Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Must-Haves for Holland

The first time Michael and I went to register for baby items we arrived happy and excited... and left totally drained and confused.  Since then, my advice for first-time moms is to take a good girlfriend who has been there/done that and can lead you in the right direction.   Make sure she has had a baby in the last year or else everything has already changed.  When we found out we were expecting Holland I lamented the fact we'd sold/donated everything, to which a friend said, "Whatever you used four years ago has either been recalled or updated so you aren't missing out on much."  True.  So, so true.  :)

This time around we have been very cautious with our purchases.  We didn't register at all and have gotten so many items from Craigslist (stroller, carseat, crib), Facebook groups (snoogle, video camera), or hand-me-downs from the sweetest friends.

That being said, there were a few splurges or gifts I couldn't resist and consider must-haves for Holland...

I've seen the DockATot everywhere for the past year and the reviews have always been amazing.  I only had to hear "My baby finally slept through the night" a few times before I told Michael it was necessary.  The twins were fabulous sleepers and that has been one of my biggest fears with Holland. If she's anything on the outside like she is on the inside, she will never sleep.  Ever.   The DockATot is a multi-functional lounger, co-sleeper, and also perfect for playtime.  We have the Deluxe size, which is for 0-8 months.  It's breathable, all natural, and 100% cotton so the baby is completely safe.  I cannot wait to try it out! And while my favorite is the classic white, they have lots of great covers you can use as well.

Finn + Emma
I love this little shop.  They have the cutest clothes, and wooden/hand-knit toys for babies.  I fell in love with the "Miami Zoo" collection and thought the kimono & pink pants would be perfect for spring.  Their garments are all certified organic cotton and they use non-toxic, eco-friendly dyes.  I also found the sweetest rattle buddy bird that will be great when she's in her carseat.

Milestone Baby
I think these cards came out right after the twins were done with all of their baby milestones.  Lots of friends with younger kiddos posted them on Instagram and I love the idea of capturing a milestone with a picture and also saving the actual card for her baby book. (Just as soon as I start/finish the twins' baby books.  Ahem.)  They have several different design options but I loved the simplicity of the "Over the Moon" cards.  Check out their site - they have free printables that are fun!

Aden & Anais Burpy Bibs
These were lifesavers with the twins so they were at the very top of my list this time around.  Great for nursing, burping (obviously), and I love the large size.  I ordered some off of Amazon because I thought they had the best selection.  I still have one or two burpy bibs from the twins that somehow made it through our donation piles and they're still in amazing shape.

We (Ok, I) have a thing for strange looking animals so when I saw this purple Hedgehog organic muslin swaddle in Austin last month, I was sold.  It's so incredibly soft and lightweight and will definitely be coming to the hospital with us in two weeks!  Total coincidence but one of my friends gave me matching burp cloths and a onesie at my sprinkle so Holland will be covered in hedgehogs all year - I can't wait! :)  So while it may not be a true must-have item, it's definitely one I am really excited about.

Summer Infant SwaddleMe Wraps
All of that being said about the adorable swaddle above, the SwaddleMe wraps are what we actually used when it's time to sleep.  We received so many muslin swaddles with the twins and they broke out of all of them.  The SwaddleMe velcro swaddles ended up being our saving grace.  Cuteness factor? Not the greatest.  Effectiveness?  Off the charts.

Once she's here and has had a chance to try out the above must-haves, I'll write some follow-up posts and let you know our personal experience!

This post was sponsored by DockATot, Finn + Emma, and Milestone Baby.  My excitement level, however, is completely my own.   So grateful for their generosity!

Monday, March 20, 2017

36.5 Weeks

16 days to go!  Not that I'm counting...

I've been very frustrated with my attitude lately.  I was such a trooper with the twins.  Unless my memory fails me, I rarely complained and spent the majority of my time thankful and happy.  And while I'm every bit as thankful this time around, I have probably complained to every person in a 50-mile radius.  When people ask how I'm feeling I reply, "Tired."  When I receive sympathy stares in public I nod my head in agreement.  My temper is short.  My sensitivity is off the charts (while I haven't cried much, I've come very close a number of times).  And it takes very, very little for me to feel completely worn out and defeated.

The other day I gave myself a much needed pep talk because I can't stand ungrateful pregnant women.  I remember what it was like when I was on the other side and every time I heard a pregnant lady complain about something I wanted to say, "I would do anything to be in your shoes."  I think I actually said it to a few of them.

So this is me putting myself out there with the hope I'll be more accountable for my words and attitude.  Because, truly, I am so excited about meeting sweet Holland.  Carrying her the last nine months has been incredible.  I'm absolutely certain I will miss the kicks and punches and hiccups and the realization that right now is the safest she will ever be.

Sweet face! 34 weeks - measuring 5 lbs 10 oz

As far as the pregnancy goes, everything is right on track.  I've gained 31 lbs, blood pressure is low, and I'm still carrying pretty high.  The doctor checked me for the first time last week (36 weeks) and there is nothing going on.  I think Holland has actually moved up instead of down so we may have a directionally challenged infant on our hands.  I did flunk the first gestational diabetes test last month and said "no thanks" to taking the second so I've been watching my sugar intake... for the most part.

33 weeks
Rather than nesting (or maybe this is a form of nesting), I've been anxious to plan allllll the things with our current family of four.  I've gotten very sentimental this last month and want to make sure Jude & Sloane feel loved and secure.  From bowling, to the movies, to driving to Waco for a fun day trip last Saturday, our weekends have been pretty packed with family activities.  If I ever do something that involves Holland (organizing her armoire, shopping for baby things, etc.) I ask Jude & Sloane if they'd like to help.  If they want to, great.  If they'd rather do something else, that's fine too.  I just want them to be as involved as they'd like.

The negative to all of this is we've definitely given in to things we'd normally not allow.  When the kids come in our room at 6 am we lift up the covers and let them crawl in for a morning cuddle.  Last weekend Sloane found a necklace she loved and I bought that overpriced accessory without giving it a second thought.  Popcorn at the movies?  Sure!  Even though we all know you'll eat 10 kernels before you're done.  I don't think we've consciously done any of this but Michael and I had a good laugh after realizing how soft we've gotten over the last few weeks.

Lego Batman movie - they sat like this the entire time! 

We don't have much left to do before the big day!  I haven't packed a hospital bag but I've started laying out a few things I want to bring.  My free pump arrived last week (Thanks, Obama!) and we re-added diapers to our Amazon monthly shipment.  Her armoire is now filled with adorable pajamas and outfits thanks to generous friends and family.  We took a hospital tour last week so we know where to go bright and early on her birth day.

When we hit the one month countdown I took the kids to the store and let them pick out some fun paper so we could make a paper chain.  Each morning they take turns removing a link and then we talk about how many days are left before they get to meet their little sister.  Their excitement is contagious and I can't wait for the day they get to meet her.

Only a few doctors appointments left!  My maternity clothes are all getting dangerously snug.  Grandparents are making preparations for who will watch the kids while we're at the hospital.  I'm no longer praying for the pregnancy and am instead praying for a healthy delivery and the days after.

So now we hurry up and wait!  Did I mention we only have 16 days...? ;)

36.5 weeks

32 weeks w/ Jude & Sloane vs. 36.5 weeks with Holland!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Holland's Nursery

With one month to go, the nursery is officially finished!  When I was pregnant with the twins I had a vision from the very beginning and stuck to it.  Holland's room?  Not so much.  The day we found out she was a girl I knew exactly the color scheme I wanted for her nursery: peach, cream, and gold.  Basically, as girly as one can get.  I pinned all sorts of images and couldn't wait to put it all together.

As time went by, the nursery morphed into something completely different.  It all started because I found this rug and fell in love:

Even with the rug I figured I could have it be the one pop of color in a peach/gold dreamland.  Then I remembered we had pretty blue velvet curtains from our last home folded in the hall closet.  But wait, the curtain rods we purchased with those curtains were silver.  And the light fixture we were moving from the twins room to the nursery was also silver.


So now Holland's peach and gold nursery is coral, blue, a tiny hint of peach, and a lot of silver/grey.   Whoops.  Sound a little familiar?

Regardless, I've loved putting her room together and am so proud of how thrifty we've been throughout the process.  90% of her nursery is furniture/items borrowed from another room in our home, the crib was $60 from Craigslist, the artwork above the crib was a floor sample and heavily discounted (from a Colorado Pottery Barn, no less - that was a fun phone call), and almost all purchased items came from Target or Ikea.  I'm one of those who is almost as excited looking at the savings on a receipt as I am about the actual purchase, so allow me this glorious moment of putting together a nursery on a shoestring budget.  The best part?  I don't believe Holland will ever know the difference.

And with that... here's her room!

(Former Office)

(Before the shelves were added - shows off the gorgeous SUNLIGHT!)

(Artwork by the siblings! Top: Sloane | Bottom: Jude)

And now we wait...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dear Holland Claire

I wrote a letter to Jude & Sloane once a month during their first year.  I look back at those letters and want to hug the tired mom who tried to capture every single detail.  I remember thinking if I got it all down I would never forget anything.  I now realize a novel would barely scratch the surface, but I do love the snippets I have of each.

The anticipation for Holland's arrival continues to grow.  I'm so anxious to meet her.  But, if I'm being honest, I'm also terrified.  I've had almost 4.5 years of Jude & Sloane.  4.5 years to learn their passions, their struggles, their fears, and their strengths.  In six weeks my doctor is going to put this sweet baby girl in my arms and I'm not going to have a clue who she is.  She might have Sloane's nose or Jude's hair, but now that I understand the incredible bond between a mother and child, I'm scared of starting all over and knowing absolutely nothing about my newest daughter.  I guess that's what makes it exciting as well.

So Holland, this is my very first letter to you.  Because while I don't know you yet, I want to fill you in on two of the most incredible people I've ever met... your big brother and sister.

Dear Holland,

Precious girl, it has been a crazy eight months with you in my belly.  From the very beginning you have been a fighter and made your presence known.  I felt pretty rough the entire first trimester but knew the result of my sickness was a flourishing baby.  When your dad and I found out you were a little girl, I was in total shock.  I just knew you were a boy.  Now I can't imagine anything else but you, Holland Claire.

I want to tell you about your siblings.  I want you to understand how important they are to our family and how excited they are to meet you.  You aren't even here yet and they argue over who gets to sit closest to you.  They both place their hands on my stomach to feel you kick.  They talk to you and sing to you and ask me what you're up to in there.  Do you have toys?  What are you wearing?  Are you asleep or awake?

I want to tell you about Jude.  He is almost indescribable because he is so many different things all at once.  He is so strong.  I'm slightly terrified at how strong he is because I know you are going to be so tiny.  And yet, he is so gentle.  He is the first child in the room to look up when a baby cries.  I have no doubt he will be your protector and want to make sure you are always ok.

He is animated.  When he tells stories he uses his whole body and you better watch out because he will use you as a prop if it makes sense with the plot.  He has to touch everything - he has always been curious about the effect to every cause.  This often gets him into trouble, but it's also what makes him unique.  It's impossible for people to talk about Jude without a smile on their face.  He is extraordinary.

I have more great news for you.  He adores his sister.  He would do absolutely anything for her and I know that will be the case for you as well.  My biggest fear is he would sacrifice everything to make sure his sisters are happy.

My prayer is you two will find some similarities that Jude & Sloane don't share.  That you will realize what a privilege it is to have an older brother who cares so much about you, sweet girl.

I want to tell you about Sloane.  She is a firecracker and one of the funniest people I know.  She has started making up her own songs and every single one of them is about you.  At least once a day she tells me she's going to be the best big sister and then she hugs you and whispers it again.

Your big sister is kind.  She notices and remembers things that many look past.  She is at times empathetic and other times reserved... and you never know which way she's going until she's arrived.

She has told absolutely everyone about you.  Holland, she is so proud of you already.  She can't wait to teach you how to do all the things she has learned in her four years.  And when you watch her I hope you see magic, because that is what I see when I look at her.

My prayer is you two will have a bond similar to what Sloane and I have now.  That when times get tough and you don't feel comfortable sharing your feelings with your mom, you will always share them with your sister.

I want to tell you one more thing.  Holland Claire, you are about to join a family that's far from perfect but filled with so much love.  With all the unknowns, please know this:  The four of us are your biggest fans.  We cannot wait for you to join us and learn all of the intricacies of our family.  Be prepared for a lot of laughs and hugs because that's what we do best.

Your dad and I were blessed with two very special gifts four years ago and for some reason God decided to bless us once more.  We are humbled, we are grateful, we are ecstatic.  And baby girl, we cannot wait to meet you.

Love always,

Monday, February 20, 2017

Baby Sprinkle/Amazing Weekend for Holland

It's been a busy few weeks!  Michael and I went on a quick getaway trip to Austin (separate blog post forthcoming) and my parents came down to visit last week.  The days and weeks are moving along at hyperspeed now and I'm trying not to blink.

This past weekend was pretty perfect.  I have some amazing friends who put together the sweetest sprinkle for Holland.  Two of them visited from North Carolina and Houston (with their daughters!) so we made it an all-girls weekend filled with fun activities.  I (politely) kicked Michael & Jude out of the house as of Friday evening but with as much giggling, shrieking, and all things pink experienced in this home I think I was doing them a huge favor.  :)

Lauren & Bryn flew in from North Carolina Friday morning and the little girls hit it off immediately. Bryn & Ryan are almost exactly one year older than Jude & Sloane and they have all heard about each other for at least three years.  It was clearly time for a proper introduction.  

Bryn gave Sloane two necklaces and from that moment on at least some aspect of their outfits either matched or coordinated.  Ryan and Stefanie came over with their twin boys so we had a crazy morning playdate with seven kiddos and four moms.  We stayed at the dining table the entire time to catch up and let the kids fend for themselves. It was great!  After nap time, my parents took Jude to Mimi & Papa's house for the rest of the weekend.

That evening we met up with Ann Marie and Erika for dinner at Gloria's.  They brought three of their four girls and we let them all sit at one side of the table while the moms sat at the other side.  (Are you noticing a pattern here?)  After dinner we walked next door for some ice cream.  It was so much fun seeing the girls interact with one another.  All of our minis spending time together - wonder if they'll still be chatting like their moms in 30 years? :)

Saturday morning was Holland's sprinkle and it was incredible.  The hostesses outdid themselves with decorations, food, coffee, and mimosas.  A few months ago Ann Marie mentioned the best idea I've ever heard: Guests could bring unwrapped gifts and put them on the dining table so I wouldn't have to open each gift in front of everyone.  YES.  I consider myself a decently social person but opening gifts in front of a group has always been my nightmare - to be able to skip that part and just spend time chatting with friends sounded lovely.  

It was such a special time and Holland's nursery floor is now covered with amazing gifts from incredible friends.  

The incredible hostesses!
Most of the guests!

Once the hostesses planned which weekend to come to town, we decided we'd take our girls to American Girl for a fun lunch.  When the sprinkle was over we drove to the AG Bistro and had a great time eating lunch with our girls and their dolls.  Sloane was in heaven.   The lunch lasted almost two hours and was right in the middle of nap time but the girls were all troopers and had a blast.  I think we all kept waiting for some sort of disaster and/or meltdown and it never happened.  Super proud of all of them!

After lunch we all relaxed for a bit.  Saturday night, Ryan, Stefanie, Erika, and Ann Marie came to my house in pajamas (sans kiddos) and we ate more Mexican food, drank some wine & cocktails (& water... sigh), and stayed up until midnight catching up on anything we hadn't already discussed the prior day.  

It really was the best weekend.  Sloane and I missed our boys but we had such a great time together and I know both of them enjoyed the one-on-one attention they received from mom and dad.  Sloane made a new friend and I loved watching it all unfold.  It was hard to say goodbye to Lauren & Bryn at the airport but I know a lot of memories were made that will stick with Sloane for a long time.

I took a two hour nap yesterday afternoon and another nap today!  I'm sure I'll go to bed early again tonight.  The weekend definitely wore me out and I know I wasn't able to be the hostess Lauren & Bryn deserved because I'm feeling so limited both in ability and energy. They pretended not to notice and were the sweetest house guests.

We're at 6.5 weeks until Holland arrives and everything is starting to feel more real.  As if carrying around 28 extra pounds and feeling her kick every three seconds isn't enough of a wakeup call, seeing her (almost) completed nursery along with tiny pajamas and diapers has definitely made me realize we're in the homestretch.  When I hugged my parents goodbye I realized the next time I see them will be a day or two before she arrives.  Eek!  I'm not sure you can ever truly prepare for a new baby so I'm just trying my hardest to appreciate the little moments leading up to it!  


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