Let the Adoption Journey Begin!

AdoptionWriting these words is simultaneously exciting and scary. Exciting because this means we are starting the process to grow our family of three to four. Scary because the road that lies ahead will undoubtedly present its fair share of challenges and character-testing.

Why adopt? The short answer is that God put the tug in our hearts years ago and has presented circumstances along the way to reinforce that feeling. Knowing there is a child out there (possibly in utero as we speak) that is meant to be part of our family is indescribably awesome. Although I won’t be carrying this child in womb, it already has a place in my heart and prayer life.

Why now? The adoption process can be agonizingly slow. Case in point, my niece’s adoption from Uganda took three years. Starting the process around Lo’s first birthday seemed like a good milestone so that she and her future sibling can be close in age.

International or domestic? The gist of it is that there is need everywhere, including right here in America. A life is a life no matter where it comes from. The obstacles, risks, and stipulations vary by country but the truth of it is, it’s going to be complicated wherever route we go. Right now we feel a greater pull toward international adoption, but until we find the right agency to work with, we aren’t ruling any option out.

What about expenses? The average number I’ve found by talking to adoptive parents and researching on my own ranges from $30,000-$45,000 (regardless of whether you go international or domestic). Of course the result will be worth it, but let’s face it, that’s a tough pill to swallow no matter how you dice it. In addition to our savings plan, we will be doing creative fundraisers along the way. (If you have any fun ideas be sure to send them my way!)

What can you do to help? First and foremost, we’d love your prayers. Additionally, if you or anyone you know has gone through the adoption process we’d love insight on the experience, recommendations for an agency, and any other info you feel would be helpful.

Thanks for all of your support as we begin this journey. We look forward to the day when we can introduce you all to the newest member of the Stordahl family!

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Clever Baby Gifts You Won’t Find on the Registry

Mother-Daughter 12th Woman head wraps from Harts & Pearls !

Mother-Daughter 12th Woman head wraps from Harts & Pearls !

Registries are great for the essentials, but sometimes it’s fun to get something a little outside the box.

After months of road-testing, here are my favorite innovative, adorable, unique, and nifty gifts guaranteed to make baby AND mama happy!

 

MAM Glow-in-the-Dark Night Pacifiers

These little buggers are life-savers for binky-aholics. They glow in the dark so baby or mama can find them in the middle of the night. A new mom wouldn’t even know to think about this, but once she uses them, she’ll be thanking you from head to toe for the genius gift!Mam Glow in the Dark Pacifier

 

Bebe Bottle Sling

The bottle sling is the perfect gift for the busy mom on-the-go. This brilliant contraption allows infants to self-feed when parents needs to tend to other things (like countless loads of laundry). Jason and I found it especially handy to keep Lo content when we went out to eat.Bebe Bottle Sling

 

Harts & Pearls Accessories

If you follow me on Instagram or Pinterest, you’ve probably noticed my obsession with locally-owned Harts & Pearls. From scarves to head wraps, H&P has mama and baby covered with fashion forward accessories. The matching mother/daughter headbands make for ridiculously cute gift sets, or score brownie points with any mama by getting her a custom-made nursing scarf in one of H&P’s trendy prints. Below is just a small sampling of what you can find at H&P.

 

 

Amazon Prime/Amazon Mom Subscription

Attempting to get out of the house with a finicky newborn is exhausting. With Amazon Prime you can order anything you could possibly need and get it quickly (within two days) with zero shipping costs. The subscription comes with additional perks like 20% off baby necessities via the Amazon Mom program (click here for a free 30-day trial) and includes video streaming for on-demand movies. You can order Prime as a gift with a one-time charge of $99 for the year.Amazon Prime Gift Subscription

 

The Emojis of Motherhood

Going to the grocery store by yourself.

raise the roof emoji

When baby sleeps through the night.

emoji unicorn

Mom jeans.

mom jeans emoji

Bane of existence.

laundry_basket_emoji

Teething.

teething emoji

A bad idea.

Girl Jumping on Trampoline

How to get through the day.

starbucks emoji

OR…

it__s_five_o__clock_somewhere

Finding poop on baby’s forehead.

Poo emojiWhat lingerie now looks like.

sweatpant emojiHow you’d like to spend a day off.

sleep emoji

 

What you do instead.

multitasking_mom1

The thing that makes it all worth it.

angel baby emoji

 

 

The Inadvertent Cry It Out Method

Lo with her beautiful Grammy!

Lo with her beautiful Grammy!

If you asked me how I was doing over the last several months, there’s a good chance my answer was something along the lines of “The lack of sleep is killing me!”

Lo was never a good sleeper (not even in the womb, hence the midnight kick-fests), and there were times when I wondered if I’d ever get more than two hours of sleep at a time.

When other moms would tell me how their little one was already sleeping through the night I wanted to punch them in the face- not really, but I did want to curl up in a ball and have a good cry.

Around the four-month marker (when babies can allegedly begin to self soothe), I tried the cry it out (CIO) method. I followed all the rules in the book, but Lo outlasted me every time. Partially because we live in a 1,100 square foot condo, and there was nowhere to escape the sound of crying. And partially because 60 minutes of straight crying was simply unbearable.

We attempted CIO a few more times but could never surpass the three day sweet spot that all books talk about (apparently after three-to-five days your baby gets the memo and magically sleeps through the night).

It wasn’t until a hot spell hit that we were finally able to succeed at CIO. The key to success? A fan in our room that blocked out the sound of Lo’s pouts next door. It wasn’t even on purpose. One night I decided to turn off the volume on the baby monitor assuming I would hear Lo through our bedroom wall like I always did, but instead the fan blurred out the sound just enough to allow me to sleep through the night.

I woke up in a near panic and had to rush in to make sure Lo was still alive. Indeed she was, waking up as happy as ever (maybe even happier).  That sweet little smile gave me all the assurance I needed to know that letting her cry wasn’t doing any harm.

That’s not to say that CIO will work for everyone. I’ve heard horror stories of infants who would get so worked up that they vomit or bang their head on the crib railing. And there are plenty of mothers who simply aren’t comfortable with the concept. I can totally respect that.

It’s really a matter of letting your motherly instincts guide you to the best decision for your family. In my case, the lack of sleep was sucking the life out of me to the point where I felt like it was shortchanging my husband and my baby so I did what it took to change the path I was on.

If this blog can encourage, validate, or empathize with even just one mama out there going through something similar, it has served its purpose. Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

What’s Up at Five Months?

Baby Lo and MamaA lot has happened since I blogged about The Three-Month Turning Point. Lo’s first two teeth came in, her sleep got better… and then worse, and she found her voice (lots of happy screams and adorable babble).

The biggest change has been bringing formula into the picture. After calculating the number of hours I was spending on pumping breast milk, cleaning the supplies, heating bottles and physically feeding Lo, I realized it was a third of my day. I was starting to feel like a slave to the pump. (Check out this blog if you’re curious as to why I pumped instead of feeding on the breast).

Slowly but surely, I started subbing in formula, realizing that it would alleviate some of the exhaustion I was feeling and allow more flexibility when we were out and about (no racing back home to keep on a pumping schedule). I also secretly hoped it would help Lo sleep better because I had heard such tales (it didn’t). And let’s be honest, I was also excited to no longer have gale force suction tugging on my boobs several times a day.

Not all babies transition well to formula, but my little piggy chowed down like a champ on the first try. If it had been a struggle I probably wouldn’t have been so keen on feeding Lo formula, but she was as happy and healthy as ever.

There is a certain stigma from those who believe you should breastfeed exclusively, but I never really fell prey to that pressure. If you can breastfeed and enjoy it, then by all means keep it up, but if using formula makes you a happier mama for your baby, than that’s as valuable as any benefit that breast milk may have.

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Daddyhood in the Workplace

This morning I watched a segment on the work-life balance that fathers face in today’s job market. Being married to someone in the construction management industry, I know the challenges firsthand. My husband has to juggle fatherhood along with long hours, stressful deadlines, and a constant feeling of needing to do more. There are days when he leaves the house at 5:30am and doesn’t get home until 10pm.

I feel awful when Jason doesn’t get to see Lo before she goes to bed. As hard as it is for him to miss out on the little things now, I imagine it will only get more difficult as she grows up, and he has to miss sports games, recitals, and funny everyday moments.

It’s also tough on me as a mom to get no relief throughout the day. I too struggle with finding the balance between working from home, getting things done around the house, and making sure my little one is being stimulated enough throughout the day. And let’s be honest… sometimes I just want a break.

Unfortunately, the value of parenting has been slighted by workaholic standards in today’s economy. While this isn’t true for everyone, it is true for too many of us.

Luckily, I have a husband who acknowledges this and is trying his best to rectify the situation in whatever ways he can. Every Saturday he gets one-on-one time with Lo while I work on my freelance projects, and every so often he’ll take a vacation day just so we can have more time together as a family.

It’s not that I think that parents should receive special treatment in the workplace. I just wish in general that corporations respected the work-life balance of their employees. If someone chooses to be married to their job because that’s what makes them happy that’s one thing, but it shouldn’t be the expectation for the rest of us.

End rant. Now watch the clip above and let me know what you think.

Parenting Fail or Genius?

laundry basket baby

While celebrating a dear friend’s birthday this past weekend we committed what some may consider a parenting fail… or a genius MacGyver maneuver. We turned a laundry basket into a crib for Lo and tucked her away in an empty room to sleep while we socialized.

White trash? Yeah a little. But also kind of brilliant, right?

In an effort to make my parenting skills seem not so bad, here are some truly epic parenting fails.

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The Three Month Turning Point

IMG_1564Lo turned three months this week, and what a difference it’s made. She is now consistently getting four-hour stretches of sleep at night, no longer pooping through every diaper change, and really starting to show off the Stordahl charm with her adorable, toothless smile. She even manages to entertain herself for periods of a time in front of the mirror (I have no idea where she got that from). 🙂

I’m starting to get the hang of things too. I no longer dread trips to the grocery store in fear of Lo crying out of control, and getting out of the house doesn’t seem as daunting a task as it used to. I’m also back to work with steady freelance gigs, and just started interviewing nannies so I can take on more hours.

But perhaps the biggest turning point is that I’m finally really enjoying motherhood. I know I’m not supposed to say this, but the first few months weren’t all butterflies and roses. I had a borderline-colicky baby who wanted to be held 24/7, a husband away at work from 6am to 8pm, and on top of everything else, I was averaging about two hours of sleep a night.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love my sweet Lo Lo- I absolutely did- and there are tons of precious memories that I’ll  cherish forever about those first couple months. But now that we’ve both gotten into the groove of things, I’m able to really appreciate the fact that I’m able to stay home with my little one.

To any new moms out there struggling to get through the first challenging months, keep your head up. It does get better. And don’t feel guilty if you’re not as infatuated with being a mom as your friends are or as you think you should be; it doesn’t mean you love your child any less.

In fact, you may need to book a little time away from your baby. The first time my mom watched Lo overnight it was amazing. Not only did I feel re-energized and reconnected with my hubby, but I woke up the next morning super excited to see my little one. Sometimes a little time away is just what the doctor ordered.

 

 

Use This, Not That: Baby Edition

Use This Not That BABY EDITIONI’m a laidback mom, but when it comes to what I put on my baby’s skin, I don’t mess around.  Despite labels that read “gentle”, “tear-free”, or “for sensitive skin”, many baby care products contain irritating ingredients such as fragrance, added colorants, and volatile essential oils.

With a background in skincare research, I know the ins and outs of what’s good or bad for skin. Use my cheat sheet for popular offenders to avoid and what to use on your little one’s fragile skin instead.

USE: Babyganics Shampoo + Body Wash, Fragrance Free

NOT: Johnson’s Baby Head-to-Toe Wash

Use This Not That BABY SHAMPOO

 

USE: Eucerin Daily Replenishing Moisturizing Lotion

NOT: Johnson’s Baby Lotion

Use This Not That BABY LOTION

 

 

USE: Triple Paste Medicated Ointment for Diaper Rash

NOT: Desitin Diaper Cream

Use This Not That Diaper Rash Cream

 

USE: Burt’s Bees Baby Bee SPF 30 Sunscreen Stick

NOT: Hawaiian Tropic Baby Sunblock Stick SPF 50

Use This Not That BABY SUNBLOCK

 

 

USE: All Free Clear Laundry Detergent

NOT: Mrs. Meyers Baby Blossom Laundry Detergent

Use This Not That FRAGRANCE FREE LAUNDRY DETERGENT

 

5 Things New Parents Wish You Knew

Things New Parents Wish You KnewYou can be the smartest, sweetest, most thoughtful person in the world, but there are just certain things you don’t realize until you have a little nugget of your own.

Here’s how to navigate your way around new parents for the first couple months.

Don’t ask dad about the birthing/baby details.
New fathers, bless their hearts, tend to be oblivious to the reality of just how tough mom really has it. One wrong answer (“She was only in labor for a few hours!” or “The baby sleeps all night.”) can send dad straight to the doghouse. Spare him the suffering and direct those kinds of questions to mama instead.

Keep your visits short and sweet.
No one is more excited to celebrate the arrival of their little one than mommy and daddy, but nightly visitors can take a toll on already exhausted parents. While bringing dinner is greatly appreciated, keep it to the early evening. Visiting for more than a couple hours is pushing it for a mom who is just beginning to figure out how to balance breast feeding with company around.

Lend a helping hand.
You don’t realize how inconvenient doors are until you’re trying to push a gigantic stroller through them. Next time you see someone with a baby in tow, grab the door for them. This simple act helps more than you can imagine.

Please wash your hands if you’re gonna touch my baby.
No one wants to be that overprotective, hypochondriac, germaphobe parent, but when it comes to newborns, it’s doctor’s orders… and for good reason. An infant getting sick has way more repercussions than if you or I do.

Sugarcoat your babysitting experience.
New moms have a hard enough time leaving the house, let alone feeling guilty about making anyone but themselves watch their crying baby. When we leave them in your care, sugarcoat it for us. Chances are we already cut our time away from the baby short because we were worried.  Make it easier for us to do it the next time!