Saturday, December 31, 2011

I tried not to get ranty.

I just have to share this post from one of my favorite bloggers on one of the subjects  I feel most passionately about. Breastfeeding. Specifically, in reaction to the recent drama with Target employees asking a nursing mother to move and hide what she was doing, and I couldn't say it any better than Kristin does in her post.  I never try to prove a point when breastfeeding. I don't try to let my boobs hang out freely so that everyone can see it just so they know that I support one of the worlds most natural things.  But I do make absolute sure to nurse Henry in comfortable places, wherever that may be.   I think it's terrible to ask a nursing mother to go to the bathroom, to face a wall, to somehow hide fact that she's feeding her baby.  I have never once nursed Henry in a bathroom, because I would never choose to have my lunch on the toilet. I respect everyone's right to feed their child however they want to.  If that means covering in public, or pumping and feeding the milk from a bottle that is absolutely fine.  Like I said before, I don't just leave my breasts out for the world to see, but I also don't use a cover because a. Henry doesn't like a blanket on his head when he eats, b. I agree with this blogger that I show WAY LESS boob than half of the people I see out in public just in their regular clothes when I breastfeed, and c. because I think that showing that breastfeeding is normal is the best way to help other people realize that it is.  The more you see it, the more normal that it becomes for some people who haven't been around it much before.  I understand everyone has different views on this, and while I find it more than appropriate to freely breastfeed anywhere and everywhere, obviously not everyone does.  I just wish people would have a bit more respect, for a woman's right to feed her child and for the baby's right to be fed when they need to be.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Was Good To Us

There was coffee and quiet time by the Christmas tree while Eric and I anxiously waited for Henry to wake up... the one day the boy chooses to sleep in of course. There were big smiles as Henry opened his gifts from Santa-- Books, wooden puzzles, more books, a pushy walker contraption that he likes to stand with, balls, a bead maze, and the very best thing, leftover wrapping paper tubes and tissue paper.  He isn't hard to please.
We feasted on a Swedish breakfast, relaxed with Eric's family, opened more gifts, and I spent the day feeling amazed that it was our son's very first Christmas. An oh-my-goodness we have a child moment. All day long.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tree lovelies

Merry Christmas to all of you!!  I'm a bit late in posting this, but really it drives the point I'm about to make right home.  It's fitting. I'm giving a peak into what  Christmas decor looks like around our house this year-- our first few months in this house, and our first Christmas as a family of three. (plus our pup Finn. I always feel guilty if I don't say family of four for some reason.)  Anyway, like I mentioned last week, I'm a bit of an under achiever when it comes to the holidays.  I love the Christmas season, I just never put forth enough effort to have a perfectly decorated home.  I also fall short during the holidays in other ways, but not for a lack of effort.  Or maybe it is. I am usually late in sending things, or getting cards done and mailed, etc.  It makes me sound awful, but I swear I'm not just lazy.  I guess it's just one of my things. Anyway, despite the fact that the only decorations happening around here are those hanging on our Christmas tree, and our stockings that are hanging from our breakfast bar for lack of anywhere else to put them, I love what we do have to remind us of Christmas. Our ornaments are random as can be, but I love random.  Random fits me in a number of ways, it fits this family.  This years "theme" when picking and creating ornaments was things that won't shatter if, say, a 9 month old rips them from the tree and puts them straight into his mouth. So here is what hangs in our tree for just a few more days. I loved how our tree turned out, it was the strangest Christmas tree I've seen and I love it for that. It will be one that I'll remember for years.  We got it a few weeks too early, and the poor thing is mostly brown and dead, half of it in a giant needle puddle on our floor. I dread the clean-up as I'm sure we'll be finding pine needles all year. 

Henry's sweet baby handprint
We've had these owls for a few years, and I love them the most this year because when I was pregnant we bought so  many owl things for Henry. 
Felt roses I made in red and oatmeal. From here
I love this pair of birds. Can't remember where they are from. 
A new one I picked this year, from Target
Sent this year from my Mama, elephants are my favorite.  This one is keeping a naked branch company. 
Yarn balls in oatmeal, green, and purple. These are so easy. 
Some of the unlucky, fallen ornaments. Pulled down by babies!

So that's that.  And for the record, most of my gifts did arrive on time. :) And I did order holiday cards, so maybe I'm improving? 
                           










Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When I'm Reminded To Be Really, Really Thankful

I almost got completely slammed by a jeep yesterday.  I was out grabbing lunch and heading back to work, when the jeep facing me in oncoming traffic started sliding out of control at a strangely fast speed.  He spun across the center line and came at my side of the car as I swirved trying to avoid it.  I was sure we were about to hit and was just waiting to feel the weight of the vehicle, but we literally missed by inches. JUST SCRAPED BY.   The jeep then continued to slide backwards behind me and as I headed down a hill I wasn't able to see if everyone behind me was as lucky as I had been to have avoided an accident. I hope no one was hurt. My first thought as I continued driving was how glad I was that Henry wasn't in the car with me.  Just in case I hadn't been able to get out of the way in time.  I told Eric about the incident, my voice and hands shaking, and I just had an image in my mind of how differently things could have turned out.  I'm not trying to be dramatic and all I-nearly-died or anything, I'm just saying that this particular situation came very close to turning out much worse.  We were driving about 35-40mph.  Not incredibly fast, but enough so that had we hit head on it would have been scary. It had the wheels turning in my mind the rest of the day, just how lucky I am every day to have 2 boys waiting for me at home (3 counting Finn dog!) that I get to return to. I have a roof over my head, fun moments and experiences to laugh about and friends to laugh about them with, delicious food to eat, a great job, a cozy bed to slip into at the end of the day.   Those things along with a million other small things that I am so grateful for.  I have replayed those few moments in my head again and again and am still unsure of how the driver of that jeep was so out of control, it's almost as if the gas pedal was being pushed the entire time. I wasn't able to see or focus because I was busy trying to dodge it. All I know is it was a close one, and I was so thankful for the opportunity to come home at the end of the day, and hug my sweet boy who was giggling with glee about his Mama walking in the door.
I hope every single one of you stays safe on the roads this season (and always!) Don't I sound all mom like there?
-V

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let's just call it what it is.

I'm the biggest procrastinator in the world. I'm sure of it. No matter how wonderful my intentions may be, and though I do follow through with things I plan on doing, I do it all late. Constantly. Blog projects? Woops,  how about next week?  Holiday cards? Let's make them New Years cards... Christmas gifts? I'm totally that person scrambling in the chaos on Christmas Eve.  I've always been the person who packs just before leaving for the airport, or as I'm on my way out the door to move to a new house.  I was always the one writing papers the day before they were due (although in my defense, my better work was produced under a time crunch).  This year is no different, sadly.  I've been busy up here just trying to keep up with the holidays, mail my packages out (they were late, sorry family!) buy last minute gifts, wrap, etc. I don't know why I struggle with time management, but it is what it is. I'm not lazy, or flaky, I just like to think I'm relaxed. (ha!) I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this, but I do hope that some day I can rise to the occasion and get things done a bit earlier.  I'm not holding my breath.
I hope you're all feeling relaxed and more prepared for the holidays! This week before Christmas is always exciting.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Birth of Henry, again.

You might be thinking, isn't it a little late to be sharing a birth story, 8 months after it took place?  I shared a quick version of the story shortly after Henry was born, but I wanted to share this version that is going on our birth center's website.

Henry Vincent was born on March 31, 2011 at 9:49 on a snowy, sunny morning.  I was four days past my due date and had been feeling as though I was to be pregnant for the rest of my life.  My sisters had delivered their babies before their due dates, and my cervix was very ready to go so we thought I would follow the pattern and deliver early as well.  I knew that it was more common to be "overdue" as a first timer, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated to not be in labor yet.  I was so excited to experience it, and to meet our little boy.  I had been checked a few times and the day before going into labor I was 5cm dilated and almost completely effaced.  I asked myself why I wasn't in labor when my body was so ready to do it. I had been having cramps and mild contractions on and off for days, even weeks, some were even predictable the days leading up to labor, but they always disappeared.  My family was in town and I was feeling the pressure to get the show on the road. For whatever reason, Henry just wasn't quite ready, and I tried hard to trust his timing.  I knew things would be smoother if I let him come when he was ready to.  So all I did for those days was walk, and bounce. Over and over again, just to feel like I was getting somewhere. I was so insanely swollen and I didn't want to be pregnant another moment, but looking back I'm glad I had a few extra days to enjoy that feeling inside, of a squirmy baby I would soon meet.
The morning of the 30th, I went in for a visit with Barbara, she thought she'd be seeing me back at the birth center before long.  She suggested I keep my arms folded over my belly to encourage Henry to move lower, so that is what I did--all day long.  I wanted my family to see some of Alaska, so we took a drive along the shore to look at the snow capped mountains, not going to far just in case I were to go into labor. We strolled around town and all the while in my head I was noticing that the mild contractions were 6 minutes apart.  My Mom kept looking at me wondering if something was happening because she knew I was timing, but I didn't say much about them, because I figured they were like all of the other contractions and would be gone by the time I went to bed that night. They weren't uncomfortable, or changing, or any different than the ones I had been having the previous weeks, except that they were a bit more frequent.
That night I had trouble sleeping.  I was feeling restless, like I needed to go to the bathroom but never got the feeling that I could actually empty my bladder. I got up over and over, finally falling asleep at 1:30 in the morning. At 4:23, I leaped from the bed clutching my rock hard belly with an "ow!" I stood there a little surprised, then got back in bed, only to shoot from it once more with another strong contraction.  I went to the bathroom and my legs were a little shaky, but still I wondered if this was actually it.  I woke up my husband Eric, and he wanted to call Barbara right away, as she'd be the one to meet us at the birth center.  I asked him not to call yet, even though contractions were strong at four minutes apart.  I hopped in the shower and moaned through them as they picked up to every two minutes. He called her and since I was due for antibiotics and she didn't think it would be a very long labor, she asked us to meet her at the birth center right away.  I had hoped to stay at home as long as possible, but the birth center feels like home anyway, so I was fine with the plan.  Things were moving quickly.  I whispered to Eric that I was nervous as he helped me to get dressed, but mostly I was so anxious to see what would come next. At the birth center (5:15am) I got in bed to have my antibiotics started, and Barb checked me-- I was 8 cm and shocked.  Such relief.  I sat on the toilet through a few contractions, texting my sisters and lighting candles, then moved to the bath.  Laura, Sarah and Felicity arrived, and I was feeling so supported.  Generally we don't have that many midwives and birth assistants at the births, but I had asked that they be there, and they all came which I am so greatful for.  I had hopes of a water birth, but my plan all along was to have no plan, to be flexible and do whatever was working the best.  The tub felt wonderful, taking away the weight of my swollen legs, and my contracting belly. Barb asked if I wanted her to break my water since all that needed to happen was Henry needed to come down a bit lower.  I said that would be fine, I didn't want much intervention but this was a step that was helpful, and it was my choice so I was very comfortable with it. I moved to the shower and labored on my knees, arms wrapped over an exercise ball while Eric sat next to me spraying my back with the hot water. I was grunting at the very peaks of the contractions feeling slightly pushy, though only Eric could hear it.  We moved to the bed and though I wasn't entirely complete, Barb and Laura said I could give a few pushes to see how it went.  He was moving down with them and I was quickly completely dilated.  As I started to push, I slipped into a completely different place in my mind and body. I was no longer feeling pain with the contractions, but just an incredible (and uncomfortable) urge to push. In between, I was almost asleep.  Everyone was quiet for the most part, my eyes were closed, I was relaxed.  I think I joked around a bit in between, about not wanting anyone to touch my water bottle but those details are a bit hard to remember.  The pushes though, were intense, and I was loud during them. Instinctual.  The feeling as he got lower was more painful than the contractions themselves.   I had no concept of time during that stage, but I know that about 30 minutes after they said I was complete, they placed Henry on my belly. It was amazing.  Everything felt so right, so very calm.  We were not separated once, Henry and I. Sarah (birth assistant, friend, lactation consultant) helped us to breastfeed and Henry and I slipped into a bath with herbs to relax afterwards. A very tired mama, and a very relaxed baby.

I've been asked many times if it was strange giving birth with my bosses and coworkers, but it was so far the opposite. I was encouraged to just enjoy it like the patient that I was, not the birth assistant that I was used to being.  It was definitely interesting to be on the other side of it, and I loved it. The whole experience. Everyone was surrounding me with support but giving Eric the space to be my main support person.  It was a perfect day for us both.  3 hours after he was born, the three of us headed home to nap in our own bed. I left with such a sense of relief, that it was over, but a little sad for the same reason because it was such a special, experience.  I have never been so proud in my life.















Monday, December 12, 2011

Wee One Goes to Work

Sometimes during our Mondays off, Henry and I like to stop by Eric's office to visit him.  Henry gets so excited to see him, and I think the office is some odd sort of playground to him.  I love that about kids, otherwise boring places are anything but to them.  He does the usual Henry bounce as soon as he's there, and wants to get his fingers on just about every single thing he can. The keyboard is the ultimate goal, but he'll settle for some other things along the way. Hinges that he can see from the floor, filing cabinets, computer... they are all thrilling for him.  He then begins to make farting noises with his tongue and lips for the next 25 minutes, more than likely leaving all of Eric's coworkers to think he's having some GI issues in his cubicle.  For those that actually walk by and see Henry spitting and bouncing, he starts to put on a flirtatious show, pulling out all of his best and most charming bits. He grins the widest grin, squeels a bit, and makes everyone smile a little wider.  I love that he's an outgoing, busy, energetic little man, and I love that he likes to make a scene at Daddy's office. 




In other news, my iPhone jumped ship and so I upgraded over the weekend to the newer iPhone.  The camera on it is WAY better, and there is video so for that I am thankful, but even a good camera phone (or a good real camera for that matter) struggles to catch a baby as bouncy as this one. Apologies for the blurr happening above. The wiggle of the boy plus the wiggle of the laughing mama trying to hold the phone makes for some iffy photography. But worth the giggles. :) 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Problem skin and pocketbooks

Recently I'm into some new products that wipe out both of these things. The ladies at our office say that I sound like a commercial for this stuff, so I'll try to keep it short.  I don't sell it or have any motive for going on and on about it other than the fact that I just really enjoy these products.
The company is NYR Organic and they sell some awesome skin/hair care goods! All of the products are toxin free, organic, not animal tested, scented with natural essential oils, and smell absolutely wonderful.  The company is "green" from top to bottom, from the building they make their products in, the garden they grow their ingredients in, to the bottles they use and the products themselves.  It feels good to support a business and my skin in this way. I went to a little pampering party where I learned of these goods, and then hosted a party of my own! It was lovely, and so far I'm finding my new skin care regimen is too.
The current lineup:
Wild Rose Beauty Balm (WONDER CREAM! Works as cleanser and deep moisturizer, and comes with a little cloth and instructions for facial massage)
Wild Rose Beauty Concentrate which makes my skin feel lovely
White Tea Eye gel, in hopes of helping dark circles
Rose face wash, rose water (toner), regular moisturizer and a sample of orange flower night cream (feels and smells dreamy!)
It's been funny trying to figure out how to use them all without confusing my skin, but I think it's working out well. The beauty balm is an occasional thing, and the rest I'm using regularly.  So far, my favorite product is the Rose Water. It has oils of roses packed in it, and it smells so wonderful and makes my skin feel so fresh. I also love the lip gloss that is made with sweet orange oil rather than petroleum.  I learned at the party that we consume some disgusting amount of lip gloss ( a couple of pounds, I think) and I thought that was unsettling. Especially since I'm giving Henry so many kisses! I don't wear lip gloss often (I've actually been using A&D diaper ointment recently) but this gloss I feel no guilt about wearing at all. It also feels much better, it doesn't chap my lips one bit.  I have to apply it more frequently but I'm okay with that.  It's probably because I'm secretly eating it anyway, since it smells and tastes like orange oil.
Best part is: All of these things have fixed the classic problem of the dread I feel in getting ready for bed! I hate when I'm exhausted and still have to get up to wash my face before bed.  But now, I'm so excited to go and use all of this and take the scents to bed. It's practically like aromatherapy. Well worth the price for such deliciously wonderful skin care.




Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Ho Ho Ho and stuff"

Apologies for the title, but every time I think of Santa, I think of Jim Carey's version of The Grinch.  My family will tell you that I spent a number of years with an odd obsession with that movie, and to this day I have the entire thing memorized. That's completely off track though, because what I really wanted to share today, were the pictures of Henry meeting SANTA!
We saw pictures of this incredibly convincing Santa and desperately wanted to find him for Henry's pictures. It was so nice because he was in the lobby of a business here in town and although he's the busiest Santa in town, this new location hadn't yet become popular so there was no line at all to see him.  I got there after work before Eric and Henry arrived, and Santa and I chatted for about 20 minutes. I'm telling you, if someone hadn't ruined that for me long ago, I would be fairly convinced that this man IS Santa. He looks like this year round (minus the suit), likes kids better than adults, and calls his wife Mrs. Clause. He was so nice, and Henry adored him! It feels funny to go on and on for an entire post about Santa Clause, so I think I'll get on to sharing the pictures.  I have to throw in a quick cheesy mom moment, but it was really sweet to see Henry staring at the man in the big red suit, while I imagined all of the excitement that will some day center around the idea of Santa for him in the future. Some day we will get to bake cookies together to leave out on Christmas Eve, and read stories of the man who takes his reindeer on a huge trip around the world in one night. Some day he'll want to wait up to try to catch a glimpse of the Santa that he imagines to look just like this person in front of him. It was awfully cute.




Friday, December 2, 2011

More on the tree

In yesterday's post I talked about our first real tree. And our first tree as a family of three. We went on an adventure to find it, but our wonderful friends ended up spotting and hauling it for us. We set it up together on Monday, while eating burgers (we made them with moose meat!) and malts as Eric's family has a tradition of doing so. (One that I was more than happy to adopt).  The tree has more character than any tree I've had in the past, the top of it fell off and since it's wild it has more gaps than a tree grown for the purpose of Christmas trees. I love the big full ones, but I am surprised by how much I love this tree and its unique qualities.   I had been so anxious to put it up and see what Henry would think of it; he was so fascinated with it all.  He climbed right under the tree to help Eric set it up, and was thrilled with the little pinecones that are still attached all around the tree. I of course got sappy and teary eyed as Henry stood watching the lights, holding the ornaments in his perfectly chubby little hands. It's hard to believe we have a baby, and it's his very first Christmas.  Christmas trees always make me swell with that comfy, warm, happy feeling, and that feeling is magnified by 1000 with my little boy standing in front of it.








Thursday, December 1, 2011

Guest Post

I absolutely meant to post just after Thanksgiving to let you all know that I was guest posting on Cait's awesome blog Pretty&Fun.  But things got crazy as they often do during the holidays, and we were very busy chasing after two 9 week old puppies that we were taking care of (stories for another day in the near future) so it slipped my flustered mind. Click here if you'd like to read my post on what I'm most thankful for this year. I'm sure it won't be hard to guess what that is. 

Why Moving to Alaska Felt Like A Good Idea

A few years ago, when Eric and I were dating, we would spend a few hours of nearly every single day in a coffee shop dreaming of adventures that could be in our future.  Maybe we would travel to Africa, or meet each other in Italy for a summer, move to Colorado.  We dreamt of the adventures we could have living in Alaska, thousands of miles from where we had started together to see where it would lead us.  Not knowing for sure that the dream would be our reality, we talked more and more of Alaska and how our lives could lead us there.  A place where we'd spend weekends hiking up the sides of mountains, camping oceanside, skiing in long dark winters, fishing, walking hand in hand where the land never seems to end and the adventures are right outside the front door.  We visited in 2008 and it was exactly how we imagined it to be.  We fished for salmon in hip-high rivers and rafted down the water that held them, we camped in Seward with the ocean just beside us and we were in love.  It was exactly the change we craved, and we knew that we would spend a few years there together.  We packed up the Subaru in May of 2009 dragging a small trailer behind us, carrying whatever belongings would fit and camping along the way. For the first year, we hiked often, camped a bit, rafted a couple of times.  Then we found jobs that we loved, and got settled into a routine and still did those things but did them a bit less.  Got pregnant, had the most wonderful boy, and find that we struggle a bit to get outside of Anchorage.  It is no one's fault, and it's not because we had a baby, although that does make it more challenging.  We just got comfortable in our routine here in town.  But as I look back to that coffee shop years ago and the image we had of our life up here in the great north, I can't help but to feel slightly disappointed in the fact that we don't do those activities as much as we had hoped to.  We are really trying now, with those dreams in mind, to make the effort to get out more often. Neither Eric nor I are really in love with Anchorage, but rather the areas surrounding it.  Alaska is absolutely covered with beautiful land to explore, and I go stir crazy when we stay on the exact same path in town week after week. So I'm happy to say that last weekend we packed up and headed out of town. The moment we leave the city I feel a wave of relief, a rush of excitement.  There are no houses or many buildings surrounding us, but rather ocean, mountains, winding roads, and wooden lodges. Ice climbers making their way up the wall of ice on the side of the road, adventures everywhere. We met friends and took off into the woods on snowshoes, with Henry napping on my back, and went searching for our first live Christmas tree. We went to an area where you are allowed to cut trees, and it was so energizing to be out in the deep snow as it continued to fall on us, staring up at the wild trees that would come home to help our family celebrate this season.  After more than an hour of walking, we didn't find trees that were short enough to climb and full enough to cut for a Christmas tree.  But we felt so thankful that we were able to get back out to the activities that called us to Alaska in the first place, and able to share a new experience with Henry. It was gorgeous. Finn was insanely happy as he treaded through the snow that was just as tall as he is. Our family needed that day.
Our friends continued the search, and ended up carrying two trees home with them-- one for their family, and one for ours.  I'm looking at it in the corner lit with white lights and dressed in our ornaments, a bit wild and "imperfect", and yet so perfect at the same time.  We're back to our comfortable routine, but there is a reminder of the wild outside, of our adventures, sitting just on the other side of the room.