Friday, September 27, 2013

Graham update

      I realize that I haven't posted on the blog much since Graham was born, so I thought I might share a few photos. I am also working on a blog post about what Graham has been up to now that he is a month old (what?!) Hopefully I will have that up sometime next week.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September Citrus Lane review (29 month old boy box)

  My September Citrus Lane box for Owen came today and I wanted to share all the great products that came inside. This box was not as great as last month's (my favorite ever!), but still a really great box. Baby brother's box hasn't appeared at our doorstep, but I will review his box whenever it does. This month we received both a box for a 29-month-old toddler boy. The box didn't have a theme, but according to the insert, "September marks the start of fall, which means you'll probably be spending more time indoors, and we kept that in mind when choosing this month's items."
       Owen saw me bring in his box while he was eating lunch and watching an episode of Clifford the Big Red Dog, but he stopped immediately and came running into the kitchen saying, "My box! My box!" as soon as he saw it. And that is saying a lot for this technology-loving kiddo. He gets about half an hour of TV a day and it's very rare for him to be distracted from it. So you know Citrus Lane is something special. 
         The box this month had a great assortment of items. I always love when we get a range of types of things like bath and skin care products, toys, books, art supplies, beauty products for me, and snacks. This month, Citrus Lane introduced three new companies (Ammo Books, Hape, and Julep) and a new snack from an old partner. It was really nice to get all new products from brands that haven't been featured before in the boxes. 
       Here are the details on what we received in our box for our 29-month-old son:
  • City Planner Blocks from Hape Toys ($9.99): This is a really cute brightly colored set of a 15 blocks from Hape Toys. Owen wanted to play with these right away after unpacking them from his box. They seem really well made and fun to play with. They are crafted with sustainable wood and child-safe paint. 
  • Charley Harper ABCs from AMMO Books ($9.99): Owen and I are always excited to receive books in our Citrus Lane box. Owen typically "reads" or has me or Tim read him almost every book he has on a daily basis. He is a serious bibliophile. And because it can become tedious reading the same books all the time, it's nice to have a new one to mix it up every once in a while. Because Owen is all about learning the alphabet and knows all his letters and can recognize him, he has been recently learning about the sounds of each letter and asking what words start with a letter so this book is absolutely perfect. It's a bit confusing because it's hard to tell what each picture is illustrating, for instance, the photo on the front cover is for "nest," but Owen sees birds and thinks its for B. But the art is really great and fits right in with our "Andy Warhol's Colors" "Counting with Wayne Thiebaud' books.
  • Episencial Playful Wash (approximately $3.85): We already own some of this baby wash and really like it. It smells fantastic, like tangerines and lathers well. It's super gentle on delicate baby skin and rinses away really easily. I love using it on the boys and size, while not the full-size sold on the website, is definitely a generous sample size and will be great for travel at some point when we go visit our families for a week. It has plenty for washing both boys. 
  • Julep Nail Color in Gabrielle ($14): This was the "mom gift" this month. It would also be great for moms of little girls because it's free of formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, and DBP and is safe for use on children. I am already a Julep Maven subscriber so it's not that exciting for me. Especially since I have tons of their nail colors, but I was lucky enough to receive a color that I don't already own. This color is described as a "smoky mulberry creme." It's a little darker than I would normally pick, but I'm willing to give it a try.  
  • Super Toddler Bar from Happy Family (84 cents): I have always loved Happy Family, but it's been a while since I've bought anything from them because I used to buy pureed fruits and vegetables for Owen and the infant snacks, but I haven't tried any of their toddler foods. This gluten free snack bar contains whole-grain brown rice, kale, sunbutter, and Salab and contains nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and calcium. I have already stashed this in the diaper bag for one of those inevitable moments where Owen gets hungry while we are out and about and I have nothing to give him. 

         My verdict on Owen's box? It was a really great box. I love getting items that Owen can play with and learn from. Particularly books, puzzles and educational toys. I also love that we got a good-sized skin care product. I haven't had to buy baby wash or lotion in more than a year thanks to Citrus Lane. 
       The retail value of this box is about $38.67. The value of Citrus Lane's boxes are always more compared to the price you pay for the items and this box was particularly good, at more than $15 over what I paid for it since I subscribe for six months at a time and get these boxes for $21 each rather than $25 if you pay monthly. 
       If you would like to try Citrus Lane, you can use the code TAKEHALF to receive half off your first month in a month-by-month subscription (making your first month $12.50). Multi-month subscriptions are already discounted, but right now you can sign up for a three month subscription and get a fourth box for free by clicking HERE and using the code CUTEOFF. This deal ends on October 5. If you sign up using a referral link, you will receive a $10 credit in your account. You can find my referral HERE if you wish to use it. I really love Citrus Lane and highly recommend it. I can't wait to get Graham's box as well!

Monday, September 16, 2013

FabKids review (New boy's line)

  I had heard of FabKids before, but had not heard that they had recently started offering boy clothes until I got a voucher for a free outfit from the company in my August Citrus Lane box (click that link to see my review of the August Citrus Lane box). I figured there was no harm in trying it out and decided to order an outfit for Owen. 
       FabKids is a monthly children's clothing subscription service. The service costs $39.95 a month for a three-piece outfit, including some combination of a shirt, pants, and an accessory like socks, a belt, or a jacket. On the first day of each month, subscribers receive an e-mail linking them to the newest outfit selections to choose from for that month. If you aren't in love with any of that month's looks, you have until the 10th of the month to skip the shipment (and the bill) for that month. If you don't like the items once you receive them, you can easily return some or all of the pieces for FabKids credit or exchange for a different size with shipping paid my FabKids or you can return the items for your money back minus a $5.95 restocking fee. 
        The company offers clothing for girls and boys (the boys line just debuted in August) in sizes 2T to size 11/12. Last month when I ordered there were about 28 different outfit combinations to choose from featuring nine different shirts, eight pants, a hoodie, a belt, and a two-pair set of socks. 
       I chose the Plaid and Color Outfit in a size 2T. The style was not really something I would pick out in the store, but I liked the bright colors and figured since I was getting it for free that I would take a chance on something a little out of the norm. Plus my kiddo is pretty darn cute and looks good in most things. The outfit came with the Plaid Play Shirt, orange Skinny Chinos and the Woven Belt. I also added on another shirt since I was getting the outfit for free. I ordered the Awesome All Day Tee. 
      My package shipped FedEx Smart Post and came relatively quickly. It was packaged in a  bright blue box (girls get pink) and each item was individually wrapped in plastic sleeves like you would get when ordering from most clothing stores online. The quality was better than I expected. Better than what you would get from Target or Children's Place, but maybe not as good as Gymboree or BabyGap or GAP Kids. The shirt and pants were both really soft and brightly colored. The outfits seem to be pretty true to size based on other brands. The size 2T is a little big for my guy who is just now at 29 months old starting to wear size 2T. Size 2T pants are typically too long for him and shirt sleeves are a bit too long as well. I rolled the sleeves and the pant legs up on these outfits and he should definitely get plenty of use out of them as he continues to grow. 
  • Plaid Play Shirt: This shirt is really cute and bright. The quality is good. I wouldn't necessarily call it a play shirt since I don't put Owen in button-downs to play, but I think it could be worn for many different occasions. It's meant to pair with the orange pants, but would look super cute with jeans as well.
  • Skinny Chino: These bright orange pants are super cute. I was probably most apprehensive about this item, but they look really cute on Owen. I rolled up the hem of the pants a bit so he's not stepping on them, but they are really close to being a good length, especially once he has shoes on. The fit through the pants is really good and though the waist was pretty big, there is an adjustable internal button elastic system to tighten them more. I love pants that feature an adjustable waistband because it helps get a much better fit. 
  • Awesome All Day Tee: This tee shirt is very soft and a really fun lime green and white stripe pattern with navy embroidery and printed graphic. I had to roll the sleeves up for Owen since he's smaller than the average 29-month-old. It seems to be good quality and is really cute.
  • Woven Belt: Owen loves belts because he sees his daddy wear them almost every day. I had to tighten this a lot for Owen to wear it so he should be able to get use out of it for a while. It's very cute and I love the bright colors. 
     I am really happy with the quality and cuteness of my FabKids outfit. Now with two kids, the idea of having to go out shopping seems really daunting so I love the idea of having clothes just show up at my doorstep. And the items are really unique and different from the clothing I would find at the places I normally shop. The only children's clothing store near us is Children's Place and I find their boy clothes to be pretty boring. They are great for staples like jeans, khakis, and polo shirts, but they don't have a lot of fun clothes. FabKids has cute and trendy outfits and frequently offers deals for discounts on their clothing. For instance, a discount for first-time orders and currently a deal for $20 off an order of two outfits. You also receive points for every item you purchase and can redeem those points for a free outfit. 
     If you want to try out FabKids, click my link HERE. Using my referral link, you can get your first three-piece outfit for 50 percent off! This would make your first outfit just $19.99. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Graham's Birth Story

       Everyone's birth story is unique to them and special. And whether it's serene and beautiful (ha!) or grueling and scary, it's your story and something life changing and memorable. Some people can remember every detail and for others the birth is a hazy memory. I tend to fall into the latter category so taking notes during labor and writing down my story as soon as possible is super important. Remembering little details is the way I relive the births of my children and put the whole story together. It all began the afternoon of August 21...
      I still had more than a week to go before my due date (and more than two weeks according to my original due date), but knowing that Owen had come early, we had been waiting on pins and needles for weeks. Friends and family were calling and texting to see how close I might be to going into labor and the predictions had started. Tim and I actually were very anxious during the last few weeks because we knew it could be any time. With Owen, I had no idea I would go into labor early so I never got the opportunity to stress or worry about my upcoming labor. With Graham, I was nervous about how and when I would go into labor, how our lives would change after we had two kids, how Owen would react, what labor would be like, whether we would make it to the hospital in time, and a hundred other things. I was just a big ball of pregnant, hormonal nerves. When I had random contractions in the night, I would sit up unable to sleep and worry about whether they were real contractions or Braxton Hicks. It was such a completely different experience from when I went into labor with Owen. 
      The day Graham was born was like any other day. I got up, played with Owen, and worked on keeping the house tidy (a task I had been working on for weeks). I was super exhausted that afternoon so Owen and I sat on the couch and cuddled while he watched Madagascar. I wasn't in the mood to cook so Tim made burgers once he got home from work. Sometime during the afternoon, I began having contractions. I started timing them on my iPhone, but was frustrated because they were so irregular. At about seven o'clock though, they were about five minutes apart and lasting about a minute or so each. Tim started talking about us going to the hospital. I made him call the hospital and talk to the nurse about when to come in. The first nurse he talked to gave us the usual answer, "When her contractions are five minutes apart and last a minute." Not helpful. So we called my doctor and her nurse said to go ahead and come in just in case. Then my contractions stopped. But Tim was still determined to go to the hospital and we had already packed the car, so we dropped Owen off at our friends' house and drove the forty-five minutes to the hospital. I had no contractions all the way to the hospital and was completely convinced we were being stupid and would be sent home. For this reason, the only people we told we were going to the hospital to begin with were my parents who were going to drive up once I went into labor and pick up Owen. 
         Pulling into the hospital parking lot, I had another contraction and another standing at the check-in desk. But they were still irregular and not very strong. We were checked into an exam room at 9:20 p.m. Almost an hour later, a nurse named Tisha came in and examined me. I was dilated to three centimeters and ninety percent effaced. My contractions were still pretty irregular though so she said we would wait a couple hours and she would check me again before admitting me to a room. Feeling somewhat discouraged, I decided to walk around the hospital halls to try to get labor going. And that's when my real contractions started. We walked the halls for about an hour and then came back to the room to rest for a minute and watch some Jimmy Kimmel. Eventually Tisha came back at about midnight and checked me again. At four centimeters, I was finally able to be admitted and Tisha said she would return once a room was clean and ready. At that point, my contractions were significantly more painful. My labor pains are not so much in my abdomen, but more in my lower back and bottom and down into my thighs. Exactly the same as with Owen. Tim massaged my back and legs through each contraction and watched the monitor to see how strong each one was, praising me as the numbers got higher and higher. Finally, I was admitted to a room just before 1 a.m. I told the nurse that I wanted my epidural ASAP, but before one could be administered I had to be hooked to an IV and given fluids. Nurse Betsy (my nemesis) was the one who came to hook me to the IV. One poke and some digging. No go. Another poke and some more digging. Still hadn't hit a vein. My perfect veins that have never posed a problem in all the times I've donated blood. Tim was about to come over the hospital bed and strangle her. Betsy mopped up all the blood (literally) from my poor pin cushion of an arm and said she would come back and try later. Thankfully, when later came, it was nurse Tisha who put in the IV, nailing it the first time. 
       At this point, my contractions were still super intense and my whole body was shaking from the pain. I had not reacted this way with Owen and it was really alarming. Tim read some scriptures that I had chosen for labor to me and encouraged me to be strong. It was very helpful. Just before 2 a.m., the anesthesiologist (aka Best Friend Andy) came in and administered my epidural. The nurse checked me again and I was at six centimeters. She then left and I tried to get a little rest. With Owen, my epidural was very strong. So strong that I couldn't feel my legs at all or anything else while pushing. The nurses had to tell me when to push and when a contraction was coming so I was expecting the same this time. 
       When I began feeling my contractions, I was freaked out. My body was still shaking like crazy and I was convinced my epidural was wearing off. I pressed the button for more medication probably four times. In hindsight, it was the perfect amount of epidural and I just didn't know it. I could feel my legs and move them some and I could tell I was having contractions, but they didn't hurt. My shaking continued until finally Tim came over and wrapped his arms around me and I was still for what seemed like the first time in hours. At almost four in the morning I began feeling a lot of pressure and told Tim that I thought I might need to start pushing. The nurse took a while in coming because another woman was delivering so when she finally came in just before 4 a.m., I was nine centimeters dilated. My doctor, who happened to be on call that night, arrived and I was at ten centimeters. I started pushing at 4:30 a.m. I could see everything that was going on in a silver light in the ceiling and it was actually really helpful to see my progress as I pushed. Like Owen, Graham's shoulders got stuck temporarily and I had to have a small episiotomy, but after only 17 minutes of pushing, he was born at 4:47 a.m. My doctor was fantastic. She talked us through everything calmly. It was only afterward that we learned that the delivery had been so difficult. That his shoulders were stuck and the umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck twice. Then he was placed on my chest immediately and I was meeting my second son. Tim was able to cut the cord this time. It was so completely different from when Owen was born. So much calmer. And though they took him away momentarily to weigh him and suction him, Graham was put back on my chest and we were able to nurse right away and cuddle for two hours before the medical staff returned to take us to recovery and to Graham's initial exam. It was during that time that we finalized his first name. Later in the recovery room, we decided on my dad's name for his middle name.
       The rest of the hospital stay was pretty much a blur of nursing and trying to get a bit of sleep. The nurses in the nursery would only keep Graham for about an hour at a time because he would scream like a banshee and refuse to take a pacifier. So we didn't get much rest or a break, but it was still so amazing to spend all the time just the three of us. Owen came to visit twice while we were at the hospital and he seemed so much older. Bigger. Even his voice sounded different. And he had no interest in Graham whatsoever. Now that we are home though, he loves him and comes running anytime Graham cries and asks to "see the baby" all the time. 
      Our first week and a half at home were a whirlwind. My parents stayed for a week and Tim's parents came up over Labor Day weekend. Nursing started out well, but was complicated by tons of pain and eventually a diagnosis of a yeast infection that we are still recovering from. Because nursing wasn't going well, Graham lost a lot of weight in the beginning (almost a pound and a half) and so now, like with Owen, I am pumping and bottlefeeding. We will hopefully try breastfeeding again once the infection has cleared up completely, but I'm really discouraged about it. At the same time though, Graham's weight is back up and other than one bottle of formula, he has been getting breast milk exclusively for the first three weeks so far. We are sleep deprived and in Owen's case, a little deprived for attention, but we are doing well and I will try to update when I can. Especially now that Tim is back at work and I am home with two boys. 
Though he was two ounces heavier than Owen at birth, Graham seemed so much smaller to us. 

Proud daddy holding his boy finally. Sorry no photos of me with Graham, but I was pretty much naked. 

Tim took this photo during Graham's evaluation and sponge bath. 

 My parents brought Owen to the hospital around noon the day Graham was born. 

Owen refused to cooperate for a picture with the baby. 

My mom with Graham.

My dad with Graham. 

"Baby brother."

Tim's mom with Graham.

Tim's dad with Graham. 

One of our first photos as a family of four.