Wednesday, April 22, 2015

10 Ways to Decide to Have Another Baby as Young Parents

Vicki Francis Photography

Madison and I have been talking about having babies since we got engaged. We never planned on having children so young, at least I know I didn't. Nora's arrival into our lives came as a shock. I had just graduated college and started my first "grown up job" and all of a sudden here was this exciting and terrifying new adventure right in front of us. 

Although we weren't necessarily ready for Nora when we first found out that I was pregnant, we did everything we could to make sure we were fully prepared for her entrance into the world. Madison and I essentially sprung into action, making sure we had good jobs, a new place to live, and all the baby essentials. I suppose having a baby at 23 isn't so young, but it is definitely younger than I ever planned to have kids. Regardless, it has been the best thing that's ever happened to me. And now, we're doing it all over again! Here we go...



10 Ways to Decide to Have Another Baby as Young Parents:


1.) Do you like your current child? - Yes! She is great. We may be entering the terrible twos, but when she is not slapping me in the face or putting yogurt in her hair, she's fabulous.

2.) Are you ready for the lack of sleep? - Sleep training, what's that? Nora sleeps through the night about half the time so we are prepared to just stop sleeping all together.

3.) Do you have the space? - No! But we can totally be roommates with the new baby if we can't find an affordable 3 bedroom apartment in the Boston Metro West area (seemingly impossible). It actually might make those night time feedings a little easier.

4.) Do you have the money? - This goes under the "we'll make it work" category. Maybe I should start eating the lunches I bring to work, instead of making Madison buy me sides of mac and cheese and filling up on that. 

5.) Do you have the time? - We will make the time! I am fully committed to pushing my bedtime back to 10:30 if I need to. 

6.) Are you ready for 2+ more years of diapering? - ......fine. If we have to. Let's get this first one potty trained so we aren't on double diaper duty. 

7.) Does your current child like to snuggle? - Only her dad! Mommy needs snuggle time too. Bring on the newborn cuddles. 

8.) Does your current child like babies? - Absolutely. She also likes to pretend to be the mommy and puts me to sleep and rubs my back (my favorite game), so I know she will be loving and tender with a new baby. 

9.) Are you prepared for a long life of being parents? - Yes. This is that fact about being young parents that I love the most. We will be able to spend so many goods years with our children. It will be nice to be in the middle of our life when our kids graduate college rather than planning for retirement, or what type of tree we want our ashes to grow into. 

10.) Do you want another baby? - Of course! This is kind of the most important one. I have always wanted a big family, but right now a family of four sounds pretty good. 


What do you think? How old were you when you had your children? Do you think this handy checklist could be useful when planning for your next child? Let me know your thoughts on young parenthood in the comments below.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Baby #2!


There's going to be a baby! Madison and I recently got the wonderful news that we are going to become a family of 4 this Fall. We are beyond thrilled to be growing our family, and Nora is so excited to be a big sister! 


Madison and I want our children to be fairly close in age, so this timing feels perfect. Nora will be just under 3 years old when the baby arrives, which we think is a good age difference. She is currently in the "little mommy stage" where she likes to take care of her baby dolls by feeding and rocking them to sleep, so it will be very exciting to see how she acts with a real baby in the house. We both think she is going to be a wonderful big sister. 


Almost as soon as we found out, I asked Madison if I could make an "irrational purchase" and ordered these adorable matching sister bear and baby bear shirts from maisonwares on Etsy. These shirts have been saved in my Etsy favorites for months, ever since we started talking about having another baby. They are so cute and such great quality. I can't wait for Nora and the baby be able to wear them at the same time! That willl be about a year from now, so I suppose I can be patient. 

I'm am now even more excited to have this space, because I started this blog after Nora was born. It will be so fun to blog during this pregnancy so I can share the process of preparing the nursery, packing the hospital bag, and getting Nora ready to be a big sister. I hope you're as excited as we are to start this brand new journey of becoming a family of four!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Easter 2015


Happy Easter! We had a pretty quiet holiday this year, which was just fine for us. With all of the things that have been going on lately, it was nice to just spend a day at home with each other. 



Nora's birthday is coming up in a few weeks so she got a pretty small Easter basket. We did end up giving her one birthday present early though, because I may have gone a little overboard while shopping a couple weekends ago. In her Easter basket she got a new color book (Crayola Color Wonder because she likes to draw on her face), a Easter plate and utensil set (thank you Target $1 bins), a stuffed Goofy doll, a set of play car keys (because she likes to steal ours), and some empty Easter eggs. She also got a Fisher Price Little People aquarium playset (the early birthday present) which she loved! It has a little spinning pool and she had fun spinning all of her people around. 


We spent the morning watching movies and playing with the new toys. Goofy definitely needed a ride on the car. 


Nora really liked the Easter grass, and she finally got to wear a dress that has been in her closet for a year.

Nora took a nap and slept for almost 3 hours, which was just enough time for Madison and I to watch Interstellar. The rest of the afternoon was nice and relaxing, except for one hormonal Mommy meltdown. It's ok- we got through it. Sometimes that happens, but we didn't let it ruin our day. 

I tried to take Nora for a walk, but that lasted less than 10 minutes because it was so cold. Hopefully next year it will be warm enough for an Easter egg hunt! But until the weather warms up, we'll just enjoy our cozy family days in.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On Growing Up



No denying it, Nora is growing up. She is going to be two years old next month, which blows my mind. I can still remember her being a tiny 6 pound baby that just liked to sleep on me. Now she runs all over our house, tries to dress (and undress herself), and talks in full sentences. It has been amazing watching her grow and develop. She is so smart and very independent, but still very much our baby girl. 


The other night, Madison decided to take the front off of Nora's crib to turn it into her first "big girl bed." We had been talking about doing this for a while, because Nora loves to crawl into our bed and cuddle with the pillows and blankets. Look at that happy face! She was so excited. 



The first night went ok. She didn't even want to read a book before bed because she was so excited to sleep in her big girl bed. She slept from 7pm until about 1:30, when she woke up with teething pain. We let her sleep in our bed the rest of the night because she was very upset. All in all, it was a good first attempt because she didn't try to get up and play with her toys at all. 

The second night was very different. We have been trying to keep her bedtime routine the same, so that she knows when it is time for bed. She went down fine, but within 15 minutes, she was up playing with her books. I went in, laid her back down and told her that she needed to go to sleep. 15 minutes later, up again and trying to open her door. We decided to put her crib back together and told her that it was a privileged she would need to earn again. Honestly, she seemed relieved to me. She loves her bed, and we have a really good bedtime routine. 

This whole situation made me think about how different every child is. I know some kids who have been able to sleep in a big bed as soon as 18 months. Nora is clearly not one of those kids. She sat up and learned to crawl later than babies her age. She didn't walk at by her first birthday, and first words followed after that. It never bothered us, because we know all babies grow and develop at different speeds. 

We know now that Nora isn't ready for the responsibility of a big girl bed, and that is fine with us. She also has no interest in potty training at this age. We bought her a little potty to use, but she gets very upset whenever we ask her to try it. I had thought that she might be potty trained by 2, but since that clearly won't happen, we'll aim to work on it this coming year. I never want to be the mom that forces these things on her kids, I know she will come around it in her own time. 

I love watching Nora grow up and learn new things, but a part of me also loves that she is taking her time doing it. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Whole 30- Round 1 Update



Hello there! This past week I completed my first round of Whole30, so I wanted to give an update on the process, my results and thoughts on the program.

If you are not familiar with Whole30, you can read more about it on the website or in the book It Starts with Food. If you are interested in the program I highly recommend getting the book. It contains a lot of information on why certain foods are unhealthy, and what they do to your body. I'm the type of person that needs to know that information, because if you just tell me: ok- no more bread and dairy, I'll say yeah, ok and go back to eating my ice cream. 

Whole 30 Overview

The idea behind Whole30 is to cut out foods that cause unhealthy tendencies like over eating, foods that do not nourish your body, and foods that cause systematic inflammation. I won't go too much into the science information, the book explains it way better than I ever could. To follow the program, you cut out all wheat, dairy, sugar and unhealthy oils for 30 days straight with no cheats. This is pretty similar to a Paleo diet, but not exactly the same. The approved list of foods includes meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats (such as avacado, coconut fat, and olive oil).

I first heard about Whole30 around Christmas time. It is becoming pretty popular and I know a few people who have tried it and liked it. I bought the book and began reading it, but kept putting off starting the program. Then, at the beginning of February I decided enough it enough and I began my first round on February 8th. 

Health History

For a little history, I have always struggled with my weight. When I was in high school I decided to stop eating junk food and began excising. I was able to lose 30lbs in about 3-4 months by just eating better and running at night. Then, when I went to college I became less concerned with my healthy. I gained some of the weight back and just could keep it down. Then, when I was pregnant with Nora I gained 65lbs. I was at my highest weight ever and needed help, but I couldn't make myself stop eating junk. I finally realized that if I am going to set a good example for my daughter, I really need to start living a healthier lifestyle. This eventually led me to the Whole30 program, and out of all of the weight loss programs out there, I am so happy I picked this one. 

The Process

My first day of Whole30 was a breeze. I started on a Sunday, which conveniently enough is grocery shopping day in our house, so I had plenty of good food to eat. I felt like my first week was pretty easy, despite the fact that it was the week of Valentine's Day and I was offered cupcakes or cookies on no less than 5 occasions. Madison and I also had to change our Valentine's date plans from sushi to steak, which worked out fine for us. 

Meal planning is key to succeeding on the Whole30 plan, so we had everything for that first week planned out ahead of time. This just made the week easier in general because we knew what we were cooking for dinner before we got home. For breakfast I had an omelet almost every day of the program. My go to was spinach, onion and prosciutto. Super tasty, I recommend it. Since I'm a coffee drinker, I didn't want to cut that out. In place of cream and sugar I used unsweetened coconut milk. It took a while for me to get used to it but now I really enjoy it. For lunch, I brought a salad to work and made sure I had some protein too, either some chicken or nuts. Dinners were mostly centered around meat and veggies. I grew to love roasted Brussels Sprouts, which I never thought would happen. 

The second week was a little more challenging. I had a lot of cravings. My diet previous to this consisted of lots of grains and dairy, so it was hard to get used to that. I stuck to it though and kept at it. My goal is to lose weight and feel healthier, so I didn't want to jeopardize that for a bowl of cereal.

The third week was similar to the second week for me. I was starting to get bored of my meals, it felt like I was having the same thing over and over again. Madison and I varied up dinners a little bit by including more fish, which helped to get out of that rut.

The fourth week was pretty easy. Most of my cravings were gone. I had come so far that I felt motivated to finish. I was also starting to see results so that made everything a lot easier. 

I actually only ended up doing the program for 29 days. On my 30th day I woke up so sick with a stomach bug and needed to leave work early. I didn't think a salad or grilled chicken would sit nicely in my stomach so I ended up eating some oatmeal and it was really fine. I still consider myself finishing and I'm not going to beat myself up over it. 

Results

When my program ended, I had lost 6lbs, 3 inches from my waist and 1.5 inches from my hips. I do not have before and after photos to show but I can tell you I feel better overall. I fit into pants that I haven't worn since before Nora was born and my coworkers are noticing that I have lost weight. At first I was a little disappointed with my results, I though that there would be some miracle and I would lost 15lbs in the month. Then I remembered that 6lbs is still huge! Most people lose weight averaging around 1lbs a week, so I passed that by a bit. Also, I only exercised probably twice during the whole month, so those pounds and inches came off by only changing the food I ate. It's really amazing what can happen when you are truly nourishing your body. 

Besides the weight loss, I just feel better overall. I don't have any bloating or cramps and I have more energy during the day. No more 3pm crash at work. Another reason I began this program was in the hopes that it would help the horrible onslaught of adult acne I have been dealing with for a few months. Unfortunately, I think it did nothing for that I have been seeking out alternate methods to fix that problem. 

Life After Whole30

The week following the completion of my program, I tried to stick with it as best as I can, but not entirely. I have been eating some wheat and dairy products, but not as much as I used to. I really do not want junk food anymore. I made chicken nuggets for Nora the other day and tried one to make sure it wasn't too hot and thought it tasted awful. There have been a few other foods I have tried that I just don't think taste good anymore. I had been craving pizza and cupcakes throughout the whole program so yesterday Madison, Nora and I went down to Connecticut to visit Madison's mom and had pizza in New Haven and got some cupcakes later. I really enjoyed it while we were eating, but that night I got so sick and I think it's going to be a long time before I try that again.

Recommendations

If you are thinking of trying the program I say just go for it! Clear out the cabinets, through away all the junk and start fresh. Something that helped my tremendously through the program was Instagram. There are a lot of Whole30 accounts with plenty of meal ideas and motivation. Some of my favorites are @whole30, @whole30recipies, @holymamamoly, and @teamwhole. There are a ton more if you search #whole30. There is a great community of people who just want to see each other succeed which is always nice to see. If you are already taking part in the program and are struggling, just try to remember why you started in the first place. It is impossible to change you life if you do not commit to eating healthy. As cliche as this sounds, we only get one body, so why not take care of it? 

I plan on doing another round of Whole30 soon. If not this month, then again in April. Possibly when the new Whole30 Book comes out. If you're interested in following along or need some Whole30 encouragement, I will be posting about it much more regularly here, as well as on Instagram @hellokelcey.

I hope this helped anyone out there who has been curious about the Whole30 program! If you have any questions for me about my experience feel free to leave a comment. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

California Trip - October 2014

This past October, our family took a trip to sunny California! This was our first family trip ever, and actually the first time even Madison and I have taken a vacation together. We've been together for 4 years so I'd say it was long overdue. 



We left on a Saturday afternoon and Nora was in surprisingly good spirits. I like to be over prepared so we ended up at the airport much earlier than we needed to be. We sat her in her stroller with some snacks and a movie and waited for our plane to be ready. 


This was our set up on the way there. We had a layover in Chicago so for the first leg of the trip we took turns with Nora on our lap while she watched movies on Madison's computer. Those Minnie Mouse headphones are probably the cutest thing ever, and she seemed to like them! Nora did really well on the first plane ride. She cried a little on take off and landing but other than that, she was really well behaved. 

When we landed in Chicago we sprinted to our gate and ended up with enough time to grab some food. The second flight did not go as smoothly. We were all exhausted at this point, by the time we landed in California it was almost midnight our time. Nora was very squirmy. A few people sitting near us we nice enough to try and entertain her. The icing on the cake was when we opened our water bottle to give her a drink and the pressure made it explode all over her! Imagine: tired, cranky, soaking wet baby. She was not happy. I ended up taking my sweatshirt off and giving it to her so she wouldn't be sitting naked in a cold plane- because we obviously forgot to pack extra clothes in our carry on bag. On top of all of this, we didn't have WiFi on the plane so we had no idea what time it was. So basically it was a seemingly never ending nightmare. But it did end. And here I am (almost) laughing about it later. 

Anyway, we get to California around 9pm and Nora's grandparents are waiting for us with hugs and love and toys for the babe. It was another 20 minute car ride to get to their house and Nora fell asleep immediately. She had a little trouble falling asleep at their house because it was so new, but she eventually quieted down and we all slept well. 

California was so nice. This was my first time ever going and I really can't wait to go back. It was so sunny and warm and gorgeous. We went swimming- in October! Can't say I've ever done that before. 

On our first full day there we met up with Madison's sister, Merrill, and went to the Sacramento zoo. 


On our way into the zoo one of the first things we saw were these gorgeous bird of paradise flowers. 


Madison and Nora looking in at the monkeys. 


Everyone looking at the zebras and ostrich.



Nora getting up close with a giraffe.




I love tigers, they have always been my favorite animal, so this just made my heart explode. She was so pretty. 


Miss Nora Mae, Zoologist, and her monkey sidekick.




Sassy mom life. 

After the zoo we went back to my in-laws house for some burgers. It was glorious. Their house is so nice and inviting and their backyard is gorgeous. 


Nora and her Auntie Merrill, or as she called her: Auntie Meow-Meow. 



I made her sit on this ledge for a picture and after that she was obsessed with it and sat on it every time she came into the living room. 


We ended up at a really great place the next day. Fall is my favorite season and we found a great little spot of fall magic at a lake in Sacramento. There were pumpkins for sale, local artisans selling their goods, a little country store with the best apple cider donuts I've ever had, a pony ride for the kids, and shop in the back that sold fudge. We missed out on doing a lot of my favorite fall activities back home so this one trip made up for all of that!






Very much regretting this outfit choice now but I'm leaving this up because we never have family photos. At least I have a cute husband and baby. 



Seriously, they are so cute. 


One of my favorite parts of this trip was the day we spent in San Francisco. This city was so wonderful. It was warm, but had the perfect ocean breeze. We went to the aquarium and Pier 39 to walk around the shops and have lunch. Before we left we also visited the Full House house and drove down the crookedest street in America. 




This was such a gorgeous day. I loved it here.


The first stop was the aquarium. We entered through the gift shop and within 2 minutes of being there, Madison had already bought Nora a souvenir. She spotted a seal plush and he got it for her because he just can't resist. I don't blame him, really. Nora specifically wanted the white seal, not the brown one. Not even 2 and already very opinionated. 


I tried so hard to get a picture of Nemo and Dori together, they were too fast! Super cute display right at the entrance. 


How fancy, right? National Geographic should totally hire me to photograph jellyfish. 





With my girl in the walk through fish tank.


Grandpa showing Nora some turtles.


Sea otters on the way out!






I love carousels. We didn't ride it because of the last time we traumatized Nora with that. Maybe next time. 


Two family pictures in one trip?! It's a record. 


Her face is too funny. She really liked the wind in her face.


She also gave me about 1000 kisses when we were in this one spot so I think she was happy.


Alcatraz... I definitely almost wrote Azkaban.


Nora loved the "doggies."


We got lunch at Fisherman's Wharf then headed home... 
 

...But not before I got a picture with Johnny Depp. Why is he not excited to see me??


The day trips we took were all so fun, but we also loved just staying in and doing a little bit of swimming. Nora loved the pool. 








TAKE ME BACK! 

I hope you enjoyed this little vacation snapshot. There were a lot more moments that I didn't get photos of. We visited Merrill at her job at Sacramento State and got a tour of the biology department, had dinner in Davis with some of the extended family, and then we just enjoyed the family time. Since we live across the country from each other, these moments are rare and very special. We soaked up the memories and can't wait to go visit again.