raising a mommy

raising a mommy
my little family

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Paige Eileen Mae: 31 months

As of last month, my baby girl is officially two and a half! In my defense, I did have this post started well before August 9th. Then life happened and we realized that the move we had known about for over a year was actually happening in a few weeks, so we had to pack. It's funny how things can still sneak up on you when you've been planning them for so long...

Anyhow - two months in one update! Here we go!

Paige has learned her last name! We talked about it a little bit one night while we were reading to her (one of those awesome personalized books where the animals spell out the kid's name), but she was pretty adamant that her name was "Paige" and nothing else. Then, all of a sudden, a few nights later, she was dancing around at church during VBS telling us that her name is Paige Luong. We didn't think it stuck, but I guess, once again, we underestimated her! before long she also learned that Mommy and Daddy have the same last name, and Nugget will too.

Paige is starting to grasp the very beginnings of the concept of spelling. She knows what letters certain words start with, and if we ask her about other words that start with the same sound, she can usually get them. (For example, she knows the "baby" starts with "b." If we ask her what "ball" or "bubble" start with, she can sometimes get it right - with a little prompting!)

Paige has felt her little brother move before, but she never really acknowledged that it was him. In the last two months, however, if finally clicked. Towards the end, whenever we would be snuggling and she'd feel him, she'd sit up and get this little smirk on her face.

One of the greatest quotes she learned this month: "Stinky ear cheese is no good!" (We may have let her go a bit too long without a bath. She didn't actually have any ear cheese, but her feet were getting awfully ripe!)

We enjoyed a week long visit to my parent's home in Wisconsin in July, and I think Paige had a pretty good time. I know my family had a good time with her! Grandpa loves to golf, so now when she goes to visit them, she has her own set of golf clubs. Within ten minutes, Uncle Adam had taught her to correctly identify each of her three clubs. That's right, my two and a half year old knows what a driver, iron, and putter are. I'm not sure I knew that before this lesson.

She was a real trooper all throughout the move - she got a little unnerved towards the end when everything was boxed up, but all she did was cry a few times and be extra snuggly. She actually seemed to grasp the concept of "We have to put all of our things in boxes so we can take them to the new apartment. Then we'll get them out again." So that helped. It's so nice to be able to explain things to her and be rational. I know we're pretty lucky to be able to do that with a two and a half year old. I've had more trouble reasoning with some adults than I do with her!

She got settled into our new place very well, and even enjoys having some neighbor girls to play with. I definitely think the socialization will be very good for her!

On September 4th, Paige became a big sister! She still likes her little brother, almost a whole week later, so we're pretty thrilled about that. It's definitely been an adjustment for everyone, but she is taking it remarkably well. She'll act up a little bit from time to time, but as long as we're intentional about spending time alone with her and talking to her calmly, she's pretty good. It's hard to stay patient when you're dealing with newborn sleep deprivation, but it's ten times harder to yell at your oldest (because we have an oldest and a youngest, now) and make her want to listen to you even less!

Here are a couple picture highlights from the last two months. Okay, a bunch of picture highlights. I just couldn't choose, and pictures upload way faster in the cities than they did at our old house!

Playing with friend Sophie at church.

Paige saw Grandma using a hair dryer. Pretty creative!

Playing with friend Esther!

Paige loves to help me crochet. I will gladly sacrifice a hat to let her practice!

One last picture in front of our "old house."

Paige got Auntie Jenn a baby for her birthday. She even offered to baby-sit. What a sweetie.

Thanks to my wonderful friend, Rebecca, for the next few photos. Find out more about her and book your own photo shoot by checking out her website here!

Paige loves having a park less than a block from our new apartment! We haven't been taking full advantage of it, but now that Nugget's out and I'm a little more mobile, I think we'll definitely have to utilize it more during the last few weeks of decent weather!

My dress from when I was a kid. Hello, late 1980s!

When I told Paige we had to walk up to Daddy's school, she insisted on wearing her backpack, in which she packed a teddy bear and a bottle. Just in case of an emergency.

Showing off her new shirt at the hospital!

Watching over baby brother.

She still likes him...

And LOVES to play on the floor with him. I have a feeling that if I left them alone together for more than a minute, I would come back to find Mark buried under a pile of toys that she wanted to share.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

top ten tuesday: blessing a new parent

Today's blessing:
Listening to my two and a half year old babble in bed while she's supposed to be napping. We've been though some hilarious mash-ups of Daniel Tiger, VeggieTales, and the story of what's going to happen when Mommy and Daddy go to the hospital when Nugget is born. Usually they're in song form.

It's no secret that people love babies. The newer, the better. They're so tiny and cute (some actually cute, some cute just because they're so tiny) and they don't stay that way for very long, so when someone has a baby, most people want to get in there as soon as possible and meet the new little one. It can't be helped, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. However, there are some things that need to be taken into account. I hope to address some of them here with a positive spin - giving suggestions, rather than telling you what you've been doing wrong. I hope this list is helpful, and if you have anything to add, I hope you'll leave it in the comments! So, without further ado, here is this Tuesday's Top Ten List:

Top Ten Ways to Bless New Parents

  1. Feed them. When you're not sleeping for more than two or three hours at a time, the last thing you want to do is have to worry about dinner. When you come to visit a newly expanded family, bring something nutritious for them to eat. Prepared meals are wonderful, though maybe check ahead first. If they've had four other people bring them food that needs to be eaten within 48 hours, there's a lot of waste that could be happening! Prepared meals that you can all enjoy together are wonderful, especially if they come with a post-meal dishwashing service. Freezer meals are great, too. Be sure the meal is carefully labeled so the family doesn't have to guess at what it is and how to prepare it! Snacks are good, too. I've gotten rave reviews about my Grandma's Homemade Granola. I packaged it in those tiny little 1/2 cup containers so mom could have one next to her to snack on while nursing, and I was told that it was great. I was also just told about this site called MealBaby. I guess you can sign up for free, then you create a calendar and list of your favorite foods or restaurants in your area. People can sign up to bring you food on certain days, and the gifter doesn't have to worry about making something the family might not like. I don't know much about it, but it sounds intriguing. What do you think? Brilliant or presumptuous? Personally, I would rather be sure that I'm bringing something the family will enjoy at a time that is useful for them!
    A freezer full of meals and veggies...dream come true!
  2. Clean for them. Offer to sweep the floor or wash a load of dishes before asking to hold the baby. And mean it. If they say no, ask again. Chances are, they would love some help, but feel silly accepting.
  3. Let them shower. I remember some weeks after my first was born, I averaged two showers a week. Not great. Yes, you can put a newborn in a crib or swing while you shower, and even if they wake up, you know they'll be fine, but it's nice to know that they're in the company of another caring adult in case they start crying. And if you have a toddler, too...well, they can do plenty of damage if they go unsupervised for even 10 minutes!
  4. Let them sleep. I have read about the elusive simulnap. (This is when multiple children nap at the same time. It may be a myth.) Be kind and offer to take both children off mom and dad's hands for an hour so they can get some sleep, too.
  5. Feed them. Sometimes restaurant gift cards are the best things you can give a newly expanded family. Family friendly places are great - Perkins, Baker's Square, or Applebee's kind of places for "nicer" sit down meals, or Subway, Jimmy John's, Chipotle, Panera, Noodles, etc for your faster "oh crap it's 5:30 and I forgot that we need supper" kind of meals. This way, they can enjoy a meal (maybe even leftovers) and not have to clean up after it. Win win!
  6. Don't overstay your welcome. Short visits are usually best at first, unless you're busy cleaning or occupying a child or two so mom and dad can nap. Here's a hint: if you know mom is nursing baby and she says something along the lines of, "Well, I think it's {insert baby's name}'s lunch time!" that probably means you should go. Unless she specifically prefaces it with "Feel free to stick around, but..." Then use your best judgement.
  7. Don't surprise them. Do not show up at their house unannounced. Call or send a text ahead of time to find out when would be best, and be willing to be flexible. If you make plans to go visit at 9:00 the next morning (with an offer to bring muffins or cinnamon rolls, please!), then don't be offended if you get a text at 8:00 saying "{Insert baby's name here} just fell asleep for the first time since 1:00am. Can we reschedule?"
  8. Don't feel obligated, but if you want to give a gift, be thoughtful about it. Baby gifts are fun. I know. The little tiny outfits with bows or trucks or dinosaurs are so cute! And the stuffed animals? Darling! However, in some cases, they may not be the best way to bless a family. It may lose some of the fun element of surprise, and definitely may not be as "cute," but if they family does not have a gift registry, you can't go wrong by asking what they would like. We have boxes of toys from our first that she didn't ever play with, and are still finding outfits that were given to us that still have tags on them. We are currently living in a pretty small apartment, we have plenty of people to lend us clothes, and, as I stated before, we have enough toys to occupy a day care full of babies. However, our changing table is in desperate need of a new pad and we're hoping to use newborn cloth diapers this time around. I know it's more fun to buy a giant stuffed teddy bear or a little flowered dress with ruffly bloomers, but honestly, some new parents would rather have one cloth diaper than either of those. Seriously. Money or gift cards are always appreciated, too. Though, again, don't feel obligated. (Well, maybe just a little obligated. A new baby is a pretty big deal!)
  9. Go for a walk with them. Now, this may not be for everyone. Some moms may give you a death glare or laugh hysterically at you if you suggest going for a walk. I would appreciate it. However, I am one of those weird people who get extremely crabby if I go too long without physical activity. And sometimes it might be nice to have someone else to push the stroller!
  10. Feed them. Are you noticing a trend here? Before you stop over for your pre-planned visit, call and ask if you can pick up anything from the grocery store. As a new parent, it's so easy to not realize that you have less than one sippy cup full of milk left in the whole house, and, in my house, that will not fly!
So there you have it. Moms and Dads, what other suggestions do you have?

Monday, September 1, 2014

end of "summer" wrap up in bullet points

Today's blessing:
Coffee with hazelnut flavored syrup. Had I remembered how delicious the stuff is, I would have dug it out long ago!

Oh my goodness...where has time gone? Please tell me I'm not the only one that feels this way! I can't believe it has been over three weeks since my last post. I can't believe we are done with internship year. I can't believe my baby is two and a half and will be a big sister any day now (sooner rather than later would be fine with me!). I can't believe how much life has changed in the past month, and how much it will continue to change in the next month.

Here are some "highlights": (not necessarily meaning the best parts of the month, but some of the biggest or most important.)

  • Paige officially hit the 2 1/2 year mark on August 9th. She is remarkable in just about every way imaginable. Her only fault is that she still shows no interest in potty training, in spite of the fact that she is physically ready. She can go through the night or through naptime with a dry diaper, and she often tells us when she's going, but she does not want to sit on her potty chair. A little frustrating, but certainly not the worst thing she could do! (Or not do.)
  • My mom came for a few days before we moved and basically packed up our house. It was beyond frustrating for me to not be able to do as much as I wanted, but I tried to be good and rest! Moving at 8+ months pregnant is not fun!
  • I'm not much for baseball, but last month, we had the opportunity to go to a Twin's game with Nate's ministry team and sit in the Champion's Club. Friends, if you've ever wondered why the amazing expensive seats behind home plate never fill up until a couple innings in, let me tell you: The occupants of the seats are all busy stuffing their faces at the buffet. Seriously. I am not kidding when I tell you that I ate for three hours straight and was not hungry again until supper the next day. And I'm pregnant, so that's seriously messing up my every three hour eating schedule! Then, once we did make it out to the seats, they certainly didn't suck. The worst part about them was that the batter who was warming up blocked part of my view of the game. I think we lost, but I'm not sure. And honestly, I didn't really care.
  • Then we moved. I could do several entries about how amazing everyone was - helping up load the truck in Fulda, helping up unload the truck in St Paul, hauling all of our belongings up to the fourth floor (technically the third, but sort of the sixth...it's a weird set up!), and taking such good care of us (particularly preggers) during our first weeks here. I hope you're not offended when I just say that you were all AMAZING and without you, we would probably still have half of our belongings in the back of a moving truck God knows where. And when I say fourth floor, I mean no elevator.
  • Now we are more or less settled in. Of course there are still things that could be straightened and moved around and organized better, but I'm pretty sure that will be the constant state for the rest of our lives, so I'm not going to worry too much about it. We've been enjoying our time the last few weeks getting ready for Nugget (who is not due for another 10 days, but really could come any time now and it would be fine), exploring the neighborhood, and getting together with friends and family. It's hard to make plans too far in advance, because we're hoping that this week or next will be interrupted with a newborn, but we're trying!
One of our parishioners brought over the most amazing sweet corn from their garden, and Paige couldn't get enough of it!

"Excuse me, Mr. Mauer, but I can't see the game."

One last family picture in front of our "old house."

We moved back just in time to celebrate Auntie Jenn's birthday. Paige got her a baby, because, well, who wouldn't want a baby for their birthday? She even offers to babysit when we go over there.

Paige wanted to help me crochet. Proud mama.

There's a great little playground less than a block from our apartment. Paige really seems to like it!

Swinging with Daddy!

And showing off her Gopher pride on the day Uncle Adam moved back to school a mere eight blocks from where we live. It sure will be nice to have two of my brothers so nearby!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

fmf: fill

Here are the rules:
1. Write for five minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back to Kate Motaung's blog with the rest of the Five Minute Friday-ers.
3. Comment on the person who linked up before you.

Please join us!

Today's prompt: fill


We’re moving. Again. This is #2 in two years, with one more a year from now.

I have something to confess: I’m a little bit OCD. (Not necessarily when it comes to the cleanliness of my house, sadly, but) I like things to be in order and efficient. I am that way when I load my dishwasher, when I put away laundry, and, apparently, when I pack boxes. Empty space drives me nuts.

And so, I try to fill in all the little gaps and holes. All of them. Anyone who has ever moved can probably understand what a challenge this poses. Simply filling them in with packing paper is not enough – that’s wasted space.

But really, there’s no way, short of purchasing massive quantities of washcloths and hand towels to use as stuffing, to fill all the holes. And who needs that many washcloths and hand towels, so would that really be more efficient in the long run?

And so today, as I face the beginning of a five day packing marathon (and I’m a runner, so I don’t use that term lightly), I tell myself that sometimes gaps are okay. In boxes, and in life. Gaps allow us room to shift, to settle, and (not so much with books and movies, but in life) to grow.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

wonderful wednesday

This is one of those weeks that I am counting my blessings, and I am amazed at how numerous they are. I'd love to take a couple minutes to share just a few of them with you.

Last weekend, we made a quick trip to the Cities to get the keys to our new apartment. I'll admit, I was less than thrilled when we first walked through the door. The trip up 3+ flights of stairs (it's a funky split level type set up, so we enter the building on first floor of building A and live on the third floor of building B, building B being about a half a story higher than building A) was not a fun start. As you can imagine, the place is pretty small. A two bedroom apartment in St Paul for under $1000 a month? You're not going to get much! But, after looking around, Nate helped me realize that there is a surprising amount of storage space. The kitchen is depressing, but there's a whole row of upper and lower cabinets along one wall of the "dining room," so I should only have to put about half of my kitchen products in storage! Nate was generous enough to give up his designated office for Nugget's nursery. This means that both kids will get their own rooms, which is very nice! Also a bonus, because I don't think we'd be able to fit the cradle, much less a crib in our bedroom with our bed! We have a massively huge closet in our bedroom, though, which will provide a ton of storage and house our dressers. And those 3+ flights of stairs? Bye bye baby weight!

Also, the neighborhood is very cool and the few people I've met so far seem wonderful. There's a family a few floors down with two and four year old girls, so Paige has some built in playmates already! Another bonus? Uncle Adam will be living approximately eight blocks away, and we're directly on his bus route from the Minneapolis campus. With Uncle Eric in Minneapolis and reasonable busing distance, I may actually get to see family members on a regular basis!

On Sunday, we had another great opportunity. Long story short, we got to cook dinner for all of the ELCA bishops in Region Three (one of our top preferences for a first call) and their spouses. Not only was it great to be able to help out, but it was a great opportunity for Nate to meet some important people, one of whom could be his boss next year! Also, in spite of the fact that one of my bars of fancy white baking chocolate didn't make it into my grocery bag and I was forced to substitute substandard white chocolate chips in the white chocolate cream cheese filling for my chocolate cake, it turned out okay.

Monday was one of those crabby days. It was the first day of VBS, for which I had volunteered months ago, not really realizing for some reason that I was going to be almost eight months pregnant and two weeks out from a move. Not ideal timing! However, it actually wasn't that bad. I like the way it's set up, so I only have to lead a couple songs at the opening and one at closing, rather than having an entire 20 minute sectional with each age group, as I have done in the past. Plus, I'd rather spend the evening at VBS with Nate and Paige than at home with just Paige. It's crunch time, so I don't get to see him nearly enough as it is!

Tuesday morning, I fried my last egg for breakfast and (with a crabby face) added eggs to my grocery list. I hate paying for eggs at the grocery store because I've been so blessed past year! We have two sources for free, farm fresh eggs, so I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually had to buy eggs. The farm fresh ones are so much better than the store bought ones, anyways. No more than two hours later, a parishioner pulled into our driveway with a dozen eggs and a bag of sweet corn! Amazing, right? We had the corn with lunch today, and let me tell you, the stuff straight from the garden doesn't even compare with the grocery store stuff. Even prissy little Paige who hates getting her fingers dirty enjoyed an entire ear!

Now I'm off to do some baking, a little bit of packing/cleaning, and getting ready for tomorrow morning. After months of last minute cancellations and conflicting schedules, I am finally getting together with a friend for a granola/tortilla making date! (Nerds? Maybe. Well-fed nerds? Yes!) Tomorrow is also the last day of VBS, concluding with a pool party, on Friday we have nothing on the schedule (wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles!), and on Saturday my mom is coming to start a four day packing marathon.

Yes, life is good.

What's the best thing that's happened to you this week?

Friday, July 18, 2014

fmf: bloom{ability}

Here are the rules:
1. Write for five minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back to Lisa Jo Baker's blog with the rest of the Five Minute Friday-ers.
3. Comment on the person who linked up before you.

Please join us!

Today's prompt: bloom


Those of you who knew me growing up know that to say I was a bookworm would be a bit of an understatement. One of my favorite authors when I was in middle school was Sharon Creech. I was introduced to her by my English and Lit teachers during our "literature circles" time, and I was hooked after the first book. I read everything I could find by her as quickly as I could. (Which, at that point in my life, was pretty quickly. I had the 16 digit number on my library card memorized in sixth grade.)

One of the first books of hers that I read was called "Bloomability." It's the story of a young girl who is given the opportunity to study for a year at an international school, staying with relatives. You learn about her adventures being away from her family, meeting people from all cultures, and learning how to break down language barriers.

One of her friends frequently forgot or mixed up some common English words, so he made up his own. One such word was "possibility." Rather than using the word, he came up with an arguably more appropriate word, "bloomability."

Planting some bloomabilities

I won't get into any analysis about why this is a great word mash up or what other words would have been more appropriate. I will simply let it sit with you.

What are the bloomabilities that God is showing you in your life today? New friends? New challenges to conquer? New seed to sow, literally or figuratively?

Another thing I love about Sharon Creech is how is has different stories about all different characters, but, if you pay attention, she ties them all together. My friends, I do not believe that six degrees of separation can possibly be correct anymore. Our lives are all so intertwined in a complicated and beautiful web that, even if I don't know you, I probably know you. (Not creepy - beautiful!)

We moved into our new home at the end of summer last year having no idea what any of the multitude of plants surrounding our house would become. There were plenty of weeds, sure, but there were also some beautiful surprises, including rhubarb, mulberries, blackberries, raspberries, and a wide array of beautiful blooms.

Expand your web today. Say hi to your barista or grocery store cashier or mail carrier or an old friend with whom you've lost touch over the years. Ask their favorite color or the best thing that's happened to them this week or what they're most looking forward to this weekend. Words are powerful, and you may never know the lasting impact of yours.


More than five minutes, but when you get on a roll, why fight it?

This round is closed, but if you're looking for the bloomability of expanding your network of supportive, Godly women, consider joining up with the next round of #fmfparysnailmail. These ladies make my day several times a day.

Five Minute Friday

Monday, July 14, 2014

diaper stripping 101

A few months ago, we started having issues with the kiddo leaking out of her diapers. Not fun. We hadn’t had any major problems with it before, so when she suddenly started leaking at least a couple times a week, we figured something was going on. We hadn’t started changing her less often, and she hadn’t dramatically increased her fluid intake, so our best guess was that it had something to do with her diapers. I decided it was about time to strip her diapers.

I read several articles online and consulted a number of friends who also used cloth, and here is the method I decided to try:

Step 1: Order more Charlie’s Soap. This is the detergent we originally used to wash her diapers, and it worked great. There’s nothing unnatural, artificial, or even remotely offensive about it, so I bit the bullet. It was terrifying to spend $120 on a tub of laundry soap, but I know I won’t have to buy it again for a long time. The big tub says you’ll get 1250 loads, but I know I will get more, since I don’t use the full amount for a load of diapers.

Step 2: Start with clean diapers. I washed them using the homemade detergent I had on hand, since my Charlie’s Soap hadn’t come yet. I usually send my diapers through a soak cycle, then heavy wash with hot water and detergent, then rinse again in cold. This time, I stopped after the wash. At this point, I also pulled out all of the covers, since they didn’t need to be stripped, just leaving the inserts.

Step 3: Grab your Dawn blue dish soap. I don’t know if it actually has to be Dawn and has to be blue, but that’s what I read, and that’s what I had on hand anyway, so it worked out well. Mine was the advanced power scrubbing stuff. Squirt some Dawn into your washer, onto the diapers. I did two really quick circles.

Step 4: Rinse.

Step 5: Rinse.

Step 6: Rinse.

Step 7: Rinse.

Step 8: Rinse.

Step 9: Rinse.

I think I rinsed about six or seven times. I rinsed them until I saw no more bubbles at all at any point in the cycle, then I rinsed them two more times. I think the advanced power might make more bubbles than the regular dish soap, so if you have the regular stuff, you might not need to rinse as many times!

Step 10: Since it was April (and still most definitely winter in Minnesota) I sent the inserts through the dryer. Now that it’s warmer, I dry them on the line.

Since doing this, I haven’t had any more issues. I’ve been using Charlie’s Soap on all of our laundry, and it’s been great. She still leaks out occasionally, but only when I let her go too long. She’s usually so good about telling me when she needs her diaper changed that I forget about it sometimes! (Yet she shows no interest in potty training. Little stinker.)