Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm on Etsy!

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Right before Riley was born I ordered a few items for her from a cute boutique-like website for baby items. One of the items I ordered was a very cute, yet overpriced, hair clip. After receiving it I realized I could make the clip for much less than I paid. So, I started making some for her. My mom suggested I put them on eBay and see if I got any bites. Around mid-January I did just that ... and didn't hear a single thing from anyone.

Then, on Sunday, out of the blue I received two orders. I was very excited! One of the women has been very helpful as we've been talking back and forth through email about what color combinations she would like, shapes, etc. She suggested that I put my clips on Etsy.com. I had never heard of it, but quickly checked it out ... and signed up ... and now have my clips on there.

Etsy is very much like eBay, but exclusively for handmade items. I love that part. I just sent her some color swatches in the mail today so she can match them up to some of her little girl's summer outfits - I am very excited to get started on her order. And she belongs to a children's clothing message board of over 30,000 members and is going to give me a big shout out to the members on there ... I hope it brings in some additional business!!

If you're reading this and you're interested in having a clip custom made for you, let me know! Here is a picture of Riley (back in January) wearing a headband with one of my clips attached:
You can also find my listing on Etsy! meganbalaban.etsy.com

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's Been a While!

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Wow - I haven't blogged for quite some time! I don't have much time to right now, but will try to make time this afternoon because there are definitely some things I want to write about. Until then, here are a few pictures from Riley that I took over the weekend - hard to believe she will be 4 months this coming Sunday!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Few New Pictures

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Just a few pictures I've taken over the past couple of days:

Daddy and Riley watching the ceiling fan (3/18/09 ... 14 weeks old)

Daddy and Riley: Reunited after a weekend apart (3/15/09 ... 14 weeks old)

Riley and Wendell: Hanging out in Mommy and Daddy's room (3/19/09 ... 14 weeks old)

Which Way is the Right Way?

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This is the question that I ask myself over and over as I pour over books about how to get your child to sleep through the night. Now - let me set the stage by saying that I am definitely not in the worst possible situation when it comes to Riley's nights. On average she gets up two times a night and I am sure a lot of parents out there would love to have that luxury. But I can't lie - I am definitely anticipating when those two times turn into one ... and then eventually zero.

I've come to accept that I am the parent and it is my duty to guide and teach Riley in many things - sleeping included. She is a baby. She doesn't know how to teach herself good sleep habits. I must intervene.

After reading Babywise, getting the 'cliff notes' version of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby from a friend, and reading another sleep book from the library (can't even recall the name), I was first asking myself, "Which way is the right way?". I think I've quickly realized that there will never be one equation that works for all babies. Never. This is all about what works for YOUR baby. And it involves a looooot of trial and error. And she isn't going to 'get it' in a day. It will take days ... or even weeks.

This is the hard path. I could sit back and do nothing, which would be easier, but it would lead to continued sleep deprived nights. OR, I could take charge, educate myself, and work with Riley to see what works best for her ... endure several hard nights or weeks ... but then end up with a very happy baby who is able to sleep through the night. And a happy, rested baby means a happy, rested mommy.

SO ...

I am following in the footsteps of a friend at work who has combined the Babywise and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby techniques. Today is just day #2, so we have a long way to go, but I have faith and know that Riley could come out of this like a champ. This is basically what it looks like:

I try to keep Riley on a feeding schedule that matches her current feeding needs. She needs to eat about every two hours. I've established 7am as her "breakfast" feeding time.
  • I am definitely following the "eat, play, sleep" rotation that Babywise speaks to. This will allow her to disassociate eating from sleeping.
  • I am keeping a consistent bedtime routine that consists of feeding, bath, book, and bed. This begins right about 7pm each night.
  • I am putting her down for naps and bed either awake or drowsy, but never asleep. She whimpers or cries for about 5-10 minutes, but then falls to sleep. I never let her scream. If her cries get too loud or desperate, I definitely go in and get her and soothe her. I am personally not a proponent of 'crying it out'.
  • I definitely allow Riley to rule the feeding schedule. If she is providing hunger cues before 2 hours, then she gets fed. She is a baby. She doesn't need a rigid schedule - just a guideline.

Again, I know that people can get very defensive when discussing their personal beliefs for sleeping techniques and children - and opinions vary, as they should. So if you're reading this and you completely disagree with my approach, that's fine! But please don't judge me on it - I am just trying to find what works for our family.

It's too early to tell just yet how this is going to go ... and if it will be what works for Riley, but I will certainly post updates in the near future. The biggest challenge for me is that I am also having to coordinate this effort with my parents and Kevin's parents. It is one thing when one person has a routine they are trying to stick to, but ensuring consistency across the three parties may be difficult. We shall see!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Packing for a baby - WOW.

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I think the title of this post says it all! Last weekend was Riley's first road trip. I had mentioned a couple posts ago that Kevin was going to do some work on our half-bath that required some drywall sanding, and in an effort to keep Riley away from all the dust, we decided she'd head to Mom and Dad's with me for the weekend! By the time we got on the road Friday (2 hours after I began packing), I was exhausted. Who knew that a baby requires so much STUFF! I don't even feel that I overpacked, because I used every single thing that I took with me. I even forgot a few minor things that I ended up having to pick up while down there. At least now I've updated my "Riley packing list" with those items and have something to work off of next time ... which will come in handy soon ... we're doing it all over again this Friday!

That's right! My brother, his wife, and the triplets were supposed to come into town last weekend as well so that they could all see Riley and I could see them. Audrey, however, came down with a fever Friday night, so they had to cancel their trip. They are able to come in this weekend, though, so we're headed down there again. This time Kevin is coming along!

So I'll see how much more efficient I can be with packing this time. As long as I remember Riley, I consider it a success!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lots of Interesting STUFF!

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On the days that I work, I go to the lactation room three times a day. A nice little perk there (aside from the room itself) is that it is littered with all kinds of magazines - mostly Parents, Parenting, and American Baby. I have a subscription to Parents already, but love looking at past issues that I hadn't read before. That magazine is jam packed with awesome information, tips, and websites. I've made a habit of dog-earing pages that have that useful information, then jotting it down in my planner. I thought a better place to put everything would be right here in my blog. That way I don't lose it, and maybe it will be helpful for some friends with babies as well!

Things I Want to Buy ... (name of item is the website link) ...
  • Toothbrush Guard: Obviously not needed until Riley begins brushing her teeth, but it suctions to your mirror and snaps open and shut at the touch of the brush. Side vents keep the bristles dry, to prevent bacterial growth (and it easily converts to a travel case for sleepovers or trips!).
  • Bobo Glove: What could be better than this? A glove that you wear and can use to entertain your baby while he/she is on your lap! Sure, I may look like a fool wearing it, but Riley would love it!
  • Closet Tags: I think I want this for MY closet ... not Riley's! These tags snap onto your closet rod and come with preprinted labels so you can arrange clothes by size, season, or category. For those of you who know me well, you know these would make a great addition to my closet that is arranged by color and sleeve length!!

Things I Want to Try ...

  • Smilebox.com: If you lack the crafty gene but love the idea of creating a special album, this seems to be the site to go to. You can apparently create something fabulous in as little as five minutes and are given options to email, print, blog or save your creation!
  • Scrapblog.com: If you love doodads and thingamajigs to layer on a scrapbook page, check out this site. You can "scrap" with the site's templates or create your own. You can even email or upload your pages to a blog for FREE!
  • Howfasttheygrow.com: If you're like me and like to document every moment of your baby's life, this is probably for you. It's like an instant baby book that's free to share online and costs a nominal fee for a 12-inch square printout.

Things I'm Thankful to Know ...

  • Weight in Kilograms: According to a study, 7% of children hospitalized are accidentally given the wrong dosage of medicine. Yikes. Doctor's most accurately dose medication based on your child's weight in kilograms ... so it is helpful to know their weight in this measurement. To get the right number, divide your child's weight in pounds by 2.2.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Riley's First Trip

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This weekend will be Riley's first overnight trip. We have some work remaining in our half-bathroom that requires Kevin to do some sanding and we don't want Riley around the dust. I haven't been to Marietta since my shower back in September, so we thought it would be the perfect time for Riley and I to take a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's while Kevin stays back and does the work on the bathroom. I know he'll miss her terribly.

Mom is in town to babysit today and tomorrow. She's going to leave her car at our house and she and I will drive South Friday morning with Riley. We'll make one pitstop on the way to visit my friend Katie and her 2-week-old son, Jonathan. We'll return home Sunday night, then Mom will spend Monday with Riley and I and babysit on Tuesday and Wednesday! I can't believe I get to see my mom for another whole week!

My brother is also coming into town this weekend. I haven't seen his girls (the triplets!) since my shower in September, either. This is also the longest I have ever gone without seeing them. They'll be 3 in May and I am sure they've grown so much since I last saw them. This will be their first time meeting Riley and I am very anxious to see how that goes!

I've never gone this long without going "home". Thankfully my parents have been so willing to make the drive up here to visit us - and are now babysitting two days a week - but it will be nice to actually be in their home - the home I grew up in.

Anyhow, I just started jotting down things that I need to pack for Riley. Being that this is my first experience ever having to pack for her, I am sure I'll absolutely overpack, but that's okay - I'd rather have too much than too little!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Week Two

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Last week I thought that each week would get easier and easier in regards to returning to work and leaving Riley for the day. I was wrong. Today was the hardest so far without a doubt. Once I got to work and stopped crying I realized that it is probably because last week I was on an adrenaline high. I was looking forward to seeing friends and co-workers, talking non-stop about Riley, and sharing many, many pictures with everyone. Now this week the 'new-ness' of it all is over and it is just me coming to work, just as I used to. That is what makes it hard.

Today I brought in two of Riley's pictures from her 3-month pictures we had taken on Friday. I can't stop looking at the one - her face all crunched up as she laughs. It melts my heart. I cannot WAIT to get home to see her this evening.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Three Month Pictures

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Today we had Riley's 3-month pictures taken at Portrait Innovations in Mayfield. I am very impressed with the place and how much time and attention they give you during your appointment. I wasn't sure how Riley would do, but am happy with the results.

We didn't get as many smiles as we'd hoped to get, but still got plenty to pick out a lot more pictures than we planned on! I am sure she was on sensory overload with Kevin, myself, and the photographer all saying things to her at the same time to try to get her to smile as well as all the lights and noises. You can view all of the photos (keep in mind they are unedited in these albums, so you can see my hand in some, etc) at the following link:

3-month pictures

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dear Riley ... (3 Month Letter)

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The following is a copy of the letter that I wrote to Riley this morning - she is three months old today.
My Dearest Riley,

Today you are three months old! You have changed so much in this past month and still continue to amaze your daddy and I everyday. This month you have begun to smile so much more often - almost on demand! You've also made your daddy and I laugh so hard with your adorable belly laughs! Daddy was the first one to get some hard laughs from you, but since then you have laughed for me, Grandma and Grandpa Balaban and Grandma and Grandpa Nichols!

You're holding your head up so well now and seem to like time spent in your Bumbo chair. You look like such a big girl sitting in there and it makes your daddy laugh each time he sees you. Tummy time is even something that you seem to tolerate a lot better these days. You do your little baby push-ups and those huge eyes just stare out at the world.

You are such a good girl everywhere we go - even in church! Just last weekend there was a line of people at the pew after church waiting to see you and compliment you on how beautiful you are. You must have grabbed their attention while I was holding you on my shoulder and those big, gorgeous blue eyes stared out at the people behind us!

You've certainly discovered your hands and love to suck on your fists. Daddy and I laugh at night as we hear you sucking away on the baby monitor. You've begun to swing at toys that hang overhead and even grab hold of rattles and links very well now.

I've packed up most of your 0-3 month clothes, although there are still certain things you can still wear. Tomorrow we'll go for your first professional pictures and we can't wait to have some gorgeous pictures of you hanging around the house.

This month also brought us the hardest day in mommy's life: returning to work. I am so thankful that I have only returned part-time and still get to have four days out of the week with you, but leaving you that first day made me feel like my heart had been ripped out and stomped on. I couldn't stop thinking of you while at work and I still have you on my mind around the clock. You haven't noticed, though, because you're having fun playing with your Grandmas and Grandpas while Mommy and Daddy are at work! Your grandparents love being your babysitters and we know you're in the best hands when we can't be with you.

I am so excited to see what this next month brings for you. I know one thing for sure: you will continue to be the most beautiful, amazing, incredible baby girl I have ever seen in my life ... and I love you with all of my heart.

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I did it.

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I did it. I survived my first day back to work, away from Riley ... and I even returned to work today. I have to point that out because I honestly think it was surprising to some to see me walk to my desk again this morning. I've heard of so many working moms who return from maternity leave only to have a very difficult first day and by the second day, they've resigned. But I can do this. Sure, it is - hands down - the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, but I did make it through and I have to even admit that during my 8 hours in the office yesterday, I even enjoyed myself. It's amazing, though, how I can be busy all day but still keep her on my mind every single minute of it all.

I am pumping every three hours and that really helps to break up the day. I pump at 9am, Noon, and 3pm. And yesterday I was able to replenish all but 1oz of what I thawed out for the day, so that made me feel very good as well.

My parents arrived last night and will watch Riley today and tomorrow. Although I would rather be the one with her around the clock, it is nice to know that the second-best people - her grandparents - have her when Kevin and I cannot.

That little booger will be 3-months old tomorrow ... unreal.

Monday, March 2, 2009

" ... because it's not today"

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That's something my mom has said for years in the days leading up to a sad event in her life such as her maternity leave ending ... or a memorable family vacation coming to an end ... or me going back to college after a holiday break. "I'm not going to be sad about it, because it's not today". She'd say it to remind herself not to get sad too early - and to be happy and enjoy the moment until the very last minute.

So today, on my very last day of maternity leave with my precious Riley, I keep saying "I'm not going to be sad about it, because it's not today".

Tomorrow, however, is a whole different story.