Thursday, December 30, 2010

Things Loved in December

1. Honeywell Space Heater

We bought this house because a. we LOVED it and b. it had a partially finished basement (HUGE in Oak Park) which in my mind equated to PLAY ROOM! Shortly after moving in last year we realized that whoever finished the basement may or may not have put insulation in the walls because the basement was FREEZING! We bought one of those little fan heaters from Home Depot thinking it would do the trick which it of course did not. This winter we were prepared to do (almost) whatever it took to make our basement "playable". Thanks to this space heater it took about $70 and free 2 day shipping from amazon. We turn it on in the morning and while it does take a solid hour to really heat up the whole space it is TOASTY once it does (so much so that I don't mind Ainsley running around in her swimsuit pretending she's "going a pool!" like she likes). Our basement now houses most of the toys the girls own so we can play hard and then walk up the stairs, close the door, and WALLA! peace and relatively tranquility. Worth every penny and then some.

2. Car Top Carrier

Again an investment that we thought would be more substantial but we found this one, also on amazon for a mere $35. With barely making it home packed to the brim from the holidays last year fresh in our minds we opted to spring for a soft top carrier to help ease the burden of creative packing this year. We were able to fit everything into our car, and carrier with some room to spare. While Ian solely did the unpacking, so my optimism and judgment may be a bit biased, we LOVE the carrier. Again, worth every cent.

3. Melissa and Doug Play Kitchen

I spent hours, literally hours "window" shopping for the perfect play kitchen for Ainsley. I knew I wanted wood, small, functional and FUN but was unwilling to pay the $250+ dollars that my favorite plan toy kitchen cost. At the nth hour I stumbled across this one and Ian concurred what I already knew in my heart. This was it. After a solid hour of two person assembly on Christmas Eve it was ready to go. We accessorized it with pots,pans, utensils, and adorable plush fruits and veggies from IKEA. After Ainsley awakened from her sugar plum dreams on Christmas morning it was love at first sight. We spent a good 1-2 hours a day with that kitchen and the best part of all? It fit in the back of our escape surrounded by bags of gifts and clothes WITHOUT being disassembled. Now that's a Christmas gift.

4. Smart Wool socks, and baby booties

I bought my first pair of Smartwools in running sock form about a year and a half ago and fell instantaneously in love. /while I am not one of those uber-sensitive-to-wool types I don't find that they itch at all and keep my toes so toasty warm. I stumbled across toddler sized Smartwools at Peapods in St Paul when Ainsley was a baby and Santa decided that both of the girls needed new sets for the cold winter in our drafty old house this Christmas. Ian's sister Sonya bought both Ian and I a pair for Christmas and so now all our feet are warm and snug and oh so cute.

5. New clothes, toys, and books

It was such a blessing to receive so many wonderful gifts for the girls and ourselves this Christmas. One of the "downfalls" of parenting is that moment when you go to dress your child and realize that they've grown out of EVERYTHING they own and you know have to drop a load of money on new clothes. I remember when Ainsley about about 3 months old and I realized that we had NO toys for her growing curiosity and was astounded by how much basic things cost at a toy store. Thanks to the generosity of our family and friends the girls will be well clothed AND entertained for months and months to come. Thank you!

6. Spending time with family and friends in Minnesota.
It wouldn't have been Christmas without the 15+ hours in the car, full cookie belly's, fun games, long talks, and full glasses of wine. Thank you everyone for such a wonderful holiday. Holidays sure have changed with our growing family and we love every minute!

The Swing of Things

I feel like I always write about the same things. How unexpectedly HARD this stay-at-home-mom-thing is, how difficult it's been living away from "home", general growing up adult/new parent woes and modest triumphs. Am I a broken record?

I have other thoughts. this what I'm supposed to be doing? What about when the girls are in school, what then? What am I really good at? Day in and day out...what is life all about?

Ian has been reading a lot of philosophy lately and trying desperately to get me on the wagon with him. I just feel like the answers to those "big questions" aren't out there for me to read, but are lying somewhere within this humdrum of daily life, slowly uncovering themselves.

As much as I agonize over my life decisions sometimes I am where I am and this is where I believe I should be. Ainsley and Louise are here because of Ian and I and because God chose them to be our children. So for me, I guess, the BIG answers are fairly simply answered.

I think I have become a bit insecure about how "simple" I've become. I used to pride myself on getting good grades, standing up at graduation when the "cum laude" graduates were honored, tackling a 25 hour work week, full class load and 20 miles of running in one average school week. My intellect, wit, and thirst for knowledge used to mean so much to me. So much has changed.

While I still enjoy reading and am rarely without an earmarked book at my bedside (or more recently a charged up kindle...thanks mom and dad!) that's about where my thirst for knowledge stops. I would much rather spend my free time looking up new recipes (and eating them!) knitting a new sweater for Louise (she doesn't fit into many of Ainsley's old ones) or tackling the never ending to do list that accompanies homeownership and parenthood. Rather than getting satisfaction from a bright insight, or a good debate over O'Neil's intentions in The IceMan Cometh (the BEST book I read in college btw) I marvel at my patience at 4:30 in the afternoon as Ainsley's losing it YET AGAIN. I feel self worth when I manage to simultaneously calm a newly teething Louise and pay attention to Ainsley's latest play dough creation with enthusiasm. I glow with pride at the success of a new recipe, marked by Ian's subtle but well intentioned "it's good." and a second helping.

Perhaps I write so much about my troubles, struggles, and insecurities because I am just that, terribly insecure. I feel like I SHOULD want more. But I don't. I just don't. I am completely (well 98.5%) happy raising my two adorable girls. Watching every milestone and hilarity as they present themselves. Cooking (mostly) good food and enjoying the company of my sweet funny husband after the girls are in bed. It is a gloriously simple life that I lead. I guess this blog is a way of making me ok with that. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Two Years and Four Months

Ainsley is two years old. AHHH! It just sounds so OLD!
Her birthday in MN went amazingly well. She gobbled up her fair share of the 5 boxes of mac and cheese I made. Thankfully the weather held out so that everyone could attend. She was a bit shy at first, but warmed up quickly to all the attention and fun. Everyone was so generous and I won't be needing to buy her any clothes (or toys) for quite some time. When she started slowing down on opening gifts I had her new favorite dress up monkey toy help her out which went well. Thanks everyone for such a great day!

While I am pretty much AGAINST listing off milestones, Ainsley is doing way too many crazy and adorable things not to commemorate her two years with some.

-when we said goodnight on Christmas Eve she responded with "Merry Christmas!" all on her own-
-she'll sing "Happy Dirthday" to just about anyone-
-"ok Bubye" and "See you later!" are her two choice send offs-
-"whatcha Missa Wogers, eada bar, apple jush and wata" is how we start our days"-
-"Coming YaWeez!" is her response whenever she hears Louise crying-
-"Time for nappy time!" is how she lets us know she's ready for bed (or ready for some alone-wreak-havoc-in-the-room-time)-

-frosty the snowman, twinkle twinkle, happy birthday, and edelweiss are her favorite songs to sing-
-yogurt, cereal with NILK!, mac a cheese, hot Yogs!!!, cookies, carrots, pears, bars, and oatmeal with SWEET NILK! are her favorite foods-
-we are still pacifier free but she loves her nankers and soft blankies when she sleeps-
-she has perfected jumping off the ground on two feet and galloping around the house (thanks Musikgarten!)
-she is getting progressively more snuggly and loves for "daddy hold and mommy hold"-
-is still as mischievous as ever, screams a lot for attention and runs around like a mad woman, but boy do we love our little two year old girl-

And not to be overshadowed by her older and much louder sister is our four month old Louise. I realize that I tend to overshadow her little baby accomplishments with Ainsley stories, because lets face it, there's way more of them and they're HILARIOUS!

Louise is
-smiling ALL the time, literally, whenever you make eye contact with this baby, or she locks eyes on something interesting, or just woke up, or just ate, or just ANYTHING! she smiles-
-has started belly laughing! she's been chuckling since about 2 months old but we got her first real belly laugh on camera over Christmas when she was 3 months. Probably the best thing in the world-
-has rolled over a few times but mostly loves to hang out on her back and roll halfway to one side or the other to check things out-
-is mostly content to look around at things quietly as long as she's being held upright in a standing position...seriously, she wants to stand ALL the time and gets very agitated when she's lying down for too long-
-LOVES, I mean LOVES Ainsley. Whenever she hears her voice or catches a glimpse of her whizzing by she's locked and smiling, laughing even. My hope for them to be pals seems to be coming true-
-hasn't made the jump to solid food yet but as she seems to be teething we may be starting soon...she just still seems so young to me! Funny because we started Ainsley RIGHT at 4 months old, that child BIT!-
-is the happiest baby in the world...really, we couldn't be luckier-

So there are my two girls...Two years and four months old. I wish I could just stop time because I can't imagine them getting any more cute or precious than they are right now. But then again, I've said that about every age.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Birthday Reflections

I'm sitting here at my computer blowing through nap time by looking at old photos of Ainsley. I have been unusually tolerant of her lately, more patient, more understanding. I thought I must have been coming down with something...what is happening to me?!? Then it hit baby turns 2 years old next week. I am tearing up just writing it out.

Oh Ainsley, we've had our ups and downs. From her whirlwind birth and frantic first few weeks (did she every stop screaming?), to learning how to be a mom and simultaneously learning about my beautiful new daughter (no snuggles unless she initiates them, fiercely independent and opinionated, unfailingly sweet and kind, active as all get out) we have shared in so much joy.

These past two years have been the best of my life, and let me tell you that's saying something. Marrying the love of my life and creating two beautiful perfect little girls together...nothing compares to it. Ainsley started our little family. She made me a mom and Ian a dad. She's tested us like I never thought a child would and every day brings something new and wonderful (even if it's a mere moment in an otherwise horrendous day :o). I glow with pride when I see the amazing little girl that she's becoming and simultaneously grieve for the loss of my little baby.

Although I guess Ainsley never really was a "typical" baby. I always envied thoes parents who had baby's who would sit in one place for more than a minute and play with a toy...once Ainsley could move she was OFF! I laugh when I compare photos of her and Louise at the same age. At Louise's age Ainsley was rolling over and over and over, sitting straight up in the bumbo grabbing toys and moving around her crib and floor by scooting on her tummy. Who is this child! I'll tell you who: a child who walked at 9 months 4 days old, chats your ear off on the phone, laughs when you pop a balloon or scare the daylights out of her, screams in delight when she's tickled mercilessly, and LOVES roughhousing, dancing, and spinning, playing with play dough, reading, singing, and being with the people she loves.

I am so thankful to get to spend her 2nd birthday with the people we love the most, family and good friends. I hope I can keep it together on the big day! This is way more emotional than I thought it would be!

Happy birthday my sweet Ainsley. The world is a better place because you're in it!

SOOOO Excited!

Laundry is done, bags are packed, cookies are baked and in their tins for transport, presents are wrapped...we are ready! We leave tomorrow afternoon for Minnesota for 10 days of birthday and Christmas fun.

I have always felt like a kid again this time of year, but even moreso now that I have children of my own. Ainsley "gets" about 80% of what's going on and definitely knows that some important and special days are coming up.

I can't wait to see her in her cute little party dress and red shoes on her birthday, ripping open presents and smiling away. We NEVER buy her gifts "just because" so it's extra special to have a day just to spoil her :o). She is already very excited for her cake and hot dogs and Ian is equally excited for the honey baked ham. I hope the weather doesn't keep anyone away this year!

And then there's Christmas. Waking up with anticipation, running down the stairs to see what santa brought and spying your bursting stocking hanging above a crackling fire. While last year was fun with Ainsley this year is going to be amazing. I can hardly wait!

I'm glad to have a lot on my plate to keep me busy in the next 24 hours. I plan to make one more batch of cookies and clean this house from top to bottom so that I came come home to an organized space. Now if only this cold would shake itself I'd be set!

Merry Christmas everyone! See you in the New Year!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Week for the Books, baby book that is...

For those of you catching my latest status updates you know it's been an eventful week at the Vaagenes house. What started as a relaxing recuperation from 2.5 weeks away ended with multiple instances of toddler defiance and utter hilarity.

Ainsley is at such a great age (Ian and I say this about every stage so far). She is so communicative, funny, sweet, and defiant (yes sometimes even the defiance is a positive, it shows her strong will and spirit).

While sucking the bean all the way up her nose right after I explicitly said "No! Beans don't go in our noses!" was assuredly an act of defiance some of her other antics came from a different place. Pooping in the bucket while she was supposed to be napping was actually a rather clever solution to her dilemma "I'm naked and have to poop, now what?" Had she not taken her clothes off in the first place that would have been a moot point. But that's neither here nor there. Breaking the Christmas ornament was really more of an experiment than disobedience (I mean come on, her dad is a scientist after all!). She looked so curious as she dropped the glass bulb to the floor. "Mom said it would break, I have to see this for myself." honestly I'm surprised it's only happened once so far. As for the big gulp of beer she snuck? who can blame her, it's the holidays!

While I have enjoyed the responses from people about Ainsley's recent antics I find myself getting a big defensive at the same time. Granted this has been an extreme week of hilarious events but this doesn't make Ainsley "naughty" or "bad" in any way. In fact just about anyone who's had a toddler, past or present, has assured me that this is par for the course. Especially having a second, albeit calmer, daughter I find the two are being compared often and I find myself on the defensive for Ainsley a lot. While she has always kept us on our toes there have been so many perks to her spunk. I wouldn't change my daughter for the world. And think of all the fun we'll have when she's older laughing about her toddler antics!

In other children related news, Louise rolled over from her tummy to her back for the first time yesterday. I find it amusing that she despises tummy time and slept for the first two months of her life but now that she's truly awake to the world she is such a strong alert little lady. She loves sitting up like a big girl in her bumbo and could stare and laugh at Ainsley ALL day. They are really starting to interact more which has been so much fun to see. Ainsley loves talking to Louise, telling her stories and singing her songs. Louise responds so happily to the attention and love. I'm so excited to watch them continue to grow up together!

Oh! One more big Ainsley note, we're all done with the pacifier! Anyone who knows Ainsley knew how much she LOVED her pacifier. It became a security item around 18 months old and both Ian and I were growing a bit terrified of how it was going to go when we took it away when she turned 2. To my surprise and delight she pulled it out of her mouth Tuesday morning, looked at it and said "fff-fire broken mama" and sure enough there were a few distinct holes in her pacifier that she must have made while I wasn't looking. I said "oh now ff-fire's broken. We'd better go throw him in the garbage!" (yes both her pacifier and blankie are male, had to even things out somehow in our house!) She proudly walked over to the kitchen garbage, threw it in, slammed the lid shut and we sang "Bye bye ff-fire!" Short of waking up really early from her afternoon naps (possibly unrelated) it's gone amazingly well. I am SO thankful that it's over with!

Even with all her vim and vigor Ainsley continues to impress and surprise me (she's so her daddy's girl in that way). She's handled all of her big life changes so well so far (getting off the bottle, moving to her big girl bed, no more pacifier). I am so excited to celebrate her two wonderful years of life in two short weeks. We've been practicing singing "happy birthday" and she's already informed me that we'll be having hot dog cake as her treat...I'm thinking I'll cook the hot dogs separately, don't tell her!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Things Loved in November

1. Mr. Rogers Paraphernalia
I don't know if anyone else is as obsessed with Mr Rogers as Ian and I are, but the package we got in the mail from Family Communication (thank to my Aunt Gail) was Christmas come early. We watch a show ever morning with Ainsley, Daniel "Meow Meow" and Henrietta are Ainsley's two new best friends and Fred's CDs got me through a 7 hour car trip alone with Ainsley and Louise. I know the DVDs are expensive and you can't find episodes on You Tube but if you have the opportunity to bring a little Mr Rogers into your life I highly recommend it!

P.S. What there ever a better song written than "It's You I Like" Didn't think so!

2. This Cookie Cookbook

Every recipe that I've tried in this book is AMAZING. I can't say enough good things about the recipe, pictures and historical information (yes, apparently cookies have a recipe). I'm excited to try out a few new ones this season in hopes of finding a new holiday must have!

3. B is for Bethlem
This is hands down my new favorite Christmas book. For starters is features one of my favorite illustrators. Besides the amazing pictures are the rhyming (but not in a dumb corny way) informative verses. I've been searching for a religious Christmas book that would be accessible to Ainsley and found it!

4. "Play in Sink!"
So this is both a thing Loved and Loathed all in one. We've spent a lot of time indoors this past week due to both weather and Ainsley's bug and let me tell you "play in sink" is the BEST toddler activity EVER! It is the one thing she could do all day long happily and other than the minor spills occasionally it is relatively clean. I loathe as well because WHENEVER I'm in the kitchen Ainsley shouts "Play in sink! Play in sink!" OVER AND OVER AND OVER! Ah, I guess it's a cross I'll have to bare.

5. Christmas shopping in MN.
As shopping with the two girls in tow is virtually impossible (correction, BROWSING is impossible, shopping is just really really difficult) I was blessed with some alone time in MN to get some much needed Christmas browsing, and shopping completed. My mom and I ventured to Peapods in St Paul (the best baby store in the twin cities if you ask me). I scored some adorable Smartwool booties and socks for the girls stockings as well as some Kathe Kruse toys for Louise and egg shakers for Ainsley. I also visited the General Store in Minnetonka, an old favorite of mine. I got Louise's first Christmas ornament, a bunch of stocking stuffers and a big wind up tape measurer for Ainsley. I also got to shop for some new pants for me that actually fit, SO exciting, as well as join my younger sister for bridesmaid and wedding dress shopping (all successful). I forgot how fun getting out can be SANS babies ( I love you girls, you just make a lot of things difficult). I can't wait to see their (ok mostly Ainsley's) faces on Christmas morning!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Oh the bliss of two weeks away from the real world. Two weeks of extra hands to help, shoulders to cry on, ears to listen, hugs to be had, and smiles to pair with laughter. I could never get enough.

After 5 straight days of Ainsley being under the weather and yet another 7 hour car ride through three states we made it home safe and sound.

Our house smelled like home, Ainsley's big girl bed was just as exciting, and the house was relatively clean (thanks Ian!). Then I spied it, the HUGE pile of mail (i.e. BILLS) on the front table.

I remember coming home from long trips as a child. We'd run around the house making sure everything was in its place, jumping on our beds, unloading our travel bags, and rummaging through what was left of the pantry. We'd pick up where we'd left off, carefree and easy going. When did that stop?

Monday was near horrendous. Almost overfilling the cart at Trader Joe's to restock the empty fridge and pantry set the mood for an adult-duty-filled day. I spent Ainsley's naptime calling health insurance and the hospital to straighten out even MORE debacles with Louise's hospital stay. (Really, could there BE a more inefficient system?) To top it off poor Ainsley has yet to completely lick this virus she got and was not a happy camper.

The day wasn't a total wash. Seeing as I've been itching to decorate our house for Christmas since I swallowed my last bite of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving I made a point to pull out what child-friendly decorations I could and enlist Ainsley's help in achieving the wonder that is Christmas in our little home. She marveled as I plugged in the row of small village houses I placed on our buffet, peering into the windows to see who was home. She snuggled the wooden "Baby Hesus" as I explained the nativity to her while we set it up on the front table. I then pulled out her fisher price version that Grammy gave her for Christmas last year and she danced around to "Away in the Manger" while all the stable animals gave the Christ child kisses.

There is something magical about this time of year, and no, it's not just the online shopping and great deals. If a simple nativity scene and Christmas village set up can turn around an otherwise lost-cause-of-a-day, then anything is possible.

After Ainsley's nap today I plan on setting up our TJs+ gingerbread house. We'll see how much of the candy actually gets glued down!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week One...

of our 2.5 weeks in Minnesota is over. We've had such a blast.

Ainsley and Connor are now officially "bffs". She says "See Connor. Play Connor" ALL the time. There is nothing cuter than watching two rambunctious toddlers make mischief together. It's the first time they've really interacted with each other rather than just the parallel play. A taste of things to come!

The girls have both done really well adjusting to different sleeping arrangements, noise and excitement levels, and a new environment. Ainsley is sleeping in the biggest big girl bed of her life (a king!) and has only escaped her room twice. Every time I tuck her in for nap or bed I just want to snuggle down with her forever. She is so precious and snuggly and CALM at these times. I love it.

Louise now goes down right after Ainsley giving me a solid 2 hours of baby-free time before I go to bed. This has been such a blessing. I've been able to catch up with my parents, watch a few good shows, take baths and delve into a novel (a NOVEL! not just a magazine!). It's been amazing.

Louise is sleeping in my room with me and when she wakes up around 3 or 4 to eat I just bring her into bed with me, let her latch and we snooze away until Ainsley gets me up around 6. At home I put Louise back in her crib and it's been fun to get some extra snuggle time with her in bed. She is growing so fast!

On that note Louise is now officially exiting the "4th trimester" and really showing us her colors. She is very vocal and loves to coo, laugh, giggle, and smile. She responds positively to so many sounds and stimuli, finally getting really into rattles, krinkle paper, and things hanging above her head. She still opposes tummy time vehemently but loves sitting up like a big girl on laps and is ALMOST ready for the bumbo on her own. When on her back she'll roll to one side but hasn't attempted getting all the way over yet. She seems very content to be on her back most of the time, just squirming around and taking everything in. I love that baby.

It's been hard being away from Ian for a week. Before we left I made the mistake of saying to him "this is the first time that we're going away and I already miss you"...sounded WAY worse than I meant it to. It's just that before I was always SO excited to see family, be around people I love, have help with Ainsley, that I hardly thought about being away from home, and Ian. But now we're this little growing family. It's amazing how much more I feel like a familial unit with Louise now in the picture. We have a routine. The girls LOVE their dad and it's clear Ainsley really misses him. I do to.

I'm looking forward to this next week to see old friends, get some much needed Christmas shopping done, and just relax and enjoy my favorite place, our Minnesota home!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Things Loved in October

1. Infantino wrap and tie baby carrier -
Initially we bought this to use as a backpack carrier for Ainsley. I like it. Ian doesn't because he feels awkward with the ties across his chest and hips. I LOVE it as a front carrier for Louise. Once I got the hang of it it's SO easy to use and my "little" 13 pound 2 month old feels light as a feather once she's in it.

2. Extendable Toddler bed from IKEA
They have a few versions of this bed available but we bought the Leksvik and it couldn't be cuter. On the smallest setting it's the perfect size for our peanut 22 month old and looks like a little alpine bed. I love it!

3. PEARS!!!
In season, AMAZING, yummy. Ainsley double fists sections as she greedily crams them into her mouth. I would do the same if I were almost 2 years old.

4. Real Simple
This magazine is the only reading material that I've been able to get through since Louise was born. I'm being ambitious and taking A Tale of Two Cities with me to Minnesota. We'll see what happens!

5. Downtown by Petula Clark Pandora Station
Ainsley is OBSESSED with this song and this station satiates her craving for catchy 70s pop music. I actually don't mind 90% of it and it sure is fun to dance around the house to.

Kind of a lame list I know, but my mind is preoccupied. I leave with the girls for MN in two days and I have a lot left to get done tomorrow in preparation. So excited!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Lighter, Lovelier Note

I continue to be overwhelmed by the responses from people when I write something that hits close to home. I can't tell you what it means to have support and know that I'm not alone, even when that's all that I feel that I am. Thank you!

Ian had to stay late at work today for a poster session at school meaning my typical 9.5 hour day was stretched to a full 12 hours. I am amazed at how well it went.

As I sit here sipping my well deserved half glass of red wine I realize that most of the success of the day was me. No, I'm not boasting or "tooting my own horn". It's amazing how much my attitude affects the outcome of a day with the girls.

Knowing that I had a longer stretch than usual put my mind in a different setting this morning. I didn't have a full agenda, a to do list a mile long to get done. I kept my pace, slow and steady, dragging out each activity and savoring the moments to make the day full and good.

After breakfast and a second cup of coffee I took the time to figure out how to put Louise in the soft back pack carrier, that doubles as a front carrier, that we bought for Ainsley. Ainsley was amused by the photographic directions and my struggles and in the end Louise was as snug as a bug for our stroll to the park. We spent nearly an hour just walking around. We plodded up to the train tracks and watched the commuters race below our feet. Ainsley ran up and down up and down the ramp to the pool house and tempted fate dangling her legs over the edge of the high rainbow ladder at the park. She collected "berries" (fallen crab apples) and leaves. She even (mostly) willingly toddled back to our house when the time came, red cheeked and fulfilled.

We then played in the basement, undoing and redoing bins of clothes that may or may not fit Louise this winter (9 month size!). Ainsley lovingly played with her dolls and we watched the first half hour of the disney version of Peter Pan. She LOVES the pirates (of course).

After a shared lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup (one dunked bite for mom, one for Ainsley) she snuggled down in her bed for an easy nap. I took the time to feed and snuggle Louise on my chest while knitting the last piece of Ainsley's wool winter coat.

Post nap we spent the afternoon indoors, the rain foiling my plan to go out and pick up a few groceries. Ainsley practiced her coloring skills on thanksgiving coloring pages we printed out and helped me circle items in catalogs that she thought Ian would like (if it were up to her he would have a very generous Christmas). I learned that her new favorite color is purple and that she can point out the first letter of some of her favorite words in an alphabet line up (M for monkey and Mama, D for Dada, Z for zig zag - people, I'm telling you!) She dictated what characters she would like me to draw for the felt board I'm making for our car trip (Mama, Dada, Ainsley!...I had to remind her of Weez). She helped me clean the upstairs with a duster while Louise laughed and cooed at the vacuum cleaner in her rocker. After dinner and a bath we snuggled down to read books until Ian came home, just in time to finish the last few pages of goodnight moon.

I wanted to make sure to write tonight after such a good day (even with two time outs!) to remind myself that sometimes a day is what you make it, what you set out for it to be. Today was just what we all needed and as I kissed my two sweet girls goodnight tonight I feel like the luckiest lady. I would have it no other way.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Toddler Travels and Woes

Now that we are OFFICIALLY heading to Minnesota for Thanksgiving (and the 2 weeks before) I am gearing up for my first solo 7 hour road trip with the girls. I've done it enough alone with Ainsley that I'm not terribly concerned. I am confident that Louise will sleep most of the way and as bad as it may get with Ainsley it's just one day, it's just one day, it's just one day (my mantra, can you tell?)

I have actually been having fun making lists and lists and lists of things to bring and do in the car. Songs, fingerplays, activities, special snacks. I almost caved and bought a DVD player, but as Ian pointed out, we both grew up sans electronics in the car and are determined to make Ainsley a "self entertained" girl. Easy for him to say, he's not the one travelling alone with a 22 month old and a 2 month old! (I say with all the love in the world)

I am currently agonizing over which new toy to buy her. Ainsley got $10 from her great grandma (GG) for Halloween and we thought we'd use it to buy her something fun for the car trip. Travel puzzles? a bead lacing game? a new book? It's a tough one.

I am actually finding myself looking forward to the trip, well, mainly for the destination but I always feel a little empowered when I make that drive on my own. It reminds me of how far I've come from the days of being relatively housebound with ainsley during the first few months of her life. We'll see if I feel the same about the return trip!

On the "toddler woes" front we've had a trying morning (who am I kidding, a trying few days) in the Vaagenes household. I stumbled out of bed at 7:30 with Louise (she's been getting up twice a night again for a while and it's starting to wear on me a bit) to find Ian and Ainsley happily doing a puzzle. As soon as Ian left to get ready for work Ainsley switched gears into this moody little being.

While she's always been a "water tester" she is definitely upping her game. I feel like EVERYTHING is a battle these days. What food she eats, what's in her sippy cup, what activity we do, what music we listen to.

Even old standbys aren't doing the trick anymore. The past two weeks at musikgarten have not gone so well and I'm debating signing up for the next session. Today she swiped at a little girl when she didn't put her puppy dog away fast enough. I was mortified and almost broke down right there. I used to judge parents with out of control toddlers and now I am one of those parents. I feel at such a loss sometimes. I of course had her apologize and explained in my "stern mom voice" that we NEVER hit people. But she smirks at me and runs away.

Sometimes I feel like it's me. I MUST be doing something wrong. Why are there children that just sit quietly on their parents laps, follow directions and use "indoor voices"? Most of the time I love Ainsley's spunk and am thankful for her willingness to try new things and be independent. I have been told numerous times how lucky I am that my child is not a wallflower and will benefit in the long run from her vigor. But what about right now? It's exhausting saying "No!" and redirecting and explaining "why we don't do this, and why we don't do that" I feel like most of my time with her is spent this way now as opposed to just playing and having fun.

I just fear that in those moments of breakdown and defiance she is losing that sweet little girl that I know she can be, and that slowly she is breaking me down as well. But this is my job right? It's what I signed up for. The exercise has been helping to energize me and level out my head. I just need to focus on the good and the knowledge that this too shall pass, right, please?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spoke Too Soon

So after my semi-rant yesterday about getting back in shape I woke up INCREDIBLY sore and decided the time was nigh...I was either going to push through it and keep charging forward on my road to physical greatness, or falter and let my exhaustion get the best of me. I opted to charge ahead and just got back from THE MOST AMAZING 3 mile run. Granted my hips and legs are throbbing, and my face is redder than a ripe tomato, but I did it and it felt wonderful. I am actually writing this while stretching on the floor, listening to Louise stir from her nap and hoping she'll give me just a few more minutes before needing to be fed.

I just can't even begin to decribe what it means to finally start feeling like me again. This past Wednesday was a rough day (did I write about that? I forget). I called Ian and practially begged him to skip his post work meeting to come home and help me. I was having one of those "I feel completely inadequate as a parent" days and needed a shoulder to cry on, in addition to some major help with the girls. What was unique and jarring about Wednesday is that I wasn't really all that upset with Ainsley (as per usual). She'd actually had an ok day, it was me that was falling apart. I had reached a point when I just needed a hour, a minute even, to catch my breathe, NOT chase her around and hold Louise at the same time, and remind myself who I was.

After ordering pizza for dinner I grabbed my new book club book, a glass of wine, and headed for the bath. Even with Ainsley wreaking havoc in the hallway I just let myself go. I read 50 pages straight, sipped my wine slowly and made a resolve to not lose myself in the chaos that is my life.

The hardest thing (for me) about being a stay at home mom is that you get NO break from your job. Ian and I have talked about this, and I know I have written about this ad nauseum, but I can't reiterate enough what a wear that is on a spirit. I had grown accustomed to accepting my hour or two after Ainsley went to bed and brief naps as my only "off" time and even then I was typically doing chores and tasks around the house. Now with a newborn I have NO such time. It was such a gift yesterday to have Louise nap long enough during Ainsley's nap to allow me to work out. Even so that was all the time I got. No time to knit, read my book, go for a jog, or just sit and relax.

Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who knows when I'm at my limit and lots of help whenever friends and family are in town. On that note I can't wait for the holidays and for today rejoice in the beautiful fall day, good smells coming from the kitchen, and two beautiful baby girls that are the best and hardest job I've ever had.

Here are some photos from the past few days...

Me post run, Ian and Louise napping, Louise's assisted bumbo seat, Louise's berry pie hat for Halloween, and Ainsley making pumpkin prints. I'll write again after Halloween with all the fun pictures!

Friday, October 29, 2010


Ok, so this really isn't as dire and dramatic a post as the title may imply. I am actually feeling quite motivated and energized for once.

After a great day yesterday in Winnetka with my mom, Aunt Gail and grandparents, I got home, poured myself and Ian a glass of wine and we chatted on the couch until bedtime. It was a relativelt simple day but it felt so good, and somewhat effortless. I woke up feeling well rested and motivated. After cleaning up the house and catching up with an old college friend and her cute new daughter I took advantage of naptime to eat lunch and do a Firm workout.

I used this DVD to get back into shape after Ainsley was born and forgot how much it kicks my butt. I'm hoping ainsley sleeps a bit longer so that I can rest a bit before afternoon fun.

I have had a harder time mentally with Louise's pregnancy and recovery. I am upset with myself for not staying active, but my sane mind knows that I couldn't have been and had her born when she was. It's just so hard to remember who I used to be, physically. Not just that I could wear size 4 pants comfortably and button shirts without them popping open every 5 minutes, but how strong I used to be. I feel like this large glob of jello sometimes and it's rough. When I look back I used to think I just had this naturally muscular body and now I realize/remember that I actually put a fair amount of work into keeping it that way. Running 5 times a week, weights, and dance in high school helped shape my adult body into something I was comfortable in. I am just so tired of being self conscious and uncomfortable in my skin. My workout today felt great and it's good to remind myself that even if I can't get out and run 5 miles I can still sweat and ache and feel great in the end.

Here's hoping I can get more workouts in before the holidays because goodness knows I have little self control when it comes to pumpkin pie!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weird Monday

Today has been bizarre.

To start, it's over 70 degrees outside, don't even get me started on how ANNOYED that makes me. I sweat enough toting around 35+ pounds of children without the unseasonably warm weather thank you very much.

In addition I did my grocery shopping yesterday (not today as per usual). After all the feedback I got from people attesting to how insane I must be to grocery shop with two babies unless I absolutely needed to, I've started going on Sundays before church and it makes all the difference in the world (especially considering we have something more than pb&j for dinner Sunday night!). Last night Ruthie and Taylor came over for dinner and the Vikings game and we actually had good food (roasted chicken and root veggies with biscuits and jam). We could all get used to this.

This morning we woke up and took the girls (yes both) to the doctor. Louise was in for her 2 month check up and Ainsley tagged along for the fun of it, oh, and to get a flu shot. Since Louise is too young to get her own flu shot the dr suggested we all get one to help protect her, and I guess ourselves, from the flu this season. While I've wavered in my support of flu shots over the years, I would never want to inflict that horrible illness on a baby, and it's worked for me so we went ahead.

Louise gained another pound and a half bringing her grand total to 11.6 lbs. She seems to be tapering off from her initial 3 lb weight gain in a month but still has an abundance of adorable chub. Unfortunately both her and Ainsley seem to be under the weather from their ordeal this morning. Even though it's muggy and bordering on hot outside I think we'll go for an afternoon walk to get some fresh air in our lungs.

We had a great weekend with Ian's parents and Ainsley LOVES her nana and grandpa dan. I felt awful, both from the mastitis that caught up to me the first night they were here and for not being more energetic and present at their visit. Even so we got pumpkins carved and at lots of good food, and in general just had a great time. I can't wait to head home for Thanksgiving and share in more family time in a matter of weeks!

I hear Ainsley rummaging around in her room upstairs so I best be on my way. Hopefully her 3 hour nap has improved her mood (I can't blame her, I'm NEVER in a good mood after getting a shot)!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gearing Up!

My in laws come tomorrow and we're all getting excited and ready in the Vaagenes household. Ainsley has been practicing her "Nana"s and "Grandpa Dan"'s and I've been using my recent bursts of energy to clean and organize our house.

I feel like I just got used to keeping things in order with one child and now adding a newborn and all their messes is proving chaotic. Just this morning I've folded a huge load of laundry (one more is in the wash of all Ainsley's "mankies" (blankies for those who don't speak toddler - we've even tried telling her "b-b-b-blankie" and she responds "b-b-b-MMMankie!" proudly....I think she thinks she's hilarious), changed Louise 3 times (she's uncharacteristically barfy this morning) brought down the cloth diapers and clothes changes for the day, and picked up from morning playtime. It's crazy!

I'm looking outside at the beautiful fall leaves and crisp blue sky and can't wait to get out for a nice long walk with my girls, play and sing at musikgarten and grab some last minute groceries for the Sunday gravy and pumpkin cheesecake I'm going to make tomorrow in honor of Ruth and Dan's arrival. It should be a great day!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

As Promised...

pictures of Ainsley's "girl girl" bed taken post nap about a half hour ago...

This is an AMAZING alternative to a toddler bed for anyone in the market. It is extend-able, and the same width as a regular twin bed so it can eventually be a normal twin, but for now it's an adorable square of a bed that fits her perfectly and isn't too high off the ground for her to climb in and out of. It's at IKEA and I highly recommend cute too right?

And miss Louise being as cute as can be.
Louise's nursery...
name banner I made while on bedrest, still need to trim that ribbon on the right! and awesome wet bar that I found on craigslist (and Ian picked up) that we use as a changing table.
animal silouhettes I also made on bedrest...what is bedrest for if not to decorate the baby's room?
the beautiful cradle my grandpa made for my parents...I'm sad that Louise has almost outgrown it already!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Love Mondays

We had a great, active, weekend. Louise and I joined Ian and Ainsley on their typical Saturday morning sojourn. We drove the half hour to the Morton Arboretum and had a blast. I was surprised by how much there was for Ainsley to do. After taking a quick circle around the main part we entered the children's garden. Ainsley loved running around and Louise snoozed away. Then Louise got hungry and I tried my hand at public breastfeeding. While I don't ever mind other people feeding their babies in plain view, I am very self concious about it for some reason. I thought I'd found a nice little nook tucked away from the action and Louise ate away. Then suddenly a swarm of parents and young children streamed by and sat down right next to me. I'd neglected to notice the "Reserved for birthday party" sign RIGHT next to me. So much for discretion!
We then headed south to IKEA to pick up Ainsley's big girl bed and a few things for Christmas. She LOVES her big girl bed. My mom came into town that afternoon and with her help we were able to put the bed together in about a half hour. Once we have her crib out of the room I'll take a picture because it is too adorable for words.
Sunday I took advantage of the late church service time and went grocery shopping on my own. Ainsley did not take to the nursery right away but eventually settled down and had some fun so Ian, Louise and I could enjoy the service. We then treated ourselves to some Indian food and a nap. I then headed up to Winnetka with the girls to see my grandma before her hip replacement surgery and my Aunt Gail in my Pittsburgh to help out, and my mom (amongst all our other family members up there). Ainsley had a blast playing with everyone and Louise loved being snuggled and held.
Yesterday I felt well rested and energized from all the fun this weekend and got a lot done around the house. The whole 2nd floor is clean and organized and I'm SO close to finishing the parts for Ainsley's felted wool jacket. Today is another beautiful day and despite Ainsley extra saucy attitude today I think it will be a good one.
Here are a few photos from the weekend.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Baby Blues?

A mom at musikgarten asked me how old Louise was this morning and I stumbled over my words when saying 7 weeks. I can hardly believe it!

I had a rough day yesterday.

It started out dark and rainy, which I actually enjoyed. I love the occasional rainy day. We stayed in pajamas longer than usual and snuggled under blankets and read books on the couch. Then the rain kept up and I realized that we wouldn't be able to go to our musikgarten class. It was raining so hard that I couldn't imagine how I would get both Ainsley and Louise to class without drenching one, both, or all of us. The day went downhill from there.

For those of you who didn't know, I used to suffer from depression and still struggle with anxiety. I made the decision to go off medication when I was pregnant with Ainsley and have been off it ever since. There are moments, or days (like yesterday) when I wonder if I still need something to help level me out.

I have learned to cope with my sometimes debilitating anxiety. I can talk myself out of a panic attack, I (used to and will again) run regularly for the natural endorphins, but it's still exhausting to keep in check.

Then I became a parent. I have been surprised by how much my anxiety has decreased. Perhaps if you can give birth naturally twice and be a stay at home mom of two you can do anything? (I say in part jest). Perhaps it's that now my anxiety is justified. Of course I should panic occasionally when I'm stuck in crazy Chicago traffic with a screaming toddler and a hungry infant, or when I haven't done laundry in a week and I've run out of onesies and the dryer is making a funny noise like it might explode from overuse.

In addition to this justified anxiety, I've found that it's necessary to have anxious, depressing days (as horrible as they are) to make the good ones great. Today I woke up with a resolve to make today better and so far it has been. Louise slept 7 straight hours for me last night and Ainsley slept past 6am making for the first relatively "good" night of sleep I've had in months. We've done three loads of laundry, walked to musikgarten and back, read books, sang songs, and played in the basement. Ainsley just got up from her nap and after snack and "train show" we're going to check out the toddler park by us that Ian claims Ainsley can't get into any trouble at. I'll be the judge of that! :o)

I think the midwives said it best. If you're not wanting to leave your baby in the middle of the road for a stranger to pick up and take care of because you think they'd be more well suited than you, you're doing alright.

Today is better than alright and who knows? Tomorrow may be the best yet.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just Another Day

As Louise grunts herself into consciousness (it's probably one of the cutest things ever). I'll take this few minutes for an update.

Sister weekend (minus Kelly, I missed you!) was great. I got to go out to eat TWICE! once with Ian to a new pub that had amazing food and beer, and once with Jenny and Julie to the rooftop of the Ale House. It was great. I planted perennials in the backyard (I really hope they make it through the winter), and got to go shopping for some new shirts that actually fit. I haven't tried on new clothes in about a year and I have to say either my body is completely disproportionate or clothes have gotten crazy in a year. I was happy with my few finds at Gap and Anthropoligie. Now I don't dread getting dressed in the morning. It was a great weekend filled with food and sister fun. they helped out so much with Ainsley and Louise. I think I'll be hearing "Joojie!, Jen Jen!" for a long time to come.

On the "get my body back front" things are looking up. I've got my willpower back which has been helping a lot. (I declined ice cream last night from Ian, this is HUGE!) I am feeling a little stronger every day (mostly thanks to my amazing Erin O'Brien postpartum tape). The double stroller has been amazing. Being able to get out and walk with the girls at a brisk pace has helped with my sanity so much. I am debating whether or not to purchase a scale. I've never had on before and I think it'd just depress me if I'm not losing weight fast enough. Plus while I'm still breasfeeding I know I'm going to weigh a little more than I want to regardless. Thoughts?

I'm also starting to gear up for the holidays. I have a few projects in mind (new, SMALLER, felted stockings for the girls and a mini muffin tin advent calendar) but am starting to obsess over starting traditions of our own. I really want to capitilize on Ainsley's fun age and start some traditions for the holidays. I'm struggling with what to do for Halloween that is age appropriate and unique. So far we've cut out leaves to put on the window and we bought some gourds and mini pumpkins that we're going to cut in half to make prints of. Any other thoughts?

Well, I think I just heard the mail main drop off my photo order from shutterfly. Good thing we went to Target and got some new albums to put them in this morning! Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

6 weeks

Today Louise is 6 weeks old and I had my 6 week postpartum check up. Ian went to work late so that he could stay and watch the girls. The midwives were bummed they didn't get to see Louise but I promised I'd send a picture.

Everything is looking good. Amy exclaimed "good! I can only fit a little of my finger in between you ab muscles" WHAT?!?! My muscles separated with Ainsley too, but come on, it's never "good" when you can fit something in between muscles that should be tight and touching. I still have a ways to go.

I was shocked to see that I'd only lost 1 more pound since my two week appointment, especially since I am now fitting back into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes. Luckily I was shocked by how much I had lost at the 2 week appt. so I guess it evens out. I remember from Ainsley that there was a stall int he weight loss as well, gaining muscle back in place of all that lovely chub, but still, I was hoping for at least 5.

This is why I don't own a scale. I've felt depressed about it all day and for no good reason. I am feeling much better, and as I said, fitting into my old clothes. I know I have a ways to go before I'll be wearing shorts and running my 5 miles, but I'll get there. You just wait to see pictures from Florida next March!

As for Louise, she is an adorable, chubby, 6 week old. Just this morning I pulled out the bin of 3-6 month clothes (that ainsley wore through 7-8 months old) and she is currently sporting a complete outfit in this size. The trick is that she's round, not long, so waistbands are tight and pants are long. She is absolutely adorable. I am excited to look through a new batch of clothes and prioritize what to put her in because at this rate she'll be out of them in 2 months!

She is smiling all the time when she's awake. I'll be carrying her around and suddenly feel a "presence", look down and there she is locking eyes with me and smiling away. She also coos and "talks" much more than I remember Ainsley doing at this age. She LOVES lights and fans and anything that is moving close enough, typical baby. She likes being held and swaddled and has started using her pacifier a little more, although she usually just makes and ick face and spits it out. She has given me a few nights with 6 hour stretches of sleep and has already settled into a bedtime of around 8:30-9:30 and is up at 6 like clockwork for her last nighttime feeding. Then we both go back to sleep until about 7 when we come downstairs and join Ian and Ainsley for the morning until he goes to work. I remain amazed at how easy she is and how wonderful it is to have her in our lives.

Ainsley is still pushing buttons, as I imagine she will now until she's out of the house at 18, but we've had a much better couple of days. I talked with my mom for a long time yesterday and realized that despite my "getting real" sentiment of late I need to get even more real. I need to simplify our lives and really focus on what's important. I am missing out on so much by being so frazzled all the time and trying to do too much. Yesterday after feeding Louise I just sat and played with Ainsley for a whole hour. We did puzzles, built with her blocks, danced to her favorite songs, and ended the the hour coloring Halloween pictures complete with stickers. It was the most fun I've had with her in a long time. I would typically pull out an activity for her, get her going and then run around trying to clean, or pay bills, or check my email, or knit, or any number of other things, when all she wants, and I want too it turns out, is some quality time and attention. It did wonders to end the day on a good note.

Both of my younger sisters are coming in this weekend so we spent the morning cleaning the basement and putting up the bed. I'm excited to see them and have some fun outside in this great weather. I'm hoping to plant a few perennials in the garden and other than that I just want to enjoy the company of my family. I'm thinking a walk is on the agenda for this afternoon, I'm addicted to the new stroller, and apparently I could use the exercise!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


So the honeymoon period has definitely worn off.

Louise will be 6 weeks old on Thursday and I feel mostly like my old self. I'm able to go out for long walks and do moderate workout tapes without feeling like I'm going to die, and I've gotten relatively used to the sleep deprivation, thank you coffee and catnaps!

Initally stepping back into full fledged parenting felt amazing. I was SO ready to get up and "do my thing". Now life is feeling plain exhausting. Yesterday we went grocery shopping in the morning and to Target after Ainsley's nap and I literally thought I was going to pass out by the time Ian got home. Today we've gone for a long walk and I took Ainsley to the park. When we got home we played in the basement while I attempted to organize the back room full of boxes and clothes and moved a bookshelf...again, already feel like I'm going to keel over.

Yes I still may be doing too much, being overly ambitious and stubborn, but my sweet little Ainsley May is not making matters any easier. I find myself getting so frustrated and upset with her. I KNOW she is not even 2 years old, but I also know that she hears me and is testing boundaries and sometimes just being a pill to spite me. I'm her mom, I can see it in those big brown eyes. I feel like the past week or so things have really gone down hill with her. She is still very sweet with Louise (aside from the occasional swipe to get my or Ian's attention) and we definitely have our moments when I muster up the energy to chase her around the house and rough house on the floor. Other than that I feel like life with her has become a constant struggle and I am really sad about it.

EVERYTHING, from eating, to changing her diaper, to trying to use the potty, to following any kind of directions is a struggle. Again, there are moments of helpfulness on her part, but they seem so few and far between. I know that her gaining her will and independence (who am I kidding this girl has had it since birth) is a good thing, but it is exhausting when you're trying to take care of another little one and get anything done around the house.

I feel like I turned a corner being on bedrest. I need our house to be clean ALL the time now and it drives me nuts when it's messy, but I can't always find the time to pick up and clean and when I do Ainsley just undoes everything. There are still a number of things that I'd like to get done around the house, painting, small fix up projects, that I feel will never be conquered. I have all these projects that I want to do for the holidays, not even that many for me, but again I feel like it will never happen. Right now I am just this slave to cooking and cleaning and keeping Ainsley out of trouble. Thank goodness that Louise is as undemanding as she is. But then there's that, I have such guilt about not getting to spend the time with her that I want. Other than nursing her the poor child is on her playmat or bouncer all the time. I know that I've said all of this before, but I 'm just having such a hard time coming to to terms with not getting enough time with my sweet baby. And then I find myself resenting Ainsley for it a bit, when I know in my sane mind she is just a toddler, doing what toddlers do.

I'm struggling to hold on to the sweet moments. The "hold mama"'s and "hug!"s. It's just been a long week, and it's only Tuesday afternoon.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Things Loved in September

Having had a baby a month ago this past months "favorites" are clearly baby related. Hopefully I'll branch out in October.

1. New Baby Items
While we had most of the big ticket items already for Louise we opted to get a new playmat and bouncy chair which turned out to be excellent ideas.
I thought we would get rid of our extra bouncy chair but realized quickly how necessary it is to have one on each floor of the house to have somewhere to put Louise no matter where we are. (a quick aside - I always wondered why people with multiple children desired a one level house, NOW I GET IT! I must do those stairs upwards of 50 times a day. Good exercise, but exhausting!) We went with the Combi Pod Bouncer and love it for the main floor of the house. The brown blends in with our furniture and decorations which I love and it's two reclined positions are great for when Louise is alert and wants to be more upright to see things, versus lying relatively flat for naps. Plus we got it on mega sale at

We also got a new playmat which I (and Louise) love. Ainsley is constantly pulling the hanging toys off but I love the characters and colors. It's just "busy" enough.
2. Haystacks (and I don't mean the kind in the fields)
In an attempt to curb my ridiculous chocolate cravings (I thought it was a pregnancy thing, apparently not) and still manage to fit back into my regular clothes anytime soon I've revisited my love for these little fiber filled yummos. Mix 2 cups Fiber 1 cereal with 1/3. cup chocolate chips and 2/3 c. butterscotch chips melted together, place in heaping tablespoonfulls on a cookie sheet and let set in the fridge. SO good and apparently not so bad for you.
3. Beba Bean Swaddle Blanket
We never really swaddled Ainsley because a. she HATED it and b. she always found a way to macgyver her way out of it within 5 minutes (seriously, 3 days old she was out). We have two large flannel swaddling blankets but they seemed so stiff. I came across this one at a little boutique baby store in St Paul and had to get it (I also read a good review from a fellow mom blogger friend which pushed me in this direction...thanks Ashley!). It's SO soft and just stretchy enough to make the baby not feel completely confined. Louise snoozes in this every night and last night we got 6 straight hours out of her! I feel like sleeping through the night is just around the corner. Thank you Beba Bean.
4. More With Less Cookbook
I received this book from the first good friend I made in Oak Park for my birthday a few years ago. I've used it a bit, but now that I'm in the easy/quick dinner stage of life I appreciate it so much more. If you have a protein in the fridge and a moderately stocked pantry this cookbook has a million recipies for you. I love it.
5. good cheap COFFEE!!!
Now that I'm drinking at LEAST two cups a day to function like a normal human being (Louise still sleeps for 18-20 hours a day so I'm confident this is not affecting her) we need a more economical option. Actually we started buying this Costco brand coffee a few months ago and it's amazing. It's $12 for 3 pounds, that's $4 a pound people, and if you grind it right before you brew it, like us, it's comparable (even better than) most of the really expensive stuff (and Ian and I are fairly choosy about our coffee so that's saying something).
6. Kissaluvs cloth diapers and flannel wipes
We decided to invest in a round of newborn diapers for Louise and love the kissaluvs. I opted for the thirsties snap covers and once we (let's get real, I change 90% of Louise's diapers) got the hang of them they're great. For anyone out there weary of trying cloth I can't say enough good things about them. There are so many kinds out there and while we love ours from what I've heard it doesn't really matter the type or brand, once you get in a groove you'll be so happy with the money you're saving, convenience of NEVER running out of diapers and how soft they are for your precious little ones that you won't think twice. Oh! and we've reinstated the cloth wipes and they're a must as well.

I usually like to end with an even number, you know a 5 or a 10, but 6 will have to do this month. I'm hoping to motivate to get some new pictures up soon!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

So Much for That

Funnily enough my last post about getting real seems to have prompted me to get busy around the house. I feel like if I can get even one thing checked off my never-ending to-do list a day I can call it a success.

Meals: I've cooked every night this week, despite REALLY wanting to call in for pizza at least three times. My favorite was a sausage, sweet potato, and apple dish. Ian and I decided we should eat it with pancakes next time. Regardless it was delicious and easy, two very important things.

DIY: Today Ainsley and I painted a tote bag that our friend Joann sent us back when I was on bedrest. Ainsley dictated what I drew and then she "colored" everything in. There's a truck, a train, a sun, a moon, stars, outside (trees and flowers) and a swingset. It's really cute and oh so Ainsley.
I finally put up some new photos and got rid of the sad dead money tree behind our couch. I LOVE the new picture wall (I did take pictures but it was too light for them to turn out). I also put up some art and photos in our bedroom (finally!). I'm hoping once more good burst of energy (coinciding with Ian being home to watch the girls) will see the few final bigger projects done around the house.
I finally finished knitting Ainsley's red sweater and am in the process of sewing it together and putting on the buttons. I hope it will be ready for the cooler weather we're supposed to get this weekend. Next is finishing her red wool jacket that I'll be felting. I'd better get a move on!

Errands: Today we walked up to the baby consignment shop by us and struck gold. I found both Ainsley and Louise adorable Christmas outfits, two new pairs of shoes for Ainsley and an extra dressy outfit for them both. It was quite the exciting trip.

I am really tired tonight. While it's been a good full week it's EXHAUSTING keeping up with Ainsley and Louise all at once. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to your face. Lunchtime is the hardest because we're all starving, tired, and a tidge cranky. Luckily Louise and Ainsley have synchronized enough to give me at least a 20 minute nap each day. A full nights sleep would be ridiculously amazing. I'm dreaming big I know.

I'm looking forward to a crisp fall weekend of raking leaves and baking, going to the Farmers market and an apple festival Ian says is going on north of us. Life is good, just tiring.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Let's Get Real

We're pushing 3 hours for Ainsley's nap so we'll see how long I have!

This morning was Louise's 1 month doctor's appointment. She is 10 lbs 13 oz! I new she was bigger than Ainsley was but good golly! She's already grown out of all her newborn clothes and the 3 month sizes are fitting like gloves. I'm mostly concerned that she's going to grow out of her cloth diapers before Ainsley's potty trained (although she did poop in the toilet for the first time the other day so things are looking good).

I can't believe how fast Louise and Ainsley are growing. I'm going through some old pictures right now, FINALLY ordering prints from the summer and Louise's first month. Ainsley looks like a whole different baby, I'm sorry, girl.

She has grown up so much. It is rare now when Ian and I can't decipher what she's saying. She's at this perfect stage of baby-ness (wanting to snuggle and "hold" us, babbling away, telling elaborate stories with her hands and sound effects) and big girl-ness (helping out with Louise, knowing when she's being out of line, being able to understand when we explain something to her). I just can't get over how much our level of communication has grown. It's amazing.

But what this post is really supposed to be about is getting real.

The biggest change I've noticed in the past month, being a mom of two, is that I actually, FINALLY, feel like a mom. I know I know, but Becky, you have a 21 month old. You've been a mom for nearly two years, more if you count being pregnant. I can say now that I never truly felt like a legitimate mom. I felt like a poser, akin to the 12 year old boys carrying around skateboards, wearing baggy pants who have no real "skills". I felt like everyone could see through me. I was an impostor.

Then Louise came along and I just feel amazing. I feel calmer, like I know what I'm doing. I'm not running to her room every 5 minutes at night to check if she's breathing. I realize that she will indeed survive if she doesn't eat every 2 hours (clearly :o). The best part is, I'm one month into this whole mom of 2 business and I'm already more productive and active than I was for months after having Ainsley. I used to be so afraid of how I was viewed. "Look at that mom taking her newborn out in the cold...what is she thinking?" "Will that woman please shut that kid up!"

Now I just don't care (ok, maybe I still care a little). I just feel more secure, more settled in who I am as a mom.

I'm not a hard-ass as it turns out. Ainsley taught me early on to pick my battles. Ian actually tolerates far less than I do. Pretty much if she's not hurting herself or other people and is being polite and kind I let it slide. I'm sure this will change as she gets older, but with this girl I have to have some leeway or I'd be saying no every minute of every day.

I'm not supermom. Trust me, I'd LOVE to be. Heck, I grew up with a supermom. Ian's mom is a supermom. Maybe I'll get there, but I'm definitely not one now. I can't do 12 things at one time, nor do I want to. I like being physically active and productive but I need my down time too. You'll find me knitting on the couch watching a good show or movie just about any night in lieu of folding laundry or cleaning, and I'm ok with that.

I'm not a gourmet chef. For some reason it took me 3 years to come to this conclusion (thank you Ian for understanding and putting up with my many failed attempts). While I will always love to make a new complex recipe a Thursday night after chasing after Ainsley all day and changing 15 diapers and keeping the house in some semblance of shape is not the time to do it. I've resigned myself to stocking the pantry and freezer and flying by the seat of my pants most nights. It's working for me and so much less time consuming.

I can't train for a marathon (not yet at least). It'd probably be a good idea to be able to jog 1 whole mile without feeling like certain body parts are going to drop out of me, before dreaming of 26.2 (and maybe be able to fit into normal pants?). I am still salivating for a good 5 miler, but for now will take walking to and from the park, musikgarten, and close errands with my girls in tow.

I'm not Martha Stewart and I will STOP biting off more than I can chew (in the DIY department). There is a reason that there are stores for things called presents. I can't hand make everything and honestly it doesn't save me much money and certainly no time, in the end. My girls will survive with one new hand knit sweater and hat each.

I know that I will relapse from time to time but for now I feel confident in who I am as a mom, a person. I am still figuring it out as I adjust to having two, but I am so thankful for this break in the delirium that was my idea of motherhood. We're all surviving, thriving and doing great. I'm happier than I've been in a long time!

I'm off to take something out of the freezer for dinner, and I'm totally ok with that.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Due Date

September 17, my official due date. Here I sit with my 3 week old baby snoozing on my chest and I can hardly believe that we could have not met her yet. It feels like Louise has been in our family forever. I can't imagine our lives without her.

I keep waiting for Louise to "wake up" and become the feisty outspoken newborn that Ainsley was. After 3 full weeks I am more and more confident that that's just not who she is. Louise is calm and quiet. When she is awake (still mostly in the morning and right before bed for longer and longer chunks of time) she gazes around with her big dark blue eyes and takes everything in. She has started to focus on our faces and likes looking up at toys hanging from the arch above her playmat and bouncy chair. Her cry is getting louder and more definitive. Usually she just wants to be held or fed and quiets down immediately. We have hardly had to utilize the pacifier at all. I still don't think she's fussed for more than 2 minutes straight. She is up every three hours at night to eat and I'm hoping to get her down to just two feedings a night soon. She loves to be swaddled but gets very warm and sweaty even in just a onesie. I am hoping the cooler nights will help with this. She is an adorable pudgy baby with a big round face and good chub on her limbs. Ainsley never had much excess fat so it's fun to have a differently built little girl. Louise is already outgrowing all of the newborn clothes we have (due in part to the cloth diapers). We have SO many because we were all convinced she was going to be so small at birth. I'll be interested to see how much she's grown at her one month appointment in a couple of weeks. She was just under 8 lbs at the last one. She does spit up but not nearly as much as Ainsley. Just yesterday I noted that she wore the same outfit overnight and throughout the whole day! I have to stay on top of bathing her and changing her clothes because with Ainsley it was such a frequent occassion due to all of the barfing that it just happened out of necessity.

Today has been much better with Ainsley. She is definitely more whiny than usual but with a bit more effort on my part she's been kept relatively active and happy. We spent the morning at Target getting her a new train book and her first play doh set to play with during Louise's feedings. We came home and went down to the basement where she immediately put them to good use. We then rearranged and cleaned the whole basement. I'm hoping to have the energy (and time) to finally paint the basement this weekend and get curtains made. It's starting to look like a proper play room.

Ainsley screamed when I put her down for her nap and when I went up 15 minutes later to see what was going on she just wanted to snuggle and rock and sing with me. It breaks my heart that she is so starved for cuddle time when I feel like I dont give Louise enough attention as it is. I love that she wants to snuggle though. I'll take what I can get!