; World of Dennifer: January 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Learning to take better photos (cute baby pics inside)

I think I briefly mentioned this before, but my wonderful hubby got me an awesome digital SLR camera for Christmas. Check out this baby:
 (cue hallelujah music)

I LOVE it! But I realized - it's been SO long since I used a complex camera like this (we used to use similar, non-digital versions of these for yearbook & newspaper in high school...yep, I was in both - big dork, huh?!) that I have no clue about the in's & out's of this thing. And I'd hate to have my husband spend sooooo much money on this & let it go to waste by shooting in auto mode all the time. Although don't get me wrong, this thing takes AWESOME pics even in the auto modes. See exhibits A-C:


I guess you can see who my favorite subject is? Hehehe. She's so cute. Okay, okay..back on track. :)

So what I'm getting at is, one of my goals for this year is to learn how to really take great photos with my new lover camera. So I asked some of my online mama friends what they did to learn how to really get the best use out of their SLR cameras & a several of them said they signed up for classes, which I'd love to do at some point, but is not an option right now because of time/schedule constraints. A couple of them sent me links to online courses & photographers blogs that have tips for moms, which is more up my alley right now. After looking over everything, I decided to go with this 12 weeks to better photography course offered by two peas in a bucket. And the best part about this course - it's free! My favorite price. :) And I'm starting now. The plan is to post an update every weekend with my progress each week & recap what I learned/post some photos that I'll take using my newly acquired photo skills!

So follow along & maybe even take the course with me if you want to learn how to take better photos too. I'm excited...learning new stuff is always fun for me. I like a challenge. 'Till next time!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shhhhh...it's a surpise!

The {hubbs} big 3-0 birthday party that is! I must, once again, apologize for my lack of posting - I have been swamped at work (still playing catch up from my time on maternity leave) & I have also been super busy planning this big 'ol party for my hubby. **fingers crossed** He'll actually be surprised. Before I get into all the deets, let me tell you about my husband & surprises. They don't mix. He's the kind of person that guesses what is gonna happen in movies/shows & blurts it out (so ANNOYING!), he's also the kind of person that looks at the shapes & anatomy (literally) of wrapped gifts & tries to figure out what they are {&& he's normally right, urrg}, & finally he's the kind of person that notices ev.ery.thing - seriously & I have lots of examples.

Like the time I tried throwing him a surprise birthday party at my house when we were in college. I got all his friends to come out...all of them & he noticed one of their cars & figured out what was up. Or how about every Christmas, he'll look at how a present is wrapped & say "That's something electronic," or "That's a DVD/game" & this happens pretty much every Christmas. And one more example - what about our first wedding anniversary. I was sooooooooooo excited to give him his gift during our trip to NY. I bought him some awesome tickets the the VA Tech vs. Boise State football game/season opener (this man lurves FB). Well I got the tix on Stub Hub & I bought them waay in advance, so I wasn't going to receive them by the time our anniversary rolled around. So my plan was to make tickets to give to him {like in photoshop or something along those lines} & a VA Tech tee shirt, then explain that we were going to the game (if he didn't get that already, lol). Welp, he walked in the house while I was making the tickets & he glanced at my computer screen, then proceeded to ask 21 questions about what I was doing. I told him nothing, he should have left it at that, but he didn't - he's all, "I saw VA Tech & Boise State football helmets, what are you doing?" So you know what I did? What any self respecting {7 week pregnant mind you} woman would do...I balled my eyes out, then flipped out on him about how he always ruins my surprises. Oh yeah, then I demanded he give me my anniversary gift RIGHT now. Ha! Yeah, not one of my best moments, but hey I was pregnant, so that was my excuse {& don't worry - I apologized}. Anyways, all this is to say, he's pretty difficult to surprise. So, IDK why I'm doing this to myself again, but I figure this is a BIG birthday, so why not try once more?!

So here is the plan:

Since he just got a new car, he said we don't have to do much for his birthday, but I told him that I'd still like to at least take him out to dinner & get him at least a small gift. I suggested going to the National Harbor, which is a new'ish shopping/dining/hotel/harbor district in the DC Area & I told him he could select any restaurant he wanted. It's niiiice. So, he picked Rosa Mexicana, which has YUMMY sangrias & great Mexican food.

After dinner, I am gonna suggest that we go grab a couple drinks at Bobby McKey's Piano Bar. He'll think it's just for a couple drinks & to hang out before going to pick up the baby (my sister is watching her for us), but when we get there, all of our closest friends will be there to surprise him!!! His best friend/cousin/best man at our wedding is even coming up from southern VA (4'ish hours away) to celebrate with us & I just know Dennis is gonna be super duper excited to see everyone! But, that's not it...my sister has also agreed to keep the baby overnight, so I'm planning on this being our first ever baby-free night & booking a hotel at the National Harbor too! I am SO excited to have a night alone with my hubby - it'll be awesome. I'm sure I'll miss my Baby AJ, but I know her auntie will take good care of her. :) Ahhhhhhhhhhh. So excited. I feel like it's my birthday! 

Now, let's just hope no one ruins this surprise! Oh & PS - I haven't been doing much DIY'ing or D&R'ing because of this awful weather - I hate winter, but spring is right around the corner & I'll be doing much more then. In the mean time, I'll share deets on the babe & our home plans for this year. 'Till next time!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

First week back...

It went better than expected. I didn't cry. Not once the whole week! I am proud of myself, lol. I felt like I would cry on Monday, but I didn't. I got up a little before 5am - Amaya was still asleep, so I quickly got dressed, brushed my teeth, etc. & waited for my sister to arrive at our house. She got here a little before 6am & then Amaya started waking up. I told my sister to try patting her back & sometimes she'd fall back asleep. Then I headed out to catch my train to work. She texted me a bit later to tell me that she woke up shortly after I left. That early wake up was followed by a string of very short naps for the day, so by the time I got home, my little beh-be was sooo sleepy. She was definitely fussy, but fell asleep within about 45 min. (it normally takes FOREVER to get her to sleep when she's overtired) & slept for...wait for it...NINE hours straight. Yes, you read that right NINE!!! She woke up at 3:30am, had a bottle & went back down until I think 8am the next morning! Wowza. That was the longest stretch of sleep she has ever had.

The hubbs & I alternated watching her while we teleworked on Tuesday & Wednesday, which will not be a regular occurrence - just happened this week since I ended up going back to work a week early (long story) & my sister was not available the full week. She had pretty long morning naps both days, followed by short to semi-short naps (no longer than an hour) throughout the rest of each day & both days she was EXTREMELY fussy by 4:30pm/5pm. I'm talking full on straightening her legs, crying for 3 hours on & off until she finally went down-type fussy. Poor baby. :(

But today..ahh today...was such a wonderful marvelous great day! It was my sister's second day with her (she has a 3 year old as well). First, she slept until 7am, which is waaay better than the 6am wake up on Monday. An hour doesn't seem like much of a difference, but it is. My sister said she woke up happy, she fed her & got her dressed, then sent me these adorable pics of Baby AJ in her outfit for the day (she promises to send me daily pics of my cutie - awesome :):

 {apologize for the quality - they are cell phone pics}

Then, she took about an hour long nap in the morning, my sister took my nephew to his Gymboree class & wore Baby AJ in this carrier. She said that Amaya LOVED it at Gymboree & had a blast looking around at everything & all the kids! Then, she took another short nap on the way home from Gymboree, got home & had a bottle, then went down at 3pm & slept until 7pm!! I know, I know...her naps shouldn't be more than 3 hours, but believe me...my child needs at least 1 pretty long nap. I wasn't gonna let it go past 7pm anyways, but she woke up on her own. So, since she was not overtired after that nap (but she was hungry), I got to spend some non-fussy quality time with my baby after she had a pretty big bottle {& after her daddy stole some quality time with his angel}, then we gave her a bath & went back downstairs in the living room to hang out until she started acting sleepy again, which was shortly after we sat down! So I took her up to her room, rocked her in her rocking chair & fed her another small bottle {trying the before bedtime cluster feed thing out to see if it helps her sleep longer}, sang her a lullaby & she was out after about 10 more minutes of rocking. I try to put her down in her crib before she falls asleep, but she was out so quickly tonight, that it didn't quite happen, but she was still sucking her paci when I put her down, so she wasn't completely asleep. They say it teaches them to self-soothe to get to sleep the rest of the way. And now, my baby girl is fast asleep {and hopefully staying that way for at least the next 6+ hours until her middle of the night feed} & it was without the usual 2-3 hour screamfest. Holler. My sister works miracles & it's great because I know she loves Amaya & takes excellent care of her. All of that = amazing peace of mind for mama! And I'm back at work, doing a job that I like & some me time away from the house & baby...just enough to preserve my sanity. It is definitely going to be exhausting, but I'll get used to it. I think we are gonna be alright if we keep having more days like today! 'Till next time!

PS - post baby weight loss, info on the hubbs 30th birthday & more on our planned 2011 home projects coming soon!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Annnd now...

I'm starting to feel sick to my stomach with anxiety over leaving her while I go in to the office. Luckily, I'm only in the office 3 days a week - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. I telework or I am off the other days (every other Friday I'm off because I work 9 hour days), but this week, I think I'll have to work Monday-Wednesday in the office due to a mandatory meeting that I have to be present for on Wednesday. And when I'm in the office, I'm gone for nearly the whole day - about 12 hours - because my job is sorta far away from my house. Eeek. Three straight days without my little munchkin. Will she miss me? Probably not. It'll probably be more me missing her. As long as her basic needs are met, which I'm sure will be with my sister, then she will be fine. I hear the first week is the toughest & at least I'm off this Friday. It's just that I'm scared & nervous & anxious & feeling guilty & everythingelsebadyoucanthinkof. I know there are thousands of working moms out there, but right now I feel like I'm the only one. Why do I feel like this when earlier in the week {as recent as yesterday}, I was excited to be back around adults for at least some of the week? I guess it's because the eve is upon me. I'll check in & let you guys know how it goes tomorrow. Please pray, send good wishes, etc. that I get through this week without becoming a total basket case. I'll probably call my sister about 15,678 times. ::winks:: 'Till next time.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Is it horrible...

That on Monday I go back to work & I'm actually really excited to not be around the baby 24/7? I mean, don't get me wrong, I love her to death & love spending time with her, but motherhood has been much rougher on me than I ever expected. I wrote once right before she was born that I was not scared of giving birth, but I was a little scared of raising a child, being completely responsible for another human being's well being, happiness, learning, everything. I wrote that although I have experience with babies & children, that I thought it would be much different with my own child - kinda like I think I know, but I have no idea. Well, I was absolutely right. And it's been rough on me. I guess I need to really come to terms with the fact that my life has forever been changed. I can't pick up & do what I want, when I want to. If I need to run an errand, go to the doctor, have lunch or a drink with a friend, etc. I have to pre-arrange it with my husband, or if he's not home, then I have to just pray that the time my appointments are fit into her sleeping/eating schedule. I feel like I knew all of this before I had a baby, but the reality doesn't hit you until the baby is here & you face these things.

And my hubby & I rarely have a spare moment alone to just re-group & re-connect with each other. I love seeing him with our daughter, but I miss how much alone time we used to have with each other. I feel like our relationship has lost some of it's intimacy & it makes me sad. I think I took so much for granted & I am just now starting to realize how carefree our lives were. I know we will get back on track once she's a little older, but I just hate that I have to wait for that. Again, don't take this to say that I am upset we had a baby - we both love her so much, but I am just expressing how having her has been such a huge, life-changing experience for me. I always feel like I am second-guessing the decisions I make as a mom - from creating a schedule for her, to sleep training, etc. I have come to realize though, that I need to stop dwelling on what worked for my friends & family members' kids & focus on what will work for my child & our lifestyle. And stick to it. And don't cave in when the going gets tough...because it does & will.

She got her first cold this past Monday & I think that added to my stress level. When infants are sick, they are so pitiful & fussy. And she could hardly breath because of all the mucous in her nose & throat/cough, so it made it tough for her to sleep. Thankfully, she's getting better...wooo! And I am SO happy because I hate seeing her uncomfortable. Fortunately, my older sister will be nanny'ing {I realize that is not a word, lol} for us, so my anxiety about leaving Baby AJ while I go to work is much less than it would be if I were leaving her at a center or home-based daycare. Thank God that my sister is able to do this for us - she is such a blessing & Amaya is so lucky because her auntie LOVES her! She has a toddler, so I am a little nervous about whether she'll be able to keep Amaya on the EASY {Eat, Activity, Sleep, You Time} schedule that I have tried to get her on. More on that lata.

Anyways, sorry for such a long, serious post, but I just thought I'd be real for a second. I feel like no one really talks much about the hard part of parenting. Yes, there is a lot of joy & happiness, but it's also a HUGE period of adjustment to your new life & reality. I know & have faith that it'll get easier, or at least I'll become more accustomed to it, & I will adjust to my new "normal". Now that I will be back at work, I'll be able to blog more often & bring you guys more updates about our 2011 home projects & of course, little Amaya!  'Till next time...