Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Broccoli "Souffle"

Remember that time I had a blog? Snort.

A friend recently shared that she misses me blogging at all posting recipes. This one was a hit at our kids ornament exchange last weekend, so I wanted to pass it on.

My friend Maggie first made this at one of our sleepovers. I've made some minor tweaks from the original, but man, is it good. It's not truly a soufflé (note the quotation marks), but it has a yummy, custardy finish that reminds me of one. It's a favorite in our house and sure to be a show-stopper at your next brunch.

Broccoli "Souffle"
Adapted from The Splendid Table

1 large loaf of white French bread
1 large head of broccoli
8 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
8 tablespoons butter, melted
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Tear the soft, white insides of the French bread into bite-size pieces (feed the crusts to your three year old, toast into croutons, or toss outside for the birds). Cover the bottom of the baking dish generously with the torn bread. Chop the broccoli florets into bite-size pieces and sprinkle over the bread.

Whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix in one cup of shredded cheese. Pour over broccoli and bread, making sure to coat evenly. Top with remaining shredded cheese (we like lots of cheese, but you can use less if you don't live in Wisconsin).

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes to brown the cheese. Remove and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Delish!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

School Pictures

Photos courtesy of a very talented mom at Will's school.
She captured him perfectly!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Radio Silence

Hello, out there! We're alive. Just busy. Here's life in six short snippets...
  1. Will loves his preschool. He tells me all the time about his friends and his teacher and what they had for snack that day. Melts my heart. However, he also says his best friend at school is Lucy, but there is no Lucy. So I'm not sure if we've entered imaginary friend territory, or if he's decided our friends' dog is his best friend. Stay tuned.
  2. People keep commending me for doing EBF (exclusive breastfeeding) with Charlotte for the first six months. I think breast milk is awesome, and I'm thrilled that we hit that milestone. But the truth is, it wasn't a conscious choice so much as I forgot she could start food already. The plight of the second child.
  3. I freaking love my new job. Wait, did I ever tell you that I got a new job? I started a new position at our local public four-year university in September. I'm 20 hours a week on a nine month contract, which has been about perfect balance for me. I've learned that I'm not well-suited to being at home full-time, but I don't want to be away from the kids five days a week either. So I'm working three days a week and I'll have my summers off. Awesome!
  4. We hired a cleaning person last month. Best money ever spent. I had no idea where to start, but we found her on recommendation from a friend. She visits every other week and does an amazing job. It's so great to have someone come in to do the big stuff (floors, sinks, toilets, etc), so we can spend less time cleaning and more time hanging out as a family. On her first day here, she took out the vacuum and Will exclaimed, "What's that?!?" Nice. In sum, why we have a cleaning lady.
  5. I started doing yoga two mornings a week with a friend. It's really early (like waking up at 5:30 AM to be to the studio by 6:00 AM), but so worth it. The days I do yoga are so good. I'm more present, more patient, more positive. Although it's early, there's something so calming about being up before anyone else. Like the world in the sub-6:00 AM darkness exists only for me. Before the kids are awake, before we're scrambling to get ready, even before I've had my first cup of coffee. I get to do something just for me. It's like I'm sweeping away the cobwebs and shining myself up for the day. Om.
  6. We recently debated Charley vs. Charlie for Charlotte's nickname. I adore the spelling Charley, but Ben figures she'll just have to explain how to spell it her whole life. So Charlie it is.
I forgot how hard it is to blog when I'm working! My new goal is once a week, but we'll see...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back To School

Will on the First Day of Preschool: Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ink

Sisters

Guess who got a tattoo?!?

The idea came to me a few weeks ago as I was cleaning out my bedroom closet. I found a note from my dad, which was signed with his customary "Who Loves Ya" (he's said this to my sister and I since we were little girls). I snapped a photo of the note and sent a text to my sister... "This would make an awesome tattoo."

She was on board immediately, and we decided to get it done when she was in town for Charlotte's baptism. So this past Saturday, we grabbed our guys and headed to the tattoo parlor. Our tattoo artist was awesome. He made a transfer of the note in my dad's handwriting and went to work. I was super nervous, but it wasn't bad at all. Granted, it was a fairly simple tat. But two natural child births have probably skewed my pain threshold.  :)

It's still a bit surreal to see something permanently written on my arm, but I absolutely love it. It makes me smile every time I see it. I love that I share this piece of me with my sister, and I love that we were able to do something to honor our dad.

Cross that one off the list!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Four Months Old

Charlotte Louise (August 2013)

Dear Charlotte,

Sweet girl, what a big month it's been! Shortly after my last post you began sleeping through the night. At three months old. It was glorious.

It was also relatively short-lived (about 8 consecutive days), but it was awesome. You are quite young to be sleeping through the night on a consistent basis, so I took it as a beautiful (and restful) gift.

Even when you're not sleeping through the night, you're a relatively good sleeper. Daddy gives you a bottle before he goes to bed (around 11:00 PM) and then you usually only wake up once in the middle of the night to nurse. You eat very quickly and go right back to sleep (up for about 25 minutes max). Part of me really enjoys our middle of the night cuddles, and I know that extra feeding helps keep my milk supply up. So it's totally worth it, even if I need an extra cup of coffee in the morning.

In the past month you also started rolling from your belly to your back. It seemed to really startle you at first, but now you roll with a purpose, giving me a triumphant smile when you succeed. You still dislike tummy time when you're tired or close to nap time, but for the most part, you don't mind being on your stomach. You hold your head up high and look around the room for your brother, who remains your absolute favorite person.

You've started reaching for and batting at toys. You are almost able to grab them, but your coordination needs a little work yet. Still, it's awesome to see you interact with your surroundings a bit more. I can't believe how fast you're growing!

Bedtime continues to be a hard time of day for you. We've found that you get very upset if we try and put you to bed before you're ready. You regularly scream at Daddy when he puts you to bed alone. While you're a little fussy for me, I can usually keep you content until you're drowsy enough to fall asleep. Before bedtime, we spend a lot of time walking around the house or watching Will play. You also like to go outside... something about the fresh air seems to soothe you.

You continue to nurse like a champ, although we're encountering some new nursing troubles now that you're more active and alert. You recently whipped your head around while you were latched, creating a gnarly crack on my nipple (ouch!). It hurts a bit to nurse you on that side right now, but we're pushing through it.

Your absolute favorite activity right now is standing. Not by yourself of course, but standing on someone's lap while they support you under your arms. You lock your legs and hold yourself up forever. You love to look out and take in your surroundings while you do it. You're quite alert and interested in the world around you.

You are such a sweet, smiley girl. You love to look at people and make eye contact. You gave us your first giggles in the past month, and your smiles absolutely light up the room (and our lives).

We love you so much, baby bug.

Love,

Mama

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Monday, August 5, 2013

School Supplies

The best part of having a preschool-age child? School supply shopping!

One box is never enough!

I loved school supply shopping when I was a kid. The ritual of going to the store with my mom and picking out my new items was often the highlight of my summer.

Back-to-school shopping felt like such a major event, as if those new supplies were going to set the tone for the entire school year. I'd give serious consideration to whether I should get notebooks that were regular or college-ruled, debate the merits of pens with purple ink vs. pens with black ink, and agonize over which Trapper-Keeper to buy. I even loved supply shopping as a grad student (albeit with far fewer Lisa Frank folders). There's still something incredibly intoxicating about pulling out a brand new notebook or writing deadlines in a never-before-used planner.

(Writing that, I'm acutely aware of what a super-nerd I am.)

So granted, I was really amped up to buy supplies for Will, but he had a great time too. He was so proud to be picking out his own items, and he's really, really excited to go to school in a few weeks.

For this year, Will's school supply list included...

  • Child-safe scissors
  • Two white glue sticks
  • Small box of crayons
  • Two #2 pencils
  • Large pink eraser
  • Medium-size pencil box
  • Folder
  • Kleenex box

And here's what he chose...

Will's 2013-2014 school supplies

I could just die from the cuteness.


Monday, July 22, 2013

By the way...

I totally jinxed it.

But it was a solid 8 days of all-night slumber.

Plus, it's a promise that I will indeed sleep again.

Not now and not consistently. But someday.

I'll take it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Great Preschool Saga

You may recall that Will's preschool closed last December with little warning.

Since then we've spent hours and hours researching and touring new schools. We found a school that we really loved right away. Let's call it the "awesome" school. We were referred to the awesome school by a close friend whose daughter will be attending in the fall.

We trust this friend implicitly, so we were thrilled to have her recommendation. We toured the school and LOVED it. It's a very small Montessori-based preschool (12 students total, ages 3-5). The teacher is awesome and the curriculum is exceptional. We quickly submitted an application and crossed our fingers.

Unfortunately though, they were unable to offer a spot to Will for the 2013-2014 school year. In addition to spacing out the students' ages, they also try and keep a gender-balanced classroom (6 boys, 6 girls). Not only had they filled all of their three year old spots, but they also had more boys than girls enrolled due to sibling preference (siblings of current and prior students are guaranteed enrollment).

So we kept looking. We toured six different schools over the course of two months. Nothing felt great, but Will needed something for the fall, so we selected another local Montessori preschool. The curriculum and philosophy of this school was good, but the tuition was outrageous. Let's call it the "stupidly-expensive" school.

Ben and I went round and round on whether we should enroll him there. Ultimately, we decided that a Montessori preschool was the best environment for Will, and the stupidly-expensive school was the best local Montessori after the awesome school. So we sent in a check to reserve our spot at the stupidly-expensive school for the fall. (You still with me? Great, hang in there.)

Fast forward several months: We got a call from the awesome school offering us a spot for the 2013-2014 school year! I just about died. We accepted immediately, hoping that the stupidly-expensive school would give us a tuition refund. The awesome school is the best place for Will, and we were willing to send him there even if we received nothing back from the stupidly-expensive school. (Although I think Ben would have had a coronary if we ended up paying tuition for two different preschools.)

We reached out to the stupidly-expensive school and heard nothing for several weeks. Honestly, I wasn't optimistic that we'd receive any reimbursement. We had already made a commitment to them and they were counting on Will to be there in fall. Until today, when we received a full tuition refund along with a notice that the stupidly-expensive school would be closing before the 2013-2014 school year.

I'm still in shock! Not only that we got a spot in the awesome school, but that I'm holding a check reimbursing us for a sizable tuition payment. Although it's unfortunate that our community is losing another option for Montessori education, I'm reminded...

What's meant to be will find a way.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Feel Free To Punch Me In the Face

Snoozy

I hesitate to write this because...

a) I don't want to jinx it, and

b) when Will was little (and not sleeping) I wanted to punch these people in the face, but...

Charlotte has been sleeping through the night for the past week.

Girlfriend goes to bed at 7:00 PM. Ben wakes her around 11:00/11:30 PM to give her a bottle. Then I wake her at 7:00 AM because my breasts are so full I feel like they're going to explode. Except for the 10-15 minutes that she's taking the bottle and getting a diaper change, she's sleeping.

Let's just take a moment to reflect on how awesome that is... 12 CONSECUTIVE HOURS, PEOPLE. At three months old. I'm pretty sure that Will didn't sleep for 12 consecutive hours until he was almost two.

So I'm kind of in awe. It can't possibly last, but I'll take it while I can get it. It feels ah-mazing to sleep all night (except for the overwhelmingly painful breast fullness when I wake up). But the sleep. Bliss.

I feel like a fully functioning member of society again.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Three Months Old

Not late! Well, only a week late. But still, an improvement.

Charlotte Louise (July 2013)

Dear Charlotte,

Sweet baby girl, you are growing so fast! I can hardly believe the first three months are behind us already.

You are becoming very alert and watchful. You love to sit in my lap, facing out so you can see what's happening around you. Unsurprisingly, your favorite person to watch is your brother. You seem absolutely fascinated with him, and will track his movements across the room. You also love it when he talks to you... smiling from ear to ear and cooing back at him.

You recently found your hands and love putting them in your mouth. You also firmly grip anything you can get your hands on. I've noticed you batting at toys in your play gym, but I think it's mostly involuntary yet. You seem so surprised when you strike something and it moves!

You love your pacifier, and almost always need it to fall asleep. You're also a fan of white noise, or any sort of background commotion. We still swaddle you at night, as you have an unbelievable strong startle reflex. You sleep so soundly wrapped up like a little mummy... the tighter the better! I'm dreading the next big milestone (rolling over) as we're supposed to stop swaddling you then.

You're getting quite comfortable with tummy time. You like it when we prop your chest up with a little pillow so you can pick your head up and look around. You'll stay on your stomach for quite awhile if you can watch Will play, but you will also "help" me fold laundry that way.

You are a very vocal baby, cooing and "talking" constantly. You love to lock eyes with people and give them the sweetest coo/grin. You also have this adorable complaining voice when you're feeling cranky or bored. Daddy likens the sound you make to an episode of The Simpsons, where Homer is having night terrors. As a result, we've taken to saying "ah, cobras!" virtually every time you squawk.

You are an overwhelmingly happy baby, but if you get mad, WATCH OUT. When you get upset you let us have it, unleashing what can only be described as a mad scream. You have a pretty high tolerance for most things, but you straight up yell when you've had enough. You tend to get pretty upset in the evenings, especially if Mama isn't here to put you to bed. Daddy reports that you pretty much scream at him for 15 minutes before settling down and going to sleep. It's almost as if you want him to know that you're mad that Mama's gone!

You love, love, love being outside. If you're fussy, I can usually take you outside and you'll calm instantly. You love the breeze and the sun on your face. Often times, I'll bring your swing outside so you can nap under the patio umbrella while I garden or read. It's so awesome having an infant over the summer months!

It is our greatest joy to watch you grow. You bring so much happiness to Daddy, Will and me. We love you so much, darling girl!

Love,

Mama

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We've Come A Long Way, Baby

Last week, I was sipping coffee with a friend when an elderly woman approached us and asked how old Charlotte is. We exchanged pleasantries and gushed over my beautiful baby. As the woman was leaving she said, "Motherhood suits you, my dear! You're a natural."

Fast forward to today as I stopped to nurse Charlotte at a local parenting store. I entered the lounge area, which was empty except for another mother who was trying to soothe her fussy little one. The woman looked frazzled. The baby was cranky, her diaper bag had spilled all over the floor, she had spit-up on her shoulder. She was pretty much a hot mess. I slipped her a sympathetic smile, glided over to a chair and started nursing my smiley, serene baby when it struck me:

I was this woman just three short years ago.

The baby's grandmother was also with them, and we started chatting. "How old is your baby?" the grandmother asked. "Three months today," I responded. "Maddy just turned two months," the grandmother replied. "Have you found it gets easier each month?"

At this point, the mother looked up at me with that frazzled, stressed out look I remember too well. That look of... "Please, just tell me this is going to get better." That look of... "This can't always be this bad, can it? CAN IT?!?"

I smiled and said that Charlotte is our second baby, and that it's been a much easier adjustment this time around. Then I looked straight at the mother and said, "My older son was a really challenging infant. How are you doing?"

And the floodgates opened. She teared up and told me about how her baby doesn't sleep. How her baby screams for hours a day. How she's pumping because the baby won't latch. How her milk supply is running out. How she feels terrible for having to start formula. How she's desperate for her husband to come home in the evening because she just can't take it anymore.

I listened. I empathized. I avoided giving advice because she's doing what she knows best. It's not like there's a magic formula for dealing with a colicky baby. Other than time. And alcohol.

What I did tell her is that I'm a strong believer in the "fourth trimester" (the three months after birth in which the baby is adjusting to life outside the womb). That things did get easier as Will got older. That he's a bright, curious, sweet, sensitive little boy now. That I still think back to his early-infancy and shudder (seriously people, if you've never had a colicky baby, you just can't imagine the hell). That it took us a long, damn time to even think about having another kid. That finding other like-minded mom friends was the only way I survived (and continue to survive). That I eventually found my footing as a parent, and she will too.

It's almost as if I was talking to myself three years ago. I wish I would have had more people around me back then to help normalize my experience. To remind me that I'm not doing anything wrong. That I'm doing the best I can. That I'm not failing as a mother.

As they got up to leave, I looked down at my sweet, sleeping Charlotte and realized...

We've come a long way, baby.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Two Months Old

Once again, this is late. Le sigh.

Charlotte Louise (June 2013)

Dear Charlotte,

Oh, you are such a smiley girl. At two months old, you are smiling constantly. You love to catch someone's eye and grin from ear to ear. You give the most smiles to Mama, Daddy and Will, although you'll grin at just about anyone.

We've started calling you "bug" and its variations, including "baby bug", "smiley bug" and "bug-a-boo". The nickname just suits you. You have these comical cartoon faces and big, gorgeous eyes. You're the most darling, little, smoochable baby!

One of the biggest developments from the past month is that you're now sleeping in your own room. This happened right around the five week mark, and you've been a champ ever since. Although I miss snuggling with you at night, this transition has been best for everyone. I believe we're both sleeping more soundly now. Shortly after you made the transition to your crib, you started sleeping for longer and longer stretches... generally giving me 4-5 hours once a night.

In addition to sleeping in your own crib, I believe part of what's made you a better sleeper is your noise machine. You sleep so soundly during the hustle and bustle of our daily activities, yet we were putting you to bed at night in a completely silent room. Ambient noise seems to help you settle and stay asleep, so we run your noise machine on the "white noise" setting all night long.

Breastfeeding is still going great, and you've settled into a very predictable feeding routine. You generally wake around 7:00 AM, then eat every 2-3 hours throughout the day. You are a very efficient and eager eater... you take both breasts for most feedings and finish eating within 15-20 minutes.

We introduced a bottle at the 4 week mark, which you took no problem. You seem a little overwhelmed by the flow of the bottle at times, but it's great for Daddy to be able to help with feedings now (especially in the middle of the night!).

You are generally a happy baby, but you've been a little fussy in the evenings lately. One thing that seems to help you settle is a bath. Daddy usually bathes you, which is very special bonding time for both of you. You look up and coo at him in the warm water. It's so sweet.

The past month also brought your first cold. It was heartbreaking to see you so uncomfortable (runny nose, congestion, cough), but such is the plight of the second child. I don't think Will got a cold until he was over a year old, but you have the benefit of all his activities and friends to help boost your immune system.

My darling, you are such a precious, wonderful little girl. We love you so very much.

Love,

Mama

Monday, June 24, 2013

Around Here

  • We're loving summer... our days are non-stop fun with the park, pool and plenty of play dates.
  • Charlotte is so smiley. Her favorite person is her brother.
  • Will is both completely awesome and unbelievably challenging. His emotions exist in such extremes... either overwhelmingly happy or overwhelmingly sad. I have to remind myself that he feels everything so deeply right now, and sometimes just doesn't know how to handle it.
  • I'm obsessed with neon. Wait until you see my new front door.
  • I've already read seven books this month. I predict nine before July 1.
  • My surgeon says I'm an "exceptionally good" healer.
  • We recently made the decision to ditch our Keurig.
  • I've managed not to kill my garden yet. Veggies look awesome. Watermelons might not make it. Rabbits are the enemy.
  • I was sick of all our old and mismatched socks so I threw out every single pair and bought new ones. I'm pretty sure Ben was still holding on to some socks from the 90s. And now, all our white socks are all the same brand and type so I can easily pair them back up. Win!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Carbon Copies

Apparently Ben and I make only one type of child, male or female...

Will, 2 months (left) and Charlotte, 2 months (right)

My sister and I have not looked alike a day in our lives, so I love that they look so similar. How fun to see the family resemblance!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

2 1/2 Years Old

Gah! I'm so late on these letters lately. Luckily I make notes so I can fill in details later. Better late than never... here is my letter to Will at 2 1/2 years old (February 2013).

Shy
Silly
Sweet

Dear Will,

You turned 2 1/2 years old this week.

The occasion snuck up on me a little bit. We've been battling illness in our house lately, which means you and I (at 7 months pregnant) are both exhausted. We just can't seem to shake the sickies around here, but lucky for me, that means lots of extra snuggle time.

Despite being under the weather, you continue to be such a sweet and smiley boy. You literally light up my life every day. I'm amazed at how kind and intuitive you are. How sweet and sensitive. How funny and perceptive.

You continue to learn at a rapid pace. You now can identify all the uppercase letters, as well as numbers zero through nine. You love to point out letters when you see them. We were running errands a few weeks ago when you started reciting "O-T-E-G-R-A-T" over and over again. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what you were saying until I realized you were spelling "TARGET" backwards (with the bullseye symbol being an "O").

You absolutely love to sing. Your favorite song right now is the "ABCs" but you also make up your own tunes throughout the day. You really have an ear for music and can match pitch and intonation remarkably well.

You spend most of your time playing with trucks and trains. Your favorite truck is your mini steam shovel. You bring it everywhere with you... from your bed to the car to the library. You tell us all the time that it is "digging and scooping and dumping".

We don't watch much TV, but you love "Super Why" on PBS Kids. You shyly interact with the show, quietly calling out the letters when you see them and giving a "thumbs up" when prompted. So cute!

You started attending a part-time Montessori preschool in September, just after your second birthday. Although the first few weeks were rough (you cried every time I dropped you off), it wasn't long before you were running in the door excited to play. We've seen such a huge difference in your confidence since then. You are much more comfortable with new people and places, more willing to jump into unfamiliar situations. Unfortunately, your preschool closed right before Christmas, but I really credit the school and teachers for helping you develop your confidence and social skills.

Your sister will be here in just a few short months. You're such a kind and caring little boy, I know you'll be a wonderful sibling to her. In some ways, I'm sad to have our one-on-one dynamic change, but I'm so excited to see you in your new role: big brother.

I love you so much, sweet boy.

Love,

Mama

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Post-Op

Well, you've never experienced fun until you've carried your pee around in a bag outside your body.

Wednesday's surgery went well. The cyst was removed with just a minor complication. More of the cyst was attached to my urethra than they were expecting, so the surgeon had to reconstruct part of the urethral wall. This meant I had to wear a 24-hour catheter home, which was an absolute delight (as I'm sure you can imagine).

But the catheter came out this morning, and despite being a little sore and very sleepy, I'm feeling well. I was even able to nurse Charlotte earlier than expected, only 8 hours post-op.

I go back to see the surgeon on Tuesday, and can hopefully resume normal activity then (I'm on a lifting restriction again, so I can't lift Will or Charlotte's car seat until I get the all clear from the doc). Happy to have the procedure over and done with, though I have to say... 

The anesthesia nap was delightful.

Monday, June 3, 2013

40 x 40

I turned 30 this year. Whereas my 20s were filled with a lot of change and growth (college, career, first home, marriage, children, etc), I'm looking forward to the relative stability of my fourth decade. Ben and I have a house we love, we're done having children, we're both steadily growing in our chosen careers... we're ready to just be for a bit.

While we may not have any major life events on the horizon, I still want to make sure I'm seeing and experiencing as much as I can. So to keep things fresh and interesting, I developed a sort of bucket list for my 30s. I give you my forty by forty list...

40 x 40
  1. Run a half marathon
  2. Get a PhD
  3. Write a children's book
  4. Learn how to use my DSLR
  5. Read Atlas Shrugged (it's 1,168 pages!)
  6. Become a certified yoga instructor
  7. Take a 3-4 week trip abroad with the kids
  8. Enjoy a glass of wine in Napa Valley
  9. Complete a sprint-length off-road triathlon
  10. Take a beach vacation with Ben (children optional)
  11. Visit the Grand Canyon
  12. Learn how to play guitar
  13. Knit something
  14. Serve on the board of directors for a non-profit
  15. Learn how to use a sewing machine
  16. Make a quilt with my mom
  17. Visit New York City
  18. Master the art of the French press
  19. Learn to say "hello" in 20 languages
  20. Become a rock star chef on the grill
  21. Take a tap dancing class
  22. Go white water rafting
  23. Climb a rock wall
  24. Ride in a hot air balloon
  25. Learn to play poker
  26. Read every book that has won a Pulitzer Prize in the fiction category
  27. Give a speech in front of a large group of people
  28. Visit the White House
  29. Participate in NaNoWriMo
  30. Perform in a community theater production
  31. Win an award for personal or professional achievement
  32. Donate $1,000 to a non-profit I care about
  33. See the redwoods in California
  34. Go skiing in Colorado
  35. Take surfing lessons
  36. Give blood
  37. Join the National Bone Marrow Registry
  38. Host Thanksgiving dinner
  39. Get a tattoo
  40. Be part of a flash mob

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

One Month Old

Charlotte Louise (May 2013)

I wrote most of this on Charlotte's one month birthday, but never got around to publishing it. Although we're almost at the two month mark now, here are my thoughts on our sweet Charlotte at one month old.

Dear Charlotte,

You are the absolute sweetest baby. At one month old, you have settled into our lives so seamlessly. You are just so mello and content. You take everything in stride and rarely make a peep. Plus, you're so snuggly. If you're a little fussy, you settle instantly as soon as someone is holding or cuddling you. Your sweet personality warms my heart.

You gave us your very first smile just a few days ago. I was making faces at you and you cracked the sweetest little smile. Social smiles are still sporadic at best, but I love holding your eye contact and trying to get a reaction out of you. You're also becoming quite the talker, cooing and gurgling when you're happy.

At one month old, you practically live in the Beco carrier. I typically need two hands free to wrangle your brother, so wearing you is often the best option. This seems to suit us both, as you love to be cuddled. You are so serene when you're in the carrier... just looking around peacefully or nodding off to sleep. I love it.

You're still sleeping in bed with Mama and Daddy at night, although I know this has to end fairly soon. We consider co-sleeping to be a survival mechanism in these early weeks. Anything to get a few blissful hours of rest. We hope to help you transition to your crib in the coming weeks, but for now, I'm still enjoying snuggling up next to you, breathing in your sweet baby smell as I drift off to sleep.

You continue to be a great eater. You're nursing very well, and my breasts have all but healed from our earlier latch issues. You usually nurse 8-9 times a day, typically taking both breasts at each feeding. We also introduced a bottle when you turned four weeks old. You took the bottle without hesitation, and Daddy loves being able to feed you now. Although we try and limit you to one bottle feeding a day, it's nice for Mama to get a few extra hours of rest.

Your only serious dislike right now is bath time. You just wail when we put you in the tub. Tummy time is also low on your list, but you tolerate it. Will likes to "play" tummy time with you, laying next to you and coaxing you to turn your head toward him. You really seem to respond to his voice, and like looking at his face. Your early relationship as siblings just warms my heart.

I'm amazed by how my heart has swelled with love since you arrived. When I was pregnant, I couldn't fathom how I'd love another child as much as I love your brother. But from the moment you arrived, you have fully and completely captivated me. Often I just sit and stare at you, marveling over how sweet, snuggly and perfect you are. I am so thankful that you are ours.

Daddy and I love you so much, baby girl.

Love,

Mama

Friday, May 24, 2013

Just kidding...

Wednesday was my six week postpartum check, which was a big one because we were doing the follow-up and treatment plan for my vaginal prolapse.

Except...

It turns out I don't have a vaginal prolapse.

Upon further review (and second look when things were healed and not so ouchy after child birth), my midwife determined that the mass in my vaginal canal was not a prolapse. Good news!

Except...

What the hell is it then?

The midwife sent me to a urologist who believes it's a urethral cyst. Apparently fairly common in women. It just so happens mine flared up after child birth.

The not so good news? This sucker has to come off. So I'm scheduled for surgery in 10 days.

It's an outpatient procedure and should only take 20-30 minutes. I go in at 6:30 in the morning and I should be home before lunch time.

The big bummer is that I have to go under general anesthesia, which means I can't breastfeed for 24 hours after surgery. Charlotte is doing so well with breastfeeding... I hope this doesn't disrupt our nursing relationship.

Luckily she takes a bottle well and I already have enough milk for her in the freezer, but she'll only be eight weeks old on the day of the operation. I just hate the idea of not being able to nurse her for a whole day. Although I struggled with Will, I absolutely love nursing Charlotte. She's so little, and I don't want anything to jeopardize her breastfeeding success.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

From the mouths of babes

Ah, toddlers. So precocious. And honest.

These are two of the best observations (insults?) that Will has made about me in the past week...

As I'm singing to the radio:

Will: "Mama, you should probably just let her sing that."

And my absolute favorite:

Will: "Mama, where did your big belly go?"
Me: "Charlotte was in my belly, buddy. When she was born my big belly went away."
Will: "Well, I still see your belly a little bit."

That'll be fine, Will. That'll be fine.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fun Fact

A completely unmedicated and intervention-free delivery with a one night hospital stay costs...

$5,134.00

Wow.

Monday, May 20, 2013

I need a do-over

Today has been terrible.

Neither Will nor Charlotte wanted to sleep last night.

Because he was overtired, Will threw an epic tantrum this morning.

It's 82 degrees outside and none of my shorts fit.

I forgot to put on deodorant and breast pads before leaving the house.

I left my wallet at the coffee shop.

I have a plugged duct.

In sum: I need a do-over. Or a huge helping of dessert.

Maybe both.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Reflections from the Newborn Haze

Sorry blogging has been a bit lackluster lately. I only sleep about 3 hours at a time these days, so my brain is foggy and seemingly incapable of coherent thought.

Regardless, here are some musings on parenting two kids and parenting a newborn again...
  1. I'm a much more relaxed parent this time around. This is likely because I'm not cripplingly depressed like I was with Will, not to mention Charlotte is a generally chill baby. I'm glad to have the "fun" newborn experience. Although Will grew into a sweet, funny, smart kid, the first few months of his life were really challenging. With Charlotte, I understand why people love newborns. She's just so sweet and cuddly!
  2. Taking care of two kids isn't as overwhelming as I thought it would be. Honestly, the hardest part is leaving the house on time. Everything takes an additional 10-15 minutes these days.
  3. I forgot how worthless it is to "sleep when the baby sleeps." I really tried to do this in the weeks immediately after the birth, but now, I want those two hours in the afternoon for me, not sleep. (Thus, why I'm blogging right now instead of napping.)
  4. The patio furniture section at Target is the greatest place ever to breastfeed. Comfy chairs and pillows for the win! Bonus points if you get a Diet Coke to enjoy while you're back there.
  5. The most used piece of baby gear this time around is our Beco carrier. I liked carriers with Will and we used them often, but having two hands free is a must with a two year-old. Charlotte pretty much lives strapped to my chest.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Vaginal Prolapse

As I explained in her birth story, Charlotte's delivery was very intense. In the midwife's words, she pretty much came "crashing" out of me. Her exceptionally fast delivery, coupled with the fact that she was extremely low during my last few weeks of pregnancy, means she basically trashed my pelvic floor. As a result, I have what's called a vaginal prolapse. Specifically, a cystocele, which means part of my bladder is sagging into my vaginal canal.

Anatomy diagram, because this shit is hard to explain

Your pelvic floor runs along your vaginal canal and is basically responsible for holding up your internal organs, including the bladder, uterus and rectum (see healthy pelvic floor on the left). When the pelvic floor is weakened or damaged from child birth, the muscles can no longer hold your organs up, which means your organs can sag into your vaginal opening (see damaged pelvic floor on the right).

Many women have a minor vaginal prolapse following child birth, but it's so small that it can't be seen or felt (stage 1). As you heal after child birth, the pelvic floor strengthens and your organs slowly pull back into place.

I have a moderate cystocele (stage 2-3) which means I can both see and feel the prolapse. I'm fortunate that mine is relatively small (the size of a nickel), and doesn't cause any pain. More severe prolapses can be extremely uncomfortable, cause incontinence, and require surgery. Although my prolapse may never completely go away, my midwife is optimistic that we can get it to stage 1 with enough rest and physical therapy.

I noticed my prolapse about three days postpartum. I had been complaining to Ben that I had a lot of pressure in my bottom following Charlotte's birth... something I don't remembering feeling when I was recovering from Will's delivery. As it turns out, this pressure was my organs sagging through my pelvic floor. A quick inspection with a hand mirror revealed a small mass at the opening of my vagina. It totally freaked me out, and I made an appointment to see the midwife the next day. A vaginal exam confirmed the prolapse, which I had already self-diagnosed with Dr. Google.

We'll have a more thorough conversation about my recovery and treatment plan at my six week postpartum appointment, but I do have some lifestyle modifications in the meantime, including limited physical activity (light walking only), a 10 lb. lifting restriction, and a daily regimen of Kegel exercises. The lifting restriction has been the most challenging, as I can't lift Will or Charlotte's car seat. But we're making do.

Even with physical therapy, my prolapse will never completely go away. As a result, my midwife has advised that we not have any more children. Another pregnancy and delivery (even c-section) would significantly stress my already weakened pelvic floor. I would likely need surgery to repair the damage from another pregnancy, and would risk dealing with a moderate to severe prolapse for the rest of my life.

Although Ben and I were seriously considering only having two kids, it was really upsetting to hear that we shouldn't have any more children. It was a decision I wanted to make for myself, not a decision I wanted to be forced in to. But we have our two sweet, healthy babies, and we're reminding ourselves to count our blessings.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Birthing Charlotte

Since having my own children, I love hearing birth stories. Love, love, love. Birth is so incredible, and I love hearing every woman's experience, whether it was a natural birth, medicated birth, c-section or adoption. How you welcome your child into your lives is a monumental experience.

Fair warning: This gets a little TMI. Right from the get-go. So if you don't want to hear about my reproductive organs and all the nitty gritty details of labor, I advise you stop reading right now.

Also, if you're so inclined, you can revisit Will's birth story.

---

Charlotte's birth story really begins the day before she was born. At my 38 week OB appointment that Monday, our midwife recommended sex to help induce labor. Although I wasn't yet overdue, I had carried Charlotte almost a week longer than I had carried Will. I was exhausted, huge and ready to meet our little girl.

On Tuesday, I decided I'd had enough. Although I was gigantic, and the thought of sex at 9 months pregnant wasn't super appealing, it sounded better than being pregnant any longer. So we gave it a shot. Honestly, I was skeptical that it would do anything. Little did we know, it would take less than 7 hours for labor to begin.

I woke up about 5:00 AM on Wednesday morning with a contraction. It wasn't severe, but it was there. I was about to drift back asleep, when I felt another one just a few minutes later. Then another. I grabbed Ben's iPad and started timing my contractions with this awesome contraction counter. After about 15 minutes of timing, I realized I was having very regular contractions every 4-5 minutes, each lasting 30-40 seconds in length. This got my attention. Excited, I hopped out of bed and started walking around the house. It was about 6:00 AM.

We had been expecting a winter storm overnight, which delivered lots of rain, snow and sleet. As the sun came up, I realized that everything was covered in about 1/4" of ice. My contractions were getting a bit closer together (3-4 minutes) and longer (40-60 seconds). Not knowing how the roads were, we decided to phone the on-call nurse at 6:30 AM. She agreed that given my fast labor with Will and the questionable road conditions, we should probably come in. I had intended to labor at home longer, but we didn't want to risk it with the weather. We called Ben's mom to come up and watch Will, and prepared to go to the hospital.

Grandma arrived at our house around 7:30 AM. We kissed Will, grabbed the hospital bag and headed out the door. Luckily, the roads weren't awful, but we got detoured due to standing water and street flooding. After some creative driving, we got to the hospital a little before 8:00 AM.

We got checked in and met our nurses. A cervical check revealed that I was three, nearly four centimeters dilated. I had to be on the monitor for 30 minutes, so I got settled in bed and watched The Today Show. My contractions weren't terribly painful yet, but I was beginning to use relaxation breathing to get through them.

Once my time on the monitor was up (around 9:00 AM), Ben and I started walking the halls. The birth ward is one huge rectangle, so we paced around and around and around, stopping to sway and breathe through contractions. Every few laps, the nurse had me come back into the room to check the baby's heart rate. Luckily I didn't have to get in bed for these checks, as my contractions were getting really uncomfortable unless I was standing and swaying. It was nice to have so much freedom to move. The nurses were really accommodating of our birth plan and birth wishes.

Our midwife checked in with us throughout the morning, often walking the halls right alongside us. This is probably the greatest difference between Charlotte's birth and Will's birth... our midwife was so present. When Will was born, the on-call doctor came in at the last possible moment, caught Will, stitched me up and left. But our midwife was more like a partner in the birth. She was with us virtually all day.

Around 12:00 PM, I got really tired and nauseous. We went back to our room so I could lay down and listen to music. After about 20-30 minutes, I made myself get back and keep moving, as I knew that would help move labor along. We made a few laps around the birth ward, but the contractions were getting really intense. I had some pressure in my bottom, but I wasn't yet experiencing the urge to push. I didn't want to be walking anymore, so we headed back to the room.

Back in the room I just couldn't get comfortable, so our midwife set up the birthing bar for me to lean on and work through some of the pain. I had my arms resting on the bar with my bottom out, swaying my hips to try and drop the baby down. It was about 1:00 PM at this point, and the contractions felt like they were coming non-stop. There was no relief. It seemed like my body was being pushed to the limit.

Although I still didn't feel the overwhelming urge to push, I needed to do something to keep labor moving. The pressure in my bottom was getting more intense, so I got on my back and grabbed my legs for a few contractions. Although this is how I pushed Will out, it felt all wrong this time. I couldn't articulate what I needed or how I wanted to labor. All I knew was that this wasn't right.

Our midwife suggested that I use the birthing bar to labor in a squatting position. The baby still had to clear the turn around my pubic bone, so the midwife coached me to stand and squat with the contractions to allow gravity to help us along. I never would have initiated this, but it was the perfect position for this labor and this baby. It actually felt good to push in this position, and I could feel myself making progress.

At this point my water still hadn't broken, and we were starting to think the baby might be born with the bag intact (how cool would that be?!?). But suddenly my water broke, splashing Ben and the midwife and scaring the shit out of me. It made a audible "pop," relieving a ton of pressure. All of a sudden, I felt the baby drop very low, very quickly.

My contractions had been pretty brutal for several hours, but after my water broke they started to feel unbearable. In fact, the contractions were so cripplingly painful that I felt like I couldn't push during them. However, I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to push between contractions. So my body would push then I would push. It was basically like laboring non-stop.

I started hyperventilating and telling the nurses that I couldn't feel my hands. They had to coach me to slow down my breathing. I don't remember much from this stage, except that I felt very out of control. It was as if the labor was happening independent of me, and all I could do was surrender to it.

After my water broke, things moved very fast. Once she made the turn around my pubic bone, she was born in just a few pushes. The midwife said she pretty much "crashed" out of me.

Ben wanted to catch the baby, so as she started crowning, he moved to the bottom of the bed to assist the midwife. Even though Charlotte born born with her hands by her face, crowning wasn't as painful this time around. I distinctly felt the "ring of fire" when Will was born, but this time it felt more like intense pressure. The midwife said I tore in almost the exact same place as with Will, so I suppose the skin was already stretched to accommodate.

Knowing we were almost done, I gave it everything I had. Every last ounce of strength I could muster. I heard the midwife say her head was out, and she asked me to stop pushing so she could check the baby's neck for the cord. Then I gave it one last push to clear her shoulders. I felt her slip out of me and instantly all the pain went away. It's an incredible thing to go from the most pain you've ever felt to the most joy in a matter of seconds.

She was wailing as they put her on my chest. Her little face was purple and bruised from her fast delivery. I marveled at all of her dark hair. Her tiny, long fingers. She was absolutely perfect.

This time we were able to wait until the cord stop pulsating before it was clamped and cut (this wish was ignored by the on-call doctor during Will's birth). I enjoyed cuddles with Charlotte as the midwife waited for my placenta to deliver. She started rooting for the breast and latched just a few minutes after she was born.

After delivery, I started hemorrhaging pretty severely, so the midwife gave me a shot of Pitocin and then a Cytotec suppository to help control the bleeding. I also needed a few stitches to repair a small tear.

Charlotte's birth was much harder than Will's... very intense right from the get-go. Although I felt very empowered after Will was born, I vowed to never give birth again in the minutes after Charlotte was born. As it turns out, that decision may have been made for me... I've since developed a delivery complication that may prevent us from having more children. But that's for another post.

Above anything else, we're so thrilled our sweet Charlotte is here. Her arrival was dramatic (to say the least), but she couldn't be more mello and content. We're loving this time with our sweet, cuddly little girl.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Naming Charlotte

For weeks, Ben and I were at an impasse on what to name the baby. He loved the name Charlotte. I loved the name Norah. Neither of us was willing to budge.

I was fully planning to play the labor and delivery card for my name choice, but I started coming around to the name Charlotte in the weeks before her birth. However, the moment that put me over the edge was this email from a friend...

"I just want to point out that if you have a Charlotte and call her Charlie (which, just so we are clear, I'm going to do behind your back even if you tell me not to), then your family will be Ben, Sam, Will, and Charlie. Two beautiful and stealthy women masquerading in a family of male names.  If you don't do this I'm totally going to try to pay another family to do so."

Two beautiful and stealthy women masquerading in a family of male names. 
I was sold.

When she arrived, we took one look at her and knew: she was our sweet Charlotte. It suits her, and I can't imagine her as anyone else.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One Week Old

Charlotte Louise - 1 Week

Dear Charlotte,

My sweet girl, today you are one week old.

I can't believe you've only been here for seven days. You've settled quite easily into our lives, and in some ways, it feels like you've been here forever. Or at least that you were always meant to be a part of our family.

You are the sweetest baby. Very content and mello. You really only cry when you're hungry or chilly, and even then, we've only gotten a "mad" cry out of you a few times. Daddy and I jokingly call you our "victory" baby... our reward for making it through those challenging early months with your brother.

Breastfeeding is going well, although we had some latch issues early on. I'm still a little sore (especially on the left side), but the lactation consultant says you're now latching correctly and things will get more comfortable in the coming days/weeks. You took to breastfeeding very easily, and you are a ferocious eater. You take both breasts for most feedings and audibly gulp down my milk.

You seem to have your days and nights mixed up, as you will sleep for much longer stretches during the day and be alert for longer stretches at night. I often have to wake you during the day to nurse. But even when we're up at night you are so peaceful. You're absolutely content just to snuggle on my chest or gaze around.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about bringing you home is that we're now bedsharing. You will only sleep for a 40-50 minute stretch alone in your bassinet, but when you're laying next to me in bed, you'll snooze for 2-3 hours. Given the fact that we both need to sleep, bedsharing soon became a no-brainer. Having you in our bed made me nervous at first, but now I absolutely love it. I adore snuggling next to you as we're falling asleep, and waking up to you breathing peacefully beside me. We'll need to transition you to your own bed eventually, but for now, I'm enjoying the extra newborn snuggles.

We're absolutely in love with you, sweet girl.

Love,

Mama

Friday, April 12, 2013

She's Here!

Family of four

Charlotte Louise arrived on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 1:41 PM. She weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces and measured 20 inches.

Labor was intense, but we did it all naturally again. Ben was an awesome birth partner (the nurses even commented on it), and Charlotte is absolutely perfect. We're feeling so blessed.

More photos and birth story to follow...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nursery Preview

As promised, here's a peek at BG's nursery...


Despite my complete and utter fear of birds, we went with a bird theme. It felt very whimsical to me, without being overly girly.

In planning the nursery, I knew I wanted to do something in yellow and gray, but the pieces I chose initially weren't cohesive enough. It just felt very boring and blah, until I found this gorgeous bird mobile...


It really only takes one piece to inspire a space. After I found the mobile, the rest of the room just fell into place.

We elected to introduce a few more colors from the mobile, most notably the aqua/mint and red/pink. The extra color really helped the room "pop" more. The yellow and gray is pretty, but very neutral.


I think the closet may be my favorite part of the room. I love the extra color and it's so organized!


My mom made the valance and the curtains for the closet, as well as the baby quilt pictured on the crib in the first photo.


I'm debating adding something over the changing table. I feel like that space needs to be anchored somehow, but I don't want it to look too cluttered. I like this look of this frame collage.

I'm also in love with this glider makeover. I hate how boring and neutral our glider is. All of our nursery furniture is recycled from Will, but if I had a do-over, I'd invest in a much comfier (and prettier) chair.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A few amusing anecdotes

I can't form any cohesive thoughts to write a formal blog post, so here are some snippets from our life in the past week:
  1. We all had the stomach flu (gastroenteritis) last week. It started with Will, who showed no signs of being sick, until he started vomiting all over the OB's office while in the middle of my 38 week check. Seriously... I'm on the exam table, doppler gel on my belly, maternity pants pulled down around my waist. And Will starts barfing. Everywhere. It was horrifying at the time, but pretty damn comical looking back now.
  2. I ripped my maternity pants, which is probably a new personal low.
  3. Will has started declaring that he can't do things (like brush his teeth or put away his toys) because "my belly is just too big, Mama." 
  4. Will started sobbing at the grocery store today because I put ice cream in the cart. WTF? He kept begging me to put it back, tears streaming down his face. I probably should have just put it back and avoided the episode (and the extra calories), but at 9 months pregnant, food is my only friend. (Mother of the year, right?)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bump Watch 2.0

BG - 38 Weeks
Sigh. Here we are... 38 weeks.

I've never been this pregnant before. Will was born at 37 weeks and 6 days. But this little lady is completely content to hang out for a while longer. Not even the slightest signal of labor.

My parents are coming this weekend, so I'm hoping that it might happen then. It would be really convenient if we could go to the hospital with live-in babysitters present. Plus, my mom was randomly here the weekend Will was born, so that would be very serendipitous.

I feel like I've dropped from two weeks ago, so I'm choosing to believe that's a good sign. I'd love her here sooner than later.

In the meantime, we wait.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

No-Mess Easter Eggs

I was hesitant to dye Easter eggs with Will this year because of the mess. I was envisioning dye everywhere, stained fingers, ruined clothes... the works. (Plus none of us like hardboiled eggs, so boiling and dyeing a bunch of eggs seems like a colossal waste.)

However, I still wanted to do something with Will to celebrate Easter, so when I found this felt Easter egg tutorial via Classic Play on Friday, I immediately ran out to get supplies.

Exploring the materials 
Mixing it up

I invested about 20 minutes and $5 into the project. I cut the shapes freehand from felt, which included five eggs, stripes, stars, triangles, "jelly beans" (small ovals) and a chick. Some of the eggs "crack open" which Will thought was really fun. He had a blast decorating and re-decorating this morning, so I consider the project a complete success.

Although the tutorial has you make a felt-covered wooden board, I just used two felt sheets (one green, one blue) on the dining room table. I can see where the board would be convenient (and sturdier), but the felt sheets worked fine.

I regret not posting this sooner, but we just made ours last night! Wishing you a festive and mess-free holiday...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Marriage After Baby

I mentioned this in my 30th birthday post, but marriage with young children is hard.

Ben and I especially struggled in the weeks and months after Will was born. Navigating new parenthood is disorienting enough. But add on a colicky newborn and post-partum depression, and we had a lot of stress in our house for the first 6 months year of Will's life.

I used to feel so isolated because NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THE HARD STUFF. Being a mother is incredibly rewarding. I love my child with all my heart and soul. But parenthood isn't all sunshine and roses. And it took a toll on our relationship.

I tried opening up about our struggles. But everyone else's marriage was "stronger" and "better" and "OMG, so much more meaningful" after kids. Yet Ben and I were getting divorced at 3:00 AM when the baby was up for the fourth time in five hours and neither of us had slept in over a week. I seriously thought we were the only couple this was happening to.

So I found this column honest and spot on. While reading, I was actually nodding my head and chuckling in agreement. I literally could have written this myself, so here's my augmented commentary:
  1. Affirmative: Sex and wine fix almost anything.
  2. We spend many an evening with me on my MacBook and Ben on his iPad. But if we're sitting on the couch right next to each other, I consider this a win.
  3. I don't know how anyone raises kids without grandparents nearby. My in-laws live 20 minutes away and are always willing to pitch in. My own parents visit 1-2 times a month, which is a blast for Will and wonderful rest for Ben and I. Grandparents rule.
  4. For the love, pay your babysitters well. This is not the time to bargain shop. We usually pay $8-10/hour, depending on how old the sitter is.
  5. I also despise the term "date night". But do it. Regularly.
  6. We're really bad at this. But to make your marriage a priority, you have to see yourself as more than a parent. You have to be a partner first.
  7. We really try to limit screen time in our house, but sometimes Super Why is a freaking lifesaver.
  8. I'm better at going out with friends than going out with Ben (and visa versa). Partly because we don't have to arrange a sitter if one of us is home. But we really have to work on making more time for each other.
  9. We rock at making "someday" plans. When we go back to Italy, when we finally take that beach vacation, when we can afford to re-do the basement. Shared dreams and a vision for the future help keep us connected.
  10. Yes. For the love. Just shut the door.
  11. Ben and I check in with one another quite frequently throughout the day. Nothing too crazy, but it's always nice to touch base via phone call or text message, if even for a minute.
  12. I think it's important for us to sit down and eat dinner as a family, but this is a good reminder that we can occasionally eat after Will goes to bed and just be adults for a bit.
  13. I'm known for being crabby as hell when I'm hungry. Sometimes in the middle of the fight, Ben will ask me if I need a snack. More often than not, I do.
  14. Taking a breath and apologizing goes a long way. I read once that the least pissed person should take responsibility for de-escalating an argument. Usually, if one of us softens, so does the other. It makes resolving the issue so much easier.
  15. We literally had the kitchen counters fight last month. I think this woman is me in a parallel universe.
  16. Will's bedtime routine is sacred at our house. I know some people think we're way to rigid, but getting him to bed on his schedule makes everyone's night better. I desperately need those 2-3 hours of child-free time after he goes to sleep. It makes me a better mother and a better partner.
Things have gotten better for us as Will's gotten older. Partially because he's not so stressful anymore (colicky newborns are hell on a relationship), and partially because we're more confident in our roles as parents. Parenthood was so disorienting for us in those first weeks and months, our marriage had to take the back burner until we could figure out how to keep Will alive and thriving. Luckily, we're doing a pretty damn good job of it now.  :)

Our marriage is not as easy and care-free as our pre-child days, but we're definitely figuring out how to be married with children. Taking time to connect and reminding ourselves that we're partners (not just parents) has been essential.

Above all else, I think it's important to be mindful of your relationship and remember that it needs regular care and cultivation. What do you do to help sustain your relationship when you also have young children?