Monday, September 28, 2015

Life with two ...

In April I gave birth to our son, Elias. He is a sweet baby who likes to eat and snuggle. We are very much in love!

I knew I would like the newborn stage better this time around, having already adjusted to motherhood and having some idea of what to expect. I feel more confident and relaxed. However, layering Zoe's schedule with Elias' newborn unpredictability has been difficult but we are slowly finding our rhythm. It has been a good time for me to accept help, lessen my household expectations and focus on enjoying our babies.

What Tree School is teaching me

This year, Zoe, Elias and I are joining Tree School co-op, a small group of families who meet once a week at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee (which is AMAZING!) and let our kids explore and teach them about the outdoors.

Honestly, I have no idea what I'm going to do when it's my turn to teach/lead and I had so many reasons not to join that I almost didn't go and try it out. But I went and loved it and I thought what if my kids had a list of reasons/fears not to try something new and I just said okay. I didn't challenge their reasons or help them conquer their fears. What if I did nothing. What then.

What then.

And how will I expect our children to enter into new situations if I refuse to?
If I say No, it is too hard. No, it is too scary. No, I am overwhelmed.
How will I teach them to change that thinking to "it is hard but it is not impossible." "It is scary meeting new people and doing new things but it will help us grow." " I am overwhelmed. How can I ask for help?"

Props to the Tree School moms (and one grandma) who have welcomed us and helped me navigate the woods.

I am still becoming more comfortable bringing both kids anywhere by myself so taking them literally into the woods is both challenging and exciting. And I am easily overwhelmed on Monday mornings after working all weekend and Christopher and I have talked about what he can do to help us get ready for our day. Hopefully this will give us a fun start to our week together.  I am excited (but also still a little scared) to be part of a group of moms who share similar interests/passions and to learn from others about different ways to teach kids.

Zoe already learned the word "squirrel" and is already more comfortable with the group. She brought leaves and acorns home today to show Daddo and Loki. Elias has learned to nurse in the forest and enjoys sleeping in the carrier when he's tired.

We've only been twice and I am looking forward to the upcoming year!

Monday, August 24, 2015

For them

About two months ago I went back to work following my maternity leave after having Elias. I left the night shift hospital supervisor position to work weekends - DAY shift - on a medical/surgical floor. Around that same time, Christopher and I wrote down our personal and family goals for the next several years.

Over the years I have worked for many different goals. I've worked crazy amounts of overtime to pay off loans and go on fun trips with friends. I've worked to save money for a mission trip in Ghana, a down payment on a house and for our wedding and honeymoon fund.

It would be cliche (and not true) for me to say that I work "for my patients" - while I enjoy taking care of (most) patients, the hospital pays me for the hours I spend there and my job - like every other one in the world - involves activities that aren't very pleasant. Regardless, I am so thankful to look back at the many jobs I have had during my career and know that at this point, this job fits the needs of our family.

Today, at this stage in life, I work for them:

I work so that Christopher can write his dissertation during the week and also have quality time with the kids during the week.

I work so that one day these kiddos can run barefoot around our little hobby farm and collect our chickens eggs and pick produce from our gardens.

I work so that we will one day be a professor's family.

I work on the weekends so I can spend my weekdays taking walks, going to parks and juggling nap times.

I work for them. Not just to pay our rent or the grocery bill. I work for our future, for our dreams, for our life.

And in the process, I realize that I am living my dream.

*This could also be known as the post that broke the internet with too much cuteness.*

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

My Grandma's death and my son's birth

You know how sometimes, unrelated events become linked in your mind and that is that way you view them forever?

A little over three months ago, early on Easter morning, I was woken up early by a text from my dad and I drove out to the hospital to say good bye to my Grandma Schumann. It was a truly beautiful morning - the sun was rising, I remember seeing ducks on a pond near the hospital - and my family gathered around my grandma and said the Lord's Prayer as she entered the Kingdom of Heaven. It was calm, it was peaceful and it was beautiful.

It was also unexpected and sad.

I was over 38 weeks pregnant when she passed away.
Over the next week, my family made plans for her funeral which would be the following Saturday. For months (MONTHS!) I had been telling my parents - who were coming to watch Zoe while we were at the hospital - that they should come to Milwaukee that weekend because I knew (KNEW!) I was going to have our baby that weekend. Even though my due date was later that week and I was scheduled to work that Sunday and Monday, I was certain he would be born that weekend.
So I prayed that I would have peace if he came before the funeral and I couldn't attend. He didn't and I was able to spend that weekend with my family, celebrating her life. I am so thankful for that gift. Had things been different - had we lived further away - had I given birth to Elias on a different day - it may not have been possible for me to be there so I really do view it as a gift.

On Sunday, we woke up a little tired and decided to stay home. I was supposed to work that night and wanted to rest (thank goodness I did!!). I was rather baffled by the fact that I was still pregnant but when my mom asked if she should stay in town, I said no. I was planning on going to work and was feeling pretty good. I remember driving to work thinking that I never really planned to work that night - I was convinced that I would have a baby by then.

At work, my gracious co-worker gave me an easy job for the first few hours. Around 10pm, I thought I may be having contractions and by 11pm, I knew that they were regular and getting closer together. I had had a fair amount of Braxton Hicks contractions prior but when these started, I knew they were different. Now, even though I work at a hospital, we don't do babies so everyone freaked out a little bit when I said that I was in labor. =) I knew I had plenty of time - 12 hours in fact - so I called my co-worker who was "on call" for me and went home.

After a shower to see if it would slow things down - it didn't - our friend Andrew came over to spend the night with Zoe and Loki because I had told my mom that it was okay to go to Oshkosh. She drove back in the morning and was there when Zoe woke up.

Now, Zoe's labor was interesting because I had some sort of infection (a fever, high WBC count, etc) and I was started on pitocin almost right after getting to the hospital. I still had a natural (medication/epidural free) birth but it was busy. So I was amazed at how much time we had "alone" during this labor. We walked the halls repeatedly and I met the nurse in our room on the hour so she would check my vitals. I was given a little box - like telemetry - and could see the baby's heart beat and my contractions on the screen by the nurses station as we walked by. I never met the on call dr who "admitted" me. It was calm and peaceful. I tried to rest --- hahaha. My body seems to like having contractions exactly 3 minutes apart for HOURS which is what it has done with both babies.

Around 8 am, my doctor came in - it was now Monday morning - and was pleased with my progress. I was fairly exhausted and repeatedly asked Christopher and Kara, our doula, to tell me that the last stage of labor would be quicker than it was with Zoe. I pushed for three hours with her and I didn't think I had it in me. They were quick to reassure me that it would be faster.

By 10 am, it appeared that I had stopped progressing at 8 cm and my doctor broke my waters. Elias Christopher was born one (very long and hard) hour later.

He giggles in his sleep and pretty much every time we look at him.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Life Rules According to My Toddler

Life Rules According to My Toddler

  • Don’t feel compelled to choose favorite foods. Eat tons of one thing one day and then none of it the next.
  • Decide on a certain activity (“outside”) and then demand it every day after breakfast.
  • If an item is in a bag or in a drawer, take it out and put it somewhere else. Repeatedly.
  • Do anything for fruit snacks.
  • If you find a tiny loose item, clearly it belongs in a hole of some sort – try the keyhole on the door first, then the dog’s kong.
  • Multiple pieces of the same toy should never all be in the same room. Ever.
  • When deciding on which book to read before bed, refuse every one except the last one. Any other time you should ask to read every book a minimum of five times.
  • When someone gives you horsie rides, they should always wear bunny ears.
  • Peak - a - boo is the solution to every conflict. And fruit snacks
  •  Taking a walk is code for time to examine every thing on the side walk ... and in the grass ... and any nearby area. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Prepping for Baby #2

For fun - or maybe because this is a form of nesting - here's what we've been up to prepping for Baby #2, aka Baby Brother's arrival. IN. LESS. THAN. FIVE. WEEKS.

  • Transform the office into a second nursery. The upstairs of our bungalow has two virtually identical rooms; Christopher was using one for an office and he worked hard moving his stuff out. There still is some work to do - mainly sorting and boxing up some leftover stuff - but we are pleased. We will add a rocker to the corner (a gift from my parents) and some room darkening fabric to the curtains.

  •  Transition Zoe to one afternoon nap. I wanted her on a solid schedule before the baby arrived and she had been toying with dropping one of her naps for a while. We just decided one day to keep her up til after lunch and she did well with the cold turkey approach. We've been enjoying having our mornings free and she has been taking great, long afternoon naps.
  • Make freezer meals. A few weeks ago, my mom came to visit and I worked on making meals for the freezer. I made about 16 meals and am really happy with that since most should feed us for two meals. In the next month, we'll make some double batches of breakfast-y type foods (oatmeal, pancakes, etc) and freeze those since I think that will really help once Christopher is working during the day. I'm also planning on prepping/cooking a double batch of something every week this month to give us a little more variety. 
  • Let Amazon "shop" for us. Since we have Amazon prime, we've added some household things to our subscribe and save list. We've also had a Honest Company account for awhile and have been pleased with that. Hopefully that will help keep us out of Target with two littles for a while. 
  • Pack a bag for the hospital. Although it seems obvious, I have put it on my list since I have had labor flashbacks just thinking about what needs to go in it and I don't want to totally put it off.  I also need to FIND our workbook from our birthing class so we can review some things that we didn't get to use during Zoe's labor and birth. And update our birth plan ... pretty much just change the date.
  • Unfortunately, both Zoe and Loki can't really understand what is going to happen but we are talking about Baby Brother and have a few things planned to help Zoe with the transition - a baby doll and a new busy board. Hopefully it will warm up enough to allow us to take Loki for lots of walks to help get him into a happy place.  
There are a few things left on our list but we are happy where we stand and know that we will have lots of grandparent help/love when he arrives. We are looking forward to Spring, Easter (talk about bad timing ... being 8+ months pregnant during lent!) and our new baby. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

How is it possible that we will have two babies in less than two months?!?!?!

When we hung this sign upstairs, I inwardly scoffed at the "babies" part of it, assuming that only one baby would ever sleep in the upstairs of our rented bungalow.  I didn't ever consider that we'd have two babies in two years ... that we would transform the office into a second nursery ... that there would be a baby monitor on both sides of our bed. But here we are; God clearly had other plans.

I had no idea what I was doing when we brought Zoe home from the hospital.

In fact, I had no idea what I was doing for awhile. I remember the first time she smiled in my general direction and I thought that maybe, just maybe, I was something more than breasturants, diaper changer and a bouncer.

I loved her at hello but it took awhile for me to fall in love with her. It took me even longer to fall in love with motherhood. But we got there. 

And we got here, where the idea of another baby isn't quite so scary. Where it doesn't take two hours of preparation to leave the house. Where she has ways to communicate and we can (kind of) decipher the words that come out of her mouth. Where the idea of a newborn "schedule," nighttime feedings and sleepy snuggles actually makes me excited.

It is strange to think that the baby that was our initiation into the crazy, randomness of parenthood will be the big girl that will be our constant. She will grow up never knowing life without her brother and we will tell her about when it was just her and she was so much fun but we knew there was more to our family.

So we cleaned out the office and put up a second crib. I have extra meals in the freezer and a google docs named "Baby Survival." We transitioned Zoe to one nap and spent a last "babymoon" night away. We have enjoyed our big girl becoming more interactive, creative and independent and we look forward to meeting our little boy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Life with our toddler (almost 16 month old)

Sleeping. She continues to be a rockstar in this department, blessedly. All night and usually two naps.

Eating. Enjoying fruits, veggies and pasta. Not certain about meat but she tries it. Sometimes eats with a spoon or fork .... messy!!!! If you are eating something she likes, you better finish before she does because she will ask for your portion. Still drinking milk from a bottle but she has finally learned how to drink from a sippy cup without choking so we will soon work on the transition.

Walking. Running. Climbing. Dancing. 

Playing. Consists mostly of taking everything out, playing with any single item for 2 seconds and moving on. Her favorite things to carry around are a cords and a vodka bottle. The last month has brought a love of stuffed animals - puppy, lamby and a pink bunny that she calls "meow-me" (which was the name of her sitter's cat). At times, she will sit and read books at length, either by herself or with us.

Words. She talks so confidently and loudly you would not know that most of what she says makes no sense. She says our names and seems to have a word for Loki, along with her puppy and mewme. She tries to say "thank you" and "that?" regularly. She points to her feet/toes, nose and head/hair when asked.

Fun. She is more fun every day. We love watching her learn, listening to her laugh and helping her explore her little world. Every day is a gift.

She no longer sits still long enough to take good pictures but Auntie Gina got some good ones at Christmas-time:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I have thought a little bit of what my "word of the year" should be and each time I come up with the tongue and cheek answer of "survive." I think there will be a lot of days this year where we simply put one foot in front of the other, where we go with the flow and just try to make it til bedtime.

Most of the time I am slightly terrified of adding a baby to the mix; it feels like we just got things figured out with one kid. The reasonable side of me knows that it will be alright; that many people do it but the emotional side of me remembers how long it takes to breastfeed a newborn and the many hours we spent bouncing and shhhhhhhh-ing and crying. Zoe may not have been the world's easiest baby but I think she was fairly average. 

There will be a few weeks (I haven't actually figured out how long since it doesn't really matter - it is what it is) where we wont have an income. My PTO and short term disability will be used up and Christopher isn't teaching. Christopher is trying to finish his dissertation this year. And we aren't sure yet what we will do for child care once I do go back to work. The solution may involve me changing hours or changing jobs.

People often ask if we wanted to have our kids close together. The best answer I can give is "we do now." And then, someone says that I am a poster child for getting pregnant while breastfeeding. Thanks. I know. I know. 

Props to the people who have told me that they have done it that it is hard work at first but gets easier. Props to my friends who have reassured me that they loved growing up with siblings close in age.
Props to my new niece who demonstrated how wonderful it is to have a newborn fall asleep in your arms. (I had also forgotten how tiny they are and was reminded that baby boy will be much lighter than Zoe.)

I have been imagining (positive imagery people!) what it will be like to sit and nurse a baby while Zoe is running around and how we can go for walks with the Moby, stroller and Loki. I don't know what Zoe will be doing in a few months but I think she will quickly be getting to the stage of being more verbally redirect-able. I am working on independent play with Zoe and she is doing great. We are coming up with strategies for the sleep loss and planning to make lots of freezer meals. We are redecorating the office on a budget and are getting rid of things we don't need.

By the end of the year, we should be fairly adjusted to being a family of 4 and there should be many many paged of Christopher's dissertation written. We may even have a plan for the next years of life.

"Survive" may seem like a small goal and I know we will do much more than that but it seems like a good place to start.