Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Big Sister Gift?

Since getting pregnant, I knew Ellie would be a great big sister, but I'm completely aware of the adjustment she's going to face when she realizes the baby stays with us forever and not just for a visit. Right now she gets all of our attention and we can meet all of her needs pretty much on demand. I know that sounds like we spoil her and we don't, but compared to how it will be when the baby arrives it's totally going to be a whole new world for her. I have some fears about not being able to pick her up when she needs or wants me to, getting the girls on the same nap schedule, finding a schedule at all that works for us, and any negative feelings Ellie will be going through as she adjusts such as jealousy.

We've been reading several big sister and baby books to her and she's obsessed with babies when we're out and her dolls at home, but just like how you can't truly prepare for parenthood, I don't think we can fully prepare her for her little sister. One idea I've been wanting to do is have a gift ready from the baby for Ellie with a note to her. I realize this isn't a new idea, my mom gave me a new dolly when my sister arrived and she said I didn't even care about the baby and just played with the doll for most of the visit. Although, there were some pretty cute pics of me holding Karli, so I obviously had the big sister thing down from the start.

I've been looking through Pinterest (follow me here!) for some ideas and I think a little activity sack with quiet time activities might be the best route for her. I want to fill it with items she loves and some new items she doesn't have. Here's what I'm thinking:

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Coloring Books
Snacks

I don't want to go too crazy, but I want her to have something special. I thought about getting her a doll like my mother did for me, but she has so many dolls and I want her to have a gift that she will enjoy. Maybe I could add a My Little Pony?

Mamas- did you have your little ones exchange gifts? What did they give each other? How did it work for your children?  What are your tips and ideas? All ideas and input are welcome!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Our Weekend

This weekend was so busy! On Friday we took dinner to our friends who just had their first baby. It was so great visiting with them and snuggling their little girl. She is absolutely beautiful and precious! She's so small, I can't believe it's just over a month before our own little one will be here too. It was fun to talk with her mom about all the new mom stuff and the funny things you forget about when they're so little.

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Saturday morning started off early with swim class and Ellie did so good! It was probably her best class yet and a lot of fun. She's getting really good at floating on her back (with help from us) and loves to jump into the water. After class we ran some errands and stopped for Starbucks. We were just going to pick it up and keep going, but Ellie wanted to sit and have her milk and it was really nice to relax and enjoy our drinks and a chocolate croissant.We are always on the go, go, go and I really enjoyed taking 20 minutes to just sit and talk. Ellie was so funny and is talking up a storm. She has the best stories and hand motions for them.

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After our errands we picked up our niece and nephew for a sleepover and it was crazytown, in a good way! They all had so much fun and played nonstop. We ended the night with pizza, warm cookies, and The Book of Life movie. I love that Ellie is so close with her cousins and they live only 10 minutes away and can get together all the time.

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Matt worked on house stuff all weekend too, painting Ellie's big girl bed- we put it up last night, more details to come! He changed out our lights in the kitchen and dining room, worked on the yard, and more. He is such a hard worker and really doesn't know the meaning of relaxation. I'm sure if we went on a vacation he would fix something at the hotel. I, on the other hand, took advantage of Ellie's nap and gave myself a pedicure and watched a Lifetime movie- Perfect High with Bella Thorne (so good). Just a polish change really, with this big belly it is not as easy to do all the dirty work. I'll definitely be getting a pedicure this next month.

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When Ellie woke up she insisted on brushing her teeth, she's so obsessed with brushing and flossing, and it's probably a fluke, but a fluke I love! After she was finished we headed out for some bedding for her bed and other little things we needed (like Swedish Fish). She refused to take off her princess nightgown, so I just slapped a bow on it and headed out. You're only little once right?

It was another great weekend for the books and I can't wait for this holiday weekend! 4th of July is one of two of my favorites holidays (the other being Easter) and I plan on spending the entire day in the pool and eating my weight in watermelon.

Hope you had a great weekend! Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Support a Local Charity with #Ultrahug


What is autism? To put it simply, it's a developmental disability that affects how a person communicates and relates to others and affects how they make sense of the world around them. It's a condition with a wide spectrum and no two people with autism are the same. Although, they may share some difficulties, their condition affects them in different ways.

Autism and its awareness has been growing, 1 in 50 children are diagnosed with Autism, but the knowledge and support is still a step behind. Therapies, medications, special aides, tools, and programs are often not covered by insurance or available in all areas. Early intervention is key to giving a child and their family a head start in understanding and overcoming obstacles. This can include; speech delays, sensory issues (such as sensitivity to noise), a need for routines to manage expectations, ADD/ADHD, and others conditions.

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My nephew, one of the cutest ball players ever, has autism. With an early intervention and his amazing parents, he has grown so much and overcome so many obstacles. Since he was 2, he's been on special diets and in therapy, and with the love and support of his parents and family  has grown into quite an extraordinary little man. He's going to be 9 this year and loves Legos, Skylanders, and swimming. Our Nicholas Foundation has helped him and his family and others like ours in so many ways. They offer products for home and school, Peer Buddy programs, play dates, support groups for families, and sports leagues. Watching my nephew play baseball this spring was awesome! He loved being a part of a team and being cheered on by everyone. Plus, he is just adorable in his uniform!

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I knew right away I'd want to support and raise awareness for Autism when I was contacted by Huggies. They say the best things in life are free and so is love! I love someone with autism and I'm nominating Our Nicholas Foundation for a $2000 grant from Huggies.

From April 20th until June 25th, Huggies will be accepting all selfies of you and your baby with the hashtag #UltraHug, and featuring them in a collage on the campaign landing page. On July 6th, voting will begin to narrow down the 20 finalists to 10 winners who will win a $2,000 grant from Huggies for their nominated community initiative.

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How to Enter the #UltraHug Selfie Contest:

• First, take a selfie of you and your baby and upload that selfie to Twitter or Instagram. Make sure to use the hashtag #UltraHug 

• In your same post, make sure to include a text nomination (approximately 100 – 120 characters) including a name and/or identifying description of a community project in the US, which you would like to nominate. Make sure the community project is something near and dear to your heart.

• Have more questions? Visit here for more information!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Baby 2 Bumpdate: Week 33

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32 Weeks 4 Days

Each week seems to go by faster and faster and I already feel like this pregnancy has flown right by. I've been asked a lot this past week if I'm ready to be done (and also if I'm excited) and I'm not ready yet. I am one of those annoying women that enjoy being pregnant. Lately, I haven't been as comfortable as normal and a few of my shirts are getting too short to wear (like the one from two weeks ago already! Granted, it was almost too short then too if I'm honest with myself.), and I've been super hot the last few days, but I still overall enjoy being pregnant. I've loved the changes to my body this time around- no stretch marks, my butt/hips haven't grown (but I actually liked that), and my face isn't bloated yet. I know every pregnancy is different, but I thought that since I was having a second girl it would be identical to the first time.

-This last week I've been craving fruits, specifically watermelon and strawberries.

-My hips are still hurting while I sleep, but they don't bother me until the early morning hours. A pillow between my legs (groin to knee) and keeping one leg straight while the other is bent has been the most comfortable for me.

-My sciatic nerve is still hurting me some days, but more of an annoyance than tear induced pain.

-I have been really short of breath recently, I feel as though I have to stand up or stretch to get enough air.

-We cleared out the nursery of the extra bedroom furniture and it's ready to be taped and painted. I really, really wish I could do it myself because I enjoy painting and Matt hates it. I bought the low chemical fume kind, but the man at Home Depot said not to even think about painting, not even the smaller projects I could do outside or if I wore a mask. Granted, he's not a doctor and I haven't asked mine about it, but better safe than sorry. Plus, Matt doesn't want me to do it either so it's a battle I lost.

-The last of my doctor appointments are all scheduled. I have one at the end of the month and I can't wait to see our little girl. I'm hoping to get a good shot of her face to see if I can see any hints of how she'll look. I know she has my nose already, but I wonder if she has my lips or chubby cheeks too like Ellie does. I still think she'll have dark hair, but we'll see!

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I absolutely love this dress from the cutest maternity boutique online - Pink Blush Maternity. I found them through a girlfriend and love their site. They have such cute maternity clothes for all occasions and body types. I like that they have a lot of trendy maternity clothes and most of them would still wear well post-partum. There's lots of dresses, both maxi and short, jeans, shorts, tops, tunics, cardigans, etc. It's the perfect place to shop for upcoming events!

Hope you're having a fantastic week! Thank you for following along!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hot Dog! Our Disneyland Trip

Last week we took Ellie to Disneyland for a belated birthday celebration. Matt had some vacation days and we took advantage of being able to go during the week when it's a bit slower. We had so much fun and I can't wait to take her again. It was a really relaxing day and we thoroughly enjoyed all the magic!

We didn't get to see every sight or ride every ride or park hop, we just focused on what Ellie wanted to do and the wait times for each ride. She did really good in line, I was pretty surprised and happy! The longest wait was to see Minnie Mouse and we were able to keep her distracted pretty well before entering her home and letting Ellie explore. Minnie and Mickey were the only characters we visited and took pictures with, she's pretty shy sometimes, but liked Minnie. She gave Mickey the evil eye and wouldn't even get near him or give him a high five. Yet, when we were doing our souveneir shopping, all she wanted was a Micky Mouse stuffed doll which she's slept with every night since. Go figure.

She loved the rides - the carousel, It's A Small World, Jungle Cruise, Dumbo, the train, and the Fantasmic Show, I'm not sure which was her favorite though. We were there for only a few hours and left around bedtime, but she had so much fun.We took a million pictures, but I won't bore you with all of them, just like 10 (unedited because I'm pregnant and lazy right now).

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We loved watching her face and seeing the magic through her eyes. She absolutely lit up and laughed so much throughout the day. It was a wonderful time and a day I'll never forget! I'm so thankful we were able to on such a beautiful day and spend some extra time with her doing something special before baby sister arrives.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Family + Maternity Pics

Here are a few of our family pics we took over the weekend. My sweet sorority sister Alexa took them for us, she's so awesome and really talented. I'm so thankful to have some pics of the bump and our family before the little one arrives. I'm starting to get a little emotional that Ellie won't be my only little girl to dote on and get all of my attention. She's going to be a great big sister, but I'm really cherishing these last few weeks with just her.

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Dress (Kiki La'Rue last year, nearly identical here) // Kimono (from Jane, sold by Simply Reese)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Baby 2 Bumpdate: Week 32

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31 Weeks 4 Days

Only 8 weeks left!! Well, really just 7 since I'll have another c-section. I can't believe it!! I can't wait to see her and feel her and smother her in kisses. I also need to soak up some extra time with little Elle Bell who has been crazy affectionate and I love it. I'm really excited for our family and we still have to do everything in the nursery, but I'm not worried about getting it all done. 

-This week Matt started painted some furniture for Ellie's big girl room. Once that's all finished we're going to put new shelves, pictures, and a twin bed in there for her so we can move the crib to the nursery.

-The dreaded leg cramps have returned! Mostly minor ones that go away quickly, but I had one a few nights ago that I thought was going to be the end of me. It was so bad and went up almost my entire leg and didn't go away forever. I scared my husband I was in so much pain writhing on the side of the bed and falling onto it.

-Using the restroom hasn't been a big issue this pregnancy, I usually wake around 5 and can go to bed or rest easily afterwards. During the day though I feel like I spend a good portion of my work hours in the restroom! This baby is just sitting on my bladder all day long!

-I painted my toes on Saturday and I think it took me about an hour to give myself a good pedicure and get them all painted with a base coat, three coats, and then a top coat. I was able to do it easier this time than with Ellie, with her I could only do 3 toes at a time and would have to take a break, but I could do all 5 before taking a breather. It was so much work and my husband just laughed saying I should have just gotten them done, but I felt that I had come so far to throw in the clippers by that point. I'll know for next time though!

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Dress (Kiki La'Rue last year, nearly identical here) // Kimono (from Jane, sold by Simply Reese)

Happy hump day! Hope you're all doing well and having a great week! Thank you for reading and following my pregnancy journey!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Our Weekend...

This past weekend was so much fun and we got home late Sunday night, I didn’t get to write about it before hitting the sack. I love weekends that are spent with the people who are most important to you. After spending the little free time we get outside of work relaxing and laughing with friends and family, I feel so rejuvenated and ready to take on a new week come Monday morning. This sounds so mushy, but it really makes my heart full to spend time with those I care about and who are a large part of my life and who I am as a person, wife, mother, and friend.

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I had to work a few hours Saturday morning and afterwards we ran a few errands and then headed down to Matt’s parents house for the night. We took them out to sushi, they’ve been a few times before, but are still wary of it. We ordered a few different rolls for them to try and they really enjoyed it. The restaurant had a “stream” under the floor that was filled with huge Koi fish and Ellie was obsessed with them.

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After a while, she was over it so I took her outside to play and walk around. All of us were to stuffed after eating so much fish and rice, but we still had plenty of room for some DQ Blizzards! Ellie was in heaven eating all of ours and seeing what she liked best. She couldn’t down it fast enough and we were all happy to share. Kids and ice cream- it’s the cutest thing in the world! While there, I ran into a good friend from my previous work position and it was so great to see him. It’s such a small world and I really miss my old team, they were so great to work with. When we got home and put Ellie down from her sugar high, we watched American Sniper, but I of course fell asleep for the last hour of it. I swear, if there’s a movie on, I can’t keep my eyes open to save my life no matter how badly I want to see the film.

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Sunday morning, we woke up and headed to the same park we had our wedding pictures taken for some family/maternity pics. My sweet sorority sister Alexa, who took Ellie’s newborn/3month/6month/9month pics met us as our photographer. It was great to see her and catch up about her upcoming wedding. The weather wasn’t ideal in the morning, but with scheduling, it was really hard to find a day that would work with the timing of the sunset (ideal for pictures) so 830 am it was! It was still a great morning, a little overcast and my hair got a bit fuzzy from the moisture in the air, but I think our pictures turned out great. I’ll be sharing more of them in a future post.

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After pictures we headed back to Matt’s parents house. We celebrated Father’s Day early because his parents will be on a trip and we won’t get to celebrate with his dad on the actual holiday. So we just relaxed and started on the food. We blew up a kiddie pool for the kids since it would be a hot day and Ellie barely got out of it all day long. She is such a little fish and had so much fun with her cousins.

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My girlfriends threw me a sprinkle for the new baby. It was a small group and we had so much fun together. It was set up beautifully, we had delicious food, and it was a wonderful time. It was relaxing and fun being able to spend time with each guest over our lunch and play a few games (I Never and Cards Against Humanity- perfect games for the crowd!). I’m so grateful for my circle of friends, we really have been such a rock for each other over the past 10+ years.

After the sprinkle, with a full heart and belly, I headed back to Matt’s parents house to spend some time with everyone before going back home. It was such a great weekend and I’m so thankful for my friends and family and that we are able to get together with them so often.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Baby 2 Bumpdate: Week 31

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30 Weeks 6 Days

This past week has been a whirlwind. Saturday after Ellie's swim class we did some shopping and afterwards I felt really off and a bit nauseated, but I thought it might be carsickness because it went away quickly. I still felt off the rest of the day, but not terrible. We had friends and family over that night and after we had dinner I felt awful. I felt like I needed to throw up, I had heart burn (a first for this pregnancy), and was just really uncomfortable. I finally threw up and felt better and thought that would be it. However, I woke up Sunday just down for the count. My friend was having a BabyQ and we had family pictures planned and I had to cancel on both. I rested all day and was just never really feeling all that great, my body ached and felt like the flu, but I didn't have any other symptoms. That night I was drenched in sweat and had to sleep with a towel, it was as if I had a fever that finally broke. Thankfully, in the morning I felt great! Like nothing had even happened and it must have been just a 24 hour bug. I had a doctor appointment yesterday and everything was great, so it wasn't pregnancy related and the baby is measuring on schedule and is healthy.


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(both non-maternity in my regular size) 

-So far I've gained 12 pounds, so right on track with where I was with Ellie. Which means I'll be gaining about 13 more pounds in the next 8 weeks. Bring on the goods!

-At my next appointment, the doctor will be scheduling my c-section so we'll have an official birth day instead of a 3 day range.

-For clothes, I'm wearing the few maternity items I have and any long tops I own. For my regular shirts, I have maybe another two weeks before they'll be too short to wear. I've also been living in palazzo pants (I own two pairs), they are so comfortable and easy to wear. Perfect for pregnancy and afterwards.

-I've been sleeping really well and I totally contribute it to having a new mattress with great support. I'm still sleeping with a pillow between my knees to ankles and that helps if I'm having any hip pains.

-One thing I've dreaded with this pregnancy is the heat. I barely made it to the end of May with Eleanor and I'm not looking forward to two more months of summer heat. Our weather has been pretty mild, but we're having a heat wave this week and I want to die. I have the AC cranked and the fan going and I'm barely comfortable. I can't imagine if I had to do this with the heat and humidity together.

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The sweet girls behind Willow Crowns, Megan and Stephanie sent over this set of the cutest headbands that our little girl will be wearing all.the.time. I'm a mom that slaps a bow on a baby girl the minute we're in our room and our luggage is at my fingertips. I'm already planning outfits around these headbands and our newborn shots with the beautiful leaf one at the top. I love that this set has all their top bands at different sizes- it's the perfect set and makes a great gift! Thank you so much ladies!!

Hope you're having a great week, thank you for reading and following along!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Our Breastfeeding Journey

Our breastfeeding journey was such a roller coaster and I’m so thankful that I was able to nurse Eleanor for as long as I did. We went a whole fourteen months and I loved the bond that it helped us form and loved holding her close to me, but we hit some lows along the way. I wanted to first share our story a few months ago, this post is nearly an entire year late, but I thought it would be best to wait until we were done when I would have to time to look back and reflect on what it meant to me (and us) and how I dealt with the struggles when I wasn’t in the trenches of pumping and nursing.It's also been on my mind with the upcoming arrival of our second child and I have such mixed feelings about doing it again. I definitely want to, but now I realize it's not as simple as I expected it to be.

Since getting pregnant I knew I wanted to nurse my baby, it just seemed to be the easiest and most natural path for me. I immediately signed up for all of the classes my health provider offered. I didn’t read any books about it because I figured it would be a stroll in the park for us- oh she’s hungry? Just put her to your breast! Around that same time, Julia of Girl in the Red Shoes started featuring bloggers’ journeys with breastfeeding and I learned it was going to be a little tougher than I first Imagined. I guess I just never thought about the intricacies of supply, latching, or the possibilities of infection. I figured I’d learn more from the class I signed up for, but after the class I was really disappointed. They went over breastfeeding in the most basic of terms that would only be a benefit to someone who had no idea about the concept in general. One thing that I was hoping to learn more about was pumping! How the heck does it work, when do you do it, and what do you do with the milk afterwards. I eventually learned the ropes of that too though.

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Fast forward to Ellie’s birth when we were wheeled over to the quiet room for bonding, Ellie latched right away and nursed for nearly an hour. Then throughout our hospital stay, whenever she was hungry I would nurse her and she would latch right away and it was beautiful. I was so thankful that we were starting off on the right foot. Before leaving, I sat with two lactation specialist and they praised my every move and said I was a natural! We practiced different nursing holds and away I went thinking this would be one of the easiest jobs of motherhood. Ha ha.

My milk came in five days after she was born and things were all honky dory, I’d feed her on demand and she was having regular bowel movements. After a few weeks, I was exhausted and worn out from nursing 24/7. Ellie would nurse for hours, she was constantly falling asleep at the breast, and if she was upset the only thing we could do to calm her was to nurse. I never understood how sleep deprivation could be used as a torture tactic in war until I had an infant. After about four weeks I made an appointment with a lactation consultant and we discovered through weighed feedings that I was making about 1-2 ounces less than needed in order to give Eleanor a full tummy. I felt terrible. No wonder she nursed all the time and cried a lot- poor girl was starving! I felt like such a failure and was embarrassed that I didn’t realize it sooner. I wasn’t ashamed to supplement with formula, in fact I was thankful formula existed and she could get the nutrients she needed. I was disappointed in myself (which I realize now is ridiculous). I was watching what I was eating, nursing on demand, drinking water, I started taking supplements to help give my milk supply a boost and it was all helping, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of not having enough. Luckily, Ellie took to a bottle and went back and forth between bottle and breast easily. I also worried about that as well! I didn’t want to give her a bottle too soon and I didn’t want her to refuse the breast because the bottle was easier to eat from.

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We had to supplement her feedings for about 2 weeks before I was able to produce enough milk on my own. I was so happy to finally be where she needed me to be and thought things were looking up. To keep up my milk supply and create a small stash, I pumped after she went to bed, woke up around 2am to pump, and then pumped again at 5am. I did this for months. I was so tired! I finally was able to stop my midnight pump session, but would start that back up anytime my supply dipped. When I went back to work, I still pumped after she went down and woke up extra early to pump again. Then I pumped three times while at work and it would only give me enough milk for one day at daycare!

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There were a lot of times I felt like giving up or switching to only formula, but I felt like it was such a small sacrifice that I could keep going. My main goal was to pump for one year, but with how difficult it had been I broke it up to nurse for three months, 6 months, 9 months, and then a year. Every milestone I met kept me motivated to keep going. I only have X amount of months left, I can do it! Seeing how close I was with Eleanor, how attached she had become to me, and seeing how healthy she was (she only had one cold!) were all benefits to the choice I had made for our family. I loved to nurse her, to hold her close, to know that the chunky thighs had come from nourishment that I provided to her.

With a new baby on the way, I'm really looking forward to nursing again, but I'm not going to be so hard on myself or beat myself over about it. I still have the same main goal of nursing for a year and plan to focus more on my diet to hopefully help my supply. I loved nursing and I'm excited to build that bond again with our little one.

How was your breastfeeding experience? What choices worked best for you?