Hello there, friends and welcome to 2022! It’s been a long time since we’ve chatted and I didn’t want to dive right into the new year without catching you up on my life. As you all know, I had Ellis in September and I took off the remainder of the year for my maternity leave. Now, I’m back to regular blog content (yay!) and I will be starting home projects in the coming weeks to share with you.
I figured an informal post about life around here would be a good way to catch up before we move on to all things home.
My Maternity Leave
Even though I wasn’t technically working my day job for the last few months, this been the hardest and most tiring time of my life. Being a mom is the hardest job of them all and anyone who thinks maternity leave is a break certainly hasn’t experienced it themselves. I found myself waking up around 5:30 am and collapsing into bed every single night after a full day of diapers, bottles, tears, and tantrums.
I’m so grateful that Finn is still working from home, in the basement, because he has been able to help in the mornings, for dinner/bath/bedtime, and randomly throughout the day when I would be in a panic, trying to juggle both kids. I’m also incredibly lucky to have my mom around. She is over here all the time helping with both kiddos and I don’t think I could have made it through those early days without her.
The Transition From 1 to 2 Kids
I feel like I need to devote an entire blog post to the topic of going from one to two children. It has been hard and I found myself crying a lot during those early days because it just felt too overwhelming. I would say to my mom, “I can’t do it!” and she would say, “Casey, you are already doing it!.” I felt sad for Rory because she was going through a huge transition and I couldn’t give her all that she needed from me. I felt sad for Ellis because I couldn’t give him my undivided attention. Those early days were really hard mentally.
Because they’re only 17 months apart, Rory was still very much a baby when Ellis arrived. She still needed me to help her with just about everything and Ellis needed me too. Day by day, it’s getting easier, as Ellis gets older and Rory gets used to her role as a big sister. We do a lot of “man to man” around here, where we’re each in charge of one of the kids or Finn will take Rory out for a date and some special time.
We’re getting more comfortable as a family of four, but it hasn’t been easy!
Ellis arrived 5 weeks early, so we did our best to make sure he was healthy and gaining weight. Boy oh boy, the little man is thriving! He is so chubby and has the puffiest little cheeks that I want to squeeze all day long. He’s incredibly smiley and easygoing, which is much appreciated with a toddler running around. He’s been sleeping through the night since around 12 weeks old, and we all thank him for the extra shut-eye!
Because he was breech, he had a hip ultrasound at six weeks old, the standard of care for all breech babies. This ultrasound revealed mild hip dysplasia in his left hip, so he was put in a Pavlik harness for 23.5 hours a day for up to 12 weeks. At first, it was incredibly hard as we had to figure out new clothes, swaddles, etc. But after a few days, he was totally fine. Babies are resilient, I tell ya!
He ended up wearing it for 23.5 hours a day for six weeks and we’ve slowly been decreasing the amount of time, week by week. He should be totally out of the harness by the end of the month and we can’t wait to chuck this thing in the trash. Ha! But we are very happy we found this early and were able to treat it easily.
All in all, Ellis is doing so well and he is the best addition to our family.
New Childcare Setup
Ever since Rory was born, my mom has watched her three days a week so I can work. (You can see a day in their life together here!) After trying to juggle both a newborn and a toddler all at once, I realized that I couldn’t ask my mom to watch both kids. It’s just too much! We decided to start Rory in daycare, three days per week, while my mom watches Ellis. That way, I can get work done and then I watch them both the other two days, which are the hardest days of them all!
Rory started daycare at the beginning of December and she is loving it! I think it was a good time for the transition as she is learning how to make friends, follow rules from a teacher, and more. It was a very bittersweet time (lots of tears for the entire family those first few weeks), but now she is feeling settled and happy at her school and we are so proud of her!
Rory is 21 months going on 4 years old. The girl is a little firecracker and we absolutely adore her. She talks alllll day long and her vocabulary has skyrocketed over the past few months. You can have a conversation with her like she is an adult…it’s wild.
She’s also mastered her ABCs and loves pointing out every letter she sees anywhere…stop signs, packages at the grocery store, text on the TV. Her favorite book is about 23 women who changed the world (this is the one we have) and she is obsessed with having us quiz her on each one. (i.e. We’ll ask, “Who flies planes?” And she’ll answer, “Amelia Earhart!”) It’s so cute to see her brain working so hard and to hear her little voice say such big words!
She is growing into her role as a big sister. At first, she wasn’t too interested in Ellis and would say, “Baby, night night”, whenever I was holding him, which meant she wanted me to put him in his room to go to sleep. Ha! Now that he is getting a bit bigger and they can interact, she is much more interested in him and will rub his head and bring him toys. Rory also loves being a helper and will run to get his binky or bring over a diaper to help us with him. It’s really adorable.
Finding My Groove
As for me, it’s taking some time to feel like my old self again. My c-section recovery took a long time (more on that next week) and physically I’m still not feeling 100%. I’ve dubbed 2022 “The Year of Casey”! I went from three years of infertility treatments to two pregnancies back to back, and I’m very much looking forward to a year without tons of doctor’s appointments, medications, and hormones. I want to carve out more time for myself and get into a new healthy routine of sleep, self-care, and exercise.
I’ve booked a few skin and beauty services and those have helped me feel more like myself. In November, I did a skin treatment called “Fraxel” to help remove some of the melasma I had on my face from my pregnancies. It was a crazy process (I share it all in this Instagram story highlight), but it really worked to get rid of those dark spots on my face. In lieu of any Christmas or birthday gifts, I’m just choosing to do a few more spa services and things for me! I re-upped my monthly CBD subscription and it really makes me feel a lot calmer during the day and helps me sleep better at night. (You can use code “diyplaybook” for 15% off first-time orders, and code “diyplaybook50” until 1/13 for 50% off any subscription package.)
Excited to Be Working Again
Blogging is another thing that makes me feel like me and I’m so happy to be back to a regular work routine. Of course, I love my time as a mom, but I really do crave the creativity and sense of accomplishment I get from doing this job.
I look forward to my three days each week when I can spend time writing blog posts, working on projects, and photographing them for you. I’ll be sharing more about what I have planned for this year in tomorrow’s “Home Goals” post, but just know that it will be another great year of projects!
Family Trips in 2022
But it won’t be all work this year. In fact, I have three trips planned over the next few months and we will see if they end up happening, as we’re being very cautious with the new Omicron variant surging. I’m planning to go skiing with my dad and siblings, in Colorado, in a few weeks. Then, in February, while our bathrooms are being demo’ed, we’re heading to Seaside, Florida for some R&R. And finally, in April, my entire family booked a big house in Scottsdale, for a week, to attend a family wedding. It’s nice having fun trips on the calendar to look forward to and I hope we can still attend safely.
Finn and I are also planning a weekend staycation, here in Chicago. Instead of exchanging Christmas gifts, we put that money towards a hotel for two nights. We also asked my mom for a weekend of childcare, in lieu of presents, and she happily accepted! Prioritizing our marriage and finding time for date nights is really tough with two kids under two, but we’re going to do our best!
2022, Let’s Do This!
So that’s my life lately! I’m not sure what 2022 has in store for our family, but I can definitely say that there will not be another surprise pregnancy announcement!!! Things are definitely busy around here and we’re juggling a lot. However, we couldn’t have dreamed of a better life with a full house of kids. We feel blessed to have made it here.
I am looking forward to a wonderful year on the blog and I can’t wait to continue to share our family adventures with all of you!Casey