Tuesday, March 29, 2011

5 month update and photos

Click to enlarge

Who is this little guy and what happened to my baby? Liam is doing really well. He became much more mobile in the last month. He is rolling other both ways and is starting to do the inchworm forward. Every time I turn my back, he's in a different position. He laughs more than he use to and I am really enjoying that. 

His sleep has been absolutely awful. The last two nights he has woken up 5 or 6 times and has been difficult to get back to sleep. I am losing my mind. 

I got a call from his pediatrician this morning that I was dreading. Liam's stools had mucus in them, so we had them tested in the lab. The results came back that he has blood in his stool (even though it wasn't enough to notice with the naked eye.) This is indicative of a milk protein sensitivity. I have 2 options: either switch him to a specialty formula or eliminate dairy from my diet. For the time being, I going to go sacrifice "obvious" dairy- milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream- and see how it goes. If he still has trouble, I'll have to stop eating anything made with milk, like bread and butter. I don't know that I can go without milk, cheese and ice cream for another 7 months or so. I just hope that these changes will help Liam to sleep better. 

Even though I am not getting enough sleep anymore, I am doing much better than I was last month. My OB diagnosed me with postpartum depression and prescribed my some medication. At first it gave me really bad nausea and made it difficult for me to sleep, but my body got use to after a week or so. I am feeling much better now. I have an appetite again and have started putting a little weight back on after losing too much. My relationship with Dan has improved and I am feeling motivated to be more productive.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Living Room: Design

One of my current goals is to make our house feel more like a home. We built this house while we were engaged in 2006 and moved  in at the end of that year when we got married. We did some basic furnishing but decorating has never been one of my strengths. I regret some of the decisions that I made early on and that has made me fearful of going any further. We unfortunately had to get rid of a lot of our belongings when we moved in 2009. We lived in a 2 bedroom apartment and rented our house out while we were gone. Now that we are back, I want to overcome my fear of decorating. I have read a few websites and blogs over the last year or so in anticipation of working on this goal.

We spent the last week rehabilitating our front landscaping. It is 95% done. I am just waiting on certain flowers to be stocked at my favorite garden store. I'll post pictures when I am completely finished (though I forgot to take "before" pictures.) Dan and I also ordered new chairs for our dining room yesterday and I should get them in a few weeks.

That brings me to the living room. It baffles me. I have no idea what to do to make it feel more like home. Let me give you a visual.
We'll pretend like my house is oriented like the floor plan image. The north and west walls are painted red and the south and east walls are painted a light tan color. The light bouncing off of the red walls makes the tan walls look pink. (That is one of the big mistakes I made a few years ago.) I really want to paint over the red walls in the living room, but Dan claims he won't assist me.

Right now, we have a wide chair on the north wall and a sofa & spin bike on the west wall facing a tv & ladder bookcase on the east wall. The southeast corner is home to Liam's jumperoo, playmat and a bin of burp cloths & toys. The chair and sofa were given to us secondhand when we got married and I'd like to replace them with a nice, fabric sectional. (We have leather furniture now. Dan doesn't like it because it gets really hot.) We could also use an ottoman, especially one with storage. We need to save up some money for the big ticket items before making those purchases though. Once Liam gets bigger, I want to put a child sized table & chairs in the southeast corner. I think a cozy reading chair in a fun pattern might be nice there, too.

New furniture is at least a year away, so I have to make due with what we have. I am having a really hard time bringing color and life into the living room. There aren't any windows to decorate with curtains and I love our carpet too much to put a rug on it. I am no longer in love with our pillow cases on the couch. We bought them while in Kuwait and they have worn out pretty quickly. I just ordered some Amy Butler fabric to sew some new pillow cases.

The south wall in the room is reserved for projecting movies, so anything that goes there has to be easy to remove. I have 3 collage picture frames hanging above the couch. Even though they are good sized, the 9' tall dwarfs them. They really aren't the right scale for the room. I want to get 2 huge picture frames for the north wall, though I'm not sure exactly what to hang in them. Maybe some of my photographs.

I could also put accessories on the plant shelf and ladder bookcase, but I am at a total loss there.

Suggestions welcome and highly appreciated!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Photography Friday: Supermoon

Last Saturday was the brightest full moon in many years. Dan, Liam and I went out to the beach just before sunset. There were a surprising amount of people gathered on the pier to watch the supermoon rise. This was Liam's first trip to the beach, so we recorded the memory with a family picture.

Taking a photo of the moon proved to be significantly more difficult than I had anticipated. My telephoto lens wasn't a good option because it was very windy on the beach and there was too much movement on my camera. I ended up using a technique that I have read about but never tried. I turned my flash on to capture the sea oats in the foreground but left the shutter open for about 3 seconds to expose the moon and its reflection on the water. It turned out pretty nice. I like the negative space and the framing. A dead center horizon is a photography pet peeve of mine.

Fluffy Mail!

cottonbabies.com was having a sale on Bum Genius 4.0 pocket diapers last week. These are my favorites, so I couldn't resist getting a few more. Since I was ordering anyway, I got a few other things as well.

5 Hemp Babies inserts
4 Bum Genius 4.0 pocket diapers in snaps (clementine, twilight, ribbit and moonbeam)
2 Bum Genius All-in-One medium diapers in hook & loop (clementine and moonbeam)

Liam isn't sleeping as long at night as he use to, but hemp really makes a great insert for his pocket diapers. They are just as absorbent as the microfiber inserts that come standard with the pocket diapers but are less than half the thickness. I currently put 2 inserts into Liam's pocket diapers at night, so using hemp inserts makes the diapers much less bulky. 

I love Bum Genius pocket diapers. They fit Liam really well and are the best for overnight. I am glad to have a few more so that I can use them during the day if I want instead of hoarding them for nighttime. They supposedly make great swim diapers went left unstuffed (as in without inserts) but I haven't taken the little dude to the pool yet. I'll let you know how that works out. 

I was a little surprised when I received the Bum Genius All-in-One diapers. I already had 1 Bum Genius Elemental, which is their organic cotton version of the one piece diaper. I thought that the regular All-in-One diapers would be the same, just made out of slightly different cotton. I was wrong and should have looked at the diagram on the Cotton Babies website. Bum Genius All-in-Ones are just like pocket diapers except the microfiber insert is sewn in. I suppose it makes it easier for babysitters but it takes a lot longer to dry. The pocket isn't sewn shut, so you can add additional inserts if you have a very heavy wetter or a baby who sleeps really well. These are the first Bum Genius sized diapers that I have purchased. They are mediums and should fit Liam from 15 to 22 pounds. The sized diapers are being discontinued and are fairly inexpensive at $9.95 each. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Liam's First Trip to the Zoo

My mom and sister are on spring break this week, so we all went to the zoo.

Liam spent the first hour napping in the stroller. He missed the monkeys and jaguars.

I hadn't bought a summer hat for him yet, but he didn't mind wearing mine when we were in the sun.

While Momma, Mammaw and Aunt Morgan had snacks, Liam chewed on my sunglasses. My mom let him dip his fingers in her Mt. Dew and put them in his mouth. We won't tell his daddy.

The aviary was the highlight of our trip to the zoo. Liam helped me feed the birds. He pet one of the birds. It backed up really quickly and gave Liam the stink eye.

Fun day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Photography Friday: Bath Time

My little dude loves bath time. He is starting to sit up in his infant tub and I am afraid of him falling out, so I inflated his ducky tub and tried it out the other day. The duck quacks when you squeeze the beak and it made Liam cry the first few times. It was kind of funny, since he rarely cries and usually laughs when I startle him. He's okay with the quacking now. He's still working on sitting up and was focused on playing with the rubber duckies and his toes more than sitting up. I can't wait to take him to the pool this summer.

I pink-puffy-heart my speedlight. It has made the biggest difference in my photography. The unpainted/ white bathroom is great for bouncing around the light.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Review: The Autobiography of Henry VIII

The Autobiography of Henry VIII with notes by his fool Will Somers 
by Margaret George

I am slowly becoming an expert on Henry VIII. I had a lot of time on my hands when I stopped working later in my pregnancy. I picked up Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl to read before I watched the movie (though I haven't gotten around to the movie yet.) It was the first historical fiction that I read and I really enjoyed it. I decided to read the rest of Philippa Gregory's books, but I knew that they were not written in chronological order. This is when I found The Literate Housewife's post "Philippa Gregory in Chronological Order," exactly what I was looking for! 

From there, I read The Constant Princess, Philippa Gregory's story of the life of Kathrine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife. This one was my favorite of her books so far. I then read The Boleyn Inheritance, Gregory's book about Henry VIII's 4th and 5th wives (Anne of Cleves and Kathrine Howard). 

I decided to supplement the Gregory books with some of The Literate Housewife's suggested additional books to fill in the gaps. The Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson was the next book that I read. It covered Kathrine Parr's life from childhood to death, including her marriage to Henry VIII. It was good and I like that it covered her entire life, not just the years that she was married. 

That's a nickel. 
This is where I picked up The Autobiography of Henry VIII. I was kind of surprised when I got to the library and saw this behemoth. As I no longer have the time on my hands that I had during my pregnancy, I was a little apprehensive about beginning a book of this size. I did have to renew it in order to finish, but I absolutely loved this book and finished it relatively quickly. 

This isn't actually an autobiography. It is just written as if it were his journal and his jester, Will Somers, made notes in it before sending it to Cathrine Carey (Mary Boleyn and Henry VIII's illegitimate daughter.) I really enjoy historical fictions. It takes an imaginative author to take the known facts and bring them to life by giving the characters thoughts and motivations. 

Having read so many accounts of King Henry VIII by this point, it was refreshing to hear the same stories through his point of view. Between the different books and watching Showtime's "The Tudors," there are some differences in the order of events. That is to be expected though, since I don't imagine that definitive records exist. 

Of all of the books about Henry VIII that I have read so far, this is the one that I would recommend above the others. It covers the entire scope of his life and tells a side of the story you don't often hear. 



Friday, March 4, 2011

Photography Friday: Just Like Daddy

The Little Dude got his 4 month shots today. He's grumpy, so this is going to be brief. Liam looks so much like Dan. He is even developing some of Dan's mannerisms. Last week, Liam and I brought brownies to Dan's office for his birthday. I made Liam some really cute, computer geeky onesies to wear.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Article: How to Live Within Your Means

(I came across this article from corporette.com  last night and liked it so much that I wanted to include it in my blog. I think her suitcase/budget analogy is really great. There's no secret to living within your means. You have to spend less than you make. That leaves 2 basic options: spend less or make more. )

I think living within your means is a bit like packing a suitcase: you have to edit and curate what you have in your life right now. Stick with me here — whenever I go to take a trip I pull out everything that I want to pack and have it sitting on the bed in one big pile, usually evoking at least a joke or two from my husband. And then I’ll keep adding things to the pile — a t-shirt here, a bathing suit, a dress, whatever — under the theory that hey, that thin t-shirt is just a little thing rolled up. Or that dress, you know, could just be folded in half and laid flat — it barely adds any bulk at all! And then I’ll go to put things in the suitcase, and the damned thing won’t close, so I have to remove things and figure out what I really want.  It doesn’t mean that I can’t have the things that come out of the suitcase: it just means that they can’t come with me on the trip.

So: in this analogy, your budget is the suitcase, and the idea of “living within your means” is what you can pack into your suitcase. That said, I think there are two big ways you can live within your means: the mechanical way and the more difficult study-your-budget way.  The mechanical way is pretty easy:  pay your planned expenses (bills, loan payments, etc) at the beginning of the month, and then put the amount of cash you have left in your wallet.  When it’s gone, it’s gone — time to shop your closet, eat from your kitchen cabinets, and suggest going to the free museum night with your friends rather than going out for dinner.

The more difficult way is to actually study where your money is going — analyze it, and make adjustments.  Ultimately, I think this is the more fruitful, useful way of living within your means — you end up with more money to spend on the things you want and need, with better habits for the long run, and without quite so many “deprivation” feelings.  (I’m a big fan of tracking your finances in general, whether on paper or through something likeMint.com, which is the free tracking software that I use.)

  • Choose a place to live that is within your means. This is a huge subject, and one we’ll talk about more in depth in the months to come, but for now: don’t rent or buy more of an apartment or house than you can afford.

  • Study your bills. Sure, you may have had HBO and Showtime (and ….) for as long as you can remember — but how much do you really watch them? Similarly, your landline: do you use it? After 9/11, I insisted on having a landline — but after a few years I realized that the primary thing I was using it for was to call myself from work and leave “don’t forget X” messages. Helpful, but not worth the $50 or so I was paying to Verizon on a monthly basis. Ditto the gym: how often do you really go?

  • Avoid temptation. If your “going home” route takes you past your favorite store — maybe only take that route home once a week (if at all). If you regularly buy stuff online, leave your credit card at home, or leave it in a drawer at the office that requires you to get up to get it. If you’ve memorized your card number, get a new one. (Is it a bad thing that I have memorized my card number? Sigh.)  Sometimes, “temptation” can even take the form of certain friendships — we all have that one friend who insists on going to the $21 martini place to “settle in” for the night, or that friend who insists on ordering a bottle of wine “for the table” and then drinks most of it.  You don’t have to stop seeing that person, but you can’t turn a blind eye to your budget when you do see them — so either tell yourself you’ll only see them once a month, or insist on choosing the place when you go out.

  • Finally, study the little things — this is kind of like that collection of thin t-shirts in your suitcase; one of them won’t break the bank but they really do add up in the aggregate.  So consider this: Do you regularly pay $1.50 for a soda at lunch when you could buy a 6-pack at the store for $3 (or drink water)? Do you have a Starbucks habit? Look at how much you’re really spending on lunch on a daily basis — can you cut that by even a little bit?