Thursday, December 27, 2012

what's the value of x

when i was a kid, i can remember Christmases as a time of serious magic and anticipation.
i know i had to make lists, but i don't really remember any of them specifically. i remember spending Christmas eve at my papaw's house (crowded and overflowing with family that didn't leave until well after dark) and getting updates from my uncle John on whether Santa was close to our street (whenever he went outside to smoke).
i remember wanting to go home quickly on Christmas eve so we could get to bed so Christmas morning would show up much quicker.
i think, but I'm not sure...the biggest thing we (my brother and i) ever asked for was a TV or a gaming system (Sega genesis- i miss you)
and those things lasted. we played Sega (sonic, *sigh*) until our hands would be sore. Jesse- probably played madden or some other football game, sonic was pretty much strictly my domain.
so, after Christmas this year, i was reflecting on my childhood Christmas memories and watching my children and i realized that so far, we have dodged the "big" gifts.
Lily typically doesn't ask for a whole lot...and what she does ask for isn't outrageous and normally stays within her age range.
Amelia and Cain aren't old enough yet to ask for "things".
I've watched on facebook as friends and family have posted pictures and lists of things they or their children received. I've read or looked at some with mild embarrassment.

let me say this, we are beyond blessed with family that seem to hit the nail on the head with the gifts they buy for our kids. seriously, they LOVE everything they received. they are thankful and very happy with everything. thank you, everyone, for the thoughtfulness that you all put into their presents. it means the world to me and to them.

it seems anymore, as the years have passed, and i have grown up...that kids have upped the anty on what they require for Christmas. it's no longer all about bikes or dollhouses. it's about iphones at age 6...tablets, ipads, ipods, and kindles. super high dollar, easily breakable, and high responsibility items.

as a parent, that scares me.

we've made the decision that our kids wont receive these as gifts. that means if Lily wants a kindle or a tablet, then she will earn money and pay for it herself...and then she will only use it at allotted times. as far as a phone or an ipod? nope, sorry. it wont happen. seeing kids walking around everywhere with headphones perpetually in their ears? it hits a nerve with me. you have to have music on constantly? why??

aren't we 'connected' enough already? do we really need to separate ourselves more from each other? I'd rather Lily ride her bike outside. I'd rather her read a real book..or ask one of us to play real checkers with her. am i old fashioned? absolutely. judgemental? a little bit--but i try not to be. but when i see a young child 100% engrossed in a cellphone game...or ignoring everyone around them with their's just rude. there has to be limits. there needs to be some respect taught to our kids. if you can do that while they have these high end items, go you.

i just want to make sure my kids know the real value of money.
we haven't made the smartest decisions when it comes to money and i definitely don't want my children to make the same mistakes that we have. in my mind there needs to be a shut off. where when a child asks for something outlandish, you should be allowed to say no...and explain why.

if Lily wants something that's costly, then she can work and earn money to pay for it herself...and if it requires data, she can only use wifi or she can help pay for a data plan. these things don't pay for themselves. they require constant feed of prepaid cards or additional money on a monthly plan. they require insurance in case they get dropped in a tub...dropped on a floor and cracked...or simply left somewhere and forgotten. these things happen to responsible adults...and we're giving them to kids. i don't know about yours, but mine has a hard time keeping track of the clothes she had on yesterday...and Amelia's and Cain's binkies? we're constantly losing them! imagine if their binkie cost $400+. we've gone through 6 with Amelia alone. and no lie- Lily has a pair of pj's that we CANNOT find. she literally lost them. they've vanished.

so, if you're reading this and you're a parent who has bought your child or children high ticket items this Christmas, don't get your feathers all ruffled. it's okay with me if you do...i just don't get it. what happens if next year, the bigger-better comes out? will you one up yourself and get that one next year and discard last year's? and what about the year after that? they're always getting better with technology. will your child still appreciate a thoughtful handwritten letter as a gift? or will they look for more?

I'll be honest- that was my wake up call. several years ago, lily was opening gifts and when they ran out, she seemed sullen and asked, "is that all?" and i realized we were doing it wrong.

since then, we've tried like heck to instill a value to all things...and showed that some things, like love, are invaluable. we've tried to teach that things are just that...they're things. you cant take them with you when you die.
we've also shown her that a gift is a GIFT, and you should treat it as such by taking care of it and treating it in a way that would make the gift giver proud and happy to have given it to you.

so today, while working ahead in math, we were working to find the value of x, Lily stopped me and asked, "in math, is there ever an x that you cant put value on?"

and i had to stop and write this.

Friday, December 14, 2012

do you ever second guess your prayers?

Have you ever prayed for something and then instantly began worrying about how God might answer that prayer?
We all know God rarely answers prayers with direct responses (I.e praying for patience doesn't mean you wake up one day suddenly with a zen mind; nooo, God will give you "opportunities" to be more patient.)
So when I began praying for better money handling skills, I didn't expect to be blessed with instant knowledge...and while i was nervous about the answer i definitely did not expect the response I received.

For some time, Arnie and I had been praying about life changes and waiting as patiently as we could for answers. (While I also prayed for money management)
Then, one day, all the responses came in one phone call.
We had two weeks and Arnie would be starting his new job in a different state and we would be moving much closer to our families.
The kicker? Packing and moving with 3 kids, 2 of which are under the age of 2. The bigger kicker? Arnie would not receive his first paycheck until mid December (his first day on the new job was November 17th)
This meant an entire month with NO income. None. Zilch. And we had 2 weeks notice for this...and add into that travel and moving expenses...on top of your every day stuff.
Now, most people have an emergency fund for situations similar to these. Ours, however, was depleted thoroughly in late June, early July when the derecho hit and knocked out the power for 7 days. We had to buy disposable diapers (hand washing diapers took a lot of time and patience) and eat out a ton (ugh!) due to losing our well stocked fridge and deep freeze. and gas alone (getting to and from places) was killing us.
So, here we were- all those prayers we had prayed answered in one swoop and I was nervous. Scratch that, I was terrified.
No income for a month AND literally on the heals of Christmas? A holiday that we don't shop for until the weekend before the holiday?!!
Somewhere inside of me a quiet voice said He will provide. But my shouts nearly drowned that out. What about this? What about that? What are we going to do?? How will we survive?

well, today is finally Arnie's first pay check after a month of being super creative and diligent about where any money went. i learned a lot this month, about our spending habits, about necessities, and about what really matters.
i didn't come out of this month a money guru, but i did learn a lot and, again, a prayer was answered.
nothing has made me more humble than not having a paycheck to look forward to for 30+ days.
this Christmas will not be full of gifts (sorry to those we normally buy for), but of smaller things and focused much more on the real meaning of this holiday. 
it's strange because I've caught myself a few times feeling not really into the Christmas spirit. blame it on the warmer weather, blame it on the move..but i blame it on myself. i get so into buying things, wrapping things, and giving gifts and this year, obviously, we're not....
like i said, it is humbling on a different level and it also forces you to stop looking at the commercial and start focusing on why Christmas is here to begin with.
it's not been an easy road, this month...but there's half the month left to make it work...and to see the positives.
it always make me nervous to pray for the big things because you never know how God will answer. i always take refuge in the Bible...because the "big" guys seemed to feel the same way. Jonah ran when God called him. Moses stuttered, but became a great speaker and leader. but they all worked toward the glory of God. i am small, but i know i have a purpose, and everything goes towards shaping me into a better person, the person God made me to be.
one of my favorite sayings is this:
God doesn't always show up when we want Him to, but he is always on time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

ever wonder if you're making a difference?

have you ever had a moment in your life where you just knew God has to be snickering at you?
you know...when you're sitting, surrounded by half unpacked boxes, cheerios stuck to your shirt, spit-up in your hair, STILL carrying around some baby weight..and you mutter to yourself, "this was not what i had planned..."
i can almost hear God struggling with milk shooting out of his nose from that line.
i have to take a step back and remind myself that i KNEW this (moving 'home' after 8 years) wasn't going to be easy. that we came to this decision because the benefits far outweighed the downfalls. *but* that those benefits were "in the long run" benefits, not immediate.
i remind myself of how blessed we are. how incredibly, amazingly, blessed we are.
it's easy to get caught up in the ebb and flow of every day drama: someone's teething, someone's going through a growth spurt, everyone's crying (including me!) someone doesn't care to listen, is something burning in the oven? why is the carpet wet?!

so i take a deep breath and look at what I've accomplished that day. as a a person who struggles with the idea of and the fear of failure, some days, i just need someone to say, "you're kicking some serious butt today, you know that?"
don't we all occasionally need that?

and while my children's behavior is a reflection on me...nothing has made me more proud than yesterday when Lily and I moved into the birth and life of Jesus Christ in her history lesson.

i started reading the story of the good Samaritan to her and before i got more than 3 sentences in, Lily was bouncing in her seat, saying, "I know this!" i stopped and let her tell me the story. i didn't have to read it. she passed the history test with flying colors. i know i didn't do this alone, we've had a tribe of wonderful people in our lives helping culture a love of God in her heart; but wow, what a moment to stop and smile and really know that me- as a parent- is doing something right.

there are so many times when you can second guess your abilities as a parent or as a person in general...but when something like this happens, you have to breathe a sigh of relief.

i was second guessing my decision to home school. i was contemplating the idea of sending her to school...not because it got too hard..but because, well, i don't really know what put it in my head to even consider the change but i was...and now, I'm most definitely not.

there are so many benefits to home schooling: flexible learning schedule, learning at your child's pace, choosing to integrate your faith into everyday learning, instilling family values and morals, life lessons can be learned by allowing your school age children to see you every day in life situations (see above list: teething, fussing, crying, etc.)
i believe it's a very big deal for your children to be able to see you in stressful situations so that they will learn how to deal with their own stressful situations.
everything, absolutely everything can be a teaching moment. baking brownies becomes science, mixed with literature and comprehension, mixed with home ec.
i really love that we can pick up and go whenever we want to. i love that school can be done at noon. i love that my younger ones are able to learn by observing.

yes, if you know me, you know my plate is extremely full. don't ever tell me that staying at home is "easy". I've added a lot to my days by choosing certain things over others...but i hope that I'm teaching my children that easier isn't always better, and sometimes a little extra elbow grease is well worth it.

we cloth diaper vs. disposable.
I'm not against disposable. in fact, i typically keep a package in my house for specific situations like what we're going through now with Amelia. her skin is SUPER sensitive. we just recently changed washers and because of my miscalculation, the diapers didn't get rinsed as well and resulted in Amelia getting a chemical burn (think diaper rash, but more painful for her). so while all diapers are getting stripped and thoroughly rinsed, she's in disposables and healing nicely.
cloth diapers= extra loads of laundry...but I'm a stay at home mom, I'm definitely a homebody, so for me, the extra work isn't a big deal.

we don't do baby food.
for me, this seems easier. i just mashed up our food for Amelia when she required it and I'll do the same for Cain when he's old enough.

i do the haircuts.
we save money by getting home trims. Arnie's is easy. I've always done my own, and Lily is a breeze as well. i just gave her another perm last night which she loves. the cost? $5 and change. I've had the rods for a few years and the perm solution was roughly $5. more work? yes. is my neck and back killing me today? yes. does lily love her hair? yes. totally. worth it. :)

we don't do a whole lot of eating out.
yes, this equals more cooking, but in the end, we save lots of money, and eat healthier. we also teach our kids to be creative with food, for instance if i cook chili on day one, day two becomes chili cheese fries or coney dogs, and day three it becomes a dip for chips. also, when we do eat out, it is truly a treat and a fun adventure for the kids.

we recycle older things.
i try to teach Lily that old doesn't equal boring. we take towels that are too ragged to use as towels and use the sewing machine to make new things (attempts at clothes for dolls or diaper inserts for Amelia and Cain). we typically will scan through the clearanced fabrics and buy when things are ridiculously cheap. add that fabric (normally it's fun "seasonal" patterns that didn't sell for that season or holiday) to the old towels and you get fun new things for next to nothing. again, yes, it's more work...but I'm hoping this gives my kids a better foundation especially when today's society is so quick to throw the used and broken in the garbage. (we also use orphaned socks as cleaning rags)

we home school.
i know that you cannot shield your children from every terrible thing, but you can equip your children with the proper tools and knowledge to combat bad things they will encounter.
it is a great deal of work. it takes an enormous amount of may not be for everyone...but the pay out is so very rewarding. and i cant describe how happy i am to be able to spend that time with my be right there when they have their "aha!" moments is priceless.

so, yes, i most definitely have my days where i know God is giggling at my "this was not in my plans!" moments. i have days where i question every decision I've made. i have days when i feel totally insane, and yes, i absolutely have a good cry.
so, if you don't know me well and you read a post or two on facebook from me...please know that I'm not really bragging so much as making an "i cannot believe this day went this well!" statement...because i have plenty of days of nonstop messes, helplessness, and self pity. days where I've yelled at someone for something when no one deserved to be yelled at. days when there are no "meals" rather just snacks and things that can be eaten from a package so as not to dirty yet more dishes.
what i'm working on is this: i try like heck to pray often and remember that I'm being shaped by God. I'm being molded and formed for His glory and not my own. so I'm trying, but not always succeeding, to pray every day that my actions will be more along the lines of something God can be proud of.

Friday, November 9, 2012

the princess dilemma is not a dilemma

i recently read a blog about a mom who refused to give into the "princess" factor for her daughter(s). she wrote about the need to teach her daughter that she did not need rescued and the mixed messages of femininity that princess movies often convey.
statements such as these make me want to lose control of my tongue (and cat claws) momentarily.
where did this group of women come from?? those who deem marriage unnecessary and the shaving of one's armpits and legs irrelevant?
i almost always want to ask what happened in their childhood that made them so against embracing the fun of being a girl.
anyone who knows me well, knows that i love glitter. i love pink fluffy dresses, i love barbie, and high heels.
you dont have to love (or even like) this stuff to be a girl...but it is quite different to dislike glitter for its defiance to never leave once released and to dislike it because it embodies everything evil that makes women the inferior sex.
i once had someone argue that God made Eve from Adam's rib so that we would be equal and then turn around and argue for same sex marriage while continuing to argue that marriage wasnt necessary- that you could simply have a "partner". i couldnt even continue the conversation. i wanted to make a sign to staple to her forehead "walking contradiction."
-just sharing a moment with you- now, stepping away from all biblical aspects of this...

i fully believe a woman's place is in the home. i think it's cool if you can work and be a mom. i've done it. i didnt personally like it as much as i enjoy the never ending thankless job of being a stay at home mom, though. at least here, when i dont hear a thank you or a "job well done", i do know that i am loved and am more than likely not gossipped about by my 15 month old.

i also fully believe in shaving your armpits and legs. if you dont, then please dont tell me about it and dont raise your arm near my face or brush your leg passed mine on a rare day when i wear a skirt or shorts. it makes me shiver just thinking about it.

i 100%-dont try to argue with me- hands down- believe in gender roles. i believe there are some jobs out there that are better left to men. i believe in barbie dolls for girls, and trucks and action figures for boys. i dont like gender nuetral although i see its benefits with multiple children. but dont get upset with me when you bring your infant, wrapped in some gender nuetral blanket, name Pat to visit me and i ask if it's a boy or a girl. give me a CLUE.

i love gigantic oversized bows on baby girl's head. how cute!! (and how obvious!) i love little suits with a tie and a derby for little boys. how adorable!

i refuse to raise my child to be confused about what or who she or he is.

that being said, i dont mind tom-boys. i have one in my house. i dont mind a guy who can show his emotions (just dont get too weepy on me).

i have a true 1950s mentality that i embrace and love. it's cut and dry. there is no "grey" area.

now, back to the blog i read:
why deny your daughter the chance to read about princesses being rescued? it's a fictional story. it's a fantasy. it's whimsical. and while i personally HATE most cartoons, i would never not let my kids watch cinderella or sleeping beauty because it might ruin their psyche. give me a break. cartoons and (most) princess stories are pretend! PRETEND. if you want to give your daughter a bone to chew on, teach her the difference between reality/nonfiction vs. pretend/fiction. dont deny her the chance to embrace her innate ability to love the color pink and big gigantic poofy dresses.

i will admit that not all girls love pink...but give her the chance at least. jeez.  i've met very few girls in my lifetime that didnt, at some point in time, love dolls.

it makes me insane when someone announces "gender neutral" everything, but then tries to shape their kids into what they, as parents, now are.

lily is a girl. she LOVES fancy dresses. she loves princess stories...but you know what? she also loves to get dirty, work on things with tools, and roughouse in the backyard. she's a girl, through and through...but she knows how to be tough, stand up for herself, and take charge of a situation. she also sees her dad as her hero. she likes to talk about prince charming and sees painting her nails as a real treat.

i personally like the glorification of the 1950s. i love the clothes, the bathing suits, the way teenagers (for the most part) called adults sirs and mams. i LOVED the music. i love that most homes werent broken and moms stayed at home (because they could if they wanted to). i love that dinner, then, was at the table. i love that the phone was a landline- and that was IT. i loved that tv was a treat and NOT a necessity. i also love that tv was censored much more strictly than it is now.

i dont know what triggered the extreme part of the 60s. the burning of draft cards and bras...but to me, the 50s seemed to look so innocent...

dont bother telling me about terrible things that happened in the 50s. i do know some history, i know of the horrible parts of the 50s as well.
but things are much different now in terms of standards and morals. marriage to the majority is now a joke or deemed unnecessary. princess stories gave you a fantasy story about love and overcoming bad. it showed you a girl who came from nothing and became a beautiful princess with the help of her friends. what's wrong with that?

as a girl, why not let a guy who offers pay for dinner? why not let a gentleman open the door for you...hold your umbrella in the rain...take your hand as you step out of the car?
because you can do it yourself? so what? the guy is being NICE! allow that. embrace that your are a girl and therefore get an invisible card that basically means if you are ever carrying heavy things, typically, a gentleman will say, "here, allow me to carry that for you." which you should answer, "why, thank you! how nice!"
it's not difficult. (and it's less work for you. take a break!)

i may be wrong in the way i am raising my children, but i make sure the bible is a part of their lives, daily...and everything else, is lead by my heart.

in conclusion, i say this: if life gives you the opportunity to be treated as a princess by a real life prince charming, don't be so caught up in the song and dance of "anything you can do, i can do better..."
embrace your inner girl...throw on some glitter...and do the princess wave as you ride off into the sunset. :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

call me pollyanna

...but not to my face. i dont always accept this feature of my extraordinarily multifaceted personality.

i dont like labels, in fact, i'm growing to disdain them. i really hated them in high school....and all school before that. it was always in your your head every night when you went to sleep. you must strive to be a part of the popular group...and when you were shunned.

i started high school somewhere in the 'normal' group...and became so disheartened, so angry with cliques, that i went to the fray and became a "goth" girl. scary, i know. i had this great friend, though, who never changed and never tried to change me. i am forever thankful to her for keeping me on the straight and narrow as much as she possibly could. (and when she couldnt, she took me to my aunt Brenda, who most definitely could)

i went through many phases, as most teenagers do, and i believe i am a stronger person for it. however, i dont believe it was all necessary. i sometimes wish i had another go at college to study anthropology. maybe i'd get a better feel for why we, as humans, must separate all humans into subclasses.

i thought, since i escaped high school, somewhere in between the normal kids and the popular ones (yes, the goth phase didnt last), that i had also escaped the grouping and re classing of people.

i was wrong. work is just like high school, only you get paid (though, not nearly enough) to show up and deal with other humans and see how everyone separates into cliques. then i was pregnant with baby #2 and my husband and i discusses out finances and we found out that it would be better for me to stay at home. i was elated! no more cliques! no more high school-ish drama!

i found websites that offered advice and support to stay at home moms. (i know. a group.) i thought i could find knowledge on how to help Lily prepare to be a big sister and say goodbye to her only child 'status'. i wanted support for after the baby was born. you could post questions and get multiple answers from many, many moms. at first, i was amazed...then i became...sad.

under every mom's comment was a barrage of letters and numbers. sometimes it just told who they were, how long they were married, and how many children they had. the letters, though, were a new language for me. there were labels for what kind of mom you were.

i couldnt grasp it. i still cant. it makes me angry. basically, it's like a disclaimer at the bottom of your advice so that if you're not part of "that" group, then you can write off her advice as ridiculous because she's a fruitloop.

i found out that there arent initials for what i am.
i neither "ebf" (exclusively breast feed or extended breast feeding, i.e. breastfeeding your toddler, not just as a baby), "ep" (exclusively pump), nor "eff" (exclusively formula feed). there's also "nv" (non vaccinating), "af" (anti formula), "nc" (non circumcising), "oo" (organic only)...and if youre vegan, well then, you are the next best thing since sliced bread.

if you are an ebf,nv,af,nc,oo vegan, then your words are basically from the lips of God...and also known as a "crunchy" mom.

again, i didnt fit in.

why do we need to put more labels on ourselves?? arent we all moms who love our kids to pieces and want to give them (our own version of) the best?

so i unjoined all the sites. they arent supportive. 9 times out of 10 they are passive aggressive, and once in a blue moon, they are downright hostile.

just because we dont see eye to eye on the hot button issues doesnt mean we cant carry on a civilized conversation...but in these groups..apparently not mirroring other parenting styles is exactly all you need to shun someone from your "group". i was iced out of one group because i suggested she supplement with formula using a supplemental feeding device. (basically, you still "breastfeed" but there's a tube attached so they are fed formula until you "milk supply" can fill up your baby)
this was sacrilege. what i shouldve suggested was donor milk. yup. someone who has tons of breast milk that they dont need, so you take that and use another mom's milk to feed your baby. (personally, i find this weird. for the record, i also find blood transfusions weird, too)

anyways, i was shunned from the group due to my faux pas...and it was enough of a push to make me walk away from "groups" all together.

maybe that's why i'm not social. it's wrong, i know, but i dont want to be lumped into one group or another. i just want to be me. a mom, a wife, a friend. quirky, and heading towards strange, but me. i shouldnt have to lay my life bare to start up a conversation. i will absolutely share it with you if you ask, but i dont think i should be judged for it, nor would i judge you.

i'm kind of excited to be home schooling Lily (and Amelia and Cain when the time comes). not only are we adding Bible lessons to every day's work but i'm going to add in some anthropology and hope with every ounce of my being that when my kids venture out into the world they are strong, independent thinkers who will squash any clique that ever tries to put a label on them.

i still have hope that things will get better. but i'm trying to be realistic. i'm starting small. one step at a time...and what better thing to do than to rest all your hope and heart on your children?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

my heart overflows

children are by far our greatest accomplishments. it is a privilege, an honor, and such a blessing to be given the title of mom or dad. i can feel my heart glow when i hold them; my eyes water, everything slows down, and i cannot help but smile.
strangers comment "oh well, now your family is complete."
yes, you are right. my family was complete when Arnie and i were married. it was complete when Lily was born. it became complete when Amelia was born, and even more so the following year when Cain was born.
dont ask if we are finished, for the truth is, we were finished when Lily came into our lives. i announced it, proudly.
i look back now and smile at that time. i was young, naive, and thought i knew everything about planning.
the truth now is i have no idea how to answer the question "are we finished?"
i dont dare to plan that much. are we responsible? as much as we can be. do we make mistakes? of course.
i dont care how i'm viewed. i dont care how many eyes roll or heads shake in disaproval. these are my children. blessings. little beings that have made my heart move in ways i never knew was possible. yes, absolutely, our hands are full...but our hearts are tenfold what are hands can handle...and we cant stop smiling about it.
the truth is, i dont need your permission. i dont intrude on your life in similar ways, so grant me the same kindness and be happy for us as a family.
here are some moments in our lives, moments in my life, in my heart- that transformed me, that caused my heart to grow. moments where i held lily, amelia, or cain in my arms...or moments where i saw arnie hold one of our children...and i knew this was exactly what was meant to happen in my life. and any moment in my life where i've doubted who i was or where i was...a moment when i questioned if i had chosen the right path..all of that was swept away in an infant's sigh. in the clasping of a finger. in a smile, the first true smile...and i've never doubted again.
so when someone asks some silly question about "planning" and you see me smile- maybe you'll see why. i wont put that in my mind. i wont "plan" what's next. i'll leave that up to God. :)

pictured above is amelia mae

pictured above is our Lily Angelina (photo with baby Amelia)

 clockwise of the above 4 photos are as follows: Arnie and Lily- September 2004, me and Amelia- July 2011, me and Amelia- August 2011, and me and Cain- August 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

in sickness and in health

here i am. sitting on this dreaded couch again.

you know, i've loved this couch since we've purchased it...and then it seems like it's become cursed because for 2 years now, i have been pregnant...and for two years now, i have been placed on bed rest. bed rest. i sigh. strict bed rest were the doctor's words. strict.
have i ever followed the rules? have i ever done exactly what someone has asked of me? hardly ever.
i am a highly active girl. dont ask me to sit still day after day while i can clearly see that things need done. things that i have done day in and day out like a well oiled machine. not to mention my plans to over-haul lily's room, rifle through her drawers and get rid of all ill fitting outfits, and find out exactly what size she is now, given that school is around the corner and once again we are behind in preparing in that realm of the world.
the frustration sets in. i have a 7 year old who is in the midst of a huge growth spurt and is attempting to eat us out of house and home. i have 12 month old who is getting into everything, learning her emotions (i.e.-temper tantrums gallor!), and exploring her new found mobility- much to my dismay.
here, i sit like budha. unmoving. wanting to move. trying to obey these rules, if not for the better part of each day...because at some point, i tell myself, i must be on my feet: diapers dont change themselves, food does not cook itself, dishes stay dirty unless i am up, and laundry does not do itself (even though i wish sometimes-that it did)
i try to reason with my body...mostly my belly..that if i'm a good girl until...let's say 4pm...then it should cooperate and allow me a few consessions. my mind needs to be healthy too...and sitting here is making me INSANE...and the sad thing is i'm supposed to be laying down on my left side ALL the time. even for meals. i feel guilty because i'm not. i do not want to jeopardize the health of this little one kicking me on the inside, but at the same time, how can i possibly follow these rules right now? i cannot neglect the fact that there are 2 girls eyeballing me from across the room.
yes, i know at some point everyone has whispered under their breath "i wish they'd put me on bed rest.." unless of course, you've been which case, you can only sympathize. it's not as wonderful as one would think. it's quite constricting, especially when you are not alone in your home.

who would've thought that 11 years ago when arnie and i took our vows that the sickness and health part would hit before either one of us were old? i know when i said it, that was what i pictured. us...much older...taking care of each other. but life throws your curveballs....
lucky for us, we both know how to play ball. :)

i am not the easiest person in the world to get along with. i am a perfectionist. i am extremely type A. heck, my blood type is even A positive. things must be just so...and with 2 kids and a husband that often works long hours, things being just so....can turn into so annoying...i'm sure.

add that idealism to the fact that i am no longer supposed to be up doing things. taking care of things. making sure things are alphabetized, organized by sized, folded- not wadded, crisp- not wrinkled, spotless- not slightly smeared....i become dr jeckyl and mr hyde.

i wrestle constantly with "let it go"..and "it can wait"...into the emotional throw down of a 4 year old dealing with stress that no one other than me--i've been heaping on myself.

i begin thinking: this baby can come any day. things need to be ready. that means little cloth diapers prepped. basinette cleaned-with mattress cover and a fresh blanket. bags need to be packed, but not so packed that i cant find my supplies. things should be properly organized in the kitchen. the floors need to be scrubbed. the carpet needs swept once more. dont get me started on our yard...and THEN i start thinking about the possible complications that may occur at the hospital. with the baby...with me....and then it happens. i explode. i dont think. i dont stop. i dont mention these things that have been racing through my mind as i have silently counted and weighed and measureed each contraction i've felt that day. (was that one stronger? are they getting stronger? is this labor? what was that?? should i call someone?!)

i'm a time bomb that constantly reloads and explodes without warning. i often wonder how many times arnie has silently thought in his head "i did not sign up for this." he knows it would kill me to say. he knows i would melt into a breakdown. i dont mean to be this insane...but WOW does stress get to me. it's hard enough having one child eat a meal that could've easily been for 3 people- come up to you five minutes after eating it asking if they can have something else to eat....then add in a teething, moody 12 month old..who enjoys kicking while being changed...and then add to that bed rest to a type A person who likes, wants, and needs to be able to do things herself....and arnie has a perfect storm he's walking into as he comes home from work.

i feel like Clint Eastwood...a version arnie walks in the door and i give him a look that says "go ahead...ask me how my day was. i DARE you. punk."

now if you read this far, please know, this isnt a rant, or a pity party for me. this is just a glimpse in the window at our lives right now...and how i am grateful that my spouse took his vows to heart when he repeated the words "in sickness and in health".

good times and bad...he's still here. putting up with my insanity. my life is a blessing every day. i am so very grateful to have to chance to be a mom to 3 children. but any mom can tell you it isnt easy and rarely i'm keeping it real. being honest at this point in our lives. i am grateful today for all that i have. especially my husband.

this experience thus far has taught me to appreciate the smaller things in life. like being able to get up and do random things around the house. it has taught me to look at my husband in a new light because i am honest enough to admit that i am not an easy person to be around when under this much stress. i have learned that marriage is absolutely something you must work at because it is so very easy to just disconnect yourself from everything when you get down. i hope it is teaching our children the value of family and how you can depend on them to help you when you feel -and sometimes are- helpless.

as much as i complain about bedrest, i should be thankful for it as well. there's nothing like not being able to leave the house at random that will bring a family closer. everyone surrounding me on this couch to play board games, to read a book together, to watch a movie....

so the next time you attend a wedding and you hear those words "in sickness and in health"...think about the weight they truly carry. my experience, in truth, has been a light one. there are husbands and wives out there dealing with so much more weight than we are: cancer, war injuries, name a few. the spouses who stick it out...they bring tears to my eyes. i dont think you could ever clearly put a full definition on Love, but i think it is spouses like mine and like the ones mentioned above that truly help define the word...and like my tattoo on my arm says: it (love) never fails.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

playing ball, God, and where the two shall meet

if you dont know me really well, then you probably dont know my love of sports, specifically, being involved, and especially playing sports. i've played softball since i was 4...standing far out in left field, an oversized glove on my hand, shagging flies for my brother- who could knock the cover off a ball.
from a very early age, my parents taught us the discipline of practice. spending warm days on ball fields taking batting practice, learning the fundamentals of pitching, fielding a ball, and making good throws. saturdays in the batting cages, learning bat speed and placement of a ball.
i know when i was there, there were days that i hated softball and wished i wasnt a "ball player" but now, i look back on every memory with warmness and fondness, and a wish that i could play back a full day of ball in my mind.
some people have a natural born ability to play ball. it takes little to get the fundamentals down, they do all aspects of ball with ease and smoothness that is usually envied. my brother and i are both natural born players. we never knew the struggle of not being able to make contact with a ball. we never felt the frustration of not knowing how to catch.
but still, we practiced at every opportunity...improving our skills. learning respect for the field...and always knowing that if you took your eyes off that ball, there was a good chance of getting burned.

i'm older now. ball still comes very naturally to me. there's nothing i love more than getting the opportunity to play in the sun, but it's not my life anymore. there are other priorities, other demands. but ball left me with one very, very important life lesson that i have never forgotten.

last Sunday, pastor Brian's sermon was about worry. something that eats at me a lot, especially right now, at this phase in my life. preterm labor is a very scary thing, especially when certain odds are stacked against you. but hearing that sermon, as if it were meant to be, gave me great comfort...and put me on the right track for stomping out my worry. it took me right back to my childhood and my days of practicing softball.

you see, when we messed up on the field, whether it was practice or a game, there were consequences. did you get an injury? clean it, bandage it, take care of it, but do not quit, do not give up. you'll only regret it.
did you pitch a bad game? you better believe you're going to spend an evening pitching into a tire or a bucket until you improve. didnt hit well? it's batting practice for you until hitting improves. there are always ways to improve where you're struggling.

it was like a light bulb finally went off in my head. i had been misunderstanding something for a very long while. you dont just "stop worrying". you dont just stop everything and "put it in God's hands". (these comments have always baffled me. we're human and worry seems to be a natural reaction. how in the world do you just.."stop"??!) can do something to improve your situation.

so just as my brother and i did in ball, i dug in, and i have started 'practicing'. i look at what i'm worrying about. i ask myself, have i done *everything* i can possibly do to keep myself from the worst case scenario? if i havent, then that is my first step that day. if i have done everything i can personally do, then i take my practice somewhere else. to God. to prayer. to memory verses.

about worry
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Matthew 6:25-27 New International Version

"God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

"I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth."

Psalm 121:1-2 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take."

Proverbs 3:5-6

and i turn to memory verses on HOPE

"He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted."
Job 5:9

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Isaiah 41:10

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
John 14:27

You must understand that while i was given a natural born ability to play ball, i've never been great at being a 'good' follower of God. i worry a lot...which is sort of like a big slap in God's face. Faith is the heart beat of being following God. you have to learn to trust God through every piece of your life.

so knowing my struggles, i have used what my parents and coaches have taught me, and began to practice and ask for help....because how else will i improve? i know i cannot accomplish this on my own.

ball taught me so very much...and it easily transitions into becoming a better follower of God:
i must learn to *never* take my eyes off Him...for when i do, things fall apart, and i'm likely to get hurt....but even if get hurt, i shouldnt quit..i should never give up.(He didnt fail me, i did, i took my eyes off of Him) when it happens, i need to turn back to the bible and prayer and practice.
and sometimes, no matter how hard you pray, no matter how well you've handled a situation, you can still fail...but that's okay. (you cant win them all..) you pick yourself up, and you learn from your loss. you become a better person because of your trials.

some may look at ball as something silly, even a waste of time...something that just passes the summer time as a child...but for me (and surely for my brother) we were given life lessons. something that has stayed with us, years after our glory days have passed.
i look back in wonder at my childhood. i had no idea what was being ingrained in me. it is amazing to see (in hindsight) God's plan rolling out your life and how He was forming you into the person He wanted you to become.
i am forever grateful for what i learned during my years in the dirt and with sun on my skin. it makes me excited to look at my children and know that these years, these summers in the sun, will not be just a time to pass...but life lessons building their hearts and minds into something much greater than we could ever hope for.

Jeremiah 29:11-14
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14

Psalm 139:13-16:
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I
praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

when that moment comes when you are finally visably pregnant, one of the first things out of many well wishers' mouthes is the question: what are you having? do you know what you're having? etc..

is it lack of other things to say? i mean, other than the obligatory congratulations, 'are you done after this one?', and the ever popular 'how are you feeling?'....there isnt very much else to really say.

the problem with this is that it creates so many mixed feelings. as a mom of 2, plus 1 angel baby, i'm already nervous enough. i'm a planner, which i am positive makes God laugh every day...but i cant really conquer that yet. i must plan. i must make plans.

so when in mid december, i jokingly took a pregnancy test, and only half glanced down, to shockingly find a positive heart beat has never quite been the same.

secretly, i've always wanted a large family. yes, i know, society has this ENORMOUS tendency to judge that statement. people actually feel HATE towards big families like the Duggars. that's just scary to me. why is there so much judgement in the world over things that in NO WAY affect your life? we are far from rich. but we make concessions. we dont do "disposable". we save where ever we can. we freeze what we dont need right away. we stock pile certain necessities. and we are content. we are well fed. we go through hard times but it's never something that has affected the feelings or bellies of my family. i dont know God's plan for us, but i trust it, and our hearts are overflowing with love to give.

so from mid december on, i've been planning. i've had a serious case of the "what if's?"

my planning led to this reasoning: if we have another girl, we'll be in a fairly easy situation. we have TONS of pink clothes, pink toys, pink blankets, and dont get me started on hair bows. we are well supplied in pink baby stuff.

and for future thinking, this baby and Amelia would only be 1 year apart (if not less, given my preterm issues) which meant if they played ball, they would be on the same ball team--which meant Arnie and I could definitely manage summer ball)...and given the "what if" of the possibility of having another girl, being that close in age meant that ease would come with lots of things, not just summer ball.

so, in march, we scheduled a gender reveal ultrasound, and almost immediately, without the tech saying anything, i knew. one swipe on the ultrasound wand, i glanced non-girl parts. my husband might have saw the flicker in my eye because he then asked the tech if she knew the sex yet. she said she was trying to get a good picture and within seconds, it was confirmed. boy.

my heart jumped. planning-down the drain. now a whole new set of "what ifs" came about. more planning. lots more planning.

and then i stopped and took a breath. i looked at my husband. he was beaming. he was getting a son. his own mini me. i looked at Lily who was wiggling in the back seat of the tahoe. she was ecstatic. she was getting a brother.

screw planning. we've just been blessed in a crazy awesome way.

gender disappointment? i've read about it. i've watched as well wishers basically encouraged it (i've experienced it when we were having Amelia--people would ask- and we would say girl--and they would say..aww...well, are you going to try again?) ...but then those same folks--if an expectant mom would emote that she did feel a little let down at finding out the sex, it was an immediate shunning. well, healthy is what matters. you should be grateful. it's baffling to me that people who are NOT directly involved in your family can affect your emotions so much.

i feel for women who've truly experienced gender disappointment. how hard it must be to deal with your feelings (which is nearly impossible to explain-yes you are happy and grateful, but there's also a worry...a feeling of wondering if you'll ever have a baby boy/girl), the immediate guilt, AND the judgement of strangers who all feel the need to give you their opinion without so much as batting an eye at your feelings.

as someone who is pregnant, you're already dealing with TONS. no way should you have to deal with this crazy reverse ninja psychology.

so i still see hints of it with "well wishers" with us. someone asks what we are having and we say boy. i hesitate. it's taking me a while to get used to not refering to the baby as a she. so then i see a questioning in their eyes. arent you happy? of course i am! i'm still struggling with saying "boy". it's taking me a while! give me a break!

when i sit at home and Amelia is napping, i feel *him* move. i think ahead to his future (always lightly planning). i think about highschool and sports. (it seems different with a boy) going to ball games. what position will he play? will he love football? will we hear his name on the loudspeaker? i think about raising him to be a good man. one who treats women with respect, opening doors, lending jackets, saying mam and sir. i think of him with his sisters and the relationship i hope to nurture. my heart swells.

so when you see me sitting quietly, looking pensive and maybe a bit worried; know this: it isnt disappointment. it's planning. we have so much pink! i'm planning for baby buys, how many more cloth diapers i might need, so.. however small...i enjoy planning.

we recently had another ultrasound. Dr Lepi let us see *him* in 4d pictures. we saw *his* face. i'm in love all over again. i've never been more excited. a son. we're having a son! we cannot wait to meet him.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

black sheep

i am, self-admittedly, not a people person. i'm not a social girl. i'm not chatty cathy. i have an odd, ironic, and sarcastic sense of humor..that i'm sure can come off as rude...but i'm always careful (or i try to be) of other's feelings...and when i step on someone's feelings, it sends me reeling. i'm lost, embarassed, and heart broken that i've somehow hurt someone's feelings by stating my opinion. i rarely find the courage to say i'm sorry...which is bad.

but sometimes too, i feel like i can state my opinion on something, and it gets blown out of proportion. --i just want to say, "hey, this is what i said, it's my opinion, it was not, nor was it ever an attack on you. there is no need to hold a silent grudge!"

i have a sharp tongue. i'm trying very hard to control that and keep my mouth in check. i know i am doing better. but there is always room for improvement.

i have always, always felt like the black sheep of society. no matter where i've been, what's going on, i'm always on the edge of things. i dont see the need to be the center of anything and in the end, i end up sort of being left out- either by my own doing, or by just being left out and or unnoticed.

arnie is a social person. it makes me nervous, much more so when we first together, but i've gotten better, but i still have my moments where i instinctively want to grab his arm and yank him away from large groups of people. who in the world has THAT much to talk about?

i thought he would help me step out of my comfort zone...but instead, i seem to have dragged him into my world of edging the parties, not much to say, and avoiding the group.

i'm not stuck's laughable to think i would think i'm better than anyone. i was not raised that way. i just dont socialize well.

i'm a homebody. i've read about moms who "need" me time. who need a girls' night. who have to get away from kid talk. ...that's not me. it actually stresses me out. i often joked in college, especially in psychology classes, about prison life being perfect for me: minimal human interaction, routine, and a little exercise. it doesnt bother me. solitary confinement (before i had the girls) doesnt even remotely scare me. it doesnt bother me to be alone and silent for hours or days. its comforting for me.

if i'm at home, just me and Amelia, i can "live dangerously" and have the radio on. i sing and dance and make Amelia giggle...but when Arnie and Lily get home, if he attempts to switch the radio to on, i hit the wall. NO. no more noise. it's not music to my ears's just: noise. distraction. stress. especially if he turns the radio on and then tries to carry on a conversation with me. my eyes nearly fall out of my head. weird things like that stress me out.

so, now that i've shared that with you...something as simple as mutliple noises going on at once being a can imagine what being in a group of people can do to me. ahh. multiple conversations...trying to be polite and respond to the correct person with more than a one word answer? ack.
i am very much a girl in need of quiet time.

that being said though, i'm sure some of you are thinking "well, good luck with 3 kids. you think it's noisy now...just wait."

that doesnt bother me. it's my kids. it's almost soothing. that noise? i'm not worried about it.

so yes, arnie and i often refer to ourselves as the black sheep in many, many situations. i often refer to it as the seperation of the which Arnie laughs. i'm used to it. i've seen it a lot. i know where and what i come from. we dont discuss whether Lily is going to get an iPad (she wont. to me, that is silly. if she wants something to do, i have books galore and a big yard to play in) we dont talk about remodeling (we make "improvements", but a full over-haul is beyond...well just beyond us) we never consider buying a vehicle (our tahoe is paid off--which is a HUGE accomplishment for us, and arnie has a 1991 ranger that we're hoping we can pay for the repairs needed in order to get it running again)

sometime, when you're around us, ask either one of us how old the glove is that we use for softball. arnie's, of course, beats mine by a few years (mine was a hand me down from my brother- and i've used it since tball)...the point is they both have many miles on them..and we take a little bit of pride in that. we talk to lily about this sort of thing and try to instill in her a sense to take care of things and make them last. not only is it frugal...but it gives everything a back story. makes things more interesting.

arnie's truck is a 91. that's the year he graduated high school. i was 9 years old the year that truck hit the road, and while i sometimes say i hate it, that truck has been wonderful and faithful to us and has only had minor issues and for that we are thankful.

now, there is absolutely *nothing* wrong with doing any of those things...remodeling, buying your kids an ipad, getting a new vehicle.. nothing!!! this is not an attack on anyone, and this is most certainly not an "i'm better than you" blog.
this stuff is just not "us". we dont relate to we dont have anything to say about it. we cant sympathize or empathize. we just kind of awkwardly shrug our shoulders and hope for a conversation change.

i'm often made fun of, because i'm a hoarder of certain things. i go into "the great depression" mode. i save. i save, preserve, and i pack away. what was once wasteful is wasteful no more. we use, reuse, and use again until it falls apart (unless of course reuse=unsanitary. health is never sacraficed)
yes, i know most of this is our own doing, we try, but thanks to my awkwardness, neither one of us is one hundred percent sure what to do in many areas. so if you see us, skirting the edges, dont make the assumption we're snooty. haha..we are so very far from snooty. we're just a little weird...and defintely socially awkward--more so me, than arnie. i tend to drag him down the social ladder. :)

i dont worry too much, though. i know i'll always be worse than anyone else in the family. arnie will never be anywhere near my antisocial level and lily, well, lily is a social butterfly, whom we cannot get to stop talking.

i just wanted to make a statement and kind of..well..explain ourselves because i know when you dont jump right in and join a conversation, it can and will be taken the wrong way and we didnt want that to happen. we just tend to favor the less is more category.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

climbing onto my soapbox today.

i read a lot and i hear a lot of people who say things like they hate the world today and they hate the fact that theyre a human (because we're such a terrible species), etc.

it really just irks me. you shouldnt hate anyone, no matter who they are or what they've done. you shouldnt judge them, no matter what the jury or the peanut gallery has to say. it's not your place. and this earth is where God wants you right now. it's a gift...(and man i'd hate to be someone who has to get you a gift..i can only imagine what you say about material things when you complain about the land you live on/in and the species that you are)

your life...your own life is a personal gift from God himself. he personally planned out every day you would have. he knows the hairs on your head, every wrinkle when you smile, he knows every secret you keep. he is aware of every flaw you have, every bad thought that occurs...and you know what? He loves you anyways. He loves you so much that he has a place reserved just for you. His heart breaks when you use His name in vain, he doesnt like to see you in sorrow. He mourns for you as no other could because He made you because He wanted to. He thought you up from nothing and sculpted you with loving hands and a heart so forgiving that it cannot be described with words. He rejoices when you smile and probably (at least in my mind) does a happy dance when you thank Him for day on earth.

i, like so many others, often forget to turn to Him when things are going smoothly, but turn to Him often in times of need. i'm getting better and i guess i should thank the constant haters of everything that i started off writing about because those people are making me a little better at remembering to thank God for another day on this planet. the gift of another day with my family. for dirty dishes, unfolded laundry, and the ever growing grass that needs mowed...because these things mean i am rich in comparison to many.

my life is not easy. it never has been. but i choose to look at everything as a whole instead of bits and pieces. because if i lumped all the bad things..all the heart break...everything that hurt me into one big pile and started sifting through it, i would be a bitter bitter soul.

so i look at everything and i see the BIG picture. the one that made me who i am today...and into the person i am still becoming. being someone who follows God does NOT guarantee a life on easy street. in fact, things sometime become tougher...but in the long the big picture, you can look back and feel your heart warm...and glow with love because you can see why you went through the bad.

i am thankful for my daughters, for my husband, and for the life growing inside me because these are all hand wrapped gifts, personalized just for me. i get a little miffed when someone asks, "are you done after this one?" (meaning this baby) because it's not my plan. it's God's. ask Him. i mean it. really. talk to God. the world would be a better place if more people did...and if the conversation starts because of me...that's okay. it's not really important what you start talking about just that you start talking.

and for those who say people cant be changed...that the world may never get better. ...maybe it wont. but maybe it will. it's up to God. and us, of course. God is way bigger than the problems this world has in it. miracles happen every day. every single day...and if you dont believe that, maybe you should shut your mouth for a day and just look around you. stop complaining and listen...and look. you need look no further than a mirror. you are a miracle. but there's so much more. just take a moment and breathe and be thankful.

Friday, March 9, 2012

formula feeding and my thoughts.

**warning- there will be some "tmi" moments in this blog. prepare yourself for them, or leave now. you've been warned**

so, i've recently been bombarded with a gaggle of articles more or less condemning formula feeding. it really just ticks me off. i do not dispute the "breast is best" concept at all, HOWEVER, i do not believe that every article about such topics should make mothers like myself feel like dirt.
some moms, no matter how much they want to, are unable to breastfeed or are unable to breastfeed as long as they want to. which was my case both times. so when i see an article that mentions formula, i want to read it...and then immediately following that, disappointment, guilt, and just bad feelings.

i think there needs to be more support, emotionally, especially, for moms who are pushed into formula feeding. when looking for positivity in formula feeding, i find very little. i find more of the scary articles that list obesity, frequent sickness, and just over all poor health of those children who are formula fed.

it's weird too, i was formula fed. i'm not obese (never have been) have never had a weight problem (maybe a little under, but i have a high metabolism), and over all, i'm a pretty healthy chick. the problems i have encountered are more of those that are caused by outside circumstances. i've never once had the question posed by a doctor, "well, were you formula fed?" if that was the root of my problem.

now, again, i want to reiterate that i believe with all my heart that if you can, then you should, breast feed. but let me share with you my story:

i had Lily when i was 20, and while i thought i knew what i was getting into, i was sorely mistaken. i had these magical images in my head of how awesome it would be to breastfeed Lily (i know i've mentioned this before). i had NO idea the pain involved. i was completely unaware that it takes up to 3 days for your milk to "come in". i didnt realize that you must be relaxed to have a "let down"...add to that the stress of needing some alone time and sort of being bombarded with guilt of allowing friends and family to meet Lily. i was way to stressed! she was my first baby! i was clueless. i was also extremely poorly educated on breastfeeding. after 6 weeks, through tears and tons of guilt, i gave up and formula fed. within a week, i'd never been happier and miraculously, Lily's fussiness was at an all time low. even now, typing this, i feel the sting of guilt.

but i look at Lily and she's 7 and healthy. no serious illnesses, not overweight (which is a claim against formula), and happy and active...and i try to let go of the guilt. the problems she has (hearing loss) has been deemed congenital and possibly hereditary and in no way related to formula.

last year, i gave birth to Amelia. the birth itself was easy. one push. but then my trouble started. my placenta wasnt budging...and i was bleeding. i felt sick, dizzy, and really weak...and i heard the mention of blood transfusion and suddenly my heart was in my throat. then a nurse was at my side with smelling salts and a syringe of something that she said would help stop my bleeding...and just as quickly as it started, it was over and i was fine.

little did i know, blood loss can affect your milk supply. and while this time around, i was better read, and a little more educated, i was again, shocked and disheartened by my experience. i needed to heal and i guess "recharge" from what had just happened, but i also knew that breastfeeding immediately was the right thing to do for myself and i was trying. and i continued to try. i cried a lot.

but i wasnt giving up. i had a lactation consultant round the clock that was at my beckon call. i was asking questions, taking notes, and reading their pamphlets. i took their suggestions and their encouragement. i stayed as positive as i could. day three rolled around and there was barely anything. i didnt give up. i went through a lot with Amelia. i continued to follow up with my lactation consultant. i went through WIC and borrowed a hospital grade electric double pump. i did power pumping (look it up. it's insane. i opted to pump through the night also.. and i was already exhausted)

i stressed a ton. i wanted to keep a strict schedule for pumping and feeding to keep my dwindling milk supply from slipping by the wayside, but we also wanted friends and family to see her...i however am modest and not big on public or semi public i stressed some more.

oh and WIC...they're supposed to be supportive and while some were, others were just down right mean. i HAD to supplement with Amelia, i simply didnt have enough to sustain her. and when i asked to change my order from exclusively breastfeeding to a mix of both breastfeeding and formula feeding, the girl i was speaking to resonded to me in a very flat, somewhat disgusted voice, "so you're giving up then." i honestly wanted to punch her in the face. she had no idea what i had gone through. NONE.

i talked and talked and talked to the consultant (also through WIC, and she was very supportive). the next option was to go to supplements. NOT something i was willing to do. so after 10 weeks of an insane schedule of feeding AND pumping, i tearfully let go and switched to formula. i was never engorged when i quit. that's how low my supply remained.

so, you see, i get notably angry when i read about the terrors of formula. the bad health affects it has on children today. i get really upset when i read those comments from moms that list off how they are "EBF" (exclusively breastfeeding) for X amount of months now. and i shouldnt but it ticks me off. i know i have a chip on my shoulder about it, but it's like a slap in the face. it's like bragging because you're tall. some people get it. some people dont. i havent yet. but i'm not giving up.

cain arnold dugan is due august 30th and i plan on trying again. but this time, no matter what happens, i will not guilt trip myself if breastfeeding doesnt work out. i cant keep beating myself up over it...and i hope more mothers realize this. it's not fair to mentally beat yourself up when you're already going to be a whirlwind of emotions and hormones. bottom line is love yourself and love your baby and do what's best for both of you. :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

what i wish i wouldve known the FIRST time i was pregnant.

when you find yourself expecting (for the first time, or any after that for that matter) it is a magical, wonderful time. also a time in your life when you will receive the most unsolicited advice EVER. you will also be privy to the most scary horror stories your ears have ever encountered.
and while some advice is great, some is ridiculous and the horror stories? come on! who wants to be told terrible things when they are creating something absolutely miraculous?!

what i wish i would've been told when i was expecting that first time are these things: (feel free to add to this, as i'm sure i will, i'm expecting #3 in august and i know i will learn more this time around)

*there are NO stupid questions. ask your doctor EVERYTHING you want to know. while some things are safe, not everything is. and you know that unsolicited advice? well, you'll get tons of crazy tips, advice and warnings. TONS.
i was told early on to NEVER put my hands above my head as it would cause the umbilical cord to rap around the baby's neck, causing strangulation. THAT is malarky...but i was young, impressionable, and worried i was going to kill my baby by hanging up my coat.

*morning sickness doesnt always hit every pregnant lady. neither does every other tell-tale symptom. it does not/should not raise any red flags. so unless your doctor is concerned...ignore all the crazy people who say "oh, your boobs arent sore? MINE were sore every time...are you sure youre pregnant?" feel free to poke those folks in the eyeballs.

*you are a mommy from conception- forward. dont let anyone tell you otherwise. i was told i couldnt participate in some specific "mother" games/events because i wasnt "technically" a mother yet. it broke my heart. i had heard the heart beat. i had seen the baby move. i had given her a name.  i sang to her. i talked to her. i felt her move daily...but i wasnt a mother?? craziness! i was too timid to argue. dont be. i regret that i didnt fight back. i was 5 months pregnant and very much in mommy mode.

*feel free to stop the horror stories.
when someone starts telling you some terrible pregnancy horror story, feel free to stop them...or walk away. you are in NO WAY obligated to listen to some bloody gory story. i've no idea why, but when you become pregnant, people all the sudden feel comfortable telling you really terrible things. most of them will keep you up at night worrying like crazy. walk away. not every pregnancy is bad, not every labor is 72 hours. you do not have to listen to that crap.
-me, for labor was easy peasy. especially Amelia. i pushed once. i've been told before (when ladies are sitting around trading their labor stories) that mine didnt count because it was "too easy". dont hate. just because i dont have a bloody war story of labor doesnt mean mine doesnt count. i enjoy telling people my labor story because it's NOT SCARY. pregnant women have enough to worry about, stop scaring us. meanies.

*prepare early on. 2nd trimester is a great time to start, unless you are blessed and have no morning sickness. i waited till the very last minute for everything with my first born...and it was TERRIBLE!! people kept telling me..."well, something might happen...and you could lose the baby...i'd wait before i'd prepare for the baby." i was cursing those people during the first months of Lily's life. i couldnt find ANYTHING. nothing was unpacked, the nursery wasnt ready...and bottles...what bottles?? i was LOST! and listen, YES, there is *always* the possibility of something happening but the fact of the matter is, the first time you see that little heart beating, anywhere from about 6 weeks on...your risk of miscarriage goes down to about 5%. and not to be a fatalist but something could ALWAYS happen...whenever...that doesnt stop us from decorating rooms, buying toys (for preparation for christmas, birthdays, etc)

*you cant tell people youre expecting till the second trimester. also a bunch of crap. see above for reasons...but i'll add this: i've suffered a miscarriage at 8 weeks, 4 days, and let me tell you, it was easier and more comforting to have everyone there, praying for me and giving me support, instead of quietly suffering through my loss alone with my husband. ultimately, this should be YOUR decision. no one else's. you do what you are comfortable with.

*birth plans.
these "plans" make me laugh. now, dont get me wrong, some women swear by them, love them, save them, etc.
me? yeah..not so much. my plan? PAIN FREE. close family/friends can be present. everything is put in God's hands. i do what the doctor says is best. if he says c section, i will be nervous, but i trust my doctor's judgment. i will NOT stomp my feet and cry because my "plan" wasnt followed to a T.
the idea of music playing, quietness...etc make me roll my eyes. again, some ladies do this crap and have great success. i could care less. birth is not play by play planning. it is different every time and no one but God knows how it's going to play out...and chances are that music you choose...when those contractions start rolling in, you'll be singing a different tune, as in shut that crap noise off. (plus i really enjoying hearing my baby's heart beat and knowing she was doing fine throughout my labor. music wouldve ruined that for me.)

*no epidural = i'm a beter woman than you.
BIG FAT NO. pain management is everyone's personal choice. if you choose to "feel everything" then go you. i've watched too many birthing shows with "better than thou" women preaching the drug free way and then labor comes and they're crying and begging for drugs. again, you have no clue how your labor is going to go. stop trying to plan every little detail.
i prefer to feel a *little* and be relaxed enough to dilate on my own (with no pitocin drip) and let labor go however. why put yourself through insane amounts of pain that (oh yes you will remember later). i very vividly remember the pain i felt with Lily, after the epidural wore off. i was ready to kill someone. i never want to feel that again. so just remember, pain management is YOUR choice. it makes you no better or worse as a mom. i'm tense person. pain management works well for me for labor.

*breast feeding.
i highly highly recommend giving this a shot. i had these magical images in my head of breast feeding my daughter  (cue the rainbows and unicorns) and no one told me otherwise. people would ask if i was going to, i would say yes, and i would get the commendable back pat for being such an awesome mom.
*nobody* told me how bad it would hurt!!! also, equally important, *nobody* told me that if i stuck with it, at about the 2 month mark, a routine is established, and the pain you endured is nearly completely gone. also, around this time, you can start pumping (not before- you want to get a good established milk supply) and saving up and letting dad or siblings bottle feed- if you so choose. 
you need a great support system. you need help...and you sort of need to throw modesty out the window for a little while. "let down" is important and it doesnt happen if you're uptight and nervous. you have to be relaxed.
it is great, wonderful, and awesome for baby (and you). give it a shot. try to stick with it...but if, for whatever reason, it doesnt work. DO NOT guilt trip yourself for not sticking with it. you're dealing with enough. hormonally, you have been through the gamut. dont add anything else to your plate. give yourself permission to quit and let it go. *any* breast milk your baby gets is better than none.

*dont give the baby a pacifier, it will cause nipple confusion!
okay, so i dont know if we're just insanely blessed as parents or what, but my two girls have NEVER had nipple confusion. we've breastfed, bottle fed, gave them crazy amounts of different pacifiers and bottles for that matter...and never had one single issue. in fact, it seems to help around here to change things up occassionally. lily gave up her "binkie" without so much as a fuss. and amelia has already started sippy cup training. dont scare yourself into not giving your child a soother. babies need to suck, so unless youre willing to let your boob become a pacifier, buy some binkies.

*do not be afraid of your baby
they are remarkably made. dont be afraid to change your baby, give your baby a bath, or anything else. enjoy this time. it passes quickly. i do offer this advice: get a baby tub. everyone told me the sink was fine, but i was a terrified parent, afraid to touch my baby, let alone put her in a hard sink. that little baby tub gave me peace of mind. if you need it, get one. amelia (baby #2) is almost 7 months and we still occassionally use it.

*do what your doctor/pediatrician says
you will get more insane advice once the baby is born. like this: put cereal in the baby's bottle. it will help them sleep through the night. NO NO NO. not healthy. not right. ask your dr. do what they tell you to do.
and you are BOUND to hear this one. "are they sleeping through the night? no? oh...they must have their days and nights mixed up."
actually NO. every baby seems more wakeful when it's dark out. know why? your baby just spend NINE months in pretty much full on darkness. from about week 25 or later on...their eyes opened. they still only saw mostly darkness. it takes babies a while to adjust to the light of day. in the meantime, when the lights go out, watch your little one's bright eyes open up. yes, you will be insanely tired...but during this period seeing those baby eyes are *try* to enjoy it. eventually, they adjust and start sleeping more at night, it happens. just be patient.

*nothing. no amount of anything, can prepare you for how tired you are going to be during those first few months
you'll hear this a lot: "sleep when the baby sleeps" and it is true. it is the best advice you can take. please, please, try to do this. let chores go by the way side. when people come to visit and say "what can i do to help?" ask them to run a load of laundry. maybe scrub a plate or two. have no shame. YOU need your rest. please take help when it's offered. dont be proud...just say yes and thank you. those offering help will accept that thank you with a smile...most of them have been in your shoes.

*prepare, prepare, prepare.
have a deep freeze? USE it. when you're still preggo and feeling good, cook up some easy meals and freeze them. date them and place them in the deep freeze. buy paper plates, utensils, and cups. then when the baby comes and you can bare to eat another take out meal, a friend or your husband can pop that frozen meal in the oven, and *presto!* you're feeling like june cleaver, knowing you cooked this meal and have a baby in your lap. those meals are life savers...and so are the disposable tableware. USE IT!!

talk to your spouse. tell them how you're feeling. do not assume for one minute they know what youre going through. they dont. theyre clueless and needing a toss them one. are you feeling insane? overwhelmed? exhausted? tell him that! they are perfectly capable of handling their baby. take a shower. take a walk (if you feel like it) do what you need to do. just talk to your husband about how youre feeling. they need to know. and remember this now and forever: they cannot, nor have they ever, been able to read your mind. you must tell them things.
on the same note, just because they're doing something differently with the baby, does not mean they are doing it wrong. *try* not to criticize. they're just as new to this as you are and they need confidence boosters too. unless they are putting the baby in harms way, bite your tongue and could be surprised. you might just learn something.
-i did. my husband is a MASTER soother. me? i suck. even now, he can calm our girls down in a heart beat. from the get go, he was awesome at getting the water works to come to a screeching halt. learn to let go of the reins and let daddy come to the rescue. (and commend him for his efforts!! they need to know they are doing a good job- again- do not assume they know these things. share the love)

*learn to say no.

the first few weeks are critical...and special. if you dont feel like having company around, just let them know. dont feel obligated. most people understand. set up a date tentatively. if they've ever had a baby, they will know how you feel.
and again, some moms are completely up for early visits. just remember to pay attention to the time of the year (is it flu season?) and politely ask that folks wash their hands before handling your bundle of joy. you are allowed to be picky. it is YOUR baby..not theirs. and remember, if baby gets sick, you'll be pulling sick duty, not be a hand wash nazi if you have to be. (and ask if anyone has recently been sick-if they have, ask them politely to stay away for a little while.

there's way more than this...but i'm hungry and it's time for some lunch around here. i'll add more later. until then, feel free to add your own :)