Lifehacks and Survival Mode Prep

Lucy’s faucet nose finally turned off. Hooray! She’s so much happier. And thus, so are we. Then I got sick last Thursday with a pretty hellish head cold. A few life/health hacks later though, and I think we are both going to make it, totally sans any over the counter meds and definitely no antibiotics.

First Miracle Worker: Homemade Vicks

This stuff, it’s really miraculous. Even Tom, skeptical and wary, tried it a few months ago when we were all congested. He was forever converted. You rub it all over your feet, put socks on, and wait just a few minutes before you feel your nose and sinuses un-blocking. It took me about 5 minutes to make, it smells heavenly, has no chemicals or menthol (so safe for babies!), and it WORKS. I used this recipe, but also added lavender essential oil which is mostly what makes it smell so amazing. So go order some beeswax on Amazon, because you’ll want this the next time you can’t sleep due to severe congestion.

Second Helpful Recovery Aid: Elderberry Syrup Gummies

The doctor told me Lucy could take elderberry syrup, and not to bother with the children’s version (elderberry helps cold/flu recovery as it boosts the immune system). She took the syrup willingly a few times, but I think the thick texture eventually turned her off. So, knowing her love for the vitamin D gummy bears, I thought I could make the elderberry into a gummy too. And guess what? Instant success. 100% rate of smiling and scrunching nose in excitement upon the proffering of said gummies. Here’s the recipe I used, except I just used the store-bought bottle of Sambucus, not a homemade elderberry syrup. I also have no cute little molds, so I just let it set in a tupperware container, and then cut into little squares when it had solidified. They’re delicious, and not just the toddler thinks so. (Also, for anyone that cares, it’s best to use gelatin from a good source, because normal gelatins from the grocery can have all sorts of nasty ground up animal parts and chemicals. I use this kind.)

And of course…chicken soup.

Bone broth is super healing due to the minerals and gelatin from the chicken bones. It also makes your nose run like crazy, so it helps with the congestion issue. A huge pot of soup or broth is one of the best home remedies. I also put some sliced shitaake mushrooms for extra minerals, some green onions, and a TON of raw garlic in my broth to make it even more effective.

So that’s that. Extra vitamins C and D, and cod liver oil if you can stand it can help too. Oh and sleep, they say. But I wouldn’t know about that…

Anyway, as the due date approacheth, and I stare down the -6 weeks left, I’m starting to gather up an arsenal of tricks to ensure that we all stay alive each day between the hours that Daddy leaves and returns. I’ve long been wondering how I’ll fit in a shower. I could barely manage it with Lucy as a newborn (and 4 month old, and 7 month old, and…), so I just figured I would do it throw-back style, and bathe once a week like our forefathers did. But then Jenny posted this guide to showering with multiple babies/toddlers, and I think I can do it.

I’ve also planned out about 4 weeks worth of meals for when we move out and I am required to plan and execute a dinner every night. For me, it’s just thinking ahead about what to make that is the hardest, but once I do, I just make a quick grocery list, and we only have to grocery shop once a week. On Saturday, when there’s a husband around, of course. So that makes me feel like I have at least one thing under (theoretical) control. No one can say how the plans will pan out, since there’s this highly intriguing phenomenon called “The Witching Hour” which involves crying and whining and clinging of small persons and babies, and often derails the best-laid dinner plans. But the plans are there, so we’re more than halfway done. I’m also hoping to make a lot of ready made things (breakfast muffins/omelette muffins, etc.) to have at the ready with no prep. I’ve pinned some cool ideas here. 

Lucy’s constant need for stimulation and entertainment is my biggest concern when I’m going to have a consta-nurser around. I’ve been pinning a million pins on activities for toddlers to do, especially ones that require little supervision. She’s very into fine motor activities these days, and I’m a huge fan of all the “natural materials” (ahem, junk from around the house) that she can use to fulfill that need. Por ejemplo, the yogurt container with a slit cut into the top, and some oversized checkers pieces:

Keeps her busy for about 10-15 minutes at a time. Miraculous.

Keeps her busy for about 10-15 minutes at a time. Miraculous.

IMG_0836

Also, putting straws into the top of an empty water bottle is a huge hit, stuffing her fridge magnets into any and every small cranny (so far, they’ve been found in the watering can, the crack of the oven door, the paper waste basket, various cabinets, and the metal slot that holds the trash can inside its drawer).

Here’s my Pinterest Board with oodles of other ideas we will try to set up for her so that she doesn’t go stir crazy with the sleepy newborn! I think between Pinterest, advice from veterans, and Divine Providence, we will survive!

Happy Thursday, and have a great Memorial Day Weekend!!

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Birthday Boy

Today is the day Tom turns 27. He says he feels old, that 27 is so much closer to 30 than 26. Sadly, he’s not here to be lavished with attention and gifts and cake. He is currently corralling many 7th grade boys in the wilds of Assateague Island, probably getting rained upon. (He did try to get chaperone duty not on his birthday, but nothing doing). So, I sit here alone, eating TJ’s Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Almonds on his behalf.

It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be married to this guy:

You just never know what's gonna happen...

You just never know what’s gonna happen…

But it is always …

Hilarious

Hilarious

Classy

Classy

Full of intense and deep conversation

Full of intense and deep conversation

Romantic

Romantic

And lately, full o' babies!

And lately, full o’ babies!

Happy, happy birthday to the most amazing husband — stay dry out there and come back to us safe and sound! We love you!

Catch Up

We’ve been a leeetle busy around here. And mostly, Lucy’s been under the weather so it’s made blogging a bit of a non-priority.

She kind of had a constant runny nose since the day after Easter, and then last Thursday got a fever and what seemed to be an earache. We’d racked all our collective brains about the four week cold: just a head cold? teething? spring allergies? What is this?! Then, I happened to read in this book about the effects of vaccines on young babies and toddlers, especially the MMR vacc. It basically wrecks their immune system. I looked back on my calendar: yep, she’d had the vacc three days before symptoms started. Then I remembered that in February, she had a similar (though far less severe) two week non-stop runny nose. Also right after the vaccine. I confirmed the hypothesis with Lucy’s pediatrician, and my Sherlockian sleuthing proved correct. She basically has the measles without the rash. So she’ll never…get the measles?? Ugh. We will definitely think twice about this vaccine with the next baby and at least pray he/she will still be nursing when/if it’s given. Poor little girl:

Nose:runny. Mouth: drool-y.

Nose:runny. Mouth: drool-y.

We’re still struggling, and administering everything we can to help this insane bear of a head cold/major congestion/on and off fever/cough go away. She’s such a little trooper.

In other news…we’re still on the hunt for a house. It’s a long-ish, arduous process. We will be so very happy when it’s done, and when we’ve finally moved in and ended the most crazy “transitional” 6 months of our life. But one of our hunting days last weekend ended in a delicious lunch at a pizzeria very near to the neighborhood we hope to get a house in. It had donuts.

Well, hello!

Well, hello!

 

Homemade, lemon-drenched, Nutella-whipped cream topped donuts. It’s safe to say that we will frequent said establishment very regularly should we move there. Also the pizza=fantastic.

And ending on a positive/cute note, Lucy’s latest:

Words: anything beginning with B, which happens to be all her favorites: ball (“a BAH!”), book (“a BOO!”), bird (“a BER!”), bath (“baf!”), bubbles (“buhbuh”), bed (“bah”), the baby or her dolls (“bah-bu”)…and of course, buh bye. Also, ap-pu, for apples/any fruit ever, ap-per for diaper, HAT- pronounced quite clearly, and ges-es for glasses. She’s a chatterbox.

And the camera roll for what’s she been doing:

Grandpa Cox visited for dinner on a business trip in town. She was fighting  sleep to be social...not winning, clearly.

Grandpa Cox visited for dinner on a business trip in town. She was fighting sleep to be social…not winning, clearly.

First metro ride....lots of legs to look at...

First metro ride….lots of legs to look at…

Not enthused by Eastern Market

Not enthused by Eastern Market

Inspecting Uncle Tommy before sending him off to Prom

Inspecting Uncle Tommy before sending him off to Prom

 

Two under Two: Reflections on the Sneaky Culture of Death

Sneaky Culture of Death

By now, the idea that we are expecting a tiny addition to our family has begun to sink in fully. The shock of it all was pretty real for about the first three or four weeks upon finding out. And with that finding out, so many thoughts bounced around my brain. Besides the ones that had to do with practical aspects (ohmygosh…two under two? Life shall be crazy. I will never sleep again. Lucy will never learn to sleep on her own. The new baby will be a terrible sleeper like Lucy was. I will somehow need to grow a third arm just to get through each day. I will probably never shower or wear non-pj clothing again. How will we leave the house, and return, in one piece?) there were deeper thoughts that required far more wrestling to fully reckon with.

Namely, I was afraid that people would judge me for having two babies in so short a time-span. Guess what? That did not happen. Every person so far, from close friends to extended family to strangers on the street, has only expressed congratulatory sentiments at our news. Why did I think I would get raised eyebrows or secret judgmental thoughts? Probably because that’s how I was judging myself, and others in my situation, in a way. I have come to realize that everyone else simply sees that there is a reason to rejoice: new life, a sibling for Lucy who will (hopefully) be her best friend throughout life. I haven’t needed to make any of the excuses I was coming up with in my head: “Well, it was a big surprise” (even though it was). “Hopefully the next ones will be more spaced out…” (even though I do hope that!). There is never a reason why one should feel the need to make an excuse or apology for the occurrence of new life.

The point is, this was a way in which I’d unwittingly allowed the sneaky Culture of Death to invade my thought process:  yes, children are a blessing, but we should probably be very responsible and space them out at least two years by using NFP, and somehow we’re failures and freaks if we don’t. This, coming from someone who has always wanted to be a mom to a large family and loves babies. I just always assumed (and hardly realized I was doing it) that it would be more on “our” terms, more deliberate.

We had the same sort of thought process when we were praying about whether or not to wait on getting pregnant right after we got married. Thanks to NFP, we knew that there was an extremely high chance of returning from our honeymoon with a living souvenir. We knew that there were no truly serious reasons (financially, physically, emotionally or otherwise) to wait, but we both felt the pull of the world, and the whispering in our ears, “But don’t you just want to have some time together? Who wants to just get pregnant immediately?”  We recognized that this voice and its message had a hollow ring. It belonged to the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, and so we decided the “we want time to get used to being married” argument wasn’t a serious reason for us. It might be for some people, and I cannot judge that at all. But for us, it was just selfishness. We decided to be open to the possibility of a honeymoon baby, if God willed it, and … He did.

In much the same way, my getting used to the idea of this surprise second pregnancy so soon involved throwing off a mindset that isn’t rooted in true selflessness. Part of me assumed that “normal” child-spacing is about two years, since that seems to be the pattern in many families (and I’m talking about NFP-using, non-contracepting families). Believe me, we were doing the whole exclusive breastfeeding thing, but not every woman’s body is the same. Imagine that! I was charting, but post-partum charting is a whole different animal, and I truly didn’t see any forewarning signs. So really, it was again God’s will that this child was conceived. There was no “failure” about it, even if it turned out I had made an error in charting (I still don’t know). There are no “child-spacing norms” we need to conform to, other than the ones that God has laid out for our particular marriage. An NFP manual or doctor can’t dictate that; only a prayerful consideration of our current state in life and trusting in God can.

As always, marriage and parenthood continue to teach lessons about humility and dying to self. I was humbled to realize that I had always considered closely spaced children as something…well, not beneath me, but just not something I’d ever personally do. That mentality isn’t fully open to life. And dying to self, well, see my list above. I know it is just dripping with optimism about life with two babies. But really, I have no doubt that God will teach me some very intense lessons about myself and the degree of trust I need to place in Him to make it through the days. Even if He doesn’t grant me the gift of a third arm.