First Trimester Screen

We had the First Trimester Screen ultrasound today…everything was great!  The odds of Down Syndrome or Trisomy (18 or 13) are 1/10,000. So far, it’s healthy. *sigh of relief* And we got to see “it” again, so that was awesome. We were able to get a 4D ultrasound, and I know it still looks alien, but it’s cool nevertheless!

The heart rate was 176, and the baby was bouncing all around (even though I couldn’t feel it). But they refused to guess the sex…so I’m pretty bummed. =( I really wanted to know before my hubbs left! BUT I scheduled a private ultrasound to determine the sex of the baby…they guarantee accuracy at 16 weeks! April 2nd is the big day! =)

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You spent $1,000 on a…WHAT?!?

Yes, it’s true. As I alluded to in this post, we got a 2012 Bugaboo Cameleon! (Pictured below is the color scheme we got.) If you don’t know anything about these strollers, it’s probably because they start at $979 brand new. Which is insane. I mean, who spends that much on a stroller?! That’s a lot of dough. It’s pretty sweet though…just look at it. But you know who turned me on to it? My momma. Bugaboo

You see, before McKenzie was born, my mom practically begged to buy us this stroller. She thought it was super cool. Awesome even. But I vehemently opposed the purchase of a $1,000 stroller.  I was like, “Geez Mom…for that price, would you please just buy the entire bedroom set AND a cheaper stroller/car-seat set?” But at the time, I wasn’t personally aware of the awesomeness that is the Bugaboo Cam. Until now.

When we found out about Baby #2, I started thinking about strollers immediately, so of course my mind drifted to the Bugaboo, which my mom had liked so much. I did TONS of research. Read hundreds of reviews. Etc. And I came to the same conclusion: it’s pretty awesome. It has a sweet bassinet (w/ a foam mattress!). It’s car-seat compatible. It can be forward or rear-facing. It has 6 different positions. Adjustable suspension (no kidding!). Heavy-duty foam tires. A reversible, height-adjustable handlebar. On top of all that, it’s relatively compact, and everything is machine washable…and according to the legends, you can push this bad-boy with one hand, no problem.

McKenzie will be 5 by the time the baby is born…which, I’ve decided, is a little old to be using a stroller…don’t you think? So I quickly ruled out double strollers. ((As a hilarious side-note, check out www.toobigforstroller.com for photographic evidence of this phenomena, if you could use a laugh.)) BUT, that said, if I’m going on a long, work-out-style walk, it might be too far for her little legs. Enter: the Bugaboo’s roller-board! I had never heard of these…but it folds up or detaches easily when not in-use…the perfect solution to my problem! I can still use a single stroller, but my kindergartener can ride along if she’s tired. Brilliant.

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Anyway, so I decided to go ahead with my Mom-inspired purchase, but I was still completely opposed to paying full-price. No freakin’ way am I dropping $1,000 on a stroller. So I began obsessively checking Craigslist and eBay. Unfortunately, not a lot of people in Madison, WI (or even Milwaukee) use Bugaboo strollers. And on eBay, they were pretty beat-up. Then, I had a genius idea: my step-dad lives in Orange County, California…so I searched the Craigslist there, and there were pages of Bugaboo listings. Score!

I kept my eye on them, and found a 2012 stroller, listed for $450 with car seat adapter + other accessories included. My lovely step-dad swooped over and scooped it up at my request…and after some bargaining, the final price was $375!  It’s still a lot for a stroller (I know), but we didn’t spend $1,000 on it. We managed to get a *mint* condition Bugaboo Cam for almost 65% off. I’m stoked, and I can’t wait to push Baby #2 around in it! And the best part is: I know my momma would approve. ;)

“Masking Tape Racetrack” & Some Other Things

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McKenzie doesn’t have school (4K) on Mondays, and I can never figure out what to do during the day. The Children’s Museum is closed on Mondays. It’s snowy and crappy outside. What do I DO? Urgh. I’ve been taking her to the mall (across the street) to play on the kiddie playground inside. It feels so…trashy. Anyway, I remembered seeing this idea on Pinterest (don’t know where), and decided to give it a shot. The “Masking Tape Racetrack” was a hit! Hours of entertainment with her MatchBox cars. Tomorrow we’re going to build a town with her wooden blocks and set up some train tracks nearby. She can entertain herself with imagination play for hours. =) *Note: I used regular masking tape & a black Sharpie marker…I triple checked and it did NOT bleed through. And it’s super easy to peel off!*

6 Other Things in My Day:

  1. A moment of nervousness: We had Part I of our “First Trimester Screen” for Baby #2 this morning. Just some blood-work and informational stuff. It made me nervous though. Just thinking something could be wrong with the baby. Ya know? When I was pregnant with McKenzie, one of the blood tests came back showing a higher risk for Down Syndrome (her odds were 1/180…which was very high for being age 21 at the time). We opted not to have the CVS or Amniocentesis done with her, but I was nervous the whole time. The first thing I asked when she was born was, “Is she okay?” Of course, she was fine. But if one of the tests is flagged this time around, I might opt for the CVS or Amnio simply to have the peace of mind. Hopefully it’s a non-issue.
  2. A moment of disappointment: At the aforementioned appointment, they dashed my hopes of finding out the sex at the ultrasound on March 7th. BOO! I hear there’s a private ultrasound center that will do it for like $65, so maybe it’s worth it? I know it’s still early, but I really want to know before Jon leaves (if we can). Did anyone have accurate results early? =/
  3. A moment of hilariousness: Today we saw a homeless man walking down the road while we were driving by our local grocery store, and McKenzie said, “Look Momma, I think it’s a ZOMBIE!” Oh. My. God. I laughed SO HARD! [[She was dead serious though…so we had a long talk about homelessness, mental health, and addiction. And yes, I really did that with my 4-year-old (with age-appropriate dialogue, of course). I firmly believe honesty is the best policy, and sheltering her will only make her naïve. It was an excellent “teachable moment” and I don’t think it’s ever to early to start reinforcing the dangers of drugs and alcohol. She’s gonna be a realist!]]
  4. A moment of elation: Vincenzo is GONE! Hellz-to-the-YEAH! I confirmed with property management that his sister removed him from the premises on Saturday. It’s so much quieter already. And his name is gone from the mailbox and everything! Woo! It made me a little giddy. ;)
  5. An update:  Cali’s tail is completely healed! The tip is growing hair, and it almost looks normal again…even though half is shaved. (That’s what she said! Haha.) Anyhow, it doesn’t look too weird either…I guess her tail was super-long, because two inches is barely noticeable. =)
  6. A future post: I know it’s long overdue, but my next post will be about my awesome new stroller, although I don’t physically have it in my possession yet. And don’t worry, I didn’t pay full price…not even close. I’ll let ya know how I pulled that off, too. ;) And I’ll explain my emotionally-motivated rationale for choosing this particular stroller in the first place (other than the fact it’s the Rolls Royce of strollers). Have a great week, everyone!

A family of feet.

AltfeatherFBCoverPhotoI haven’t had a [paid] photo session lately…since October actually! I’ve been trying to spend as much time with my hubbs as possible before he leaves. I forgot how much I enjoy what I do! =) We took the “foot photo” at my client’s suggestion (a Pinterest inspiration), I think it was a particularly fun shot.

In other news, I’ll be 11 weeks tomorrow, and baby #2 has been giving me grief…I am so disgusted by foods I usually love. And I crave fruit. And calamari…mmmmm…I’m salivating just typing that. But to be honest, other than my intense aversions/cravings, I don’t really feel pregnant. My “bump” is a slightly more pronounced (my hubbs can tell), and thankfully I’m not as tired as I was a few weeks ago. We have the first part of our prenatal screen on Monday, with the ultrasound on March 7th…I can’t wait to see how much our dear little fetus has grown…I REALLY want to find out the sex at that appointment (if we can)! I’m dying to know.

Enjoy the rest of your weekends everyone!

Drama, drama, drama. And gunshots.

So. There was a motherf*cking SHOOTING outside our condo Wednesday night. What. The. F*ck. Some lovely Police gentlemen woke us up at midnight, asking us if we’d heard the gunshot. That was interesting…try falling back asleep after that one. So that was my week for ya.

We don’t live in the best neighborhood in the world, but it is certainly NOT bad by any means. We own our condo. It’s nice. We have nice neighbors, except for one: to me, he looks like this, and I have code-named him Vincenzo:monsterGet the idea? Certified creeper. Word on the street is that Vincenzo’s a heroin addict, hailing from the projects in Chicago. I’m serious. In June he started his apartment on fire because he left “something” cooking on the stove and went to a friend’s house. According to his records, he has been arrested for pan-handling and the manufacture/intent to distribute cocaine. He has solicited us for money, and I’m fairly certain he’s a drug dealer (based on the multiple cars/”guests” he has at his apartment on a given day). Given his record, it’s not a stretch. Here’s the kicker: he’s almost 60. Oh, and once he found my phone outside & tried to sell it back to me. Quality person, no doubt.

How is Vincenzo still living here, you ask? Well. He lives in a condo owned by his sister, who lives out-of-state. Rent-free. He doesn’t work. He just “chills” with his “associates” all day and buys 40’s from the gas station at 9am. No judgement. Ha! A real winner. But of course (he thinks) it’s because he’s black…never mind his shady behavior, or the fact that we have other African American neighbors with whom we have great relationships.

Anyhow, despite my many complaints and letters to the management company (even citing specific dates/incidents), there’s not a whole lot they can do about someone having too many “guests.” Would I care if he were having company over for a lovely dinner party?? No. Am I the only one who has expressed discomfort at his presence in our building? No.

Well this drug-related shooting has hopefully sealed his fate…at least for him maintaining a residence here. The management company received MULTIPLE complaints in the morning. I guess people don’t like the police waking them up in the middle of the night with questions about a shooting? Whether or not he was the shooter, the target, or it was one of his “associates,” I politely informed the management company that his behavior and “associates” are directly affecting the quality of life for the whole building and it’s unacceptable.

In happier news, we got to hear Baby #2’s heartbeat on Wednesday! Strong at 150 beats per minute. And I got my dream stroller…but more on that another day. =)

Crunch Time

Valentine's 2013 FlowersWe had a great Valentine’s Day! I woke up to not one, but two beautiful flower arrangements & a sweet note from my wonderful husband. Our romantic evening in Milwaukee was so much fun (although, let’s be honest: the February horse-drawn carriage ride in Wisconsin was a little torturous). As expected, the food was amazing, and we had a beautiful river-view from our hotel room. I would say dinner was the highlight…we got to order whatever we wanted off the menu! Whatever. We. Wanted. I didn’t snap any pictures because I wanted to feel “present” in the moment with Jon, so my apologies (or not). We really did have a great time.

On that note, it’s crunch time: Jon leaves for the Army 3 weeks from today. It’s getting so close! I do a really good job of NOT thinking about things until they’re here…I think it’s a protective mechanism for me, but it helps me to enjoy the moments we still have without anxiety about the future. So overall, I think it’s a good thing. It won’t be real until we get back to the empty house without him. =( I figure we won’t see him for about 3 months. While he’s training, I plan on staying busy with McKenzie and going on a few trips.

As I mentioned in this post, my sister and her husband are closing on their first home on March 15th, so we’ll definitely make the trek to Minnesota to visit them and see the new place. I’m super excited for them. Any good housewarming gift ideas? We also plan on visiting my step-dad (Grandpa Jeff) in Laguna Niguel, California. Not a bad place to visit! He loves taking us out on his boat to see dolphins, seals, & whales on the weekends. We were out there for McKenzie’s birthday in August, and we always have a blast.

In other news, I have another doctor’s appointment this week. I’m hoping we’ll get to hear the little peanut’s heartbeat.7wks4days

 

Raising Children: The Power of Positive

I have a confession: we rarely say “no” to McKenzie. Now, that’s not to say we let her do whatever she wants…that would not fly. BUT according to one UCLA study, the average 1-year-old hears “no” more than 400 times a day. That’s a lot! And that really stuck with me. So for us, instead of focusing on what she can’t do, we focus on what is acceptable behavior. We make a concerted effort to be positive, and I think it’s made a huge difference in her life! She has a very positive attitude, and now that she’s more independent she needs less direction. And isn’t that our goal as parents? To raise happy, self-directed children?

FBHeaderSunsetNow, of course kids need tough guidance here and there (especially where their safety is concerned), but it can easily be achieved without saying “no.” When she was younger, we’d simply say, “We don’t do that, let’s do this instead…” (redirect) but now that she’s older we’ll ask, “Do we do that? Is that acceptable behavior?…Why not?” And she answers us every time.

Another example is, “We don’t do that, because we could get really hurt if we play with the stove. It doesn’t feel good to be hurt, does it?” Yes, we actually say that…sometimes harshly. We are still firm, but instead of yelling “No, no, no,” she understands why. ((Adding the “because” also does an excellent job staving off the “why?” stage…because you’ve already answered the question.))Positive-Thinking1

Other times, when she asks for candy, a toy, or something else, instead of saying “no,” we’ll reply, “Oh, of course you can have it! After your nap/After lunch/After you clean your room/Tomorrow after school/etc.” Sometimes she fusses, but she responds very differently than she would to a flat-out “no.” And any ensuing argument is quickly remedied by, “Well would you like ______ after school, or not? We don’t reward this kind of behavior.” By responding to her requests in a positive way, she knows that she will eventually get what she wants, which in turn teaches her the importance of delayed gratification (for a fascinating Stanford Study on children, linking delayed gratification and future life success read this Wiki article).

And you may have noticed we really focus on her behavior. It makes me sad when I hear a parent say, “You’re a bad boy,” or “You’re a naughty girl.” To a degree, children internalize those words, so I think it’s really important for parents to emphasize that it’s the behavior & actions that are “bad” or unacceptable, and that doesn’t make the child “bad.” After all, every child misbehaves. Now, of course there’s something to be said about “Nature & Nurture”…obviously each individual has predispositions. BUT, I firmly believe that the way we interact with McKenzie influences her behavior in a positive way. It’s simple to change small words we use with our children to create a more positive environment.

I have an obsession with seat belts.

Maybe it started when I was little…my dad would routinely say, “You will die if you do not wear your seat belt.” (Well, that’s an attorney for ya…he also told us we couldn’t have a tree house because it was a “liability.” And in case you’re wondering, my first sentence was: “Daddy, will you buy me an irrevocable trust.” Truth.) So perhaps that’s the origin of my obsession? I don’t know. All I know is this: McKenzie must ALWAYS be buckled in properly. Always. And I always wear my seat belt.

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Why would I do anything to jeopardize the life of this precious little girl? (The chest clip here is even a little low for my taste…I’d move it up an inch.)

I absolutely CRINGE when people post “cute” photos on Facebook of their children in their carseats sleeping and their 5-point harness is buckled wrong. Oh. My. God. CRINGE. All I can think is, “Seriously?!?! Do you want your child to die?!” Now, perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic…but am I?

According to the CDC’s Child Passenger Safety Fact Sheet, “Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States.” Furthermore, “Child restraint systems are often used incorrectly. One study found that 72% of 3,500 observed car and booster seats were misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child’s risk of injury during a crash.” To translate: nearly 3 out of 4 children are not buckled in properly.

So maybe I’m not overreacting? Parents.com made a list of 8 Common Carseat Mistakes to Avoid. My biggest pet peeves are: #3 Infant turned forward-facing too soon (American Association of Pediatrics recommends 2 years! Better a broken leg than a broken neck.) and #5 Using the retainer clip incorrectly (“The retainer clip should be at armpit level, resting across your child’s breastbone. The clip assures that the harness straps are in the right place. When the retainer clip is in the wrong place, the straps can easily slip off a child’s shoulders, and the child is at risk of being ejected from her seat in a crash.”)

Two more facts for ya: The safest spot in the car is the center seat in the back (next is the rear-passenger seat), and children are not supposed to wear coats in their carseats (although I have been known to break this rule, I’m not perfect).

Sometimes McKenzie says that the clip is choking her…but I know it’s not. I’d rather have her be safe & uncomfortable than the alternative. And she gets over it quickly.

Sorry for the lecture. But not really. Keep your kiddos safe. Proof I practice what I preach:

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Big News!!!

For those of you who haven’t already seen via Facebook…we’re expecting baby #2! I’m 7 weeks 4 days, so it’s still very early…but we had an ultrasound today and everything looked perfect, with a steady heartbeat of 167. It made it so real to see it, especially for Jon, but for me too. We’re all very excited! In the pic below, the little bean floating in the black area is the baby. The top of the little bean is the head, and the white spot is the eye. It’s measuring perfectly, so they confirmed my due date of September 15th, 2013.7wks4days

And McKenzie is over-the-moon…she is so excited to be a big sister! Every morning she asks, “Is the baby snoring?” It’s adorable. She will be 5 by the time the baby is born, so I think I’ll have a pretty awesome little helper. I’m so glad we waited longer before having a 2nd, the timing is really great for us. =)

IMG_1120bwWe had already told our families, but to make the pregnancy “public” (aka: a Facebook post), I had this photo-shoot with McKenzie in her new “Big Sister” shirt. Her bedroom walls are purple, so it worked out nicely! I like how they turned out. =) I was excited to find a cute shirt, because sometimes I think the shirts like that are a little too “kiddie” looking.

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As for me, I’m feeling pretty well for the most part, just super tired. And most foods sound gross…I haven’t gotten sick, but I’m definitely queasy. I’ll wait too long to eat (until I’m overly hungry), and then nothing sounds good and my empty stomach is upset. I’ll usually just end up having a few crackers. And one night I had wicked heartburn, which I never had with McKenzie. Nothing too terrible though, it could be worse.

For those of you who are curious: yes, we plan on finding out the sex of the baby (I’m too impatient not to know!). To be honest, I’m sorta hoping for a boy because I think one of each would be pretty awesome…but hey, if it’s a girl we can reuse all McKenzie’s stuff so that would be awesome too. Either way, we were so excited to see the little heartbeat today, and we can’t wait to meet “it”!

So tell me, y’all, are 2 kiddos a lot crazier than 1? Were your 2nd pregnancies different than the first?

It’s true: I’m a fish murderer.

Yes, I’m a fish murderer. Oh goodness, that sounds bad. Perhaps “killer” is more appropriate…after all, “murderer” implies malicious intent, and it was really a complete accident…both times. What’s worse is that they were both McKenzie’s beloved fish. *sigh*

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Hanky

So here’s the scoop: First we had “Hanky” (January 2012-June 2012). He was a lovely purple Betta that McKenzie and I rescued from Wal-Mart…he was on the verge of death quite pathetic looking, and we nursed him back to health. He loved us and would swim up to us whenever we came in the room. Then came our vacation in June…we completely forgot all about him! McKenzie went to stay with her Nina (grandma) for a week, and poor Hanky was sadly forgotten. We quickly realized our mistake and went to check on him as soon as we got home…here’s the kicker: HE LIVED! He only died after I overfed him and he binged…so my friends, do not feed a starved fish 10 pellets. It kills them. After soothing McKenzie’s many tears, we had a lovely funeral and he was flushed ceremoniously. RIP Hanky.

About a week later we went to Wal-Mart again, and this time we rescued a lovely blue Betta, whom McKenzie aptly named “Blue” (June 2012-January 2013). Now, Blue was not as nice as Hanky…he would hide from us when we’d try to peer in his bowl, but McKenzie loved him all the same. Two weeks ago, when Jon and I went to Mexico, we actually remembered him! We brought him to Nina’s this time, and Nina put him in her large tank with other fish. Blue loved the warm, temperature-regulated water and was very active and uncharacteristically friendly. When we got back, he was fine! His fins were a little bit nibbled by the other fish, but I googled it did some research, and according to what I read he should’ve healed within a month.

So, after getting back to our house I decided to wash Blue’s bowl because it was filthy. I got the water really hot and scrubbed away (can you guess what happened?!). Now, I’m not sure if my hands were just really hot from washing the bowl, because I triple-checked the water before I put him in…it felt cool to me, I swear! But alas, it was scalding. I poured him in and he swam one tortured, “I’m burning alive!” lap around the bowl and dropped dead. Oh goodness, I felt SO bad. McKenzie was hysterical, because I screamed “No, Blue!!!” and tried to get him out right away…so she figured it out pretty quickly. As with Hanky, we had a lovely funeral for Blue. And we even blew out a candle. RIP Blue.

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McKenzie & Norman

A couple days later, McKenzie and I went and got our 3rd Betta, “Norman” from PetSmart. McKenzie picked him out all by herself. He’s a pretty, iridescent white (although admittedly, I was trying to urge her towards a beautiful red one, yet she still insisted on Norman). He’s is a super friendly little guy, we really like him a lot. I will make a point of having better luck with him! I also got a new 2 gallon tank for him, with a light and an aerator/filter…it was only $19.99, so I thought that was pretty good. As an added bonus, it also functions as a night-light in McKenzie’s room. Score.

So, I will definitely make Norman last longer than 6 months. I’m hoping that my vicious, fish-killing cycle will be broken with this little guy. Wish me luck! Have you ever had an “oops!” experience with a pet?