Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bundle of joy.

We're so thankful to have this sweet baby girl in our arms. She's an absolute joy.

Audra Louise Breyer
December 27, 2011
8lbs 8oz
20.5 inches

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A star is born.

Not so much. Thankfully. Although that sure would have made for a memorable night.

And yes, I know. I've never looked lovelier. Thank heavens for one-size-fits-all stretchy white polyester.

And Calvin? Well, he was the sweetest pageant star of them all.

Even though he refused to pose for a single picture with me.

At least we were able to capture the true spirit of the event: A bunch of tired working moms in garland crowns trying to wrangle a bunch of ornery candle-wielding preschoolers while singing Twinkle Twinkle Christmas Star.

Dying to know how that one goes? Well, let me fill you in.

Twinkle twinkle Christmas star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the manger so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Guiding wise men on their way
To where baby Jesus lay

We all did pretty well, until we got to "guiding wise men..." At that point it kind of fell apart. Luckily, Calvin and I did some serious practicing beforehand and were able to carry it for the rest of the bunch.

Based on our stellar performance, as well as the number of moms I saw dressed up as angels (the next class up), I fear this won't be our last mother/son pageant appearance.

At least next year the robe might fit a little better.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The last time.

I'm having a baby in six days.

If not sooner.


It's hard for me to believe this pregnancy, which I'm positive will be my last, is about to come to an end. It makes me sad. I will miss feeling those kicks and squirms, watching my baby roll across my stomach, and the convenience of a built-in shelving unit on which to perch my evening snack. (And an excuse for having an evening snack. Every single evening.)

I will not miss my inability to breathe, walk normally, get into bed, roll over in bed, get out of bed, get into a chair, get out of a chair, sit longer than 20 minutes, stand longer than 20 minutes, or laugh without peeing. Not to mention the host of other physical side effects that shall remain undisclosed for both your sake and mine.

My mind has been racing these last few weeks. I'm trying to savor every second of this pregnancy while preparing myself for what's to come. But it's almost impossible to recall those sleepy newborn days with Calvin, who can construct a train track with ease and describe the plot of Up in painstaking detail. Even the part where "Mr. Fredrickson is sad because his Ellie gets died. She had to go to her house." Sweet boy.

He's so big. And as I fold and put away tiny pink onesies in nervous anticipation of our daughter's arrival, I wonder — was he ever this little?

He was, I know. A mere two and a half years ago I folded and put away tiny blue onesies in nervous anticipation of Calvin's arrival. But those early days with him are such a blur. Night after sleepless night. The nursing, the pumping, the bottles and blankets and burp cloths and blowouts. Was that really him? And us? And do I even remember how to do any of this?

I'm hoping it will come back to me without much effort. And that maybe this time, the last time, it won't go by so quickly.

Friday, December 9, 2011


This morning as I was getting Calvin ready for school, he touched the hem of my dress and said, "what's this?"

"That's Mommy's dress."

"Oh. Mom, you looked so pretty in that picture when you married Daddy at the church."

"Thanks, sweetheart."

"You look pretty now, too. You look fancy!"

It pays to get out of jeans once in a while.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Design on a dime.

Hand-me-downs are all second children know. Furniture, clothes, toys, books, name it. Like most parents, if it isn't broken and the puke stains are minimal, we're reusing it.

Sorry, kiddo. I did buy you new white onesies, pacifiers, and bottles, if that helps.

While I was of the EVERYTHING MUST BE BRAND NEW mindset when it came to Calvin's nursery, I've taken a significantly different approach to Baby Girl's. And I have to say, it saved us a truckload of money and still turned out pretty darned cute.

In fact, we did this room so inexpensively that I feel compelled to walk you through it.

Furniture: $94
We're reusing the crib, side table, and chair from Calvin's room. The changing table was necessary because of the room's tiny size, and that was purchased on Craigslist for $90. Nate painted it using the same (very spendy) paint used on the trim throughout our house, but that will be reused elsewhere so I'm not counting that cost. The dresser, which is tucked away in the closet, was my brother's growing up. I spent $4 on new drawer liners.

Bedding: $117
I fell in love with this bedding from The Land of Nod when I was decorating Calvin's nursery. When I found out I was having a girl I knew it was still exactly what I it has both pink and red in it, which really helped with the whole red chair debacle (clearly wasn't thinking about future babies when I bought that). But buying the entire set would have cost me close to $300. So, I hopped on ebay, where I found the (gently used) bumper for $15. Instead of buying the quilt to bring some of the floral pattern to the chair, I bought the window valance ($19) and had my mother-in-law sew it into a pillow cover for a lumbar pillow I already own. The white quilt on the chair is one my grandmother made for me and helps break up all the red. The only other items I bought from the set were the sheet ($24) and bedskirt ($59).

Wall Decor: $135
I find this to be the most expensive part of decorating. Frames are expensive, art is expensive, and it's hard to fill four walls without breaking the bank. Unless you're me and you buy 1950s American Girl magazines at an antique store before you even have kids because you're so sure you will have a girl one day. :) $10 for those. $15 for the alphabet print in the center, which I got on Etsy. $30 for all three frames, which are from Ikea and tie in with the existing blinds. I paid $15 each for the two Ikea photo ledges, which I used to display the books Calvin has outgrown. And my favorite part: the embroidery hoops above the changing table. $25 for 10 hoops (on sale) and about $25 for 1/4 yard of 10 different fabrics. The hooks next to it were already there, and the yellow shelf is repurposed from Calvin's nursery (and before that, the kitchen in our first apartment).

Accessories: $39
I got the lamp at Goodwill for $3. The shade was $7 at Target. The bear, picture, and blocks on the shelf are all things we had. (I won't count the books on the yellow shelf because I really bought those for myself.) The big basket on the changing table was $14 at HomeGoods, and the other basket is something I had lying around the house. I made the mobile for $15, including the purchase of a butterfly paper cutter and ceiling hook.

So the grand total for this entire room is...$385.

Granted, it's an incredibly small room. But I still find it necessary to point out how far I've come since my days of working/shopping at Bloomingdale's, where $385 would have maybe gotten me a pair of pants.

Can't wait for December 27, the day Nate and I will finally meet the little girl who will call this room her own! (Yep, a c-section it is.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I don't think I ever posted this before, but last year Calvin had his first school photo taken.

Yes, that's right. They start school photos at age one now. Who knew? I didn't. Frankly, I was kind of appalled. And I certainly had no plans to purchase them, because that's just plain ridiculous. But that was before I saw this masterpiece:

Crazy hair? Check.
Bruises on side of face? Check.
Scar on his upper lip from falling head-first out of a play house? Check.
Beloved playmate in hand? Check.
One year old sitting on a pile of fake leather-bound volumes? Check.

$50 later, this sucker was mine.

This year, I wondered what kind of hilarity school photos had in store for us. Whenever I take out my camera, Calvin says "NO PICTURES" and runs away. Also, he's even more attached to his bear and its head doesn't look nearly as nice (or clean) as it did a year ago.

Imagine my surprise when I was presented with this truly adorable shot of my two-year-old at photo pick-up last night:

$50 later...

Yes, taking school pictures of children who are not yet school aged and then presenting them to their tired parents at the end of the work day along with a list of insanely inflated prices that are good for ONE DAY ONLY could be considered a bit of a racket.

But darn it's hard to put a price on cute.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eight hours.

Eight hours, I've decided, is all I need to be a better mom and wife each week. At first glance, it doesn't seem like much. But, really, it's an extra work day.

In eight hours, I can clean my house from top to bottom. Almost.

In eight hours, I can run errands, do laundry, and make dinner. And probably dessert, too.

In eight hours, I can build a fort. Play with play-doh. Cut sandwiches into silly shapes. Read a story or five.

In eight hours, I can snuggle. Rock. Sing. Nurse. Tickle. Kiss.

In eight hours, I can take a shower, shave, dry my hair, and (hopefully) find something other than pajama pants to wear before my husband comes home from work.

And come 2012, I will have those extra eight hours a week to devote to my family. Because this working mama is cutting back.

I need to. For me. For them.

Eight hours isn't much, but it's enough. An extra work day — devoted to the very best work of all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


If there's a kid out there who loves snow more than this one, I've yet to meet him.

Little does he know we've asked Santa to bring him a sled...

Friday, November 11, 2011


There's a fabulous episode of Friends, one of my favorites, where Rachel's sister Amy visits. At one point, they discuss their sister Jill's recent weight gain. Rachel asks "Hips and thighs?" and Amy shakes her head and smugly says "a** and face." Rachel responds with a horrified "ohhh!"

Poor Jill. Been there, girl. The first place I gain weight, without question, is my face. There are three McLaughlin family curses: Chubby cheeks, frizzy hair, and wide feet. I got all three. My siblings got none of the above. (Further supporting my claim that the oldest child has it the hardest.) I have always hated how quickly my face shows a fluctuation in my weight — why can't I be one of those girls who gains weight everywhere BUT her face? You can always crop your body out of a picture, but there sure isn't much you can do about your face.

Unfortunately, it looks like my daughter is well on her way to learning that lesson the hard way.

I mean, SERIOUSLY. Look at those cheeks! Although she looks strikingly similar to to her brother as a baby and he grew out of them with time. Here's hoping that happens for her as well, otherwise Nate and I might be shelling out the big bucks for cheek reduction surgery down the road. (Maybe they do mother/daughter discounts?)

Also, based on her measurements she weighs 5lbs. At 33 weeks. This is not a good sign of things to come, my friends. Not a good sign at all. I think we might be having another gigantor baby, and possibly earlier than anticipated given the fact that today's non stress test confirmed I'm already contracting (like real ones, not Braxton Hicks) on a regular basis. Oh, and I've now had two different doctors suggest a c-section. Which, I gotta tell you, I'm beginning to consider a reasonable suggestion given baby girl's estimated weight.

And now for the comparison:

Calvin at 34 weeks, Calvin at birth, Baby Girl at 33 weeks. I can't believe how similar they look in the cheeks/nose/mouth.

Can't wait to meet my sweet cheeked girl in just a few weeks!

In case you're wondering, yes — I'm handling all of this far better than I did last time. It helps knowing that ugly, obese ultrasound picture does not necessarily equal ugly, obese baby. And that my body is capable of delivering babies up to 9lbs 11oz in size. Though still praying she's smaller than her brother was...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rumble and ramble.

1. Yesterday I wore maternity pants and a tank top with an open, flowy non-maternity cardigan. As I stood in line for my decaf pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, I wondered whether anyone could even tell I was pregnant because of the flowiness of my sweater (these are the self-absorbed thoughts running through my mind at 8am). About an hour later I caught sight of my profile as I walked by a wall of windows at work and nearly passed out. Yes, I do believe they can tell. Pretty sure a five person tent couldn't conceal what I'm carrying around right now. Turns out my view from the top is somewhat different than everyone else's view. Which I've recently learned is also the case with my boobs. What I believe to be a modest neckline often turns into a pornographic one at work, because when I sit down my belly hoists my boobs up and right out the top of my shirt. This is, of course, something I never notice until I go to the bathroom. And then I have to make the difficult decision whether to cover my chest or my stomach. Because, let's face it. If a five person tent can't cover both, neither can a Liz Lange tank top.

2. It was supposed to snow today. I still don't own boots. I feel like this is something I should probably address in the near future before it actually does snow. What I want are cute, expensive boots. What I need are utilitarian, moderately-priced boots that will hold up to a Minnesota winter. Recommendations?

3. I love the show New Girl. A lot of people find Zooey Deschanel annoying. A lot of people find that show downright unfunny. But Nate and I find it charming and hilarious. I choose to believe this says something about everyone else and not us.

4. Nine days until Breaking Dawn. In case you don't have an internal clock set for that sort of thing. Or haven't been listening to "It Will Rain" on repeat.

5. Speaking of Twilight, the first movie was on FX recently, so I watched it while Nate futzed around on the computer. At one point he asked me what was going on, and so I started rambling "well, see, he's a vampire but his family doesn't eat people they just eat animals but he still wants to eat people so that other vampire who does eat people just bit Bella and now he has to suck out the venom but it's so hard because once he tastes her blood he has a hard time stopping but he loves her and he doesn't want to change her into a vampire but if he doesn't stop she'll die." And then I realized how enormously stupid that sounded and shut up. Some things are best enjoyed without discussion.

6. We looked at TVs for our bedroom last night. Nate wants a 37" plasma, and I think my 20" Toshiba from 1998 still works just fine. So I agreed to meet in the middle and suggested a 15" plasma retailing for $109. Surprisingly, he did not jump at this opportunity. My question is this: How much clarity and size do you really need to watch a 30-minute rerun of Friends before bed?

7. I decorated for fall last weekend. Two months late, with only two weeks to spare. Whew. Close one. Super glad I spent time on that, especially when no one else will see it and we haven't done anything to prepare for the impending arrival of our child next month. Never mind the fact that Nate is only off three (THREE!) weekends between now and Christmas. And will be out of town for one of them. Or that I'm under the constant threat of bed rest due to my blood pressure. So not worried. I'm sure I'll find more than enough time to get everything painted, decorated, purchased, cleaned, washed, folded, and organized between those three weekends, two major holidays, a toddler, and a full-time job.

And now you know why I have blood pressure issues.

8. Would it be cheating to listen to one Christmas song today? Just one? Or maybe two? I downloaded the She & Him Christmas album and I'm getting antsy.

9. This came in the mail the other day. When presented to Nate along with the two (exact same) shirts I got for Calvin, he said "This is what it's going to be like now, isn't it? She gets a cute pink hat and Calvin gets two plain white shirts?" Hey, at least I got him something. And we all know no child of mine will ever hurt for clothing.

10. Just realized I referenced Twilight and Zooey Deschanel twice each in this post. Yep, I'm a twelve year old fan girl. Gotta go find some Bubble Yum and get cracking on my diorama before Saved By The Bell comes on.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Family of three.

There's an age-old question mothers ask themselves (and everyone else) when preparing to welcome a second child:

How could I ever possibly love another baby as much as I love my first?

I'm smart enough to know there's nothing to worry about. Plenty of people have told me so and I've seen it with my own eyes. My love will not be divided, but multiplied. There will be plenty of love to go around. I will love them both equally, if differently.

But knowing and understanding are two different things. My head knows these words are truth, but my heart...oh, my heart. It doesn't quite believe this is possible. And it's a little scared of what's to come, of losing something in the transition from mother of one to mother of two.

Nate and I spent all day Saturday with Calvin. We planned an entire day together, just us three, doing things we thought he would love. Chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream for breakfast, a morning at Sea Life and Nickelodeon Universe, an evening of movies and popcorn and pizza camped out in a living room tent. A day filled with special treats, one after the other, so Calvin would know just how much we love him, how proud we are of the wonderful big brother he is certain to be, and how much we treasure our time with him.

I know Calvin won't remember this day. And he won't remember life without his sister. But Nate and I will. Our day together was as much about us as it was him, about capturing this brief moment in time when we existed as a family of three.

As with every aspect of motherhood, you can't really know anything until you've been through it. So I anxiously await the day when I will cradle my baby girl in one arm, hug my little boy with the other, and go from knowing to understanding just how much love my heart can hold.

If what I feel for my firstborn is any indication, there will be more than enough for everyone.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Yo ho ho and a bottle of...Pepsi.

Calvin discovered Kit Kats last night.

I was none too pleased, as I am a Halloween hoarder of Kit Kats and Twix and planned to keep any he collected for myself. He got four Kit Kats and he ate three. The fourth one miraculously disappeared after he went to bed.

Sorry, baby. It's for your (my) own good.

Last year, Halloween was fun. This year, it was FUN. Holidays just have a whole new level of meaning and enjoyment for me as a mom. There's really nothing cuter than watching your baby race down the sidewalk, pirate hook in one hand, Tootsie Roll pop in the other, shouting "that's so spooky, Mom and Dad!"

My little pirate. Easiest costume on earth — foam hat, hook, and bandana were $5 total at JoAnn Fabrics, eye patch was $1 at Party City, shirt was $5 at Target, sweatpants were $3 at Walmart, striped socks were $1 at Old Navy. I zig zagged the edge of the sweatpants, cut a strip of red fabric for the sash, and we were in business. Total cost: $15. And he looked adorable.

When do family photos start to turn out better? I mean, seriously. This was the best of the bunch. Also, do you like our still-blooming geraniums?

I really thought we were going to have issues getting him to wear the eye patch. Nope. He wore it around the house for three days prior to Halloween. Loved it. Wiped out a few times due to vision impairment, but didn't seem to mind.

Calvin made quite the haul in his two blocks. Including a can of Pepsi. Which was given to him after the woman said " what would be best for you? Oh, here you go!" Well, of course. Pepsi is always the logical choice for a two year old. Not only is it nutritious, it's also really lightweight and easy for a toddler to carry!

See? He only ate the Kit Kats. It's as if he knew...

Happy Halloween, mateys!
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