Monday, January 31, 2011

Advice Needed: Double Strollers

With Little Dude on the way, I've been obsessive with researching double strollers.  The only conclusion I have made is that I'm more confused than when I started all of this nonsense.  So I've got just one logical conclusion left:  let the bloggers decide.

Here's why and when I'll use a double stroller:
  • We are out and about nearly every single day.  We just use our strollers a lot.
  • The Sunbean loves riding in a stroller, and I prefer that over the snail-pace that I must assume to accommodate her tiny little legs.
  • I'll probably wear Little Dude quite a bit, but I'll not be waking a sleeping baby from a carseat just to put him in a wrap.
  • So, I'll need a double stroller that can accommodate a carseat and and 3-year-old.
  • We use the stroller at the mall, the zoo, garage sales, on walks, at stores, and festivals/events during the summer.
  • I'll be flying solo quite often, since MacGyver has one of those 9-5 job-things, so two umbrella strollers aren't really a great choice for us.
  • We have a Maclaren single stroller than we love and will definitely hang on to, for when Little Dude is older and Sunbean isn't into the stroller scene anymore, or when I know I'll be wearing Little Dude.
Here are my top three choices and why I like and don't like them.

Joovy Caboose

 This is your basic sit-and-stand stroller.  The reviews are way better on Joovy's version, which is why it is on my list.  It holds a carseat, but the only seat for Sunbean would be by my knees.  I can't see her loving that, since she still dearly loves her stroller.  I don't think she'd be happy in this type of thing at the zoo or something.  I kind of think a stroller with two actual seats would work better for us.  Anyone have experience with a sit-and-stand?

Contours Options
This stroller has some pretty sweet seating options.  The seats can be like this, both forward, or both backward.  I know the Sunbean would get a kick out of seeing Little Dude, and it holds a carseat.  The downside for me is that I think it would be like pushing a bus.  The reviews are decent, but all say it is bulky and heavy, and kind of hard to fold.  I think it would be great once it is all set up, but maybe not awesome for getting in and out, with two kids, in a Midwest winter.

Peg Perego Aria 60/40
 How's that for a complicated name for a freaking stroller?  This is probably my front-runner right now.  It does hold a carseat, though it only claims to be compatible with Peg Perego's carseat.  I'm sure just about any carseat would sit on there, though.  The reviews are so-so, but it weighs less than 20 pounds, which is a big feature for me.  The reviews say that it is easy to fold, and easy to heft in and out of a vehicle.  My only worry is that it would be too tough in a store or in the mall.  It claims to fit through a standard doorway, but I obviously don't really have a way to test that.  Peg Perego does have an outlet here, so I plan to go test it out sometime (after we get this supposed 20" of snow this week).

So....what do you think?  Am I crazy for wanting to contain (and push around) my three-year-old?  We're just a few months away from Little Dude's debut, and she's not showing any signs of being the crazy kid running around everywhere (thank goodness!).

Please, oh please, make my decision for me.  I'll take other suggestions, too.  I'd like to keep this under $300 tops, preferably much less.  I'm planning to use this puppy for the next 6-7 years, so I'm okay with spending a little more to get a quality product.

Do tell.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Little Closure

 Image from the Disney Half-Marathon.  I'd like to do that one someday.

I got an email from a reader (that I don't even know!) the other day, curious about the half-marathon I ran in the fall.  Correction:  was supposed to run.

I was all ready.  I'd run 14 miles about 2 weeks before, so I was so ready to do this thing.  I had new gear, fuel for before, during, and after, and an iPod chock full of songs to keep me groovin'.

Then....I took a pregnancy test 4 days before the race.  Positively positive. After I discovered that, I kind of decided it would be best to skip the race, just in case, but a visit to my doctor confirmed that.  I know there are lots of preggers who run regularly, and it isn't necessarily a bad thing, but for me it would put the baby at risk.  My heart rate goes through the roof (normal for me, no worries), so the babe wouldn't really be getting the oxygen he needs.  You know, important stuff like that.

My sweet doctor bought my registration and ran the race for me.  Shhh....don't tell the race people.  And on race day, I did one final stint at the Barr Street Market and came home with $250.  Not a bad trade.

I was pretty bummed that I missed my first half-marathon, but I've got my whole life to do those.  Plus, I knew I could have done it, since I'd run 14 miles just a few weeks previous.  This sweet baby boy will bring me much more joy and satisfaction than a silly race.

I'll be out of the game this year, since I won't have time to properly train after poppin' this kid out (plus, I stop producing milk when I about a good excuse to take a year off!), but I'm looking forward to 2012.

So thanks for being so interested in my oh-so-interesting life!  I didn't blog about it right away because I wasn't quite ready to announce the pregnancy, and then when I did, I'd completely forgotten about the half-marathon.

Speaking of organized races, good luck to my friend Loni, who will be participating in the Ford Ironman in St. George in just 100 days!  I seriously can't imagine 140 miles, and on the second-toughest course, no less.  Go get 'em, girl.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Let's Do 52: Week 3

Well, all I have on the brain is photoshop.  Sorry, folks.  So here's week 3.  Abandoned or doors.  It's a stretch...we're outdoors.  Have I mentioned I love editing photos? 

This week's theme is blessings or tiny.   Luckily, I have lots of blessings in my life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brain Dump

  • I'm tired.  On Tuesdays, I go to Zumba at 8, then walk with my gal pal.  By the end of the 2 hours, I've burned around 1200 calories.  Love Zumba.  Then, as if that's not enough, Sunbean has swim lessons.  And by that I mean, we both get our swimsuits on and get in the pool.  I love our teacher, but I'm pooped by the time we get home.  And that's just half the day.
  • I'm nesting.  Majorly.  Sunbean and Little Dude's room is coming together, and I can't stop buying baby boy clothes on eBay.
  • I got Photoshop!  CS4, to be specific.  The above photo was edited with the Pioneer Woman's free actions.  They are a great place to start.  Love it.  I'm never going to get anything else done around here.
  • I cleaned off the Sunbean's seat at the table today.  Before I had kids, I swore my house would never have a piece of food crusted anywhere.  Ha.
  • Exactly 5 weeks from today, I'll be in a plane heading to Florida.  Seriously.  Can't.  Wait.
  • Today, Sunbean said, "I'm different.  And I like to be different.  I'm a different and fun girl."  Love that girly.
  • I officially weigh the same that I did on our wedding day.  This time, I'm 22 weeks pregnant.  Gotta love that.  I found a pair of jeans that I bought that first year, and they buttoned.  Over the baby.  Love, love, love it.
  • Now I'm off to crash on the couch.  Possibly with chocolate.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Let's Do 52: Week 2

The theme was togetherness or metal.  A tough one for me.

At least the izze bottles make me smile.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Dreaming

I really love to play the if-I-could-just-buy-whatever-I-wanted game.  Here's my list for today:

These adorable kleenex holders.  I'd take one in blue for the family room, green for the office, and white for the bathroom.

This swimsuit from Land's End Canvas.  I think it would perfectly hide my lovely postpartum body this summer.  I'd also like my legs to look like that, if we're on the subject of dreaming.

This cute outfit for my little boy.  I'd take him home in it.

A few of these for the Sunbean's bed.  Yep, I could make them.  But buying things is just so much easier...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Resolutions

I know lots of people don't like new year's resolutions, goals, or theme words.  I happen to love them.  I'm a serious Type A, and so that type of organization and documentation is just my thang.

This year, though, I've been struggling with developing some good goals.  Mostly because this is a year of exciting changes for our family.  And exciting change = lots of unknowns.  We're for sure going to be having a baby and MacGyver will have a new job.  He'll be graduating this summer, and staying at his current job won't really be a viable option.  And those are just the for-sures.  Life is super great about throwing random events in, too.

With those two huge changes, there are lots of variables.  So many things are 'up in the air' for us right now, I can hardly stand it.  It's making planning really tough.

So I can't make a goal to have a fantastic organic garden, or to organize my house (done), or even make a serious business-related goal.  I feel like anything that is at all dependent on location needs to be put on the back burner this year.  That's seriously hard!

But then, I realized that one thing is constant in my life.  It's these people:

No matter what, I will be a wife and a mother.  No matter where we are living, or what type of income we are living on, I'm going to have my family.  We are together for a very long time.

So my goal this year is just to be the best wife and mama possible.  Let me tell you, I have room for drastic improvement.  Life will probably get in the way sometimes, and I'm sure I'll lose sight of my goal from time to time.  But I'm going to try to just be present for my family a little more, get down on the floor with my kids a little more often, and invest a little more time into my marriage.

What are your plans for 2011?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Our Dining Area

A few months ago I blogged about our 'new' kitchen.  We finally finished up some odds and ends of the other side of the room.

We've had the table and chairs for about 4 years.  We got them for Christmas from my parents one year, because 3 of the 4 chairs of our ancient set broke in just one week.  Talk about an expensive week.

I made the artwork with scrapbook paper and mod podge, and the frames and art display thing are from Ikea.  The lights are from Ikea, too.  See those nice white curtains?  I made them with canvas and some grommets that I got at Joann's.  What you don't see is that I had to do them twice....measure twice, cut once.  Lesson learned.

And here's our mini-mudroom.  This used to be a half wall, but when we put the fireplace in, we extended it up and added a cubby.  Perfect for cookbooks and dishes.

We're so happy with our fresh new kitchen!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

DIY Filing System

My type-A brain has been searching for a good system for organizing all of our incoming paper.  Between church, my business, and the few bills/statements we can't pay or get online, there always seems to be a stack of paper accumulating on the kitchen table.

We recently flip-flopped the kids' room and our office, so I was determined to find a system that worked.  We've tried those stackable 'inbox' things, and they just don't work for us.  We basically need three piles:  things that need done, things that need filed, and stuff for MacGyver to take care of.  He gets his own file because his nonexistent creative filing system just doesn't work with Ms. Type A over here.

I finally saw something that I thought would work in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens at the gym.  Wouldn't you know, they didn't specify the source.  Not even in the size-3-font page in the back.  Oh, man.  There's nothing more frustrating than knowing what you need is out there, but impossible to find.

I was really left with one choice:  I must make it myself.  I started with these $4 expandable-file-things:

I chose the yellow and green folders because we've got a lemon-lime vibe going on in the office.  Then I Photoshopped-up (it's a verb) some labels.  I slapped those puppies on with some scrapbook tape and we were in business.  I had to smudge out MacGyver's name for the blog.  Because he doesn't really go by 'MacGyver' around the house.

I first tried hanging them with that yellow tacky stuff that teachers use, and it looked like this a few hours later:

Plan B was a few small nails right into the side of the bookcase.  Not ideal, but I know these guys will be around for awhile because it's finally the file system I've been needing.

Not as pretty as what I saw in BH&G, but it gets the job done.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snowy Day

 In a moment of fantastic parenting, I drug my child out into the freezing cold for a quick photo shoot.  I knew the cloud coverage would make for some great pics.

I've already shared these on Facebook, but the grandparents aren't hip enough to have that yet.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh, By the Way...

We're having a boy!  Baby #2 is officially of the male version, and there's no question about that.  I'm no ultrasound tech, but the boy paraphernalia was pretty obvious.

The ultrasound tech wasn't our usual, but she was so sweet and printed off a ton of great ultrasound pics for us.  We got a great shot of the little dude sucking his thumb and a perfect profile shot.

We're very excited, and it's been fun to think about life with a little boy.  We don't have ANY boy clothes (unless boys are wearing pink and ruffles these days), so I'm sure I'll have fun shopping for him.  I love preparation for any life change, so this is pure bliss for me.  A new adventure with lots to plan.

And by some strange gift from the heavens, I've lost 4 pounds since my last appointment.  I'm not sure how, because even though I've been hitting the gym most days, I've definitely been eating my calorie requirements.  And then some.  And then some.  No complaints, though!  After gaining 70 pounds with the Sunbean, this is a welcome surprise.

So here's to team blue!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hanging Pictures: Martha Stewart-Style

I've been meaning to blog about this for awhile now.  In fact, as you'll see, it's been on my 'blog list' for so long that we've changed the paint color and furniture of the family room!

Anyway, we've been doing lots of picture-hanging lately, and I thought I'd share the method that we use.  It takes a bit more time than just throwing the frames on the wall, but totally worth it, in my opinion.

You'll need scissors, a measuring tape, a pen or marker, and enough newspaper or other scrap paper to trace around each of your frames.

Start by tracing around each frame, and then write on the newspaper what each frame or picture looks like.  Then, tape the newspaper shapes up onto the wall, and arrange them how you like 'em.  I don't always trace around every single item, especially if one is a clock or something.

After you have an arrangement you're happy with, just nail those newspapers right to the wall.  Make sure you put your nail where the hanger-thing is located on the frame.  Voice of experience speaking right there.

Keep the newspapers up, and then hang your pictures right on top.  After you're sure you la-la-la-love the way it looks, rip those newspapers down.

Voila!  A picture-perfect wall collage.

And here's the new wall collage in our bedroom, which I created for free.  Thank you, Photoshop.  The stuff in the shadowbox is a collection of mementos from MacGyver and I's dating life.  Like, the ticket stub from our first date, and the scrap paper where he first wrote down his phone number.  Awwwww!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Professionals Shouldn't Wear 3-D Vests

It's no secret that I love my OB.  She's seriously fantastic.  She's saved my life twice, and gave me a fantastic birth experience with the Sunbean.  She's young enough to be open to just about anything, and experienced enough to know what's safe.  She's an organic foodie, too, which gives her some bonus points.  However, she's not good at referrals.  I hated the pediatrician referral she gave us (love the one we have now), and here's a fantastically ridiculous story about the physical therapist referral.

About 6 weeks into my pregnancy, I started having some serious sciatic nerve pain.  I know, I know.  A little early, but not for me.  I have a very crooked back, and one leg that is 2 inches shorter than the other.  I had early sciatica with the Sunbean, and I was expecting more of the same.

I didn't do physical therapy with the Sunbean because I was working full-time and it seemed like a monstrous hassle.  It is, if you were wondering.  I thought I'd give 'er a try this time, so requested a referral.

I was sent to a group that specialized in maternity care.  Sounded perfect.

As I was filling out the textbook of paperwork, a woman wearing one of those 3-D vests (you know, with pumpkins and ghosts that stick out....strike one) came up and called me 'sweetheart' (strike two).  Oooookay.  One:  you are a professional, for crying out loud.  Lose. the. vest.  Two:  my name is Abbey.  Unless you are my grandmother (which you are not) or my husband (definitely not), you may. not. call. me. 'sweetheart'.  Or 'honey'.  You just can't.

I follow pumpkin-vest to my room.  Even though I was wearing form-fitting yoga pants (which is what I was instructed to wear), she gave me a pair of XXL bootie-shorts.  Do any of you fellow Mormons see a problem here?  And for crying out loud, I'm not an XXL.

Then, she asks me a litany of questions.  Most of the same ones I'd already filled out in the 1,000-page packet.  I mentioned I was taking prenatal vitamins (obviously) and a DHA supplement.  I don't expect the average Joe to know that DHA is important for pregnant women, but this lady supposedly works with preggers all day long.  It was like she didn't believe me.  Maybe she thought it was a street drug.

Then, she asks about my back.  I tell her I have a 30-degree S-curve.  She asks if I have ever been to a doctor to have that officially diagnosed.  WTH?  Um, yes.  I did not have my husband measure that curve with the x-ray machine in our garage.  Honestly.

Why I was still standing there in my bootie-shorts, I have no idea.  But then she has me touch my toes.  It is a medical fact that I will never be able to touch my toes.  The curve in my back prevents it.  Well, this lady doesn't believe it.  She goes on to tell me that my doctor probably doesn't know much about scoliosis (hmmm...the orthopedic surgeon with 35 years of experience treating scoliosis patients....probably a complete dunce) and that I can't touch my toes because I must not exercise enough.  Oh.  em.  gee.

In retrospect, I think I did a knock-out job keeping my temper in check.  Or maybe I was just in shock over the entire experience.  Either way, this woman didn't get her head bit off by me, which is a miracle.

As if that's not enough, she then notices that my hips aren't in-line.  I'm well aware of that fact, as I have spent the past 27 years of my life hemming clothing 'crooked' so that it will look straight on me.  I refer her to my encyclopedia of paperwork, and remind her that my left leg (or is it the right?  i can never remember) is 2 inches shorter.  She literally rolls her eyes and asks again (I swear I am not making this up) if I have ever been to a doctor to have that checked out.

By this point, I am searching the room for evidence that she is really a physical therapist.  I'm sure she has the real one locked up in the closet or something.  But for real, my husband and I do not sit around measuring ourselves for fun.  We just don't.  I have known for fifteen years that my back is crooked and my leg is short.  Like, as in, I went to the doctor.  And had x-rays.  And measurements.  And scoliosis braces.  None of that is my idea of a good time.

The rest of the appointment proceeds with much of the same, and she finally decides she will need to do some research before she can treat me.  Inside, I'm cracking up.  As if I'd be returning to this group.  I (politely?) tell the receptionist that I won't be back.

Thankfully, I'm now working with a fantastic therapist who gives me deep muscle massages for an hour a week.  I think I love her.

Moral of the story:  please don't wear those 3-D vests.  And don't call me sweetie.  And don't ever go to that physical therapist.  She's crazy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Me + Baby @ 19 Weeks

Here's my synopsis of Baby #2's pregnancy thus far:
  • I was much more sick in the first trimester this time around, but it didn't last as long.  I was feeling fantastic at 12 weeks.  With the Sunbean, it was more like 17 weeks.
  • I started showing much earlier this time around.  At, like, 8 weeks.
  • I'm carrying higher than with the Sunbean.  Thank goodness for that!  At her 20-week ultrasound, they couldn't find her with an abdominal ultrasound.  I carried her at my pubic bone the entire time.  I had an ultrasound with this one at 15 weeks and baby was nice and high.  Much more comfortable!
  • I got my first uninvited belly-touch the other day.  How nice.
  • This pregnancy is flying by.  I can't believe we're nearly halfway through.  Our do-to list is NOT halfway done.
  • I'm enjoying this pregnancy much more.  I know what is normal for my body, and I'm not so stressed all the time.  Also, I know how much easier it is to be pregnant than to have a screaming newborn.  Let's all just keep our fingers crossed this baby doesn't have colic for 4 months like the Sunbean.
  • I'm working out almost every day, but learning that my body just enjoys packing on the pounds while I'm preggo.  At least I know it is easy for me to lose it when I'm nursing.
  • I'm sick of not having clothes to wear.  I have some gift cards to the mall I was planning to use after the baby is born, but something tells me they're gonna get used this week.
  • Most of all, I'm enjoying feeling this little one move and looking forward to our next ultrasound in just a few days.