Saturday, May 31, 2014

Peanut Post: How to paint when you don't have paints

While helping Mama make thank you cards to take to our nurses and doctors, Peanut decided she wanted to paint instead of use markers.  Since we didn't have any paint, this consisted of brushing over the marker lines with a dry paintbrush, which wasn't too exciting.   

But then I had the idea to add water.  Since the markers were washable, I knew they'd run and still be able to wipe off of Annalyn and the table.  This was instantly a huge hit and a big help while Daddy was mowing the lawn.  

Basically, I'd take makers and make a pattern of some sort on card stock, then let her dip her brush in water to make the colors run - as close to painting as we were going to get.  But Peanut loved it!  Craft time success!!

Peanut's masterpieces 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

About Aboo: Introducing Emelina Mae

Introducing Emelina Mae born 5.23.14 @ 9:01pm, weighing 6lbs 15oz, 19.5" long. 

Dear Emelina,

Here's the story of how I got to meet you!  The story of how our little "tummy baby" finally came out.  It's one of those stories I almost hate to tell.  Women will hate us for this one, Emma.  But it's our story and I absolutely love you for it.  

Your birth story actually starts well before your birthday, like two and a half days before.  That's right, I started having regular contractions around 4:30am on Wednesday May 21st.  They were about 10-15min apart and uncomfortable but not very painful when I started my 13 hour workday, so I headed in to the pharmacy after giving Daddy strict orders to keep his phone close - just in case.   From the outside, it was business as usual, but I continued to contract/cramp about every 10min, though they didn't change much in frequency.  Some felt like menstrual cramps, some hurt my back, and others caused intense downward pressure.   But I could work through them, and the closest they got was about 8 min apart that evening.  Nonetheless, Grandma (my mom) decided to drive over just in case so she could be there for Annalyn.  

I woke up Thursday morning to much of the same.  I'd only been awakened by I a couple contractions, yet they were still happening regularly and about 8-10 min apart.  Michael was anxious and woke up ready to time them, but like I told him - if I can sleep through them, they haven't increased in intensity.  At my 38 week appointment later that morning, Dr. Craig said it sounded like early labor, especially since I was dilated to 4cm and 80% effaced (up from 2-3cm, 70% effaced at last week's appointment).  Baby was even in position, head down, back out, and nice and low (which I'd  been feeling for awhile, too).  She also told me Dr. Stevens (my usual OB) was on call until 7am.  We were definitely planning ahead, yet nothing changed. 

That evening we went to the zoo for the members-only preview of the new orangutan exhibit.  I still remember when Daddy wrote that on the calendar and I told him there was a good chance we'd either have a baby or be in labor (my guess from the beginning has been Memorial Day weekend).  The exercise caused the contractions to intensify a little, but still nothing to get excited about yet.

Friday morning I woke up frustrated and still contracting.  The downward pressure made it uncomfortable to sit around and I had the urge to walk, so Grandma, Annalyn, and I headed back to the zoo to go see the flamingo walk (every day at 10am they let the flamingoes out to eat and they will actually walk up and interact with you).  I guess I knew what I was doing because long about the rhinos I started having more intense contractions (it was probably the bouncy bridge that did me in!).  

After a very chill zoo visit, I decided to take a nap before work at 4pm.  When I realized that there was no way I could sleep through these, I started timing them... Now they were averaging 6-7 min apart and getting painful.  I called the doctor's office to see if I could be checked before work, and had Michael meet me there.  Dr. Craig said I was now dilated to 5cm and definitely in labor, though no need to rush.  She called the hospital and told them we were coming to be directly admitted.  After a quick stop home so Michael could change out of work clothes, we were on our way! 
Last photo as a family of three!

We arrived at St. Vincent Women's Hospital around 4:30pm and were admitted to a labor room.  Our nurse, Cindy, immediately started IV fluids and antibiotics (for GBS+), as well as Pitocin to help increase my contractions.  They hooked up the belts to monitor your heartbeat and my contractions, then did a quick ultrasound to see how you were positioned (so low we could barely get your head in the picture!).  Around 6pm, we met Dr. Payne who would deliver you and he broke my water at 6:20pm.  At this point I was still dilated to 5-6ish and 90% effaced, but the combination of breaking my water plus Pitocin caused some pretty strong contractions about 2.5-3min apart.   And the nausea... But luckily, my nurse brought in some peppermint oil (at St. V they are all trained in aromatherapy), which actually worked really well, made the room smell like candy canes, and kept me from throwing up (personal victory!).  

Soon after that, I asked for my epidural.  Honestly, this was hands down the worst part of the whole delivery.  First the anesthesiologist all but banned Michael from the room by "encouraging" him to take a walk.  I really didn't like this, since last time I leaned against him to help get it placed.  Sure I can give shots all day at work, but the thought of a harpoon sized needle in my back brings on some major needle phobia.  But we had to respect the doctor's wishes, because you don't want to upset the guy holding the giant needle.  Thank goodness, my nurse, Cindy, was there to get me through it.  Five (or more? I have the line of puncture wounds to prove it!) tries later, the epidural was in and Michael was allowed back in the room.  They checked me and I was dilated to 8cm, 100% effaced, and baby was descending even more. 

Now it was about 7:30pm which meant shift change for the nurses.  Cindy stayed to help get me cleaned up after the epidural incident, then introduced us to Laura, who would be with us until you were born.  I was a little bummed to see Cindy go, but Laura was just as amazing as Cindy promised she would be.  She pulled up a seat, and the three of us started talking and laughing about everything under the sun - small town burger joints, kids, softball, teaching, you name it.  It was such a calming experience as my epidural set in.  Speaking of which, my epidural medication was pretty much perfect this time. I was able to move my legs (not with great control obviously), I could feel the pressure of every contraction but not the pain, and I even felt the urge to push once baby was ready.  

By 8:30ish, Laura said we should probably check and see how things were progressing since she could tell on the monitor my contractions were getting pretty strong.  She immediately called Michael over and showed him how they could already see baby's head!  "Does she have any hair?" "Yes! Lots!"  Her instructions to me as she went to get Dr. Payne and his resident were, "don't sneeze, or laugh too hard... Seriously, she is ready to be born!" 

Here's the part we may get some grimaces over.  The doctors came in, they went over how they wanted me to push - in sets of three with small breaths between - so we got ready and pushed... And you were born!  One. Push. Later.  Not even a whole set of three, but a single good push.  No tearing, no stitches, not hardly breaking a sweat.  They put you right on my chest and my first comment was, "omigosh, look at those chubby cheeks!"  Laura wrapped you up, put on a little pink hat, and even gave you your first shots all while we snuggled.  Eventually they took you to be weighed and cleaned up, but not before lots of cuddles.  We're pretty sure your official birth weight is actually wrong since daddy watched them weigh you and the scale read 3.54kg (7lbs 12oz), and because you weighed 7lbs 5oz the next night (don't get me wrong, you love to eat, but my milk hadn't even come in yet).  Not to mention, you look a lot chubbier than big sis who weighed 6lbs 10oz.  Either way, you were healthy, happy, beautiful, and perfect.

After that we stayed in the room for a long time just the three of us while they finished my IVs.  Since you came out smacking your lips and sucking on your hands, I fed you right away and was amazed how well you did.  After all the trouble Annalyn and I had with breastfeeding, I was so hopeful that this time around would be different.  By the time we were ready to head up to our room, I was able to walk to the bathroom (with a little help).  We got up to our room around 12:30-1am and ordered some food because we were both starving.  The census was unusually low that night and we were lucky enough to get a suite.  This meant a bigger couch for daddy and a whole separate room with a table and chairs for visitors to sit while we mastered nursing.  More importantly, it meant more room for big sis to run around when she came to visit.

The next morning we were so excited to have Annalyn come meet you and after seeing the picture we sent to Grandma, she was just as pumped.  I'll never forget the smile on her face when she came through the door and pointed to us saying, "TUMMY BABY!"  You were nursing at the time, so she hopped up in bed and sat beside me.  She patted your back, marveled at your teeny tiny feet, and kissed you over and over.  I was amazed at how it felt to have my baby loving on my other baby.  What a proud, happy moment! 

During our hospital stay, both sets of grandparents, Aunt Lindsey, and Dan, Shawna, and Remy all came to see you.  Everyone commented on your massive amount of dark hair, your alertness, and your seemingly edible chubby cheeks.  Shawna even took some pictures of our now family of four.  As always she captured all the emotions we were feeling.  Unlike big sister, you slept in the cradle for small stretches each night, mostly towards early morning, which was so nice for Daddy and me.  You passed all your newborn screens and we had a very peaceful stay.  We came home late Sunday night and started settling into life together as a family.  Annalyn's been surprisingly great with you, with only a few bouts of jealousy, mostly over Grandma, whose staying to help us this first week.  Daddy has three more days of work, then all four of us get to spend the entire summer together.  All in all, God is great, life is good, and you are amazing.  We couldn't be prouder of our little ladies.  

Well, that's the story of how I met my second daughter.  And they lived happily ever after...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Peanut Post: Last update as an only child

Dear Little Peanut,

As Emelina's due date approaches, I figured I should take some time to write an update post for you.  You continue to grow/develop/change at a crazy rate these days.  I don't have too many actual stats to post, but here's what's going on at 27 months (just before becoming a big sister!).

Teeth:  Unlike the rest of your teeth, your 2 year old molars seem to be coming roughly on time.  The bottom two came in around 25-26 months and you're working on finishing up the top two now.

Eating habits:  Depends on the day, but you definitely don't seem to eat at much as you used to.  You're not picky about what, just how much you eat lately. 
-Favorites:  CHEESE, mac 'n cheese (you like to order this for yourself when we go out to eat), anything with mustard, olives, marinated garlic cloves (crazy, right?  You ate 4 the other night with Daddy), strawberry yogurt, cantaloupe/watermelon, pistachios, Goldfish crackers, chewy granola bars, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal with milk, ice cream/whipped cream, M&Ms ("M's"), hummus, lemons, cucumbers, steak, bacon. 
-Dislikes:  any kind of italian/vinegar dressing, mayo/miracle whip, celery strings (though ants on a log were a hit)

Sleeping:  Typically, sleeping about 11 hours a night (9:30pm - 8:30am) and usually a 1.5-2 hour nap around 3pm, but this week you've been boycotting nap.  We're hoping it's just because your molars are coming in (you did the same thing when the bottom ones poked through).

Thoughts on being a big sister: 
-Upon realizing there are now baby clothes in one side of your dresser and closet, etc.:  "No, that's ANNA'S ROOM!!!"  Where should baby Emelina sleep?  <points down> "She can sleep on the floor!"  No, no baby's can't sleep on the floor.  Where should we let her sleep?  "In Gussy's room." (our den where Gus's bed is).
-"She's a teeny, tiny baby!  She's sleeping in Mommy's tummy."
-"I'm going to knock so she comes out"  (a definite improvement from the last time you tried to say this... "I'm gonna knock her out!")
-A sweet story Daddy relayed:  While watching Bubble Guppies, Daddy said:  Look at those babies, do you like babies?  Anna: Yeah, I'm going to have a baby sister!  Daddy:  Do you love her?  Anna:  Yeahhh... (cute little sigh as she smiles and gets happy/excited).  I like to cling to this little bit of hope :)

Favorite toys/games:  Definitely your new swing set!  You will seriously swing for 3-4 hours a day if we let you.  It's adorable because you squeal and tell us how happy it makes you, but also very tiring after awhile.  Daddy's been taking you on bike rides when the weather is nice and you keep asking for a red tricycle of your own.  Other outside toys you love are chalk, baseball, and basketball hoop.  Your stuffed puppies are always a favorite, as well as your baby dolls.  You really enjoy playing dress up and like to be chased by Daddy pretending to be a bear or hyena.  Craft time is a newer addition to your daily routine, but you always look forward to it.  We've made all kinds of fun things, from toilet paper roll flamingoes to a card stock mailbox to homemade greeting cards for friends/relatives.

Favorite books/shows:  Charlie the Ranch Dog - this is our new special bedtime book and you think it's really cool that it's on my phone/Kindle.  Ladybug Girl series continues to be a favorite, as well as some of the poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends (Ickleme, Pickleme, Tickleme especially).  You've started liking to watch Strawberry Shortcake with me on Netflix, and of course, Bubble Guppies and Sophia the First are still your favorites.

Some funny things you say:  In general, your vocabulary is amazing.  You're past the repeat stage and can think/form sentences and whole conversations on your own.  You have definitely hit the question stage, though, and ask them constantly.  Your favorite one lately is "what's her/his name?"
-"Oooohh, that's cooool!" (in a very sarcastic tone)
-"Perf-tect" (talking about yourself, Gus, a situation, etc.)
-Daddy:  Annalyn, what do genes code for?  "Genes code for proteins!" D: And what's the shape of DNA?  "A double helix!"  (Daddy had to prove that he could actually teach that to someone since his students couldn't seem to get it one day.)
-while singing alphabet:  "...T U V, double the X, Y and Z!"
-"I'm a sweet little girl"
-"Thank you, Mom!" (You've become a very polite little girl.  It's so cute to hear you say it, though)
-"Put your hand on the wheel, Daddy!"  (a backseat driver already... can't imagine where you learned that one)
-"I have on my new pajamas!  They're comfortable."
-"Nooooo bean choppppps!"  (we have no idea where this came from, but you drag it out and say it very emphatically.  I think maybe you're protesting vegetarian fake meat.)
-"Gussy's gonna help me catch a bird.  He's gonna eat it with Anna."
-"No, Gussy, that's ANNA'S sunshine!!" (he was laying in "your" sun on the carpet)

Let's see, what else... Well, you climb everything and swing on anything, including your bed and the top of the fort on the swing set.  You definitely challenge me every day and have a mind of your own with very strong opinions. You're very possessive of your toys, room, clothes, Mommy/Daddy, Grandma, etc. but I think that's just you catching on to what's going on in Mama's tummy.  We often look at you and are just amazed at how grown up you look/act/seem all of a sudden - such a little kid, even though we still call you our baby once in a while.  We admittedly wonder how we can possibly fit even more love in our hearts for your little sister because we are so enamored with you.  Pretty sure it won't be a problem - I hear it's kind of like the Grinch and our hearts will just grow three sizes that day to accomodate all the extra love.  Nonetheless, we are soaking up every last second of just the three of us before our family changes forever.  I know you're not too keen on change of any sort, but I promise some of the biggest/scariest changes in life bring about the best and most rewarding times.  Emelina will be no exception.  Will you resent her, fight with her, and be jealous at times?  Absolutely.  But trust me, Peanut, there's nothing better than a sister. 

I love this crazy/sassy/silly/brilliant/strong little person you've become.  We are looking so forward to spending the summer together as a family of four.  I'm sure there's lots of laughs, snuggles, and joy ahead for all of us.  Love you lots, my Annalyn.



Saturday, May 3, 2014

Watermelon Orzo Salad with Spinach & Feta

Here's a fresh summer dish inspired by one that we had on the 4th of July.  Fresh watermelon atop orzo and baby spinach, topped with basil and feta cheese.  An odd combination?  Maybe.  But it tasted so fresh and looked so pretty.  I decided to try my hand at it this weekend for brunch with some friends.  I must say, it was awesome!  (Even if Michael didn't approve of salad for brunch...)  Here's how Mama makes it:

Watermelon Orzo Salad with Spinach & Feta

- 3/4 c. orzo (uncooked measure)
- 3 cups watermelon, diced
- 1/2 c. feta, crumbled
- 1.5 T. olive oil
- 2 T. fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
- 1 t. salt
- 2 c. packed baby spinach


1.  Cook orzo according to package directions.  (Bring salted water to boil, add pasta and boil for about 8 minutes.)  Drain and rinse with cold water, then add 1 T. olive oil and half the salt and pepper.  (I made this up the night before and stored in the fridge overnight.)

2. On a large plate or platter, spread spinach in an even layer.  Top with cooked orzo, then diced watermelon.  Sprinkle with feta.

3.  Slice the basil and sprinkle over the watermelon, then drizzle with remaining 1/2 T. olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Makes about 6 servings, 3/4 c. each, 5 WW pts.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Peanut Post: Peanut's Kitchen

Peanut decided to cook dinner last night.  I looked over and she had even put her hat on.  Obviously, there was some serious cooking going on.  Here's a look into her kitchen :)

I couldn't get the video to load, but here's the link.