Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Reflection of Wonderment

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This is quite possibly my favorite photo that I've ever taken of my son (and trust me, I've taken thousands of photos in the last 3 years). His reflection demonstrates all that I love so much about him - his sweet fascination with animals, the way he absorbs knowledge through his beautiful blue eyes, and his vigorous enthusiasm for life. I always say that it is such a joy to be able to see things in a whole new perspective through his eyes. This photo serves as the literal reflection of all that I am privileged to witness every day.

Our trip to the California Academy of Science was plagued with a bit of strife to begin. The line for Free Admission day was a city-block long and I wasn't about to brave the wait, even for a terrific deal. His eyes watered as I began to waffle on whether or not we should go in, which prompted me to suck it up and by a membership so we could enjoy our day. I'm now thrilled that I made that choice because we will be back very soon. He ran from sight to sight, exclaiming "Look at this! Look at that!" and he repeated all the names of the creatures "An-a-con-da!" He even corrected a woman later by saying, "That's not a bird, that's a macaw." I gave the woman a sheepish grin and steered my little tour guide on his way.

The highlights for him were the aquarium and the rain forest exhibit. The highlights for me were watching my children shine like the sun in the midst of their discoveries.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teal In Motion: An Update On Life

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Oh, hi. Remember me? My name is Teal and I used to blog all the time. I'm going to try to pick back up where I left off. I've missed you.

It is not surprising that my last post back in April was all about making choices in life to find balance. With my life seriously out of balance, one choice I had to make was to take a step back from Teal In Motion. There simply weren't enough hours in the day to write. I was out the door before I could snap outfit photos and quite frankly, I wasn't loving how I was looking on four hours of sleep. Every time I would think of something I wanted to say, I would lose it to the vortex of rambling thoughts about all the other things I needed to do first, like laundry or bills or perhaps taking a shower. I decided to listen to my own advice and make some choices and changes on which way to lean in my life. Allow me to catch you up on what I've been up to in the past three months:

I got a new job.

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Thanks to the power and support of my husband, my network of friends and my former colleagues, who gave me the encouragement I needed to make a change and even tipped me in the exact direction of my new job, my new desk is all set up. And the best news? My new desk is just a fifteen minute commute away from home. I found a role that is challenging and inspiring in addition to fulfilling my cravings for work/life balance.

I cut my hair.

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New job, new hair. Gone are the days where I pull my hair into a greasy ponytail and call it a style. I've revitalized myself with a simple slash of the scissors. Extra time in the morning has allowed me to amp up my cute factor and trust me when I say I haven't really felt cute in months. I'm grabbing back my mojo with two hands and a long bob.

I've watched my kids grow and thrive.

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I could spend a full day just watching my kids take on the world. Their sweet dispositions are a great match and there is no joy greater than watching the two of them play and interact, unprompted. Little Miss Sutton is nine months and on the move - talking, being silly, cruising furniture and laughing at everything her brother does. Her hair is out of control and I love every crazy strand. Keagan is the consummate entertainer; where there is an audience, he is testing out his comedic timing. He is currently obsessed with petting dogs, much to Turbo's pleasure and chagrin, depending on what day you catch the grumpy old man on. Turbo gets in the mix when it suits him and hides on the couch out of reach when their wild play hits a fevered pitch. Keagan and Sutton are little roaming balls of happy energy. Their smiles, laughter and strong personalities make every day a new adventure in parenthood.

I'm going on dates.

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Raising kids is hard work. Finding time for you and your husband alone is even more challenging - at least, that has been the case for Kevin and me. With Sutton so small (and so terrible at sleeping), we became big homebodies until we could find our footing again. As life has started to lend itself to a sweet, calm routine, we've pushed ourselves out the door. The biggest thrill for me has been playing golf again. For our 5-year anniversary in May, Kevin and I went out and played a nine-hole course and had Thai food. I couldn't have asked for a better celebration of a life with a true (and super handsome) partner.

So, there you have it. Lots of changes, all for the better - a life on the upswing. The Teal in Teal In Motion is back.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Vicious Cycle of the Mommy Track

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A parking lot. A beautiful bridge. Put the two together, and you have my 5 pm commute.

Lean in. Lean out. Lean on. Lean back. With so much directional leaning, I feel myself swaying out of control on my own axis. Working moms weeble and they wobble but they don't fall down.

Recently, I walked away from the opportunity to apply for a promotion. Never have I been one to pause at the middle of the ladder I am climbing. I pull my way enthusiastically up each rung. This time, this specific time in my life, things are different. I suddenly find myself on the dreaded Mommy Track and I'm not sure if I should blame society or blame myself.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Doing What Is Best For You and Your Family

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I've talked about how needy my little girl is in comparison to the independent, maintenance free experience I had with my son in his infant months. Despite the lack of sleep, she is beautiful. She is happy. She is healthy. But me? I was hitting a breaking point.

For eight weeks - two whole months - I was averaging 4 1/2 hours of sleep per night. I did the math and it made me dizzy. She would wake up every 1 or 2 hours, desperate to nurse and I would quickly accommodate for two reasons: to get her back to bed so I could sleep and so she wouldn't cry and wake my son, leading to no one sleeping. Since she wasn't taking a bottle well, it would take me almost an hour to put her back down, only to have me shoot awake to her cries again an hour later.

Combine this with my return to work and I can honestly say I was feeling like I might be losing my mind. I would stare at coworkers I know very well and question whether I knew their names. That is the level of tired I was at. Mind-erasing exhaustion.

I threw out a couple of cries for help on Facebook and of course, my wonderful friends came forward with all kinds of suggestions. Books I should read. Methods I should try. Sympathy and empathy for our plight. None of it really lined up with one consistent method so I was left to pick and choose what the right course of action might be for us.

And that is the key point - what is right for US. We are over inundated with conflicting how-to advice and as moms, we are constantly pressured to do the right and perfect thing for our babies (i.e. breastfeeding, don't let them cry it out, attachment parenting, etc.). I'm the first person to drop everything for my kids, but how can you do that when your own health and sanity is compromised?

My husband and I came up with a plan.
  • Step one: I'm done breastfeeding. Now that I'm back to work, I simply can't keep up with her appetite, even with pumping. Plus, she is showing some signs of allergies and if I'm being realistic, I don't have the time or energy to truly commit to an elimination diet. We had one last goodbye nursing session this last weekend where I stroked her hair and cuddled her body curved against mine. I shed a small tear but I also patted myself on the back for trying my best.
  • Step two: She is sleeping in our bedroom, which is more removed from our son's room, and we are sleeping in the living room on air mattresses and the sofa. We are testing if she is crying for food or crying out of habit. Being out of the room allows us to sleep through initial cries to see if she will go back to sleep. If she cries while waiting for a bottle or if she cries when taking the bottle, our toddler won't spring awake at 3 a.m. We will deal with our own creaky backs and tossing and turning if it means we can get on a good schedule.
  • Step three: Now that the bottle is in play, I'm able to tag my husband into the ring each night to go head to head with our little sleepy girl. That buys me a couple extra hours of sleep.
We are on day four of this routine and it is working. We have leaped from four hours of sleep per night to almost ten hours - five hours, then three hours, then one and a half. I credit the switch to formula in helping this change. Turns out, my girl is HUNGRY. She takes down six ounces twice a night and there is no way that I was providing that much for her out of my own supply. For the first time in over two months, I woke up without that deep, bone-crushing ache that comes with exhaustion. I actually sang along with the radio during my commute today instead of blinking and turning on the A/C to stay awake.

What strikes me out of this is that regardless of the fact that we are working quickly towards a sleep solution, I still get judgmental comments from those I've talked to about our new method, particularly when it comes to breastfeeding. The furrowed brows that appear when I say that I'm weaning are obvious and they are annoying. I'd nurse more if I could, but now that I'm not, my girl is thriving! And just as importantly, so am I.  For each person that gives me a look of pity when saying, "Oh. I nursed my kids until they were at least one year old," I wish I had medals in my pocket that I could whip out and pin on them with a flourish. Apparently, they think they win the mommy race.

The point is that you won't find our crazy couch-sleeping method in a book. However, it is working for us and we will modify as we go to get us back into our rooms and our girl back into her crib. Nothing is static or rigid in parenting an infant. Everyone needs to be healthy and well. Do what works best for you and your family.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Blessings and The Curse of a Clingy Baby

I'll admit it. I can be a bit judge-y of other parents at times. I will observe behaviors of babies and kids and scoff, immediately finding a reason within a parenting style to which I can attribute the behavior. For example, there is the baby that always needs to be held. In the past, I would think, "Well, it is probably because they never put her down! Of course she wants to be held! That's all she knows!" And I would sit smugly in my own parenting superiority.

You know that saying when you point a finger at someone else, there are four fingers pointing right back at you? Ah yes. I'm learning this whole parenting thing as I go. Rule #1: don't judge. Maybe the parents aren't holding the baby too much because they are doing things wrong. Maybe they are in survival mode to get their baby to calm down so they, too, can get some rest. Maybe some babies are just clingy. Maybe, just maybe, you just have to do what you have to do in this whole parenting thing to get by.

That's right. My baby is a stage-five clinger.

It all started out so nice and innocent. Since this will be my last baby (don't even think about dropping by again, Mr. Stork), I have been enamored with the feeling of my little girl lying on my chest. The smell of her hair is intoxicating; the warmth of her body is enveloping. She falls asleep peacefully in my arms and I am in bliss.

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Then, time becomes tighter. My need and desire to get up and play with my son as he chants, "Play with me, Mommy! Play with me!" pulls me into motion but my little girl protests. Her eyes pop open the minute she leaves my arms. She struggles and grunts to break out of her swaddle and back into my embrace, where she immediately falls back asleep. I indulge, only because she hasn't slept in about eight hours, a lifetime in baby minutes and we all need a little rest.

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Days pass. I suddenly realize that I have slept a total of 8 hours over the past 72 hours. I'm cranky and snapping at everyone who crosses my path. My little girl cat naps for thirty minutes at a clip. I try to nap with her, like everyone advises me to, but the second I'm hitting that sweet REM sleep, she is awake and crying for my return. I try the swing (she is not pleased), the bouncer (a solid 15 minute tolerance threshold), the Ergo (knocks her right out, but I have to stay in perpetual motion to make it work, which is not the point here) and laying on a simple blanket (she is not having it). The only place she passes out completely and chirps happily is in my arms. And so we cuddle and I manage to catch an hour of much needed sleep with her, my eyes just as heavy as hers.

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Just when I think I have it down and we are on a great routine of sleeping in her crib - I got 7 hours in a row one night! - she gets a cold and snuggling becomes mandatory. Showers don't exist in my world outside of saline baths for her to clear her nose. Brushing my teeth becomes an after thought when I have a wheezing baby crying out for me. I hit a delirium point after three days of no sleep for anyone involved and I realize I'm fighting a battle I don't have the energy to fight.

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So, I pull her into my arms, we settle onto the couch and I promise both of us that I will fight the battle for independence another day. Until then, I will breathe in her sweet scent, sigh contently along with her and serve as her pillow. I know there will come a day when I am begging for her hugs so I might as well cash in on all I can get now. Please don't judge me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Welcome to the World, Sutton - A Birth Story

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Sutton Kristine entered the world at 5:29 AM on Saturday, October 5. At 8 lbs., 6 oz. and 21 3/4 inches long, she was a gentle little package of pure joy. And to our surprise, a brunette.

I finished a massive work project Friday afternoon and quipped that this meant I was sure to go into immediate labor. I was close; two hours later, the contractions began. My perspective on labor is a bit skewed because I was induced with Keagan and it took forever for him to arrive. I began timing the contractions while watching cartoons in bed with my son, unsure if it was Braxton Hicks, my imagination and paranoia or the real thing. After a couple of hours, contractions began hitting steady every ten minutes and I realized it was time to hit the road. My biggest fear (outside of making sure everything in the birth was healthy and normal) was not making it to the hospital in time for my epidural. The half hour drive to the hospital sent me into a panic, both because contractions sped up to every three minutes and because my husband, Kevin, was driving like a bat out of hell.

The first words out of my mouth when we hit the registration desk were, "I want my epidural now." The look of desperation and pain on my face had the nurses nodding and they skipped triage and sent me straight to a room. It was then that a familiar face rounded the corner; the cousin, Melissa, of one of my best, lifelong friends was on duty that night as a nurse in triage. We've known each other since we were little kids and her big smile put me immediately at ease. She laughed, "All the nurses saw your name on the registration and said, 'Look at this name!' And that was when I said, 'Wait! I know her!"

I shared my fear that I wouldn't get my epidural in time and she leaped on it. The IV went in, the phone call to the anesthesiologist went through and twenty minutes later, I was breathing a huge sigh of relief. The next eight hours were fairly tame; I laid in bed, tried to sleep and was extremely annoyed with my pervasive shaking. Every time I moved, I had involuntary shudders rack my body. Kevin slept on a cot until the real action kicked in. The whole scene was fairly peaceful. I was calm and collected and just ready to make things happen.

An hour of pushing showed progress enough to bring in the doctor. I was a little disappointed it wasn't my doctor, but fortunately I had Melissa's words ringing in my ear: "She is a really great doctor. She can be a bit cranky, but she is really, really good." Cranky was an understatement. Apparently, my labor had interrupted her slumber and she came in with a turned down mouth and watery, blinking eyes. I looked desperately at Kevin to make sure that all went well. The doctor instructed me to push a couple more times, then ordered me to stop. Kevin even chimed in that I needed to stop. I had no clue what was happening in the short pause between contractions, but I saw that there were a lot of wide eyes in the room. One final push had my daughter out and placed on my chest. She was a deep shade of purple.

"Relax, Teal, relax," Kevin said. I let out a whimper, wondering when she was going to breathe. It felt like an eternity rolled past until she let a little cough. The suction bulb went in her mouth and she instantly let a loud roar, almost an announcement that she was fine. Her skin turned a lovely shade of pink and I breathed a sigh of relief. "The cord was wrapped around her neck," said the nurse. "Typically, you can tell that in the womb by the fetal monitor, but she was doing so great, we had no idea until she popped out."

Once I could relax, that was when I zoomed in on her hair. That hair! A thick, luscious head of dark brown hair. I had similar hair when I was born, but I was still so surprised. Your stereotypical baby is bald. I'm a light brown (naturally) and so is my husband. Who's brunette kid was this? She also had long fingernails. I joked that it was all the better for her to claw her way out.

Friends and family visited the hospital. Keagan met his baby sister for the first time in the recovery room. We marveled at her beauty, her sweet demeanor and her raging appetite. And now we are all home together, trying to adjust to the new normal. It is no surprise that it has taken me over a week to post about her birth; two kids is a game changer. I barely got in the opportunity to brush my teeth today. All I can say is that we are beyond joyous, grateful for and in love with our little Sutton.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Things They Don't Tell You About Having a Baby

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There is so much they don't tell you in all the baby books. They will give you advice that will stunt your every move - Don't color your hair! Don't have coffee! Don't eat anything delicious! - and they will have every angle or opinion around natural birth vs. epidurals, or breast vs. formula feeding. This is all great information to have to inform the choice that works best for you. But after the baby is born, there are little details they leave out. These are the little details that you may only hear from your best girlfriend who has been there and done that.

If you don't have a close friend that has had a baby yet, or perhaps you have a good friend who doesn't want to freak you out, then consider this article your surrogate. I was fortunate enough to have a great friend fill me in on some of the crucial "I just gave birth - now what?" details while we were getting mani/pedis during my first pregnancy. I'm sure my eyes grew wide as saucers while listening to her dish, but I considered her tips to be the most important that I received. I will now share those, and few I discovered on my own, with you.
  1. Take as many mesh panties as you can from the hospital before you check out. Forget Hanky Pankys; mesh panties are your new best friend if you have a vaginal delivery. We are talking granny panties to the extreme made out of breathable, hair net-style mesh. They are hideous, they look like a diaper and you will want to wear nothing else in place of underwear for the next 4-6 weeks. The hospital provides a couple pairs to you, but if you are able, grab a few more. The thin material rips and wears out quickly but these things provide the comfort that you need in those healing weeks. 
  2. Water squirt bottles should be on hand at all times. While you are lifting things from your hospital room, be sure to grab an extra water bottle. No, this is not for hydration. This is to squirt water onto your lady bits while you urinate. If you have a vaginal delivery, you will have some level of tearing and the only thing that provides relief from your acidic pee is a continuous stream of water to dilute it all. Why two bottles? Let me share a story. I braved a trip to Target when my son was about three weeks old and found myself needing to use the ladies' room. I left my trusty water bottle at home and had to pee solo. I'm fairly sure that by the sounds of my screams, my fellow patrons thought I was being stabbed in the stall. Learn from me; one bottle stays in the bathroom, one lives in the diaper bag at all times.
  3. Your first poop will be like giving birth all over again. I don't mean that in the sense that you will look at what you created with pride, joy and awe while you cuddle and kiss it. I mean that after the struggle of pushing it out, you will be so relieved that it is finally out of you that you might cry. When the hospital offers you stool softener, gobble it like candy.
  4. Your body is not your own for a while and it is OK to struggle with this. Whether you breastfeed or not, you are bound to the feeding habits of your child. You are up and down at all hours, responding to every sound your little one makes with breathless fear, happiness, anxiety and exuberance. If you are breastfeeding, you are a walking, talking milk bag. If you aren't pulling your baby off the boob, you might be pulling your partner off of them. The ultimate flattery and curse after having a baby is beautiful, buoyant breasts that your partner wants to play with on loop. As much as I love my husband and as sexy as he is, I found myself just wanting to be left alone at times. It was too much for me and my boobs to handle at one time, but I had a hard time verbalizing this without coming off as insulting or rejecting to my husband. I learned that is OK, even IMPORTANT, to have ownership over my body and say that I just needed a little break. And because my husband respected that, I soon found myself in the space where I wanted to have a little fun with my husband and my enhanced chest.
  5. Exhaustion - it is only temporary. There were a couple nights when my son was two months old that I had tears streaming down my face while I was feeding him at around 2 a.m. They weren't tears of joy; I was beyond the point of sanity due to exhaustion. It makes perfect sense that sleep deprivation is a form of torture. While I was crying, I was looking down at this perfect being who was slowly slipping into a milk coma. One phrase got me through it all - "This is all temporary." I took comfort in this thought since it brought the notion that one day, I would sleep again. But it also made me appreciate what I had before me and all that I was experiencing in the wee hours of the morning. He would only be this little, this dependent and this fragile for a short period of time. There were only so many days where I could hold him on my chest and hear the low, sweet rasp of his steady, sleeping breath. As I now have to ask my son to come over to give me a hug and a kiss between his steady stream of activities, I realize more than ever how precious those tired late night hours are. So relax, mamas. You will be tired, but sadly, it is only temporary. Soak it all in. It is worth every second.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Putting the Finishing Touches on the New Nursery

Putting together a nursery in a house you are renting is a much different process than in a house that you own. You can't paint walls and the number of holes from nails that you hammer in becomes limited. I decided that everything I did for my little girl's nursery would be DIY and would repurpose existing furniture from our home. I'm still putting the finishing touches in place (a few more pictures, a hanging lamp) but I'm pretty happy with the result.

Here is a sneak peek at the new nursery:

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The crib was purchased new (Target), but I bought the changing table/dresser on Craigslist.

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I used IKEA 8x10 frames and inserted scrapbook paper.

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I created these tissue paper flowers and bundled them together with twine. And yes, there is your name clue. Her name will start with the letter S. Care to take a guess? Swim...Swanny? Slippy? Slappy? Swanson? Ah...Samsonite. You were way off.

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A Cloud B sound machine monkey. These little portable white noise machines were a lifesaver with our son.

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Because we couldn't paint the wall, I chose a decal tree from Target - $19 for a little design in the room. When she arrives, we will move the glider from our son's room to where the rocking horse sits.

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I plan on hanging a few newborn pictures of her above this dresser. I bought the dresser on Craigslist over a year ago for $40 for a spare room. Now it stores blankets and extra clothes.

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A few toys are waiting for her to cuddle. The clock came from Ross for $7.

She's almost here!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Capturing The Small Yet Special Moments

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After lamenting the few days left I have as a parent of one, I was given lots of mommy-and-me time last weekend. My husband headed out of town for the weekend and it was just me and my little man. Finding ways to fill the time and keep his busy mind occupied was my main priority. I wanted to absorb every second with him and his exploratory ways.

It was the little moments that I held dear; it was the brief and fleeting moments in time where I gazed at him with all the love and affection I could possibly pour out of my eyes.

It was when enjoying muffin each morning at our favorite local coffee shop. Big boys get their own muffin. And as my husband has pointed out to me, the kid eats exactly like me. Meticulous (we both eat the muffin top off first) and with vigor.

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It was during a rousing game of hide-and-seek, in which I pretended to not have a clue where he might be while little sock-covered feet wiggled in delight.

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It was peering through the netting of the bouncy house at the local farmer's market, marveling at his lack of fear and never-ending search of new forms of fun.

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It was the moments where I had to catch my fearful breath before releasing nervous laughter. "Hey, look at me!" took on a life of its own all weekend as he discovered new ways to terrify me, like falling face first off the coffee table into a bean bag.

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It was the first encounter with a pinata at a birthday party. My sweet boy proceeded to put the spilled candy into the bags of others instead of his own.

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And it was the treats. What super special weekend would be complete without cake?

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I found myself marveling at my young son and the toddler he has become, the little baby ways he has left behind. Each new kick I felt from my daughter growing inside me reminded me that we have quite a bit of fun in this life and I get the privilege of enjoying her discovery of the world soon enough. For now, I'm reveling in the unparalleled joy I feel when performing and experiencing the simplest tasks with my first born.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Thoughts About Becoming a Second Time Mom

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Perhaps it was the blessing of being blissfully unaware of what to expect that propelled me through my first pregnancy. Every movement that I felt from the inside sent my spirits soaring and caused me to marvel at the miracle of life. I had the luxury of sitting down as often as I liked when I got home. When something new popped up, my thoughts were along the lines of "Wow! What was that?" The second time around, anytime something new happens, meaning I didn't experience it with the first pregnancy, my thoughts become, "Whoa. What the hell was that?"

In other words, I've become more of a worrier during my second pregnancy. I've seen the precious outcome of a healthy delivery and I know the extreme joy that has been brought into my life because of it. Rather than savoring these last moments of pregnancy, I am anxious to make sure that all goes smoothly. When the baby kicks too hard and too often, I wonder if I ate something that upset her. When Braxton Hicks contractions kick in mid-day (and I'm getting them much more often this time), I sit down as soon as possible and count the minutes on the clock, trying to detect a pattern instead of just realizing I'm tired and I need to slow down.  I feel guilty at work when I am too tired to function when I should just accept the reality that I'm still working hard, just at a different pace. I over-think everything.

Hugging my son on my lap brings on its own set of spiraling thoughts. As I inhale the top of his head while giving him a kiss, I realize that we only have a couple more months of solo time. My desires to make big, fun plans like zoo trips or swimming excursions are trumped by my inability to comfortably stand for more than a half hour at a time. Exhaustion sets in and I feel terrible that I can't quickly respond to pleas of "Mommy, come play!" I'm constantly aware of the need to give him equal attention after the baby is born, that our saying and showing our love for him will take on even greater importance during times of change. Then, the baby punches him in the back through my abdominal wall and I realize I have no idea what I'm in for when it comes to siblings (only child here).

Every rational part of my brain tells the irrational worry wart to shut up and get over it. Still, I find myself fretting and rolling my eyes at my running inner monologue. When I think back to all that I didn't know before having my first born, I laugh at all the concerns and clueless musings that came forward. I'm pretty sure my second-time mom self will laugh at this version of me as well once I'm holding a healthy little girl and a sweet toddler boy in my arms.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Baby Names in Fashion



My husband and I are planners. The minute we found out we were pregnant, we started a list of possible names for both boys and girls. I'm not joking when I say I started a spreadsheet. My office skills have blended into my life skills in an indistinguishable (and admittedly obsessive) kind of way.

Of course, I turned to Google for baby name inspiration. It was in my digging through lists, like "Irish baby names" and "unique baby names", that I came across a list I hadn't seen before.

Names From Fashion.

I began scoffing all over myself when I read through the list.* Aubergine? Calico? Jacquard? Organza? I shook my head, declaring, "I can't with these names. I just can't."

It was then that I saw it on the list...

TEAL.

Glass house, meet the stone that I just threw through your window. Suddenly, the name Velour began to sound much more reasonable.

Ahem. Pardon me while I take my foot out of my snarky little mouth.

* No offense if you are naming your kid any of these names. Clearly, I have no soapbox to preach from in this situation and I'm sure your little baby Chevron is adorable.

Friday, May 31, 2013

It's a Girl

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And so it begins...a closet full of clothes for my little cutie.

When we found out we were having a girl, my smile nearly split my face. I would have been equally as happy with another little boy but the idea of having a girl has always stuck happily in my mind from the beginning of this pregnancy. Just as I want to raise my son to be a good person - a strong, respectful, caring and kind man - I want to raise a daughter to be independent, confident, wise and proud. I'm up for the task.

And of course, there is Mommy's serious love of clothes. I mean, with the fun I have shopping for Keagan, I'm pretty sure I'm going to shoot out of my seat with glee every time there is a sale on baby girl clothes. Case in point - I hit up Memorial Day sales last weekend and spent $100 to get all of what you see above. See? I will also teach my daughter about the art of sale shopping.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Mother's Day Breakdown

It all started out so well. Keagan brought home a gift for me that he made in his day care class.

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I managed to snag it away from him before he tore it to shreds while playing with it in the backseat.

On Mother's Day, we went to this lovely park we discovered near our new house. There are built in BBQ pits, just begging for us to return with coolers and lawn chairs this summer. There is a playground with two twist slides. The best part is that the lawns are expansive,

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There was one member of our family that was STOKED.

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Just as I was telling the old man to slow down before he throws out a shoulder, I noticed that Kevin and Keagan were laying down in the grass.

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If there is one thing I know about the men in my family, they aren't prone to lying down when there is fun to be had outdoors. Keagan was cuddled flat against Kevin's chest and I surmised that maybe he wasn't feeling well. Kevin suggested he just needed a nap, though my watch read 9:35 AM.

After his morning snooze, Kevin took him into the kitchen to snack before we headed out to another park to meet up with family for a big picnic. While I was applying mascara, I heard, "Teal! Come here! I need you!" in a frantic tone. I bolted downstairs to discover Kevin covered with vomit. It was like a scene out of the Exorcist. The room was coated. We took our crying little man into the shower and immediately cancelled our plans. It was straight to bed with Mommy to watch cartoons for the rest of the day.

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When Keagan went to bed, I had a little breakdown of my own. As a working mom, you carry loads on your shoulders you didn't even realize you were bearing. Exhausted, the tears came hard. With all the bills, the unpacking, the job responsibilities, and the lack of time to complete it all, I wanted to have this one day of pure joy. I wanted to watch my son run and play at the park while I stuffed my face with a giant sandwich in order to appease the other little one I have growing inside me. I wished I could have spent the day honoring family. And, selfishly, I wanted a day that was about me and the celebration of all that goes into motherhood. That sounds terrible to read back to myself, but it is the truth.

But here is what I did get for Mother's Day. I got to spend the day holding, kissing, soothing and cuddling one of the most important people in my life - one of the reasons I live. The overwhelming feeling of love and dependence that came from his warm little body stayed with me all day long, physically and spiritually. I had a dog that seized on an opportunity to snuggle up in bed with us all day and the satisfaction coming off of him was palpable. I have a husband who gave me a beautifully framed picture of Keagan and I in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and who convinced me that after a hard day it was perfectly acceptable to eat two Snickers ice cream bars for dessert. I spent the day surrounded by my loving, sweet family while I gave my heart, my hugs and my love out in giant doses. And isn't that what motherhood is all about?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Getting Some Me-Time

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I had about an hour to kill before my monthly doctor's appointment. It was one of those routine, check the heartbeat, monitor the blood pressure type of appointments. Starbucks was just down the street and this mama had stupidly skipped breakfast. I grabbed an egg sandwich and a decaf latte and settled into my seat to browse my phone.

It was then I realized that this was the first moment in quite some time that I was alone. Not only was I alone, I had no agenda or plan for the next hour except to just relax and wait. As of late, life has turned into a matrix of activity. Between work pressures, moving, keeping up with an active toddler, walking a stubborn dog and trying to find downtime with my husband, there has been no opportunity to stop. I took my first bite of my sandwich and it dawned on me that for once, I was in no rush. I took a deep breath and felt my shoulders sag comfortably as I exhaled.

There is nothing special about snacking in Starbucks, but the simplicity of being alone with my thoughts felt so freeing. I didn't even know I needed it. Sure, most women might crave some downtime and focus on getting a mani-pedi or doing some light shopping. Trust me, I'm the first to wish I could join you. But I was amazed at what a short amount of time in solitude, doing nothing productive at all, did for my spirits. It left me wanting more, then holding onto a feeling of guilt and selfishness for craving time away from a family that I strive to spend as much time with as possible.

Tell me, everyone. How do you strike that balance of having quality me-time without abandoning all that is important in your life?

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Big Brother Announcement

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Who wouldn't want another happy little face like this running around the house?

You may have noticed that I've been a bit blog-MIA as of late. I have a good reason. I've been busy creating life. On or around Oct. 7, 2013, my son will become a big brother. As you can see, he is very excited about this. Or, he is excited about running. It's probably more about the running.

I use my pregnancy as an excuse for not posting because I have been ILL. Not Licensed to Ill like the Beastie Boys, but face-in-a-toilet, lying-in-bed, meat-avoiding, ginger-ale-sipping ill. With my first pregnancy, I was floating around on a cloud, no nausea to be had. This baby clearly is punishing me for all the times I ever said, "I felt great when I was pregnant!" Lesson learned, Teal. Keep your mouth shut. But I will write more about this next week.

For now, I will simply bask in the glow of the daydreams surrounding my expanding family. I will revel in the fact that I can let my stomach hang all out (and trust me, it is already out). I will start to take outfit pictures again and I will take long naps with privilege. In other words, hurray!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mystery Outfit

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I picked up Keagan from daycare yesterday. He greeted me at the front door with his usual smile and joyous cry of "Mommy!" But he wasn't wearing his blue North Face jacket and his gray sweatpants that I dressed him in that morning. He was wearing this - an oversized denim jacket that looks like a Saved By The Bell costume cast off and sweat pants two sizes too small, one leg up LL Cool J-style. My eyes grew wide and I looked up at the day care attendants in disbelief.

"Uh...wha?" I said.

"He kept us really busy today!" they declared, handing me a plastic bag full of soiled clothes. I took the bag, along with Keagan, into my arms. They mumbled something about rolling around in the backyard and it was too late when they saw....it was then that other moms came to sweep up their kids and I ended up wandering away, laughing hysterically at my son's getup.

When we got home, Kevin raised an eyebrow when Keagan came bounding in the door and we cracked up. We had no idea what happened, assumed poop was involved by the look of the stains and simply threw the dirty clothes in the washer while trying to imagine the different scenarios that might have been at play.

When I asked Keagan to say cheese, this is the look I received. Apparently, '90's high-fashion is not his favorite look.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Don't Judge Me


Disclaimer: I'm not saying I'm proud of any of this. In fact, the following is behavior that I deplore but often impart because sometimes in life, you just have to keep the ball rolling forward.

Here is a list of things I now do as a mom that I used to judge people for before I had kids:

     Completely cave to my son's tears and multiple requests for something he wants.    

     Power through crowds and grocery aisles with my SUV-sized stroller.

     Watch a marathon of cartoons when I'm sick and don't have the energy to keep up with my son.

     Call peanut-butter-and-jelly a meal.

     Bow out of plans because they don't coincide with nap time/meal schedules.

     Go to bed at 8:30 pm...on a Saturday.

     Share the funny thing my kid said and know that it is the funniest thing ever said by a toddler.

     Post way too many pictures of my son on Facebook. (Note: this also applies to my dog.)

     Call a slicked-back ponytail a hairstyle...for eight days in a row.

     Leave work right at 5 PM sharp because hey, I have a kid.

    Talk about poop in a very matter-of-fact manner.

     Decide that leggings are TOTALLY pants.

You're judging me, aren't you? I can totally feel it. Sigh. Go ahead. I do these things and cringe while I judge myself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Accepting the Chaos

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The last time my son shouted, "To infinity...and beyond!" then hurled his 16" plastic, talking Buzz Lightyear doll against the wall, I responded, "No! No! No!" My son shot me a confused look, since Buzz was obviously flying and my interruption was not welcome.

Toy clutter is everywhere. Mini footballs, baseballs and bouncy balls line our hallway. There is a Radio Flyer wagon at the foot my bed. I curse the inventor of Legos every time I walk to the fridge in the night for a glass of water and end up permanently embedding four round dots into the arch of my foot. I've bought baskets, bins and buckets to contain everything. The minute I nicely put his toys away, he comes running. "Dump it out!" he proclaims as he sends everything hurling across the floor. He doesn't even fall for the "Let's turn cleaning up into a game!" approach anymore. Smart little devil.

I know that it is common sense that this is toddler M.O., but I have such a tough time with this chaos. The hardest part for me to deal with is how rough he is with his toys. I wouldn't stretch so far as to call myself neat, but I am a person who alphabetizes her DVD collection and makes sure my favorite books are stacked in an orderly and aesthetically pleasing fashion. In other words, I like to preserve my things. My son will whack two objects together, drop toys from as high as his arms can reach and stand on stuff that will easily break under his weight. He tornadoes from room to room, abandoning whatever had previously been within arms reach and I'm left to pick up the broken pieces. As I try to put the wooden train track back together that he had earlier stomped apart, he will look concerned and say, "Uh oh! Wha happened? Mommy fix it!" And then he bolts off again. His mock-shock at all that he has torn up is the only thing that keeps me amused in these situations.

My frustration must have been showing the other day. My husband, Kevin, gently inquired, "Did you take great care of your toys when you were little?" I thought for a second and replied yes. I had the same messy room most little kids have but I was always very conscious not to break things.

"Well, we have a little boy," Kevin said with a knowing grin. "And little boys break things. And throw things. He will throw something against a wall just to see what happens. I know I did."

I wanted to protest and haughtily declare this kind of gender labeling false.  I wanted to declare that we can't prove genetic legacy in the case of toy care. But I ran out of steam and let this little revelation roll over me - that a toddler will do stuff just to see what happens. That my son, for all of his polite pleases and thank yous that I'm so proud of, is just a bull when it comes to the china shop. And it felt good to let go of my tension and just accept that this is what it is and hope it is a phase.

But don't think that won't stop me from singing, "It's time to clean up!" at my son, like I'm Cinderella trying to get the mice and birds involved in my chores. Otherwise, I'm going to end up breaking a toe on an overturned fire truck.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The World Through My Son's Eyes

My son will be two years old in less than two weeks. He is on a constant path of discovery. "What's this?" is his new favorite phrase and my husband and I are more than happy to oblige an answer each time. I want to capture his expressions during all of these new moments but I find myself constantly snapping photos of his back as he rushes from place to place - an inquiring mind that wants to know, moving so fast that the rest of him physically can't stay still. I'm just trying to keep up.

As I looked through some of my recent iPhone snapshots, I realized that I love all of these photos of him on the go. His vantage point tells the story of what we did during the holidays. It shows all that he learned, explored and tried out for the first time. I can see all of the things that caught his attention and, in my own mind and forever in my memories, I know that each time he wore a big smile beneath his wide, absorbing eyes. It's like joyfully seeing the most common place thing again for myself for the very first time.

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