Early Nesting

At 21+ weeks, I am on the (what I like to say is) the better side of my pregnancy.. closer to the end!  While I know that many women either enjoy or at least don’t mind being pregnant, I cannot say that I am one of them.  Morning sickness has plagued me throughout each of my three pregnancies, and sore joints seem to kick in fairly early.  Overall, I have to say this is possibly my easiest pregnancy in the fact that my symptoms do not seem as severe.  This could be because it’s a girl, it could be because I am chasing around 2 toddlers, but my guess is that it’s easier because my body knows a little more of what to expect.

With exhaustion still hanging on tight, I was shocked to have a few bursts of energy and even (gasp) creativity lately!  I think this is all some form of early nesting, my body realizing that it could be a little over 3 months until little G could safely make her entrance (we’d like that to be closer to 4 but baby’s are stubborn so maybe it’ll be more like 5)!

I’ve been cleaning things that rarely are on the cleaning list.  Just 2 weeks ago I grabbed a bucket and a cloth and scrubbed all of my kitchen cabinets, baseboards, and floors, which was no easy task considering the size of my kitchen (and yes, when it’s remodeled it’ll be even bigger and I cannot wait).  They look beautiful and shiny now!  I’ve done my best to clean other baseboards throughout the house, which is frustrating for me at this point, because the beautiful old woodwork in our home is all painted white.  Eventually it will be stripped to it’s natural color, but that’s a task for another summer!  And the windows.  Even though it’s pretty futile with sticky hands in the house, I’ve done my best to clean handprints off of the inside and dirt off of the outside of our windows!

So with the conclusion of the weekend, I decided it was time to break into the baby items.  When we found out that G was to be a girl, I separated out the clothing we would and would not be using.  Through the help of some local Facebook yard sale groups, I’ve managed to sell all of the clothing we are not using in 3 days!!  I was so excited!  Last evening, I broke into the toys and other baby items, further organizing to make it easier on my husband to bring down the stairs, and further separating so that I can join a friend in her yard sale this weekend.

The results are astonishing.  I have emptied 3+ totes of clothing (and purchased a few items of course) and if I’m able to sell a majority of the items I have out for this weekend, I am thinking that I’ll donate the remainder to a local shelter and/or our church.  It feels so incredible to have SPACE even if it is only in the attic for now.  It also felt a little sad to realize that by this time next year, I’ll have a lot more baby items that will be up for sale since G should be finished using them.  In less than 4 years we’ll have made the transition from no children, to completing our family of 5.. which seems impossible in the abstract!

Now my next task is to create a fun new room for D1 and D2 to share (construction and truck themed, I can’t wait!), and turn D2’s room into G’s room.  This seems like a lot to get done in the next 18 or less weeks!!

Naming Your Baby

It’s a huge responsibility to name a person.  Think about that for a minute.. you’re giving a person the name that will appear on their drivers license, resume, and probably a wedding invitation some day.  You’re giving a person a name.

And it’s hard.  Anyone who’s done it can tell you.  Some people have names picked out their whole lives, only to find out their spouse doesn’t like the name, or it doesn’t fit the personality you feel growing in your belly.  With the arrival of our latest addition in roughly 18 weeks (or hopefully a little less), we already have a name picked out for her.  So I wanted to share a little of how each one of our people received their names.

D1: As soon as the second line appeared on the stick (which was pretty quickly), my thought was “we have to pick out a boy name.”  We had actually already made a list of about 10 long on the boy and girl side of things we liked, because I had an inkling that we might be expecting a few days before.  At 17 weeks, we found out that he was in fact a he, and by then we had his name picked out.  His first name is all his own, one that I saw and just suggested one day- and daddy liked it.  We had found others that we may have liked, but this one just was the one.  So from 17 weeks on, he was who he was.  At the moment he was delivered, when the doctor held him up for me to see, it was like staring into the eyes of someone I had known my whole life.  He was a little angry (and making the cutest mad looking face), but he was as precious as could be.  He was exactly as I had pictured him; he looked (and still does) quite a lot like his father.  But his name, was a perfect fit.

D2: We had such a hard time coming up with a boy’s name we could agree on.  We found out at 22 weeks that we were expecting another boy, and before then I can honestly say I was clueless as to what we were having- I just wasn’t sure.  He was so mellow and easier on me than his brother had been.  We decided on a girls name, and had a list of a few boys names that we liked- the top one at the time being Jonathan.  But after the ultrasound, looking at the 3D generated pictures, we knew that the name just didn’t fit.  He went without a name for awhile, until one day I stumbled upon his name.  I tried it out for awhile, but still wasn’t 100% sure if it was perfect for him.  When I had him, it was 4:04am and I was exhausted.  After he had been tended to and I had showered, the doctor and nurses had cleared, and daddy went home to get some sleep.  I napped for a little while, and in those later morning hours, around 7am, before there was much going on, I just sat and stared at him.  He had these perfectly chubby cheeks and full lips.  At first glance I had thought he looked like D1, but staring at him now, he looked completely different from his brother.  I was instantly smitten with this little boy and without hesitation whispered his name when I said “I love you”.. and it just fit.

G: This little girl I am carrying now actually inherited the name we had chosen if D2 would have been a girl.  We fell head over heels with the name when we picked it, and I had a feeling that we would get to use down the road.  Before the pregnancy test turned positive this time, I saw it; I was shaking so much that I couldn’t even hold it still!  I had known for almost a week that I was expecting but it had been too early to take a test until that day.  And as clear as I saw the line before it was there, I also knew she was a girl.  So from the very beginning, she’s been referred to as her name in my mind and her personality fits!

It’s incredible how when you know your baby as well as a mother does, and when you see them, that you just know you’ve made the right decision.  I don’t really think we pick their names.. I think they pick them and let us take the credit!

How did you pick your baby names, fellow supermom?

When Your Friend Has a Baby..

When your friend (or sister, coworker, cousin, etc) has a baby, sometimes we can’t get enough time with the new little squeeze.  They’re new, cute, and have that new baby smell (yeah, you know what I’m talking about).  We’re so excited to spend time loving on that little baby, that we often forget, or possibly just don’t know quite yet, what it’s like to be a new mommy.  So I am here to offer you some advice on how to treat a new mommy and the do’s and don’ts of visiting in those early weeks, for new moms and those in their lives.

  • Respect mommy’s requests for privacy.  Some moms I know wanted nothing but to be at home and settling in with the new baby, and to do so in private, until they announced they were ready for visitors.  If this is you- speak up!!  Visitors always mean well, and sometimes they don’t realize that they’re intruding while you’re trying to breastfeed or catch some extra sleep.  So tell people if you don’t want them stopping by for the first week, or put out a courteous “call/text before you stop by” and don’t be afraid to ignore some of those requests if you just aren’t up for guests.  Lock the door, and put a note out letting people know you’re just not ready for visitors.
  • …or mommy’s requests for visitors!  I was one of those moms who was eager to share my little squeezes with family and friends.  I enjoyed having friends and family visit, as long as I knew they were coming of course, and almost felt a little hurt when I didn’t hear from someone.  Of course, these people were just being courteous and giving us some space.  (But I’m telling you for this time- please come visit!)
  • Bring a meal, a snack, a treat!  Mom’s tired and even if she’s like me and overly prepared with meals prepped for a month, sometimes the will to cook just isn’t there.  The one person mom (especially of baby 2+) is neglecting a little, is herself.  So ask what she’d like for lunch, or if you can grab her a soda or a favorite candy bar.  She’ll be forever grateful.
  • Don’t judge her house.. or her.  Sometimes new mom might smell a little funky.  She doesn’t quite realize that the baby spit up in her hair, and she might have forgotten to brush her teeth that morning.  The dishes in the sink might be piling high, and there’s probably laundry on the couch.  Dad is doing is best to pull extra duty at home, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.  So pretend you don’t notice.  After all, if you haven’t been there yet, chances are you will be some day!
  • Speaking of those dishes.. Don’t hesitate to put some dishes in the dishwasher, or fold some shirts while you’re chatting.  This one is more for family, and I have to say- our family was incredible when it came to helping out.  And at the time, I usually didn’t even notice in my sleep deprived state, that someone was folding my laundry, but I sure realized it (and thanked them many times over) later.
  • Offer to let mom get a shower while you hold the baby.  This might seem silly, and it did to me before I had D1.  But I can remember when my best friend came to visit and asked if I needed anything, and I said I would just absolutely love a shower.  I wasn’t comfortable enough leaving him in his room, because I was worried he would wake as soon as I got my hair wet, and then I would be a frazzled mess.  She snuggled him while I took 20 minutes to myself, and I still remember how amazing that was.
  • If mom is now mom to more than one, pay extra attention to the sibling(s).  We all know you want to get your hands on that baby, but the thing mom is worrying about most is that her other little ducklings are still feeling the love.  Playing with, reading to, or fixing a sandwich for one of the other kids in the house will take just a little stress off of mom and let her know that you love each of her little ones just as much as she does.

All in all, respect what mom needs.  Think about what you would want/feel if it were you in her shoes.  And if you’re just not sure- don’t ever be afraid to ask.  Trust me, she’ll tell you!

Off to the Potty!!

Everyone told me potty training can be hard.  Everyone told me boys are harder than girls.  Well, of course it’s going to be hard to teach my tiny humans to suddenly stop peeing while playing and- stop, tell mommy they have to go, get to the potty, and complete the process in the proper place.  And as to the “boys are harder than girls”- I say every kid is different, period.

So a few weeks ago (maybe a little longer), we decided that we were going to begin potty training D2.  He showed us that he was most certainly ready in more ways than one.  Since then, we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs.  We haven’t really pushed him to go, and some days have been marginally better than others.  We’ve made trips to the grocery store and home in dry pants, and barely made it to lunch without getting back into a diaper.  But today, I think he’s finally turned the corner to success!!

This morning once we got breakfast started, off with the diaper we went.  I don’t really monitor him the first hour or even two in the morning, since he’s gone roughly 12 hours with no fluids.  But around that 2 hour mark, he told me he had to pee.  So I put him in the bathroom, on the potty (he refuses to use the baby potty, so ok..) and he went!!  Yay!  No prompting from mommy!  He got his candy (yes, I like the reward system) and back to playing.  About 45 minutes later, he did it again, and about a half hour after that!  I am so excited for him!!

This will probably be my last potty training post since I feel like it’s a bit of an overshare.  But I wanted to say that I really thought for awhile that D1 had “spoiled” us with being so easy.  It turns out that D2 really is as well, we just hadn’t hit the right time for him (even though he had every readiness sign in the book and more).  So if you’re currently struggling a little with potty training, I recommend taking a step back and stressing a little less.  Make it more of an “if they want to go they can” rather than an “ok we are doing this today” attitude.  If they have the idea, they’ll tell you exactly when they’re ready to GO!

Canning Supplies

I’ve been writing a lot recently about summer preserving (Post 1 and Post 2).  I have had a blast, and knowing that we will be able to enjoy all of these great fruits and veggies after their long gone from the farms, is a great thought!

When I was looking over all of my canning supplies, I realized that it would be helpful to put together a list of the things you need to begin canning!  It took me quite a few trips to various stores and a few months of canning to come up with everything I needed (and maybe down the road there will be something else I decide to add to my collection).  So far, here is what I have:

  • The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (find it here on Amazon!)
  • Jars, lids and bands.  Jars can be used from year to year; bands will be able to be used for several years unless they’re damaged.  Jars all come with lids and bands; after your first year, you’ll need more lids- they are to be disposed of once you open and empty a jar of canned goods.
  • Canner.  I opted for a pressure canner, that I also use to can items that are not “pressure” canned.  I have a Presto and I love it!  It came with a rack and the pressure gauges; it holds 7 quarts or 10 pints.  The particular one I have works well on my electric flat top stove, which is something to consider when you’re purchasing.  If you have an electric stove- you should have a canner that sits flatly on the burner, and does not sit on the area around the burner.  I have not had any issues canning or pressure canning on electric.  Eventually, I think I’ll convert to a gas stove, and my canner can most certainly be used with gas as well.
  • Sterilization pans- I use a large frying pan with water and turn my jars upside down to sterilize the jars, and a small saucepan to sterilize/heat my lids.  Most books recommend submerging your jars in your canner to sterilize, but as I’ve mentioned before, I use a combination of the older tried and true methods, and the new ones ;)
  • Spices.  Check the recipe of what you’ll be canning- from the veggie or fruit down to the spices (and usually vinegar).  And make sure to make a note of how much!  Vinegars could be white or apple cider and they’re usually one of your biggest components, along with sugar and canning/pickling salt.  Personally, there were at 10-15 or maybe more spices that I accumulated in my first weeks of canning that I didn’t typically have on hand!
  • A few specialty canning supplies that I highly recommend having are a jar lifter, a magnetic grabber for your lids, a funnel, cheesecloth, a chinois (if you’re making jelly), and a jar tightener/opener.
  • Other common household items to have on hand include a kitchen towel (or two), timer, pot holders, a large bowl for holding sliced/peeled items, a food processor if you’re making anything that requires you to slice, and damp paper towels (for wiping the rim of the jar after filling, before placing the lid/band).

It seems like a lot writing it all down, but the items that are canning specific are usually the only items that you don’t already have lying around!  And some things are more just nice to have (food processor) versus and actual necessity.

I hope you find this list useful if you’re just starting out.. and if you’re a seasoned pro (which I wouldn’t call myself just yet), is there anything I missed?!

Adventures in Summer Preserving (2)

As I mentioned last week, the summer fruit and veggie season are in full swing here in my area of Pennsylvania. In the last day and a half, I have canned and frozen everything from my garden and our local Amish farms that I could imagine doing for the next two weeks. I am absolutely exhausted (but this will save me stress next week when I am anxiously preparing for my best friends bridal shower)! So in the last day and a half, here is what I have done.. 3 batches (6-7 quarts each) of pickles- quick process sweet pickles, quick process dill pickles, and from scratch garlic dill pickles. I have one more batch brining at the moment, which will me made into bread and butter pickles tonight. Sauerkraut. This is a process and started by shredded 9 heads of cabbage and layering it with picking salt in a large (5+ gallon) container; it will sit for 2-6 weeks before it can be canned! This is my first sauerkraut experience so I will be excited to see how it turns out. Green beans. These I canned and blanched; in total I canned 7 quarts and 10 pints, and blanched roughly 15 quarts. And finally, sweet corn. We started with a little under 4 dozen, cut it off the cob, heated in a roaster until it was just hot, then dumped it into a bowl in the sink surrounded by ice water. Then it was bagged and frozen. The idea behind this particular process is that it locks in the juices and flavor without losing anything because it never actually touches water! Of course, I froze 2 more quarts of blueberries for D2 as well, because they are one of his favorites! I think I will have a break for the next 10+ days until peaches are in, and around that time the green beans will need picked again and hopefully the tomatoes will start to ripen and I can start my sauce. Am I forgetting anything? Probably.. Like I said, I am one sleepy lady!