Sunday, July 3, 2016

We've Moved

We signed the papers last Wednesday. The day before Brandon had been utterly wiped out with a horrendous stomach bug so he was pale and weak but the papers got signed. I had to hurry right back to work but met up with the kids and unlocked the doors to our new house by 6:00 that evening. By 6:01 Julia had vomited all over our new kitchen floor – and just like that the house was so, so ours.
The first few days were a mix of packing and loading and unloading and holding of babies, keeping a toddler from running through doors that were left open and changing lots and lots and lots of diapers. Wipes were sought but not always found. I may have used wet leaves in the yard in a moment of messy desperation to clean a baby’s bottom. It was a long couple of days.
At least a dozen generous, strong humans came to our aid by way of lending vehicles, moving boxes, painting, installing, advising and gifting us meals, childcare and general kindness. It was incredibly humbling and filled my soul way, way up.
The first night went smoothly, with everyone in their new rooms all tucked in and happy as clams. I, however, wandered aimlessly in the dark for a good long while trying to take it all in. About midnight a wave of intense anxiety washed over me as I blankly stared into the darkness of our new living room. A host of unhealthy and useless thoughts raced through my mind questioning all aspects of life and houses and finances; I decided it was probably a very good time to go to bed.
Over the next several days Brandon and I spent a spattering of hours going back and forth to get the odds and ends we had left at the duplex; the fossilized shark tooth from the museum gift shop and other items that don’t really have a proper place in the general packing of a home. After everything was out and it had been vacuumed and wiped down I drove over and walked from room to room to say my own little good bye. Most rooms were so different once empty that I kept it together, but the bedroom that had served as a school room for so many years choked me up as I stared at the wall where we had hung bulletin boards and alphabet posters and imagined our little eager learners and I got very sad. I decided it was probably a very good time to go to Starbucks.
It has now been a week worth of sleeps and this long-awaited and much-anticipated place is beginning to feel very much like home. The park behind our house gives us gorgeous views of deer in the mornings, the rooms are spacious and inviting, and the kitchen has already hosted many good conversations. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and full up with love. I hope to have a talented photographer I know snap some pictures to share very soon!

Friday, June 17, 2016


Julia and Carolyn in the living room 2008
When Brandon and I got married we did what many young, eager couple do and promptly bought a dog and a house. It was a perfectly wonderful little house and when we quickly found out we were expecting our first baby we prepared a perfectly wonderful nursery inside our cozy home. A little over a year later, with new jobs and new baby, we decided it was silly for us both to be driving 40 and 60 miles (each respectively) to work every day and we decided to sell our house. I cried, a lot. I did not want to leave the place I brought my first baby home to, where she learned to walk and had her first Christmas.

Alas, it was inevitable and thankfully we got a fantastic offer (literally months before the whole housing market crashed), with only one stipulation – a very quick moving date.

Left in a bit of a lurch with a toddler (and another baby now on the way) we scrambled to find a new home in Kansas City. As luck would have it my Grandma called and let us know she had a duplex that had just come available. Her renter needed to break the lease and would be moving out the following Saturday, which was precisely when we would need to be moving in. It was a convenient coincidence that we worked for the good of all involved.

I remember that Saturday, we were bringing our things in the garage as the former renter took things out the front door. With only a few years of marriage and one baby we didn’t have much to move, though undoubtedly I was overwhelmed. My Grandma offered to have new carpet put down but I reassured her that we would not be staying too long. I distinctly remember telling her “we’ll probably only stay for six months or so.” That was 2006.

Of course I could not have foreseen the ten years that would unfold before our fledgling family. Bringing home baby number two, starting a new job, cars needing replaced, cavities needing filled. I could not have anticipated standing in my tiny kitchen answering the phone call that would inform me that my Grandma had suffered a massive aneurism, or saying goodbye only a few days later. The holidays of that year were bleak and are now blurry, but the days continued to roll on. Then my gallbladder went bad and the mailbox seemed to bring a new bill on a daily basis for what seemed like a year. Meanwhile my babies kept on growing and now they had surely hunted hundreds of Easter eggs in the living room, carved more than a few pumpkins in the kitchen, and not only learned to walk but could now climb the door frames and slide down the staircase. At some juncture in it all I saw a dermatologist about some pesky acne which led to a mole removal which led to a phone call informing me I had amelanoma, which inevitably led to a lot of scars and more bills. By now it was 2011 and five years had flown by.

With more debt than I care to think about and hoping for an adventure we took a year-long assignment with my work to open an office in the Baltimore metro. Packing only what could fit into our four-door car we headed East and let our duplex serve as an over-sized storage unit as we recalibrated life. It was an incredible experience and gave us a lot of time to think about life, what we wanted out of it, and how we might get there. As we rolled back into Kansas City and climbed back into our familiar beds we had a renewed goal to buy a home, eventually… someday. 

After returning home from Baltimore we would occasionally stop by an open house or wander some acreage and imagine what might be, but the right place and the right timing did not come. Simultaneous to keeping an eye out for our perfect home we made a fairly substantial decision to have another baby (or two). This decision both stalled our house hunt and made it all the more urgent as we were quickly outgrowing our duplex. Once Gwyneth was born we set out in earnest to find a perfect home for our family, and even made an offer on one we especially liked. But, as we had seen many times before, life intervened as we were surprised to learn that we would be welcoming a fourth baby a bit sooner than we had expected. The house hunting stopped and we recalibrated once again. 2015 came and went with no new house, but a beautiful baby boy instead, amen.

So here we find ourselves… ten years later. Until recently I had this idea that if my overly optimistic twenty-five year old self was sitting in front of me now I would shake her and say “get a clue!” I imagined lecturing her on the importance of health insurance benefits, personal finance, and cherishing that last visit with Grandma that you never knew would be the last. But… I’m softening on twenty-five year old me lately. I am getting comfortable with being grateful for her optimism, appreciating that her na├»ve financial mistakes were lessons that are shaping the next twenty-five years of life rather than ruining it. And that last evening at Grandma’s house, it was a Tuesday, when I hurried out to soon – I will always regret it but I learned. I try so much harder now to slow down, admittedly not always well, but I try. I learned. I am learning, and progressing and trying.

Our six-months-turned-ten-years in the duplex are quickly drawing to a close. Soon we will be moving to a house that I am totally convinced is exactly where we are supposed to be for this next chapter of life. I am both crazy-anxious to start painting, organizing, and making new memories and yet incredibly sad to say goodbye to a home that has held so much meaning for us. Easter mornings, Christmas Eves, sunny days, cook outs, blizzards, dance parties, long talks with friends, four years of homeschool lessons, three new babies home from the hospital, first steps, paper airplanes, lots of messes, and so much love – all inside these walls.

It is a bittersweet few weeks ahead but, ten years later, I think we’re finally ready.

Monday, January 4, 2016

William's Birth Story

William’s birth was so calm and uneventful that I feel a bit odd about sharing it. I had hoped for something exciting like my water breaking in a theatrical fashion during an important Corporate America meeting, or a dramatic (but safe and healthy) home delivery as many of my amazing friends have experienced lately. But alas this was not our story.

I lamented the lack of excitement as we drove to the hospital at 5AM to be induced on the Thursday before Christmas. Brandon, likely just ready to be done with the whole final-weeks-of-pregnancy part (which is the WORST) assured me that this was the right timing for our family. After all, I was the one who had asked the doctor about a pre-holidays induction; having three excited little girls at home while I am stuck in the hospital over Christmas did not seem doable for my emotional well-being. Besides, the doctor suspected this baby boy would be big, and my body was already in disrepair from last year’s delivery of his hefty sister. Thus, on the Thursday before Christmas we arrived at the hospital in the wee hours of a quiet morning to welcome our baby boy via induction and I am still coming to terms with that so please be kind.
From there, as I mentioned previously, it was very calm and uneventful. The previous two weeks of on-again-off-again contractions had done their work and I was already at 4cm when we arrived. The doctor broke my water, a light Pitocin drip was started, and the epidural was begun. Julia had opted to miss school in order to be there while I labored, so we held hands and watched the Food Network. I progressed nicely and by 1:00 it was time to push. My sister had gotten off work just in time to walk in as the final preparations for William’s arrival were made. Remembering a few previous uncomfortable pushing moments from other deliveries I told my doctor that “I hate this part” but she assured me that this boy was not far off and if I gave it a few good pushes he would be here quickly. Not believing her, because I get VERY nervous and emotional when it comes to the part in life when you push a baby out, I said “are you SURE?” and she, having never delivered any of my babies answered “unless you suck at pushing, I am sure.” My type-A don’t-want-to-suck-at-anything personality was completely motivated and sweet William was out very (very) shortly thereafter.
As my doctor had suspected, he was a big healthy boy at 9 lbs. 7 oz. When they laid him, fresh from heaven, on my chest I realized that adrenalin and emotions and epidurally things make you a bit of a space cadet in these moments. I simultaneously wondered “does this goo come off the hospital gown, and my hands, very easily” and “are they sure it’s a boy” and “darn, that went so fast I kind of am sad it’s over.” The nurses began giving me elaborate instructions about his blood sugar, which would need to be tested at feeding intervals because of some concern about his size. As I lay there nodding but only taking in about 10% of the instructions I remember thinking “it is really odd that they think I will remember this, I hope someone else is listening because I do not understand a thing they are saying.” And then I held my sweet baby boy a little longer, and nursed him, and admired him, and was thankful.
After we had time to give him many good long looks and cuddles his sisters came to meet him, followed by grandmas and grandpas and aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. It was the most peaceful and serene of my deliveries, perhaps an indication of this sweet boy’s demeanor – or simply a Christmas blessing to a tired type-A mama. Either way, I’ll take it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

School: An Update

In order to protect my nerves and sanity I hadn’t let myself imagine it too much. My preconceived notions of what the girls’ first days of public school might include were largely shaped by my own experiences some 25 years ago plus a few good and bad stories I’d heard from experienced teacher friends. I acknowledge that this apprehension about something so daily for millions of children is ridiculous, akin to a mid-westerners avoidance of the ocean for fear of a shark attack. So on that first day of school I dove in and nearly forgot to watch for looming fins or ominous music, and no sharks have bitten as of yet.

My socialite, Carolyn, came home with a catalog of friends and very little recollection of any learning taking place. A big fan of the hot lunches, as well as the accompanying lunch room drama, she is LOVING school. Despite being stung by a wasp on recess, rehearsing the intruder drill (this terrifies me), and having to make friends with a sea of new faces she remains unruffled. To her, the biggest challenge thus far is in solving why one of the boys in her class doesn’t seem to enjoy her company. Day-after-day she makes a point to compliment his outfit or ask how he is enjoying his lunch and she seems to be met with eye-rolls and short responses. This will not do and thus she is on a personal mission to get to the bottom of his contempt; and I’m fairly certain she will (it might hurt a little). She has a fantastic teacher who appreciates her outgoing nature and free-spirit, not to mention having a host of fun activities planned for the year that kind of make me want to go back to fifth grade myself.

My introverted-academic, Julia, has struggled just a bit. She is not a fan (at all) of recess. By the fourth day of school she was a puddle of tears at the thought of braving the asphalt for twenty long minutes of friendship attempts. Her teacher and librarian worked together to find a solution in which she volunteers in the library during recess and she couldn’t be more pleased. By the ninth day she was doubled-over in tummy aches with anxiety yet again. This took a bit more digging, but with the help of wise family members and her fantastic teacher, we discovered that her perfectionism does not like the long wait between taking a test and seeing the results. This unknown waiting, coupled with the fact that her math assessment test was computerized and became harder the better she did, she had contrived a story in her sweet, anxious mind that she had failed her very difficult math assessment horribly thus the tummy aches and tears. Once we were able to talk through her results with her teacher her shoulders relaxed and her smile returned. Now we know: it’s hard to wait for test results when you’re a perfectionist!

Thus far I’ve observed several things:

1. School is really very different from when I was in 3rd and 5th grade. Obviously Oregon Trail has come a long way, but seriously the integration of technology is super exciting to me. Gamification for learning spelling words, exploring far-away places on Google Earth, even the adaptive testing all engage their learning so much more deeply than I remember. What’s more, the classroom is much more autonomous, with options to explore multiple avenues of learning and interests rather than being glued to your seat for the duration of the day. (I feel like my elementary education was a bit dull with the exception of Exchange City and that time our teacher read us the Orphan Train Quartet by kerosene lamp which I thought was all things that school should be and more, please also note that I fully acknowledge my memory could be extremely jaded and amiss).

2. I am not as worried about their grades as I thought I would be. This is probably one of the many blessings that homeschooling bestowed, because there were no grade cards I just enjoyed watching them grow as learners and seeing their enthusiasm for certain (but admittedly not all) subjects. Carolyn was riveted by Greek Mythology and World History, she begged to do science experiments even when it wasn’t school time. Julia flew through her math and loved to master the next problem or skill, she could write a poem or story that made her proud and want to share it over dinner or display it on the fridge. Brandon did grade tests regularly, but without a permanent record in some dusty school file it didn’t define them and only reflected progress rather than merit or worth. For me, a recovering perfectionist myself, grades are still important especially as they progress to higher levels, but I am not going to freak out about B’s (maybe even C’s) like I thought I would. In fact, my brother once told me that he would hate to be my kid because he was sure I’d be a tyrant about grades, and I agreed with him. I'm a growing learner too it seems.

3. It is exhausting. While homeschooling is a whole lot of work, Brandon bore the brunt of it and everything was generally wrapped up and put away before I ever got home each night. The flexible schedule allowed for piano and skating lessons to take place during the day as well, so our evenings were free. Lunch was at noon at home, no pre-packing or planning required on my part. Matching outfits were not necessary, nor shoes. There were also no backpacks filled with forms to fill out or homework to review and sign on a nightly basis. While Brandon was planning and executing the hard work of daily lessons I was blissfully unaware of the ins-and-outs of daily education and now I see that It.Is.Exhausting. To all of the teachers, homeschooling parents, and single mamas out there – kudos and a deep bow. I am impressed and in awe and exhausted just thinking about it.

Generally I am really impressed and grateful at the start the girls have had this year. They are excited, they have fantastic teachers, and there have been very few tears. The children in their school are all very kind, no bullies, no shark attacks. And they are growing as learners and friends. To everyone who has texted, called, and prayed – thank you. I am amazed by the friends and family who care so deeply for my girls and for their worried mama!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Awfully Big Adventure

My definition of “adventure” is broadening. 

As a young mom, and even still admittedly, I longed to give my children ADVENTURE. I wanted (er, still want) to show them ancient ruins and yummy foods and fine art. I envision a scrapbook full of ticket stubs and photographs that they can tote off to college and adulthood full of memories. I want their heads to be chocked-full of knowledge of a great big world and their hearts to be full of compassion for all of its inhabitants. But, alas, I also want to save for their college and pay for their braces and keep the darn lights on. So, adventure to faraway places is not as easy as Pinterest makes it appear.

Yet still, I am realizing, adventure is not so far away. Even in my own memories I had some of my greatest childhood adventures taking walks with best friends, swimming with cousins in imaginary underwater worlds, and eventually falling madly in love with my future husband. Certainly vacations, honeymoons and epic road trips have made their marks, but I don’t want to short-change the everyday adventures that happen while we are longing for the next big thing.

This broadened idea of adventure is indeed how I have viewed the decision to have another baby, and another. Where my first two babies were tasks to accomplish and life-altering daily challenges (I’m being brutally honest here), I have embraced Gwyneth differently. With the benefit of experience and invaluable therapy (more honesty) I welcome the daily needs of my baby girl as a delight, mini-adventures in wonder at her growth, curiosity at her crying, joy that she even IS; and to get to do it all again with a baby boy this December, what an amazing ADVENTURE.

So too, I am convincing myself, must be my view of the adventure that starts tomorrow as the girls attend their first ever day of public school. Our journey with homeschooling has been rich and rewarding, affording the girls the opportunity to travel on work trips to Baltimore and New Orleans and Augusta. They will always treasure the fact that their dad taught them to read, to multiply and divide, to make a hypothesis. They discussed Marie Antoinette and Martin Luther King Jr., geography and geology, and countless other important facts that have made them strong learners. But now they embark on a new adventure as they take their seats in third and fifth grade to encounter more of the world, new viewpoints from classmates and teachers, new facts, new experiences. Their bags are packed and they are very excited to embark first thing tomorrow morning.

For a whole slew of reasons, some rational and some not, I am more nervous about this than most anything they have done so far. “They will be fine” echoes off of every kind-hearted, knowledgeable friend. I am sure they will be, but I hope for more than “fine” in this next big adventure in their education. Just as with any great place they may go - I want their heads to be chocked-full of knowledge of a great big world and their hearts to be full of compassion for all of its inhabitants. I hope and pray that tomorrow begins just such a journey for them, I trust it will.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The House in the Orchard

I’ve read the entire Little House on the Prairie series to my girls twice. The first time they were four and two and I would lie in bed with them each night reading a chapter or two before they drifted off to sleep. I was drawn in, night-after-night, to the struggles and triumphs of the Ingalls family with their tiny daughters and big dreams. As Laura grew and fell in love I joyfully read of her courtship with Almanzo and the beautiful life that lay before them. And then I continued, unknowingly, into the final book of the series, The First Four Years. I only later found out that this book was never intended to be a part of the series, its content too painful and sad for many young readers. However, since I was not aware of this fact, I began merrily on my way one evening into the first four years of Laura and Almanzo’s marriage, I read it straight through, aloud, sobbing the whole way. With all of the anticipation and excitement that came with their new life together, there came much tragedy. [Spoiler Alert] Almanzo becomes sick with an illness that leaves his strong body debilitated. Their baby boy dies. And the beautiful home Almanzo has built for Laura in an orchard he has planted burns to the ground. We end with Laura sitting in the grass, cradling her daughter, watching her house and all of the hopes for her future burning. Truly depressing.
The problem with The First Four Years is entirely the problem of real life. One needs only scroll through their Facebook feed for a few minutes to read of the heartbreaks of everyday living; infertility, illness, accidents, not to mention jobs that don’t satisfy, spouses who leave, parents who become ill, and loved ones who die. It’s nothing anyone should be reading to their children at bedtime… aloud… sobbing.
Of course before the age of social media we all could come up with our own host of stories to tell of the proverbial burning houses amidst a hopeful orchard; My grandmother’s father was killed in a car accident when my mother was just a toddler, my brother suffered with a bone tumor before he had even started school, a coworker lost his son to an accident, another lost his wife to an aneurism, my brother-in-law was sent to Iraq, and all of our grandparents could tell of living through a World War and the terrors that brought even in the middle of the United States far from the front lines.
I think it was summarized most poignantly at my five year class reunion when I stood awkwardly beside a fellow classmate who just said, “Damn, this whole life thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be.” Indeed.
Here’s the thing I want to do about it: wrap the entire world in a protective bubble wrap ala Danny Tanner when DJ learned to walk, according to his own account. Or, another option I’ve considered, preferred by engineers and the generally analytic: bury my head deep in the sand, far from Facebook, friends, news and any pain I may myself be feeling. Of course I could always cover my eyes with other distractions besides sand, such as wealth-chasing, game-playing, or child-raising (which, if you know me you know is my current favored option).
Until recently I was satisfied with my daily distractions from life’s deep struggles. I have been on a good run of health, paying off debt, birthing more children… praise be to God. I discontinued my listening to BBC World News and its brutal stories of struggles around the globe, and I’ve become so entrenched in my work life that I’ve let friendships dry up to the point of simple pleasantries but not too much difficult sharing.
And then my friend got sick, terribly sick, and his wife listened calmly as she heard news that will change her life. And his children played sweetly waiting for daddy to get home. And the First Four (err nine or so) Years of a life together are beginning to look like a burning house in the middle of a once-pleasant orchard. And I hear my classmates words “this whole life thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be.” And I want to sob, but I’ve become quite out of touch with my feelings since feelings are painful, and this is especially so.
I’ve sat in this spot for ten days, wondering how to respond both to the immediate needs and to the larger looming reality that life is difficult and sad and can surely overwhelm if not careful. I continue to wait on a divine revelation that makes everything clear and gives me answers to each pain and struggle and hurt. And truly I tell you the answer only comes in echoes bouncing off of simple, everyday things like a caring smile, a baby’s belly laugh, a hug, a prayer, a text asking “have you heard anything new today?”, and post after post uniting a body of believers in a single task of crying out to God on behalf of a friend. I’m beginning to understand that connections to one another, hearing each other’s stories, bring tremendous pain but even more profound joy. That it is worth wading into the struggle because the load is lightened for us all when we share the journey. This is why Jesus found a group of twelve, and commissioned a church, because we need one another – it is part of the redemption plan.
Life is much harder than Laura or I ever expected. We live in a broken world full of sin and illness. But we are Easter people. Our hearts ache for a world that is made new because it is so very near, until that time we must lend a smile and a prayer and hold a baby now and again for one another.

“The real things haven’t changed.
It is still best to be honest and truthful;
to make the most of what we have;
to be happy with simple pleasures;
and have courage when things go wrong.”
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Monday, March 9, 2015

#SchultzHouseHunt has Begun


I stopped at Lowe's on Saturday for some odds-and-ends. I let the girls stop at the paint chip kiosk to consider bedroom colors for their new room. It may be putting the cart before the horse a bit, since we have not even made an offer. But alas, the #SchultzHouseHunt has officially begun.

I've been dreading this, to be perfectly honest.

We owned a home once before, it was the first order of business when I got my first job. It was a beautiful little townhome in Lawrence with a sweet enclosed patio and warm kitchen. We brought Carolyn home from the hospital to that little house. She learned to walk there and posed for her first and second Christmas card photos in the make-shift photo studio Brandon had created in the kitchen. She ran naked from the bath to her beautiful nursery with wide blue stripes and white furniture. She bounced in her Johnny Jump Up in the living room. I loved that house.

Then Brandon got a job in Lee's Summit and I was commuting to Lenexa everyday so we decided we needed to move. When the full-priced offer on our beloved house included a very quick moving date we were left in a bit of a lurch, but conveniently my grandparents had a duplex coming available that we could move into while we figured out a housing solution.

I had just found out I was pregnant and I remember the time being a bit hurried and stressful. The morning we were moving into the duplex the current renters were moving out. We would come in the front door as they were going out the garage. The poor woman who was leaving was very pregnant and had not been able to give the kitchen and bathrooms a good scrub, so we unpacked boxes and scrubbed simultaneously. My Grandma was down on the kitchen floor with me, prepping for our family's transition to Kansas City, making us feel comfortable and welcome in this new place.

For many months we considered the duplex a temporary solution. Then we brought baby Julia home to the duplex and we celebrated a Christmas, and then another. I quit my first job, stayed home for a while, then started at Black & Veatch. The memories began to pile up.

And then in November of 2008 on an ordinairy Thursday night, my phone rang. I stood in the kitchen staring at the cluttered refrigerator door... the memory is still very clear... and my mom told me that they thought my Grandma had had a stroke. I tried staying calm, Brandon was somewhere not at home, I called him and asked him to come home quickly so I could go be with my Grandma. Then another call, I was on the couch, it was not a stroke, it was much worse, I should hurry. My in-laws came right over, I sobbed the whole way to the hospital. Brandon drove. In three short days my Grandma was gone.

For a while I marked time with that Thursday. "She was still alive last week right now" I would think to myself, then "last month right now", then "last year right now." My sister gave us all a beautifully framed photo of my grandparents on their front porch and I hung it in one of the most traveled spots in our home, in her home technically. At the urging of my Grandpa I took her clothes, I hung them in our spare closet. In the meantime I subconsciously hunkered down emotionally and financially to stay put in the duplex, right where she left me, as completely odd as that might sound seven years later.

I did not connect all of these pieces at the time, of course. It took a move to Baltimore and many hours with an exceptional therapist to truly appreciate the important roll my Grandma had played in my life and why her sudden death was still having ripple effects years later. When I confessed to the therapist, in a moment of complete emotional honesty, that I could never leave the duplex because my Grandma "couldn't find me if I did" I realized that I had emotional work to do. Healing.

So, I have, I think. I have thought often about Grandma and what she had hoped for me, for Brandon, for our girls... even the little one she never met. I have cleaned out the closet in the spare room. I have parted with toys she gave the girls that they had long-since outgrown. I have saved money, rather than spend at-will, in order to be ready to make the monumental move. And, nine years after moving into this "temporary" duplex, I think we are ready to start another chapter of home ownership.

In April it will have been nine years since we moved into the duplex. This is the longest I have ever lived in one place at any time in my life. We brought two babies home to this house, started a business in this house, played countless games of Catan in this house and the girls went from Kindergarten through Fourth Grade in this house. It will be hard to leave our cozy little duplex, I'll probably cry a little, but it's time. Let the #SchultzHouseHunt begin!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Best of Baby Gear (lately)

When my first two girls were born (in 2004 and 2006) I found the selection of baby gear to be overwhelming... but when I re-entered the world of babies in 2014 it was clear a number of designers have been expanding the world of baby gadgets and gizmos to all new proportions.

Here are five items that have come along since my older girls were born that have made the first month so much easier...

1. green sprouts Burp Pads - while burp clothes are nothing new, these "burp pads" are new and improved. The size is perfect, larger than the traditional cloths I used with the first two, able to catch any unexpected eruption. The kidney bean shape means it drapes over your shoulder brilliantly. And the organic muslin fabric means these pads are super soft and gentle on baby as she rests on my shoulder.

2. Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddle Blanket - it seems muslin fabric is the new "thing" in baby products, but there is a reason... it is light and gentle but has enough give that is can wrap a baby up snug as a bug in a rug. When she was brand new these blankets were perfect for a tight swaddle and now that she's growing the large size of the swaddle make it perfect for a cover for breastfeeding and a light blanket for napping.

3. Rock n Play Sleeper - seriously, seriously this is a must-have. The hammock shape of this (what I call) bassinet makes new babies feel snug and cozy. It is super light weight and portable so it can move from beside the bed at night to the school room during the day. Many other mamas have told me their little ones used this for naps well past the earliest (sleepless) days.

4. Wubbanub - This is one of those products that you look at and wonder "why is that necessary, is this just another infomercial gimmick?" I assure you it is not. The brilliance behind the Wubbanub is that it lays gently across baby's chest and even at 4 weeks our little one instinctively grabs on and gently cradles. Plus it is easier to keep track of and it's adorable.

5. Kiinde Breastfeeding System - Thankfully I have two more precious weeks before my maternity leave ends, but I have already found this system to be ingenious. The concept is basically that you pump into a twist-lock bag that is then transformed into the "bottle" through a nipple attachment, meaning no pouring between bottles and hardly any parts to wash.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Gwyneth's Birth

And so it happened that at my 39 week appointment my blood pressure was a little high. It was decided I should go to the hospital to be monitored and the doctor ultimately decided to keep me for induction the next morning. I had taken myself to the hospital, fully expecting to be sent home (this had happened with Carolyn 10 years ago), so when she told me I would be staying I got a bit weepy and texted Brandon that it was "go-time." There was much excitement (read: coordination of childcare and dog, grabbing of hospital bag, etc.) and the long afternoon / evening wait began.
The girls came to visit and were impressed with the IV, the contraction monitoring and all the rest. It was fun to have them see it all and be able to ask questions and get acclimated before the actual hard laboring started. It was not fun to be cut off from food for over 24 hours, but then the handsome photographer found the stash of popsicles and fetched them for me whenever I got hungry/ weepy/ stressed/ happy.
The evening meds had done their job and I was pretty uncomfortable as the sun was coming up and chasing away the heavy fog that had settled overnight. By mid-morning the incredible (and I mean incredible) anesthesiologist had administered the epidural, with Brandon by my side. I was comfortably ready for the girls to return for the rest of the labor party. Julia seemed especially nervous; when I asked her what she was worried about she said, "you."

My sister Emily, an ICU nurse and calm cucumber under pressure, came to be Brandon's back-up support should anything unexpected happen. Emily was there when Julia was born as well, and I am incredibly grateful. There is something reassuring about having your sister there when you give birth (especially a sister who knows about medical whatcha-ma-call-its).
The girls were very interested in the whole process, and our nurse (also very incredible, seriously the whole staff was a dream) answered all of their questions... no matter how obscure. Finally, at 3:10 the doctor came in, the audience went out (except Brandon and Emily) and at 3:19 Ms. Gwyneth Elizabeth Schultz entered the world fresh from Heaven. For the first few minutes she kept her eyes squeezed close tight, as though the new light of life was assaulting her eyes, which I guess it kind of was. Brandon was happy to have won the pool on her weight, Emily won the guess on the time she would be born, and I won because the baby was O-U-T!
As soon as the doctor gave the green light the girls were brought back for a quiet hour of family time... they were over the moon. Well, we all were.