currently · penelope

Currently… July

I haven’t checked in here all that often – I’ve been doing my best and keeping up with books, if nothing else! Every day I think it will be less crazy when Ellie hits whatever milestone, but every day remains crazy. Things are awesome and I wanted to update; I haven’t been purposely hiding but sometimes during any downtime I get, I want to zone out and read or play on my phone.

I am constantly reading posts from my birth group on Facebook, because it’s easy to pick up my phone every now and then rather than settle down for a long time. I highly recommend finding one if you have a baby – I ask a ton of dumb questions I don’t feel bad for asking because we are all in the same place, as far as baby age goes. I found my group via Reddit.

I’m still pumping 2x a day, which is way less than I was before – I am ready to kick the breast pump out of the house. It’s a gradual process, though. Can’t wait to be done with it! Ellie has already weaned from nursing, on her own through teething and she does better with bottles. Finding time to pump with a baby who is constantly crawling around is not easy.

Life update-wise, we have been living with my mom in SC for a while and it’s helped us out a ton after moving from Delaware. Ellie has so much more space and it gives us time to find our own place.

Ellie turns 9 months old tomorrow! She’s getting so tall; we think she might be around 28 inches from our measurements but we will find out at her doc appointment tomorrow.

We have been job searching for a while, and I found a job a few weeks ago and Greg recently also found a job, which he will start next month. Moving to a new state and job searching is no fun so I couldn’t wait to be done with it. My job is literally a mile or two away, which is fantastic. I feel like I’m living in Mayberry, sometimes, but it’s a good thing. We are in a really small town and we are getting used to everything being 20-30 minutes away in SC. My hours also give me Friday’s off, which is perfect to have some flexibility and extra time with Ellie.

The pics above are my desktop background at work – I love having her face smiling at me.

We played twinsies the other day and we put my shirt on her. Then she came at me like a baby velociraptor.

We took her out for her first storytime yesterday and she did great. She was totally wary of everyone the first 20 minutes but crawled out and explored for the last 10 minutes.

She was still pretty “WTF” about the whole thing.

She makes this squinchy face and breathes through her nose loudly ALL the time. It’s her favorite expression. Also, look at all those teeth! She has six, now.

I’m pretty sure she’ll be standing on her own soon. She can do it for stretches of a few seconds right now and she can stand up holding onto something with no problem.

Greg’s also being an awesome SAHD right now, until he starts work and Ellie starts daycare next month. I’m reallllly nervous about it because she’s wary of strangers and generally doesn’t like being around a lot of people, but hopefully she will adjust.

Today, Greg and I went out to Chipotle while my mom watched her for the first time since we moved here. Ellie did great! She didn’t want to eat much but I think she’ll get used to being watched by my mom.

This picture cracks me up.. she’s got such a goofy, happy grin in it.

That turned out to be mostly baby updates but that’s what my life is right now. We take her out shopping with us, she eats out with us sometimes and sits in a high chair and is generally pretty cool about things besides wanting to wake up at 5 am every single morning and not quite sleeping through the night.

Work is good so far – I wish I had full time hours sometimes for the pay but not really because I’m home more with Ellie, and Greg is going to be working long shifts, so a few less hours will stress me out less with me taking care of her a large portion of the time.

It’s buckets of hot outside every day and wickedly humid. Welcome back to the South, I guess! I know lots of you are in the South, as well, so you already know what the summers are like.

Hope you’re having a great summer and staying as cool as possible!


Penelope: 7 Months

Happy Mother’s Day! I haven’t updated a ton because literally almost all I take are baby photos. And her nap time is usually chill and read time. It’s been a while since I’ve done a baby update, so why not? She’s SEVEN. MONTHS. OLD. She’s going to be 18 and I’m going to be wondering how it happened so quickly. Hopefully not. There are lots of years in between. Babies grow ridiculously fast, though.

First of all, here is her looking extremely unimpressed at Chick Fil A. That wine list is not up to par. She sits in high chairs now. She also whacked herself in the eye with my salad lid after this and promptly had to be carried out of the restaurant, but she was okay soon after.

She’s growing into a toddler – AAAHHH! That sums up my thoughts on it.

Even further back.. this week, two days old, and me 40 weeks pregnant. She used to be so tiny!

Okay, all recent pics now. She is wiggling all around this week and almost crawling. She gets everywhere somehow without actually crawling. It has something to do with her rolling around like a turtle.

We fell off the cloth diaper wagon but I’m trying to get back on and we are doing them part-time. We’re trying pockets and I just got in a Harry Potter one and a Doctor Who one, yesss. Here’s her rainbow butt.

We call this chillin and Black Books. We watch a little Netflix every now and then. Mommy needs entertainment.

Family portrait. Also, I found her H&M dress at Once Upon a Child and was really excited.

She passed out on the way back from Target and I could not stop laughing at her. She was too adorable.

After bathtime is naked butt time and pile things on baby time.

She loves looking in the mirror and at our phone cameras. We bring her up to the door mirror after every nap to put her in a good mood.

Hope you have a fantastic Mother’s Day and weekend!

life · penelope

Moving + Baby Update

Things are a little crazy around our house but maybe I can share a quick update, and spam everyone with baby pictures. We decided to move – we are going to be moving from Delaware to South Carolina!

We had planned for Ellie and I to go there anyway, while Greg was in training, but since we are still waiting on news on that, we are all going down to my mom’s house. Our apartment is getting too crowded and we both need a break from the schedule we were following. If we hear back that Greg’s application went through, he’ll go to military training, and if not we will probably stay in SC and look for a place down there. Either way, we will be moving this weekend!

Ellie has been up to so much, lately. I can’t believe how much she changes so quickly.

She loves taking selfies with me.

She can stand pretty well on her own, with a little help for balance!
She can rotate 360 degrees on her play mat and tries really hard to crawl. Babyproofing will be needed as soon as we move!
Sometimes Google Photos makes gifs for me. She’s trying to crawl!
The Exersaucer is her favorite thing. She will jump around and babble all day in it.
She loves her Sassy zebra and giraffe toys, and Greg loves to stick things on her head.
She also loves to rip out chunks of my hair, so it’s up pretty much all the time.
She does really well sitting up on her own, until she falls over.
She’s more interested in eating her bib and playing with her chair than actually eating her oatmeal cereal.
She loves to smile.
Sometimes she is SUPER happy to see me in the morning.
She saw her first snow storm and was very interested but wasn’t a huge fan. I’m glad we had one big snowfall before we move!
She keeps growing! She’ll be 6 months in 2 weeks, and we just bought 9 month jammies yesterday because she’s too long for her 6 month ones.

Our sleep has improved, although you never know when babies are going to change things up. We may have to work on it again once we move – we’ve been doing some sleep training, which has helped us all get a little more sleep. If only I could sleep train my cat so she would stop clawing the door at 5 am for me to feed her.


Things I Didn’t Know About Having a Baby

+ The sleep deprivation is real. Like ‘haha, new parents get no sleep’ is something everybody knows. But I did not know why sleep deprivation is a good form of torture. Now I do. Just saying.

+ Just when you think you’ve got the hang of things, baby says, “Nah. Let’s completely do everything differently.” Again with sleep – great, we’ve got things figured out. Oh wait, here comes the 4 month sleep regression. Will life ever be the same again?

+ Life hits the extremes – I’m extremely happy or extremely sad at times.

+ Everything she does is totally amazing. I never thought I’d be so excited to see someone roll. She can now roll at will. This is as close to proof as I have.

+ She can drive me crazy overnight and then be totally adorable in the morning.

+ I will now cry at anything remotely parenting related in a movie or TV show.

+ I never know if I’m doing anything right. Should I keep breastfeeding? How long should I keep the swaddle? How long should she go between naps? My questions never end in my head.

+ I think babies already have a personality at birth. She’s always wanted to be close to us and seemingly has no interest in personal space, although she will put up with it if we are at least in the same room.

+ When she laughs, I laugh. It’s scientific fact.

+ She’s almost 5 months old and I still don’t know all the answers and am always looking for the next milestone. I keep looking for the next stage when things get easier.

+ People will give you lots of unneeded advice. Today, someone told me that their baby never napped after three months and slept through the night. That’s unhelpful as well as unlikely. My mom has no memory of me waking up during the night. I’m pretty sure we forget these things as kids get older.

+ Life is great, but also really hard. There are lots of ups and downs. Ellie is totally amazing in all ways. I don’t want to sugar coat it and say that taking care of a baby + balancing life is easy, though. It’s crazy! Totally bananas. Some days are better, some worse. But at the end of it all, I’ve got this sweet baby beast AKA Stormageddon, because what else would she be called.

I had a sleep deprived night if you can’t tell, but on the bright side, Greg has taken to making me pies while he’s at home with Ellie, so there are many good things in this world – pie being one of them. Tonight I will have a slice of strawberry pie before going in for another round.


Our Experience With Cloth Diapering

When I first found out I was pregnant, I spent months researching baby gear and how to prepare. At no point in those first few months did I consider cloth diapering. I knew other people did it, but I was so overwhelmed by baby stuff, I thought no way was it for us. It wasn’t until a couple of months before Penelope was born that I really started getting into it.

What got me into it? I’m not going to lie – it wasn’t the earth-saving factor, it was the cost-saving factor. I was really interested in saving lots of money. Other things I like about it are that it’s better for the environment and makes less trash for our tiny living space, and the prints make your baby’s butt look so cute! I also think it’s softer on her skin and is less likely to cause diaper rash.

There are lots of ways to cloth diaper, and it can be overwhelming deciding what you need. We are still figuring out what works for us, but we’ve had a good experience so far and I wanted to share what we’ve been doing.

What we use:
– Green Mountain Diapers Cloth-eez prefolds*
– Blueberry Capri covers
– Thirsties Duo Wrap covers
– Diaper sprayer
– Diaper wet bag

*This is their website, where we bought everything except for the diaper sprayer. They have pics of the diapers on babies so you can see how they fit (click “see this on a baby” on a diaper page; here’s one example) – it’s really helpful.

Why we use prefolds:
There are different types of cloth diapers, which you can find explanations of on sites like Fluff Love University. We went with prefolds after I did some research. They are basically a thick absorbent cloth that you place inside a diaper cover. They are cost-effective, because most times you only need to change the diaper and can reuse the diaper cover. So instead of buying a lot of pocket diapers or similar ones, which could be slightly costly and have to be washed after every change, we bought 24 prefolds and 5 covers from Green Mountain Diapers.

Here’s a pic of how we set up our diapers to explain what I mean. It’s super easy! There are other folds you can do, but this one is simple. We might have to change it up soon since she’s getting a bit bigger.

I change out the white fabric in the middle, and unless she’s had an explosive poo, I reuse the cover.

The prefolds are also great to use for other things like burp cloths. We leave one on the changing table for when she pees/poops between changes.

Our routine:
Our current routine looks something like this:

  • Change diaper, put old diaper in wet bag if just pee.
  • If there’s poo, we put the diaper in a plastic bin on our changing table, and as soon as we get a chance take it to spray it off in the toilet (we sometimes collect a few in the bin before we spray it off).
  • Wash diapers once a day, usually when wet bag starts filling up. Our wash routine is: wash once on cold with no soap, wash on hot with soap, and then throw them in the dryer.

And that is basically it. We do laundry daily, and for us that is okay.

I have recently started using disposables at night since she’s been soaking her newborn diapers and I haven’t moved her up to the smalls yet. The disposables keep her a bit drier for extended times.

I dug around and watched YouTube videos and read things here and there about cloth diapering before deciding what to use. You can find lots and I love looking at the different kinds of diapers. I would still like to try pocket diapers and other kinds once we have a little more expendable cash. This system works for our small budget right now, and I am a fan. I would also like to get some more covers once she sizes up – I am crazy about prints.

Tiny Penelope!

One other good thing about cloth diapers is that they retain some value. If you don’t want to keep them for if you have more kids later, you can resell them to get some of your money back.

We started using them around week two, and I’m glad because although it was scary to start, we are now comfortable with them (until she changes her routine up on us or grows, of course – then we have to adjust, but that’s baby life). I think with either disposables or cloth, you get used to what works for you. Every baby has a different fit/brand that works better for them.

I have also heard the advice that when starting with cloth to buy a few different kinds to see what you like before buying an entire set. I think that’s definitely a good idea, too, although we went ahead and bought a small set of what we wanted.

penelope · photos

Penelope’s Newborn Photos

We recently got back Penelope’s newborn photos. These were taken over two and a half months ago! It’s a nice comparison for how tiny she was vs how big she is now.

I talked to the photographer about ideas we had for her photos beforehand and she was willing to work with us on all of them. I was so happy since I knew I wanted some nerdy ones for her nerdy parents.

 Her stats – 20 in, 7 lbs 6 oz, born Oct 3 at 1:02 PM.

Our little circus lion.

Future Harry Potter fan, I hope. I’d love to read it with/to her one day. We have more Harry Potter themed ones and are waiting to get the full library of our photoshoot on a flash drive from the photographer. This is just one of my favorites! I’m so happy my set of Harry Potter books made it into the photos.

Doctor Who was a theme I was really excited about, and I think this might be my favorite photo. We had a bunch of Doctor Who items already, like the TARDIS and sonic screwdriver, and our photographer brought in her own Dalek and made a little tutu.

We did some classic style baby photos, which I’m glad for because she looks so sweet.

 Tiny hobbit feet!

The day of her photographs was a long day but totally worth it! I’m so happy with how they came out. Our photographer said it was the highest number of successful sets she had done for a newborn shoot. I felt like we really put her to work, but we were working hard, too. The first week of having a newborn is exhausting, and this was just a few days after she was born. I plan on keeping these to remind me how tiny she was.

penelope · photos

Two Months with Penelope

First of all, can we have a Blogger app invented for iPhone 7 soon? I don’t know how people get things done with babies. My bedtime is 8 PM after Penelope goes to sleep and I am not willing to give up any precious sleep.

Penelope is two months already! Two and a half, now. I am so excited for her first Christmas, but it’s also nerve-wracking prepping for her first big trip (long drive) and being somewhere other than home for a bit.

Walking with dad when the weather was still nice.

Boba trying to get some snuggly time, since I spend all my time snuggling baby now.

She was really excited about bicycle legs for a while. We are waiting for her first laugh, but she smiles all the time!

Being silly and cute.

First time we tried her sitting up on the Boppy by herself.

I’m addicted to Snapchat-ing my baby.

Getting ready for Christmas by trying on her hat.

Her first encounter with the wild house beast.

We found out her weight and length at her two month appointment.

Our attempt at tummy time. She tried to eat the mat and then promptly began crying.

She smiles at me in the car seat and it is the sweetest thing ever.

Looking like such a big baby. She can hold her head up really well now, although she doesn’t have perfect control.

She cracks me up with her faces. She was looking at me like this – guess I must have looked funny to her.

We are at 10 weeks and every week has its challenges. The past couple weeks have been figuring out naps, which we are still working on. There’s so much she wants to look at, she doesn’t always want to sleep. She’s so sweet and adorable. I will love when she can play toys with us. Right now our faces are interesting enough for her.

penelope · photos

6 Weeks With Penelope

I’ve been wanting to make a post for the longest time, but baby seriously takes up 24/7 of our time! Not that I’m complaining. The first few weeks were really rough but things are a little better now, and she is changing all the time. She smiles so much now, I love it! She still smacks herself in the face, so I can’t wait till she learns how to use her arms.

She’s six weeks now and she’s a happy little crazy beast most of the time. She still eats, sleeps, and poops for the whole day, so we look forward to one day when she’s able to play with us, but I am enjoying her cuddles and spend my time taking about 1000 photos of her. 
I’ve also been watching a lot of Netflix when it’s just her and I. I’m on Call the Midwife right now. She just woke up from her nap, so I’ve already got to stop writing for now, but I hope I will get to update with our (so far) very positive experience with cloth diapers soon.

Penelope’s Birth Story

I’m going to work on this while it’s still somewhat fresh in my mind. Penelope is two weeks old, and life with a newborn is totally different and overwhelming at times. I definitely haven’t had much time for things other than baby. We are doing well, and there are good times where she naps for long periods of time, which is when I can do a few things.

I always liked reading labor stories when I was pregnant, so I wanted to share hers for myself to remember and for anyone else who is interested.

October 2nd
9 PM
We went in to the hospital to begin my induction, since I was at 41 weeks 1 day and only 1 cm dilated. I was ready to get things moving and my doctor recommended the induction to make sure the placenta stayed healthy.

We checked in and got all set up in our room and met the nurse who would be taking care of me for the night. I immediately rammed my knee into the side of the bed as soon as I tried to get in, so you could say it started off very well. Once I got in the bed, monitors were hooked up to my belly, so it was interesting to be able to see the contractions on the screen.

10:30 PM
They started with the foley bulb, which goes into the cervix and is blown up like a small balloon to help dilate the cervix. A doctor placed the foley bulb, and when she was done, I asked her if the bed was heated, because I was feeling really warm where I was lying. She looked puzzled and said no, then checked on things down there and found that she had accidentally broken my water. Oops, but it just meant that they would prefer me to have the baby in the next 12 hours or so.

I waited in the bed (with about 12 layers of cloths under me to soak up the water) with Greg sitting in a chair beside me, holding my hand, and my nurse left to let things start moving. The contractions started getting stronger after about half an hour or so, and I began squeezing Greg’s hand through them, although they were still manageable.

October 3rd
12:30 AM
Greg actually fell asleep at some point, and I was squeezing his hand trying to wake him up, because I needed to pee and needed his help getting to the bathroom, but I had to say his name and poke him. I went pee and that’s when my foley bulb popped out. That was good news and meant the induction was working, so I called in the nurse and she started me on pitocin to get contractions going.

I stayed on the pitocin working through contractions by squeezing Greg’s hand for the next couple hours, and made it to 3 or 4 cm before I asked for the epidural. The contractions were getting stronger at that point. I knew that I wanted an epidural before I came in, but I wanted to wait as long as I could hold off because I wouldn’t be able to walk around afterward.

3:30 AM
They placed the epidural, which was not nearly as bad as I expected. I sat up in the bed while it was placed and Greg sat right in front of me, holding my hands, and the doctor was very quick.

After that, things got much better and I couldn’t feel the pain, just pressure, and I could still move my legs.

10:00 AM
I was checked on every hour or so to see how things were going and things got to where they needed to be for me to be able to push when I felt the urge. I was 10 cm dilated and baby was at zero station, meaning she was ready to go.

11:15 AM
My midwife had me try a few practice pushes, which went well, but I couldn’t feel too much. I still hadn’t made further progress or had a strong urge to push after a while, so she gave me two options: continue waiting to see how things go or stop the epidural to give me more feeling and increase the urge to push. I was really scared to stop the epidural, but I looked to Greg for support and we both agreed to stop it.

12:00 PM
That was definitely a turning point where things got more intense. I fully intended to do epidural all the way, so finishing it without meds was not in my plans. The contractions got stronger and stronger, and things are a little fuzzy in the timeline after that. I know sometime after that, I called my midwife back in because I wanted to try to push.

I could be off on the timeline, because I was focusing on getting through each contraction, but I began pushing, which was really hard. That’s probably an understatement – it was the hardest thing I’ve done. My midwife was really great in guiding me through it, telling me exactly where to push and how to use the rest of my body doing it. To me, it felt like forever that I was pushing, but my family tells me it was a really short time. Greg thinks it was only about 20 mins, and my mom, who was also in the delivery room, thinks it was about an hour.

I also ended up using the mirror, which I didn’t think I would want, but my midwife suggested it may help me to see her. I actually think it did help, since then I could see if I was making progress and actually see her head (full of hair). My mom told me afterward that I was just letting out small yells/screams, but I felt like I was screaming bloody murder. It was an intense experience, but I kept telling myself how badly I wanted her to come out, and Greg, my mom, and the midwife were all there giving me lots of support.

1:02 PM
Every contraction was extremely strong and painful at this point, but finally as one big contraction hit, I pushed as hard as I could (if you’ve ever seen Total Recall with that scene with their eyeballs about to burst out of their face, that’s I felt like!), and Penelope was born, loud and screaming, into this world.

After that, they immediately put her on my chest and she knew right away how to breastfeed. I held her for about an hour doing skin to skin, feeling totally exhausted and relieved and happy, and then they measured and weighed her.

We have been trying to get used to living with a tiny person ever since. It’s definitely life-altering. Some days are hard, really hard, but other times are better.

I haven’t had any time for reading blogs and it may take me a bit to get back into any routine, but I appreciate everyone who has been reading and/or thinking of us – all the comments have been really kind and I hope I can catch up again one day. I haven’t gotten to my computer much, but I’ve been reading comments on my phone and I appreciate them, even if it takes me a while to respond!


One Week with Penelope

I wanted to check in really quick since things have been such a whirlwind. We have been trying to keep up with Penelope’s feeding, sleeping, and pooping schedule. Now I have a moment while she’s taking a little nap. She will be one week tomorrow; here is what she’s been up to so far. More to come on the labor and delivery later on.

Penelope Willow was born on October 3rd at 1:02 PM, weighing 7 lbs 6 oz, and measuring 20 in long.

We are both crazy about her and so, so happy. It has not been easy so far, but she is the sweetest thing ever and I am so thankful she’s ours. Now I’m off to go do some more boob torture, I mean breastfeeding.