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Friday, September 30, 2011

Big Brother

For some reason, I really miss Caleb today.  I know many people assume that because we have Carys (beautiful, sweet, snuggly Carys) I'm over the loss of him and that it's okay...but that's not how it works, unfortunately. Sometimes I look at her and think of the older brother that I should be entreating to "leave the baby alone!" Sometimes I'm at the store and I see "Little Sister" shirts that she should get to wear, rightfully, but never will. Sometimes an outfit for a boy who should have just turned one (his due date was September 3) jumps out at me and I'll wish I had my little boy at home to buy it for.  It creeps up on you, too, when it's least expected. Nothing particular happened today to make me think of him. Maybe it was the subtle sound of the breeze whispering through the trees that reminded me of his birthday, or maybe it was absolutely nothing, and I just needed to remember him today.

I wish you were here, buddy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Baby and Family Deal Sites

These sites have daily (or longer) deals and I usually try to check them every day. I open a new browser window, right click on my bookmark folder where they live and do "open all" so it only takes a few minutes to check. Before purchasing from a deal site, I always check to make sure it really IS a deal. Often, once you add the cost of shipping, you can get it cheaper on Amazon (my go-to comparison site).  But I have gotten some really great deals on these sites for sure! Note: I haven't purchased from every site listed.

Daily Deals
http://www.woot.com (be sure to check out Kid's Woot in the lower right corner)
http://www.froobi.com (associated with SwagBucks)

Local Deals

Multi-Deal Sites
Note: shipping on these sites often takes a very long time. They list the deals and don't place an order with the company until the deal closes. Then they have the items shipped to them and then have to sort them out and ship to the end customer. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Carys: Weeks 8 and 9

I super suck at keeping up with posting these.

The  most embarrassing part is that she's 10 weeks old already. The picture is taken, just sitting on my camera. Someday. Someday I'll be on top of this. Probably when she's 30. That's my goal.

You'll notice we're also doing monthly pictures. That's so if the weekly pictures totally fall apart, we can use the monthly instead and commit to a picture every 30 days instead of every 7. And failing that I'm sure we can manage yearly ones at least.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Registry Road Rules

Making a baby registry is the most fun part of having a baby, I think. Other than planning the nursery. And getting presents. And feeling baby kicks. And, you know, the actual baby.

If you haven't already, check out the post of newborn must-haves that Carys dictated to me.   Beyond that, there are a few helpful hints and tips that were passed to me and I feel it is only right to pass them onto you, dear friend. Friends? I think there are at least three loyal readers, so I can justifiably say friends. But possibly only one pregnant friend, so also just friend

1. Definitely, definitely register at a brick and mortar store and make sure things are in stock.
A vast majority of people will buy gifts off the registry the day before, or if they are like me, on the way to the shower.  Having everything available "online only," or worse, registering at a store that we don't have in town, means that I have to pick something OFF REGISTRY, which if you know me leads to crippling indecision and time wasting. I wish they had registries for every gift-giving event. I had to buy a third birthday present the other day that necessitated no less than three calls and two texts to the parents.  With that in mind, also make sure to register for things in store. If you register online, you'll end up with a lot of "online only" listings - so if you do the majority of it online, just be sure to make sure it's in stock at the store too.  When registering, think of accessibility as well. For instance, in my city there is one Babies R Us and it's pretty far away. But there are like eight dozen Target stores, approximately one per square mile. So for lazy people who hate driving like me, the Target option is much easier.  That said, many people expect you to register at Babies R Us (or whatever similar store you have in your area, like Buy Baby Buy), so they'll go there just expecting to find a registry in your name - so it helps if there is one.  To summarize: Target. Popular Baby Store. Boom.

2. But Amazon.com is usually cheaper.
However, for those gift buyers who are planners, they can usually get the same thing on Amazon for much cheaper. Register there and spread the word - just understand that most people in town won't use it.  It is great, though, for out of towners.  Shipping is so much cheaper (or free!) on Amazon than it is to ship something from Babies R Us or Target.  The Amazon registry is also a great way to keep track of things you want later, or things you're interested in remembering for later, or that you want to research...later.  Also helpful: you can add anything from any online store to your Amazon registry.

3. Register for duplicates and then stalk your registry. 
Warning: CONTROVERSY AHEAD. I know, how can a registry be controversial? This part of my advice flies in the face of conventional registering rules, so be warned. If you follow the above advice, you'll have three registries. You don't need to advertise them all (I didn't tell anyone about my Amazon one since I mostly used it as a tool for myself).  Amazon, Target, and Babies R Us all have similar - sometimes identical - offerings.  This is total sacrilege and goes against much popular registering advice, but here goes: register for the same thing at each place it's available (especially if it's something you really want). So if you want, say, a Snugabunny swing, register for it at Target, on Amazon, and at Babies R Us.   Similarly, if there's something you want but you're not particular about, register for a different version of it at each place. For instance, if you are registering for a baby bath but don't particularly care which cutesy animal theme it is brandishing, and the same one isn't available at each place, just throw a different one on each registry.  Then watch your registry closely and when it's purchased from one store, mark it as purchased at the other two.  Or if you can't decide between two things (like two different strollers), register for them both and then let the registry gods (i.e. people buying gifts for you) decide. One gets purchased, bam! The decision was made for you, and you can mark the other one purchased or delete it.  A few weeks out you only have to check each site once a day or even every few days, but in the week or so leading up to the shower you'll want to check more often...and the day of your shower, check constantly (luckily, they all have good mobile sites you can use). Or you can delegate that task to a sister or friend - but you definitely do want to keep up on it.  Yes, it is a bit more work, but it increases the chances of getting those highly coveted items by quite a bit.  (You'll probably get a duplicate or two anyway, even if you don't do this, since not everyone will have the store mark it as purchased off the registry.)

4. Register for things you don't want and/or already have. 
What?!? I know, crazy, right??  Why would you do this?  To prevent people from buying them! People have certain things that they love to buy.  If you already have it or don't want it, one way to help prevent duplicates is to put it on the registry and then mark it as purchased.  So if you got a hand-me-down Pack-N-Play or great deal on a stroller from Craigslist or you're going to hardcore attachment parent and don't want a swing...register for those items and then mark them as having been bought.  It doesn't always work - again, not everyone is going to look at your registry - but it definitely helps.  And as people give you things that aren't on your registry, you can also add them and mark them purchased, which will again help prevent duplicates.

5. Clothes are really hard to register for. 
Clothes come in and out of season like every two weeks. I registered, then a week later everything said "out of stock." So I did it again. Shortly after, same notice. Unless you are going back and updating that constantly, it's hardly worth it. Some things (like plain onsies) are staples and will usually be there, but those cute outfits? Change all the damn time.  So go ahead and do it (it's hard to resist), but just know that it's kind of difficult and a pain in the butt and people will buy you tons of cute outfits even without them being on the registry.

6. Ask for a couple big-ticket items.
Hell, ask for ALL the big ticket items. You'll often have groups of people who want to go in on a gift together, and they usually do that by chipping in to get one larger thing. And even if you don't, have you heard of this little thing called the "completion discount"? All major retailers - even Amazon - send you a completion coupon that lets you get 10-20% off of everything on your registry that wasn't purchased already.  It's a way to save some big bucks!

So go forth, young buck (doe?), and get nice and acquainted with that gun they give you to register with. No, not in that way, you dirty, dirty girl!  I hope you're sanitizing it before you return it. Tsk, tsk.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Letters to Carrots : Month Two

August 7 to September 7, 2011


How are you two months old already? At this rate, you'll be in kindergarten next week. I can't believe how time has been flying. That seems a common parenting refrain.


Right now you're sitting next to me, babbling to yourself. That's right, you babble now. I'm not sure if it's on purpose or the sounds coming out of your mouth are surprising you as well as me, but it sure is adorable. Your dad has conversations with you that mostly involve him saying "Dada" over and over, trying to influence your first word (though that won't come for months and will obviously be "mama").

Also new this month? Baby leg chub - you're getting some baby fat, and it's adorable.  You also track toys with your eyes, you really smile, and you hold your head up.


You love standing up and putting your full weight on your legs, a milestone you aren't supposed to reach for another couple months, you overachiever you! In fact, you hate laying down "like a baby" (I imagine you saying). You would much rather be sitting up and looking at something ...anything.  Ceiling fans are of particular interest.  And when you're not standing, you kick. You love to kick and you may crawl/walk before you master holding up that giant head of yours. You just can't wait to be a part of the world instead of just a passive observer.

You're still such a good baby.  If all our children are this good (knock on wood) I may run the risk of pulling a Duggar and having 19 kids and counting. Luckily your dad is only on board for 2.5 (we're debating on #3).  It's such a true delight to be around you. You'll sit contentedly by yourself, but you also love charming people with your coos and baby smiles.  I still spend way too much time just staring at you and memorizing every little bit that is changing and growing every day.  Your eyelashes continue to get darker and longer, which is a relief to me because I love long eyelashes on babies and was a tad disappointed you were born with almost invisible wisps. I probably didn't Google baby fake eyelashes.


And when you ARE sad (with no warning) you get the biggest sad face with an almost caricature-ish pouty face...and then your cry. Your cry! Most of the time it's one hurt-sounding wail, followed by a minute or two of silence. And you're easily distracted - I can just move your position and delay the next cry for five minutes while you take in your new surroundings. You're the worst crier ever, in that you don't do it nearly loud or long enough, from what I've seen from most other babies.  It's almost hard to attend to your needs because the cry is so cute that I want to hear it again.


We're still cloth diapering and still nursing and still babywearing, so we're slowly becoming more and more crunchy granola hippies. I still shower, though. Sometimes. Cloth diapering is wonderful and I actually love changing your diaper and picking out which new diaper to put on you.  However, you LOVE naked baby time. When the diaper is off, you love to kick kick kick and feel the air. I would probably feel the same if I was in a diaper all day. You also love bath time, probably also because of the naked thing. I hope you grow out of that by the time you're 16, or I'm putting you in a Rapunzel tower.


You still aren't sleeping through the night, though I know that can take several more months...or years (pleasedon'ttakeyearsprettyplease).  But most nights you do give us a good five hours followed by three more hours.  After your 6 or 7am waking, I love keeping you in bed with us, nestled in the crook of my arm, with the heat of your tiny body keeping me warm and your hands brushing against my chest.


One night a few days ago, you ate and then promptly indoctrinated me into the cult of motherhood for real by projectile puking the contents of your stomach all over me. I guess I should be glad it was all over me and not the bed, since it's much easier to change ME than all the bedding at 4am.


In other firsts, we left you for the first time for real (for more than an hour) to go out for my 31st birthday.  Your dad decided that an appropriate celebration would be seeing a concert for a singer who I have much disdain for....Ke$ha. No, darling, you aren't reading that wrong, she does indeed spell her name with a dollar sign. She's THAT classy and original.  However, for some reason (namely, his horrible taste in music) your father loves her. So we went. And to no one's surprise (well, not to my surprise) it was a horrible concert. However, the one redeeming quality was that it was SO very bad that it came back around to being entertaining.  My aunt Carol watched you for about five hours while we were gone and said you were perfect. There are a dozen people I could call at any moment who are so in love with you they would fight in a cage match for the right to watch you.  I had to force myself not to call and check on you multiple times.  I also pumped six ounces under my sweater in the middle of the concert. Now that, my dear, is rock star parenting.


This was our first month with my mom - your amazing grandma - living almost six hours away. I know a lot of people go most of their life living in a different city than their mom, but not me. This is a first. And I hate it. I'm not doing well. I miss her every day. Kimberly and I drove up to surprise her a couple weeks ago, which was your first road trip.  You slept most of the time, but I didn't account for the fact that we'd need to stop and feed you and that those feeds would take a good hour...adding two hours onto the trip each way.  When we got there, we took a picture in front of the apartment and sent it to mom, and then called her and told her she had to check her email to see an adorable picture of you. Minutes later, she came running out of her apartment with the biggest smile on her face, and it was wonderful to see her so happy.  It almost didn't happen that way, since she wasn't answering her phone at first and we thought we were going to have to ruin the surprise. Or that it was going to be some screwball comedy where she had driven to Omaha to surprise us. But that wasn't the case, and the four of us, covering three generations, had a great time just being together again.


Labor Day brought your first trip to the zoo, and you slept through most of it (though you did love the waterfall in the butterfly pavillion). I can't wait until you're old enough to actually appreciate it. I can't wait until you're old enough to do a lot of things, but at the same time I want you to stay tiny and cuddly forever. When you're too old to snuggle your head in my neck I'll be heartbroken. I hope I never forget that feeling. I hope I never forget a moment of this. I love being your mama.



Saturday, September 3, 2011

Packing Your Hospital Bag: C-Section Edition

**Below is a link for a printable version of this list.**

I Googled all over the damn internet looking for what I might need at the hospital for my c-section that was different from what you'd need for a vaginal birth.  I couldn't find any good resources.  Some of them clearly haven't been updated since 1990: camera and film, change for pay phone, list of phone numbers to call, tape player. Obviously digital cameras and cell phones weren't popular when the lists were made.  Now, with the surgery done and over with, I can answer that question: not much is different. It's pretty much the same.  However, there are a few exceptions.  Here's what worked for me - I recommend reading through the whole list and explanations because you might find things that you know will be different for your situation (for instance, I say leave socks at home, but if you're giving birth in the middle of winter in a cold climate, you'll obviously need socks to get home).

***NOTE*** A few of these things are more "grab on your way out" like your cell phone and charger.
  • Abdominal binder (more on that here
  • Toiletries: sample-sized shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, toothpaste, mini shower pouf, toothbrush 
    • I was in the hospital for four nights and five days, the max allowed.  I made them kick me the heck out of there. Food and nurses available at my whim? I wasn't leaving early!  Because you're in the hospital longer with a c-section, you might want to consider bringing higher quality and more toiletries than you might need if you were only there overnight with a vaginal delivery, since instead of none or one shower you'll probably be taking three or four showers.  I kept them all in a separate bag that I just kept in the shower area and tossed them in the trash when I left since they were just sample sizes. I even took a disposable toothbrush that I could toss when done. 
    • Note: you may or may not feel like getting up to shower. I did not. I just wanted to lay down and be lazy and rest. If you don't, DO IT. You will feel AMAZING afterward.
  • Towels
    • I debated about putting this on here. I didn't take any, either time, and it was fine.  You'd be fine too.  The hospital towels sufficed. But they were small and thin and it really would have been nice to have better ones. Hell, go buy a couple $3 ones from Target and just leave them there at the end if you don't want to haul them home.  Again, this is more important for a c-section delivery where you'll be taking several showers over several days. One shower, you can deal with shitty towels. Three showers, and they start to get annoying.
  • Facial wash wipes (like these)
    • These are nice because you can freshen up immediately after leaving the recovery room without getting out of bed.
  • Lip balm (my favvvvvvve)
    • Hospitals tend to have dry air. Your lips will thank you!
  • Brush and hair ties/clips if you have longer hair
    • If you don't shower right away, it's nice to get your hair out of your face - and it's nice when you're constantly looking down at the baby too.
  • Stretchy, comfy clothes:  2-4 nursing tops/tanks/bras, 2-4 soft pants
      • You might not want to get out of your hospital gown during your stay, but after 24 hours of that, I was ready for some real clothes. Of course, vaginal grads need comfy clothes too, since we all will look five or six months pregnant when we leave - though they won't need as many. With a c-section, you need to also consider that tender incision site. Look for pants that you can wear higher or lower than your bikini line - those yoga pants with the wide, foldover waistband are great.  If you're planning on nursing, keep in mind ease of access for breastfeeding. And try pulling out a boob before packing it - I had a chemise I thought would be perfect, but when I actually had it on it was a total no access top.  Why 2 to 4? Because you have a new baby who might pee or puke on you, or you might bleed on it. You could pack fewer and have your partner bring you another outfit each day, but I thought it was easier to just have them on hand. To minimize packing, wear in one of the same outfits that you'll wear later or wear home, because you'll literally only be wearing the clothes you arrived in for an hour before you have to change into the hospital gown, so you can definitely re-wear them later.  Anything you bring should be cheap and not well-loved in case it gets stained, lost, etc.
    • Sweater
      • Even in the middle of the summer, hospitals can be chilly due to air conditioning. A lightweight sweater in case you get chilly is hugely helpful. One that you don't mind tossing is always good.
    • Cheap flip flops or slide sandals you won't mind tossing
      • I brought these in case the shower was gross, but didn't end up using them there, because it was surprisingly clean (people who are more germophobic might use them no matter what).  However, they were great for walking the hospital hallways when I didn't want to just wear socks. Plus, I couldn't get socks on myself (and when recovering from a c-section you probably won't be able to either), but I could slip these on. The socks they gave us had fold-back toes so I didn't even have to take my socks off!  If you're giving birth in summer or a warm climate, you can just wear them in and out of the hospital and won't have to pack or bring extra shoes. If you're giving birth in winter, you'll obviously need a pair of shoes to wear into the hospital and out of the hospital, but chances are you won't wear them around your room.
      • My blankie
        • Ok, it's not like I can't live without a special blanket, but it was nice to have. And truthfully, I didn't use it so much as whoever was spending the night did.  This can stay in the car until needed if it won't fit in the duffle bag.
      • Camera & charger
      • Laptop or tablet & charger
      • Cell phone& charger
        • If you have a lot of things to plug in (your stuff plus your partner's stuff - we had two laptops, two phones, a camera, and a tablet) consider bringing a power strip too.
      • Any meds you're taking (talk to your doctor first, obviously)
        • I brought my pre-natal vitamins and Colace. They'll give them to you at the hospital if you ask, but it was 100% easier just to do it myself.
      • Newborn take home outfit and socks
        • You don't REALLY need to spend time searching for the perfect take home outfit. It will be worn maybe 20 minutes and once they're in the carseat you won't be able to see much of it because of the car seat straps. Really, just a onesie and stretchy pants would be fine. Don't forget - no gowns or anything that you can't use in a carseat!   The hospital doesn't give you newborn socks, so you might want to bring those as well. 
      • Insurance card/ID/etc 
        • This is probably in your purse already, which you'll have with you, but just make sure they're there. If you have any pre-arrival forms, make sure to bring those as well.

      • Travel pillow (more on that here)
      • Pillows from home (more on that here)
        • Keep in mind again that you'll be there several days, so it's more important to be comfortable than I think it would be with a vaginal delivery. I could live with an uncomfortable bed and flat pillow for one night, but not for four nights. Also useful for those poor saps that are spending the night on the pull out bed.
      • Boppy or other nursing pillow if breastfeeding
        • When you're first learning to breastfeed, this is incredibly useful and worth the space it takes up. It also helps protect your incision from kicking baby feet. Of everything, this was the only thing that didn't fit in my duffle bag, and we kept it in the car until I was out of the recovery room when my husband brought it up.
      • Car seat
        • You don't need this until you're leaving, so it can just stay in the car. But have it ready! Have the appropriate accessories ready - a lightweight sunshade for a summer baby or a warm cover for a winter baby. (PLEASE - do not get the covers that the baby sits on! They are not safe! Nothing that is not included in the car seat should go between the baby and the seat! So no to this, yes to this!)
      • Extra bag
        • You get a shit ton of stuff from the hospital and from people bringing gifts. It's nice to have an extra bag to throw it all in. I had Chris take home a load every time he went home at night so that the last night we weren't trying to carry home five floral bouquets and twenty gift bags. This can also wait in the car until you need it. 
      • For winter babies - heavy blanket
        • Summer babies can just the lightweight swaddling blankets that the hospital provides and be just fine. Winter babies might need something heavier. 

      (Note: some of these items are listed because the hospital provided them - so you may want to check with your specific care center to make sure they provide these items before deciding to leave them at home.)
      • Socks. 
        • This one surprised me. But with a c-section, they give you special compression socks, so you wouldn't be able to wear any other socks anyway. Or at least my hospital did.  And the toes fold down so you can wear the aforementioned flip flops. (You may want to ask just in case your hospital doesn't share this policy, especially if your feet get cold easily.)  ***NOTE*** If you are giving birth in winter in a cold climate, you'll need socks to wear home, obviously.
      • Underwear (other than what you wear in)
        • You'll be rocking some mesh panties. Wear and embrace the mesh panties. I promise. You can put on real underwear at home if you want.
      • More than one newborn outfit.
        • They give you shirts and a blanket to wrap the kid in, so you only need something for the ride home. You certainly CAN bring extra clothes or hairbows or whatever, but it's just more stuff to keep track of. I don't recommend it.
      • Newborn care items.
        • They give you everything. Pacifier, diapers, wipes, hat, snot sucker, blankets, whatever.  I had been planning on starting to cloth diaper in the hospital, but since I didn't change a diaper until the last day (the nurses did it all, which I didn't ask for but was appreciated), it was easier to use what they had. I did put her in a cloth diaper as we were leaving.
      • Diaper bag
        • You don't need any newborn care items, so you don't need a diaper bag. 
      • Books/Kindle/Entertainment
        • I know, this is surprising. But I never cracked one of the books that I brought or even looked at the Kindle.  Who had the time?? If I found a spare minute, I SLEPT. I recommend you do the same. For the love of god, if you have time to read, use it to sleep!  For the maybe two minutes I was bored and not sleeping, I just surfed the internet on my tablet or laptop. A Kindle is more negotiable, because it's so small/lightweight, but the books were heavy and took up room. Definitely skip the actual books and bring just the Kindle if you think you will need it. Maybe bring it for your partner if he's the reading type.  ***NOTE*** This is very c-section specific. If you are going to be laboring at the hospital, I've heard entertainment of some sort is necessary since you might be there a full day or more laboring before the baby arrives, so in that case, don't hesitate to bring movies or Kindles or whatever. But if you have a c-section, there is very little down time prior to the baby arriving so there isn't a lot of "blank" time to fill.
      • Robe
        • It just ended up taking up space. When I was only wearing the hospital gown, they gave me a second one to wear backwards to cover your booty. When I had real clothes on, if I got cold, I just wore the aforementioned sweater. It took up a lot of room for something I didn't really need.
      • Blow dryer or straightener
        • You're probably better than me and will do a full blow out and full face of makeup and look amazing immediately post-birth. So bring it if you're that person. Me? I didn't care so much. And if you're at all like me, it's definitely something you can skip til you get home.
      • Razor
        • You will probably barely be able to bend over to put socks on, much less shave your legs. Go without for a few days. Wear pants. It's not worth the hassle trying to do it in the hospital. ***NOTE*** Possibly bring if you are worried about the underarm area. 
      • Rings/jewelry
        • Leave your wedding rings and all other jewelry at home!
      • Pads
        • Again, the hospital will give you some. It's just for a few days, you can go without your super special pads for that time. And, TMI, they're probably not big enough or absorbent enough anyway, if we're being really honest.  Some people do Depends - I just couldn't get on board with that, personally. Mesh panties and giant hospital pads all the way. 
      • Nipple cream/pads
        • The hospital provided these.
      • Breast Pump
        • If for some reason you need one of these - and there are valid reasons they might ask you to pump, though it's not super common - the hospital will provide it and everything you need. They'll have a hospital-grade pump, and some (not all) hospitals would require you to use theirs regardless of whether you brought one anyway, so might as well leave it at home. 
      • Change for vending machines/food
        • Our hospital, at least, had a food station with pop, water, snacks, etc.  And when I was more hungry than that, room service was a phone call away. I mean, don't make an effort to REMOVE change from your purse or whatever, but don't go out of your way to bring it.
      • Baby Book
        • Some people recommend bringing this to start filling it out or to put footprints in, etc. Our hospital did the footprints on stickers that you could then stick in the baby book, and the whole time I was just worried about it getting dirty or lost, so I'd leave it at home.
      If you're having a c-section, these additional links might be helpful:

      - C-Section Birth Stories (one, two)

      *****Be sure to read the comments for additional thoughts and ideas from readers with different experiences than mine - as with everything in parenting, there's no definitive list or right answer! :) *****