Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Life Lately: 3rd-trimester reflections on life with almost 3

We are at that place I remember being right before Natalie was born- where we hit a groove with being parents of ONE and felt like we were ready to dive back in to the newborn stage and figuring out life with TWO. That's where I feel like we are now with two- in a groove. Knock on wood, we're in a smooth stretch of no sickness, pretty predictable daytime and nighttime routines, good sleep... come to think of it, should I be putting these things in writing?!

I've officially entered the third trimester, and with summer plans and vacations approaching, I have a feeling it's going to go by fast.

It's funny because I feel so much more ready, or maybe I should say less anxious about baby #3 coming than I remember feeling about adding a second baby to our family. I think transitioning from 1 to 2, I worried so much about the attention I would be able to give to Ryan and how he would handle the change. For 18 months, he was the only little person I focused on, and I remember feeling nervous about splitting my time. With this baby, I already know how sweet it is to watch siblings interact and know that when I am nursing or changing or swaddling the new baby, Natalie and Ryan will have each other to play with.

I also feel like we're entering a season of change in general with Ryan starting school in September and me getting time with Natalie and the new baby 3 days a week in the mornings while he's away. So maybe because it's all hitting semi- at once, it feels like we're just going to jump into all sorts of new routines- all 5 of us- all of one time. And this somehow makes it easier in my mind.

I've decided that my expectations are really low and my calendar is going to be really empty come June. I'm going to soak up my weeks with my two babies before our third one arrives, and once she is here, I am committing my mind to zero expectations on what we do, where we go, who we see, or how fast we get there.

When this baby arrives, I just want to BE.
I want to play in the yard, swim in the pool, enjoy the summer temperatures and space of our new house, but knowing that our first experience with real schedules starts in September, I want to soak in the days with all of our babies at home.

And with that mindset, I honestly don't feel nervous about the change. I feel like already, Matt and I have mostly entered a place where we laugh with each other when we're both home and the role of raising two little ones is just plain crazy- when one or both kids are tired and crying, emotional beyond understanding, or testing limits because that's part of growing up and learning how to live life.

Not to say it's not taxing or tiring, or at points plain stressful, but I guess parenthood has made me take myself less seriously in the sense that I can't control all behaviors, nor do I like the person I am when I try to. I'm learning that kids have to have the freedom to be human, to make mistakes, and to feel emotional for no apparent reason. I've humbled myself to the point of realizing that their tough days aren't a reflection of my parenting as much as they are a reflection of their humanness. So addressing the crazy and trying to find humor in the moments when I clearly have no control over the emotions of the day has helped me lean on God's grace and given perspective in my role as mom.

That being said, he's a look at what we've been up to lately:

I took Ryan and Natalie to my last OB appointment and they both did really well, until the part where I was having blood drawn and Ryan was standing right by my side and Natalie decided to chuck the glucose bottle over the side of her carseat, letting it hit the ground at the perfect angle to crack the lid and send the gooey liquid pouring all over the floor. Yeah, I didn't really see it going that way when I handed her the sealed bottle as a distraction for the 60 seconds that the nurse would be drawing my blood. Bless those nurses for being so sweet to us!

If you know me outside of this blog or have followed along for even a short amount of time, you know I'm not much of a crafter (at all), so I imagine God laughs when he sees me painting popsicle sticks with Ryan for everyone in our family before 7am. This sweet boy did not get his love of crafting from me, that is for sure.

Natalie took her first out-of-the-stroller trip to the zoo last week and she LOVED it! She rode the train for the first time and loved really seeing all of the animals. We can't wait for more trips now that the weather is getting warmer!

We had a tree removed from the side of our front yard last week, and these two were super intrigued by the loud noises and cutting-down process. :)

Matt traveled to a family wedding last weekend that I wasn't able to attend due to Zika, so I sent him this picture after Ryan woke up after a 45 minute nap- because inevitably this happens when he's gone. But when I'm gone, they both sleep for 3+ hours. Go figure.

We went to visit our friends at their new house and Ryan wanted to carry in the flowers- sweet guy

On our way to my parents' house last week, Ryan needed to stop for a potty break, so I pulled over at the first Chick-fil-A we saw, not realizing it was the one that friends of ours from high school own! Now that we know, we'll work in this potty stop into our trips. :) If you live in the Snellville/Stone Mountain area- you'll have to stop by their Chick-fil-A! Jenny and her husband, Cliff, are just the sweetest. (Also Natalie threw her bow off before we walked in- is it just me or does she not even look like herself without a bow?!)

Dinner at Nonna and Papa's, and Ryan got to sit with all of his big cousins. And he actually didn't come to get me from the adult table even once! He is growing up!

This sweet girl- when she wants you to pick her up, she curls up her hands like this and then starts flapping her feet when you walk toward her. I'm so glad I got at least one picture of her doing it- you never know how long these things will last!

We visited the CUTEST book store in downtown Monroe called The Story Shop and Ryan got to pet baby chicks after story time!

The rest of our time there involved Natalie climbing and crawling and cruising...
...and Ryan sitting and reading books. They are SO different! 

Sweet girl (about to pass out!) with her new little stuffed animal that one of her cousins gave her

Back home and glad to be back with Tally- Ryan just finished climbing over Tally when I took this and Natalie was mid-climb... so not sure if the feeling was mutual for Tal ;)

Asking me to pick her up with one hand while she held on with the other- this is one of her new favorite spots in our driveway

The boys went on a hike Sunday afternoon while Natalie and I stayed home- Matt sent me this sweet picture of Ryan and Tally on the path together. Sweet buddies!

Ryan said, "Daddy let's sit her for a little while" ...love this boy so much!

Matt and I sat in awe as Natalie sat through 3/4 of story time before she realized she had been still for a realllly long time. It was so cute to see the two of them propped up there together and Natalie actually looking at the pages of the book with Ryan!

Same spot, different day

Yes, very random picture to close out this Life Lately post, but here's a fun fact for you:
Matt and I will be married for 10 years in November, and this past Sunday night was the first time we ever ate *just* salad for dinner. His had 3 pieces of grilled chicken on it 😂 but we both commented and laughed as we realized we had never eaten salad as the main course for dinner. And as easy as it was, this will definitely be a new meal in our dinner rotation!

Later this week, I'll be sharing a recipe for Cilantro Lime Guacamole and some of my recent Favorite Finds, so stay tuned.

Hope you're enjoying some Spring weather wherever you are- Atlanta is gorgeous today!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

March's Mid-Month Confessions

Elizabeth and I are teaming up today to share our confessions will y'all!

You can check out her post here (and if it's not up yet, it will be later today!)

Here goes:

I've said this before, but outside of writing this blog and understanding the very basics of HTML, I'm not tech-savvy whatsoever. I'm always the last to update my phone, I still listen to CDs, I've never listened to a podcast (and even though my car has bluetooth, I'm not actually sure how to even play a podcast, much less through my car), we still own a VHS player and I kind of miss going to Blockbuster to rent a movie.

So I'm not sure how or why this is happening, but for quite some time now, my phone has been giving me "parked car updates" when MATT'S car arrives at his office every morning. It is the funniest thing and I don't think I've ever even remembered to tell him it's happening, but I feel like such a stalker wife tracking my husband's moves throughout the day. Now I've kind of gotten used to it and actually like knowing he's made it there safely, but it's still so funny to me that MY phone is tracking where his car goes and when it arrives.

Last month, Matt and I went out to dinner about a week before Valentine's Day and had to swing by the store afterward to pick up milk for the morning. While we were there, Hallmark cards were BOGO, so we stood there together in the card aisle and picked out each other's cards, going through a stack of different options saying things like, "Oh this is a good one, check this one out." Hah- such an example of this stage of life- but I couldn't pass up a deal on cards since they're nearly TEN dollars now- what?! Seriously, the card Matt got me was $8.99. Crazy! And side note on that, we've always been big on writing long notes in each other's cards for birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, etc. and I've saved every card we've give each other for the last 15+ years. I love having those cards to look back on- especially the ones that are super cheesy from our early dating (okay most of our dating and maybe even early marriage) days. One day our kids will find them and surely cringe. ;)

Two days ago, I was cleaning off Ryan's bottom after a big poopy, and he was standing up to make it easier for me. Natalie crawled over and tried reaching up for his penis and Ryan said, "No, Nonni, there's poopy on there." I scooted Natalie out of the way, finished cleaning Ryan, and as I was about to put his undies back on, he turned his hips toward Natalie, leaned them forward and said, "Okay Nonni, now you can touch it." Dy-ing laughing on the inside, I said, "Oh buddy, that's so kind (KIND?!) of you, but in general, you don't really want other people touching your penis, even your sister.

Oh the things you say out loud as a parent.

I have been in need of new glasses for a LONG time- ever since Ryan accidentally broke my last pair before Natalie was even born. So rather than figuring out a time to go to the eye doctor and spending all of that money on the appointment and the new glasses, I ordered a pair off of an online site, literally paid $14.83 for them, and received them in the mail a week later.

Y'all. They are hilariously huge. Like not cute huge. Just huge. So I was wearing them the other morning when I went to get Ryan in the morning and he said, "Why are you wearing those glasses? I think I want you to take those off." And when I asked why, he said, "They just don't look normal."

Haha, true in fact. Out of the mouths of babes.

I've been taking Barre classes this month for the first time and they are HARD! I also go to the early morning class that starts at 6:00 and am usually one of 5 people in the class, so the instructor is extra attentive. Wah wah. Never before have I been so glad I signed up for the 5 package deal instead of the 10-class option. And never before have I been so thankful that I have to do modifications on some moves for pregnancy. Bless that growing belly of mine for getting me out of some of those holds!

That is all for this month! You can check out my other confession posts here.

Later today we'll be heading to my parents' house to visit for a couple of days while Matt goes on a fun work trip. We haven't stayed at their house in quite a while, so I'm looking forward to it!

Have a great rest of your week!
And  don't forget to check out Elizabeth's post here.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Tomato Basil Soup with V8 + a WINNER!

The weather has been chilly here lately- yes, it's March, but Atlanta gave us a long tease of Spring, so jumping back to winter temperatures just feels wrong.

I could honestly eat soups year-round, especially tomato soup with grilled cheese or panini sandwiches, but there's something about colder temperatures that makes soup taste extra good!

This recipe is so easy and packs 4 cups of V8 juice, so it sneaks in those veggies too!

Hope you enjoy!

recipe adapted from here

1 sweet onion, diced
1/2 stick butter
2- 14.5-ounce cans Hunt's diced tomatoes with sweet onion (look like this)
4 cups V8 Juice Original
2-4 tablespoons sugar 
1/2tsp salt
1/2T dried basil leaves
1/8tsp black pepper
1 cup dry sherry 
1 1/2 cups heavy cream 

Melt the butter in a large pot. Toss in the onion and cook until translucent, stirring frequently (about 7 minutes over medium-high heat).

Add in the diced tomatoes and sugar (start with 2T and add more later if needed), and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes. Add V8 Juice.

Add salt, basil, pepper and sherry. Simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes to a full day.

Stir in the cream. Warm and serve.

And now for the WINNER of the Sleep Baby Consulting giveaway!

Congratulations, Lauren!

Elizabeth would like to thank everyone who entered by offering a coupon code toward any of her services.

So if you didn't win, but would love to learn more about what Elizabeth and her company has to offer, email her to take advantage of this generous offer!

Have a great week, friends!


Friday, March 10, 2017

Preparing for Baby #3

As we prepare for Baby #3 to arrive in June, I can't help but think about the early stages of parenting an infant.

Before Ryan was born, I read so many books (with so many different suggestions and opinions) about feeding, sleeping, eating and routines.

Pregnant with Ryan, and still over a month to go!

And you know what I discovered about our first sweet little babe? He didn't "fit" into any one formula. He loved to eat, and while he probably COULD have spread out his feeds more (he weighed 8lbs 13oz at birth and was nearly 20 lbs at 6 months) and mostly certainly COULD have slept through the night before 11.5 months, he was a fat and happy baby and I was soaking up every minute of the gift of being his mama, so I just didn't sweat the multiple feeds a day or nighttime visits.

July 28, 2014- Letting in all sink in that this little man was ours

There were so many days and nights when I craved the idea of sleepless nights, nursing babies, and dirty diapers. When you try for so long to bring life into the world and God brings you to a place of peace and even hope for the plans for your non-biological future family, and then you end up pregnant 3 times in less than 3 years, perspective plays a BIG role in all of those little (but seemingly huge at the time) decisions regarding the early stages of parenting.

And now having experienced two very different feeding, sleeping, eating and general "routine" scenarios with Ryan and Natalie, I can't help but wonder who this next baby will be more like, or if she too will have her own personality and preferences.

What Ryan and Natalie did when we asked them to show their excitement over meeting their baby sister in June- those faces pretty much sum up what we see from other people when we tell them we're expecting our third baby already- ha!

If I could sum up what I've learned in the past 2.5 years of being a mom, it would be that parenting is humbling, it is the best hard work I will ever do, and when my heart is to do what is best for my child, it really doesn't matter whether she is breast fed, bottle fed, spreading out her feeds, sleeping through the night, or tracking every single milestone at the time it "should" occur.

Every baby is different, and every parent/child scenario is unique. When Ryan was first born, he took to breast feeding like a champ and my body responded with a great supply and little-to-no pain right from the start. I loved feeding him and had to work hard to wean him at 16.5 months because his sister would be needing the supplies 6 short weeks later. ;) I was afraid that taking the tandem approach could potentially create jealously between him and his new baby sister and felt like the best decision for all of us was to switch Ryan solely to milk and give my body a (very short) time to prepare for Miss Natalie's arrival. I joke though that if we didn't have another one coming, Ryan probably would have nursed until he left for kindergarten- that boy loved to eat!

Because I had such an effortless and enjoyable experience nursing Ryan, I never questioned whether feeding Natalie would be any different.

Miss Natalie Grace Nelsen on her first day of life- February 17, 2016

Because of her eventful (for lack of a better word) entrance into the world, she had to be taken from us before I could nurse her and was not returned to us until 6 hours later. During that time, she was given the necessary formula she needed until she could be brought back to me. I loved getting to feed her for the first time and woke her up every 2-3 hours to help her practice nursing. On our second night in the hospital, she was clearly frustrated and hungry and ready for my milk supply to come in completely (knowing her spunky personality now, this makes me smile- girlfriend does not have time to waste!), so I supplemented with formula to help her sleep contentedly, knowing my milk would come in soon.

Once we were home and my milk supply was in, she nursed great but was MUCH more efficient than Ryan. Whereas Ryan liked to nestle in and eat for at least 45 minutes before getting his diaper changed and swaddle retied, Natalie's middle-of-the-night feeds and diaper changes had me back in bed in less than 20 minutes. And she slept long stretches pretty much right away! She was a no-nonsense eater who loved her sleep- basically a parent's dream, especially when I had Ryan to take care of during the day as well.

Through various scenarios, one of which I think was her love of spreading out her feeds and eating so quickly, and another, her frustration if my milk did not let down RIGHT away during a feed (which naturally caused me to feel stressed- something I never experienced when feeding Ryan), I noticed my milk supply was starting to decrease right about 3.5 months. I immediately started taking lactation supplements, eating lactation bars, and made a large batch of lactation cookies. This lower supply thing was new to me, but I was not about to give up without a fight!

Sweet girl's first beach trip- she ate and napped on the beach like a champ!

For the next 2.5 months, I worked at building my supply back up, but couldn't get it back to place where she could solely breast feed. As much as I loved feeding her and hoped I could get my supply back to where she needed it to be, it was clear that all of my efforts were not going to make more milk appear.

So around 6 months, Natalie started formula and took to it like a champ- cold water, straight from the filter, no warming, no convincing that it was just as good. Girlfriend just wanted her meal and chugged her whole bottle with no problem at all.

As I mentioned earlier, I've learned that parenting is a humbling experience. The best kind of humbling experience. Just when I thought I was rocking one little part of this motherhood thing, God reminded me that each of our babies will be unique. It's my job to rely on him as my source of confidence as a mom, and not to let circumstances define my "successes."

If you are a new mom, planning for your first child, or in the middle of a very different parenting experience with your second or third child, remember that it's not our job to have it all figured out. We have to step back, do in our hearts what we feel is right for each of our children individually, and reach up to Our Source when we feel like we're falling short.

Below are some great resources for you as you navigate the blessings and challenges of parenting infants:

Whether you're breast feeding or bottle feeding, The Honest Company has great products and a heart for helping parents make great feeding choices for their babies. You can check out their feeding resources here.
The Tommee Tippee bottles are great for breast and formula feeding. Matt almost always gave Ryan a pumped bottle each night, and Ryan transitioned smoothly between breast and bottle with this particular brand.

Medela Pump- great for preparing bottles and storing milk! And most insurance companies will reimburse the cost of this pump, so be sure to check with your provider before ordering!

This bra seems silly and unnecessary until you hold the two bottles while you're pumping one time. Hands free pumping is what you want! Because, let's be honest, you'll probably be eating at the same time- breast feeding always makes me SO hungry!

Lastly, the best thing you can do for yourself and your little one is SLEEP! Don't forget to the enter the incredible giveaway that Elizabeth from Sleep Baby Consulting is offering through this Sunday at midnight. One lucky winner will receive $150 of free consulting! You can read more about her services and enter the giveaway here.

Have a great weekend, friends!