Looking forward

One of the bonuses of being really, really sick to the point of depleting my vacation time (because of course my sick time is hovering at the zero hour mark), if I have to find one, is that I actually had some time to focus on planning E’s first birthday party.

For months, I have refused to even think about the notion of this event, mostly because of my reluctance to admit that our child is careening toward this milestone, but also because we have a teeny, tiny house that couldn’t contain our immediate family, let alone close friends. The latter concern, now that I’ve solved it, is laughable, given that I am a skilled, professional event planner, but the challenge truly threw me for a loop.

While digesting episode upon episode of the Law & Order franchise, I researched budget-friendly local venues, potential entertainers, and themes. I discovered that a local community center rents rooms of all sizes for very reasonable rates and called their scheduler to inquire about availability. I determined that the musician that E loved when she performed at his daycare Halloween party regularly plays for children’s parties, so I asked about her rates and availability, as well. Within a matter of mere days, I had hired the musician, who will play a half an hour set and bring a craft and an instrument for each child, reserved the room at the community center, paid deposits on both, decided upon a generic music theme, researched decor and sent out preliminary e-vites to close friends and family members.

I guess that settles it. We have a little kid who is turning one year old and we’re celebrating it with a party. Commence freak out.

Letting go

We recently had a mandatory staff meditation retreat. Is anything less relaxing than being required to relax at a given time and in a specific way, all during the busiest season at work? Despite my reluctance (and that’s putting it mildly), I challenged myself to take in the messages and tips presented that day, and I’m really glad that I did. I learned quite a bit about managing stress and keeping myself from assigning weight to stressors that are truly a lot tamer than how I allow them to impact me.

crawling into bathroomAs it relates to my job, I need to keep in mind that, while I do work that contributes to the greater good, what I do each day is not a life or death sort of situation. Sure, my work funds some actual life-saving programs, but I need to remember that getting upset about a last-minute request for a report or mailing only zaps me of energy that could be spent where I’d prefer to focus it – on my son, husband, and adorable companion animals. I need to exert the relevant amount of energy to the task-at-hand.

turkey nomsAs it relates to my personal life, especially with the holiday season upon us, I need to let go of some of the messages people in our lives are giving to E, even if they are not aligned with some of our parenting approaches. (Obviously, there are some non-negotiables like blatant disrespect.) Do I really have to spin my wheels being irritated about someone pretending that E has injured them when I’m actively working to teach him pain-related boundaries? The time E spends with me and the messages he gets from me are so much more prevalent and I know he’ll one day understand that pulling my hair hurts his mommy. Again, seething about this – something that should be a minor annoyance – only serves to distract and drain me.

I am working to let go, breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth…

The long-awaited return

As promised, I’m trying to get back into the swing of this blogging thing. It seems like I have less and less time these days, but it’s important to me that I attempt to document our experiences as parents and the rapidly changing person that is our dear E.

E these days:

  • After so many months of massive drooling, chewing on everything and general fussiness, E is finally getting his first tooth. In fact, because he’s an overachiever like his parents, he’s getting two teeth at once. He hasn’t been too large of a wreck, but there are times in which he’s clearly in pain. Tylenol has helped a bit during those horrible times, but even with it, he occasionally cries out from pain in his sleep. It’s heartbreaking.
  • E is still exploring solids, though life is so hectic and busy that it’s not unusual for us to skip solids entirely some days. His daycare is giving him solids during the day, but he really seems particular about eating them. Sometimes he turns his nose up at foods for which he’s previously shown an obsession. It’s totally normal for youngin’s to gag on solids at first, but because he has a sensitive gag reflex, this sometimes results in a pukefest. Oh what fun.
  • 6moLifetouch2He’s a general ball of silliness and joy. E literally grins and laughs the vast majority of the day. Everyone comments on what a happy baby he is and that makes me feel so good. His smile is infectious and his laughs are musical. I think his smile was captured really well in his recent photos at daycare.6moLifetouch
  • A lot of people comment on how big E is, but as of his 6 month pediatrician visit, he only weighs 18 lbs, 6 oz and is 26″ long. He’s literally 50th percentile for both height and weight on the growth charts. Mr. Average. I think he looks big to people because he has such a long torso.
  • E is on the verge of crawling. He scoots all around our hardwood floor, mostly backwards, but occasionally manages to move forward. He pivots around and around and rolls. He’s been getting up on his knees, doing some pelvic rocks and even planks. It’s only a matter of time, we think. K and I have definitely added babyproofing to our agenda in the near future.
  • HalloweenI made a simple clown costume for E’s first Halloween. I think he looked adorable and I’m shocked by how patient he was with the elasticized clown hat. I was, unfortunately, not feeling well and couldn’t attend the much-anticipated Halloween party at his daycare. K attended and my guys had a great time.

Us these days:

  • K is super busy with work. He’s on a somewhat new project that has some pretty unrealistic deadlines. It’s been making K and all of his coworkers really stressed. One of his bosses has even had an outbreak of stress-related shingles!
  • Things are really ramping up for me at work these days, too. The holidays are a very busy time of year in the fundraising world. I’m responsible for writing our fundraising letters as well as processing and acknowledging gifts. 80% of the funds raised through our direct mail program come in during the end of the year, so that should give you a sense of what will be on my plate.
  • The entire family has been sick lately. K had a 103 degree fever for over a week and had to take a lot of time off of work. E had a double ear infection. Then I got viral laryngitis, a sinus infection and am on the verge of an ear infection. Now that I’m finally feeling better (though my voice doesn’t sound like it), K is getting another cold. WHY?!?!?!?!?!
  • I feel like we’ve hit our stride as parents. I no longer feel like a new parent and I no longer feel thrown by every twist and turn that occurs. We have a decent routine down while remaining fairly flexible for all of the inevitable changes that are bound to happen. I also feel like we’re setting reasonable boundaries and expectations, and that feels good.
  • We’re still dealing with some annoyances with K’s parents. When K was sick, they tried to trample K’s boundaries to meet their own selfish needs. When K set limits, they freaked out, calling him selfish and stirring up all sorts of drama. We spoke to K’s sister about it and she said that their parents are still upset that we won’t “accept” their offer to watch E once a week. Needless to say, I am beyond thankful that they’re now in Florida until Thanksgiving.

Mama time

Between the second car and new medication, I am a much happier, more relaxed mama. I estimate that I have roughly 7 more hours each week during which I can enjoy our little dude, tackle projects around the home, actually cook dinner for our family, and even tap into hobbies and interests I enjoyed before E arrived on the scene.

Today, K, E and I went to a Mom 2 Mom sale, where we acquired some clothes in the next couple of sizes from what E is currently wearing, as well as a few toys. He’s so much more active these days – whew! – and needs more stimulating and interactive toys. We know that he truly enjoys music, so this is one of the toys we picked up (sweet – only $2!):

E's new toy

In addition to cooking more dinners for K and I, we’ve begun introducing solids to E. I’m really enjoying preparing wholesome, tasty food for E. We’re attempting more of a baby-led weaning approach, where E has more empowerment over his food experience, though we are introducing solids in a slow, choosy way because K has a family history of food allergies. We are also doing more purees for now because E can’t yet sit up – he’s so close – and there’s more of a choking hazard if a little one can’t sit up and spit out whatever might be in his/her mouth. So far, E has enjoyed applesauce and bananas. His two favorites were ginger-spiced, roasted carrots, which he kept cramming in his mouth while making “come to papa” eyes, and quinoa risotto, which made him squeal in a voice I’ve never heard before or since. Here are a few photos for your enjoyment:

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This afternoon, K took E to visit his parents and gave me the gift of some mama time. I spent part of it attempting to make a wool diaper cover from a sweater I acquired at a local resale shop. It was my first try and I believe it’ll be too small. I’ve decided not to be upset about it, though, because it inspired me to get my sewing machine out of storage for the first time in months, gave me a chance to get reacquainted with it, and helped me to better understand how to make a wool diaper cover when I get the time to try again.

How do you spend the little bit of down time you have? If you don’t currently have any down time, what do you daydream about doing during down time you will hopefully one day have?

A random, early morning update

K has been taking the majority of the middle of the night feedings and sleeping longer in the morning while I get up with Baby E for his first few morning feedings. My body has gotten used to being “on” at around 5 a.m., but for some reason, baby’s feeding schedule was slightly off last night, leaving me with no official reason to be awake as early as I am right now. I figured it was one of the few opportunities I seem to have these days to post an update.

We convinced the pediatrician to “try” Zantac for a month for E’s reflux, which has gotten increasingly worse. She said that it typically takes about four days to notice an improvement, but several other sources I’ve ready indicate it could take up to two weeks. We’ve already noticed about a 50% improvement in symptoms, especially as it relates to spitting up, but he still has long stretches of inconsolable crying/fussing about every other day. It’s exhausting to watch our baby be in such discomfort and not be able to do anything about it, and the constant need is also draining, leaving us as not our best selves (ok, mostly me. K is a gem). I ordered a hazelwood necklace yesterday, which many say has the ability to improve reflux symptoms by absorbing acid from one’s body. Let’s just say I’m desperate enough to try anything, evidence based or not.

Everyone in our lives, sans the pediatrician, seems to think we need to try E on a different formula. I think part of this stems from the commonplace assumptions in the late 70’s through the 80’s that babies had dairy problems if they showed even the slightest sign of gastrointestinal issues, promptly switching kiddles to lactose-free varieties. Couple that with increased current awareness around food sensitivities in general (which is a great thing, really), and you have the perfect storm for unsolicited advice around what we should be feeding our child. Sadly, not much of this advice is based on anything scientific I’ve researched, as our baby shows zero symptoms related to dairy sensitivity, unless these symptoms happen to be shared (or are even MORE commonly exhibited) with reflux issues. So reflux it is.

On a more upbeat note, Baby E is starting to show signs of social smiling (vs. the common early infancy gas/poo-related smiles). It’s as though he knows the exact right thing to do with his exasperated parents, who want nothing more than to see their baby happy and comfortable… and he truly is most of the time. Even when his reflux issues pop up, he can go from being smiley one minute, to a full on reflux-related meltdown, and back to smiley. I really feel like he’s a happy baby trapped in an unhappy body. His gummy, lopsided grins make my heart melt.

I think we’ve gotten past the point in which the skeptics in our lives, who thankfully held their tongues, had assumed we’d have long since given up on our hippy idealism as it relates to cloth diapering. Sorry, haters, but I’m even more invested in it than I was when it was all still a theoretical plan. Baby E is starting to fit into more of his pockets, which have way cuter designs than anything else in our cloth diaper stash, and it’s fun to try to pick out which diaper to put on him at every diaper change. I think even E likes them – and I can’t imagine a baby preferring a wad of absorbent chemicals next to their body instead of something so soft and fluffy. Even the laundry has been a breeze! I’m sure it’ll get slightly hairier as I make my transition back to work at the beginning of June, but perhaps not. I was handling it just fine when I temporarily suspended my leave to deal with a much more stressful work pace and project than I’ll be facing upon my return.

K and I earned another new parenting merit badge this week when we went on a date without E for the first time. He stayed with his grandparents (K’s parents), who fed him and changed his cloth diapers without incident. Wouldn’t it figure that he also didn’t really exhibit many reflux signs while with him. (I swear this kid wants to make us look like hysterical new parents who are exaggerating his symptoms!) A good time was had by all and it increased my confidence around carving out the very crucial time for K and I to continue to have an adult relationship that doesn’t entirely revolve around our roles as parents.

As I am anticipating a hunger wail pretty much any minute now, I should probably conclude for now. At some point, I will have to update you all about our recent visit to my parents’ place, which was, at many times, stressful and infuriating.

The Long-Awaited Nursery Reveal

It’s official: the nursery is now mostly complete. I say “mostly” because we are still waiting on the crib skirt to arrive and, because we recently ordered it as a part of our massive Amazon nursery completion order, it likely won’t be here until after our Little arrives. K is trying to convince me that Falco won’t mind.

The nursery is yellow and grey with chevron details. We opted to paint the nursery a cheery but not juvenile looking yellow (Sherwin-Williams Harmony low-VOC Acrylic Latex paint in Lantern Light Eg-Shel). We did this for several reasons:

  • Grey paint is notoriously difficult, as it typically reads as either blue or mauve, depending on the undertones and light in the room.
  • We wanted the paint to be able to easily transition as Falco gets older.
  • We wanted the paint to read as neutral, since we’re renting and didn’t bother to ask our rental agency if we could paint the room (yep, we’re total rebels).

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Crib: babyletto Hudson 3 in 1 in grey, purchased via Zulily for a $60 reduced price. Woot!
Rug: Mohawk Yellow Ziggidy, again purchased via Zulily.
Baby quilt: Designed and constructed by an amazing friend.

mobile, crib and picture

Fitted crib skirt: Sewn by me using a free online pattern with Keepsake Calico Gray & Yellow fabric.
Mobile: Designed and constructed by me
, using various fat quarters, polyfill, ribbon and a yellow yarn-wrapped embroidery hoop. It was inspired by my favorite song I sang as a child (and can’t wait to sing to Falco), “You Are My Sunshine.”
Print: Purchased and framed by K’s Aunt K (the one who hosted our family shower), designed by Ellen Crimi-Trent. K’s Aunt saw that I had posted a similar print to Facebook with the intent of creating a craft that was inspired by it, tracked down the artist, and placed the order via her Etsy store.

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Shelves: IKEA EKBY TONY/EKBY BJÄRNUM (previously purchased, used at my former job and repurposed).
Piggy banks: The Sponge Bob one was gifted to us by my mother at our family shower. It belonged to my late grandmother, who used it for her Bingo winnings, which are also enclosed. The other one was hand painted by me during a holiday outing with my coworkers. One side says, “[Falco’s] 1st Car Fund.”
Sign: Designed and framed by a friend. It says, “E is for… [Falco’s intended name, masked for privacy/anonymity.]”
Bunny lovey: Gifted to us by K’s cousin at our family shower. It matches an adorable stroller blanket.

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Dresser: IKEA HEMNES 8-drawer dresser, purchased by K’s parents as a Christmas gift.
Changing pad cover: Aden + Anais 100% Cotton Muslin in Safari Friends Giraffe.
Afghan: Handcrafted by my mom and gifted to us at our family shower.
Garbage can turned diaper pail: iTouchless Deodorizer 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Automatic Touchless Trash Can with Carbon Filter. There’s also a yellow wetbag inside.

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Vintage diaper pin decor: Ballard Designs, gifted to us by my parents as a nod to our intention to cloth diaper.

new cat bed slash changing pad

Kis thinks this changing pad is a kitty bed. Can’t say I blame him.

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Floor lamp: Nickel-plated IKEA ALÄNG. We also purchased a matching table lamp for later use when Falco is in a big kid bed and has nightstand that we also purchased.

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Rocking chair and matching ottoman (previously shown): IKEA POÄNG, birch veneer with Lockarp gray cover, purchased for as a Christmas gift from my parents.
Bookshelf turned “diaper tower”: IKEA HEMNES in white. Shown is only a small portion of our cloth diaper stash, just enough for Falco’s smaller sizes.
Throw blanket: Frost chevron gray by THRO, purchased via Zulily.
Diaper bag: JJ Cole Mode in Mixed Leaf, purchased by a family friend.
Toy bin: Purchased by K’s mom and filled with an assortment of toys we purchased and acquired as gifts.
Philly LOVE ornament: Purchased for us by a dear friend.
Vintage rolling curtain: Came with our glamorous home rental.

elephants from Grandmas

Elephant plushies: Purchased, separately and independently, by each Grandma-to-be.
Baby book: Purchased by K at a local boutique.

prints

Prints: Designed by a dear friend (the same one who designed, “E is for…”).

What do you think? I’m pretty excited about it and can’t wait for our Little to join us!

Note: the following post, Our Birth Plan, is password protected as some of our future posts might be. We would love to continue sharing details with our treasured followers, so please request a password by emailing us at thefalcoproject (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks!

75% Cooked

As of this week, K is 30 weeks pregnant and we officially have about 10 weeks left to go. It amazes me when I think of how far we’ve come. At this point, I feel like the majority of our large preparations have already occurred.

Our choice of cribs kept being reduced in price at every vendor we visited, but because we thought one of our family members, or even a group, might consider purchasing it from our registry, we kept putting it off… until it was even more greatly reduced on Zulily. We took it as a sign and snatched it right up! The crib arrived on Friday and I assembled it late last night while K and the dogs slumbered together on the couch. My parents purchased the crib mattress from our registry, and it should arrive next week. I can’t wait to post photos of the nursery, which should be completed soon!

The invitations to our family shower are officially in the mail, albeit wayyyyyy later than what makes me feel comfortable (or, notably, than what is considered polite to guests), but hey, I’m not planning it. My teammates at work indicated their desire to throw me a work shower, so now I am attending a total of four baby showers in seven days:

  • 3/10 – our friends shower
  • 3/15 – my work shower
  • 3/16 – our family shower
  • 3/17 – attending the shower of some friends
  • 3/18 – taking a random day off work to recuperate from the whirlwind

It has taken forever and a day, but Lowe’s is delivering the new washing machine today. I’m really thankful for this fact, as hauling a week’s worth of laundry to a laundromat is getting exhausting. I intentionally did it alone this week, too, because K’s getting more tired now that our little Falco is getting larger and putting a lot more pressure on K’s back. I have to wait until at least Monday for the rental agency to send someone to actually install it (NO clue why Lowe’s doesn’t install it), but the end is in sight!

So many things on the horizon: the showers, another OB appointment, a meeting with the doula, and further Falco preparations. I am looking forward to documenting it all for you all!

An update on the shower drama

We’d like to thank the many of you who expressed your outrage about our baby shower drama. We finally have an update.

K received a phone call from his aunt while he was driving home from work on Tuesday evening. Since he commutes with a large group of people who definitely don’t need to know our business on the matter, he opted to let the call go to voicemail. His aunt left a voicemail, asking him to give her a call so that we could sort through the guest list and come up with something that works for everyone.

We were pretty nervous about what this could potentially mean, so we strategized before calling her back. K and I discussed what mattered most to us about a shower and about our role as parents: that people in our lives view and respect us as Falco’s parents – K as the father-to-be and me as the mother-to-be. If his aunt had a family only shower (and the men in our families wouldn’t be too interested in attending), we wanted to be certain that we were being celebrated in those roles that felt respectful and comfortable for us.

K called her back. His aunt said that she was hurt by our response because, from the moment he came out, she has viewed him as her nephew (which is true, but doesn’t account for her recent poor word choice in referencing a “girls-only shower”). She said if I was the partner who was carrying our child that he wouldn’t even be invited to this shower because the family’s tradition is to have more intimate gatherings with mostly/all women present. We made the collective decision that she would host a family only shower like referenced above. While I don’t think she took enough ownership or apologized for her hurtful word choice, it sounds as though the situation is resolved in K’s mind.

We’re truly lucky to have wonderful chosen family members who have made it clear that they’d be thrilled to host a gathering for friends, so we’re definitely not going to miss out on that experience. K and I are both thinking that a friends gathering would be a hell of a lot more fun than this stodgy family only format, and that we’ll feel much more comfortable and authentic amongst our friends.

K pointed out that having separate gatherings also allows us the option of announcing Falco’s sex to the group of people who we trust will not equate what is/isn’t between Falco’s legs with a whole load of assumptions and values. We could wait to tell family members when Falco is born. Since the only people we know who read this blog are friends, it would also give us the option of talking more openly about Falco’s sex via this blog (and trust me, I’m itching to do so).

Decisions, decisions…

Changing our minds?

Our initial plan was to reveal Falco’s sex at the baby shower. We thought it would be fun to play some sort of game where people guess or vote Falco’s sex in a creative way before we announce it. That is, before almost everyone we know has told us that they think we’re having a boy. The more we think about our initial plan, given this skew, the more anticlimactic it seems. We either say, “Hooray! You’re all right!” or, “Suckas! You’re all wrong!”

The sex of this kid is obviously just one tiny piece of information about her/him. It’s one little detail that doesn’t really inform anyone about anything truly important. Why are we continuing with our ridiculous plan if we no longer feel excited about it?

We have several friends who are expecting and aren’t announcing the sexes of their babies until their births. I recently asked one of these couples their reasoning behind this and it really resonated with me. Their response was that there are so few things these days that are true surprises. Everything is known before it ever happens, or, at the very least, within seconds of it happening. They really wanted an exciting piece of information to share with their loved ones.

K and I are now seriously considering waiting until Falco’s birth to announce his/her sex with a name, date/time of birth and other basic newborn-related details. It just seems like a way more exciting option, but is it completely ridiculous to switch gears like this after telling people our initial plan? Can we just chalk it up to a new parent’s prerogative to change his/her mind? Is it worth pissing off my mother-in-law, who was already mad enough about us waiting until the shower to announce Falco’s sex?