Thursday, September 29, 2016

2016 Walk for Life: Will you help?

It's that time again! I'm getting my team together for this year's Walk for Life. A fundraising event for Alpha Pregnancy Center - one of the few crisis pregnancy centers in San Francisco.

The event is on Saturday, October 22. I've signed up to lead a team and walk 2-3 miles delivering bags of gifts to a couple of families who have needed Alpha's services this year. The walk ends at a park where we celebrate together with food and games. It's one of the most rewarding fundraisers I've ever been a part of.

Would you please consider sponsoring me? I've set a goal of raising $500 (although I'd love to go above and beyond that). You can sponsor me a few different ways -- stuff cash in my hand, mail a check, or go online and give through my crowdrise site.

All the funds raised go directly to the the pregnancy center which allows them to serve their clients - women and families going through unexpected pregnancy. Did you know one of the major reasons given for not going through with an unplanned pregnancy is finances? Babies are expensive! But Alpha does everything they can to remove that burden. They provide free services as well as supplies like diapers, formula, clothing and baby gear.

Will you help these families thrive?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Maternity Leave and the Adjustment

I realized when I posted about going back to work that I never really got to share much about my maternity leave. Leave is supposed to be a time to rest and bond with your newborn, right? Well, that goes fine and well for your firstborn. . . but the second born? Not so much. I did rest when I could and I wasn't nearly as active as I was prior to Stephen's arrival, but I would say it was entirely different than the last time I was on leave.

My leave started abruptly as you may remember. Stephen was born two and a half weeks early. Chris stayed home with me and the boys for the first week and then his mom came out and stayed with us for two weeks. Those were my weeks of rest. Mostly that meant that William was entertained and I could handle all baby related business. Don't worry - they took great care of me too!

Shannon, Chris's sister came a few weeks after that and helped some more! And then after July 6th, I was home with the boys on my own, getting used to our new normal.  Except for one very important thing. A friend of mine gave William her spot at daycare for 13 days! We did half days since naps are still vital to his emotional health but having the mornings to spend with Stephen and nap was amazing. It also gave William a little break from me (who wasn't always the happiest mama).

Adjusting to two children was harder than I anticipated. All I felt like doing was cuddling with my baby and sleeping, but I had a little boy who would ask "Mom, can you play with me?" "Mom, I have to go potty." or "Mom, I'm hungry" "Can you read a book?" or try to communicate with tears and crying instead of words or try to get attention by hugging his brother too tightly . . . you get the idea. Thankfully I had healed quickly physically so I could do a lot. But emotionally I was feeling torn and exhausted.

It was really hard to divide my attention between the two and still is. It was hard to realize that sometimes I will need to put William's needs ahead of the baby's and my own.  (When William had gotten my undivided attention when he was a newborn.) It was another exercise in serving others and being self-less when everything in me screamed "what about me!?"

But then Chris did give me several opportunities to have "Me time" and "girl time" and that was wonderful and life changing. I had not noticed how desperate I had become for my friends!

I tried to keep William's schedule as similar as possible to before. We would go to the park and the library. We didn't go to the grocery store anymore or drive too far. We went to the zoo and the science museum. I had found a lightly used Joovy Caboose Sit'n Stand stroller which allowed me to take both kids everywhere! (It does have a few drawbacks in that William was a little too free to hop off whenever he felt like it or use the platform as a skateboard while I pushed . . . and tripped over him.)

Baby's first time at the aquarium!

Friends sharing a turtle -- at a park

We hung out with friends and had playdates as often as we could. Seeing other friends was a lifeline for me when I was on the verge of feeling sluggish or closed off. We made a few special outings happen as well. I took William to a place called "Fairyland" -- an amusement park just for young kids. He loved it and I loved seeing him have so much fun. Stephen put up with it too!


By the end of August, I was mourning the fact that I needed to return to work. I had adjusted somewhat and began to really love being a mom of two. Not juggling work. Just being home, managing the chaos. Having freedom to spend time with friends. I felt like I was given a glimpse of what that could look like and I loved it.

So, my maternity leave wasn't exactly restful, but having a baby rarely is! I found this time off to be refreshing in other ways. And also very challenging. . . oh so very challenging!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Back to Work . . . Again

September 6 marked the end of my maternity leave.  I love my job and I work for an incredible organization, but it has always been my hope to be a stay-at-home mom (period) not a stay-at-home/work-from-home mom. I was blessed with a very supportive supervisor and they were willing to let me try working from home after William was born. This was by far the hardest thing I had ever done. So, when we found out we were expecting again, I had my hopes on not having to go back to work at all.

We analyzed every aspect of our budget to see how we could make that happen or how to make my return to work easier. We had several plans that fell through or change and finally during the last week in August we figured it out. I would need to go back to work part-time and we found a preschool for William to attend each morning for 4 hours. It still meant I had to juggle a newborn and work but at least I wasn't wrangling a toddler all day too. I could share more of the struggles and emotions that came with this process, but that may need to be another post.

So on September 6, Chris drove William to preschool (in his new carseat that fit in the pickup!) and I went to work with a sixteen-week old baby. I did spend the first few days in the office to get acclimated to the work and my very new supervisor. And then for the most part, I've been at home behind my computer every moment that my baby was not in my arms. It is incredible that it still takes me literally all day to finish a part-time job. It's been a hard transition but it helps that William loves his preschool and my co-workers love me!

I really enjoyed my maternity leave. I took 16 weeks off, which was longer than I had meant to take, but that's what we needed to get our schedule figured out. I loved having my days with my boys and not having to plan anything I didn't have energy for. I loved being able to nap while they napped (which happened nearly every day). We stayed home a lot but made it to a few play dates and parks and even the story time at the library.  I still found myself juggling my attention between the two children and that was hard sometimes, but I was thankful I didn't have to juggle work at same time.

I'm grateful for my job. I'm so lucky to be able to do what I do from home. With children in the background . . . sometimes in the foreground! But if I'm honest with myself (and you) this is not how I wanted life to be at this stage. But I know that what I'm doing right now, although hard and not ideal is the very best thing for our family at this time.

Time with Grandma

Last week, my mom came to stay with us and help me out while Chris had a guy's weekend away. I had just returned to work the week before and although William is in preschool half days now, I still felt I needed help to get through it.

She arrived on Wednesday afternoon and got to work right away cuddling Stephen and helping me get him to sleep during the day. She has some amazing skills in that area! And after William's nap each day, she got down on his level and played for hours. She also helped me with meals, cleaning and baking! And she took us shopping! I would never have gone to the mall with my kids by myself, but with her help I was able to find some great clothes.

Although I really needed to focus on work and needed her help with the kids, I wanted to make sure we did some fun things too during her visit. On Thursday afternoon we all went to the California Academy of Sciences so she could experience some of William's very favorite things - fish, sharks, and an albino crocodile.

On Saturday we went to William's swim class. Usually Chris goes and I stay home with Stephen, but since Chris was out of town and I had mom to help, we all went! William is always a little hesitant to jump in the water but this time he screamed and screamed and refused to get in. I hadn't seen him like this before. I took him in the water briefly but he still didn't calm down. So we sat on the bench and watched for a while, William demanding to go home. Eventually something caught his eye that he wanted to try, so we got in! And then he had so much fun (for the five minutes left of class time!).

On Sunday, we had a tiny early birthday party for William. Complete with a donut tower with candles and lots of gifts! 

When Chris returned we ventured out to the beach! We never go to the beach but Sunday was hot and William had been begging to play in the wet sand and Grandma loves the water. The boys built a sand castle, mom and I took photos of the water and put our feet in (and then got surprised by the tide and got our pants soaked). This was Stephen's first time at the ocean!

On Monday, my cousin Sarah came over for dinner and we got to catch up.

There were a few nights that we had her stay with a friend of ours so she would have her own space and a better nights sleep. This meant that a couple of times, she had to brave public transportation to get to our place. She was nervous, but brave and did it! Even when the bus missed her stop, she didn't miss a beat and found her way back without too much trouble. The city can be overwhelming for us who grew up in rural areas and never had to navigate city streets and bus systems. I think if her visit were a little longer or she had to do it more often, she would have felt comfortable with it all. Baby steps.

She did a lot of babysitting for me while I worked and had a few medical appointments. The boys did great for her and I was grateful for such amazing help.

The week went by so fast and before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. I am so glad she could come and be with us. My boys don't get to see her often enough, and neither do I for that matter. It's the worst part about living so far away. We had seen her just a few months ago for my brother's wedding, but we really didn't get to spend much time together when there were so many people to visit with. Having her all to ourselves was so great!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Baby B2: Four Months Old

And just like that, Stephen is four months old. And I'm back to work. This month was full of change!

Stephen is now just over 24" tall and weighs 12 pounds 7 ounces. He isn't chunky at all, but looks like he's filling out some. He loves to be included in everything we do and loves seeing people's faces. He has a big, adorable grin and the cutest little giggle. He will even let out a squeal if you tickle him just right! I really try to make time to just play with him and delight in him. He makes my heart happy (when he's happy that is . . .)

He thinks tummy time is rollover time and won't stay on his belly for more than a minute. Just recently he started to pick up his head and really look around! He's holding on to some toys and loves the ones that make crinkle sounds (like tissue paper). He likes to suck on his fingers, sometimes his whole fist. He coos and sings and tries to tell us about his big world with his own words. He seems to like his swing, as long as he can see what's going on with everyone else. He loves being naked and having his clothes changed. The biggest smiles happen when you take off his shirt.

We've had a breakthrough in using the K'tan baby wrap! He has taken quite a few naps in it this month and loves facing out too.

Bedtime is usually 7 p.m. and he will sleep for four hours and after that he might sleep for three more hours and then when 4 a.m. hits, he will sleep if one of us holds him. After four months of this schedule, I'm just plain tired. But also hopeful that we can help him learn to sleep more soon! He has slept up to 7 hours in a stretch so I know he can do it! Nap times are still a struggle, but a routine is forming.

In August we had a date night and hired a babysitter to watch both kids. We left after both boys were in bed, but Stephen did wake up briefly. Not sure we're ready to have someone else tackle bedtime x2 quite yet.

Grandma came to visit this past week which was wonderful! He got lots of snuggles and learned a thing or two about falling asleep in his bed. We took Grandma to the ocean and the California Academy of Sciences. And of course, she babysat a lot too so I could work and go to a few appointments. We even braved the mall with both boys so I could get some new clothes. Stephen was fussy most of the time and William refused to listen, but it ended well and I got some pants. I would not do this on my own . . . ever.

Curious what William looked like at this age? See this.

I'll write more about going back to work soon, but for now, just know that it has been a challenge and brought more changes to our lives than I anticipated.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Babiaks go to North Dakota

Why were we in North Dakota? you might ask. My brother got married there on July 30th. We couldn't come all that way for just the weekend so we spent three extra days there and convinced my family to stay with us. This would be the only time we saw them all year. Thankfully, they obliged.

We spent the first few days before the wedding in Minot, which just happens to be where the ND State Fair is. On Friday morning, we along with my dad went to the state fair. We walked through all of the animal barns, looked at all the farm equipment and took reprieve from the hot sun in the toddler play room (complete with rocking chairs, recliners and changing tables!)

We ate a delicious lunch of fresh squeezed lemonade and corn dogs and let William go on a few rides! (I don't have any photographs because I'm an idiot and mistakenly did a factor reset on my phone and lost everything. You can shed a tear if you'd like. I have shed quite a few.)

That evening was the rehearsal dinner and the following day was the wedding which I blogged about here.

On Sunday, we had a leisurely morning with extended family before everyone had to checkout of the hotel. I was so glad we all stayed in one place! The extra time with people was really nice.

Then we packed up and drove to Bismarck where we stayed until Tuesday morning. Sunday night we split up and the girls went to out to dinner and then to the movie Bad Moms which was fun. (Think Mean Girls for moms . . .) But getting out with just the girls was so great. I hadn't really gotten to hangout with my sisters and mom alone in forever. The guys stayed back with all of the kids. My boys proved to be quite the handful I was told.

On Monday, we went to the North Dakota Heritage Museum which had everything from dinosaurs to tractor exhibits.

Later, after naps (which were interrupted by the loudest fire alarm ever and a visit by the fire department) we headed to the zoo. They had a group of really active monkeys, bears, and tigers and a lot of other animals too. Then we went out to eat . . . at a restaurant . . . with all the kids after their bedtime.

 We had one last big gathering at a park near the airport on Tuesday morning. We got in some last minute photos and then had to say our good-byes. It was especially hard because my sister and her family were moving to Pennsylvania the following weekend. In reality it changes very little for us since we only saw them once a year anyway, but knowing now that they are even farther away was still sad. Our "dreams" of raising our kids together looks more and more impossible.

I loved getting to meet my new nephew and niece (although they don't look so new anymore . . . ) Sharing in this phase of motherhood with my sisters is awesome. Our children are only 5 and 6 months apart! But as I said before, hard because we are so far away. 

I think Grandpa and William bonded well over the weekend! They enjoyed looking at the tractors at the fair together and all the animals. And of course, whisker kisses!