Category Archives for Everyday Life

A Day in the Life | Part One

5a – 6a The child stirs. Momma and Dada get up. Eli gets a diaper change and this particular morning, boogie maintenance.

The essentials…

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He’s been fighting a bit of a cold despite our attempts to keep him home this cold and flu season. Ever since we read sleep on latex reviews, we got equipped with new mattresses and now, he typically sleeps from 8p to 4a and goes back to sleep downstairs with us while we have breakfast and watch the news but since he was so stuffy, sleep last night was intermittent for all of us.

6:30a First feeding. Three ounce bottle of formula and then onto the boob (dessert) for Eli. Coffee for Momma while Dada sterilizes all bottles and makes even more coffee.

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7:30a Eli dozes in car seat while Momma cleans up kitchen, preps bottles for the day, and gobbles down breakfast.

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8a Momma/Eli changing table time! This is my favorite part of the whole day! Eli gets a fresh diaper, I wash his face, lotion up his body, and dress him.

There are lots of wiggles and giggles from both Momma and Eli as we talk and sing and love on each other a while. It’s the best!

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Note outfit number one.

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8:30a Tidy up. There’s laundry every. Single. Day. Something is inevitably covered in poop, spit up, milk, or some combination of the three. I’ve never spent more time with an appliance.

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Sometimes Eli will snooze or just chill in his car seat while I run around. As long as I talk to him while I’m doing things, he’s usually good. Like here I’m describing how to make the bed. Riveting conversation.

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But today he got pretty scootchy.

9a Momma tries new positions, rooms, toys until we get a little more mellow.

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Walking with Momma, fist in mouth worked for three minutes.

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Bassinet worked for fifteen. Score!

If I feed him before the 2.5 – 3 hour mark, he’ll just spit it all up. Or projectile vomit it all up on Momma- case in point, yesterday’s clothes currently in the wash.

9:30a Second breakfast for Eli. Just bottle of formula. Yes, I’m weaning a two month old. No judgement!

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I have to go back to work soon and I just f-ing hate pumping! He’s always taken a bottle of formula from the beginning and we’ve just used boob as an extra boost of nutrition and of course, comfort. I’ll continue to breastfeed as long as I can for the first and last feeds of the day but we’re almost adjusted him to bottle only from 9a to 5p.

10a Momma showers/gets ready.

I take advantage of Eli’s food coma and bring him into the bathroom with me. Not only do I get to peek out and see his cute little face but the steamy air is so good for him with the dry heat on in the house and now his stuffy nose.

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Oh, and “getting ready” these days typically means a fresh pair of yoga pants and a top bun. Occasionally I’ll go all out and swipe on some mascara and tinted lip balm. On my way to MILF status, eh?

10:30a Poopy diaper and second outfit of the day. I’m telling you- when little man goes, he goes! Hence the constant burp cloth under his butt in the car seat.

Oh good! Someone’s getting drowsy!

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11a Momma eats and (hallelujah!) gets to relax.

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Celery with guacamole, an apple, a hard boiled egg, and two homemade lactation cookies. Yes, I eat like a toddler but sometimes you only have one hand to prepare that lunch so the snack packs and pre-cut veggies are essential.

And I know I probably should be napping too but who really listens to that “sleep when the baby sleeps” advice? There are blogs to read and online shopping to do!

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OK, second half of the day tomorrow. This post is cutting into my sacred Momma time!

Grampy

I won’t say much because my Grampy wasn’t exactly what you would call loquacious but I do need to document here on this blog that my grandfather read every day- that my Grampy, Francis M. Skomro passed away last week.

He was 95 and lived a full and fascinating life. My Grampy and Mimi were married for 72 years. They would read my blog daily and complain when I took too much time off or wrote too short of a post. They were my biggest fans and my most honest critics. I would think of them each time I wrote, hoping they wouldn’t mind my cursing or complaining about first world problems. After all, Grampy grew up in the Depression and didn’t have the easiest life in the beginning. I look at Eli now, belly full of milk and cozy in his softest jammies, and wish that Grampy could have been loved and cared for like this little guy. But then I smile knowing that this is his legacy.

Grampy was a foster care child who went on to become a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, marry my Mimi, have six children, 11 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. He was an extremely kind and generous man. Thank you for all you’ve done for this family Grampy. We love you dearly and will miss you.

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Grampy & Mimi

Baby Gear Essentials | 0-4 Weeks

I understand that every baby is different. And after last week’s rant on parenting advice, I’m surely not about to dish out hard and fast facts on what babies need. But I will share what we needed. These are the top 7 essential items that got us through the first four weeks with baby.

Baby Gear 0-4

  1. The Maxi-Cosi Micro car seat. This is the Cadillac of car seats- thanks again to Eli’s great grandparents for this awesome gift! The infant inserts create a nice cradle for his little head and they’re removable so the seat can grow with him. Not only do we feel so safe having it in the car but the seat has been super helpful in our house just to have another place to put him! He’s perfectly happy snoozing in the seat or checking out the world around him.
  2. The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD shows parents Dr. Karp’s amazing 5 S’s used to sooth infants. In this short video he the reveals a stunning new discovery…the calming reflex. It’s almost an “off switch” for crying that all babies are born with. His techniques have helped us out on a number of occations!
  3. The first S of Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s is swaddle and boy do we! Eli loves to be swaddled almost all the time. These Aden & Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets are perfect for keeping him warm but letting his skin breathe. They come in a four-pack but we’ve ended up buying about 12 of them. The quantity comes in handy when he sweats through them, pees through them, or heaven forbid there’s a major poop blow out! Honestly don’t know what we’d do without these!
  4. Tube’s of Vaseline may not seem like a big deal but they sure do come in handy when that first merconium poop comes and then for little man’s circumcision care. Thank god we’re through that heartbreaking hurdle!
  5. One thing I didn’t register for because so many Mommy Blogs said it was useless was a sound machine. But as soon as we got home and were all tucked in for the night, we knew we needed one. The womb is a loud place and even the hospital had it’s rurring HVAC and nurses stopping in at all hours. We immediately purchased this myBaby Soundspa Lullaby Sound Machine and could not be happier. It has mutiple sounds and songs (the rain storm is our favorite) and is super sleek and small. We set the timer on it for 45 or 60 minutes during each late night feeding and Eli (and his parents) fall right back asleep! Actually, we may like it more than Eli.
  6. My iPhone. I know I’ll get flack for this but as much as I’d love to stare adoringly into my baby’s face all day and night, I have needed my iPhone even more than ever. Whether feeding little man or pumping, I do not enjoy staying put in one place for so long. Having my iPhone at my fingertips allows me to read news articles, blogs, see what my friends and family are up to on social media, make to-do lists, check the weather, my blog stats, even turn up and down our thermostats thanks to the Nest app! And most importantly, I’m able to capture pics of my little guy when he’s growing by the minute!
  7. The Boppy pillow is my friend. It’s supportive during feedings, it allows me to have a free hand when Eli is curled up next to his Momma for a little cat nap, and it makes for a great pillow during a rare impromptu nap for Momma.

Having a Baby is Hilarious

If you had a friend that woke you up every three hours demanding to be fed, leaked bodily fluids from every orifice of their body on to you and you still turned around and kissed his cheeks and tickled his belly- well then I’d say you have one sick and twisted co-dependent relationship on your hands. But when that friend is your child, it’s just Tuesday.

Yeah, having a baby is hilarious.

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But let’s forget all that and pretend that my little man is as angelic as these photos suggest all the time… which, he really mostly is. Baby’s first photo shoot was a big success. He was a total professional… up until the very last photo where Momma and Dad stepped in to get just one family photo.

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He snuggled into Momma’s arms, our photographer stepped back to shoot, and…

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There’s something warm dripping down my arm and onto my foot below. Little man had held it long enough. It’s OK buddy, Momma doesn’t mind a little pee.

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But then the photographer stepped back again, framed her shot, and…

Eli

Squirt. Yes, Eli spared our photographer, her lovely blankets and furry rugs, and saved it all for Momma.

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So this photo is very photoshopped. Notice the clean arms. But the smiles on our faces are 100% genuine.

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So great job my little supermodel. I will be sure to remind you of this photoshoot and your grand finale when you’re a teenager. Momma loves you.

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There’s a Nationally Acclaimed Parenting Book in my Recycle Bin

And I put it there. Because enough. Seriously, enough! I have come to two very important conclusions over the past 17 days…

Number One: There are a lot of opinions on how to take care of a newborn.

And Number Two: Take all opinions with a grain of salt and make up your own damn mind because I am the f-ing parent and I’ll do what’s best for my family just as women have done for millions of years without lactation consultants, mommy Facebook groups, and parenting books galore. We started potty training and I got a bedwetting alarm that alerts me when my child has an accident.

There. I’ve said it. I mean, I’m not going rogue entirely. I trust a healthcare professional’s opinion. But I’m so sick of the impossible advice and the contradictions. Oh the contradictions!

“Feed your baby every two hours even if it takes two hours to feed them. You don’t need to shower or empty your bladder, right? But be sure to take care of yourself with nutricious meals and plenty of water. If you don’t, your milk supply will diminish. To keep your supply up, feed the baby often but not too often or that could diminish your supply. And don’t forget to pump. Yes, something should be hanging off your nipples at all times. Formula? I suppose, since your milk isn’t coming in fast enough (you imperfect woman) and your baby is starving. But you should really breastfeed (you selfish mother who refuses to spend every waking moment feeding, pumping, downing lactation cookies and fenugreek for the sake of your child!) because breast is best!”

“Don’t take your baby out of the house for the first month because germs! So many germs. But be sure to bring him into a germ-infested hospital several times in the first week of life to get him looked at up and down and be told he’s underweight and then a day later overweight. And please be sure to get in to see your OBGYN so she can see if you’ve showered and don’t want to kill yourself. Are you sure the weepies aren’t postpartum depression? If so, we’ll give you drugs but that could diminish your milk supply which will probably thrust you into a deeper depression.”

“How’s baby sleeping? He should sleep up to 17 hours a day but be sure to wake him to feed. And put him on his back or he’ll surely die of SIDS. Unless of course you don’t want him to have reflux or choke on spit up or have a flat head- then you should put a rolled blanket in the crib and place him at a 45 degree angle. And sleep when the baby sleeps but of course you probably will just stare at him since (do I really have to mention it again?) SIDS. And during the day, try to hold him or wear him rather than put him in a bassinet or car seat because using the facilities with an infant strapped to you is just a delight. Quality Mommy & Me time right there. And when he’s not eating, on you, or sleeping, be sure to do tummy time or you’re a terrible mother. Yes, he’ll hate it and wail but it’s somehow critical to his development to lay on the floor struggling to turn his 7-day-old neck.”

Yes, I’m exaggerating but not by much! It’s impossible to follow every bit of advice. So call me crazy or irresponsible but don’t you dare call me a bad Momma. My main rule of thumb is now- if Eli’s happy and healthy and Momma and Dada are happy and healthy, then we’re doing absolutely fabulous!

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He's Here

My son. Eli Stone Swanson. He came into the world last Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 11:22am.

And this is our birth story. A warning- it is long and I will mention all those fabulous laboring words like dilation and cervix and epidural (oh my). But in all that lingo is a little miracle so please read on…

A week and one day past due, Jared and I couldn’t wait any longer and with the advice of our midwife, scheduled induction for Monday the 22nd.

We arrived at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge full of nerves and excitement at 8am. The staff greeted us with smiles and holiday cheer and showed us to our room where we’d meet our little man. Our nurse Sue was a pro and I felt instantly in good, sweet hands.

Mount Auburn is a lovely hospital and our room was spacious with a view of the Charles River and neighboring Boston skyline. I was given my first dose to jump start labor right away but in the coming hours, there was not much action.

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Jared and I talked, listened to music, took our last selfie as a family of two, and eventually I was given dose number two that afternoon.

And boy did that work.

As the sun set, the rain began to come down, and my contractions began to feel like hell. I’d grip my bed sheets as the lower half of my body tried to separate itself from the upper- or so it felt. Suddenly all the positions I’d practiced with Jared went out the window. The birthing ball sucked, standing and holding on to Jared was agony, the tub seemed out of the frigging question! All I could do was hold on like I was revving a motorcycle, close my eyes, and breathe through the pain.

Jared talked me in and out of each contraction, watching the monitor like a hawk. He was amazing.

A shift change brought me a new nurse and midwife whom I begged for drugs. Luckily my dilation was moving right along, Eli was looking strong, and in the IV went with instant narcotics.

I can’t say it made the contractions any easier but at least I passed out between each. Honestly, it was next to impossible to keep my eyes open.

Around 3am I was progressing well and ready (oh so so so ready) for my epidural. Jared was asked to leave the room and I was left with an anesthesiology team and my night nurse Nicole. I could have made out with Nicole I loved her so much at that moment. She held my hands and I practically burrowed my head into her chest, breathing through each contraction, terrified to move as the anesthesiologist worked his magic on my back.

And voilà. Sweet relief.

Still loopy from the narcotic, I don’t remember much from the next few hours other than sleeping and the midwife and nurses flipping me from side to side to make sure Eli was happy.

By morning, my sweet nurse Sue returned. She brought along a young nurse Jackie and a fabulous midwife named Hannah.

I told the women I kept feeling the need to push and all were excited. One dose of Pitocin to finish up the process and they agreed around 10am that I was ready.

They kept me on my right side and surrounded my bed with Hannah sitting at the end of the bed so casually I kept thinking, is this really it? We’re going to deliver this baby right here and now like I just woke up from a slumber party?

But yes, we were.

With the next contraction, Jared lifted my left leg and my team of four cheered me on. Jared was supportive as ever telling me what a great job I was doing. My midwife said I was a naturally great pusher- can I put that on my resume? Nurse Sue instructed the perfect positioning while Jackie counted me through each push.

Honestly, the pushing felt great and went by so unbelievably fast. Once Eli’s head was out, they flipped me to my back and with just one or two more big pushes, I felt my sweet boy slide out and into the world.

With only a few little sounds and sobs, Eli made such a calm and peaceful entrance. Hannah immediately handed him to me and I felt his slimy, perfect bum in my hand.

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He looked right at Jared and me as we spoke and introduced ourselves to our small miracle.

He was perfect.

I had been dreaming of his face and just knew he’d have all that dark hair just like his Daddy.

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After plenty of staring into Eli’s dark blue eyes, the umbilical cord was finally cut and my small boy was no longer a physical part of me.

Hannah took care of the after birth while Jared and the nurses took Eli to the scale in our room.

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He weighed in at 7 pounds and 10 ounces. He measured 21 inches long.

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I had no idea there could be this much room in my heart for so much love. Not only for my son but a new kind of love for his Daddy. Our family is so different now. Overwhelmingly so at times but we’re getting the hang of things together. Very much together. Which makes me even more grateful for our family.

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Team Swanson has a new game plan with a new player and this Momma could not be happier to play the game.

To the Boy Who Holds My Heart

My baby boy,

You are now 4 days late which for some reason shocks your Momma even though I know that most first babies arrive past their due dates. I assumed you’d be just as anxious to meet us as we are to meet you. But I know that you are very comfy and warm in your little tummy apartment and it may take a couple more days for you to come out and play.

Your Momma and Dad have been getting all sorts of notes from family and friends asking if you’ve arrived yet. We feel very very loved and you should too! So many people want to meet you. You are one popular little guy.

Christmas is just around the corner and Momma gets all silly and teary-eyed thinking about a quiet, cozy Christmas with our new family of three. You see, this whole year if I had a day where I didn’t feel my best- maybe it was a stressful day at work or maybe you were growing so much you tuckered Momma right out from doing anything productive. When I would feel down, all I had to do was picture me and Dad holding you in our warm living room by the Christmas tree and everything seemed so incredibly worth it.

I know you will come when you are ready. I never want to rush you but let you grow at your own pace. I know we have an incredible journey we’re going on but I feel strong and confident knowing we are going on it together. I have so many hopes and dreams for you, little man, but for now let me start with this:

I hope you see the beauty in small things. I hope you can confront any challenge with a deep breath. Be patient. Try to find the good in any situation. Never suppress a generous thought. Cherish and respect the people that come into your life as you never know for how long you’ll have them. Learn from your mistakes and don’t regret them. Treat your body well. I hope you are never embarrassed to feel, cry, laugh, sing, dance, or love. Even if you stand alone, stand tall in making the right choices. Do what you love and do it wholeheartedly. Find joy in the journey. And enjoy. Enjoy it all.

Love you more than all the stars in the sky,
Your Momma

Where We Are Blog Turns Two!

OK, well we’re almost two. I’m getting a bit of a head start on celebrating. Can you blame me?!

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since Jared and I packed up our lives and moved from Richmond, Virginia up here to lovely New England. It was a whirlwind of holidays and house hunting back in December 2012 but finding this home was truly meant to be. There’s still so much to do but oh how far we’ve come! Speaking of which- have you checked out our House Tour page lately? It’s an accomplishment to say the least.

This blog has captured every demoed wall, every decorated space, and all the ups and downs in between. I am so grateful to have this perfect snapshot of our life for the last two years. And now…

Well… notice anything different?

Yup, we’ve undergone a little makeover here at Where We Are Blog. A new year always makes me crave a little refresh and this year certainly warrants a big one. I have to admit, my consistency with posts has weaned in the last half of this year and I can’t guarantee I’ll bounce back to my daily posts once I have a baby hanging off my boob… T.M.I.?

But I love this blog and I have stellar intentions to come back in 2015 as a new and improved lifestyle blog. We still have plenty of house projects so DIY and Home Decor will continue to be the heart of Where We Are Blog but I hope to incorporate some more Mommy Blog type posts as I transition into that new role myself.

So Happy Christmas and Merry Everything as we take a breath and prepare for this next chapter in our life together as a soon-to-be family of three. Keep in touch with us through all our social media channels listed in the right rail and don’t forget to sign up to follow Where We Are Blog via email.

I can’t thank you enough for reading and your interest in our little piece of the world. In the past two years, I’ve heard from family members near and far plus strangers all over the globe because of this blog. I’ve become virtual friends with fellow DIYers and reconnected with distant cousins! It’s a fabulous community to be a part of and I look forward to many more blogging adventures with you!

Baby Bump at Brooksby

Brooksby Farm is a legendary locale on the North Shore. A fall season rarely goes by without a field trip to good ol’ Brooksby for some apple picking and fresh cider donuts. So when North Shore photographer Julie Freitas suggested we meet at Brooksby for our maternity shoot, I replied “YES!” without hesitation.

Julie takes stunning photos of newborns and families that can best be described as cozy. The creamy colors and natural, rustic look was so obviously right up my alley. We’ll be bringing our little man to Julie’s studio in the days after he’s born to capture all the cuteness. I’ll be sure to share way more of those images in 2015 but for now, here are some of our favorites from our maternity shoot. Thanks again Julie!

Us

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Four Pics

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