Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cole's Nursery: Finishing Touches

Cole's nursery (or "mommy's room," as Jake calls it, since I'm still sleeping up there) is finally finished! It was basically ready for him when he arrived, but was missing all the final touches that I didn't quite get to. I was still mulling them over when he was due, anyway! I'm so pleased with how it turned out:

The view when you walk in the door

The tree branches and birds are new. Now before you go saying "those branches aren't level" - I know. I was going for realism, since real tree branches don't generally come out at 90 degree angles. But to me they just kind of look crooked and I'm not sure I can live with that.

But how cute are those little birdies??? In case you're interested, they're by a company called "Wallies" and I got them on Amazon. They have many different themes and they're great - no paint or wall damage at all.

Nursing nook. We've already spent many hours together in that glider :)

Changing area...which I almost never use. We have a changing station downstairs in our bedroom that I use pretty much all the time. And when I do change him upstairs I frequently do so on the floor next to the changing table, since I've whacked my head on the slanted ceiling more than once.

I made this print on Picmonkey. If you don't use it, you should!

I finally got around to having this photo printed. Cole's birthday...seems like so long ago now!

My daybed cover also finally came in!

A little storage behind the door, and his activity mat from Grandma G. He talks to the little hanging frog and beaver every morning while I tidy up his room.

This letter C was the result of me getting my craft on - felt so good to be creative! I just Mod-Podged some scrapbook paper onto a store-bought monogram. Wonderful stuff, Mod-Podge.

All for this little man! Love him so much!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

For Comparison's Sake

Though I occasionally see an expression or facial  feature that bears some resemblance to each other, by and large I feel our boys look very different:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Breastfeeding High and a Breastfeeding Low

High: In the 12 months that I nursed Jake, I did so in a lot of random places - airports, restaurants, planes, doctor's offices, even a wedding reception. Never once did I draw attention - positive or negative - from anyone. So imagine my surprise when, only a month into nursing Cole, I drew some attention from a very unlikely source. My mom and I were out and about and stopped to grab lunch at Wendy's. Cole has some sort of freaky baby radar that lets him know whenever Mommy is about to enjoy a meal, so that he can start squawking for food too. As he employed his baby radar that day, I hastily tossed my pashmina over us to cover him as he nursed while I kept munching my french fries. And then I heard this: "Excuse me, ma'am!" At first, I didn't pay any attention, because I figured whoever was speaking wasn't addressing me. Then the voice persisted: "With the baby?" It was a male voice, and when he said that, I had a momentary inner freak out. This guy is totally going to ask me to go to the restroom or my car to feed my baby, I thought. I was still considering what an appropriate response would be when I nervously looked up. And what I saw was a total surprise. An elderly man flashed me a toothy grin and a big thumbs-up. "Good for you! Glad to see it!" he called across the restaurant (which in turn made everybody look. Hello, fellow Frosty lovers. Nothing to see here.). After glancing down to make sure that the "it" he was referring to wasn't a part of my anatomy I'd rather not display, I squeaked out a thank you and he went on his way. It was so unexpected and from such an unlikely source that I'm still thinking about it!

Low: The beast that is yeast. Cole and I are suffering a bout of thrush. I never had to deal with this while nursing Jake and man is it a pain (literally - it is making nursing uncomfortable). Everything that comes in contact with us needs to be sterilized on daily basis until we're done being treated. There's conflicting opinions about whether my sizable freezer stash of pumped milk should be tossed or not. I'm siding with those who feel it's ok to keep and use it  because I don't think I'm strong enough to throw away a good 80 - 100 ounces of breastmilk. Ready to put this part of nursing behind us!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

New Mama Survival Tips

As I sit down to write this, I am experiencing one of the great triumphs of motherhood: overlapping nap time. Two kids, in two beds, one mama, with two free hands. At times like this, I reflect on the fact that my days staying home with my babies are a series of decisions. They're both napping? What to tackle first? Or should I lay down too? Planning a trip to the library - morning or afternoon? When will the baby need to eat next? What can I accomplish before that? Today I decided to blog. My topic is one I've also been mulling over lately - little things that make my days as a new mom of two go a bit smoother. If you're an expecting or new mother yourself, I hope a few of these resonate with you as well!

Make the most of your moments. Being a mom, no matter how many children you have, is basically a giant juggling act. Housework, childcare, perhaps your job outside the home, meal prep, relationship management - it's enough to overwhelm anyone quickly. But there are always moments in your day that you can take advantage of in order to stay afloat. If one of your kids sleeps longer than the other in the morning, use those moments to dress and prepare the other for the day. If both your kids sleep longer than you, throw a ticker tape parade! No, don't! That would wake them. This occasionally happens in my house and I use those moments to wash my face, grab a bowl of cereal and get dressed. Perhaps the baby's content in the bouncer or swing and your other child is engrossed in PBS - load those dishes in the dishwasher or throw a load of laundry in. These types of things only take a few moments, but accomplishing several of them throughout the day makes a huge difference!

Think ahead. Just when I had figured out how to get out the door in a timely fashion with one kid, we went and had another. Getting two of them ready to leave the house is a whole new ballgame. Anything, anything you can do in advance is to your advantage. I keep the diaper bag packed with diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, and my wallet, and just before leaving throw in anything else I might need - my phone, a nursing cover, the K'Tan wrap, etc. Anything you can put in the car the night before you're planning to go somewhere is a huge help (because chances are if you wait until you're trying to leave, you will forget it). When I head back to work, I make a habit of packing daycare bags and lunches the night before so they're ready to grab in the morning. Is it fun making PB&J at 9 pm? Nope, but it's a lot more fun than trying to explain to my boss why my sorry butt is never at work on time.

Don't neglect yourself. Listen, I know how easy it is to let the day slide by without taking a shower or eating something nutrious. And people feel perfectly free to tell you how normal this is. But dude, even something as simple as a hot shower can totally change your outlook on the day. Take - no, make - some time for yourself. This life is not all about your kids. You have needs and rights too, so exercise them. My time is usually after they are both in bed. I take a long hot shower and afterwards, Hubs and I usually eat dessert and debrief the day. He has also been known to watch The Bachelor with me ;-)

Moisturize. Nowhere will all those sleep-interupted nights show up faster than on your face. I'm not saying you need to do your whole make-up routine everyday (heck, I sure don't! To impress who? The UPS man?), but make a point to slap some moisturizer on your face on a daily basis. I made this a priority about a week after Cole was born when I looked in the bathroom mirror and realized I resembled an inmate. Seriously, moisturize.

Freeze your food. I didn't do any freezer meal prep when I had Jake, so I didn't know what a complete lifesaver it is until recently. I froze somewhere between 15 and 20 meals at the end of my pregnancy and they have saved dinnertime in our house lately. Cole's fussy time of day is right around the dinner hour, so being able to simply throw a complete meal in the oven or dump it in the crockpot in the morning is amazing. I plan to continue freezing meals through the remainder of my maternity leave for when I go back to work.

When all else fails, put on a clean pair of underwear and call it a day. Sometimes you have one of those days where nothing goes right, the kids are crabby, no one naps, the baby's been through five outfits by noon, your husband is running late, and you realize you forgot to defrost the meal you were supposed to put in the oven that night. That's ok. But the clean undies really are a must.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cole's Favorite Things: Newborn Edition

How, how, can it be that my brand new baby is already a month old? Slow down, time! He has changed so much in the last four weeks, and it must be obvious, because my three year old said to me this week "isn't Baby Cole getting so big, Mommy?" Yes, yes, sweetie he is. Now excuse me while I try not to let you see me cry (because then you'll ask me a million and one questions about why I'm crying and I don't have it in me to explain postpartum hormones to you).

At a month old, Cole is still a man with simple wants. Give him a snuggle and a boob and he's a pretty happy fellow (this is true of most men, no?). But there are a few other things he finds pretty special, so in honor of his one month birthday, here they are:

The Summer Infant Swaddlepod. Words cannot express what a wonderful invention this is. Like his big brother, Cole is not a fan of the swaddle wraps that pin his arms to his sides. But like most newborns, he has zero control over his little arms and will startle himself awake faster than you can say "moro reflex." The Swaddlepod is made of a snug-fitting, stretchy cotton blend that allows him to move his arms around inside and get all comfy, but prevents him from waving his arms aimlessly or startling. My only complaint is that it only comes in one size - newborn. After Jake outgrew it, we moved on to the Woombie, which is exactly the same idea at three times the price. Slightly annoying, but I personally will shell out big bucks if it brings us good sleep.

It turns out that newborn Cole and newborn Jake have quite a bit in common. They both also refuse every pacifier but the big, ugly, hospital grade Soothie. I should add that Cole actually has a love-hate relationship with the Soothie. When he needs to suck, and you offer it to him, he chomps down on it with a look on his face that says "Oh, Bink, I love you, please don't ever leave me." 7 seconds later when it falls out, he gets so angry he silent cries, followed by ear-splitting screams of outrage that Bink did, in fact, leave him. When you replace it for him, he's instantly in love again, but when it inevitably falls out again, he's a hater. Rinse and repeat. 47 times. 

The Baby K'Tan wrap. This thing has been a lifesaver. I think if Cole had his way, he would spend the entire day snuggled up in here, snoozing away next to Mama. It is the only way I accomplish anything during his fussy time, which (not so) conveniently coincides with the dinner hour. There are times I put him in it and want him to stay awake for a little while, but alas, he is powerless against the warmth, the snugness and the smell of Mommy and he conks out every.time. One more word on the K'Tan - while cruising Google for an image of it for this post, I came across this:

Because my husband frequently takes our son for a walk shirtless and wearing a baby carrier. 

And last but certainly not least, Big Brother. I could watch Cole watching Jake all day. He clearly is the most fascinating thing in this house to Cole. I would be willing to bet that his first smile will go to Jake. When I hear Jake chattering to "Colie Bug" or see Cole kicking enthusiastically in response to Jake's voice, I wonder how I ever worried that they wouldn't love each other!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Newborn Cloth Diaper Update

Find me the person who doesn't think a tiny newborn tush is the cutest thing ever. Now wrap that tush in a teeny, fluffy cloth diaper and prepare for cutepocalypse. I didn't start cloth diapering Jake until he was 10 months old, so dabbling in newborn fluff has been an experiment that is working out beautifully for us. I slowly purchased our newborn stash over the months of my pregnancy, accumulating a little of this and a little of that until I had a taste of many of the most popular diapering systems out there. I didn't want to purchase too many of one thing, because different diapers fit different shapes of babies better, and luckily for me, all of our diapers fit Cole. He's a pretty average size, but he's got just enough chunk to his thighs without being too chunky - so nothing is too tight nor too loose on him. Here he is modeling one of each type of diaper in our newborn collection.

Pocket diapers are my very favorite because I love that you can adjust the absorbency to suit your needs. The one on the left is a Happy Heiny's Mini - a newborn version of their popular one-size pocket diaper. It's awesome, and I love that because of its three-step rise, it will fit Cole much longer than the newborn diapers without an adjustable rise. Plus, the leopard print? So cute! The one on the right is not technically a newborn diaper - it is the first diaper in our one-size stash to fit on him. It's a Rumparooz sized all the way down to its smallest setting. Definitely more bulky than the true newborn dipes, but it gets the job done!

Three more newborn pockets, from left to right: 
Alva Baby newborn: LOVE. It also has an adjustable rise, ensuring a good fit for a relatively long time. The adorable owl print is my favorite and the super soft waistband is so gentle on his skin.
Blueberry Mini Deluxe: moms rave about these, so I got one to see what all the fuss was about. It was my priciest NB diaper purchase and while it's super cute, very adjustable and works well, I wouldn't say it outperforms any of our other pockets to justify the higher cost.
Fuzzibunz Extra Small: I'm not usually a fan of this brand for fit reasons, but it came with a couple of others I bought, so I took it for a test drive. It works well, but I don't love the snaps - it's tough to get a precise fit at the waist and I still dislike the sticky PUL coating on the inside of the shell.

All-in-One diapers make life so easy - no pockets to stuff, all your absorbency is built right in. Just fasten it on your baby like you would any disposable. We have a bunch of these and most work very well, but I miss the ability to add absorbency, like in a pocket diaper, and they take absolutely forever to dry, because they're all one piece. From left to right:
Random, work-at-home-mom made AIO: this one has a special place in my heart not only because it's so.darn.tiny but because it was the first diaper to fit Cole. He's like 2 days old in that picture - and he makes that teeny dipe look big! 
Bumgenius Newborn: Bumgenius pockets are far and away my favorite one-size diapers, so I had to try their newborn size. I found them kind of average. They're not the most absorbent of my all-in-ones, and I think they're going to be the first ones he grows out of. It's already hard to fasten them at the waist - I'm running out of velcro closure.
Imagine Bamboo Newborn: Love this one! A great AIO at a great price point - very absorbent and super cute too! Even without an adjustable rise, I think it will fit him for a decent amount of time.

The last of our all-in-ones, from left to right:
Thirsties Duo AIO: I adore this diaper not only for its adjustable rise, but because it's an all-in-one that you can stuff with extra inserts if needed! It has a channel design inside that allows you to add absorbency - I've stuffed a hemp insert in there to beef it up for nighttime.
Little Joey's knock-off: Little Joeys are probably the leader in newborn diapers. But they're pretty expensive given their short lifespan in a diaper rotation, and there are many off-brand knock-offs with the same exact design at a much more reasonable price. This one happens to be by Hip Kiddo. Is the cow print not adorable? These diapers are pretty tiny and their claim to fame is the umbilical cord snap-down that allows the stump to heal without irritation (I don't have it snapped down in this photo because Cole's stump fell off a long time ago). At a month old and somewhere between 9 and 10 pounds, he's on the verge of outgrowing these as well.
Tots Bots Tiny Fit: my favorite AIO. Suuuuuuuuuper soft minky fabric inside, and tons of absorbency in a tiny package. Superb fit and washes and wears so well! I'll be sad to pack this one away.

Prefolds are what most people envision when they hear "cloth diapers." Classic cotton diapers, pinned on and covered with those old school rubber pants. Well, the old stand by has come a long way, friends! While the cotton prefolds themselves may not have changed that much, with the exception of coming in every variation under the sun - bleached, unbleached, organic, bamboo, hemp, etc. - the thing that makes these so user-friendly now are the wrap-style covers that go over the top. I purchased a dozen newborn prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers because I heard they were the best and I have ZERO complaints! They live up to the hype! So soft, so absorbent, and perfectly sized for a newbie. No more pinning - these can simply be trifolded (as pictured in the middle photo above) and laid in a cover, then fastened on your baby. These are the only diapers in our newborn stash that have never leaked on us - they contain everything! The only downside is that while all of the pockets and all-in-ones feature stay-dry interiors, with the 100% cotton prefolds, your baby is going to feel the wetness, resulting in more frequent changes. I personally don't mind this, given the affordability and performance of these diapers. The two covers I chose were:
Thirsties Extra-Small (on the left): Absolutely perfect over the top of these prefolds. A great fit and superior performance! The double leg gussets keep everything in, even runny breastfed poo!
Bummis Super Brite Newborn (on the right): These are TINY. They would probably fit a preemie really well. I had a hard time getting these newborn prefolds in there! But they did work great in the early days when Cole was itty bitty. No leaks with these either.

One other thing that's made cloth diapering really easy - those short-sleeved shirts he's wearing in nearly every photo. They're by Rabbit Skins and I'm mildly obsessed with them. It's so easy to change a diaper without messing with any snaps down there, they come in every color of the rainbow, they're perfect for layering, and they're tiny and adorable. Something to think about if you're thinking about cloth yourself!