penelope

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.

books

What I’ve Been Reading

I may not get around to many posts these days, but I can’t miss book linkup day.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore – 4 stars
I finished up the Graceling series with this book. Overall, I loved the series. They each focused on a different character and I enjoyed the change in viewpoint. This was probably my favorite after number one. Fire was also good, but the character was a little too emotional for me. Bitterblue was more of a puzzle. I think the reveal at the end could have been a little better. The series tied together really well, however.

The Liar by Jennifer Wells – 3.5 stars
via NetGalley
This follows the story of a housewife in 1935 who thinks she lost her daughter 10 years ago, as she tries to find out what really happened. It didn’t have me at the edge of my seat, but it was interesting and an easy read. It keeps you guessing the entire way as to what the real story is, and it took me till the very end to find out.

Hooked on Love by Jennie Marts – 2.5 stars
via NetGalley
This is possibly a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” I felt like rolling my eyes through this whole book. It was just like a rom-com movie in book form, so if you enjoy those, you may enjoy this. It claimed to be a romantic comedy, but the comedy was not my sense of humor. I like more quirky, less cheesy. Although there were some fairly raunchy bits, so if you want a lighter Sparks-esque book with descriptive scenes, it may be for you.

The Yellow Envelope by Kim Dinan – 4.5 stars
via NetGalley
Kim and her husband, Brian, decide to quit their jobs and sell everything they own to travel the world. I loved how this followed the deconstruction and rebuilding of a person. I can relate, as someone who has recently experienced a quarter-life crisis. I have never felt the same strong urge to go as far as leaving everything behind, but I can understand. The relationship parts were very personal, and I love the things she finds on her journey and how they change her. They are things that I would like to implement in my own life. I think if you like travel and growth stories, you will love this book.

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney – 4 stars
via NetGalley
I didn’t realize it when I requested it, but there is a lot of hype about this book. Ron Howard has apparently bought the film rights. It makes sense, because I can definitely see it as a movie. The story switches between two different characters’ viewpoints, and it took me a while to remember which was which (one is “then” and one is “now”), but I was fine once I got into it. If you like suspenseful books with interesting/crazy set-up’s (I can never step away from a good set-up), you would probably like this.







My reading pace has slowed a bit this month, so I may have a few less books next time. I’m back at work, and I haven’t made reading a priority with Ellie being 4 months old and me trying to figure out work/baby life. Also, I’m only (hopefully) temporarily working right now so life is just crazy. 

I’m currently reading How to Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber, M.D. Fascinating read haha! It actually is interesting, so far. And I really want to get more sleep again one day. Sleep is wonderful.

Linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books!

thankful thursday

Thankful Thursday

Today seemed like a good day to join Rebecca’s Thankful Thursday linkup, because I am stressing myself out, lately, and it’s nice to remind myself of the things about which I should be happy.

+ Daddy care – While we wait to hear some news about what we’ll be doing, I am able to go back to work as needed for at least the next month or so while Greg takes care of Ellie. One bonus is that it gives me an idea of what it’s like to be away from her during the day. I feel okay about being away when I know it’s Greg at home with her. I am still not ready for daycare if we have to go that route, but I’m glad for now I am able to work and Penelope is with someone she loves. She is 14 weeks and growing so fast, it’s hard to believe.

+ Coworkers – My coworkers are awesome. It’s been nice to come back to somewhere I feel so welcome. Coworkers can make all the difference. I used to love my old job and quit because the quality of people was making me overworked. My current job is very temporary but the folks are pretty lovely while I’m here.

+ Zillow – I am addicted to it and I’m glad there is something to show me what housing costs anywhere I want to check out. Penelope definitely needs more space than we have in our one bedroom apartment, so I have been browsing our dream homes (a yard?? what’s a yard?).

+ Technology – I’m pretty sure I would have fallen asleep breastfeeding many times if it weren’t for my iPhone. I reach for my Kindle sometimes, but at 3 AM, that tends to make me more sleepy.

+ Beautiful baby – She is the sweetest and smiliest and I want to hold her all the time. I love when she smiles at me when I come home or when she’s peeking over Greg’s shoulder at me while he’s walking around. And I love when we play ‘booty pats’ on the changing table and she laughs.

Bonus picture of us trying to fit her in her little gangster hoodie and her looking at us like, “What are you doing to me?”

+ Chick-Fil-A – They almost always get my order right. And I always order a salad with no cheese, which is a little weird to them maybe. And a giant waffle fry. And a huge sweet tea. And zero chicken ever, but they don’t complain.

Between working and night feeding/sleep deprivation and not knowing for sure when/where we’ll be moving, I have been stressing like crazy. I would share more, but I don’t know anything definite about our near future plans, so I’d rather wait. We are fine and good; I’m just obsessive and need to know a plan way ahead of time or I lose my mind. So, the waiting stinks. We will find out everything in time and I will try to be patient!

books

What I’ve Been Reading


That’s basically how I get 90% of my reading done these days. I used to have a cat in my lap, and now it’s a snuggly baby…and also cats.

I’ve read some really good books, lately, and I love finding tons more via this linkup. It’s one of my favorite times of the month.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – 4.5 stars
Received via NetGalley
I was crazy about this one and it was such a disturbing book. I couldn’t put it down. I don’t know how else to describe it except that it was weird and creepy, and you should read it and see what you think.
Strangers (Lucy Clayburn #1) by Paul Finch – 4 stars
Received via NetGalley
This thriller took me a bit to get into, but flew along once I did. It was set in the UK, which can sometimes throw me with police terms, but not at all this time. I’m interested to see where the series leads, since we got a pretty good backstory in this one.

Good Behavior by Blake Crouch – 4 stars
Received via NetGalley

I didn’t realize when I started that it was a few short stories instead of a novel. It was a fast read and enjoyable. The character seemed a little inconsistent at times, but it was easy accept that and get into the quick little stories.

Market Street Cinema by Michele Machado – 3 stars
Received via NetGalley

I’m not sure what genre to qualify this as. Adult fiction but not sexy? It was a very short read and I felt kinda ‘eh’ about it, because I didn’t identify with any of the characters and the story didn’t grab me. I felt like the ending was a little too dramatic compared to the rest of the story.
I’ve heard about this series for a while and I’m glad I finally checked it out. I love the world and the relationships between the characters. There was a bit that was slow (hint: I hate journeys), but the rest was really good.

It’s hard to pick which I enjoyed more between books 1 and 2, because they take place in totally different lands with almost all different characters. That said, I actually liked the fresh start and all the new characters of Fire. This one had a bit more of an emotional story and writing, although it didn’t make me cry. Once I adjusted to all the new creatures and settings in this book, I loved it.

My top picks were The Roanoke Girls and the Graceling series – you should check them out if no others.
Life According to Steph

I’m linking up today with Steph and Jana today for Show Us Your Books. You can follow me here on Goodreads.

bestof · books

Favorite Books in 2016

There’s nothing having a baby hasn’t made me great at if not being late to EVERYTHING. Better late than never, right?

I had a decent book year this year… looking back, I read 12 more books than last year. I shall try to read even more next year, although I make no promises to myself.

Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch

I flew through this series like it was literary crack. It’s not great literature, but it had me at the edge of my seat and gave me nightmares. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but it was a great read.

The Help by Katheryn Stockett

I finally read this book and it had me crying great big tear balls. I highly recommend, and it made me want to rewatch the movie. The end makes you want to fist pump.

Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

This is another book that made me immediately go find the movie after reading it. I loved the way this was written. The plot is simple, but the writing and setting are beautiful.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

As much as the third book descends into the realms of chaos and is at times meandering, the first two have a soft spot in my heart. I love the cast of characters and the story.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes

This was written so lovingly and I learned much about the actors and making of the movie. It was fascinating and sweet.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

This is a sneak peek into next month’s reviews, but I loved this book. I could not put it down, and it was so interesting and disturbing.

These are the books that left me with the most feeling even months after reading them, although I enjoyed many this year. I hope I can catch up next month to share what I’ve been reading, since I missed a month or two.

I’m linking up with Steph & Jana for SUYB / Favorite Reads of 2016.

christmas · currently

Currently… Christmas Edition

Reading: I just finished reading Market Street Cinema by Michele Machado. It was a NetGalley read that was short and not bad but didn’t leave a strong impression on me. Next on my list is Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I downloaded the Overdrive app to check out Kindle books from my library, and it’s perfect because I can read with one hand while holding Ellie. I am a big fan of physical books, but it’s way more practical to use my Kindle right now, and even better that I can still check out library books.

Watching: I haven’t been watching anything lately, because I’ve been trying to catch up on reading, but I watched a lot with Penelope in the first month or so. I love Call the Midwife on Netflix. I may be a bit baby obsessed, but it’s a great show, anyway.

Feeling: Like we are totally crazy for taking an 11 week old on a normally 10 hour road trip. My family really wants to see the baby, so we are taking a trip to visit them over Christmas.

Enjoying: Ellie’s smiles – she has recently been loving when I burble my lips at her, and she tries to do it back at me. It is so adorable!

Wanting: All I want for Christmas this year is sleep and maybe a date night. Ellie has been fighting the bottle, so I’m not sure if my mom will be able to watch her or not. There are so many good movies out right now we would love to see, like Rogue One.


Eating: I cut out dairy again *bye cheese, miss you,* because Ellie has lots of spit up and no dairy for me seems to help. We made these vegan chocolate chocolate chip cookies, and they are delicious – so chewy and perfect.

Wishing: Everyone has a perfectly awesome Christmas holiday! We are traveling down to SC and plan to stay for a week or so. We aren’t doing gifts for each other or Ellie this year, because we have too much going on and our finances don’t leave room for extra spending. It’s totally fine, because we don’t need anything and the only things I want are immaterial, like sleep, relaxation, or maybe a hair cut. 

We already got the best gift this year, duh, and she is too sweet. We are waiting to find out lots of things about our future plans, about when we are going to move etc… I just want to know more.

Hope you are all having a wonderful week and enjoy your Christmas plans, whatever they may be.

penelope

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.