Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Christmas in July?

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to have a Christmas in July party.  I love the summer.  It's my favorite time of year.  The only time of year that comes close is christmastime.  I love all things associated with christmas tradition and look forward to it year round.  So what better kind of party for someone who loves both of these things then a christmas in july party?
Being a mom has taught me many things, one of which is that life gets in the way of plans in many cases.  And that's what happened to my christmas in july party.  Between kids having gymnastics and kids and moms getting sick, we didn't have much of a "party."  But alas, we made the best of our time anyway.
Instead of a crazy party, our christmas party became a playtime treat.  We had some of Zach's friends over and decorated sugar cookies with frosting and colored letters to santa.  Zach was not at all interested in decorating cookies, he's still too young for that.  But he did fully enjoy eating a cookie that mommy smeared icing onto.  He would've ate them all if mommy let him!  We also wrote letters to santa to let him know we haven't forgotten him in the Oki heat.  And we even did some handprint art and a water balloon fight instead of a snowball fight!  Oh what fun it is to play on a hot and humid day!
Time to write to Santa

Debating if he was good or not

Our Christmas cookies!

Dear Santa,
I haven't forgotten you this hot summer.  Please bring me a new baby brother to share Christmas with.  Some hair would be nice to keep me warm.  I have been a very good boy and will continue being good this year.
Sending some Okinawa heat your way,

Snack before having our "snowball" fight


Ready. Set....

It bounces!!

He hadn't even seen it pop yet and was cracking up

Once he realized they popped they were even more fun!

My boy ready for santa!

Zach's handprint art!

Merry Christmas from Okinawa!

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:

Bake cookies for friends
 Handprint art
Christmas in July

Water Balloon Fight

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Family photos

Having a second child means that child gets jipped.  Baby #2 gets all of the first baby's hand me downs (especially if they are of the same sex).  Clothes, supplies, you name it, baby gets very few new things. Many people don't give gifts to the second baby or throw second baby showers.  
I vowed to myself from day one of this pregnancy that this baby would get some special treatment that Zach didn't get.  Baby is getting a very cute custom made bedroom (photos to come when it is finished), and some of the things that I never purchased with Zach.  When I was pregnant with Z, I took weekly photos to document my pregnancy.  This time around, I never got the chance to do that.  Life with a toddler gets in the way and my photo documentation has taken a hit as a result of my busy life.  Instead, I decided I would get maternity photos taken while pregnant.  This is something I never got done with Zach, so this baby has gotten a little special treatment in that department.  
My friend Katie has a very creative eye for photography.  She studied photojournalism at UNC Chapel Hill and is a talented and fun individual that i'm lucky to have met in Okinawa.  Her photos are constantly getting more and more creative and you can tell that everyone she photographs truly has a wonderful time with her.  Not to mention she's a mom herself, so she knows how to work with kids and what moms want!  
I was psyched to have her take some family/maternity photos of us and I am very pleased with the results.  I had some unique ideas up my sleeve that she was able to integrate into the shoot and I'm so happy with how fun these photos are!  Thank you so much Katie for your friendship and time on these photos.  They will truly be cherished for years to come!

Love watching that boy laugh!

He is truly loved

Listening to baby


Cannot wait to meet you baby!

I barely look pregnant here but I'm 32 weeks!

Love that man :)

Kisses from both my boys.  I absolutely love this shot!

Proof he has hair!

He was having so much fun here!
Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff: 

 Family pictures

Monday, July 23, 2012

C section packing list

We are in week 32 of this pregnancy, which means 7 weeks or less left until we meet our newest addition.  I know, I know, you're thinking I'm crazy.  There's 40 weeks in a pregnancy, Krimp, not 39!  And yes, that's very true.  Sometimes longer for some poor folks who carry well into 42 weeks.  But, even though this baby is head down (as of 3 weeks ago), after much thought, we have decided to go ahead with a repeat C-section for baby number 2.  While I know the rates of V-BACS are very good these days, it's the age difference that worries me.  I am healthy and young, but I do not want to risk the chances of things going wrong.  So please, before you judge me, think about it from my shoes.  Nineteen months apart is very close, and I do not want to risk baby or myself in trying this the other way.  I had a wonderful delivery with Zach and I am confident that the hospital will do everything in their power to make this experience just as special.
As we grow nearer to this date (which is not yet scheduled) I have been thinking about what I can do to prepare.  We all know I'm a planner.  There's no shame in admitting it.  I like to plan the best I can.  Sounds crazy for someone married to a Marine, but hey, I do what I can and leave room for the spontaneous surprises the Marines have thrown at us.  
I am currently nesting.  For those who don't know what that means, it means I'm going crazy in my preparations for baby.  So take that planner girl and multiply it by 10.  That's about where I'm at right now.  I've put off a lot of things for last minute, as I was very prepared for Zach.  But the time has come to really get the ball rolling and getting serious in my preparations.  I've gone crazy the past few weeks making freezer meals that'll be ready to cook after the baby is born.  I've been cleaning and organizing baby's room and clothes, and excitedly been getting the nursery together.  
One of the things I've been diligently working hard on is getting my packing list together for my 24-48 hour hospital stay after my c section.  It may sound a bit early to be packing it, but I think baby might have dropped this weekend, and I'm starting to feel like I should at least start it.  This is something that actually takes some time to get together, as you're packing for 3 people and must have it ready at the drop of a hat.  I'd like to share that list with you today and explain why you should bring some of these items.  This is a list specifically for a scheduled c-section.  There are many items missing on this list that should be brought for someone having a baby the normal way.  But to those mom's to be, I do urge you to mentally prepare for the odd chance that you have to have a c section.  I cannot tell you how many people i've met who were not prepared.  It could happen to anyone and I really think being prepared for that situation is important.  
I'd also like to point out that this is a list for a MILITARY hospital in Japan.  They are no high class hospital by far.  Think of the basics and that's what you have here.  I cannot complain, as my experience with my first was fantastic.  Delivering at a civilian hospital is far different I'm sure.  But hey, we are pretty used to simplicity here in Okinawa!

OK. Here it is.

For Mommy:
Nursing Gowns- I'd say 2 of these is great.  I say a nursing gown because you don't want anything rubbing against your incision.  You will be moving this up a lot as they check your abdomen every few hours to make sure things are healing correctly.  It's also nice to have easy access if you're breast feeding.  If you're tiny like me, you may even get away with buying a non-nursing/maternity one that has easy access to the girls.  Remember you will still look about 6 months pregnant right after delivering while everything begins to shrink down from stretching so much!
Tank top- I'm a tank top fiend.  I swear by these bad boys.  They don't even have to be a nursing tank.  I'm currently 32 weeks pregnant and am just buying one size larger then I normally buy.  Maternity clothes are too big still.  No need for a nursing tank if you don't want, they are easy enough to maneuver.  I just prefer the ones with the shelf bras.  
Nursing Bras- You will live in these for as long as you decide to breast feed.  I had about 6 of them with Zach and I don't even think that was enough.  Get the sleep ones, they are super comfy.  And NO UNDERWIRE!  It's very bad for breast feeding.  Not to mention you want to be as comfortable as possible during your stay.  
Socks- It gets a bit chilly sometimes.  Always nice to have. 
Robe- If you're wearing a nursing gown that's skimpy you'll want to cover up when visitors come
Slippers- for your first walk after baby is born you'll want to be comfortable and protect your feet
Maxi Dress- These are great for going home.  They are comfortable and not revealing, and don't press near your incision.  Not to mention you don't have to look like you've just rolled out of bed.  You want to go home feeling just a tad bit cute and I personally think a Maxi dress is the way to do that! 
Nursing pads- these are your new best friend.  Odds are your milk won't come in while you're in the hospital anyway, but just in case it does, you'll want these.  
Nipple Cream- Some new babies can seriously hurt you.  I never needed this, but every baby is different!
Nursing Pillow- You don't want a baby pressing against your scar, so these are a great thing to bring.  Extra pillows can be moved around as well, but I personally love my Boppy
Pillow- Military hospitals can't give you everything, so bring an extra pillow for yourself.  
Chap stick- your lips will most likely get very chapped.  I applied chap stick about every hour!  I can't remember the exact reason for this but trust me on this.
Moisturizer- It can get to be a bit dry.  I suggest the stress relief one from Bath & Body Works
Toothbrush & paste- because come on, who wants gross teeth and breath?
Dry Shampoo- I'm starting to sound crazy right?  You may not be ready to take a full on shower yet, so instead opt for using dry shampoo to fix your hair.  You will have a lot of photos taken of you and you'll want your hair looking half decent years from now.  
Deodorant- duh
Hairbrush- duh
Hair ties- you'll be asked to pull your hair back before going into surgery.  I forgot about this before going in for Z and had to literally tuck it all into the cap!  
High fiber snacks- You may have trouble going afterwards.  I suggest eating something high fiber to help ease things.  
Water bottle- The cup they give you is TINY and I was constantly thirsty.  Do yourself a favor and bring some water with you and have the husband fill it up for you periodically.  
Laptop- You'd be surprised how bored you may get.  Also, being overseas is hard sometimes.  Your family is going to want to skype you after your new bundle of joy is here.  
Chargers- for the many many pieces of technology we all know you own
ID- you'll need this for check in and check out
Makeup- Like I said before, you'll have lots of photos taken of you.  Try to look half decent
Glasses- during surgery you will need to wear glasses
Contacts/contact case
Eye mask- if you decide to attempt a nap during the daytime you'll want some darkness
Coconut milk- This sounds crazier and crazier.  Coconut milk is naturally one of the best means of hydrating out there.  It used to be used for severe dehydration before IV's came out.  While you will be hooked up to an IV for much of your stay, you may consider bringing some coconut water for when it's removed.  After having a baby you will want to hydrate hydrate hydrate.  It's one of the best tips I can give, not to mention it'll help get rid of the water weight you put on in your pregnancy!  
Makeup remover- The wipes are very convenient.  It feels great to take it all off at the end of the day! 
 Cookies for the Corpsman- The Corpsman and the rest of the staff all work VERY hard at what they do.  Bring them a little something to say thanks.  Being nice to your staff will help make your stay just that much better.  

For baby:
Wipes- if you can believe it the hospital does not supply these!  Instead of wipes, you will get dry wipes that you're expected to go get wet.  You won't want to walk all the way to the bathroom to get water when you've just had a c section.  Bring your own.  
Swaddles- The hospital will provide blankets but I'm a huge fan of the burrito style velcro ones.  They are super easy to put on and will get your baby nice and snug like they were in the womb.  Bring about 2-3.
Clippers- I didn't bring these for Zach's birth and I yelled at myself for that for months.  Your baby will be born with LONG fingernails.  Zach scratched himself just hours after being born.  
Mittens- so baby doesn't scratch him/herself!
Hat- for that tiny little head.  Though your child will likely have more hair then mine!
Sleep & play- the Zip ones are great because they're easier to do and undo then the snaps.  Especially for first time parents.  I'd say bring 4 of these.  Maybe a gown or two
Onesie- you'll have your baby swaddled 95% of the time anyway, but if the swaddle starts getting warm you may want a onesie underneath instead of the sleeper
Cardstock for footprints- instead of giving the whole baby book, give the staff a piece of cardstock for that footprint!  Then you can just tape/glue it into your albumn
Going home outfit- Something cute and simple that will keep him/her warm enough.  Our car ride was not long (we could spit on our house from the hospital).  Don't go extravagant with this.  It's not worth it.

For Daddy:
Blanket- my poor hubby was freezing.  The blanket they give is small, so bring a bigger one!
Pillow- everyone forgets about poor daddy's comfort.  Bring him his favorite pillow!
Snacks- Everyone brings mom food, but nobody gets anything for Daddy.  My portions in the hospital were large so I shared with him, but the meals are very spaced out.  Bring some snacks.  
Cameras- Daddy is on official camera business!  
Chargers- for the tech savvy dad!
Ipad- if you have one.  My hubby loves his and will be using it a lot I can imagine
Cash- for snacks/drinks if you randomly get hungry
ID- Daddy's ID is VERY important if your husband is the active duty member!  You will need it to get the ball moving for passports and birth certificates!  

Things you DON'T need:
Diapers- the hospital is pretty good at providing diapers so save your money for when baby comes home.  They supply size 1 diapers for the big babies.  I believe they do have premie sizes for very small babies.  Zach fit perfectly into the newborns but we were able to easily fold the 1's to fit him and avoid his umbilical cord.  
Cloth diapers- Everyone knows I LOVE to cloth diaper.  I'm all about saving money and our environment, but I don't think these are necessary in the hospital.  For one, you won't want to deal with the hassle of it all right after surgery.  Also, you most likely won't be in the hospital long enough to make that much of an environmental impact.
Breastpump- Odds are your milk won't come in while you're in the hospital.  Your baby will begin the process and get colostrum in the meantime.  If by chance you do need one, the hospital does have a few.  
Nasal aspirator- The hospital will provide one of these
Pads- the hospital has these too.  Bring your own if you like but you will get enough.  They also provide mesh underwear if you like.  

Here is a photo for your use!  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Baby showers & Margaritas

I am extremely lucky to have the friends I have here in Okinawa.  They are my go to people when I need a cup of sugar or even just someone to vent to.  It makes living here much more special.  When you're expecting, you really start missing your family.  Sharing the excitement over your newest addition is something truly amazing.  But having friends makes it a little better.  So that's why I'm so happy to be writing about the baby shower that I had with my Okinawa friends.
One of the unfortunate things about being here so long is that I've watched most of my friends leave.  Many of my friends who have already moved arrived here before or after us even.  It's starting to get to be a bit sad watching everyone else leave, not knowing when that time will be for us.  Don't get me wrong, I like many things about Okinawa, but one of the saddest things is watching your best friends leave.  Unfortunately most of my friends are now gone.  On the bright side though, I've met some great new friends to share my new excitement with.  And it's those great friends who joined me today for my Baby Step #2 shower!
My friend Angie did a great job planning my shower.  She cooked and baked some wonderful goodies and found some really cute games to play.  She is a great friend that i'm very lucky to have.
Unfortunately the weather was a bit of a mess, but we made due thanks to the tent covering us.  Gotta love okinawa weather, it would rain for 5 minutes and then be hot and humid and sunny for 15 minutes!  Sub-tropical weather at its finest.  I had a great time still, and am very thankful to those who came.
The boys in the morning hanging out

Wendy made this Diaper cake

Dima helping set up

yummy foods
After the shower, I geared up and headed out the door with Angie and Tim to run a Margaritaville 5k Fun run.  This was just for fun, as I wanted to run a 5k before baby was born.  I usually run longer then 5k, so I figured it would be fine.  The biggest problem I had in this run was the fact that it was hot out.  It was 110 degrees and very humid!  Being 32 weeks pregnant- the heat is your enemy.  Luckily, I hydrated like crazy beforehand and even brought my camelbak with me to strap on my back while running.
Before the race we got to pick up our t-shirts, margarita glasses (which light up!) and tons of other great goodies.  There were free margaritas (non-alcoholic) beforehand which many people were grabbing.  I wasn't dumb enough to grab something like that before running in the heat when pregnant though.
And so, the race began.  I was doing great for so long.  I was passing people like crazy, I even passed a lot of young Marines, which is really saying something when in your third trimester.  I didn't pay any attention to my time at all during the race.  There were 3 water stations during the race which served margaritas, gatorade, and water.  I didn't stop at any of them though because I had brought my own.  I ran the entire thing, until I got to that last water station.  It was then that the heat got to me.  I had to stop for a little and walk.  There was no shade at all during the entire run and it was 5pm so the sun was blazing.  I decided I'd stop for one song on my workout playlist, but ended up needing to walk for 2 songs.  So that was about a 5-6 minute walking break.  I was really sad at myself for having to stop, but gosh it was very hot.  You'd be surprised how many others had to stop too.
What was even worse, is that during this time of the race- baby decided to turn and drop into birth position.  Yep.  Baby dropped.  I began to feel some extreme pelvic pressure and noticed my belly looked a little lower.  Zach never dropped (he was breech) so I was unfamiliar with the feeling.  I am still not 100% sure if this is indeed what happened, but I'm assuming so with all the pressure I began feeling.
I finally got my second wind and ran for the last leg of the run.  I finished in 34:11 (according to the watch of the guy who was a few strides behind me).  Not even close to my best time, but being 32 weeks pregnant and running in the heat must have something to do with that.  I thought it was actually a very good time considering heat, humidity, pregnancy, and having a baby drop.
The run was hot, but fun none the less.  I look forward to many more runs in the future!  Even though I couldn't enjoy a nice cold margarita after the race, I still had a great time.  I'll have one of those yummy, tasty drinks sometime after baby is born.  Hey, it's 5 o'clock somewhere right?
Angie and I pre-race

Ready to go!
Finishing up strong

Much needed cold water

Afterwards with some people from 2 of Okinawa's many running groups- WOOT and Kickin Asphalt 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Boys just wanna have fun!

Bored, hanging around the house... what should we do today Mama?
Hmm... We could play with this truck for 2 minutes...
Or we could play under the table and avoid Mama!
Forget it!  This is boring.  Let's do something fun!
One of the best things about having a child is having the ability to bring them to fun places and watch them light up with happiness.  Today was one of those days that I got to do just that.  
Indoor play parks are a wonderful thing.  They give the child a chance to let out some pent up energy in a safe indoor environment.  The change of scenery from home is a great thing, especially if it rains as often as it does in Okinawa.  Kids need out of the confines of your house- especially if it's a concrete bunker like ours is!  What's even better is that the play parks in Okinawa are far superior to those in America.  Why?  Because I can bring my child and not freak that they don't clean it.  The Japanese are very clean, so bringing my son here isn't as terrifying of a feeling as if I was in America.  And so, with a cloudy/rainy day ahead of us, we headed up the road to play.  
Jumping on the trampoline

Loves this!

He was playing with a Japanese boy.  Look at his pants.  Gotta love Japanese clothes with American writing

Into the ball pit!

This is the life

Mom, you wanna jump in?  
Love this one!

Where's Zach?

And then he decided to start trying to pop the balls
I had so much fun with Zach at this place.  I look forward to watching him grow and play at this place over the next 6 months-1 year here.  Being a kid is so much fun- and being the Mommy watching all the fun unfold is truly an amazing feeling!

Stepanoff Summer Sixty Checkoff:
Indoor play park