Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Diaper Decision

After careful consideration and LOTS of back and forth we've come to a decision about the diapers. (I know, you've all been on the edge of your seats right?)

After scouring the diapers in a little dawn and rinsing them about a MILLION times, they are still only so so. About half of them still smell a bit and all of the velcro is shot.

I know I am partly to blame. I wasn't as careful with their washing and drying as I should have been a the beginning. While I've always used diaper friendly detergent an errant wipe or two would get in there and ravage the velcro. Plus I've always machine dried them, on low, but still not as good as air drying. If only I knew then what I know now...

So we've decided to buy 6 new diapers, and fix 12 of our 24 diapers. I ordered new liners and velcro kits so in the end we should have 18 working diapers. My thought was that we're going to have more children EVENTUALLY and these diapers have lasted 2.5 years even with merely moderate's their time. Rather than sink a bunch of money into fixing them all I'd rather use some of that money to get a few new ones and make the ones we have work as best we can.

Truth be told I'm pretty pumped for new diapers, thrilled actually. If you'd told me 5 years ago that I'd be salivating over new cloth diapers I would have laughed in your face. Oh how motherhood changes us.


When I was little I could often be found on a rainy weekend day holed up in my room rearragning furniture. I'm not talking moving a lamp to a new location or dusting off my doll collection to put on a new shelf. I'm talking all out lug-the-beg-into-the-hallway-so-I-can-push-the-dresser-to-the-other-side-0f-the-room rearranging.

In retrospect I'm surpised and thankful that my parents let me do it. They clearly knew what was going on. I'm sure they could hear the grunts and scrapes from below. I lived in my childhood room for a good 10 years and I'll bet I rearranged that room at least every 6 months, everytime something new.

I remember how thrilling it was to go to bed in a new environment, how fresh and rejuvinating it felt. It was always just the thing I needed to clear cobwebs, get some energy out and refocus. My room would become my haven again as a I looked at it from a new angle.

Today I rekindled that thrill.

While the girls naps breifly overlapped this afternoon I took it upon myself to move some things around. It started innocently enough. Now that Auntie Sonya is happily hunkered down in her new digs I decided to reclaim the basement as the playroom. I moved all of the girls' big toys downstairs. No big deal.

But then the sunroom looked so empty and the overflowing shelves and baskets of little teeny mistmatched toys were egging me on. "Clean me, organize me...please please PLEASE!" So I obliged.

But in order to clean thoroughly I had to move furniture right? So I moved the couch. Gross. I vaccuumed and scrubbed. Then came the coffee table, the entrance table, and that lovable cumbersome chair-and-a-half. "Why don't you just rearrange a few thing, you know, while your're at it" a little voice teased. "Well, maybe just a FEW things".

So I rearranged. Nothing as drastic as my past rearragning antics may indicate, but enough. I feel completely rejuvinated in our home. Sitting here at my computer from my new vantage point I feel refreshed and excited about our space again. The living room has been reclaimed as cute-baby-toys-and-mostly-nice-adult-stuff and we have more space to play and lounge as a family.

I fear I have opened pandora's box. What room will be next?

::reclaimed playroom::

::yes that is a balloon, one of the best toddler toys EVER, well, until it pops::

::how I love a good reading nook::

Dumpster Diving and Other Classy Moves

One of my favorite things about Oak Park are the alleys. Correction, the stuff people leave in the alleys.

When we first moved here I was a bit weary of all the dumpster diving that I heard went on. Gross right? But then I started walking around, saw the AMAZING things that people threw away, and quickly changed my mind.

Since Oak Park charges for removal of any extraneous stuff that won't fit in your cans a lot of people just leave things out in the alleys in the hopes that someone will come pick it up, sparing them the money it would take to get it removed. I did this a while back when I cleaned out our garage. A lawn mower, vacuum cleaner and sled/saucer thingy were promptly taken off of our hands by fellow dumpster divers. I've learned to love this system.

Even with all the walking and perusing of trash that I've done I had yet to take anything home. I'm a big browser but comitting to lugging something home is a whole different ball game.

It all started a few months back when our amazing neighbors rescued a wooden upholstered childrens rocking chair for Ainsley. They washed the slipcover and delivered it to our back door "I can't believe someone was just going to throw this away! It's in perfect condition!" Ainsley was elated to have her own rocking chair. It especially came in handy when Louise was born and we could rock our babies in tandem. It now sits in her bedroom and every night without fail we hear the rhythmic thump thump of her rocking one of her dollies to sleep.

The treasure hunt continued on a brief post dinner lets get all the jitters out walk with Ainsley when we stumbled across a true gem. A Step 2 Snuggle Bug car just begging to have life breathed back into it. We kept walking home without it as I was unsure how to get it home with Ainsley in tow (it needed a major spray down before I'd let her ride it). I thought about the car all night and by the next morning was near panicked that it would be gone. Thankfully it wasn't and a quick sojourn with the girls and my good friend Nadine resulted in the addition of the Snuggle Bug to our backyard mayhem of toys. Ainsley LOVES it!

On that same day I noticed that out back alley neighbors had placed a table top easel out by their garbage. I debated snatching it, it too needed a good cleaning and upon further inspection one of the legs is a bit broken, but it stands well and who can beat a free chalkboard easel? Ainsley got right to work making "a blue rectangle mama" followed by "a yellow circle, just for fun".

::the loot::

Being a bargain shopper by nature finding all this free stuff is almost TOO exciting. It makes it hard to ever pay full price for anything because I KNOW someone somewhere is just dying to give it away for free, or at least in Oak Park they are!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cry Baby

I have been crying a lot lately (and no I'm not pregnant!)

This is nothing all too new. The women (and some men) on my mom's side of the family have what we like to call "the crying gene". We tear up when saying goodbye to loved ones, at a sappy movie, for SURE during that new pampers commercial, when we spill something...really all the time.

But it's been more than usual lately and I still can't quite put my finger on it, or couldn't I should say.

It really started right before I left for my sister's destination bachelorette party. I had been SO excited and then about three days before leaving, near panic set in. It wasn't that I didn't trust Ian to handle the girls alone for three full days (and nights). It certainly wasn't that I wasn't looking forward to the weekend of raucous fun. I was just going to miss them so terribly. I have never been away from them for that long EVER. I was worried.

So I got preemptively sentimental. I hugged them longer and held them closer. Then I woke up bright and early on Friday morning and without another thought boarded the plane to Boston.

::the one photo I got of the "landscape" in Provincetown,
my one major regret, this town was BEAUTIFUL, I wish I'd taken more photos::

It was an uneventful flight thank goodness. I met up with my sister Jenny at the airport and we were picked up by two of Julie's grad school friends. They were all decked out in their cute beach clothes, rocking out to the Ke$ha Pandora station the whole way to the Cape. What a delightful departure from my everyday. It became a joke of the trip that I knew so few of the songs playing while we were out and about. I'd shout "I know this one!" if I knew the song and everyone would applaud. Oh the hilarity and seclusion that is my life.

Once in Provincetown we settled into the adorable house Julie's party planner and maid of honor extraordinarre had booked for us. Cars full of Julie's high school, college, and grad school friends slowly rolled in, and then the guest of honor. I was so happy to be a part of it all.

The games and adult beverages rolled freely. While I'd never met most of her college and grad school freinds they quickly felt like my own. Julie has some amazing friends.

The weekend was full of good food and fun, rompers and cute sundresses despite the rain and cool temps, and lots and lots of fun memories.

::the blushing bride to be::

The actually party itself was great. If you want a good time, Provincetown, MA is definitely a safe bet.
::at the Tea Party at 5pm, definitely the highlight of the party night::

::back to the house for BBQ and games::

::at the A House to round out the night::

::festive beer coozies::

All alcohol consumption aside, it was nice to just get out by myself and be free for a weekend. I slept in until 9, went to bed super late, sat in once place for much longer than 3 minutes, talked to other adults without interruption. I'm so glad I got to be a part of this amazing weekend.

Thanks Julie and Sim for getting married so that I could go to your bachelorette party!

Now back to this crying thing...

So I got home from the great weekend, a few hours later than intended thanks to some weather delays, and was truly refreshed. I woke up later that night to a feverish Louise and house that needed a little TLC and was ready to go.

The next few days I was in survival mode. Tapping into the extra sleep I'd gotten over the weekend to care for my sick baby and attention seeking toddler. It was rough but I was glad to be home.

But the tears returned. When rocking Louise to sleep, when stroking Ainsley's hair in the morning, when reading a sweet book out loud to them. I feel like I'm welling up every 5 minutes.
::Ainsley's new favorite snack, "popsicles!"
please don't tell her they're actually frozen homemade smoothies::

What I've discovered is that these are not sad tears but those tears of release that we all have. Tears that speak for us when words can't.

I am so overcome by these two little dumplings in my life. I was emotional to leave them and am emotional to have them.

I cry because they're growing up. Louise is full blown crawling and will never be a little baby anymore. It's been years since Ainsley's been a baby and that sometimes when she looks at me I swear I see a little lady staring back.

I cry because I can't have it all. Because I miss my friends and late nights and how things used to be. Because my job is hard and most days when I want a break it's not there for me and I need to power ahead. Because at the end of the day I'm always glad that I'm where I am with these people I love so dearly. But dang, I wish I could have it all.

I cry because I can't stop time when I want it to stop. Because I missed Louise's first crawling steps while in P-town. Because when I talked to Ian and he told me she missed me I couldn't just crawl through the phone and give her the love she needed. Because my girls are perfect where they are right now and I'm simultaneously terrified and elated to see who they will become.

So I guess I just needed a little release. It's been a whirlwind lately and my body just knows Ineed it.

Today I am thankful for my amazing sister and her great friends and the time of my life that I had at her party, for my ever changing ever amazing girls, and for my husband who told me tonight that I have nice shoulders. I've never heard that one before Ian, thanks, I might just go cry about it, because apparently that's what I do now.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Diaper Dilemma

Sooo. My wonderful amazing so easy to use cloth diapers are dying. They made it through 1.5 kids and served us well but they don't absorb well anymore and 3/4 of the velcro has stopped working. Needless to say I'm bummed.

Now the question is where to go from here. I could buy a whole new round of the ones we love but that would be quite the chunk of change AND I'm worried about Louise fitting into them through potty training. I could buy new liners and velcro for the ones we have and try to repair them, but honestly I'm not a meticulous sewer and I worry about the integrity of my repair job. I could also opt to try a new method and go with prefolds and few nice new covers but I'm a bit weary to shirk the great system we have in place.

I really want to keep using cloth. Suggestions please!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Good Stuff

I fee like so often I fixate on the hard stuff with Ainsley. Tonight I need to mention a little bit of good.

This evening I had to go to Target to return a bunch of stuff that I didn't end up needing for Julie's bachelorette party (rompers galore!). I opted to take Ainsley even thought she seemed a bit off after bathtime. We had an hour before bed and the kiddo LOVES the car and singing so we went.

I rolled down the windows. We blasted the oldies station and clapped at stoplights. Once at the store she picked out the cart and patiently waited our turn in the return line. While there we heard numerous little ones losing it. It was late-ish. Fast approaching tiny babes' bed time. While one tantruming tot was carted off by a frustrated dad Ainsley turned to me and calmly stated "she sad mama. The baby is tired. She needs her mama and a nap." Then we heard another baby crying inconsolably. "oh mama, so many tired babies." Then she turned back to the counter and we counted how many carts were lined up, how many people were working, what color they were wearing "red mama! I like red!"

After our quick exchange with the overworked employee we meandered a bit. I tried on EVERY brazierre I could find that I thought would help my post nursing physique. No dice. But Ainsley let me do it. She twirled in front of the mirror and commented on her favorite designs and colors in my selection. We talked about what we were going to do when we got home "read a book mama, umm, I think I want the train one, no the baby one, I like them all mama!", what our favorite parts of the day were "playing with my friend Emma mama, swinging in the swing...ohh, I rode my bike mama and get the pool passes!"

Then we came home. Played a bit longer per Ainsley's polite request. Read books whilst she nestled on my chest and snuggled while I sang songs. She calmly went down smiling and happy.

There are so many amazing things about my girl and as hard as she can be that hard stuff makes her great. We can talk and sit and laugh and have a real thing, just us two. I love it.

I'm a lucky mama.

Nail polish and talking and walking...Oh My!

It's been quite the re-entry week back here at the Vaagenes'. Getting home 2 hours later than expected from my three day weekend of fun and freedom set the tone for the days to come. Louise spiked a fever that night and while Ainsley was happy to see me she's been testing boundaries like CRAZY perhaps to re-establish things now that I'm home. To top it all off it rained ALL day yesterday adding stir crazy to the list of ailments we were all experiencing. Wowaz.

But today's been good. Louise woke up happy and fever free and Ainsley has been sweet and funny. She was SO excited to get some new sparkle nail polish at the store today so I indulged her craving for pizazz and painted away when we got home. She's been primping and preening around the house ever since.

I've been re-learning this whole baby on the verge of walking thing. Ainsley did everything on her own. There was no holding her hands or prompting her for steps (well there was the beer we'd tease her with at first I guess). With Louise it's been the exact opposite. Just shy of 6 months I thought "hey, she's big enough to try sitting up" so I sat her up and there she was. Crawling happened on her own but we've definitely had to encourage up on all fours. Now that she's "compelled" to move I tightened up Ainsley's old walker and she's starting to take tentative steps, even letting go and balancing for whole chunks of time then sitting deliberately when she's had enough. It's crazy! I love both of their stages.

Ainsley conitues to chatter away, ALL DAY LONG. She is so curious and resourceful. Now that her speech has fully caught up with her mobility I live in a constant state of survival mode. For example, yesterday while explaining to me "mama, it's pretty cold in here, I'm gonna turn the a/c on just a little bit" she dragged over a full sized wooden dining room chair and was proceeded to scale it to reach the thermostat. When that wasn't tall enough she balanced her little wooden chair on top of that! Same thing has happened in her bedroom. She now uses her dollhouse and doorknob to reach her main light switch so that she can "play a little more mama, Ainsley May not so sleepy yet" before bed and naptime. Short of taking everything out of her bedroom I'm not quite sure what to do. She always has a plan and a plan for her backup plans. I figure she's going to do it either way and at least we can find a semi-safe solution together. Goodness I need to get that child in gymnastics.

It's sunny out today and I'm hoping the backyard dries out enough so we can play this afternoon. I'm thankful for healthy girls and a clean house and sun! AND wishing Ian luck today with a big talk he's giving. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Enough to go around

Last night was THAT night. The night you dread and fear as a parent. One baby dreadfully sick, only consoled by a snug place on her mama's chest, the other jarred by the crashes and booms of the storm outside. The result was an empty queen sized bed and two very tired parents in the morning.

Even with the dark circles under my eyes I really can't complain. Last night was the first night of its kind since Louise was born. I count us lucky that we have good sleepers and rooms for us each for much needed alone time and rest.

On the flip side, it's nice to be needed by my girls. I kind of revel in the calm I can bring to them when they need it. I rarely feel more like a mom then when those instincts kick in to soothe a sick or scared babe. Somehow I just know to put them to my chest and find a quiet place to rock or sway. My fingers know to gently scratch and rub their back and blow slowly on their brows.

Somehow I went from a little girl needing my own mama in that way to a mama myself. It's easier to tap into patience and understanding when I remember that. While I do remember the occasional stern looks and frustrated tone of my own mother I mostly remember her steadfastness, the security and calm that she always brought. Even after I went through that whole learning-my-parents-are-real-people-too-thing she's still my go to for advice and console. I'm excited to be emerging as that person for my girls.

As for tending to the needs of two at once last night, thank goodness for a man who is their other rock. He may not have my "ploofy" chest (as we used to call my mom's) but he comforts in his own way. We have more than enough of what our girls need; love, patience, and comfort. For that I am so very thankful.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ergo Baby

I got myself a present today, well yesterday, and thanks to free super fast shipping I got it today. It's and Ergo baby carrier. I'm in love.

::the new carrier in all its glory::

I've been eyeing this thing forever. Everyone in town has it. It gets rave reviews. It's adorable.

::she looks pretty comfy, eh?::

But of course we already had a baby carrier. 3 in fact. We were gifted one bjorn type infantino carrier when Ainsley was born and it worked fine for her for about 4 months and then it started hurting my back.
So then I got a hotsling, which I still LOVE and use all the time with Louise. The problem is Louise's size. She no longer fits in the cute front carry position and it's way too hot to stick that dumpling in an enclosed sling anyways.

::double duty::

THEN when Ainsley outgrew the sling I wanted to get a soft back pack carrier so we got an infantino one. While it's much cheaper than the ergo I now realize why. No matter how tight I tie the knots they're always coming loose in about 15 minutes and something about the design cuts off the circulation to poor Louise's legs in about the same amount of time. Bummer.

::some photos from this afternoon's impromptu shoot,
I just can't take enough of my girls::

So really there was a need for a new carrier right? While I love our double bob I of course still need a carrier for some quicker outings, like the park, getting things done around the house and other excursions.

So when I found an ergo on sale online with free shipping I jumped all over it and I only wish I'd gotten this carrier years ago.

::this is Louise's 'what the heck is Ainsley doing?' face,
so glad I got it on film::

It fits SO comfortable and both Louise and Ainsley immediately melted into it when I put them on. They were so comfortable and light. I LOVE IT!

It has a pocket to put things in while carrying a babe (keys and cell phone anyone?), and even a little hood that you can pull up and sercure if your dumpling falls asleep.

It is super easy to get on and off once you've adjusted the straps to fit you. I'm excited to try it out on an errand tomorrow.

So once again I've learned that sometimes it pays to get the good baby product right from the get go. If you add up all of the free and sale slings I've bought it far surpasses the $80 I spent on this one. Oh well.
We had a fun afternoon trying babies on in the new carrier and splashing in the backyard pool. I am getting pretty stoked for my three day weekend coming up and also a little bit sad about missing out on three days with my growing girls. Louise is doing something new everyday and Ainsley says something new everyday. Today it was "stop it mom, jeez!". Seriously, I have to learn how to NOT laugh when she's being saucy. It's too hilarious and catches me completely off guard.

Now that summer has officially started (the kids are out of school and musikgarten has ended, that's signs enough for me!) I'm so looking forward to a new easier routine. Mornings spent erranding and romping outdoors and parks. Afternoons in the pool either in our backyard or down the street. I've decided to enlist the help of some little mama's helpers to get the girls and me to the pool successfully. They love it too much not to take advantage!

::Ainsley was telling Louise "no hurt the flowas YaWeez"
and then proceeded to rip the petals right off::

::this child ate the whole pint, ah summer berries::

So the day was great, hot and full. Tomorrow they're predicting rain. I'm ok with that. Turning down (or off?) the a/c and hunkering down with my girls. I'll pack and prep for my first solo 3 day trip away from them. I'm excited and a bit apprehensive. They're my girls and it feels so odd to be apart from them. But I know I'll have a blast and come back loving them even more. Distance makes the heart grow fonder right? Well my heart's already bursting.

Happy hump day!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tid Bits

The girls did really well in the car both to and from Minnesota. I think they've gotten used to us lugging them around in the car. When Ainsley got a little fussy in the last leg I gave her my best mom face and explained to her that we were all tired and all wanted to be out of the car and to please keep her cool. "Come on!" was her response. I had to turn away to keep her from seeing my smile.

::Ainsley and Ian getting ready to ride her first kiddie roller coaster
at the Eden Prairie Schooner days::

::then the cousins tried their hands at the cars and boats, a pretty huge success::

::Ian needed some cotton candy, Ainsley obliged::

Louise is walking! Well, on her walker of course. While in MN she started traversing objects slowly and just yesterday she started pushing her litte standing play center along while holding on so I got out Ainsley's old wooden walker. She moves! Slowly and carefully all the while beaming with pride.

::the one salvageable photo I got of our friends' wedding, amazing dress right?::

Last night the girls were cashed from our whirlwind weekend. Neither took their afternoon nap in the car and we got home JUST late enough that I was reluctant to put them down and mess up our bedtime routine (especially since I was on my own as Ian took Sonya to the Sox game). Ainsley lost it around 5 and try as I might I couldn't snap her out of it. So I gave in at 6, gave her a big kiss and closed the door to her room. 5 minutes later both girls were in bed and slept all through the night and them some. Ahh the joy of a good crash.

::enjoying Grammy and Pops swing::

Today I heard Ainsley wake from her nap and went up to get her as usual. I opened the door to find her curled up on her bed a BIG smile on her face and a "dude!". Where is she learning these exclamations!
::dinner at Bayside while in MN...a definite must especially
with all the extra hands for the girls and the AMAZING fish tacos::

::dessert at Adele's, we are never ever disappointed::

::of course we'd get the extra drippy cones, I was messier than Ainsley!::

To round out our first day back at home I made an impromptu decision to cut my own hair. I'm tired of paying too much for my low maintenance locks and feel bad asking my skilled sister to cut my hair EVERY time I'm home. Barring Ian's assessment of the evenness in the back, I think it turned out a-ok.
::new haircut! and a VERY antsy toddler girl::

We're beating the heat with the play pool in the backyard and our blissfully air conditioned house. Ainsley and I are off to make tacos for dinner while Louise naps for the THIRD time today!

Happy Monday