Monday, 11 August 2014

Confessions of a Nap Holder

My name is Ashley and I'm a nap holder. There I said it.

Isla typically takes two naps a day. A morning nap around 9am and an afternoon nap around 3pm or 3:30pm. Sometimes she will take an extra lunch time nap around 12:30pm. I lay down with her for all of those naps. I know I should be showering, doing laundry, cleaning my house or a host of other things, but I don't. I nurse her to sleep and I lay there with her while she naps. Does this make me weird? Probably. I'm sometimes envious of what I hear moms saying they accomplish during their baby's nap time. I wish I had an immaculate house and a home cooked dinner on the table every night, but this is the season of life that I am in right now and to be honest, I'm okay with it. There will still be piles of laundry, dirty dishes and dust bunnies tomorrow but I will blink and my baby will no longer be a baby. So for now, I let the other stuff slide and I snuggle my beautiful daughter. I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom and since I have that privilege I want to take full advantage of it for as long as I can. I know these days of napping together won't last forever and so while I should teach her to nap on her own and be more "productive" while she sleeps, I'm not going to. So there, I've made my confession, now please excuse me while I go cuddle with my daughter and take a nap.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Six Month Update!

I can't believe our little lady is already half a year old! 

Looking back on some of her newborn photos, it's amazing how fast she's changed and grown!

She weighed in at a whopping ;) 13 pounds, 5 ounces and was 26.5 inches long. She's currently in size 2 diapers and 6 month clothes, although she might have to start wearing 6-9 month pants soon for length. Wish they made baby belts! She doesn't have any teeth yet and is still breastfeeding.

She started solids and has had peas, carrots, pears, rice cereal and oatmeal cereal so far. She seems to like all of it so far, but she loves the pears!

She still hates tummy time but we're really trying to push it. She's not sitting unassisted yet, but we're hoping to get there soon. She loves screeching and experimenting with her voice, musical toys and putting anything she can get her hands on into her mouth.
Yes, she's wearing mismatched socks. That was a lazy mommy moment!

Her dexterity and fine motor skills are great, just working on the gross motor skills.

Last night was night four of sleep training and I hope I'm not jinxing it by saying it's going great!! The first two nights were hard, about 30 minutes of crying with us going in every five minutes to pat and reassure her. Night three she cried for less than five minutes though and we never had to go in and last night one big cry for about 30 seconds as we set her down and then nothing but peaceful sleep!! 
Nap time...still a work in progress

I was so hesitant to do any form of crying it out but it was the right thing to do. Isla was so tired from not getting the rest she needed and I was a glorified zombie. So far, it's been one of the best parenting decisions we've made. I know some people are against CIO but it was the right choice for our family and it's working! I was very skeptical and didn't think it would work or work as quickly as it did but so far, so good and everyone is happier.

So excited to see where the next six months take us!!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Preparing for House Guests

We recently had the pleasure of having one of my besties come visit from Sweden! Since I love her and I have no idea how long it will be until I get to see her again (in real life, not over skype at least) I wanted to go all out and make her stay as comfortable and luxurious as possible. Since many people host house guests over the summer, I thought I would share how I prepared our guestroom.

First, I put together two baskets of goodies. One was a little minibar of sorts.

I picked up the basket at Ross, then filled it with yummy treats! I tried to include a mix of salty and sweet, healthy and indulgent.

Included are:

  • Chips (Doritos, Cheetos and Pringles)
  • Granola bars (Crunch bars, Nature Valley, and NuGo)
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Dried fruit (pineapple, dehydrated strawberry and banana)
  • Chocolate (dark chocolate pomegranate, Pocky, KitKat, Peanut M&M's, Twix, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, Rolo and Hershey's)
  • Crackers (Goldfish and Ritz)
  • Nut butters (Chocolate hazelnut butter and peanut butter with honey)
  • Gum (spearmint and peppermint)
  • Mexican Coke
While my friend was obviously more than welcome to anything in my kitchen/pantry, I wanted her to have some treats should she want a midnight or early morning snack, without having to leave her room. When hosting guests who will be suffering from jet lag, I never want them to be in their room hungry because they don't want to disturb anyone else by looking for a snack at an odd time.

Next I set up a toiletries basket.

I picked the basket up at the dollar store, lined it with tissue and used many samples I had collected from Sephora, Ulta, etc. and padded it out with travel size minis from Target and Walmart.
Included are:

  • Face wipes
  • Mini first aid kit
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Tooth brush, toothpaste, floss and mouth wash
  • Ear plugs (I have an infant, might not be necessary for every house but also good for guests who are just light sleepers)
  • Lip balm
  • Body wash and shower puff
  • Face wash and exfoliating face scrub
  • Moisturizer
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hair product
  • Assorted makeup and perfume samples
  • Cozy socks

I also set out a hair dryer (I picked up an extra one to keep as a spare for $10) and a stack of fresh, fluffy towels (body, hand and face) tied with a white ribbon. Behind the toiletries basket, I filled a small bag with feminine products (tampons, maxi pads, panty liners and feminine wipes).

For the bedside table:

 I set up a pretty mirrored tray I picked up at Ross. On it I put out bottles of sparkling and still water. I set out a tall water glass with a matching short glass over the top to keep any dust out. I added a vanilla candle and a frame with the wi-fi password. I found the template on Pinterest and thought it was too cute to skip! Lastly, I included a pop of color in the form of a bunch of bright yellow flowers trimmed short and set in a square vase.

While it isn't pictured, I prepared the closet by clearing out plenty of space (and throwing all my stuff in a pile in the master bedroom...) making sure there were plenty of hangers and hanging up a fluffy, freshly laundered robe.

The last few details of preparing the room included airing out the duvet, washing the linens, making the bed, checking that the lamps were plugged in and their light bulbs worked. I vacuumed and sprayed Febreeze on the carpets a few days before she arrived, then vacuumed again right before she arrived. I put an extra quilt on the end of the bed and a fan in the room so she could make herself comfortable at night if she wanted to be warmer or cooler. I also made sure to put a mini (bathroom size) trash can in the room.

So that's it! I was thrilled with how the room turned out and felt that it had all the comforts of home and then some. While it can be a little bit of an investment putting together the various baskets, the majority of guests will only use a few things from each. You can then just replace what you need to before the next guest.

Friday, 9 May 2014

My first Mother's Day

I thought my first Mother's Day would be the perfect opportunity to reflect upon the past four months, as well as the nine months that preceeded them.

I found out I was going to become a mother on May 25, 2013. It was a day that changed my life forever. Before that day, I would never have thought that a little piece of plastic would reduce me to a sobbing mess of emotion! From the moment I knew I was going to be a mother, I have loved and worried about my child. 

A month later when we visited the midwife and I saw our little one for the first time the wave of all encompassing love overwhelmed me and I surprised myself as the tears streamed down my face instantly and uncontrollably.

My love continued to grow each day and there are no words that adequately describe the feeling when your child is placed on your chest the first time. My heart would live outside of my body forevermore. Looking into her eyes, touching her soft skin, listening to her breathe - I became complete.

The past four months since that day I have felt a love I didn't know was possible. I loved her from the day I knew she existed, but once I could hold her in my arms that love became something I didn't even know was possible.

There have been challenging moments, those early sleepless days with a fussy baby aren't easy. My patience has been tested, I have been exhausted and cranky but I wouldn't change a thing. Anything worth having is worth working for.

I have also fully realized the love my mother has for me and what she has gone through. I have always loved my mom, but until I became a mother myself I could not understand the true depth of a mother's love. I want to thank my mom for carrying me, giving birth to me and loving me and now my daughter, unconditionally.

As my first Mother's Day is quickly approaching I know I have not been a mother long. There is so much more to learn and experience, for which I can't wait. Flowers, breakfast, jewelry, I see endless ads for Mother's Day gifts but no gift could compare to just siting on the couch, my daughter asleep on my chest. I can smell her sweet breath, feel her tiny body rise up and down with each inhale and exhale. This Mother's Day I want to thank my daughter Isla for giving me the greatest gift - motherhood.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Postpartum Hair Loss

Ugh. I wish more people talked about postpartum hair loss, I had no idea what I was in for! In the interest of keeping it real for mothers-to-be...
I brushed my hair before my shower. Washed a ton of hair down the drain and I still got this after I ran my hand through my hair before styling it this morning. I feel like I'm going bald and honestly lose a handful of hair every. single. day.

While you're pregnant the normal cycle of hair growth and fallout changes. You continue to grow hair but less falls out so you get lovely thick, glossy, preggo hair. As your hormones regulate postpartum, the hair you would normally lose goes back to falling out. 

So there you go moms-to-be and ladies who are planning to have kids, cut your hair short or start buying draino in bulk ;)

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Meeting Great-Granddaddy

A few weeks ago I took Isla to meet her great-granddaddy, Sam. My grandfather has Alzheimer's and lives in a small care home with a few other seniors with memory problems.  My grandma does not need memory care so she lives on her own in an apartment in town.
Although my grandfather will not remember their meeting and neither will my daughter, it was important to me that they meet.
My granddaddy has always been one of the most important people to me. Growing up, we always had a special bond and I loved spending time with him. A brilliant man, he worked as a geology professor at the University of Oregon for the majority of his career. It is hard to see such an intelligent person struggle to remember everything from where he is to who people are. Luckily he still remembers his family members and I'm so glad he got to meet Isla, it meant a lot to me. Hopefully we will get to visit again soon.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

101 Days

Today marks my daughter's 101st day!
Ever wondered what a stay at home parent does? Want to know what an average day is like with a 3.5 month old?

6:30am - Neil is up and getting ready for work, this causes Isla to stir so I lift her from the bassinet next to our bed and pull her close. She nurses and we both drift back off to sleep. Neil comes in and gives us each a kiss before he leaves for work.

9am-ish - We wake up for the day. Isla nurses again and I change her. Then we have a dance party! I play music and sing to her. I usually add some goofy dance moves too. Isla kicks her legs and flashes me some goofy grins that melt my heart.

10ish - We move to the living room. I gather up the baby, my nursing pillow and my phone. I lay her down on her playmat and quickly make a cup of coffee and grab a bowl of cereal. I sit down next to her on the floor and cross my fingers that I'll get to finish breakfast before Isla loses patience. I get about 10 minutes before I have to scoop her up and move to the couch.

11am - Once we sit down she'll nurse again, I'll change her and get her dressed for the day. Then we start playtime. The order varies from day to day but the activities include:
- Reading stories
- Making silly faces at her
- Making silly faces together in a mirror
- Tummy time
- Dangling a toy in front of her and letting her stare at it
- Resting her on my propped up legs and talking or singing to her
- Wandering around the house
- Playing songs on her stuffed dog violet, baby Einstein machine or her toy zoo
- Shaking a rattle
And more! She only tolerates any one activity for about 5-10 minutes and then we have to move onto something keeps me busy!

12:30ish - I put Isla in her swing outside my bathroom door and take a lightening speed shower. If she falls asleep in it I put makeup on and blow dry my hair. If she starts to fuss, it's one coat of mascara and a little concealer.

1pm - I watch What Not to Wear while feeding Isla. I try to eat something myself at the same time. Some days I manage, other days I don't. Then I burp and change her.

2pm - Isla has a full happy tummy and a clean diaper so I get her strapped into the stroller to go out for a walk. As I click the last buckle I hear a massive diaper explosion. I unload her and change her diaper...and her clothes.

2:30pm - We're finally out the door.

3:30pm - After a nice walk and some fresh air we're home. I feed, burp and change her. She snoozes a bit in my arms. I'm starving and I eat whatever I can grab - one handed.

4pm - Depending on the state of the house I might strap Isla into the carrier and do some chores. Otherwise it's more playtime or a nap if she's tired.

5:30ish - I cook dinner with Isla in the ergo baby carrier or in her mamaroo swing. If it's the latter I have to run back from the kitchen to replace her binkie every five minutes or so, otherwise she'll get too cranky.

6:00-6:30ish - Neil gets home. I pass him the baby while I finish up dinner. I hand him his plate and swap him for the baby, then I nurse her while he eats. Then we switch, minus the nursing ;)

7:30 - More nursing

8pm - Bedtime routine! We make the bedroom dark and quiet. Isla gets a massage, her face, hands and bum washed, a fresh diaper, clean jammies and a swaddle. Neil give her the vitamin D drops while I put on her lullabies, tidy the bedroom and turn on the monitor camera. She nurses once more and then we rock in the glider to get her nice and sleepy.

9pm - She's very drowsy, might even be asleep. I creep over to the bassinet and lay her down as gently as possible before tiptoeing out of the room. I sit down on the couch and turn on the monitor.

9:05pm - She's crying. Per the pediatrician's instructions I wait five minutes before going in, calming her down and putting the pacifier back in. I sneak out and make it as far as the kitchen before she starts to cry again. We repeat this for a while. In between checking on her I clean up the kitchen, do some dishes, throw in some laundry and tidy up the mess of toys, clothes, burp cloths and other various baby items in the living room.

9:30pm - Her cries are losing steam.

9:45pm - She's asleep.

10-10:30pm - We head to bed, as quietly as humanly possible. I peek at her and watch her chest softly move up and down. I am amazed by her and how all consuming my love is for this beautiful little person. I close my eyes and I'm asleep in minutes.

Sometime between 3:30am and 5am - She wakes up and I change her as quickly and quietly as I can. Then I put on the nursing pillow, sit up in bed, feed and burp her. When she's done, I lay her back down in her bassinet and we both go back to sleep for a few more hours until the next day officially begins.

So there you have it! That's a pretty average day for us at the moment. It's definitely easier than those early days (the first six or so weeks) but it's never easy. I'm okay with that though. I know it won't last forever so I try to enjoy it all. The good, the bad and the messy.