Monday, December 31, 2012

Earth's Best End of Year Wrap-Up

As you know, for the past six months I have partnered with Earth's Best to bring you product reviews, product giveaways and to give you a better understanding of the company.  Although I no longer will be writing for Earth's Best, this is a company I will forever be faithful to.  It has truly been a pleasure to partner with a company whose highest priority is making quality products for the littlest people in our lives.

Just yesterday I was speaking with my sister-in-law.  She is a new mom to my beautiful four-month-old nephew.  Last month it was discovered that her little guy has a diary allergy and when it came time to start him on cereal, Earth's Best was the recommended brand from her pediatrician.  He told her many of the other popular baby food brands out there use dairy fillers and that Earth's Best was her safest bet.

This is just one example of how Earth's Best uses the simplest and purest ingredients in all their products.

I hope you found my posts about Earth's Best both enjoyable and informative.  And if you find you have any questions about the company or any of their products please don't hesitate to reach out to me.  I can put you in touch with the right person to find the answers you're searching for.

Thank you all for your participation in discussions and giveaways.  And don't forget about the last giveaway.  You still have four days left to enter!

Happy New Year!

*Earth's Best has provided me with product samples for review purposes.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, December 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes [12.28.12]

1. I have two posts sitting in my draft folder just waiting to be published.  One about Bobby's birth and another about our best Christmas ever.  Until I get those out this little post will have to make do.

2. Today Bobby is already a week old. The days simultaneously seem to drag on and fly by.  I can't decide if Christmas vacation is a help or a hindrance to this transition.  The big kids are getting bored, for sure.  They've been playing with their new toys and out in the snow and watching plenty of movies.  We can't easily have a family outing yet so all the days start to blend together and our jammies are getting plenty of wear.

Brian has loads of flexibility at work this time of year.  And that has made all the difference in the world this time around.  For whatever reason, it seems with our past babies that Brian has always had to rush back to work just days following their birth.  He was home all through Christmas Day and then has been working mornings until noon the rest of this week.

So far things are going well.  Manageable.  Much better than I would have thought.  We have moments of chaos.  But it isn't all chaos all the time like I thought it might be.

3. One upside to having a baby so close to Christmas is that it is generally frowned upon to start one's postpartum diet immediately.  Meaning that yes, I'll have another cookie and how about we just do apps for dinner again?

4. Time, so far, has been plentiful.  Mostly because we have nowhere to be.  But I've been trying to put together some sort of a Christmas/New Year's/Birth Announcement card which means I've also been trying to get a decent shot of Bobby which means at some point he has to not be nursing which is only 5% of the 24 hours in a day.  So there's that.

5. William and Lucy are IN LOVE with their little brother.  It's fun to see what a difference a year has made in Lucy.  When Katherine was a newborn last year, she really didn't seem to care.  But this year she prances around the house singing, "Baby Bobby! Bobby Baby!"  She begs to hold him all the time and I'm constantly scolding her for trying to steal kisses on his forehead after I've just gotten him to sleep.

Katherine, on the other hand, is skeptical about this whole Bobby boy.  When he cries she scrunches up her eyebrows wondering who this intruder is that seems to never go away.  I've been trying to give her ample amounts of my time because she is, after all, still a baby herself.  It's been nice to cuddle her close without my huge belly in the way.

6.  Brian scheduled a chiropractor appointment for me this afternoon and I'm so excited.  My postpartum recovery has been a breeze but my back and hips are aching.  Now that we know just how big that baby was that I was carrying around, I think we know why I'm so sore.

7.  And finally, before the end of the year comes to a close, Earth's Best is offering my readers a chance to win one final giveaway.  The winner will get to choose three of the following products for their prize pack:

Veggie Crunchin' Crackers
Happy Snax
Nursery Wipes
Fruit & Grain Puree Pouch
Greek Yogurt Smoothie Pouch
Sunny Days Snack Bars

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.  Deadline to enter is Friday, January 4 at Noon Central.  Good luck!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Number Four!

Bobby (Robert Francis) Nash arrived on Friday, December 21 at 10:47 in the morning just a half hour after we arrived at the hospital. He weighed in at a hefty 10 pounds, 7 ounces! We opted for an early discharge this time so everyone is already home, happy and healthy. We are all eagerly excited for the arrival of Christmas, a day which will be spent at home with just the SIX of us.

More to come on Bobby's birth story.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Birth Story: Part 1

Don't get too excited.  I'm still pregnant.  But a lot went down this weekend and the whole thing is a little confusing so I thought I should write an update.

A warning to readers:  Much of what you are about to read contains words that have to do with the female anatomy.  If you're not up for that, stop reading now and move on.

Saturday was Brian's birthday.  We had nothing planned.  It was the perfect day to have a baby.  And apparently my body thought so too as I started experiencing regular contractions.  They were intense enough for me to notice but still not at a point where I knew I was nearing the end.

But not wanting to be in a situation where we were racing in the car to the hospital, we called my brother over to watch the kids.  We called the midwife and upon realizing how far progressed I was at my last check-up (5 centimeters dilated) she thought it was a good idea for me to come into the hospital.  Soon after this news, my mom decided it was time for her to leave and make the two-hour trip to my house.

At the hospital I was hooked up to the contraction and heart rate monitor.  My midwife checked me and found me to be 7 centimeters dilated.  She said it was a good thing I came in when I did and thought, in the two hours she had left of her shift, she'd be catching my baby.

I met with my awesome nurse.  Filled out some paperwork.  Answered some questions.  Then she filled the bathtub for me and I got it.  It was then that contractions started to slow down a bit and I began to wonder if this was really "it."

"No, no!" All the midwives and nurses said.  Any minute, they told me, things were going to turn a corner and I'd be pushing out a baby.  So I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.

I just couldn't shake the feeling that things weren't moving like they had with the rest of my births.  But all the numbers and signs were telling the hospital staff that there was no way I wouldn't have a baby in arms any minute now.

By 11:00 that night a new midwife was on staff.  And I was getting very tired.  She checked me again and found me to be 8 centimeters dilated but with a very posterior cervix.  (Meaning my cervix was back toward my tailbone instead of moving up to the front to allow the baby to come out.)  To complicate matters, the baby was very low and his/her head was in front of my cervix instead of on top of it.  She gave me three options: (1) Break my water, if possible, to see if that moved things along.  (2) Give me a shot of morphine to help me sleep through the contractions.  She also said sometimes the morphine can help kick start things because it allows all the muscles to relax.  Downside is that sometimes it make women really groggy for a very long time. (3) Do nothing.  See what happens.

I chose option 3, not wanting to intervene unless there was a real reason to.

As it turns out, I fell asleep and awoke after midnight to realize my contractions had completely stopped.  But because I was so far progressed, they wouldn't let me go home so I was told to get some rest for the remainder of the night and we would reassess in the morning.

At 7:00 the next morning I was greeted with a spunky new midwife.  She was Cuban, in her 60s and probably no more than 5 feet tall and 100 pounds.  I could tell right away this woman knew what she was talking about.  She had caught a lot babies and there probably wasn't a single situation she was unfamiliar with.

When she checked me that morning she said, "OK, this is unusual.  But not abnormal.  I've seen it one other time."

She said that my labor the day before was real and that my cervix was completely ready.  But the baby's head was very low and was sitting in front of my cervix.  She had to reach under the baby's head to get to my cervix.  This meant there was no pressure on my cervix.  Which is why my labor stopped.  This posed two problems: (1) Because my cervix was so ripe, I was basically a walking time bomb.  As soon as that baby's head moved into position s/he would be out in no time.  (2) Because of the baby's position, there was no safe way for her to break my water without also risking nicking the baby's head.

At that point she told me she couldn't send me home because she didn't think there would be any way that we would make it back in time. She gave me some exercises to encourage baby to move and told us to take a walk around the hospital.

Later that afternoon, after exhausting all the ways to get baby to move, it was clear that this baby was staying put.  So we had a real conversation about what to do.  I couldn't just stay in the hospital for eternity, and my midwife knew that.  She did offer pitocin but neither of us was too keen on that idea.  There was no danger to me or the baby, just a giant inconvenience.  And inconveniences aren't worth the risk to intervene, in my opinion.

In the end we decided to take the risk of having a possible homebirth or highway baby and go home to be with the kids and my mom.  My midwife warned that Brian cannot go to work.  And my mom cannot go home.  When this baby decides to come we will not have time to make childcare arrangements.

So here we sit, in limbo.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  Oh Number Four, you are going to be an interesting one.

Friday, December 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes [12.14.12]

Updated to add: I think it should be noted that I wrote today's post prior to hearing the devastating news coming out of Connecticut.  It now seems quite selfish and petty to be complaining about having all three children at home when the most severe emotion we'll experience is being a little stir crazy.  Perspective is everything, my dear friends.  Hug your loved ones.

  Oy!  Today is going to be a tough one.

a.) William has strep.
b.) I have all three kids at home, inside, without the possibility of venturing out because of previously mentioned item.
c.) I'm still pregnant.

2.  William woke up yesterday morning not feeling well.  He was achy, had a sore throat and a slight fever.  I gave him some ibuprofen and by the time it kicked in he was insisting he felt OK to go to school.  I did not believe him.  But he wouldn't budge.  "Mom! I'll miss all the projects!"  We're raising a school nerd, folks.  What kind of kid fakes being well so that he can go to school?  Ours.

I gave him strict instructions that if he didn't feel well during school he needed to tell his teacher right away and I would come get him.  I waited for that phone call all day.  It never came.  When it was time for dismissal I watched for his patrol line out the window like I always do.  When I saw him at the front of the line, head hanging, not goofing around with the other kids like usual, I knew he was really sick.

He came in the house, white as a ghost and burning up.  I sent him up to bed with another dose of pain medication.  At first my heart sank.  I knew we had a real doozy of an illness that was about to strike our entire house.  But the more I thought about it -- sudden sore throat, high fever, no other cold symptoms like a runny nose or a cough -- the more I wondered if it could be strep, a sort of rite of passage for every kid entering school for the first time.

I was a strep child growing up.  It was something I got 2-3 times a year.  Finally, I got my tonsils out at age 20 and haven't experienced a strep symptom since.  He was showing all the classic signs.  And that voice he was using.  It was the same back-of-the-throat voice I used to have whenever I had strep.  I called Brian at work to see if he could ditch out early to take William to the Minute Clinic.  Half an hour later they were walking out with a positive strep test and a bottle of antibiotics.  I heart Minute Clinics.

Now before you start feeling bad for me that I've got a strep child and a baby coming any minute, you should know that strep was the best possible outcome here.  We don't have to wait days for a virus to run its course.  Once antibiotics are in the system, strep symptoms begin to fade dramatically.  Yes, he has to miss school today until he's been on his medication for 24 hours.  But step in my house for one minute and you would quickly realize this child is no longer feeling down in the dumps.

3. It was before 8:00 this morning and William and Lucy were already driving me crazy.  I sent them down to the basement to play so that I could sip my coffee in peace and maybe catch a few news headlines.  They weren't down there for five minutes when I heard a certain door slam.  I ran down there and sure enough the Present Closet door was wide open.  I can't win.  Luckily, the presents are intermixed with a whole bunch of bags of baby clothes so they didn't even notice.  But still.  Close call, right?

4. I'm really, really, really hoping to have this baby this weekend.  I confessed to Brian last night that I thought I might be standing in my own way.  Yesterday I was experiencing a lot of lower back cramps and some painful contractions here and there.  But every time I felt one coming on, I wished it away.  The problem with having two pregnancies close together is that there isn't enough time to forget the pains of childbirth.  And even if I wanted to cut myself some slack and take the epidural with this baby, I know that's not really an option for me because my labors go way too fast.

So, because I think there can be a psychological component to going into labor, I had a serious talk with God last night.  I'm feeling much more confident in letting go and getting this baby in my arms.  So this weekend...let's get this party started.

5. Speaking of this weekend and parties, tomorrow is Brian's birthday.  It's normal for his birthday to get washed up in the preparation for Christmas but this year there's the added factor of a new baby on the way.  I haven't even begun to think about what we should do tomorrow.  Mostly because I hope to be in a hospital bed.  But the glorious thing about Brian is that he really doesn't care.  Throw him a six pack of a craft beer he's never tried or a good bottle of Scotch and he's a happy man.  Love that about him.

6. Since today is an indoors day, we'll be spending it with our favorite Christmas movies on rotation.  Our top five include: Elf, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, A Charlie Brown Christmas and the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  My kids could win a movie line contest if the contest included only those movies.  Seriously.

7. And now that I've run out of things to say, I think I'll go pay bills just to make sure I've got all my I's dotted and T's crossed before this baby makes his/her debut.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Name Game

File this under the "don't" column for any expectant father.

Last Friday, out of the blue, I received the following text message from Brian:

I'm about 90% sure on our girl name.

The thing about Brian is that he always exaggerates, just a little, to make me feel better.  For example, he'll say, I'll be home in five minutes.  In reality, he's 15-20 minutes out but in the moment, trimming it down to five minutes just sounds better.

So when he told me he was 90% sure on the girl name, I knew it was actually less than that.

Now, here's what you should know about us and names.  We've always gone into the hospital with two set-in-stone names; one for a boy and one for a girl.  Boy names have always been a breeze for us.  William was always going to be William.  Lucy, had she been a boy, would have been Henry.  When I became pregnant with Katherine we threw out Henry (we knew too many people who were using it) and replaced it with another name that we have grown to love.  This is still our boy name for this baby.

But after we had Lucy, girl names have always been a challenge for us.  Even Katherine's name was a fourth quarter Hail Mary.  The other names we had in mind just didn't seem to fit and I kept coming back to Katherine.  I mean, you can't really go wrong with a Katherine, can you?  Katherine Nash.  Kate Nash.  It all sounds great.

So when I found out I was pregnant with our fourth, I put the girl name decision on the back burner for as long as possible.  We even considered finding out the gender at the 20-week ultrasound with this one.  If we knew ahead of time that it was going to be a boy it would have saved us a lot of raised eyebrows and rhetorical you can't be serious questions as we tossed names back and forth.

Finally, around my seventh month of pregnancy, we settled on a girl name.  And when Brian thought of the perfect middle name to go with it I knew the deal was sealed.  Or so I thought.  Until that dreaded text message beeped on my phone just a week before this baby is due to arrive.

I could have been the wife who said too bad.  Too late.  I'm the hormonal pregnant one so I get the final say.  But the thing about names is that they're kind of important.  They last forever.  Unless you become a huge pop star and decide to change your name to Gaga.  I didn't want Brian to be in a position where he cringed every time he heard or mentioned his daughter's name.

So we went back to the drawing board.  After the kids went to bed we sat in front of the fireplace with our glasses of wine (even me!) and each wrote down five girl names on a slip of paper.  We then placed all ten names in a basket.  We picked a name out, one by one, and discussed it.  We each had three vetoes and those slips of paper then went into the fire.  We slowly narrowed it down to three names.  Then we ranked those three names separately and compared.

And guess what, folks?

Our number one name is the same damn name we had in the first place.

It should be noted, out of fairness to Brian, that we do have a brand new girl name that came in as a close second.  In fact it's still on the drawing board as a very slight maybe.

In Brian's defense I know that sometimes you just have to work through these things to confirm what you knew all along.

I'm glad he feels better about the name.  But I would be even glad-er if this baby were a boy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Baby-Less Snow-Filled Weekend

Sadly, I did not have a snow storm baby this weekend. While it probably would not have been the most ideal situation, it definitely would have been an adrenline-enduced come-to-life drama rushing to the hospital on snowpacked roads. What a great story to tell! But alas, no dice. This baby appears to err on the side of caution.

We got a foot of snow this weekend. Our first snowstorm of the season and at least three times the amount of snow we got during any single storm last year.

As I watched the glitter begin to fall in the light of the streetlamps,
And while I watched Brian light the fireplace beneath the stockings and mantle garland,
I was thinking that I really could never begin to understand people whose hearts don't dance with joy at the thought of a December snowstorm.  A real snowstorm.
As a born and bred Minnesotan, I'll never understand how it's possible to feel the coming of Christmas without some flakes.
Sometimes, when I sit in my 90-year-old home, and see the balsam wrapped around lightposts and branches glazed in white, and more pedestrians on foot and in sleds than in cars, I could almost swear we are living in a Dicken's novel.

A few weeks ago, when we were cleaning out the garage, Lucy spotted our sleds and she asked what they were.  I wept for this child whose life has been too short to remember the last real snowfall.  How can she be from Minnesota and not know what a sled is?!  It was a real travesty.
But we remedied all that this weekend.  Snow angels, snowmen, snowballs and sleds.
We were able to hold them indoors long enough to finish their breakfast before they went digging around the house for all their gear.  Three hours later I was serving up lunch and they all went down for killer naps.

Because my generous (or maybe just powered machine-loving) husband insisted on snowblowing half of the neighborhood, we went to the last possible mass offered at our church; 5 p.m. on Sunday night.  And because the snow was still falling, I'm hoping that God will forgive our appearance.  "A" for effort?

We arrived via sled because it was easier than carrying the baby all bulked up in her pink snowsuit.  And we trudged in wearing our boots, sweatpants and dripping coats, hats and mittens.  But we were there and we smiled when the second candle was lit knowing Christmas is that much closer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Lists - Ages Newborn to 6 years

Did you hear that?  It was me.  Sighing.  A huge weight lifted off my shoulders as I just submitted a massive order with Amazon and thus wiped out at least 75 percent of my Christmas shopping.

I'm trying to keep the reason for the season and all that.  Believe me.  We are.  We're doing a lot of special gift giving to those who really need it because this year, in particular, we feel especially blessed.

But I'm also being practical.  With a baby due any day now I'm not about to be bothered with fighting the holiday crowds.  Or having to get dressed.  Or get off the couch.

I'm so in love with Amazon with its endless selection, great prices and FREE shipping.  You just can't beat it.

We try to keep gift-giving for the kids very simple and focus on quality rather than quantity.  (Which is another reason I love Amazon -- great user reviews!)  It can be hard, I admit, not to get wrapped up in the commercialism of it all.  But as soon as my mind starts to think about the clutter that will ultimately gather, I'm instantly brought back down to my simplistic ways.

Here's a sneak peak at some of the kids' Christmas gifts.  Shhhh....don't tell.

William - 6 years

A set of golf clubs -- He took to golfing this summer with Brian even though he had no real clubs of his own.  I didn't go too crazy on price, he is only six after all, but I got a decent set that will last him for a few years at least.  He hasn't even thought to ask for these so this will be a real treat when he opens them!

A maze game and a giant puzzle -- William has never been a big toy kid.  He likes the thrill of a new toy for about a total of ten minutes.  But I see him constantly returning to games and puzzles again and again.  He needs things to stimulate his brain and I hope these deliver!

Lucy - 3 1/2 years

Cinderella dress-up gown -- This is totally Lucy.  She's all about dress-up and dramatic play.  She currently only has generic dress-up gowns and they're getting a little tattered.  I know she'll love this one.

Stringing Bead Set -- I'm going out on a limb here.  I may regret this one with all its small pieces.  But I was looking for an activity that we could do together while William is in school.  Piggy-backing on the dress-up theme, I think she'll enjoy making necklaces and spelling out her name.

T-ball Set -- I never feel guilty about spending money on outdoor toys.  They rarely go to waste in our house.  Our old t-ball set was cheap and it broke last spring.  So this is me, giving Lucy a chance to love t-ball.

Katherine - 1 year

Cash Register -- We've never had one of these and her little fingers are really into anything that has to do with putting things in slots or holes.  The kids love the vintage one at my mom's house!  This was the closest thing I could find.

Stack & Sort Board -- Same idea as above.  We'll have a lot of time at home this winter and she's so good about sitting on the floor and working through these types of toys.  I love that this is a wooden set.

New Baby

Jellycat Monkey -- I loathe stuffed animals.  But there's just something about Jellycat that makes my kids (and me!) latch on.  They are so soft and such great quality.  They wash up great time after time.  Lucy never sleeps a night without her bunny and Katherine is never in her crib without her elephant.  I particularly love introducing these in the early months because it quickly becomes a cue that it's time for bed.

In addition to all these items we usually get the kids about three books each.  Like outdoor toys, I never feel guilty about buying books.  But I do like to check the used bookstore before I commit to buying new on Amazon.  Just a few titles I'm looking at right now are Scaredy Squirrel, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Animalia, and various board books.

As for their stockings, we usually stuff those with a fun toothbrush, a tree ornament and a package of their favorite candy.

How about you?  Do you keep things simple or do you go all out?  What types of things are on your kids' lists?
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