January ‘18 recap.

I’ve done a monthly recap post, accompanied with a family photo from that month, every month since January 2015. The format has changed through the years and I debated what to do this year. Ultimately, I decided to keep it simple – a family photo from the month and a recap.

January 2018 started off with a wonderful blessing – Ava got the okay on December 29 to just wear the rhino cruiser brace at night and she started walking a few days into the new year. Ironically she learned to walk the first time in January of 2017. She is doing really well and we’re so proud of how hard she’s working.  She wears the brace at night and during naps and is a good sport about it.  Owen is in his harness at night and is also such a good sport.  Our kids are just amazing.

The weather has been pretty mild and Ava and I (and sometimes Owen – he’ll often stay home with Grandma) have enjoyed walking over to Kevin’s office a few times a week to walk him home for lunch or to visit in the afternoon.  It’s a nice way to get some fresh air.  Another real perk this month has been grocery shopping.  I’m serious!  We love to grocery shop as a family and when Ava was in the cast and the brace, she would not fit in the grocery cart, so we had to take the stroller and one of us would push her while the other pushed the cart and wore Owen in the Ergo.  Now she can ride in the cart.  It’s a lot more fun for her and just makes the process so much easier.  If Owen is asleep, I can wait in the car with him and Ava and Kevin can go do the shopping.  That was impossible before because he couldn’t push her in the stroller and the cart at the same time.

My birthday was really nice and filled with love from family and friends near and far. More on that here.

Kevin and I went to a post-holiday holiday party on January 6 – the first time we both left Ava and Owen. It wasn’t a late night, of course, but was still nice to spend a little time together without kids. Owen was less than enthusiastic about taking a bottle but did fine and Ava was disappointed when Kevin and I got home. She made Grandma and Grandpa listen to Raffi sing the He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands no fewer than 20 times so they were relieved when we got home around 7:30. :)

We had our kitchen countertops and backsplash replaced and got a new microwave and dishwasher in January. Before and after pics here. We are really loving the improvements. We also had Renewal by Anderson come and replace the four remaining original windows. Nothing glamorous but they do look great and we notice fewer drafts so the improved insulation gets two thumbs up.

My sister came to town a couple of times in January and it was great to see her. We went out to breakfast with family on a few Sunday mornings. I had a few brunches/lunches with friends.  Kevin took his mom to the symphony one Saturday evening.  It was all Mozart (and they went on Mozart’s birthday!  How cool is that?) and they both enjoyed it, particularly the pianist’s piece.

We followed our “strict” eating plan all month which meant no fried food, no sweets, no sodas, no alcohol, no pasta, and no pizza.  We both feel really good.  Starting in February we’ll go to our three cheats phase of the plan which means we can each have three cheats (one serving of any of the above categories) in a week.  We’ve been super into smoothies and overnight oats for breakfast and honey lemon water in the evening.

And that was the month in a {large} nutshell.  Tell me something about your January.

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Birthdays, recents, randoms, and resolutions.

Kevin had a birthday! It was a Monday so he had to work until about three but I think he still had a good day. We started out the morning with smoothies.  His work people took him to lunch at Los Cuates.  He was able to come home a little early and take a little nap while Ava was napping too.  Then we just hung out.  Ava and I made him Thin Mint brownies (from a box) which we had with ice cream after dinner.  Dinner was food his parents picked up Pars (Mediterranean cuisine) and brought it to our house.  We did presents and then bedtime for Ava and Owen.  Monday night football would have been on, so I’m sure we checked in on the game.  Kevin is just the best and I love celebrating him any chance I get.

I also had a birthday.  I felt lots of love – texts, Facebook posts, phone calls, etc.  Owen started off the gift giving by sleeping two four hour stretches overnight, plus a shorter stretch in the early morning hours.  Kevin got us breakfast burritos from our favorite spot.  Then he had to go to work and I hung out with Ava and Owen.  Sue came over for most of the morning.  Kevin made us delicious chocolate peanut butter smoothies for lunch (decadent but light and healthy enough to feel good after our massive burritos). Ava and Owen napped simultaneously for a bit.  He took a few good naps, including a cuddle nap with me, through the day and she took one really long nap in the afternoon.  I read my book and did enough around the house to make myself feel productive.  Kevin brought home roses and a beautiful card and an amazing spa package gift certificate.  His parents came over and we all went to dinner at Los Cuates.  I had steak fajitas.  Owen and Ava were both really good little kiddos in the restaurant.  We went home and had ice cream with Kevin’s parents who surprised me with my dream Coach purse and a pretty pearl bracelet as a gift.  The kids went to bed well and Kevin and I got to cuddle on the couch in front of the fireplace in our room.  Owen slept a four hour stretch to end the day.  It was such a nice day!

I actually didn’t have ice cream on my birthday because I’m doing a no sweets challenge with my sister this month.  It has not been too hard to resist the sweets because I made it a point to borderline overdo it in late December.  I was snacking on candy and cookies basically all day and now – dare I say – it feels good to NOT be eating that stuff.

Lisa and I are doing a year long challenge.  We each chose six things and then assigned one challenge category to each month.  Here they are, broken out:

January:  No sweets
February: We set dollar amounts and are limiting discretionary spending for the month so no going overboard with clothes shopping, Amazon purchases, eating out, etc.
March:  Send a card to a friend or family member each week of the month.
April:  10,000 steps per day each day of the month
May: We’ll each choose a book for the other person to read.
June: Drink half of body weight (or more) in ounces of water each day.
July:  Do a 30 day fitness challenge of some type (squats, lunges, plank, whatever).
August:  No eating out (I think Lisa’s going to try to do no eating out – I told her there was no way I could do a month of no eating out – hello, we eat Dion’s at least once a week – so I’m limited to one eating out event per week)
September:  No alcohol (I won’t drink at all; Lisa is limited to one drink a week – girlfriend loves her beer like I love my Dion’s)
October:  No fried food
November:  One big DIY project or two little DIY projects
December:  Try one new recipe a week.

Speaking of recipes, I had Dinner: A Love Story: It all starts at the family table on my Christmas wish list and got it.  It has soooo many good recipes that I can’t wait to try.  I basically read it cover to cover.

What else do I want out of 2018?  I want to be more focused – whatever it is I’m doing.  If I’m hanging out with Ava and Owen, I want to really focus on being with them.  I want focused, quality time with Kevin.  I want to accomplish things around the house without getting distracted by other things that need to get done.  I want to find a balance between keeping the house tidy (because it seriously stresses me out when things are cluttered) and just letting go and letting Ava and Owen enjoy their play spaces.  I want to get a lot of fresh air and I want to be physically active but not be a slave to working out x number of times a week.

What do you want to accomplish in 2018? What’s something random and recent in your life?

 

Year in review: 2017 superlatives.

2017 was a roller coaster. I really, really hope that 2018 is going to be low key and downright boring. That’s more my speed than all the ups and downs that this past year included. Here are a few noteworthy memories from the year, high school yearbook superlative style

Biggest Surprise: Finding out Ava had hip dysplasia

Biggest Challenge: Ava’s surgery – out of our sight and in an operating room. It was horrible.

The Silver Lining Award: Focused time with Ava while she was in the cast

The Pleasantly Surprised Award: Labor and delivery of Owen – in a nutshell, quick and easy, but I still got my beloved epidural.

Best Vacation: Stay in hospital after having Owen. Granted, that was the only vacation of the year…  We did have a couple of staycations when Kevin took a little bit of time off of work (of course he was still putting out fires via phone and email on a daily basis by people from work, but at least he got to be home with us.) – one right after Ava’s surgery, after Owen was born, and during the Christmas holiday.

Best Hug: When Ava came to visit mama and meet Owen in hospital. Oh, how we had missed each other! Kevin set her on my lap and she hugged me so tight. My heart nearly burst with love for my sweet little girl.

Greatest Joy: Falling in love with Owen. Realizing there is not a finite amount of all-encompassing love that parents have for their children – your heart loves the second (and subsequent, I’m sure) child as much as the first. That was a hard thing for me to understand prior to Owen’s birth. Also watching Ava blossom into her big sister role with Owen has been a complete joy.

Best Date: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in January or Indigo Crow in September

Greatest Transformation: Master bath

Funniest Quote: One day Ava and Kevin were playing when she suddenly paused, rubbed her nose, and then extended her little hand toward him, saying, “Booger. Thanks.” We’re just over here, living this glamorous life.

Best Fiction Listen: Moon Over Manifest (Amy) and Treason (Kevin)

Best Fiction Read: All the Light We Cannot See (Kevin) and Queen Lucia (Amy)

Best Nonfiction Listen: Me Talk Pretty One Day (Amy) and American Kingpin (Kevin)

Best Nonfiction Read: Team of Rivals (Amy) and The Looming Tower (Kevin)

Best Watch: Billions season 2 (Amy and Kevin) and Daniel Tiger (Ava). Honorable Mention to Curb Your Enthusiasm season 8 – Larry made it worth the wait!

House Clown: Rue. Whether she’s stalking Kiki or annoying Ava by batting around one of Ava’s toys or showing a homicidal streak by abruptly flinging herself in front of Kevin or me as we walk down the stairs, she makes each  day an adventure.

Most Likely to be Remembered: Other than the Daniel Tiger moral jingles on constant replay in our brains? Goodness, right now the whole year was memorable! But long term, of course, our sweet baby Owen boy joining the family is most definitely the most likely to be remembered event.

Kevin and I feel blessed beyond belief to have lived 2017 together with our little family.  I heard a quote once that basically said some years are questions and some years are answers.  I think we had a combination of both in 2017.  Happy 2018!

Tell me a superlative from your 2017!  Was it a year of questions or a year of answers for you?

Toddler in a spica cast – our experience.

I hope that none of my regular readers (all 10 of you ;-) ) ever need this information, but I wanted to share what we have learned from our experience of having a toddler in a spica cast – just in case it proves helpful someday to another parent who is facing the same journey.  I don’t remember where I read it or I would link to it, but one blogger compared having a child in a spica cast to being inducted into a club that you didn’t want to join.  :)  I think that’s pretty accurate.  So here are my tips, for what they’re worth.

**This is really long but I wanted to keep it all together rather than splitting it up into multiple posts.** 

Backstory 

Ava was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when she was 18 months old. She had a closed reduction surgery on the left side when she was 19 months old. She was in a spica cast for 14 weeks (and two days, but who’s counting :) ).

The Anticipation 

In hindsight, the anticipation of what to expect during this experience was the worst part.  Well, actually probably the time Ava was out of my sight, in the operating room was the worst part.  But the anticipation was tough.  Most kids go into a spica cast for one of two reasons:  hip dysplasia and femur fractures.  When a child breaks their femur it’s unexpected and usually very painful for the poor kiddo.  With hip dysplasia, you know in advance and have a bit of time to prepare.  Also, for us at least, we don’t think Ava was in pain – or at least not much – beforehand.  But the time in the cast is usually longer for hip dysplasia than it is for a femur break – 12 weeks versus 6 weeks (those seem to be the norm for each from what I’ve read).  So there are definitely differences in the circumstances that bring a child into a spica cast.  When we found out that Ava was going to need surgery on her left hip for hip dysplasia, Kevin and I had different approaches to our online research.  He stuck to medical sites and I scoured the Google-net for tips and what to expect and personal stories written by other parents who had gone through this as well.  I think together we made a good team on gathering info to prepare ourselves.

Anyway, my tips on how to spend the anticipation phase (provided you are allowed that luxury) is to educate yourself on what to expect. I think it’s less scary to face an immobile toddler when you have a bit of knowledge up your sleeve.  Check out the tips on spica care that some medical facility websites have.  Read blog posts about people’s individual experiences.  Watch YouTube videos on diaper changes and how to keep the cast clean.  Request an add to the Hip Babies and I Love a Kid in a Spica Cast Facebook pages.  Most importantly, ask questions of your surgeon/doctor/nurses.  We are incredibly blessed to have THE most responsive surgeon/orthopedic doctor in the world.  He usually responds to my emails within an hour.  He is the one familiar with MY child and OUR situation.  He has more insight (and is more reliable) than anything I could possibly read online.

Cast Care

From the beginning, my goal was to hear the words, “This is the cleanest cast I’ve ever seen,” from someone. Goal met at the 4 week check up!  Both the cast room crew and the doctor said those exact words, and the doctor pushed the cast change, which was supposed to take place at 6 weeks, out to 8 weeks.  And even after being in the cast 8 weeks, it was the cleanest they’d ever seen.  I credit our clean cast to a few things (but really – honestly – so much of it is probably luck, so seriously – don’t beat yourself up about a dirty cast.  IT HAPPENS.).

  • Frequent diaper changes is the first.  We would go through 5-6 diapers in a day for our 21 month old daughter.  Urine leaks in particular are inevitable though.  We would use a blow dryer to dry the cast (there is something called a Cast Cooler that I was tempted to get but I read that it doesn’t work well with a goretex lining, which we had, so I saved myself the 40 dollars) and then a drop of lavender essential oil on the cast.  Fortunately that seemed to work well and we never had a stink problem. I think we had a bit of a poop incident one time and we used a damp cloth wrapped around the end of a spatula to clean that.  Then we used the blow dryer on cool to make sure the inside of the cast was as dry as possible after that damp cloth.
  • The second thing that helped us keep the cast clean was putting an apron over the cast when Ava ate.  My mom made us two aprons and I used the one that I keep (and never wear) in the kitchen.  One of those baby receiving blankets you get at the hospital worked well too – we just twisted the ends into the straps of Ava’s booster chair (more about that below) and it held snugly.  You could use a large dishtowel, or go to a thrift shop and buy up a few inexpensive aprons.  Just something to keep food and drink off the cast.
  • We had a goretex lining on our cast and when it started peeling up on the edges, we put duct tape around it.  Before we went into the cast, Ava and I made a run to Hobby Lobby and I let her pick out a couple of fun print duct tape options (she chose cats and beluga whales and tropical palm trees).  They never seemed to irritate Ava’s skin, but you could put moleskin over the duct tape if it appears to be rubbing on the child’s skin.  Ava liked looking down and seeing the cats on her cast, so it was kind of fun.
  • Honestly – we just didn’t give Ava the opportunity to get the cast very dirty.  She was never really allowed to drag herself around in the cast like some kids do because we were incredibly focused on keeping the hip as stable as possible.  We didn’t want some fluke thing like her army-crawling in the cast to jar the hip and cause it to come out of place.  I can totally see how an older kid would be harder to keep stationary.  Also my cousin Kelly put me in touch with her friend whose daughter had basically the same experience (and even the same surgeon/doctor!) in terms of age at time of surgery, etc. and they live on a ranch.  The nature of their lifestyle was just different and it was inevitable that the cast was going to get dirtier than our “city cast” would.

Eating

As mentioned above, we used an apron to cover the cast anytime Ava was eating.  I think this made a huge difference in maintaining cast cleanliness, because, well, toddlers aren’t the cleanest eaters.  Ava did not fit in her high chair with the cast so we used this First Years Booster Chair because it doesn’t have sides.  It’s also very portable, easy to set up, and it worked great when we ate out in restaurants.  Ava spends time at Kevin’s parents’ house and we eat dinner there once a week so they got the same booster chair.  We’ve been very happy with how it worked for us and I highly recommend.

We were fortunate that Ava’s diet didn’t seem to change while she was in the cast.  I have read that some kids lose their appetites, etc. so it definitely varies child to child, but she did great and was eating spaghetti the night of the surgery.  I do think it’s important to give a kid in a spica cast smaller, more frequent meals/snacks because if their little bellies get too full they can press against the cast and it would just be uncomfortable.  It also stands to reason that smaller, more frequent meals/snacks contribute to maintaining more regular bowel movements which makes a blow out diaper situation less likely.

Sleeping

We bought a bed wedge prior to the surgery and set it up in Ava’s crib on the first night after the surgery.  It wasn’t a perfect fit, width-wise, so I stuffed some towels along the edges (between the wedge and the crib walls) to keep it snug.  The primary purpose of the bed wedge was gravity – we wanted anything coming out overnight to move down into the diaper rather than up her back and into the cast.  I do also think that it helped to prevent the cast rubbing on her skin for her to be angled rather than flat on her back because in the cast, she couldn’t really be flat on her back.  The memory foam cushioning of the bed wedge also seemed like it would be more comfortable than the flat, harder crib mattress.

I was so worried about how Ava would sleep in the cast.  She was accustomed to moving around a lot at night, sleeping on her tummy, sleeping on her side, etc. so we didn’t know how she would do with the cast restriction.  Kevin and I took turns sleeping in Ava’s room on the first night. She was pretty well medicated but had the epidural medication coming out of her system, so I don’t think she was in pain, but she did have a hard time getting comfortable and she was super chatty and kind of wired.  The second night we slept in her room again and she did a bit better about settling herself.  On the third night, we were prepared to go in with her but just followed our normal bedtime routine and she slept great through the night.  In general, she slept so well through the night in the cast.  There were some nights when it was harder to get her to fall asleep initially and there were nights when she’d cry out and not settle herself back to sleep on her own.  Were these because of the cast?  Who knows.  It could have been normal toddler stuff that would have happened anyway.  I was really worried she’d roll herself on her stomach and not be able to turn back over, and therefore we probably checked on her when she was crying a bit more quickly than we otherwise would have.  We did find her on her stomach once or twice, but in general I think she knew that she couldn’t roll herself back over so she’d only go on her stomach if she was really upset.  So again – every kid is different, but have hope – some of them learn to sleep just fine in the cast

Playing

If there is one thing that you NEED, it’s a spica chair/table.  We ordered ours from Ivy Rose Spica Chairs (I ordered it in plain blue and added the wall decals – found on Amazon – to spruce it up) and Kevin’s parents also ordered one from that company.  We each experienced a few very minor hiccups with installation and shipping (I’d recommend asking the owner for the tracking information on the shipment so you can keep an eye on it and I’d recommend an electric screwdriver for installation – and cross your fingers there isn’t a knot in the wood like we experienced in one spot), but once the chairs were set up, any frustrations we had melted away.  Ava LOVES her chair-chair or special chair, which is what we call it.  It has an awesome desk space, she can sit upright rather than being forced to lay back at an angle, and…really.  I just can’t rave enough about how critical this piece of equipment was for us.  There are instructions online for building your own spica chair, and there are Facebook groups where people have them for sale or even offer them up for free.

We tried to introduce new activities or a new toy every 5-7 days and we cycled through a lot of the same toys over and over.  Sometimes a toy would go on “vacation” and be tucked away for a week or two.  Then when it was reintroduced there was a renewed interest in it.

We definitely indulged in more screen time than is recommended for toddlers, but I think that’s normal and I don’t feel in the least bit bad about it.  :) Ava fell in love with Daniel Tiger during her time in the cast. We found that a bean bag (Ava did get really sweaty in the bean bag if she sat it for more than 15 minutes) or this great Infant to Toddler rocker were best for TV time.

What to Wear

Onesies, sized up one or two sizes so they fit over the cast.  Seriously.  That’s all that’s needed.  We bought 10 or so 2T onesies and cycled through them.  Ava had a little capsule wardrobe while in the cast.  :)  I loved the peace of mind that onesies brought because they were snapped and she couldn’t stick toys, food, etc. into the cast.  She slept in long sleeve shirts, again – sized up and it’s ideal if they’re a bit wide at the bottom so the fit over the top of the cast well.

Now we did have this experience in the summer, so I am not much help for recommending pants that would work during the winter, but I imagine you can size up a bit and use sweats or “track pants”.

Utilizing Your Resources

Ask to borrow toys from friends.  Train some people you trust in cast care so that you can get out every once in awhile and feel confident your child is in good hands.  Join a Facebook group or two to ask questions and learn about what to expect. Have friends come to you for play dates because you’ll be more equipped with seating options for your child.

Outside the House

We ate out a lot less while Ava was in the cast but the booster seat linked above was very portable and worked well for us when we did eat out.

Our hospital provided us with a Britax Hippo carseat.  Ava loves facing forward, so that was one fun perk of this ordeal, from her perspective.  :)

A stroller that accommodates the cast is probably my second biggest must-have (after the spica chair/desk). Ours worked – much to my relief! Getting out for daily walks was so so so good for both Ava’s sanity and ours. And our health! Kevin took Ava to the zoo a couple of times and used the stroller, and we continued to do our weekly grocery shopping as a family with the stroller (Kevin would push her in the stroller and I’d take charge of the cart).

Diapering

Most sites recommended a little diaper (like size 1) stuffed up in the cast with a big diaper (size 5 or 6) wrapped around the outside of the cast.  My friend Shawna put me in touch with her friend who had a daughter with hip dysplasia and she gave great advice – don’t use a small diaper because it is just not able to handle the amount of pee or poop an 18 month old will produce. Instead, use the normal size diaper, tear off the fastener tabs so they won’t rub the child’s skin, and stuff it up into the cast, spreading it out as best you can, so it’s nice and snug. The opening in our first cast was quite small and we still managed to use a size 4 which is what Ava was using before the cast. Then we did use a size 6 around the cast and snapped the onesie over it.

We did very frequent diaper changes through the day, but Ava went 11-12 hours overnight without a diaper change and we had pretty minimal leakage issues – probably because we were using the appropriate size diaper for her.

Bathing

Ava loves baths so we were all sad about not being able to use the tub. She was a great sport about our method of cleaning her though. We would put a blanket on the kitchen counter, roll up a towel and put it by the sink as a prop, and then put her face down on the blanket with her chest on the rolled up towel. We would run the water to fill the sink 3/4’s full or so and she would splash in the sink, play with a few tub toys, etc. We would use a cloth to wipe her down as best we could. When ready, we’d turn her over so her head was over the sink and we’d wash her hair.  I liked to tuck a hand towel around the back of the cast so the water didn’t drip down into it when we picked her up.

Cast Removal

The cast removal was traumatic for all of us. We had tried to prepare her with the episode of Daniel Tiger where the Neighbor gets a cast taken off, but nothing can prepare an almost 2 year old for a loud, vibrating saw being lowered to their body as they’re held down on a table. She was sobbing, I was sobbing; it was horrible. We tried to put headphones on her and played a YouTube video she likes (make that LIKED – she still has PTSD and won’t watch it now), but nothing could block the sound, let alone the feel, of that saw. I have no tips to share here. Maybe ask if they can give the “happy juice” they give before taking the child back for surgery? Or a laughing gas? I don’t know if those are even options. Just prepare yourself and hope for the best. It’ll be over quickly.

While Pregnant

I was 21 weeks pregnant with Owen when Ava was diagnosed with hip dysplasia.  She had surgery when I was 25 weeks pregnant and I had the baby 4 days before the cast came off. So I was in my third trimester for the vast majority of the time in the cast.  It was tough, no doubt.  It became uncomfortable to sit and hold her on my lap as my stomach grew because the cast was completely unyielding.  People would joke about how convenient it was for me to have a ledge to set her on when I carried her, and I’d smile politely, but inside I was rolling my eyes and wondering if they really thought it was comfortable to have a hard cast resting on a baby bump.  (It was not.)  My doctor gave me no weight restrictions on what I could carry and just reminded me to lift and set her down with proper form to keep my chances of a pulled muscle or tweaked back at a minimum since the hormones made those things more likely.  By the end of the pregnancy it was really hard to put Ava in her crib because of the belly interference and the angle at which she needed to be lowered.  But we survived and I was beyond fortunate to have such a wonderful partner in Kevin through all of this.  He always encouraged me to rest, to keep sleeping while he went into Ava’s room if she woke in the night, etc.  I pray that anyone – pregnant or not – who has to have a child in a spica cast has a good support system because that truly is so important.

Equipment

There will be a little repetition here, but our “must have” equipment – all mentioned above in some form or fashion – is as follows:

First Years Booster Chair

Spica Chair/Table – this is the ultimate.  GET A CHAIR/TABLE – if not from Ivy Rose, from somewhere.  It truly is a sanity saver.

Infant to Toddler Rocker

Crib/Bed Wedge

Bean Bag

Stroller – we have the BOB Motion Travel System which is not available for sale online, per Buy Buy Baby’s website.  We’ve been really happy with it as a single stroller and were so relieved that it worked with the cast.

In Conclusion

I promise what “they” say is true – your family will find a new normal routine soon, your child is more resilient and stronger than you can imagine, and the days will be long but the weeks will be short. In hindsight, I can appreciate our experience because it forced us to be very present with Ava. I truly believe that her verbal skills are advanced for her age because she could focus on that development while her gross motor skills development was stalled. Trying to focus on the positive went far in keeping a good attitude (I did a 100 days of happy photo challenge on Instagram.  Day 1 was the surgery.  Day 101 was when the cast was removed.). There were tough moments when I felt really overwhelmed and sad and bitter that Ava was missing out on walking/running, but I know how fortunate we are that hip dysplasia is 100% fixable.  Our journey isn’t over – for Owen or for Ava – and I pray every day that we avoid any future surgeries.  The future is always scary, isn’t it?

I’ll do another post sometime about the rhino cruiser brace and what we’ve learned in it.  And the Pavlik harness (which Owen is currently in).  Goodness, I’m just a wealth of knowledge when it comes to hip intervention equipment, now aren’t I?  :)

If you have questions about our experience, please leave a comment. It was so, so nice to have Shawna’s friend and Kelly’s friend to ask questions of and get feedback and empathy through this process. I’d love to pay their kindness forward someday to another family.

That’s a wrap {October}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. Nine literary heroines we should try to try to be more like.
  2. And speaking of literary heroines, Jenny’s Etsy shop has two new ones!  Mary Poppins & Sara Crewe – they’ve joined the other ladies on Ava’s literary heroine banner.
  3. A trip down memory lane with Ava’s first year video compilation from last year.  I love this.  I started one for year two but it got away from me.  Maybe I’ll finish it someday.

 

Making Memories:

  1. Hey hey hey hey…we had a baby!  Owen’s birth story is here.  He is such a little dreamboat and we’re all crazy about him.  He’s growing on Ava too.  She was too busy at first to care much about this new little human in the house, but I think she’s figured out that he’s here to stay and she’s starting to take more of an interest.  It’s sweet to see her lean in slowly and kiss his head.  I hope they’ll be great friends someday.
  2. Ava’s spica cast came off!  Four days post baby, we took our first baby to have the cast removed and a brace put on.  Ava has learned to sit, scoot, and crawl in the brace and she’s loving her newfound freedom and independence.  It’s fun to have little messes around the house to show where she has been playing.  Don’t take for granted the path of destruction a toddler can leave in their wake – it’s far more upsetting when they aren’t able to move around on their own.
  3. Ava’s birthday was in late October and we had a great day.  I want to write more about it in another post, but as a quick recap, she got to decorate her own birthday cake, eat stroganoff and ice cream – her favorites, and received so many awesome toys, including a little doll playhouse that she has been coveting.  We loved celebrating with her.  She is such a blessing.
  4. We went to a Halloween party organized by the “cul de sac crew” neighborhood friends.  Ava was a black cat and she was the cutest little human black cat I’ve ever seen.

Bookish:

  1. In October I finished Persuasion by Jane Austen (4 stars) and The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan (3 stars).
  2. I’m currently listening to Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool and reading Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I also just started Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I need to get with it if I want to finish re-reading the Harry Potter series this year.
  3. Kevin finished American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road and gave it 5 stars.
  4. Kevin is currently reading Naked by David Sedaris and HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership.  He just downloaded Vengeance by Newt Gingrich and will start listening to it soon.
  5. Ava has been loving Llama Llama and her Nelly Gnu book.

Challenges:

  1. The month was full of happiness but also had some challenges.  Postpartum emotions were running wild, we had to adjust to sleeping in three hour (at most) chunks of time, and the brace was something new and different after our comfort zone of the cast.  There were a lot of tears – and they weren’t just from the newborn and the toddler.  Fortunately Kevin has managed to keep his eyes dry or we’d probably all float away from the amount of crying around here!

Sustenance:

  1. We made these honey garlic chicken thighs and it was FAR TOO SALTY for my taste.  Kevin said he liked them and he does like things saltier than I do, but I think he was just being polite because see above (lots of crying).
  2. This slow cooker chili was really, really good.  We’ll definitely be making it again.  I used one can of kidney beans and one can of black beans rather than two cans of kidney beans and I’d do that again.  I also used some tomatoes grown by my aunt and freshly canned by my aunt, mom, and great aunt.  They were super good – so fresh!
  3. This paprika chicken and rice meal was delicious!!  I’ll broil the chicken thighs for a few minutes next time to crisp up the skins (they recommend it in the recipe but I didn’t take the time to do so), but other than that, we both really loved the dish.  Served it with roasted zucchini, yellow squash, and brussels sprouts.  Hearty and pretty healthy!
  4. Another slow cooker winner – this Poor Man’s Stew was tasty. I added whole mushrooms and they were a great addition.

How was your October?

Current obsessions – my favorite facial skincare products.

I am no expert (not even close) on skincare, but I always enjoy these types of posts when other people write them, so I figured – hey, why not me?  I am just loving how my skin looks recently and wanted to share a few newer products that may have contributed.  None of these companies know I exist, I purchased all items listed below, and these are not affiliate links because I don’t care enough to learn how to set that up.  :)  Full disclosure.

A few months ago I was not loving my skin.  I – in general – have very dry skin.  Like very, very dry.  It was really patchy and flaky and just PARCHED a few months ago and I chalked that up to 1) naturally dry skin; 2) getting over a cold; 3) pregnancy.  But it was really bothering me, so I decided to go see an esthetician who I’d met in pre-natal yoga two summers ago.  She owns Broadway Skin and Body Retreat and is a really sweet person.  She reviewed the products I was using at the time, looked at my skin with her fancy magnifying machine (a scary sight, I’m sure), and confirmed that my skin was very dry with some hyper-pigmentation and discoloration.  She politely told me that a few of my current skincare products were not ideal for me (most importantly – my face wash and the fact that I was using witch hazel as a toner) and recommended that I focus on exfoliation to get rid of the layers upon layers of dry skin that had built up on my face.  She was not pushy with the products she carried in her shop at all, and made some general recommendations.  She sent me home with some samples and sold me on the benefits of a couple of items that I purchased that day.

I heard a quote recently and I’m so sad I can’t remember where I heard it (probably a YouTuber) to reference the person who said it and precisely share it here, but it was something along the lines of, “When you’re young, you have the skin you were given.  As you age, you have the skin you earn.”  That resonated with me!  It is within my power to take care of my skin and protect it from the sun and so forth.  Why am I not better about doing that?  Older me will thank younger me.

Okay – so here’s what I currently do and I really think it’s working well for me in this phase of life.

IMAGE Skincare Ormedic Balancing Facial Cleanser.  I really love this stuff!  It tones the skin as well and balances out that pH without any added steps.  It’s gentle and non-drying.  I will definitely keep using this.  I am religious about washing my face each evening.  I go through phases where I’ll wash it in the morning (I know that’s recommended due to all the bacteria on our pillowcases – ew – and so forth), but more often than not, I don’t.

HollyBeth Organics Grits Honey Scrub.  I use this exfoliating scrub approximately three times a week and it has made an amazing difference in how plump and healthy my face feels.  Gone is the dry, listless appearance of a few months ago.  I think getting rid of all that dead skin was huge for me.  Since I have dry skin I thought that exfoliating was a no-no because it would dry the skin out further, but I guess I had that backwards!

HollyBeth Organics Eye Cream.  I was previously not using an eye cream and it showed.  My dry skin needs something around that eye area to keep the lines at bay.  I have seen a major difference since I started using this cream and I’m very happy with it.  Maybe any other good cream would be just as good, but this has worked for me.  I apply it after I cleanse my face.  It’s pricey but lasts a long time and I don’t mind investing in good skin products when they work.

Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator.  This was one item that I was previously using and Devon said that Clinique is okay but not at the top of her list of the best product lines.  I tried a HollyBeth moisturizer sample she gave me and it was not effective, so I went back to my trusty Clinique – mainly just to use the jar since I hate wasting products.  It seems to be working well with the changes I’ve made, so I’m sticking with it.  I’m not opposed to trying something new, but am not deliberately seeking anything out either.  I’m happy with this!  I apply it after I wash my face each evening.

IMAGE Vital C Hydrating Repair Crème.  I have been using this in the morning and I really like the citrus scent.  It’s perfect for the AM and this seems to work well to keep my skin moisturized through the day.  I’m only wearing make-up once or twice a week these days and this has served as a good unofficial “primer” for me when I do put on makeup.  If my skin feels super dry, I’ll reach for the Clinique option above, but in general I’ve been using this and like it.

Supergoop! Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40.  If I am not wearing makeup and know that I’ll be outside a decent amount in a day, I’ll use this sunscreen on my face, neck, and décolletage instead of using the Vital C crème above.  It’s light and doesn’t have a strong scent, which I appreciate.

Supergoop! CC Cream Daily Correct Broad Spectrum SPF 35+ Sunscreen.  As previously mentioned, I’m only wearing makeup once or twice a week recently, and honestly – I have never been the type to NEED makeup in order to feel like I can leave the house (not that there is anything wrong with that – it’s just not something I’ve ever cared about).  When I do have the desire and want to take the time to wear a little makeup, this is what I am using.  It gives me enough coverage to even out my skin a bit but is obviously not full coverage and doesn’t hide all freckles, hyper-pigmentation spots, etc.  I think I got a sample in a Birchbox years ago and it has been my go-to ever since.  I use the shade Light to Medium, I think.

Clinique Blended Face Powder.  I’ll set my CC cream with a very, very light dusting of this powder.  I don’t really know why as it’s basically invisible.  Maybe it’s purely mental but I just feel like a powder gives a little finish and adds a smooth quality to the skin.  This container is huge and I’ll be using it until I’m 40 probably because I use so little of it.  I think I have the Transparency Neutral shade.

A few other things I use and do include:

Clarisonic Mia 2 with a sensitive skin brush head.  I requested this for Christmas a few years ago and my mother-in-law delivered.  I use my Image face cleanser with the Clarisonic about three times a week (on days that I don’t use the HollyBeth exfoliating scrub).

Water.  Without fail, I drink 80 ounces a day.  Some days are easier than others, but I know this is good for my skin and especially important while pregnant to keep those Braxton Hicks, among other symptoms, at bay.

Clean makeup brushes/sponges.  I have become quite diligent about cleaning my Sephora makeup brush, BeautyBlender sponge, or Clarisonic Sonic Foundation Brush Head (a recent little splurge that I LOVE) after every use.  I would formerly go weeks without cleaning whatever tool I’d been using to apply my makeup and I cringe to think about that now.  It takes about a minute of my time and I think it applies makeup so much better when I next use it.  Plus – more importantly – it’s clean and better for the skin without all that buildup and bacteria.

And that’s all she wrote on a subject she knows next to nothing about.  I love talking about makeup and skincare and beauty products, even if I do barely dabble in using them and don’t know anything.  What are your favorite skincare must-haves?

The second bambino – a pregnancy update.

Here we are in the third trimester and I’m finally taking the time to jot down a few things about this pregnancy and what I know about this baby I’m carrying.  #secondchildproblems indeed.

I saw a meme that said something like:  First Pregnancy – “The baby weighs 1.3 pounds which is 6 ounces more than last week.”  Second Pregnancy – “I think I’m due in the Fall….”  I’ve found that to be very true.  I definitely have a hard time keeping track of what week I’m on.  My Ovia app keeps me on track there – and I mainly only check the app when I need to remember how far along I am.  I don’t devour the information in the articles like I’m going to be tested on the material the way I did during my first pregnancy.

Much like my pregnancy with Ava, I have been very blessed thus far to be enjoying a relatively easy time of it.  I still – even as recently as last week – gag in the mornings if my stomach is too empty, but it’s nothing a Kind bar won’t fix lickety-split.  There are other pregnancy symptoms that I won’t go into detail about, but overall, it has been pretty smooth sailing.  My varicose veins are out of control, which is glamorous, but doesn’t really affect how I feel.  There have been a handful of days when I think I was on my feet too much or something because by the end I feel very mild contraction-like discomfort in waves, but maybe those are just a different style of Braxton Hicks.  I spoke to my OB’s office about it and mentioned it at yesterday’s ultrasound and since there is nothing else to indicate an increased risk of pre-term labor, no one seems concerned.  Owen looked great at the ultrasound yesterday.  He’s measuring right on track at 30 weeks, 6 days and weighing around 3 lbs 9 oz.  His heart and kidneys and spine and brain all look great and he’s taking his practice breaths like a champ.  He’s head down and in a good position for now, so hopefully he stays comfy just like that for the next 7-10 weeks.  He had a hand up over his face and his feet pulled up around his head, but we got a few cute 3D pictures with a little smile on his face.

I feel like my immune system really took a hit in the early second trimester, but I’ve felt well and healthy through the summertime months.  Speaking of summer, I know that being pregnant in the summer is many women’s nightmare (hot hot HOT) but I continue to have cold blood coursing through my veins and have not been affected by the heat at all.  In fact I usually need a sweater or blanket if I’m sitting or lying down through the day.

Owen moves a lot which is so fun.  Those baby kicks and punches and rolls are one of my favorite things about pregnancy.  I’ve been taking a continuing ed prenatal yoga class, which is a really great way to unwind and do something for just myself and Owen each week.  The class ends soon and I won’t renew, but I want to find something else to do in its place.  Other than that class and our morning walks as a family, I’m not exercising.  I walk around a lot and am pretty active in general for everyday activities, so hopefully that’s working okay for me.  As of my 28 week appointment with my OB, I was only up 11 pounds from the 8 week appointment weight.  He was really comfortable with that, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.

I passed the glucose test (yay!) and have been trying to limit my sugar intake in general, which I’ve noticed makes a big difference in how I feel.  Of course I am craving ALL THE SWEET THINGS, but I’ve been pretty disciplined about not eating them because I know it’s not worth not feeling well later.  I basically only drink water (always 80+ ounces a day) with the exception of the occasional (once a week? maybe?) sweet black tea from Starbucks.  And I’ll have a sip or two of Kevin’s diet soda when he indulges in one (once a month? maybe?).  So overall I’m very happy with how I’ve been doing on the food and drink front.

We have basically made no preparations.  I think we have bought three sleep and play outfits and we have maybe four gender neutral items of clothing in Ava’s stash of things outgrown.  Of course we have the high chair and the pack and play and the travel crib and changing supplies.  We need to get a Rock’n’Play sleeper (hopefully Owen is the same kind of sleeper – awesome – as Ava) and some newborn diapers.  We’ll get away with not buying a second infant car seat because Ava is in a forward facing seat and will likely continue to be from here on out because of the span and shape of the spica cast and rhino cruiser brace (by the time she’s out of the brace she should be big enough to face forward anyway).  We need to order a crib soon and get the room converted from office to baby, but there is no sense of urgency since we know Owen will be in our room for 4-6 months.  We’re going with a safari kind of theme with a lot of grey and brown and yellow in the room.  We need to get a double stroller at some point as well.

I think Ava is going to be an amazing, sweet big sister.  She has been obsessed with babies for the past few weeks.  Of course it’ll be different when the baby doesn’t leave and takes mama and daddy’s time away from her, but I think we’ll all do fine with the transition.  We’re so fortunate that Kevin’s parents live so close to us and that they regularly care for her now and she’s accustomed to being around them for longer stretches of time.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m nervous about the timeline of the next 10 weeks.  Ava should be transitioning to the brace from the cast when I’m around 37 weeks and I had her at 37 weeks (and 6 days), so it just seems like it could be a whole lot going on at once.  I know it will all work out fine, but the unknowns are unnerving.

I feel a little guilty sometimes that so little of my time and thoughts have been focused on Owen versus how I was when pregnant with Ava.  But maybe it’s to his advantage – I feel like though there is more life stress during this pregnancy, I am much less stressed and worried about stuff that could go wrong related to the pregnancy.  Does that make sense?  Maybe he’ll be totally chill – just like his mom (wink wink).  I do know that we are so, so grateful for this life and that he is thriving.  We love him already and are excited to meet him in a couple of months.

{Pregnancy Announcement – Owen}