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I mentioned that a friend of mine recently had her second baby. Unlike with the first pregnancy, second pregnancies don’t get nearly enough attention. I kind of hate that about second pregnancies because it’s still a baby, a miracle of life, a tiny individual person, and deserves just as much fuss as the first baby.

But no one asked me, so it is what it is.

Since Jen was having her second boy, I knew she didn’t need much in the way of baby-related stuff. So instead of bringing a pack of onesies I’m sure would only be worn once, I decided to go a slightly different direction with my gift and focused on her – the mom. (And who wouldn’t love that?!)

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Here’s what I gave her, and the rationale for each item:

1. A good book. When I was on maternity leave, I actually read quite a bit to pass the pumping time. Jen loves good chick lit and Nicholas Sparks is the epitome of that. At First Sight is his latest novel and while I ran the risk of her already having it, I just made sure to include a gift receipt. (Bonus: she didn’t have it already!)

2. Chocolate. It’s a must for any gift-giving occasion.

3. Starbucks Via Refreshers. For nursing moms trying to watch their caffeine intake, I knew coffee wouldn’t be a great idea, but I thought these little strawberry lemonade mixers looked yummy and would serve the purpose of helping her stay hydrated too.

4. Trailmix. When your hands are full, sometimes it’s all you can do to scarf down a handful of something. Trailmix is usually packed with good proteins to keep your energy levels high when you’re “on the go” (even if you’re just “on the go” in your own house).

5. Burt’s Bees baby shampoo and body wash. Ok, so this is actually something for the baby, but I LOVE the smell of this stuff and it seemed to be gentle on my son’s sensitive skin so I’m hoping she has a similar experience. Is there anything better than a delicious smelling baby?

6. Emery board and nail polish. The emery board serves dual purposes – for her nails AND for filing the baby’s nails because I wouldn’t get near my son’s tiny fingers with clippers those first few months. A quick file with the emery board every few days was all he needed for a long time. And the blue polish was just something fun. And what better color for a boy mom??

7. And last but not least, a candle that smells like the beach. When life gets stressful, smelling the sweet scents of coconut makes me feel like I’m on the beach, sipping a pina colada. And since we’ve been to Hawaii together, I’m hoping this little candle has the same effect for her.

8. The basket is a find from Target in their home decor section. I loved that it was cloth so she could reuse it in the baby’s nursery for toys or ointments or whatever. And it won’t splinter like a wicker or wood basket (even though I love how those look!)

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What are your go-to gifts for new* moms?

*the “new” here applies to any mom who has just given birth – whether it’s her first or fifth kid.

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I know ya’ll are dying to know what my buddy Jen is having after Friday’s post about the big weekend Gender Reveal. To see pics, check out her blog post!

The Gender Reveal party was pretty much the highlight of the weekend. I also went to another friend’s baby shower, and spent some quality time with my little family on Sunday, staying up way too late to watch the Grammys (and being envious of one of my former co-workers who was there, partying it up with JT – as in JUSTIN-FREAKING-TIMBERLAKE. Rough life, I tell ya!).

So here’s a random question: Does anyone ever cut off all the tags on their towels, washcloths, sheets, etc.? I don’t mean the purchase tags, but the ones that tell you what fibers it’s made of, how to wash it, and where it was made. Does everyone just keep those on there or do you ever cut them off? And what about the tags on baby toys? Do you cut those off ever? The reason I ask is because those little tags drive me insane. I don’t know why, but they’re starting to become a severe annoyance and I’m about to just lose control and take the scissors to everything with a tag. I have no reason or desire to know where my towel was made. And even if I do, I feel like I can read it one time and be over it. I just need someone to tell me it’s okay to cut them off. Or maybe ya’ll have been cutting those tags for years and I’m an idiot for waiting so long.

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Friday Five

1. I walked into baby D’s nursery this morning and found him sitting up in his crib. Looks like someone finally figured out how to sit up on his own!

2. Going up a size in diapers did not fix our nighttime leak issue. At least, not the first night. I’ll keep trying. In the meantime, I think we need to buy more pajamas. Or just do more laundry.

3. I went to Time For Dinner again last night, but this time met up with a group of girls for Girls’ Night Out. We had wine and appetizers and I walked out of there with about 16 freezer meals and a cherry crisp for dessert. I’m thinking we’ll need to make this a monthly occurrence.

4. One of my friends is having a baby shower on Saturday. I still need to go to Babies R Us to get her gift and I hope I can walk out of there with JUST her gift and nothing else.

5. This is the best one: One of my besties is having a gender reveal party on Saturday (after our other friend’s shower). She had her ultrasound on Wednesday and had the nurse write down the gender on a piece of paper. Then she dropped it off at MY house without looking at it. So now I know the gender but no one else does! (Well, except her OB and my husband.) I’ll be picking up blue or pink balloons tomorrow so we can do something like this (click photos for source links):

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I’ll also be making pink or blue filled cupcakes tonight.

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I am just so stinking excited (and honored) to be part of this huge moment! And I can’t wait to have another baby around to snuggle.

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Growth Spurts

Every time we cross another month off the calendar, it seems baby D hits a new major milestone. Month 8 has been no different. In just one 48-hour period, we’ve had FOUR big milestones, although I guess only two are really “growth” related.

1. First tooth! His bottom right front tooth is just barely peeking through the gums. We can feel it more than we can see it. Baby D doesn’t seem the least bit phased, though I did notice him chewing on his paci more than sucking it last night.

2. Clapping!! I’ve been trying to get him to clap for about a week now, and on Saturday, I noticed him trying to do it by himself while playing on the floor. Usually, he’ll grab a couple of blocks or other toys and bang them together to make the clapping noise, but this was the first time I really noticed him trying to do it with just his hands. He did it all evening on Sunday when we were at a friend’s house watching the Super Bowl. It’s just the cutest thing ever. I’ll have to try to get it on video soon.

I tend to cheer for him a lot when we play on the floor, especially when passing his plush basketball back and forth, and the look on his face shows he’s super excited to have a cheering audience. He also tends to look at the TV whenever he hears clapping too.

3. First snow! I don’t usually pay much attention to the weather forecasts, so I was a bit surprised to see the snow coming down on Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon, we bundled the little dude up and took him out for his first snow experience. He couldn’t move much in his little cocoon so he mostly just sat there and looked around. I put his little hand in the snow and he immediately pulled it away, unimpressed. His daddy tried to entertain him by snowballs at mommy. This was not fun for mommy, ahem. Then he threw one in baby D’s direction, and it landed right on top of his tiny little head! What a mean old daddy. He cried, of course, but only for a second. Then we all went back inside to warm up.

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Looking adorbs in his snow suit. I put him on his big boy coat since his little fleece suit wasn’t water-resistant.

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Love that little half-smile! This is obviously BEFORE daddy pegged him in the head with a snowball.

4. First Super Bowl! I have conflicted feelings about the Super Bowl. For the Super Bowl last year, my grandparents and a friend of ours came over to watch the game. I made pepperoni and roast beef roll-ups with pizza sauce and au jus for dipping. It was the last time my grandpa was ever at my house. We live about 45 minutes away and he really wasn’t supposed to be driving. It wasn’t easy for him to lug around his oxygen tank and he’d been sick since Christmas so he really hadn’t been feeling very well and was taking a lot of naps most days. Still, he came over for the game and was teasing our friend, who’s a big Patriots fan, about how he needed to call all his buddies and apologize for saying the Patriots were going to win (our friend did no such trash talking anyway, but it was funny to hear my grandpa tease him). It’s a great memory, but I didn’t want to spend this year sitting at home missing my grandpa so I pretty much invited myself over to my friend’s house about a week before the game, even though she had no intentions of having a Super Bowl party. We ended up all going over to her brother-in-law’s to watch the game, which worked out perfectly. We’ve hung out with them several times now and they’re a super fun couple (with two adorable kiddos). We pigged out on wings, brisket, pulled pork, stuffed jalapenos, chocolate chip cookies, mac & cheese, salad, bacon cheese dip, and of course, the beer and wine was a-flowin’. (Which is why you won’t be seeing a weigh-in post this week. I just couldn’t help myself!) We had a great time. And even though I wish more than anything we were spending D’s first Super Bowl with my grandparents again, this wasn’t such a bad alternative.

The game itself was fantastic, though I really only saw about half of the game and half of the commercials due to all the baby-wrangling, but still. So fun! And speaking of D, he was a little angel the entire time. Zero crying, and even when it was past his bedtime, he just fell asleep in my arms around 8:30 while I carried him around the house. Eventually I just put him in his car seat to snooze until the game was over.

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friends

As I alluded in yesterday’s post, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on a variety of levels. Today, I’ll focus on my perspective on friendships.

I’ve always been a pretty social person. You could say it was apparent as early as first grade when my teacher tried every possible (and still legal) tactic to try and stop me from chatting up my fellow classmates. I was placed in a different seat almost every day because she thought who I sat next to mattered to me. It did not. If they had two ears, they were getting talked to. (Side note: there was ONE boy that I didn’t chat as much with. He was weird, picked his nose, and smelled like pee. I was polite to him, but I pretty much lived in fear that the pee running down his leg was going to get on my shoes. And since I was relatively quiet around him, I ended up sitting next to him for about half the year.)

Flash forward to high school and things didn’t change much. I had my best friends, but I generally liked almost everyone. I never had problems finding people to sit with at lunch, or in a class. I didn’t play sports or cheer; I wasn’t particularly good looking or talented; but I wasn’t picked on or made fun of either. I just flocked from group to group, often the 3rd or 5th wheel in social circles. Generally liked but never identifying with a particular clique.

As for college, well, this was when friendships became a disaster for me. Long story short, I isolated myself in many ways. My best friend at the time ended up going away to college with me, and we made the unfortunate mistake of sharing a dorm room together. I don’t care who you are, but if you put two girls as close as sisters in a room the size of a closet, who are learning how to respect personal space at the same time, there will be fights. Everyone told us not to live together. Everyone. But we didn’t listen and by second semester, we all but hated each other and spent an entire summer not really speaking. What few friends we made in the dorms, she ended up keeping. She was always better at making friends anyway. Instead, I turned to guys and ended up in a 3-year long-distance relationship. And so goes the rest of my college years – spent on the phone or online, taking trips to visit the boyfriend, and therefore making zero effort to develop friendships with the people around me.  I didn’t play sports or music; I didn’t join a sorority; I didn’t even go to church. I had a couple of friends I could rely on to accompany me to the occasional party or two, but that was it. In short, I hated college.

But that was more than 9 years ago. I still kept a couple of close friends from high school, but I was eager to move on with my life post-college. I broke things off with the boyfriend and by summer 2004, my social life was FULL. As in, I’m-dating-two-guys-and-living-with-two-girls-so-I-party-every-night kind of life. It was awesome. I also lost about 20 lbs and was skinnier and happier than ever. I had my old friends, my new work friends, and friends of friends to hang out with whenever I wanted. It was fun, but also exhausting. Shallow, meaningless, and self-indulgent compared to life now, but that’s probably why it was so fun at the time.

And then I met my now-husband and I fell into my typical pattern of alienating most friends when a new guy was around. I can’t help it. I’ve just always been one of those girls. We still hung out with people, mostly his work friends or my work friends, but we also just liked spending time together. After less than 9 months of dating, we got engaged. Then it was wedding planning time in tandem with house-hunting time and then puppy-adopting time and suddenly, I didn’t have much time for friendships. I could count on two hands the number of friends that were invited to our wedding. Everyone else was family. As we created our new life together, I shed my old one like a snake sheds its skin. “I’ll make new friends,” I said. “Couples friends that we BOTH like. Friends we can go on vacation with and do double-dates with and have game nights with.”

Except, we were only 24 and 26 years old. And in this day and age, that’s a tad young to be getting married. We didn’t know any couples our age and it would be awhile before we met any. Besides, where do you go to meet couples friends? Match.com should get on something like that. Couplesfriends.com or something. Except that sounds like a site for swingers.

To make things even more difficult, my husband traveled about 75% of the time off and on for the first few years of our marriage. When he was home, it was “our time,” which left little availability for hanging out with friends. We would go months without ever seeing our closest friends. And with a dog at home that needed letting out, it’s not like I could take many people up on happy hour offers.

It’s easy to look back and see it all this way now. How time and circumstance kept us from developing deeper, meaningful friendships with others. But for the last several years, it’s never felt that way. I always felt left out. I would look at Facebook and see groups of people I knew hanging out together and I would get jealous. Jealous I wasn’t invited (to a child’s first birthday party when were were still childless). Jealous I didn’t have such a large group of friends to go to a concert with (when I already declined multiple invites to watch a friend’s band play). Most of my jealousy was pretty irrational, but again, it didn’t feel that way at the time.

I’m now 30 years old and as of Jan 30th, a mom for 8 whole months. Life is different now, and time is even more precious than it was before. So after years and years of feeling like my friendship circle just wasn’t big enough, I’ve finally come to realize that it is. I have lots of people I can email with, grab lunch or coffee with, and just generally shoot the shit. But there are only a couple of gals that I feel are my best friends (and their husbands too), that I talk with at least a couple times a week, if not almost every day. And I’m ok with that. If I somehow acquire more super close friends? Great! But if not? My life is not empty or friendless and I need to stop thinking that it is. It’s taken me years to finally overcome my friendship insecurities and be grateful for the few close friends that I have. They’re the kind of friends that I can talk to about anything without judgement. They know me better than most, and they still like me despite my flaws and our differences. And that’s really something.

Best of all, this self-reflection has helped me to stop feeling guilty and empty. The only thing I feel guilty about now is wasting so much time and brain space comparing my friendships to others. The problem was never with me, and I certainly don’t have a lack of friends. It was simply a case of lost perspective. That thing that happens when you look at others through just the Facebook lens and think their life is better than yours. It’s not.  And I finally realize that now.

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Parent Brain

I think I already know what I’m going to miss most about our pre-baby life.

Sleeping. Without a doubt. Sleeping.

This weekend was pretty low-key for us. We were in bed before midnight each night and didn’t get out of bed until after 9:30 each morning. On Sunday I even made the effort of fixing bacon and pancakes with coffee before heading out to watch one of my very best friends try on wedding dresses. (side note: I LOVE wedding dress shopping, so long as I’m not the person trying them on.) The good news is, we found the perfect dress for her. It even has pockets!! The bad news is, now all the attention will be focused on the issue of choosing bridesmaid dresses. Typically, I would be thrilled with this activity too (I haven’t been in many weddings, so I get excited about them easily), but there’s this itty-bitty problem with being 5 1/2 months pregnant that makes the whole dress-choosing process a little less than enjoyable. I don’t know yet how big I’m going to get, nor do I know how big I’ll be by the time this September wedding rolls around. Talking about and planning for a wedding that’s 8 months away is one thing. Talking about and planning for a wedding that’s 8 months away, and realizing I’ll have a 3 1/2 month old baby by then is sort of mind-boggling.

I have grand plans for losing the baby weight already (with the help of Weight Watchers) but losing weight has never been easy for me, not even on my most well-rested days. Throw in the constant needs of a newborn, some sleep deprivation, and a completely out of shape body, and well…let’s just say I’m a realist and I know this shit is gonna be hard.

And even if I do manage to meet my post-baby weight loss expectations, a bridesmaid dress isn’t typically something you can just buy off the rack the weekend before. Oh no. So what I’ll most likely end up doing is buying the same dress in a few different sizes, and hope that the return policy is friendly toward new mothers that don’t know just how jiggly their body parts will be.

Oh and did I mention I get to plan the bachelorette party? I’m super excited for it! I got a small taste of surprise party planning a couple of weeks ago when I threw the couple an engagement party (with tons of help from the groom’s SIL), but now I get to plan a party for just us girls and my mind is overflowing with the endless possibilities. But just when I start fantasizing about a bunch of girls, away for a weekend, jumping on hotel-room beds with champagne spilling and the lights of Vegas glowing in the background, that’s when I remember: Four of the five bridesmaids have or will have small children. A weekend in Vegas isn’t always something everyone can do. Or even something that everyone would enjoy.

It’s so strange, this whole parent-brain thing. I’m still used to the days when all you had to care about was making sure you didn’t overdraft your checking account. Now there are responsibilities, like tiny little people that depend on you, and husbands that aren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of being the lone parent for a couple of days. Not to mention the issue of breast-feeding and the complications that issue alone may cause. (Being a food source doesn’t exactly allow for complete freedom, after all.)

Sigh. So maybe Vegas is out.

I’m now taking recommendations on mom-friendly bachelorette party ideas. Bonus points if going to bed before 10pm is one of the main activities.

P.S. Belly pics are coming soon! I’ve had dozens two requests for them now and I only aim to please, so be on the lookout for those in a future post. That is, once I find something that simulates the feeling of drunkenness without all those pesky “not safe for pregnant women” warnings. 

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Christmas Recap Part 1

After our gender reveal appointment, the next week was just jam-packed with activities.

Wednesday night our friends, Jen & Aaron, came over to give us our first baby outfit!

Thursday afternoon we had plans to celebrate Christmas with my grandparents, aunt, and my 16 year-old cousin. I was super excited to give my cousin his presents since he had (jokingly) asked me for jeans from the Buckle, knowing the average price tag for jeans in that store is about $100. I love my cousin, but our Christmas budget isn’t THAT generous. Luckily enough, I happened to find a pair of jeans, in his size, missing a price tag that just happened to ring up for $29.99. Even the clerk was shocked. My cousin was SO HAPPY to have his first pair of Buckle jeans. I can’t say I understand the craze, but back when I was in high school, I remember paying $80 for a pair of khakis from Abercrombie & Fitch and worse them every chance I could. That is, until they ripped and I considered it the biggest waste of $80 ever.

We bought my grandpa a portable hard drive and a couple of gag gifts, like dreidels (he’s not Jewish) and a reindeer dog (from the Grinch) that dispenses chocolate covered raisins, making it look like it’s pooping.

For my grandma, we gave her a new purse, some socks (she asked for them), and a guitar ornament that plays Elvis Presley’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas. (My grandma has a thing for music boxes and trinkets. Oh and Elvis.)

We gave my aunt a gift card to the move theater. It’s the same thing we give her every year but she loves it.

The final gift for my grandparents was an ornament announcing our baby boy news. My grandma was shocked since she was predicting a baby girl, and my grandpa was just all smiles. He said he didn’t have a preference, just as long as it’s healthy, but they were glad to know. Even happier that they were the first to know – even before our parents. My grandpa jokingly threatened to call my mom and tell her ahead of time, even prank calling me and acting like he had the wrong number because he was trying to call my mom to tell her the news.

Sadly, we had to cut our visit a bit short because we were due for dinner plans with hubby’s aunts, uncle, and cousins. We played games and snacked on appetizers and cookies. Games are a tradition on my husband’s side of the family. We would play them at his grandparents’ house on Christmas night. But two years ago, his grandma passed away and we haven’t continued the tradition, so it was nice to spend some time with part of his family and start the games up again.

Later that night we finished off our own mini-Christmas, just the two of us. Every year, the hubs and I go a bit overboard on each other. Since we’re always out of town for Christmas, it seems silly to pack our presents for each other and haul them across the country only to have to bring them back again. So we just pick a night and open them early. The last couple of years, we’ve tried to spread the fun over multiple nights. (Hey, if Jewish people can have 8 crazy nights of presents, we can have 3 or 4 right?) So that’s that we do. And to make sure one of us doesn’t have 2 presents to open while the other person has 10, we agree on a number so we’re equal. This year, that number was 7 presents. No rhyme or reason to it other than the hubs finished shopping first and said he had 7 presents for me. So that’s what I got him as well. Here’s the rundown:

For me:

  • Burberry Body perfume
  • A salon gift card for a pregnancy massage
  • A maternity coat
  • Red jewelry set that included earrings, bracelet, and necklace
  • A new pillow
  • A personal planner
  • Wine bottle tea light holders

For him:

  • Collector’s edition of the entire series of LOST on DVD
  • A robe
  • Underwear
  • New sneakers
  • A Keurig coffee maker and an assortment of coffees
  • Dude You’re Gonna be a Dad book
  • Aqua Di Gio cologne

 

(Yes, I know we spend WAY too much on Christmas. Not just on ourselves but for everyone. It’s a sickness. But we love it!)

The next day, it was off to Ohio to visit the in-laws…

(to be continued…)

 

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