Monday, May 31, 2010

A Mommy Milestone

This weekend, JD and I got Beatrice up from her nap together like we always do. I tickled her face while he undid the swaddle and she giggled and squealed. Then JD picked her up and she cried. She cried and reached for ME. This has never happened. In all of her 7 months, she has not known a stranger. She would happily let the cashier at the grocery store hold her. Just for the record, I don't let strangers hold my baby. She would go to anyone and not cry. But on Saturday May 29th at 11 something in the morning, our baby cried for her mama. Yes, it's going in the baby book. 

Of course JD was not happy. I think his feelings were a little hurt. He has been relieved that Beatrice isn't partial to either one of his since he wasn't here for 5.5 months. She has loved him and recognized him like he never left. I assured him it was probably because she was hungry and I have the milk. He went downstairs while I fed her. And secretly rejoiced. 

This was a bit of a victory. I promise the post is coming about my struggles with accepting my role as mommy. Babies are supposed to get stranger anxiety or at least clingy to mommy, I just never thought it was going to happen with my outgoing girl. And not with her daddy first. To me, this little incident was like earning my right to be in the mommy club. My baby knows me and wants me. Now I belong. 

I know what you're thinking, this is totally normal and not a cause for celebration. All babies do it. I know that. But there is something about knowing your baby recognizes that you are Mother. You nurture and care for them when everyone else is sleeping. Or golfing. You change the most horrific poopy diapers known to man. You stayed covered in barf for the first 3 months of their life. You sacrifice sleep, new clothes, clean hair, perky boobs, hot dinners, prime time TV, and so much more for their little selves. You do so much for them. And when your baby cries and reaches for you when in the arms of another, it makes it all so much easier and more rewarding.

She has not done it since and Saturday turned out to be one of the worst days with her incessant fussiness, but it was still a small victory for this mama. JD says to be ready for when she is a little daddy's girl and only wants him. I know this too shall happen and I'm ready for it. Until then,  I'm eager to see who else she disses to be held by me. Just kidding, just kidding. But I am enjoying this new stage. I love this little baby more than I knew possible. It is such a miracle to love someone so much you only just met a few months ago that continues to poop on you and interrupt sleep on a regular basis. Anyone else that behaved like that would be outta here in a hot minute. 

Happy Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, I would like to thank my husband, my father in law, my uncle, and all of the men and women who serve in the military and allow this country to have the freedoms that we have. Today thank a soldier, pray for their wives and children and remember the sacrifices they make. We are so blessed and may we remain One Nation Under God!

Friday, May 28, 2010

We Live By The Schedule, We Die By The Schedule

Okay maybe we don't die by the schedule, but we definitely live by it. We have come to embrace Beatrice's schedule. Or routine. Some people really don't like the word "schedule" in the same sentence as the word "baby." Whatever it's called, it is a means of survival in this house.

When Beatrice was born, I was not prepared. I thought I was prepared, but I was not prepared. I read a ton of books about different parenting philosophies. I knew that I wasn't an attachment parenthood (AP) person (I'm pretty anti-AP, or at least opposite-AP. Does that make me detachment parenthood? That doesn't sound right....) but didn't know exactly where I fit in on the spectrum. I agreed with the principles of parent directed parenting the most which advocates the parents' role in guiding the child's day with a schedule of feedings and sleep time. With my newfound parenting style realized and my new babe to raise, I eagerly tried to enact our schedule.

At first, Beatrice was too "newborn" to cooperate with my lofty ideas of a schedule. I dreamt of knowing when my baby's next feeding or nap time would occur so I could tell my grandmother when a good time to visit would be. In those first few weeks, it never failed, as soon as a visitor arrived Beatrice would want to nurse. For an hour.  So my visitors would come expecting to hold a sweet, new baby but instead had to watch me fumble with nursing a baby shark. It frustrated everyone involved. Not to mention making appointments were a nightmare. When asked "what time does she nap," I would be clueless. Because she did whatever she wanted. Which is fine and normal for a tiny baby, but I knew once she was older this mama would know when nap time would be.

Fast forward to around 3 months old. Beatrice finally responded to the schedule. It took a lot of discipline on my part to get up when she did each morning. We were in the habit of nursing in bed and sleeping until 10 am. After about a week of getting up when she did and staying home to make it a solid habit, the days fell into a wonderful, workable schedule. Our days go something like this:

7 - 7:45 am - wake up, drink milkies, play, feed the kitty, get dressed for the day
8:30 - 9 am - milkies, morning nap (this is when I shower, make baby food, clean, prepare for our activities for the day)
11 - noon - wake up, milkies, lunchies, (everthing has an "ie" at the end of it nowadays, just roll with it) play, run errands, swim, whatever
1:30 - 2 pm - milkies, 1st afternoon nap
3 - 4 pm - wake up, milkies, play, take a walk, errands, whatever
Depending on what time she wakes up from the 1st afternoon nap, there is usually 1 more short nap before 5 pm, milkies
6 pm - dinner, play, bath
7:30 pm - stories, milkies, bed

I LOVE this schedule, and so does Beatrice. She looks forward to me walking her upstairs to her nursery for naps and bedtime (I know this by the excited huh-huh-huhs she does while kicking her legs when I lay her in the crib). It's like she is relieved that there is some predictable order to her day. We both know what to expect and we work to keep the routine the same(ish) each day.

So where are we today? We are smack dab in the middle of being a slave to the schedule. I didn't leave much wiggle room in the schedule. This means if we meet a friend for an impromptu lunch that runs into nap time, Beatrice can't handle the breach in contract. This is probably why she was miserable on our vacation too. I didn't mean for this happen. I just wanted our days to be calculable. They are that indeed. But they are also pretty rigid because of her being so accustomed to the schedule. She seriously struggles if we stray.

I can admit when I have created a bit of a monster. And this schedule of ours has begun to reveal it's warts and scales. I really love knowing the exact time she will be asleep each day but straying from our routine really throws a wrench in her day. While it is easier to just stay home these days (for many reasons), I would like to be able to have a long shopping trip where my baby sleeps in the stroller instead of wails and cries for her beloved crib and lovies.

I do think schedules are important for the parents and the child, sometimes equally so. But next time I will leave room for a little leniency.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sweet Relief

That's me exhaling very exhausted and dramatic-like. 

I just put Beatrice to bed and I finally get to rest for a minute. Is it wrong to look forward to her bedtime as much as I do? I really, really enjoy knowing there are only x amount of minutes left until she goes down. The countdown usually begins around 5pm. That's when my back is aching and the fussiness starts to crawl under my skin. I can't wait for her bedtime.

I've been like this since the very beginning. As soon as it got close to her bedtime I would get a little giddy. Don't get me wrong, I love being with her but the days are LONG. By 7, stick a fork in me I'm done.

I don't really rest until I go to bed around 10. But I can do things without that hurried pace knowing that she is out until morning. Plus, I get to have a little me time. Usually I blog or crochet or watch a movie. I don't even need the me time doing things I like to do. I can have a zillion dishes to wash or loads of laundry to fold and still be happy about the baby-free time.

I have talked to other parents who have children without a set bedtime. That would not fly in my house, no sir. Since Beatrice was about 2 months old, we have been putting her down at 7:30. Occasionally she woke up once or twice during the night but the point was to get her used to a bedtime routine (stories, milkies, rock for a minute, bed). And most importantly, give JD and me some time together alone. And we needed a break from nonstop, all day baby care. Because taking care of an infant is exhausting.

I always wake up happy and eager to have another (long) day with her. Mostly because she's my baby and I love her but partly because I get that down time every night. I think a big reason I had such a hard time settling into motherhood (I'll save the details for another post) is because when she was brand new, I never had a break. She ate every 2 hours around the clock. Bedtimes were a mere far off fantasy. You can put a newborn down for the night at 7 but they will inevitably wake 45 minutes later and keep you awake for the next 5 hours just to mess with you. Babies are tricky like that.

Tonight I have a sink full of dirty dishes to wash and toys to pick up in the living room. But I'm glad to do my chores knowing that I have the next 12 hours to myself. Tomorrow will be here before I know it and a certain 16 pound girl will be rearing to go bright and early.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Really Ridiculously Good Looking

People tell me all the time how beautiful my child is. Of course I think she is since she is mine, but I'm beginning to believe the compliments of strangers....

We got her 6 month proofs today. And they are to die for.

This girl is model material, if I do say so myself.

She loves the camera.

I must say, God makes some beautiful babies.

All of these wonderful photos were taken by friend and photographer extraordinaire Sara Rose.  We are thrilled with them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer Has Arrived

Today I blew up an inflatable pool and filled it with water from the backyard hose so my baby girl could swim, naked of course.

It is officially summertime and we have been soaking up the sun, planting flowers and taking really hot and sweaty walks to the park.

I have not had a summer off since I was in high school. This year is different. It is my first summer home in over 13(ish) years and my baby's first summer ever. It is going to be great, I can feel it. 

We don't have any huge plans, our vacation has already commenced so we will be close to home for the duration of the season. This little water baby loves to swim so we will be jumping into pools as much as we can. 

Summertime is like Christmas; most everyone looks forward to it all year long. These 3 hot months seem to be the center of the whole year. You plan the perfect vacation months in advance and count down the days until school is finally out so the fun can begin. The countdown began right after Christmas break when we were growing up. Somehow summertime brings out the kid in everyone. I like it.   

Everything big seems to happen during the summer. I had my first kiss during the summer. Well, technically my first "kiss" was in 6th grade on the stairs by my classroom. He licked my face. There were no lips involved, just his tongue licking my face. I don't consider this a real kiss, but I digress... I got my first job in the summer. I moved into my first apartment, I fell in love with JD, I was a newlywed, and I was pregnant during the summer. 

Things just seem brighter in the summer. I can't wait to share Beatrice's first summer with trips to the zoo, swim lessons, lightning-bug-in-mason-jar night lights, and grilling out with family. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.

That wasn't quite what I was going for....this is more like it.

Enjoy your summer!

Monday, May 24, 2010

House Arrest

I locked myself out of the house today. With the baby in my arms and not in the house, thank God. I hate leaving the house these days so this wasn't a good start. I sat in the rocking chair on the front porch waiting for JD to come and let us in trying hard not to let it set the tone of my day. He came and unlocked the door and we were on our way.

We had tons of errands to run. I hate running errands with Beatrice. Let me rephrase...I hate lugging Beatrice in and out of the car 20 times while running errands. It was hot and Beatrice is heavy and I only have 2 arms, 1 of which is reserved for toting around my 16 pound child. So with my 1 free arm I must balance my purse, keys, diaper bag and whatever I have to mail/deposit/exchange/purchase/donate.

We had 4 different stops (in the 90 degree heat) and we were both getting a little cranky from all of the in and out, back and forth in the car. First stop was the post office to mail out some beanies. I somehow managed to addressed the packages 1 handed while balancing my wiggly baby and dodging her from grabbing the marker. Sorry to the recipients of the packages if it looks like a 2nd grader addressed them. Done, no problem. We had only been on our mission for 5 minutes and were sweating, but no big deal.

Next stop was to donate the pile of clothes that had been sitting in the corner of our bedroom for 2 weeks. I pulled into the parking lot, unloaded Beatrice, grabbed my purse and starting gathering up the clothes with my 1 free hand. I started walking to the door right behind a man, fully expecting him to hold it open for me BECAUSE I HAVE A BABY SLIDING DOWN MY HIP, but that didn't happen. He walked in and let the door slam in front of me. I stood there waiting, expecting someone to come running to get the door for me. That didn't happen either. So I somehow managed to open the door with my foot and completed my errand. I loaded Beatrice back into the car and we went to our next stop.

My poor baby was getting tired and hungry but we had 2 more stops to make. The more fussy she got, the more agitated I got. I don't want to be that person with the screaming baby in the restaurant or grocery store. I get very anxious when she cries in public. By the last stop, I had had 2 parking spaces "stolen" from me and 2 more doors not held open. I was in a mood. Can't people see I have a baby and running errands is hard??? I wish I could have a bumper sticker or flashing lights on my car letting everyone know that I have a baby and need the close parking space or the right of way in traffic. Major pity party ensued when I got home.

Days like this make me want to stay home and not leave the house. It is so much easier to stay home when you have a baby. I have gotten some grief from friends for staying in so much since Beatrice was born. Maybe it's me or maybe they don't remember how much work it is to get 2 people ready and to your destination on time with all of the necessary gear. Seriously, we don't go anywhere without diapers, wipes, 2 pacis (in case 1 gets lost or licked by a dog), blankets, toys, extra clothes, food, stroller, Bjorn, my purse and phone. And that's only if we're heading to the store for a quick trip. If we're going to a family function or church add bottles, swaddle blankets, Soothe N Glow Seahorse, bibs, Boppy, books, and on and on. So going to lunch or visiting a friend's new office takes a lot more planning than just getting my shoes on and driving off. We're always 10 minutes late because Beatrice unfailingly poops right as we're buckling her into the car seat. Sigh. It's not worth it to leave.

I don't want to be like this. I want to be able to go and do and not be an emotional mess by the time we arrive. And I know moms can have outings with their children, I see them at restaurants and groceries stores. So why is it so hard for me?

Maybe it's because I'm afraid of Beatrice. I'm not really afraid, more like distrusting of her. She's unpredictable. She can't help it, she's a baby. But nonetheless, I can't know for certain if she will coo and smile at fellow diners or hiss and howl at them. And I'm not comfortable finding out which one it will be.  Plus I'm weak. I am tall and lanky and have little to no upper body strength. Lugging her around with tons of baby gear is hard and awkward and I'm afraid I'll drop her. Or something else and not be able to pick it back up. And if people don't hold doors open for women with babies slipping out of their arms, do you think they are going to pick something up for them? Probably not. 

It's just easier to stay home. And I have a hunch I will feel like this for awhile. Until she is walking and can carry her own diaper bag. Having JD here helps big time. But even he can't believe how much stuff is required to leave the house with a tiny little girl. So we stay home. I don't plan on leaving this house until the end of the week. We're on house arrest for the time being.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I had this whole post started about how I was in a bad mood yesterday. It was all about how we have outgrown our townhouse and how there are piles of clothes everywhere because the closets and dressers are full. We need a playroom for Beatrice's (and the cat's) toys. There is not enough room for the 2 strollers we have and our dining room triples as JD's office, my crafting zone and the overflow for toys.

Then I went to church this morning and heard our pastor talk about what a blessing it is to wake up in a country where we have options of what to wear, where to worship, and what to eat. And if we don't have what we need in our own homes, there are stores with aisles of every imaginable food and malls filled with clothes. We are blessed.

It got me thinking of how entitled I can feel sometimes. Entitled to a warm bed with clean sheets. Entitled to a well-dressed baby. Entitled to a bigger place. Entitled to a handsome husband who loves the Lord. Not because I think I'm special and deserve those things, but because I often compare what I have to others. And our culture preaches "if you want it, get it because you deserve to be happy." When in actuality, we are not entitled to another day. Each day God gives us is a gift. And all of the things and stuff in our lives are gifts.

I don't like complaining. The Bible says "to do all things without grumbling or complaining" Philippians 2:14. I make a conscience effort each day not to complain because it is an ugly habit. I'm sure we all know people who complain about everything, even good things. I try to be thankful and not complain, but yesterday I was in a mood and let the negativity leak out. I didn't see the pile of 15 skirts that need to go to Goodwill as a blessing. I have so many clothes, I can donate them and my closets are still full. Yay God. I was mad about the baby toys in the dining room and the pantry being a disorganized mess. I didn't realize how blessed I am to have a pantry so full it needs organization to fully stock our food.

I needed to be reminded of how blessed we are. We still need more room for our growing family, but I am going to be content with every square foot we have (and maybe ask God to show me new ways to organize and better optimize the space). So be thankful today for what little or lot you have. God is good and we are all so blessed!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nurse Shark

I am a planner. I love to research and make a plan well in advance for most things that I do. When we were engaged, I read over 20 books on marriage (no joke). Plus, I enrolled us in numerous premarital counseling sessions and Bible studies at our church. During my pregnancy, I was reading 4 pregnancy books at the same time in addition to the multiple websites I consulted on a regular basis. We hit up 3 parenting classes at the hospital and at church. I like to know what I'm getting myself into and have a plan of action (or many options to a plan, hence getting so much information from many different sources).

So why I never read a book on breast feeding or sought out any information on the subject baffles me. I thought it would be pretty cut and dry. Offer baby a boob and baby would eat from said boob. Sounded easy enough to me.

Nursing my baby was the thing I could not wait to do while I was pregnant. I wanted to experience nursing more than anything. Please tell me I'm not the only one who "breast fed" my baby dolls when I was a little girl. When she arrived, I asked JD to get everyone out of the room so I could nurse. I let my mom watch the entire birth but letting her watch me nurse seemed too personal. Beatrice latched on right away and nursed like a pro. The nurses told me to feed her every 2 hours. I took this to mean every 2 hours, no later or sooner. We went home and my breast feeding journey began.

I heeded the nurses' advice and fed her every 2 hours. Never later, never sooner. This is why I should have read a book; newborns can feed several times in an hour. It's how you build your milk supply. It never occurred to me to feed her more than what I was told. The more alert she got, the more aggressive she became with nursing. And there's a good chance she might have been starving........mothering doesn't always come naturally to me.

I was told that nursing my baby would be the most beautiful bonding experience of my life. She would sweetly nuzzle into me and stroke my face while staring into my eyes. Um, that would have been really nice. My child came at me like a shark in a feeding frenzy.

I call her my little nurse shark. She would attack me, grabbing and pinching anywhere that her little hands could grab and diving face first with her head going side to side on my boob, all the while her legs were kicking up a storm. This frightened me, to say the least. This wasn't what my mommy friends described their nursing experiences to be like.

I had to have JD "assist" me with the crazy attack latch on. I've never really told anyone in detail this before. I am partly ashamed that I couldn't handle my newborn on my own and a wee bit scared of the reaction others would give. JD would have to restrain Beatrice's hands and direct her head toward the target while I held her wiggly body still. Yes, you read that correctly. It took 2 grown adults to breast feed a 9 pound infant. Every time. If Beatrice ate, it took JD and me to position her.

I was afraid of my little shark. I never knew a baby had such strength and gumption. No one told me nursing would be like this. She continued to shark attack me during all feedings. We shortened it and now just say she's sharking me. I was so embarrassed that my husband had to help me feed her. I was afraid that he thought I was a big fat failure. This was supposed to come naturally. I was suppose to be able to handle a baby. I considered swaddling her for all feedings but that seemed a little extreme.

In addition to the shark attacks, she nursed for an hour each session. And with her eating every 2 hours, ALL I DID WAS NURSE. Needless to say, I hated nursing the first 2 months. I never told anyone because I didn't want anyone to think I was a failure. Seriously, what is up with mommy guilt? I have felt guilt over the dumbest things since having Beatrice. All I can think of is Romans 8:1: "There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus." I'm convinced mommy guilt is not from God. I wanted to quit nursing but hung on because everyone said that it gets easier after the first few months.

I remember the day Beatrice ate a full feeding in under 15 minutes. It was more nerve racking than anything because I didn't think she got enough and we had to be somewhere. And this mama loathes nursing in public. But she kept eating for less and less time each session. Now we're at about 5 - 7 minutes. It has made nursing so much easier. Instead of feeling like all I do is nurse, I feel like there is so much more to our days together.

Now nursing is effortless and easy. Beatrice and I are both so good at it, we can do it in the dark without hands (or reinforcements). I rarely get sharked anymore. Sometimes she gets aggressive in the mornings, but it's rare. I still hate nursing in public, but for the most part it is going great and I'm glad I stuck with it. I am more than halfway to my goal of going for a year. That feels pretty good.

I always tell my friends who don't have children that nursing is hard work. I don't want anyone to have false illusions of what it can be like. I want to keep it real. And for all of those mamas that have nursed a baby no matter how long, major kudos. It is really hard not to have your body to yourself for any amount of time. I often joke with JD that I cannot wait to have my body belong to me again. For 9 months I shared it with Beatrice, and now for the duration of our time nursing I continue to share it with her.

Nursing is one of the most rewarding experiences, just like I suspected it would be. But I was not prepared for how difficult it is in the beginning and how much of a sacrifice it is. Part of me cannot wait to be done. But when Beatrice rubs my face or blows bubbles while nursing, I know I will miss these times when they're gone. So I am going to enjoy the last few months nursing my little shark. And I know that if she gets crazy, JD's got my back.

It totally looks like JD is nursing her in this photo, hehe. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm a Winner

This is a transcript of a phone conversation I had yesterday with a friend:

Jamie: I am such a nerd. I have been staying up late reading a new book. All I want to do these days is read.
Me: I have been staying up late crocheting under a blanket with the cat on my lap.
Jamie: You win.

Sigh. I have been crocheting a lot this week. My Etsy shop has received many new orders so I have been busy filling them. This is what I wanted when I opened my shop: orders. But now I am so nervous about making items for strangers. I keep checking and double checking my work to make sure there aren't any mistakes.

I have sold beanies before but always to Facebook friends or family members. Somehow selling things to people I know is not as intimidating as selling to a stranger.

I've been working on some new patterns too.

This is my rugby striped beanie with floppy flower.

Check out my shop for new designs, coming soon!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


You know what comes before part B? That's right, par-tay!!! Welcome to the Blog Party orchestrated by the D-Listed Mom Blogs. Welcome to my blog. I started this blog about a month ago because after taking care of a 6 month old alone while my husband was away on business, I had a lot to say. And while babies are great listeners, but they make for lousy conversationalists. Like any good hostess would, let me show you around. Check out my natural, med-free birth story. Read about the love/hate relationship I have with the cat. What, you forgot a hostess gift? Here's the perfect idea for you. Read about my preparation for my husband's long awaited return. I hope you like what you see and leave a comment or 2. Let's get this party started.

Filthy Mouth? Clean It Up!

I said a really, really bad word yesterday. We were hanging curtains in the living room and I pinched my hand on the rod. Out of my mouth flew the filthiest word there is. JD just stood there stunned with his jaw dragging the ground while I covered my mouth in horror and disbelief that something so vile came forth from it. And then he repeated it. All day long. As if knowing that I'm capable of such filth wasn't punishment enough, my husband had to rub it in by reliving the moment over and over again.

I never curse. Those words are not in my vocabulary and I have a hard time hearing them come out of other people's mouths. I can't even watch movies with excessive cursing. I never heard a curse word in real life until the 7th grade. I didn't think real people talked like that. Being as repulsed as I am by dirty language, accidentally saying the worst one of all really bothered me.

I can be a little uptight about certain things. Cursing is a big one. When JD and I got married, if he ever let a bad word slip I would get very upset. I offered him little grace in the area because I thought if he just tried hard enough, those words would disappear from his vocabulary. But like yesterday with me, sometimes those words just flew out of his mouth without meaning for them to. Somewhere during our young marriage, I have learned to let it go (he very rarely uses bad language). 

Of course he thinks it is hilarious that I said the mother of all bad words. He was horrified that his sweet, little church-going wife was capable of such rottenness. Where did it come from? I am still irked by it. The Bible says that "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks," Luke 6:45. Surely that is not in my heart! I strive to walk the walk. This little blunder had me speechless. Thank God....can you imagine what other words I would have said if I kept talking?

I have come to realize that without God's grace in life's slip ups, we would be doomed. No matter how hard we try to do good, at the end of the day we are just humans. Imperfect, flawed humans in need of grace. So after the shock wore off, we laughed and joked that even I have imperfections and need God's grace. I'm going to lay off the home improvements for awhile. I just cannot be trusted to keep my mouth clean.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm Happy, Really, Really Happy

It's official, I'm the happiest girl in the world. JD has been home for 4 days now and it has been perfection. I was a little worried about how well we would fall back into married life under the same roof, but it has been so effortless and wonderful.

I don't know why I was nervous about his return. I suppose I dreaded the extra work of making dinner (and beds) everyday. But my oh my how wonderful it has been. He is such a great help when it comes to Beatrice. He loves playing with her, getting her up from naps, and even changing diapers (only wet ones). If I need any help with household stuff, he is always willing to chip in. And even with the extra work, it is so much fun having someone here to talk to.

Having him home makes me feel like a real woman. And not just in the husband/wife kind of way. I am pretty old fashioned with my man. I like doting on him. He works hard to provide for us and it is my pleasure to serve him in our home. I take my role as wife very seriously. I have been nothing but a mother for the past 5.5 months so having him here to cook for and cuddle with has made me feel like a wife again. I have been in the kitchen nonstop. We've had pancake breakfasts, homemade chicken salad sandwiches, yummy dinners with biscuits and real butter.

And he's funny. No one makes me laugh like JD. I'm pretty sure he would say the same about me. It is one of the reasons that I married him. He is hilarious and oh how I missed laughing with him.

Our baby girl thinks her Daddy hung the moon and stars. It is so sweet to watch them together. I always knew JD would be a good dad but I never knew how blessed I would be watching him play with her and teach her things. When it was just her and me, she only had 1 person teaching her how to make silly sounds and faces. But now with her daddy home, she gets twice the learning.

Basically, this man rocks my world.

And I'm in no hurry to let him leave anytime soon. He's all mine for awhile. Go smooch your spouse. They are such a gift. Sadly, sometimes that is realized after they've been gone for awhile. I hope to never take for granted the love I have for him or his companionship again. He's so wonderful and I thank God for giving him to me!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I Have A Problem

What am I going to do when the pralines are gone? I bought a pound and a half of sugary maple pecan pralines when we were in Savannah last week and I have been eating them with a vengeance.

I love sweets. I mean I really love them. I have an insatiable appetite for sugar in my veins after every meal. I'm down to 5 pralines and I don't know what to do once they are gone. I've already considered ordering them online or even making my own....

I'm not particularly proud of being from the South. Don't get me wrong, I am not ashamed of my roots. I just don't consider myself a true Southerner. I don't like country music, I don't like fried foods, and I have a thing for enunciation. Folks here slur big words together to make a shorter, almost unrecognizable one. Shelbyville is pronounced by the locals Shub-vull. I say Shell-bee-veal. The english major in me cannot mispronounce things on purpose. It's my cardinal sin. 

But put a slice of chess pie or dump cake in front of me and I'm as proud to be a Southerner as a parent of an honor roll student. Southern ladies can bake. And nothing is as Southern as a classic praline. Which begs to be asked, is it pray-leen or praw-leen? I'm going with pray-leen. 

So with only 5 pralines left, I am carefully calculating how to finish them off. Do I eat them in 1 sitting and be done with them? Do I start halving them to make them last longer? Should I be generous and give them anyway? That will never happen, not with pralines. I think I'm leaning more towards denial. I'm going to keep eating them without thinking about the fact that they will be gone soon. I'm sure I can find something else sweet and decadent to eat.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Going Green(ish)

I watched a news story about a family that only had 1 bag of trash for their household in a year. They recycled everything, had a compost heap, hand washed dishes, used cloth napkins and never used paper products (except for TP). I was totally inspired by them. We fill a trash bag every other day with just 2 people (and a half). That seems like a lot to me. Surely there is something we could do to lessen our carbon footprint and be good stewards of the earth.

We aren't exactly "green." We don't recycle (I totally would if I knew where to take it in our town), we don't compost, and we don't grow our own food. I grew a pretty decent sized garden before I got married and vowed to live off of it for the whole summer. I made it 3 months then gave up on it when I found worms in my cabbage. But we are making a conscience effort to do our part, even if it is a small effort.

We have a water filter and no longer buy plastic water bottles. This saves us money and we aren't contributing to the unnecessary waste of throwing out 24+ empty bottles a week. We use energy efficient bulbs and turn out the lights when we leave a room. Except for the 10 watt bulb in the table lamp in the foyer. This drives JD crazy but it emits such a nice glow and ambience to our entryway. We have HE appliances that conserve water and use less energy. We turn the water off while brushing our teeth. I hand wash most of the dishes and try to only run the dishwasher once or twice a week. We cloth diaper. We use natural detergent with no harsh chemicals. We make our own baby food. We buy organic. We use all of the shampoo before we throw away the bottle. We buy recycled goods. We donate our clothing. We use hand-me-down baby gear.

I don't know why it is important to me to be green. God commands us to be good stewards of the earth and our resources. I definitely want to be obedient. But I also really like getting back to the basics of things. I can honestly say that I have only cooked JD a meal out of a box or a bag maybe 5 times in our relationship. I like to make things from scratch. I like knowing what is in our food. I like doing it the old fashioned way. I enjoy taking the time to do things the harder way if it saves us money and is better for us. I've found that conserving and doing things the eco-friendly way yields some pretty good rewards.

I just did a google search on ways to be more green and it listed a lot of the things we already do. Maybe we are pretty green (except for the recycling thing, but I'm going to look into that this week). It feels really good to do what we can to be better stewards of our resources. I hope to inspire folks to get back to the basics by using less and reusing more. It feels great to do your part.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Travel System

I think you can tell a lot about a couple by how well they travel together. JD and I travel really well together. We always have. We took our first trip to a cabin in the Smoky Mountains with a few other couples. We had only been dating a few months so the excitement of going out of town together was huge. Our next trip was right before we got engaged. We went to the Dominican Republic with my brother and sister in law. Then there was Hawaii and Aruba and several weekend getaways to nearby landmarks and bed and breakfast inns.

These trips really tested what we were made of. Flying out of the country in today's world is no easy feat. Shoes off, emptied pockets, metal detector wands in personal places, shoes on, repeat. And make it to your gate on time. It's enough to test any one's patience, let alone their relationship.

We are both a bit of what I like to call "freakers." We tend to freak out. A lot. What makes us a good traveling team is that we don't freak out about the same things at the same time. JD is a perfectionist. He likes to follow the perfectly plotted route and arrive within minutes of the predicted time. I don't mind a few detours along the way. As long as there aren't any creepy rest stop bathrooms on the detour, I'm good. JD likes to pack the car/luggage like a jigsaw puzzle with the utmost precision. I say just toss it in where it fits. And if it doesn't fit, well then throw it in the back seat. As long as it makes it home, does it really matter where it is located in the car? 

What makes us such a good team when we're on the road? Well, when the pressure is high and stress levels skyrocket, we both kind of know when to shut up and let the other one freak. The calmer one then steps in to assist with some levelheadedness. If I am freaking out over forgetting the baby wipes and Beatrice has a full diaper, JD calmly fishes out a clean diaper and a napkin and we clean up our girl the best we can until we get back to the wipes. When JD is freaking over getting the bazillion bags and totes and golf clubs into the suddenly minuscule trunk, I suggest filling the empty coolers with the toiletry bags. And the front seat. And the floorboards. It's the perfect blend of high-strung urgency and cool placidity. We pick up where the other leaves off. We balance each other out. The perfect ebb and flow.

We work well together. This is reinforced when we're out of town. Maybe it's the excitement of a new place and "making it" on our own. Or maybe we recognize (and respect) each other's weaknesses when we're away from home.                                                                                                                                  
I really like traveling with my husband. It brings out the best and worst in us but we are there together and make it work no matter what the situation looks like. And most importantly, we have a lot of fun together.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Beach

I love the beach. I love the sand and the water and the sun. I love walking the beach. I like the exercise and I like the things that I think about as I walk in the sand.

Nothing makes me appreciate God's creation quite like being on a beach. The waves are so powerful and the scene is so beautiful, how could you deny that there is a Creator standing in the midst of such an awesome place? It reminds me of how small I really am in the scheme of things. I have been guilty of thinking that I'm pretty important in the past. And sometimes, I was pretty certain that the world may even have revolved around me. But at the ocean, I am reminded of how small and powerless I am. With 1 wave, I could be taken under by the strength of the current and my tiny existence would be long gone. It really puts into perspective how fragile life is and how grateful I am to be healthy and living this life. 

Creatures like this prove that God has a sense of humor. I really, really dislike jellyfish. And slugs. They suck.

And what the heck is this? Seriously, If anyone knows, please tell me.

Walking by the ocean makes me thankful. Thankful for my life and for the ability to enjoy God's creation. It clears my mind and brings me back to the things that are important.

I love my husband and baby. I love making memories and beginning family traditions with them. I love sharing the beach with my family. They are what I am most thankful for.

Even when someone is grumpy. For the entire trip.
We go home tomorrow. No more beach walks. No more lying in the sand with my husband and crying baby. No more tangled there's-no-way-a-brush-is-going-through-this hair. But we had a blast.

JD asked me if I was a beach person or a city person. I think I am ultimately a city person. I like the hustle and bustle of life in a city. The beach is a place that I love to visit and recharge my batteries. A place to remember that life is a gift and that God the Creator is powerful. And has a great sense of humor.

FYI, this is not a sea creature. But it is proof that God has the ultimate sense of humor. I love Him.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Family Vacation

About this time last year, JD and I were on our last vacation sans children. We were in Aruba and I was 6 months pregnant. The trip was planned and deposit paid before we found out we were expecting. JD had a blast. I did not. Being huge and pregnant in a foreign country is unsavory enough, but add the fear of slipping on the tiles lining the pool and the weird sun rash I got on my belly and the trip became downright miserable. I had anxiety the whole week. I remember lying under our beach hut looking at the ocean in the middle of paradise mourning our last carefree vacation. Except it wasn't all that carefree. It was just kidfree.

I remember thinking, I will never be able to lie on the beach all day without having to make sure a little one has plenty of sunscreen and stays hydrated. I will no longer have the luxury of sleeping in or having late, romantic dinners with my suntanned husband. We wouldn't be able to travel out of the country like we loved to do once a year. Not with a small child. I lied under my beach hut saying goodbye to freedom and fun as I knew it (on vacation anyway).

We arrived on Tybee Island on Saturday after a 7 hour drive with a 6 month old. Despite sleeping a total of 1 hour the entire trip, she did pretty well. She crashed as soon as we got settled in the condo, poor baby. This is our first vacation as a family with a small child. Things are different (as I suspected they would be).

I was right about not being able to lie on the beach in the sun all day. Now, sunbathing is done in shifts with JD heading out first during the morning nap. He comes to relieve me after about an hour so I can enjoy the sun. Then I head back to the condo to feed Beatrice and we all come out together. We rotate through this all day long. And it has been really nice. We haven't gotten sunburned because we aren't out there for longer than an hour at a time. Beatrice has stayed on her schedule and is sleeping like a champ in her Pack N Play so this mama is happy. This is doable, and enjoyable.

Dinner time has posed several new challenges. It never fails, as soon as the food arrives Beatrice is starving and wants to be fed. We know this by the loud, incessant whining she has learned to do. So I either have to eat really fast or scope out a place to nurse. In public. After 6 months of nursing, I am still super uncomfortable doing this. I would rather nurse my child in a stall in a public restroom or the backseat of my car than get out my nursing cover and sit on a bench to feed her in plain view of passersby.

Last night during dinner in Savannah, I had to nurse my child on a bench in a public square. I walked around for a good 5 minutes building the courage to actually do it. The hungry look in Beatrice's eyes finally made me pick a bench and get it over with. She did great. She ate really fast and didn't try to break free from the confines of my modesty cover to expose me. And not too many people looked at me like they were completely disgusted. I think this is why I am so uncomfortable nursing her in public; people look at me like I am skinning the hide off of a dog instead of feeding an infant. Completely covered up too. So I nursed her and went back to the table to enjoy my dinner. Not a romantic vacation dinner like we're used to on vacation, but a sweet family one.

The best part has been seeing my child experience the beach and new places for the first time. Oh and spend time with her daddy. This baby loves her some daddy cuddles.

Vacations may never be the same again. We may never have the freedom of doing nothing all day or sleeping in. But we have new vacations to look forward to. We get to look forward to taking our children to new places and making sweet family memories. Vacations are different for sure, but they are still really great.

Friday, May 7, 2010

One More Thing....

You may all refer to me as Wonder Woman now.

I just packed up the nursery, Beatrice's clothes, my clothes, toiletries, food, toys, pack n play, loaded the car, cleaned the car, cleaned my house, bathed my child, bathed myself, blogged, all before bed. By myself.

A little cuddle time with the kitty and I'm hitting the sack. Tomorrow we are beach bound!! Pray for my poor brother and sister in law. They do not have kids and will be driving Beatrice and me down to meet JD. They may prolong reproducing indefinitely if she screams the whole way. Or have to listen to me sing silly songs for 7 hours. 

Last Supper

You see that? That's my last meal as a single mom. It's not much, just a sweet potato covered in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. I'm trying to eat all of the produce in the house before our vacation. I'll be eating an apple for dessert.

Tonight is the last night I dine alone. Tomorrow (and the rest of our lives I hope) I will eat with my husband. Dinner time has often been the loneliest time with JD gone. It is when couples/families discuss the day and enjoy time together as a family before bed. Having to eat alone has reinforced how very much alone I felt. I have wonderful family and friends that have invited me to eat with them but Beatrice is super cranky from about 6 o'clock until bedtime. Staying home is easier.

My humble little meal is the last of its kind. Soon Daddy will be home and I will be meal planning and cooking yummy dinners for him. Honestly, I cannot wait to eat real dinners again. When we were dating, I used to eat a salad or steamed broccoli for dinner. Why cook for 1 person? JD would always say that it was not a real dinner unless there was meat on the plate. He is so right. Since he has been gone, I have grown accustomed to eating bowls of cereal, oatmeal or soup for dinner. I just can't justify cooking a "real dinner" for just me.

My lonely dinners have really given me a heart for single parents and friends who aren't married. Having someone to talk to while breaking bread is such a wonderful thing. I will think twice before I turn down another dinner invitation from my single friends from now on. It really does suck to eat alone.

So tonight, I will eat my last supper as a single parent joyfully because tomorrow, we have our daddy back.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

2 more days. That's all I have left as a single parent and Daddy comes home! I've been busy cleaning out closets and organizing the pantry. I want this place to be in tip top shape when JD returns. Otherwise, I'm dead meat. I kid, but not really. I have one of those husbands that thinks dinner makes itself and floors get mopped by good samaritans while we sleep. He was never one for doing much housework so he doesn't always realize what goes into maintaining a clean house. (We are very 1950s. He does the "man stuff" like washing the cars and mowing the lawn. I do everything else. Just kidding honey, love you). 

Knowing my husband as well as I do, I know that if he comes home and there are piles of mail on the ottoman and toys on the floor he will undoubtedly ask, "what have you been doing while I was gone?" Now don't go getting all finger-pointing mad at him. He knows I've been raising a baby, but as most men who were raised by mamas who did it all and then married wives who do it all, they really don't understand what goes into maintaining a household. And when we have a little break from it, sometimes mail sits on the ottoman for a week. Or 2 (never the bills honey. I opened and paid those promptly, scout's honor).

So as I make Goodwill piles and clean behind the dining room curtains (I found a dead millipede and still have the heeby jeebies), I can't help but think of things I wish I did while I've had this vacation from household chores terribly lonely, sad time apart from my husband. More lists, sorry. 

1. Ordered a pizza. I never ordered one in the entire 5.5 months he's been gone. Mostly because I didn't trust myself not to eat the whole thing. JD only likes pepperoni. Sometimes, he is feeling wild and crazy and we'll order a thin crust with pepperoni and ham. This man is dangerous. I wish I would have ordered a pizza with the toppings I like such as Mellow Mushroom's Kosmic Karma pizza with pesto swirls, sundried tomatoes and garlic. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.......

2. Slept on his side of the bed. He has the good side. You can see the TV perfectly without the armoire door getting in the way and most importantly, the bathroom is 2 steps away. I don't know why I stayed on my side, I guess out of habit. And this is really dumb, but when I would really miss him I hugged his pillow. Gag, I know.

3. Shopped. I did a little internet shopping here and there but never went to Anthropologie like I threatened and had an all out shopping spree. He wouldn't have minded, I just never did it. Plus when you're nursing, your wardrobe options are very limited. Why waste $70 on a shirt that can't be opened in the front?

Silly things, I know. And the good news is I can do all of those things with him when we are together again (in 2 days, woot woot). Despite the clutter that has accumulated on the ottoman (and kitchen counter and dining room table) in the last couple of months, I have done a few things that I'm darn right proud of. Things that probably would have been hard to do with him around. To the list!

1. Getting Beatrice to sleep. This has been a very long journey with many changes to our itinerary. When JD left, she was swaddled in her swing for the night. It was no longer safe when she started rolling. So I moved her from the swing to the crib, swaddled (no crying, she just did it. I don't know why I was so scared. I guess when my sleep comes into question, things get serious). Then she started rolling over in the crib swaddled. So I had to go a week with 1 arm out, then the other arm out, then no swaddle at all. That's when getting and keeping her asleep became an issue. So I did cry it out. Daddy would not have been able to handle this. 9 nights of pretty hardcore protesting from Beatrice and then she started putting herself to sleep. So where are we today (because of me, don't forget!)? I now lay Beatrice down for all naps and bedtime awake and the child falls asleep without crying. And stays asleep. We have a few 2 hour naps during the day and 12 hours solid at night. I deserve a little recognition for this feat (in the form of sparkly gifts).

2. Saved a boat load of money. I won't divulge the amount, but we have an impressive little nest egg now. For us anyway.  JD earned the money so he gets most of the credit, but I lived like a pauper (and avoided shopping sprees and pizza feasts) and diligently saved some dough. Yay me!

3. Took Beatrice to church every week. This is something that we look forward to doing as a family but doing it by myself has been a challenge. Especially when we've had a long night and sleeping in together sounds like a much more fun option. But with the help of my sweet brothers and sisters in law, I loaded up Beatrice and all of her gear every week rain or shine (but not in the snow. Homegirl cannot drive in the snow). I'm so glad that we have made this a habit now. Even when it's hard and inconvenient to lug a baby and car seat and diaper bag and purse from the back of the parking lot because we are always late, we still go.

I can't help but wonder what it's going to be like having JD back. We've never been here before. We've never had a 6 month old baby and lived together before. That is so weird. I'm sure it will be better than I ever could imagine having a partner in this season of our lives. I just hope he gives me a little grace with the house.......

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Things I Didn't Know

With my first Mother's Day looming , I have been thinking about all of the things that I didn't know about motherhood until I became a mother. Like how little sleep you can survive on and still function. And how a long, hot shower can be just as relaxing and energizing as a Caribbean vacation. I knew to expect the diapers and feedings and tons of laundry, but there are some things that never occurred to me would come in handy.

I decided to make a list of things that have made me feel like a successful mom. A Mother's Day guide if you will. Plus I really like making lists.

1. Batteries. What is it with baby stuff and batteries? EVERYTHING requires batteries. Toys, white noise machines, music players, vibrating seats, swings, mobiles and on and on. It seems like I am always replacing batteries in something. There is nothing creepier than a toy that plays music and has dying batteries so be sure to have plenty on hand.

2. Burp cloth/towel/paper towel. Seriously, just when you think you cannot get barfed on 1 more time, the baby barfs again. I've had barf in my hair, barf in my bra, barf on my clothes, barf on my couch, barf in my bed, barf in the nursery, barf on the floor, barf in the tub, etc. Babies barf, a lot. Not to mention they slobber and drool and snot and spit up. Having something to wipe yourself (and baby) off with at all times is crucial to surviving infancy.

3. Singing ability. Or at least the willingness to sing silly songs. Everything I do requires a song. I don't know if it's because I've gone a little crazy being alone with a baby for 5 months or if Beatrice just likes it, but I sing to everything I do. Diaper change, diaper change, little Beatrice gets a diaper change. Or how about this little ditty: Other side milkies, other side milkies, Beatrice gets the other side milkies. That's our nursing song. And I sing it every time I feed her. She laughs. JD even sings it. Singing makes babies laugh. And it keeps them (and me) from crying when everyone is cranky.

4. A friend that doesn't have a baby. This is so important. Having non-mommy friends helps me to not become a character on Sesame Street (see item 3 on the list). Friends without babies have non-baby things to talk about. Mommyhood is great, but before I was a mommy I was a person with hobbies and saw movies once in a while. Having friends that still do those things connects me to that life.

5. Eating dinner while holding a baby. This must be learned while sitting on the floor, standing over the sink, and at a restaurant. I have not completely mastered this but now that Beatrice can hold onto me, I am getting better. Seriously, there is something about my child that needs to come out in the form of tears and horrible crying when I sit down to eat dinner. I have moved my dinner time up to a time that she is not typically cranky (4:45 is the earliest I can go) but it never fails, as soon as I set my plate down and pick up my fork the waterworks start up. So, instead of listening to her wail (or me starving), I hold her while I eat. This continues to be a challenge now that she is interested in everything that goes in my mouth.

6. Get a hobby. Whether it's reading or crocheting or blogging, having something to do that I enjoy has made me such a happy mommy. Not only is it fun, but when caring for an infant who depends on me for everything, doing a little something just for me feels like a luxury. Plus, it makes me a little more interesting, ya know? I want to be a person who has things to talk about and talents and skills that go beyond changing a diaper 1 handed while folding laundry with the other. I want to be able to teach her how to do things too.

7. Take a walk everyday. I love our walks. It gets me out of the house and a little fresh air goes a long way. We take a walk everyday (weather permitting) around 4 o'clock. It is a good break point in the day and when we come back, there are only 2 more hours until Beatrice's bedtime (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Our walks are no strolls in the park though. We hoof it. I walk the kind of walk that requires a shower afterwards. I want to feel the burn and make my body work for that endorphin high. And Beatrice loves it. She kicks her little legs while I push her along. I look forward to our walks.

8. Put your baby to bed early. This may be my favorite item on the list. I have a very easy baby but once 4 o'clock hits, I look forward to bedtime. Not because I don't want to take care of her anymore, but it is finally time to kick up my feet for a minute and eat something slowly or talk to JD without making funny faces (sometimes we still make funny faces but it's purely for our amusement). I can't imagine what it will be like to have her in bed early when JD returns (next week, woohoo!). We can have time to ourselves like in the olden days before there were barf stains on the couch. It is a much needed time to recharge myself and get ready for the next day.

I tried to go for 10, but this is all I can come up with (a fanny pack came this close to making the list because hands free storage is crucial, but fanny packs are so 1988 so I passed on it). I'm sure as Beatrice grows along with my mommy experience, I'll be adding things to my list. For now, I'm happily looking forward to my first Mother's Day with the teensiest bit of mommy knowhow and loads of confidence for the next ones to come. Happy Mother's Day mom!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Like To Make Things

Beatrice has a tiny head. Like, a 10th percentile head. Being born in the winter required head coverage. This posed several problems for a tiny-headed baby. All of the store-bought hats and bonnets were way too big for her little noggin. So I scoured the mecca of handmade goods for a custom fit: Etsy! I found so many beautiful crocheted hats and beanies that could be custom made to fit my baby's wee little dome. 
Photo by Sara Rose Photography

I ordered one and it fit her tiny head perfectly and was super cute. The more I studied it, the more I decided that I could make a crocheted hat too. My grandmother taught me how to crochet a few years back so I figured it would be like riding a bike. All I needed was a little practice and it would all come back to me......

I bought a book and some yarn and attempted my first baby beanie. I proudly told EVERYONE that I would be making handmade hats in hopes that the orders would come flowing in. I just knew that I would be successful at it. I was a little rusty in my technique, but I had all the confidence in the world. 

My first hat was completed at my mom's house. I announced to my family to come check out the big reveal.....

If you haven't figured it out, it wasn't supposed to look like that. It was so tiny and skewed, I was totally embarrassed. And a little defeated. Poor Beatrice looked like a cone head in that stupid hat. I was so confident that I could make a hat. One that actually resembled a hat. I was determined. 

I began watching Youtube videos and tried some new patterns and lo and behold, I kind of got a knack for crocheting. I can make all sorts of hats, booties, blankies, and headbands (after many mess ups).It helps to have a little model available at all times. 

I finally mastered the flower beanie. I am now working on learning new stitches and working on my own patterns. I opened an Etsy shop. It's fun. I've come a long way.