Saturday, April 26, 2008

Play Dating

I know quite a few pregnant women right now. I don't know what it is, but a lot of our friends are also having babies within a few months of Lil' J's due date. Friends here in Virginia, friends back home in PA, friends up and down the East Coast, even friends in England. Lil' J is going to have a lot of potential playmates as he/she grows up.
If you think that your children's current relationships won't impact their future, think again. Here is a picture of Handsome Coastie and I at a Sunday School function around 20 years ago. At the time, our parents had no idea what the future held. One day your kids are sharing apple juice and pretzels at Vacation Bible School, the next they're sharing grape juice and unleavened bread at the marriage altar.
There might be more to this "play date" term than we thought ...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How Much?

In High School we had a health teacher that would respond to every comment or question with two words: "How much?" I was reminded of dear Mr. Mazeall this past week when Jon and I sat down to create a list of needed baby items. In addition to hearing my husband pronounce new words like "Bumbo" and "Boppy," and wonder why on earth a little baby needs its own bath towels and washcloths, each new item we added to the list caused us to both wonder - how much is this going to cost??
According to the book "Baby Bargains" the following is a simplified list of the Average Cost of Having a Baby:

Crib, mattress, dresser, rocker ..... $1500
Bedding/decor ..... $300
Baby clothes ..... $500
Disposable diapers ..... $600
Maternity clothes ..... $1200
Nursery items, high chair, toys ..... $400
Baby food/formula ..... $900
Stroller, car seat, carrier ... $300
Miscellaneous ... $500
TOTAL ..... $6200

And that's just to prepare for the baby's arrival, yikes! But those who know me best know that I am a planner, and that I am cheap. So of course, it's no surprise that I've already started shopping for baby and that my favorite places to shop are thrift stores, yard sales and Craigslist. My husband is also a planner, but he's also very practical. So despite all my searching and shopping, I don't have much to show for it. Here is what we have amassed so far for the Baby J Collection:

1.) one Playtex drop-in bottle - I got this for free in a goodie bag the first time I bought something from Motherhood Maternity. It is so adorable, I just want to put it in a display case and hang it on the wall.
2.) one nautical flags newborn shirt - I picked this up while shopping in a thrift store last year. The whole nautical flag thing was too cute. Now Baby J can dress just like daddy!
3.) one Nuk pacifier - we got this from Uncle Jared as a joke two Christmases ago. Little did he know we would need it so soon!

Clearly, we're off to a roaring start! With so much to get, it's important to know the right places to look. Aside from the typical baby and department stores, here is my list of the best places to get baby stuff. Of course, there are some things that should be purchased brand new, but for everything else there's:

1.) Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops - my personal favorite is CHKD in Virginia Beach. Not only do they have the cutest baby clothes and great maternity clothes, but proceeds also go to the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters. I've heard good things about "Rock a Bye Baby" too but have yet to check it out.
2.) Yard Sales - I don't mean just any old yard sale, although those will work too, but just the other weekend I met up with some girls from work to attend the Tidewater Mothers of Multiples Club Consignment Sale. The sale started at 9, so we arrived at 8:55, only to discover a line around the church building. Because only 100 shoppers are allowed in the building at a time, we waited over an hour to get our bags and check out the goods. In the meantime, we had to stand in line and watch early-arrivers walk by carrying play-yards, bouncers, swings and strollers. So we were amazed to discover how much was still left after we got in. The nice thing about a Multiples Club is that if you see someone carrying something you want, there's a good chance there's another one out there, or two! This has to be the most organized sale I have ever seen. And I had just as much fun standing in line chatting it up with others mothers and picking out the best looking travel systems as I did actually shopping inside! I didn't get anything for baby this time around (although I did get some things for myself), but I'll be better prepared for the next sale in September, at which I plan to arrive an hour or so early!
3.) CraigsList - this only works in largely-populated areas. CraigsList is a great way to find specific items for cheap - especially big things like cribs and little things like Bumbos or clothing lots. But the good items go fast, so you have to check it regularly.
4.) Baby Showers - and I don't mean for getting gifts. I've attended three baby showers this past month and just watching the mothers-to-be open gifts has given me some great ideas. When attending a shower, I think the best move to make is to plant yourself next to a veteran mother and grill her for all she's worth. That's what I did last weekend. It wasn't my shower but I ended up walking away with: an opportunity to check out Ezzo's series on raising infants, a chance to borrow some maternity clothes in a few weeks and, my biggest catch, the business card of a fabulous natural childbirth trainer.

And that's the advice of a mom-to-be who's only in her 14th week of pregnancy, so take it with a grain of salt. It's a good thing it takes 9 monthes to create a baby, because clearly there is much to learn and much to be done in that short amount of time. Meanwhile, I look forward to watching Baby J's Collection grow along with my belly!

Friday, April 18, 2008

14 week-a-roos!

Today reminds me of that quote by Winston Churchill that is probably written several times over in your high school yearbook: “Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
There is some debate over when exactly the first trimester ends and the second one begins. Some say at 12 weeks, other say at 14, and the rest choose somewhere in the middle. I say it’s over when you feel like it’s over. And for me that is today. Today is the end of the beginning!
For me, at exactly 14 weeks, there are several reasons why I believe I have arrived at the glorious second trimester. First, this is the second morning in a row that I haven’t thrown up! Second, I stayed up past 10pm this week. Granted, Jane Austen was on Masterpiece Theater, but the fact that I was able to do that speaks volumes. Third, I made dinner, a real dinner … more than once. My husband is especially grateful for that. Fourth, I ate a salad. It was a little difficult at first, but after 2 months of salad aversion this is a huge step in the right direction. And finally, I find myself waking up each morning with even more excitement and a little less anxiety than the day before.
Here is a picture of me at fourteen weeks (it is also a picture of me with straight hair, compliments of Misty). There was a complaint made by an unnamed friend that my last post didn’t include a picture of me, but rather “some hippie girl.” I never thought of Amy Grant as a “hippie,” but she is maternal. And as I’m sure we have all heard, Amy claims the “Baby, baby” song was really written for her 6 month old daughter, and is not about a guy despite what the music video would suggest ... yeah right. I digress.
This weekend also marks the end of the spring semester. I get a short break to cram in every pregnancy book I’ve wanted to read before I hit the ground running for my final and very full semester this summer. Studying is certainly not the way I envisioned spending the last summer of “just the two of us.” But I know that come August I am going to be very grateful that I forced myself to get grad school done and out of the way while I could. In some ways, it will be nice to be busy and active this summer, but I don’t want the time to fly by too fast! Even so, I’m looking forward to two full months of “nesting” after school ends and before baby arrives.
So we’ve reached the end of the beginning, over a third of the way through. Time really flies when you’re making babies!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Baby, baby you put my heart in motion

Sorry, but after today's doctors appointment, I just couldn't resist bringing up this early nineties "hit." This morning I got to hear Baby J's heartbeat! It was so fun! A strong whoosh, whoosh sound ringing in somewhere in the 150 bpm range. According to old wives tale and, this is slightly on the slower end of heart rates for my gestational age, which would indicate baby is a boy. But you never know with those things. It was a very short doctor's visit, just like this post, because it's my last week of class and I've got finals to work on. Just wanted to let everyone know that baby has a heartbeat and mama has heartburn!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ode to the Great State

Since becoming pregnant, I've noticed a slight onset of homesickness. Maybe it's the hormones, maybe it's the end of the "newlywed stage" or maybe it's because I'm having a hard time aligning my real life of raising a child in Virginia Beach with my visions of raising a child in Central Pennsylvania. Whatever it is, I'm hoping it's only temporary.
As the wife of a Coast Guardsman, or as the really cool people say - "milspouse," I'm faced with a looming future of ... uncertainty. We're fairly certain (as certain as a military couple can be) that we'll remain in the Virginia Beach area for the next two years, but after that we're fairly uncertain as to where we'll be stationed, and after that we've pretty much got no clue! One thing that is clear, unless New Jersey cedes itself and its oceanfront to Pennsylvania, we won't be moving back to our home state for quite some time.
Here are the reasons why I think Central PA is the best place to raise a family:
-- low cost of living - For the amount that we're currently paying in monthly rent, Jon and I could own a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home on 2+ acres with a 2 car garage and gorgeous mountain views. We could also spend about half as much on groceries and utilities.
-- fun activities - This is not the place to move if you're looking for the "city life." But it is more of the lifestyle that I prefer - fishing, floating down the creek or river, picking wild strawberries, hiking and biking in the mountains, ice skating on the neighbor's pond, building forts in the woods, growing fresh vegetables in your garden and catching fireflies on warm summer nights.
-- Three words: Crunchy Corn Bran. I can't seem to find my favorite cereal anywhere else but our old grocery store. If anyone has any intel on this delicious morning dish, do tell! To expand on the list of food I miss most: Middleswarth BBQ chips, hamloaf, whoopie pies, and the Fence's fried fish sandwiches!
-- Surplus Outlet - This is the discount grocery store run by the Amish in a local town. I can get my favorite hair gel here for $.75! Considering how much hair gel I go through each year, that's about a $20 savings! :) Other great deals - Starbucks coffee, brownie mix, shower gel and toilet paper. What can I say, I'm a bargain hunter.
-- In keeping with that theme, I might as well add how much I love Central Pennsylvania Yard Sales!! No where else can compare. Not only do Central PA'ers know how to run a sale, but whole neighborhoods and communities ban together to make it a whole-family event.
-- Traffic ... or lack of. Before I moved to the Philly suburbs, and then on to the Hampton Roads area, I really had no idea what "rush hour" meant. A traffic jam in my hometown is when the Amish buggy is half on the road and everyone has to slow down to pass it. Back home, we used to go on country drives just to relax and enjoy the scenery. Here in VA Beach, the most stressful part of my job is driving to and from work.
-- Four distinct seasons - Currently we live on the beach, or at least one house back from the beach, and we love it. There is nothing like taking our inner-tubes out on the cool ocean after a long day at work in the summers. But it seems that there are only two seasons here, hot summers and chilly winters. Baby J is due in October, one of my favorite months. October makes me think of colorful foliage, crisp clear days, plump pumpkins, bonfires and hayrides. October in Virginia Beach is a toss up, one day it could be 80 degrees and sunny, the next could be 50 degrees and raining. Aside from Fall, Central PA also offers distinct winters with cozy storms and record snow-falls. I LOVE snow, and all the fun activities that come with it - sledding, snowboarding, snowball fights, and ice skating. This is followed by Spring, where the air is a mixture of new blooms, freshly turned sod and all-natural fertilizer. :) Summers are almost as hot as the beach, but don't last quite as long and are full of outdoor activity. I love everything about each of these seasons and the fact that they're constantly changing means there's always something new to look foward to.
-- Finally, and most importantly, family, friends and church. Both of our families are located in Central PA, along with many of our closest friends and our favorite church in the whole world! This is by far what I miss the most, and what/who I hope my kids get to know and love.
Obviously, I'm somewhat partial. But even though I haven't lived in many other locations, PA is definitely the place for me. Internet quizzes would concur. To find your perfect location, check out Interestingly enough, one of my top 10 locations was the town 10 miles down the road from my parents' house!
I hope that my children can enjoy the same blissful childhood that I experienced growing up in the "in the country". But even if we never move back, at least we know we can send them home for summers at Marmie and Poppa's!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mama takes a beating courtesy of Baby J

So, I know what you're thinking, "Where've ya been Janine?" Well, I'll tell you - leaning over the toilet. :( On Friday I reached the hallowed 12th week mark, the alleged end of trimester one and the so-called beginning of the glorious and energetic fourth month. Not so here. Lil' J must have had a growth spurt this week because the hormones have been a-kickin'. I have to admit, something is definitely different. I'm not falling asleep at my desk anymore and I'm not feeling that all day nauseousness. Instead, I get hit with that sudden urge with barely enough time to reach a bucket ... if I'm lucky. But enough about me, pregnancy isn't all about throwing up several times a day. Let's focus on the little one that Uncle Jared has so lovingly dubbed "J."
Lil' J is about 2.5 inches now, which makes Mommy wander just what is taking up all that room in her expanding waistline. Baby can move his/her arms, fingers and toes and can smile, frown and suck its thumb. "J" is also just about fully formed at this point and its boy/girl parts are beginning to develop, although we still have about 8 weeks to go before we find out what we're having. Which brings us to an entire separate debate - to know or not to know. Which I suppose I'll touch on in a later post. For now, I need to get back to one of the 5 pregnancy books I'm currently reading.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

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