Wednesday, November 30, 2011

it's all worth it for this

video
Audrey and I talking to each other, 11.29.2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

here it is again...I'm tired

Well, it's probably obvious from my silence over the last week that things have been pretty hectic around here. And since a blog is pretty much the bottom of the list of priorities, I just haven't had the time. Last night I slumped into bed at 9 pm after a long day of babies crying and demanding so much of me that I honestly thought, "these kids might actually be trying to kill me!" I was feeling so worn out that I was too tired to brush my teeth (and I always brush my teeth! I hate that fuzzy feeling in the morning otherwise!)

Audrey is going through a period of apparently normal "sleep regression". Which basically means that she went from sleeping relatively well at night (waking 2 times to nurse) to waking up every single hour. I am tired again like I was in the newborn stage. I love my babies but I am worn.

Lest this blog become the "woe is me, I'm so tired" blog, here are a few photos of what's been happening over the last week. It was a great week. I'm just glad I took the photos since I'd probably be too tired to remember what we did if you asked!

we had a lovely thanksgiving and my sisters brought delicious food.
just when I was ready to hire a maid!


We went to a superhero party!
gary played with the babies. they are lucky to have such a good daddy!

Juliet had so much fun but needed daddy's reassurance

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm a tiger, hear my roar!

I know I've written about this before, but I  ran across this tiger quote below and thought it was great. Today I'm thankful for my body. It is strong and healthy. It gave life to my daughters, kept them safe and warm, and grew big enough to house them until they were ready to join the world. It may not ever look quite the same since all that stretching and growing left its marks and my belly button will also probably never recover! But I love it more than ever for what it's done for me.

And for the record, here are my tiger stripes, 3 months after baby #2:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Every day, thousands of babies are born in every corner of the world. Birth is a universal experience shared by all of us. It is not a first world or third world event.

But the moment your own precious baby is born, it is the most wondrous miracle on the planet.

Audrey just seconds after birth

Every day, thousands of people all around the world die.Death is a universal experiemce shared by all of us. It is not a first world or third world event.

But the moment your own beautiful mother dies, it is the most crushing and painful sorrow  on the planet.
Mom, me, and Juliet (1 week)

I give thanks during this season for the beautiful gift of life that I have been given this year. But I miss my mom.  I will be cooking a turkey for the very first time as we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year. That was my mom's job, and now it's become mine. I wasn't ready to have the torch passed yet. I feel untethered.  We'll all do just fine, but Mom would have done it better.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mommy has a first world problem

I thought that this post on Rants from Mommyland was pretty darn funny and puts everything in perspective during this week of Thanksgiving. And in the spirit of sharing, here are a few of my own "first world problems". Just writing them down makes me feel silly And grateful!

- I can't keep my house clean because it's way too big, there are too many toys, and too many clothes.

- I had to fire my housekeeper because it was too stressful picking up all the clutter before she came

- My fridge won't fit all the food I bought for thanksgiving

- I have to drive 10 minutes out of my way to get to the Starbucks that has the drive thru. And after waiting in the drive thru line for 10 more minutes, they forgot to put the sugar free vanilla syrup in my latte. Believe it or not, this was mildly upsetting at the time. ;)

There's more, I'm sure, but those are all for now. Anyone else care to share your first world problem?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

18 months of sweet Juliet

Dear Juliet,

You turned 18 months today. It's amazing how much you have changed in these last few months, growing from a baby to a toddler. In my mama eyes, you will always be my baby, but you are becoming more independent from me, which is wonderfully bittersweet. You are learning to explore the world a few steps ahead of mama, although I am never too far behind and you still look to me for reassurance and run to me if you go too far.

You are a funny, inquisitive, sensitive girl. We laugh a lot together; you find farts and burps particularly hysterical, and I completely agree! You are very active from the moment you wake up, and we are greeted with calls of "Mama! Mama! Dada! Dada!" from your room as our alarm clock at 7 am. I have to say that I still beam inside every time you say "Mama"- the novelty of hearing you call my name hasn't worn off.  You seem to be a sponge these days, picking up on everything and learning new things every day. We are having fun learning our body parts, for instance- "Where's Juliet's nose? eyes? toes?" and so on, and you point to each part on yourself and then on mama.  You adore your sister Audrey and enjoy giving her hugs (by putting your face next to hers), patting her on the head gently, and putting her pacifier in her mouth if she's crying. It is wonderful to watch the two of you interact and I'm so glad that you will have a sister to grow up with.  I love you so much, and I am honored to watch you grow into such a lovely little person.


A few things you are enjoying these days:
Playing peek-a-boo behind the curtains, Walking around the block and waving "Bye" to the passing cars, Going down the slide and riding the swing at the park, Throwing the ball for Ellie dog as well as sitting on top of her!, Pushing your dolly in her stroller, Books with animals (especially dogs), Balls of any kind, Bath time, Aunt Christy, Rough housing with Daddy in the living room after dinner, Sparkly necklaces (huge obsession), Putting your shoes away in the basket, Pushing the laundry cart and "helping" mama with chores like laundry and putting silverware away, Small items like pebbles and beads.


Some of your favorite words:
Mama, Dada, Audrey (Awwww-drey), Up, More, Ball, Doggie, This, Yum, Balloon

Some of your favorite foods:
Scrambled eggs, spinach, milk, clementines, goldfish crackers, and "Dot" candy from your Grandpa (his special treat).

These are a couple photos from this morning. Mama was getting us ready for church and I was putting my makeup on in the bathroom. You grabbed a makeup brush and an (empty) powder lid and proceeded to brush the invisible makeup onto yourself, and then  you did Audrey's "makeup"  too. You definitely don't need any makeup to be beautiful, but it sure was precious.


 love, mama



Friday, November 18, 2011

never say never


I had a really nice day this week with a dear friend from Seattle. During the day we had the chance to talk about parenting a lot, as we both see eye-to-eye in our strategies toward mothering our little ones.  I had the chance to reflect on some "never say never" moments that I've had in my parenting of Juliet and Audrey.

When I was pregnant with Juliet, I developed some very specific ideas about what type of mother I was going to be, and how I would choose to parent my children. There were certain things that I was simply never, ever going to do.  And many of those things have continued to remain extremely important to me. But there are a few (many) things that I have ended up doing with my children that I never thought I'd do in a million years. I thought I'd share them here to get a proper, public, "I told you so!"

I should have Never Said Never to:

Formula: I am a huge breastfeeding snob. I admit it. It's something that is fundamentally important to me as a mother and woman.  And I look down on mothers who choose not to even try.  I admit it, straight out. But about 3 months after I got pregnant with Audrey, my milk supply dropped to nothing and Juliet's weight correspondingly dropped off the weight chart when she was 9 months old. She went from thriving to starving because I could no longer provide her with enough nutrition (Pregnancy commonly causes drop in milk supply as well as change in consistency and taste of breastmilk.) After conversations with a lactation consultant, and some heart ache, I reluctantly ended up supplementing and then switching 100% to formula with Juliet by 10 months- much earlier than I had anticipated. And she is thriving because of that choice to do the right thing for my baby, even when it wasn't my initial preference. Never say never.

Epidural. I love the idea of natural births, and support them entirely. But in the end, I've had 2 epidurals. And I don't regret either of them one bit. Never say never.

Television:  The AAP recommends no TV for children under 2. I agree with them. Too much television rots your brain, and young children should be reading, exploring, and running instead. But Gary was gone all week for a work conference so I am responsible for my little ones 24/7. Bedtime is the hardest part of the day to do by myself. Last night I put on Yo Gaba Gaba for Juliet for 20 minutes so I could rock Audrey to sleep. Juliet was happily entertained and mesmerized, as the photo above clearly shows.  Audrey fell asleep easily without the distraction of Juliet's "Mama! Mama! Up! Up!" pleas, and I was able to then go and spend the rest of the evening doing Juliet's bedtime routine peacefully. So for this household, we will use television in moderation so that mama doesn't end up in the looney bin. Never say never.

Disposable Diapers: I used cloth with Juliet and loved it. But with the additional chaos that another baby has added to the household, we are now using disposables for the time being. Because it's easier, and at some point, "Something's gotta give". Never say never. (Though I do hope to go back to cloth soon.)

Crying-it-Out (crying to sleep): I hate hearing my babies cry. It hurts my heart and my motherly instinct is to run to them every time I hear a whimper.Plus, it goes against my fundamental 'attachment parenting' beliefs. But reluctantly, we chose to allow Juliet to cry herself to sleep when she was maybe 9 months old or so. I won't go into the long story of her sleep history or the 3 million other strategies we tried along the way, but it was the right thing to do for our family at the time. Never say never. (Disclaimer: I do still hold tight to the belief that this isn't appropriate for a newborn or young infant.)


Does anyone else have a Never Say Never moment to share?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

3 months of lovely Audrey

I love you, my sweet baby. Thank you for joining our family and bringing your sweetness to our life. You and I have been having some great conversations with each other lately. I look into your pretty eyes and say something like, "I love you, my beautiful baby" (because I surely do), and you look right back at me and squeal in delight.  Sometimes you squeal so loud it's like a lovely little shriek.  The most adorable happy squeals and shrieks I've ever heard, with a big toothless grin.  You are a happy baby indeed

You smile at your sister Juliet when she pushes you in the swing, and she gives you a big happy smile in return; I'm so glad you are already becoming friends. She loves to try and care for you, by pulling the blanket up over you, putting your socks on, and trying to put the pacifier in your mouth. Today she wanted to give you a drink of milk from her bottle too! You happily go with the flow. You've also just discovered your hands, and hold them in front of your face, exploring every inch over and over again with intent focus.  It's so wonderful to watch you start to enjoy the world around you. I love you desperately, joyfully, forever and ever.

love, mama

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

more family photos!

Jenna sent me another batch of photos from our session this weekend, and I am amazed with how many lovely shots she got considering the circumstances! There are some great ones in here. My family is so beautiful.









Tuesday, November 15, 2011

family photos

We took our annual family photos for our Christmas card this weekend.  I spent all afternoon bathing the babies, carefully dressing them in pretty little outfits, finding time to blow dry my hair and put on a little makeup. It was an all day affair getting ready! And Juliet was in an awesome mood all day, playful and giggling, even while driving in the car to get to the photo spot.

And then, of course, because she is a toddler and who knows why- she was just over it.  Did not want to smile, did not want to walk, did not did not did not. And so yet again, I repeat my mantra of 2 under 2: Embrace the chaos!  The cute photos I envisioned of Juliet and Audrey cuddled together in that little trunk just didn't happen, but thanks to our very talented photographer (Jenna of Fina Photography, for those in OC), we were able to get a few family photos worth putting on the wall.  I'm not giving up on the idea of the annual family photo, but we may just do it in the backyard next year!
 




And what a difference a year makes.  This is last year's Christmas photo:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

wear that baby!

Since Gary was busy today learning how to shoot ducks (yes-seriously!), I went to a babywearing workshop this morning at Granola Babies. I'm really lucky that one of the best natural-parenting resources in the whole country is located just 20 minutes from me!

Do you know what the benefits of babywearing are? Well, even though I often feel like I am writing this blog as a diary to myself, it turns out that it actually gets a fair amount of hits every day (from whom? I don't know...introduce yourselves!), so I figure I'll assume someone out there in cyber space wants to know a bit more about babywearing:

Mamas have been wearing their babies since the beginning of time.  It's a natural way for us to keep our babies comforted, keep them safe from harm, and keep their temperatures regulated.  It is also a natural way to give a mama her hands free to tend to other children and tasks!For me, I wear my babies for all these reasons but primarily because both Juliet and Audrey are at their most content when they are snuggled close to my skin. It feels like the right choice for my children.

The popularity of babywearing is probably at a peak right now in the U.S., thanks to attachment parenting advocates like Dr. Sears advocating it, as well as the boom of awesome new products on the market to make it convenient and hip to wear our babies. My favorite babywearing products are the Ergo carrier, the Moby wrap, the woven wrap (like this one), and the ring sling (like this one)

Even though I have been wearing my babies since Juliet was born almost 18 months ago, I found that I needed a little extra help figuring out how to correctly wear Audrey in a woven wrap. I was making a simple mistake that was very easily corrected, and now I am super excited and happy to be wearing Audrey in a woven wrap again! It's become my favorite way to wear her.

And I couldn't resist this new Girasol wrap today- isn't it beautiful?!



and here I am wearing Juliet in the Ergo on my back too...surprisingly comfortable!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hermosa Beach trip

Unfortunately, I don't have time to write this week but I want to add these photos from our trip to Hermosa Beach this week. This was the second year in a row that I was able to tag along with Gary on his business trip. We stay right on the Strand and it's a lovely mini getaway though a little crazier this year with two.

my adorable audrey

hanging in the hotel room

view from our room

walking along the strand

Monday, November 7, 2011

tender is the night

It's quiet in my house tonight. Gary had to go away to the beach for work for a few days. He called to say good night to Juliet and we used FaceTime on our phones so Juliet could see him.  She put her chubby little finger to the phone and squealed, Dada! Dada! It made my heart soar to see my little girl so gleefully in love with her daddy.

I tell Juliet to pick out a book to read and she pulls four of them from her bookshelf. I read to her while she hides behind the rocking chair and tucks her head around with a sneaky smile to make sure I know she's hiding. Audrey is wrapped up on me, fussing a bit because I keep standing and sitting, leaning this way and that. Then we say our prayers for the night, "Thank you Jesus for daddy and mommy and Audrey, and Grandpa, and Nana and Papa, and tell Grandma in heaven we miss her. Thank you for letting us go to the park and and throw the ball for Ellie dog. Please keep us safe and warm tonight. Amen." And then I tuck Juliet in, and say what we always say--"Now it's time to sleep. All your favorite friends are waiting for you". And they are- her three cuddly dogs, a talking dolly, a colorful snake, Raggedy Ann, and Winnie the Pooh, all awaiting Juliet's arrival. I lay her down, gently kiss her and close the door. I watch the video monitor and sigh gratefully as I watch her quietly scoot around her crib to find a comfortable place to rest her head.

And then I turn my attention to Audrey. Her late afternoon nap didn't really happen because I was too busy with dinner and bathing Juliet and such and sometimes that's just what happens when you are the younger sister, I'm sad to say. I was wearing her in a wrap all night long because she won't nap elsewhere but even so, she was sleep deprived from being moved this way and that. And so she had an early bedtime, at 7:30 pm instead of 9, which this mama can really get behind. I've become a big fan of the early bedtime for little ones. So she gets changed and swaddled and we coo to each other a little bit on her changing table. She gives the best toothless smiles I've ever seen. And she nurses and the milk that is pooling around her mouth dribbles down her chin and she gives a milk drunk grin and my heart fills with peace and joy. I sit there rocking her for another hour just because I can, because she is my baby and this house is finally quiet, and these moments only last for so long and then my babies will be big and asking for the car keys and staying out too late while I wait by the door for them to safely return.

And now, it's time for mama to rest.

just sayin'

I think that the AAP would have a lot more success in getting educated parents to vaccinate their children on schedule if they actually, you know, educated them on what each vaccination was for, what the benefits were, and what the slight to moderate risks could be.

I took Audrey in for the second of her shots today since I decided to spread them out between her 2 month visit and do the remaining ones at 3 months.  Today she got HIB and Prevnar shots. Guess how much the pediatrician and the nurse told me about what the shot was meant to prevent, and what to possibly expect afterward?  You got it -- NOTHING.  And yet the AAP community wonders why educated parents don't want to just inject their children with whatever they are expected to because it's on the CDC schedule.

I left the office with a handout on each vaccination that is given to you only after the shots are administered.  Wouldn't it be better to do this before?  I am not against doing these vaccinations. I believe that most of them (not all, but most) are important based on the research I am doing on my own. It would just be really nice if the doctors would respect a parent enough to educate them on it instead of asking for us to blindly follow and watch our children cry on the table as the needle punctures their skin...to know why we are doing that would be a great first step, don't you think?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

a day of rest and faith

We bundled up the girls for church this morning and heard the first sermon in a new series called "Where is God?". It is an apt subject for me as I continue to grieve for my Mom and struggle with understanding where God was through her illness and the horrifying suffering that she endured in the end. We read from Exodus, learning about how Moses and the people of Israel waited on God to deliver them to the Promised Land. In our modern day of iPhones and onDemand-everything, it is so hard to wait for anything, let alone to wait for God and trust in His faithfulness.

We came home from church and had a quiet afternoon full of peaceful play. And then I wrapped Audrey up in my arms and napped with her in bed while Juliet also slept. There are few things I relish more than a nap on a rainy afternoon.

I also took the girls to the park after the rain dried up for a late afternoon romp. And it was on this walk that I felt God's presence very clearly and tangibly.  He was there in the glimmer of sun peaking through the clouds, and in Juliet's delighted smile as she navigated the slide. He was there in Audrey's sleepy grin as she snuggled up into my chest. He is here, and He is good.

(And can I just say that this winter hat that I bought for Juliet was the best $8 I ever spent? I finally found a hat that she doesn't rip off her head in 5 seconds! She left it on the whole time.  Wonders truly never cease.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day of rejuvenation.

Gary watched the girls all day long. I didn't know what to do with myself. Here I am with my BFF at our friend C's baby shower. I even set aside the nursing bra and wore a regular bra for the occasion! How's that for fancy? ha!



Friday, November 4, 2011

hard morning

I am having a very hard morning with Juliet.  She is inconsolable and I just don't know what to do to help her. I love her so deeply and feel so sad and overwhelmed that she is often so unhappy. I finally put her in her crib in hopes that she would take an early nap and wake up feel rejuvenated. Mostly, I didn't  know what else to do. She has been screaming in her crib for 25 minutes and it breaks my heart. I devote every single day to meeting her needs and trying my best to play with her and care for her in a gentle way, but she is just not content so much of the time. If anyone has dealt with this before, I'd love to hear your advice or encouragement because I feel at a loss and so discouraged. I'm sitting at my laptop in tears and just feel overwhelmed.

Update:

Sometimes a nap is all it takes.  We have pushed "Restart" on the day and things are looking good.
Update 2: Yep, still looking good.  Whew. I can do this, after all.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the grace of tomorrow

Today was not my finest day.

I was impatient with Juliet and had a very hard time controlling my frustration and using soft words and gentleness with her. 

I was short-tempered with Gary for no particular reason except that he had the unfortunate chance of being the only one around to receive my death glares.

I was annoyed that the garbage disposal broke, even though I'm the one who most likely broke it (by letting a toddler fork slip through.)  I was annoyed that the Santa Ana winds were blowing and making my eyes itch. I was annoyed that I have mountains of laundry to fold, probably 8 loads, and can't find a time when I actually have free hands to fold it. I was annoyed that Juliet threw her dinner on the floor, cried when she woke up from her nap, wouldn't let me put her diaper on, refused to sit in the shopping cart, and was doing all those other annoying things that a toddler is supposed to do. I was annoyed that Audrey didn't want to sleep anywhere but in my arms.

Now that the children are asleep and Gary has escaped me to run an errand, I have some time to reflect. (While watching Parenthood in the background- a great show, seriously.) What a beautiful life I have been given. Thank you God for the grace of having a tomorrow to wake up to and see my children and my husband and be a little bit better than today.
i mean, am i lucky or what?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Boo!


Halloween this year was a lot of fun. I'm too tired to type anything else right now but I want to remember it here with a few fun photos. What a great start to the holiday season.