Thursday, June 29, 2017

5 weeks in: First impressions of parenthood

So, my little pint of Chunky Monkey is 5 weeks old.  Yeesh.

It's been a pretty good five weeks, as far as things go.  We've had our share of challenges, like being stuck inside for a solid week, because the weather was far too hot for a newborn.  However, we've had so many wonderful times too, mostly sleeping baby cuddles, which far outweigh the stresses of those hard times.  I mean, can we all agree that a sleeping chubby baby is the closest thing to perfect ever?  In case you need further evidence of this...

Having a newborn is the strangest thing ever.  There are days when I feel totally capable.  We're all happy, the milk is flowing the way it should, and I even manage to shower AND wash my hair.  I might put the same yoga pants and t-shirt on after my shower, but you know, baby steps.  But then there are also the days where I never even re-do the bun I slept in, let alone shower.  The baby is extra fussy, and no matter what either Ammon or I do,  we are unable to soothe our little chunk.  Those days bring us back to reality, and remind us that this parenting thing is no joke.

There are some key lessons that I've learned over the past few weeks though, and I think they're worth sharing.  They are less parenting advice (although there's a little of that), more general life reflections:  because parenting isn't really an activity, it's just a phase of life.

  • Even if you think you don't need help, you totally, absolutely, unequivocally need all the help that you can get.
  • Hire a housekeeper.  Even if you don't have kids yet, or you don't think you have the budget.  Your life will get so much better.
  • Tune out 98% of what is on Facebook.  It will make you anxious, cause you to second-guess yourself, stick you in the middle of the comparison trap, and generally make you miserable.  The "hide notifications" button is your friend.
  • You can go a suprisingly long time without washing your hair if you put it up and never take it down.
  • Sometimes, the best advice doesn't come from the leading researchers in the field, but from [your] parents, doctors, and nurses who have been around the block.  Parenting and life advice may often follow trends, but trendy is not always effective.
  • Google the answers to questions you're too embarrassed to ask.  Like, "Is it normal for newborns to be bow legged?"  Or, "When do babies start rolling from tummy to back?"  Often, I feel silly asking people these things, because there's never a convenient time to ask someone who might actually know the answer.  Enter the one time that the internet is your friend as a parent.  Just make sure that the question is specific, and that you don't get sucked into a rabbit hole of second guessing what is currently working for you.
  • At the end of the day, you can't let other people's opinions on how you're rolling with the punches get you down.  They don't know you or your family in nearly the same way that you do, so unless they are a respected advisor, like a Doctor, take everything that they say with a grain of salt.  And if they are a trusted advisor, think about their suggestions, and really examine how they might or might not work before taking them at face value.  There's tons of great advice out there in the world, but that advice is not going to work in every instance for every person.
  • Finally, it's okay to not fully embrace certain aspects of your life all of the time.  Big adjustments take time to come to terms with.  Go at your own pace, and do the best you can.  And if the rest just sucks, it's okay to feel that.  It'll get better.
  • Kissing a baby solves just about any problem that you might have.  So does holding a sleeping baby.

For the parents out there:  What life reflections would you add?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Oh baby!

Guys, I had a baby!  And it was a boy!

Kaden Elliott was born on May 24th at 1:50am, weighing 8lbs, 3oz and 20 inches long.

He is, without a doubt, the most perfect thing I have ever seen.  I can't believe we made him.

And while he's still brand new, he fits into our family almost as if he's always been here.  He is his daddy's son through and through!

You can follow me on instagram for even more baby pictures: @radiantkristen.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Final countdowns...

As we near the home stretch of starting life as a family of 3 humans, it has become apparent that we have a number of different countdowns going.  Life is never slow around here, and we constantly seem pulled in so many directions.  For instance...
My due date is 24 days from now.  24.  I don't even know what to say to that.  Ammon and I were talking about how in one way, that seems so far off still.  I mean, I'm pretty darn big at this point, and still getting bigger - though blessedly, that progress seems to be slowing down some.  My belly is also dropping, which I think makes it seem even bigger than it really is?  I don't know.  It's just big.
 This picture is actually 3.5 weeks old, so it's not really accurate.  Just imagine bigger than this, and that's where we're at right now.
But at the same time, 24 days is virtually nothing, especially when you consider just how many things have to be done in the days leading up to delivery.  We assembled a bunch of stuff today, which is good, except that we have about 10 shipments from Amazon still set to arrive over the next two weeks.  We still have to get carseat bases installed in both cars and checked.  We have a hospital tour this week.  We need to get hospital bags packed.  Ammon needs to change the oil in both of our cars.  Laundry needs to be done.  And SO MANY OTHER THINGS.
My last day of work is in 11 days, which means that in 8 working days, I will be done with work.  How the heck did that creep up so fast?  For those of you not in the know, the State of California disability program allows you to take up to 4 weeks of disability leave prior to your due date.  After much consulting arguing with my doctor over the pros and cons of taking 4 weeks off before delivery, we settled on a 2 week leave.  It's a compromise for both of us.  As the day gets closer though, I am becoming more and more okay with taking that time off.  I am tired, and grumpy, and uncomfortable, and hot all of the time.  Just today, it seems that the 3rd trimester swelling everyone talks about has started to set in, which I'm guessing has something to do with the fact that it's a good 15 degrees hotter today than it's been since last October.  So that's neat.

My last day of my classes this term is in 8 days.  After this class ends, I'm done until mid July, at which point I only have 4 more classes until I graduate!  This is such a big deal for me.  I've been working towards this degree since before I started this blog.  It's been a really long time coming, and with each passing term, I am finally starting to see that this dream is actually going to become a reality.  This particular class I'm finishing right now has been exceptionally challenging from a workload standpoint, and I've really struggled with it, largely because of everything else in my life.  It's going to feel nice to have 8-ish weeks off from academic pursuits.

So, if you couldn't tell by now, starting May 11th, I plan to be laid up on my couch watching Netflix, napping, and reading as much as I can.  I'm hoping that it doesn't get old too fast, and that this whole "I'm the size of a small whale" thing motivates me to be a little extra lazy.  I know other people talk about nesting like crazy in those last few weeks, but to be honest, I haven't felt up to any of that.  I'm totally cool with not having the nursery ready when the baby gets here - they're going to be sleeping in a cradle in our room for the first few months anyway.  I figure that so long as it's done before they move over into the nursery in 3 months or so, we'll be doing okay.

What are you counting down the days to?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Half-bath remodel!

So, I decided to procrastinate on take a break from my governmental accounting class for a bit to share with you our remodeled half bath!  One thing I really can't stand about the original design of our house is the bathrooms... They have ridiculous counters that stretch over toilets and non- cabinet sections.  They also have mirrors for miles... Like, they ALSO stretch over toilets, because apparently, men need to be able to look at themselves when they pee?  I just don't get it.

So this is what it looked like before.  Note the wall-to-wall mirror and the counter that extends only as an excuse for the mirror to be there.  SO DUMB!  And the lino... oh heavens, this lino is all over our house, and it makes me weep.  So way back in October, before we announced the impending arrival of the baby, Ammon decided we should just get after this project.  So we did.  And for about 6 weeks, we saw some serious progress.

After demo... Almost nothing left!  There was some serious drywall work in here too - don't be fooled that we had it easy by not taking out the drywall.  In some ways, we might have been better off ripping out the walls altogether.

Next came re-doing the floors.  We picked these nice taupey-gray hexagonal tiles, and we're really happy with that choice.  Which is good, because we bought enough to also do the laundry room and the upstairs guest bathroom (we bought that much on purpose, not because we're bad at math).

I don't really have any other intermediate pictures, because the walls got mostly painted, and then Ammon had a minor hernia surgery, and spent 6 weeks recovering.  Ammon was NOT happy with the color of the walls until we got all of the furnishings and fixtures in, so I didn't take pictures, in case we had to change the wall color at the last minute.  So from mid-November until sometime in early-mid January, my half bath sat with mostly painted walls and newly tiled floors.  It was pretty depressing.

But then!  The reno bug hit again!  Or nesting.  Whatever.  Inspiration struck, and Ammon decided it was time to wrap this baby up.  And in very short order, our bathroom suddenly transformed into this:

I mean, can you beat a pink powder room with a dark vanity and oil-rubbed bronze fixtures???  It's nearly all care of Home Depot, in case you're wondering.  We used Behr's "Cupcake Pink" paint, but we had them lighten it by 50%.  We probably could have asked them to tone it down even more, but it's worked out okay as it is.  Vanity, vanity top, and mirror came as a special buy set from the Depot last summer for $399.  And the fixtures... they sure weren't cheap, but in such a small space, we wanted things that we loved, and we wanted everything to match.  Our biggest expense hands down was these fixtures, which are from the Porter collection by Delta.  We even replaced the drawer pulls on the vanity so that they matched (because I'm OCD like that).

Oh, and the inspiration for the whole room?  Those adorable hummingbird prints, which I found on Etsy.  We pulled the color for the walls out of one of the prints, and went from there.

Our next project is replacing our front fence.  Our old fence blew down in a really bad storm just over a month ago.

We hated this fence anyway, so it wasn't the end of the world... But man, it was a pretty darn inconvenient time to lose the fence.  Our area is in the rainy season from November through March, so only now is the ground starting to dry up enough that we can start looking at pouring concrete footings for new posts and rebuilding.  I'm **hoping** that maybe we'll have a new fence before we have a new baby, but I'm not holding my breath on that one...

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Winging it

These days, it feels like there just isn't that much of plan.  There is, in that we go to work Monday through Friday, and I'm still plugging away at school, and we have an unbelievable number of commitments and appointments.  Those things, they just kind of happen - except for school, which I'm forcing to happen, but that's a different story.  Everything else though, we're just making up as we go along.

For instance, food:  We're loosely following the meal plans that SkinnyTaste puts out, but I'm not nearly as on the ball with sticking to our meal plans lately.  We've been eating out a bit more again, largely because I'm TIRED all the time.  Like, the kind of tired where you go to bed at 8:30pm, you're so tired.  
Also, because it's just fun to eat out, and that is going to be limited once this kid makes its grand appearance.  We went out to dinner a couple of weeks ago with my cousin, and I got 2 desserts.  It was a great decision.

How I spend my free time has also been largely up in the air.  Some days, I can literally conquer the world.  Unfortunately, this almost always is followed by a day where it is literally impossible to get off of the couch.  Like, we went to this gorgeous spot overlooking the beach in Pacifica to take my maternity shots, and I had plenty of energy.  The next day, I watched Netflix for 6 hours, and we skipped church because I was so exhausted.  Oh yeah, that's a thing these days too:  We started going to church.  This is a pretty big deal for us, if you know both of our histories with organized religion and our personal beliefs.

Last thing we're winging?  All things baby-related.  This is the entirety of the progress we've made in preparing for the little bundle we're expecting 7.5 weeks from now.  A crib with no mattress, and a handful of space-themed clothing items that I couldn't pass up.  I figure that as long as the nursery is done by the time this kid is 3-6 months old (when we expect to transition him/her out of our room), we're doing okay.

Oh, and did I mention we aren't finding out the gender of the baby until birth?  Because that's a thing we're doing.  Leave your guesses in the comments!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Writing about hedging foreign investments is boring

Good morning!  It's cloudy and rainy this weekend here, how is it where you are?  The weather here is so weird - it's really hot and dry in the summer, so everything dies, and then it all springs to life in the winter.  Our  yard is ridiculously green right now (All weeds), I just can't believe it.  Then my friends post pictures of 8 inches of fresh show, and talk about the first big accidents of the year that coincide with the first big snow of the year, and I remember why we were so happy about a move to California:  easy access to snow without having to live in the snow.

I really don't have much to say today.  I'm avoiding a paper that I'm working on about the documentation a company must have when they elect to hedge a foreign transaction.  Yes, it is exactly as boring as it sounds.  You know what isn't boring though?  The fact that if I just buckle down and work, I will be done with my Bachelor's degree in December 2017!  There is light at the end of this tunnel!

Also, we have wild turkeys that live all over the suburbs out here.  This is across the street from a school and a shopping center.  Totally unrelated to anything, but funny, right?  They all mysteriously made themselves scarce about 2 weeks ago - I'm thinking they started fearing that they would end up on someone's table, and headed for higher ground.

In other random news, I have been craving the steak salad from Costa Vida so hard lately.  In fact, I had one for lunch Friday, and another one yesterday.  They were both magnificent.  The baby is doing this really fun thing lately where he/she makes everything sound revolting except for one food.  Generally at lunchtime.  If I try to convince myself to think about eating something else, I get nauseous and start gagging.  So instead of fighting it, I roll with it.  Please don't judge me.

And speaking of baby, we're already bumpin' a little bit around here.  I'm almost 14 weeks now, but this was taken a few days ago.  It's hand to believe that in such a short time my stomach went from being mostly flat to looking like I've been eating Thanksgiving every day.  I'm curious to see how much more pronounced it is at Christmas, when I'll be about 19 weeks.  I'm already transitioning into maternity, and haven't been able to wear pants that weren't leggings for almost 3 weeks now. 

Anyway, that's it.  I should get back to foreign currency financial instruments, because this baby is not going to bring its own money with it.  Unless he/she is ridiculously adorable, and becomes the next Gerber baby or something...  We can all have hopes and dreams, I guess.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Guest Bedroom reveal

Guys, we did it!  We finished our guest bedroom quite a while back, and it's already had visitors in it TWICE.  Granted, it was my parents the first time and just my mom the second, but it counts, right?  I've literally had this post in my drafts since June, so I thought it was time to show off what we did.

Before:  Vertical blinds, builder beige, and stains galore.  Out of all of the spaces in this house, we knew it would be a big win for us to get this done, and an easy place to start, if a bit time consuming. Carpet is staying for now, so it was a matter of sprucing up the walls and getting rid of the ugly blinds.

After:  I mean... Wow.  We impressed ourselves on this one.  I wanted to create a homey space, that almost anyone would feel welcome in.  I realize that lovers of ultra-modern would probably loathe to spend the night, but luckily, we don't have any super-hip ultra-modern friends or family.

First up, I spent 4 hours scrubbing the heck out of the walls.  It was brutal, but paid off in huge dividends.  There was so much stuff on the walls, that it would have been a  nightmare to try to cover.  This is that same corner shown above.  Look Ma, the black stains are mostly gone!

Next up, I painted the ceiling and we primed the walls.  Ceiling painting is my FAVORITE thing, guys.  I don't know why, but I really, really like doing it.  Plus, who doesn't love being covered head to toe in paint spatter when you're done?  We ended up doing 2 coats of primer - the walls soaked up a ton of primer, and we were also covering over paint samples, which took some extra attention.

We were amazed just how much brighter everything looked once the beige was gone!  Also, pro tip:  just go ahead and buy your Kilz (primer) in 5 gallon buckets.  If you're doing more than one room, you will definitely use it, and it applies really thick, so it doesn't go as far as a gallon of paint does.

We also did 2 coats of paint.  It's a pretty standard sized room that holds a queen, and we used about a gallon of paint for both coats. The color is a super soft, pale blue by Glidden called Blue Frost.  Yep, like the gatorade flavor.  But the paint color is soooooooo much prettier than the beverage color.  Trust me.

From there, everything else was pretty simple.  We found the headboard on Wayfair, and added in furniture we already had:  The nighstands were our old ones that Ammon made to match our old bed.  We found the rocking chair and the dresser at our favorite thrift store back in CO.  There's still some small details missing, like a mirror to go over the dresser, and something for the top of the dresser.  But really, this room is ready for any guest who wants to come visit.

If you want to come next summer, though, you might need to get in line - apparently the new baby is quite the draw with our close family and friends.