Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Paul's First Road Trip + Lake Weekend

Paul and I headed out on our first road trip last Thursday. I was pretty nervous about how it would go as he doesn't really like his car seat and sometimes screams for the entire drive when we go to doctor appointments. But luckily he was an amazing traveler! Our first leg of the trip was a 3.5 hour drive to the town where my Grandma lives. He fussed a bit for the first 10 minutes and then slept until we were about 15 minutes from our destination. He cried/screamed for those last 15 minutes as he was hungry but we were so close that I didn't think it was worth it to pull over. When we got to my Grandma's, he gulped down 5.5 ounces and we headed to lunch where he drank 2 more ounces! This boy has finally found his appetite and is gaining weight like crazy!  Phew! Momma is so relieved.

After lunch, he fell asleep in the car on the way back to my Grandma's which worked out perfectly as he was sleepy when she held him. He's going through a stage where he is pretty terrified of anyone besides me or Phil. But he fell right back asleep so my Grandma got to rock a peaceful, happy baby.

I'm so thankful that my Grandma is alive and thriving. She will turn 95 this week but you wouldn't know it as she's in great health and is still very sharp. She emails and uses Facebook and has countless games of Words with Friends going on her computer. I can't seem to beat her at that game. She played Scrabble daily with her sister for many years so is wicked good at Scrabble!


The next leg of the trip was a one hour drive to my parents lake home. Luckily Paul slept for the entire drive! Woo hoo! My parents were so excited to see him as it had been almost a month since they had seen him at the baptism. He has changed quite a bit. He's smiling more and is overall more alert. His new thing is to clasp his hands together.

Sometimes it looks like he is praying.


Sometimes it looks like he's plotting how to take over the world.


He unfortunately continued to have "stranger danger" but my mom was still able to hold him quite a bit. We had a wonderful time at the lake. It's so peaceful there and it was great to have someone cooking for me. Plus my mom is always up for feeding Paul or changing his diaper! She also took care of him on Saturday morning so I could get some extra sleep which I really appreciated.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. The picture doesn't do it justice. Before I saw the sunrise, I was kind of cranky about being up for the 3rd time during the night but once I saw the sunrise, I was thankful that baby Paul woke me up. :)


I think baby Paul is going to love lake weekends as much as his momma. We saw lots and lots of smiles that weekend.

Hopefully by our next trip he will be over this stranger danger phase. He's got 2 big fans who hate to see him cry when they hold him!


Our 2.5 hour drive back to Minneapolis also went smoothly. He slept for most of the drive and only cried for about 10 minutes. We'll take a couple more trips to the lake during my maternity leave so hopefully he continues to be such a great traveler!

Do you like road trips? I personally HATE driving but this trip was not bad at all since we could avoid traffic by leaving at off-peak times. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

My First Mother's Day!

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend and that all the Mothers and Mothers-at-heart had a special day yesterday.

I was very fortunate and got pregnant super fast after getting married so I did not spend much of my married life yearning to be a mother. However, I did yearn to be a mother for many years before getting married and always wondered when and if it would ever happen for me. So it was very special to finally be able to celebrate Mother's Day for the first time! My heart really goes out to all those who are waiting for their prayer to be a mother to be answered.

I spent the weekend leading up to Mother's Day at my parents lake cabin (more on that later this week!) but came back on Saturday night so I could spend Mother's Day at home. My dad surprised me with flowers, though. It is a beautiful arrangement and I love that it's arranged in a tea cup and saucer!


When we got home on Saturday evening, I walked into a clean house! Cleaning the house was Phil's gift to me which is perfect because I really do not enjoy cleaning these days and have a hard time making time to clean. His other gift to me was getting up with Paul on Sunday morning so I could sleep for 2 more hours. Paul has been getting up more often at night so I was very appreciative of this gift as I've been feeling really tired lately!

When I was up for the day, I grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and then headed to the grocery store. Phil offered to get groceries but grocery shopping alone now feels like a treat. Plus the store was really quiet on Sunday morning. I guess most moms didn't want to grocery shop on their special day. ;) I appreciated not having to wait in line to check out!

When I got home, Phil made brunch for us - scrambled eggs with hash browns topped with leftover pork from the take-out we'd gotten the night before. It was delicious!


After brunch, I headed to the local nursery by our house to pick up plants and seeds for my community garden plot. When I got to my plot I discovered that the water wasn't on yet. Womp womp. So I just put in my fence and turned over the dirt so that it would be ready to plant when the water is turned on later this week. I could have planted and brought some water over but that seemed like too much work and I didn't want to risk having any of my plants die as it's going to be pretty warm this week!

When I got home, Paul was still napping so I laid in our hammock for awhile and read my book, "The Garden of Small Beginnings." It's a light, fun read and perfect for a gardener as there is advice on gardening between each chapter!

Phil grilled chicken breasts for dinner that I had marinated in a Greek marinade. We had corn on the cob (which was surprisingly good!) and baked potatoes as sides. I forgot to take a picture but it was a delicious meal that only took about 15 minutes to make! Then I took Paul for a stroller walk in the hopes that he would take a short nap. He stayed awake for the whole ride even though he was yawning and rubbing his eyes.


When we got back, it was clear that he needed to go to bed as he was so tired so I gave him a bath.

Hanging out on the changing table before bath time
He LOVES bath time. He will go from meltdown mode to super happy as soon as he gets into his little whale-shaped tub!

I fed him a bottle and rocked him to sleep and he was down for the night around 8. He's starting to go to bed earlier lately which is nice as it gives me some time with Phil in the evening before I go to bed around 9:30. We watched an episode of The Crown. We are part way through season 2. I'm going to be so sad when it's over as we are loving the series. Season 3 comes out in December so we have a long wait for the next season!

I was in bed by 9:30 and fell fast asleep. One benefit of the exhausting newborn phase is that I fall asleep easily and tend to stay asleep until Paul's crying wakes me up. I know some moms struggle with insomnia when they have a newborn but so far that has not been the case for me and I hope I avoid it!

All in all, it was a lovely, quiet Mother's Day with lots of time spent outdoors. I couldn't have asked for a better day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Podcasts, Books, and Workouts of April

April was quite the month. The first half was incredibly cold and snowy which made those first couple of weeks feel reeeeaaaaaallllly long. Luckily the weather improved in the second half of the month. We were able to get out for daily stroller walks which make a world of difference! Here's how my month shaped up!

Podcasts:

Best of Both Worlds - I'm really enjoying this new-to-me podcast. So much so that I am going back and listening to all of the podcasts (I rarely do this so you know I really like it when I'm willing to go back and listen to all previous episodes). Both women come from pretty affluent households due to their professions and their husbands' professions so there's a good dose of privilege as they are able to employ nannies/household managers, house cleaners, etc, but there's still plenty to good things to take away from the episodes. I recommend this to other working moms/moms-to-be.

Books:

I managed to fit a lot of reading in this month. I continue to choose reading over TV so that is how I fit in so much reading. I tend to read when rocking him to sleep when we are up during the middle of the night and I also read during naps. Honestly, our house would be cleaner if I read less but right now I'm choosing reading over cleaning (most of the time - I do still clean our house, just not as often as I did pre-baby) because it's a form of self-care that I can fit into my life.



My favorite book of the month was Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen!

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon - 3 stars - This was a WWII book set in Italy. It was pretty good but not as good as other WWII books I've read.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica - 4 stars - This was a great page turner about a girl that was kid-napped and kept in a cabin in Northern Minnesota.

Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha - 4 stars - I really enjoyed this memoir about a couple who loses their home during the financial crisis. After losing their home, they move into a run down cabin in rural Western NC. The foreclosure happened as a result of some really terrible financial decisions (ahem, the husband - who is an accountant - didn't file/pay taxes for several years!!!) and they continue to make some pretty bad financial decisions, but it was interesting to read about how they simplified their life and attempted to live more off of the land. It's set outside of Asheville, NC, which is a place that is near and dear to my heart. The author references places/hikes I am familiar with so that made it an extra enjoyable read.

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander - 3 stars - This memoir about the passing of the author's husband definitely falls into the 'literary' category. The writing was beautiful and the subject-matter is heavy/sad as she reflects on her courtship and marriage after losing her husband very suddenly.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker - 4 stars - I've had this book on my kindle for years but put off reading it as I thought it was a fantasy book (fantasy is not my favorite genre). But it turns out that only 2 characters are fantastical. It was fun read with great character development.

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen - 4 stars - I burned through this book. It's about a couple living in the upper west side of NYC. They live in a close-knit community located on a dead end street. A conflict happens in their community that sort of drives a wedge between the couple and their neighbors and also makes the couple examine differences they've struggled with during their relationship.

Workouts:

Woo hoo! After months of having to leave this section out, I am finally back to working out. Working out definitely looks different these days, but I'm happy to be back at it and am being patient with my recovering body. I started a Post-baby workout program in April which I'm really enjoying. I'm in the middle of the first 4-week section which focuses on gently returning to strength training. There are 3 strength training workouts/week, some of which are done during stroller walks. In addition to the strength training, I've been getting out for 45-60 minute stroller walks each day. It feels so good to finally be more active!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Baby Paul: 2 Months

Baby Paul turned 2 months last week! He was such a good sport for our 2 month photo shoot!




Likes:

He still likes to make funny faces. He often looks like he is judging us.




He also likes stroller walks, as long as he isn't hungry. If he gets hungry during the ride, things go downhill fast!




He likes laying on his side on dad's lap. This will often calm him down if he gets upset. 




He also likes to be bounced before going down for a nap or to bed (which gives me quite the workout as it's like doing mini squats over and over and over), bath time, and laying on his changing table. 

His changing table is his "happy place." Note that his ankles are crossed - his ankles are pretty much always crossed!

Dislikes: his car seat, tummy time (he'll tolerate it if he's in a good mood but doesn't really care for it in general), and being overtired.

Sleeping: he's still a pretty good sleeper. He sleeps best if he goes to bed around 9-9:30 but some times he gets tired earlier so goes down around 7:30-8 and then he is up more often during the night. He used to predictably nap for 3 hours around 3pm but that is not the case anymore. Now he takes 2 longer naps (1.5-2 hours) during the day but we can never predict when those longer naps will happen! 

Feeding: he's still primarily eating bottles. He nurses in the morning and then at other times of day if he is fussy and I want to try to get him to calm down, especially in the evening. 


Growth:  He had his 2-month check up last week. He weighs 9 lbs so is not quite 1st percentile, so he is quite the peanut. His pediatrician was not concerned about his size, though, as he's hitting all his developmental milestones. She saw him smile and follow things with his eyes and she was impressed by his head control/neck strength and how strong his legs are. She said he is just growing at his own pace. She also saw him eat a bottle and was very happy to see that he is eating much, much better. 

He moved into some 0-3 month clothes as he was getting too long for a lot of his newborn clothes. 

***

We have some first coming up in the next couple of weeks. This week he'll go on his first longer car ride as we are driving about 3 hours so he can meet my grandma and then we'll spend a couple of nights at the lake with my parents. Hopefully our first longer car ride goes well! 

Then later this month, we'll be leaving him for a couple of hours so we can go out to celebrate our 1st anniversary. A couple of college friends will be watching him. He's recently become more afraid of strangers so I am hoping this goes ok. I know it's good for us to go out on a date so hopefully it goes ok and he doesn't scream the whole time we are gone! 

Overall, the first 2 months have been wonderful! They have gone by pretty fast since we've been busy with doctor appointments, but things should really slow down in mid-May and I'm hoping the remainder of my maternity leave goes by a little bit more slowly.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Currently: April

Hey there! I'm struggling to find the time to sit down and write blog posts. Paul is quite the demanding boss and keeps me on my toes much of the day!  ;) Here's what is going on in my world these days!

Reading: Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen. Quindlen is one of my favorite authors so I was really excited to see that she has a new book out! 

Loving:  my daily stroller walks with Paul. I've been waiting (not-so-patiently) for nicer weather to arrive and it finally arrived this past weekend so we got out for a nice long walk on Saturday. There was still a lot of snow on the ground at that point but it has mostly melted since then thanks to the warm, sunny weather! We've been out for daily, hour-long stroller walks every day since Friday. The fresh air and sunshine feel SO good.







Feeling: grateful that I am able to take a 20-week maternity leave. The first 8 weeks have gone by so fast since we've had soooo many doctor appointments. I'm actually looking forward to feeling a little bit bored but I'm not sure when that will happen as we still have quite a few appointments to get through this month. 

Wondering: what the pediatrician is going to say about Paul's weight at his 2-month appointment next week. When I weighed him this past Monday, he was 8 pounds 10oz. That's sooo small for 7.5 weeks and below the 5th percentile. But I don't feel like we can get him to eat more than he's currently eating. I'm also wondering how he'll handle the vaccinations he'll get at that appointment. I'm kind of dreading watching him to get all the various shots! 

Anticipating: our first anniversary! We will be going on our first date that night as 2 college friends graciously offered to watch Paul that night. We're going to our favorite special occasion restaurant, 112 Eatery, which is where we went the night we got engaged. I can't wait for a night out with Phil. It's pretty crazy that we will have a 2.5 month old on our first wedding anniversary. We are so very, very lucky. Side note: We are going to share an anniversary with Prince Henry and Princess Megan, which is kind of fun. I'm looking forward to watching the wedding coverage. I can't wait to see Princess Megan's dress!

Watching: The Crown on Netflix. Phil resisted watching this but I finally talked him into it. We are really enjoying it so far!

Grateful: for the moms I've met through the new mom class I took. We had our last class this past Monday but our group is going to continue to meet weekly until we are back at work. It's been really great to get to know a group of women who are in the exact same stage of parenting as we are. 

Working: out again finally!! I ended up purchasing a 12-week post-baby program from Gina of Fitnessista. I'm really starting over from ground 0 since I wasn't able to workout during my pregnancy between the subchorionic hemorrhage bleeding early in the pregnancy and the relentless RA flares. So I wanted to be smart about getting back into working out, hence the reason I splurged and spent $97 on this program. Plus my parents had given me money for my birthday which I had earmarked for for classes of some sort. I started the program this week and am really loving it. It's great to follow a program that is designed for a post-partum body. My body when through so dang much between pregnancy and the C-section so I know I need to be careful about my return to fitness. The 12-week program is broken out in to 3 4-week segments and the intensity gradually ramps up. The cardio in the first segment is stroller walks which we are loving!

Listening: to "Best of Both Worlds" podcast which is all about being a working mom. I listened to a few episodes and loved it so much that I decided to start back at episode 1 and listen to every episode. It's so great and something I highly recommend to other working moms!

Wishing: that my complexion was better. The only thing that has worked in the past is birth control plus another drug called spironolactone. I can never be on birth control or any hormonal supplement again due to the genetic mutation that makes me prone to getting blood clots. And spironolactone is not safe to use while breast feeding. My dermatologist gave me a topical antibiotic but it hasn't done much good. I hate how awful my complexion is right now so I've decided to eliminate dairy as that has helped in the past. I'm hoping that it will also help with the silent reflux Paul has. I can tell he's in pain after eating which is tough to see so hopefully I can kill 2 birds with one stone by eliminating dairy! 

What are you reading, watching and wishing?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Baby Paul's Baptism

Baby Paul was baptized this past weekend. We had planned the baptism for April 15th before he was even born. At the time we were hoping that the weather would be nice enough for our guests to hang out on the back deck. Our house is pretty small and we were expecting 15+ people so the extra outdoor space would make things more comfortable.

Well, that did not happen because we got the 12th biggest snow storm in Minneapolis's history on Saturday-Sunday.


Our back deck on Saturday in the early afternoon
Luckily my parents and sister and her family that were traveling from North Dakota/NW Minnesota made it. I did not expect either of them to make it but they lucked out and were able to arrive in the Twin Cities before the snow really started to fall.

My mom came over on Saturday afternoon to help with the meal prep. I tried to keep it as easy as possible. I was only about 6 weeks post partum so I didn't want to overdo it but I also wanted a special and delicious meal for our guests. We made 2 egg bakes and a spiced coffee cake. A couple of weeks earlier I made a couple of batches of homemade granola which we served with vanilla yogurt and fresh berries. Phil's mom provided a fruit salad. Unfortunately she was not able to make it as she hadn't been dug out by Sunday morning and the roads were still awful.  :(

On Saturday afternoon my mom and I got were pretty busy in the kitchen. Phil was running errands and doing other things around the house, so I put Paul in the K-Tan carrier so I could have both hands free to help out in the kitchen. In the past he has hated being in the carrier but he now likes it! Score!


My mom was planning to go back to my brothers that night since they have a roomy suburban home, but we ended up getting about 15" of snow that day and it was still snowing in the evening so she ended up staying with us. Luckily she had left her bags in the car when she came over on Saturday so she had everything she needed! I don't think she minded getting stranded at our house as she got lots of extra cuddles from Paul!

The baptism was on Sunday morning after mass. I bought an outfit for Paul when he was just over a week old. At that point I thought he would be in 0-3 month clothes so that is the size I bought for him. Everyone always says that babies are barely in newborn clothes...  turns out that is NOT the case for us as he'll be in that size for at least 2 months since he is such a peanut! So his outfit was pretty big on him but we just went with it because I had nothing else to dress him in.

Paul's expression = how he feels about wearing something besides sleepers
The baptism was really nice. He was baptized by one of the priests who officiated at our wedding. It's pretty crazy that he was performing this sacrament just under 11 months after he married us! We ended up baptizing Paul at a church 2 blocks from our house instead of the church we got married at. We both prefer the church where we got married but convenience rules right now (the other church is downtown so not a super convenient location to get to). We were VERY glad we only had to drive 2 blocks (we would normally walk but that was out of the question with the amount of snow we received - plus it was STILL snowing on Sunday morning).


With Father Park

Paul's Godparents - my brother Kevin and SIL Julie

With grandma and grandpa
After the baptis, everyone came back to our house. We ended up having 11 guests in addition to Phil and me. Phil's mom was snowed in and he told his aunt and cousins who were planning to come to stay home and meet Paul another time since the road conditions were so bad.

I was too busy to take any pictures of the food, besides the cake that we ordered from a local grocery store. In hindsight we could have skipped dessert as not many people ate cake but oh well. My sister-in-law made homemade vanilla ice cream and I enjoyed a large serving of that as her ice cream is so good (the cake was not GF - GF cake sucks so I just ordered a regular cake).



Paul got to meet 3 more of his cousins! As you can see, we quickly changed him out of his fancy outfit and into a cozy sleeper!

Evelyn, my youngest niece

Charlie and Paul

My Godson James and Paul

After brunch everyone headed out. It was still snowing so the out-of-towners wanted to hit the road so they'd have plenty of time to get back home.

By the end of Sunday, we had about 20" of snow, I think.


It's soooo depressing to look out our window in mid-April and see all this snow. I know it will melt fast but it's just insane that we have so much snow on the ground. This snowstorm was the 12th biggest snowstorm Minneapolis has ever experience. Additionally, it set a record for the biggest April snowstorm on record and made this the snowiest April on record. It also made this season the 10th snowiest winter ever, and 1/3 of the seasonal snowfall happpened in the last 2 weeks. :....(

We tried to get out for a walk today as I *thought* that sidewalks would be shoveled by now (you are required by law to shovel your sidewalks within a day or 2 of a storm). I tried walking along a road that is lined with commercial businesses as I thought for sure the sidewalks would be clear. NOPE.

But I guess this weather is what makes us midwesterners so hearty. And it really makes us appreciate beautiful summer and fall days. I'm just ready for those beautiful days to be here!

Nonetheless, Paul's baptism was a very special event, even with the terrible weather and the missing family members!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Baby Paul: 6 weeks

Baby Paul turned 6 weeks yesterday! I haven't written an update since 3 weeks as life has felt really busy. I have yet to feel the least bit 'bored' during maternity leave. We have had a lot doctor appointments between me and Paul and my mom's group meets twice a week so between all of those trips out of the house plus visitors, the first 6 weeks have felt pretty busy. I'm really hoping things slow down soon as I don't want my whole maternity leave to fly by as fast as the first 6 weeks have!

Weight gain has continued to be our chief concern so far. He's finally starting to consistently gain weight, though, so that is a big relief for mom and dad - especially for mom as I have worried so much about his weight. As of Monday he was above 8 pounds, but just barely which means he only gained 12 ounces in the first 6 weeks of life (plus the weight he lost after he was born so he's gained over a pound when you factor that in). I expected breast feeding to be a challenge but I never imagined how challenging feeding a baby would be.  We saw a speech pathologist a couple of weeks ago for a feeding consult (this is something pediatric speech pathologists specialize in - a lot of people have been confused when I say our 4 week old saw a speech pathologist) and we saw an OT and ENT this week. The OT gave us some things to work on to strengthen his ability to suck and swallow and the ENT confirmed that he has a mild case of something called Laryngomalacia, which makes it harder for him to suck, swallow and breath efficiently. Luckily it's something he will grow out of, though. 

He started to smile in the last week or so which has been so fun for Phil and me. There's nothing like having your baby lock eyes with you and grin! Some are just little smiles but we've gotten a few big smiles that I haven't been able to catch on camera.





Likes:

He still likes to work his legs out of the legs of his sleeper so he can pull them close to this body. I am impressed that he can still do this because a lot of his sleepers are getting snug lengthwise. He's quite the little Houdini!

Yea! I got my legs out!
He still loves to move his arms around. He'll even move them around in his sleep if he isn't swaddled. It looks like he is conducting an orchestra!


He also likes sticking out his bottom lip in the most adorable way when he is upset, his pacifier, bath time, his swing, and laying on his side to fall asleep in mom's arms.

Dislikes: eating right after he wakes up from the epic 3 hour naps he takes each afternoon. He goes back and forth from sucking to screaming...  I don't know if he has gas at that time of day or what the deal is but it only happens during that feeding so we just kind of accept that it's not a fun feeding experience for the bottle giver (which is almost always Phil). He also dislikes the evenings in general as that is when he is fussiest, being burped when he wants to keep eating, being cold, and he now dislikes tummy time after liking it the first couple of weeks of life.

Sleeping: He is a good sleeper - at least for now! He goes to bed around 9:30 and will sleep for a 5-7 hour stretch. After that he is up every 2-3 hours. I used to get up during his first 5-7 hour stretch to pump but am trying to cut that pump out as I just really need my sleep. 

He doesn't sleep well during the early and mid-day unless he's in the stroller and being held but he goes down for a super long nap around 2:30-3 and sleeps for 3-3.5 hours. I hope that keeps happening because it's nice to know that I have 3 hours to get stuff done around the house and I sometimes will lay down for a nap when he is sleeping when I'm particularly exhausted. 

Napping in mom's lap

Feeding: I'm pretty much exclusively pumping and giving him bottles. He breastfeeds in the morning most days so he can stay familiar with it. I haven't given up on being able to breastfeed him when his suck gets stronger but for now I've come to terms with the fact that I need to pump. I'm not sure how long we'll exclusively breastfeed him. I honestly hate pumping and find it so hard to pump + care for an infant. But my tentative goal is to make it to 6 month. I've frozen about 100 ounces so far and my daily supply of breast milk is gradually increasing so I'm hoping that I can cut back on how often I'm pumping when I return to work. But we will see how things play out. 


So all in all, things are going really well. He's gaining weight, he's sleeping great, and he's a pretty content little guy! Sure there are things I'd like to change, like the fact that breast feeding hasn't worked out for us, but I know that we are very lucky to have such a healthy, sweet baby boy!

He'll get to meet more family this weekend as his baptism is on Sunday. Well, I should say *hopefully* he'll be meeting more family. Sadly we are supposed to get a winter storm on today/tomorrow. I can't believe we are getting another storm in April. We could get 6-12" of snow in addition to rain and freezing rain. This is the worst April I can remember as we got 10" of snow earlier this month and a few other smaller snow falls and we might get more snow on Wednesday. It's so depressing to look out the window and see snow but hopefully spring will arrive very soon! I'm crossing my fingers and toes and praying the weather forecast is home so that my parents and sister and her family can make it down here for the baptism!