Wednesday, November 30, 2011

you get what you pay for

Last January, husby and I bought our first home.  I was very newly pregnant at the time and quite naive to the gear and space requirements of a new child.

We bought our home with the intention of living in it for 3 - 5 years and eventually renting it out when we were ready to purchase a larger home.  This made a lot of sense to us because home rentals are fairly easy to maintain, are great long term investments, and because we're near the downtown area and a major state university renting it out to good tenants would be very easy.

Fast forward to October and our cute little 2 bed, 1 bath home is feeling awfully cramped with swings, bouncers, jumpers, play mats and various Boppy pillows filling up the open spaces.  Long story short is that we're now in the market to buy a new home within the next 6 - 8 months but this time we'd like to buy our forever home.

The problem we're encountering is size versus location.  We love our location; lots of great restaurants within walking distance, beautiful neighborhoods with developed communities with lots of history surrounding them.  However, if we move a little further out our money will get us a lot more bang for our buck.  Either way we'll be in a bigger home but it might not big enough if our family expands again in the future or we might be a greater distance from the amenities and features that we enjoy now.

What would you rather have, lots of space to spread out or a fab location?  I'm leaning towards location...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

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Christmas Time Is Coming or Here

I know that for many people Christmas time begins the day after Thanksgiving, and it seems for a lot of people this year Christmas time began the day after Halloween.  Well, for me Christmas time begins the first day of December.  Not for my husband though, he's one of those people who is ready to start celebrating Christmas the day after Thanksgiving.  Since this is our first year celebrating Christmas with our baby girl we're thinking about what we want our traditions to be regarding the holidays.  

We've already decided and implemented that Thanksgiving will be celebrated at our house from now on, with this being our first Thanksgiving in 8 years where neither of us had to get in the car and drive to multiple family get togethers.  

For our Christmas traditions, this is what we plan on doing:

1.  We're going to get our Christmas tree the first weekend of December every year.  

2.  Outdoor Christmas lights, stockings and other Christmas decor will go up the day after Thanksgiving. 

3.  Maddie will have a mini Christmas tree in her room (a friend of mine always had this when we were growing up and I thought it was soooo cool!) 

4.  A new Christmas ornament will be added every year, purchased from where ever we take our family vacation at (this is a tradition that we do in my family, I have a NYC taxi ornament that hangs on my mom's tree every year.) 

5.  Our Christmas tree topper will go on the tree on Christmas Eve (this is a tradition that husby's family does every year.)  

I love that we'll be taking a tradition from my family, a tradition from his family and starting traditions of our own.  For both of our families the Christmas tree just went up whenever it went up, mostly based on how busy the family was or wasn't.  

Are you starting any new Christmas traditions this year?  

To insight a little holiday spirit, here's a picture of Maddie girl in her little Christmas onesie.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

two months already

On Friday my little Madeleine turned 2 months old and this afternoon we'll be going to the doctor's office to see how much this sweet girl weighs, how long she is and lastly, we'll be there for her to get her shots.  I'm guessing she's right around 15 pounds, about 25 inches long and I'm really not looking forward to her receiving her shots.  :(

I've heard from other parents that the mothers tend to cry more than their babies do during these appointments and I'm thinking that will probably be out situation as well.  I'm incredibly protective of my daughter and although I know that she needs to be immunized I can't stand the thought of something causing her pain.

Wish me luck, I think I'm going to need it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Baby Motivation

Before I was pregnant I had heard that it was customary for new moms to receive pearls from their husbands, but it was more of an East coast or Southern tradition.  Then early in my pregnancy a friend asked me what I wanted my husband to get me as a 'push present' after our daughter was born.  Silly me, I hadn't even thought of it for myself.  So I brought the subject of a push present up to my husband and he was all for it.  After some careful thought, I decided that I wanted a charm bracelet that I could one day pass down to my daughter.  And so began the search for a timeless charm bracelet that would be appropriate for me to wear now and be appropriate to give to my daughter in about 20 years.  Tiffany had the perfect solution:

There's something good in there!  

Tiffany has classic charms and their chains are built so that every link opens meaning that you can make the chains to any length that you desire.  So what I have now is a chain that can be worn as a necklace or bracelet now and when Maddie is old enough I'll give her half of the chair and the charms that were given to me on the day that she was born. :)  When the hubs gave me my push present he also gave me 3 charms: a little baby cup charm with ABC blocks engraved on it, a small circular charm with an M for Madeleine on it, and a heart charm with pink sapphires (Madeleine's birth stone) embedded into it.  I absolutely love this piece of jewelry.  I think charm bracelets are classic and meaningful but still fun.  The fact that I'll be able to share this with my daughter someday just makes me so incredibly happy.

Did you receive a push present after the birth of your child?  Do you have something meaningful that you're planning to pass down to your child in the future?

Monday, November 21, 2011

to work or not to work

During my pregnancy I was repeatedly asked if I would return to work or not after my maternity leave was up.  Initially, the answer was always yes.  I didn't want my life to revolve around my baby and I loved the feeling of being productive and because I work for a not-for-profit company, I also like that I help people.  However, as my due date drew nearer and now that Madeleine is here, I'm 99.9% sure that I won't be returning to the workforce before my daughter is 2 years old.  Here's why: 

1.  One of the reasons that I wanted to return to work was that I liked my job.  I still do like the work that I was doing but the further removed I become from my co-workers the more I realize that I want to be in a place that's much more professional.  I feel like I'm settling in the position that I currently have and that I can easily attain a bigger and better position.  

2.  On the note of bigger and better things, I do need to finish my studying and taking the exams for my CPA certification so I can move onto said bigger and better things.  There is absolutely no way that I can work full time, spend the time I want to spend with my daughter and still manage to successfully study and pass the CPA exams.  Out of those 3 things, the one I'm most willing to give up is work. 

3.  My boss is absolutely wonderful to work for.  He's motivating and critical without being pushy or offensive.  My co-workers on the other hand, there are a few that I do enjoy interacting with but the vast majority of my co-workers are tolerated and there are even a few that I go out of my way to avoid contact with entirely.  Like the co-worker who asked me point blank, at my desk, if my pregnancy was on accident and then followed that question up with asking if we conceived our baby on our honeymoon (both answers are no, btw).  Or the co-worker who cries when she asks me for my sales tax reports and if she doesn't get them within an hour of asking me for them, complains to my boss.  Or the other co-workers who complain whenever anything goes slightly amiss and nearly demand that I correct the situation, although the situations never have anything to do with me.  I can certainly live without all of that stress and drama in my life.  I would never want to bring that home with me, especially after being away from my daughter all day long.  

4.  Now that Madeleine is here, there are a handful of people that I fully trust to watch my daughter to babysit, and I only feel comfortable with my mom watching her overnight.  I honestly don't know what I would do with Madeleine for daycare if I were to return to work.  She's so little and I definitely don't want her to do in-home daycare because I don't feel like it's structured enough or that there is enough accountability and transparency for me to feel comfortable.  I wouldn't mind putting her into a larger structured daycare facility but at that point how much would I be shelling out for someone to watch my daughter?  Additionally, it doesn't feel right that I'm paying someone to spend time with my daughter when we can comfortably afford for me to stay home.  

5.  Lastly, the hubs really wants one of us to stay home with our daughter.  He wants at least one of us to be able to experience all of her "firsts" and major developments and not hear about them from someone else.  It's a pretty good argument.  

In short, I'm nearly positive that I'll be staying home with Maddie for the next couple years.  How did you decide whether or not to return to work after maternity leave was up?  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

the portable baby

Maddie girl is 7 weeks old and I can count on one hand how many times I've taken her out shopping by myself, and only one of those times was to go grocery shopping.  Today I will attempt grocery shopping with her again.  You see, I have a fear of taking my new little baby out in public by myself.  Why you ask, oh, because I'm terrified of being the person who can't control their kid, even though my kid happens to be a tiny little baby I still don't want her screaming and crying in a store.  I don't know, the whole idea gives me anxiety.  

However, I do have all of the necessary gear to take babykins out in public, 2 strollers (a BOB jogging stroller and an UppaBaby Vista) and 2 baby carriers (Baby Bjorn and Moby Wrap).  

The best purchase that I made as far as toting the babe around with me is..... the baby bjorn active!  It's comfortable (I've heard many complaints about it causing back pain, the active version has more lumbar support) and I purchased it from Gilt Group so I got it for a killer deal.  The moby is decent, it doesn't feel super secure for a newborn so I still find myself holding her head with one hand while she's in it, plus it's not as easy to get on and take off as the Bjorn is.  

As far as strollers go, the BOB is smooth and looks pretty good even though it is pretty sporty looking and I bought the car seat adapter so I could just hook her car seat in and go for a walk before she has full head control.  The biggest problem with the BOB is that it's really heavy and it's pretty large.  If you don't plan on hauling it in or out of your car on a daily basis and need a stroller for outdoor use, it's a great stroller.  For everything else, the UppaBaby Vista has been a champ!  I bought mine in the silver color and it looks pretty sleek and clean.  Super smooth ride and very easy handling.  I love that it comes with the bassinet for newborns and the seat for older babies.  The best part is that IF and when we do decide to have another kiddo, the Vista can be converted to tote around 2 babies.  So I could justify the price as I will be able to use it again some day.  

At the end of the day, the Baby Bjorn is my top pick for transporting Madeleine around.  I wear it around the house when I'm doing laundry or cooking, I wear it to calm her down when she's really fussy, and I always use the Bjorn when I take her out in public because it really does feel incredibly secure, it's easy to put on and take off and it doesn't look too ridiculous, the best part is that I always have 2 hands free for shopping.  

What gear do you use to take your baby out in public?  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Project threethreethree

Do you think you could go 3 months with only 33 items in your closet?  That's my new mission starting today!  Yesterday when I was on Polyvore, drooling over gorgeous clothes that I'm dying to purchase, I came across the icon and, subsequently, the website for Project 333.  The whole point of this website and mission is to live on less, and as a byproduct on living on less fashion wise there is more creativity, thought and style brought through with a wardrobe, outfit and personal presentation on a daily basis.  This is PERFECT for me!  I love clothes and I have so many pieces that I love but I ultimately end up wearing my favorite pieces repeatedly yet never quite nailing down the style that I mean to portray.  By narrowing down my closet it will be easier to curb my spending and ultimately give me a better look.

Today I'm working on pairing down the items that will stay in my closet and things that will be boxed up and moved into the coat closet (out of sight, out of mind.)  I should also add that I'm not including accessories or handbags into my 33 items for this quarter.  I'm a beginner and I really am still working on my desired style, plus, one of my handbags would have to be my diaper bag and I just don't think that's fair.  :) 

Here is my first look (what I'm wearing today) for the Fall 2011 quarter: 

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Virtual Closet

I've been frequenting a website called Polyvore which is basically like a virtual closet where you can add existing items or wish-listed items, similar to the way you add items to Pinterest.  It's like having a virtual inspiration board where you can mesh many items together onto one board.  I happen to only use Polyvore for clothes for the time being (I plan on using it for home decor as well, once I'm not distracted by all of the beautiful clothes) and it's really been helping me to utilize more of my closet and unfortunately it's also been inspiring me to shop.  For example, yesterday I made this outfit:

Untitled #37

J Crew v neck t shirt, $20
Leather jacket, $108
Abercrombie & Fitch vintage jeans, $38
Juicy couture handbag, $198
Rachel crystal stud earrings, $12
Halogen wool scarve, $58

The only downside to this is that I have everything seen above with the exception of that leather jacket...and now I REALLY want that leather jacket. So I'm thinking what I'm going to do is make a list of items that I want but don't yet have and can't quite justify (leather jacket, Tory Burch leather flats, etc.) and slowly purchase them. I was thinking 1 - 3 wish list item a month is probably pretty good depending on the overall cost of the items. The upside is that this will prevent me from making impulse purchases of items that are worn once or twice and then sit in my closet until they're eventually given to the Goodwill. Really, I think this will just make me a smarter shopper. :) Or, at least, that's how I plan to explain it to my husband!

How do you add items to your closet? Are they planned out purchases or impulse buys?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Then Reality Sets In

I was so very fortunate to not have dealt with any postpartum depression issues at all since Maddie was born.  I have just been on cloud nine snuggling with my sweet little girl and loving every second being a mom and enjoying our new family.  However, there is one thing that has made me cry several times since she was born: my body.

Since talking to my OB and basically everyone who has ever had a child, my expectations were pretty far off.  I thought that after a week or two everything would snap back together.  WRONG!  I'm starting to realize that my tummy will probably never look the same again and the crazy red stretch marks that I have on my sides are probably going to be around for awhile.  I have to say that I did gain more than the suggested weight too but at 6 weeks postpartum I've lost all but 8 pounds of my pregnancy weight.  But I am holding steady at this weight so it's time to pull out the big guns.  

Starting on Tuesday, I will be doing personal training 3 days a week at the gym.  :)  I'm sooooo excited!  It's a "fit into your skinny jeans" program so 3 days a week I'll work with a personal trainer and then there will be 2 days a week where I'll have a predetermined workout that I'll do on my own and then 2 days of rest.  I left a pair of jeans with the trainer today that I can't fit into yet (they're a size 6 that I can get on but I just can't button up) and at the end of 4 weeks the goal is to fit into those jeans.  By the end of 3 months I'll be at my goal fitness level and goal jeans size.  I seriously can't wait!  

To hold myself accountable, and to any other moms who are looking for motivation, here is my before picture.  

This was taken a month ago I was 2 weeks postpartum.  See that bit of belly that's hanging over my pants?  Yeah, that's my target area.  It has already gotten a smaller but now it's time to really firm everything up.  It's funny normally my problem area are my thighs but I could care less now, it's all about my belly and abs.  

How did you get your body back after baby?  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Settling into a Groove

Well, my beautiful daughter, Madeleine Leona, was born 6 weeks ago, and it was the best day of my life!  :)  I've been on hiatus from blogging because I'm still trying to figure out this whole mommy thing.  I've got life under control enough that I've been able to figure out how to shower and get ready every morning, and now I have found some time to make my return to blogging!  YAY!  

So...the birth story, well the abbreviated version of it.  On September 25th, my husband, mom and myself went to the hospital at 7:00 AM for my scheduled induction and I was 2 days shy of hitting 42 weeks of pregnancy.  

 Hello giant belly!
There's a 9 pound baby in there! 

When I was settled into my room (by the way, the entire day that I was in the maternity ward I was LITERALLY the only person on the entire floor and I was at one of the busiest hospitals in our area, but I'm so thankful it was because I had the most amazing nurse I could ever ask for) they checked me and determined that I still wasn't dilated at all, no where near having a baby.  So for the next 15 hours I was put on pitocin and another drug to get my body ready for labor.  However, after an impromptu ultrasound they determined that Madeleine was both at least 9 pounds and was facing down (good) but her nose was facing my bellybutton (bad) and she still hadn't dropped.  So at 10:30 PM they decided to perform a c-section and at 10:59 PM our beautiful daughter entered the world at 9 pounds and 21.5 inches long.  She was simply perfect in every way.  

Our First Family Photo: Mike, Madeleine & me

This is Maddie's first home video, I love her sweet cry.  I'm so thankful to my mom for taking this video.

The 3 of us stayed in the hospital for the next 3 days and then went home, with so much help from my wonderful mom.  Every day with Maddie has been better than the next.  She is such an easy baby, she eats so well, sleeps like a rock and has the sweetest disposition.  I can't wait to watch her grown into a beautiful little girl and at the same time I don't want her to grow anymore than she already has.  In just 6 short weeks she's changed and grown and developed at an incredible rate.  Every week I've been taking pictures of Maddie to watch her growth.  Already I miss my sweet little newborn that I came home with but the smiles and giggles I get from her now make Mike and I smile uncontrollably.  

 1 Week Old 
 Her umbilical cord still attached @ 1 week
 Her sweet little feet @ 1 week
 2 Weeks - This is the photo I used for her birth announcements :) 
 I love her bright eyes! 
 3 Weeks
 Her eyes were such a bright blue when she was born, they're starting to turn green now
 5 Weeks, I love her facial expressions!
One second she's frowning and the next she's smiling.  I love it!  

My goal now is to blog on a daily basis about life in general, and obviously, staying home with my daughter is a huge part of that.  :)  It's good to be back!