Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Best Kind of Cabin Fever

Just a quick note to say that we made it to Minnesota safe and sound and I'm now typing from the loft of the beautiful new cabin that my parents built this winter overlooking calm waters and an early morning sunrise. We've (my mom, sister Julie, Ainsley and I) had three days of relative rest and relaxation (relative of course because of Ainsley) and I'm excited for family to start arriving today. Ian and his brother and parents will be getting here this evening and I can't wait to share the cabin experience with them all. This has been a wonderful place for my sisters and I to make memories growing up and I am so happy to be able to watch Ainsley play in the water, toast her first marshmallow, put her face into the wind on a boat ride, mimic a loon call, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. I am so thankful to have this break. Rest assured there'll be lots of pictures and stories upon our arrival home post-fourth of July. Happy Summer!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Gift From Above

That's what it felt like when I got the package in the mail today, well maybe not immediately. I was more relieved that I had received it as it held my sister's birthday gift. As I opened the small cardboard box I was surprised, and a tidge delighted, to find The Toddler's Busy Book a gift for myself that I decided to indulge in when purchasing the other items for my sister.

After Ainsley went to bed (she even snuggled into my shoulder as I sang her "He's got the whole world in his hands...") I settled into the chair and a half in our living room to delve into this highly rated toddler activity book. I expected to find at least a few good ideas for keeping Ainsley (and by extension me) occupied during the long days. Little did I know the wonder that it would behold for me.

Trish Kuffner had me at the intro.

This stay at home mother of 4 is like the ultimate alpha mom. The ideas in her book are so amazing, not only because there are hundreds of them, but because they are actually practical. (e.g. Sheet Day - making the day you do the sheets a play day by letting your toddler play in and build forts with the dirty sheets, Ice Cube Bags - putting complimentary colored ice cubes into plastic bags and letting your toddler play with them while they melt and mix colors, Mailbox - making a simple mailbox out of a shoebox and letting your toddler sort, open and "mail" all of your junk mail and flyers) The list goes ON and on.

Sure I have a to-buy list a page long, but for the most part the activities don't require anything other than items you already have in your house, or the great outdoors. I was particularly thankful for the LARGE chapter on rainy days (make a box of toys and activities (and maybe a movie or new book) solely for rainy days) and on the go (make a little photo album of all your toddlers favorite people, places, and thing for the them to look at on the way), as we have that big car trip coming up. I can't wait to get out with Ainsley tomorrow to collect the supplies we need to make a few fun activities to last us the week.

This is exactly what I needed. I feel completely energized and motivated (of course right before bedtime). I've been feeling like such a slug mom lately and knowing that I can keep Ainsley happy and busy without having to go on long walks every day or dance around the room for an hour when my body just won't let me is such piece of mind I cannot even tell you.

Sorry to cut this short, but clearly I am excited about this and need to revise and organize my list for tomorrow so that we can get going on all of these great activities!

Rain rain go AWAY

At least I'm not alone. I hear that most of the midwest has been experiencing this week or so of on off rain.

It wasn't so bad this weekend with both Ian and I to entertain Ainsley but today was a bit rough. We went grocery shopping in the morning only to walk out of our second stop with a cart full of groceries to a downpour. Lovely way to start the day.

Luckily Ainsley is really into books, blocks, puzzles, and play dough which keeps us fairy occupied until at least lunch. Thanks to the new blackout curtains in her room she slept for 2.5 hours at naptime and was happy as a clam when she woke up to lounge around and snuggle until Ian got home.

I just really dislike being so lazy. I miss going for long walks, JOGS even with Ainsley. I felt like after making two stops for groceries, unloading the car and then the bags I was ready for a nap. Sad. At times I like the excuse to take a nap or lay down and at others it drives me nuts that I can't do the things I want to do.

The other day I looked at some old photos with Ainsley. She loves cooing at herself as a "bebe" and looking at "mama" and "dada", oh and of course cousin "Caca" (Don't worry kelly, I am REALLY working with her on at least Concon instead of caca...I hope seeing him in a week will help reinforce). I took comfort in seeing pictures of myself right after Ainsley was born and in the months that followed, remembering how quickly I got back in the shape that I was before. I know it will be trickier with two little ones around, and the winter months after the baby is born, but I am looking forward to just being in my own skin again and feeling like my old active self.

I am getting really excited to head to Minnesota for two weeks on Friday. We're going to spend one week up at my parent's cabin and then a week in St. Paul with Ian's family for the fourth. I have some cute outfits for Ainsley and am excited to see her at the parade. We probably won't do fireworks again though as 8 is the latest she can usually make it up. It should be a great time. I just hope she does well on my solo trek up with her. 7 hours in the car alone with a toddler can get interesting!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oh, I remember now...

how it feels to be pregnant.

I remember right after Ainsley was born taking a while to adjust to my un-pregnant body. I would feel phantom kicks and it was almost uncomfortable to have SO much room in my lungs. I felt like I was getting too much air! Quickly I got used to being un-pregant again and reveled in getting to hold my baby on the outside.

I've been surprised with this pregnancy how little I remember from my first. "Is this normal? Did I feel this was last time" are common thoughts running through my head. I was not good at keeping any kind of pregnancy journal and now I wish that I had. I think that it would give me piece of mind to look back to 26 weeks with Ainsley and see that it is indeed normal to feel this huge and full and uncomfortable.

The baby has started kicking me HARD, and it HURTS. One arm pounding on my hip and both feet jabbing into my ribs. I still love feeling her move but a bit less intensity would be nice. I have also been feeling lots of braxton hicks which has put me a bit over the edge, especially as I was tagged for an early delivery with Ainsley.

I've heard, and been told, that you just feel more with subsequent pregnancies because you know what you're feeling, but it still makes me worried that my body thinks it's ready to have this baby WAY sooner than I'd like.

My biggest issue has always been my nerves. For those of you who don't have an anxious disposition perhaps you haven't experienced the joys of "mind over matter". When I'm nervous, AND pregnant, bad things happen. I feel worse, therefor thinking there's something wrong with the baby when really I'm just nervous and I wind up being awake all night worrying and then I'm tired the next day which continues the vicious cycle.

I just keep reminding myself that aches and pains and discomfort are all part of having a baby and that this is nothing new or worrisome. It just doesn't feel good.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rainy Saturday

Oh weekends. I love them and I loathe them.

This weekend started off on the wrong foot when I woke up at 4am thanks to some strong kicks from the baby and couldn't get back to sleep so I got out of bed and sat in the nursery making lists of things to do before heading to Minnesota in a week and reading my new book "the Sweetness at the Bottom on the Pie" (I'm only 2 chapters in but it has me hooked). I crawled back into bed at 5 only to hear Ainsley start to stir and finally got up with her at 5:30. (which reminds me I need to go to Target and buy some black out drapes ASAP) Ian woke up at 7 to take over and I went back to sleep until 8:30. We went to a friend's house for breakfast at nine and when it started pouring rain we headed back home for a little play time before nap time. While Ainsley napped I folded diapers and laundry, rotated toys from the basement to the main living room and rearranged the nursery to accommodate the new "changing table" we're getting tomorrow. I am SO excited because I've been looking for a piece of antique/vintage furniture to use in the nursery for a while and stumbled across a listing for an ethan allen dry sink on craigslist yesterday. I wrote the seller and got the dimensions and it looks like it's going to work great. Ian's going to pick it up tomorrow. I am so excited to see it in the room and finally get to put some things away and feel a bit more settled.

Right now Ian's out back with Ainsley enjoying the break from the rain in the pool leaving me with some unexpected alone time. It's quite the treat.

I probably won't be writing much this week as we have a lot to do to get ready to head to the cabin soon but rest assured I'll have some great stories and pictures from our 2 weeks in Minnesota!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Big Girl Bed, Take 2

Soo, it's been over a week now since the big conversion of Ainsley's crib to a toddler bed and things have gone from good, to medium, to really REALLY annoying and bad.

In short, our sweet little girl who was sleeping for up to 3.5 hours in the afternoon and at least 11 at night has now regressed into a crazy child running around her room and dismantling EVERYTHING for at least an hour before finally passing out on the floor only to wake up an hour later cranky and still tired. At night the story is the same although once she's been quiet for a while we'll move her to her bed and she, thankfully, stays there all night, but has now taken to waking up no later than 5:30 in the morning.

This morning I reached my limit. It was my morning to get up with Ainsley which was fine as, lets be real, I'm in the non-sleep stage of pregnancy anyways (that previous comment about this sweet little bundle in me not waking me up yet with kicks was quickly proved false). So it wasn't entirely the lack of sleep as much as the knowledge of what it was going to do to our day AGAIN. If Ainsley wakes up before 6:30 there is almost no way she can make it through lunch without a morning nap and after a morning nap there is almost no way that she will take another one which makes for
a. a VERY long afternoon for both of us and
b. a really rough evening with an overtired and cranky toddler.

Thankfully Ian stepped in as he always does and made a nice breakfast for the two of them while I searched the internet for books and advice about toddler sleep habits. Up until this point Ian and I have just gone with our guts on everything. We were both raised by great parents and feel like we don't need to follow a specific philosophy to raise our children well, but I was at the end of my rope.

According to parents and experts alike it is not too early to start Ainsley in a toddler bed but it is still on the early side, especially as she's on the small side physically. Our issue was never her climbing out of her crib or other safety matters, just that we wanted to prep her for the new baby coming and taking her crib.

After talking on the phone with my mom for a LONG time this morning (thanks again! I really needed some good mom advice) I felt confident that one way or another things would work out. Little did I know how soon.

After a full morning of errands (post office, gas fill up, trip to Oak Brook for birthday presents where I stumbled upon the semi annual Hanna Andersson sale...whoops! or yay!!!?) and a good lunch Ainsley and I were both plum tuckered out. I explained to her that it was naptime, we were going to read two books, sing a song and then she was going to get in her bed and not get out until after nap time. We read two books, I sang her a song, she got into bed and the minute I closed the door she hopped down, ran after me, and frantically started trying to open the door. For the next hour I shut my eyes and laid on the couch downstairs as I listened to her tear apart her room, run around, and occasionally yell out, just for fun. I went back up, explained the whole nap situation one more time, told her if she didn't stay in her bed I was going to get her port a crib out and she was going to sleep in that, shut the door, and she hopped right out again. I marched downstairs, got the port a crib out of the closet and set it up in her room. While I was setting it up Ainsley started throwing in all of her blankies and animals (including the new hand towel she's discovered she loves). I placed her in the crib, gave her a kiss, said good night, and after one long squawk upon closing the door I haven't heard a peep (it's been 45 minutes).

Thank you Ainsley for letting me know in no uncertain terms that you are in fact not ready for a big girl bed. You are such a big girl in so many ways (today she helped me unload groceries, put a new bag in the trashcan, pick up all the bread slices she "accidentally" dropped on the floor, change her own diaper, and put on her own pajama bottoms) it's nice to be reminded, in a way, that you are still my little baby and sometimes we all need our boundaries.

I'll update in a few months when we try again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'm obsessed...

with decorating. Perhaps it's the supressed art major in me, the nesting instinct, the impending large tax refund (thank you first time homebuyers credit) or a crazy combination of all three but I just can't seem to get enough.

After tackling the BIG projects (kitchen renovation, plumbing issues, main floor living space decorating, Ainsley's room) I thought I would be content with our house. I knew with a new baby on the way I would need/want to do something in the way of decorating the third bedroom as a nursery. Little did I know the monster that this would unleash.

I sat down last weekend overwhelmed by the projects whirring in my head and made a list of everything that I want to get done. It was a whole page, hand written, not very large print. I'm in trouble.

Whatever happened to the frugal new wife who hand knit a rug for Ainsley's nursery to save money, asked her talented mother to sew a bumper bad, used second hand fabric and old pillow stuffing to make throw pillows? I don't know but if you find her could you please send her back to me?

I have to say part of it has come from the harsh realization that I just don't have time to be a total DIY mom like I'd like. I did just finish making two sets of curtains for the kitchen and powder room, have some on sale fabric sitting in the basement for those windows and a can of paint to spruce up the impending playroom on a shelf. I attempted to make a rug for our sunroom out of old army blankets but couldn't get the moth ball smell out.

Other than that I can't fathom taking on any more large projects. I've realized that especially when it comes to baby stuff it's sometimes worth it to spend a but more on the outset to get good quality pieces. Case in point: we already have to replace the cheap changing table we bought on sale at Target, the bouncer that Ainsley tore apart, and the playmat that she barfed all over. It is with this sentiment that I started my search into decorating both the nursery and Ainsley's big girl bedroom.

I'm not going to go into too much detail because the end product looks SO good in my head and until I can take pictures to show the finished deal I don't want to give too much away, but here's the quilt I'm working on justifiying for Ainsley's room.

and here's the crib bumper and sheets for the baby's room

I'm going to go the mall tomorrow with Ainsley to see if I can check them both out in person before ordering them. I can't wait to see my vision all put together in both rooms!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Isn't it ironic...

that just yesterday I was commenting on the occasional difficulty I have filling the days and here I am faced with a day full of a rain and a toddler cranky as all get out (I've never understood that phrase but thought it was fitting). It's only 10:14 and I honestly have NO idea what we're going to do to make it until 5:30 without going crazy. After trying to get Ainsley down not once but twice, hoping a good nap would improve her disposition I gave up and she "helped" me put together the tall drawer unit for the nursery and now we're onto snacktime. To get out later we may head to Best Buy to check out netbooks and laptops as my computer is on the way out. I'm also considering the library but Ainsley literally goes insane at the library and I don't know that after a few more hours of this I'm going to have the energy.
I used to love rainy days. They were an excuse to stay in pajamas all day and watch old videos, just RELAX. Now they are the bane of my existence. No parks, no walks, no vitamin D. What happened? Oh yeah, I became a mom. Whoops!

Monday, June 7, 2010

TV Land

Ok, random topic but I have something to say so I'm going to go with it.

After not having cable for a year at our old apartment (and surviving imagine that?) I was determined to raise Ainsley with NO TV, not even the occasional PBS show. I just thought my parenting was you know, above all that. Turns out it's not.

For one, it's gotten increasingly difficult to fill the days productively as Ainsley has gotten older. Sure most days are easy. An errand here, an hour walk there, a trip to the park, a few tasks done around the house, books to read, blocks to stack, music to sing and dance to and look at that it's not even lunch time...WHAT? Now that she's awake for so much more of the day (up by 6, maybe a 2 hour nap if I'm lucky, down by 8) there's a lot more DAY to fill up.

I've gotten better about spreading out my productivity for just this reason. Case in point, after a great full day today and an hour and a half of playing in the backyard and gardening with Ainsley I decided to forgo the walk I had mentally planned knowing that a. it would put my body over the edge making getting dinner on the table all the more tricky and b. it would make our walk tomorrow all the better (and hopefully longer). So here we sit listening and dancing to Van Morrison and the Chieftans, rehydrating and relaxing until Ian comes home.

Turns out I'm not opposed to sitting down with her and watching a show or (gasp) two to pass the time, especially when I've found some great ones that she actually seems to enjoy and get something out of.

So here's my list of toddler friendly Ainsley approved programming.

Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies
A sprout show about a mama elephant and her baby and their African animal friends. Every episode centers around a question that is then answered through animal behaviors eg. the zebra skips lunch and is tired so they talk about what different animals eat and the few animals that can get by without eating much, or eating lots! Ainsley LOVES all of the real animal footage and we like to practice saying their names and making their sounds.

Miffy and Friends
A great simple show about a bunny and her friends. The animation is wonderful (think hello kitty minus the pink and glitter) and I like the calmness of the storylines and transitions. The shows focus on basic preschool issues like trust and friendship as well as little adventures.

Play with Me Sesame
Now that sesame street has become the Elmo show, (and as a quick aside - Mr. Rogers is not longer even on the air...SUCH a travesty) I was happy to find this Sprout spin off with the best Sesame St. characters doing little learning vignettes just like in the good old days. Cookie Monster counts cookies, the Count counts everything, and Prairie Dawn sings and plays the piano. Just enough action to keep Ainsley interested, not enough to annoy me.

Blue's Clues
I know, I know, Steve can be creepy, but there's something about this show that I love. The repetition of storyline and songs and the simple introductions to patterns, matching, letters, and numbers. When I ask if Ainsley wants me to put on Blue Clues she jumps up and say "yeah yeah!"

Sid the Science Kid
A great PBS show that's a bit over Ainsley's head for now, but the songs and characters keep her engaged. Sid always asks a "scientific" question at the beginning of the show like "why is my banana turning brown?" and the show is spent answering his question. Along the way are some great songs and characters that stay constant.

So while this rather long list may suggest the contrary we still for the most part steer clear of the television. Most times I'd rather have the trumpet concerto pandora station on in the background while Ainsley and I play or snuggle and read books, but for those times when we've already done that TWICE it's nice to know there's a half hour show out there that I don't have total guilt showing to my sweet, growing, impressionable girl.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why I Love My Husband #1,612

Ainsley just woke up from her nap. Ian went to get her. He bounded down the stairs holding her in one arm with her feet under her bottom like he used to when she was a "baby". He got her a sippy cup of milk and sat with her on the chair and snuggled with her while she drank. "We're going to walk up to the store and get some apples to share" he told me when she'd finished. "So that I can eat most of the apple and then give the rest to Ainsley because she LOVES apples." The grin on Ainsley's face could be seen across the street. It's these little sweet moments that I love the most.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Baby Girl Vaagenes v. 2.0

I realize I usually spend my time blogging about the triumphs and trials of day to day life and I have mentioned very little about my pregnancy. This is due in part to two reasons 1. Caring for Ainsley has left me very little time to sit and ponder over the goings on of my growing belly 2. Somehow I feel as this is my second pregnancy I have "been there, done that" and this should be no big deal.

It is of course a big deal, as growing a person should be. I seem to forget this sometimes and don't cut myself enough slack (for being tired, needing to eat ALL the time, not being as productive as I think I should be).

I am officially BIG and by big I mean I look like I did when I was 30 weeks with Ainsley and I'm 25 (Ian and I checked last night comparing pictures). I've been meaning to get Ian to take a picture of my big bellyness but remembering to do so and being freshly showered and dressed in actual clothes are phenomena that rarely occur at the same time.

I got him to take some today and bless his heart this is the only one that didn't make me look like a whale.

Aside from getting bigger earlier this pregnancy has been thus far rather unremarkable (thank goodness). The first trimester flew by with a few rough tired out/nauseas days and the second has been relatively easy as well. I have had hardly any cravings compared with the pork crazed diet I indulged in with Ainsley. I definitely have a huge sweet tooth and occasionally a meat aversion (much to Ian's chagrin). My biggest hurdle so far has been my pulled groin muscle (pulled it in MN getting onto a slide with Ainsley...hilarious and oh so painful) and finding the energy to actually exercise (not just chase Ainsley around). Picking Ainsley up and hauling her around has become increasingly difficult as have normal every day tasks like unloading the dishwasher (the reaching and bending is interesting) and grocery shopping (hauling bags into the house while trying to keep Ainsley in one place - one of those back pack leashes is looking more and more attractive). My large belly is also starting to get in the way of quality cuddling time with Ainsley which has been hard. She squrims a lot when we're reading and I know it's because I'm not very comfortable.

I thought I'd try some more belly shots on my own, NOT an easy task.
Trying a new angle. I think it works?

I started feeling baby girl move around 15 weeks and she's been bouncing and kicking ever since. Nighttime is still the most active time but she hasn't been keeping me awake yet (thank you sweet little one!) She also tends to kick right after I eat something as if saying "yum yum yum" or "ick ick ick" I can't really tell. I have started being able to pick out body parts when she "whomps" around in my stomach. I remember loving this with Ainsley and I do all over again. It's so amazing to feel 4 HARD kicks in a row and be able to place your hand right where their little foot is and feel it kicking and to know where their tiny butt is all curled up. The baby is about 14 inches long and weighs over a pound and a half. Only two more weeks until the second trimester starts. I can hardly believe it!

The only negative change with this pregnancy thus far is the appearance of varicose veins on one of my legs. Right below my right knee is a small patch of burst veins which are oh so attractive in shorts season. I've been rubbing my belly oil on the area and it seems to be getting better. Here's hoping they dim once the baby comes!

I've definitely been nesting and our house thanks me. Most of the decorating is done save a few minor touch ups, and few major undertakings that may or may not get done before baby. An Ikea trip yesterday got us closer to finishing the nursery. We're still on the lookout for a used dresser to double as a changing table but once we have that and I decide on a paint color we have everything we need. I officially need to stop buying new clothes for the new baby, especially seeing as we're all stocked up as it is. I did have to throw away a substantial amount of onesies and bibs because if we can recall Ainsley was quite the barfer and those milk stains just don't want to come out. I'm justifying the new baby threads by the fact that the baby will be born 3 months before Ainsley was and thus requiring an entirely different set of clothing (because you know, fall newborns need footless things right?).

I've been getting very into knitting for this one too for fear of having nothing handmade to put her in when she's born. I started a white matinee jacket this morning, finished a purple bonnet the other day, have one of a set of booties done and am forever working on her peachish-pink baby blanket. I still want to make Ainsley a sweater for the fall/winter as well so we'll see how that goes!

So, in short, all is well in the land of babies and pregnancy. I am so excited to meet this little one but not ready enough to give birth again any time soon. I keep reminding myself that I was nervous about that whole ordeal at this point with Ainsley too and that by the end I could have cared less how it all went down as long as it went down.