Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hot Pocket

I use a newborn, legs in carry with the ring sling, like in this video by A Nest on My Chest, which makes a kangaroo pouch, and I call Lilly "Pocket" when she's in the sling. She sleeps deeply and happily when she's in the sling, but after a couple hours she tends to wake up hot and hangry. I just cracked myself up calling her Hot Pocket. I need coffee or a nap.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Missouri Botanical Garden Chinese Lantern Festival: Magic Reimagined

Big news! The Chinese Lantern Festival has been extended through the end of the month! Fans of Craves, Caves, & Graves may remember that we covered the 2012 Chinese Lantern Festival, and heck yes, it was amazing at night time! A once in a lifetime opportunity, until they decided to do it twice! But.... when you have a new baby, maybe $52 for two adults is a bit rich for your blood and you're wondering if visiting in the daytime is just as good. Honestly, if you can swing it you should see it at night. HOWEVER,  the Garden is free on Saturday morning, and the lanterns are really quite impressive in daylight. I was happy to spend the money we saved on lunch at Sassafras, because their chicken salad is soooo good.

The Botanical Garden on Saturday morning is very much the stroller and gray hair set. I was surprised that even though the parking lot seemed full, the garden didn't seem crowded at all. It was very peaceful, and that may be compared to my memory of seeing the first lantern festival at night. Expect the evening to be crowded!

I have to give a shout out to the Flap Happy hats they sell in the gift shop. We've had a heck of a time finding a good sunhat to fit a newborn and with SPF 50 protection, this is worth every bit of $20. Lilly wears it every day, and it's funny to see the reactions of people who see a big floppy hat sticking out of a ring sling!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Newsletter: Month One

Dear Lilly:

One month already! It flew by, and yet seems like forever. Your dad and I say it's like we've always had a baby but forgot to take pictures for the past 4 years.

You came screaming into this world on July 18, 10 hours and 19 minutes after your due date. You were SO CLOSE to sharing your birthday with Disneyland, a fact that our friend Kathy was eagerly anticipating because, as she said, "Think of all the merchandise with her birthday on it!" If only I had known sooner why I would be in labor for 40 hours, we could have sped things up. I'll save the story of the 40 hour labor until after you've had your first child. It's okay, though, even though you missed a Disneyland birthday, your Grandpa Wiltsch is thrilled to share his birthday with you.

You are, as friends say, a magical unicorn baby. You love the ring sling so much that we have to watch the clock to make sure you don't sleep too long, otherwise you will wake up hangry and shrieking like you are on fire, As long as we anticipate meals and naps, we can take you anywhere, and have. We have already been to Stacked twice, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Grafton, IL to see the Nina & Pinta replica caravels.

Dad was off work for an entire month and if we'd gotten more sleep, I would say it was very much like a vacation.  We started a new travel blog, Franceth Travels, just to share fun adventures for families and the things we learn about traveling with babies, and our favorite daydream right now is that some day our "job" will be sharing our family adventures. For now, we are looking forward to cramming as much weekend adventure into your life as we can manage! We want you to have a childhood full of fun and learning.

We are also so optimistic about traveling with you that we have already booked your first Disney Cruise and trip to Walt Disney World. Mom and Dad have withdrawals if they are away too long, and we can't wait to share it with you!

Fun Facts About Month One:
The Mercy nurses said we are champions at breastfeeding, and you have backed that up by growing like a weed!
When you were born you were small enough to nap on a pillow on my lap, and at the end of month one you are too long to do that anymore.
The dogs are very concerned when you are unhappy.
You have received many, Disney dresses.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

DIY Curse

Despite working in the commercial flooring industry for 15 years, I really hate carpet. I think it's gross. There, I said it. Our 130 year old house has an absolutely gorgeous dining room with original gasolier, tons of natural light, box beam ceilings, and of course, an area rug inlay. When we remodeled the room and took out the ancient and dirty area rug, I said to myself, "No way am I getting a custom rug made for this huge space and then having to take it to be cleaned 3x a year because every animal in the house makes it their barf bucket." So we put down a no-glue vinyl that looks like parquet. Pretty snazzy, eh?

With a baby on the way, no soft surfaces in sight, and sticker shock from the price of activity mats ($70!?), I decided to make a blanket/rug/mat that can do tummy time duty and also go in the washing machine. Of course, I picked this Bernat Baby Blanket yarn and was thinking I could get by with 4 skeins. $40, maybe less with some coupons, yay, I saved money! I'm so smart and skilled and frugal!

Welllll of course, I didn't really like the weight of it with just one strand and the recommended hook size, so I decided to double up on two colors (Lemon Lime and Sweet Cream), which meant 3 skeins in each color for a mat that ended up  The end result is hefty like a rug while still being machine washable, and is a pretty easy weekend project, but let's be honest, with some coupons or even thrifting, I definitely could have found SOMETHING for less than $60. I did spend less than that on the yarn thanks to coupons, but I do firmly believe that crafters need to pay themselves for their time, as well, which makes the cost of this project at least double that of buying an activity mat. Is there a word for when you spend too much when you intended to save money?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hang in There!

In the last 3 weeks, I have had this conversation a dozen times:
Parent Friend: How are you guys doing?
Me: Great! Maybe a little sleep deprived, but Lilly is such a good baby. She is so easy to soothe and we have been able to go to the gym and visit family and have even started our travel blog again!
Parent Friend: Hang in there! It gets better/worse after about a month!
Me: Thanks?

Since I quit my job a little over a year ago, I have really come to appreciate the power of positive thinking. You may call it being lucky, being blessed, having good karma, or having a magical unicorn baby. Whatever it is, I never take it for granted, but I thought I would share some things that are helping us.

Paternity leave! Nothing else comes close. I am convinced that if we had more family leave in this country, there would be a lot less people acting like you have to build a bunker to cope with a newborn. I am pretty sure my "baby blues" would have been a lot worse or lasted longer if I had to think about Francis going back to work in a week or two. To be able to tell myself that I had an entire month to figure things out was very calming. Also, it has been amazing to spend so much time together as a new family.

Have babies with a decent person. Of course, you need a husband and father who is useful if you're going to get any benefit from paternity leave. Mine takes care of household chores, making sure the pets eat and go outside/have a clean litter box, changes diapers, and brings me water and snacks. If I let him sleep at night, he takes the baby in the morning so I can catch a couple more hours. Am I "lucky"? No. I chose a spouse who would be a partner. 
Strategic Snacking. People say have "freezer meals", but I come from a grazing people. We loaded up the (station) wagon at Costco and have nutritious food that can be eaten by the handful. Blueberries, trail mix, granola bars, Naked Juice singles, yogurt. Right now I am snacking on brie and crackers while I work. Also, have a water cup for which you know the volume and can easy count how many glasses of  water you've had today. I learned early on that dehydrated nursing mom means pissed off baby. Be sure you are getting enough calcium, because that can have long term health consequences for you if you do not. 

Breastfeeding. Look, I firmly believe that this is a personal choice, so you're not going to hear me shrieking BREAST IS BEST!! For me, 97% of the reason I breastfeed is because I am cheap and lazy. No matter where you land on boob vs formula, this one thing is indisputable: breastfeeding is the only way to feed a newborn hands-free, and as you can see from all my tips, it is crucial for me to not feel stuck at home. I know I am exceptionally lucky that Lilly and I figured this out very quickly and I am already comfortable nursing her in the ring sling, in public, while walking, after only a couple weeks. From what I am told, that is not typical, but there is help out there for you if you want to try it. Read as much as you can in advance, and know who to ask for help if you need it. But most importantly, it's ok if it doesn't work for you. It's NOT the only way to feed a baby.

Babywearing! As with breastfeeding, I have no deep-seeded commitment to a certain way of doing things. I am sure that some people can give you a list of the benefits of wearing your baby. I just do what is easy and makes the baby happy and allows me to move around freely. I registered for a Boba wrap but my sister in law handed down a ring sling and Lilly LOVES it. I never bothered to get the Boba wrap, though we have a Boba Air that daddy will probably use when she hits 3 months. When I stick her in the sling, I have to keep an eye on the clock to make sure she doesn't waste away like a Sim who won't leave the hot tub. (What really happens is that at the 2.5 hour mark, she wakes up screaming, either because she is hungry or hot.) I am shopping for slings like I used to shop for purses now. Check out A Nest By My Chest on YouTube for soothing ring sling tutorials to boost your babywearing confidence!

Technology. Speaking of watching the clock, there is an app for that. I use Baby Daybook. It's so easy to reference when you can't remember how long it has been since this crusty punk had a bath, in the middle of the night when you are sure she was only asleep for 20 minutes but it has actually been two hours, or if you have time to finish your chicken salad at a restaurant before she wakes up hangry. It's like a virtual personal assistant.

What kept you from losing it, moms and dads?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fun Freebies for Babies!

Baby Lilly is two weeks old already! I went into labor on Thursday afternoon and she was born on Saturday morning weighing 7lbs 8oz and 20" long. Yep, 42 hours of labor. It was quite a saga that I might type up at some point, but suffice it to say, it is really for the best if your birth plan is more of a birth ideal, or even a goal to work for if you'd like to have a natural birth. Please don't be so married to the perfect plan  that you will feel traumatized if it doesn't work out.

We had some challenging moments in the first 10 days or so, mainly that she would not sleep on her own, but  last week we swapped Pack and Plays with Jill to have the newborn napper attachment, and hallelujah! Baby slept all night the first night, which means mom got a whopping 7 hours of sleep between feedings. Since then, sometimes she sleeps most of the night and sometimes she doesn't, but we got the all clear from the pediatrician yesterday to let her sleep as long as she wants since she is eating well and gaining weight, and last night she slept for almost 4 hours in one stretch. Hooray!

There were a couple times the first week that I wrote up some rant-y blogs in the middle of the night, and I'm happy now that I never published them. I'm an optimistic person most of the time and try to appreciate every single day as the one and only day of its kind. Every day Lilly grows, and every day is the last day I'll have a baby this tiny. Today I thought I'd share a couple fun freebies for new babies!

1. Request a Presidential Greeting! Whether or not you like the president the year your child is born, you should  set your politics aside, because your kid will think it is super awesome. Francis and I did this for our wedding, too, and included the President's postcard when we framed all the other postcards we used as a reception guestbook.

2.  Baby's First Circus - Your child's first ticket to a Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is FREE! All you have to do is register on the site in their first year of life, and you will get a personalized baby certificate that you can print right away, and your free ticket voucher will arrive in 12-14 weeks.