Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ivy's 3 Year Pictures

I have gotten several comments about Ivy's beautiful baby blues in the picture on my new blog header! Well, credit needs to be given where credit is due :) Ivy had a very special 3 year photo shoot this summer. Mandi Wade was Ivy's awesome babysitter for her first year of life. Mandi and her Mama took great care of Ivy while I worked a miserably long school year. It was a hard year for me and those ladies were able to give me peace of mind. Mandi took tons of pictures of Ivy during that year and practiced on her while she was in college. Now she is a professional!! Look at her photography site here... she is awesome! I have wanted to show off her pictures but didn't know how to do that.... then I learned I could just use the pics off her blog with her watermark (Thanks for letting me borrow these, Mandi!). Mandi did an outstanding job showing Ivy's personality throughout the pics. Thanks so much for perfectly capturing Ivy in her 3rd year of life!

Monday, September 27, 2010

An Easy & Cute Cloth Bum

So at the Smorstad house we are 1 week into using the cloth diapers. I was so tempted to post on the very first day raving about how wonderful they were.... but then I made myself wait a week before fully giving my judgement on the Grovia cloth diapers. And the verdict is:
We absolutely love them and haven't had a moment of regret!

Tula modeling her very first cloth diaper!

As a newborn, Tula poops a lot!! On some days she only has one dirty diaper that is strictly wet all the rest are full of poop :) Lovely, I know! But even with this being the case cloth diapers have still been good. I am so thankful for the Bumgenius diaper sprayer... because I will not EVER swish the diaper in the toilet. (That is not my cloth diapering style!!) The diaper sprayer is connected to the potty and you simply spray the content into the toilet and then flush away. I am sure many of you are saying.... and then you carry a wet diaper through your house to put in the diaper pail. Nope- not the case- because the outside of the insert is made of a material that doesn't get wet I simply roll the insert up wringing out the water and my hands are dry.

This is an idea at how small Tula is and the diapers still fit!

The diaper pail is very simple, but I wanted to make sure it held in the stink and was not easy access for a 3 year old. It is lined with a Planetwise pail liner that keeps the moisture and the stink in and doesn't let it creep through the house. When the bag is full (and I am low on shells) I simply carry the whole bag to the washing machine dump it all (bag included) and add one scoop of Tiny bubbles detergent and wash in hot water on the highest water setting with an extra rinse. These loads of laundry have taken place every other day... that is with 16 shells and 32 inserts. The shells then hang on the drying rack (drying in a few hours) and the liners typically need to rounds in the dryer. It is the easiest load of laundry since no folding is required and we just dump the liners in a drawer and put the shells on the changing table in a basket.

Tula definitely has a cloth diaper bum.... AKA a ghetto booty!

I am sure there are skeptics about cloth diapering-- thinking it is too much work but I promise that it is not more work at all. There is no changing the diaper genie refill, no spending endless money on diapers, and a poopy diaper is still a poopy diaper! These are some of the things we have learned about cloth diapering in week one:

1. Tula weighed 6lb 3oz when we started her in the cloth diapers. So as far as size- the Grovia diapers are truly one size fits all. They have 3 adjustable size settings so obviously she is on the infant setting for now!

2. The cloth diaper soaks up most of whatever damage Tula has done causing us to only use 1 or 2 wipes even with the messiest explosions!

3. Tula has shown no sign of irritation from the diaper.

4. The cloth diaper fit is all about making it tight enough around the legs. The first few times I changed her I had to readjust several times to get it tight enough. When it is on secure we have had NO problem with leaks. She has had one night time leak compared to every night with the disposable diapers. Tula sleeps on her side which makes staying dry at night tricky!

5. I got Planetwise zipper wet bags for when we are on the go, but I wish I would have gotten a medium one for the diaper bag (not a small) and a large (rather than the medium) one to go to the sitters with Tula. The small is REALLY small and the medium doesn't seem big enough to last a whole day. These bags truly hold in the moisture and the stink.... I did the test and carried one in the diaper bag this weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Sweet Girls

Every time I refer to "my girls" I just have to pinch myself. I can't believe I am the mommy of two beautiful little girls. I feel so blessed!!

Ivy is one proud little dancer, excited to take her daddy to dance class!!

Tula is sporting her very first hair bow and doesn't even know how stinking cute she looks!

Ivy enjoying a very chocolately brownie made by Nana..... she loves her sweets!

Tula giving mama an "I'm gonna scream in two seconds if you don't get that camera out of my face" look!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Breastfeeding- Then and Now

I never thought I would be the nursing and picture-taking type, but this is such an accomplishment for me. I feel so blessed that nursing is going so well and I needed to capture this memory.

I planned to breastfeed Ivy for a year. I couldn't wait to nurse and it was something I always wanted to do, but as a first time mom, I didn't prepare enough. I read very little about successful breastfeeding. I knew few moms who had ventured down this road before me. And I was pretty clueless. However, that didn't change how much I wanted to nurse Ivy. I was a fighter at the beginning.... trying to get Ivy to gain weight and latch correctly was difficult. I made trips to the lactation consultant. I breastfed, pumped, supplemented, set alarms, etc. But once we crossed that hurtle......
I wanted to be in control- I know your surprised. I wanted a plan- surprised again? This was my first mistake. From the get go, I tried to have Ivy on a schedule. Now I see that at times she probably cried wanting to nurse and I was too rigid about a 3 hour time frame that I failed to give her that opportunity to nurse and build my supply. My control and mistakes didn't stop there. I cut calories from the day I came home from the hospital. I started running when she was 8 weeks old. (Exercise and dieting both often botch a mommy's attempt to breastfeed for any extended period of time). Then I went back to work. I had plans to pump but feeling overwhelmed this too went out the window. By the time Ivy was just over 4 months old I came home from work and she REFUSED me. I am not sure if it was lack of supply or nipple confusion, but I gave up on nursing when after three days she still wouldn't latch on.
Nursing was OVER.
But I was seriously heartbroken over the next 8 months. Every time I bought formula, sad. Seeing other mom's nurse their babies, tears. Randomly longing for this special time with Ivy robbed me of my joy many times over. I knew that next time had to be different and I started preparing then for the birth of my next baby.

For 2 years prior to Tula's arrival I worked to ensure I would be able to nurse her. I talked to several friends who have since nursed without trouble. I have read a breastfeeding book and read many articles on the subject. This time I was ready. And I am proud to say, it is going wonderful. These are the things that I have done different this time to make nursing a success to this point:
1. I was pro-active. I brought a nipple shield to the hospital after I knew I had over-active let down with Ivy and this made it difficult for her to nurse once my milk came in. On day 2 in the hospital we went down the same road with Tula and the shield came in handy! I hope to wean her from this over the next few weeks.

2. I let go! Friends, I have nursed on-demand for the last almost 3 weeks. If Tula is hungry and rooting then I am feeding her. Sometimes this is on a 3 hour schedule, but there have been evenings when she has cluster fed every hour and a half. I have let her determine how long she eats (anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes on each side). This has been liberating for me. I know I am doing what is best to feed Tula, build my supply, and increase the ability to nurse for a year.

3. I am pumping after two feedings a day. I started this the day I came home from the hospital. After talking to the lactation ladies at the hospital and sharing Ivy's story with them, they decided my supply was probably never strongly established and she stopped latching on when she wasn't getting enough milk. Pumping directly after one to two feedings builds a bank of milk and it demands my body to make more milk each time.

4. I am embracing the curves of motherhood. Okay.... my boobs are HUGE for starters. But that is not the only curves I am sporting. I still have baby weight around my middle and I am not going to be sad about it. In fact, I refuse to let it get to me. The second I start seeing that as a hurdle to get back into my size 4 jeans I know I will start dieting and testing the waters of working out and that could be detrimental to my milk! This is not to say that I am still eating like a pregnant lady. I am following the weight watchers guidelines for nursing mommies. (They have a safe way to give you additional calories for making milk.... without limiting calories too much.) I will also start some light working out- yoga and walking- in the next few weeks. This is for stress relief just as much as it is for health.

5. Every time Tula eats I pray a prayer of thanksgiving. Friends, this was my biggest prayer (aside from the baby's health) while I was pregnant. I would pray, Lord, please help me to nurse without worry. Please help Tula to be a strong nurser. Please help me to allow time for nursing to get "easier" before giving up. All those prayers have been answered. Now I never want to take it for granted, so I am thankful. I am even thankful when she is up during the night. I know this is such a short time and before long she will be big like Ivy. I am embracing nursing my sweet baby!

6. I will feed her... ANYWHERE! This was a huge conflict last time. Ivy and I had to be in the perfect environment- in her nursery, boppy pillow on hand, rocking chair bound, door closed, privacy. This is not possible with a 3 year old on the go. I have gotten comfortable quickly..... nursing anywhere from the doctor's office to the backyard (we do have a privacy fence) and I am sure the places Tula needs to eat will only grow from there.

So to this date.... nursing is so far, so good!
Please know my heart on this.... this is my story. I don't believe nursing is for every mom, it is just something that was important to me. I have many great friends who haven't had the desire to nurse and there is no judgement there. Babies are babies and they need to eat~ and as long as you are feeding your baby you are a great mama!!! :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Babywearing Baby

A babywearing mama makes none other than a babywearing baby!

Mamas and babies loving the Ergo Baby Carrier!

Ivy loves her mini Ergo babydoll carrier!

Ivy also likes carrying her babies in a wrap-like carrier mimicking Mama's Mayawrap.

I love wearing my babies. I loved wearing Ivy when she was a wee-little one. In fact, I wore her so much that she hated (and still isn't a fan) of stroller or cart riding. And since I love wearing Tula, I will probably do the same damage to her! There is something so special about being able to hold your little one so close no matter what you are doing. Tula enjoys being close to mama and I can be hands free to cook, fold clothes, and play with big sister!

Cheers to wearing babies!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is this "normal"?

As we prepared for little Tula's arrival, we knew there would no longer just be 3 of us. Adding a baby to the mix was sure to make things more busy and crazy at times. Adding a baby to the mix was sure to make a mama and daddy tired. Adding a baby to the mix was sure to leave the big sister feeling left out when people pour over the new arrival. We knew that welcoming Tula would be welcoming a new normal and we were more than ready for that. Just look at the smiles on the faces of that proud mommy and daddy- we were ready for whatever, with a new baby in our arms!
It has been a priority to make sure Ivy feels and is certain that our love for her hasn't faded, but instead it has multiplied. We have included her in everything possible. She loves the job of helping change Tula's diaper, picking out her clothes, putting lotion on her skin, and even nursing her babies right along side Mommy and Tula. Ivy is a proud big sister and every now and then it seems like a dream for her. She will lay in her bed at night and say "I have a baby sister" or "Tula is MY sister" or "Me and Tula are sisters to each other."
Has the transition to big sister been easy?
For the most part, it really has been! But don't think it has been a breeze for Mommy and Daddy. Sometimes it would be easier to do things by ourselves or get some rest during a feeding rather than carrying on a conversation with a mini-mama. But we feel like we are sacrificing time to help Ivy adjust, and it is working. This is all part of the new normal!

Tula's arrival hasn't been all smiles. (Speaking of smiles... isn't Tula's sleeping smile so cute?? I love when babies do that!) Ivy has definitely had some tears (and so has this Mama). It has made me sad when I have had to discipline Ivy. I worry that she will think "My mommy is mean now that she has a new baby." But it is obvious, that she doesn't think that at all. She can go to time out, kick, scream, and cry and then two minutes later curl up right beside me. We are remaining consistent in our parenting and this makes Ivy feel safe. She knows we haven't changed, we still love her and want what is best for her. Just like always, we are trying to set Ivy up for success (not running errands close to nap, not tempting her with things she can't be a part of, etc) and we are choosing to give a consequence immediately if Ivy's behavior could effect the safety of herself or someone else. Being consistent was a big part of the old normal and it is even more important with the new normal.
All in all, we are adjusting to life as a family of 4 without delay. We are wondering if where we are is a new normal, or if we are still in the craziness of a new arrival. We have went to doctor's appointment after doctor's appointment. We have dealt with baby jaundice, a newborn clogged tear duct, a mommy's reaction to steri-strips, a toddler with a fever and the croop. It has been a little nonstop between us and the docs. We have filled out papers for maternity leave, insurance, and doctors offices. Thankfully, Greg has been off during this time and has been a great support system. We are hoping that as the appointments subside we will feel a little more normal.... or maybe this is just how it works when you have a family of 4? Only time will tell- I am just thankful for mid-day naps, coffee in the morning, a baby that is nursing successfully (praise Jesus), and a family to love!

Newborn Pictures

All of these were her hospital pics.... gasp.... I know..... I was shocked that they turned out anything worth looking at. Ivy's were terrible and expected Tula's to be the same. I was pleasantly surprised to see them and fall in love with them!!

Tips for good hospital pics:
1. Bring a couple of outfits to make sure you have a good fit! In our case we needed something teeny- tiny!
2. Bring a soft cuddly blanket to have as a backdrop... instead of the white bed sheet.
3. Have a couple things to make the pictures unique.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Meeting Our Only's

Ivy and Tula with their ONLY Aunt Esie

Tula had a big weekend!! She got to meet the very very special Unc and Esie for the first time ever. They have been itching to get here to give some love to little Tula and boy did they love on her. I believe she even opened her eyes a few times to take in the gorgeous couple. Esie didn't come empty handed.... she had to use this special occasion to lure Unc into the baby girl section of Target and Ivy and Tula both got some way cute outfits!

As Tula gets older she will learn (as Ivy already has) that even though she only has one Unc and Aunt, they have enough love to go around! They are practically professionals with seven nieces and nephews. I am so thankful that my brother married an amazing girl and hope my girls form a unique bond with both of them! One day they will make terrific parents, but for now they can spend their time practicing with my kiddos! :)

Tula with her ONLY Unc

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wisdom From Second Graders

Yesterday I received a set of cards from my second graders. I was excited to sit down and read them knowing they would remind me of a few things....

a. I have the best class (going on 2 years now)!
b. Those little people will make me look forward to going back to work when the time comes.
c. I will not take for granted their tips and suggestions because they are smart little cookies.

None the less, the cards left me laughing all night as I shared them with my mom and Greg. We have read some of them over and over so now I thought I would give you a peak into the kiddos that I am paid to hang out with when I am a working mommy.

Give Tula milk and a pasifire, be sure to wotch her.
- BD

Is Tula born? Is she little? Is she cute? Is she cuter than Ivy?
- CF

Keep Tula away from glass because she could tip it and the glass would break and will get into her skin and she might die.
- KL

You and Tula are the best couple, but we really want you back here.
- MD

Congratulations! Can you find your babies name in that word?
- IH

Babies are a lot of work.
- IH

Make sure you give Tula lots of love.
- RC

This is why I love my job.... those great kids make me laugh all day AND I am blessed with a killer maternity leave and won't be going back until after Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In Just 7 Days

I waited patiently in my mommy's contracting tummy.... apparently that is why I got to come a week early!

I met my mommy and daddy for the first time.... oh can you tell how much they love me?

I have a BIG sister, Ivy! She is so much fun and likes to help with everything. We are going to grow up having so much fun together!

I am getting to be held and rocked by lots of family members.

I've learned to love my swing and time with my eyes opened.

I took a walk with my family and enjoyed the cooler temperatures.

I am taking lots of naps in the arms of my Daddy.

Hello World!
In just 7 days I have learned so much. I have a family that loves me, including a big sister who is super hands on. I know that throughout the day I get lots of cuddles and kisses and I feel very lucky. I am eating like a pro and love that I get to do it several times a day and night! I poop any time I get a clean diaper.... because that just feels like good timing. I have traveled a lot in my week.... going from the cozy womb of my mommy, to a hospital room with nurses and visitors passing through, to my home filled with sun light and voices, to a doctors office where they make me scream when they prick my heel (again and again), and to leave on a good note, I am getting to spend a lot of time swinging in the backyard listening to Ivy play.... I can't wait until I get to play too. So far life is good!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tula Has Arrived!!!

Tula Belle Smorstad
Born September 1, 2010
at 2:19 p.m.
6 lbs. 10 oz.
18 inches