Seven Quick Takes- hippie milk, the last straw and Baby Bunching

Quick is all I’ve got time for today. And I really should be packing single-mindedly but…the kitchen is scary mess, and I can only get through approximately 12 minutes of work in there before feeling my mind start to unravel. So instead, I join Jen et al for Seven Quick Takes. 

1. Sadly, I no longer have any milk supply for Lucy, as it dried up about a month ago, due to Coxlet 2. I am slightly concerned about Lucy getting all the necessary nutrients and vitamins and fat she would’ve had from the breast milk, and she seriously always comes to her high chair ravenous. Her pediatrician (also mine growing up) is a wonderful, wonderful woman. She suggested giving her a homemade formula of hemp milk and coconut milk. I know…it sounds so crazy, so hippie. Hemp! Apparently, when mixed with coconut milk, it mimics the fat and caloric content of breast milk. And then, there’s this formula, which was developed by a doctor and scientist, to very closely resemble the fat, vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes in mother’s milk. It can be made with raw milk or goat’s milk, so we’re probably going to get our crunchy on and give it a shot. Fortunately, one of my friends has done it with two of her three little ones, and had great success, so she offered to have me over and show me how to make it. And also, I want Lucy to taste it first, because the last thing we want is to spend all this money on fancy ingredients and find that she refuses it.

We tried the hemp/coconut mixture this morning (it’s super quick and also cheap!), and first off, Lucy just laughed at the bottle and thought it was a fun toy to bite on. Refused to drink. I got her to drink two shot glasses full (she drinks water from a shot glass, cuz we’re cool parents. Not really. It’s just easiest for her). The rest I had to sneak in her oatmeal, and that only totaled 4 ounces of the 16 she’s supposed to drink per day. If anyone has tricks and tips on getting a ten month old to actually drink out of a bottle or sippy cup… send em over!

2. WELL. Between takes 1 and 2, we went for a morning nap. I didn’t intend to fall asleep, but a 4:45 and then 5:45 wake up call from Lucy made that happen. Anyway, about an hour after falling asleep, I was awakened. Not by Lucy squirming, or being too cold or anything normal. No. By LOUD and incessant SQUEAKING and crazy rustling. Yes, it was real, it was happening, a few feet away on the area of Lucy’s floor bed, which is currently covered with several Space Bags filled with all our clothes. While I knew death wasn’t imminent, my heart was still pounding fiercely and I was contemplating if we should stay in the exact spot in the bed all day, or if we could run past that area and out the bedroom door. Lucy woke up after I probably startled her, but was happily oblivious. One day I can tell her, “Yes, in our first apartment, I was awakened by a mouse crawling all over your mattress and our belongings! Isn’t that quaint!” This is absolutely the last straw. Thank the Lord in Heaven that we are leaving tomorrow. I am still DREADING moving those bags. I think maybe Lucy and I will go out to the grocery store while Tom does it…? I’m such a wimp. But gross, gross, GROSS! I now cannot re-enter our room, or take a shower, or put her down for a PM nap…help!

3. Salvation Army is supposed to come pick up a bunch of stuff any time now. I hope they don’t judge the fact that I’m clearly not showered and don’t think poorly of stay-at-home moms everywhere. Today is just a survival kind of day, and I look like it.

4. Here’s an exciting piece of news for proponents of home birth and midwifery (there go those hippies, again!). Essentially, it’s announcing the results of a study saying home birth is safe and has excellent outcomes for mom and baby; something that anyone who has done good research will already know regarding home birth. We had Lucy at a free-standing (i.e. not part of a hospital) birth center, which essentially was someone else’s beautiful, luxurious, clean bedroom. With a huge tub in the middle of the floor. Coxlet 2 will be born there as well. We would love a home birth, but the insurance supposedly only “covers” a birth center birth with midwives. At least this time we’ll be 45 minutes closer to the birth center.

5. So, a few months ago Tom and I found this website called Baby Bunching, founded by two women who are writing a book about (and living the reality of) having kids close together. Here’s their spiel:

Baby Bunching™ is two years of pregnancy and back-to-back infants and toddlers with nary a break for you. Baby Bunching means chaos for you, and your little twiblings. No worries, they become good friends as a result of your bunching strategy. You will become strong, creative, organized, calm and at peace with your new lifestyle without even realizing it.

We thought it was kind of hilarious back when we read it in November (little knowing we were baby bunching ourselves already!). Anyway, now that we’re officially “bunchers”, I’ve gone back to the site and it’s actually pretty helpful. Double stroller reviews, and a great FAQ page where you can find out all sorts of useful info, like “How do you take a 4 yr old, 2 yr old, 1 yr old, and newborn to the store?” Their answer is basically, “Don’t.”

6. Good posts around the web:

Matt Walsh- If I can’t accept you at your worst, then maybe you should stop being so horrible

This one’s by our good friend, Hannah, about how she sees a different side of stay-at-home moms through their pictures on social media.

And from Jenny, who we met in Rome. She always manages to be both hysterically funny and down-to-earth inspiring. Here’s her Wellness Project.

7. And lastly, you are now free from ever reading another horror story about our dwelling place. Please throw up a prayer or two for us tonight and tomorrow, if you have a second. We have a LOT of packing left, a lot of heavy lifting for Tom and the awesome guys helping out, oh, and…a critter somewhere in our room, still to be reckoned with.

Monday Musings: babies, packing, etc.

Whew, it was such a relief to put up the last post with our great news, particularly since the Coxlet feels it’s time to start becoming visible on my body. And of course, there was such an awesome outpouring of congratulations and well-wishes, both here and on Facebook. I do wish I could tell everyone in person, but at the very least I’m glad we can share our joy here with many. I was also particularly touched by the number of women who commented that they had been (or are) in the very same boat– two under two, surprise pregnancy, etc.. I will admit that one of the things we thought after finding out was, “Wow, we’re one of those families! Two under two. Two kids in less than two years of marriage!” (It’s all good…honeymoon baby for #1). We weren’t saying this in a deprecatory way at all, but more just marveling, I suppose. I mean, we both grew up watching young families with many little ones, and often spaced close together. I never planned to be that way, and there is definitely something about the NFP culture that makes you feel like a bit of a failure if you don’t have the wonderful 14 months of lactation amenorrhea (read: no cycles post-partum while breastfeeding), and subsequent nicely spaced babies, two years apart. Anyway, I’ve been doing a good deal of pondering on this whole topic, and will probably share some of my thoughts in the near future. For now, I’m digging out the maternity shirts and will head to the midwife for my first appointment on Wednesday!

17 weeks tomorrow! Excuse the poor quality. I’m convinced there’s something wrong with our iPad camera (and it’s only 9 months old…), or we’re truly abysmal photographers.

Emptied walls for moving make a stunning backdrop

Emptied walls for moving make a stunning backdrop

Meanwhile, in apartment-packing land, things are slowly progressing. The progress is hard to see, since we really can’t pack up one entire room, and have the satisfaction of seeing it and saying, “Lovely! The ENTIRE living room is packed!” I have a sinking feeling that remark will only be uttered on moving day, which is on Saturday. Oh well. It’s been a good reason to once again simplify our things. Why did I ever want to keep all 75 vases/pitchers/glasses we used as wedding centerpieces?! And how many articles of clothing can three people own?! I dread the thought of ever moving with a large family, and I know one day that will happen, maybe more than once. Moving is just so jarring. You rip your soon-to-be former home apart, place it in boxes, haul boxes and very heavy furniture out to a truck or vans, and then have to thoroughly clean out the gutted rooms. And while you’re packing, you still have to live in the space, now littered with all your belongings, newspapers, bubble wrap, and various-sized boxes and bags. I’m pretty sure humans were not designed to do this as often as we do. Or at least this human wasn’t.

I had better be off to more sorting and packing while this is still a reality:

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Full of Life

I’ve been meaning to write all week. So many thoughts, so few free seconds to type! A miracle has occurred (read: the baby is taking a morning nap!), so finally, finally, here I am– typing on my iPad, because I stupidly left my laptop in the bedroom with said sleeping babe. I will make a great effort not to lose my mind as I use WordPress on the iPad and type on small, digital squares.

We started packing on Monday and Tuesday, picking up even more free boxes and newspaper on Wednesday. Then on Wednesday night, after talking to a friend who’d just moved out because of roaches, and Googling, and subsequently panicking a bit, I realized we cannot pack in cardboard. It’s a harborage for roaches, and one of their favorites. So, ten or twelve packed cardboard boxes, as well as about twenty empty ones were packed into the Pilot yesterday morning. I highly doubt they’re a problem, but the last thing we want is to bring the enemies to my parents’ and then to our new place. We are now going to pack solely in plastic- huge bins, Space Bags, trash bags, etc.. If anyone has any plastic bins they do not want, holler our way and we will take them off your hands!

I guess I’m also in a bit of denial that were leaving. Though we’ve emptied our entire huge bookcase, and several kitchen cabinets, most of our stuff is still intact around the apartment. Also, we’ve had a few other rather important matters to think and talk and pray about around here.

Behold, Lucy presents…

Portrait of Two Babies

Portrait of Two Babies

In the biggest surprise of our marriage to date, we found out two weeks ago that we are expecting Baby #2. I could really have ended up on the show “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” since I only took a test after Lucy’s pediatrician asked if I could be pregnant (we were troubleshooting my low milk supply). I laughed and said, super confidently, ” No, no way. At least…I really don’t think so!” And then I laughed some more when I told Tom that night. “Well…you could be, I guess. Maybe you should just take a test,” he suggested.

So, still chuckling to myself the next morning, I took the test, and then watched as a plus sign immediately appeared. No more laughter! Just a lot of shock. We had no earthly idea of the conception date, much less due date, so on Monday I finally got in for an ultrasound. The technician immediately exclaimed something like, “Woah…you are definitely out of the first trimester!” as we watched the screen fill with arms, legs, toes, head, and beating heart. Shock, shock, shock!! We have a 16 week Coxlet in there, due July 8!

This sweet, unobtrusive little one has been quietly hanging out, doing his or her thing for almost FOUR months, whilst mommy has enjoyed wine tastings and sushi, and forgotten the vitamins. Hello, silent first tri! I rather like you. And everything they could see so far looked normal and healthy. Praise God. Seriously though, His plan is weird and crazy and surprising beyond belief. I never dreamed I would have children 15 months apart,  but there they are. Children. Plural!

We didn’t go to the March for Life on Wednesday, yet we definitely felt full of life. With one bouncy, extraverted 9.5 month old, and a small, quiet, introverted (perhaps?) 5 oz. womb-mate, I hope we are living what the Culture of Life is supposed to be all about: openness to life, to unexpected pregnancy, to the hardships as well as joys that new life brings. I can’t help thinking about the other women, finding out with shock that they are so far along in an unexpected pregnancy, and feeling only fear and shame. I am blessed beyond belief to have a husband who loves me immensely and an extremely supportive family. So many women are not this fortunate. This pregnancy, which appears untimely and unplanned, couldn’t have come at a better time, as a reminder to our own family about the unrepeatable dignity of each life. (Just remind Lucy of that in 5.5 months…)

Apartment Update!

First, thank you all SO much for your kind words and encouragement and prayers! They definitely worked!

We went in this morning, prepared to do battle if we needed to, but thankfully the property manager was understanding and, I think, pretty disgusted herself by our issues. She ended by asking what we wanted to do, since they needed to solve the problems in the apartment but wouldn’t be able to overnight. We worked out that we will have 30 days to be officially out, though we can leave sooner if we want. We do. Our goal is two weekends from now. So, it’s good news: we won’t pay the lease-break penalty (just pro-rated rent for February), and we can leave as soon as we’re packed. My parents are generously opening up their basement (and rest of the house) to us for the next few months.

We are relieved that we know where the future lies at least, and we already started collecting some free packing boxes. My google search revealed that the best sources are liquor stores, and that is correct! Stoli, Smirnoff, 3 Olives, Wild Turkey…y’all are taking us out of here! Now, let’s hope the wall rodents sleep tonight so we can, and that any future roaches we come across as we pack at least have the decency to stay far, far away from our persons.

Hell-Hole

Fair warning: if reading about rodents, creepy bugs, or mold growing in moist places grosses you out, you probably want to stop reading now.

Well, we have had some real fun in the Cox home over the last two weeks! And by fun, I mean terror and repulsion and frustration, of course. If I were to reveal the amount we pay in rent each month, you might think, “Ah! They must live in a spacious, clean, large  apartment with at least two bedrooms!” Um…no. Welcome to rent prices inside the beltway. And really, we found something with the lowest price we could that still had more than 500 square feet and a washer and dryer. And lo and behold: old, old buildings, though the interiors have been redone and seemed pretty “nice” when we took our tour. But that’s turned out to be mostly a pretty veneer shellacked over some pretty major and serious structural flaws.

First, we noticed, and I mean on DAY ONE of moving in, some dead roaches. Welcome home, young newlyweds!! I realize that’s a problem with old buildings. But it certainly shouldn’t be with the amount we’re paying. Plus, we started to notice little holes and cracks in the baseboard, corners of the wall, between counter and cabinets, etc.. Entry points! I asked more than once or twice for the holes to be filled with foam or something, but…no. Just the same old same old exterminator spraying some gel that keeps things at bay for a little while, or just kills the bugs as they come out. Which means, we still find them, curled up and dead on their backs. So unpleasant.

And then there’s been times when the poison was wearing off and we have done major battle with those nasty little suckers. Man versus roach– it’s intense. I was fortunate enough that Tom was almost always around to do the dirty work for me, but the other day, things reached new levels of nasty. I was putting Lucy to sleep on her little mattress on the floor. Our bedroom, by the by, has been a haven for the most part, and I’d never seen any pests there. I felt safe, generally, even though the rest of the rooms had all had their fair share of unfriendly visitors. Well, she was almost asleep, that moment that can take hours of effort to achieve, and I was about to leave her, when I glanced up. There, in the corner where the two walls meet, no more than 2 feet away, a huge and ugly cockroach was crawling up the wall. Panic. Disgust. I grabbed up the almost-sleeping baby, who then was fully awake, and ran for the bug spray. I did my best but with one hand full of heavy baby, and the demonic creature running at demonic speeds, it got away. Back into the bedroom. Naturally, I refused to enter that room again, until my sister arrived a few hours later and offered to help me look for it. (Where did I get such an amazing sister?! Who offers to help find vermin?!) She combed through the room, but we never did find it. Mystery…or most likely it just went back through some crack it entered in and died. Meanwhile, I sent Tom many frantic texts about the incident (“worst nightmare”), and wondered why it seemed like we lived in a third world country, and yet still paid x amount to live there?!

The next week, just a few nights ago, we were drifting off to sleep when we began to hear some very, very loud rustling in the wall and ceiling right behind our heads. Gnawing, scampering, thudding, scratching. For four hours. Ironically, that was the one night Lucy slept more than four hours straight (9 actually! And it hasn’t happened since…) and we were up half the night, wondering if an army of mice or rats was about to rain down on our heads from the ceiling. The past couple mornings, right during Lucy’s nap time, the creature has been back, making it impossible to put her to sleep. A mom’s dream, right?!

Let me just say that thus far, we have lodged numerous complaints, cited the breaking of city housing and health codes, and our rental agency has done nothing. They promised to send a technician and pest control to check into the wall mice, but they never showed up. That was two days ago, and our little friend now probably has a comfortable nest all set up in our walls. Needless to say, we do not feel safe anymore, or comfortable, in our bedroom (and the whole apartment), especially with a crawling baby. Oh and also, the final straw in all of this drama is the mold. It is growing fiercely in the bathroom, despite a dehumidfier that runs constantly, and the other night we pulled out “fresh” sheets from the linen closet to discover this:

Looks like the baby had a major accident on the sheets...but it's mold.

Looks like the baby had a major accident on the sheets…but it’s mold.

Allll over...

Allll over…

And there it is on the closet wall. Just a small sample. Note- all those towels and sheets are SOAKED with water.

And there it is on the closet wall. Just a small sample. Note- all those towels and sheets are SOAKED with water.

Sadly, I thought I was about to wrap up this horror story of a post, but literally as I was writing this, Tom emerged from the bedroom with Lucy, whom he’d been rocking to sleep for about a half hour. He was horrified, and informed that seconds before, a cockroach had crawled over his foot. He looked up and saw that it was crawling right over Lucy’s bed. AGHHHHHH!!!!! You can’t make this stuff up.

So if you can, say a prayer for us tomorrow. All three of us are marching down to the leasing office to duke it out with the manager. We quite clearly need to vacate this hell-hole, and we sure as heck are not going to pay two month’s rent to break our lease early. I’m fairly certain we have the law clearly on our side, as I’ve read over the housing code for minimum “habitable conditions”, and ours breaks about 4 of the 8 laws. We’re praying they don’t pull some shiesty move on us and that we can be out of here ASAP. We’ll update when we know anything!

 

Winter Survival

Every single year we’ve come home from visiting California during Christmas break, we’ve been greeted with snow, ice, freezing temps, or a combo of all the above. It’s as though we had way too grand a time reveling in the 80s and Virginia just wanted to make sure we remember what real winter is all about. Gross. Also, sickness-inducing.

I have never loved winter, even though I’ve lived in the mid-Atlantic my whole life, spent four miserable winters in the Ohio Valley, and one in the Alps of Austria. I will never get used to the dip in temperatures, scraping ice off car windshields, holding one’s breath in the frigid air, avoiding the moment of vacating your cocoon of warm covers in the morning, and layering to the point of  impeding movement. However, I still love that the seasons change, pulling out my cozy winter clothes, making hearty soups, hot cocoa, etc… So there’s a love-hate relationship going on here.

This is winter, there is a whole new set of challenges and so I’ve come up with some survival techniques to rival those of Shackleton. Not really…but cabin fever can be lethal, let me tell you, especially if it involves high doses of a baby who HATES to nap.

1. Get out of the House

This is super important, especially for a stay-at-home mom of an extremely social baby, who crawls around after me crying, “Mamamamama…” when I so much as walk across the living room. However, as some of you may know, my beloved Civic was lost to us right before Tom went back to school. It had problems that prevented it from passing the emissions inspection, problems whose fix was more expensive than the car was worth, so we had to sell it. It was ok in the late summer and fall: I could walk quite a bit, get out of the house if just for an hour, and Lucy enjoyed the outings. Then November rolled around. Our cabin fever began to spike dangerously, and I fear I may have started to go certifiably insane by March 22nd. BUT, my sister, who is actually an angel in human form, has let me borrow the extra family car. She says she doesn’t really need it at college this semester, and thought it would be helpful for me. AHH! Never have I been more excited to drive something, which happens to be my first car in high school, and one I love. It’s super liberating to have this vehicle, and I’m forever grateful to dearest Anna.

2. Friends!

This has been seriously life and sanity saving! My best friend lives 20 minutes away with one year old twin boys, my sister-in-law and two nephews are about an hour away, and my mom is 35 minutes. Before I had the car, they would come out to visit me at least once a month, and it was always so lovely. Lucy gets ridiculously excited whenever someone walks through our front door. A little company does a mama and baby worlds of good!

An old picture, but lots of little playmates visiting Lucy!

An old picture, but lots of little playmates visiting Lucy!

Ok, and then there are a few little luxuries…

3. Milk Frother!

We are the proud owners of a really sweet, fast, and silent milk frother. We received it from Tom’s parents for Christmas, and it totally takes the level of morning coffee from mundane to cafe-worthy.

4. Amazon Prime Streaming and Netflix

I mean, does this even need to be listed? There are many reasons why we chose not to own a TV (and don’t plan to), and this is a big one. We almost always veer towards the BBC mini-series, period pieces, and shows involving Maggie Smith, as well as quirky comedies like Arrested Development (not season 4!) and Parks and Rec (all the seasons, ever!), but we got really into the show Once Upon a Time this fall, and binged on it like crazy. Then watched the next season on ABC’s streaming site… so addicting! We highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fairy tale adaptations, action/romance mixed up, and good old-fashioned good vs. evil plot lines. There’s a Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, too.

Other winter survival necessities include wool socks, good books, Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Almonds (oh wait, that’s year-round survival…), and plenty of food for a voracious baby to eat!

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California Recap!

Since we’ve now been home from California for about a week and a half, it’s high time to share a bit of our adventures! Lucy, and then both Tom and I, got sick right after we returned home, so things have been a bit slow around here. Now that we’re on the mend, I’m hoping life can get back to normal (well, whatever that means with a 9 month old!).

Besides the requisite lazing around and eating, taking long, sunny walks, and of course course celebrating Christmas and New Year’s /spending time with Tom’s family, we had several little adventures  of which Lucy was a willing participant. I will also say that all the pictures you are about to see were taken either by Uncle Dan or his soon-to-be wife, Aunt Yenny. I stayed consistent in my forgetting to capture any and all moments on camera, so thank God they were around. Welcome to the photo dump of our vaca!!

Lucy dips her toes into the Pacific

Lucy dips her toes into the Pacific

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An all day wine-tasting affair in Los Olivos. This is the very beginning, before we have tasted 23 wines...

An all day wine-tasting affair in Los Olivos. This is the very beginning, before we have tasted 23 wines…

Lucy gets in on the action

Lucy gets in on the action

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Dan and Yenny

Dan and Yenny

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She's had a lot to drink...

She’s had a lot to drink…

We finished off our night at a delicious tavern

We finished off our night at a delicious tavern, with a real fire right by our table

Lucy gets up close and personal with Mr. Bear

Lucy gets up close and personal with Mr. Bear

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The end of an awesome day!

The end of an awesome day!

And of course, Christmas Eve, Lucy’s first. She was most interested in the family’s reaction of clapping and cheering every time she ripped off a scrap of wrapping paper, and paid little attention to what was inside. But she lives for the applause, so I’d say it was a successful night for her.

Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Eve Dinner

Shocked to see Mom

Shocked to see Mom

My favorites

My favorites

My vain attempts to direct Lucy's attention to the cameraman

My vain attempts to direct Lucy’s attention to the cameraman

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Figuring out the wrapping paper business

Figuring out the wrapping paper business

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Oblivious

Oblivious

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Annnd she’s done…

There were some other fun get-togethers with Tom’s old high school friends, but no pictures (because Dan and Yenny weren’t there). And finally, the only pictures taken by moi, of Lucy hanging out around Grandma and Grandpa’s.

The joys of Cheerios

The joys of Cheerios

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Playing with/eating new Christmas toys

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Modeling new bows from Aunt Elizabeth

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