Wednesday, April 9, 2014

girl-trapped


This summer we will be welcoming a little girl! (If you follow me on instagram you saw this a while back, but it never made it to the blog.) Little One is quite excited since it means her "trick" to get a sister "worked." She has already begun planning handing down all of her clothes, sharing a bedroom (not happening anytime soon), and brainstorming sister Halloween costume ideas. Because of course.

I'd always thought I would have a boy first, though Hubs said it was just wishful thinking. I'd had a few baby dreams early on and I always felt like I was having a boy. But then, two nights before the gender reveal ultrasound, I saw the baby so clearly--and I woke up knowing that she was a girl. My girl. At first, I wasn't sure how I would feel about having a daughter. I felt a mix of emotions when the ultrasound tech showed us the very clear image, and for a day or two afterward. I explained to Hubs it wasn't that I was disappointed--I wasn't--but more that I know how hard it still is for girls growing up today and I wanted our baby to have an easy path.

Once it began to really sink in, though, I realized how perfect it is. (Of course, this baby would be perfect regardless.) I really feel like I'm meant to be the mom of a daughter--to bring a girl into this world and try my hardest to teach her everything she needs to be successful and kind and tough all at once. My mom is my best friend and I sincerely hope that the baby will say the same of me when she is grown and on her own. 

I am so thrilled to welcome our new addition in a few months. At this point, I am in total disbelief at how rapidly my due date is approaching. It feels like I just found out I was pregnant when really it's been over 5 months already! Time sure is flying and I know that won't ever stop, so I am trying to enjoy every moment. I have truly loved being pregnant, and have not taken a single moment for granted, but I am also so excited to meet our precious girl and see the person she becomes. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

seven

Little One (though I suppose I can't keep calling her "little") recently turned the big SEVEN. Originally, we were going to have a bowling alley birthday party, but people here are terrible with RSVPs! Since we only got a couple by the deadline, we decided to cancel that and instead do a weekend of celebrating. 

Friday night, Hubs took her to the store and let her pick whatever cake she wanted. Of course, she chose the most elaborate cake--with extra ice cream.

For our Saturday adventure, we gave her a couple of options and her choice was the Aviation and Space Museum. For 500 yen per adult, this is actually a neat little place that has more to see and do than you might expect. 

First up were the aircraft. When you walk in, you are greeted by a replica of Miss Veedol herself followed by other aircraft with ties to Japan's aviation history.

One of Little One's favorite things to do here is this air tube ride. You sit inside a strange contraption and get propelled into the air (and dropped a few times for good measure). She screams every time!

Afterward, she made her way into a DC-9 cockpit and took us on a trip (as well as a smooth landing), then tried her hand at the radar like our Japanese hosts.

She learned a little bit about physics and wind. The wind shot is so embarrassing to her but I literally laugh out loud every time I see it! She had fun, so it's okay. ;) She did a few tests to determine her aptitude to be a pilot. We were worried about the hearing test until we realized she had the headphones on backwards, haha.

Her next favorite thing outside the tube is this giant pin contraption (anyone remember the small versions from childhood?). She thinks this thing is SO hilarious and could probably spend the entire trip making different versions of herself. She likes the pulley systems, too, and is always trying to get one of us to sit so she can lift us. 

Upstairs, she explored things like weather, light, heat, and sound then we wrapped up our trip with a short visit to the gift shop. She got to pick the souvenir of her choice at the gift shop (a globe keychain that opens where she can store "treasure").

We went to Sunday brunch the next day and she enjoyed many plates of food topped off with a generous helping of waffles. When we asked how she felt eating brunch for the last time as a 6-year-old, she replied with, "I've entered a new world." (Ain't that the truth!) 

For her Monday celebration at school, we made up 20 gift bags for her classmates--full of stickers, pencils, erasers, bubbles, and tiny candy bars (only one each because I'm that mom). She wanted a Monster High birthday but I didn't want to spend a fortune on cupcake toppers ($8 + shipping for one pack?!). Instead, I whipped up a colorful batch of cupcakes in Monster High colors and printed out mini versions of the logo and attached them to toothpicks. Let's just say that first graders are excited about cupcakes no matter how fancy (or not) they are!

While we may not have had the most Pinterest-worthy party, Little One had a great weekend and we enjoyed some quality family time. And even though we cancelled the official party, she was so excited to have BOTH of us come into her classroom to share the cupcakes and goodie bags with her friends. That is what birthdays are really about, yes?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

weekend reading


What It Feels Like to Be a Foster Child

Links to peruse during your weekend:

I loved this baby shower gift guide for the "natural" mama-to-be. It was super timely since my coworker is throwing me a shower next month. This list of gifts for the brand new mama was also full of great suggestions! (Unfortunately, we don't have access to many of these items here, but these are times I'm super thankful for Amazon!)

Kristen over at Rage Against the Minivan recently shared about her work with the ONE organization. The group has a slogan that really resonated with me, "Where you are born shouldn’t dictate whether you live or die."

I've really enjoyed being witness to Elise's transformation into a mother, and consequently all the things she has shared about the journey. This discussion on "balance" was a good one and something I've definitely tucked away in the back of my brain.

I LOVE this series on recipes from works of literature. Book nerds unite!

Hubs and I recently celebrated three years of marriage. It has been quite a challenge to remain as close as a couple as we'd like to, especially when life gets rolling full steam. However, I really liked this list from Molly about keeping marriage alive after baby. I hope this will be a good reminder once we add another little person to the mix!

I know a lot of people struggle with meal planning but it is something that, especially as a full-time working mom and wife, has saved my sanity MANY a week. This Maniac's Guide to Meal Planning was so spot on--hopefully it can give you some tips if you struggle in this area!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Soldier Send

I recently received an email from Mick Garrison, CEO of Soldier Send, and knew I had to share. Ever thought about sending a care package to deployed or overseas troops but weren't sure how? This site allows deployed service members to create wishlists of items they need or wish they could get their hands on at their deployed location. Then, patriotic and well-wishing folks can sign up to send these things to said service members. 

Years ago, back in my early college years, I used a similar website to send care packages to troops who might not otherwise receive them. I particularly love services like these because (1) not everyone has someone back home to send them things they might need, and (2) they eliminate sending unnecessary items or things that simply cause clutter.

One thing I think is neat about this site is that those who wish to send items can purchase things by category, such as clothing, entertainment, or personal care items. Additionally, if you'd like to send an entire care package, you can even purchase a pre-made box with highly requested items. If you've ever sent a care package to someone overseas, you know how much hassle it can be to run back and forth across town and then make time for a post office trip (and don't forget the customs form!). 

Do you know a service member (or know someone who knows one)? Have them go to Soldier Send and sign up to receive much needed items!

Are you a supporter? Head on over to the site now and find a service member to "adopt" or select a few in demand items. 

Let's help Soldier Send spread the word about their valuable service!

Linking up with Molly and Carly today!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

pregnancy and stepmotherhood

One of the most complicated emotional struggles I have been trying to wrap my head around since finding out I was pregnant has been how I feel about being a pregnant stepmom. This is one of those posts where I sit and write forever, edit and re-edit, and wonder if I will ever hit publish. But then, I read this series about being vulnerable--really putting ourselves out there with our sacred scared--and I took it as a sign. And so here I am, baring these messy feelings and hoping to find some clarity at the end.

How do I feel about being pregnant? Well, I feel a lot of things. But more than that? I absolutely love it. Watching my body change, feeling my sweet baby move around, buying tiny clothes and nesting and thinking about all of the things I hope and dream for this little person are priceless. I know that there will be hard days ahead--for the next 18+ years or so--but that doesn't change how amazing this experience is or has been for me. I have been incredibly lucky to have a healthy and easy pregnancy so far, and this special time that is just baby and me together is something I know I will treasure forever. 

How do I feel about being a stepmom? That runs the gamut and mostly depends on the day (sometimes the hour). At this point? I still find it so hard. Luckily, I have been able to feel a little less self-conscious about that because I think it's just raising a small human in general that is hard. However, there are many days when the not-so-little voice in my head is telling me, YOU ARE SURELY DOING EVERYTHING ONE MILLION PERCENT WRONG AND CAUSING ALL KINDS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA AND/OR PERMANENT DAMAGE (please tell me I'm not the only one). But also, sometimes it's really awesome because Little One is 7 now and has, in her words, "entered a new world," which is so true. So different, but so great to watch (less great on those days where she is pushing boundaries and starting the pre-pre-teen attitude--seriously why does this exist?!, but nevertheless). Having a hand in the little lady she is now, and will become, is a truly awesome opportunity.

How do I feel about being a pregnant stepmom? Sometimes great, sometimes terrible, sometimes completely unsure of every decision I make. If I distill the swirling emotions down to the basics, they tend to fall in one of three categories.

First, I now completely get why so many couples that are blending families rush to have a child even if theirs are much older. It legitimizes the relationship, cements it forever in the history of this little person. It shows the world that, at least for some period of time, these people were in love enough to want to procreate. Being pregnant makes me feel like I am finally a real part of our family. Obviously, I know I am regardless, and Little One calls me Mom and I do all of the "parent" things for her. But now? Now I am permanently more than her "half-mom" or her father's wife; I am the mother of her first sibling, something only I can give her. 

Second, I worry about loving the baby more than/different from her--and that it will be obvious. This is something I have discussed with my husband as I feel like it's a two-way thing in this type of family. I worry that I will love the baby more, and I am worried that he will not love the baby as much. It's uncomfortable to discuss out loud but I know it's important to put it out in the open so the feelings don't take on their own life. The one thing that I think cannot be denied is the fact that I will love baby differently for sure. There are two main reasons for this--one, this baby is growing inside me and we therefore have a deep and physical connection. Baby is part of me and her daddy and is a precious gift reflecting the love we have for each other. Two, Little One has a bio-mom and as she gets older it is natural for her to try to find more connections between them. (Unfortunately, I don't think she will be as successful as she deserves, but I do believe it's natural regardless.) Along these lines, I know a huge contributing factor ties back to reason one: I get to love this baby without interference from anyone else. I love Little One and I take care of her because it's the right thing to do and she deserves to be cared for and loved, regardless of her bio-mom's desired level of involvement. However, I think perhaps only an involved stepparent (or other full-time caretaker) could understand how truly liberating it is to be able to love a little person freely. I know that many moms have worries about how they will love their children when they are expecting their second or third, so I try not to beat myself up too much over these concerns. I'm sure, like all things, it will work itself out in the end.

Third, I am so thrilled for Little One to no longer be an only child. I do not fall into the mindset that all siblings should, will, or have to be best friends, but I think it's such a good experience for them. Mostly because I think it's hard for only children to not grow up thinking the world revolves around them when they've never had to share it. I don't think it can be said that it makes anyone better or worse off, but I don't think it can hurt to learn early on that other people's needs and feelings are important, too. Little One will be 7 years older than her sibling, the same gap between my sister and I. While it means they won't have a chance to be as close as they might be if they were closer in age, I think it fits perfectly into Little One's personality. She will be able to help out so much and play role of mini-Mom. She is a natural caretaker and already talks constantly about how she needs the baby to sleep in her room and outlines (to anyone who will listen) all the seemingly endless plans she has for this little person entering our family. 

In the end, I know this will be quite an adjustment for us all and definitely an adventure for us as a family. I cannot wait to welcome our new addition and see what niche the little bean occupies as we become a family of four. New babies are so exciting and I am so, so thankful that our family's wish to expand has been answered this year.
 
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