Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Family Fun

Merry Christmas Eve! This year, we've done Christmas to the max it seems, and I have a feeling we will be doing Christmas even bigger as the girls get older. 

We decorated as a family right before Thanksgiving (we have no qualms about blending the two holidays). Daisy loves to decorate! We had to keep her from taking off the ornaments so she could re-decorate. 

To start December, we made Christmas cookies with friends. Daisy loves to roll out the dough and use cookie cutters. Daisy helped Daddy make "Christmas pretzels," which is Zane's traditional Chex mix/Almond bark candy treat. 

We went to Raglan Road twice this year. The first night, Daisy danced up on stage with the Irish step dancers. She was adorable. The next week when we returned, she danced on stage twice! By the second time (her third time dancing), she basically knew the whole routine. 

It's always fun to walk around Disney at Christmas time and see all the beautiful decorations!

The weekend before Christmas we had an extended-family Christmas celebration with some of my family at my grandparents' house. With just five of my cousins' families, we had eleven great-grandchildren present. This is the best photo we could get of all the kiddos. 

Then we jumped over to Zane's family for the annual cupcake decorating competition. My creativity must have been depleted this year, because I couldn't create anything worthy of winning, but we did get some cute photos of Amy and her cousin Declan.

Christmas Eve was spent at another family party. The girls had super cute Christmas dresses, but we forgot to take a photo of them! We spent Christmas with Zane's family, then did Christmas again on the 26th with my family. This last week has been spent relaxing with family and catching up with a few friends in Orlando.

I hope all of you have had a fun season with family like we have! 2014 was a wonderful year with lots of changes (moving, nursing school, new baby). We look forward to all that 2015 brings! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mommy of Two: Two months in

Wow, how can one month feel so long! Other people have said, "She's already two months? Wow that went fast!" But it's the same concept as other people's pregnancies always go faster than your own. I'm living each day in all its hours watching this little person grow up, and it feels long. 

Long isn't necessarily bad though. I've enjoyed watching Amy fatten up and raise her head and follow objects with her eyes. She gets distracted while eating if Daddy or Daisy start talking in the room. She loves to watch Rufio run around. I'm still her favorite person, and seem to always have the magic touch when calming her down, even without nursing. 

I love having a baby. She's so cute and sweet. I love her smiles and squishy cheeks. I'm excited for the future and for the girls to interact more, but I'm really loving Amy's baby stage too. 

It feels like Amy is growing up faster than Daisy did. Time goes slowly, but Amy's growth in that time seems fast. Her milestones seem too soon, but I guess that's because I'm not waiting with anticipation for them to happen like I did with Daisy. 

In addition to her milestones, she's growing in size faster than Daisy did. She's already in six month clothes!! All her cute three month clothes are packed up. 

This month Amy started going seven hours between feedings at night. That gives me about six consecutive hours of sleep overnight, which means I can go without a nap during the day if necessary. 

No naps are helpful, because I opened my Etsy shop back up this month, and I've been busy with orders. Pregnancy slowed down my sewing WAY more than having an infant. When Zane is here to watch the girls, I can knock out my orders in a few hours. When I was pregnant, I had to stretch them out over days. Just an interesting observation. 

One thing that will probably remain a challenge no matter what is this constant worry that I'm neglecting one of the girls. When I'm holding Amy, I'm worried that Daisy's not getting enough attention, and when Amy's stuck in her yellow rocker for most the day, I'm worried that she's not getting held enough. How do people add more kids to the mix?

I had quite a bit of baby blues the last couple months, but ever since Zane's winter break from school started, I have felt much better. His daily presence has given me the break that I needed, like when he gets up with Daisy in the morning, and I get to sleep an extra hour. He starts back to school in January, but I think I'll be in a much better place then. I have several goals for the new year, and I'm excited about starting a new chapter and new routine. 

I think the main lesson I have learned through this early newborn transition is to not set too high expectations for myself. In fact, the only expectation a mom of a newborn should set is to feed her kids and change their diapers. Forget accomplishing anything else!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mom of Two: One Month In

I made it a whole month! We all survived! In some ways, this has been a long month, and in other ways I feel like I just had Amy yesterday! Really, not much has changed since I wrote this post two weeks ago. I'm still experiencing the same struggles and victories. 

The main difference between having one baby and having a baby and a toddler is this: less daytime sleep. It's funny, because I wrote this post about being sleep deprived after Daisy was born. HAH! I had no idea what sleep deprived felt like then. 

Another big difference is how much I have to let the baby cry. I tend to her as quickly as I can, but there are times when I hear her crying in her little rocker thing, and I'm in the middle of helping Daisy dress or putting her to bed or cleaning up her potty. Amy has to wait for me. She's very patient and forgiving. 

I'm pretty sure Daisy never had to wait long for me to get her when she was one month old. That could contribute to why when Daisy cries now, she's not nearly as patient for me to tend to her.

I think I was a lot more light-hearted about everything after Daisy was born. This time I'm a little more on edge. I didn't have a toddler peeing on my couch and pooping in panties before (that was a rough day). Things are different now. 

I have to consciously remember and enjoy the happy parts of the day and dismiss the unhappy parts. 

There are plenty of happy parts too. Amy started smiling. Daisy continues to carry on hilarious conversations with us. Zane and I get a few restful moments together at the end of each day. We can actually hug each other without a basketball between us. It's the little things! 

We went to church on Sunday for the first time since Amy was born. That was a victory! This week, I finally left the house with both girls all by myself. Another victory! That which seemed impossible a few days after Amy's birth was actually not bad at all. I'm slowly starting to feel more capable. 

Only a few more weeks of this crazy busy semester for Zane. I'm SO looking forward to his break from school. Four 12-hour days in a row, plus studying on the weekends is really wearing on us. After this semester he's halfway to graduation! 

Every day is a little easier than the last. Eventually we will find a normal routine. It's close. I'm thinking I'll feel normal again by January. Too soon? I hope not! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Amy's Infant Photos - DIY

When Daisy was born, we were very blessed to have a friend take some great infant photos free of charge. When I was pregnant with Amy, I did some research on infant photos and decided to attempt it on my own. I followed It's Always Autumn's advice on taking DIY infant photos. 

I don't have super duper camera, just a point-and-shoot Cannon Powershot. It takes pretty good pictures though, and with my large west-facing window and photoshop (the free online editing tool), I was able to get some pretty sweet pictures of my 5-day old infant. 

I think they turned out pretty good for being edited by an amateur!

Here's the original: 
See? Pretty good, right? 

Okay, back to the nice, edited photos: 

I originally edited the photos on my Mac with the photo preview tool. I didn't have time or motivation to go back and re-edit them all in photoshop, so the less-professionally edited ones are below. I basically just adjusted the colors a little and lightened the exposure.

This is obviously not a professional pose for infant photos, but I just love her skinny little legs in it!

Below was my first attempt at a sibling picture. As soon as I told Daisy we were done, she slipped out from under her crying sister. We'll keep trying. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mom of Two - Two Weeks In

This morning marks two weeks since Amy was born. It actually feels longer, because time hasn't exactly been flying by. Each day presents a challenge of some kind. Here's a breakdown of our victories and struggles. I'll start with the bad news. 

Struggles & Challenges: 

Potty training backslide. I knew this was probably going to happen. Our living room smells like pee right now, because I can't seem to get the carpet completely clean. We started up sticker incentive again, and I even have a big incentive for Daisy if she can go a whole day with no accidents, but I don't know if she understands the concept of going a whole day. 

Zane's School Schedule. Zane went back to school the next day after Amy was born. He actually had two tests that day. His weekly schedule has him away from us for over 40 hours, which doesn't include studying. I miss him a lot these days. 

New Town. We've been here about six months, and I still feel like the "new kids." I've made a few friends here, but I miss my friends in Orlando, because of the closeness, history, and ease of conversation. Making friends takes work and vulnerability...and time. 

Baby Blues/Extra Emotional. I didn't have any baby blues with Daisy that I can remember (other than my letdown sadness). I've already had a handful of emotional breakdowns with Zane, but I think they're triggered by all of the above and intensified by my post-partum emotions. I don't lie around sad all day, but every few days, I get hit with sadness and nostalgia that results in me having a good cry. 

Zane has been very strong, patient, and understanding for me. Yesterday he hugged me during my emotional unloading, which made me start sobbing, and Daisy jumped on the couch saying, "It's okay, Mommy" over and over and wiped my face. 

I look forward to the day that these hormones level out! 

Victories & Blessings: 

Breastfeeding. Amy latched on right away after birth and has been eating like a champ. I was engorged a little throughout the last couple weeks, but I strategically pump after certain feedings (about 12 hours apart or longer), and now I think we're getting into a good balance. 

I started with demand feeding, and after my milk came in, I started focusing on Amy getting full feedings. Then I started writing down when she ate and noticed that Amy had put herself on a 3-hour schedule. It's not always exactly 3 hours, but she's in a good "wake-up, eat, stay awake, sleep" pattern.  I'm not a die-hard Babywise mom, but I like some of the basic concepts, and that pattern is one of them. I didn't force it on Amy; she kind of did it on her own. 

Help and Generosity. My mom stayed with us the first week, which was invaluable, especially since Zane went straight back to school. She cooked, did laundry and dishes, played with Daisy, and helped me get to my appointments that week. She was basically our live-in Grammy nanny, and I couldn't have done it without her. 

Zane's mom helped us the next week (I got to take an extended nap one day!) and will continue to do so. We've also had some of our new friends bring us meals. It's very humbling and encouraging to see the body of Christ helping us out. 

God is teaching me a lot about humility and helping others. I was pretty caught up in my own life in Orlando and didn't think I had time to let new people in. Now that I'm the "new person," I'm SO grateful for people who have let us into their lives and reached out to help us. I want to be that person from now on. 

Also, my new MO is going to include bringing a pack of diapers to a new mom when I bring them a meal. Let's start that trend, okay? I know I'd appreciate it, and I'm thinking other moms would like it too. 

Sleep. Amy started going 3.5-4 hours between feedings at night, and the difference in my feeling rested is huge. I've also been able to get at least a 20-minute nap during the day too. Hopefully we can extend that as the girls' schedules get synchronized. 

My favorite days are weekend days, when Zane is home with us. I'm trying my best to enjoy this squishy, newborn phase with all its sleepless nights and emotional breakdowns. I'm also looking forward to the future day when I'll feel capable to go outside with both girls. 

I love my family so much. 

I think the most powerful (and kind of sad) thing I've learned is that you don't know what you've got until it's gone: 1. free time when you don't have kids or only have one kid and 2. long-time friends living in the same city. But, I'm also learning some character-developing lessons that I wouldn't have learned if I weren't in this particular stage of life. God has good things for me in every stage. Plus, the trials and testing of my faith in this stage develop perseverance, so I can be mature and complete (James 1:2-4).

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Little Mermaid Halloween!

This morning I decided that I didn't want to not dress up for Halloween, so I took my friend Heather's suggestion and figured out some quick Flotsam and Jetsam costumes for Zane and me. 

He cut out the paper for the eyes, and I drew on the spots. It's our least complicated costume and maybe even a little half-hearted, but hey! We did something! 

The girls looked great in their costumes, of course. We opted for a white headband instead of baby powder for Amy this time around. 

After family photos at home, we went to PDQ for free food for those in costume (bogo adult meals, free kids meals). The family next to us were the only people the whole night to get what Zane and I were. That's okay. After dinner, we headed to the mall for trick-or-treating. 

It was already crowded at 6:00pm, with tons of kids in adorable costumes. LOTS of Elsa's and Anna's. Daisy got lots of compliments on her costume. Amy was snuggled in her carseat stroller with a blanket over her, so no one really saw her awesome costume. Probably no one knew what Zane and I were. 

Daisy tried her first lollipop. Then she tried her second lollipop. Then later she tried her first butterscotch candy. All of those were thrown away before total consumption, which was fine with me. 

We waited in line at the Disney store for their special goodie bag, which wasn't that awesome once we got it, but that's okay. 

Daisy likes to hang out in the Disney store anyways, so we just stayed in there away from the crowded hallways for a little while, before heading home. 

A little car-selfie of Flotsam and Jetsam at a red light. Don't worry; Zane didn't drive with his glasses on.

This sweetie slept through all the festivities. She was a perfectly behaved newborn! Now we're hanging out at home handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, which apparently is a thing in apartment complexes. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Costumes: Ariel and Ursula

Happy Halloween! This year, I don't have a tutorial for a costume, because I made these while I was largely pregnant and extremely unmotivated to write a tutorial. The Ursula costume was super easy, but the Ariel costume required some major thinking and re-working. 

Here are my little dears in their Little Mermaid costumes: 

I attempted to put baby powder in Amy's hair, but it looks pretty shabby. At one point, I thought I'd buy red hairspray for Daisy, but that never came to fruition. The best laid plans, people. That's a fragment. 

Daisy loves her Ariel costume, especially her fin!

She also loved her personal photo shoot. 

The joint-shoot had some rough points. I haven't mastered the art of photographing a newborn and toddler quickly and effectively yet. This shows the pure emotion of both girls toward the end. They're just a couple of poor, unfortunate souls. 

I'm not sure if we'll get a chance to wear them in public this year, but luckily neither child is old enough to care yet. I also had lofty plans of creating coordinating costumes for Zane and me, but Amy's delivery and Halloween happened to close together this year. I'll aim for family costumes next year.