Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer update

Tim and I knew this was going to be our fastest summer yet, but seriously -- we'll blink and it's over. Almost July already, and did I mention school starts August 13? They're not even registered for school yet. Time keeps going by in chunks. We spent last week at the beach with my mom and dad and brother and his family. Tomorrow Tim Sr. and our niece Alexa will get here, and they'll stay a few days. We have other plans for July that remain top secret for now. (Someone who does NOT read this blog is about to get the best surprise!!) Then the kids and I will spend a week in Ohio and get back with maybe a couple days to spare before school starts.

There are some lulls in there, the first being the first two weeks after school ended. I mentioned how I planned to schedule our days to make sure we didn't get bored, especially since the intense heat and humidity are here, and are not going anywhere anytime soon. I have had some success with that plan. At the start of every week I write down the two or three things I really want us to do that day. But it is not super detailed. A sample summer day starts with yoga for me and then time at the pool with the kids. Then lunch and naps. And then with the exception of library days .. too much time inside all afternoon and too much screen time for the kids. It's a good thing that we've got all these things on the calendar because I have not figured out what to do on regular summer days with that time between naps and dinner when the heat is the worst. There aren't many places to go around here. A friend recommended these workbooks as one way to keep them occupied, and I've ordered them for Delaney and Annie to try to keep those brains of theirs working. Also, I need to put handwriting practice on that white board because then maybe it will actually happen. Ugh. I'm hopeless.

We had such a great vacation with my parents and brother and sister-in-law. This year's location was Folly Beach, which is a whopping hour-and-a-half away from us in Charleston, SC. We stayed in a condo with my parents, and Scotty and Faith and their kids stayed a few doors down. With the exception of a few outings here and there, we mostly hung around the beach and the pool. In the past I'd have done a long recap with lots of pictures, but I think I already posted the best pictures on Instagram, and those are already in my sidebar. 
I really, really enjoyed our time together. They are all so much fun to be around, and they make me laugh. Case in point: One afternoon on the beach, I was trying to stave off dinner hunger by shoving an entire Fig Newton in my mouth while making sure I wasn't attracting the attention of the aggressive seagulls who had at one point stolen a half sandwich right out of my hands. I asked if anyone else wanted one and was told "No, thanks," with snickers. "Why so much hate for Fig Newtons?" I asked. In answer I suddenly found myself in a hailstorm of ridicule for Tim's and my snack of choice when our homemade snacks had run out.

Faith: "I don't think anyone under the age of 65 should be purchasing Fig Newtons." (She had told me earlier about how her parents always have them in the house, and she finds them to be most unappealing.)
Dad: "I didn't know anyone bought them. I thought they just sat on the shelf forever."
Scotty: "That package is probably 30 years old."
Dad: "We ate Fig Newtons when we were kids, but that was back before there were so many choices."
Tim: [No witty retort from him because he was in the ocean with a couple of the kids. Too bad.]

I was like, sheesh, I know they're not that great, but I think you could do a lot worse! Yes, it was discussed, there was something worse than a Fig Newton -- a generic one. Vile. (Truly. And I am a person who likes a lot of generics.) Faith decided we needed a picture. It is worth noting that when I gave some to the kids and they weren't being as careful with crumbs, the seagulls were not interested.
I also loved sharing the condo with my parents. I liked seeing them first thing in the morning and throughout the day, and seeing Dad being a curmudgeon (but a funny one) and Mom dealing with him.. And looking at them both and seeing how much of the way I am comes directly from them. Of course everybody turns out like their parents, but it's eye-opening just the same. I know it probably is for Tim too.

There were a lot of faces missing from the picture this year, but I just remind myself what a gift it is anytime any of us are able to spare the time away from their busy lives so we can spend this time together. We're talking about the gulf coast for next time. Who's in?

What else is there..? 

All remains well with our little nugget. He/she kicks quite a bit already, to the point where the other day my midwife could see the movement for herself. We haven't even scheduled the 20-week ultrasound yet, so we're going to be waiting the longest we've ever had to wait before finding out the gender. We found out at 17 weeks with Annie and Timmy and at 19 weeks with Delaney. I'll be 17 weeks tomorrow. I can be patient. We think we've settled on a boy's name, but we can not for the life of us come up with a girl's name. We've tossed around more names for this kid than for any of the others combined. For some reason I'm feeling strongly like I want to continue having a different first initial for each of the kids. I like to just be able to jot down a first initial for each of them. OK, that leaves 23 other letters in the alphabet, so that shouldn't be hard to do. 

Here's a photo from the ultrasound we had at 14 weeks. Based on that ultrasound I get a due date of December 5, four days ahead of what I get from my chart. I'll still go with my original due date, though, and not count on the baby coming any sooner. The other three came well before their due dates like good little Marines who consider themselves late if they're on time, but that doesn't mean number 4 will. 
Until next time!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Stitch Fix for the second trimester

I got my Babycenter update a couple days ago, and it seems that someone along the way decided that the second trimester starts at 14 weeks. I disagree with that. 14x3 is 42. How many people do you know who are pregnant until 42 weeks? I know it happens, but I think it's pretty rare. My longest pregnancy was 39 weeks 4 days, so I'm calling myself a third of the way through!

Another thing: I got straight A's in English class, and even though I've gotten rusty over the years I still know better than to keep switching tenses when I write. But I can not stop myself! I couldn't decide which tense to use, and would change my mind multiple times in a single paragraph (just like I'm doing here, see?) It's driving me crazy. I'm getting tired of trying to edit it. Good thing I'm not doing this for work or for a grade.  

As I've done the other two times, I dropped everything when I saw the Stitch Fix (my referral link) box on my front porch, and proceeded to waste all kinds of time taking awful pictures of myself modeling the clothing in front of my bedroom mirror. What could be more exciting than a box of surprise clothes?
A quick glance at the fabrics and it's clear that my stylist knows how much I like green and blue. She threw in some red just to be crazy!
In my note to her about a week ago, I told her that I would be getting the clothes around the beginning of my second trimester, and asked that she give me things that allow room to grow but can also be worn after the baby's born. In other words, not strictly maternity and therefore only useful for a few months. I also told her how much I like maxi dresses and how the maxi skirt she sent me in the last Fix was perfect for this summer. I asked her for something else to go with it because right now I have only three tops that can coordinate with it; and I've already outgrown one. I also mentioned I'd be going on a vacation soon and hoped to have things that would be nice for that.

I can see she did her best to heed my requests, and was happy to see that there were two maxi dresses in the box and a top that would definitely go with that maxi skirt.

The first thing I tried on was this cute blouse. The style card mentioned it would work with shorts and sandals and also with skinnies. Skinnies -- ha! It's too hot for those even if they did still fit. Fortunately I have denim shorts that were too big on me to begin with and fit nicely now. I chose the sand dollar necklace my mom gave me for my birthday last year and the new wedges Tim got me as part of my Mother's Day gift this year, to complete the outfit. (Not quite complete -- I could still use some earrings, but good enough.) We have a winner! This blouse is exactly the kind of thing my wardrobe needs.
It has room to grow but it's not maternity. I wish I'd taken the picture a little closer up so you could see the print better. Verdict: keep.

While I had the shorts on I tried another top -- an honest-to-goodness maternity top with ruching and everything. But I gave it a chance anyway because you've got to try everything on. You never know.
I really just find it to be OK. I do like turquoise and I do like chevron patterns. But I didn't $48 like it, especially since I would only be able to wear it for a few months. Verdict: return.

Next up was this roomy black tank which was intended for the maxi skirt they sent me a couple months ago. It was way too long, and the fit was not flattering. 
It looks a little better from this view. Definitely slimming. But .. it just didn't do it for me. Verdict: return.
I was eager to try my luck with the maxi dresses next. I have just one maxi dress in my closet that I can still wear, and that is just not going to cut it this summer. I tried the teal green one first, and at first I was not inclined to like the teal. I never would have picked it out myself, but once I had it on I liked it. That's what I love best about Stitch Fix -- trying on things I would never be inclined to pull off a rack at a store, and finding out I like them. 
This dress is on the shorter side for a maxi, so flat sandals only. Love the cross-front neckline. It felt snug and comfortable on, maybe a little too snug. In a couple months this dress will probably become too constricting since I carry my babies high (like IN my rib cage) and I expand all over, not just my belly. Buuuuut.. I thought, once I outgrow it later this summer, I can hang it back in my closet and it will fit just fine next spring. It'll be cute with a denim jacket. I was feeling undecided about this one, knowing I would only be able to wear it for a small portion of my pregnancy. I put it aside and then tried it on a few hours later. I discovered that it's nursing friendly! A dress I can nurse in. It's a keeper! I'll see how long it works it for me this summer, and then take it out again next spring when the baby's a few months old and I've lost the extra weight. (I'm being very optimistic about how quickly I'll be losing the weight.) Verdict: keep.

Lastly I tried on the other maxi dress ..
I love the color, which isn't actually real red, but kind of orangey-red. I try my yellow Stella & Dot earrings with it (thanks again to Nicole for those!). So summery! It felt comfortable and looked great on. Again, I thought it might end up being a little too snug before long. (It's hard to describe the way I swell everywhere during pregnancy. I still look normal now, but just wait.) Definitely not nursing friendly, so after outgrowing it in a month or two I wouldn't be able to wear it again until the baby was weaned or nearly weaned. I nursed Timmy for over two years, so that could be awhile. It's also on the shorter side, so only flat sandals again. The material is very thin, and I would not be adequately covered without some kind of undergarment, and that's a bit of a pain. Verdict: return. But I'll let my stylist know that if she wants to send me anything else in that color come August, she's more than welcome. 

Update: I showed Tim pictures of me in it and he convinced me to keep it. I tried it on a couple more times and decided I really liked the way it looked and even though it probably will end up hanging in my closet for a long time while I have a nursing baby, I will wear it again eventually. It is not maternity, and that is kind of what I was after anyway: things that I can wear for a long time to come, not just while pregnant. Verdict: keep!

So, to recap, I ended up keeping three things and sending back two. I was able to put them in a pre-paid USPS envelope and stick it in my mailbox the next day, so really fun and convenient. Besides a new bathing suit I shouldn't be needing anything else for a while. Good news for someone who hates shopping as much as I do but loves looking put together.

Monday, June 1, 2015

This and that

The "stalker view" from the girls' bedroom window
It has been a tumultuous and emotionally exhausting few days around here. The day has finally come for us to say farewell to our next door neighbors, and that meant for Delaney to say goodbye to her best friend Norah. This morning as we drove to school, Norah and her mom stood at the side of the road waving. They are now on their way to Massachusetts, to their forever home. Norah's dad is retiring, so this is their last move. I don't even think they knew they were going to be moving until this past winter. I want to say originally they were going to be around for another year.

When we moved here last summer, Tim and Norah's dad already knew each other and had worked together in the past. We were so glad to wind up next to them, and thrilled that they had a seven-year-old daughter for our girls to play with. It ended up being that Delaney and Norah became inseparable, and Annie didn't warm up to any of them until their last month here. That's typical of Annie. Delaney was better than the FBI at monitoring Norah's family's comings and goings, always waiting for her next opportunity to have time with Norah. During the week they were always so busy, with Norah's three older siblings involved in multiple after-school activities and being driven all over creation.
Finally this weekend, it was packing and moving time, and Delaney and Norah were able to spend every minute from Friday to Sunday night together. But I have to say it was stressful for me. My kids acted up so much, and I don't know if it was related to the upcoming move, or being in Norah's presence all the time, or they just wanted to give me hell. We had Norah sleep over Friday night, we had her here all day Saturday, our families went to Mass together on Sunday, and she was here from the time we got home. My kids had so many meltdowns in those 48 hours that I was ready to tear my hair out by Sunday afternoon. I actually hid in my closet and cried on the phone to Tim because I didn't know what to do. Nobody was wanting to listen to me, everyone was wanting to fight over everything, it was so loud in our house, I was always having to discipline somebody, and I just wanted to be left alone. I told him on the phone last night once everyone was finally in bed asleep and only the final goodbye in the morning awaited, "Weekends like this make me look forward to Monday!" Of course we're quickly approaching summer, when weekdays and weekends look alike for us. But for today it was such a relief to have it just be me and Buddy.
Delaney will miss their doggy Fenway too.
I don't know what this week holds in store for me. The house next door will be empty, and I think that coming home from school and seeing that will be hard for Delaney. She's going to keep wondering where they are and then remembering. I'm going to try to be extra nice to her this week -- give more hugs, try to say yes more than I say no, and be extra patient. I really think these next few days will be the hardest, but then once summer is in full swing she'll be distracted and busy.
***
That brings me to my next topic -- summer. Friday is the last day of school, finally! No more driving two hours a day, no more carpool lines. (No more of that ever.) Freedom! And then the elation will last about a second before the kids start telling me they have nothing to do. We have a few trips and visits planned to break up the long weeks, but I have been a little intimidated at the thought of the days of just being here with all the kids all day. (Homeschool moms must feel such scorn when people like me say things like that.) I've decided to get ahead of it this time and make us a schedule. I will post it on the fridge and we will all know what we're doing every day that we are here together on Parris Island. This will be especially beneficial to Annie because she loves structure and she's always asking, 'What are we doing today?' It's already decided that Monday will be library day. Most typical weekdays will include the Y so that I can take a class (usually yoga), a couple hours at the pool, lunch and quiet time/nap time, and cursive writing practice in there somewhere during the hottest part of the day. And there will be plenty of TV-watching. And a few trips to the beach sprinkled in there, mostly on the weekends when Tim can come. They will all go to vacation bible school later this month for a few days, and I am also looking into gymnastics on base. The only big differences between this summer and last summer would be the regular working out for me, and the gymnastics. We did the pool just about every day last summer, and a week of VBS. I've got to work it out and get it down on paper, and once I do I am much more likely to be motivated to do it. What I don't like about summer is being woken up by kids in the morning and feeling like I am trying to catch up. I want to be up before them and I want to be intentional about how we go about our day.

All of this after liking this article and others like it that friends have recently shared on Facebook; and joining the voices bemoaning how much scheduling that we parents do. Oh, for the good old days. Ha! But here's the problem with having a '70s kind of summer. Once the temps reach triple digits with 200% humidity, you can't make the kids stay out all afternoon. It's inhumane. Even the recruits aren't allowed outside during the worst of it. And when it's moving and vacation season, this place turns into a ghost town. There are no kids for them to play with and nobody for me to talk to. When we first got here last July, it looked so desolate that I seriously wondered if we had made a mistake in choosing base housing. There wasn't a soul in sight. Whoever was around stayed in the air conditioning all day. Most people did what we're about to do -- go on a few trips and otherwise stay busy and beat the heat. Maybe they "summered" somewhere, like the way rich people like to use summer as a verb. Some people had moved away and others had yet to move in. It wasn't until fall that the temperatures cooled back down, people started coming out of the woodwork, kids started playing in the yards, and this started to seem like a livable place. I don't feel like spending the whole summer with my feet up and a Tab in my hand, telling the kids to go back outside. I already know that won't work. (Also I would die if they used Pottery Barn Kids duvet cover to make a backyard fort. Not free range of me, I know.) I want to be ready with a plan that we can all live with, one that keeps me in some kind of shape and on some kind of routine. It's just as much for me as it is for them. I hope to be updating at some point later on the success of that plan.

Regardless, as Tim keeps reminding me, summer is going to be over in the blink of an eye. The next school year starts August 13, for crying out loud.
***
I've got a lot of 'this and that.' This is going to end up being a long post.

This Wednesday I will be 13 weeks pregnant and done with the first trimester. Yay! I'm finally getting to my favorite part of pregnancy, when I come out of my funk, the food aversions go away, I have energy again, and the growing belly. I already feel much better, not that the first trimester has ever been that rough for me (I know plenty of others who have it much worse). But I really don't enjoy not feeling like myself for weeks at a time, but no sign that there is any baby in there.

I have been noticeably pregnant for at least a couple weeks now. The first person to come out and ask me was the lady who watches Timmy at the Y. Her curiosity got the better of her -- she was so nervous I would say I wasn't! I would never ask someone who looked like me if they were expecting. Honestly, I think ever since having kids in the first place, I've had a bloaty belly. I am starting to grow out of my clothes but am not yet ready for maternity. I did get out my maternity clothes bin to see what was in there. There are a few shirts that should be useful in the next few weeks. I still have a pair of maternity jeans in there, but I am donating them. I will never put them on my body again. Maternity jeans are the devil. Once it gets cold I will get by with leggings and long tops. I get my Stitch Fix tomorrow, and I've asked for some things that give me room to grow, but can also be worn postpartum. So we'll see.

At 11 weeks I heard the baby's heartbeat at the OB's office. I am following the same plan I did with Timmy, at least until I've had the 20 week ultrasound -- seeing both the OB that insurance covers and the homebirth midwife. I am so excited I have a midwife now! They are few and far between here as they were in North Carolina. Mine is an hour-and-a-half away in Charleston. What's different about having a homebirth in SC is that Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) are licensed by the state. As my midwife, Joanne, quipped, "It's nice not to have a felony charge hanging over your [the midwife's] head." Indeed. And no need to be secretive about it all the way I had to be in NC.
Here I am today, right before I left for yoga. Note the belly button already visible through two layers of clothing.
I have an ultrasound scheduled for June 10, for purposes of dating the pregnancy. (shrug) I don't really care why the doctor thought it was necessary -- I just look forward to seeing this little nugget and finding out once and for all whether or not I'm having one or two. I've been growing fast, seemingly even faster than I did with Timmy. (I just searched in vain for a bump shot with Timmy from around the same time frame and came up empty-handed. None for Annie either, and I know I didn't start showing until well into my second trimester with Delaney. I must not have found my 11 to 14-week belly nearly as fascinating as I do this time. I have taken belly selfies an embarrassing number of times with this pregnancy.) Looking through the archives I see this post about the bonus ultrasound I got at 13 weeks with Timmy when the doctor suspected twins based on the size of my belly (and my full bladder, but he didn't know about that.) As a matter of fact, that entire update is identical to the way I'm feeling now, even down to craving ice cream and needing to make myself eat better.  

I enjoy being pregnant, I always have; and this time I am really relishing it. I'm so grateful to be able to do this again. For awhile, it didn't look like it was meant to be.
***
I have a couple more things that I've been meaning to share about Delaney: her first paying job and her first experience using the stove. She's going to be ready to move out soon!

A few weeks ago she took a spare poster board I had and decided to use it to advertise a business idea she had -- dog walking. I took a photo of her standing proudly behind the sign, with Annie who is yelling or yawning, I can't tell which. I shared it on Instagram and Facebook, and the comments led to Delaney getting a job walking someone's dachsund every Tuesday afternoon for a dollar. She's really happy. The first time she did it Annie and I went with her, but the second time she did it alone. She has to walk to the last street in our neighborhood, and I said to Annie after she'd taken off last Tuesday, "I bet she forgets the house number." At least I knew she could always find her way home, if nothing else. Sure enough, Annie told me later that Delaney had come running back to ask the house number, and Annie had told her. Annie remembered!
A few days ago Delaney mentioned she'd like to learn how to make her own egg over easy, and I decided she was ready. She was really unsure the first time, especially about breaking the egg, but after this morning I can say she's almost to the point where she can do it unsupervised. It will take a few more times, though. I want to see her do it without asking me for any guidance, and I want to see her remember to turn the burner off too. But she's come a long way. She'll be there soon. I'm trying to do everything I can to get these kids to do things for themselves. It's a never-ending battle. I wish I could get her to have the same sense of pride in a clean room as she does with a perfectly done egg. 

That's it for now. Time for bed!