Traveling Close to Home

Part of getting the house decorated for Christmas is taking stock of all of the items stowed away from the previous year. As we pulled out the boxes from the closet last weekend, I was looking at all of our ornaments. Our family tradition has been to purchase an ornament from our vacation each year. Some of my favorites include the kiwi from our honeymoon in New Zealand and the otters from our weekend inMonterrey. As I organized the ornaments this year, I realized we didn’t have an ornament for this year because we didn’t travel. Two kids, young baby, not a lot of time off available because of maternity leave, not to mention family travel obligations, we hadn’t had a vacation. It was sad to me we didn’t have anything for the tree this year since we had no trips from which to buy a souvenir ornament.

I realized though that even though we didn’t take a vacation this year, it didn’t mean we didn’t have great memories to celebrate and commemorate on our tree. With Lila being more aware of things and able to participate in more, we’ve been able to experience more within our own city. We took her to the Space Needle, the aquarium and the zoo. We rode the Great Wheel and became regulars at the Seattle libraries. We went to three Seattle Children’s Theater productions and I’ll be taking Lila to a local production of the Nutcracker this year. We went to the Macy’s Parade and we’ll see the famous Nordstrom’s Santa in a few weeks.  We may not have vacationed in exotic locales, but we made the most out of our year here in Seattle.

 

Seattle_Infographic

As you can see, vacationing in Seattle offers a great deal to do – more than we accomplished in this year! This graphic suggested some great things to help wrap up our year of “vacationing” in Seattle – like riding the monorail and exploring the Boeing Factory and Museum of Flight.

So this year, I’m buying an ornament from Seattle that celebrates the year of learning to be a family of four and to enjoy all our Emerald City has to offer. (Don’t take our word for it, come visit, we’d love to share it with you!!)

 

This infographic was provided by Marriott for use on my blog. Read more about Marriott and Seattle here.

Everyone is Still Breathing

Yesterday was Lucy’s 1 month “birthday”.  To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have noticed/remembered if a very detailed oriented friend had not posted it on my Facebook page.  I feel like I don’t have much to show for the last month.  I still have two kids – and two pets – and everyone is still breathing.  And I guess that, my friends, is what I have to show for the last month.

We’re still trying to work out the details of this “having two kids” thing.  We’ve been lucky to have almost constant grandparent help since Lucy came home from the hospital – which has been fantastic but has delayed us having to figure out how we are going to handle this on our own.  (I’m not complaining.)  Grandma Dede leaves tomorrow and we’ll have to determine how you do bedtime with two kids.  (I’m selling us a little short.  One set of grandparents left on December 29 and the other set arrived on January 8, so we totally kept two kids – and two pets – alive on our own for over a week.  And A went on a business trip beginning January 7, so I even kept all four of them alive on my own for more than 24 hours.  Go me.)

I know I shouldn’t be looking for a resume full of accomplishments for the first month of being a mom of two, but I just felt that having done this “newborn thing” before, I’d be better at it.  I wouldn’t mind the exhaustion, I would lose the baby weight immediately, I’d avoid any breastfeeding frustrations and I’d make dinner without fail every night.  For now I have to accept that I’m exhausted but I get out of bed every morning, I’ve lost some weight and am working to lose more, I’ve overcome the major breastfeeding issues and am working through the others and my family has eaten something for dinner every night (sometimes from Subway).  The trains may be running a little later than normal around here, but I’ve kept everyone alive for one month and for now, that has to be accomplishment enough.

For Better or Worse, We’re Still Here

For what it’s worth, I’ve been writing blog posts in my head for the last week.  It’s just the getting it down in a post online that hasn’t happened.  In light of those several posts floating around in my head, here’s one that tries to hit all the highlights – and the lowlights.

So the highs since coming home:

– Seeing LC be such a caring big sister.  Sure she may be overenthusiastic sometimes.  She may squeeze a little too tight or not understand that Lucy can’t hold a block or a stuffed animal, but she loves her little sister.  She loves holding her and patting her back.  It is amazing to see what a caring little being she is.

– Time at home as a family.  Even though Lucy wasn’t there for all of it, we had a nice two week holiday break as a family and it was really really nice.  Especially since A and I decided that we could eat fast food for lunch almost everyday.

– Lucy is a pretty easy baby.  I know, I shouldn’t be saying anything.  I’m sure this will curse me tonight.  But so far?  Not too bad.

– We had one set of grandparents here over the holidays and are expecting another set tomorrow.  I’m glad that both sets of grandparents were/are able to come out and meet Lucy and spend time with LC.  (No offense to Lucy, but LC is a lot more fun right now.)

And the lows:

– A went back to work after only the two holiday weeks off.  Since Lucy was late, she was only ten days old when he returned to work.  Oh and work is a week long business trip.  I’m bitter that so many of my friends are able to have their husbands home for extended periods of time after the birth of a baby.  I’m lonely and balancing two kids on my own today and tomorrow.  It’s all very silly – I also have a friend whose husband was deployed when their fourth child was born, so clearly I have little to complain about.  But still, I miss A.  I wish he could have stayed home with us longer to enjoy our new family.

– Postpartum.  I’m getting better.  It no longer takes 10 minutes to go through my whole bathroom routine.  I’m down to one prescription ibuprofen a day.  I can get in and out of the car without groaning in pain.  But up until this weekend, I felt pretty lousy and I was just ready to feel like myself.  Clearly birthing a 9lb baby takes a toll on one’s body, but I just wish I had bounced back a little faster. And I have stretch marks.  Blergh.

– Coffee.  I have yet to finish a cup of coffee.  I even got a latte today, didn’t finish it and put it in the fridge in the hopes I can revive it tomorrow morning.

– Diapers.  We’re trying to find the right size/combination of prefolds/covers for Lucy to be cloth diapered.  So we’ve been using disposables until the new cloth arrives.  And wow, do newborns go through a kabillion diapers a day.  I swear we just bought a giant thing of diapers and tonight I noticed there were only 3 downstairs to make it through the night.  This may make it seem like cloth wouldn’t be the best option  but so much easier really.  Oh and cheaper.  And when I realize I have 3 left, I just do laundry, instead of trying to decide if I need to pack two kids (who are already sleeping) into the car and make a run to Safeway.

– Mommy guilt.  Bringing a new baby home when you already have one at home creates many different feelings than just bringing home your first baby.  In the hospital I couldn’t wait to get home and see LC, I missed her so much.  I’ve cried so much as I watch LC struggle to figure out her new place in the family and seen the increased mommy anxiety she has.  We made the decision to try to keep her routine the same as much as possible, so she continues to go to day care.  I know being there is more fun than watching Momma feed her little sister every 2-3 hours, but being home while she’s off at day care really breaks my heart.  Making my two girls happy has such a different meaning for each of them right now, and LC’s happiness is much more emotionally than physically based at this point, so it is more difficult to watch her unhappiness.  I know it is all part of our family growing pains, but it is definitely been hard.

Overall, we’re doing just fine.  We’re busy, a little tired, trying to keep up with household chores and get some sleep, but we’re getting by.  Eleven days down – ten since we came home – and everyone is still alive.  I’ve only threatened to sell the pets 8 or so times.  I’ve cried more than a few times, especially when leaving LC at day care and I miss A more than I really should since he is only gone until Friday.  But we’ll make it through barking dogs, hormonal crying jags and yet another CES just fine and I look forward to the highlights in the weeks to come.

Checking it twice

It has been suggested that one way to focus on the task at hand and not become distracted by other thoughts is to make a list.  I’ve been trying to use this technique when all of the to dos for home begin to overwhelm me when I need to be focusing on work.  However, the other day when feeling overwhelmed about everything that needs to be accomplished before BE2 arrived and I made a list, it did not make me feel better.  In fact, it had the opposite effect of making me realize what a ridiculous list of things there is to do and how none of it will ever be accomplished in time.  I really should have just started my maternity leave at that moment if I wanted to have any hope of finishing.

Having a baby near the holidays is just poor planning on my part.  With a due date that could easily flow into an actual Christmas baby, my list includes:

– Plan Thanksgiving dinner to be cooked while 36 weeks pregnant. Find time to shop/order/store groceries for holiday.

– Do all Christmas shopping by Dec 1. (Be sure to remember babysitters, day care providers, neighbors who you may call on at 3am when your water breaks, dog walkers who may need to take dog to kennel after water breaks and co-workers who will be asked to do more than their share while you are on maternity leave.)

– Ship all Christmas presents to east coast by Dec 7.

– Plan Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas brunch, and Christmas dinner for family Christmas to be hosted at our home, either 41 weeks pregnant or with an approximately 5 day old baby. Find time to shop/order/store groceries for such events.

– Get and decorate Christmas tree.

– Ensure LC does not miss out on any part of the Christmas holiday.  Early Santa visit, holiday carousel and fake snow at Pacific Place.

– Order personalized stocking for BE2 so that holiday photos do not look funny with baby’s first Christmas missing her own stocking to match the rest of the family’s.

– Find baby’s first Christmas ornament (of which most designs are horrendous, so good luck finding one you can stomach) so that it can hang on the tree in time for baby’s first Christmas.   (as follow up, hope BE2 is not born at 41 weeks on Dec 26, thereby causing the need to purchase ANOTHER baby’s first Christmas ornament for the following year.)

I’ll stop there because I am dangerously close to not being able to sleep tonight just thinking about this list (and this is just the stuff in the “holidays” category.  We didn’t even touch on the “home” category.)

Nesting is a natural instinct as you reach the end of the pregnancy – I had just hoped it would be one of comfort and not one that keeps me up at night wondering why A thinks Thanksgiving dinner is not a “work intensive” holiday and why is there no Boston Market out here from which I could order Thanksgiving in a box.

 

Feeling Homesick at Home

LC and I put Grandma Dede on a plane back East today.  We know that she had to get back to her life on the East Coast, not to mention back to Grandpa Mark, but we were very sorry to see her go.  I’ve never been good at airport good-byes (I was definitely not a good candidate for a long distance relationship but we survived) but this recent visit and good bye really brought home how hard it can be living across the country from family and friends.

I love so many things about our life in the Emerald City and A and I are not contemplating another cross country move in the near future.  The big “but” in the sentence though is that we love so many things about living here but we really hate being so far from friends and family.  We’re currently trying to figure out our holiday plans – will we travel, when would we travel, would we try to see both families or one now and another later, how long would we stay – answering one question only raises ten more.  The idea of traveling with an almost 11 month old baby during the holidays definitely does not sound appealing, but spending the holidays at home with just the three of us sounds a little sad too.

A and I had both lived far away from family before and we knew it wouldn’t be easy when we moved to Seattle.  Today just happened to be one of those days that was more difficult than others and when the grass in the Other Washington seemed just a little bit greener.

Reorganization

After a weekend away with no vacuuming last weekend and house guests arriving next weekend, this weekend was circled in red on the calendar with the words “CLEAN HOUSE” scribbled all over.  We made a dent in the to do list and still had an enjoyable family weekend.

The biggest task we undertook and completed was finishing painting LC’s room.  While we kept the room the same color as it was when we purchased the house, we had removed some fixtures from the wall which left large unpainted areas.  Shortly after removing the fixtures, a baby unexpectedly arrived and painting took a back seat.  Only one more picture to hang and then I’ll finally post a tour of the nursery.

Another chore that I had been unable to find time to accomplish was finally taking all of my maternity clothes out of the drawers and putting them away, as well as general organization of my closets.  A helped me tackle this today and I think this will help reduce my stress in the mornings, since my clothes are organized and easier to find.

The never ending laundry and vacuuming continued today – thanks in large part to A getting up early and doing two loads of laundry while I slept in with LC.

Our house is probably not house guest ready yet, but I don’t think it looks like we’ve left B-Cat in charge of housekeeping anymore.  And some days you just have to take these small victories as they come.

Comfy Couch Days

The holidays have caught up to me, despite the fact that they really just arrived.  Our November has been jammed pack with travel, work, visitors, SNOW and yes, turkey.  Yesterday was our first real holiday in our home and I think it went rather well.  When we bought the house our number one concern was the size of the kitchen, which was smaller than we had hoped.  However, we cooked 15lbs of turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, squash casserole, stuffing, gravy, Toll House Pie and pumpkin custard without a problem yesterday. I was proud of our little kitchen, as well as the cooking/planning/calculating skills of A and me.

As mentioned above we have had unseasonably cold and snowy weather here in the Emerald City.  It began snowing Sunday night and by Monday night we had two inches and impassable roads.  It took us approximately 2 hours to drive 5 miles from work to home.  I had two snow days (Tues and Wed), so we worked from home.  As I am about to turn the corner from second to third trimester,  the extra days of wearing sweatpants and move at a slower pace is much appreciated.  Unfortunately for our guests, A’s parents in from the Other Washington,  the snow has reduced the ability to site see and explore Seattle, but they did enjoy Northgate Mall, not to mention our day of culinary indulgence yesterday.

Tomorrow A and his mom will head to Portland to watch the Evil Empire take on the Ducks.  I will brave the Black Friday Weekend crowds at Babies R Us.  Keep me in your thoughts.  Glider or bust, I say.   That or I will hang out in a Starbucks until the game is over.  We will see how the spirit hits me. 

Whatever plans you may have this weekend – eating leftovers, shopping at your favorite mail order online store or traveling, I hope you enjoy some rest and quiet time before it all begins again on Monday. 

Autumn Visitors

With all the excitement of the last two weeks, I haven’t had time to post photos from our autumn visitors’ stay in Seattle.  My parents came out from Connecticut and stayed a week with us.  We were so excited to have our first guests in our guest room and to be able to share Seattle with them. 

We managed to squeeze a good amount of things into the visit, including lunch at the Space Needle.  The restaurant at the top of the Space Needle rotates 360 degrees every 47 minutes, so you get a full view of the vista during your meal. 

 This is the South Lake Union area where my office (and Cal’s doggie day care) are located.
 A works in that tall dark building to the left of canter.  Those are the stadiums on the right.
 Mount Rainier, we were lucky it was clear enough to see it that day.


After lunch we went upstairs to the observation deck.  Here is A, observing. 

Next, we took a Duck Tour. Here is our duck.

The duck tour may be silly (see above) but it is a great way to learn about the city.  And after driving all over the city, you get to go out on the water in the duck.  As you can see here, it was a beautiful day on the lake. 

 This is Tom Hanks’ “floating house” in Sleepless in Seattle.  (Ok Tom Hanks’ character, not Tom himself.)  He really did have a sweet view of the Seattle sky line. 
In addition to the Space Needle and Duck Tour, my parents went to Pike’s Market (of course), Queen Anne and Fremont.  We made sure they tried Top Pot donuts, took them to the U District farmers’ market, the Experience Music Project and the SciFi Museum.  
On Monday, their last full day in town, we went to the dog park with Cal.  My mom took this photo below – you can see Cal having a great time playing with Theodore, a shepherd/husky mix he met at the park.  They had a fabulous time running and playing with each other, including some awesome wrestling. (If you click on the photo it will zoom in and you can see the great expression on Cal’s face.)
We know we probably weren’t as much fun as puppy wrestling, but we hope our visitors had a good time exploring Seattle and sharing our home.  we loved having them here – and the guest room is open for reservations if you are headed our way :)