Saturday, March 31, 2012

Great message, terrible delivery

I ran across this photo on Facebook. What a great message to share, but it would have been even better if those babies were being "worn" properly!

The baby on the right looks like she is practically going to fall out of that Bjorn!

Here are some good tips for how to safely and comfortably wear your baby if you're not quite sure what's wrong with the photo.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

post partum TMI post

If you are one of the few men who read this blog, I recommend you close your browser instead of reading this post. If you're my cousin (hi Jake!), husband, dad, or anyone else related to me, I especially recommend you do so! This is just for the girls.

This post is inspired by my inability to control my bladder this morning while jumping rope. Yep, I peed myself. In public. Awesome. Since some of you are currently expecting your first child, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what joys you can possibly look forward to after having your baby!

So, here are a few things that are happening at 7 months post-partum:

  • Hair Loss: My hair is still falling out like crazy. Post-partum hair loss usually starts somewhere around 3 months post-partum. Apparently our hair doesn't fall out during pregnancy, and then once all the pregnancy hormones leave the body, all that hair that we had throughout pregnancy begins to shed like crazy. I HATE this stage. For several months, my hair has been falling out everywhere- clumps in the shower, stray hairs in the most random of places like Audrey's diaper or my morning cup of coffee. It's EVERYWHERE and it's SO GROSS.
  • Crooked Boobies: My left boob is at least a full cup size bigger than my right! It's from nursing more often on my left side because it's a more comfortable position for me to hold Audrey. My left boob has clearly become the overachiever and produces way more milk and with a much faster let down. I've tried halfheartedly to even them out by nursing more on the right, but since the let down is faster on the left, it's just easier to start there and then Audrey doesn't nurse as vigorously on the right. I assume that they will even back out again once I stop nursing and they shrivel into saggy little raisin boobies. 
  •  Bladder Incontinence: Until today, I thought I was doing pretty well with the whole bladder control thing. I've done my Kegels and I don't pee when I sneeze or laugh, like many moms I know. But oh, boy, I cannot jump rope without peeing all over myself! My workout crew did some circuit training this morning that involved some jump roping, and I literally could not jump rope without my bladder completely losing control. Pee was running down my leg. It was extremely embarassing until I mentioned it to another mom friend next to me, and she admitted that the same thing was happening to her! And then another mom piped in too. (Cue Adam Sandler in Billy Madison: "you ain't cool, unless you pee your pants!"
Beyond that, my body is back to normal at 7 months post-partum, more or less. That's the good news.

And here are just a few of the things you can look forward to immediately post-partum, before I get mommy amnesia and forget all about them:
  • You will be swollen and hurt. Take everything that the hospital stocks in the recovery room home with you- especially the Tucks pads and the big huge mesh underwear. And the 5 million extra-large pads. (God, I loved those mesh underwear!)
  • Your stomach will look like a weird deflated balloon after birth. It goes away, so don't freak out. I avoided looking at and touching my stomach because it just felt weird and icky. I was able to start sleeping on my stomach again a few days after birth, though, and that was awesome!!
  • It will feel like your uterus is going to fall out of your body when you take your first walk around the block. I think it was just my organs kind of finding their place in my body or something, but it was an incredibly weird and unsettling feeling.
  • Your boobs will be HUGE, HARD, and HOT when your milk comes in. (2-5 days post-birth). It is extremely uncomfortable until the engorgement subsides. (tip: nurse as much as possible and pump when it gets really bad, especially if you're too engorged for baby to latch properly.) On the plus side, I enjoyed the short time that i looked like a porn star!
  • You will be very, very tired. And this will probably never end until your children go to college, so get used to it! hahahaha
Have I scared anyone yet? It's not really that bad...most of the time! I'd love to hear from other moms about your post-partum experiences...I know I've left a lot out!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

things that make me feel good

I'm finding it hard to have the time to sit down and write much at length that is any way cohesive, but I'd like to include a few photos to tell my stories instead. Here's a few things that are making me feel good this week.

Feeling good that: I live close to much of my extended family so that Juliet and Audrey have the opportunity to know their aunts, grandpa, great aunts, and great grandma. I want to keep the memory of my aunt Sue playing "Pony Girl" with Juliet, and running with Juliet on her shoulders; and also to keep the memory of my Grandma holding Audrey and just loving on my girls. Grandma is always in awe of how much hair Juliet has and now that Audrey is getting some soft hair too, she just loves to rub her soft little head. I'm so grateful that we can live near my family so that my daughters can get so much love!

Feeling good that: Audrey is growing so well! I love her chunky little thighs. This isn't the best photo, but it shows Audrey (7 months) wearing a pair of 12 month pants, and still the button won't fit! She's hardly eating any solids, so this is pretty much the result of all mama's breastmilk. And that makes me happy!
"Why are you shoving that camera in my face again?!"

Feeling good that: my daughters adore each other. I can't believe I ever worried so much that Juliet wouldn't be able to have enough attention. She LOVES Audrey so dearly.

Felt good to: Help. I was in charge of our small group's compassion project, which was to prepare brown bag lunches for the hungry in downtown Fullerton. It was a small project, but it felt good to lead and to serve.

Feeling good: that Juliet is just in the cutest stage, ever. She has had the verbal "explosion" that I kept hearing about. This morning she started saying "Ready, Set, Go!" along with me while I was playing with her and having her race through the house.

And she is also saying "Please" and "Thank you" when encouraged, and that feels awesome- that my daughter is learning to be polite and well-mannered, since it often feels like I'm running a zoo!

My other favorite new word that she's saying is "Baba", which is the name that she has chosen for her Grandpa (my dad). It just warms my heart that she is developing a relationship with him and that she has chosen a special name just for him, all by herself.

She's starting to really enjoy reading books together, too. (I'm sure there's a connection there between the verbal acquisition and the reading.) She wanted to read this Ear book over and over again, while lying on a pillow in my bedroom with a pacifier and my mom's old sweater spread over her like a blanket.

She doesn't want a regular blanket- just my mom's sweater. And that is perfectly alright with me; it's a reminder that my mom is here with us, in my memories and that I can honor her through loving my children daily.

Friday, March 23, 2012

it's the little things

It's Friday which means it is time for my weekly round-up of all the little things that have made this week so lovely.

I've only got time for one at the moment, but it's wonderful.

It's the little Juliet "singing".
Singing for the first time.
Singing nonstop.
Singing in a husky, low voice while she spins in circles and holds up her hands in dramatic operatic fashion.

I am loving this age!! So, so much fun.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

on a calling.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. 
And what does the LORD require of you? 
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)  

It's hard sometimes to be a stay at home mom and become so wrapped up in the never ending daily demands of my children, that it sometimes feel like the world is shrinking and my vision becomes myopically focused on the very, very small world of my household.

I have continued to stay fairly up-to-date on politics and current affairs, thanks very much to the ability to read news on my iPhone while I nurse Audrey. (Thank you, Steve Jobs, for changing my life.) But it's not always easy to know how to help change the world when I'm just simply too busy changing diapers.

But as a result of prayer and providence, I believe God has found me a way to help the world by using me exactly where I am. There is an organization in Haiti called the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission that I believe in and support. This mission supports a special needs orphanage called the Miriam Center, which is directed by a childhood friend named Courtney (who has done wonderful things with her own unique gifts- a post of its own!).

Special needs children in Haiti have a particular need for care and love because, in addition to the pervasive poverty in their community, disabled children are often isolated, ostracized, and neglected due to cultural stigma. My friend who directs this program has made it her mission to have these children be seen by their communities, instead of hidden away.

And that's where I can help. The mission is in need of jogging strollers to help transport their disabled children outside the gates of the mission. The jogging strollers work well because they are rugged and built for rough terrain like that in Haiti (unpaved roads, etc.). They are also in need of traditional-type strollers, to use as seats for what Courtney calls the "severe and profoundly" disabled children who otherwise cannot leave mats on the floor.

And guess who I know? LOTS and LOTS of moms. I belong to 3 separate moms groups here in Fullerton, in addition to dozens of other moms that I am connected with through Facebook. Hundreds of moms altogether. And almost all of these moms use strollers for their children, and then eventually don't need them anymore once the children have outgrown them.

The first stroller made it! Yay.
 So my service and my calling in this stage of my life is to boldly and confidently request that my mom friends donate their strollers to this mission. (And arrange the easy logistics of transport through a flight attendant who is using *her* place in life to help transport items!)

It feels awesome to feel that God is using me in this small way.  So far I have been able to acquire 4 used strollers for their program. I know it may not seem like much yet, but I've just started and I know that I will be able to get more strollers as word gets out and my mom friends know what an amazing impact they can have by donating their strollers instead of selling them used on Craigslist.

It is such a little thing - so many people do so much more - but it is something, and it feels really good to know that I can make a difference, if I just listen to the whispers of where God can use me.

Courtney with some of her boys. She is an inspiration to me.

4 more days!

Guess who has tickets to a Sunday matinee of Hunger Games? That's right-- meeeee!
It's going to be a family affair- I am going with my dad, my sister, and my sister's boyfriend and friend.

Yes, I am a geek. I truly have never been so excited for a movie to premiere, ever.

OK, back to my regularly scheduled programming of writing about my kids...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

7 months of Audrey

Dear Audrey,

You turned 7 months over the weekend. It also happened to be St. Patrick's Day, but it was a dreary, rainy day so we stayed inside all day and ate chocolate chip pancakes with mommy's best friend Jenna and her children. Well, you didn't eat the pancakes but you loved to grab at them! You are so active and able to wiggle and wriggle these days. You even started pulling yourself up today on the push toy! It's all happened so fast.

I look at you lately, and mostly I see your beautiful brown eyes. They are happy eyes.  Inquisitive, sensitive, curious, joyful eyes.

And they are eyes that I am so familiar with because they are my eyes. I caught my reflection in the mirror recently, and when I saw myself, I gasped and said to myself, "I look like Audrey!", though I suppose it's the other way around.

It's amazing to look at you and see my reflection, and just one more reminder that you will always be a part of me, and I, a part of you.

I love you, always and always.



Friday, March 16, 2012

it's the little things

I'm not gonna lie. This has been a tougher week than some. But there were still dozens of moments that remind me that I am blessed and that there's no other place I'd rather be.

It's the little things, like:

Juliet loves wearing my shoes!

Audrey finally napping after a loooong day.

Green eggs for St. Patty's Day...with new friends...

Hanging with my cute girl after my morning workout. 
A patient dog who doesn't mind getting pulled, tugged, and poked in the eye.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


My baby will not sleep. I am going mad.

I'm listening to her scream in her crib while I collect myself for a few minutes. She hasn't slept since 6:00 am and it's now after noon- that's six hours +, which is way, way too long for a baby her age to go without sleep.She's probably teething, or maybe she just hates me and wants to make me crazy.  I've done Tylenol. I've held her, I've worn her, I've shushed her and patted her back.  I've done it all. This is so maddening.

Just writing it here because posting this junk on Facebook  over and over again probably annoys everyone. I am so tired. This is the worst part of parenting for me by far, by far, by far.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a Lent experience

Gary and I are doing a 40-day long Bible study together, and meeting once a week with a small group from our church.

It has been the most transformative experience we have had in our marriage.

A typical evening, before: mindlessly watching whatever our DVR has recorded for us while we shovel our dinner into our mouths and shuffle through the evening exhausted from a long day with children (me) and work (him). Gary plays Words with Friends on his iPad while I read Facebook on my iPhone. We are kind but distracted.

A typical evening, after: we are sitting together and reading Scriptures together every night (usually at the dining room table while we eat dinner). We are reading the Bible and learning to interpret it for ourselves- not what a minister might say or a naysayer might think. We are having dialogue about how to bring this wisdom into our daily life.

And we are praying for our family together. Praying for our children, our marriage, and all the little and big things that come our way.  Thoughtful prayer for each other and our marriage has been instrumental at bridging the gaps that can come between us.  And I am finding that my days are more peaceful, more intentional, and that I can feel that God is with me.

And truthfully, there is nothing sexier to me than watching my husband pour over his Bible and have honest, intelligent dialogue together and then hear him pray for our children. It is simply the coolest.

I am blessed.

(A note to my non-religious friends, whom I cherish: In sharing this aspect of my life with you, I know that you will respect my beliefs  just as I respect your beliefs and choices. Thanks!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gary's new office

I don't have time today for any serious rumination, but I thought I'd add these photos of Gary's "new" office. I forgot to take a Before photo, but we rearranged all the furniture, added curtains,added plants, and decorated the walls a bit. Well, I should admit that Gary did everything except that I bought the curtains.

 It was a very cheap makeover- we already had the existing wall hangings just sitting in a corner collecting dust. The curtains made the biggest difference in the room, since those windows are very outdated (and Gary also needed the sunlight off his workspace).

I'd like to paint the walls a cream color to warm the room up eventually. My favorite part of this room is that wonderful old fashioned fire place, and it works great to keep the room warm on a chilly morning. Gary deserves to work in a space that is somewhat comfortable, and I wish we did this a year ago!

Friday, March 9, 2012

it's the little things

My sister does a round-up on her blog called "it's the little things" every Friday, and I'll be joining her. I think there's some way to link mine up to hers and everyone else who does it, but I'm not that savvy yet.

Anyway, here goes. It's the little things, that make it all so wonderful. Like:

Juliet and Gary playing together...

...and resting together.
It's Juliet and Audrey laughing together...
and bathing favorite part of the day!

It's a little helper with the groceries

Morning oatmeal with agave nectar every single day, because I am a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast

Pretending to listen to music and resting on a patient doggie

A tired baby finally sleeping...
...and waking up happy for a trip to the local zoo with our annual pass!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

what's in my head

1. I am totally geeking out about the Hunger Games movie.  I hope it doesn't disappoint!

2. Watching my vacuum fill up with all the junk it sucks up from the carpet is equally as satisfying as it is horrifying.

3. I'm proud of myself for getting the groove of carrying Audrey on my back in my woven wrap. It makes chores like the aforementioned vacuuming so much easier, and she is so much more content.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

4. Stroller Strides is amazing. I am in better shape than I have been in years. It is doing wonders for my mental health to have those endorphins a few times a week.

5. Parenthood was my favorite show this winter. I may have been a little obsessed. The only other shows I care about are Modern Family and 30 Rock.

6.  This photo of Gary and Juliet on the carousel at Disneyland together- priceless! We decided against getting the annual passes. Many of our friends have them because you only need to go twice in a year to make up the cost, but it just isn't "us". Trekking there with 2 young kids and having to deal with parking and shuttles and strollers is just a bit too much to do often. And, from a parenting philosophy, I want to keep experiences like Disneyland a "special" thing rather than something that's expected. So yes, dear children, you will be the ones complaining to  your friends that your mom drags you to the library for story time instead of the Magic Kingdom. You can complain to  your therapists in 20 years.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

“and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” (Isa. 66:12) 

More and more, I feel a stronger passion to defend the right of the nursing mother, and to encourage women who nurse to do it proudly and openly.

If we hide ourselves in bathroom stalls, or cover ourselves up with mountains of cloth, or pump bottles whenever we anticipate being in public, what are we teaching our children? We are teaching them that this act is dirty or shameful. when in fact it is the most holy act that a mother can do for her child.

The divine design of our bodies allows the provision of the perfect food, Nature's perfect formula, created for both child and mother to thrive. 

I nursed Audrey this week at Disneyland, which is about as public as it can get. If anyone noticed, they didn't say a word. (That's the thing about nursing in public-- you really do see more in a Victoria's Secret billboard.)

 It's one thing for us women to say, "Yes, this is important to me and my child", but those words are trumped by shame if we then shuffle off to the car or the bathroom (yuck!) when our child is hungry. I see so many women in Orange County do this-- there seemed to be a much greater acceptance of nursing in Seattle.

I'd love to see the tides change. I think that Christian women have a special responsibility of teaching our children that there is no shame in feeding our children in the way that God intended..

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

my picky eater

I can now completely understand why there is such a big market for cookbooks geared toward feeding children, and "sneaking" healthy ingredients into the recipe. The cookbooks that immediately come to mind are Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld, and The Sneaky Chef by Missy Lapine. I haven't gotten to the point of actually purchasing these cookbooks, but I'm inching closer by the day.

My little Juliet has become the typically picky toddler. Her repertoire consists of mainly of dairy (milk, yogurt, string cheese) and pasta/grain (spaghetti, rice- both with a tiny bit of butter, no other sauce; some oatmeal for breakfast).

I can make a quite short list of the remaining items she will sometimes eat. Off the top of my head:

Vegetables- only the tops of brocolli florets, and occasionally steamed spinach.

Fruit- She will eat bites from an apple, but only if it's a whole apple. No slices! She will also eat oranges and clementines. And homemade fruit smoothies (with a bunch of spinach added along with flax seed- sneaky mommy!)

Some things that you would assume were kid-friendly are completely rejected 100% of the time, like peanut butter & jelly sandwiches or grilled cheese. Actually, bread of any kind.

No meat, poultry, or fish of any kind. No beans of any kind.

She has a sweet tooth so she will eat chocolate or candy all day long if it were allowed. Chocolate seems to be her favorite. That part must come from her mother.

I have tried a few strategies for encouraging a more diverse diet. Some friends of mine have had good luck trying the "toothpick" method, i.e. by putting vegetables or fruit on toothpicks and/or allowing the child to eat her whole meal with toothpicks. So far, that hasn't worked for us.

Juliet's health is good, as is her development and growth. I'm not particularly concerned about this stage, but I'd like to reduce her dairy intake since she is still drinking so much milk and I'd like to shift her to other foods.  It's a tricky prospect, and I'd love to hear other thoughts on the subject.

If you have children, what strategies work in your home to encourage a well-balanced diet? And if you don't have children yet, are there things that your parents did when you were a child that you either like or didn't like?

Update: This subject happened to come up last night on FB among my Seattle friends who were in our midwifery birth group, so our children are all born the same month. And all 4 of them are also experiencing the same thing- their toddlers have drastically changed their eating habits in recent months, eating very little and very little variety, while still drinking a lot of milk. It's nice to hear others going through the same thing!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

on my thirties

As usual, Gary has made sure I had a good birthday. He's so great at giving- both of himself, and of actual gifts. We had a great date night on my birthday, and I also had a relaxing massage this morning, a night out with my girlfriends tonight, and a day at Disneyland tomorrow! Whew!

I am thirty two years old. I am solidly in my thirties now, no longer straddling the line of being in my twenties.  And I am glad.

My twenties were a tumultuous time. There's no reason to go into details, but a lot of the decade wasn't particularly pleasant.  I made a lot of poor choices, I squandered opportunities, I hurt people, I had far too much self-doubt. There were some good and happy times in there too, but there's also a lot of regret that came from my youthful arrogance and angst.

My thirties may be a much harder decade so far, in terms of the "big stuff" of life that can be emotionally and physically draining. Marriage, motherhood, and the death of a parent. Big stuff that would have thrown me in my twenties. And yet, I feel calmer than ever. Peaceful and confident in my place on this earth.

I am a mama to two beautiful, healthy children. I am a wife to a loving, wonderful man. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt. I am a child of God, beloved by my Creator.

And I am content. This is a good decade.

Friday, March 2, 2012


I started some nap training for Audrey today. Yes, that means I am letting her cry in her crib until she falls asleep. I'm watching the video monitor with tears in my eyes. I hate this part. I know there are many theories on sleep, and parenting, and trust me- I've read them all, I've tried them all.

You who have no children yet, or only have one child, or only have children who delightfully drift off to sleep, or simply have children who are different from mine-  Don't judge until you've been in my shoes. There isn't anything easy or enjoyable about this. This is a "never say never" moment for me in my parenting journey. I would have never thought that I would be a sleep "trainer", and yet, here I am.

I wish I could lay down with my baby for each and every one of her naps, but the fact is that it's just not feasible when you have more than one child who need constant supervision. I have been locking Juliet in our living room to watch cartoons while I spend hours alone with Audrey in her room (hours accumulated over the course of the day, I mean) helping her sleep in my arms. And while I cherish those moments with Audrey, this just isn't fair to Juliet.

I have deliberated on this choice with a heavy heart. I have tried other alternatives like babywearing but Audrey is just too alert to sleep for long periods anymore while being worn.

Finding that balance between each of my children's needs is tough. I am glad Audrey won't remember this part- although I will. I hate hearing my baby cry.

Update: Well, that was a massive failure. She cried, hard, for 35 minutes. I cried. And then I went in to get her. Her head was all wet from sweat from crying. She settled down within a minute of being in my arms. I can't do this yet. Maybe another time. Maybe never.