Monday, April 30, 2012

27 weeks! oh my... trimester 3: holy mole!!

So I haven't done a proper BabyBlog post in a few weeks now, and for that I apologize.  Baby Castro is doing just fine, though I have suffered a little lately...  I had a scare at the doctor a few weeks ago, my blood pressure was up, and some tests came back borderline/ abnormal.  High blood pressure can be a precursor to eclampsia, one of the major causes of preterm labor.  So I've had to rework my diet (despite Baby's demand for salty foods & cream cheese, jam and crackers...) and I am finally starting my prenatal yoga tapes.  I am also committing to spending the next 3 months swimming!  When I pick up Bianca from school today, I am going to find out about prenatal swim classes that are available at the brand new pool/ facility next to her school.  I feel guilty walking past it every day when I pick her up, and having been told that I need to keep my health in check is a big reminder that if I am not doing well, Baby Castro can't do well.  I had a quick checkup last week, and another this Friday, and a third appointment next week.  By Friday though, I am confident that everything will be fine, though that does remind me I need to go for more blood work asap...  It's never-ending!

Favorite Chew Toy:  My Fingers

OMG she is so cute I can't stand it....  
Victor, Bianca and I had a WILD Saturday night... we went to IKEA!!  We were there until closing- 11 pm!  Among the little random things you cannot get out of IKEA without buying, we got:  our epic closet situation squared away (it's <3 dreamy <3), a sofa-bed for Victor's office/ guest room (not the one I wanted, but I got my closet so I just have to zip it), and we purchased our living room media center/ bookcases.  Everything will be delivered May 3rd, which means that the nightmare of our house will be worse in the next two weeks before it gets better.  BUT!  After that, it is going to be amazing.  My sweetheart darling dear of a husband has been checking things off his list of Things For Victor To Do the last few days, and I am so so so happy!  (P.s.  Thank you again to our wedding guests last summer, as your generous gifts have completed our home rearrange/ "renovations!")  We still have a ton of painting to do (well, Vic has a ton of painting to do), odds and ends to sort out, plus decoration (!) but we are plucking along nicely.  Yesterday, I spent part of the afternoon sanding down and re-varnishing our patio table.  Yes, I know the varnish can be hazardous during pregnancy, but in my defense, it was so windy, I swear I didn't inhale fumes once.  And the damn varnish I used was satin finish (I've never seen wood stain with a finish..... I thought that was  second thing??? WTF?) so now the top of our table is dark mahogany colored (also a little accident) and super shiny... I am somewhat bummed... NOT what I had in mind AT ALL.  I need to double check my receipts to see if I can exchange the other three cans of satin-finished varnish, otherwise, I am going to end up sanding off the shine (again) and then putting the topcoat protector on it...  Basically tripling the amount of work that is going into this table.  I guess it is just as well though, as I can't help Victor in our room/ nursery as the toxic fumes from the glue remover he is using is really overwhelming (even with the fan on full blast and the windows opened) and I can't exactly put together an IKEA wall unit by myself... So I guess I will just have to obsess over my table and that is that.  

ANY TIPS on what to do with an accidental satin finish??  It is NOT pretty!  If I had an extra 300€ I would just say 'eff it, and buy a whole new table but that would be a tad ridiculous, as we only bought the table last summer and all it really needed was some sealant...  OOHHhhh I give up already...  I really hope I still have those receipts... please please please....

busting out of my hoodie....  *sigh*

my t-shirt may have to be retired for awhile...

almost 27 weeks!

feels like a fish swimming in there

can you spot the potted plant that zulu ATE the other day?
Oh Baby! 
I am now in my third trimester!!  How is that possible?!  I have a little eggplant inside me (speaking of which, Victor's mama Alda taught me how to make this delicious stuffed eggplant mushroom dish- will post photos next time I make it!)  Baby Castro is practicing "breathing" amniotic fluid now, and the lungs are getting ready for life outside the womb...  And his/her ear bones are pretty much developed and can hear and recognize my voice (though it is a lot like listening to a conversation when you are underwater).  And Baby is fattening up.  The last trimester is all about baby fat.  We want nice and chubby babies.  Yay!!

I pretty much spend each and every moment of my days (and nights) trying to find the perfect balance between feeling like I am famished, to not too full & happy, to death- by- heartburn.  I have clocked some serious hours sleeping on the couch lately too... As Victor's schedule was brutal these last few weeks, and with the new puppy, I have been sleeping when I can, where I can.  And that usually means on the couch with a snoring Zulu who needs to go outside to pee every 1- 2- 3 hours... I don't mind though, as I wake up to pee on the same schedule too... HA!!  And instead of walking up and down three flights of stairs to walk the dog, I just snuggle her on the couch.   

here she comes!

Anyhow, among other things, I need to go on a major maternity bra shopping spree.  I've checked my measurements, and while I am not technically busting out of my bra or anything, they are all super- uncomfortable.  It turns out, that Portugal doesn't really have a big pre-mama industry.  I've been trying to figure out why, until I mentioned it to Vic.  In the US, we have high fashion maternity wear... Duh, right?  But here, the Portuguese birth rate is so slow that there isn't a huge demand for maternity wear, just small sections in stores, and plus- sized clothes that are marketed as maternity.  NOT HOT.  And because of this lack-of-demand, all the maternity bras are the ones that open for nursing.  I am SO not ready for bras that have buttons for boobies...  ONE step at a time...

Uhoh... Zulu is waking up.... Must. Post. Now. before she is ready to play...  And I thought I had another 3 months before Baby Castro was here...  I am already at the demands of a hungry, pooping biting four - legged baby in a fur coat... <3

castros, 2.5

i thought pregnancy meant perfect skin & long luscious hair & nails??
when does that part start???

Parting notes:  Time to head to the hardware store!! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

shabby chic transformation....

Trying to blog with a sleeping puppy in your arms is not conducive to long blocks of text explaining the intricacies of shabby chicing your husbands 30 year old childhood furniture... so I guess I'll just post a massive list of photos... :)

A close-up of the soundproof foam that Victor had lining two of the walls in our bedroom/ nursery.  I did love the idea of working with the colors to create a super modern, gender neutral room, but in the end it had to go.  While I did consider for one hot minute to keep one wall of soundproofing (we share a wall with the jerkfaces next door...) I just couldn't past the idea of how dirty 30 year old sound studio foam could potentially be.  And I am definitely not a germaphobe, but the idea of my newborn sleeping next to/ anywhere near that foam... just... ehhh....... 

That is double-sided tape that is going to have to be sandblasted off the wall... And one wall, with the soundproof foam...

The disaster soon to become the space where we rest our precious heads... :/ 

Mama and I started to pull down the foam just to see how Victor got it up there.  And before we could do anything, big rolls of it started falling down....  THE DUST..... 

I just want you all to know that the white you are seeing is where the tape pulled CHUNKS of paint/ concrete out of the wall... And the black you are seeing is raised glue with quarter inch chunks of foam.  

The moment you all have been waiting for...  The shabby chic progression!!!

The desk and a bunch of drawers from the other pieces


Mid- Paint Job

Mid- Shabby Chic
The next step was to seal the wood with a wax finish and paint the base brown.
Victor painted the stands in red oil paint when he was about 17...
And it was a b*tch to paint over...

My Mom Rules.

The Never-Ending Cabinets
 Post Clean-Out!!

So here is a basic... sketch of our future room!  This is where our bed will be, and that killer slanted wall where Baby Castro's furniture will be, is all along the sloping wall.  And since I am a full head shorter than my hubby, I get the sloped side... Haha!!  We have some serious work to do still on the walls, so there will be further updates coming in the next few weeks... But you get the idea!

The resistance bike will be in Victor's new office

The other half of our room.  Still in chaos, and there is my elliptical!  Now, if Baby Castro can only be trained to sleep through an elliptical workout... I will be SET!  

And don't forget our 5 hour stroll through IKEA!
That would be the crib, changing table, a huge wall map for the living room and some other  odds and ends that one cannot escape IKEA without!

(we were so tired at this point...)

I love you Mama!

THANK YOU DADDY FOR our little shopping spree!!
And thank you Grandma Lee for the crib/ changing table!! 
Ma, where you lookin'? 
I was a danger in the aisles....

Baby Castro:  25 weeks!  
 And Don't Forget the Garden Transformation!

Just for the record... Last year I put down the grass, little barrier on the right and flowers for Father's Day for Victor.  

But Hurricane Patti needed more color in our wee little yard!
And baby Zulu helping....

Chewing my keys

OMG I can't help but gush.... 

Mid- Garden Revolution

FLOWERS!  And Victor's Lemon Tree!!


And my mini-herb garden!!  Come August... its MOJITO TIME!!
That's it for now...  Will post more explanation about our shabby- chic process... Victor set up the crib today!!  And while I am super- tempted to wash and lay out the linens... I don't want them to get dusty and smell like paint once we do the walls... *sigh*

Thank you again to my Mom & Dad for all the work Mama and I have put into the reorganization of our house, and thanks to my Dad for footing the bill at the hardware store.... HE DESERVES A MEDAL (or maybe a grandbaby named after him!!) <3 <3

Thursday, April 26, 2012

To friends and family who STUFFED my mama's suitcases with baby presents for Baby Castro! <3  We have beautiful clothes, onesies, sleepies, bath sets, Boppy pillow, carrier wraps (for my little burrito!!!) our epic Chicco stroller system (delivery date:  4 May!!) and don't forget YANKEE onesies!  We have books, blankies, swaddlers, my Beaba baby food processor <3, and thank you Grandma Lee for your first great-grandbaby's crib, bedding and changing table... Daddy Vic is "so excited" to start putting it together this weekend!

The poor dear is "over joyed" with the long list of things for him to do, in wake of Hurricane Patti...  I am too lazy to run up three floors of stairs to grab the camera, but photos coming soon of all of our beautiful baby bounty.  We've made out like BANDITS! <3 

terrible photo, but the bump:  26 weeks & the pup, 7 weeks.  
Ps.  I think puppy Zulu will have to give one of those baby wraps a test run...  Practice makes perfect, right?  

life update (and why my Mama is my hero).

My mama has flown back to New York... and I cried the whole way home from the airport.  I'm begging mama to come back in June.  Maybe end of June, early July, at the latest.  I need my mama...   But unfortunately, there is a lot going on with my sister, Caroline right now, so Mama can't just hop a flight to Lisbon for an extra vacay and grandbaby splurges...  

best thing my sister has ever said to me... when
she was about 11, she was already taller than me.
she looked (down) at me and said, "jax... now i'm
the big sister."  OMG!!! <3 <3 <3

My sister Caroline is 21 and in a therapeutic boarding school in Western Massachusetts for children (and young adults) living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Since about the age of four, Caroline has been diagnosed with PDD – NOS (Pervasive Deficit Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified) in the Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Because of Caroline’s developmental disability, this is as "close" as a diagnosis as we have ever found.  Her behavior fluctuates between violent tantrums and attacks, to normal teenage drama, to the emotional responses of a pre-teen.  The State of New York's Special Education Department is required to assist in Caroline's education until the end of the academic year (August 2012) when she is 21 years of age, and then they will help in assisting my parents in finding a suitable living environment as she transitions out of "school" and into the rest of her life.  Upon “graduation,” my sister is no longer the responsibility of New York Educational Department and they can just wash their hands of her. In theory, she will “transition” from a structured school environment to an “adult life” in a “structured residential adult program.”  Caroline will never be able to live a "normal" life, live on her own, have a job, have normal relationships, etc.  I don't even know if she is truly capable of living in a group home and maintaining any sort of employment (assisted or not.)  All I know, is that for the last 20 years, my parents have been doing everything they can to take care of my sister, spent astronomical amounts of money on schools, therapies, lawyers, etc.  How much help any of it has really been, I don't really know.  But I do know that every single day, I have watched how the stress of having a child like Caroline has affected my parents and my family.  This is the home stretch for my parents, and my Mama deserves a medal of honor, for everything she has done for my sister.  For the last year, my mama has been fighting all over AGAIN with doctors, lawyers, therapists, and agencies and the bureaucratic jungle of bull, to do whatever it takes to find a suitable place for my sister, come June?  August?  She is quickly aging out of the New York State Education System, and will ultimately be someone’s responsibility afterwards…  We have known for years that sooner or later, my parents, along with Caroline’ long list of educators, will need to establish a supported residential transition plan, aka “the plan for the future.”   In these final months of her last official “academic” school year, this plan has yet to be clearly established… THUS the panic… Coming home is unfortunately not an option, as my parents do not have the emotional, nor physical strength to restrain my sister when she has having a violent outburst, punching walls, throwing furniture because she has been asked to brush her teeth and get ready for bed, they cannot afford to spend days on end with credit card companies, explaining how their autistic daughter has stolen their credit cards, hijacked my mom's Paypal account and spent over $700 on (true story...), nor can they emotionally handle the repercussions of her refusing to take her anti-psychotic medications (and what happens when she doesn't....) Nor should they.  I can go on and on and on, but I don't want my Mama to read too much and get depressed...  I just wanted to say that my Mama is my hero, for all that she has done for me, my brother and my sister, and how proud I am of my father, who has especially in recent years, really stood up tall with my mom, I think finally realizing in the last 10 + years, how much of a "situation" my sister really is.  (We've always known, but in the last 10 years, there has been a huge shift in how strong of a team my parents are, particularly in dealing with my sister's developmental and psychological issues, etc.)  ON TOP of it all... As most of you know, Mama was diagnosed this past October with bladder cancer.  On top of everything else, she has been at the hospital for her weekly treatments which have been greatly successful, though the stress of this next phase of Caroline’s life is so incredibly ill-timed….  Naturally, when all this is going down, Mama will be resuming further treatment in August.  When it rains, it pours…………    

caroline grace
august 13th, 2011

Sadly, not all of the people in our lives are sensitive to how much my parents struggle in dealing with an adult child like Caroline.  Friends and family can see just how much my parents have struggled and lived with, by raising a kid like my mostly wonderful little sister Cappie...  She has her moments of AWESOME, and at times is the most sensitive, brilliant and intelligent young lady, who fiercely loves and defends her family.  So in the next two months, please keep my parents, but especially my Mama in yr hearts, prayers, thoughts, etc., (whatever you may believe) as these next two months will be the deciding factor in the rest of our lives, in terms of Caroline's living situation, and ultimately how my parents lives will play out, in terms of Caroline.  (Am I still making sense?)  


Sometimes, I wonder if my parents regret adopting three kids… As much of a joy we are, I know that we have certainly put them through the ringer… And when you adopt a newborn baby, you never anticipate, years down the road, where we have ended up with Caroline today.  It is truly unbelievable, how lucky all three of us are, but especially Caroline, for having parents who are so dedicated and willing to do anything it takes to have the best life possible… Including going up against NY State government agencies to provide the necessary support for their disabled daughter.  My sister’s biological parents were living out of a car in Texas when she was born, and we think that her developmental disabilities are the result of drug use during pregnancy.  Caroline would never have had a chance if it wasn’t for my parents. 

Anyhow, thank you Mama, for always fighting for us, even at times it was fighting with us....  And as much as I hate to admit it sometimes, my mom has always been right... in the end.  About friendships and relationships, my education, life plans, etc.  How do mama's DO that???  Damnit.

my beautiful mama. august 13th, 2011

But back to my positive hopes for the next few months...  Mama please come in July!!  DON’T give up the fight… DONT LOSE HOPE… we will find a place for Caroline!!

and then come back to Portugal to RELAX and help me finish decorating the nursery for your first grandbaby. <3

Happy Mother's Day!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

surprise! mama is HERE!


I mentioned a few posts back that my MAMA was coming to Portugal!  And SHE IS HERE NOW!!!  We have been assessing the house situation big time... and have hit up the hardware stores about 4 times so far, and are headed back AGAIN today.  We are now shabby- chic-ing Victor's childhood furniture and the project will hopefully be complete in the next day or so.  I will update the finished photos.. but for now... here are some of the "before" pix...

the before chaos (left)

the before chaos (right)

the dresser (pardon all the other stuff....)

the desk

So the first step in our nursery process is to take the old night stand, dressers and desk and sand off the varnish.  After that we will be painting them white, sanding them again, and then putting on a wax finish to preserve our new look.  It is a pretty simple process, just dirty, heavy and time consuming.  Victor painted the base stands when he was about 17, in that awful burnt orange/ red oil based paint, so we will be spray painting over that, in a nice metallic/ matte grey to match our bed frame.  Once the furniture is complete, then we start room swapping.  I am still on the fence about wallpapering, and my mama has semi-convinced me to keep the sound proofing foam on the walls that Vic put up years ago... (More photos of that later...)  SO much to to still and figure out...  But I think as soon as this furniture is finished, I will feel a lot better.  The rest will come together... I hope. . .         

sanding down the old varnish

sanding down more varnish
So our house is in chaos.  TRUE and utter chaos.  We have piles of baby gifts, book stacks, puppy stuff to add to the mix.  We have mid- project purchases, decoration purchases,  and we need about a million plastic storage bins, we need shelving, a living room media center, you name it.  We are doing a MASSIVE overhaul in every room.  Unfortunately, to move one room, we have to move another, which is reliant on swapping out something else from another room.  I know I have complained about this before, but it is just so frustrating.  AND my poor hubby is locked into a work schedule that he is literally sleeping 3 - 4 hours a night.   He certainly doesn't have time (or energy!) to move furniture, put IKEA stuff together, organize his man cave/ office/ sunny guest room.. (haha) etc....  so that leaves poor Pasty.. HA!   

But I must admit, I LOVE LOVE LOVE having my Mama here with me.  We have had such good laughs about silly little things, and mama has been telling me stories about her and Maye, my godmother, setting up my nursery when I was a baby (24 *ahhem* years ago...)

we have four pieces this size on stands, plus a dresser that is 3 drawers wide, plus the desk, pictured somewhere above...
 LOTS of sandpaper will be used in the next 2 days...  once we are done, we are going for manicures...

i get my love of bathrobes from my mama. <3 
Oh so much more to come in the next few days...  YAY!! I LOVE YOU MAMA!!