Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beach Bum- William's First Vacation

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, we took William to Destin, Florida for his first beach vacation last month. We stayed in a roomy beach house and had some of Adam's wonderful family with us. You should've seen the Suburban we took (I should've taken a picture!). That thing was packed to the brim with all of William's favorite things- from his Boppy lounger to his rocker bassinet (yes, we hauled his bed down there)! We were a little nervous about a 10-hour car ride with a babe, but William was a stellar traveler. He has to be to be our child, though, right?! Adam and I love to stay on the go. Anyway, that munchkin of ours slept the ENTIRE way there aside from a couple feedings and a diaper or two. He never even cried or fussed! We couldn't believe it.
Flipp Flopped- The beach house

Aunt Debbie and Aunt Joyce came down for a long weekend visit, so we took some family pictures on the beach while they were there. We had to break in our fancy new camera, and there's no better photo op than the beach! Here are a few of my favorite shots:
The Birdwell Crew

Mom Birdwell, Me, & Munchkin

Everyone looking at him- one of my faves!

The Birdwell Three :)
Proud Momma
Considering Adam and I have never had any kind of photography class, we were pretty pleased with the photo shoot! William turned 2 months old while we were there, so we took some pics with his onesie sticker.
The rest of the trip was spent relaxing (minus the Halloween knitting frenzy), shopping, eating, and more relaxing.
Adam, William, & Aunt Debbie at Fudpucker's
Helping Aunt Joyce on Daddy's laptop
Happy Halloween!
Sweetest Little Beach Bum!
The weather was pretty cool while we were there, so he only made a brief appearance on the beach. The beach house neighborhood had a heated pool, so we went for a dip and introduced him to the swimming pool. That lasted about 15 minutes. ;)
The wind was rather strong, but he didn't seem to mind!

He's all smiles for Daddy!

Fun shot from our underwater camera!
Dad Birdwell's birthday was a few weeks before, so his birthday gift from us was a deep sea fishing trip. Munchkin and I stayed on dry land while Daddy and Pa caught our dinner!
Red fish & trout- they were yummy!!
William got a really stinking cute golf outfit at one of the baby showers, so of course I remembered to pack it! We had a golf cart at the beach house that we used to ride over to the beach and back (yes, we were 100% spoiled that week), so it seemed appropriate to capture some pics of William on it while wearing his argyle!

And that was pretty much it for his first vacay! He did super awesome on the car ride home as well. The last couple of hours, he was pretty much over it, but overall he was a total trooper!!

Pit stop at Cracker Barrel
Now I can only hope that he does as well on his first flight next week. We're heading to the Lone Star state of Texas to visit Aunt Danielle and the Organ crew!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Photography Investment

The Birdwell Bunch

Wow...has it really been a month since my last post?! Time flies with a newborn! Well, sometimes it does. Then other times it seems like we're frozen in time. It's nurse him, burp him, make faces to entertain him, change his diaper, put him down for a nap, then rinse and repeat! Every second of it is bliss, though. . .even those fun 2:00 a.m. feedings and diaper blowouts!

So, what's been going on in our world the past month besides the daily basics? Lots of things! As a child of Adam and Sophia Birdwell, this little one is always on the go. Whether it's a trip to the grocery store, a La Leche League meeting, or dinner out with friends, we just toss him in the car and go! (Well, we safely buckle him into his 5-point harness system and go, but you know what I mean. . .)

Being the insanely proud parents that we are, Adam and I decided to invest in a really nice camera for capturing all of life's moments. Adam picked out a Nikon D-5100 digital SLR camera, and we (especially I) am in LOVE with it! Of course, now Adam is afraid he's created a monster. . .a photography monster, that is! I think I've taken pictures with it just about every day of William's life!

Let's back up a bit to the week we brought him home from the hospital. Adam found an awesome deal on Amazon for a photo studio of sorts, and it arrived a couple of days later. It came with 2 different backdrops (a black and a white), 3 light tripods, 3 photography bulbs, the little umbrellas that attach to the lighting tripods- I'm telling you, this thing is the Mack Daddy whole kit and kaboodle! Our dining room was in transition at the time (we had sold our previous dining room furniture and had not gotten the new stuff from his aunt yet so the room was empty), so it became the photo studio.

We did the first "photo session" on September 8. Little William was a young 10 days old! The photos turned out so good. I was impressed with Adam's camera skills. Here are a few of our favorites. . .

Our next purchase will probably be Photoshop or soft boxes for the light bulbs. We would also love to have the extra lens that is especially for wider shots to take full-body pictures, but it's about $1,200 so we'll have to wait a little while before making another big investment like that! In the meantime, we can rent one when we are going to have another photo shoot.

The "photo studio" in all its glory was used one more time before the dining room furniture arrived. I took advantage of a Saturday when Adam was out of the house and I was alone with the munchkin the weekend before Adam's birthday. Since this was going to be his first birthday as a dad, I wanted to make him something special. Who did I turn to for ideas? Why, the Pinterest community, of course! I saw all the cute pics where the kid holds a different letter of the word "Dad" and ran with it. After scavenging around the house looking for letters, I settled for the deck of Scrabble Slam! from the game closet. (On a side note, that is a VERY fun four-letter word game for kids and adults!) After about 100 shots of William "holding" each letter of the word DADDY, I got one of each letter that was perfect for the project. Here are the images I used in his frame:
The frame was another task in itself. I searched online and visited several stores (Michael's, JoAnn, Things Remembered, Dillard's, Kohl's, Marshall's. . . all with baby in tow) before finding the perfect one at Hobby Lobby. And the best part- it was 1/2 off frames week! I wanted something for him to put in his office at work (there was only 1 picture on his desk from some golf tournament before this), and I didn't think he would want a huge panel frame. I wanted something tasteful and masculine that he could display on his desk. That's when I found this cool rotating hexagonal frame box! Each photo slot was a 3" by 3", so I formatted the pictures above using Microsoft Publisher so that each one was exact to those measurements, and I printed them on one 8 x 10 photo sheet at Kinkos. Then I just cut them apart and slid them in the frame.

It had exactly 6 openings, so I used the 5 letter poses and one final pose with the word "Daddy" going along the side of William's body. We took Adam out to lunch at Rafferty's that day, and William gave Daddy his gift. Adam absolutely loved it!

Even more than the frame, though, I think he loved having a special lunch date with Munchkin.

The photo studio has been packed up and tucked away for the time being, but it will make its appearance again soon enough. William will be 8 weeks old this Wednesday, and he'll hit the 3-month milestone soon enough. He gets his first round of ammunition...I mean immunizations...this Friday! Then Adam will let me take him out in public around people we know and our friends' kids will finally get to meet him! We also have his first vacation coming up in the near future, so I'll have something else to blog about soon enough. Oh, and remember that candy corn costume I've been working on? Well, it's still not finished, but it will be before the big day at the end of this month! I'll be sure to share that too, upon its completion. Until then, I'll leave you with a few last pics of our adorable little guy. Ciao!


{Taken today at the pumpkin patch}

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm a Mommy!

Sorry I haven't written anything for the past few weeks...I've had my hands a little full!

(Please excuse any typos. . .my prgnancy brain has become a new mommy brain!)

August 29, 2012- William's arrival!
I'm going to give you the Cliff Notes version of the past 3 perfect weeks of my life while our little Munchkin sleeps in his Snugabunny swing!

We went to the doctor for the 42 week checkup the morning of August 28th. I still wasn't dilated or effaced at all (for non-medical folks, that means that we were no closer to being in labor than we ever were). We decided together that it was time to be induced, although it was not what I wanted for my first birthing experience. I really wanted to have a natural, drug-free birth without being jump-started by Pitocin. Since my cervix wasn't soft yet, Dr. Brown wanted to give me Cytotec first to get everything ready for the Pitocin to work.

I was admitted Tuesday evening at 6:00 and received the first dose of Cytotec at 7:00 p.m. This is not a labor-inducing drug like Pitocin. When Dr. Brown came back at 11:00 p.m. to give me the second dose, he told me he was pleasantly surprised that I was dilated 1 cm and completely effaced! The Cytotec wasn't responsible- my body was sending itself into labor. I couldn't believe it! As the next couple of hours passed, Adam played cards with me while I sat on my birthing ball, breathing through each contraction while we played our game.

Around 1:00 a.m., my contractions began to get stronger. The next hour or so was a whirl water broke on its own and I became 4 cm dilated. About each 30 minutes, I progressed another centimeter. I was scheduled to start Pitocin at 4:00 a.m., but that never happened. By that point, I was 7 cm dilated...and doing great! I stayed focused on Adam and my amazing doula, Beulah Kyle, as they helped me breathe through each round of contractions.

Beulah Kyle, the AMAZING doula! Couldn't do it without her!

After a few more hours, William Alfred Birdwell was safely brought into the world. He was born on August 29 at 8:27 a.m. and weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces and was 18.5 inches long. I had the natural, drug-free delivery I had prayed for so fervently. People have asked me how I resisted the urge to have an epidural, and I can honestly say that I had no urge to get one. I prepared for months to have a Hypnobirth, and it provided me with everything I needed to get through it. In fact, most of the delivery was a blur in my memory because I was in my "happy place" through almost all of it. It truly is a "mind over matter" thing, and I fully believe that anyone who sets their mind to having a drug-free birth can totally do it. I went into it with no fears or anxiety, and full trust in God to see me through it till I was holding that sweet baby boy in my arms. I can't wait to do it again...and again...and one more time!

I felt amazing immediately after his birth. Everyone who came to visit exclaimed how they couldn't believe I was up and about, bouncing around the hospital room, feeling so good. Speaking of the room, I was a tad bit disappointed that someone beat us to the Predators suite. We did end up getting a Titans suite, though, which came with more square footage, all of Adam's meals included, a refrigerator, and small dining table. We kept William in the room with us for our entire stay.

We came home on Friday, August 31st, and have been a blissfully happy family of three. It's funny how life before William seems like a fragment of my imagination- it's as if he's always been in our lives. He is the sweetest, cutest, happiest baby around- and I'm not just saying that because I'm his momma! We've had tons of visitors, and it's always fun to watch them tell us, with a surprised expression, how beautiful and alert our little guy is! Then they go on to tell us about how most newborns look like aliens or simply are not cute, but how that's not the case with William. My heart swells with joy each time I look at our sweet boy. . . I am smitten! His nicknames include "Munchkin" and "Munchkin Man". I have no idea where these came from, but they fit. He is a cute little munchkin!

So, what have we been doing since we got home? We have been changing diapers, sterilizing pump parts, figuring out the whole breastfeeding thing, rocking him to sleep, and doing a lot of laundry! Each little coo and grunt he makes melts our hearts all over again, and he sleeps like a champ. While Adam says all of this is credited to our awesomeness as new parents, I give most credit to 1.) William for being such an easygoing baby, and 2.) Babywise. While I haven't taken any books I've read to be 100% the only way to parenting, most of the things we're doing come from that book. I read Happiest Baby on the Block too, which totally has the whole "how to calm your baby" thing nailed! I highly recommend both books. Babywise has taught us how to listen to and assess William's needs to figure out what he is asking us for, and his routine has been smooth to establish thanks to that book. We do an eat-play-sleep pattern throughout the day and it works beautifully. He eats and sleeps like a champ.

He takes after Mommy- he's already a book lover!

At his one week appointment, he had gained 9.5 ounces since we had been discharged on the 31st. Then he was up to 8 pounds, 4 ounces and 20 7/8 inches long at his 2 week appointment. Our Munchkin is growing like a weed! His pediatrician said we could stop waking him to eat at night, so we've enjoyed the past week of getting 7-9 hours of consecutive sleep! Adam has also enjoyed getting to bottle feed him his last nightly meal before bed time, and I enjoy the break it gives my body (the pump is a little easier on me than William is at times)! Another HUGE help to our transition of being a family of three has been the amazing support group we have in friends, family, and our church family. We're three weeks in and I still haven't had to make a single meal. We've enjoyed yummy home cooked casseroles, salads, desserts, and takeout from our favorite restaurants. . . and all of it has been delivered to us by the warm hands and hearts that prepared it.


Hopefully, everything continues to run as smoothly as it has thus far. Adam is the "sleep ninja" (he can get William to sleep at the drop of a hat) and I am the "swaddle ninja" (that munchkin makes one sweet baby burrito- one he can't get out of when I wrap him up), so we hope that these skill sets along with what we've learned from books we've read and advice of parenting pros that we can keep it going. I'll try to post again in the next week with more pictures. He changes so fast from day to day, so I look forward to us watching him grow together! It's taken his entire nap time to write this entry, so it's back to mommy duty for me. . . until next time! :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Last Minute Maternity Photo Fun

Yesterday, a lady came up to me in Whole Body and asked the (at this point) dreaded question, "Aw, when are you due?" I took a deep breath, smiled, and responded, "Last weekend." This time I was prepared for the worst possible response that would send my blood pressure through the roof. To my pleasant surprise, this woman was a smart woman (and I'm guessing a momma who'd been there before) who replied, "Well, you look great. Hang in there!" Then she politely smiled and walked away. How wonderful it would be if everyone had the common sense she had! I can't tell you how hard it is to listen to people say things like, "Oh, you're still pregnant?" or "Wow, you're never having that baby, haha!" or (my personal favorite), "Why haven't you had him yet??" (Like I have a magic wand I can use?!?)

One of my favorite poses, Pinterest-inspired!

I've felt great for months now, and I really have nothing to complain about. I'm not swollen, I haven't had indigestion, I sleep well at night, I don't have any stretch marks (at this point...thanks, Mom!), I haven't gained a ton of weight, my blood pressure is awesome. . .I could go on and on. However, there's this part of me that is sooooooo ready to meet this little munchkin (as Adam calls him). :) When I'm really excited about something, I have a hard time being patient and waiting for it to come. The week before we have a trip planned, it always feels like the days drag on for months. As holidays approach, I feel like they're never going to get here. When our due date came and went, it was like someone canceled Christmas! So, needless to say, at 40 weeks and 3 days I am on pins and needles waiting for William.

I hope he's a book lover like his Momma!

Last Friday night, my dear friend Jennifer McCann came to my house to take some maternity pictures and explore all the settings on her camera. Jenn and I became close friends during our teaching years together in Nashville. She is the most incredible reading specialist...I mean literacy coach....I mean instructional coach (they change her title every year!) I've ever seen, and I aspire to be half as awesome as she is one day. In addition to rocking it out in the classroom, Jenn has a love for photography. She has what I call a "fancy" camera and a love for capturing the world around her. She is so talented at everything she does, photography included!

This was one of my favorites!

We had a blast as she crawled around on the floor to try different angles (no really. . .just like a caterpillar!) and tested every setting on her camera. She's used to taking pictures of her two young, energetic children, so she enjoyed having subjects who stayed put for more than 30 seconds.  I was thrilled to be her guinea pig! (Adam was a total trooper too. . .maybe he secretly LOVED smiling for an hour straight?!?)

I'm pretty sure he wanted to kill me at this point. . .

Laughter is good for the soul, and even better for the pregnant soul, and that's just what we did through the entire evening. One final shot I really wanted to get was in our Preds gear. Reluctantly, Adam pulled on his jersey, and I sprang right into mine. :) I am a little bit of a bigger fan than he is, and I tend to get a bit carried away at times with things that I'm super excited about, so he really had the patience of Job at this point! We forgot to get a shot from the back- our jerseys have "Birdwell" on them. Oh, well...we'll do that with the next kid. ;)

I can't wait to take William to his first game!

Now you've seen for yourself the hidden talent my friend Jenn possesses. I'd love to see her dapple in it as a second career some day. I look forward to sharing my birthing story with you in the coming week! In the meantime, I'll keep eating eggplant, go for some more acupuncture, and work on William's Halloween costume (which I might share if it turns out well)!

I'm sure this is exactly what we'll look like leaving the house when it's really "go time"! ;)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summertime Means Watermelon Time!

I've been busy this past week enjoying a fun game of "Myth Busters- Labor Edition". I've eaten eggplant parmesan, basil, garlic, Mexican food, and pineapples. I've religiously taken Evening Primrose Oil, had 2-3 cups of raspberry leaf tea a day, and loved many giggle fits with my husband. I've stepped up the pace on my morning walks, and I've enjoyed 30 minutes a day doing hip rotations and other exercises on a birthing ball. I've had two labor-prepping acupuncture treatments so far (going for number 3 tomorrow). Guess what? I'm still preggo. Perhaps I started all these "tricks" a little prematurely- my due date is this Saturday- so I plan to "rinse and repeat" all of these efforts next week. None of them have been anything less than enjoyable, and it's a fun way to pass the time. My mom-in-law bought me a subscription to Fit Pregnancy magazine, which I absolutely love reading. The most recent edition had a great article about the health benefits of watermelon along with some great recipes. My favorite fruit is kiwi, except in the summer- then it's watermelon!

After I read the watermelon article, I decided to try out a couple of recipes that appealed to me. First was the "Summertime Slush". You can click on the link for the original recipe, or see below for my version.

The ingredients

I don't like green tea, so I omitted it from the recipe. I didn't have any white grape juice on hand, so I used apple juice. It was deeeeeeee-licious!!

I used an ice cream scoop to scoop out a cup of watermelon, and I pureed it in my Magic Bullet.

Add frozen strawberries and kiwi

I added 5 medium-sized frozen strawberries (you could use fresh ones, of course, but it won't give your slush the same texture at the end) and one peeled, chopped kiwi. Seeds don't bother me in a smoothie, but if you're not a fan I'd recommend cutting out the core and seeds from the kiwi before tossing it in the mix. Last, pour in 1/2 cup of ice cubes and 1/2 cup of apple or grape juice and blend. It is soooo tasty!

It's slurpin' time!

This was a very yummy, all-natural breakfast treat to start my day! It was a great refreshing treat after my morning walk, too. The next recipe I'll share with you, but I have to say I was NOT a fan of the watermelon pops I made.

I started with measuring out 4 cups of cubed watermelon. These went into the juicer. If you don't have a juicer, you can just puree them in the blender. The recipe suggested straining them with a fine-mesh sieve that I didn't have, so I just used my juicer instead. In hindsight, I might have liked the pops better if there had been some of the watermelon threads in them.

I didn't have popsicle molds (an investment I suppose I should make since I'll be making William frozen treats soon enough!), so I just poured the watermelon juice into plastic disposable cups. The recipe called for a tablespoon of lemon juice, which I didn't have, so I added a tablespoon of pineapple juice instead (perhaps that's where I went wrong??). Then I covered the tops with aluminum foil and slit the tops with a knife.

 I didn't have any popsicle sticks either (my shopping list continues to grow) so I just used plastic spoons instead. They worked well enough. :)

 Then, into the freezer they went. After an overnight stay, they were ready to enjoy. . . I thought.

Looks can be deceiving. . .

I was sooo excited to take the first bite. It looked so good, and it even smelled great! Then I took a bite. It. Was. Gross! Now I think I know why you can't get watermelon juice by the bottle in the stores. I don't know how to describe its taste. It was just bad. *Sigh.*

Oh, well. At least the watermelon slush was good! I will definitely make it again for breakfast, or even an afternoon treat! Maybe William will join us for my next post. . . no one stays pregnant forever, right?! Until next time! :)