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!