Monday, January 30, 2012

on a peaceful Sunday

Too often I come here to this blog to write when I feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and frustrated. Because when things are going well, when my family is calm and loving and peaceful, I am enjoying the moments and not thinking about venting about it on my blog!

So I thought I'd just take a moment to say: yesterday was lovely.

Rocking my baby to sleep in her sling in the last church pew at church.

Holding hands with my husband as we worship our Creator.

Swinging in the sunshine in our backyard with my baby and realizing her legs are dangling over mine now. She is growing so fast.

Meeting new neighbors and stocking up on Girl Scout Cookies.

Watching quietly from the edges while Juliet follows her daddy everywhere, so desperate to join him in his chores. Like a little duckling following behind him every step of the way.

Juliet kissing Audrey open-mouthed on the lips. So much tongue and drool and adorableness.

Sharing a family meal with my sisters, dad, and brother-in-law. A delicious meal made by my sister. Juliet getting endless treats from her Grandpa.

Gratitude for this beautiful life.

Enjoying the sunshine in our backyard.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

on sleep, again

I remember this same thing happening with Juliet. About 5 months in, I just start losing it from the sleep deprivation.  I am so tired.

No one can understand what it means to routinely get so little sleep for such a long time, until you become a mother. Audrey is the same as Juliet was at this age, sleeping 3 hours or less in each stretch of sleep at night.  I see mothers online complaining about their babies not "sleeping through the night" yet, and honestly I would love to be in their shoes. I don't expect my baby to sleep through the night, not in the slightest. But I'm not sure how long I can do these 2 hour stretches anymore.

(For those who might counter, "Why don't you just bring her to bed with you?"...we do that often- every night for the first 3 months of her life, and then routinely since then. Last night, I slept with her from 11 pm on, and it did not help Audrey sleep more soundly. We were both up more than when we she is in her crib. I love snuggling my baby but being up every 45 minutes doesn't help anyone.)

Her naps have also deteriorated severely in the last several weeks, so that she is unable to sleep for more than 15 minutes alone. Ideally, she would be taking 3 naps per day. At best, we are getting one long nap in the mid-afternoon as long as I hold her the whole time in a dark, quiet room while Juliet naps. The other 2 naps either don't happen at all or are much too short for what I know she needs (for those who counter, "why don't you just wear her?"...even her naps in the Ergo or wrap are remarkably short, in the 20 minute range).

I have been here before. I know "this too shall pass".  I have read the books. I know she might be teething, might be growing, might be just being a baby who needs her mama to hold her just because. I know that complaining about being tired when you are a mom is a lame cliche. I spend so much of my waking moments thinking about how I can get my baby to sleep that I drive myself both bored and crazy with the repetitive thoughts.

But I am hitting my wall. I am grumpy. I was not a patient or kind mother this morning to either of my children. Gary ushered them out for a walk so I could collect myself. I do not like feeling this way, and I know that it's imperative that I learn to control myself and accept the exhaustion. It's really hard.

But of course as soon as I sit down to write this all, I feel silly and stupid. What a blessed life I have. Time to shake off the tireds and get back to loving my girls.

my gorgeous girl

Thursday, January 26, 2012

on discipline

I had a playdate at the house today with a couple moms that I had never met before. (We belong to the same Moms group.) And the morning has got me to thinking about that uncomfortable "D" word-- DISCIPLINE.

Juliet is at the stage of development where it is very hard to share her toys. "No" is a much-beloved word. I believe this is normal, and I choose not to discipline her for it. I know this might be a controversial opinion, but I don't expect her to share her things. Yes, I do need to teach her that we share with friends, because it is the kind and generous thing to do. She will learn this, hopefully soon, and hopefully because I will model the behavior for her. She often will voluntarily share her toys with friends or her sister, and she receives praise for that choice. But I don't expect that she do it all of the time naturally yet, like an adult might, and I try to be patient.

But honestly, it is really, really embarrassing when your kid whines "Nooooo....." when a 9 month old reaches out to grab her toys. It is that embarrassment that makes me doubt my parenting strategy.

It is also really, really embarrassing when you are engrossed in conversation and your toddler decides to stand on the coffee table and start stomping her feet loudly. It makes me want to discipline her.

But, it's me who should know better. I wasn't paying any attention to her, I was actually blatantly choosing to ignore her, and so she decided to stand on the coffee table for my attention.

Yes, she needs to learn that it's not good manners to stand on a table. But it's also poor manners to ignore your child just because you want to show off to some new friends. Right? Do you see what I'm getting at?

At dinner tonight, Juliet chose to throw her food on the floor after I clearly told her not to. And I know that she was testing those limits. I do feel that those are the moments that the discipline does come into play, for her to understand that when we are members of a family, there are boundaries of behavior so that we can all respect one another. I do not want to be a permissive parent who does not teach her child boundaries and thereby unintentionally raise a brat. I just want to be thoughtful abou my reactions.

I am still figuring out the right way to discipline for these types of behaviors. I tried a time-out for the food throwing incident, and I just felt like a fraud. Maybe because my mom didn't do time outs with us as kids (that I know of, anyway), but it just seems like a lame strategy. It doesn't feel like the time out is associated with the behavior, and that it's just a way for the mom to try and feel in control of the situation without really teaching the child anything.

I may change my mind on the time-outs as Juliet gets older, but for now I think I am going to stay away from them. It just doesn't feel like it jives with me or my child.

How about you? Do you do time-out? How do you discipline your toddler?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

january 21

One year ago, my world crashed down and things changed forever.

My mom had a brain tumor, and a very, very bad diagnosis. But things still were being held together in a semblance of normal. A year ago, my mom was still herself. January 20, 2011 was almost an ordinary night, if it weren't for my mom's appointment for a biopsy of her brain at UCLA the next morning. The family had a casual dinner together and then we watched American Idol in my parents' living room.. I went home to tend to Juliet, then 8 months, and kissed my mom goodbye.

I was so worried and scared, and my mom looked right at me and said, "Oh, Jen, please don't worry. Everything is going to be fine."

Because that's what mothers do. I know that now. They reassure their children and comfort them and tell them everything is going to be okay, even when they're not so sure.

Everything wasn't just fine. Her biopsy went very, very wrong.  The memories of that day make me close my eyes in pain. Some things are just too terrible to remember. They are also too terrible to write down. If you were there, you know what happened. If you are just a casual reader, then it's too private to share. It was the worst day of my life, and then things kept getting worse.

I will say that the biopsy caused my mom to have 2 strokes, and the neurosurgeon removed a part of her frontal lobe due to intercranial swelling. She spent six weeks in intensive care and stroke rehab. That's the clinical description but it doesn't explain what really happened: we lost my mom that day, we lost who "she was" as our mom, and we never got to say a proper goodbye.

Mom was never the same, and she died six months later. My mom's death was too terrible to share on an Internet blog, but those of you who were there, know.  It hurts to remember but is impossible to forget.

I love you, mom. I miss you.
At my bridal shower, September 2008

Friday, January 20, 2012

20 months of Juliet

Dear Juliet,

You turn 20 months today. I don't know how long I will keep counting your age in months because at some point it becomes a little hard to do the math in my head. For instance, I am 382 months old. Try doing that without a calculator!

But every month still really does make a difference at your age. There are so many discoveries and developments that happen in these days of your life, that it's still worth memorializing the occasion.

This month was the month of THE TODDLER BED. A day after Christmas, you decided that it is really fun to climb out of your crib. Like, really, really fun and you did it during every consecutive nap and nighttime sleep. So our hand was forced. As much as I'd love to have kept you in a crib until you got your driver's license, we had to make the switch. It just isn't safe to let you climb out since the fall from the other side could really hurt you.

So your daddy took apart the crib and we put you in the toddler bed. Much to my surprise, you've done great. You get out of bed a little early sometimes. Your daddy has gone in to soothe you in the middle of the night, and I've walked into your room in the morning to find you both fast asleep, you in your bed and your daddy balled up on the floor next to you.

These are the moments I long to remember. Your daddy and I tucking you in at night, surrounded by your beloved doggies. Whispering our prayers before bed, asking God to bless our family and keep us safe. Quietly leaving you in bed for the night, knowing that your dad will tiptoe in to sleep by your side if you are ever afraid.

I love you, forever.

love, mama

Thursday, January 19, 2012

bits & pieces

I'm really enjoying the sunny 70 degree weather in Fullerton while reading through Facebook posts on the  snow & ice storm in Seattle. Just one good reason to have moved back to my hometown!  I blame my parents for having raised me in a warm climate- no matter how much I tried to acclimate to colder weather, it's just not my favorite.

My mom used to say that she could never move back to Chicago after having moved to Laguna Beach in her 20s and spending a winter day on the beach, eating an avocado in the sunshine. And I agree. And I miss my mom; memories of her flood in every day and I feel waves of grief that knock me to my knees.

This was how we started our morning, before having a lovely visit with some old friends and their little ones. Juliet's new "Cheese!" face cracks me up.

How about you?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

5 months of giggly Audrey

Dear Audrey,

You are 5 months today. I've deliberately slowed our pace down since the New Year began, after so much activity over the holidays. We have had many days of just staying home, enjoying each other as a family instead of rushing to finish errands or play with friends. It's been nice to lie you down on a blanket in the backyard, and let you stare up at the leaves on the trees while Juliet plays on her slide. If you are the slightest bit fussy, going outside is always an instant cure; your sister was the same way.

You started sitting unassisted this month. Well, at least for about 10 seconds before you topple over! I am so proud of you and also a little sad that you are growing up so fast. I keep trying to take mental snapshots of you because I don't want to get so knee deep in the sleep deprivation (and boy, am I tired!) that this all passes me by.

You are also giggling like crazy. When I say you are a happy baby- oh, baby, do I ever mean it! I was feeding Juliet her lunch today and you were sitting in my lap watching her eat. Juliet decided to throw all her food across the table in dramatic fashion. I was all set to correct your sister's behavior, when all of a sudden you erupted in raucous laughter. You looked right at Juliet as she was misbehaving and were giggling like crazy at her. It was so funny that I couldn't help but laugh myself.

And then this evening, you giggled while your daddy kissed you and tickled your belly. There is nothing better for a mama to see.

You are a little drool monster this month, and often your less-happy moments are obviously from teething. It keeps you up at night and you've had some inconsolable crying a few times from your poor gums. I frantically bought every single teething pain relief item I could find on Amazon this week, but things have seemed to settle for now. I hate teething, and I'm sure you feel the same. Thanks for giggling through it, most of the time!

I love you, forever and ever.

love, mama

stats: breastfeeding every 3-4 hours during day, grabbing at toys, sitting unassisted for short periods. 3 naps per day. bedtime is at 6:30, sleeping for about 5 hour stretch then up every couple hours (teething). no solids yet. still hate the car.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The days are long but the years are short.

Audrey learned to sit! 4 & 1/2months

Arboretum with our friends. Lucky that Jenna & Val's kids take Juliet under their wing.

How is she old enough to do this already?
Dealing with a bit of a milk  supply issue and found that these things in addition to daily oatmeal work wonders!! I really miss my mom and wish I could talk to her about this.
Juliet was crabby all morning and after a short walk around the block, I find her like this. I should know by know that crabby = tired!
Back to fighting weight of 115 lbs though my tummy is still soft. Thanks to Audrey for eating away the weight for me.

our "new" backyard playset (thanks to dear friends who've outgrown it)
We are taking daily afternoon walks to the park to jump in leaves.

Audrey is on a crib strike. So we are back to sleeping together again. I can't say I mind at all. I mean, how could I? I know it won't last forever and she's so snuggly.

Friday, January 6, 2012

texting the truth

Next time Gary asks me what Jenna and I text each other all day long, I shall direct him to this post. Yes, this is my life.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

in gratitude to...

1. The double swaddle:
Have you ever heard of the double swaddle? It's a pretty funky swaddle technique that is really easy, and looks ridiculous. Recently, Audrey has been breaking out of the veclro swaddlers much too easily and waking herself up. And it has become evident that she still needs to be swaddled to both fall asleep and to stay asleep. So I went back to the double swaddle, which I learned at a moms group held in Seattle at an awesome place called Birth and Beyond. Here is a link to a video that shows how to do it. Audrey has gone from taking a 25 minute nap and waking up very unhappy and still-tired, to sleeping for 2-3 hour stretches and waking up with a smile. Thank you, double swaddle!

2. Zulily customer service:
I was all set to write a scathing review of Zulily this morning. I purchased a pair of (See Kai Run) shoes for Juliet. It took 3 weeks for them to arrive (normal since it's a discount site, but still), and then when they arrived yesterday, not only was it the wrong size, but it was also the wrong shoe altogether! I was so annoyed. I called customer service, and the nice lady with the Southern accent helped by: 1) sending me the right pair of shoes, 2) giving me a $10 credit on a future order, and 3) letting me keep the wrong pair of shoes instead of sending them back! The "wrong" pair is a size 7, and completely adorable,  just one size up from what I ordered, so essentially I got a free pair of ($50 retail) shoes for Juliet. Woo hoo. Thank you, Zulily, for proving me wrong about you.

3. Boudreaux's Butt Paste:
Juliet loves oranges. The problem is, that she gets a terrible, awful diaper rash every time she eats them. I keep thinking that she'll be "over it" and allow her to have a small little clementine or an orange off our backyard tree, and then it becomes quite obvious that her body doesn't tolerate the citrus yet (ever?)
Thank you to Boudreaux's Butt Paste for making her bottom better!