Becoming A Dad Of Two

I really hope that you all are enjoying this guest post series here in honor our new baby’s arrival to this world. Just in case you were wondering, Brielle LaRue was born on February 6th at 5:11am. She’s been such a beautiful, delightful dream for my entire family. JR has warmed up nicely to the idea of being a big brother and I’ve been enjoying this family moon of sorts since my husband has been home taking care of things as I recover and adjust. We weren’t sure what our baby’s gender would be so Brielle was such a pleasant surprise.

About two months ago Eli from Coach Daddy published a guest post by me where I shared my thoughts on how I would feel if I had a daughter. It feels surreal that I am now getting that opportunity. With that post in mind, I couldn’t pass up having Eli share about what it was like becoming a dad of two. I miss everyone so much. I hope to get around to visit all of you soon. Thank you for your support on these posts. Without further ado, here is Eli:

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photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

My days as a one-kid dad are like ancient history.

Now, life includes three daughters – now 10, 14 and 17. They raise noise and raid the fridge. Our lives are a beautiful cacophony of laughs and scuffles and about 17,000 other events. It is familiar music and songs I can’t stand. It is shower singing and a few arguments and an occasional scream for help.

The transition from two-kid to three-kid family is easy.

The considerable jump was from one to two.

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The plan was always for more than one kid. We’d envisioned as many as four. I’d come home way past midnight from work. After editing sports in the city edition of the local paper, I’d find Elise waiting for me at home. She was wide-eyed, having exhausted her mom, with no immediate plans to sleep.

During her fussiest times – and those serene too – it was tough to imagine more than one. When Marie arrived, it suddenly became easy.

EJP
EJP

Marie was born on a clear, crisp November day. The sun shone bright, the air felt cool, and you needed a coat only in the shade. There was so much beauty in that day: the weather, the impending gift, a mother of my child braving natural childbirth a second time.

I needed all the beauty I could muster. Just three months before Marie was born, I sat at the foot of my dad’s hospital bed. I said goodbye to him as he conceded his battle with leukemia.

After moments of grief and relief he wouldn’t suffer any longer, my brother-in-law turned to me. “Now you can go take care of your family,” he said. He was right. I’d zipped from Charlotte – where my wife dealt with complications in pregnancy – to Duke Hospital in Durham, to be with dad.

I stopped at home in Greensboro only to shower and eat.

That November morning, I woke still weak from an illness of my own and heartbreak after dad died. I yearned for beauty. I found it in crystal skies, and a beautiful woman with intensifying contractions. I was supposed to cover a local football rivalry game between Greensboro and Guilford colleges that day.

Instead, I met a girl who would change my life forever.

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Before noon that day, Marie came into this world, battered and blue.

“Should I call in the team?” the nurse asked the doctor as she cradled a newborn blue as a Smurf. “No, she’ll be fine,” he said. With a calm I’ll never forget, he gave Marie oxygen, and we watched the blue and still baby give way to healthy pink and an ear-piercing cry.

EJP
EJP

She met parents who loved her. To know the arms of a mother who carried her through choppy waters, and a dad who needed to feel good in the world again. She inherited a sister who couldn’t wait to be a big sister, and wore the sentiment on her T-shirt.

It’s a major deal to become a dad of two, anyway. For me …

It meant one baby on the hip, another holding my hand.

It meant stark differences, and noticeable similarities. To her sister, and to her parents.

It meant a sisterhood that began with protectiveness and trust. Even now, through harsh words and rough soccer play, that protectiveness and trust endures. (I hope it will forever).

It meant hand-me-downs and some new clothes.

It meant cries different from her sisters – but which netted similar results.

It meant growth spurts and times of closeness. It meant alienation at times. It meant friends who endured and friends who faded. It meant daddy-daughter dates and time spent with two girls in tow.

It meant an emerging personality that was all her own – made of dresses and tiaras, progressed to scarves and soccer cleats. College T-shirts and mascara, too.

It meant an expansion of heart I never worried about. Even before her blue-skinned debut, I knew my heart held enough love for them both. Four years later, it expanded again for Grace. There’s plenty for everyone. A dad won’t always understand his girl – but he will always love and cherish her.

dad mug
My dad.

And it meant I had a constant reminder of the legacy she represented. Although my dad never held Marie in his arms, she is part of his legacy, just as I am, and my sister, and Elise. We don’t always notice it, but when we do, it’s remarkable. When I look back on it, being a two-kid dad feels like history, too.

Not ancient. It wasn’t that long ago.

But it changed me forever.

When he isn’t imploring Jesus to help his Rockies or pondering a career as an NFL quarterback, Eli Pacheco is father and soccer coach to three girls. He writes the blog Coach Daddy. Follow him on Google Plus, Pinterest and Twitter.

brittnei quote

Getting Ready For A New Baby

Pregnancy is an exciting time in every woman’s life. Getting ready for a new baby is not only exciting but fun and thankfully you have nine months to prepare. Trying to keep in mind everything you might need for a baby can be a daunting task. The selection in stores is huge, not to mention all your relatives and friends who might come bearing gifts in the form of their own supplies. Considering all that, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and wind up with things you might never even use.

Before you head to the store, I have a few tips for you about getting ready for a new baby.

getting-ready-for-a-new-baby

If this is your first time having a baby, make sure you set the budget right from the beginning. I can’t stress how important that tip is for first time moms. With all the different advice, and the store selection, I was one of the moms who made that mistake and regretted it later. I wound up with too many newborn and size 1 diapers that were never even opened and way too many other things I never used.

Make a shopping list, just like for groceries. Some things will need to be purchased immediately, some can wait till the baby is older. Things like highchair or advanced baby toys belong into the “later” category. Rear-facing car seat, however, should be available immediately.

Talk to your friends and relatives who have already had a baby and get their opinion on certain items you want to buy. There is no need to buy both a stroller and a baby carrier or a sling; but having a point of reference is always nice and may help you make the decision easier.

Likewise, see if you can borrow some items from them. Chances are they are not using it, and will be more than happy to loan you a stroller or a playpen.

Your family might even have some hand-me-down baby clothes for you, so don’t be afraid of asking them. Babies grow fast and that new expensive onesie you bought for your princess may only wind up being worn once before she is ready for the next size. By all means, buy a few new onesies that you can use when you take your baby for their first doctor’s visits, or when you take them out for a walk. But for everyday home wear and tear, used items are perfectly okay.

Now that we covered all the basic tips, here’s a handy checklist of must have items when you are getting ready for a new baby. I’ve listed the essential items into several categories for easier viewing.

Baby Clothes:

  • 3-6 one-piece sleepers with feet
  • 4-6 cotton knit undershirts
  • 1 cap or hat
  • 2-3 pairs booties or socks
  • 3-6 pairs waterproof pants (if using cloth diapers)
  • 3-6 onesies
  • 1-3 sweaters

Shopping Hints:

When purchasing baby clothing, baby’s comfort should come first over aesthetics. Natural, fabrics that allow the baby’s skin to breath like cotton are more comfortable for baby, especially during the summer time.

Look for something that is easy to put on and take off. Sleepers with zippers make diaper changing quicker while items with snaps or buttons that open in the back are more difficult to dress. Snaps in the crotch area also make diaper changing easier. The last thing you want is a piece of clothing that is nightmare to handle in the wee hours of night time feeding.

Also avoid clothing items with tight bands or tight elastic around the wrist, body or arms; or any clothing items with buttons, long strings and ribbons as these can become choking hazards.

For the crib:

  • 3-6 flannel receiving blankets
  • 2-3 fitted crib sheets
  • 2-3 crib blankets
  • 2-3 waterproof changing pads
  • 1 waterproof mattress pad
  • bumper pads for crib (should be washable)
  • 3-4 soft baby wash cloths
  • diaper liners (if using cloth diapers)
  • 2-5 dozen cloth diapers

Furniture and Equipment:

Many of the following items can be borrowed or purchased second hand.

  • Crib
  • Crib mattress
  • Car seat carrier
  • Changing table, or dresser that is wide and high enough to comfortably change baby – in all honesty, I never had a special changing table but I put it here anyway for those who are considering it. I found that changing the baby on our large bed, or even on the floor with some blankets laid out works just as well.
  • Changing pad with safety straps to secure baby while changing
  • Dresser
  • Comfortable chair for nursing or feeding baby
  • Lamp or night light

Changing Supplies:

  • Rubbing alcohol (for umbilical cord care)
  • Q-tips
  • Diapers (newborn size & size 1)
  • Baby wipes or baby washcloths
  • Antibiotic ointment & gauze pad (for circumcision)
  • Changing pad
  • Extra diaper shirt
  • Diaper rash ointment

Feeding Supplies:

  • Nursing pads
  • Nipple cream
  • Burp cloths or square cloth diapers (inexpensive alternative to burp cloths)
  • Tissues
  • Baby nail clippers or blunt edged scissors (a good time to trim the nails)

If bottle feeding:

  • (4) 4 oz bottles and (10-12) 8 oz bottles with nipple units

If using a breast pump:

  • Plastic bottles (for storing pumped milk)
  • Breast pump

Bathing Supplies:

  • Baby bathtub
  • Hand towel or flannel receiving blanket
  • Baby wash cloths
  • Baby soap
  • Soft towel
  • Baby brush or comb
  • Cotton balls (for cleaning eyes)
  • Baby lotion

Medicine Chest:

  • Infant acetaminophen drops
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Sterile bandages in various sizes
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Thermometer (include spare batteries if using a digital thermometer)
  • Cold mist vaporizer or humidifier (avoid hot steam vaporizers to prevent burns)

Optional Items:

  • Baby swing
  • Baby carrier
  • Mobile with music
  • Baby monitor
  • Playpen
  • Stroller

Don’t forget to purchase a front-opening pajamas for yourself if you will be breastfeeding your baby, and some nursing bras.

Did I miss anything? What would you add to the list?

Ana Lynn is a work-at-home-mom whose life completely changed when she found love all the way across the ocean. She blogs about her family life, together with her husband Frank at Our Blended Marriage where they share their experience about being a blended family, blogging tips, and expat life. Connect with them on Facebook or Pinterest!

Focusing Inward

Focusing Inward

 

I’ve been silent mostly this week in terms of blogging and social media.  The anticipation of a life-changing event with other rather shocking epiphanies have ushered me into a contemplative state.  All of it has taken me to this desire to keep my focus inward- on my baby, on my husband and son, on my home, but in a way that is so very different than the person that I’ve become that has shared so much about us via this blog.  If life were an ocean and my family were navigating through it on a boat, I feel as though I was on the top deck with the captain, declaring our steps out loud as the flow of the waves carried us out on the sea.

 

Lately, I’ve retired to the lower level and I’ve withdrawn from being seen in order to take care of what’s going on on the inside.  I’ve ceased to question and analyze which direction the waves are taking us and I’ve simply been just preparing and caring for me and my littles as we sail on this ship into the horizon.  What will all of this mean for my blog and for me and my family in the next few months? I’m not sure I have all of the answers just yet.  I have somewhat of an idea, but I’m leaving it up to time to continue to reveal the next phase for us.  I would hate to jump ahead and try to attempt to figure it all out.  I just want to do what my instincts are telling me to do and that is to just focus inward.  I did, however, want to share ten things I’m thankful for with you all.  This will be brief, but with the state that I’m in, I believe it is much needed:

 

1)  My Maker and the Creator.  Though many have left me or have moved on from us over the course of this pregnancy, I realize that He has carried me through this all along.  I placed my trust in Him as the creator of this entire process and He has held me through it all.

 

2)  My husband.  He’s been riding the waves with me since the day we said we wanted to be man and wife, but over the course of this year, he has stood by me and has opened his mind to so many new things with me, especially concerning pregnancy and birth, and I’m grateful for how he has supported me every step of the way.

 

3)  My toddler.  He keeps me light and airy.  He does the cutest things when I really need to see or experience it, but probably won’t understand or even know what he did until he is much older.  I’m thankful for every hug and kiss that he has given. Every smile.  Every laugh.  He amazes me daily.

 

4)  I hate to call out names, but my friend Ericka.  She’s been my friend longer than an actual season and that means a lot to me.  With all of the changes in my life, it is nice to be able to say that I’ve been able to pour my heart out to at least one person who understands all facets of me where I don’t have to filter out some things because of extreme differences in perspectives.  She gets it on so many levels.  She’s a woman.  She knows who I am.  She’s real and she’s encouraging.  If this is something that will only last for another season, I’ve come to accept this as apart of life, but in the meantime, it’s been something nice to have these last several months.

 

5)  Having a knit/crochet group of women that I can get away and chat with every week.  So far so good with this group.  We leave the religion, politics and controversial issues at home and we bring our needles and our yarn.  The conversation is stimulating and the company of adult women has been great.

 

6)  Lizzi.  You should have known you’d be on this list, my dear. That one day that I talked to you meant so much.  That was a hard day and if there was one person that I knew I could reach out to because I felt like what I thought was a support system had just stepped on me, it was her.  She delivered in a very big way and, yes, it was over the internet.  Thank you, Lizzi, for being there!

 

7)  Crochet.  It’s become another love as you all know by now.  I finally finished that blanket and now I’ve been working on some matching place mats for our dining room table.  Fun. Fun. Fun.

 

Throw Blanket

 

Crochet Place Mats

 

8)  Being in the 35th week of pregnancy.

 

9)  Thankful to have arrived at a more comfortable point in the pregnancy.  Weeks 28-34 really did seem like they were a time of extreme growth.  Though movements are still strong, it does feel like the baby is a little more snug in there so it’s not as uncomfortable this week.

 

10)  Time.  If growing dread locks, miscarrying a baby and then getting to this point in pregnancy with a new one and so much more hasn’t taught me anything else, it has taught me that time is something I’m grateful for.  I’m not sure if you are familiar with the process of growing dread locks, but it is a very long process that requires patience as you allow them to form.  I’ve had mine for about 6 months now.  After miscarrying a baby earlier this year, it was definitely an even bigger struggle with relinquishing control and just trusting the process of pregnancy once we got pregnant with another baby soon after.  Having done it this long without any outside affirmations or consultations from the medical world has taught me a serious lesson about patience and time.

 

What are you thankful for this week?  How are things with you and your family?  I’ve missed everyone.  Looking forward to making my rounds and seeing what’s been going on with you all.

 

XoXo,

Sea Life Arizona- Review

Disclosure:  This is a Sea Life Arizona Review.  My family and I received complimentary tickets to attend this attraction.  We were not compensated in any way for our experience.  All opinions are my own.

 

Sea Life Arizona- Review

 

What can I say?  I was very excited when I was asked to review the Sea Life Arizona Aquarium.  When we first arrived, we were greeted by a handful of friendly staff that presented me with options to purchase some great coupon booklets.  I was also given a gift from their Fishmas celebration that they held earlier in the day.  Right before you start the self-paced tour, you can choose to take a few pictures with your family.  At then end, you are presented with the option to purchase the photos, choosing any pose you’d like, with a selection of sea life style backgrounds that come in a variety of photo packages.  We chose the one below:

 

Sea Life Family Photo

 

My husband and I had said in the past that we would want to take our son to something like this.  I hadn’t thought about if he would love it at this age.  He will be three years old in April 2015.  His response to it was even better than I expected it to be.  He wasn’t particularly interested in touching the star fish that we were permitted to touch, but I thought that was a great aspect of sight seeing that some kids might enjoy so I wanted to be sure to mention it.  My son was more intrigued with how things looked so he was happy to watch me touch the star fish instead.

 

Sea Life Arizona Star Fish

 

What I love about the aquarium is that it is truly a place that people of just about all ages can truly enjoy.  It is actually a great place for a toddler like mine to explore because there are so many different things to look at.  We enjoyed seeing all of the different species of animals that live in the sea.  One that I was familiar with is the eel, however I was pleasantly surprised to see the variety of eel that they had.  Take a look below!

 

Eel

 

For the most part, we walked through the aquarium at our own pace, looking at the well written descriptions and captions that told us about each section filled with sea life in the various tanks, but there was one point when we had arrived at the sea horses and an instructor came in and told us all of these amazing facts about them.  Did you know that some people believe sea horses have tremendous health benefits?  Because of this, they are often killed so that they can be crushed and added into beverages among other things.  Or how about the fact that the male sea horses are the ones that carry the babies?!  I thought that was pretty interesting as I was experiencing this wonderful attraction at 8 months pregnant with our second baby.

 

I highly recommend that this be in the line up for family trips at least once in a lifetime.  Aquariums are educational, fun and inspiring.  Many aquariums like Sea Life are helping to keep various species from becoming extinct and are providing resources to the masses to help keep the habitats clean and healthy for sea life even outside of the four walls of the aquarium.  Though my son was only two years old for this visit, I do plan to return when he is older so that he can experience the attraction on a different level.  I watched as school age kids were able to enjoy learning about the animals and were eager to share what they already knew with the instructor as well.

 

 

Have you ever been to an aquarium?  If not, would you ever take your kids to one?

 

XoXo,

 

If I Had a Daughter

If I had a daughter, first of all, I think I would be overjoyed!   I love my son with my whole heart, but I know that having a daughter would be different.  There would be this connection with her, maybe because we are the same gender but then also because she’s a different person.

 

If I Had A Daughter

 

Today I’m guest posting over at Coach Daddy with Eli and I’m very much excited that he asked me to write about if I had a daughter.  It’s perfect timing because I’m 34 weeks pregnant and I have no idea what we are having.  Though I would be a very grateful mother if we had either a boy or a girl, it was nice to think about what it might be like to have a daughter some day.  I hope you all will head over to read what I had to say about it here!

 

XoXo,

Letters to My First Born: 31 Months

Dear JR,

I’m sitting here 32 weeks pregnant with your baby brother or sister watching you play a Cat in the Hat game.  I just finished playing with you for a bit. It’s so funny because I never imagined that I would be playing video games with my two year old.  I always imagined that you would be so much older when that day came.  I also didn’t expect for you to have a routine bed time this early on.  For the past several weeks, you have been going to bed at 9pm.

Letters to My First Born 31 Months

Daddy and I were talking about your progress before he went to work today.  Overall, you know and say a lot more than we thought you would by this time.  Your thing these days seems to be counting and saying your numbers, randomly.  You do it when you are about to go to sleep or when we are laying in bed when we first get up.  We’ve noticed though you can say and identify numbers 30 and 40, you aren’t quite comfortable counting after 20.  I told your Dad it would just be a matter of time.   I could have sworn it was last month that I was showing you and repeating numbers 10-20 and you could barely say them.  Now you rattle them off every chance you get!

JR at 31 months

Though Mom is nearing the end of the pregnancy, you seem to be uninterested in it these days.  This is quite normal for your age.  I still wonder some moments how you will be when the new baby gets here and I still show excitement when we see babies.  We watched a birth last month I think it was and you thought the squeals the Mom made were actually pretty funny.  I’m not at all worried about how you will process the birth at home. I just want you to continue to feel loved and secure as we transition with the new addition to our family.   Truth be told, just like we did with you,  Mom and Daddy will just take it one day at a time.

Loving you always,

Mom

Family Time and Me Time

We ended this week on such a great note.  I had some tough moments so that was pretty exciting for me.  This week it has been so hard to get comfortable when sitting and all since the baby tends to move in extremely awkward positions!  It’s nice to know that right now he or she is most likely packing on the weight and with that comes more restriction so maybe it will get better in the coming weeks as I get closer to the end.  I finally got a moment to sit down and write so I won’t delay me sharing about my week any longer!

 

This morning, to start our day, we went to the store to buy a whole bunch of things we needed for the house.  I really enjoyed the time out with the family.  We have a Sam’s Club membership so it was nice to be able to buy in bulk lots of the things that we needed.

 

My husband is really working on getting his health in tact.  He has been working out again at the gym and now he actually works out a few times a week with someone from work.  And while we were at the store today, he made sure we bought a lot more of everything we like to put in the nutrininja!  We got frozen blueberries and strawberries, spinach and bananas.  I’m glad Sam’s Club had a large bag of frozen strawberries.  It’s not strawberry season right now so I refuse to pay more for them and they don’t even look so great.  I usually cut up the bananas and put them in the freezer too.  My husband loves his smoothies cold!  I also add plain yogurt to mine for the protein and calcium.

 

I was invited to visit Sea Life Arizona!  I was excited about that.

 

Family Time and Me Time

 

We visited Sea Life Arizona today (Thursday) and it was an amazing experience.  Review coming soon on the blog!  I was so happy that it wasn’t too far for us to get there.  It was only about 25 minutes away.

 

Me and Hubby Working Out

this photo is from over a year ago!

 

Hubby got me a new phone!  It’s an upgrade from what I have and it really is better with taking pictures and holding app space.  Bloggers know how much easier life can be with a good smartphone!

 

After we got back from Sea Life, I took a trip to the store on my own so I was able to stop at Hobby Lobby and Walmart.  Always thankful for the me time that I get in various ways throughout the week!

 

While at Walmart, I was excited to check off most of the items from my list of things I need for our freebirth.  Believe it or not, we don’t need a lot of supplies.  It felt so funny being in the baby section buying clothes again that were that little.  For one, it’s been a while since JR was that small and two, we don’t know the gender for sure and they didn’t have a huge selection of gender neutral clothes to choose from.  I only wanted to get a few things anyway and then once baby gets here my husband will probably go back to the store and get more things that are gender specific.

 

I was so happy to be able to buy all of the yarn that I needed for the throw blanket I’ve been working on.  I ran out of yarn so I was on hold from finishing it!  Could this be why the last few days have been so…crochet less!  I refuse to say empty.  Crocheting is not a habit.  :)  But I did miss my hobby very much.

 

LivingDining Area Blueprint

 

Concerning my yarn purchase:  you know how just about all of you with any prior experience with yarn suggested I buy the same lot number when purchasing my yarn?  Well, when I went to the store, none of them had the same lot number!  So, I talked to a woman at Hobby Lobby who said to just get the same color and if it’s not the same, I could always bring it back.  I didn’t bring my blanket to the store so I thought I was going to be guessing my way around the aisles, BUT I did bring the yarn packages so I had the names of the colors so I just bought those even though the lot numbers weren’t the same.  I was so excited when I got home to see that the colors do indeed match my blanket for all 7 colors!

 

letters to my first born 29 months

 

JR didn’t get to bed at 9pm tonight!  I laid him down at 9, but because he took a few quick naps in the car today while we were out, I think that made him not as sleepy as he normally is.  It’s ok because he did end up falling asleep on his own at around 11 and I plan on letting him sleep as long as he wants tomorrow morning and then get back into our routine again tomorrow night.  The fun we had today was worth it!

 

How was your week?  Thankful for anything special?  Feel free to write up a list of ten things and share it with us at the linkup!

 

XoXo,