Monday, August 29, 2011

Preparedness Pays Off

Before Irene arrived, I wrote a post about how we were preparing for her wrath.  I have never been so glad I prepped for something in my life. 

(Following paragraph reposted from my other blog, Chex in the City.)

We decided against leaving, despite my parents' "invitation" (I think they were using Irene as an excuse to see Elliott).  Around 10pm on Saturday, I deeply regretted that decision.  The lights in our parking lot were out, so we couldn't see what was going on.  Our electricity stayed on (thank God), so at least we had the internet for information.  At about quarter to 2, just as I was drifting off to sleep in the living room, a strange alarm started sounding.  I woke Jason, who grabbed Elliott, and I attempted to wrangle Barney into his carrier, with no success.  Jason and I switched "dependents," and I got Elliott into his car seat.  I put my shoes on, grabbed the car keys and prepared to leave.  But hold on...what is this alarm for?  We had already experienced tornado warnings, so do we go to the basement, or was this flooding, in which case we should probably just chill on the 2nd floor.  Or, perhaps, was it a fire and if so, where do we go in this storm during a fire?  I looked out in the hall.  No one was leaving their apartments.  Hmm.  Jason finally got Barney into the carrier, and we pondered our next move.  Jason ran down to the lobby to see if anyone was down there and had more info.  He returned with the report: there was one guy downstairs just as confused as we were.  We headed back to the lobby, evac bag, baby, cat, and diaper bag in tow.  We were totally prepared to leave at any moment because of the storm.  After about 10 minutes in the lobby, where about 3 more sleepy people joined us, the alarm went off.  The firemen, who responded to the alarm, believed it was tripped by the weather.  Great.  So much for sleep. 

Jason and I spent the rest of the night watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix.  Elliott was pretty unfazed about the whole thing, and Barney just stayed close the rest of the day.  Around 4am, the storm calmed and we decided to go back to sleep.  In the light of day, we discovered that Evil Tree, whose branch had totaled my parents' car in April, had bit the dust, damaging nothing more than the fence it was adjacent to.  The tree was dead, or dying, so it's not surprising that it went.  The other trees, while they made us nervous, are very healthy, so they stayed strong.  

Good riddance, Evil Tree.

This week, we are looking forward to calm and beautiful weather, craft nights, getting back to work (La Salle cancelled Monday and Tuesday classes, so that won't be until Wednesday), and Labor Day weekend.  Elliott will get to meet his Great-Grandma Bebe, see Oma and Pappy again (my grandparents), as well as Grandpa Marc, Grandma Tay-Tay, Nana, and Grandpa Dave.  There might be some other family and friends involved, since this is our first trip "home" since he was born.  :)

How did you "weather" Irene?  We hope you stayed safe and dry.  

- J & M.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Disaster Planning.

I have lived in the Mid-Atlantic region my entire life.  I was born in North Plainfield, NJ and moved to Mechanicsburg when I was 4.  I attended school in Philadelphia and Middletown (PA), and returned to Philadelphia when I got married.  I know what hazards we face here and how to prepare.  When a blizzard approaches, buy milk, bread, and eggs, and hope for the best.  If a tornado is possible, find an interior room and hope for the best.

That being said, I was and am very prepared for the disasters of this week.  I'm fascinated by geology and have been since I was about 8 years old.  I'm fully aware of what to do in an earthquake: Duck, cover, and hold.  In other words, get down under a piece of heavy furniture (a desk or table is good), and stay there until the shaking stops.  Don't run outside like a ninny.  You run the very high risk of something falling on you from the exterior of the building.  It seemed during our seismic event this past week that EVERYONE I talked to ran outside.  No!  Bad!  Don't do that!  Buildings here are grounded in solid bedrock and aren't going to just topple over because they're not built with earthquakes in mind.  You are safer inside.  Still, it was pretty scary when the earthquake happened because I didn't register what was going on right away.  I thought it was my neighbor walking upstairs.  It was only when Barney bolted under the bed and cried that I realized it was an earthquake.  Animals generally sense the ground movement earlier, especially cats and dogs (they can feel it in their paw pads!).  I ran back to Elliott, who was sleeping peacefully in the Pack 'n' Play, scooped him up, and got under the doorframe, mainly because there wasn't an easy piece of furniture to get under while holding an infant.

For this hurricane, we have taken a few precautions, since we decided to stay in our apartment (which is under no evacuation notices):
 - We moved our car far away from the scary trees.
 - We gathered important documents into a ziploc bag.
 - That bag is ready to go in our go-bag, which has some important items in case we do have to leave in a hurry.
 - Elliott's diaper bag is fully stocked and ready at a moment's notice.
 - We took everything off of our patio.  We don't want our things to become projectiles.
 - We are ready to gather Elliott and Barney at a moment's notice.

Preparedness is the most important thing in a situation like this, and I think we are ready.

Stay safe readers, and we'll see you on the other side of Irene (and this surprise long weekend; I was supposed to return to work on Monday, but they cancelled classes for Monday and Tuesday)

- J & M.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Elliott's all smiles at one month.

I was just reading over the last two posts I put up before vacation, and so much has changed in those almost-2-weeks.

First, the day mom came up to help was INCREDIBLY productive.  Before Jason even left for work at 1:30, he got a hair cut and got the oil changed in the car, and we at home reorganized the kitchen and started spaghetti sauce (I always make spaghetti sauce before vacation to take with us so we don't have to cook the first's a big hit).  After he left, I went to Target for some last minute vacation stuff (a new tankini, sunblock, and other supplies) and I got my pedicure!  It was delightful.  When my pedicurist found out that I had just had a baby, she didn't believe me.  It's nice to be returning to pre-baby form so quickly.  I came home to a house that was vacuumed, dusted, and tidied.  How lovely!  Mom and I made pizza margherita for dinner and watched 30 Rock together before she left.  It was a lovely day.

My plan for Thursday was to get packed and prepped all day and go to bed early.  Well, Elliott wanted less nap time and more mommy time, so I didn't have a free moment  until about 8pm.  Jason and I gave E a bath and then prepped until his next feeding at 2am, then we all slept.  We woke up at 7:30 on Friday with intentions to leave at 9.  Ha!  We had enough trouble getting out the door on time with no kids, so right now, E just gives us a better excuse.  We finally got on the road at 10am (after a stop at Dunkin' Donuts) and had a fairly uneventful trip to Elizabeth City, where we stayed the night with Jason's family at a hotel to break up the trip.  This is tradition, not a new thing because of the baby.  We did hit a snag with the AC in the car; it just, essentially, got tired.  This resulted in sweaty parents and a cranky baby.  We made lots of stops so E could get changed and eat and get out of the car-seat (which if it's not moving, he really doesn't care for).  Once we got the hotel, we sponged him off, changed him from head to toe, and he was the happy E we love.

Elliott in his polo onesie at the wedding.
The ride to Avon was pretty good.  E was sleepy and sweet.  We couldn't get into the house until 4 (argh), so we squatted on our covered porch until the house was ready.  The rest of the week was relaxing and wonderful.  Some highlights:
  - Elliott is now smiling socially, not just due to gas.
  - Elliott turned one-month old.
  - We attended the wedding of family friends on the beach, and we had a great time.
  - Elliott started sleeping longer at  night!  It's not every night, but I can count on a few nights a week of 6+ hours in a row.  I don't want to call it "sleeping through the night," but we're getting closer.
  - Jason and I finally saw Harry Potter.  We had seen almost all the others on opening day or at midnight showings, but this year we were in labor when the movie debuted.
  - I read a ton and got some crocheting accomplished.

It was a great week.  The drive home was good, but long.  When we returned home, we discovered that the storms had knocked some of our power out...some things work and some don't.  We hope to have that resolved soon.  My parents visited yesterday to see Elliott, and Megan was finally able to meet him (she was in a German-language immersion program at Middlebury College in Vermont for the last seven weeks.)

School starts next week, so I'm sure we'll be busy around here.  I'm looking forward to the stimulation of work, but not the being-away-from-Elliott part.

His shirt says it all.

 - J & M.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Today was a pretty good day.

Elliott napped a lot, providing me with the time to crochet, prep for vacation, and watch Downton Abbey.  He wanted to cuddle most of the evening, which was adorable.  When Jason got home, we gave him his first bath in his little whale tub, put Elliott in his jammies, and he went right to sleep.  Now Jason is making me fried brownies and Oreos.  Sounds gross?  Trust's not.

- J & M.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On My Own.

Jason returned to work last week, and this week, I'm flying solo during the day.  His mom was wonderful enough to help me, and my sister was here on Monday, but yesterday I was a one-man wolf pack.  I think it was successful, although the urge to call Jason in frustration appeared a few times (and I resisted).

Elliott cluster feeds almost everyday, and yesterday was no exception.  I should just assume he's cluster feeding if he cries because that seems to be the only reason he gets upset.  He makes me sad when he cries because I just want to fix whatever is making him unhappy.  Last night was kinda hellish for us, as he was cluster feeding from 8 pm until 4 am.  We gave him formula twice, just so I could get more than a half-hour of sleep.  I hate relying on formula for the extra sleep, but Jason has no other way to feed him!

At the pediatrician today, we got some sage advice on combatting cluster feedings, mainly through keeping my supply up so Elliott doesn't feel like he needs to cluster feed.  First, we will forgo formula as much as possible for the next week or so.  I cannot miss a feeding, since this early in the breastfeeding experience, my supply is "fragile."  One missed feeding and  my body may begin to assume that I'm over breastfeeding.  Crazy.  If I have to miss for some reason, I need to pump instead.  Second, we learned to help him sleep better over all.  We used to swaddle him with his arms out, as he would pull them out on his own.  Now, we learned to swaddle him with his arms straight down.  He may not like it at first, but it will keep him from his arms waking him up accidentally.  If he startles, his arms may hit him and wake him up more, and as a result he may think it's time to eat.  A brush from his arm also may trick him into thinking food is near and he'll start rooting and want to eat.  Hopefully all this will keep him sleeping soundly between feedings.

Despite all this, which makes it sound like breastfeeding is so hard, he is growing well and feeding is usually very easy and makes him happy.  He is 8 pounds, 15 ounces (50th percentile), 21 inches (25th percentile), and his head is 15 inches (also 50th percentile).  Right on target.  I knew he was growing fast, as my arms were trying to adapt to my quickly growing boy, but I had no idea he gained a pound and a half in two weeks!  The doctor also mentioned that growth spurts will also bring on restless nights and cluster feedings, so last night might have been partially due to that as well.

After my mid-day nap, I was super productive.  We got rid of the bed that was in his nursery (well, just a really good futon mattress, but we gave up looking for a frame and gave it to my sister, who is moving this weekend).  This opened up a ton of space, so I rearranged his nursery a bit.  I also organized some of my crafting supplies, and perhaps after dinner, I'll do some crocheting.

We leave for vacation in a little over a week, so I have a list of things to get done.  Nothing crazy, just cleaning and packing and normal vacation prep.  My mom is coming up for a day next week to help me out with this, so I think it's totally do-able.  My parents and sister also treated me to a pedicure, which I'll get while my mom is here to babysit.  I'm so excited.  I love getting pedicures, but I haven't gotten one since about a month before I got pregnant.  I considered getting one around month eight or nine, but the idea of the fumes put me off.  I'm also psyched for vacation because we will have a lot of help with the baby and I'll get to relax a bit (and hopefully catch up on reading and crochet).  Elliott can't really go out in the sun and I can't get in the pool, so he and I will spend quality time indoors.  I am about a quarter of the way done with his blanket, so I hope to get that finished before the fall.  Crocheted blankets, especially one done with granny squares, are so cozy and will be perfect to cuddle in on chilly fall walks.  I also have a bootie to finish and some other small items on the back burner.  My reading list is also calling me, and while I get a lot of reading done during feedings (sometimes I read out loud to him, but mostly he closes his eyes anyway), I will love having nice nooks to read in.

Thanks for the supportive / helpful / lovely comments.  Motherhood is so much easier when you know other people are experienced or experiencing it with you.

- J & M.