Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pregnancy Mind Games (Realizing that the baby is actually going to come out at some point)

My recent post on having mixed feelings the first time you find out your pregnant was so well received that I have decided to share another pregnancy freak-out with you that I had - realizing that at some point the baby was actually going to come out and become part of our family.

My first pregnancy was a dream - I didn't have any morning sickness or other annoying symptoms besides fatigue, and generally I was feeling great. I credit a lot of this feeling great to my prenatal yoga classes, which I highly suggest any first time mom take full advantage of, because you're not going to have very much time for it the second time around!

We had just moved from our little apartment in New York City to a quiet townhouse in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia, and because I was planning on being a stay-at-home-mom I didn't bother looking for a new job at the time. I was still doing some work for my previous employer online, but for the most part I had the last 6 months of my pregnancy to just focus on myself and getting ready for the baby (a blessing that I will never forget or take for granted - I'm well aware that it was a rare opportunity for me).

For the most part, I spent my days picking out non-VOC paint samples and outfitting our daughter's nursery with beautiful white furniture and pink accessories. Her closet was stocked with adorable little dresses and outfits that I knew she'd only get to wear once or twice. Everything I did was already for her. I would read out loud to her so that she could hear my voice. I would blast classical music throughout the house as I ironed in hopes that Mozart and Beethoven would somehow rub off on her in-utero.

To say it bluntly, I was blissfully smitten (and ignorant).

People would ask me if I was ready and I'd delight in saying, "Oh yes, I can't wait to be a mom!" I kept getting compliments on what a great mom I was going to be, with so many years of daycare experience under my belt. My confidence was high and my heart was ready.

It wasn't until I was about 35 weeks pregnant (which I am right now with number 2) that it dawned on me that at some point this little girl was going to have to come out of my body one way or another. That there would be a hospital, and doctors, and most likely a lot of pain. That there would be labor. Yes, I'd been to all the classes and read all the books, but for some reason the moment that I realized what a personal experience this would be, I went a little bit batty.

What if we don't get to the hospital in time?

What if I don't even realize I'm in labor?

What does a contraction feel like? I don't think I've even had Braxton Hicks contractions.

What if I'm just not good at it?

Do epidurals always work? What if something goes terribly wrong and I'm allergic to the epidural and it kills me and the baby?
Am I even brave enough to get an epidural?

How do you "push"? What if I poop instead? (I was relieved to learn later that this is a very common concern.)

What if I have to have a C-Section? I don't know anything about C-Sections! What if they can't "put me back together again?"

What if I forget my hospital bag?

Would they really CUT OFF my wedding ring if my hands were too swollen???

What if I pass out in the middle of it all?

Luckily this exchange in my head only went on for about a day before I slapped myself back to reality and told myself that I was just going to have to deal with the cards that God gave me, and that He would be there with me while I went through all of this.

Me with our precious daughter in 2009, just moments old.
And things didn't turn out so bad. I ended up being induced three days past my due date, so I was at the hospital in plenty of time. In fact, once my water broke my doctor noted that I was already having contractions and that I would have been in later that day anyways (not that I could feel the contractions at the time).

The epidural didn't hurt (except afterwards when they ripped the tape holding it on off my back), it worked really well, and I highly recommend it (though after almost passing out at the sight of the needle, my husband has informed me that he will not be in the room next time I receive one).

The rest came pretty naturally. After about 11 hours of labor, I only had to push for 20 minutes to get out precious little AJ out into the world (including a brief two minute scare in which she was literally stuck and there was fear that her shoulder would break or be dislocated).

Now only 4-5 weeks until I meet my little man! (AJ was a whopping 8 lbs 9 oz, so we find out this Friday during an ultrasound if little man will be joining us a week early via induction). It's funny how nostalgic pregnancy makes me. :)  Now if I could only get these stories down in her baby book!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Your Elf on the Shelf

                                                                                              Source: rshcatalog.com via Gigi on Pinterest
I know that I have mentioned it several times this holiday season, but we are having such a great time starting this Elf on the Shelf Tradition with our two year old daughter. There is nothing quite like watching here face light up each morning as she searches and finds our elf, Sam, up to new adventures in our house. The memories we are making are so precious to me!
There are still a few days left to get creative with your Elf on the Shelf (check out my post on hilarious Elf on the Shelf ideas) but this Saturday is already Christmas Eve, meaning that elves all over the world will be making their trip back to the North Pole, only to return after Thanksgiving next year.
Throughout my search for fun ideas, I have come across a lot of stories about sad partings with the Elf on the Shelf. Stories of sobs from little ones who measure the time between Christmases with vast enormity, and stories of children who just don't understand why their elf can't just stay all year round.
In this thinking, I've also seen a few ideas for making goodbyes special with your elf. I thought I'd share with you my own that we'll be putting into place on December 24th!
On the 24th, Sam will be perched in an obvious place with a letter written in his own cute elfish handwriting, that will go something like this:
It's Christmas Eve, and Santa is coming! You've been such a good girl this year and I have had so much fun coming to your house and seeing you every day.
I've got a special surprise for you, too. Santa said that I won't need my magic tonight to get home because he is picking me up himself with his sleigh, and that if you want to, you can give me a goodbye hug. Just one big hug though - I still need a good dose of magic because as soon as Christmas is over I'm going to be back to work making toys in Santa's workshop!
I can't wait to see you next year and how much you've grown!
To keep in touch our kids in touch with Sam throughout the year, my husband and I have also come up with the idea to take Sam along with us throughout the year (ie business trips with my husband, our family beach trip, etc) and to snap a quick picture when the kids aren't looking. We'll then use the pictures to send the kids a postcard from time to time letting them know that Sam is looking forward to coming back after Thanksgiving, and what he's been up to in the meantime.
Does your family have a special way to say goodbye to your elf?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Funny & Creative Elf on the Shelf Ideas

Wow! In the last year the Elf on the Shelf's popularity has sky-rocketed across the US. Santa is sending out elves left and right to keep an eye after all the little boys and girls and make sure they are good this holiday season.

We were so pleased to give away an Elf on the Shelf to a lucky Holly at Nap Time reader earlier this holiday season. I really wish that I had 400+ elves to give away to all those who entered, but if you don't already have an elf, I can assure you that the $30 is a great investment. To learn more about Elf on the Shelf, click here.

My daughter is only two years old, and this is our first year with our Elf, Sam, so his hiding spots and antics are pretty obvious and don't really tell much of a story. My friends with older kids, however, are getting pretty creative, and moms all over are sharing their ideas on Pinterest, which begs the question: Is Elf on the Shelf more fun for children or parents?

I'll leave that up for you to decide. Some of these ideas have given me such a chuckle that I have no choice but to share.

Elf cutting a mattress tag! Oh no!!!

Sneaking items from Mom's purse.

Going on a candy binge!
Source: flickr.com via Lacey on Pinterest

Loading up on syrup - one of the elves four main food groups.

Candlelit date with Barbie... and I'm pretty sure there is alcohol involved!?

Building a snowman in the freezer!
Source: facebook.com via Erin on Pinterest

Being held hostage by Lego men!
Source: google.com via Erin on Pinterest

Elf replaces all family photos with pictures of himself!

Have your Elf leave the kids a note asking them to plant his magic seeds (Tic Tacs) into a bowl of sugar for a sweet surprise. When they wake up the next morning the seeds will have grown into cookies! ;)

Elf  gets locked outside!!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pregnancy Mind Games (Mixed feelings about finding out you're pregnant)

As if the physical toll of carrying a child isn't enough, the mental toll that pregnancy takes on a woman is almost downright hysterical when you think about it. At 34 weeks pregnant now, today I'm feeling (or at least for this moment) level-headed enough to share some of my chaotic with you.

When I got pregnant with our daughter in 2009 it pretty much came as a total shock. My husband and I had decided that we were open to having a child but that we weren't going to necessarily try to have a child - yet. I don't know what literature we had been reading, but it was clear to us that even the healthiest, normal couples could have to wait up to two years to conceive. We decided to give it six months and see where that took us. Three weeks later, I was pregnant.

My first symptom was complete lack of energy. It was a Friday in New York City, and happened to be my last day at a job that I loved and was leaving for life in the South with my husband. My brother-in-law was to be arriving that night at around 10:30pm to spend the weekend with us, taking in some of the sights before we left the Big Apple. But for some reason, the night owl in me just could not stay awake to welcome my brother-in-law. My husband also thought this was very strange, because we were the types to stay up to at least 11pm on weeknights and often well into the wee hours of the morning on the weekend. I took it as a sign that I had just had an emotionally draining day, and went to bed.

The whole weekend I was just as tired, but somehow I powered through. It was actually when I was sitting on the couch Monday morning waiting for Joe to make his way to the airport and Ken make his way to work that I had that thought - Could it be? No... well how can I be sure? I guess it's possible. But seriously, no.

Arguing with myself is always a sure sign that I'm being mental, so as soon as the boys had left I quickly threw on some clothes and half-jogged my way to the Duane-Reade two blocks away, where I promptly purchased a pregnancy test (and a few other items, because as any girl knows it's much less awkward when you're checking out and a pregnancy test is just part of your transaction and not THE transaction) and ran back home, where five minutes later I was greeted with a big, fat, clear as day + sign.

The next few hours went something like this:

I've wanted nothing more than to be a mom in this life, and now I'm getting the opportunity!

This is such exciting news! But seriously, you're not supposed to tell anyone for how many weeks?

Wait a minute. This is for real. Really?

It could be wrong.. these tests are wrong all the time.

Or are they only wrong when they say negative and you really are pregnant. Is a false positive even possible? ... the box says there is a chance. Hmm.

Well this is weird. Now what?

Crap. I am pregnant. We are going to have a baby.

So it just happened a little sooner than we thought it would, what a blessing.

NO! How could God possibly think that I'm ready to be a parent. I can't be someones parent - I have no idea what I'm doing!!

We're going to have a BABY!

Also in this time I was plotting on how to tell my husband our news. Do I tell him today? Do I wait awhile - what's the protocol? I didn't have any cutesy ideas for sharing the news... was that a requirement? I had been carrying the test stick around with me the majority of the day (as proof, I suppose... it's not like I was going to forget) and when I heard my husband wiggling his key into the lock I swiftly jammed it between the couch cushions.

To be honest, I don't know what happened next. There was nervous, giggly chatter from me and somehow I ended up pulling it out in a ta-dah fashion. We sat there shocked for a few moments, at which point my husband left to go to Duane-Reade for a back-up test.

He came home with a 4 pack of pregnancy tests and a pint of Ben & Jerry's. :)

I took two more tests that night (both of which were positive) and just to be certain, one test for each the following two days. I'm not going to lie- it took a few weeks to wrap my head around things, but that ice cream was the starting of our celebration. Life (almost three years later) has never been the same as it was before that day, but it's also never been better.

The second time around was much less shocking and more celebratory from the very beginning, and now we are less than a month and a half away from welcoming a baby boy to our family!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why Internet Marketing is the Best Way to Reach Moms

It's no secret - today's moms are busier than ever. Mostly by our own doing (ahem - signing our kids up for countless activities and groups, volunteering over and over again and somehow always forgetting how to use the word "no" somewhere along the ways). That's why if you're looking to market to today's mom, Internet marketing is the only way to go.

"But why?" you might ask.

Mail advertising just doesn't work. Who has time to read their mail these days? We receive so much junk mail that I inevitably let it pile up on my kitchen counter until the stack is falling over, at which point I dig out the bills that need to be paid and throw the rest into the recycling bin.

Commercials are becoming nonexistent. Every once in awhile my mom will ask me if I've seen a commercial that she thought was interesting or funny, but my answer is always the same: nope. Any television I get to watch these days (not including the many hours of Nick Jr. that go on at our house) is prerecorded onto my DVR. If and when I get to watch my shows, I don't waste anytime watching commercials. Fast forward. How did we ever live without this feature?

Billboards? I barely have time to look at the road! When I first learned how to drive I told myself that I was going to tune-out billboards. They were a huge distraction, and 99% of the time didn't apply to me anyways. Now that I'm a mom I've got more distractions that I can't quite tune out, with the constant dropping of sippy cup or "mommy look! it's a snowman!" or the 5 Little Monkeys song blaring for the 8th time in a row. It takes every ounce of focus I have to keep my mind on the road.

Today's mom averages about 10 minutes to herself per day, if that. I'm talking 10 completely uninterrupted moments to exhale and do as she pleases. Any mom who has ever tried to use the restroom with little fingers reaching under the door and the constant chanting of "mommy, mommy, mommy" knows what I mean. Even as I type this now my two year old (who did not take a nap today) is clinging to my leg and whimpering.

So what does mom do in those 10 minutes? Most likely she jumps on the Internet to check her email and catch up with friends through various social networks. These activities help her to relax, and thus be more open to ads and new ideas. Thus, Internet marketing reaches today's mom! Internet ads seamlessly sew their way into the pages mom views, and this is your best shot at capturing her attention.

Disclaimer: I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog  for an internet marketing company and was compensated. However, the views and opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ECommerce Solutions Make the Holidays a Breeze

'Tis the season for shopping, shopping, and more shopping for holiday gifts! I will admit that before having children I was all about the draw of Black Friday deals and being among the bustle of the eager crowds. I almost don't believe it myself, but one year I insisted on taking my sister-in-law to Macy's in Herald Square (yes, the Macy's smack dab in the middle of Manhattan) on Black Friday. I guess I was pretty young and crazy back then.

This holiday season I am eight months pregnant, and the stories of pushing and pepper spraying are plenty enough to keep me out of the crowds even in the slowest of shopping hours. Here's an easy equation for you:

8 months pregnant + concerned about the safety of my future son + Black Friday = BAD IDEA!

This year, I'm all about shopping online for the holidays. Nerdy people like my husband call this using ecommerce solutions - I call it "making my life a heck of a lot simpler."

Now it's easier than ever for businesses large and small to create their own secure space in the web and to sell products to people like me, who prefer shopping in their pajamas, at home, with a big cup of cocoa and a Christmas movie playing in the background. And trust me, I've taken full advantage.

Our Christmas tree is now decorated and surrounded by wrapped packages both big and small, with at least 90% of them having been purchased online. Super easy for me, and beneficial to the online retailers as well. Many companies offer special free shipping promotions this time of year, and even though the electronic-shopping-cart-to-door process seems instantaneous and magical to me, I also have to remind myself that I'm doing my part to keep others employed during the holiday season. The whole idea of shopping online, having an item packaged up, flown or driven to a specific destination and hand-delivered to your home is a pretty incredible chain of events.

This holiday season, be part of something big - shop online to save your sanity! (Which often does make me wonder... how did we ever survive without this amazing feature of the Internet?)

Disclaimer: I am participating in a blog campaign for Bucks2Blog for an ecommerce solution company and was compensated. However, the views and opinions are 100% my own.

Image: Microsoft Office Clip Art