i felt your poltergeist love like savannah heat

I have been so bad with blogging. Not because I don't have anything to say (when don't I have anything to say?) but just because I've been so tired that shortly after Ethan is in bed, I'm in bed, too. Ethan hasn't been a napper since he was around a year and a half so I lost my previous naptime productivity time. It hasn't been so bad because I've been instead getting things done once Ethan's in bed at night but then I sort of got pregnant and lost all of my energy. As exhausted as I was during my first pregnancy, I don't remember being this tired. Maybe it has something to do with chasing around a toddler all day. Okay, it very likely has something to do with chasing around a toddler all day. A sleepless, napless toddler. Anyway, throw in my pregnancy induced apathy to carrying around my actual camera and you have a recipe for a blogging disaster. Which makes me crazy because I want to do my best to document this pregnancy as much as I did with Ethan's and, of course, document this amazing, wonderful, fascinating stage of life Ethan is currently in. (Just pretend all of my photos aren't doubles from Instagram.)

I say this all of the time, but this is my favorite age. He's still a baby who needs me -- for things, for care and for general reassurance and comfort -- but he's also this big kid with these crazy ideas and beautiful imagination. I love our conversations. I love the crazy things he thinks up and laughs at, the random objects he forms bizarre attachments to (most recently it's a filthy plastic caterpillar he named Blue). He's at this age where he has these strong opinions and theories and thoughts and it's been so incredible watching his little personality develop. I'm finally starting to see bits and pieces of his shyness disappear. For the first time in, oh, ever, he said his name during circle time at My Gym and even announced his favorite animal (which was a lion, at least this week). He's slowly starting to reciprocate high-fives to the cashiers at the grocery store and not completely hide his face when a friendly stranger says hello to him out in public. He loves handing the Butterfly World employees our membership card for scanning and saying "no thank you" when they ask him if he wants his hand stamped -- because he's not that comfortable with them yet. The more he talks and the more he realizes he knows, the more his confidence is starting to grow. It's been truly amazing to watch. Some people are sad to see the newborn phase morph into toddlerhood but I honestly find myself feeling sad about this stage one day being over. It's this wonderful stage of discovery and us just being a team. I'm not doing much of anything without his help these days, be it making lunch or flushing the toilet (his favorite, though he told me he's never going to actually use the potty) or filling up a cup with water.

Ethan finished his last swim class of the last session -- the new one starts in a week -- by diving for rings at the bottom of the pool. Not the steps, but the bottom of the pool. Somehow I have this little person who sweeps past my feet at the bottom of the pool, grabs a ring and kicks his little feet back up to the top of the water. It's ridiculous how proud I am of him, how truly impressed I always feel by the things he's able to do that I never would have guessed he could do.

As long as these days are, as tired as I feel, as messy as everything seems -- my heart is so absolutely full at the end of each day that I feel as if it could burst.


13 week bumpdate

How far along? 13w5d. Better late than never again, right? I do manage to snap my photos on the right day, but getting around to posting is sort of my problem.
Due date: August 30th, 2014
Baby is the size of a... Pea pod, nearly three inches long and weighing nearly an ounce.
Baby's development of the week: Fingerprints have formed on baby's cute little fingers!
Maternity clothes? Still in maternity pants but half and half with maternity shirts. I did finally cave and order a maternity swimsuit, though. Counting down the days until it arrives because Ethan's swim classes are brutal with my old one.
Sleep: Awesome now that the Snoogle is once again in my life. If I can only master waking up not to the overwhelming feeling of nausea, that'd be super.
Best moment this week: Starting to feel the nausea slowly fade away. If only my energy could come back in it's place.
Food cravings: Still no "I must have this now!" cravings, but I've been making more and more meals with tomato sauce because I just can't get enough, which is weird because I don't like tomato sauce. The same with hardboiled eggs -- I've been wanting them frequently which is also weird because before pregnancy I didn't like eggs.
Food aversions: Anything and everything that isn't a bagel before 11 o'clock.
Baby's Sex: I've always wanted four boys, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm having a girl. So much so that I haven't given any thought to if it's a boy -- all of my thoughts and plans have been focused on it being a girl (nursery, etc.). Sort of a weird feeling! I was right in guessing Ethan was a boy and I felt this strongly about it so I'm getting anxious for our anatomy scan!
Baby's Name: Is finally perfectly awesome, regardless of boy or girl.


because it shouldn't have to be a dirty little secret

Ethan was a formula fed baby. This wasn't by choice. Before I had him, I didn't know a single soul who ever formula fed and all I heard about were the benefits, the bond, the fact that formula is poison in a can. It was powdered death to all who consume it, bound to make you obese, lazy, delayed, unhealthy. And because I never had any kids prior to him, I scoffed at the idea of even selling formula in grocery stores and went on my own soapbox about my future breastfed children. Life had other plans. I had a difficult pregnancy, birth and recovery with Ethan (that's an understatement). At some point the decision to formula feed wasn't mine to make and I refused to accept this lightly. I'd use Medela bottles so everyone would assume I was breastfeeding and I refused to even walk into the store to buy the formula -- that was my husband's job, because he couldn't understand why it was the big deal I was making it. Of course, he wasn't logging onto Facebook to read all of the statistics about how doomed his precious little newborn boy would be like I was. He just didn't get how our kid was second tier to everyone else's kid and how we had already failed at parenting. Or at least I had. If you've ever suffered from anxiety or depression, you know how crippling it is. You probably also know how unless someone has suffered from it as well, they seldom understand. When I think back to the beginning of Ethan's life, I don't think back to happy memories. I think back to wanting myself to die because I had failed him, to thinking that I didn't deserve to be his mom. I wrote a piece for Fearless Formula Feeder that made me feel empowered and strong and brave, but I don't think I was actually fearless until well after Ethan turned two. Because by that time, I saw how absolutely amazing, healthy, strong and wonderful my son was -- and how he was fed as an infant didn't matter. At all. It's funny how in those early days, you think parenting revolves around that first year -- and then you wake up and see that, no, it doesn't. You see that there is so much to parenting that you can't even see past a the vastness of it all.

I consider myself a breastfeeding advocate, of course. I have plenty of friends who are breastfeeding and you bet your bottom dollar if anyone ever told them to cover up, go away, sit in a bathroom, I'd have some choice words for that person. The good thing about having good friends is that they'd also say something to anyone who said something snarky to me about formula feeding. That camaraderie wasn't something I knew when Ethan was an infant and I had to make friends since I didn't know anyone with kids who lived nearby. The thing is, we all are fighting a war. I see daily on social media about fighting for breastfeeding rights, and formula feeding rights, and this, that or the other. We're all victims of being judged in some way, about something, and as much as we like to be advocates for all groups being hurled hate, we know when we're personally being judged maybe it feels the most real. Or hurts the most. Because as much as I'd stand up for a friend who was breastfeeding if someone told her to cover up, I couldn't know what it feels like to be told to do so -- but I do know what it's like to sit there in a mommy and me class and have someone talk about the way you're "feeding that baby poison, so sad."

I made the decision from the moment I found out I was pregnant again that this baby would be formula fed from the start. Although the darkness has passed, I will never forget those first few months of Ethan's life. I will never forget the way I felt, how sick I was, how hopeless it all was. I will never forget watching him sleeping with the terror and panic that he would stop breathing, that this fragile little being who I loved more than life itself was already doomed. I know better now. I also know that I'm prone to anxiety and depression, and that I don't want to go that route this time. I know now that there is nothing wrong with formula feeding -- and I know that no one can hurt my feelings if they don't know that. (I challenge them to try, even. I've come a long way.) I've never been a confident person. Ethan gave me that confidence, being a parent gave me that confidence. Some people who knew of my struggles with Ethan have asked if I plan on breastfeeding this next baby. Mostly they're surprised when I say absolutely not. I usually follow this up with some joke how I'll probably be raising the only non-TV watching, non-juice drinking, cloth diapered formula feeder on the planet. I'm well aware some people won't understand and that's okay. They don't have to understand. What needs to happen is a true scenario of healthy mom, healthy baby this go-'round, seeing as I also have Ethan to think of. And I need to be present and here and available for both of my children come August -- because it's them I'm thinking of, not myself.

Recently Ethan and I were part of a very wonderful mommy and me group. We enjoyed our time there because there no one called me "that organic mom" (I'm still not sure what that means) and made not so subtle Facebook statuses about me because I don't let Ethan have juice or watch television. However, it was there that a mother saw Ethan munching on baked kale and fresh fruit and said "wow, look at him eat! You must still be nursing." She meant it as a compliment. She smiled and patted me on the back. The truth is, no, I never nursed Ethan. Not for a single second. But she's right, he's an awesome eater. The kid can put away more greens in five minutes than I have in my life. Maybe it has something to do with the fact he's only exposed to healthy, whole foods, or maybe it's simply because he eats like my husband (and that means anything you put in front of him). It was this same mommy and me group a few weeks later that someone saw the way Ethan is clinging to me -- like he usually does -- and the way we interact with one another. "Can't beat the bond of a nursing mom," smiled the mom in passing. I had to do a double take to make sure she was looking at me. She was. My blood would boil at this point, and when I'd tell my husband about it he'd usually laugh because he just doesn't get it. I see now that he's been right all along. It's funny. I've seen the memes about formula fed toddlers having thin, unhealthy, slow growing hair and I think about it every time we drive to the hair salon for Ethan's haircuts -- he's well over 20 haircuts into his little life, for the record. It's just that, each time I hear how his fine motor skills, vocabulary and the way he talks "well exceed his age level by two years at least," I can finally smile. Because I'm proud of him. I'm proud of us, and the mom that I finally allowed myself to be. I'm proud of the relationship we have, the fulfillment that every single day holds. And I'm proud that I finally see that formula didn't do any of the things to him that the internet promised it would. I haven't done my child a disservice. I've simply been busy being the best mom I can possibly be to him.

And that's exactly what I plan on for this next baby.

As anyone who has had a baby knows, you can't plan everything. Sometimes it feels like you can't plan anything. I'm not giving myself a laundry list of expectations to fail at, promises to break, disappointment to wade in. I'm simply giving myself one goal: to be the best mom I can be. And that's it. And that's all that matters. The health and happiness of my children are all that matters to me. Since the moment in Ethan's infancy that I put him ahead of the idea of what is in his bottle, he's always been my first priority. How you feed your child isn't what makes you a good mother. Being the best mom that you can be, on the other hand, is. And I'm proud to say that the best that I'm giving is the best that I can do. I'm proud of my best.


12 week bumpdate

How far along? 12w4d and suddenly actually looking pregnant. I heard this can happen faster with the second, but I didn't believe it. Point proven, baby #2.
Due date: August 30th, 2014
Baby is the size of a... Lime! Baby weighs around half an ounce and is just over two inches long.
Baby's development of the week: Reflexes! Baby's mouth is even starting to make sucking movements, his eye muscles are clenching and his little toes will curl.
Maternity clothes? Shirts are still fine, but I'm in maternity jeans. I'm also about one swim lesson away from needing to be cut out of my swimsuit, so I probably need to bite the bullet and get a maternity one soon, too.
Sleep: My husband ordered me a Snoogle tonight so fingers crossed sleep is about to get better. I have a hard time getting and staying comfortable.
Best moment this week: I got to hear baby's heartbeat again on Tuesday at my monthly check-up, so that was awesome. When we asked Ethan how he felt about the girl name we finally decided on, he said "YES!" That sort of made my day.
Food cravings: Carbs for sure.
Food aversions: Everything that isn't a carb, basically. I feel like less and less sounds appealing the more pregnant I get.
Baby's Sex: My guess is still girl.
Baby's Name: Finally figured out! But still a secret.


tot school - the letter x - 31 months

We were out of town last weekend so I made the executive decision to let X week go over two weeks. This is almost always a bad move. The older he gets, the more fast paced Ethan likes the weeks to go so I spent the latter half of this week listening to him beg me for new tot trays. I'm actually surprised at how much fun we had with the letter X after I was sort of pessimistic about it, but we also included some Valentine's Day and Groundhog Day activities to spice things up a little bit.



For some reason, this one printed different than it had looked on the screen. It ended up being pretty bunched together. Still, this went in a dry erase pocket and Ethan got to practice drawing lines from each key to the coordinating color square underneath.


Ethan has been really into cutting activities, so I was surprised when he had little to no interest in this one. The point was obviously to practice cutting on the lines, but he really wasn't too into it this week.


This was a simple print out of some random letters and Ethan got to use tongs to place the pom poms on the letter X as he found it. Because I called this one a "treasure map" and that reminded him of pirates, he really enjoyed this activity more than I thought he would!


Ethan knew that an x-ray took pictures of bones and since he's obsessed with all things bones and skeleton, he was excited about this one. I took a picture of Ethan and added in a little black square. Ethan got to use chalk and draw on the bones on the x-ray. This was just a fun little activity that he loved to do over and over again!


For this one, I used construction paper to create all of the pieces of a xylophone. Ethan got to put it together by placing the keys in the right size order and figuring out what fit best where (the smaller keys fit better where the black lines were more narrow). He really enjoyed this one and making his own xylophone!


Ethan received this xylophone as a birthday gift from his friend Cecilia. I brought it out for him to be able to see a real xylophone up close and play it. He loved experimenting with sounds and "playing mommy a night night song so you can go to sleep!" (I wish!)


I put some candy hearts in a dish and wrote the numbers one through five on print-outs of little red doilies (apparently our dollar store didn't sell actual doilies?!). Ethan got to count out the hearts after recognizing each number. This was great because he didn't realize the numbers were edible at all until close to the end of the week. Once he realized they were edible, we very soon didn't have enough hearts to count out!


Since Groundhog Day happened over letter X week, I included a tray with a little flashlight and some cut out shapes. We learned about shadows and how the groundhog sees his shadow. The concept of winter may have been lost on Floridian Ethan, but the concept of shadows sure wasn't. This was by far his favorite activity of the week and he loved seeing what he could cast shadows on!


I gave Ethan a cut out of a groundhoug and a black coordinating construction paper shadow and let him go to work gluing the groundhog and his shadow.


I also gave Ethan a sheet of black paper and some moon paint (3 parts shaving cream to one part glue) and let him go to work creating an x-ray. He loved this!


I don't write about our music nook a lot, but it got a lot of action this week! We have a record player and some instruments set up in the corner of our classroom. Ethan loves to spin vinyl and play along to the music. Sometimes he likes to color or paint along to the music. Lately he's been getting more and more into the music nook! When we first started the ABC's, I would give Ethan records with artists that begin with the letter we were learning. However, it's much more fun to let him pick what he wants to listen to and experience all different genres of music (his favorites these days are Dashboard Confessional and Dion!).


Tot School Montessori MondayI Can Teach My Child

No Time For Flash CardsFor the Kids Friday


because pregnancy isn't all rainbows and sunshine and unicorns

I don't feel like pregnancy is the most natural thing in the world.

There, I said it. Before becoming pregnant with Ethan, I had all of these expectations about pregnancy in which the glamour rivaled my excitement. I saw visions of maxi dresses and people stopping me in public to acknowledge "the glow" I heard people speak of. It wasn't really like that. After knowing I was pregnant for only a short month, I had to quit my job because I was too sick to function. I had to be chauffered to my OB visits by my mom, dad, anyone who was available because I couldn't stop vomiting long enough to make it there and back. I carried a bright green mop bucket with me everywhere and quickly got over my fear of in public (or in transit) puking. The acne on my face was so bad that it physically hurt and emergency room ID bands were my most worn fashion accessory.

21 weeks with Ethan, sporting one of many hospital ID bands

It wasn't just the crushed expectations. It was the terror involved in everything and the way I felt that my body just wasn't meant to do this whole pregnancy thing like everyone else's seemed to. No one else I knew had to sit there in the perinatologist office listening week by week about what would happen if the baby was born too early and his lungs weren't functioning yet. No one else had to lug around a cooler of orange jugs to pee into and then anticipate the inevitable phone call of "yep, still spilling protein." I felt like in addition to the big problems, every small possible problem would kick me while I was down, too. (Ever been told "excuse me, your hemorrhoids are bleeding on the chair?" No? Consider yourself lucky.) It got to a point where I sort of became numb to the nurse telling me my blood pressure was go-to-the-hospital-high and I convinced myself this would be the last time I would ever have a baby again. Because I wasn't meant to do this.

27 weeks with Ethan and the last time our 'fridge would be without a pee jug that pregnancy. Om nom nom.

I didn't just suck at pregnancy. I sucked at childbirth and recovery, too. And throw in a handful of hormonal postpartum sadness and I had written off ever having a baby again.

But this pregnancy has been different. I'm twelve weeks today and still sick in the mornings, but I feel like I can't complain when I think back to what my last pregnancy was like. I can take the nausea with a toasted bagel and some sips of water and I can take the afternoon fatigue with the occasional nap at grandma's house. And though I'm only twelve weeks and my pants don't fit and brushing my teeth makes me sick and my face looks worse than it did when I was a teenager, I still can't help compare myself to the composed ladies sitting in the waiting room of my OB office. The ones with the heels and fancy clothes and perfectly ironed hair and faces full of make-up. The ones with the tiny little basketball bellies who laugh with each other about how easy breezy labor is. I think I leave my doctor's office wondering what I'm doing wrong (or at least bitterly rolling my eyes) each time.

For me, pregnancy doesn't feel natural. It's wonderful, yes, and I feel fortunate to be on my second pregnancy (which is a world away from where I was when Ethan was born, ready to tie my tubes and call it quits). But it doesn't feel natural. It feels strange, every bit of it, like I'm no longer myself. I'm like a slowed down version of myself but not really myself. My anxiety is always ready to peak, wondering if this pregnancy will continue to be different from my last, or not, or maybe enough to skirt bedrest. When I think to this baby's birth, I let my mind wander to a place of I just don't want to be that sad again like I was last time, when I have no memories of family coming to meet Ethan except for the photos someone else took while I was zonked out on enough drugs to stop a charging rhino. I want to share my super sweet doctor's optimism when she acts like it's the most awesome thing in the world I'm pregnant and I shouldn't even think of how it went last time. And the weirdest part is being torn between this being my last pregnancy -- and the hurt that comes with that, given the fact I'm still a couple years away from being thirty -- and wanting the four kids I always thought would be fun to have.

I think I'm a good mommy. I think being a mommy came natural to me but pregnancy surely doesn't. I sit around and listen to women talk about how wonderful pregnancy is and miraculous and great and beautiful and I wonder what I did wrong. I read and listen to women talk about their birth stories and feel empowered and liberated and like their bodies can do anything and curse my own faulty body for being stupidly inferior. I mean, talk about toddlers and favorite bath products and best brand of shorts for bigger kids and I'm all over that. But the pregnancy love? The "I pushed for two hours with no epidural" stories? Allow me to stun you with my silence.

But eye on the prize, right?

And then it's all worth it, in the end.


11 week bumpdate

We can gloss over the fact I'm just about 12 weeks by the time I'm actually posting this, right?

How far along? 11w5d
Due date: August 30th, 2014
Baby is the size of a... Fig! Just over 1 1/2 inches long. Though at my last ultrasound this past Tuesday, baby was measuring about five days ahead.
Baby's development of the week: Baby is now almost fully formed! The hands will soon be able to open and close into fists.
Maternity clothes? I finally caved and bought my first pair of maternity jeans on Thursday. I was tired of living solely in leggings and yoga pants. Maternity shirts, thankfully, haven't become mandatory yet.
Sleep: Sleep is still happening as regularly as usual except I can't make it through the night without having to pee anymore.
Best moment this week: I got to have an ultrasound on Tuesday and see the baby actually looking like a little baby instead of just a blob, which was cool. I also got to hear the heartbeat for the first time at that appointment which is always awesome.
Food cravings: Ketchup, as weird as that sounds. Everything just sounds better with ketchup, which is admittedly gross. I've also been really craving red meat which doesn't make me happy because I typically like to ensure red meat isn't a dietary staple in our household.
Food aversions: Nothing and everything. Things rarely sound good, but nothing is really making me sick like they did with my last pregnancy. I was craving a honeycrisp apple the other day, took a bite and was immediately repulsed, so that's sort of annoying.
Baby's Sex: My guess is still girl.
Baby's Name: Still a secret but, fingers crossed, I think we may have finally figured this one out.


"i squished your play dough" & other (pre-) valentine's day fun

Valentine's Day sort of snuck up on me this year. Everything is seeming to sneak up on me this year. First trimester problems, or something. I was surprised Ethan didn't get into Valentine's Day as much as he typically does during the holidays (not that I didn't love our five month long Halloween or three month long Christmas, of course) but we still had fun. Thursdays are our My Gym days and so I decided to make valentines for Ethan to hand out during our class. I saw this idea on Pinterest, lollygagged until the last possible minute, realized we didn't have all of the supplies I needed (shout out to my husband for the 10:30 p.m. Wal-Mart run!) and somewhere in the process forgot to snap photos of our finished product. So here are the iPhone photos I took to text to my mom. (First trimester problems again, or something.)

I ordered the tiny cellophane bags on Amazon because a pack of 50 were way cheaper than a pack of 10 at the local craft store and used some leftover cardstock I had on hand for the toppers. Which, you know, I had fully intended to type up and make pretty but then it got late and I decided to just borrow a couple of Ethan's markers instead.

I used my favorite go-to play dough recipe (this one from Mommy Footprint) but kneaded in some red food coloring, red glitter and vanilla extract in the end to make it sweet and pretty and perfect for Valentine's Day.

In the morning, I showed Ethan all of my hard work while he was busy sleeping in his bed the night before. In return, he gave me a lecture on why the play dough is staying at our house and he is not, under any circumstance, giving it to anyone else. Not even his friends who I had named. Good start. Somehow once we got to My Gym and his classmates started arriving, he realized how much fun Valentine's Day could be if he shared the play dough and so he did.

I mean, instead of the "happy Valentine's Day" we rehearsed all morning, he handed each bag to a kid and said "here you go. I squished your play dough." Whatever works, right?


impromptu getaway

We got home from a sort of impromptu vacation yesterday afternoon. There is totally nothing I hate more than coming home to the realization of all that needs to be done around the house -- laundry, the fact that there is virtually nothing in the refrigerator. Still, it was a nice little getaway and I'm happy that my husband was able to get Friday off of work to make our weekend getaway a little longer. My dad had to be in Key Largo for his work so my mom and some of our family friends were there, too. And when you get the opportunity to stay in a two bedroom condo on the water for a couple days for free, you just don't say no.

I always have mixed feelings on the Keys. When you live as close to the best beaches in Florida like we do, it's hard to get excited about the pebble-y sand and murky water of the "beaches" in the Keys. As it turned out, there were Portuguese Man Of War floating up to the shore so we skipped out on the water altogether -- except the pool. Ethan was happy to swim in the pool all day everyday. It's totally his happy place. I purposefully left my camera at home so the only photos I have are straight from the good ol' iPhone.

Today is Monday and that means -- womp womp -- back to everyday life. I miss our little condo with oceanfront views but I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to have gotten away for a little while.

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