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Tipsy Tuesday: What Not To Wear, Maternity Edition

I’m well into my second trimester and am heading back into my pregnancy clothes piece by piece so I though I’d share some advice on buying maternity clothes.

Buy as you grow – I made the mistake of buying lots of on-sale pregnancy clothes last time and never used some of them because they didn’t work for me at any point.

Leggings! – Thank god they’re back in style cause they have been my best friend at every point of my pregnancy.

Borrow and Share – Maternity clothes can be expensive when you start to add it all up so borrow when you can and share when you’re done.

Pregnancy Bands-They work well to get you through the growing out of your regular clothes stage.  They also smoothed out bumps made from my bulging belly pushing buttons against shirts.

Give in to Granny Panties – Invest in pregnancy tights and panties or buy up a size in regular ones.  You don’t want to spend all day in the bathroom pulling up your underwear.

Trust Fellow Pregnant Moms – Read the customer reviews and be careful with sizes. Old Navy Maternity clothes run big while Gap is pretty spot-on.

Some decent places to buy– Most of them are in the United States but almost all of them ship internationally.

Ann Taylor Loft (U.S.) – Great selection of some of the classiest maternity clothes out there but they aren’t cheap.

Gap – I’ve had lots of luck buying basics and jeans from them.

Old Navy (U.S.) – They have a pretty big selection, but some of it is way too cutesy for me.  I have lots of luck with their basics and jeans.

H&M – They have a small selection, but you can find some good tops.  I haven’t tried their bottoms and I haven’t been too impressed by the quality or styles in general, but I did like the tights and leggings I bought there.

J.C. Penny’s (U.S.) – Surprise, surprise I found some good tops here for almost nothing.

Sears (U.S.) – Aly recommended it and asked me to add it on.

Happy Shopping!



November 27, 2012 at 7:48 am 1 comment

Tipsy Tuesday: Peace Out, Pacifier

My daughter is 25 months old and I promised myself that we’d give up the pacifier by her second birthday. That didn’t happen and a month later I decided it was time to take action. She sleeps with it and will look for it during the day every now and then and asks for it when she’s upset sometimes, she uses the Spanish nickname tete from the word for pacifier chupete.

Tete had to go for several reasons, but mostly for the sake of her teeth. I sucked my thumb until I was eleven and my parents paid for it in expensive orthodontistry bills while I suffered through years of hardware implanted in my mouth and I still wear a retainer at night.  So the pacifier jig was up for Nora and I had a plan…

This past Saturday morning I informed my husband that I wanted to take Nora and her pacifiers to the store to “trade in” her pacifiers for movies.  My husband was skeptical but decided to go along with my plan.  We put Nora’s pacifiers in a transparent bag and told her where we were going and why.  She was happy to carry the pacifier bag, but shook her head when I told her she had to use them to buy the movies.  However, the metro ride there helped distract her a little bit and when we got to the store she enjoyed choosing her movies, which were  Finding Nemo and Toy Story.  As we approached the counter to pay I reminded her that she had to give the lady the pacifier bag for the movies which, to my surprise, she did with no fuss.  The attendant was kind and made a big deal about Nora being too big for pacifiers and movies were better.  While Nora and my husband walked away with her new movies, I ran back to get the pacifiers just in case my plan failed and we had a 3am emergency.

On our way home we stopped by my in-laws so everyone could make a big fuss about what a big girl she was and how great it was she wasn’t using pacifiers anymore.  So far so good, but it was now time for a nap…

We took Nora home, put her down, she asked for her tete once and we reminded her that we traded them in for the movies.  She then asked to sleep with the movies which she did for three days in a row.  I took out the DVDs and she placed one box on each side of her head.  (I never said she wasn’t a weirdo.)  The first few naps and bedtimes were rough, she had trouble falling asleep and called for us a lot, but each day has gotten better.

I would recommend this trick to anyone in our position and I’ve also read about having your child take the pacifiers to the doctor’s office to leave them for the new babies or having a Bye Bye Pacifier Party.  Not sure about the idea of cutting off the end, that sounded a little cruel, but desperate times…

Anyway, our next step is changing to a toddler bed, but for now we’ll enjoy this little success.

R.I.P. Tete

14 October 2010-10 November 2012


November 13, 2012 at 7:45 am 2 comments

Our Return Day

Any Delawareans out there who read our blog might like the significance of us re-inaugurating our blog on Return Day

Aly and I took a little break last year from the blog as our lives seemed to get a bit busier.  We both found ourselves trying to add on to our families while working, studying (me) and fundraising for March of Dimes (Aly).  Now we’re both happy to announce that we’re pregnant again!  Aly is due in December, I’ll let her tell you all about that, while I am due at the beginning of May.  Our firstborns Paddy and Nora are doing great, again Aly will fill you in on her son’s progress, but I’m loving Nora at age two.  The tantrums suck, but she’s so much fun now and I love the verbal give and take (bilingual update coming).  Besides being completely exhausted at the end of the day, we’re both having enjoyable second pregnancies and are excited about what the future has in store for us and our family.


November 8, 2012 at 1:15 am 2 comments

Friday Faves: Shoes Made in Spain

I have to admit when it comes to buying most things baby related I tend to do my shopping in the States. You get much more bang for your buck, but I think Spain takes the cake when it comes to children’s footwear.

The Spanish are a little obsessed with proper shoes for children and lots of ankle support as babies learn to walk. At first I was skeptical and I’m still not 100% convinced that the shoes were solely responsible for my daughter’s easy transition to walking, but I did see the importance of wearing sturdy shoes outside as she learned to walk.

Not only are Spanish shoes extremely well-made, they’re also super cute, especially if you love the classical look (think Mary Janes and boat shoes galore).

The only major drawback is that they’re not cheap. An average pair run about $30, but my savvy in-laws always seem to find deals and keep us well-stocked.  For those of you in Madrid, one place my in-laws find great shoes at bargain prices is at a shop between Puerta de Toledo and Calle Mayor.  It’s called El Ferrocarril and it’s so popular that you have to take a number when you get there.

If you’re stateside you can buy Spanish made shoes online from websites like the one I posted above or even carries some.


April 27, 2012 at 1:28 am 2 comments

Round Two

Lately my husband and I have been discussing plans for a new addition to our family. Although we both want to have more children, we’re not as gung-ho as we were the first time around, but we both have different reasons for our reluctance…

He’s worried about money, with the economy going the way it is, the cost of living going up, a recent reduction in pay from his government job, and me not working full-time, we’re just not real flush right now with mad money. My point to him is this: Who ever has extra money and thinks wow, let’s have another kid?  “Gee thanks Boss for my bonus. I’m gonna spend it on a new baby.” No way. It doesn’t work that way. Not many people are ever in an ideal economic position to have more children. I’m willing to do some home haircuts, buy more store brand food, and shop for second-hand clothes. We’ll make it work.

My reason for reluctance is (and I may sound like a terrible person): I don’t want a newborn.  There, I said it.  Ladies, I know there are some of you out there that LOVE the newborn baby gig. Late nights don’t bother you and you’re happy to sit and snuggle all day with a little baby, but it just ain’t for me. Sorry, but I prefer when they walk and talk. I told Aly the other day that I would like to have the option to deliver a six month old baby. I know it goes by fast and it’s a special time, but it just wasn’t my favourite part of motherhood.

All that being said, when we tell people we’re thinking about expanding our family the most common reaction we get is:  “Are you going to move?” or Where are you going to put them?

Let me explain, we live in a small, two bedroom, one bathroom flat.  It’s lovely, but it’s COZY if you get my drift.  However, we have no plans of moving in the immediate future.  We can’t afford it and we’re not ready.  I don’t see anything wrong with children sharing rooms, especially when they’re little.  My husband never had his own room and it didn’t bother him.  I, on the other hand, always had my own room, but I slept with my sisters or my mom when my Dad worked nights.  My mother, who is one of eight children, grew up sharing a BED with her sister and my father, who is one of fifteen children, shared a room with three of his brothers.  They grew up to be cooperative, hard-working, generous adults.  Point being, no one NEEDS their own bedroom as a child.  If you can afford it and you have the space, good for you, but we can’t and we don’t, so we’ll be stacking them babies up in dresser drawers.


March 30, 2012 at 10:10 am Leave a comment

The Ghosts of Paddy’s Day Past

This past weekend, I went out to celebrate Paddy’s Day for the first time in three years. Last year I had a five month old, the year before I was pregnant, so I was super psyched “to get my cider on”.   Being out and about brought up lots of memories from past Paddy’s Days. It reminded me of how different my life used to be before I had a little one to take care of.  Crazy days of all day debauchery are now distant memories and sensible day drinking is now a reality…

Paddy’s Day Then:  Starting planning, getting excited weeks in advance, took the day off work and the following day as well to recover.  Meals were not included in the drinking schedule.

Paddy’s Day Now:  Arranged meeting up with some friends at the last-minute for a big lunch and then hitting a couple of pubs afterwards.

Paddy’s Day Then:  Drank my weight in hard cider and am lucky I wasn’t arrested for my ridiculous behaviour.

Paddy’s Day Now:  Shared three bottles of cider with a friend and acted like a responsible adult 95% of the time.

Paddy’s Day Then:  Ended the night being told “Kate, the bar is closing.  Kathleen, get off the table!  Kathleen Patricia, they are not serving alcohol anymore, the bar is closing, get down off the table, they are kicking us out!!!  After a usually fruitless search for some late night food, I stumbled my way home at a non-respectable hour with my fairy godmother looking over me making sure I didn’t end up in a ditch.

Paddy’s Day Now:  Said my goodbyes politely and bowed out early in the evening (it was still light out) to get home to see my daughter before she went to bed.  She and I were both in bed by 10pm.

Paddy’s Day Then:  Woke up sometime the next day with a bad case of the Irish Flu.

Paddy’s Day Now:  Woke up hangover free at 830am.

I don’t really miss those mad Paddy’s Days of long ago, but I do have good memories of them.  Things are just different now, but in a good way.  When I said goodbye to my friends this past Paddy’s Day, another friend of mine ( who is in her twenties with no kids) decided to call it a night too.   As we walked away, a friend yelled out to inform us that we suck.  I quickly answered, “She sucks.  I’m a mom.”


March 20, 2012 at 2:34 am Leave a comment

Delivering Abroad

When I got pregnant and gave birth to my daughter a year ago, I was a bit of a pioneer in my circle of friends here in Madrid.  Although I knew most of them would soon follow in my footsteps, I did feel like I was braving a new frontier for my fellow ex-pat buddies.  Now several of them are pregnant or starting to think about adding a kid to their life and they have questions.  Lots of questions.  I’d like to share some of them and my answers for anyone who is about to have a baby in a foreign country, far away from home and your own family.

Oh, and I’m not holding back with the nitty-gritty details, so Dad, you’ll probably want to stop reading here.

Were you happy with the hospital?

We sure were, it wasn’t the fanciest of hospitals but it was clean, the staff was professional and it was relatively close to home.  We had our own room with a couch for my husband to sleep on.  Plus, my husband ate for free in the cafeteria.  For those of you living in Spain, we used our private insurance, but I know public is just as good if not better sometimes.

Was there anything that happened at the hospital or during the delivery that you didn’t expect?

Well, ladies, they give you an enema here in Spain!  That was my first surprise of the day and as unpleasant as those ten minutes were, I would rather use the bathroom in private than the alternative incident that can happen during delivery.

Another thing was we were required to bring things I didn’t expect:  pajamas for me, complete outfits (onesie and pajamas) for the baby that were put on immediately following the delivery.  We also had to provide our own diapers and wipes.

There were a couple of good things that we didn’t expect, one of which was there was a hairdresser who came around every day and offered to do your hair.  I have no idea if it cost extra or not, I was so blown away the first day she came to our room that I said no without thinking, but next time will be different.  At least my hair will look good in those post-birth photos.

Also, they offer a nighttime nursery service.  The first night after Nora was born they knocked on our door and offered to take her to the nursery, we thought about it a lot and then guiltily sent her off to be looked after by strangers so we could sleep.  They brought her back early the next morning freshly dressed and diapered.  We suspected they gave her a bath and we knew they fed her at least once during the night which was good because my milk hadn’t come in and she was hungry.  The next night when they knocked, we had her ready and waiting at the door.  The nursery was free of charge in our hospital, but I hear they charge in public ones.  I would highly recommend using it if you’re not breastfeeding or if you’re feeling pretty beat up after delivering.

Probably, the worst thing that happened that I hadn’t anticipated at all, was that my husband wasn’t allowed to be with me during the delivery.  I had to have a caesarean and the law in Spain doesn’t permit any non-medical personnel to be present during surgeries.  I found out this fun-fact as I was being wheeled into the operating room.

How long were you in the hospital?

I was in for five days (one for the delivery, four to recover), but you can be discharged earlier.   Two to three days seems to be the average stay here if you deliver vaginally.  Five days is a long time in the hospital and I was ready to get out of there on day four.

Was your family there?

No, big mistake on my part.  My family wasn’t there for the delivery and it was really tough.  I thought I could handle it, but those post-pregnancy hormone drops will make you crazy and I got a bad case of the “baby blues” and asked my Mom to come earlier than we had planned.  She arrived about a week after my daughter was born and I really appreciated her dropping everything to come help us out.  The rest of my immediate family flew over within a month.

Did you have a lot of visitors in the hospital?

Yes, a lot, every day, at all hours.  I have wonderful in-laws so I will try not to offend anyone here, but there is a huge cultural difference between American and Spanish norms in regards to who comes to the hospital and when. In American culture, it is usually just the immediate family and maybe a close friend or two, but in Spanish culture EVERYONE comes to the hospital, I’m talking aunts, uncles, cousins, friends you haven’t seen in years, co-workers, friends of your relatives… you name it, they come.  They are all excited to see the baby and bring a present to welcome the little one into the world.  BUT if you’re not used to this, you’re not expecting it or you feel like you got hit by a Mack truck after delivery, you may get a bit freaked out with all these visits.  It also is uncomfortable when you are trying to figure out breastfeeding and you have people waiting outside to see the baby.  I hope this doesn’t come off as a complaint.  I love our friends and family here and I was happy to see them, but I was completely overwhelmed by it all and honestly I didn’t feel well enough to be entertaining.

My advice to those of you giving birth in Spain is use a little trick a Spanish friend of mine did:  Wait 24 hours before telling anyone the baby has been born.  That will give you a little breathing time and if you don’t feel up for visitors then, you can always make the announcement later.

Any final words of advice?

I met with a pregnant friend a few weeks ago and she told me that her mother’s advice during her pregnancy was “you’re not the first and you won’t be the last”.  I really think that’s a reassuring thought.  Remember that even though this whole baby thing is new and even more complicated since you’re really out of your comfort zone, you and the baby will be just fine.

I think I’ve covered most of the questions that I’ve been asked.  I’d be happy to answer more if you’d like to post them in the comments section.


February 8, 2012 at 1:25 am 1 comment

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