raising a mommy

raising a mommy

Monday, December 17, 2012

not in denial

Today's blessing:
Another day with my beautiful family.

I love my baby girl more than anything on the planet. The best sound in the world is her laughter, and it breaks my heart to hear her cry. Even if it's just a wet diaper, I hate the idea of her being uncomfortable, unhappy, or in pain. And when she cries and I can't make her stop...that's the worst. Then sometimes it makes me cry.

Something happened last week in Newtown, Connecticut. I have purposely been avoiding the news and internet headlines since. I've always been maybe a little over-sensitive about violence. All those Law and Order/CSI/NCIS kind of shows...they give me nightmares. And since becoming a mommy I've become even more sensitive to these things, particularly if they involve children.

That said, when things actually happen to children and those who care for them, I can't handle it. If I allow myself to think about the events of last week, it's bad. It makes me want to stay at home and keep the doors locked and not ever let P leave. I just want to protect her.

But then what? She doesn't make friends. She doesn't learn how to ride a bike or play hopscotch. (Do kids still play hopscotch?) She doesn't get to have squirt gun fights or snowball fights or even skin her knee running around the playground too fast. And those are all vital parts of childhood.

So I guess I'll just have to let go. I'll have to teach her to say her prayers and make good decisions. I'll have to watch her go out and make mistakes.

To anyone who has ever lost someone too soon: for what it's worth, know that I am praying for you. You are loved deeply and nothing will ever change that.

One thing is certain and cannot be stated enough - P is raising a mommy who is grateful for every moment she is given. A mommy is all I've ever really wanted to be, so I cherish every sleepless night and early morning with my beautiful baby girl.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

random holiday musings

Blessing of the day:
P is currently taking a morning nap...this is a very rare occurance!

I have no idea where this post is going to go - P went down for a surprise morning nap, and, rather than clean the microwave or fold laundry or work on making Christmas presents or come up with an idea for dinner or sweep the floor, I've decided to sit at my computer (acutally, it's my husband's computer) and write an entry.

I absolutely love the holiday season. There is something magical about that time from September (what holiday is in September, you ask? My birthday, of course!) through New Year's. I could do without Halloween, but fall is glorious with its colors and cooler weather and pumpkin flavor. I don't acutally love the pumpkin flavor, but I will still drink a pumpkin mocha or latte whenever I get the chance. I think it's more what the pumpkin symbolizes that I love.

Then the snow comes. There are few things, in my mind, that are more amazing than snow. I even had to drive in it last weekend, and it was still a gift from God. Everything is so pretty when it's coated in a layer of white. It makes me want to make a big mug of hot chocolate, drop in a candy cane, and make Puppy Chow. Some people want to snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie or read a book...I want to bake. This sure won't help me lose the last couple pounds of baby weight, but I sure do love it!

Now that I've gotten a little bit of this out of my system, I suppose I should spend some time being productive. I probably won't get much more down time this morning, and, if there's one thing I've learned since having a baby, it's that you need to take advantage of every opportunity you have, whether it's to play with her, to nap while she naps, or to clean while she naps!

Here's to a happy and productive Saturday!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

my 31 day challenge

Today's blessing:
A baby who wakes up to nurse at 5:00, thus ensuring that I have an "extra" 30 minutes in my day. Here's how that math works: She wakes up at 5:00 and nurses for about 30 minutes. My alarm was going to go off at 6:00. I'm not going to go back to bed for 30 minutes, so I now have 30 free minutes to do whatever I want! What do I choose? A shower, of course. But then I move on and fire up my computer. Actually, its my husband's computer. Mine is a little crazy and doesn't work well most of the time.

There are a couple blogs out there that I regularly read. I've even subscribed to them so I get posts right in my inbox. Handy, right? Well, I got an entry on September 30th that really intrigued me: 31 days to a fresh blog start. I've been struggling with what to do with this little space on the internet. I love writing and always have, but I don't really feel like I have a lot of relevant content to share. And it certainly doesn't help that this is, I believe, my 10th entry since starting this blog. I'm averaging a little better than one per month.

So, starting tomorrow, I am going to participate in the 31 days challenge. I'm a little late joining, but, I apologize for the cliche, better late than never! I would love it if you would join me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

on our own...sort of!

Today's blessing:
My little brother who makes me a bowl of Malt-o-meal before bed when I visit.

So Daddy's gone for three and a half weeks, leaving the girls to fend for themselves. Two years ago when we started planning this trip to Africa, we had been thinking that we would go together and the baby would come later...more like 9 months from now! However, there was a bigger plan in store, and we were reminded of that in no uncertain terms! Which means my hubby is in Tanzania leading the mission trip, and P and I are on our own. With friends. And my family. And in-laws. Okay, so we haven't actually had more than one or two nights to ourselves since he left nearly three weeks ago, but that's more than okay with me!

Our baby girls is six months old...how crazy is that?! I'm pretty sure it was just last week that I was eight months pregnant. She's doing all kinds of crazy fun things...rolling like a fiend (I'm not sure she's actually going to crawl - she may just roll everywhere she wants to go!), reaching for toys, smiling and laughing, eating cereal, wearing cereal, and the list goes on. She's so much more interactive than she was even a month ago. I'm always amazed when people tell me how awesome it gets at months seven, eight, and nine. Can it possibly get better than it is right now? Of course, I would have said the same thing at three weeks when she woke me up every two hours through the night to eat.

I have a friend who, when you ask him how he's doing, he answers with "best day of my life so far." How cool is that? Every day with P really is better than the last...and it's so cool to think that the next couple weeks, months, and years will bring so many more amazing and rewarding experiences. What a blessing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

baby steps

Today's blessing:
Baby steps. I'm not talking about literal baby steps this time - P is only two months old! However, I know that will be here before we know it...

Just a word of warning, this ended up getting way longer than I thought it would. However, I think the length helps to prove my point. Plus, I don't really feel like going back to edit it right now, so it's going to stay! I hope you stick it out to the end, because the things I share have changed my life.

Even before I had a baby, I had to break things down into small chunks. When you look at the whole scope of a project, whether it is financial, crafty, cleaning, or work-related, it can get overwhelming. Even if I had three hours to devote to a task, I struggled to complete it. Here's what would happen: I would decide what I wanted to do. For example, clean the kitchen. Three hours is more than enough time to clean even my fairly large kitchen, even when it's messier than usual. So I go stand in the middle of my kitchen and I look around at what needs to be done. Usually I decide to start with the dishes. I hate doing dishes, so I prefer to get this task out of the way. First I have to put away the clean dishes that are in the dishwasher and drainer. While I'm doing that, I realize that I don't have enough room in my cupboards for everything. This is ridiculous. I have a ton of cupboard space, so there is no reason I should run out. So I decide to start moving things around and cleaning them out. I don't possibly need all of this stuff, so I start a pile on the island or kitchen table to donate. I spend the next 20 minutes moving stuff around.

By now I have several piles scattered about the various surfaces of my kitchen, and none of my dishes have been put away. I realize that this just isn't working, so I start putting things back. I start with the things that already have places that seem to work. That helps. The piles are a little more sparse. Then I start looking through cupboards looking for any open space, where I shove the rest of the stuff. Now I'm right back where I started, except that my cupboards are a little more full and chaotic and my drainer and dishwasher are empty. So whether or not I've actually made any progress is debatable.

I still have to keep going, so I run myself some hot water and work on the dishes. Have I mentioned that I hate doing dishes? So even though it only takes me about 15 minutes, I feel like I've been scrubbing for at least 45. And, since the first 30 minutes were spent moving things around, I have spent what feels like an hour and a quarter doing 15 minutes of actual work. Of course I'm getting tired by now, but I still need to keep going.

I decide that maybe I should tackle the pantry. I can never find what I need in there. As a result, I end up with three opened boxes of the same kind of cracker, two of which are completely stale, and the third of which is just a little softer than normal. I start pulling things out and am soon surrounded by piles of canned foods, boxes of crackers and cookies, pasta of all shapes and sizes, and more bottles of barbecue sauce than any normal family would use over a five year span. These, at least, I know we will use up. To say that my husband enjoys barbecue sauce would be quite an understatement.

I start on the bottom shelf, and start stacking cans or jars of soup, veggies, fruit, and whatever else was on sale/I had a coupon for/I needed for a recipe I was going to try but never got around to. I make a mental note of what I have so I won't buy it next time it goes on sale/I have a coupon for it/etc etc etc. Of course I never actually remember the "mental notes" that I make, so I fall back into the same pattern. Even after I finish the bottom shelf, I still have three more to go. I get about half way through the second shelf before I get so sick of trying to create some semblance of order that I want to throw my tuna out the window. Usually I quickly shove the rest of the food items back on the shelves. They look nice-ish. I'll put things in height order so I can supposedly see everything and at least there aren't piles anymore, but there is still no organizational system that makes any sense. Now I've worked for a little over an hour, it's felt like three, and I've done a load of dishes and oraganized one shelf in my pantry. Does this sound familiar to anybody? I sure hope I'm not the only one!

Is this post getting absurdly long? That's kind of the point. I used go into something with no plan of attack, so I never made any progress. Then I felt like a failure because I'd spent an hour and had almost nothing to show for it.

I have a pretty good handle on my finances. Meaning I understand how much money we don't have and where our money needs to go each month, not that I'm comfortable with our financial situation. But that will come eventually, as well. Several years ago, my parents discovered, and then shared with me, the wisdom of Dave Ramsey. His baby step program helped my husband and I pay off several thousand dollars in debt and pay for a trip to Tanzania last year. That's pretty impressive considering I worked as a barista for most of the year, then a secretary for the last part, and he was a full time student with a part time retail job. We've still got a long way to go, but we have a plan of attack and we know where we stand.

This summer, as I was wasting time on facebook when I knew I should be cleaning (the horrors!), I came across a post that someone I didn't know made on a friend's wall. The post was about something called FlyLady and had to do with cleaning and organizing your home. I figured that, if I wasn't acutally cleaning, I might as well read about cleaning. That could be considered a little productive, right? I don't want to give too much away, but her system really was life-changing for someone like me - someone who lived with CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). I put off shining my sink, but dove right into 15 minute hot spot clean ups, setting out my clothes, and even managed to do the occasional daily mission.

While Dave Ramsey provided me with baby steps to get my finances in order, FlyLady did the same with my home. It's still far from perfect, but I've come to accept the fact that it will never be perfect, and that's okay. I discovered FlyLady in my first trimester, when I didn't have the energy to work on anything for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. By the time I got to my second, I was so amazed at what I had been able to accomplish that I used my rediscovered energy to nest like crazy and do as much cleaning and decluttering as I could whle still getting enough rest to appease my husband. The third trimester brought a return of the exhaustion, paired with limited mobility. However, by this time I had gotten pretty good at my routines. I was still able to keep up on the laundry, my bathroom was almost always presentable thanks to the Swish and Swipe, and the rest of my apartment, while far from spotless, was presentable enough. People are pretty understanding when you're growing a human being!

Now that P is here, I love the 15 minute rule, because sometimes that's all the time she'll allow me to get anything accomplished! Before FlyLady I wouldn't have bothered trying to get anything done if I knew all I had was 15 minutes. Now I clean my home 15 minutes at a time. Even before she was born, P started raising a mommy who is much more productive with her time!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

back to routines

Today's blessing:
Weekends.

I thrive on routines. I love making lists. I'm one of those people who gets great satisfaction from taking her pen and making a big line through a task when it has been completed. I went back to work last week, and, as difficult as it has been for me to leave my baby girl, even if just for a few hours at a time, it has been helpful to have some sort of structure back in my life. During those six weeks after P was born, I could not seem to figure out what day of the week it was. I guess they all kind of ran together - late night feedings turned into early mornings of walking P around our little apartment which were followed by an hour of sleep and then maybe a shower and load of laundry if P was still asleep. By this time it might have been 9 am or 2 pm. For someone who used to start a load of laundry and have all clean dishes put away before leaving for work in the morning, this posed a challenge.

Also, I tend to be a little scattered. One day I poured myself a bowl of cereal in the morning, got distracted by a crying baby, and didn't give the cereal a second thought until I was preparing dinner that night and the bowl was taking up space on my countertop.

Then, Monday morning, something crazy happened. I woke up for work a little earlier than I used to, fed P, ate breakfast, made the bed, and got dressed. When I looked at the clock, I was shocked to see that I still had 45 minutes before I needed to leave. My body suddenly started to go on auto-pilot. I unloaded the dishwasher. I wiped down my bathroom. I spent a few minutes folding and putting away laundry that I had washed the day before but not finished. I put away or threw away seven items that were not where they belonged. Why seven? Because it was better than none! Finally, I double checked that I had everything I needed in my purse and put it by the door with the lunch that I had packed the night before. By this time, P was hungry again, and I had just enough time to feed her and pass her off to my husband to be burped and changed. How's that for timing?

I found myself wondering how in the world that had happened. During my maternity leave I had been home almost the entire day most days. If I accomplished half that many things, I was happy with myself. That's when I realized just how important it was for me to have my routines. This morning, I even managed to fit in a short run before work.

For those of you struggling to establish routines, get your home in order, or just feel like you're making a little progress from day to day, I encourage you to check out FlyLady. She provides you with great advice to help you baby step your way to a better way of looking at things.

Friday, March 23, 2012

the worst question

Today's blessing:
That sore feeling you get after working out for the first time in a long time. In my case, running for the first time since my fourth month!

My baby girl is six weeks old, and I can hardly believe how fast it has gone. There are some things about motherhood that have taken awhile to get used to. I'm still not great at giving P a bath, and it's a challenge sometimes to get that tiny onesie over the head of a squirmer. I'm still figuring out what kind of clothing I prefer for her, too. For example, I can't figure out why any articles of baby clothing would ever be made without footies. The socks are so cute, but really, they don't stay on. Also, I thought at the beginning that we would only use onesies with long sleeves and the little mitten-y things that fold right over the hands. I think we used them twice. However, there is one thing I decided right at the beginning that I did not like, and it hasn't waivered.

"Is she a good baby?"

What does this mean? She has a full head of beautiful dark hair and gorgeous blue eyes. Does that make her good? She has ten fingers and ten toes. If she didn't, would she be a bad baby? Has she figured out how to smile and mommy and daddy? She has, and I think this is good! Does she cry sometimes for no apparent reason for what seems like hours on end but is actually probably only 45 minutes? Of course. Does that make her bad? I don't think so. Difficult maybe, at times, but still good and perfect and beautiful.

Is she generally healthy and happy? Yes, which is, to me, the epitome of good for my baby. So if you ask me if P is a good baby, that's what I'm going to assume you mean. Yes, she is good. And she is raising a mommy who is much more aware of her words.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

cloth diaper review

Today's blessing:
A husband who says "I'll do the dishes as soon as I'm done with my paper. You play with the baby!"

Yes, I do have the best husband ever!

So Husband and I decided that we wanted to try to do the cloth diaper thing with P. For those moms and dads who are on the fence, you should know that it's not like when we were babies and you had a big square of fabric that you folded up, pinned on, then shoved into a pair of plastic pants. There are some pretty awesome options out there now.

I should preface this with a few things. First of all, everything I've written is my opinion and nothing else. Nobody has paid me or given me any sort of compensation to write any of this. Second, I have not tried all brands of cloth diapers, so this list is incomplete. Sorry if I missed your favorite brand. These are the ones that I had available or given to me. That said, here we go!

All-in-ones:
The idea behind the All-in-one is pretty self-explanatory. It's supposedt to be the closest thing to disposable - you don't need anything but the diaper. No cover, no pins, no nothing. Grovia is the only AIO diaper that we tried. My favorite part about it was that it was so thin - not bulky like a lot of other cloth diapers. However, it leaked. Twice. To be fair, it was very saturated, so it caught a lot of liquid before it leaked, but it did leak. I solved this problem by just putting one of our super-cute diaper covers over it. I realize it kind of defeats the purpose of the AIO, but it's still less bulky than some of the other options, so I'm willing to take the extra step for it! Another down-side: it takes a long time to dry. I don't put my cloth diapers in the dryer, so if there's a chance of rain, they have to dry on a rack in my laundry room.

All-in-twos and Hybrids:
These are the diapers that have inserts, but are different than pocket diapers. The reason these are nice is that you don't have to wash the cover every time. The "mess" should usually be contained to the insert, so you can, in theory, just change the insert every time and use the same cover several times. This is worked pretty well for me so far! Of the AI2s, we tried Flip, Grovia, and Best Bottoms. I'll start with the Flip diapers. If I had to pick a least favorite, it would probably be this one. The insert doesn't attach to the diaper in any way; it just sits in the cover. There are shallow "pockets" of sorts at the front and back of the diaper, but they don't do a ton to secure the insert. These are fine for P now when she doesn't move a whole lot, but I'd be nervous to use them when she starts crawling. However, I would still rather use this than a disposable! Also, both parts of the diaper dry quickly, so there's a faster turn-around than with other options.
The Grovia AI2 is pretty wonderful. There are a ton of super-cute cover options (and many neutrals, too!) and the inserts snap in, so you don't need to worry about them shifting. The inserts are extremely absorbant, which is great for baby, but not so great for drying. They take the longest, by far, out of any inserts or diapers to dry, so if you go this route, make sure that you have lots of inserts! Another down-side: they are fairly bulky, particularly in between the legs. Paige is only 6 weeks old right now, so as she grows, I see this being less and less of an issue. Also, the inserts only come in one size, so when baby is little and you use the smaller size, you have to take a couple extra seconds to make sure it's actually contained within the cover. Not a big deal. When it comes to the covers, I prefer the ones that snap over the velcro. Snaps are more durable, and the velcro tends to attach to everything if you don't get it lined up on the "laundry tabs" just right for storage and washing.
Last in the AI2 category: Best Bottoms. These are the winners in my book. The inserts are thin, but extremely absorbant. There are two different kinds of inserts: microfiber or organic hemp/cotton. I don't have a preference yet. They both seem pretty awesome. You can also purchase doublers that snap in with the inserts for when baby sleeps through the night (I hear that does happen eventually!) and you want some extra protection. The covers come in several cute designs and adjust to a wide range of sizes - and you can even purchase extender tabs so the diapers can be used for children up to 50 pounds or more. Aside from the Grovia AIO, they are the least bulky, and all parts of the diaper dry quickly. Now, I do have to find something to critique, so here it is: there is no part of the insert that you can touch to remove it that is waterproof. If baby thoroughly soaks the insert, you're going to have to touch part of it in order to change it. But if you're a parent, you're probably used to having your child's bodily fluids spewed at you on a regular basis, so this is a non-issue.

Pocket diapers:
Pocket diapers are two-part diapers: they include a shell and an insert that you stuff inside the shell. The only pocket diaper I tried was Bum Genius. On the plus side, it worked extremely well. There were several times that I'm confident Paige would have blown out of a disposable, but everything was contained in her Bum
Genius diaper. On the down-side, they do take a little more work than some of the other diapers. You have to actually stuff the insert into the cover every time, which, while it only takes about 30 seconds, adds up when you figure you go through 8-12 diapers (or more) a day. Also, since the insert goes inside a pocket in the shell, you have to wash both parts after every use. However, both parts dry very quickly. And I would still rather spend 5 or even 10 minutes stuffing inserts than use disposables!

Fitted diapers:
We tried two different varieties of fitted diapers: Kissaluvs and Thirsties. These diapers snap or velcro on, and they require a cover.
I am a big fan of Kissaluvs. They are ridiculously absorbant, and you can even purchase an extra insert to use at night if baby ever decides to sleep for longer than three hours at a time! They're probably the best for newborns, because you can snap down the top to make room for the cord stump. They're a little more bulky than some of the other options, but the extra absorbancy makes up for it in my book! They dry fairly quickly considering how much there is to them. On the down-side, the sizes don't span as wide a range as the AI2s or pocket diapers, so you have to buy more sets. However, they do go really small, (down to 5 lbs) so if you have a preemie or just a tiny baby, you'll get plenty of use out of the smallest size! I do not recommend the Kissaluvs covers. When you snap them down to a smaller size, they get funky and bunchy around the legs. Luckily, you can use pretty much any cover with the diapers.
The Thirsties were by far the bulkiest of all the diapers. They are very absorbant, and the sizing covers a wider range, but they take longer to dry than the Kissaluvs. When it comes to the actual diaper, I'm not a huge fan. However, the covers are great, and they come in some really cute colors and designs.

Whew! I hope this helps if you were on the fence about cloth diapering or even if you just wanted more information! The best resource I've found online to order diapers is Nicki's Diapers. They even throw in free gifts depending on how much you spend - I got some reuseable wipes. I haven't convinced my husband to give them a chance yet, but I certainly can use them! I'm so proud of my Paige...she's trying her best to raise an earth-friendly mommy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

i'm hooked

Today's blessing:
Elton John lullabies

I'm definitely liking this blogging thing. I've kept a journal pretty regularly since I read Absolutely Normal Chaos when I was in middle school, so I guess this is the 21st century equivalent. Except this is a little more public.

So my husband and his sister are probably the biggest Elton John fans anyone will ever meet. No joke. They're a lot ridiculous. The first music played to our daughter when she was in my stomach was Elton John. The first time Nate and I felt her kick was after he played "Honky Cat" for her. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when the collection of Elton John hits in lullaby form showed up in a gift for P from her auntie. Here's the surprising thing: they work! We broke out the cd yesterday morning, and it put P to sleep right away. We had it on repeat last night, and it was one of the best nights of sleep I've gotten since about my fifth month of pregnancy. Now, it may have just been a fluke, but I'm going to go with that it really works. Hopefully tonight will be another good one to confirm that.

Monday, March 12, 2012

my nocturnal daughter

Today's blessing:
Cream cheese wontons

I know I'm supposed to sleep when baby sleeps, and I'm guessing that's especially relevant at 3:00 in the morning. However, today I am resisting. P slept all day, so Husband and I have been anticipating a long night. He took the "bedtime"-2:00 shift, and now I'm up and armed with my water bottle, some energizing snacks, "What to Expect the First Year", and a blanket and pillow, all within arm's reach. I'm actually pretty awake right now, so it doesn't make sense to me to go to sleep when I know I'll have to wake up, probably within 30 minutes, and I'll be all groggy and out of it. Right?

P is a walker. The most effective way to soothe her is by pacing the floor. She's also a fairly fussy baby, thus requiring a lot of soothing. I credit the fact that I was back in pre-pregnancy jeans two weeks after delivery to this. Blessing in disguise? That's how I'm choosing to look at it!

I think I jinxed myself. My baby has now been asleep for a solid hour. One way or another, P is doing her best to raise one tough mommy!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

getting started

This is going to be another one of those "new mom" blogs. I'm not sure yet what's going to set me apart from all the others; I guess we'll just have to wait and see. However, I do know a few things about my undefined blog. It will not be my opportunity to complain about everything in life that is bugging me. I may share some of my struggles, but for the most part, I'll try to keep things uplifting. There's enough bad news out there; I certainly don't want to contribute to it! Also, I want to start every entry with something positive - a blessing in my life or just something small that makes me smile. Today's blessing:
That M&M commercial where the guys at the party think the brown M&M is naked, then the red M&M comes in and strips and starts dancing. There's something about seeing an M&M dance like that...it makes me chuckle.

Maybe I should start out with a little bit about me? Like I said, I really don't know what I'm doing with this blog, but this seems like the natural place to start. Like all other women, I have many titles: daughter, sister, wife, friend, blah blah blah. The newest and most exciting addition to my list of titles is definitely mother (hopefully "mommy" eventually, but that's a title that has to be earned). Being a mom is pretty much the coolest thing ever. My baby girl, P, just turned one month old, and in my completely unbiased opinion, she's just about the cutest thing to ever grace a crib. I'm also a singer, runner, Christian, quilter, and many other things.

Okay...I think that's probably good for one day!