December 8, 2014

Two of a Kind

I still can’t get over how much Alexis takes after Nicole. Holding Alexis for the first time in the hospital, I swore I was staring at the spitting image of Nicole. Now that we’re home and I’ve been looking back on Nicole’s newborn photos I can see only a handful of differences.

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Nicole at 2 weeks old, Alexis at 4 days old

Alexis hair is a shade lighter than Nicki’s was at birth, and her eyes are a touch bluer. In certain lighting Alexis’ hair is the same jet black color as Nicole’s was. I expect her complexion to change, just as Nicole’s did. Whether it gets darker or lighter is anyone’s guess. Like Nicole, I was born with jet black hair that lightened. Domingo was blond as a child and now sports black hair.

Just like Nicole, Alexis has amazingly good newborn eye sight. Nicole was able to focus on the ceiling fan over the stair case at just a few weeks old. Alexis appears to be able to see things at a distance, but more surprisingly is capable of tracking things with her eyes. This afternoon Domingo was talking to her and she was staring up at him. I walked over and started talking to Domingo. Alexis’ gaze slowly shifted from him to me! I hope this means girls got Domingo’s eyesight, as mine is pretty terrible.


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Our (most likely) Christmas card photo

Nicole is doing well adjusting to Alexis’ presence. Nicole says goodnight every night to Alexis, and always asks where she is when Alexis is out of eye sight. She has even “helped” change a diaper by sitting by Alexis’ side and telling her it will be okay when Alexis was crying.

As tiring as it is chasing after a toddler all day, and trying to coax a newborn back to sleep at night, I will miss this stage when it’s over.

December 3, 2014

Hello Alexis!

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Meeting my little girl

Alexis is here! Like her big sister, she seemed like she was going to stay in my belly forever. Labor started with Nicki just after midnight on the day I was to be induced. I was convinced Alexis would be that way too, but she was even more stubborn. When I arrived for my induction I learned I was contracting every 2 to 5 minutes, they just weren’t strong enough to do anything or for me to feel them. The induction itself took a little longer than expected, given that labor had technically already started. Alexis must have been holding onto the walls.

Domingo and I have now been joking no more kids until we can figure out how to explain to them that it’s not a contest to see who can stay in my belly the longest!

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At the hospital. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I cannot get over how much she looks like her big sister, right down to the same amount of hair.

I can already see a lot of similarities between the two and a lot of differences. Alexis has many of her older sister’s expressions. She’s had some phenomenal sleeping stretches (and some not so great ones.) Unlike her sister, she chooses sleeping over eating, and seems happier in the swaddle so far than Nicole ever did.

The girls had a great first meeting. Nicki kept saying “baby came out!?” while alternating pointing at Alexis and my stomach. We had been telling her for weeks that the baby would come out of my tummy soon, and then when we were going to the doctor to help the baby come out. I don’t think it was real to her until she saw Alexis in person for the first time. We gave Nicole a special Big Sister present, and Nicole enjoyed showing it to Alexis.

Nicole is having troubles pronoucing ‘Alexis’. So far we’ve had a ‘Lex’, ‘Lexus’, and (my personal favorite) ‘Necklace’. I was thinking Alexis’ nickname would be ‘Alex’, but I think ‘Lexi’ is going to win out.

November 20, 2014

Past Due

Looks like Ziggy has no more inclination to come early than Nicki did. I had my 40 week appointment today, and despite a few braxton hicks, I’ve made very little progress. Of course anything can happen, I could go into labor over night, but it’s not looking likely so we went ahead and scheduled an induction. We’re less than two weeks from meeting our newest family member!

We are ready.

This past week I got the rock n play assembled, the bouncy seat assembled, and packed my hospital bag. It’s much smaller this time around – just a shoulder bag with a change of clothes for Ziggy and myself. Home is about a 10 to 15 minute ride away so Domingo can make a quick run if we need anything, but last time we really didn’t.

My parents have also arrived. They’ll watch Nicki for us when Ziggy comes. Nicki is over the moon excited about spending time with Grandma and Grandpa, even though she saw them just a few short months ago. She has been insisting that they sit next to her at dinner, give her her bath, and read her her bed time stories. At this point I’m questioning whether she’ll even notice that Mommy and Daddy have gone to the hospital!

Speaking of Nicki, she is clearly understanding that the “baby in mommy’s belly” is going to come out soon. She points out all of the baby’s things. A couple of weeks ago when we were running late for daycare I asked her if she wanted to feed her baby doll, to keep her occupied while I got ready to go. She fetched her baby bottle and held it to my belly button to feed the baby in my belly. The last few days also been singing happy birthday. Grandma asked her whose birthday it was and Nicole pointed to my belly.

Even though we’re ready, there’s still a lot I want to do around the house before Ziggy arrives. A home is never finished I guess. I’m feeling well overall, but my energy level is low. I’m not expecting to be able to post much in the next few days or weeks.

November 15, 2014

Half Naked Maternity Photos


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Showing off the 39 week baby bump. I used the ios app Waterlogue to give it the effect of a water color painting, and to hopefully make the photo less objectionable to anyone out there who may object to half naked photos.

A little over two months ago I managed to take a pants-less maternity photo. It wasn’t intentional. I wanted to avoid the ugly full panel waste line in my photo so I opted to only wear an oversized sweater. I was using a camera tripod at the time, so I couldn’t see how I was framed before the photo, and ended up with a little bare leg. I loved it. There was something about showing a little skin that made me feel beautiful again, the kind of feeling I hadn’t really had since my last pregnancy.

39% of the maternity photos I’ve taken this time around have been sans pants.

I kept wondering what is it about being pantsless that made me feel better about my figure? If I’m pantsless you do get more of a sense of my figure. I’ve recommended form fitting clothes for maternity photography before. A while back I had read that women who gain a little weight tend to want to hide it with baggy clothes. But baggy hides all curves, which can actually give the illusion that you’re bigger than you actually are. I found that if I wore a t-shirt, it would hang off my chest or bump. You couldn’t always tell it was a baby bump under there. Coupled with baggy pants and you had no idea how big my hips and thighs were. Sometimes I just looked large. If I went sans pants in a photo, my legs looked really skinny beneath the giant belly. Or so I think, anyway.

I also found it somewhat empowering to show a little skin. I may be pregnant and have gained a bit of weight this time, but I’m still owning my figure. Confidence tends to photograph well.

The more I think about it the more it makes me a little sad that there’s such a stigma against taking even partially nude photos, even where you cannot see anything. There always seems to be the assumption that the intention is to take them for other people, to show off, or get the ‘wrong’ kind of attention. The photos I took made me feel great about myself at a time when I was otherwise self conscious. I have no intention of sharing any of them, besides the example above that has been significantly altered from it’s original form. I wouldn’t want anyone pressured out of taking a photo like this any more than I would want someone pressured into it. If your comfortable with it, and it will make you happy, go for it!

November 11, 2014

Creating a Battery Chart

Lily’s death is hitting me harder than I anticipated. It was easy enough to stay distracted over the weekend, but now that I’m home alone on maternity leave I keep thinking about my kitty. In an effort to stay distracted, I’m throwing myself into my nesting projects.

Over the weekend Nicole brought the phone from her play kitchen to me complaining that it was “broken”! The phone was still working, but the sound had faded. I expected the batteries were nearly drained from frequent use. Turns out they were starting to corrode! Back in our costco days we had stocked up on what seemed like a life time supply of batteries. That was over half a decade ago. The ones in the phone were just passing the expiration date. Thankfully I had removed the batteries from all of Nicole’s baby toys since inactivity is the fastest path to corrosion. But her current toys? I knew we had used batteries from those same costco giant packs, and now viewed them as ticking corrosion time bombs. So today I opened up every single battery powered toy to check. Fortunately no other batteries were starting to corrode, but I did through out some near expired ones. I know, so not frugal of me. Better than than lose the toy, though.

Since I didn’t want to go through this exercise every year, I decided to make a chart.

batterychart

Now I know approximately how many batteries are close to expiring. I can sort by date & type to get a sense of how many batteries I’ll need to stock my box with. Or at least a minimum count. I still expect that most batteries will be drained long before they reach their expiration.

November 7, 2014

Rest in Peace, Lily Monster


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Lily
July 2004 ~ November 7th, 2014

Our kitty cat, Lily, passed away today. This was not entirely unexpected. Her health had been declining for the past couple of years, but took a nose dive in early September.

Lily came into my life a little over a decade ago. She was being fostered by a friend of mine, who rescued her from a kill shelter. Lily, her brother and two sisters were dropped off at the shelter in a laundry basket. When my friend found them they were crying in hunger, standing in their own kibble, too young to know what to do with it. My foster friend was already overwhelmed with cats, but was drawn to Lily’s sister, Mona, who had a tear shaped mark by her eye. (Lily’s original name was Lisa – get it? har har.)

Lily was the playful one in the bunch, always on the go. Her foster needed to wrap her up in a blanket like a burrito so she’d sit still long enough to eat. Since then she has most definitely made up for lost time.

I fell head over heals for her quiet Meow and engine sized purr the first time I held her. My foster friend warned me that Lily would grow to be a monster sized cat. Her siblings and she toward over the other kittens, though they could tell by their teeth that Lily and her siblings were smaller. And did she ever grow! Lily stands taller than many small dogs, at over 12 inches to her shoulders.

She was the kind of cat who would purr if you just looked at her, and who would adore whoever pet her. I will miss my super friendly, monster sized cat with a v6 engine purr.

It’s finally here! November! This is the month we get to meet our little Ziggy. There is an outside chance that Ziggy could come in December, but she’d have to be extremely late – later than Nicole! I think Ziggy will be on the later side, just not that late. I still can’t believe that I’m already 37 weeks pregnant! Time has flown by.

I’m doing much better about tackling my pre-baby to-do list this time around. I think it helps that I was working, and am now on Maternity leave so I feel like I really should be doing something if I am staying home.

So far I’ve…

  • Installed Ziggy’s car seat, set up the diaper pail & changing pad, and organized all of Ziggy’s clothes.
  • Steam cleaned 2/3rds the apartment, cleaned both bathrooms and the kitchen floor & cabinets
  • Moved the bulk of my domains to a new registrar as I’ve grown disenchanted with my previous one and they were to expire *tomorrow*
  • Purchased and set up the new hard drive as I am, yet again, out of space due to being a trigger happy momtographer

I’ve been rearranging furniture so we once again look like we’re moving with stuff all over the place. At least this time should be easier and quicker getting everything put away. I do have to assemble Ziggy’s rock-n-play, but that shouldn’t take much time at all. The crib will take longer. Thankfully we’re not planning on using it for the first couple of months.

I’ve also purchased the last odds and ends we needed for Ziggy. We decided to take a different approach this time around. With Nicki we started with very little and I sent Domingo to the store to pick up anything additional we needed. It was a strategy that worked well, given we had two sets of hands and only one child. This time I am also leery of cold & flu season. Everyone has had their flu shot, but the shot isn’t perfect, and doesn’t protect against the common cold. I want to reduce possible exposure, as well as have as many helping hands home as possible. I ordered perhaps a few more sleepers and cool weather clothes than we’ll need, but I wanted to be prepared.

And of course, because it is November, I’ve been monitoring the Black Friday deals. The leapfrog 3 tablet we’re thinking of getting for Nicki is already reported to be 10% off at Walmart. Once the news came out, Amazon immediately dropped the price. I haven’t snapped one up yet. I suspect there will be a better deal before the shopping season is over.

I also suspect there will be some home goods deals we’ll be interested in. Target has a collection of the OXO pop top containers that we really like. I have a crazy suspicion it’ll be one of their deals. I haven’t seen it before, and when similar products have popped up a month or so before Black Friday there ended up being deals.

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Mommy’s Little Monster!

monster dance
Monster Dance!

monster hair whisps
I love those hair wisps Daddy is putting her monster “shoes” on her, which is why she is distracted.

I’m sure the time will come when she tires of “photo time”, but it doesn’t seem appear like that time will be any time soon, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

October 28, 2014

Maternity Silhouettes

In just two days I will be term, which means we’re rapidly coming to an end of the maternity photography window. Lack of free time and energy kept me away from my camera this time around, so I have fewer maternity photos, and definitely less variety. On the other hand, I’ve gotten much better with my camera. It takes me less practice shots to get some nice ones.

I really enjoyed doing silhouettes this time around, which is interesting given I was less pleased with my overall figure.


ziggysilhouette

ziggysilhouette2
Cloned out the blinds in this one.

Paying close attention to posture really helps with these. Slouching, even just a tad, made the photo look frumpy. I even started stretching as much as possible to elongate my torso and smooth out some of the *aheam* less baby related bumps.


ziggysilhouette3
A near duplicate of last week’s photo, but with less of a clubbed hand holding the remote.

The other thing I learned to pay close attention to was my metering. If I did matrix metering the camera would select the most well rounded exposure where the view out the window wasn’t getting blown out. Alas that meant I was very dark, and most of the detail, especially the detail in my face, was lost. Of course the goal is to photograph myself and my baby bump, not the traffic behind me. I started with spot exposure and increased it as necessary. (See, I am learning! Last time I just strived for over exposure, this time I didn’t sacrifice depth of field to do it!)

I wanted to do a photo like this. It strikes me as the photographic equivalent of a bump cast. Alas, I do not have barn doors lighting. I thought I could kludge together a solution using the spotlight trick. My thinking was to create a large differential in light between two rooms, then open the door just a crack to let a sliver of light spill out. So far no luck. Turns out professional photographers tend to buy expensive gear for a reason.

October 23, 2014

36/36?

36weekbump

Last pregnancy I wrote a blog post about reaching the 35/35 point – 35 weeks down, 35 days to go until the due date. If we were counting until Nicki’s arrival it would have been more like 36/36 for me. I had my today 36 week check up and my OB confirmed my suspicion: while anything can happen, the two pregnancies are not entirely independent events. I’m likely to go late again. It might be another 36/36.

Here are my thoughts for being mostly through a second pregnancy:

I know each pregnancy is different, but I am constantly surprised at the ways in which each pregnancy differs. I expected different cravings. Last time I couldn’t stand apples, this time I love them. I’ve also been more sensitive to food in general. Black beans were the coolest thing since sliced bread, pinto beans made me ill. It doesn’t matter how they were cooked, I couldn’t stand pinto beans. Wierd no? I was also prepared for different in utero personalities. Ziggy is still more of a roller than a kicker.

One of the big surprises was in how different my sleep would be. Last time I loved my boppy pregnancy pillow. I can’t remember when I started using it, but I used it every night throughout the third trimester at least. This time I haven’t had a comfortable night with it yet! I’ve tried a few times, and each time the boppy’s been thrown to the floor after just a few hours later. I sleep much better without it.

Although both pregnancies I still want to sleep on my back. It’s been hard to train myself not to.

I have no belly button! Kindda. I *think* it can still be classified as an innie, but it’s getting close. If I stretch the skin around my belly button a little it looks like a small “popped” button. I keep wondering if this means my belly button will actually pop soon. It never did with my first pregnancy. It did flatten out last time, but I think not until much closer to my due date. It does still remind me of soft spot in fruit, though.

In other changes, as of 34 weeks I barely fit into my pre pregnancy jeans, and these days not at all. I might if I was carrying higher, but I can no longer button my pants. At least I can still wear my wedding rings. It’s one of those things that doesn’t actually matter, but makes me happy.

Infant car seats are a lot easier with modern cars. Ain’t LATCH systems great?

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