New Year Goals

Okay, I make resolutions every year. I make a big fuss over it. I get super excited about it, make a plan, charts, lists, and blog about it. Usually it falls pretty flat (though I will pat myself on the back with following through with my weight loss goals from last year). I am definitely one of those people who loves to plan, plan, plan, but has horrible execution, most likely because my expectations are waaaaaay to high. 

But I still keep doing it. 

I’m not entirely sure what’s wrong with me, because here I am, ready to jump in again, ready to fill my plate up with hopes and dreams, even when I have a pretty huge event looming ahead at the beginning of this upcoming year. 

I always feel like it will be different this time, but maybe, with a little bit more hindsight, it will be different. 

Here are my goals (let’s not even call them resolutions) for the upcoming year: 

Start the switch to whole/real foods (emphasis on the word “start”). I need to pick one area to start eliminating or changing what we’re eating and just do it. Once I feel confident in that area, then maybe move on to something else. We’ll see where I am a year from now. 

Eliminate one hour of screen time for E. and myself (the hubs, too, if he’ll get on board). I feel like we don’t watch a ton of T.V. in our house, but I can feel it starting to take over. I’m going to give myself a break in the first few months that the baby is here, but once summer vacation hits, I’m hoping to subtly remove some screen time for E. and myself (this means laptop/tablet time for me). 

Read one longer “chapter book” to E. I want to start looking up good books that will be more or less on her level. She’s a smart cookie and we did read Charlotte’s Web this year. I’d like to find something else she’d really enjoy, too. 

Read at least two books that are just fun for me. Minuscule goal, I know, but I have such a hard time reading for pleasure now. Hopefully the two books will turn into twenty, but considering I have a new baby on the way, I’m not holding my breath. I might have to try to reach this goal in the next few weeks!

Write more. It’s my perennial goal. Maybe this will be the year. Ordinarily I’d need a way to measure how much “more” would be, but at this point, writing anything on a regular basis besides blog posts would be more. 

Play more. I’m crappy at playing. Really. I need to spend more time with E. just having fun, unstructured time. I have found in the past that I can take a half hour, at least, out of our evenings at home and play a game, play with dolls, coloring, or reading extra books. I hope as I make more time for play, the easier it will become. 

Reintroduce exercise to my lifestyle. I’ve been really crappy about working out through this pregnancy. Granted, I move around a lot when I’m at home and at work, but I had hoped to keep up with walking and working out like I had prior to getting pregnant. I want bring it back into my life at least to the point it was before I got pregnant, if not more so. 

Maintain a cleaning schedule. I suppose if I’m going to maintain a cleaning schedule I need to create one. And I kind of had and was keeping up with it up until the onset of Thanksgiving and whatnot. I might have to throw it up on my calendar again and get it going once more. 

So, there you have it. I think it might seem like a lot, and maybe it is, but I also feel like the goals are vague enough that I can feel good about them even if minimal amounts of work actually gets done. We’ll see what happens…

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Baby Prepping

 

So, at some point I might post pictures from our Christmas, but my brain moves fast lately and as soon as dear old St. Nick laid his head down to rest after the big night on Monday into Tuesday, the gears started turning towards the next big event in our life. 

E.’s fifth birthday. (Trust me, it’s already crossed my mind, a mere five months ahead of time.) 

The arrival of the baby. 

So, post Christmas, here’s what’s left on my Must Have/Would Really, Really Like to Have List: 

An Arms Reach Co-Sleeper

I’ve officially decided that we’re going to get, somehow, someway, the Convertible Mini, because it’s smaller and less expensive. Apparently the weight limit is 30 lbs., but considering E. just hit 40 lbs. at 4.5 years old, then that weight limit is more than enough. 

I also have a few smaller things that need to be purchased, like bottles (we only have three), baby shampoo, and, yep, I’m gonna say it, nipple cream. But really, they aren’t huge things, and it’s stuff, other than the bottles, maybe, that I can add to my grocery list and pick up a little bit every couple of weeks. 

I’m not worried. 

The next big project I have for the next few weeks is my hospital bag. Well, actually, hospital suitcase. Because I don’t know for sure how long I’ll be at the hospital and because home isn’t as conveniently located as it was with my daughter (45 minutes vs. 5 minutes), I need to think really carefully about how and what I’m going to pack. 

The biggest help in this process? Pinterest (link is to my “In My Hospital Bag” board). I love that site, because I can be an equally verbal and visual communicator. I like pictures and then the captions underneath are like the icing on top. 

Anywho, off the top of my head, these are the things I know I MUST have in my bag, because I didn’t have them last time and it suuuuuucked

  • A couple of pairs of my own jammies

  • Hair clips (purchased some today) and hair elastics

  • Shampoo and conditioner

  • Razor

  • Make-up

  • Snacks, for both labor and during the hospital stay

     

     

 

I do have other things on the list, particularly baby pertinent items (you know, like clothes and stuff) and items for labor, but these were the most important for me to remember, because, like I said, I didn’t have them last time, and, honestly, I probably wouldn’t think of packing these things without thinking about it ahead of time. 

But why do I have all these little beauty product items? Because, after you push a multi-pound baby out of your va-jay-jay or are gutted like a farm animal up for slaughter, you kind of feel and look like…crap. Or I did, at least. When I got to the hospital to have my daughter I already felt crappy (and you would too, at ten days over due) and gross – forget how I felt after a c-section and four day hospital stay. I was stuck using hospital shampoo and conditioner, a cheap-o razor, and a piddly travel brush to get myself back to human status post-birth. And then I put on the clothes I came to the hospital in. 

I’m not doing that again, no thank you! 

So, while I will be haggard and exhausted after this little guy comes around, I know I will feel better for having my own shampoo and conditioner, a decent razor, and some make-up (I should add to my list above a cute buy comfy going home outfit for me). 

As for the jammies, snacks, and hair stuff – 1.) You want your own clothes. Johnnies are not cute, not comfy, and way too revealing no matter what the situation. I’m packing a ratty t-shirt for labor and delivery (because that’s going to be a throw-away afterwards), and then a couple comfy pairs of my favorite jammies. 2.) I plan on eating as I please during labor, though of course, I’m going to try to pick items that will help boost my energy, more than anything else. I pinned some ideas on my Pinterest board. 3.) Believe it or not, I did not bring hair elastics with me to the hospital. My hair was a mess the whole time, got in my face, drove me nuts. And it was a totally gross rats’ nest after delivery, too, and stayed that way until I went home. Not happening this time. In fact, I’m thinking of asking one my best friends to come in and French braid my hair for me after the baby comes, so it’s out of my way, but looks nice (and I can get away with sleeping in it for a couple of days). 

And, speaking of hair, in addition to buying some hair clips and elastics today, I also got my hair done, because it needed it and I’ve vowed to not go into the hospital looking like a total slob. 

Whatcha think?

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It so, so needed to be done and feels so, so much better! I’m totally ready to have another baby, right? 

Week 31

Week 31 (December 7 – December 14) 

Estimated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: The babe is starting to do those twisty movements where I feel like my entire belly is shifting position

Body Changes: Achey hips and pelvic joints

Cravings: Carby carb carb carbs

High Point:  An extra long weekend due to a snow storm on Monday and a personal day on Tuesday. Purpose of the personal day? I had an ultrasound in the Big City – the last one, presumably – before the boy gets here. Everything went well and looked good, except for one minor thing (see below)…

Also, I got to go out to dinner with my daddy afterward. Always a plus 🙂

Low Point: It’s really not that big of a deal, but that silly baby boy wouldn’t turn around! We didn’t get any good views of his face or profile because he was back-to the whole time. Luckily we got great views of him during the last ultrasound, so there aren’t any worries, it was just a bummer. I also didn’t get any pictures of him! I’d take pics of his little fetus behind over nothing at all!

What I did to prepare this week:  Christmas prep has totally taken over!!

Paranoid Moment: None that I can think of.

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: “This week, your baby measures over 16 inches long. He weighs about 3.3 pounds (try carrying four navel oranges) and is heading into a growth spurt. He can turn his head from side to side, and his arms, legs, and body are beginning to plump out as needed fat accumulates underneath his skin. He’s probably moving a lot, too, so you may have trouble sleeping because your baby’s kicks and somersaults keep you up. Take comfort: All this moving is a sign that your baby is active and healthy.”

Week 30!

Week 30 (November 30 – December 7) 

Estimated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: Braxton-Hicks and lots and lots of movement!

Body Changes: Growing a belly and more milk production

Cravings: Carby carb carb carbs

High Point:  E. attended her sibling class. It was a neat class and totally appropriate for a four year old, especially since it involved E. getting to play with her very own baby doll. They talked about how carefully hold baby brother or sister, discussed how babies demand a lot of attention from mommy and daddy, and that big brothers and sisters can be great helpers and that their parents still love them every bit as they always have. E. really liked it and I think it helped her have a slightly better idea of what it to expect when her brother finally arrives. 

Low Point: Overall, this was a pretty great week.

What I did to prepare this week:  The sibling class was pretty much it.

Paranoid Moment: None that I can think of.

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: “Your baby’s about 15.7 inches long now, and she weighs almost 3 pounds (like a head of cabbage). A pint and a half of amniotic fluid surrounds her, but that volume will decrease as she gets bigger and takes up more room in your uterus. Her eyesight continues to develop, though it’s not very keen; even after she’s born, she’ll keep her eyes closed for a good part of the day. When she does open them, she’ll respond to changes in light but will have 20/400 vision — which means she can only make out objects a few inches from her face. (Normal adult vision is 20/20.)”

Week 29

*Note: I’m about six weeks behind at this point…which is crazy to think about, because I’ve only got about six weeks left!

Week 29 (November 23 – November 30) 

Estimated Due Date: February 8th, 2013

Symptoms: Braxton-Hicks and lots and lots of movement!

Body Changes: Growing a belly and more milk production

Cravings: Carby carb carb carbs

High Point:  My mom got to come with me to one of my birth classes this week! The hubs had to work and since my mom is my fill in birth partner until the hubs is able to show up, should he be at work when the whole show starts, I thought it would be cool for her to go (rather than be alone). My mom has such a great sense of humor about stuff and is really supportive, so having her there was really nice. I think my birth classmates enjoyed having her there, as well.

Oh, and update – I passed my glucose test 🙂

Low Point: Overall, this was a pretty great week.

What I did to prepare this week:  Some organization, making of lists…the usual.

Paranoid Moment: None that I can think of.

What’s going on “in there”: The folks at BabyCenter say: “Your baby now weighs about 2 1/2 pounds (like a butternut squash) and is a tad over 15 inches long from head to heel. His muscles and lungs are continuing to mature, and his head is growing bigger to make room for his developing brain. To meet his increasing nutritional demands, you’ll need plenty of protein, vitamins C, folic acid, and iron. And because his bones are soaking up lots of calcium, be sure to drink your milk (or find another good source of calcium, such as cheese, yogurt, or enriched orange juice). This trimester, about 250 milligrams of calcium are deposited in your baby’s hardening skeleton each day.”

Elves, Tinself, Paper Chains, and BOOKS!

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Well, let’s start here. Emma, as you can see, decided she would break into the M&Ms I had left over from cookies this past weekend, and then, flushed with embarrassment, went and hid in one of cupboards. You might notice the little orange speck near her on the shelf – apparently she decided to take some of the M&Ms with her. I can’t say I’m entirely unhappy with her eating up some of our treats, because I know I’ve been eating way too much junk!

The cool part about this latest elf trick? The hubs and I both had a hand in it and even  was surprised this morning!

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A jingle bell version of the angel Gabriel.

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Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad.

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A crown for Jesus.

So, since I last updated E. and I have completed three more crafts for Truth in the Tinsel. I’m still really into it and E. is enjoying it, too, particularly the crafts (which has led to a lot of non-Christmas related crafting in our house, which I’m totally down with). It’s been a great experience so far and I like how much I’m relearning about the story of Jesus’ birth and how much E. is learning as we go along.

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The beginnings of our paper chain Christmas tree.

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A very shoddy picture of our wrapped Christmas books.

Now for our last two Christmas…things…(I’m not sure what to call them. They aren’t really traditions because this is our first year doing them.)

As a kid, we always had an Advent calendar. It was usually one of those paper ones where you popped open the doors. Sometimes there might even be pieces of sort of stale tasting cheap chocolate! I remember loving my next-door-neighbors’ calendar, which was a pretty wooden one with little doors where there might be candy or little slips of paper with clues for finding early Christmas gifts.

While I do (I promise) have really fond memories of our paper Advent calendars, I have always dreamt of having the lovely wooden Advent calendar I coveted for so long. But that didn’t happen for this year and I devised a different (and free) version of an Advent calendar for this year.

I saw in Pinterest a Christmas tree made from construction paper rings that you took apart over the course of Christmas season. I liked the idea, but wanted to put my own twist on it. First of all, I’d had to make something only to slowly take it apart. So, I decided we would construct a paper chain tree rather than take one apart. In addition to that, I felt like I should add a little something to the paper strips to make this Advent “calendar” a bit more interactive. So, on each strip I wrote either a question, fact, or activity for E. and I to do (or E. and the hubs, depending on who’s home and available). Some examples: Did you know that polar bears live at the North Pole, too. (I play a little fast and loose with my facts.) What do you think baby Jesus would like for his birthday? Let’s call up Grandma and Grandpa and sing Jingle Bells!

It wasn’t a hit right away, because I made the fatal mistake of forgetting (twice!!) to let E. help make the chain and just reading her what was on the strips of paper. But after letting her do the taping and whatnot, it was a hit.

The very last thing I have, though it’s the first thing we do each morning, are the books. Twenty-four wrapped Christmas books. Holy crap. It took me a few nights to get to all of them, and poor E. was barely able to contain herself when she saw this pile of wrapped packages growing on our highest shelf (by the way, Emma the Elf got ALL the credit from E. for wrapping the presents – totally not fair as it didn’t even cross her mind that I could have done it!). I hate to say it, but I think she’s been a tiny bit sad each morning to open a package and have it be a book she already has. I explained to her that all the packages were likely books, and ones that she had at that, because I had noticed that a whole bunch of our Christmas books were missing (yes, I actually own MORE than twenty-four Christmas books). This was actually the first morning where she was really happy with the book she opened. I think it’s slowly growing on her.

Hey, at least I’m excited!

Throwing it Up in the Air and Seeing What Sticks

 

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First of all, please admire my little four year old’s work above. Other than the cutting of the candle silhouette, she did all the work. The gluing, the placing of the tissue paper, all of it. I was super impressed!

Now, why did E. make this super cute little tissue paper/candle silhouette doohicky? It’s (going to be) a Christmas ornament that we made using a template from Truth in the Tinsel.

Truth in the Tinsel is an Advent activity eBook that I found and purchased a few days ago, because I realized E. honestly has no idea as to why we celebrate Christmas. Heck, sometimes I’m not sure why we celebrate Christmas. I thought it would be a good book to follow along with through the Advent season.

So what exactly is involved? First of all, if you check out the site, there is a sample page giving you a lay out of what each day involves, but I’ll also explain:

First, there is a short passage to read from the Bible. This is probably my favorite part for me, because, despite my sort of ambiguous religions affiliations and beliefs, I love reading the Bible. It’s a really rich and interesting text. That said, for a four year old, some of it can go a bit over her head. I basically had to translate what was being said, but since the passage (at least for Day One) was so short, she didn’t mind listening.

Then there is the craft activity along with the “Talk About it Together” section, which basically helps the adult explain to the child what the Bible passage was talking about, as well as why you’re making that particular craft. It’s sort of like notes to a lesson plan for those of you who are familiar with writing lesson plans. I really like this section, because it helps me get my thoughts in order to explain what we’re doing to E. and how to put the “true” meaning behind Christmas into a more kid-friendly frame of mind. Also, if I don’t fully agree with the wording of something, I’m not married to it – I can alter things as needed. And the crafts are cute, make sense (like, the candle was paired with the prophecy of Jesus’ birth in Isaiah which talks about how Jesus will bring light to the world), and are fairly easy to do. Plus, if you don’t want to do that exact craft, for whatever, reason, they’re pretty easy to modify or find something different that delivers the same message.

I’m really looking forward to doing this every day with E. and with the hubs when he’s home. I think it’s a fun, simple way to get in touch with the religious aspects of why we celebrate Christmas.

 

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So, before I go, here’s a little update on our elfin visitor. This morning E. found her on top of our bookshelf (conspicuously close to my friend’s copy – which I need to return! – of Fifty Shades Freed). E. thought it was pretty funny she was reading a book,  thought it was pretty great she was reading Jane Austen’s Emma, considering our elf shares the same name. I will admit, for my own personal (and sort of sick) sense of humor, I wanted to set up the Fifty Shades book, but I figured I ought to keep in appropriate, even if E. wouldn’t get the joke. (The hubs would, and probably wouldn’t have been too impressed.)

A New Tradition: Our Elf on the Shelf

I’ve been avoiding this for a long time. I don’t like fads. I mean, I’m the kid who refused to read Harry Potter until they were on the verge of publishing the third book because I didn’t want to read “what everyone else” was reading (and now, 13 years later, I’m a huge Potterhead). Also, as I insisted even as recently as a week ago, this tradition seemed a wee bit creepy. But between damn social media pressure and my desire to do something really fun with E. in the lead up to Christmas (and we have a few other things going on that I’ll post about later), I caved and ordered our Elf on the Shelf from Amazon on Wednesday.

Emma, as she has been named by E., arrived via a very nice Fed Ex guy (he left a dog biscuit for our pup) last night. We had to wait for the hubs to get home before we opened the box and read the book, which was a bit painful for both E. and I, but as soon as Daddy made it home and was comfortably settled in, we broke out the box and read the story.

E. was a wee bit freaked out.

It took a lot of coaxing and explaining and comforting to reassure her that the little elf in the red long Johns wasn’t going to burst out of the box and start dancing around (or worse…). Eventually, she chilled and asked if she could touch the elf and we reminded her that the book explained that if you touch the elf, she will lose her magic (though, apparently, if there is an accident, you can give the elves cinnamon and that rejuvenates them – go figure). While she was disappointed, I was happy she was starting to relax about the idea of our little visitor, and I also had a back up plan in case she really wanted a new elf friend to cuddle (see below).

So, we left Emma to her own devices while we all went to the den and watched Frosty the Snowman and had cookies and then E. went to bed.

This morning we came downstairs and noticed Emma was no where to be seen. Where could she be, E. wondered. We checked all over the house and eventually found her like this in our bathroom:

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E. thought this was hysterical that Emma had been doing her make-up and was wearing one of E.’s hair clips. It immediately cracked any of her left over nerves about a small elf wandering around our house. I thought it was pretty clever myself (and hope I haven’t topped myself already).

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So, to solve the “no touching” issue I picked up a little friend for E. to play with during the Christmas season as Emma spends time at our house. Above you see E. with Emma II, a plush version of the real deal and who can totally be played with and cuddled. Emma II hasn’t left E.’s side since last night and I think that she and E. make quite a cute pair (and sort of look alike, based on the picture above). If you ask E. where Emma II came from she’ll say Mama just found her on the door step, waiting to come in. In truth, she came from our local bookstore for about $12.50, which I thought was a good deal, especially when it meant preserving the magic of our Elf on the Shelf and my sanity.

In the end, I feel like cracking under pressure was a good idea. This is a fun tradition for all involved. The hubs and I are looking forward to thinking of more fun ways to hide the elf and E. has been having fun thinking of where she might find little Emma next and what she might be telling Santa when she goes back to the North Pole at night.

But, as mentioned, this is not our only Christmas countdown tradition this year. What will I post about next? Well, there’s the Advent Christmas tree chain, 24 individually wrapped Christmas books (that, according to E., must have been wrapped by Emma, because she never saw me do it), AND the Truth in the Tinsel (which I’m loving, though we’ve only done one night, obviously).

What Christmas traditions are you favorites or are you just trying out for the first time?