When we moved to Atlanta, I kept waiting until our apartment was set up "just right" to take pictures and post them, and then we moved out before that happened. I'm telling myself not to do that with this house, knowing that I will be continually rearranging and acquiring new things. I realize now that a home is never truly "finished" - what would be the fun in that? So I'll try to share room by room and project by project as I go, and probably re-sharing the same room again as I change it up.
We'll start with the room I was most looking forward to having: the craft room! I knew I wanted to set up this room first because if I put it off, it would never get done. Our finished basement is divided into two rooms. On one side is Mark's "man cave" and on the other is my "mom cave." I love having all my arts and crafty stuff easily accessible. The majority of my organizing gear came from the always wonderful resource, Ikea.
The table, shelves, drawer unit, wall magazine holder, lazy susan - all Ikea.
I was lucky that the room already had a ledge along one wall. I lined up paper and other odds and ends in these cheap FLYT magazine files.
So there it is. I'm super happy about how it turned out. When Scarlett is a little older, I want to add low shelves with books, toys, crayons, and stuff (probably this EXPEDIT unit that can double as a bench) and a child-sized table under the window. Then we can have mommy-daughter craft time. For now I can sneak in some craft time of my own during Scarlett's super short naps... maybe...
It's late afternoon/early evening. Scarlett starts to get a little grumpy around this time, so I like to distract her by taking her outside. The front porch is covered, so it provides a little relief from the summer heat. We swing together on the porch swing, singing some songs in between listening to all the sounds outside. "Do you hear the train? I hear some doggies barking. Does that breeze feel good?" Scarlett is wide eyed and takes everything in. Her gaze is fixed on the swaying branches of a tree, its leaves quivering in the wind. Above us the sky is blue, but dark clouds loom just ahead. Low and persistent rumbling enters our lesson in sounds. "Do you hear that thunder, Scarlett?" Lightning flashes in the distance. "I think a storm is coming, baby."
As we watch it roll in, I flashback to a childhood memory: I'm 8 or 9 years old sitting with my mom on the porch swing of our "blue house" in Simpsonville, and we're watching a summer thunderstorm together. I remember thinking, "This is kinda cool." Maybe this is when thunderstorms stopped being scary and started being a strangely serene experience. It's ironic that something so powerful and threatening can be so relaxing.
Now I flash ahead to a little daydream of Scarlett a few years older swinging with me as we watch another summer storm together. I imagine her asking me lots of questions about anything and everything. Maybe she'll still like to sing songs. I kiss her head just like I do now.
However, at the present time, as curious as she is about the world, I don't think Scarlett would find a storm quite as calming just yet. The wind picks up and I tell her I guess it's time to go inside. "But I think we have time for one more song..."
Today Scarlett and I went treasure hunting at our local Goodwill store. I found a bunch of cool stuff, including a side chair that only needs the seat cushion recovered. So I was really excited about my finds and checked out happily, even though it took forever for the guy to wrap up all the fragile stuff. When he was finished, I turned around to take away my haul. I had Scarlett in the Moby Wrap as I pushed the loaded cart with one hand and awkwardly grabbed the chair with the other. I was just starting to make my slow shuffle toward the door when an older, majorly redneck lady asked if I needed some help. I had seen her behind me, but I wasn't paying attention to whether she checked out at the next register or was still waiting behind me or just walking around. She reeked of cigarette smoke, and I'm pretty sure she was drunk at 11:30 am. But hey, I did need help. She handed me her merchandise (a notebook, a DVD, and two pillowcases) and said "Here, put this in the buggy, and I'll take this," grabbing the chair. "Let's go." Her stuff wasn't in a bag.
We walked a few steps toward the door. "Oops, did you buy this stuff yet?" I asked, trying to be loud enough for the workers to hear.
"Yeah." And we walked out.
Ok, I don't know if I believed her, but what was I supposed to do, ask to see her receipt? I can't say for sure she was stealing, but it seemed suspicious. So now I feel a little bad. Did I just aid a criminal? Am I an accessory? Or did nothing really happen and I'm just being judgmental? Did I just help cheat a charitable organization out of $6.00? Oh well, since I had just donated a bunch of stuff right before, I guess we'll just call it even...
There are so many baby products out there labeled as "must-haves". Some are essential and some are wastes of money. But the truth is, some products that are big fat flops for one mom might be lifesavers for another. You probably won't know until you try different things out and find what works for you, and you'll inevitably waste some money during the process. Sorry. That said, here are some of my favorites that got me through the first three months. Maybe if you have no clue what to get/register for, you'll find some ideas here.
I know this is not on your typical baby registry, but it has seriously been my #1 favorite "baby product." Since Scarlett's birth it has been like an extra appendage. Although I'm a little embarrassed that I have become one of "those" people, it has been extremely useful! I can take pictures and videos of my baby girl at the tap of the finger. I can track her feeding and sleeping. I can search for answers to my baby questions. I use it while I'm nursing (especially in those early weeks when it takes 40 minutes per feed) or holding her sleeping to surf Pinterest, read blogs, keep in touch through Facebook and e-mail, download and read books, keep track of the budget, heck, I'm even writing this blog on my iPhone. It's even been useful in helping soothe my fussy baby (see #5).
2. Happiest Baby on the Block
This is a wonderful book to get you through the first few weeks. I read it right after Scarlett's birth, but I recommend reading it before your baby arrives if you can because you will need the techniques right away. Dr. Karp's "5 S's" really work to soothe a crying newborn. Swaddling, Side position, Shushing, Swinging, and Sucking recreate the environment of the womb and help turn on what he calls "the calming reflex". Read it!
3. Swaddle me
I found these to be the easiest swaddle blankets for the first few weeks. I have some of the popular Aden + Anais blankets, and I still like them as soft lightweight blankets, but try wrangling a squirming, screaming infant into a good swaddle when you're still learning blanket origami. Plus, I could never seem to get it tight enough to where she couldn't break out. The Swaddle Me blankets have a pre-formed pouch and "wings" with velcro tabs, which make swaddling a cinch. Scarlett still sleeps better swaddled, where she can't startle herself awake with her flailing arms.
4. Miracle blanket
After Scarlett outgrew the swaddle-me blankets, we moved on to the Miracle Blanket. It's a bit more complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it makes a great swaddle. Get 2-3 so you have one on hand when the other is in the wash.
5. Ambiance app
In the womb, babies heard the loud constant swishing of the amniotic fluid, so they are comforted by white noise. I learned this at 2 am one morning when I took screaming Scarlett into the bathroom and turned on the faucet - she instantly stopped crying. I held her and rocked her there with the water running until my bleary eyed husband came in muttering something about wasting water. You should have seen the look I have him. He apologized the next morning for his sleep deprivation induced flub, but now I don't have to run the water anyway after downloading the Ambiance app. It had tons of sounds to choose from, and you can even combine sounds. I use a mix of waves, wind, and womb sounds. In the early weeks if she was upset, most of the time just turning the app on and holding it close to her ear would calm her. She also sleeps with the noise on, which blocks out other sounds as well. I tried a free white noise app before buying this one, but I like Ambience because you can use other apps without the sound turning off.
I've spent countless hours rocking and nursing Scarlett in my glider! Soothing her, rocking her to sleep, sometimes holding her in it for an hour or two because since 6 weeks old she hasn't napped more than 30 minutes unless I'm holding her. Comfort is key here.
7. Baby mirror
Scarlett loves looking at the "other baby" in the mirror. It has also helped her tolerate tummy time a little longer.
8. My mom
Seriously, I don't know what I would do without her! She stayed with me for ten days after the birth helping with everything! And she's come down multiple times to just take care of Scarlett while I unpack and set up stuff around the new house. A mommy needs her mommy too! And Scarlett loves her Nana!!
I'm standing in my undies inside my closet, cursing the mirror and its offensive reflection. My waist has returned, but my widened hips make its small size look ridiculous and disproportioned. A soft pooch hangs off my abdomen like a deflated kickball. Giant pink stretch marks stripe my hips, and some smaller ones are even on my thighs. I turn around and look at my backside. Yep, there too. It looks like a cat clawed my rear end. I need to lose about 25 pounds to get back to my pre-baby weight. At 6 weeks postpartum, you can forgive yourself all the flaws and extra weight, but at three months you start to get restless with your new look. Never before have I so much dreaded bathing suit weather.
But that's not even the issue I'm struggling with right now. I can always avoid getting into a bathing suit. But what I can't avoid (not without going stir crazy) is having to go out into the world in front of people. In regular clothes. I am fed up with struggling to find something to wear! Only about 15% of my clothes fit, and only half of that I can nurse in. For 12 weeks I've practically lived in yoga pants or stretchy lounge pants. If I've had to go out, I've rustled up a couple of sundresses that work, or I've used the Bella Band or a hair twistie looped through the button hole and around the button to hold up my undone jeans, but those tricks will only get you so far before you get tired of them.
My issue is this: I don't want to wear maternity clothes anymore because I'm not pregnant and don't want to look pregnant. But my regular clothes don't fit. But I don't want to buy new clothes because I'm (probably vainly) hoping that I will lose the baby weight soon, and the new clothes will be useless. So what's a girl to do? I could stay sequestered at home in my yoga pants, or I could accept the reality that it may be a while before my clothes fit and break down and buy some transitional clothes. Be warned: if the hormones don't give you the baby blues, your postpartum body might put you down in the dresser dumps!
This weekend we braved the almost three hour trip to Upstate SC to spend Easter weekend with my family. We took Scarlett up there in February, but that was when she was only two weeks old and still sleepy enough to pass out the whole way, so I was nervous this time around. I waited until she'd had a good nap (in my arms) and had fed before we left, and then we loaded up and headed out. I sat in the backseat with her in hopes of keeping her entertained. The first hour she was happy and "talking" up a storm. Then she fell asleep for 30 minutes. She then alternated between fussing and cooing, but then cried pretty much the entire last 30 minutes. I actually tried to lean over the carseat at one point and nurse her! But that didnt work, I couldn't bend quite the right way. Anyway, we survived and arrived to start a great weekend with family.
Easter Sunday would be Scarlett's debut at church, so I was a little nervous about how she would do and how I would get both myself and her ready on time. As for me, I had to rummage through my closet before we left for SC to find something somewhat cute that fit AND I could nurse in. I found a sundress with a cross-over front that fit the part. Scarlett would wear a sweet smocked dress that I wore when I was a baby. That morning she was so happy and just a-kickin' her little legs as I dressed her in a vintage slip, her dress, little white booties, and a pink felt flower headband that I made, despite her daddy's protests that she doesn't like wearing headbands. "Yes, she does, she likes to look pretty!" I countered, even though I think he's right. She does indeed seem to resent stuff being put on her head. Well she seemed in a good mood for the moment.
She fussed a little in her carseat on the way there, but seemed content as we arrived ten minutes late and took our seats. Perfect, she is going to do ok! I'll just hold her through the whole service and she'll just be happy as can be. Nope. Almost immediately after we sat down, as the worship team was reading scripture, Scarlett suddenly opened her mouth wide and shrieked. "WAAAAAAHHH! Wah-Wah-Wah WAAAAH!" I don't know if it was the voices coming through the microphones or all the people or what, but something sure scared the poor little girl. I hopped up and walked right out, Scarlett screaming all the way, and I could see the people's sympathetic smiles. Oh dear, well that's that. We did go back in after she nursed and fell asleep for a bit, but I ended up standing in the back rocking her.
Even though she was overwhelmed at church, I think Scarlett enjoyed her first Easter and having her Nana and aunts to hold her and love on her. Next year she will probably be able to hunt for a few eggs! That's hard to imagine. My little "peep" is growing so fast! Eating up every moment...