Evergreen State, I am incredibly familiar with the 4 hour drive from Spokane to Seattle. However, this was the first time I made the voyage with Everett as my co-pilot (and Jesus too, I guess).

Even though the 4 hour drive turned into 6 hours with an infant, I have to say Everett made a pretty nice travel buddy. He slept like a champ most of the way, patiently watched me eat a Mondito Burrito from Taco del Mar in Ellensburg, held it together when we were waiting in the ridiculous line at Starbucks, and politely looked away when I needed to use the restroom.

And he was oh-so-adorable of course. On the way out of town, I assumed the humming of the car lulled him to sleep because he was being so quiet. However, after about 20 minutes of silence I heard the cutest little baby sneeze come from the back of the car. I had the strong desire to climb back and look at him, but my resolve to get to my destination in an acceptable amount of time trumped my desire to stare at him while he stared out the back window.

Next time we make the journey (for K's wedding), I have the knowledge which will steamline our experience.

  • First stop in Ellensburg.
  • Go through Starbucks drive thru for a treat.
  • Park behind Starbucks/Taco del Mar and nurse in the back of the car. Eat Starbucks treat while nursing. Make fun of douchey college students who are walking into Taco del Mar.
  • Change diaper at Starbucks (Taco del Mar doesn't have a changing table). The bathroom on the left has a changing table right next to the toilet, so you can do your business and make sure Baby doesn't fall off the table at the same time. Multitasking!
  • People in line for the bathroom will glare at you when you come out. In fact, you will hear, "Is someone in there? What is taking so long?" from outside the door. Sorry folks, but it takes a minute.
  • Eat a burrito at Taco del Mar.
  • Fill up the gas tank at the cheapest station (note the station that advertises cheap gas with the very small print that states: "cash only." Don't be fooled again.)
  • Head over the pass.
  • Stop again in North Bend to nurse so Everett's ears pop.
  • Arrive at destination and drink a glass of champagne.

During the shower, I left Everett under the loving, capable care of my BGFs (best gays forever). It felt strange driving across the Emerald City by myself. I am having the same strange experience in present time when I leave him at home every morning. For three months, I had my little bundle close to me 24/7. Every time I commute solo and hear a noise from the back seat, I have to remind myself that it isn't Everett. My life at work feels a little empty when I acknowledge our separation, but we are taking full advantage of the few hours we have together each day.

My heart was full after visiting my dearest friends. I am so lucky to have a group of individuals who know me inside and out, and who love me unconditionally despite all my faults. I was especially delighted to learn that Everett loves his Seattle "Aunts" and "Uncles" as much as I do.

To friendship! And yes, that is a straw in my glass of champagne. Class.

In addition to the travel necessities I mentioned in a previous post, here are a few I could not live without on a road trip:
  • I cannot stress enough the importance of owning a BOB stroller. Start saving your $$$!
  • The Travel Boppy is also worth mentioning again.
  • Your preferred baby carrier. Why don't more moms use these? For his current age, I prefer the Moby Wrap and the Baby Bjorn.
  • Since I had room in the car, I brought Everett's bouncy chair. This is a fun, safe place for him to sit while I get ready for the day, help clean up messes from the prior evening's schenanigans, and socialize with friends. In that order.
  • Pack N Plays are pretty legit. I was too lazy and tired to set it up the first night, so Evers slept on the bed with me. However, I couldn't sleep because I was staring at his adorable face all night! Since I am super protective of my sleep at this point in my life, I decided to stop being lazy - after all, I did cart the thing across the state, so I might as well use it. It was so easy to assemble that even my Mommy Brain could figure it out.

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Chapters

At long last the moment has arrived. I am making the transition into working-motherhood.

This has to be one of the scariest transitions for new mothers. For three months it has been the two of us all day, every day. I know his quirks, I have managed his feeding schedules, I got into a groove, I wore too much lululemon, and I got SO many naps. And after three months of grueling work (minus the naps and me staring in awe at him because I'm his mom and think he is the most amazing creature to bless this forsaken planet #helicopterparent), I have to leave it all behind and send him off to scream in my sister's face. And yes, my sister is awesome enough to watch our little guy while we are off trying to make it big in this world.

I was working part time from home during maternity leave, and much of what I am doing in the office is what I was doing from home. However, I think the separation has ultimately been good for us #idontwanttobeahelicopterparent. I am more exhausted at the end of the day, but I am also more excited to interact with Everett when I get home. (Hey Moms, you know how in the evenings you are like, "What else can I possibly do to entertain you today?" when it is still 2 hours from bedtime, and you just turn on the TV because you are too exhausted to give any more? It turns out I'm more interested in evening playtime now that I'm not with him all day.) AND the structure in my life has made it easier for me to remember to brush my teeth. Hollah!

My goal is to have my time home to be fun and exciting for all of us, rather than the norm. We will see how this goes...

So here is the summary for my first week back:

Day 1 - Forgot snacks, forgot milk storage bag for work, left pumped milk at work and had to go back.
Day 2 -  Forgot milk storage bag for work, forgot lids for the bottles of pumped milk (I hope to NEVER make this mistake again), left pumped milk at work and had to go back.
Day 3 - Forgot milk storage bag for work, packed extra lids for the bottles (see Day 2), left pumped milk at work and had to go back. Am I learning from my mistakes yet?
Day 4 - Remembered milk storage bag for work!!! You mostly just need this accessory so coworkers don't get disgusted from the human milk sitting next to their PB&J. Left pump bottles at home and had to go back, but remembered to bring my pumped milk home on the first try.
Day 5 - I will not make any mistakes. This is a goal, not reality.

In conclusion:

Here is a note on pumping. After I'm done I like to wash out the pump parts. I call them "the horns" because they look like musical instruments. If you feel sheepish walking said horns to the bathroom to complete this task, you may also want to pack a carrying device. However, the average person has no idea what you have in your hands, so I've just been taking them out in the open. I've been approached by a few people in the halls welcoming me back and giving me hugs of congratulations, and so far not one person has looked twice at what I am carrying.

How much breastmilk does a 3 month old need to eat? According to the Department of Health flier we received, a baby Everett's age should be eating between 24-39 ounces of breastmilk in a 24 hour period. After pumping, I organize the milk into bottles of 5oz for a feeding, then store the leftovers in 2oz portions. They go in the freezer when I get home. Everett usually eats 4-5 ounces every 3 hours or so (that equates to 6 feedings a day since he is still sleeping through the night). We experimented with a bottle of 6oz...he threw up all over my sister's house. So 5oz it is!

I think other babies eat between 3-4 ounces per feeding, but Evers is much like his dad in that he can eat whatever you put in front of him, then never gain weight. Jeff has also been known to eat so much that he vomits.

Also, Jeff thinks he's getting fat. Let's all take a moment to consider how ridiculous this is...

In conclusion, the snooze button is the devil, and I am now remembering this. Also this:

My baby can look at his feet. Isn't he the smartest?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

3 Months

It's all smiles and exploration this month. Everett has finally discovered that those tiny hands are attached to his body. It was terrifying to see the outcome of batting his fist against a rattle at first...

But now he is reaching (clumsily) for mobiles and toys with the look of pure curiosity and concentration on his face. If he snatches something, it immediately heads in the direction of his mouth. The pretty constant fist sucking is driving me a little mad, but he seems to like it.

We are in titty heaven! Yesterday I was so frustrated with my nursing bras that I took an impromptu trip out to Mother's Haven in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. I spent some ca$h on two new nursing bras, and I wish I would have done this sooner. I bought my first bras at Motherhood Maternity and kept applauding myself for saving us so much money. However, if your nipple falls out of the bra when you bend over, and if you have four boobs by the end of the day, it is time to reconsider your options. I counted my crappy, cardboard bras from Motherhood Maternity and found nine (9, NINE, Neun). So pregos, don't waste your money on those poor quality bras to begin with. Invest in a couple items that will make you feel great (and give you a perky little lift).

Mother's Haven has a great nursing room upstairs. Everett, Jeff, and I spent some time up there. We decided that we will definitely need a glider rocking chair some day. AND we got to weigh Everett on their scale. He is now 11 lbs 11 oz.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Aloha! Traveling With Bebe

This past week I had the honor of sitting on the back of an airplane with all the other children (read: shits) traveling the country with their parents. At first, I thought the conclusion to my experience was: I hate kids. But when I look back on everything that went down during our flight, I think this is more accurate: I hate parents.

I will probably be singing a different tune in a couple years, but I can say with much confidence that I learned a lot about what NOT to do as a parent traveling with children. For example, I will NOT wait for a half hour to change my child's diaper after he sharts his pants...the foul smell was stuck in my nostrils for hours after this little experience. In addition, I will not let my child scream for 5 hours. This was not "upset" screaming you hear about because little guys can't get their ears to pop, but rather screaming like he was watching the Gonzaga vs. BYU basketball game. Said idiot parents were both wearing noise-cancelling headphones the entire flight. The rest of us had to endure their obnoxious child for 5 hours and 20 minutes. Indoor voices people. Implement it.

Parents, if there is any time to indulge your children, it is definitely while flying. If you are strict about only letting them watch 30 minutes of television a day, I DON'T CARE. Bring 5 movies and keep them happy for the duration of the flight. If your baby is fussy, stand up and walk up and down the aisle with him/her. Give her candy. Play card games. Buy her an iPad. Whatever you do, please ensure that you don't piss off the other 150 people who paid hundreds of dollars to enjoy their vacation. Your child is already a POS, so one day of spoiling won't make it any worse.

To do my part, I had a few plans in place. I nursed Everett during both takeoff and landing, even though one of our flights was only an hour long from gate to gate. This ensured he was swallowing and getting his ears to pop without the terrible screaming you hear from infants. If I couldn't calm down his fussiness after 30 seconds, I latched him again until he felt better. I am not a fan of nursing for comfort, but like I said...whatever it takes to get your child to shut up. Everett did great on all 4 of our flights. He slept for most of the time, as the sound of the airplane lulled him to sleep. I have no idea how he slept through that little monster's screaming though.

If your airline offers a first class upgrade while you are checking in, DO IT!!! Having the console between your seats is incredibly convenient for storing pacifiers, rattles and the like, and having the extra room for nursing is great. FYI: when you nurse in coach, your elbow and baby's feet have nowhere to go but into your neighbor's ribcage. Also, the complementary alcoholic beverages are a plus.

People without children: when they announce boarding for families with children, this is not an invitation for you to stand up and block all the aisles. Thanks and Mahalo.

So that was the flying experience. Here are a few of our favorite travel items -

Travel Boppy: These zip up to resemble a little purse or camera bag. But there's a surprise when you open them in the form of a pillow for nursing, propping, etc. You can take this as your second carry-on and you have a comfy place to keep baby during the flight. When you get to your destination, zip it up and put it in the stroller for propping and nursing while you are out and about. I like having the Boppy with me because my arms get tired from holding up the baby after a few minutes of nursing.

Car Seat: For safety. We did not pack the car seat base on the airplane since it would be an extra $20 of checked luggage. However, you do not need it, as you can easily strap the seat into any car. Here's a handy video for instructions on how this can be done.

BOB Stroller: Or any other stroller that allows you to click in your car seat and go. Having a stroller is great because you can get baby from Point A to Point B easily, and you have a safe seat where he can hang out while you are lounging in the sun. I like the BOB because it can easily ride in sand or snow, is good for running and walking, and can easily be maneuvered around the multitudes.

Baby Bjorn: Or your favorite baby carrier. We use the Moby Wrap a lot at home, but the Bjorn is easier to get strapped into when others volunteer to carry baby. There are certain places a stroller cannot go. Like a boat. We went whale watching and had no interest in lifting either a car seat or a stroller over the rail to get on the vessel. In addition, having a baby carrier is good for hiking and other activities while on vacation.

Whale watching with the Baby Bjorn.

Everett slept through the whale watching.

Luau in the Baby Bjorn.

Extra Pacifiers: We packed 5. We came home with 2. They were lost to the Hawaiian shrubbery.

Diaper Cream: Use SO much of this when traveling to a warm climate. Everett developed a pretty bad diaper rash from the humidity. We had to let him free ball it in hotel towels a couple times to help clear up the situation.

Muslin Blankets: We like the Aden and Anais swaddle blankets. These are perfect for warm climates, as you can protect baby from the sun, but they breathe easily so he/she doesn't get too hot. Speaking of keeping baby out of the sun, don't forget a wide-brim hat and sunscreen. The Aveeno sunscreen for babies worked great for Everett, but left a little rash on his face. We used Episencial Sunny Sunscreen and it worked great. It is a little thick though, so be prepared for your child to look like a ghost until it completely absorbs.

Cabana: Hawaii is Baby Land. There were tons of new babies by the pool, and their mothers were running inside to nurse every couple hours. I pulled out my nursing cover, latched Everett, then soon discovered why everyone was heading for the hills come feeding time. The Hawaiian trade winds blew right up the wrap and exposed my boob profile to every living creature sitting behind me. So we rented a cabana. This allowed me to stay outside with the family, protected Everett from the sun (it's a little hard to find shade by the pool when a-holes put their towels on chairs at 6am to reserve them all day), kept the wind at bay, and gave me extra privacy for nursing by the pool. Plus we got a wonderful, private view of the ocean where we could watch whales all day.

Portable bed: We did not have this, but another mother of a 2 month old brought her Eddie Bauer portable infant bed down to the pool. It folds down and packs into a suitcase easily. Since you do not want to put baby on the pool chairs without protecting her from falling, this is a great solution. Baby was able to take a nap in a secure place, and Mom could put a towel over the apparatus to protect her from the sun and trade winds.

And there you have it. Highlights from the trip included family fun time, relaxing by the pool, snorkeling, whale watching, Hula dancers, Lava Flow beverages, walks along the beach, and the ability to wear shorts in February.

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