Monday, June 30, 2014

Abigail's a Hammerhead

Abigail started swim lessons the spring of 2010, around 15mo old. We did basic lessons that summer and the following year. In January 2011, another swim establishment offered a deal too good to pass and Abigail started swimming there after she turned 3. In the beginning there was a lot of "tough love" but we decided swimming was/is a life skill and she needed to learn regardless of the tears occasionally shed. Secretly, I was thrilled not to be the bad guy in the water. After a good few lessons, she started to trust her swim coach more and really enjoy herself. Since Abigail wasn't in pre-school and I wasn't working, we had the luxury of attending more lessons throughout the week. She swam 3-5 times a week for almost two years. Over that time frame, she continued to progress in her swimming and continued to love it.

This year we decided to let Abigail try a summer swim team. We know lots of families who swim with this team or have swam with the team in the past, so we should be in for a good season. Abigail was thrilled she would be swimming again. Between my work schedule, her preschool schedule and this pregnancy it was a bit difficult coordinating activities for Abigail. September 2013 was her last month of lessons. Abigail was so cute at her first swim team practice, so anxious! She eagerly listened to all the high school coaches introduce themselves and listed pool rules like no running on the pool deck, no walking in flippers, no one in the water if a lifeguard isn't present. As you can see in the photo, other kids weren't nearly as interested or anxious! Swim team practice takes place Monday through Friday at 8am.

Abigail's first team suit!

To help volunteers keep track of the kids throughout the meets, we write on our swimmers. Their name and age go on their right shoulder blade. On their arm or leg we write the details of the events they are swimming. The 5-6yo girls events are 11, 23 and 45. Event 11 is individual freestyle, Event 23 is the freestyle relay and Event 45 is the individual backstroke.

Abigail ready to swim her first relay race; she is the second swimmer of the relay.
Abigail and Annabelle
Abigail really enjoyed her first year as a Smyrna Shark. It was fun watching her improve throughout the month and we look forward to her swimming again next year.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Preparing for Bean

Slowly but surely we started preparing for Bean's arrival. I found the cutest book for Abigail that my parents gave to her for her birthday. While we call it "The Bean Book", the book is titled Hello in There!: A Big Sister's Book of Waiting. This book couldn't be a more perfect fit for Abigail as it mentions sharing sharing the big sister's favorites (cupcakes and strawberries) to wondering if baby "will have straight hair like me?". Each page has a growing bump and a flap opening for you to peek in and see how big baby might be on each page.

March started consignment season. I have been on the committee for my MOPS group's consignment sale for the last few years. I thought my time serving was coming to an end as it's more and more difficult to find gently worn items for Abigail, but with Bean on the way my "need" list grew immensely! We acquired an amazing swing ($30), a bouncer seat, a boppy, Go-Pod Activity seat ($20) and some tiny clothes. While we chose to keep Bean's gender a surprise, I didn't want to buy gender neutral clothing…because Bean isn't gender neutral, Bean has a gender. I selected a few gowns and sleepers in newborn and 0-3mo sizes. Not knowing gender has restrained my shopping, which is really good! Abigail was so tiny she couldn't wear many of the gifted clothing our family and friends purchased for her, by the time she could fit into it the items were off season. Not long after I bit the bullet and purchased a couple cases of diapers. Our favorite with Abigail was Pampers Swaddlers, and she was so tiny (6lbs 2oz at birth) she wore the newborn size until she was 3mo old.

The biggest preparation was finding a larger vehicle for our to-be family of four (or five if you count Brewer!). My 2006 Jetta had been having transmission issues over the last year and the repairs would cost more than it was currently worth. It was a good vehicle for 8.5yrs but to fit two car seats AND a 60lb Brewer, our needs were bigger. Matt & I have had our eye on the Ford Flex for quite awhile. After lots and lots of searching we found exactly what we were looking for, at a great price, without having to settle on any features. Our Flex has three rows, seats six, with captain's chairs in the middle (this was a my top "want" feature knowing it would be easier moving around once two car seats were in. It's seems really fancy in comparison to Jetta's features, it SYNC's with my iPhone and has an automatic lift gate (so easy Abigail can do it!). The Flex has been with us since early May and we have really been enjoying it.
New family vehicle meant Bean needed a carseat! 
Over Mother's Day weekend, we decided to get out of dodge. Matt & I wanted to go to Pigeon Forge but the midwife I saw the week before recommended I stay within two hours of my hospital. So instead we opted for a weekend in Chattanooga. We stayed up late and slept in (or tried to, noisy hotel guests). Abigail also enjoyed some time at the indoor pool. Over the weekend we checked out the Tennessee Aquarium and Rock City, we have done both before but Abigail was much younger then. It was really nice to getaway, relax and have some much needed down time - just the three of us. 
Friday, May 23rd was my last day of work until August 18th. While I have really enjoyed working at Starbucks, the last month or so started to get pretty rough. My growing belly wasn't really the most cooperative as we don't have a ton of space to work in, and me working drive-thru was a huge fail every time! I also had lots of guilt as all my energy was expended at work and I was worthless once I got home. Between my lack of energy and minimal stomach space come dinner time, I had no interest in quality meals. Easy sandwiches, cereal, take-out and ramen were usually at the top of our dinner list. The perk, no pun intended, of my maternity leave is that all of our amazing benefits will remain the same! Usually, as a final send off for a partner during their last shift, you end up with whipped cream in the face. I nicely reminded them I was still returning in a few months so instead my belly was given a whipped cream heart.
My parents came to visit over Memorial Day Weeekend, as we usually spend that weekend in Tampa with them. It was great spending time with them and having extra hands to knock out a few items off my extensive To Do List. My mom came with me to Kohl's, and it was obvious she has been having withdrawals not being able to shop for Bean. We selected going home outfits for Bean and I love the light aqua color in comparison to the traditional pinks and blues. The baby girl outfit is feminine and dainty while the boy onsie has tiny foxes, both very sweet. We also found Abigail a couple outfits to compliment for pictures in the same aqua color.
My parents brought up the family bassinet, which will be used bedside like it was for Abigail. We got the pack-n-play all set up as a diaper changing station downstairs. (Glad it was too complicated to sell at a consignment sale since we're finally needing it again 5yrs later.) We even found some extra goodies packed away nice and snug in the attic I thought I had passed along to other family members. It's been quite the challenge trying to figure out if I have everything we'll need for Bean. I have written and re-written lists, crossing off items we didn't use enough with Abigail to warrant having again (i.e.: diaper pail or wipe warmer). I have consulted with family members and friends with younger children, adding items that we didn't have with Abigail (i.e.: sound machine and video monitor). 

After shopping with my mom, I've started looking at more baby clothing. It hasn't helped that I haven't been working for the last two weeks to keep me exhausted and distracted. I'm just waiting, very impatiently, for Bean to arrive. Gymboree and GAP have some very cute baby clothing, I am loving the ocean prints and the color variety (again with the not traditional pink or blue). I may or may not have purchased a few things, and may need to return some things once Bean's gender is revealed…

While we wait, and wait and wait and wait, impatiently, Matt and I have continued to be productive around the house. With all of our travels visiting family, we normally don't get around to knocking out plenty of things that need to be done. Insert pregnancy travel ban…much is getting accomplished. Matt framed out the space for a little vegetable garden attempt. We decided to replace the toilets in our house (encouraged by old, breaking toilets and a rebate from the city). I've been staying more up to date on all Matt's business paperwork. You get the ideaThe house seems to be staying cleaner and getting more organized, which are both good since I'm sure we'll have a steady flow of visitors coming to meet Bean over the summer.

Abigail has been wonderfully loving and I cannot wait to see her in action as a big sister. She loves to give my belly hugs and tell me that hug is for Bean and this hug is for you. Abigail says she'll help with the readings and the feedings. Over time, I think we've convinced her into helping with some of the wet diapers. We shall see how that goes! We have also been practicing her reading skills with some of her "baby books", as she calls them. I think she has been the most fun coming up with possible names for Bean. Recommendations have ranged from Anna (Frozen) to Sha-sha, Helen and Alan, Julie and most recently Austin. Matt and I have really enjoyed her "Oooh! I have a name for Bean!" moments.
Photo comparison of Bean's growth, December 23rd and June 6th.

Tomorrow is Bean's official due date, June 9th, and I think we're as prepared as we're going to be!