Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10 Year Anniversary of that Very First Date

October 18 marked a decade since our first date. A decade! 3,650 days! (Must ashamedly admit to using calculator for that and then realizing that, um, I PROBABLY could have done that one in my head.) In case you are new-ish to my blog, three years ago I wrote out our whole love story in a ridiculous chapter book fashion. You can click on the sidebar picture to read it or click on the picture below.
Writing out the details of our love story was actually such a nice project to work on back then because it gave me a focused goal for babysitter/"me" time when I was feeling deeply overwhelmed with parenting two little ones. It also made me feel much more smitten with my husband during a time when it's really easy to get irritated with your partner.

These days we are seasoned enough as parents that we can happily joke about how grumpy we are or about maintaining separate bedrooms for over six months when Lily was born. We know enough about ourselves and what a new baby means that we can roll with it. And happily, I am now back in my marital bed. Which is usually a bed containing a total of four citizens by morning. Thankfully, I know these citizens well and they are generally welcome(ish) to wander into our room in the night.

So back to October 18. Both Raj and I feel so much nostalgia every fall and the anniversary of our first date often feels more important or at least more obvious than our wedding date. I'm assuming if we lived on the beach then I would feel more nostalgic every December 8. But as it stands, our snowy anniversaries are more about staying inside than frolicking on the beach. Maybe our 10 year wedding anniversary in 2017 will somehow involve a beach trip?

I have been a little surprised by marriage or by Raj himself, I guess. I love the fact that we continue to not get bored of each other. How is that possible? We also continue to annoy each other to great heights, but at the same time we have learned to give each other a wide berth when it comes to our faults. If the other is being a super grump then we will take it upon ourselves to send that person away for some time alone to get themselves back to happy, even though that means taking on more work for ourselves. We look out for each other and support each other and can comfortably disagree. We still laugh a lot and entertain each other. He's still gorgeous to me. I feel lucky to have someone who gets me and not only that, loves that I'm me. High five, Raj.

I looked through all my pictures and pulled one from each year together. 10 pictures for the 10 years of us.




Citlalli Rico Photography






Milissa Sprecher Photography

JP Ramler Photography

And because I looked through all the photos that we have, I found a couple old-school ones of Raj's that I had scanned in. How crazy cute is young Raj? Makes me wonder what Oliver will look like as he gets older since he strongly resembles Raj.

PS - One time I casually referred to going to a tapas bar on our first date when I was eating a meal with my eating disorder clients. And they all heard that I had gone to a topless bar for my first date. It took several minutes before clarification was reached by all. Lulz.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One, Two, Three...FOUR? No more? Or...?

I find myself tangled in a web of thoughts about a fourth maybe-baby and frankly, I'm not all that happy to be having these thoughts. I was really sure I would be settled with three and yet I'm feeling what can only be described as mild baby fever. I hear of others making plans to "try again soon" or I learn of those who are newly pregnant or I see pregnant belly pictures and a feeling that is unmistakable as yearning takes a hold of me.


Now. I am pretty sure - like REALLY sure - we are done at 3. Three was my limit. Three was what I set out to do long ago before I had conceived Baby-the-First or even got married. Two or four was Raj's thinking. I never agreed to four and never wanted four.

Jennifer Ramler Photography
And yet. And yet. And yet...

It's not just me. It's Raj, too. He has mentioned a fourth a few times. Not seriously, but I'm pretty sure if I firmly wanted four he would quickly get on board. I don't even know what's wrong with us. It must be having the cutest and sweetest baby in the world that has muddled our thinking and made us confused.

Let's be practical. Reasons not to have baby include, but are not limited to:
  • Difficult pregnancies. Aggressive nausea and puking will impact my family for at least one full season if not more (and it will likely follow the pattern of being worse than each preceding pregnancy and the nausea and vomiting will return even sooner at the end of pregnancy), it might be another pregnancy where I have a lot of pain, those pesky varicose veins OF THE VULVA will return, and on and on. Pregnancy is rough on me, my husband, my kids, and even my extended family to some degree.
  • The anxiety will return as I will worry about the baby itself but even more about the delivery given my challenging mix of postpartum hemorrhages plus speedy deliveries.
  • Two of our three babies were not so easy as infants. Seems like I would be playing with fire by having number four. What are the chances of me having another lovely birth and a complication-free baby and one that sleeps decently, and - most importantly - has amazing baby hair? Very, very low. Let's go out on a high note and stop with Lily. She's our caboose.
  • Space. A very minor concern, really, but we would have to have Bella and Lily begin sharing a room and it seems like that will get tricky once Bella is a teen and Lily is still a young kid. 
  • Money. So. much. money. That much more in general expenses, college funds, extracurricular activities, plane tickets, outings... It adds ups.
  • Splitting attention between four. I don't know if my mothering skills are up for that.
  • Marriage challenges. Date nights when we have four kids for someone to watch? Yeah, no.
  • Age. Since I would likely want at least a 2.5 year gap between Lily and a fictitious next baby (people, I can't even commit to writing that without including 'fictitious'), I would now be at "geriatric pregnancy" status since I would be 36+ and Raj would be in his 40s. I don't think this would be a major concern as recent studies kind of debunked the myth about risks going way up for a woman in her late 30s, but it is harder to get pregnant as you get older and the pregnancies are harder and it's harder to bounce back.
  • Four kids is a major logistical challenge. How would we get everyone where they needed to go as they get older and take on activities and friends and all that? It cannot be denied that four children or more in one family is big family territory.
  • I will be putting off the ability to focus on myself/career/dreams for that much longer. I miss having time to pursue my own stuff. 
  • My gut feeling is that the transition from 3 to 4 would be really hard on me. I have been spot on about my gut feelings over transition to each new baby so I'm going to assume I would be accurate once again.
  • I'm not sure if the reason for another baby is necessarily appropriate. Is this me looking for a reason to avoid something? Or am I being selfish and greedy in wanting more and more of my spawn? Do I crave the excitement around pregnancy and birth and babies and it would be more appropriate to find that elsewhere in life? I don't really think any of these questions are true on a big level, but it's something to consider. What's at the root of wanting more? I need to also check my privilege at being able to even entertain this idea. Three healthy kids is an amazing gift for someone to have in their life.
So that's the nays. Now let's look at the reasons to have a baby:
  • I love my children and I - we - have a yearning. Who would number four be? How can we not find out?

Baby Oliver. Credit: Sweet Light Studio.

I don't think that is reason enough for us at this time. I think I could have a fourth and want a fifth. I would have a fifth and want a sixth. This is the song that never ends.

I will say that my conflict over baby number four is a much, much quieter one than the conflict over number three, but I'm still early in the game given that Lily is just six months old. Chances are good that the yearning for another baby will grow with time (as it has grown over the past few months), although it's possible that the desire for another baby will wane as we leave the baby stage behind. We will see.

If I could guarantee a smooth delivery and a healthy baby, then the scales would tip heavily in favor of a fourth. I say that even knowing it would mean brutal nausea and vomiting. (I'm baffled by myself to even have that thought - for the first time it appears I have momnesia.) And if I can order up a sleeper and no thrush and no blood type complications once again, well count me in. I think... But that's not how these things work and when I truly try to imagine a fourth kid, I feel very overwhelmed. I think four would be too much of a challenge for me. I like our team of five. I like having just enough of me to go around. (Most days. Sometimes there will never be enough of me to go around.)

Baby Arabella

I believe what I need to do is just accept this feeling of being vaguely unsettled, acknowledge it, and grieve (for lack of a better word) the closing of the baby-making factory, and embrace all the fun ahead. Because I don't think we really do want another real baby. We just want the sweet and dreamy idea of another baby. I can direct these feelings into being happy watching other families grow and reflect on how exciting that was back in the day for my own family. Oh, but I wish I wasn't such a mixed bag of emotion about this. It would be easier if I felt very clear and firm on this issue.

In the meantime I gave away my maternity clothes and have already promised all our baby things to friends. I don't want them back or intend to get them back.

And in the meantime, we seem to be dragging our feet on making that vasectomy appointment.

Baby Lily. Credit: Jennifer Ramler Photography

*    *    *    *   *

I know this topic is something that so many people struggle with or think about often so I would love to hear from you on how you decided or what you are thinking or what factors are at play for you. If your family is complete and you have been in this position - can you share how you moved past the yearning?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day in the Life/Week in the Life Heads Up | Fall 2014

I toyed with idea of not doing a Week in the Life this year and simply sticking with four Day in the Lifes for 2014. However, I reallllly can't handle the idea of having a year missing from my beloved collection of Week in the Life books, so a full WITL it is!

Since my original inspiration for doing this project - Ali Edwards - will be doing her own WITL from October 27-November 3, I will match my dates to hers for the additional motivation. And just a quick word about Ali Edwards and how she inspires me. She is scrapbooker, both traditional and digital, and I stumbled upon her website once upon a time when I thought I might want to do scrapbooking of some sort. As it turns out, I really don't have the willingness/inclination/time/patience to do that at this time, but I still keep ideas filed away for "someday" (check out my Archiving board on Pinterest if that interests you). Where Ali Edwards (just "Ali"? Ms. Edwards? Ha, feel awkward writing out her full name) really inspires me is in her push for people to record the ordinary and the everyday and to not just wait to capture the big moments. She's very real and encourages people to keep it simple and just get it done. Don't wait for perfection to happen - good enough and complete is still a very valuable end product. I'm glad I came upon her work years ago as I think it has greatly shaped what I have been able to do with memory keeping.

If any other blogger wants to play along (whether for a day or a week) all you need to do is pick one day (or week) to document & post between now and Sunday, November 3. Email me the link at navigatingthemothership@gmail.com by Tuesday, November 5 and I will put together a round-up post on Thursday, November 7 with links to all of the Day in the Life posts.

In other words:

October 13 - November 3: Document one day or one week and blog about it.
Tuesday, November 5: Last day to email me your blog link at navigatingthemothership@gmail.com
Thursday, November 7: Come to my blog to see everyone else's round-up posts!

The Usual Fine Print

  • Pick a day between now and Sunday, November 3 and take pictures all the live-long day. You might want to keep notes of what goes down so you don't forget later on when typing up the post. I often will take pictures that I know I won't use, but will serve as a reminder of what was happening. The sooner you type it up, the easier it will be. Do as I say, not as I do :)
  • Get your partner/spouse/children/family/friends involved. At this point I simply send a calender invite to my husband for whatever day or week that will be documented and all on his own he picks up the camera/phone and snaps pictures. Over the years he has come to find this project as valuable as I do, so he is happy to go along with it. In fact, he often gets very mushy about how much he appreciates my (relentless) documenting of our lives. Awwww.
  • Make sure to include pictures of YOU during the day and don't forget to include pictures of the mundane - your make-up on the bathroom counter, the messy office desk, your lunch, what you bought at Target, a note your spouse scribbled for you. That's part of what makes it so interesting. 
  • It's up to you how detail-oriented you want to be. I go detailed, but there is no need for you to do the same.   
  • This is not just for the mommy blogger set. I actually prefer it to be a mix of people in all different sorts of lives. And please, please, please play along if you live outside the US & Canada! I heart you, foreigners!
  • What to do with the final project? Anything! It can live on your blog or you can make a simple photobook like I do. You might have the skills to make a full scrapbook/Project Life type project. Or maybe you will find a treasure trove of pictures to choose from for framing or sharing with family. And without a doubt, these DITL/WITL projects have advanced my photography skills and knowledge because it forces a lot of practice.
Even if you aren't a blogger, I would encourage you to try this out some time. The little details of life sometimes prove the most interesting as the years pass and this type of exercise allows us to capture those small quirks of life that get lost with the passage of time. When I look back on my past Day in the Life posts, there are many, many times where I think, "I totally forgot about that!" especially when it comes to the kids. To keep it really simple maybe you could do it entirely on your smart phone. Okay, Mothership's push to have you document your life is done now. :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Letters to Lily: 5&6 Months

[Lily turned 6 months on 9/29/14.]

Dear Lily,

Time for some good-enough memory keeping. I'm combining your 5th and 6th month posts because I never did a 5 month post. Lest you feel this is "3rd child" of me, I would like to point out that I STILL haven't finished Oliver's 5 month post. Month 5 is a time of non-sleeping babies for this family.

Okay, so your 5 month photoshoot did not work out. But hey - we tried!

The photoshoot also ended early for this month, but again, we tried. GOOD ENOUGH. #lifelessons, my Lilypad. (Do you still have hashtags in the future?)

And now all things Lily, in no specific order.

You love your brother and your sister so very much.

You are the cutest and people squeal when they see you and sometimes chase me down in public just to get a closer look. The old ladies love you so so much.

You have taken to doing this old-man-missing-his-dentures face and I love it.

Ol' man grump face is likely related to teething and we feel like you must be getting a tooth "any day now." I have been through this enough to also know that "any day now" is probably three months from now.

I put ridiculous bows on your sometimes because HAIR.
You scratch and twirl your hair after naps and your little hand sometimes gets caught in there. I also love to touch your hair and it has become like a lovie for me that I absent-mindedly pet throughout the day for comfort. You are not my pet and yet...

Your eyes are changing somewhat, but remain very blue. The middles are getting lighter and have hints of grey and green and then the outer part is a deep blue. And your eye lashes. Oh Lily. Such a stunner!

You love your exersaucer and are lucky enough to be our first baby to have one. You remind me of a very important employee who is sitting at a corner desk and you whirl quickly between activities.

You are also liking books and I feel bad that we are just now starting to remember to read them to you. I'm also trying to remember to do bed and naptime routines with you beyond just turning your white noise on. So that is a 'third-baby' thing.

We took you to the state fair. You mostly slept.

You won't take a bottle. We tried very hard for a couple weeks and then we all got sick with another terrible bug in August and I lapsed on forcing the issue and now it's just done. So I stick very close to home.

We switched from swaddling you to sleep jackets and it had absolutely no impact on your sleep. Yay for that. But no there will be no yay for you going from waking 5-ish times a night to waking 5-ish times a night after we dropped the swaddle ;)

You love Toonses. You laugh when you see him and he lets you grab him.

You guys take a midday nap together most days.

While your night sleep is not so hot right now, you are a marvelous napper and I can adjust your naps as needed to work better for me. And that means you take one in the morning and one midday, which corresponds with your brother's midday nap and then sometimes another short one at the end of the day. If I lay next to you then you will nap for hours. This makes me feel like I am winning the baby lottery on a daily basis. And here is one of those things where being the third baby works in your favor - I'm not overly bothered about accomplishing nothing if it means snuggle time with my girl. I get now about how fleeting these days are in a way I didn't early on. Which means you get a more relaxed mama.

We've started putting your in outfits and dressing you in real clothes and then you seem too old so I put you back in pjs.

I think we look alike sometimes (but you are much prettier!)

You have started sitting and I think your big sturdy thighs (18 pounds now!) help out with that. You can roll to each side but have given no more effort to rolling all the way over from front to back or back to front. You are also getting more ticked with me each time I make you do tummy time (daily-ish). 

Oh - and your other stats are that you are 26 inches (50th percentile) and have a 99th percentile head (zero surprise). We are a large noggin-ed people, Lily.

You are content to ride in the car or stroller, especially if you have your siblings close by to watch.

Generally you are content and mellow-ish. Or maybe not, actually. You get grumpy. But we all think of you as content and mellow cause we looooooove you.

Oh! And we have to talk about Baby Leo. I am still waiting to capture a great picture of you in your speedo, but alas the logistics of three kids at the pool makes that complex. We have just started going to the pool since you have been born and that meant I never bought you a swimsuit over the summer and now they are proving hard to fine. So you get to wear Oliver's old swim diaper speedo-style and we call you baby Leo at the pool. 
You LOVE LOVE LOVE the pool. You never cry. Just laugh as we swirl you around or you lie and relax on your back as we move through the water. You seem to be taking after your sister with how much you enjoy new experiences and love thrills like being tossed in the air or going on the swing.

What else? Your daddy continues to adore you so very much.

There has been a lot more laughing and cooing and vocalizations. Once again, you remind us of your big sister with your noises.

I think that about wraps it up for now, although I could go on about you for hours. We are forever grateful that you are in our family and our lives.

One million Xs and Os to you.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

That Which We Don't Understand

I was looking in my draft folder of my blog and randomly found this. Originally written in 2010 and yet all still very applicable. So...POSTING!

Things I don't understand about Husband:
  • Why he considers loading the dishes into the dishwasher and only that to be "doing the dishes" (i.e there will still be dishes leftover to be washed. Handwash dishes? WHA?)
  • Why he would prefer unwaxed dental floss - THE SQUEAKING
  • How he can possibly leave dessert/candy untouched...for days
  • Why the effort of putting his socks in the laundry basket is simply too much
  • Why he loves me as much as he does
Things Husband doesn't understand about me:
  • Why I leave the lights on when I leave the room
  • Why I don't follow the budget closely during the month
  • Why I eat all of my share of dessert in two seconds...and then want some of his
  • Why the effort of putting my used tissues or crumpled up papers directly into the bedroom trash can is simply too much
  • Why I love him as much as I do
(And 2014 Laura will add a picture. Here it comes.)
Oddly cropped 2005 photo. Aw.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Things, Varied and Random and Run-On-ny

  • Lilypad, my darling sweet Lilypad, has not given me more than a 2 or 3-hour stretch of sleep in the past two months. I am now FEELING it. Since I have experienced varying levels of sleep deprivation over the years (and by experienced, I mean obsessed over it), I still feel like this qualifies more as "Hard Times LITE" versus the truly challenging time after Oliver was born, but DAMN. It's at the point where I have a nonstop feeling of being hungover/have a sense that I'm forgetting important things/feel so overwhelmed even though I technically shouldn't be/just have a vague sense of grey-cloud-Eeyore-ness most days. Eh, this could probably start to qualify me for PPD/PPA, but I'm pretty sure that some solid 5-hour stretches would have me bouncing back right quick. So I'll be sure to do that! Boom! Problem solved!
  • Okay, so it's not really an easy fix, but I'm thinking it wouldn't be SO hard to figure out or at least improve upon. I could try being in bed by 7:30 pm and sleeping by 8 pm for a week. I am also inching towards doing some Ferbering for her because things are really getting way off track at this point given her 5-ish wake ups each night. Why do my babies go so off the rails once their 4-month sleep regression hits? I'm sure there is a me-factor at play, but whatevs. These things are not forever (pretending like Bella is a solid sleeper now LALALALALA). I do think Lily is the type of baby who will take to gentle sleep training quickly and well and the fact that she slept decently until 4 months seems like a good sign that she could return to it.
  • Why not just go to a hotel or have Raj take over for a night? Well, little g-fri exclusively breastfeeds. Like EXCLUSIVELY. Yeah - the bottle thing fizzled out shortly after it started and since I don't have to be away and it was way more work to continue to push it, I have just left it for now. We will push sippy cups for getting her breastmilk while I'm away and start solids and that problem should take care of itself. In the meantime I have not been able to be more than 2 miles from my baby since she was born. I can't think about that too much or I get panicky about my short leash. Woof, woof.
  • I'm excited to start the process of feeding a baby solids again. I plan to make most of her baby food since I think it's fun and I'm already planning all the foods we can introduce her to. I will also do some pre-packaged organic stuff because LE DUH. We shall start with sweet potatos.
  • The older kids started swimming lessons today and Oliver cried out for me pretty much the entire 30 minutes and it was excruciating. I had to fight the urge to go "rescue" my baby boy the whole class even though the teacher was doing great with him. The lesson is just for Bella and Oliver and the teacher was obviously very capable and swimming lessons are important (really, we should have done this way sooner but after a hassle-filled baby swimming class with B in 2010 I have let it fall right off the to-do list) but oh, it is awful to listen to your child cry your name again and again and look at you with this, "WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME?" sad face. We talked it over with the teacher after class and next week we will drop the kids and then get out of sight for the class and hopefully that does the trick. I would have done it this week but I wasn't sure if we were supposed to stay in the pool area. Still so many newbie parenting moments all the time! I'm hoping I can report back with talk of Oliver loving swim lessons in just another week or two. Bella is doing great and I think that will help Oliver adjust more quickly, too.
  • We have been doing more family fun swimming, too, and I never got around to getting Lily a baby swimsuit yet so I have been putting her in a tiny blue swim diaper like a wee baby Speedo and then we call her Baby Leo. Baby Leo loves the pool so much. It's awesome.
  • Speaking of reporting back: Bella is loving the bus and all is well. I'm a little disappointed that I can't have the option to walk her home from school on nice days (I obviously do have the option but I don't want to start confusing her, her teacher, etc just because of my own whims about enjoying fall weather) but it has been much easier to meet her at the bus versus traveling to the school and going inside. Yay!
  • I had a sushi and fro-yo date with my sister this weekend and it was awesome. 
  • Love fall so so SO much. I have decided that I don't have seasonal depression issues after all since I never feel bummed as the light decreases nor do I feel better as daylight gets longer in the spring. It's winter I hate. I have winter issues. Cold issues. I read some article about how Minnesota might get 5, 10, or even 50 times the average snowfall this year. I'm pre-dead over this situation. 
  • I can't decide what to do about our gym membership. On one hand I'm so not crazy about exposing ourselves to an additional and formidable source of germs. Every time one of the kids gets sick it means we can't go and if it's a slow moving doozy of a bug that might mean I can only go a few times in one month (see July and August).  Gym memberships are a splurge. But when I do get there I am pretty much on Cloud 9 and the happiest person ever because being able to exercise sans kids in the middle of the day is huge for me. So not sure what our plan will be. In the meantime I put our membership on hold, but since that won't start until the end of the month AFTER you ask for the hold (tricky, tricky, gym!) we have through the end of October to make the final decision. I can't say why this decision feels so monumental. Probably directly related to bullet point one and my functioning is sad sack right now.
  • In postpartum updates I have dropped another bit of weight and I'm now 10-ish pounds or so above where most of my clothes will fit reasonably-ish-ly well (the muffin-top look, if you will). 15 more pounds and things will fit properly. I will not try on my pre-baby pants in the mean time because I learned that lesson the hard way. Twice. However, I did get these high rise black jeggings from Express when they were half off back in August and they are a nice denim bandaid in the meantime. I also picked up a flattering-enough dressy tank from Express and a dress at Old Navy and that's pretty much it for my dress-up-and-go-places wardrobe.
    The other days? Oy, I am feeling fug. Lots of leggings, tanks, Raj's old black fleece jacket, glasses and ponytails. Time to put a little effort back into even the most minor of primping just to boost my self-esteem and energy. Or so the theory goes.
  • I've been doing a ton of cooking since my freezer meals ran out a couple months ago and I do believe I have stumbled upon the major source of my GI/IBS issues. Problem, thy name is FODMAPS. It's...intense (like I'm not supposed to eat much of things like wheat, lactose-containing dairy, onions, garlic, certain fruits & veggies, beans....) and I need to cook most things from scratch and I'm on a steep learning curve with how to manage things and I also have additional intolerances to contend with (nuts, all dairy - maybe?) and depending on the day/my mood I like to pretend I don't have IBS and just eat a turkey sub at Jimmy Johns (um, lunch today) but mostly it has been very promising and it does feel fantastic to be un-bloated after years of accepting that perma beach-ball feeling. And since sushi and small amounts of wine and sugar and potatoes and fruits and lots of other things are still perfectly fine I find it to be quite manageable. Lots of moderation ends up being the key. WHO KNEW!? Ha. Full post about this once I sleep more/figure out the full deal.
  • Remember when my blog header looked like this?
    Aw, olden DIY days. Speaking of headers - does my rotating header cause problems for any of you? I was recently clued into the fact that it might be slowing things way down for some and if that's the case I will switch over to a stationary one so that I'm not buggy. It needs an update anyway since my littlest baby is not included. Hm...I probably should update that About Me page, too. And various profile pictures for Blogger and such. I will quickly get on that in 2017, whoa-k?
  • Bullet point of the other things I was going to say but didn't type a reminder in my phone to remember them so my sieve brain let them leak right on out.