Play, Meet (two)
Earlier this week Remy and I headed all the way next door to our neighbor Amanda Vyn's house for a playdate! Amanda, a clinical research auditor at the University of Colorado, Anshutz and her husband Rubin, a fresh teacher at George Washington High School, have been our neighbors these last short couple of years. They had little Jonah last September, and we were so looking forward to seeing our littles grow together, but graduate school in Iowa City calls for Rubin who will be studying Foreign Language Instruction. Sadly for us, but great news for them, their house went under contract in just one short weekend and we only have until this summer to soak up their lovely smiles and company. This nicer weather, minus yesterday and today's mini hail storms and tornado sirens, have drawn us all outdoors in our neighborhood and it has been nice swapping stories with Amanda about motherhood in our front yards. I thought I would set a play/meet with her sooner than later. Every time I have had the pleasure of spending time with Amanda, at Jonah's welcome party at their lovely home and checking out his adorable owl nursery, at a Discovery Toys party, which she is now a sales representative for, at Remy's first birthday party and all these neighborly encounters checking the mail, washing the cars or hanging outside, I get little glimpses of what parenting looks like for this full time working momma.
Amanda was lucky in some considerations as her benefits allowed her to take a full four months off after Jonah was born, and she could have taken a few weeks longer had she wanted, which is almost unheard of in today's corporate work force in America. It was also during these aryl months, about the first six, that little Jonah had colic and she came to depend on one product in particular, the Ergo baby carrier. She was able to wear him and have him sit against her vertically which helped soothe him and he could also sleep in the carrier as well which allowed mom and dad to be more hands free.
Monday was the most glorious spring day to take the babes and a basket of toys out to her enviable back yard for a little play date. Remy got a wee bit antsy but I stood up and rocked her and she fell asleep in my arms. That has RARELY happened since she was much smaller! She must have needed a snooze, and Jonah too! With two babes passed out in our arms with nothing but sunshine and birds chirping, we were able to hang out and talk leisurely for a bit longer than if we had taken our play date on the go with a stroll to Starbucks as originally planned, which made it nicer. Here's a glimpse into this busy mommy's world with a very active, nearly walking, baby boy.
Big thanks to Amanda and little Jonah for hosting us and sharing all the new toys to us! We sure are going to miss you guys 'round these parts...
HH: What do you find is the biggest challenge with balancing motherhood and working full time?
AV: My biggest challenge with balancing motherhood and working has been around breastfeeding. When Jonah was born, my goal was to make it one full year without needing to use formula or to have to supplement with something other than real food once he was old enough. Unfortunately, once I went back to work, I wasn’t able to pump enough breastmilk to cover Jonah’s needs at the babysitter’s house, so I had to supplement. I was super emotional about it and didn’t understand why my body wasn’t producing what he needed. I did a lot of reading on pumping and from what I understand, it’s not unusual to pump less than what a baby can nurse. Babies are way more effective and efficient at the breast than what a pump can do. Next time around, I’m hoping to have a better stash of breastmilk in the freezer so that I can hold off on formula for a little longer. I do feel fortunate to have found a formula that Jonah has tolerated really well. He has a sensitive belly, so we found Baby’s Only Organic LactoRelief. Even though I would’ve preferred he only have breast milk, this formula has worked well for us. He’s now 8 months old and I’m still nursing! I just have to supplement a little bit during the day. Other than the breastfeeding issue, I have enjoyed being back to work a few days a week. Since Jonah was a challenging infant, it is great for me to have breaks from him at times. I’m so much more patient and attentive to him when I get home from work. Overall, this set up has been for the best for all of us!
HH: How did you find child care here and what are your pros and cons of the situation you currently have and what you would ideally like to do in future when you move?
AV: I found our child care provider on Care.com. We feel so blessed to know he is in a safe place when he’s not with us. Our provider does in-home childcare. He is with only two other little ones, so the ratio of provider to child is so low. We love it! And our provider treats Jonah like one of her own. I can't think of any cons! I'm hoping we can secure the same set-up for Jonah after we move.
HH: What has been your favorite stage with Jonah thus far? Your favorite things about Jonah?
AV: I think the best stage was when Jonah started crawling. We weren't expecting it to happen so soon (he started crawling just after turning 6 months), but he was so much happier once he was mobile and could get himself around without relying on us. Jonah is very active! He definitely keeps us on our toes. This is probably one of our favorite things about the little guy. And...he's a great snuggler when he does decide to slow down for the day. We like that, too. :)
HH: What is the hardest thing about motherhood?
AV: The hardest thing for me has been the lack of sleep I'm getting. Reuben and I both maximized on sleep pre-baby, so this has been a tough adjustment. It's well worth the struggle, but it has definitely been the hardest thing so far.
HH: Do you have any tips for taking care of yourself and hubby while having a newborn/baby?
AV: Take turns, and work together! We both love our alone time with Jonah, so we make it a priority. This is great because the other person then gets some alone time to do something special (shop, exercise, or nap!). Reuben and I both love to cook, so we share a lot of those duties. Even the little things make such a huge difference in keeping your sanity with a little one in the house.
HH: What are some of your favorite products and baby gear?
AV: There's so many products I have found that I love to use on Jonah, but these are the ones that I keep going back to for my family, and share with others! Honest company wipes, ErgoBaby carrier, Boiron homepathic colic and teething medicines, zippered sleepers, Infinite Aloe (this stuff is amazing and works on everything - dry skin, eczema, cradle cap, diaper rash), Discovery Toys Super Yummy teether, City Select stroller, glass lock containers for freezing baby food, white noise machine, Ikea outlet saftey plugs, Little Pitterpat booties on Etsy (they don't come off!), Gunapod sleep sacks, and any Hape or Plan Toys, my 2 favorite toy companies! And we also discussed the handmade bibs made of terry cloth that are large and cover Jonah, any muslin blankets, Dapper Snappers which are sold at Kid to Kid which nip in the waistband which are awesome for skinny little boys like Jonah. My favorite products for myself while pregnant and now when breastfeeding: Bamboobies breast pads, H&M nursing tank tops, (which fit longer in the body, nice for tall gals like me, and they're affordable), coconut oil for cracked nipples, Gaia Herbs Lactation support herbal tea, and belly butter from Rebecca's apothecary in Boulder.
HH: What has been the best advice given to you before becoming a mom?
AV: Nap when baby naps. Best. advice. ever.
HH: Any advice for new mommies or women who plan to be mommies?
AV: It's hard work, but worth every second! ... You'll never be as ready to have a baby as you want to be. You just figure it out as you go! ... Accept help when people offer it. ... Oh yeah, and nap when baby naps. :)
HH: What are your favorite clothing brands/styles for Jonah?
AV: Jonah is long and skinny, so I have found that certain brands fit him better than others. Carters and Oshkosh clothing are probably the best fit of all, and you never have to pay full price. I love Hanna Andersson, especially for their organic sleepers, but they're pricey, so it's a total score when I can find their stuff at consignment shops. I love BabyGap for their little boy styles, and they also have great sales. And I love love love H&M for all of their organic cotton onesies and T-shirts, and super cute boy accessories - hats, sunglasses, suspenders - and they're affordable! If I had a bigger budget, I might splurge on Tea Collection or Mini Boden more often.
HH: What are your favorite stores for Jonah? Clothing, toys, etc.
AV: Favorite stores for apparel - Carters & Oshkosh, H&M, BabyGap. I'm a huge outlet shopper. And you can get Carters clothing at Costco, too! KidtoKid Aurora is my favorite consignment shop. Favorite stores for toys and other baby products - Clothes Pony & Dandelion Toys (in Fort Collins), Naturally Loved, (they have a new location in Park Hill), Razzle Toys, Right Start, Discovery Toys (catalog). And I'm always on the lookout for cool toys at consignment and thrift stores!
HH: How has motherhood changed you? Changed your style or personality or ideals?
AV: I think the biggest change is that I don't think about myself and how I look as much anymore. The focus is on Jonah, which I'm ok with. My style is currently comfort over anything else...and every top I wear has to be breastfeeding-friendly! :) Also, I've never been so conscious of what we put on our skin or in our mouths as I am now. We try to do non-toxic and organic as much as possible, which I never really thought much about before.
HH: What did you love most about raising a baby in Denver?
AV: There's so much to do here that's kid-friendly! Denver Zoo, Children's Museum, Botanic Gardens, Butterfly Pavilion, Denver Aquarium, public pools, (we love going to Utah Park pool by our house), walking paths/trails, libraries, moms groups...I could go on and on. If you're looking for a particular activity, you'll definitely find it here!
HH: What are you most looking forward to in Iowa City?
AV: I'm looking forward to being in a smaller community, but still being in a college town. I'm also really excited to be closer to my parents and my siblings.
HH: What baby items are on your wish list or to-get list?
AV: It's embarrassing to say, but my wish list is pretty short. I'm an impulsive bargain shopper. When I find a good deal, I jump on it (sometimes, I may even go a bit overboard, but I love deals!). I already have several gifts for Jonah's birthday and Christmas for the next couple of years. I guess I can say that I'm hoping to get Jonah a sandbox or a swing-set of sorts when we get to Iowa. I think outdoor activities are great and he would really enjoy having these, especially now that he's getting close to walking.
HH: Haha! You sound like me! We have gifts for the next couple of holidays and some clothes for her toddler years. We even put away some of her gifts from her birthday recently to spread it out. We gave her a few now that she can really engage with and then in a few months time we can introduce a couple more. One year olds don't remember, but they do get bored! We also might wrap a couple for after the new baby arrives.
HH: What will you miss most about Denver?
AV: We love our house and our neighborhood. We'll miss our church and the friends we have made there. We'll miss those beautiful mountains! And we'll definitely miss the awesome weather.
HH: We will miss you guys too! Best of luck to you all in Iowa City!