Archive | Baby Numero Due

Gil’s 1st Birthday!

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Well, folks, we have a one-year-old! He might be the cutest little guy I’ve ever seen, too, but of course I’m biased, haha. We had a fun day celebrating off and on, mixed in with a hike with friends, delicious naps, and plenty of playtime. I followed Gil around with the camera for part of the day to capture that first bite of cake, the joy of play, and moments with each of the members of his family.

For full disclosure, the day wasn’t perfect, and actually began and ended with meals that looked like this:

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Yep. So I was glad to get some of the happier moments in between, like the ones that follow!

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They shared beaters covered in cream cheese frosting as I frosted his cake. I made two: one “smash cake” for him to enjoy on his own and one entirely massive snowman cake (his “real” birthday cake) that I am basically polishing off by myself now. Too. Much. Cake. Anyone want some cake?!

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We tried to get a picture of Mama and Son, but that mission failed. I like these two photos, though, because they show what I do most of the day: facilitate my children’s play/sense of adventure/lives and try to keep them from killing themselves! Ah, motherhood.

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For Gil’s birthday, he and Lena got absolutely adorable matching “jammies” from my parents, but, try as I might, I couldn’t get a good picture of them together. Can you imagine why? Always on the move around here.

And then I came around the corner and saw this in action… and that looked picture perfect to me!

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And finally, since I usually post portraits of my children every Monday, here is one of Lena I took this morning. The artist (and reader!) at work! She after she finished each marker or crayon, she lined them up. And then we read two huge stacks of books during Gil’s nap, a typical activity for us because I am lazy and would rather sit and read books than do craft or learning activities. Oh well!

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6 :: in 52 project, Baby Numero Due, Gil

he turns one tomorrow…

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… and I’m just not sure I can handle that!

You know what they say: “The moments are long, but the years are short.” We’ve had some looooong moments this year with mischievous little Gil; he came into our lives like an 8lb hurricane and really shook things up for awhile. But as the months have gone by, his blond curls and heart-stopping belly laugh have completely undone us time and time again, and we love him more than we could have ever imagined.

Like I mentioned here, this past week was a hard one for me. Elliott was asked to speak at a veterinary conference in the States, so I was holding down the fort with two rather small children. Lena got a stomach virus the morning that he left, and then on Tuesday both kids developed an impressive cold. I have never mopped up so much snot or said, “Cover your mouth, Lena. Cover! Cover… your… oh, never mind…” so many times in an hour. Gil in particular was severely congested, and I spent several of his nap times rocking him back to sleep every 20 minutes, something I’ve haven’t done since he was a couple months old.

But even when the going got tough, both kids continued to be loveable this week, and we toughed it out together. Also, Gil developed this adorable habit that makes everything completely ok with the world again. Before every nap, after he’s done nursing, he has started turning over onto his stomach and wedging his little head into my armpit. He murmurs and giggles while he does it, burrowing until he can’t burrow anymore and then lying there in complete contentment as I rub his back and murmur nonsense to him. Then he often climbs onto my stomach and snuggles some more, gently tapping my shoulder with his fist, cooing and giggling.

Finally, I scoop him up and kiss him, just like always, and breathe deeply of his baby curls, and lay him down in his bed, and rub his back, and slip out of the room whispering, “Goodnight, Gil-baby. I love you. I love you so much!”

P.S. Photos are all from this morning, a sweet and everyday one with just the three of us. Here are some posts from last year at this time: my last day as mother of one, Gil’s birth announcement, and Gil’s birth story.

17 :: in Baby Numero Due, Gil, motherhood, thoughts

a few tips about maternity clothes

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Some of you already know this, but my dear friend Johanna recently announced that she is expecting her first baby! I cannot wait to meet that little bundle in the spring.  He or she?  Curly hair or strawberry blonde… or both?

With all the joy — “this is really happening!” — comes so many questions.  “Maternity clothes?  Choosing baby items?  Working within a budget?”  She asked me to pass along any advice that I had as it came to me, and I thought it might be fun to turn the multiple emails I knew I’d be writing to her into a bunch of blog posts for her… and for other new moms out there, too.

So, whether you’re in the thick of this stage, looking forward to it (or dreading it!), or waving at it in the rearview mirror, welcome to a new little blog series on Making Room.  Please share your own tips and advice; we’d all love to learn from each other’s wisdom!

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Johanna wrote that maternity clothes that are “attractive/affordable seem awfully hard to find!”  I remember feeling the same way in those early days too, as price tags discouraged me (“but I’ll only be wearing this for a few months…”) and the cheapest things often just weren’t my style.  Can anyone else relate?

Over two pregnancies, though, my maternity wardrobe has grown and I now love many of the pieces in it.  Some of them are totally cute and I was excited to wear them again when I was pregnant with Gil!  However, I didn’t build my wardrobe by dipping in and out of maternity stores or by online shopping.  The truth is that I spent no more than $50 on my entire maternity wardrobe (right down to undergarments, which were all new).  My strategy is…

Beg.  Borrow. Steal.

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1.  Beg, ie. ask for things

Let people — especially family members and close friends — know that you are in need of maternity clothes.

All of the maternity pieces in the two photos above (dress, jacket, sweater, jeans) were gifts from my mom and mother-in-law.  (The scarf was a non-maternity gift from my sister!)  They knew I needed maternity clothes and so that is what I got for my birthday and for Christmas.  All of these pieces have gotten a lot of mileage in both of my pregnancies, so thank you, Mama and Mom!

Also, letting close friends know you need maternity clothes can lead to some fun surprises.  A friend might be in Old Navy, see something cute, and think of you!  Or, in the case of my sister-in-law Jess, they might decide to go on an online shopping spree and surprise you with a box in the mail.  (All the things you got for me, Jess, were wardrobe staples for both me and Becca Arthur.  Thank you again and again!)

Finally, don’t be afraid to return things if they just aren’t your style.  Most people who gave me maternity clothes also handed me a receipt “just in case.”  I took advantage of that in a couple of instances and often walked out of the store with a much larger pile of clothing than I walked in with, thanks to sales and coupons.

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2. Borrow

Ask a friend, neighbor, or community member
if you can borrow their maternity stash.

The shirt in the photo above was one of many incredible maternity clothes that I borrowed from this super talented young lady.  She and I were a part of the same church in D.C. and she had listed her maternity clothes as “available to borrow” in the moms’ group.  I was kind of sorry to give them back after Lena was born.  They were cute!  Highlight of that experience: walking into a church event and having her and multiple other women say, “Hey, I know who you borrowed that pretty maternity top from!”

The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancyhas a lot to say about sharing maternity clothes.  I enjoyed that book and recommend that section of it.

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3. Steal, ie. find things for a steal

A beautiful maternity wardrobe does not have to cost much.  It takes patience and time to build an attractive, functional maternity wardrobe on a dime (ie. a steal). 

However, patience and time are two things our culture does not value.  Here are a few tips to help you thoughtfully build your wardrobe on a budget (and with things you like!):

  • Make your current clothes last as long as possible.  With most first pregnancies, you won’t need real maternity clothes until halfway through or more.  You can make your regular clothes stretch (pun intended) by sticking to more forgiving, flexible materials and patterns.  The green floral top I’m wearing above is one of my favorites… but it’s just a size L shirt from H&M that has a tie in the back (and cost $5 on sale).  For your pants or jeans, use “the rubber band trick.” (<– that is a great blog!)
  • Hand-me-downs are amazing.  I love love love my neighborhood moms’ group on Capitol Hill in D.C.; it networked the community so well through a simple email listserve.  With about 5,000 moms on the listserve, there was always something baby- or maternity-related that someone wanted to give away (like the brown blouse above).  Through taking others hand-me-downs, sorting through, donating what I didn’t want, and saving what I did, I got most of my maternity staples for free.  (And yes, I did this while working full time.)  Is there a moms’ community in your neighborhood, church, town, or city?  If not, start one.  All it takes is a Yahoo or Google Group and a few ground rules.  Here in Italy the moms in my community use a Facebook page.
  • Shop sales and thrift stores.  Check out Craigslist for women who are desperate to sell their whole maternity wardrobes.  Take your time… there is gold out there!
  • Buy only when you need to.  Your body will change and clothes will not fit the same at 20 weeks (“these maternity pants are huge… lucky me!”) and 40 weeks (“I cannot fit in anything.  Time to be born, baby.”)  When you don’t fit into what you have, it’s time to go shopping.  You’ll be disappointed if you bought everything you thought you’d need at 20 weeks and then get tons of hand-me-downs and gifts… and end up with a lot of money wasted.
  • Finally, accessorize.  Taking time to add a scarf, belt, boots, or earrings somehow takes you from wearing “preggers clothes” to “an adorable outfit.”  I am terrible at this, but I love this mom’s ideas for “dressing the bump.”  Made me want all her clothes!!!

Now it’s your turn!  Do you have any advice for dressing well during pregnancy?

23 :: in Baby Numero Due, motherhood, new baby series

6 Tips for Sharing Your Bedroom with Your Baby

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Have you ever thought about sharing a bedroom with your baby, or — if you’re already a parent — is this something you’ve already done?  There are so many reasons to share a bedroom with your newborn, including lack of space in your house, the ease of feeding during the night, the nervousness of a new parent, and the simplicity of comforting a newborn who is sleeping nearby instead of across the hall.

Sharing a bedroom with your baby can last for a few days or a few years.  When Lena was born, we lived in a studio apartment.  We shared a room with her because there was literally no other option… our apartment was only one room!

With Gil we chose to share our room again because it seemed to allow everyone to get the most sleep.  Gil sleeps better when we’re nearby or quickly available to soothe him when he wakes. As a nursing-on-demand mother, I sleep better when I can feed him as soon as he’s hungry and doze off next to him while he nurses.

Sharing a bedroom has required some adjustments for us, though, because this is our room and our space.  There’s a lot of baby paraphernalia that does not need to occupy space in our bedroom.  The rest of the baby gear can be stashed away in Lena’s bedroom (which is really now — gulp! — the “kids'” bedroom!), ready to be used after the newborn haze dissipates and our lives take on some routine again.

I thought I’d share what has worked for us organizationally during these newborn days.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice as well!

1)    Safety first.  Prepare to share your bed with your baby… just in case he ends up in it.

In the first photo in this post, you can see that Gil is lying on a very tidy, uncluttered bed.  Elliott and I brought Gil home from the hospital and transformed our bed in order to minimize any risk of suffocation for our newborn.  To do so, we removed our thick down pillow top and our down comforter, took two pillows off the bed, and turned up the temperature in the room.  Now we can sleep with no more than a sheet on the bed and no more than one flat pillow for each of us.

It’s a drastic change in the winter when you’d really like to snuggle under a thick comforter!  But the risks were too great.  Anytime I nurse Gil in bed and doze off next to him, at least I have the peace of mind that I have eliminated as many common suffocation risks as possible.

If this advice has you nervously looking at your bed, wondering if you should overhaul everything and start fresh, clean, and simple, there is no better time! I recommend Coaster Furniture, which has a lot of beautiful bedding options, including many that would be comfortable and safe for a new baby, your partner, and yourself.

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2)    Keep a minimum of diaper changing supplies within easy reach.

I stored the basic diaper changing supplies on our dresser: diapers, wipes, and Vaseline.  (We use Vaseline for almost every diaper change as a barrier cream to protect Gil’s skin.)  I keep extra wipes and diapers in Lena’s room and replenish the stash as needed.  I also store a bottle of infant massage oil, Vitamin D drops, a bulb syringe, and an infant thermometernearby in our room.

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 3)    Have a good trash solution.

We have a Diaper Champfor cloth diapers and a hands-free lidded trashcan for disposable diapers, wipes, and other trash. I keep all our cloth diapers in a box next to the Diaper Genie.  All of these things are right next to the bed where I change Gil.

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4)    Use all the storage in your co-sleeper, if you have one.

We’ve enjoyed our Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeperand I recommend it if you are looking for a safe co-sleeping solution for your baby.  I also like the co-sleeper because of the pockets on both sides, which I use to store extra burp cloths and crib sheets.  There is a storage compartment underneath the mattress that is great for storing swaddling blankets as well.

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5)    Stash just a few items of baby clothing in your room.

We bought this handy basket at IKEA.  It’s just the right size to store about 5-10 onesies, a couple of hats, some socks, and a few swaddle blankets.  That’s all we’ve needed on a regular basis these first few weeks.  As he grows his wardrobe will get a little more elaborate (…if his mother has the energy to elaborate beyond a onesie!).

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6)    Buy or make an easy on-the-bed changing pad.

I folded this waterproof quilted sheetin half and pinned the sides together with a few safety pins to keep folded (even in the washing machine).  Gil loves lying on this soft pad in our warm bedroom.  He’ll often look around peacefully and kick away without wanting to be held or tended to.  All my diaper changing supplies are within easy reach right behind me on the dresser and extra clothes are at my feet in the basket under the bed.

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I have to admit I haven’t peeked into any of my friends’ bedrooms to see how they handle sharing a room with their baby.  It never even occurred to me that there could be a system to it until Gil came along, space was limited, and simplicity was my goal.  With two kids under two needing constant attention, there was no longer room in my brain for color-coordinated tote bins!

How have you made simplicity and organization work in small spaces with your baby?  Or what have you admired in friends’ homes?

20 :: in Baby Numero Due, Gil, motherhood, tutorials

ten o’clock an all’s well!

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Good morning!  Well, here I am… flying solo.  Elliott is back at work and this is the first day of my first week as a mama alone at home with two babies.

Friday was actually my first solo day, and I would not call it successful.  Lena threw the temper tantrum of the decade, Gil fussed a lot of the day, we spent a good 5 minutes all bawling together at some point in there, and I might have sent a “mayday!” message to Elliott sometime around… oh… 2pm.

So far today has already been better.  We’ve missed Elliott this morning, but we have survived.  Breakfast, playtime, and nap time have happened without drama.  I even managed to wash the dishes after breakfast (which, as you know, I have given up doing with two babies unless all the stars align).  We have some friends coming later for a play date, my friend Jen is dropping off dinner, and all in all… we have a lot to be thankful for on this first day of our first solo week.

Well, okay, Lena is currently calling “Mama… Mama…” instead of actually napping, Gil is due to wake up any moment, there are toys all over the living room, and I’ve misplaced my cup of coffee somewhere in the chaos but… you know.  Perspective!  Attitude!

I will admit that this day is a welcome relief from the whole weekend, which was not so pleasant.  I’ve had a bad cold and so have been foggily stumbling through the weekend with a dripping nose and dull headache.  We didn’t sleep much at all on Friday night until around 3:30am Elliott asked me to go sleep on the daybed in Lena’s room in order to at least sleep for a few hours.  I don’t like the idea of sleeping in different rooms, or of sleeping away from our baby, though.  We both agree that we want this to be as temporary a solution as possible.

What did you do in order to sleep when you — or your friends or family — had a newborn?  Any tips you can pass along?

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14 :: in Baby Numero Due, Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom Series, family, Gil, motherhood

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