Does First-Born = First Priority?

I find it slightly telling, and a little sad, that one of my primary motivators for doing creative and special things for Owen is a desire to keep up with my former self. I can’t very well play favorites even before my second-born arrives, so I have to gather up all the energy and creativity that remains in my older, more preoccupied life to simply do for Owen what I did for Aiden. The difference is, with Aiden, everything was novel and new. My whole life centered around the fact that I was about to have a child. So I read 12 different books on pregnancy and parenting, crocheted blankets, took pictures of my belly every few weeks to document the process, and did fun, creative things like making wooden plaques for his hospital door. This time, the fact that I am now 30 and already a parent with a wildly active toddler as well as a job and home to keep up (while trying to sell it and move!) definitely factors into the equation. It’s not that I love Owen any less (I hope), it’s just that life does not afford me the same luxuries it did before. Well, I may have fallen woefully short this go-round in my parenting research and belly pictures, and the blanket I started may or may not be in various shades of coral and pink (oops!), but I did manage to find it in me to make a pretty wonderful door hanger for Scarborough 2.0, with a little “help” from Scarborough 1.0.  We actually had a really good time and I devoted far more of my evening to it than I originally anticipated, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the results!

My big boy working on his "Project" while Mama worked on hers.

The finished product for Owen's hospital door.

Aiden's hospital door hanger (for comparison). After the hospital, his hung in his room for 2 1/2 years till he moved into his big boy room. I'm thinking Owen's will do the same and I coordinated the colors appropriately :)

Hopefully I can continue this trend and take plenty of photos once Owen arrives and document all his special milestones, just as I did with Aiden. And in all the ways that I do fall short, I hope he will one day understand that being first-born did not make Aiden first priority, it just meant his parents were FAR less busy!

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

It’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since we first listed our home for sale. It is a beautiful home. One that we wouldn’t be trying to sell if it weren’t for school districts and the consistent cares of old home maintenance. It was listed for 8 1/2 months before we took it off the market for a brief respite over the holidays. 8 1/2 months of never leaving the house in any state but immaculately show-worthy! Constantly picking up, cleaning, hiding, stressing, and leaving on a moments notice to allow strangers to invade our most intimate space and pass judgement on it. I don’t look back on that time with fondness. And for a short while, we had hopes that we may not need to re-enter the rat race if we could get our son accepted into a charter-like,  public Montessori school, since this philosophy of education would give any highly rated private school a run for their money. Alas, we just found out that he was not accepted, despite his obvious brilliance and charm. So we find ourselves returning again to “Plan A” – sell the house and move into a better district 10 miles away where the schools are rated twice as highly as those of our district. Only this time, I get to do it while being largely pregnant and recovering from a c-section with a new baby and a toddler. Yippee! We considered waiting, but by the time I recovered and life returned to pseudo-normalcy (whatever that means), it would be well into the summer with only a few months before the holidays begin again and we find ourselves right back into the spring, a full year from now, with only 1 year of buffer to try to sell before Aiden begins kindergarten. So we decided to pull ourselves up by the boot straps, do some thorough spring cleaning (it is amazing how quickly bad habits can return when you are not required to keep everything spotless anymore), and re-list. We are meeting with agents this weekend and the deed should be done before the end of the week! So here we go again! Hopefully this time we will find success . . . and much more quickly. Wish us luck!

Thoughts On Parenting For A Soon-To-Be Mom

I was recently asked to contribute to a scrapbook of tips and advice for a mom-to-be. The thoughts that I wrote were stream of consciousness, but demonstrate vividly my own philosophy of positive parenting. I thought I would share them with you, my readers, and perhaps inspire more than one soon-to-be mom.

“Always remember, the days are long but the years are short. In the early days when you start to think life will never be the same, just remind yourself that you will feel normal eventually. Normal will be different, but it will be good. Always make note of all the little amazing moments and quickly forget the exhausting, frustrating ones. Never be afraid to learn more from your little man than you will ever teach him. Never take him for granted or underestimate him. He will always surprise you. When you find yourself amazed at how unexpectedly difficult parenting can be, remember that it is just as unexpectedly wonderful. Make laughter a more natural and immediate reaction than impatience. Don’t be afraid to be silly. Always be ready to apologize to your son, even if it’s humiliating. He will love and respect you for it. Count every kiss before he’s too embarrassed to give them anymore and never let him refuse yours.”

Just a few tidbits of mantras I repeat to myself often. Particularly now as I find myself nearer and nearer the end of this pregnancy and overwhelmed with the idea of what I am about to undertake . . . again.

Sophisticated Nursery Design – Owen’s Room

After a very long week/weekend filled with a LOT of work and a fairly significant amount of nesting, I can finally say that Owen’s nursery is complete. I labored much more over the concept and execution this time around than I did for Aiden’s nursery, (Sorry, Buddy! At least you have a great room now.) and, I must say, I am quite pleased with the results. I spent a significant amount of time searching online and in stores for a bedding set that struck me. I wanted something that was not so pastel and baby. But I discovered that bright, vibrant, sophisticated colors are pretty hard to come by in baby departments – at least in my price range! But when I finally found the right set (at TJ Maxx for only $45.00!!!) plus a couple of matching blankets to use for fabric, I had a concept I could run with. A little elbow grease and not too much cash later, the room was completely transformed. Take a look and tell me what you think:

BEFORE

AFTER

The concept came from this bedding set. A $45.00 find at TJ Maxx!

I was able to purchase several matching blankets which, after a little of this . . .

. . . turned into THIS! I had made the original curtains and small pillow many years ago for my college dorm. The design modifications and the larger pillow came from the extra blankets I purchased for the fabric (poor blankets!).

All the pictures on the walls were simply public domain Google images that I printed on a regular color printer and framed. It's a little hard to tell in these small photos, but the colors in the tall one suit the room PERFECTLY!

Finally, I replaced the blue rug with a brown one and got one more bookshelf for toys (since one of the original two had migrated to Aiden's room).

The only thing I have left (design-wise, that is) is to fill that orange vase with some live bamboo. Alas, this week’s spare time ran short. There is still much to do before Owen arrives, but at least I feel confident that he will have a pretty shnazzy room to come home to!

Lullaby

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been singing my son to sleep. First as I was nursing him before bed, later as I was rocking him in my arms after his bedtime stories, and now as I kneel beside his big boy bed and he snuggles all of his animals. But tonight he sang to me. With the smallest, clearest voice, carrying a good tune, he softly sang two of the songs I usually sing to him and my heart melted. All the weights and stresses of the day disappeared as his tiny voice magically soothed my spirit. It seemed to be a foreshadowing of a time when I may need him to tuck me into bed. A gentle and sweet reminder that sometimes I need to be taken care of too. And often it is the people I believe to be least capable of doing so that surprise me with the tenderest care. I am truly blessed.