Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 - a year in review


I "borrowed" this from the witty A'Dell. She's a real live blogger and I am blessed to actually know her, in person. (And sadly, I don't see her enough)

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
I had 2 kids. I worked from home with a newborn and a 2 year old. I faced life with a food allergy (well, technically a "protein intolerance" but that doesn't roll off the tongue as easily as "food allergy" and for all intents and purposes, I am eating as it were an allergy). I cut all milk and soy based products of out of my diet*. (*see also, I went more than just a few days without chocolate... in fact, I've gone 5 months and counting... I'm still amazed by this one.)

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any resolutions, though I did really pray that I would have a closer relationship with the Lord through more bible study and time in prayer. I did great for a good chunk of the year but I've really fallen hard the past few months, and been putting all the other stuff first. Why is it SO easy to do that? I really want to work my way back to where I was. I'm starting a new devotional called "Jesus Calling" starting January 1.

I also really resolved at some point this year to stop complaining so much. To stop using facebook and my blog as outlets to whine about small, daily problems in my life and my negative feelings about certain things. Quite honestly, I needed to down right watch my words and check my negativity at the door. "Pray it before you say it." I wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel like I made big strides in this area and I really hope to continue my efforts.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I did, my best friend did, 2 other close non-blogging friends did and countless AWESOME bloggers also welcomed new little people to this world. (Including the aforementioned A'Dell--our babies' names even rhyme--along with my blogging BFF Alison) It was a good year to be born.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully. Praise God for health in my loved ones.

5. What countries did you visit?
Zero travel for us this year. I'm good with it.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you didn't have in 2011?
First and foremost, sleep. A better foot hold on the food allergy situation and strength to press through with nursing until she's weaned. Time for myself. A daily routine that is consistent.

7. What dates from 2011 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
7/19/11 - Baby S's birthday, for obvious reasons
7/4/11- We didn't do anything big, but I'll always remember watching the fireworks from an almost-finished-nursery window with Little L.
Other than that? Not many... this year was a bit of a blur with pregnancy and a highly colicky, sleepless baby.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

9. What was your biggest failure?
Making time for myself, learning to accept the chaos/inconsistency that has come with Baby S

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing more than the standard fare

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My Kate.Spade diaper bag. The signature leggings (in black and gray) from J.Crew that I literally wear every day. Also, we didn't buy the thing, but my dad had a DVD player installed in the van for us for Christmas... LOVE IT.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Little L. She's been awesome and handled the transition of being an only child to a big sister just wonderfully. My husband. He has been a wonderful help in a very stressful time.
My dad and stepmom. They were such help with Little L when baby S was born.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
There are so many personal relationships I've had that have left me saddened this year. No need for each to be listed.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage. Medical expenses. Pharmaceuticals. Whole-Foods. Amazon. BabyGap.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Little L's 2nd birthday. Finding out we were having another girl. Baby S's birthday. Christmas.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
There's a song on the Jewel lullaby album, called "Forever and a Day." I've literally heard it eleven billion times at this point (it's on my ipod, which I turn on every time I put S to sleep), but it still makes me weepy and will always flood my mind with memories of rocking/pacing baby S to sleep and consoling her in the early months when she was in complete agony.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
A) Happier! I am so blessed with an amazing family. I never knew it could be this good. (plus? added bonus, I'm NOT PREGNANT)
B) Exactly the same. It took me a few months to start gaining weight with Baby S (I was about 3 months pregnant this time last year) and I am currently at my pre-pregnancy weight, so I call this one a wash.
C) Richer. We paid off a car loan almost 3 years early this year.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Running. I really haven't been able to do it because I've been too tired and all my "free" time has been devoted to work.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Worrying. Obsessing about breastfeeding vs formula. Eating double stuff oreos. Feeling sorry for myself.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At home, first as a family of 4. Watching an almost-3-year-old excitedly rip in to present after present until no more were left.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
I fell in love with my new little person. I am ready for 2012.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
New Girl with Zooey.Deschanel. I love her. We also started watching Raising Hope this year and it makes me laugh so.stinking.hard. I need to laugh. I dropped a TON of junk TV this year and I cannot say I miss a lick of it.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No. I make it a personal policy not to hate anyone. Well, except for Wal.mart. I definitely hate Wal.mart. But that's not new this year. Just a fact.

24. What was the best book you read?
My husband bought me a Kindle and I used it like maybe 10 times all year? (I am so embarrassed about this, but, you know, working from home with 2 kids...) I really enjoyed "Bringing up Girls" and am still slowly plodding through "A Woman after God's own heart." It's a great book but really it is a free time issue.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Francesca Battestelli. Also, "Praise Baby" albums are my new favorite thing ever.

26. What did you want and get?
2 very healthy girls. New clothes. A Kate.Spade box under the Christmas tree.

27. What did you want and not get?
Lots and lots of chocolate. Cheese pizza. Mexican food. Sleep. Time with my husband. A real vacation.

28. What was your favorite film of 2011?
I love movies but we just haven't done many lately. Unless Disney and kid movies count? I thought Tangled was pretty freaking spectacular, it may have dethroned my previous favorite princess movie, Beauty and the Beast. I also think I watched Inception earlier this year (it may have been last year but I just don't remember) and it was pretty intriguing. Not like best-movie-ever or anything, but I enjoyed it.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
32. My best friend and her family came over. I remember being very tired but so happy to see them.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More time with God.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2011?
After I got past wearing the exact same denim maternity shorts and black maternity tshirt every single day for like 2 months (it was HOT THIS SUMMER and I had a winter pregnancy last time and refused to buy more maternity clothes), and then wearing the exact same 10 year old pair of American.Eagle jeans and brown Gap tshirt every day for 3 months part partum, I realized that my closet needed a major overhaul. I tossed out a ton of stuff I was hanging on to for no real reason other than it made me feel "safe" to have so many clothes and shoes in my closet (we're talking 11 pairs of shoes among piles of clothes) and I let my husband splurge on good, quality clothes for me for Christmas. I vowed I will no longer binge shop on clothes at outlet malls and clearance racks. There are good pieces in those places from time to time, but often those clothes are there for a reason. They wash weird, wind up being ill fitting or are simply out of style by the time you buy them. No more.

32. What kept you sane?
My best friend. I am so thankful we both had babies this year. Our older children were staggered (she was past the baby stage with her 2 oldest by the time Little L was doing interesting baby stuff) and while it is just a blessing to be able to share kid stuff at all, it is TRULY special to be at the same place at the same time. We've bounced all kinds of sleep training, breastfeeding and baby product stuff off each other non-stop. There are not enough words of gratitude or love for her and the relationship we share.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
I avoided a lot of politics other than the Republican primary stuff... primarily because there was no more room in my mind/heart to get emotional over anything. I got all wrapped up in the Penn State thing (yes, I realize, not political but is to make a point) and it EXHAUSTED me. I didn't sleep for 2 nights tossing and turning thinking about it. I so easily get too emotionally involved in things that hit home for me.

34. Who did you miss?
My mom.

35. Who was the best new person you met?
Other than baby S, our new pediatrician. She's not perfect, but in the words of Little L, "I yike her."

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Prioritize. When times get overwhelming, something has gotta give, and I learned which things should be given first and which should never ever be put second. Also? Having a mini-van with 2 kids is AWESOME. Don't care how uncool anyone thinks I am.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
It won't be like this for long.

Monday, December 19, 2011

5 months

Not really sure how it is possible for baby S to already be 5 months old, but today she is.

This has been a month of ups and downs for sure. The dreaded 4 month sleep regression hit hard and furious and lasted for weeks. Then, as soon as we thought we were through the worst of it, she started teething. I can already tell teething is going to be a long and arduous process for her, which makes me feel awful. It seems like she's just had the toughest time with EVERYTHING in her little life. MSPI, tummy drama, massive gas, acid reflux, fevers from vaccinations, sleep drama, early teething... anything a healthy little baby can have issues with, she's dealt with it. You might think that would make me more frustrated and have a shorter fuse with her, but really it has been the opposite. I feel like we are SUCH buddies and she's spent more time in my arms than not. I adore this baby, I am amazed at the amount of patience God has given me over her care. I don't even get grumpy when she wakes me up 4 times a night, which is really unlike me. I just want to comfort her and let her know how loved she is. I am so thankful for coffee.

She's squealing and making all kinds of adorable sounds. The smiling is never ending, she loves her sister so much I cannot stand it. There is a smile she reserves specifically for Little L and when I see her flash it, my heart stops. I never even dreamed that seeing the 2 of them together would be as marvelous as it is. I know when she gets old enough to get in to her sister's toys and be a pest and they start fighting and having all kinds of girl drama, I'll look back on this time and remember how sweet it was.

We tried cereal a few times this month. The first time, when it was REALLY runny and more breastmilk than cereal, she did marvelous. But as I began to thicken it up in the following weeks, she struggled with tummy pain and gas... TONS of crying after eating. So I'm done with it for now. We'll try again at 6 months. I think she's ready and very interested but her body isn't.

This weekend she found her feet. It occurred to me she hasn't had much time in just a diaper or onesie because it has been pretty cold lately. She's usually in clothes with footies or socks... so I left her on the bed after a bath in just a diaper and a towel for a while and she went BANANAS over her toes. The cuteness killed me and then I died.

I haven't weighed or measured her but she feels and looks bigger. She's just about too long for her 6 month clothes but still kinda swimming in the width of them. I can't believe how skinny she is. The cheeks are adorable and chubby, though, so I'll take it. I sometimes wonder if it is because I'm not really eating much fat without milk products in my diet? Or maybe this is just the way she is. I still haven't tried formula.... continuing to take this whole thing day by day.

Sleep is what it is. I'm not getting any expectations up about this baby sleeping through the night anytime soon. The end.

I cannot wait for her first Christmas and part of me just wishes I could slow time down... but at the same time, I know how much more fun each month gets so I am excited for her to grow. I just want to savor the sweet and quiet snuggly baby moments as much as I can.

Friday, December 9, 2011

ramblings and updates

1) It is Christmas time and I am LOVING IT. We are ready and enjoying every day of December. Two 9' trees were decorated, countless presents have already been wrapped and one little girl has fallen hopelessly in love with "the numbers house." (aka Advent calendar) I've loved all the witty bloggers who've had a fun advent activity scheduled for each day and I wish I were that creative and able to do something similar. Instead, my advent calendar is plainly stuffed with hers.hey kisses and a few random gift tags scattered in each week associated with presents under the tree we are letting her open early. She doesn't seem to mind the simplicity and asks to open the doors FIRST THING every morning.

2) In conjunction with Christmas, I've had to refine my parenting skills and work on how I want to approach the holiday season with my children. I've already begun to see how the whole "gifts, gifts, gifts" and "gimme, gimme, gimme" aspect of this time of year can TAKE OVER in no time flat. Between all the holiday themed cartoons and conflicting information she gets from everyone who talks to her about the subject, I've really had to take a step back and evaluate my stance on certain things. I love the idea of Christmas being a magical time for her, but want her to understand that it is primarily a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, be with family and be charitable to others in need. Santa is a nice man who does his best to bring a toy to children each year and she'll get 1 gift from him while she still believes in his existence. I don't like the idea of "naughty/nice," because I don't see how holding the threat of no presents over her throughout the year is ever going to be a good parenting strategy for me. And when it comes down to it? I'd never, ever change my gift buying/giving plan based on whether or not she's a "good" or "bad" girl. I mean, she's MY DAUGHTER and I love her and her Christmas gift experience every year has no bearing whatsoever on how she acts. My parenting and her behavior will always be unrelated to Christmas.

3) My Christmas wish list? Because I KNOW you're all dying to see it.

4) Her daddy finally got her room painted and we LOVE it. I also found some adorable bird wall decals on at PBK for $12 (yes, they sell things for that cheap, WHO KNEW?!) and I just ADORE THEM.

5) Baby S is doing well, though "sleeping through the night" definitely still eludes us. Bedtime is a snap, I put her down in her crib somewhere between 7:30-8:00 each night and she goes right to sleep. She gets a "dream feed" at 11:00 before I go to bed and then it's just anyone's guess from there. She still usually wakes up 2-3 times a night. I try not to feed her until after 4:00 AM. More often than not, she winds up in our room after that time. Trekking up and down the stairs in the middle of the night is just killing me but it is important to me she gets used to her room, albeit for a few hours at nighttime. (she takes a day naps up there, too)

6) We're still nursing and living the MSPI dream. I bought a bottle and have a can of Alim.entum sitting in my pantry but I just can't bring myself to give her formula. I don't know why. I'm just not ready I guess. Despite the continued issue with blocked ducts and my diet drama, I know deep down inside that breastmilk is just the best for her. Plus, I think the hardest part in all of this for me is the fact that I already nursed a baby for 12 months. I know just how awesome and easy it is and I KNOW I CAN DO IT. So, I decided instead of putting any kind of formal timeline in my head over this, I'm just going to take it day by day. I'll either get to a breaking point or we'll just overcome, right? I did give her some rice cereal over the weekend and she did great. I should probably be giving it more often but eh? Feeding solids takes SO MUCH EFFORT and if I'm being honest? I don't have the energy for it on top of everything else right now. I'll get to it next week, right? ;-) AND? I found a picture of Little L the first time I put her in the high chair and I am shocked that my girls do ACTUALLY look alike. I've never thought they did until just now.

7) Its that time of year where all the local radio stations are doing their holiday wishes for families in need and every time I get in the car these days, I wind up crying. Yesterday I heard a story about a baby diagnosed with leukemia at 3 months and all she and her parents have been through. And I think to myself that MSPI is NOTHING. NOTHING. The "drama" we've dealt with from it is nothing compared to people with genuinely sick kids. I should feel GRATEFUL she's alive every time I hear her cry and wake me up at night time. And all the tantrums and lack of potty training interest in the world cannot compare to a child who is too sick to put up a fight or argue with me all day long. I take for granted that all the frustrating things my kids do are the actions of incredibly healthy children and instead of feeling frustrated or complaining, I should THANK GOD for those things.

8) Work is so busy. I am taking on more responsibilities that I feel will actually advance my future career path and somewhere in my head realize that in actively agreeing to take this stuff on I am acknowledging that motherhood is not the end of my professional life. I think part of me always wondered if I'd throw myself back in to full time working world at some point when my kids are in school and YES. Yes, I will. I really like that part of myself. I'm good at what I do.

9) I am a LOUSY blog friend. It takes me forever to comment, if at all, and I stink at responding to emails. Just know I love you guys, I pray you are all enjoying my very favorite time of year and I wish Christmas blessings for you all!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

4 months

Baby S is 4 months. I'm still not sure how it is possible for time to move sooooo rapidly yet so slowly at the same time, but it has. Her appointment went well-ish. Meaning, I still definitely like her doctor. However, I really need to lower my expectations of pediatricians and their knowledge of nursing and related topics. Because I always go in expecting something definitive and always leave with the vague nonsense of "well, we just don't fully know how her digestion process will mature" and "well, I am supposed to tell you that breast is best but if it were me, I'd couldn't live on that diet."


I totally get it. But yet, I wanted more of a plan or idea from her on how to handle the MSPI situation. Basically, she handed me a sample of Alimen.tum and told me that I have done amazingly well to make it this far and few mothers she knows have done the same. So that's where we are. I could fill you with the details of all my recent personal health issues, the fact that my poor body has been declining weekly as I go along without milk and soy in my diet. The fact that I achieved the worst, MOST PAINFUL blocked duct of all time on Thanksgiving DAY. The fact that going anywhere outside of the house to eat is terrifying and 1/2 of the time results in a fussy baby with awful green diapers.

So there's that.

I'm still striving toward 6 months but at the rate I'm going, I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't make it. For some reason, I am unwilling to just CALL IT and go with formula, but at the same time I know that 8 more months of this is not likely best for me. I have to be real. And as much as I think nursing is the bee's knees and I love everything about it and the idea of NOT nursing my baby is kinda stomach turning, I think we've reached an impasse.

Otherwise? She's doing wonderfully. She was 13 lbs, 10 ozs and 25.5" long. She's slowed some on the growth charts but still in approved percentile ranges for everything. Her weight to height ratio is still extremely low, but the doctor isn't worried about it and feels it just indicates her build will always be long and lean. (Here's hoping for her sake.) She also gave me the go ahead to start solids if we're ready. With the food intolerance issue she recommended going very slowly with new food introduction, which is fine. I wasn't really thinking I would mess with it at all until closer to 6 months, but baby S has taken a HUGE interest in our food as of late. She STARES at everything everyone is eating and she is already open wide and eager when I put up the spoon of preva.cid to her mouth each day. So maybe rice cereal this week. We'll see.

She's still the most adorable little baby who just cannot stop smiling and loves to watch her big sister play. Toys are becoming more interesting to her, she's really playing WITH the toys on the gymini like crazy now and loves shoving anything she can grasp well in to her mouth. She's not rolled over again recently, but I'm good with that. She's content to just sit on a blanket or in her bouncy chair for pretty decent stretches while life goes on around her. That child is completely the joy of my heart. I can think of nothing I love more of the baby experience with her than the wee hours of the morning when I bring her to bed to snuggle. I honestly don't mind the 6:30 AM wakeup when she'll come right back to sleep with me.

We're still having sleep issues galore. She wakes up at least twice a night insisting on food. The times are always sporadic, never habitual-seeming, so right now I'm just going with it and feeding her if I can not get her to settle. She always goes right back to sleep after nursing. Maybe growth spurt, maybe regression... her pediatrician swore she saw teeth coming in, though it still seems a bit early for that to me. Who knows. I realized this go around I don't necessarily need to figure every little baby inconsistency out with an explanation for every behavior. She's a baby, she's not sleeping much. The end. I have deemed myself with a case of "functioning exhaustion." I sat down on the sofa Saturday night and closed my eyes for just one second and I was out like a light. Someone woke me up 20 minutes later, but hey. Any sleep right now is good sleep. Thank GOD for coffee and hot showers.

The holiday was terribly hectic. Sadly, we both realized AFTERWARDS we agreed to TOO many things and events and wound up smooth worn out by last night and really wishing we had at least another day or two to just veg before the work week. Though I'm thankful we had so many wonderful people to see and the ability to get out and enjoy the season. Little L's room got painted, though, glad that's done. (pictures soon!) I finally got my trees decorated and we did a boat load of Christmas shopping. I really love this time of year, even if it is chaotic and always wears you out no matter how hard you try to just take it easy.

I swear I'll be back with pictures and more fun chatter next time. Love to all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Latest and greatest

Friday night I was supposed to attend a huge, fancy grand opening of a swanky new hotel my company developed. I was actually excited all week to have a legit excuse to need a babysitter for a cool event and drag my husband with me for a work event-turned-date. The week was crazy, I didn't even think about what I was going to wear until an hour before we were supposed to leave and... well, you know. I tried on every single article of non-casual clothing in my closet and nothing fit. Because, I mean, I am still only 4 months post partum and although I've lost all the baby weight (courtesy of my MSPI imposed diet), my body is still weird and lumpy and everything I own that isn't jeans and a tshirt is a size-too-small for weird, lumpy post baby body. So I looked like a stuffed sausage in everything and I wound up sitting in a huge pile of clothes and fancy heels on my closet floor in tears. And just like that, we decided not to go at all. LAME.

I moved baby S to her room at night and its going ok. She's definitely sleeping longer in the morning because our commotion isn't waking her. She's still waking once or twice at night but I think its a combination of things and I'm not really worried about it. There's the whole 4 month sleep regression, a growth spurt, early signs of teething and a major developmental leap going on up in this house right now. Also? She's started laughing... like real, adorable, rock-my-world baby laughter. I'm not sure I could be wrapped any tighter around that little girl's pinkie finger right now.

Little L is a mixture of AWESOME days and AWFUL days. Heck, it is sometimes changing from hour to hour around here. But I'm dealing. She's my girl and I'll take the bad with the good any day. I'm glad for the 2 days a week she's in "school" and I'm so proud of how much she's learned in the past few months. I know she's teaching me more than I'm teaching her. Most heard phrases these days include "No, ma'am!", "Be a lady", "BE QUIET, MAMA" and "I love you more." You can surmise for yourself which ones make me want to come out of my skin and which ones make my heart melt.

The holidays are here. We are in the midst of a host of family drama, on both sides. So. While I am eager to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year, part of me wishes we could just lock down these 4 walls to contain just these 4 people. I've had a love/hate relationship with this aspect of the holidays ever since we got married, though, so at least I've come to expect that there will always be some unpleasant parts for me. I'm going to SAVOR the kid stuff, because I already anticipate that the look on Little L's face Christmas morning is going to trump any other junk that tries to bring me down.

I got a new stocking for baby S. We bought a new Christmas tree. We're going to shop for outdoor lights this weekend, right after we decorate the whole inside of the house with our new tree, garland, sparkly lights and candy canes. We're also painting Little L's room and bathroom tomorrow and I'm determined to find something cute to put on the wall over baby S's crib. So there's all that home-type stuff.

My post partum hair loss has started with ferocity. After 8 fistfuls of hair in the shower this morning alone, hair appointment to chop it all off tomorrow. That is the end of my hair story.

Baby S is 4 months on Saturday. Her appointment is next Tuesday. She looks very, VERY long and skinny to me. I am curious to hear her stats and discuss more the MSPI situation with her pedi. I keep telling myself I can do this and I keep finding myself not knowing what to eat and starving at the end of the day. I'm too tired to get creative with the cooking and there are like 3 takeout or ready to eat meal options for me so... I'm not eating properly right now for sure. Which I think is taking a hit on my overall health and my energy levels.

I really miss chocolate and cheese.

Love to all.

Monday, November 7, 2011

monday morning bits & pieces

* I am SO in love with my baby. I forgot the magical feeling of being utterly smitten with a new person in your life. Yes, they are awesome when they are first born and yes, I did love her a ton then. But as I get to know her personality and she interacts with more as the days pass, she becomes this awesome little human being that I cannot stop admiring. I feel like she just beams sunshine and joy 24/7. The child is radiant.

* I tried adding soy in to my diet a few times a couple weeks ago and while she didn't seem to have a HUGE reaction, she did act differently from her usual cheerful self. She also spit up all over me for the first time in months. I haven't tried again since. I think I've just conceded that I'd rather miss out on all my favorite holiday foods (mashed potatoes, stuffing, buttery corn, sweet potato casserole) this year than for one second risk her being in pain or unhappy. I will wait until 6 months in January to try again. I've made it almost 4 months nursing her and survived the MSPI diet. I'm pretty proud of that right now. If she has problems at 6 months, I'll likely spend a year of my life without any milk or soy proteins.

* I was quietly nursing her in bed at around 11:00 on Saturday night when I felt the bed MOVE. Then I realized the entire house was swaying a tiny bit and the monitor in Little L's room kicked on and I felt like I must have fallen asleep and been dreaming the whole thing because what the what? How could our house be moving? I didn't mention it to J because he was sleeping and I really thought I must have been losing my mind. I woke up the next day to see news of a 5.6 earthquake in Oklahoma. That was an aftershock I felt. IN TEXAS. AN EARTHQUAKE AFTERSHOCK. On a known fault line. Fancy that.

* Baby sleeping. UGH. It isn't that I mind waking up to feed and snuggle her at any time of the night AT ALL. In fact, I love those moments. What is difficult is that she sleeps 8-9 hours without so much as a peep one night and then wakes up 4 times during the night the next. Literally. The inconsistency has me stumped. I'm ready to move her to the nursery as soon as she is sleeping though most nights. But seeing as how she cannot seem to make up her mind what she wants to do, she is still in our room for now. Trekking upstairs multiple times a night is just not in my plan right now.

* I've been trying to explain Christmas to Little L. She is thoroughly confused. We went to get a new tree (yes, it is early but they were on sale!) last week and she was WOWED by the display of trees, decorations, lights and the like. She obviously doesn't remember last year. She's been asking for us to take her "to Christmas" ever since. I've backed off talking about it, considering it is still almost 2 months away. I am so excited for it, I already have presents stashed all over the house.

* We bought this movie over the weekend to watch with Little L. She absolutely LOVES the first one. J took her to see it in the theater when it opened (the week baby S was born) and she seemed to like it and he said it was "okay." I was so NOT impressed. It was too complicated, too boring and too violent for my taste (for my almost 3 year old child). I had planned to save it for a Christmas gift, but I'm already sitting on 2 other movies right now as it is. I think it is really ridiculous we've spent that much money in MOVIES.

* We also bought Little L tickets to this for an early Christmas present. Yea. Seems like such a silly thing to do, but she'll LOVE it. We only sprung for 1 adult ticket, so daddy will take her. I had NO IDEA how expensive these kind of things really were. $30 alone in service fees to Ticket.master. That's just WRONG, it seems like they should give some kind of break for a children's event?

* Just over 2 weeks to Thanksgiving? Yow. It is going to be 2012 before we know it. Time kicks in to warp speed when you have children, it is absurd.

Love and blessings to all!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Not a Hallo-weenie

Let me tell you, friends, I had a long and hard debate over Halloween and what I felt like the right thing to do was. After prayer and reading some helpful advice from various Christian sources, it occurred to me that whether we go to a church carnival, trunk or treat or trick or treating, we are ultimately acknowledging that the day has SOME kind of meaning to our kids. I personally cannot be the kind of person who just shuts all the doors and windows and pretends like the world isn't going on outside the walls of our house. Nor would I be the person who condemns and judges all the other parents for whatever decision they make regarding their kids on this particular day. I would rather face the fact head-on that there is a huge event happening on this day and take control of the way my daughters see/understand it and how they view "scary" things. I read a quote by one of my favorite authors, James.Dobson, that was along the lines of how this is the ONE TIME all year when all the neighbors kids will be ringing your doorbell. Why not embrace and channel the kind, neighborly Christian spirit and welcome them with GOOD candy? There may be other people whose intentions on this day are evil, mean or bad, but ours aren't.

We LOVE our church and a visit to the carnival last year was awesome... but also OVERWHELMING. Our fall carnival is the biggest community outreach we do every year. I believe there were 15,000 in attendance last year. Which is superb and the goal of any church, to reach the lost and show them love and open arms! But Little L was totally overloaded from the whole experience and with a 3 month old baby in addition to a toddler, there was just no way we could manage that this year. We are so excited to go back in a few years but until then, my husband and I agreed that we would be ok with trick or treating. SO LONG AS we are visiting friendly houses in the neighborhood we know and making sure to shield little eyes and minds from scary images and ideas.

We had never done this before, obviously, and I was so pleased to see SO MANY families from our neighborhood out in the action. We've lived here for almost 7 years and haven't really gotten to know many people until recently and I realize that I really live in one cool place with many wonderful neighbors. I need to get out there and be a mom everyone knows! Our kids will all go to school together someday (all too soon--sob!) and the more people we know, the less difficult that transition is going to be when the time comes.

Little L did GREAT. We only hit maybe 10 houses, but she caught on quickly and was soooooo precious. And, she even got a little bit of candy before bed! I am SO GLAD we went and I feel so thankful to have resolution over this particular topic.


Christmas is just around the corner. I already ordered Little L's big gift. I honestly don't know who is more excited over the whole holiday affair at this point, she or I.

Hope you all have a blessed week!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

start as you intend to go on

With Little L fast approaching 3 years of age, we've entered a new phase of parenting. The part where society really starts to enter the picture.

For example, this weekend a neighbor and I took our girls to a local elementary school fall festival. So local, in fact, we just piled the girls in to the wagon and walked. As we were walking through the booths and bounce houses, I sorta noticed loud music blaring and a karaoke tent behind us but didn't give it too much thought... until I realized I was tapping my foot along to "Last.Friday.Night" by Katy-Perry. Are you familiar with the lyrics?

As a child, I remember my mom making a HUGE deal over pop music and culture and banning me from regular radio stations and only allowing me Christian music tapes. (yea, that's right, I'm old enough that I got audio cassettes at some point in my life) I also remember hitting a point when I thought she was totally overbearing and I really resented her for trying to shelter me so much.

Funny how life has a way of turning full circle, right?

I paused at the festival and looked around at the HOARDS of small children. The lyrics to that song are AWFUL and completely child inappropriate. Yet no one else seemed remotely phased. And I know people who think it is hilarious when their toddlers are singing Lady.Ga.Ga or Brit.ney S.pears songs word for word, but I don't find it to be funny at all. When I think back to what was considered to be cutting edge pop culture when I was young and realize just how far we've come in society on the raunch-o-meter in the last 25 years, I'm kinda terrified. Because while I remember a time when certain curse words were NOT allowed on prime time TV or when the standard of normal didn't include little girls wearing stuff written on the backside of their sweat pants or baring enough skin to make a grown man blush, in this day and age many people seem to be completely comfortable with their children growing up WAY TOO FAST. Especially their little girls.

I try to do all the right things here. She's in church several times a week. We stress the importance of acting like a lady. I do my best to keep the radio tuned to safe stations or just use the ipod with a play list for her. I keep the TV to child-approved stations or DVDs only when she's awake and I do my best to keep her from being bombarded by images of what modern day society believes to be the standards in beauty and behavior.

At some point, though, this will be a losing battle for me. Especially when she heads off to school and is surrounded by children whose parents don't have the same standards as I do. I don't want her to be the unpopular kid at school who is deemed meekly and cast out for being a "Jesus-freak," because I remember those days. They were TOUGH and it was ultimately a war that led me to a lot of self destruction and confusion as a young adult. And the worst part for me was that my parents were SO hot and cold with our lifestyle. One year was church every Sunday, no music, no TV, nothing and then the next year they would do an absolute 180. No, I do NOT want to be that parent that cannot make up her mind about what is and isn't acceptable in my household.

So I feel like each decision I make right now is so crucial. She is totally aware of things like Hallow.een and Santa Claus. 2 major hot spots in most Christian households, I think. And while part of me thinks these things are innocent and should just be approached and handled as such, another part of me feels something wrong inside about them. How do I explain to her as a teenager and young adult that she shouldn't participate in a holiday that was originally intended for Pagans to connect with spirits and worship Satan by dressing up as a witch or something else scary (or in an embarrassingly skanky costume as a young adult) when I paraded her up and down our street in innocent costumes as a young child? How do you deal with the true importance of Christmas after you've placed a truck load of emphasis on an imaginary fat guy in a red suit bringing a ton of presents? Because let's face it, the secular part of Christmas is VASTLY more appealing to a child than the biblical part (which, really, should be the only part).

I think maybe I am having such a hard time knowing how to handle all of these things because my parents never figured it out either and it really did a number on me as a kid. I just don't want it to be the same way for my kids. Now that L is getting to a place where she is understanding things so much more, I really want to determine the best approach and start as we intend to go on. Because confusion and inconsistency is so unfair to children and while I know they will be old enough at some point to figure out what they believe to be true and best for themselves, it is MY job to set their feet on the proper path.

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Prov 22:6)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

many thoughts, all somehow related

Baby S turned 3 months old yesterday. I'd say "wow, where did the time go?" but I've honestly felt each day of the past 3 months and I am so glad we're where we are today. She is happy, so healthy and an absolute joy to my life. I often stop and remember that there was life before her and wonder how that is possible because she just BELONGS here. There could never be a life without her, she's so perfectly nestled in to my heart.

I noticed she's really (finally) interested in the toys hanging on her gymini. I watch her stare at them intently and she even clumsily bats at some of the longer ones when they are near to her. She's started the early stages of laughing and she smiles at everyone who looks her way. I could sit and talk in length about how she is inconsistent with her night sleep, occasionally has days where her naps aren't perfect and I still cannot determine if I should reintroduce soy or dairy back in yet. But ultimately? Those things don't matter. Simply put, I don't think they make a better baby than this. I'm so glad she's mine.


There's an old expression you sometimes hear that "Friends are God's way of making up for family." While it's a stretch of a thing to say, I've pretty much stood by that line since I was a teenager. My immediate family is painfully, irreversibly broken and at some point, instead of whining or wasting time on wishing that things would be different, I just learned to fill the void with the wonderful friends I made.

The long and short of my early life is that my parents really screwed up in their marriage and their child rearing. And while it seems like society doesn't place much value on either of those things anymore, I believe that they are absolute musts in the realization of a happy and healthy family. While I found myself an avenue to fly away and stretch out an arm's length from the people that failed me in so many ways early on, my 2 younger brothers found themselves spiraling downward and creating for themselves unhealthy dependencies on other unhealthy people, including my parents.

All this said to come to the point that I've spent the last 4 days deeply inbound in drama surrounding my brothers and my dad. So much drama, in fact, that I actually had to temporarily suspend my account because I couldn't stand to read any more of the hatred that was being spewed my direction. I'm not even sure how I was pulled in to the entire drama and I spent a few sleepless nights tossing in turning in bed over it all. I spent time praying protection over both of their lives, praying for God to give me the appropriate words to say to everyone involved and for Him to place my feet in the right direction to help them. I'm taking it day by day right now, but I am surprised at how off guard this entire mess caught me. I've been so simple in my life for so long, to be wrapped in such a complicated and painful whirlwind like this made me clearly remember a time when my life was not so comfortable.

I am so thankful for where I am today. And I pray that God will help me bring up my children to be honest, humble, thankful, independent, wise, self sufficient and to be a blessing to everyone they meet in life.


I've been running like crazy the past 2 weeks. It has been so good for my mind, body and soul. I'm 2 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight and I am getting better to make sure that every day I HAVE to make some kind of time for myself. To put the individual things that matter to me in the top of the priorities chart everyday: my relationship with Christ, my romance with my husband, my personal appearance and the state of my home. It is hard but it is paying off in spades. I also realize that the decisions I make and the life I live are the only examples my children have to learn from on how to model their lives someday. And I want them to see that while I love them and place them at the top of my spectrum, I still place value in myself and will not lose me in them.

Work is still hectic. My husband offered for me to quit. He said things would be tight and we'd have to dial back most of our "fun" spending, but that we would survive. I thought about it for a few days and realized that the result of me quitting could be too damaging on my household. I don't want to stress my husband out too much with finances and I do ultimately want to have a career after the girls are in school. And really, my set up is awesome. Sure it is dang hard to juggle it all, but you just don't find a company who will let you work from home, just laugh when they hear the kids in the background and schedule meetings around your childcare situation. They have completely accommodated me for 2.5 years now and they send ME money every 2 weeks at that. You know what? I'll master this. And I'll be so proud. And I hope my husband and daughters will be, too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

the other mom

There's this mom at Mother's Day Out, who always seems to drop her kid off and pick up at the exact same time as me. She lives in a neighborhood near ours and I often find myself behind/in front of her on the way to the church.

For some reason, I feel ridiculously inferior around this woman.

Let me say, this is not my normal behavior. Sure, I was insecure as a teenager and struggled with these feelings often at that time in my life. And there were times as a young adult that I found myself feeling rather puny next to some gorgeous socialite at a bar or feeling paltry in comparison to some of my beautiful friends. But as I've matured, these feelings have disappeared and I've gotten over comparing myself to others.

In my mind, I've created a pretty amazing life for this woman (whom, I might add, I've never even spoken to). She is gorgeous. Surely she never feels guilty about spending $150 to get her hair colored and cut regularly to stay fresh. Her clothes are stylish and she always looks so well put together. On weekends, she probably shops at nice stores and never worries about the cost of looking polished. She has a baby sitter on demand and regularly gets time alone to herself and time to enjoy out with her husband. Her shiny new Esc.alade is always clean and gleaming. I suspect she has a housekeeper and personal trainer. She's quite tan and in excellent shape and often shows up in the kind of work out apparel you'd see on a fitness model in the mornings. Somehow she never seems in a hurry or impatient or stressed. She smiles at everyone (including me) and she just seems.... perfect.

I really got to thinking about her today and what my problem is. Why can't I just look at her the same way as I do every other mom there? What makes her so special and why am I even investing this much time in to the whole situation?

She's at a similar place in life as me. The child she drops off appears to be a bit older than Little L and she carries a baby who appears to be about 8 months old. I'd guess she's in her late 20's to early 30's.

Maybe it's what she's NOT doing that interests me more than what I think she IS doing.

I don't imagine she's working 20 hours a week from home. Frantically returning phone calls while a toddler yells in the background or struggling to return emails while simultaneously nursing a baby. Working late nights and weekends just to keep up with her job. Surely she's not ignoring the housework that's been neglected for weeks while standing in front of the pantry every single night failing miserably at putting together good, healthy, MSPI friendly meals. She's definitely not stuffing her face with oreos and corn chips while swearing she'll lose the last of her baby weight "next week" or "starting Monday." Her cute clothes fit, she isn't having to get creative with billowy tops that hide the fact that her pants are too snug and her arms are flabby. She's not spending her precious MDO days fighting with herself over what obligatory chore her time precious "alone" is best spent doing: working, cleaning, laundry or grocery shopping. The coffee she makes every morning gets enjoyed, not a few sips and then later dumped when rediscovered in the bathroom. It's obvious she's not rushing out the door disheveled, without makeup and in whatever clothes were lying on the closet floor from the previous day. She's not ignoring the "clean the car" item on her to-do list week after week. No way she's neglecting her hair, her nails and her skin or struggling to find time to shower or shave her legs.

And she's not lamely comparing herself to some random woman she doesn't even know.

Clearly, I'm struggling to get back to "me" after the addition of this baby for some reason. I had no idea how hard things would be and instead of taking the challenge and conquering it, I'm finding myself drowning. I cannot seem to find my footing. Most days it just appears to be dumb luck that everyone gets their basic needs met. I told my husband that I feel like I don't get the benefits of being a stay at home mom OR a working mom while simultaneously getting the work load of both. It amazes me how adding one tiny person in to the mix has thrown my whole balance off SO much.

I know that girl's life isn't as perfect as I'm making it out to be. There's a good chance she's just as stressed out as I am, she's just doing a better job at managing it. I'll figure out a plan of action and somehow get back to not feeling like a complete disaster.

Maybe Monday.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

31 months (or 2 years, 7 months)

Yes, I realize this is a random age for an update on Little L. But? I've been doing a lousy job at updates on her, so now is better than never!

I cannot believe how big she has gotten. She's currently 39" tall and 32 lbs. I have no idea where that puts her on a growth chart, but I suspect she's on the big side. She looks huge compared to kids in her age group. I also guess that she's on the verge of a growth spurt as she asks to eat constantly. CONSTANTLY. "Mama, eat?" "Mama, I'm hungry." "Mama, time for yunch?" Just this morning, she's already eaten an entire bowl of frosted miniwheats, a cup of milk, a nutrigrain bar and a cup of yogurt. It's only 10AM. She often will eat 2 bowls of cereal for breakfast now and rarely leaves her plate anything but clean at meal times. We thank God every day for the food he provides us with, I never realized how thankful I really should be until now. Teenage boy or toddler? I had to stop letting her have milk with every meal, she was asking for it constantly and we were going through a half gallon in a matter of days. I also finally switched her from whole to 2%.

Current favorite movie? Tangled. I am so thankful, too. I was really getting sick of watching Cars. We went through a few week obsession with Beauty-and-the-Beast (my personal favorite Dis.ney princess movie) but it was dethroned with Tangled all of the sudden. She's gotten a Rapunzel costume for Halloween (though, all the sudden she's asking to be a cow this week) and a Rapunzel doll she loves to drag around the house. I asked her one day which her favorite princess was "Rapunzel or Belle?" To which she thoughtfully replied "Rapunzel. Because she has beautiful hair like me. And mama."

She still loves her Cars toys, though. They are EVERYWHERE. And I mean that literally. I am constantly stepping on them, digging them out of her bed, shoving them in storage bins in the playroom and finding them under the seats of the van. The child is spoiled rotten. I never understood how parents could just buy stuff nonstop for their kids and then? I had one sweet, doe-eyed, witty little girl come in to my life and boom. SPOILED ROTTEN CENTRAL. Her daddy is worse than me. He can't seem to go to the store without coming back with something for her. (Note to self: Do NOT grocery shop at Super.Target. It's too tempting.)

We started her in a mothers day out program at church last month ("school") and she has done just wonderfully. She actually asks to go every morning when she wakes up... I only wish she could go more than 2 days a week! They do lots of art projects, chapel, Spanish lessons, gymnastics, music and fun monthly scheduled events. Everyone compliments on how well-behaved she is and how smart she is. Her favorite part of the day is helping me pack her precious Mc.Queen yunch-box before we leave the house. Tomorrow they are having a petting zoo and pony rides and I am SO excited for her!

I am amazed at the language development from 2 years to now. She is a total chatterbox, we cannot get her to stop talking. And the things she comes up with are hilarious. Her favorite phrases: "That sounds silly." "I'm ok." "Don't worry, Mama/Daddy." "Don't cry, Mama/Daddy." "Thank you, JESUS!" (said after EVERY prayer, with hands reaching out to the heavens) She prays on her own, regularly. They are always the same, thanking the Lord for the day and asking Him to watch over Mama, Daddy, herself, baby sister and the dog. Her daddy was out of town for business last week and came home while she was in "school." When I picked her up I told her that he had a prize waiting for her at home and she informed me "Whoa. That sounds pretty neat." Now every time she comes home from school she asks him where her prize is. I laugh so much every day now.

Sure, she has attitude and tantrums. As she develops her own thoughts about things, I find that I cannot just do anything for her anymore. She wants to pick out and do everything herself. And when she does happen to throw a fit, it is over the most bizarre things! She'll never cry or fuss if we leave her at the church nursery or her grandparents like so many other children do, yet she'll WAIL her head off if you just buckle her carseat instead of letting her do it. We actually got in to a massive argument at the grocery store one day when I wouldn't let her push the cart (with the baby in it) and I actually had to grab both children and LEAVE a half full cart on the aisle, without buying anything. I never dreamed I'd actually had to do that, but I did!

We're slowly hitting the "girly" phase. She's finally interested in playing dress up, hair styling, singing, dancing, picking out her own clothes and staring at her beautiful face in the mirror. This morning she decided she wanted to wear a green tutu and silver sparkle shoes. Her hair is so long and pretty, I love braiding it or even just brushing it for her. (she also loves to brush my hair, as well) I have not had her hair cut once in her life! It is starting to look a little ratty on the ends, though, so I am pretty sure I'll take her in to see my stylist in the next few weeks. Naturally, my husband thinks this is ridiculous and I should just take her in to a super-cuts or something, but I remember MANY a bad haircut from those places as a child and I will not let them ruin this child's gorgeous locks!

I feel like I'm forgetting so many things about her. I barely recognize the little baby she was in photos anymore... she is such a little person. She is a wonderful big sister, constantly asking to be near the baby or hold her hand. Loves to help me change and throw away diapers and is always there to help me whenever I need it I am loving seeing the world through her eyes. Things like the pumpkin patch, the state fair, the holidays, birthdays... she really "GETS" all of it now instead of just being dragged along because we wanted her to go. And every time she just busts out with an "I yub you, mama" I feel as if I never knew how amazing life truly was before now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

survival mode

One of my favorite things about being a grown up is that I can make a box of brownies whenever I like and I can eat as many as I want... even more when my husband is away on business.

Baby S is 10 weeks old. Last we left off, she was coming out of the MSPI funk and we were switching pediatricians. Her 2 month appointment with her new Dr was wonderful. I honestly could not have been happier. Best part? The Dr walked in to the exam room EARLY. And I was taken back to the exam room before I even finished filling out my new patient paperwork. So I ended up doing the paperwork last. Unreal to me after our last office, who loved to let me sit and wait for unthinkable amouts of time. She was measured at 24" long and 11 lbs, 10 ozs. We talked through the milk-soy protein intolerance deal and her reflux situation. They tested her stool and for the first time, it came back free of blood, which? HUGE FRIGGIN DEAL. Finally. After all the difficult dietary struggles I've been through in order to keep nursing, I was so happy to get that news. Her dr thinks I should try introducing soy this week and if that goes well, she thinks I should slowly try adding milk proteins back in within 2 weeks. Just to see if she's outgrown the intolerance. If not, we likely wouldn't try again for at least 6 months. We're also trying to wean her off the prev.acid to see if her reflux has chilled. I went from 1 full solutab a day to 1/2 a tab a few days ago and she has been just fine. I'll likely try dropping the prev.acid all together for a few days before I try introducing the soy. Otherwise, she received her 2 month immunizations (I forgot, SO MANY) and an overall full bill of health.

Within the past few weeks, she's been an absolute dream of a baby. She rarely cries, unless she's tired, and she smiles and coos at me NONSTOP while she's awake. In fact, it is when she stops making eye contact and smiling at me that I immediately know it is time to put her down for a nap/bedtime. She is happy to be on her floor gym alone for long periods of time and happy to be snuggled and baby talked to just as well. At this point, I'd say she's down right drama free. After where we started out, it seems almost unreal to describe her that way! Within the past 10 days, I've nailed down a daily schedule that is working wonderfully. She's spending 1 to 1.5 hours awake every 3 hours and the remainder of that block napping. She goes down drowsy but awake and falls asleep just fine. Bedtime is at 8 PM, she has a "dream feed" at 10 and wakes between 3-4 AM to eat and then goes right back to sleep until 7 AM. Some nights are less than perfect, I'm not going to say that I have got this down to an exact science. But for the most part, I am seeing SOME consistency. Finally.

Little L is doing well. I started seriously potty training last Monday. I started not-so-seriously potty training last Tuesday. Potty training is a real pain in the neck, to say the least. I don't have the time/attention span to FULLY devote to chasing her around the house with a water cup and putting her on the potty every 15 minutes. She gets the principal of the process and occasionally she'll luck out and have to go when I tell her to go sit on the potty. Otherwise, she never tells me she has to go and she never spontaneously realizes she needs to go sit on the toilet. One day I'll get tired enough of my half-attempts at this and just go hard core training but that one day isn't anytime in the very near future.

I'm also fighting thumb sucking with her because even though she's only 2.5 years old and all the books say I shouldn't be pressuring her to stop just yet, I'm SO GROSSED OUT by the habit. The sound of her sucking (akin to the irritation of hearing someone "smack" their food while chewing with an open mouth), the condition of her thumb, the fact that she tries to hide it from me... not to mention the nasty GERM-LADEN aspect of the practice? It is vile. I'm trying to convince her to conceal it to the upstairs part of the house right now. Primarily, her bedroom, but since her playroom is up there and she is often in there without me I felt like I needed to include that space. It's going... not great this week, but I will persevere on this.

I'm not sure what's worse to me. Her not being potty trained yet or her sucking her thumb still. Otherwise? She's quite possibly the best child on the planet. Sure, she's a toddler who likes to throw tantrums and is ridiculously bossy and downright rude some days, but I honestly cannot complain about her. I truly adore the child with every fiber of my being and she is so quick to show her affections and apologize for her mistakes.

As for me? I am really living in survival mode. With Baby S's advances in napping, sleeping and overall making my life so much easier than it previously had been, I feel like I should be able to say I am managing things much better. But somehow it all seems to be getting harder. All of this is another blog post for another time, however. So until then...

(thanks for following me all around the internet)