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Apps I Love

2017-09-19-tech-i-love-apps

A while ago I posted about my favorite apps, but like all things tech that list has quickly become outdated. Here is an updated list of apps that have made my everyday life a little easier.

1. SleepMatic – Mr. Ice Cream gave me the Fitbit Charge HR as a “push present” when Max was born because he thought it would be a fun way to track our sleep with a new baby (you can see my sleep data here). Don’t worry new parents, the data shows that your sleep does get better! When Mr. Ice Cream’s parents recently gave me the AppleWatch, his dad immediately pointed me to the SleepMatic App that gives you detailed sleep analytics. The app shows you how your sleep is affected by heart rate, differentiates between light and deep sleep and records how many times you wake up each night.

2. Dark Sky – This isn’t a new weather app, but it’s the one Mr. Ice Cream and I have loved for a long time. The app tells you the weather at your exact location, down to the minute of when it’s suppose to start and stop raining, so you can plan your outdoor time accordingly.

3. DayOne – This app is a personal journal. For someone whose natural disposition is to be anxious, this app is a good way to take a breath and jot down what’s on my mind. It’s also a great way to easily write down funny things Max says or quick moments I want to remember. For instance, the other day Max got a bit of marker on his sock and he came to me and said “I’m a mess. Change me”. I know one day I’ll love looking back at these memories.

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Setting Up a Bedroom for Kids in Foster Care

Of all the new rooms I have decorated since moving into our new house, the one that I spent the most time thinking about is the one we have set aside for any children who will hopefully (eventually) come to our family through foster care. Throughout the entire house building process, this room was in my thoughts.

With each of my pregnancies, planning the nursery was one of the things that kept my mind on things ahead instead of the misery and stress that pregnancy entailed for me. It was such a perfect distraction from the waiting, as I imagined the tiny person who the room would be for. This time though, planning a room was much different. Partially because designing a space for one brand new infant is quite different than designing a room for anywhere between 1-3 children, ages 0-8.

But also, it has been different because of something a little more heavy. And before I get to the actual decorating of the room, I feel it is important to share this part of what has been on my heart.

Though I thought about it all along, the weight of what this room represents didn’t really hit me until after I put the last pillows on the beds. The children that may someday lay their heads on those pillows might be hurting right now. These children are not safe and warm inside my womb, as the children I planned rooms for in the past were. They are sleeping somewhere else right now, under circumstances I may never fully be privy to. They may feel lonely, or scared, or hungry. They may be experiencing trauma no child should ever face. 

bedroom

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Momming-While-Drowsy: Idiopathic Hypersomnia

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For the last 9 years of my life, I’ve been struggling with complete and total exhaustion. “You’re a young mom with two small kids, of course you’re tired,” I’ve heard. But this bone-aching, absolutely draining, all-consuming sleepiness has gotten in the way of my life for too long to just be ‘normal’ sleep deprivation. I’ve been diagnosed and misdiagnosed time and time again – by family doctors, rheumatologists, GI specialists, reproductive endocrinologists, psychiatrists, and even a neurologist or two. Depression, adrenal fatigue, PCOS, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, and being “obese” are all labels I’ve been stuck with over the past decade. Sleep studies x3, psychiatric evaluations, naturopathic consults, endoscopies, ultrasounds and every single blood test you can think of. And, due to a pure lack of communication between my various health care providers (and one particularly negligent physician), my diagnosis was missed. For 6 years, I’ve been self-medicating with stupid amounts of caffeine and sugar, and now we’ve found a diagnosis. I have a label, which is somehow extremely comforting.

But let’s back up a little. Over a year ago, I wrote this post about excessive daytime sleepiness. After falling asleep mid-meeting (one on one with the Director of Quality Assurance), I knew that I had to keep pushing for an answer. My family doctor wasn’t sure what to do with me; he didn’t want to repeat sleep studies and tests for no reason, but didn’t have an answer. I got on the phone with my previous PCP – the one I’d left after he made a series of awful recommendations and misdiagnoses. I jumped through hoops, answered questions, and finally insisted that the medical receptionist at his office send me the results of every specialist consult I’d had over the past 10 years.

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Favorite Products to Pump at Work

Now that I’m past the half way mark in this pregnancy, I’ve started dusting off our baby stuff and organizing what we need. After going through our storage bins, I divided everything into what worked and what didn’t work. In hindsight, this step probably should have been done before going into the attic, but that’s not what I did. What was striking was how many pumping related items ended up in the “didn’t work” pile. Here are the items that ended up being the most useful for pumping at work.

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For Daycare

1) Inchbug custom labels – The orbit bottle labels and the clothing tag labels are an adorable and easy way to label all Max’s things. I bought a bunch of these when Max was little with his full name on it. I wish I bought labels with just our last name so we could reuse them for baby number 2. The clothing labels also come off easily if you decide to sell or donate the clothes later on.

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Musings on My Kid’s Education: 2 Years Later

Just about 2 years ago, I wrote a post about the thinking Mr. Carrot and I were starting to do about our daughter’s education. At the time, Baby C was just past 2 years old, and we were eagerly waiting for the dawn of 2017, after the presidential election and my husband’s post-election transition in the government (his boss retired at the end of 2016), to figure out next steps. Our biggest items of consideration were our housing situation (upgrading our condo to something with more space), the area where we live (currently zoned for a fairly weak school district), and finding the magical sweet spot of decent school district, a property we can afford on a government and non-profit salary, and a decent commute to and from our jobs.

We started out 2017 with a plan to list our condo and house hunt in earnest sometime in April. As lore tends to have it, our timeline started getting pushed by delays – first a health issue that led to surgery for me, then a delay in a small renovation we had planned at the advice of our realtor. At the beginning of April, we had started planning for May/June, but a number of environmental factors, including some uncertainty around my employment, which relies heavily on government purchasing, gave us some pause. After some deliberating, we decided to hold for another year and use the rest of 2017 to finish the touch-ups we wanted to make on our condo, set aside a little more money, and let my employment status (which likely isn’t in danger, but the political environment is making everyone a little antsy) stabilize.

The ramifications of this move, however, are notable, and it’s both frustrating and informative, as we gear up to restart our housing search. Just today, we had to call our county to register our daughter for afterschool care, even though she doesn’t start kindergarten for another year. In our county, the demand for pre and aftercare is so high, the registration happens a full 14 months in advance of the kids actually starting school. And we will pay nearly $600/month, assuming we get a spot. Because we didn’t move to the school district she’ll ultimately be going to school in, we had to apply for a spot in our current district, and will likely be on a lengthy wait list once we do land in our new spot. This process, and talking with parents that we have the occasion to interact with, have given us a lot to think about.

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No One Told Me: Night Wakings and Preschoolers

Seriously. This wasn’t in any of the parenting handbooks I read. I mean, I get why my baby books wouldn’t tell me. But, hey, Janet Lansbury, you could at least MENTION that one of those behaviors that you’d really like to ‘not let your three-year-old do’ is MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WAKINGS. I thought the worst was over. I was beginning to think I could do this whole not-get-sleep-at-night thing again because, hey, squishy baby to enjoy!

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Preschoolers who wake up at 3 am are not squishy and cuddly. They are demanding and relentless and cannot be reasoned with, cajoled, or forced to sleep. I can’t pick Will up and try one of the four S’s – shushing, swinging…and I’ve forgotten the other two.

The first night Will woke up at 2 am and didn’t go back to sleep until 6 am. I chalked it up to a fluke, an anomaly, a crazy happening. (Well, after I hyperventilated, and the swooping anxiety from my postpartum days flashed scenes of endless sleepless nights before my eyes.) It would be fine! Just a hiccup. We’d had nearly two years of blissful sleep, enjoyable bedtimes, with the normal changes that come with travel and holidays.

And yet. This has persisted.

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Being Flexible Is Hard

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but this summer has been somewhat of a struggle. We are now nearing the point of no return when it comes to getting our house sold and buying another before baby number two arrives—we have until the end of August, at which point we will most likely pull our house until next spring if we don’t get any offers. (Baby is due September 27th.) We had some unexpected repairs come up earlier this month and had to scramble to get those fixed before our house could go live again. I’m basically living my days with a mental countdown (71 days until baby number two’s due date; 45 more days to sell our house; 34 days until pre-K starts for Little Cotton Candy).

And no, unfortunately we haven’t been able to enroll Little CC in pre-K yet because we don’t know what part of town we will be living in. But with just barely over a month to go until the 2017-2018 school year starts, I’m feeling the pressure of getting him enrolled somewhere—anywhere! This week I decided that I would go ahead and try to enroll him in a school in the part of town where we currently live. The good news: I’ve heard great things about this school, he will have friends there that he knows from his current preschool, it’s an entirely dual language English/Spanish school, it’s fairly close to our (current) home, the school accepts in-district transfers. The bad news:  no one is there right now to answer my phone calls. I was able to send an email asking about my options to the school district today, so fingers crossed they get back to me with an answer soon!

Not knowing whether we are going to stay or go is, frankly, driving me crazy. Every inch of my being wants to be nesting and getting our house in order for baby number two. Instead, I am endlessly cleaning and tidying for showings and stressing about what is going to happen in the next few weeks. So I have started to do the only thing I can think to do: I am telling myself that we are staying and planning accordingly. Hence enrolling Little Cotton Candy in pre-K. This move is designed to protect myself. This way, if we don’t sell by the end of August, I won’t be as disappointed. I can start living in my house like it’s our home again—at least for the time being.

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