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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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!

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.

#DaddyIssues

SeahawksSuperbowlThis week my husband collaborates on a guest post. The outcome? Daddy humor at its finest.

When you’re banned from holding your child during Seahawks games due to uncontrollable flailing of excitement. #BeastMode

When your wife politely points out you just put the baby’s outfit on backwards. #KrissKrossFashionSkills

When the baby is so hungry she tries to nurse on daddy. #ManBoobs

When you go to kiss your little one and your breath is so bad she cries. #Halitosis #Had2askMyWifeWhatThatMeant #Embarrassed

When you realize your baby gets more titty than you. #MoMilkMoProblems

#MommyProblems

Mommy ProblemsWhen just the thought of a crying baby makes your milk leak through your shirt. #ItLooksLikeSpiltMilk

When you start getting ready two hours before you need to be somewhere… and you’re still not on time. #UnfashionablyLate

When it’s 4:00pm and you haven’t brushed your teeth or changed out of your pajamas. #HotMess

When all you want for your birthday is an extra couple hours of sleep. #NoTime2Sleep

When your idea of a romantic gesture is getting you two hours to yourself. #JasonAreYouListening?

When your hands are like alligator skin from sanitizing them every two hours post poopy diapers. #ShitHappens

When your baby spits up on the new blouse you just put on. #GoodbyeDryCleanOnly

When every conversation migrates to diapers, breastfeeding, or sleeping habits. #SorryFriendsWithoutBabies

When you debate getting a shorter haircut because you don’t have time to do it. #KateGosselin

When you  buy clothes based on the ease of access to your mammaries. #MomJeans

When you snap at your husband for asking you to get him a glass of water after you’ve been home with the baby all day. #ThatOneWasReallySpecific

When you eat your lunch at 10:30am because your baby is asleep and you’re afraid it’s the only time you’ll have your hands free all day. #MommyProblems

New Year’s Resolution: 3 Things I Vow NOT to do as a New Mom

New Years 2013We’ve all encountered a mom on the brink of insanity from devoting every spare minute on her kids. While a noble cause, it’s plain to see that this takes a toll on her happiness, confidence and relationships. The lesson learned is that if you truly want to make your family happy and instill confidence in your kids, you’ve got to do a little something for yourself every now and then.

That’s why I’ve decided to put these vows into writing- not because I think I’m going to be any better at accomplishing them than any other mom, but in hopes that if I say them publicly I’ll be more likely to stick to ’em. Wish me luck!

I vow not to be afraid to ask for babysitting help.

I HATE the feeling of imposing on people which tends to hold me back from asking for help, but when it comes to being a mom, this is something I’m going to have to get over. Whether that means hiring a babysitter or asking friends/family to watch the babe for a bit, for my own sanity, marriage, and the child’s well-being, I just have to do it.

I vow not to neglect myself.

Given that we’ll be living on one income for a while, I know I’ll feel like I shouldn’t spend money on myself. After all, when there are diapers to be bought, a new pair of shoes or a pedicure won’t seem so essential. Still, it’s important to treat yourself to life’s little luxuries every now and then… even if that means they come from TJ Maxx instead of Nordstrom.

I vow not to neglect my husband.

When a baby enters the picture, there’s a new dynamic at play that can take the heat of your romance and move dad down a notch on the priority pole. No matter how much extra effort it takes, I want to make sure my marriage still has all the laughable moments, passion, and love that it always has. Jason, you’ll have to give me a few weeks for the passion part. 🙂

Puerto Vallarta Babymoon Update

Puerto Vallarta BabymoonJason and I just returned from seven heavenly days in Puerto Vallarta to celebrate our babymoon. Before leaving I was a little anxious about traveling internationally during my third trimester of pregnancy. What if I go in to labor early? What if I get food poisoning? What if I get hemorrhoids from sitting on the plane too long?

I’m happy to report that my worries went unwarranted, and I was able to soak up every minute of tranquility while in PV. This was one of the most romantic trips Jason and I have been on, and I think having a baby on the way brought out the extra lovey dovey-ness in us both.

But enough about that, let’s get to details you really want to know about: our itinerary. Staying at three different places worked out wonderfully and if you’re going to Puerto Vallarta (babymoon or just for fun) I’d highly recommend checking out these spots.

CasaMagna Marriott at SunsetCasaMagna Marriott (2 nights)

This resort is located on the marina side of PV- just a short jaunt from the airport. It’s within easy walking distance to the marina’s restaurants, shops, and beautiful yachts. Two days was plenty of time to explore this side of town. (I wouldn’t recommend much longer than that unless you’re staying at an all-inclusive and don’t plan on leaving much anyway.)

The rooms, pool, spa, and grounds of the CasaMagna are stunning (more beautiful than the pictures on their website show). What really made our stay here so spectacular was the spa. We scored an amazing deal that included two daily massages, but even if you had to pay for it, it would totally be worth it. (Ask for Blanca, she was amazing!)puerto vallarta 050

I also loved their sea turtle release program. Once in a lifetime experience! And the nightly sunsets we watched from the pool bar were out of this world (while sipping on non-alcoholic fruity umbrella drinks of course).

Hotel RioHotel Rio (1 night)

Judging by the $65 rate I assumed the Hotel Rio was going to be a dive, but my expectations were far exceeded. Hotel Rio has charm and character pouring out the seams, including an eco-friendly saltwater pool, organic honey shampoo (I have to find where I can buy this stuff- loved it) and welcoming staff. The on-site CoExist Bistro serves up phenomenal food and drinks at reasonable prices (enough so that it’s not just guests who dine here).

My only complaint would be that the beds here aren’t the most comfortable, but I’d say it was worth the tradeoff for being in the heart of downtown for a night. The beach/boardwalk are only a block away, across the street is a souvenir market, and shops and restaurants surround you in every direction. Being pregnant, it was particularly nice to have everything within arms’ reach.

Casa  de los Arcos Puerto VallartaCasa de los Arcos (4 nights)

Casa de los Arcos was the grand finale to our trip. It’s hard to put into words just how relaxing, beautiful, and hospitable this place really is. Perched on a jungley hillside, the property features four villas with views of Banderas Bay and the city life below.

Puerto Vallarta 2013 SunsetWe stayed in the spacious Casa Palapa, boasting of colorful Mexican accents, jungle-style thatched roofing, and an open-air kitchen/dining area.  The bedroom doors open out to the breathtaking ocean views and soothing sounds of the in-suite fountain. Jason and I spent hours on our private terrace, watching the sunsets, reading books, and taking naps in the warm Puerto Vallarta breeze. The serenity of this place draws you in and rocks you to sleep.

Casa de los Arcos pool viewEven the pool feels like your own private sanctuary, and after a walk into town (about 10 minutes to the romantic zone/old town/beach), you’ll be looking forward to refreshing dip.

All of that would be enough in its own, but Susan, the owner, goes above and beyond, making sure you’re taken care of in every aspect. She’ll personally drive you to the supermarket and help you navigate the aisles so you get exactly what you need. She’ll hook you up with a personal chef. Heck, she’ll even invite you up to her casa for homemade margaritas and drop you off at the airport when it’s time to go.

I could go on and on about this place, but it’s really just something you have to experience for yourself. Let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to answer!

Puerto Vallarta 2013 047

Diaper Party: The New Fad for Dads

diaper partyBaby showers are a great excuse to get to together with friends, pay homage to the mama-to-be, and collect some of the essentials before baby comes. Unless you throw a co-ed shower, men are typically left out of the equation, but the latest baby craze is breaking all the rules.

A diaper party is essentially an excuse for dad to get together with his buddies and the only criterion is that guests bring a pack of diapers to lessen the burden of the $800+ you’ll be spending on them per year (as predicted by the Baby Cost Calculator).

If your baby shower is being held at a large enough house it may even work to have the diaper party there at the same time since there will likely be some overlap between your lady friends and his buddies (guys downstairs in the man cave, ladies upstairs in the living room).  Celebrating at dad’s favorite watering hole is another option, or you can have it at your own house so there’s no extra loading and unloading of the goods.

Jason’s diaper bash this past weekend included watching the Seahawks game, toasting celebratory beers, and chowing down on chicken wings and pizza. Does it get any manlier than that? Not only did we receive 1,410 baby diapers in varying sizes and one pack of Depends (don’t ask what happened with those), but the guys also took care of supplying all the food and drinks potluck style.

As ecstatic as I am about all those diapers, I’m even more thrilled that my hubby got to have a fun day with friends and initiation into fatherhood. It’s amazing to feel the support from all of our loved ones, and to know that when the baby comes we’ve got some pretty awesome people to be a part of her life.

UPDATE: Here’s a helpful chart to gage how many diapers you’ll go through by size/age. If any of the guests ask what size to get, go with size 3- they’ll be in that size for the longest amount of time.

Number of Diapers per Month Chart

Babymoon or Bust: Puerto Vallarta

Casa de los Arcos viewThe awareness that our family of two will soon become three is more real than ever. As much as I can’t wait for that moment, there’s been a selfish lingering to-do item on my mind… going on one last baby-free vacay with the hubby.

Long gone are the days of zip lining and booze cruisin’. This trip is all about the R&R&R (rest, relaxation, romance). We decided on an old favorite, Puerto Vallarta, where we had our very first vacation together. Early November is the perfect time to visit as the rainy season turns dry and the peak holiday crowds won’t have yet hit.

Of course being the budgetnista that I am, I was determined to find the best deals on flights and hotels. This meant spending days patrolling Trip Advisor, Travelzoo, Kayak, etc. , and in the end the perfect plan came together… for under $1,200! For anyone looking to book a fabulous beachy getaway on a budget, feel free to use the following itinerary as a cheat sheet.

For the first couple days we will be living it up resort-style at the Marriot on the marina side of town. We scored an amazing rate of $119 which includes two 50-minute massages daily (one for me, one for Jason). Normally that’s what you’d pay for a massage alone! I cannot imagine a more relaxing way to start the trip.

Bonus: The resort’s sea turtle release program is going on during our stay so we may get the chance to see baby turtles make their way into the ocean. Adorable!

Next it’s off to the Hotel Rio for a stay in the heart of downtown PV. This is a total dive hotel, but that’s part of the fun. Surprisingly it’s received rave reviews on Trip Advisor for its location, authentic character, good food, and super low rates. Everything is close: beach, nightlife, shopping, and restaurants galore.  Rates are under $100 per night and while this may not have the frills of a resort, it’s an ideal basecamp for exploring the town.

But the part I’m the most excited about is our four nights at Casa de los Arcos (pictured above)! I had been searching for tree house accommodations (yes, there is such a thing) and somehow stumbled across Casa de los Arcos instead. After reading all the rave reviews on Trip Advisor I was intrigued. Open-air lodging, your own private terrace and kitchen, cliff-side views, sign me up! The cherry on top? It’s only $150 per night, including taxes, and during low season (May-Oct) you can get it for just $100 per night! Such a steal!

Susan, the owner/hostess really sealed the deal by being as sweet and accommodating as everyone had mentioned in the reviews. Not only did she offer to pick us up, she gave me the rundown of local events that would be happening during our stay, and mentioned that she could setup a personal chef (only $19 + cost of food, yes please!). The beach and old town/the Zona Romantica are just a 10-minute walk away, so there’s plenty to do without having to jump in a taxi.

To say I’m looking forward to this “babymoon” is an understatement. If you have a favorite Puerto Vallarta spot let me know!