Monday, November 30, 2009

My Village Part 2: My Parents

First, I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!
That whole day seemed like such a blur and I cannot believe it's over. We hosted it ,which I would NOT recommend doing on your baby's first, it's just too much, but thankfully we didn't cook much because we did it pot luck style. It was nice, just exhausting, even though we only had 10 people. We did have about 20 or so for dessert, which was fun.
All in all, it was beautiful to have all of my friends and family together.

Speaking of family, I thought this would be a good day to do a "Village Post" on my parents. Their 38th anniversary was on Friday, which is so wonderful to me. They have certainly been amazing role models for marriage. Theirs is truly a partnership and has seen a lot of ups and downs, but amazing all the same. Happy anniversary!

There are really not enough words in the world to explain my parents' role in my life and what they do for me, especially in regards to Lily. Yes, I am an only child, which means that they certainly do focus all of their attention on me, so I might be a little closer to my parents than some, but when it comes to Lily, they have been such a Godsend.

Since the day Lily was born, they have been a staple in her life. My mom watches her 3 days a week in the afternoons, while Dustin and I are working, in addition to her regular 35 hour a week nanny job. It is so much fun to watch my mom with Lily. I can't say that I've ever seen my mom more happy. Lily just lights up when she sees my mom and my dad for that matter. They are the TRUE meaning of grandparents.

In addition to being a part of Lily's day care plan, my mom also watches her every other chance she can get, which is so amazing to have! Dustin and I have been able to go on dates, which not every couple gets to do when they're new parents, I've been able to go to the gym...basically, any excuse my mom can get to watch her :)
My dad has even watched her alone a couple of times and does so well with her. Not that I ever doubted that he would, but she can be a handful sometimes and it has been 33 years since I was a baby. He has been able to get her to calm down when no one else could, such as after her 4 month shots or a teething spell.

They have also been such a source of moral support for Dustin and I as well. There have been days where I just felt at my wits end, but my parents are always standing right behind me to empower me and will also be that extra set of arms I need to hold a screaming Lily. That kind of support is so rare and so comforting.

You truly do appreciate and respect your parents more when you have your own child. You now have the deep understanding of just how challenging raising a child is and all the sacrifices that go along with parenting.

Thanks, mom and dad, for loving Lily like you do and being such amazing grandparents. I know she knows already how lucky she is to have you.

Now, stop crying mom and come over so we can take Lily shopping.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things that change when you're a mommy.

I found this on and really liked this list. Some are written by website readers, the first 15 by an author. I highlighted the ones that I thought to be so very true for me, although they're all great.

  • You finally stop to smell the roses, because your baby is in your arms.
  • The sacrifices you thought you made to have a child no longer seem like sacrifices.
  • You respect your body ... finally.
  • You respect your parents and love them in a new way.
  • You find that your baby's pain feels much worse than your own.
  • You believe once again in the things you believed in as a child.
  • You lose touch with the people in your life whom you should have banished years ago.
  • Your heart breaks much more easily.
  • You think of someone else 234,836,178,976 times a day.
  • Every day is a surprise.
  • Bodily functions are no longer repulsive. In fact, they please you. (Hooray for poop!)
  • You look at your baby in the mirror instead of yourself.
  • You become a morning person.
  • Your love becomes limitless, a superhuman power.
And from our readers...

  • "You discover how much there is to say about one tooth." — Ashley's mom
  • "You finally realize that true joy doesn't come from material wealth." — Anonymous
  • "You now know where the sun comes from." — Charlotte
  • "You'd rather buy a plastic tricycle than those shoes that you've been dying to have." — Sophie's mom
  • "You don't mind going to bed at 9 p.m. on Friday night." — Kellye
  • "You realize that the 15 pounds you can't seem to get rid of are totally worth having." — Brenda
  • "You discover an inner strength you never thought you had." — Ronin and Brookie's mom
  • "You no longer rely on a clock — your baby now sets your schedule." — Thomas' mom
  • "You give parents with a screaming child an 'I-know-the-feeling' look instead of a 'Can't-they-shut-him-up?' one." — Jaidyn's mom
  • "You take the time for one more hug and kiss even if it means you'll be late." — Tracey
  • "You learn that taking a shower is a luxury." — Jayden's mom
  • "You realize that you can love a complete stranger." — Dezarae's mom
  • "You find yourself wanting to make this world a better place." — Arizona
  • "You have to quit watching the news because you see every story from a mother's perspective and it breaks your heart." — Brooke&Boys
  • "I'd say that where you were once afraid, you're now fearless. I was always very timid and shy and let myself get walked all over … but now where my kid's concerned, I'll speak my mind and really connect with my inner "b"!" — gummismom
  • "The support you get from other people surprises you, because the people giving it are not always the ones you'd expect." — japanese_macaque
  • "Nothing is just yours any longer. You share EVERYTHING!" — DylanLsMom
  • "No matter what you've accomplished in life, you look at your child and think, "I've done a GREAT job!" — Anon.
  • "You want to take better care of yourself for your child." — Treasor
  • "You can have the most wonderful conversation using only vowel sounds like "ahhh" and "oooo." — littlehulk2008

Monday, November 23, 2009

"It takes a village... raise a child".

No, I'm not endorsing Hillary Clinton's book from the 90's. I never even read it or gave it a second thought... but I will say that I definitely believe in the proverb. I'm not even talking about "a village" in the sense of an actual community, but rather in the sense of family, and extended family.

My mom loves this proverb and has quoted it since the day Lily was born. Call me spoiled but I have a lot of help with raising Lily- my husband, my family and my friends. Many women don't even get a third of the help that I do. I'll admit it, I accept all of the help I can get. As amazing as being a parent is, having a baby isn't easy and it isn't all rainbows and puppy dogs. I would certainly not be a mentally sound person without the help I have.

"The Happiest Baby on the Block" is a book I picked up on the recommendation of several of my mom friends. It mostly discusses how to calm a fussy baby and I would thumb through it when Lily was having a bad day. It has some great information, even though it is written by a man (no offense to men, but come on, men don't always nurture babies the way women do). Anyway, towards the back of the book it has the "Top Ten Survival Tips for Parents of New Babies".

Number 3 struck me, when I was flipping through it months ago:

"Accept Help"
"Never in history were a mother and a father expected to care for their baby all by themselves. The idea of a nuclear family- one mother and one father to do it all- is one of mankind's most recent, and riskiest, experiments, attempted only over the last two or three generations. (That's a mere sixty years out of 60,000 years since the modern human era began.) In the past, a couple's family and community always pitched in to help, and later the couple would return the favor."

(It then goes on a bit to talk about not feeling guilty when asking for/accepting help, etc., Which, in my opinion, is so difficult to do. Guilt has been an innate part of our culture in terms of asking for help. Even if we ask our own husbands to change a diaper or do a feeding, we, as mothers, tend to feel a twinge of guilt. I solely blame modern day American society for this.)

Without getting too philosophical, the reason why I bring this up is this: I want to talk about my village. I thought it would be a good idea to individually name and discuss all of my support system, especially those pertaining to Lily, and the role that they play. I know this may be risky, since I don't want to exclude anyone and hurt anyone's feelings, but it's something I want to do as a tribute.

With the holidays here, I thought this would be a great time to do this. I will do a couple posts a week until Christmas and name a member (or members) of my "village", in no particular order of importance, obviously. (For those of you that blog and want to play along and talk about your village, feel free. I love to read about other peoples families and support).

Today: My friend Jessica.
Jessica is one of my FIFs (see this post for an explanation) and lives in California. She got married in August '08, like I did, and has a one year old named Joey. I cannot say enough about this woman.

Being that Joey is only 6 months older than Lily, I go to Jessica for every.single.question that I have and have done so since day one of Lily's life. Not only since Lily was born, but all throughout pregnancy too. She went through everything that I/we did, just 6 months ahead of me. From formula switching, to reflux, to sleep issues, to tummy time, to puree feeding...then to more personal things such as arguments with my husband, to body changes...I have asked Jessica for her input every step of the way. She also happens to understand what it's like to have an opposite schedule as your husband, and that single parent feeling it brings to the mix, which can be very difficult.

She always happily answers my questions, listens, and offers support. She saved me at least 20 phone calls to my pediatrician's office, and makes me feel less crazy when I'm having a bad day. She is truly an amazing woman with a heart of gold. She also happens to be a great role model as a mother. She has a laid back attitude and puts emphasis on the appropriate issues, in regards to being a parent.

Thanks for being you Jess and helping me through this new, crazy mommy life. I honestly could not have made it this far without your help.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's been a half of a year.

Dear Lily,

Six months ago, I had only been a mom for 3 days. I don't even think it really hit me that I was a mom, responsible for you and your well being. It all seemed so surreal...sometimes it still does. At that time, the majority of your activities included sleeping and eating. Of course you were just an amazing little being, but I couldn't help but wonder what you would be like when you started becoming active and started exploring your world.

Now, as I sit here watching you play in your exersaucer, so busy and curious, I can't believe how much has changed for you since you came into our lives. It's just amazing what a half of a year will do and how fast it goes. I want to stop time for a bit so I can memorize every single little thing you're doing, what your little personality is like and what you look like. Pictures and videos just don't do you justice. I'm hoping these letters will help me remember, especially when you're a teenager and giving us a hard time :)

Your already 17lbs 2oz and 27" long ,which puts you in the 82nd percentile for height! You're going to have long legs like your mom. Your hair is still so red, including your eyebrows and eyelashes. We're still amazed by that! You don't look anything like me...but that's ok. You are a little clone of your dad, which is beautiful.

You are so active these days, I can't imagine what you're going to be like when you're walking!
  • You love practicing your leg strength with your exersaucer and jump-a-roo toys.
  • You take things out of our hands all of the time (which Dr. Mesghali says is a nine month milestone. I knew you were advanced:).
  • You sit up unassisted for a few minutes at a time.
  • You're trying desperately to crawl and although you aren't quite there yet, you can scoot yourself across the room with your leg strength.

Other fun things you're up to:
  • You're eating fruits and veggies. You love pears, sweet potatoes, carrots, and bananas.
  • You have two teeth that sprouted about 3 weeks ago, and more on the way. Teething has been a challenge for you on some days so you love to chew on everything that's in front of you.
  • You are intrigued with technology. Cell phones, computers, remotes, cameras...all very interesting to you.
  • You're learning how to drink out of a sippy cup.
  • You're napping a little bit better these days but it's still very inconsistent. You're just too busy! You just started napping in your crib this week, as opposed to always in the corner of the couch.
  • You do still sleep through the night from about 7:30pm-5am and then back to sleep for an hour or so after you eat.
  • You giggle when we make kissing noises or raspberries at you.
  • Speaking of raspberries, you love to imitate them.
  • You reach out for Bear whenever he is near you.

I cannot believe how absolutely perfect you are. Your dad and I could not be more proud. Even when you're fussing, because of your poor little mouth being sore, I just watch you, trying to capture the way you look at me, and never wish even those stressful moments away. This time just goes by too quickly. I know I'm going to blink my eyes and you'll be getting ready for your first day of school. I'm trying to be as "in the moment" as possible right now, while I can still hold you and smell the baby on you.

With your first Thanksgiving just nine days away, I realize just how much I have to be thankful for. I don't know how I lived without your smile, your laugh, your big blue/green eyes, staring at me, your reach, your chubby little have been such a blessing. You are my biggest accomplishment and the center of my universe.

Don't grow up too fast little girl. I know you'll grow into the most amazing toddler, kid, young adult, teen and then woman, but just don't get there too fast.

Happy six months. Thank you for teaching me how to be a mom.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Life's little necessities.

I would like to talk about of a few of my favorite things. Baby things, of course. Things that I would prefer to not live without...and some I could.

I got this idea from this blog I follow, who's author has a four week old. She had some good things suggested but I have more to add, since Lily is older. I'm hoping some of my mom-friends-to-be will find this helpful.

I'll start with the obvious, pacifiers and bottles. In our world, it's Soothies and Dr. Browns.
Even if you don't have a baby, you've seen these pacis. I think they are the standard in all hospitals across the U.S. and they are sent from heaven. Lily took to a paci from day one. I know she will have orthodontic issues and all kinds of other psychological issues from sucking on a paci, according to some philosophies...but I don't care. It keeps her happy and soothed (no pun intended).

As far as bottles go, we could have been a retailer the first 8 weeks of Lily's life. We tried them ALL: Playtex Drop-Ins, Playtex Vent Aires, Avent, Born Free, Nuk. I think the only ones we didn't try were the super cheap, dollar store brand. Since Lily had belly issues ("reflux", as they called it, which I firmly believe most babies have), we needed to make sure she wasn't sucking in a ton of air. Dr. Brown is one smart mofo because they ended up being the only bottles that worked. And while you're at it, if you're a formula feeder, get this mixing pitcher too. Makes life easy.

We love our Diaper Genie II Elite. Keeps the stink in. It does really work.

Swaddle blankets. Swaddling was THE reason that Lily slept through the night at 6 weeks of age, and the reason why she gave us 5 hour stretches from day one. She loved it. When she started rolling over at 3.5 months of age, and we had to stop swaddling her, it was a sad, sad night in the Nichols household.

We liked the Miracle Blanket, the Aden and Anais muslin blankets (especially for when she got bigger), and our favorite were the ones we stole from the hospital:

These little snuggle blankets are awesome too (I know there is a name for them. Someone help me out here). I wasn't sure what they were for at first but when she was about 2-3 months old, she loved to rub these as she was falling asleep. Now she not only rubs them, but examines them. I think we have 5 of these laying around. They're very comforting to her.

Our video monitor. Love. Yes, it's a bit excessive in price (but they have come down quite a bit) but you know what, it kept me from running in her room ever 2 minutes to check on her. Priceless. The best part was that we can turn the volume all of the way down (since we can hear her cry from anywhere in the house) and just hit the video button to see her. I'm telling you, best.invention.ever.

Something, anything, to chew on. These Bright Stars Chill and Teethe are great. Our friends picked these up for us when they experienced the hell that is teething one night with us. This vibrating teether is pretty cool too. We were oh so lucky that she started teething at 3 months. She now has two teeth and it doesn't appear to be slowing down yet. Nothing else seems to work for Lily, except Infant Motrin. I've tried several types of Orajel, herbal pellets, and Tylenol. If someone has another suggestion let me know.

Some suggestions that need no explanation:

Fisher Price My Little Lamb Swing.

Exersaucer. Any exersaucer will do.

This is her newest love.
They now make these "jumperoos" that are an exersaucer and jumping thing in one, which look pretty cool.

Some things that were a waste of money for us or would have never used:
  • A bottle sanitizer. This is what a dishwasher is for. Invest in a dishwasher basket and you're all set.
  • A wipe warmer.
  • A bottle warmer. I missed the memo that babies' bottles do not have to be warmed.
  • A baby wearing device. Bought a Moby, HATED it, bought a sling, HATED it, bought a Baby Bjorn and it's fine but we've used it 4 times. I am not in the majority with this one though. Some babies love to be worn, just not mine.

"We didn't have any of this shit when you were a baby".
I cannot tell you how many times I've heard that come out of my mom's mouth. Yes, I know, moms in our generation are spoiled with conveniences and I'm sure if Lily decides to have a baby someday, I will say the same thing to her about how lucky she is to have what we didn't have!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"What are FIFs?"

I get that question a lot because of the amount of times I mention them on my blog.

These are FIFs:

Well, those are some of them. That was taken in March at my baby shower.

FIFs= Freaky Internet Friends.

You asked, I shall tell you.

Back in June of 2007, right after Dustin and I got engaged, I stumbled across a wedding website called The Knot. If you've ever planned a wedding, or have even been IN a wedding, you know about The Knot. It's a wealth of useless information. Ok, some of it is useful but really, it's adding to our society's sick love affair with the wedding industry....which I AM NOT complaining about since it is my full intention to capitalize on that industry as well someday.

Anyway, off topic.

I stumbled across the "Community" boards on The Knot site (read: a chat room of sorts). I started posting in the Destination Wedding forum. There, I met women like me, planning a wedding from afar.

It was like crack cocaine, this forum. I seriously became addicted to reading these women's "bios", which are pages that we would construct telling all about our "very special day"; what kind of "look" we were going for, what our flowers would look like, what our engagement story was all very self indulgent but I'm telling you, addicting, and I did score some great ideas from these women.

After a couple months of posting on that board and "getting to know" some of those girls, I got a little bored in that forum. Every post became "ZOMG, I LOVE YOUR DRESS", or, "Squeeeeee!!!, Your engagement pictures are so beautiful". You can only read that shit so much before it gets on your nerves. Not to say I didn't meet some wonderful women on that board, I definitely did (Hi, Christy :), but because there are always more women joining the group, it became monotonous.

So, I decided to check out my local board, "West Florida". Nothing worth noting there...except Nez1230, aka Natalie from Tampa.

Her and I were posting back and forth one night and it turned out that we had a lot in common: we were getting married on the same day, both went to FSU, both had the same first dance song. It was a friendship matched in wedding industry cyber-space heaven.

Natalie directed me to our "Club" board (read: which month you are getting married board).

Ahhh, 8/08.

Here is where I met the most amazing group of women.
There were about 30 of us that posted on a regular basis. And by regular, I mean all day long sometimes. Funny thing was that we barely posted about wedding related topics. We really got to know one another. Our group was really diverse but had a great balance of snarky, funny, honest, bitchy and kind. These women are some of the most supportive people in my life.

We've seen one another through engagements, weddings, honeymoons, separations, pregnancies, miscarriages, deaths, births, relocation's, lay offs, new name it. Honest to God friendships, just from far away.

Now, about a year and half after I found 8/08, most of us still keep in touch. 24 of us, to be exact. We had to find our own venue, since The Knot basically kicked us out, but we still check in on a daily basis.

Several of us have met in person. Not all at once, but we're working on that. The biggest get together we had to date was my baby shower. There were 12 of us there, which was so much fun.

Thank you girls for being part of my support system. You all are amazing in your own way. I couldn't have survived most of the last year and a half without all of you.

There. More than you ever wanted to know about FIFs. Call it weird if you want. I know how it sounds, but I am so lucky that I became addicted to The Knot.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lily's First Halloween

We had so much fun on Lily's first Halloween. I'm actually sad it's over already! She was SUCH a good baby and very tolerant of what we put her through :)
Downtown Venice does a parade for the kids that dress up and then all of the stores have trick or treating. There were wayyyy too many people down there and it was incredibly hot but totally worth taking Lily down there to show her off.
Originally, she was going to be a monkey, because that's her nickname, but when I put the costume on her, she looked like a little boy. So, I had the idea to start searching for a flower, for obvious reasons. I found one on ebay and here is the dress rehearsal:

Notice the fleece body suit and head piece. Someone should really come up with a costume line for warmer climates.
Anyway, I really wanted to dress up too, something to compliment what Lily was dressed as, so Dustin came up with idea of gardeners. I then had the idea to go to Home Depot to buy a plastic flower pot so it would be easy to carry her around in. This is how it turned out:

I guess it was a good costume idea because a bunch of people stopped to ask us for our picture. I was a little overwhelmed with the attention. I really didn't think it was a big deal!
Lily did well though. She was very relaxed and she was such a trooper. We spent about an hour downtown and gathered some candy. I always said that I was going to have a kid to score some Halloween candy!

Here are some other pictures from the day...

Practicing sitting in her pot.

Just getting there. She was spacing out.

Our group, minus my dad, who always seems to evade being in pictures.
Yes, we had 8 adults to one child...actually 10 at one point, when Dustin's parent were there. Ridiculous. We have great friends and family that tolerated the crowds and heat to hang out with Lily. Notice Nicole with the pumpkin on her belly. She's due in February so she's next in line for the baby adventure!

And just to show how talented our friends are, here are our pumpkins:

From left to right we have Derek and Tiff's Asian pumpkin, Drew's funny football mouth (according to Nicole), Nicole's Bugs Bunny, Lily's water lily, butterfly and a dragonfly, and then Dustin's skull and cross bones. The one behind Dustin's is fake :)

My mom made mention that I didn't do a 5 month post for Lily. I did take some 5 month onesie pictures but they didn't turn out great so I have all of these great pictures from Halloween to remind me of what she looked like at 5 months.
What she's up to...
  • She cut two teeth about 2 weeks ago. I thought we would get a break in the hell that is teething...and I guess we did...for about 5 glorious days, but she must be cutting another one because she is back to non-stop drool, incessantly chewing on things, screaming and restless sleep.
  • Speaking of restless sleep, she is still not a great sleeper overall. How I miss the days of 10pm-8am, from 6 weeks until she was almost 4 months. :sigh:. Now, she sleeps from about 7:30pm-5am, then she might go back to sleep for an hour around 6:30am.
  • Naps are still extremely sporadic. Some days she'll sleep for an hour in the afternoon and a couple 30 minute naps, other days its just a couple 20 minute naps here and there. There is not telling. Truth be told, we SUCK at trying to enforce a schedule with naps. Not only a schedule but also getting her to sleep in her crib. She naps on the couch, surrounded by pillows. We will not win the parent of the year award with that little known fact.
  • She loves reaching for everything and touching people's faces.
  • Loves sweet potatoes and pears. Not apples. At all.
Bored yet? Holy big post.