Welcome to Little Sister!

Whew! Time passes so quickly and YES – I am alive, although barely at times…

I am thrilled to confirm that 3 weeks ago, Little Sister came out to play! My experience birthing Little Sister was very different compared to my experience with Little Miss. Little Sister was a scheduled C-section (stubborn girl was still breech at 39 weeks!), while Little Miss ended up being a C-Section after trying to push her out for 4 hours. While I did everything in my power to have a VBAC with Little Sister, in hindsight, the scheduled C-Section was the best thing for all of us. Mainly because Little Sister was 11 pounds 3 ounces! Yes, you read that correctly – she was the size of a watermelon, but of corse way cuter! A huge THANK YOU to my mom and dad for giving me tall genes because I would have never been able to carry her if I wasn’t 5’10!! The first thing my doctor said when Little Sister came out was “Look at those thighs!”. The second thing “You wouldn’t have wanted to VBAC this girl!” – got that right Doc!!

Against my wishes, but per hospital policy, Little Sister then had to go to the NICU for 4 hours of observation. Luckily, Hubby got to stay with her for the first 3 hours and I was able to be with her for the last hour while Hubby picked up Little Miss and took her home. Hubby came back to the hospital after putting Little Miss to bed and then promptly spent most of the night in the bathroom. I am thankful for 2 things on this topic. The first – he was not sick while I was in the process of having “major abdominal surgery”. I wouldn’t have made it through the operation without him by my side. The second – he was at least feeling human the next day. Needless to say, I don’t remember a whole lot of that first night in the hospital except there was little sleep to be had and Little Sister and I cuddled a lot or at least I think we did…

Hospital day and night two were uneventful (at least compared to day and night one!), but the third night in the hospital was a bit rough around the edges. Hubby and I talked prior to having Little Sister and we decided to plan for him to stay at home with Little Miss that night. They would then come to the hospital mid-day on day four to take Little Sister and me home. So I was flying solo with Little Sister on night three. There were tears from both her and I (mainly me…), but we made it! At one point the nurse chastised me for sleeping with Little Sister on my chest. I almost threw a bottle of formula in her face – didn’t she understand that I was utterly exhausted and trying to keep my “hungry as all get out” baby from screaming the entire night?!

Day four was the best day by far – we got to go home! Hubby and Little Miss picked us up around noon and took us home. It felt amazing to leave the hospital with Little Miss and Little Sister in tow.

As I look back at my birth experience with Little Sister, there were certainly ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have traded them for anything. Just like my experience with Little Miss, my birth experience with Little Sister was as unique and special as she is.

Parenting Style #436

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, you know that the NFL and it’s respective teams have come under a tremendous amount of scrutiny for how they have handled the personal choices of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and other players within the league. I am not here to agree or disagree with the actions taken by the NFL or the teams impacted, but these two stories impacted me more than I’d like to outwardly admit so I thought why not write about it in my blog!

After my initial head-shaking-in-disgust reaction, I started to think about these stories from a parenting perspective because that’s what I do now. For Ray Rice, how did he ever come to think it was an appropriate action to hit a woman so hard she was knocked her off her feet and rendered unconscious? He had to see or learn it from somewhere or someone… For Adrian Peterson, why would you inflict upon your son a questionable punishment your parents took against you? Isn’t one of the “benefits” of parenting the opportunity to do it better, or at least different, than your parents did?

As I was asking myself (and continue to ask myself) these and other rhetorical questions, I started to think about my parenting style. I remember seeing on FaceBook some sort of parenting style quiz and it made me chuckle, because I don’t have just one style of parenting, I have what is called a 2-year old. Therefore, my parenting style evolves day by day, hour by hour, and sometimes even minute by minute. What drives these evolutions? For starters, trying to find my way in the sea of thousands of parenting styles, tips, and techniques found on the internet. However, more often then not, my style evolves because it’s what Little Miss needs from me, and more recently my style evolves because I am preparing Little Miss for being a Big Sister.

Here’s a perfect example of said evolution – the use of the timeout. Timeouts used to work great when Little Miss decided she was going to hit, kick, and/or head butt me. Within a week of using them multiple times a day, and even multiple times an hour, I came to realize that she was hitting, kicking, and/or head butting JUST to be in a timeout. It was her way of “asking” to remove herself from a situation that she was not happy with, wether it be nap time, getting dressed for the day, or walking our puppy in the morning, among other things. So instead of positively reinforcing her inappropriate actions with a timeout, I started to tell her no, hold her arms down, and move my head out of striking distance. When she is calm, I acknowledge her feelings of being upset and/or frustrated and tell her that hitting anyone or anything with any part of her body is not how we act. I have to tell you, when I first read about that approach on the internet, I laughed and thought, she is not even 2…how can “talking” about her feelings stop the behavior? I have been using this approach for 2-3 weeks now and she is hitting less often, so clearly something is working and I am going to keep riding that train until it doesn’t run anymore.

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again expecting a different result – this has never been more true then under the umbrella of parenting. There is no doubt that I hate the reality of there being “Ray Rice” and “Adrian Peterson” stories occurring out in the world on a daily basis, but if there ever is a silver lining, it’s my take-away from those stories – the simple act of questioning my parenting style is what makes me a better parent. It’s certainly not fun to question myself time and time again, but because I am, I can be more confident that I am doing everything possible to raise 2 girls who are strong, independent, positive contributors to society.

These are a few of my “Grateful” things!

Last week, my mom tagged me in one of those Facebook “trends” of providing 3 things I am grateful for over the course of 5 days. Clearly, she thinks that as a SAHM, I have all the time in the world 🙂 (love you Mom!). Since I haven’t even starting my posting of 3 things, let alone keeping it up for 5 days, I decided that I was going to approach this trend my way – through my blog!

There is no doubt that I am forever grateful for things and people like family, a fabulous husband who is my best friend, a roof over my head, friends near and far, etc. I have yet to meet a person who isn’t grateful for those things. As a result, I am going to focus my 15 grateful things on the topic of parenting. Why parenting you ask? Because as I sit here typing “Little Miss” is pounding her feet on the wall instead of napping and I am trying to remind myself that I am grateful she is not screaming and pitching a fit.

In no particular order, the 15 things I am grateful for in relation to parenting:
15. The Internet. With the help of the internet, I have diagnosed (for better or for worse) Little Miss’ mysterious aliments, regularly connected her with her grandparents who live miles away, and made some Mom friends along the way.
14. Libraries. After reading the same 3 or 4 books at least 10 times a day, you will understand why the library is my best friend.
13. My Baby BootCamp class. Without it, I know I would be an out of shape and unhappy, 32 week prego momma. Not only am I forming new friendships in a new city, but watching Little Miss do burpees or bicep curls at home makes me one proud momma.
12. Today’s medicine/doctors. There is so much out there about what is and is not healthy while you are pregnant, especially if you are considered high-risk like me. I am proud to say that I have been able to carry 2 little girls with minimal complications thanks to the great team of doctors on my side.
11. Coffee. Without it, we would all be acting like it’s the 6th month of winter in Chicago.
10. Strollers. They may be big and bulky, but they sure do make carting around Little Miss a lot easier.
9. Disposable Diapers. I am not and never will be the type of momma who wants to wash poop from a cloth diaper over and over again.
8. Wipes. LOVE them! A clean-freaks best friend. Not just great for bottoms, but also on the face, hands, bathroom counter, the art table full of washable marker scribbles, the floor, highchair. I could go on and on….
7. The playdate. Sometimes, all your kiddos need is something or someone different to play with.
6. Nap Time. One word – GLORIOUS!
5. Chick-Filet-A Wednesday. I love living in a city where there is a Chick-Filet-A close-by for a quick and easy lunch.
4. Indoor Playgrounds. Being pregnant in Dallas during the summer – no further explanation needed.
3. PBS kids app on the AppleTV. Giving this momma 30 or so minutes of veg out/free time each day while Little Miss is learning about shapes, numbers, the alphabet, etc.
2. Pinterest. Because, let’s face it, I am not all that creative when it comes to rainy day activities, decorating the girls rooms, birthday party planning, etc.
1. The opportunity to stay at home with Little Miss (and Little Sister in the near future). The SAHM community is not kidding when they say that this is the hardest job they have experienced, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have learned so much from Little Miss in such a short amount of time and know that I will learn even more when Little Sister comes to play. I cannot wait to experience and observe my girls growing up together as sisters.

Momma’s Lesson Learned

I had what I like to call a “Come to Jesus” event on Monday night.  You know, the moment(s) in life where you realize an important life lesson or set yourself on the right track after whatever bender (alcoholic, bad relationship, dead-end job, etc.) you just came off of.  There is no doubt that I was due for one since this entire year has been pretty much fantastic despite an average, daily challenge here and there.  The takeaway from my “Come to Jesus” event – take care of myself.  Pretty basic instruction right?!  WRONG!!  There is nothing basic about taking care of me – never has been.  Sure, I need the basics  just like everyone else – food, water, sleep, shelter.  But those aren’t always enough for me to be at my best since I am a competitive, diabetic, momma who moves at a mile a minute pushing any and all boundaries whenever and wherever possible.  Oh and did I mention that I am also 25 weeks pregnant?!  Not dead mind you, just pregnant.  But all those things together really complicate that simple instruction of “take care of myself”.

I was cuddling with Little Miss on Monday night before her bedtime and took the opportunity to just be in the moment after a crazy, hectic day.  These types of moments are VERY rare for me and as I was lost in my own world, I realized that I hadn’t really felt Little Sister moving around as much as I normally do.  It wasn’t that she wasn’t moving, I just didn’t remember her moving much.  This was a huge issue because Little Sister is ACTIVE at all times of the day and night.  After I finished putting Little Miss to bed, I mentioned my musings to Hubby and he suggested calling the doctors because “thats what they are there for”.  My first initial thought – denial.  I’m totally overreacting and besides, if I call the doctors then it means that I have potentially done something “wrong”.  So what did I do instead?  Finished putting the 20 lbs of meat that I bought earlier that day into the freezer.  After about couple of minutes, I realized that this is not about me or anything I may have done “wrong”, it’s about Little Sister and her well-being, so I made the call.  The doctor called back right away and suggested I go to the ER to get hooked up to a monitor just to ensure all was well with Little Sister and provide me with piece of mind.  After that call, I was an emotional train wreck.  I walked up to Hubby, sobbing, and said that we needed to go to the ER.  We were out the door in 10 minutes thanks to Sister coming over in less than 5.

As Hubby and I were driving, my thoughts and emotions continued to get the better of me.  All I kept thinking about were the “what if’s” – what if she has the cord wrapped around her neck, what if  jogging in my morning workout class was just too much for her that day, what if she is just sleeping, what if she is playing a horrible joke on me and the joke will last for the next 5 years….?  When we got to the ER, they were expecting us, so within 15 minutes I could hear Little Sisters STRONG heartbeat and she was trying to kick off the monitor as soon as it was strapped onto my belly.  I felt incredibly relieved, elated, proud (thats my girl!) and foolish all at the same time.  So naturally, what did any emotional, 25 week pregnant, active person would do – I sobbed!  When I could actually talk with the nurses, I realized that I was not hydrating enough throughout the day and it was especially HOT out that day for a newbie in Dallas.  Pretty sure I spent the entire day sweating indoors!  I learned that if I don’t hydrate enough throughout the day my body takes the water stock-piled in my uterus and uses it for itself.  Its no wonder I couldn’t feel Little Sister throughout the day – the poor girl was probably so tired and thirsty from trying to conserve what little water my body let her have.  Being pregnant and diabetic is a challenge in of itself, I certainly don’t need to add to the incredibly wonderful chaos that is my pregnant body by waging a war against Little Sister.  Besides, I DEFINITELY don’t need to provide Little Sister with a reason to be in her terrible two’s for her first 5 years!

Over the last few days, I am pretty sure I have drank enough water to fill my swimming pool, but it’s all worth feeling Little Sister moving around.  Even if she does wake me up at 1:00 am, 3:00 am, 4:00 am….

THE Armoire!

If you haven’t yet noticed/learned, I tend to do two things regularly:
*Get OVERLY excited about an idea before putting any real thought into it
*Bite off more than I can chew

With the above in mind, I spent 2-3 weeks scouring Craigslist for an Armoire. I didn’t want just any armoire, I wanted one that had potential for me to bring out into the open. I also didn’t want to pay more then $75 – which can be a tall order when you are looking for character, but a little easier since I was willing to invest some elbow grease. Then one day, I FOUND IT! I found what I was looking for and was feverishly contacting the seller while simultaneously “selling” to Hubby. It’s important to note here that I am highly competitive. I am so competitive, that I actually didn’t want an epidural for Little Miss’ birth for the sheer fact that other women have had given birth naturally, so why couldn’t I? By the way, that didn’t last long.

Anyways….after a bit of negotiation with the seller and Hubby (again keeping competitive Kirsten in mind), I scored the armoire for a mere $70 and a 40 minute round trip drive to pick it up. My only regret – not taking a “before” picture. But here’s the beautiful AFTER picture:

IMG_0385

Now picture the “before” with me by adding a bit more red to the current stain color. Then make it smell like dogs, smoke, and general stale air. Add in a bit of dust, a whole lot of grime, and some chips, dents, and scratches in the wood here and there.

To get it to this gorgeous after, I enlisted my mom – furniture re-doer extraordinaire – to help. We spend a good 4 hours taking off the hardware, de-glossing (which got rid of the MULTIPLE layers of grime), and sanding (to take off the reddish color and smooth out the chips, dents, scratches).

IMG_0378

IMG_0379

After we finished with the cleaning and prep, we took a golden oak color stain and went to town. Finally, I finished it off with 2 coats of satin polyurethane and Viola – a gorgeous, full of character armoire that works perfectly in my living room. I think I even surprised Hubby with how lovely it turned out, but I knew it was a piece with potential 🙂

I Choose Technology!

Whew! What a hectic and exciting couple of weeks we have had here in the McCarthy household. Here’s a quick run down of all the recent happenings to bring you up to speed! I took on another hobby. That’s right, I am the ever joiner and now am attending Baby BootCamp (a workout class) weekday mornings. I generally can’t walk during or after class, but LOVE that I am finally working out again and Little Miss sees me working out (three cheers for being a good role model!). As an added bonus, the other moms there are super nice and we get together play dates after class. Yay for new friends! We also had a big 4th of July weekend with my family visiting – so much fun between projects (check out my new DIY postings due up in the next week), swimming, general hanging out, and going to the aquarium. Finally, we announced Little Sister’s expected arrival in November and as such I have been planning non-stop to get everything organized.

Last week, when I had a few minutes between my to do lists, errands, entertaining Little Miss, and ensuring my house was in reasonable order, I briefly jumped on my phone to check my email, FB account, etc. After I was done, I started thinking about how technology has changed the way we parent – for better or for worse. I then thought “What a GREAT blog post topic!” As I started writing it, I was bored so I knew y’all would be – so Hubby suggested changing my point of view. So here we go, in true Kirsten fashion (a.k.a. a list), the Top Ten Reasons Why Little Miss and Little Sister will Benefit from Technology:

10. They will NEVER receive a paper cut because they had to read and/or review 12
different books to complete their research paper.
9. They will have learned the basics of typing before they go to Elementary school (but sadly they will miss out on playing Oregon Trail during Computer Class).
8. Their friends will not just be from their school, neighborhood, and/or after-school activities, but also from different towns, states, and/or countries.
7. They will be EXCITED to learn because technology will allow them to learn in a way that ensures their overall success.
6. Four words – Successful Family Road Trips.
5. More opportunities for them to figure out and learn about their passions.
4. They will need to learn, constantly adapt, and apply their social skills to ensure that the art of conversation is not lost.
3. They will have access to multiple points of view on any topic/issue and thus be forced to think through and decide on their own point of view.
2. They will always be just a Skype or Face Time call away from their grandparents, daddy (when he travels), or any other family member.
1. They will have career, community, societal, and family opportunities that their momma and daddy never had.

Now of course, the above list provides Hubby and I with exciting parenting challenges, but isn’t that what parenting is all about – overcoming challenges no matter their origin in order to provide your children with the best possible foundation to be successful in life.

Festive Outdoor Wreath!

Picture taking skills aside (that’s Hubby’s strength, not mine), this is my first DIY Outdoor Wreath! I was inspired by Sister, the fact that I have an actual front door to hang a wreath, and of course, Pinterest. I am totally digging it and looking forward to making an outdoor wreath for each holiday and/or season. Glad we have a house with the space to store them 🙂

Simple in style (totally me) and fun and easy to make. All you need is a foam wreath form, some ribbon, white stars (had to spray paint mine), and a glue gun. 20 minutes and Viola – the finished product!

Image

Life’s Best Balance

I am not the type of person to just sit around and do nothing. Case in point – I was elected Vice President of my Neighborhood Association within 3 weeks of living in Dallas.  Pause for effect… That’s right, Vice President, 3 weeks.

Last week, Hubby took the day off from work and I was thrilled – he hasn’t taken a day off since the holiday season (not even during our cross-country move). Little Miss was going to daycare that day so it meant we had an entire “Parents Day” – what to do, what to do?! In true form, I started to make a mental list of all the great projects we could accomplish and check off the ever-growing home ownership list. We will get so much done – woohoo!!

After dropping Little Miss off at daycare, I spent the morning prepping my side table for painting (first on my mental list) and observing Hubby playing around on his Ipad, while watching the World Cup (not at all on my mental list). Around 12:30, I asked him if he wanted to join me on a quick errand (also on the list!) and then maybe Home Depot. My goal – get him off the couch so that he can accomplish a tangible task from the mental list (which, oh by the way, I failed to share with Hubby) before the end of the day. His response “I think I am just going to stay here, do some more research (research, what research was he doing?!) and watch soccer.” My Type A, doer response to that was “Are you going to actually accomplish anything this afternoon?” I added a quick grin with the hopes that my blunt, and in hindsight harsh, statement would come across more as a joke than an accusation…didn’t work so well. He saw right through my sorry attempt and gave me the look – you know the one that says, “back off women, it’s my day off and I am going to do what I want”. I love Hubby to the moon and back for giving me that look when warranted – he keeps my Type A personality in balance.

We live in a world where we are constantly seeking out the ever-elusive “sense of balance” – work/life balance, financial balance, scheduling balance, etc. Not a day goes by where someone, somewhere isn’t trying to achieve his or her respective balance. I know I struggle with my new balance of being a SAHM (do I read to Little Miss enough, do I have too many DIY projects going on, am I keeping the house too clean?!) and a mom for that matter. Once I feel like I actually do achieve some sense of balance, it’s totally shot to hell either the next day or in many cases the next minute or hour.

For me, there is only one person in this world that has achieved any sense of “the best balance” and that is Little Miss. Each day, I am awestruck by something that she does or some look she gives me because it reminds me what is important in achieving life’s balance. It’s not crossing things off your mental list (although that helps!), its not living life by a rigid schedule (reading to her no less than an hour a day), or chasing the unattainable insert noun here. I have learned that balance is all about what you need on any given day in order to thrive.  Get this – what is needed to achieve balance changes EACH DAY and sometimes even EACH HOUR within a day (my mind was blown…).  Some days, it’s sending your toddler to daycare (and not feeling guilty about it!) so you can tackle that mile long list. Other days, its saying no to the play date and staying home to read and play with her all day.

Little Miss has taught me a lot about balance in the last 20 months and I cannot wait to continue learning about life from her over the next 20+ years!

Baby-Proofing – HA! Try Adult-Proofing….

I wrote this post back in July of 2013 to “test out” the idea of blogging without any pressure.  Still one of my fav’s – hope you enjoy it!

Baby-proofing – unless your baby is the Bubble Boy, there is no such thing! I thought I did a pretty good job baby-proofing the house soon after Little Miss arrived. I put those obnoxious plug covers on and now need a crowbar to pry them off when I need to use any plug in my house. I also bought those drawer stopper things. We (ahem…Hubby) hasn’t put them on the drawers yet, but I am pretty sure I will never again be able to open a drawer in my home once they are installed. I also know that I am taking a calculated risk (or headache depending on your half-empty or half-full point of view) with not baby-proofing some things – enter the entertainment center. There is no way I am putting up one of those massive gate things around my entertainment center. First – it’s ugly and takes up space that I do not have. Second – Little Miss is an Indiana Jones – she’ll figure out how to get through it faster than I can set the thing up.

Today, Little Miss was feeling extra Indiana Jones-ey and discovered the half bathroom.  How am I supposed to baby-proof the toilet paper?! I have decided that baby-proofing should be an abolished concept. If parents were to truly baby-proof proof their homes they would not be able to live as human beings in the 21st century.

I love my little Indiana Jones and will happily “rough it” on the baby-proofing front just to witness (and catch on camera) moments like these 😀

IMG_0844