Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Challenges of Staying Home

It's true that if I truly stayed home all day I'd probably get a fair amount of laundry and cleaning done. But then there would be the constant toys to pick up and, more importantly, my kids would not have my presence. And this is something I want very much. It's the entire reason I made this choice to begin with.

The biggest challenge for me is that I like to go OUT. I like to do things. I love that being "home" with my kids everyday means that I can go do things on the weekdays that would be busy and crowded on the weekends. Especially with homeschooling my older daughter, I love taking her to do things like museums and field trips and going to interesting places where we can learn together. 

And then, as a homeschooling mom, there are so many wonderful things to do within easy driving distance that it's hard for me not to spread myself too thin. Then there is the added pressure of wanting to get my daughter some time to play with other kids, homeschool learning clubs, park days, and homeschool private classes; when will I have the time to actually be home?! And when I am, not be exhausted from being out all day with 2 kids?

So the challenge has become how do I balance the fun with the necessity? It's becoming clear that I can't be out every day or I lose my sanity. But I can't be home every day either. Maybe every other day go out? Then the question becomes, when do I go grocery shopping? Is there any room for me to have fun? 

I'm not sure how to strike that balance yet, but I feel like I'm getting there. Please share any strategies you use!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Sleep Deprivation

With my older daughter I had it down:
Put her down awake. Do some amount of sleep coaxing and she was good. Sleeping through the night 5 hours at a few weeks old, 7 hours at 2 months, and 12 shortly after that. I followed a plan and stuck to it and she did great.

Fast forward to any time I met anyone whose baby had problems sleeping and I immediately thought to myself, well, how hard is it? I did it. Make an effort.

Now I have the great pleasure of being confused and sleep deprived for 5 months. I love that God knocked me down a peg and is teaching me to get over myself and my pride. That I need him and have no right to judge.

I love when God teaches me these lessons of humility. And how wrong I am to judge others. Maybe judging us a Midwest thing? not so common here in the west. But that's for another post.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Starting a New Journey

For the last 5 years I've been the primary (and sometimes sole) income in our family. I got a new job in the city after my daughter was born and spent an excruciating year pumping in an office filled with almost only single, childless males who were confused by me at best and disdainful of me at worst.

There were no other mothers there and I was suffering from post partum depression. I was being treated, but with a new job, two moves, a new daughter, and an unemployed stay-at-home husband, it was painful. I decided I would never have another child. It was too hard. But this is a story for another day.

After a year, my company was acquired and I had to stay for 3 more years or forfeit lots of money. So I stayed, vowing to ask to go part time or quit as soon as the three years ended.

My daughter grew and I spent nearly every day wishing and praying for a way to be home with her. I felt like I was missing her life. I only had 2 hours with her a day at best. And she was amazing and beautiful!

And then I changed my mind and decided to have another. But with the condition I would only go part time or quit after they were born. I couldn't do it again. I couldn't leave 2 kids behind and miss both their lives.

And he was born in December and here we are. I quit my job and my stay-at-home husband is now working full time. I get to see my babies grow up! 

Being a stay at home mom is way easier than working

It's been one week. I can't wait to see if I change my mind and how. 

In some ways it hasn't sunk in. I feel like I'm still out on leave or on a brief hiatus. I don't feel like I have endless time stretching out before me. Maybe it never feels like that. Maybe if I lived in the 1950s and I was expecting to never work it would feel that way. But for now it feels like I have a deadline--through December when my baby turns one. Then maybe part time work and eventually back to full time someday. Not sure when I'll return to work, but I definitely view this as temporary.

And it is way easier than my incredibly demanding Silicon Valley job. Maybe the stakes are higher. I can quit a job and start fresh at a new one, but my kids and their outcomes--I only get one chance. So in that way it's very important. But the day to day so far has been much easier and much, much more fun and fullfilling.

Even adding housework it's not that bad. It's certainly not a serious addition to the workload. In fact, it's much more manageable because now I have time to do it properly--to clean all the things I know I need to but haven't had time to. And even with self-imposed pressure, it's nothing compared to the constant on top of your game pressure I felt at my job. I had to work so hard, while missing my kid, and then come home and clean the house and cook dinner. Now I can do all that without the pressure and extra 60 hours out of my week! What a relief! What a lifestyle change! 

The strangest thing seems to be the role reversal. Now that DH is going to work, he's asking me for coffee or to make him a sandwich. And I can! Before I was like, "ha! That's funny. You can do it yourself." But since my "job" is now taking care of my family, I do it and I like it. But it's still weird. 

I love this new "job" and am so SO thankful I can do it. We gave up pretty much everything just so I can have this privilege. And I'm enjoying every second and don't want to miss a thing.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Baby's got a new sweater

And I made it!

Friday, December 19, 2014

New Baby Birth Story! Warning, TMI and Gory Details Ahead!

So I just had my baby! He's a beautiful and precious baby boy! I wanted to write down my birth story with him for anyone who is interested. He was born at 7:44 am on December 17, 2014. He's an amazing, precious kid and I'm SO THANKFUL he's out of me! I felt like the pregnancy and labor and everything took FOREVER.

So, FAIR WARNING, there will be a lot of TMI, a lot of gross stuff, and no filter in the following descriptions. If you don't want to read it, stop now. Otherwise, don't say I didn't warn you!

So, I was due December 14 and I expected him to come early because his big sister was 3 days before her due date. And I figured he'd come a few days before she did. But when we got to my 37 week appointment, the midwife said he'd probably come around my due date. So of course I assumed that meant a few days before my due date. Well, we got to the 38 week appointment and I was 1 cm dialated, maybe 50% effaced. Then at 39 weeks, same. Then I started to get pretty upset. When my midwife said he was probably not coming before my due date, I was not happy. I was partly furious with my body and angry at myself for expecting he'd come early.

I was feeling ok pregnancy-wise, just tight and big, but I'd come down with bronchitis and then pulled a muscle or bruised a rib on my left side from coughing so hard. It hurt so much that I was in pain when I was breathing! Ugh. Not fun. I tried calling my pulmonologist because I was experiencing it as breathing pain. But his office was closed (this was a Friday--actually a week ago). So I called my primary care doctor. Their office was closed for a staff meeting. So I called my midwife. She told me to go to Labor and Delivery triage. I didn't want to but I was concerned and so was she. She made it sound like I'd just go in, get checked out, verify that everything was ok, and then leave. When I got there they made sure the baby was fine, then sent me to the emergency room. They gave me EKGs, heart monitors, etc. then I demanded to leave, so they had a doctor come to clear me to leave who checked my chest and said it was bronchitis. I got a chest xray just to make sure it wasn't anything more serious and everything was clear. I asked what I should do for the pain. He said Tylenol. Took 4+ hours for this verdict.

The next day I figured out that the pain was coming from one side and was incredibly severe. So, I took Tylenol and iced it. That helped but it still hurt. At my 40 week appointment a few days later, I BEGGED my midwife to prescribe me something stronger than Tylenol and she prescribed me Tylenol 3, which helped a bit.

I also begged her to strip my membranes so she tried, but I was still only 1, MAYBE 2cm and 60% effaced. She said she couldn't even get in my cervix to strip the membranes. That made me super sad. She said the baby was turned crooked which was why he hadn't come out yet. And why it might take awhile before he did. I got some tips from friends and family on stuff to do to reposition him and I did it all. I worked SUPER hard on it because I kept hearing from people that after they did one position or another they went into labor right away. And, of course, I wanted him to come out so I did every one of them!

The next morning (Tuesday, the 16th) I woke up to a disturbing sight: my "mucus plug" had apparently come out. Yeah, so I never heard of it coming out the way it did. Most people see a bit at a time or once they are in labor and apparently it means almost nothing about when labor will start, but it was basically a GIANT mucous-y dark blood tinged thing that was 4-5 inches long and 1 inch round in diameter. SUPER GROSS. I called Aaron in and said, "you have to see this. Be prepared to see something gross." and showed him. He was grossed out too. And I called my midwife, doula, etc. and read up on it and was basically like, yep means nothing. Call me if you continue having blood come out. And I did. Light blood, but fresh and steady like a light period.

So I made an appointment with the midwife for later that day around 1:30. I started having some contractions around noon so my doula arranged to meet me there. The midwife checked me again and I wasn't any more dialated or effaced, and she said I should go home until labor got more intense. So we did. At that point, my contractions mostly stopped. Even though some were kind of intense, mostly they had stalled quite a bit. So the doula and I hung out, took a walk, and then she left around 5pm. I laid down and tried to sleep a little, but then the contractions started to get longer and stronger. The doula said to call her when they were about 45 seconds long and 3-5 minutes apart. I rested. I took a little walk around the house with AJ and tried to stay upright and moving so they would progress.

The doula came back around 8 and we walked a little around the house, I sat down, we watched some TV and I laid down. Then around 10pm I said that the contractions were getting strong enough we should probably go to the hospital before the car ride was miserable.0

We got to the hospital around 10:30 and they put me in triage, hooked me up to the monitors, and checked me. I was only 2cm dilated STILL and 60% effaced. They asked if my water had broken. I told them I wasn't sure (earlier I thought that it might be leaking), so they checked, but because I had blood they couldn't do the usual test. I was having contractions here and there, but the contractions had reduced a bit and weren't as close together, even though they hurt. They said they couldn't admit me to the hospital unless my water had broken. So they did another test. After another hour they came back and said it hadn't broken. So they said I had to be discharged and I could either get a shot of Morphine mixed with something to help me sleep for about 4 hours if I was in a lot of pain or I could try to walk around the hospital for awhile and see if the contractions got worse.

They discharged me around 12:30am. The doula and Aaron and I discussed what we should do. Should I go home and try and sleep? I said if I had to go home, I would definitely take the Morphine because I was in so much pain and because it was my reward for having to go home and come back again, but I had questions about what if I progressed quickly--what would the effect be? Aaron suggested we just go home. I couldn't decide (it was hard to make choices even in early labor and that late at night. I asked the doula what she thought. She said we should walk around for 30 minutes then check in and see if it makes sense to leave, then go and get the morphine if I want that. So we walked around the L&D ward a few times and the contractions started getting a little stronger, but not dramatically. After a few laps I was tired and said we should just go back and get the morphine.

So we checked back in, then they had to monitor my contractions and the baby again. I tried laboring with my arms draped over the back of the bed and moving around so I could get "uncomfortable" to try and progress labor. They monitored me for 30 minutes and then checked me and I was still only 2cm dilated. At that point, I just started crying. I completely broke down and bawled my eyes out. Then, in between contractions cried because they hurt and cried because I hadn't progressed at all. I was having back labor and it hurt in between contractions, too.

At that point the midwife decided to admit me because she saw that my labor was changing and because with my daughter I progressed so quickly, she was concerned that if they gave me the morphine and I had to turn around and have a baby in an hour it might hurt the baby (then my question is why the heck would they give it to me anyway?). She said she'd admit me, but not do any interventions unless my body started showing progress on my own.

It took an excruciating hour at least to be admitted and when I finally did I was hardly able to walk. But sitting in a wheelchair sounded worse, so I slowly walked, supported by my doula and husband to the room, stopping for a couple contractions. When we got to the room I had to be monitored again, but I was begging for drugs. I decided to try the Fentanyl first but I was almost sure I wanted an epidural. However, because I wavered on that, I decided to try the Fentanyl first and then see how I was. After at least another 30 minutes of contractions they finally got me the Fentayl. It did help a little, but not as much as I needed. 30 minutes after I got that, the midwife checked me and I was finally at 3cm. The midwife asked if I wanted her to break my water and I said yes please. I wanted to speed up the process. Apparently the bag of waters was very thick, she said. Which explained why it hadn't broken yet.

After she broke my water, everything got MUCH worse. I was in the most severe pain I could imagine, even with the Fentanyl. I was begging for the epidural. I had been previously been concerned if I got it that it would stop labor and I'd need Pitocin, then more epidural and then end up with a C-section. But at that point I was begging for a C-section, so I didn't care. Within 15 minutes the guy got there, but during that time I was screaming. I could not bear the contractions. They were at least 90 seconds long and a minute or so apart. I couldn't go with the pain. I couldn't do the breathing they told me too. I couldn't get a break. When I finally go the epidural around 3:30am, the guy who did it told me that I needed to move a certain way and I felt I couldn't especially with the contractions. I was screaming and crying about it, but eventually he got it in me. He said it would take 15 minutes to kick in. Slowly it started to, but I screamed through it until the contractions finally were lessened. I could feel the pressure and my crotch felt sore and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably, but there was relief. I felt itchy all over from the numbness and I could still feel contractions, but I could finally get some rest. I fell asleep for a little bit.

I woke up a little before 6 and asked when someone would check me to see if I'd progressed. They said they wouldn't do it until 8 unless I thought I was feeling pressure. I said ok, then in about 15 minutes had 4 contractions in a row that had a lot of pressure and I felt like I had to poop or push. So the midwife came and checked me and I was all the way dilated and effaced! I was thrilled. I wasn't sure if they were going to tell me I hadn't progressed and they needed to give me Pitocin. So they got ready for me to push and I started pushing at 6:44. I pushed and pushed to try and get the hang of it--it was a little tricky with the epidural and numb legs and laying down. I was expecting I would squat like I did with the first one. But the epidural meant I couldn't squat. And the contractions helped me push. I could feel them but they weren't the horrible pain I experienced with my daughter.

At 7am there was a shift change and the nurses and midwife that had been helping me had to leave and new ones came in. The midwife who came in looked in on my next push and then said, "Oh! We're getting ready to have a baby! Let me get my gloves!" That was so encouraging and exciting. I was so happy. I thought for sure at that point that I'd have to push for hours and then need a C-section.

So she helped me push and pretty soon I heard that the head was coming out. The pushing contractions became more intense and I pushed him all the way out. When he got out, I held him. It was so exciting and wonderful! I said, "I'm SO GLAD you are out of me!" I have never ever ever been happier about my baby being outside of me and in the world. The pregnancy and labor were so long I thought he would never come out of me! And he had. I held him close while they cleaned us up. He had pooped meconium all over me, but I didn't care, he was here! It was the most amazing moment of relief I ever had.

And that's about it. I had first degree tears and got 2 stitches, but really my recovery has been fine. Being up all night really exhausted me, but beyond that I feel pretty close to recovered. Once I got some sleep, I feel really good. Baby is perfect. Literally came out not crying - just a few fusses, didn't cry from his heel pricks, or being naked, or getting a bath or anything! Hardly even fusses when he's hungry. And I love him so very, very much.

Hope that labor story was fun.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Baby bump pics: weeks 9-16

So I finally uploaded some belly pics! The first is me at week 9. It's hard to believe that I was ever so thin and small. Waaaaaah. I say this as I'm about to go into week 17 and I feel much more huge and a little shocked I ever looked THAT good.

For comparison, here are pics from my first pregnancy of around the same time:

The one below is from week 14 (comparison 12-14 weeks and 15 weeks):

And this one is 16 weeks. (Comparison: Me at 17 weeks with baby #1) Roughly now. Look how much rounder!

All of these were taking in the morning before I ate any food. So you know they can't be tainted by anything but the occasional extra bloat.

I think this baby is going to be huge. Then again, I have some awesome comparisons from my first pregnancy and maybe it's not that different!

Friday, May 30, 2014

How Much Drama is a Friendship Worth?

I hate drama. 

I know some people thrive on drama. And, I'll admit a little bit keeps things interesting. A little mistake here and there or accidentally angering someone and then apologizing keeps things from getting boring. But only with quick resolution and in long-term friendships.

But what about a friendship that is new, not deep, and not committed? What if someone perceives you to have done something so terrible that they must "talk to you about it" but not so heinous that they can just permanently end the friendship, but you have a minimal investment in the friendship? Then what? How do you determine if a friendship is worth trying to work out an issue?

To me, very few friendships are worth the drama. Even some of the best friendships I ever had ended over drama. Drama that I can't even remember now. I was mad for some reason. And maybe they were too. And we just let circumstance end it.

I'm a classic extrovert. I make friends easily and I lose friends easily. Almost none of my friendships are deep. I just don't naturally foster and keep deep friendships. I don't consider myself the kind of person who "throws away" people or finds people disposable. On the contrary, I believe that, for me, friendships meet certain needs at certain times. For example, I am very good at making friends with people who are outcasts or know no one. And I consider myself a "transitional friend" to them. I bridge the gap, help them feel welcome, give them confidence, and am a person they can confide in until they can meet more friends who will meet their deeper needs. I don't believe I meet the deeper needs of most people I befriend. And I'm totally ok with this.

With this in mind, when a casual friendship hits a serious bump in the road--to the point where the other person needs to have a deep, serious conversation with me, this is where I usually decide to cut my losses and move on. Sure we can have the conversation, but the fact that you need to have it with me is enough for me to think I don't want to continue with this long-term. If, every time you have an issue, you need to sit down and have a serious talk, I'm just not sure it's worth the trouble. Yes, you care enough about our friendship to talk it out, which I appreciate. But it also signals to me that you might be a person who finds drama where there is none. And, sorry, but I can't deal with that.

If you are family, it's worth the effort. If I've been friends with you for a long time, you probably haven't done this before so I know it's not a pattern. But I just don't have that confirmation in a new or casual friendship.

But here's the tricky part: What if your kid and my kid are friends? What if they are best friends? And what if we see you all the time, so will be faced with each other regularly? Now, my decision to end a friendship is not just my decision. I'm faced with 2 choices: 1. Try and explain to my kid why she can't see her friend anymore EVERY TIME she sees her friend AND try to awkwardly be polite to the parents when I see them, or 2. Try and deal with it for the kid's sake. Try to mend the damage that's been done and move forward.

I really hate being forced into this position. But I guess I have no choice. I guess I have to try and face the drama head on and move on. Hopefully this is a one-off. Hopefully this will never happen again. But if it does, we probably won't be friends anymore. Yep, maybe it's my issue. I'm damaged and can't deal with conflict. But it's still my choice.

Ugh. What do you think?

Friday, May 16, 2014

My Body is... Confused.

I started out this pregnancy freezing cold. And I mean FREEZING cold. A few weeks ago, our house was 74 degrees and I was huddled up with a blanket. When it got to 84 later that day, I finally felt comfortable enough to remove the blanket.

It's clear to me that pre-pregnancy, I was getting back to feeling cold all the time after having been through 4ish years of pregnancy and post-partum raging hormones which kept me warm. When winter started this year (and, keep in mind, "winter" here is in the 40s and 50s), I ordered silk base layers because I was literally wearing 3-5 layers on top on any given day. No matter how much sun there was, no matter how much time I spent indoors. No matter how much time I went outside and exercised to warm up.

Then I got pregnant and hoped I'd be warm again. To the contrary, I got even colder. When the temperature inside reached below 74 degrees, I felt very, very cold. When it dips down to 65 inside, I am beyond uncomfortable. Multiple layers, warm sweaters, heavy blankets, and a heating pad barely help.

The last 3 days we've had a heatwave. It's been nice and toasty in the house. Then today it dipped down all the way to 71 inside. Brrrrrrrrrr. But now it's 73 and I'm sweating. And, I must say, I'm... confused. Am I hot? or Am I cold? Did my system need a heat jump-start or am I finally reaching the point where I'm warm again in pregnancy? At any rate it is weird to be shivering at 71 degrees and sweating at 73.... so yeah. Confused. Anyone else have this problem?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Doing it again.

We are doing it again: having another kid. Am I crazy? Well, we already know I'm pretty crazy to begin with and the last pregnancy pushed me over the edge, so I think it's safe to say yes.

But really, I'm under the watchful eye of a trained psychiatrist who is going to help me try and manage my perinatal and post partum depression this time with medication. I'm still on the Zoloft and a few other things and he and all my doctors are keeping an eye on me and the meds to make sure both me and the baby are safe.

I'm 9 weeks something and so far the second time is way easier than the first. Well, easier mentally. Physically probably a bit more challenging. I've been nauseous more intensely, but for a shorter period of time. My boobs hurt as much as the first time around and it's been harder to take care of myself because of the older child. None of these are surprising. I think I find myself more annoyed by pregnancy this time around, just because I don't have time to pamper myself like I did the first time around. And I know how much worse it gets. And I know how awesome it is when the baby comes out and I'm super impatient.

And I'm already showing a bit. And indigested all the time. But my big girl is so excited to become a big sister! And that is so fun.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Younique Fiber Mascara Review

My friend started selling this mascara and I thought I'd give it a try and share the results with you!

What: mascara and green tea fibers that you alternate putting on your lashes to build them longer and thicker. Comes with 2 separate wands: gel (looks like regular black mascara) and fibers (don't be intimidated! They go on just like mascara).

How: I will admit I was intimidated at first. But then I watched this video my friend posted and I gave it a try and it was so easy! Just put on the gel, then the fiber, then the gel and repeat to build up you lashes to your liking. I love that you can build up the lashes as long and thick as you like. Here are the results:

Before - No makeup!

Left eye has 3 builds, right eye has none.

After 3 builds!
What do you think? Looks good? For more info you can go here!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Eyelashes: Benefit They're Real! Mascara

Ok so a friend of mine asked me to show before and after pictures of a certain mascara but before I did I thought I'd show you how Benefit They're Real mascara looks so you can compare. So the pictures are the before, after, and then after with my eyes closed. I really love this mascara for every day although it did feel a little harsh on my lashes. I think it makes them look long and luscious, don't you?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Giving Up The Pacifiers

My baby turned 3.5 this weekend and with that came our mandatory giving up of the pacifiers. 

This girl was ATTACHED. Look at that face. A friend recommended putting the binky in a Build-a-Bear. Genius! Except I'm pretty sure AJ would have figured out a way to rip through to get to that binky again.

Here's what we did, though, and it seems to have worked. So far. Only 4 days in.

  • We talked to her about it about a month in advance then reminded her every day until the day of
  • We planned a "No More Paci Party."
  • We watched the Sesame Street/Elmo TV episode where Elmo gives up his Binky. This went a long way of helping her not feel alone and gave a voice to her feelings, which she can't really express. It also helped us to acknowledge that, yes, this is hard, but it's important as we get bigger. She watches it every day when she feels sad and misses her pacifiers
  • For the party, we decorated a box that we would put the pacifiers in to give to a new baby. AJ dictated a few words:

  • I got a few little gifts for her and wrapped them up and put them out in the morning and told her she couldn't open them until she gave up her binkies. She put them all in the box and we sealed it and took it outside before she could change her mind. Then she opened her presents.
  • We got her a bike a few days later. We made a huge deal of her being a big kid and how proud we were of her, etc. Here she is riding it with Dada:

So far, she's been sleeping without it. She mentions she wants/misses her pacifiers most days and we say we know it's hard, but she's doing great. We give her some comfort and remind her that she's big and how proud of her we are. I don't know if it helps, but she does get to sleep.

The fact that I'm still nursing her helps (yes, go ahead and judge. I about threw up when a former coworker she breast fed her kid until he was 3, I was so disgusted. Clearly I didn't plan this, but that's a whole other post). Generally it went pretty smoothly.

She's a quiet little thing (something I DO NOT understand) so I never know what's going on in that little brain and who knows if it will continue. But so far so good!

Friday, May 31, 2013

My 17-year-old Friend Hannah is Missing

This is Hannah. She's been missing for a week. She's 17 year old and
babysits for us as well as goes to our church and my friend. She was
last seen in Alameda, CA, but could be anywhere (most likely in the
Bay Area or CA). Please be on the lookout for her and if you see her
please contact me at hannahkirk at gmail or contact the police. Please
help us find her!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Jet Lagged and Possibly Cured: More tales from Italy with a 3-Year Old

Apparently jet lag is latent in my daughter. She was fine yesterday, but this morning we got up at 3:30 and just didn't get back to sleep. On the other hand for the first time in 3 years, I haven't taken my sleep medication to sleep for an entire night last night AND the night before. This is HUGE. Lets also not forget all the time changes and sleep disruptions of international travel and I think it's fair to say I'm on the upside of my PPD recovery (praise God)!

Some tips on traveling to Europe with a kid:
  1. Bring the stroller. I wavered on this. Before our trip, I read about how hard it is to maneuver them on cobblestone streets, how your stroller won't make it on narrow sidewalks and in crowds and up and down lots of steps. BUT, unless your child is too big for a stroller, bring it. I never once regretted it and many times said, "thank god we brought the stroller!" We got a fancy MacLaren Volo that easily collapses and folds out. I don't necessarily think it was necessary to get a new tiny stroller. You could have a giant BOB stroller and it would be better than none. The stroller allowed us to walk quickly (a must in Europe), our daughter to nap while we did grownup things, and provided a place to play/watch movies/play games for her when she wasn't interested in what we were doing. We folded it up and walked with it a fair amount but that wasn't strictly necessary. Two people can easily pick up a stroller to go up and down a few steps and you can plan around steps in most cases. Europe is generally very accessible and is conscientious of disabled access to buildings which makes having a stroller very doable. Just don't expect to use it for storage because you will have to pack it up once and awhile.
  2. Bring your mobile babysitter: a tablet, gaming system, or smartphone. For our parents the TV was a babysitter at home. In our world, the mobile phone is your portable babysitter. Games, movies, and hours of entertainment kept our daughter engaged in a pinch. It was mostly a last resort, but I never regretted it. It's a good idea to bring light, engaging toys with you too. We brought wiki sticks (bendaroos). Know your child and find the lightest toy that entertains them for long periods of time.
  3. Take the tours. At Pompeii and in the Vatican museum we did the tours. At the Palentine hill we didn't. With a kid you only have so many resources you can focus on a place with rich history. You cannot read the pamphlet, listen to an audio tour, push a stroller, and attend to the needs of yourself and your child while sightseeing. A tour makes it so much easier and is worth the money. Otherwise you sort of lose the value of the time and money you spend at a place.
  4. It's the kids' vacation too! Learn about the places you will visit in advance. Make it a big deal. Read books, look at pictures, and talk about it. Buy souvenirs for the kids if they ask. Set a limit of a certain number of items or amount of money, but allow some room for them to buy something they love and want within reason.
  5. Bribery. Find parks, ice cream, or some other reward for them when you can. Use it to encourage good behavior thought the day.
  6. Buy giant bottles of water at a grocery store and fill them up. It's (much) cheaper than on the go and you always have it on hand to help you and your kid(s) stay hydrated and healthy.
  7. Have picnics when you can. It's cheaper and you don't have to find food when the kids are hungry.
  8. Pack carry-ons only. This is vital if you plan to travel to more than one place. DH and I both carried a backpack and he carried/rolled our 2 small bags while I pushed AJ in the stroller. Any bigger of bags and it would have been hard to make it onto crowded trains with narrow aisles. 
  9. Plan to take it slow. Assume that it will be too much to do more than 1 big thing (2+ hours) or 2 small things (1-2 hours each) in one day. Plan for the worst and prioritize, especially for the first 1-2 jet lagged days. Avoid having a set plan for each day. We had a list of priorities. As in, while we were in Rome we wanted to see the Coliseum, the Vatican, and the Spanish Steps. We didn't specify what day we would do which, but left it open so we could choose what we wanted to do on that day or the day before. If you have time to do more, then that's great. It's VERY easy to add items to the itinerary. It's much harder to try to cut things down, especially when you already have paid or have timed tickets or people waiting for you (even without kids!).
Ok, this is enough for my jet-lagged brain today. More coming soon!