Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm "that" mom.

I've come to the conclusion in the last 10 (11?) months that i'm "that" mom. You know, the one that people always look at and say shit about behind their hands because they can't believe i'm parenting a certain way. Examples include the following:

1) Sometimes my baby goes places without socks. No...Sophie's feet are not cold...and no she did not "lose" her socks and shoes. She is hot-natured like her daddy and sweats like a dickens. If I put socks on her...she eats them. You think i'm kidding? She's got 9 teeth...i've got baby socks with holes in them. She also goes places without a jacket sometimes. Today it was 75 when I left the house...when I went to pick her up after work, it'd gotten cooler. I forgot her jacket. Oh well, wrapping a blanket around her for the 2 minute trek upstairs isn't going to hurt.

2) I take my daughter out with us to eat. Sometimes it's later then 8 pm. *gasp* Before you roll your eyes, no...I don't take her to fancy schmancy restaurants after a certain time...i'm not an idiot. Yes, she's an infant...she makes babbling noises and giggles and coos...but I'm smart enough to know that if she starts freaking out or screaming, I take her outside. Therefore, you really don't have to sit there and make grimaces and complain about my loud baby when it's 2 in the afternoon and we're in a public place. Tonight, we took her out because mommy had a shitty day...and daddy knew that if I had to cook it was all over and I was done for. So he offered to take me out real quick so I wouldn't have to pull out the pots and pans after a long day of work. We put her in pjs...she ate like a champ and danced to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer when it came on. There was 1 other couple in the restaurant and they made all sorts of crappy remarks to each other concerning why my child was out so late. 

3) I feed Sophie processed food. I know...horrible, right? I understand that some of the crap out there has way too much sodium and way too many preservatives and all that jazz. 9 times out 10 I try to give her what we're having so she gets a home-cooked meal. I have been known to give her hot dogs, beans and wienies, ravioli, and canned green beans. Does this make me a bad mother? God I hope not. I'm not super woman...and after working all day I can't always get a home cooked meal on the table while taking care of her and waiting for my better half to get home from HIS long day of work. 

4) When Sophie goes for the remote, I take out a battery and give it back to her and let her have a field day. I've learned that if I take it away...she has a meltdown. If I say no and move it out of her reach...she goes for it with a renewed vigor like it's a solid piece of gold. If I let her have it? She plays with it for 5 minutes...10 tops, and then she's done with it. Which option would you choose?

5) I formula feed. Sophie has drank formula since she was born and she's no worse for wear. I knew before having her that it would be impossible to breastfeed. I take several heart medications and some are dangerous to infants when transferred in breast milk. I went off of the meds for 9 months and had to go right back on them after she was born. I couldn't even pump. I get trashed for "not trying". I get trashed for "not understanding" when I try to offer support for those that have a hard time breastfeeding in public. It sucks that I never got a chance to but i'm not hurting my daughter by giving her formula. As a fellow mama friend once said in her blog...Formula is not poison. I refuse to feel bad for providing for my daughter and making the best choice that is best for both of us. 

6) I let Sophie have free reign of the entire apartment. How else is she going to explore? She knows what the bathroom is and where the tub is. When i'm not right there with her, that door stays closed. When we are in the back room where the litter box is situated in our half bath...that door stays closed. A gate blocks the kitchen where the cat food/water is. Otherwise, she's good to go. This way, if i'm getting ready for work and she gets bored in our bedroom...she can crawl down the hall and head to her room...where there are toys and books and such. She can even head to the front living room...where more toys and books are located. Everything is baby proofed and what we don't want her to have is high out of reach. 

7) I encourage baby babbling. When we are in Target...i talk to her. I giggle with her, sing softly to her, get her to babble back at me. I don't scream at her if she's fussing too loudly...i redirect her into laughing at a silly song or something like that. This is an issue because if she's babbling too 'loudly' and i'm not correcting it, I'm judged for not disciplining or for 'letting her do anything she wants' She's 10 months a little and move along if you don't want to hear her. When she's older and throwing a fit because I took away a toy or a snack or a book or SOMEthing...then yes, I will correct her behavior...but for now i'm letting her learn on her own. 

I'm sure there's more. I'm sure i've been judged a thousand times over for every little thing I do when it comes to being a parent. I should dress her in more pink, I should keep socks and shoes on her, I should feed her only organic foods, I should breastfeed or risk her being stupid, etc. etc. yadda yadda yadda. My response? judge away. Every mom is different and every situation is different and unless you are truly super mom and a haven't experienced everything why judge?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

thankful for...things that make Winter more cozy

As the weather gets colder, and I get more and more chilly every day...i'm reminded just how much I hate the winter. Last year, I was massively pregnant around this time and the cold didn't bother me all that much. Now that Sophie is on the outside, I find myself freezing even if the thermostat is cranked up as high as Luis will let me set it. So this week, i'm thankful for the little things that make winter more comfy for me.

My Husband: 
Luis is amazing this time of year. He used to side-eye me as I shivered, but all it took was putting my cold fingers on his neck one time for him to realize that I wasn't just playing around. I have low blood circulation due to my heart, so everyone else will be comfy in shorts and i'll have a sweater on. He's learned to go with the flow and I am so grateful that he is in my life to cuddle me or offer a jacket when everyone else is rolling their eyes. 
The Keurig
This machine was and still continues to be the best investment ever . I can't drink a lot of caffeine so it's wasteful to make straight pots of coffee and having to throw them out at the end of the day was flinch-worthy. With this baby, I can make a cup at a time and even use a travel mug to bring it with me on the way to work in the morning. My newest favorite thing to do is to dump a pack of hot chocolate mix in the bottom of my favorite mug and then brew a cup right over it. I don't need to add sugar and it tastes just like a mocha. Yum. 

My collection of blankets
Everyone made fun of my plethora of blankets until one winter when we had an ice storm and the power was out for 2 weeks in the middle of winter. Then our heat broke at our apartment in Richmond, so we used them again. I love having them around to curl up in after Sophie has gone to bed. They also come in handy when i'm making mini-forts for her to crawl through too ;)

My teapot and loose-leaf tea.
There is nothing better then having a fresh pot of tea brewing, especially when it comes from an actual teapot. I love me some sweet tea and tea bags...but there's nothing like loose tea and the herbal, fruity smells that seep up as it's brewing. I can start it while i'm doing dishes and then have it to look forward to when I curl up with a book.
My Grandmother's quilt.
pardon the horrible pictures...but I love my Grandmother's quilt. My grandma gave it to my parents when they got married, it's called a 'wedding ring quilt'. My mom kept it safe and passed it down to Luis and I when we got married. It's so thick and comfortable and I feel so safe and warm at night. 

Cuddly babies and warm winter jackets.

Sophie is modeling her (my) favorite jacket. How can you not feel cuddly when seeing her in the warm fleece jacket and pants? I love dressing her up all warm and bundling up and heading outside for the day. 

Seren is the ultimate purr machine. She searches me out after Sophie is in bed and immediately curls up in my lap. I can feel her purrs radiating through my legs and she always falls asleep. Nothing like a purr-baby =)

We struggle through winter in this house...but these few things make it go by a little bit quicker, and i'm grateful for that. Wish me luck this year as I forge ahead with an outside baby and remember just how cold it can get.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Grateful for baby...things?

I was looking at something of Sophie's today and thinking to myself: "Wow...I am so lucky to have found this!!" and then it hit me what this week's grateful post should be about. All things that I am grateful for having around when it comes to my kiddo and her likes/dislikes. Let's start with toys.

#1) Lamaze Mortimer the Moose
Actually..all of our Lamaze products have been tried, loved, and nibbled on. This guy stays hooked on the stroller, we also have Jacque the Peacock for the car and Freddie the Firefly for the house. She loves to chew/suck on Mortimer's hooves, his ears, and she squeals over the different textures and sounds that each part of him makes.

#2) Dora The Explorer - Say/Find it two ways!
My mom and I picked this thing up at a consignment store for maybe $3.50. It's freaking awesome. It has Dora, Backpack, and a bunch of different things to hit like pears, apples, drums, balloons, etc. There's 3 different modes. 1- Dora will say each item in both English and Spanish. 2- Dora will ask you to find something and give you the name of it in Spanish. 3- Backpack will ask you to find something and give you clues to help figure out which one. Sophie is on stage 1 right now (obviously) but every so often we'll switch it to one of the other stages because they sing the Backpack song and the 'We did it' song and Sophie loves those tunes like no other.

#3) VTech Crazy Legs
Another one of those 'Sophie is a bit young but we'll get it anyway' buys. We found this one at a consignment store as well. It's got 6 shapes on the outside and each shape you can press and it makes noise/says the shape/plays a tune. Each shape also has a little cord attached to it with a corresponding hollow shape, you match up the shapes with the right slots and they still do the same noise/shape/tune. Pop the bug on the top and all the shapes pop off. Sophie's eyes light up when she does the actual popping. I usually put the shapes in for her, since she's more into the singing right now...but she'll drag this thing around and listen to it all day long.   It has several stages, much like VTech toys do..learning, singing, shapes, songs..etc.

#4) VTech Discovery Nursery Farm
We have the older version of the one listed on Amazon, so ours looks a little different...but still the same general idea. We found ours at a yard sale, so the orange 2 doesn't work...but everything else is awesome. It has a learning stage and a sing-a-long stage centered around farm animals and songs like "Mary had a little lamb", "Bingo", "You are my sunshine", and of course E-I-E-I-O. This thing fits perfectly nestled into her high chair tray...which helped us many many times over when we sat her down and then had to warm up food and she got fussy.

#5) Baby Einstein Musical Motion Activity Jumper
Luis was skeptical about this thing...I wanted one right away. We waited until she was about 5-6 months old and whoa! She was a jumping fool! It has classical music at the touch of a button, places for links so you can hook your own toys, a couple of teethers, and an option to learn in spanish, english, and french. Now that Sophie is crawling, she's less interested in it...but still will crawl right over to it and attempt to play with the toys from the side. When that happens, I plop her right in and she jumps to her heart's content.

Now let's move on to the everyday stuff that i'm grateful for...mostly things that help me out day to day and that can include food!

Plum Organics: Super Puffs
Sophie eats all flavors of these and I find myself preferring them over the Gerber puffs. These are more crunchy and lighter flavored, they also have unique flavors like Spinach & Apples, Sweet Potatoes & Peaches, and Blueberry & Purple Sweet Potato. They are an awesome addition to a small container of cheerios so Sophie doesn't just eat plain cheerios all day while we're out. It's a great way to throw a little variety out there too with the different colors of each puff.

Plum Organics Cereal
I'm grateful for this twofold. One reason is because Sophie will not eat any type of rice cereal and right when we had found a multi grain cereal she gobbled up, the company stopped making that particular kind. This leads to the second reason I love this stuff. We found it at Big Lots one day, for about $1.50 a bag. It looked interesting, said multi-grain, so we picked up a bag to try it. Sophie loves this stuff. She'll eat it plain, mixed with fruit, with cinnamon.  The flakes are fluffy, which makes mixing it super easy to do. We grabbed 5 more bags and came away with a good supply for very little cost.

I am a certified Link-o-holic. I have about 4 sets of these and i use them everywhere. To clip teething toys to the high chair to keep things from hitting the floor. To clip things to the diaper bag handles.I use them in the stores to clip things to the cart handle. I even have a set clipped to my changing table to keep a loose drawer from opening on it's own. She chews on them, and I don't have to wash her toys a million times when they hit the floor. Win.

Dishwasher Basket
I can't take credit for this one. My sister-in-law introduced me to these and I turned around and bought 2. I keep them permanently in the top rack of my dishwasher and I seriously don't know what I would have done without them.

Gentle Giraffe
This didn't go under toys, because she doesn't play with him. GG lovingly lives in her crib and she listens to him every night. Luis was skeptical about this one too, but I had a wonderful set of recommendations from my mamas (my January mamas, that is) and decided to bite the bullet and go for it. Wonderful thing that I did. Even Luis wonders now why we didn't get it sooner, it is such an integral part of our bedtime routine. What's awesome about this thing is that I purchased it about 5 months ago and since then, it has been on every night for 45 minutes straight (sometimes it gets a second round) and it has yet to die on me.

This is Mr. G. Lovingly pictured above, Sophie is doing what she always does to poor Mr. G (short for Mr. G. Callen). His tail, horns, ears, legs, they've all been gnawed on. I am so incredibly grateful that one of our mama friends sent him to us in a gift exchange, because seriously Sophie would be lost without him. I am currently searching for an identical one for that 'just in case' moment I forsee happening.

Take & Toss bowls w/ lids
These are a life saver now that Sophie is eating more finger foods. I have 2 packs of them and I use them constantly. There's several that go over to the sitter's house filled with applesauce, yogurt, or cheerios & puffs. There's one full of cheerios & puffs that stays in the diaper bag, I use them to feed her out of if all her bowls are dirty. They come with lids and even though the name applies that you can 'toss' them, they are 100% reusable. I think the idea is that they are inexpensive enough that you can accidently leave them somewhere and not worry about wasting a lot of money.

Munchkin mesh feeder
I cannot say enough good things about this! We bought it originally to use with fresh fruit to give Sophie a chance to taste some of the chunkier fruits without choking on the bigger pieces. It worked great until she decided she hated cantelope, watermelon, and blueberries. We retired it for a bit, and then she started teething. Now my baby girl has 8 teeth and is working on #9....and they came in pairs and pretty much one right after another. We would stay up late nights with her wailing and pushing away cold rags, cold teethers, anything really that was suggested. Finally having enough of seeing her in pain, I pulled out the mesh feeder and stuck a whole ice cube into it. Silence! She would suck a couple of ice cubes down through that thing and would get the cool relief on her gums plus the added bonus of water intake (she refused bottles while we were worried about dehydration) Now she is eating more chunky stuff and with 8 teeth the ice thing doesn't work anymore, but I am forever grateful for having it during those couple of months that she needed it.

I think that's it. Everything else I'm happy to have, of course...but these are just some of the things that looking back...i realized that I pretty much would not have made it to the next day (sane, at least) without. What are some of the things YOU can't live without?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Can't we get a break?

The first thing that was said about Sophie when she was born: "Wow...she has her daddy's nose" the second thing, "Wow...she has her daddy's full lips!"

We all thought that it was humorous, and when she formed a milk callous from bottle feeding...we thought nothing of it. When Sophie was 3 months old, I panicked because I found a spot on the back of her head that appeared so suddenly I thought i'd bruised her.
I immediately called the pediatrician. They weren't too concerned but said I could bring her in for an appointment if it would make me feel better. I went the next day. The doctor we saw was not our normal one and she wasn't too concerned but made a referral to the vascular specialists anyway. We went the following week and saw a team of doctors who poked and prodded her in a room that was way too hot and caused her to freak out over the amount of strangers present. They told us it was a rapidly disentegrating hemangioma and that it had probably formed inside the womb, receded while inside the womb, and was now reappearing as a bruise-like birthmark. We were sent home with promises to recheck her in a few months and then home we went, researching like bandits.

Fast forward to her 6 month visit. I went by myself because Luis had to work. When I left the office an hour later, I was in tears. The pediatrician was concerned because she had a large lump on the inside of her lip that went back to her gum-line and that wasn't normal. She was also overly concerned because Sophie's head measurements were (and I quote) "off the chart". We'd joked about her having a big head like daddy's side of the family but all of a sudden I felt like a horrible mother for joking when apparently it was a huge medical deal. I left not only in tears, but armed with referrals back to the vascular specialists for her lip and to the neurologist for her head size. I was terrified. I also felt 10,000 times worse because I knew something was wrong with her lip..I knew that it wasn't the normal milk callous but I listened to peer pressure and didn't force the issue because i'm new at this whole 'mama' thing. I thought if I listened to everyone else surely they had children so they were right to tell me I was over-reacting.

sophie-bear's hemangioma.

We went to the neurologist, who we fell in love with immediately. He was intent on helping us, immediately took all the necessary steps to figure out what was going on and he listened. He took one look at Luis and joked that his head size probably had something to do with Sophie's large noggin and that she was perfect in every possible way save for the weird positioning of the hemangiomas and such. He ordered a CT scan, but was overruled by his boss...who wanted to do an MRI to 'save us the trouble'. We hesitated, but were told it was the easiest way to do it so we went with the flow. Her MRI was scheduled for August 18 and we went home once proud of Sophie and her flirtatious nature with the cute doctor. (well, I was proud of her for throwing the shy smiles out, not sure how Luis felt about the doctor being cute in my eyes)

August 18, and I'm a wreck. Sophie had to stop all solids at 8pm...all formula by 2am...and everything by 7am. Guess what, she hates pedialyte. Every flavor (i bought them all) and even the unflavored kind she refuses. I tasted them too, yeah...i'd turn my nose up at that as well baby girl. We pack into the car and start the loooong 45 minute car drive to the hospital. Sophie is tired, hungry, and straight up mad and the poor thing doesn't even fall asleep until we are literal minutes away from the hospital. We get checked in, take her to the back and my palms start to sweat. I'm not used to being the one <not> on the was extremely hard for me to let them do anything to her. Let's talk about the IV process for a moment. The minute that they had me lay Sophie down, she knew something was wrong. Then they wrapped her in a cocoon with one arm out and she really knew something was wrong. If she could say mama...i'm sure at this point she'd be screaming it along with the pitiful wails. They turn out the lights and they start the process. I'll spare you the details, let me just say it was heart-wrenching and I never want to do that ever again. Luis had to leave the room, I stood by her head and held her hand and no amount of singing or soothing could calm her down. When they finally got everything in, they let me pick her up and she immediately calmed. Then, just when I thought things were ok...they started the IV drip of the sedation medication. Sophie flipped. I mean, flipped. She arched her back and fought sleep for all it was worth. They finally had me lay her down and she knocked out...they told us to kiss her and then they wheeled her away. We nervously went to the waiting room, where no amount of reassurement from the other waiting parents could do anything to help ease our sudden fears. Finally we agreed that we were hungry, so we headed down to the cafe and ordered some food. Right as we started to eat, the nurse from upstairs approached us and said the doctor needed to see us.

You know that feeling you get when something is wrong? Holy tingling, batman. We were led right back to the where we started, and found her in the recovery room where we would have gone after the MRI was done. The first thing the doctor said to me: "Hey! Everything is ok...but Sophie stopped breathing several times" 

Oh..but everything is ok. I started bawling. I couldn't stop...even when the alarmed doctor told me that everything was ok over and over again. I wanted to hit her...I know she was doing her job, but it was terrifying to hear that your baby stopped breathing!!! They were nonchalant about it and even though i'm sure they've seen dozens upon hundreds of cases like this...this mama hasn't, so she freaked a little bit. They went on to explain that she had a reaction to the sedation meds and when she calmed down enough for the MRI, she actually stopped breathing for 5-10 seconds at a time. They gave her puffs of air and her O2 levels never dropped..but she did stop breathing. They couldn't even put her in the MRI all of that torture was for absolutely nothing. She should have taken maybe 30 minutes tops to wake up from the sedation. It took her 3 hours. Luis and I sat by her side the whole time, and those first 3 hours were rough. She kept dropping her breathing and so we'd have to wake her up and piss her off in order to get her rhythms back up. She finally woke up, but the doctors were concerned that she was still hitching her breathing while she was napping. Because of this, they kept her overnight. Our first hospital stay with a baby. She hated it, I hated it, Luis hated it even more. The crib was like a cage...and she barely slept which meant that I barely slept and that Luis grumbled the whole time about barely sleeping. The following morning, her neurologist came by and I hugged him I was so happy to see him. He decided that they could fit in a quick CT scan (like he had originally wanted, but was overturned by the powers that be). I went to grab coffee and Luis & Sophie went to get a CT scan. 

We got good news from the scan. Sophie has extra fluid in between her brain and her skull. That sounds horrible, but it's actually the #1 leading cause of kids with big heads. She's going to be a little clumsy as she starts walking and until she grows into it...but it is 100% normal. We go back when she turns a year old just to remeasure and see where we stand, but after that we should no longer have to see the neurologist for follow-ups.

One problem down, one to go. After several visits and follow-ups with the vascular team, they have decided that the hemangioma on Sophie's lip will need to be removed. They gave us the option of coming back in 6 months and then going no further without surgery or doing the surgery now/when we choose before that 6 month limit. Tomorrow the nurse is calling me back to discuss scheduling it. I'm back to being terrified...she will need complete general anesthesia and the doctor assures me it is an outpatient procedure that will last no longer the 75 minutes and she'll have 1 week of needed recovery at home and then several weeks of swelling to watch over. Given her reaction to simple sedation, can you blame me for worrying?

I just want my baby to get past this, though. This is what she needs and although I think she's gorgeous the way she is, I don't want her to have problems with feeding/eating later on in life because mama was too chicken to let her baby have the surgery she needed early on. One day at a time, and I know we'll get there. This is just extra troubling to me given my open-heart surgeries and medical problems. I'm not used to seeing someone I care for being in that same position. Luis told me "Well, it's good this way, you know what they can expect" I told him that was the problem...I know how it hurts, and how waking up with a breathing tube is scary..and I was 17 and then 26 when it happened to me, so imagine what it's going to be like for my 9 month old!

I'm waiting for an email/phone call's to hoping I can actually catch some sleep tonight.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Consignment store & thrift shopping.

Let me begin this post by saying that there is nothing wrong with spending the money at fancy stores geared specifically for baby clothes. Nothing wrong with it at all, IF you have the money.

It just so happens that we do not.

I have always been a lover of thrift stores, mostly because I am 1 part crafty and 2 parts eclectic. I collect tea pots, not just the plain ones, but the interesting ones that are all shapes and sizes. Thrift stores are an excellent place to find these. I also love to re-vamp things. Examples include 5 total lamps that I got for about $5 total that I spray painted black and then touched up with gold smudging paint. Total cost of everything needed was under $10 and now I have 5 new lamps that rock my world. Often you can find the most awesome things, like paper plate holders for $.25 (set of 5) or baskets to hold all those kid's toys and books for less then $1 each.

When I got pregnant, I was firmly against spending full price on any maternity clothes. I was livid at the outrageous prices for things that I would literally wear for maybe a month and less then that if I got bigger more quickly. There are 3 thrift stores in our area and several Goodwills. I scoured them, and pretty soon had an entire maternity wardrobe for a fraction of the cost. The stores I go to are very well run, very clean, and have the nicest people that work in them...always willing to help. We were extremely blessed and very fortunate to receive tons of clothes from my oldest brother. He has 3 kids and they are not able to have any more, plus he just recently relocated to Germany so he needed to give away everything or risk paying out the ear for storage. Unfortunately, he has 3 summer babies and Sophie was born in January. Therefore, a vast amount of the clothing we got as hand-me-downs were just the wrong size for the wrong season. Don't get me wrong, 80% of her clothes are from her cousins and I love that...but there are just some things that we couldn't use and were in desperate need of. Because of this, I started going to thrift stores and gearing myself more towards infant clothes and less towards the crafty/collectible stuff. I also started frequenting my local consignment stores.

Here's what i've learned from my experiences:

- It's ok to shop at these places. Some people will look down on me when I say that i've pretty much never paid full price for any of her clothing that i've purchased myself. I felt guilty at first, then I walked into a kids clothing store and almost cried at the $24 they wanted for a sweater. 
- Sometimes, you have to walk away from a good deal. I'm not an expert on kids clothing by any means...but I know that sometimes things are overpriced, especially at a consignment store/sale. If you don't think it's worth it...walk away.
- Get on any email/mailing lists and get any loyalty card they offer. Get to know the people that run the stores. I formed a great relationship with the manager of our consignment shop...One of our thrift stores supports CHKD, a local hospital that Sophie frequents due to her skin issues. I always ask them to round up my total to the next dollar and then put the change in the donation jar. Because of this, the women there often tell me of sales they know of in the area or shops that just opened that I should check I truly enjoy helping a great cause and I know they run their shop with gentle hands so I enjoy shopping there often. The consignment shop I go to offers a stamp card, every $10 I spend/sell with them I get a stamp. When my card is full, it's 20% off my whole order. Because i'm on the email list, I was able to hear about the grab bag sale early and scored over $80 worth of clothes for $15 flat. I also went in during St. Patricks Day and got to choose a 'gold coin' and ended up getting 40% off my order right there on the spot. 
-Never be afraid to buy the next size up. If you find something that is a fantastic price, but it's a bit too big...take it. It may not be there when your little one grows into it. I can't tell you how many puzzles i've gotten for less then $1 even though Sophie is nowhere near working puzzles yet. 
-Spend time shopping. If you look hard enough, you can find gems in the rough. I have found so many things that still have the original tags on them. Basically, a baby outgrows something like a gift before they can even take the tags off of it ends up donated/consigned. In turn, it's sold at a fraction of the price. A lot of times these come with higher price tags to begin with, but if I can get that same $24 sweater for $4.99 with the tags still on it, i'll take it.
-It's not much, but take time to thank whoever it is out there that donated these items..and remember that when it comes time to get rid of your own things. You may want to have another child and that's fine, I want to as well so right now i'm not getting rid of anything just yet save a few items that I probably will never keep and have consigned or donated. I always say a little prayer of thanks to those mothers that donated their items...and in turn have allowed my baby to have new jammies or a new jacket for the winter. 

-Make a day out of it...and understand that you may not find anything at all. Learn where your stores are and make a day off out of it. Pack snacks for little ones so they are kept happy...know which ones have bathrooms and which don't so you can stop somewhere for lunch that has a changing table/potty break. Learn ahead of time when new items come into the store. If you go within a couple days of the last visit chances are that you are going to be looking at the same store. Don't be afraid to ask when the store puts out it's new rotation of clothing/etc. I usually plan a day i'm off on the weekend and go to all my local stores in one fell swoop. 
Go Early and never around the first of the month. The first of the month is when a lot of people get paid, same with the middle of the month. Try to avoid these times simply to avoid the crowds. Start your day early, because once everyone is'll find a lot of people have a plan just like you do. You'll also have a better pick of things. This rings especially true for yard sales. I know from experience that yard salers hate early birds (well, most do) but look through the classifieds the week before and find ones that say 'early birds welcome'. That could be the differance between scoring a bunch of kids toys and finding out they sold everything kid related before 9AM. This is my plan for yard sales, I go through and map each one and then make a huge loop. By the time that you are done with the last one (if you are going to quite a few) then start over at the first one. If it's nearing the time that the sale is supposed to end, they will WANT to get rid of things. I did this and scored 3 bags of soft blocks for Sophie for .50...the woman just wanted them gone, and practically loaded them into my car herself.

It sounds like i'm exceedingly desperate, but I'm not. I'm a couponing mama and unfortunately have fallen into the credit card debt that is so sadly common in this day and age. We sometimes get caught living paycheck to paycheck, especially with Sophie being born and her hospital stays since. Because of this, sometimes I find it neccesary to shop at my local thrift stores and the point of this entire post is to pass along the fact that it's OK to do so. Sometimes I wish that I had extra money to buy her everything new and pristine and never worn..but I know that it's just not what we are in the position to do right now, especially at the rate my baby girl is growing. I just can't see spending $200-$300 for so few outfits when I can use that money for groceries or other things like that.

No matter what you do, everyone is going to have an opinion. I've had a lot of people give me the side-eye when they compliment me on a shirt and I mention it's from a local thrift store. I always feel a little sad that a few seconds prior to that information, the shirt was pretty and "looked great on me" and then it goes to pitying looks because the truth comes out. I firmly believe in not lying about where I got the clothing. I did that once, and backed myself into a corner because a friend was adament that the shirt I was wearing wasn't carried at any Old Navy that she had been to (she went to 4 stores looking for it!) and I felt bad when I had to tell her that it wouldn't be because it was probably a couple seasons old =/ I find there is absolutely no shame in mentioning where I purchased something. I save us money, and Sophie gets some awesome clothes...what's so wrong about that?

If you aren't comfortable with thrift stores or goodwill yet, that's ok too. There's still some awesome ways out there to save money on your growing kid's wardrobe. My biggest advice is to shop dept. or chain stores when they have their past season clearance.  Using this method, you will most likely have to buy a couple sizes up for the following season. This actually works twofold, you have clothing already stored away for when they get bigger and if they end up going through a massive growth spurt (like my daughter has recently) you have something to dip into a little early instead of frantically running around trying to find stuff they can fit into so they aren't running around in a diaper. The two main sales that i'm talking about concern Spring/Summer clothing and Fall/Winter clothing. The sales happen in the opposite seasons, so at the end of the summer, most stores will clear out the tank tops/short sleeves/shorts/slacks as they try to make room for the new clothes. Let's use today's finds as an example. My father-in-law gave us a gift card to JCPenney for clothes for Sophie, because I had mentioned that with her larger head we were having trouble getting things to stretch over and fit her properly. I've been pretty good at sticking to sales and such, and today after I left the house I realized that Sophie has pretty much hurled all over my shirt and the stain was right over my boob and already dried. Fantastic. So I asked Luis if I could use the card to pick up a shirt so I could change and continue my errands without smelling like old formula and sweet potatoes (pleasant, right?) I hit JCPenney and immediately saw the 80% off red tag clearance racks. Score. What follows are examples of what I mean when I say 'end of season clearance'

yes, it's upside down...ignore that for me. This is a picture of what I got...1 shirt for me that will work for day/date/work and 2 shirts for Sophie. Both of the shirts are 3T, but cut small...and she will probably fit into them next summer at the rate she's growing
This is the price tag for my shirt. The original price is listed at $36. I'm sorry..but realistically I cannot afford to pay $36 for a shirt. Granted, I will use it...but imagine needing 4 of these shirts to interchange during the work week. That's $144 on 4 shirts and you haven't even gotten pants yet. If I had the money, I might deal with it every once in awhile...but I can take that $144 and on a good clearance sale walk away with at least 10 different outfits that i can mix/match and dress up or down. 
This is the tag for Sophie's shirts. Original price was $15.99, I scored them for $1.97 each. Does this make sense now as to why I purchased them in 3T? When she's in that size in the future and say I needed shirts for her, I would have paid $32 for 2 shirts that she pretty much would outgrow in no time flat. 

When you shop the clearance racks, you'll notice repetitions. The reason for clearance is to clear out the back shelves to make room for new shipments and new seasons. Therefore, you'll see a lot of the same shirts in different colors and maybe a plethora of one size. It could mean a number of things. The shirt didn't sell well (maybe no one wanted to pay $36 for it?) or they overstepped their goal and ordered more of something expecting it to sell quickly and in the end, it didn't. Their loss, your gain. Pay attention to door buster sales too, especially around back to school. Lots of department stores focus on juniors, but at the same time they will run doorbusters on other departments too to draw people in. Pair this with clearance sales going on and you can make out like a bandit. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sophia Kay

As I wrote the last two entries, I realized that this may turn into a more then once a week blog. That's alright, isn't it? Good...because i'm not really interested in changing my mind right now.

I also realized that I never properly introduced the star of this blog, that would be my daughter.

So here's her story:
Before finding out that I was pregnant, I was one of those girls who longed to tell her husband in a cute way. You know the type, buying a cute newborn onsie or cooking baby veggies or buying blocks spelling it out. This changed as soon as I peed on that little white stick and sat in the bathroom for 2 minutes waiting for it to show me yes or no. Here's the kicker. I was on birth control...and I never missed a day. I had somehow managed to match cycles with a coworker and I frantically texted her one night to ask her what day of the week we usually started on. She replied with 'Tuesday'. I tested on a Monday, the day before my expected period. I felt off somehow, like something was wrong but not really wrong per se. Luis thought I was crazy, told me i'd tested before and that nothing was different this time around. I left him to watch his tv show and when I got out of the bathroom some time later I think I might have been in pure shock. I handed him the pregnancy test and he stared at it and then at me before asking what a pink plus sign meant.

That began the most harrowing journey for us. I had just had my second surgery and we had literally JUST been cleared to have children. This was both a blessing and a surprise for us, because truthfully we weren't trying and we weren't financially ready to have children. We were moving in a few short months, and we were heading to my in-law's house until we got his transfer orders. I spent the first 3 months in agony. I was sick 24 hours a day and pretty much everything made me hurl day and night. I lived off of popsicles and tomato sandwiches. The one thing i'm most proud of is that I never missed a day of work due to morning sickness. Sure, I ran to the bathroom a lot those first few months, but I never called in because of it.
I had my share of issues but mostly it was an easy pregnancy. I had heartburn every night, woke up 5-8 times a night to pee, or to switch sides because I developed severe sciatica pain. I agonized over every little thing, was she moving enough..was she still ok? My heart started skipping beats about halfway through, but my cardiologist gave the all-clear and said it was normal. Disconcerting? Yes, but normal. When I hit about 38 weeks I was done. I worked all the way up to 38 and a half weeks pregnant and was on my feet all day up until my last day. At that point, I went back home to where I would be having Sophie and stayed with my parents since they would be helping out after the birth. My mom worked me to the bone, she had me out walking every single day. My doctor would not induce me before 40 weeks, but he wouldn't let me go past 40 weeks either, so when they checked me 2 days before I was a full 40 weeks...they scheduled my induction for the following Tuesday. Sophie proved them all wrong and at about 5AM on January 2nd (her due date) I went into natural labor all by myself. It was excrutiating..and I spent the car ride screaming in agony all the way to the hospital which was 40 minutes away. My poor husband didn't have a clue as to what to do except let me squeeze his hand. When they got me into a room, they started the epidural, but I went to almost 6 cm without it...and was having contractions all the way through the epidural procedure. Because of my heart, they didn't want me pushing constantly and so the entire labor process lasted a whopping 17 hours. There was miscommunication among all the medical professionals involved and finally when they let me help push, it lasted all of 10 minutes - maybe less. They had to bring her out with a vacuum assist and so I had some massive tearing and cutting going on that didn't make itself known until way later. The moment that they laid her on my chest erased all thoughts in my mind except how beautiful she was. I had spent 9 months with her kicking me from the inside and finally I could see my baby in the flesh and understand just what I had created. Daddy came over to cut the cord and then they took her...he got to officially hold her first, I was shaking too badly from the medications. I managed to be able to hold her for a couple of minutes before they whisked her away to the nursery.

We went home a day or so seems like a huge blur to me now. She had fluid under her skin on her head from the vacuum, and I remember feeling so guilty that I had done that to her. We met with her pediatrician when she was only 2 days old and she assured me that it was normal and would go away within a couple weeks. We are so incredibly lucky to have our pediatrician. She cares for Sophie and we are blessed to have a network of doctors available for all the specialists that we've needed to see for her several skin conditions.

Sophia Kay was born on January 2 at 10:27pm, weighing 8 lbs exactly (3 lbs over the estimate they gave me a couple hours before birth) and 20.5 inches long.