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Monday, December 31, 2012

So long, 2012!

Time to revisit my 2012 goals and see how I did. Some of them went well, others....well, you'll see.

My hopes for this year:
  • I hope J gets a permanent teaching job that he absolutely loves.
  • I hope C continues to make progress and completely catch up with kids his age.
  • I hope for many less sick baby days this year!
  • I hope to see my family more now that we live closer.
  • I hope 2012 is one for the books.

While J didn't get a permanent teaching job, he did get transferred to a new school that he enjoys a LOT more than than where he was last year. C has completely caught up and was discharged from PT just before turning two. After getting tubes in his ears in June, he's been much healthier than in the past. Living closer has been wonderful and we've seen so much more of our family than before! Add in a new addition on the way and I'd say 2012 was pretty great to us!

My family goals for this year:

  • Spend more quality time outside the apartment (the park, going for a walk, etc.).
  • Start three new family traditions.
  • Find a church community we really like.
  • Have at least one "date night" per month, even if its at home.
  • Give J a really great 30th birthday. 
  • Dedicate a week to West River this summer 

We spent a lot more time this year outside grilling, gardening, playing, going to the pool, and for walks. It was a nice change of pace. As C gets older family traditions have become easier to establish and keep up. One thing I've noticed is that even if its as simple as eating breakfast in your pajamas together - traditions come in all shapes and sizes.

We still haven't found a church community to join, but I'll be honest - we haven't done a great job of looking. Date nights have been less frequent than we'd like, but we focus on us more and that's what is important. J's birthday was a good one and though we ended up not being able to afford a big trip, he did get some quality time with his friends. Finally, we spent a wonderful week at West River volunteering and spending time with some of our favorite people.

My home goals for this year:

  • Hang all of our picture frames
  • Plan out meals on Sunday, shop accordingly, and stick to the plan.
  • Utilize freezer and crock pot meals more.
  • Never buy cleaners - make at home from natural ingredients.
  • Create a cleaning schedule and stick to it. 
  • Start a garden and grow our own vegetables and herbs.

All of our pictures finally got hung, we didn't buy a single store bought cleaner, and while we don't exactly have a cleaning schedule we do a lot better at clutter busting than in the past. We've also been doing a much better job planning and shopping for meals, saving over $2,000 with sales and coupons this year! We ate like kings from our garden this summer even though it was mostly squash and tomatoes and can't wait to do it again next summer.

My personal goals for this year:

  • Get back into knitting/crocheting.
  • Make and donate at least 3 blankets to Project Linus.
  • Get 100 more blog followers! (Ended 2011 with 67)
  • Read at least 3 books (that's a lot for me, people)
  • Have a handmade Christmas (make all of my gifts)
  • Take the Two Peas photography tutorial course.
  • Organize our pictures and back them up once a month

I think its very interesting and telling that this is the area that I did the worst this year. I really need to figure out how to take more time for myself, but with another kid on the way I'm not quite sure how that's going to happen! I did start crocheting again, but haven't made much of anything. I have hardly touched my sewing machine all year and haven't had time to do much reading. I did take the Two Peas photography course and really enjoyed that. I did more blogging outreach....and then didn't post most of the summer. Our pictures are completely organized though!! I guess that counts for something! Next year, I need to do better at this stuff...

My financial goals for this year:
  • Pay off our current car.
  • Buy a second (inexpensive) car. 
  • Pay off said second car.
  • End the year with no consumer debt (credit cards, cars, etc.)
  • Pay off at least 20% of my student loans. 
  • Bring lunch to work and never buy. 

So this area is going to be interesting to report on. We paid off the Versa, bought another car, paid it off....and then bought another car. Kind of threw a wrench in the "no consumer debt" thing. While we're in fabulous shape credit card wise, we are back in the car loan hole for the next few years. Truth be told, it was a good investment that needed to be made for our growing family, so what can you do. Our student loans are still in normal repayment, but we will get to them in time. I did, however, do great bringing lunch to work instead of buying all the time! There were a few times, for one reason or another, that I needed to buy, but when ever possible I kept the wallet closed. 

Well, you win some, you lose some and that's okay. If anything, revisiting this year's list has given me a lot of inspiration for 2013 - especially in the personal goals area. Once I'm done putting together the new list, I'll post it.

How did you do in 2012? What are you going to change in 2013?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Over Prepared: The Hospital Bag

With C, I didn't have the forethought to pack my hospital bag early enough. A lot of people assumed that the lesson I learned was to pack it super, crazy early. Yeah, that's part of it, but what I really learned is that if you don't pack "right," you will indeed survive.

Running out the door to labor and delivery, I grabbed my insurance information, my cell phone charger, and that's about it. J had to come back home and get everything else, which consisted of my pillow, bathrobe, laptop, camera, and a change of clothes. After C was born and we realized he would be there for a bit, we gathered up the rest of the stuff we'd need for our stay.

With the time and forethought this time around, of course I'm going to take advantage and pack what I want, but hopefully, I'll remember that its not a crisis to run back home or ask the nurses for something I forgot.

I know our experience is different than most since C was in the NICU, but here are some of the things I found helpful to have with me:
  • A nice bathrobe to walk around in
  • Slipper socks or slippers
  • Chargers (camera, laptop, phone)
  • My pillow (because I'm picky like that)
  • Change of clothes to go home 

Things I got from the hospital and didn't need to bring:
  • A nice big water jug (that I still use to this day!)
  • Something to write on/with to keep track of all the crazy going on
  • Breastfeeding supplies
  • Postpartum undies and pads
  • Toiletries (though it would have been nice to have my own toothbrush)
  • Extra pillows (to sleep, nurse, or get comfy)

Sure, there were a few luxuries I wish I had, but with the hospital being an hour from home we made due. This time around, my bag is going to consist of:
  • Bathrobe, slippers, and flip flops for the shower
  • Toiletries, a brush, and hair clips
  • Tums and lip balm (they ration the Tums and its awful)
  • A change of comfy clothes for me (including a nursing bra or two)
  • Undercover Mama camisoles for nursing
  • An outfit and car seat blanket for Ginny

And a few last minute things to grab on the way out the door like my camera bag, cell phone charger, insurance information, and my favorite pillow. I'm still debating on bringing the Boppy pillow because I know the hospital will have a ton of regular pillows available.

Aside from having the car seat installed, that's about it. I'm definitely trying to travel light this time because I remember just how much stuff we brought home with C. You can basically take anything non-linen that has been allocated to your room - diapers, wipes, formula, pumping parts, goodie bags and samples, etc. We literally needed a cart to leave the NICU.

And don't forget about that labor and delivery water jug. I'd better get another one. Those things are the bomb.

Now the trick is going to be when to pack. For most of the stuff, I can probably pack it now and just set it aside without it being a problem. Having three months to go, however, I feel like its a bit early. Having already been to L&D once already and having extreme anxiety about having another preemie, however, makes me want to pack it anyway.

Knowing me, it'll be packed inside of a week. Here's to being way over prepared!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fresh and New!

After several hours and many, many, many (did I say many?) Photoshop, Blogger, and HTML tutorials we have a new layout, button, and more!

I'd been asked quite a bit lately what I was going to do with the "Home for Three" concept now that we have family member #4 on the way. To be honest, I had no idea. I threw the question out to my Mommy forum buddies and got this lovely idea in return! Welcome to the updated, "All Four Love."

If you'd like to add (or update) our new button to your blog, feel free! Just copy and paste the text in the box to add the image and link to your site.

Other new additions include social media buttons that link you via Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and email. Hopefully, I can keep up with everything!

In the meantime, enjoy the new look!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fun Give Aways!

There are two neat give aways going on right now over at ELF: A Family Blog. One is for a NeuYear Calendar and the other for a Thirsties AIO cloth diaper. Both of which, I'd love to get my hands on!

Head over and check them out if you're interested in winning some neat stuff. :-)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nusiance is the Right Word

Did you know that you can get very uncomfortable and frequent contractions, but not be in labor? Neither did I! That is, however, until we spent the morning between my OB and labor/delivery this morning.

For the past few days, I've been getting some serious Braxton Hicks contractions that, while not consistent or timeable, were pretty frequent and when coupled with menstrual type cramping and back pain were getting scary. After a lot of laying on my left side and chugging water, I decided to head to the OB and see what was going on.

The non-stress test didn't show much, but my exam showed me dilated to 1 cm. Cue a slight internal freak out. Luckily, my midwife is AMAZING and not only did a fabulous job of keeping me calm and explaining what was going on, but also made it clear that I wasn't overreacting or worrying for nothing. Its always nice to know you're not crazy.

Now, 1 cm is not a huge deal, but with my history of preterm labor it was worth looking into. A fetal fibronectin test (FFN) was ordered and I was sent to labor and delivery for more monitoring. I had to choose my words carefully when telling J (he wasn't in the room during the exam) since I didn't want him to worry just yet. His only comment was, "I really don't want to have a baby today...." Yeah, me either.

After an hour in labor and delivery and several decent sized contractions, we found out the FFN was negative and though the contractions were real, they weren't progressing labor. "Nuisance contractions," the doctor called them. Thank goodness! When an FFN test is negative, you have less than 1% chance of going into labor in the next two weeks. The test can be repeated if necessary, so that's good to know. Ginny was moving and kicking the entire time, which always calms my nerves.

I have a regular prenatal exam on Monday and there we'll discuss how to monitor me from here on out. No one is especially concerned just yet, but there will most likely be a bit more monitoring than normal, which is okay by me. In the meantime, the contractions aren't painful, just uncomfortable, and the cramping is unnerving, but not bad. Some rest, lots of water, and magnesium supplements are supposed to help.

So, no 2012 baby for me. GOOD. Stay put, baby girl - I love ya, but please keep cooking.

The Nursery is Almost Done!

I've seen my spring semester schedule - it is not pretty. I really needed to get working on the nursery early if I had a hope of it being done by the time baby girl arrived. Luckily, I've gotten a few open weekends and a few 2nd trimester energy bursts and have made some serious headway.

Over the past few weeks, we've gotten the carpets cleaned, painted, refinished/fixed the furniture, bought some decor, and got fabric for bedding. There is still a bit to do, but here are the pictures of it so far!

Paint and Tree Mural

I know its cliche, but I have loved the idea of a tree mural ever since stumbling upon Pinterest last year. I knew I needed one in my little girl's room. The biggest road block was the price for a wall cling on Etsy - upwards of $100! Not in the budget. What was in the budget? Borrowing a projector from work and buying a sample size can of paint from Lowe's.

Thank goodness for my sketching helper. :-) Its hard to tell, but the picture on the right is the tree fully sketched out. It only took about 20 minutes to draw out the tree - I was amazed! How long could it possibly take to paint, right?

Answer: 4 hours. Holy moly - my arms were killin' me! It was worth it though. After it was painted, I cut out a bunch of leaves from various prints and patterns of green scrapbook paper. A little Scotch tape did the trick sticking them to the wall.

Next came the birdhouses I had painted earlier. Using a small tap light, I turned one of the birdhouses into a nightlight (thank you, Pinterest). Its the perfect amount of light to peek in at night without disturbing her. An eye hook on the birdhouse and a small mug hook on the wall keeps it in place as its turned on and off.

Finally, I hung letters to spell out baby girl's name, which is....

Ginny. Well, Virginia Fay, but we'll call her Ginny for short. We fell in love with the name Virginia when we first considered it; its classic and simple, but still unique. It matches well with Charles and has a cute nickname to boot. Fay is borrowed from J's late Grandmother. She was a wonderful, sweet woman and we're happy to carry on her name.

Paint, supplies, scrapbook paper, birdhouses, and letters, total cost = $30.


I wanted to buy one of those big fancy lights from IKEA, but the closest store is a few hours away and they are crazy expensive. Instead, I bought a plain paper lantern and a few boxes of rose petals (found in the wedding section at Michael's). This project ended up being a little more expensive than I first anticipated, but still cheaper than a $60 IKEA light. Total cost = $25.

In a spiral pattern, I hot glued the petals around and around the whole lantern. After a few rows, I realized that the petals were very wrinkled from being in the package. Unfortunately, I ended up ironing the petals to make them lay and glue flat. It was worth it to make it look right, but I don't think I'll ever be making one of these again.

Odds and Ends

We have gotten some other odds and ends for the room to keep with the bird/nature/pink/girly theme.

The chicken wire baskets were $3 each at Hobby Lobby and the books are my collection of different version of Alice in Wonderland (yes, I really own that many versions). Since taking this picture, I've also bought a pretty white vase ($1 at thrift) that I plan to fill with a big bouquet of fake flowers to give the dresser decor some height.

Pink pig! Its the first thing we purchased after finding out we were having a girl. This time around we went with Breathable Bumpers for look and safety. Fortunately, I found this set, in the exact color I was looking for, at the consignment shop for $5. SCORE! The white frame and V are wood and scrapbook paper from Michael's. With a 40% off coupon, the frame came to $4. 

The To Do List

Ah, the dreaded to do list. There isn't a ton left to do, but it'll definitely take some time. Hopefully, I can take advantage of the next few days off work and knock a few things off the list.
  • Paint thrift store picture frames
  • Make art for frames
  • Hang frames
  • Make growth chart
  • Sew quilt
  • Storage for shelves above changing table
  • Find inexpensive throw rug
  • Unpack and clean infant toys
  • Organize cloth diaper stash
  • Buy/arrange flowers for dresser
  • Hang coat rack
  • Make bird mobile
Okay...a few more things than I thought. Its okay! Most of these are quick projects that I already have the supplies for. Now to find the motivation and time.... Hmm...

14 weeks to go!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

WW: Kitchen Helper & My Favorite Gift

When did he get so big? In other news, he can now push the stool over to the counter and climb up. We're in trouble...

Also, C and J worked together on what might be my favorite Christmas present ever. Story by Daddy, illustrations by Charlie.

Charlie's Favorite Things

Time for that lull between Christmas and New Years where you gorge yourself with yummy holiday treats, try to get your kids to sleep in while you're on vacation, and wrangle all of the new toys that are all over your living room. So far, we're excelling at #1 and #2....and trying to figure out #3. While C didn't get a ton of toys for Christmas this year, he did get a few and has quickly shown us which ones are his favorites.

This year, Santa brought him some art supplies, clothes, and a few toys. While he's still exploring everything he's gotten, here are his favorites so far.

LeapFrog Touch Magic Rockin' Guitar

If you know C, you know that music, especially the guitar, is his favorite thing in the world. Therefore, the LeapFrog Touch Magic Rockin' Guitar was pretty much as perfect of a gift as we could muster. We made the happy mistake of letting him open it on Christmas Eve and he would not put it down! He brought it to bed and then wouldn't open any other gifts in the morning.

While he's having a little trouble getting the strap on by himself, he quickly figured out how to turn it on, adjust the volume, and change the songs and other settings. It responds to touch, so there are no raised buttons to get gunked up by sticky toddler fingers and plays songs that he recognizes (Itsy Bitsy Spider, ABCs, etc.) Its also very light weight and easy for him to hold.

I promise, its not nearly as annoying as you'd think.

LeapFrog Scribble and Write

Score another one for LeapFrog. Last Christmas, C got the LeapFrog My Own Story Time Pad and it was a big hit. To our surprise, it even taught him letters! The next step up from that is the Scribble and Write. It works off of letter recognition and works on drawing shapes and letters. With several different modes (shapes, lower case, upper case, and games) it seems to have a lot of function and will keep his interest for quite a while.

As with all LeapFrog toys, it has a volume control (woo!) and uses the same characters and voices as their other toys.

Uno Moo

He's still feeling this one out, but since he's been learning numbers and animals, this was a logical toy choice. It says for 3+ and it will take a few months for him to really learn the rules of the game, but in the meantime its fun for matching and identifying.

Plus, lots of pieces to throw around the living room?! SCORE.

C also received some of the classics - crayons, Play Doh, and a baby doll. He goes back and forth between kissing and throwing his baby doll, but he's 2 - what do you want. :-)

What are your kid's favorite Christmas toys this year?

Monday, December 24, 2012

26 Weeks & Merry Christmas Eve!

Its been super busy around here (as you can probably imagine) and I've been a slacker - sorry! Time is flying by and I can't believe its a) Christmas Eve and b) the beginning of my third trimester. Whoa.

Now that I'm on break for a bit, I promise to post a Christmas update, some of C's favorite toys from this season, and some nursery pictures!

Have a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2012

23 Weeks

Does it bother anyone else that my prenatal appointments and bump-updates are all odd numbered weeks? It hurts my mild OCD. Anyway, 23 weeks! Three more weeks until third trimester and 17 weeks to go! Where is the time going?

Baby is the size of an ear of corn! A foot long and about a pound.

Weight: Up to about 8 lbs weight gain - not too shabby.

Sleep/Energy: Sleep has been....okay. I am thankful for my body pillow and the fact that J doesn't mind it taking up room in the bed.

Cravings/Aversions: No aversions, but with heartburn setting in hard core, I need to keep an eye on what I'm eating....and keep the Tums close at hand.

General Symptoms: Aside from the heartburn, I've started getting pretty winded when walking, but otherwise feel pretty good!

Movement: LOTS! I'm assuming she is still head up based on the amount of knocks to my cervix I've been getting lately. She'll be up in my ribs soon enough, so maybe I shouldn't complain.

Appointments: Had another prenatal appointment today and the doctor said the anatomy scan from a few weeks ago was perfect. Baby girl is perfect and everything is measuring right where it should be. Next appointment is on New Year's Eve, then its on to third trimester, the glucose tolerance test, and appointments every two weeks. Whoa.
Best Moment of the Week: Getting all of the beautiful cloth diapers we ordered in the mail. They're so tiny! We're also painting the nursery this week - I'm so excited to see everything come together!
Just for kicks, here is a comparison of me at 24 weeks with C and at 23 weeks with baby girl. Just a little different, eh? Holy moly, did I carry C high!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Potty Training?

While you're safe from pictures of my kid on the potty, if you don't want to read about poop and pee, turn away now. You've been warned.

Over the past week or so, C has started actually telling us when he poops so he can be changed. This is a huge thing since before then he'd happily sit in it until we changed him. This morning, when J went to get him out of bed, C had taken all of the wipes out of the box and was holding them out to J saying, "poop!" Good effort buddy and a big thanks for keeping that horrendously poopy diaper on your butt.

Wanting to be changed is one of the signs of readiness, but who says Mommy and Daddy are ready?!

Searching on Pinterest or Google for potty training ideas comes up with a gazillion tips, tricks, and ideas, but when he's not waking up dry and doesn't actually want to sit on the potty where do we start? He's in full time daycare, so its not like we can sit at home and put him on the potty every 15 minutes until he gets it. They'll sit him on the potty at daycare, but only on the regular potty schedule which is really for kids who are closer to potty trained, not starting out.

For now, I suppose we'll start slow. The second he wakes up in the morning/from naps and before baths, we'll put him on the potty. Let's see how it goes from there.

In a perfect world, C will be potty trained by the time he goes back to daycare full time next fall so the baby can use his set of cloth diapers. He'll be almost three at that point, so that's a totally attainable goal...if he goes for it, that is. Fingers crossed.