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!!