Tuesday, November 19, 2013

To Baby Brother

So The King took this beautiful picture of me. And since I do not FEEL anywhere close to how I look in this picture, it makes me very happy. When this baby is grown and looking at old pictures, he will see it and think I was just so happy and excited to see him, and glowing with joy.

False. I feel like crap. The baby and I really need some space from each other. He's not getting a whole lot of happy mom vibes from me right now. It doesn't help that I've had a head cold here at the end, which sucks the life out of a normal person let alone a person who has a human being sucking the life out of them already. I only have so much life to give, people.

But in the midst of my whining and complaining, sometimes it hits me. Never, ever again in life will it just be me and him. The second he exits the birth canal, is the first second of me sharing him with the world. All our family will come in, everyone will take their turn holding him. He suddenly becomes her brother, her nephew, and his grandson... no longer just my baby. And every minute after that is another minute of making him independent. Teaching him to sleep through the night, learning to feed himself, learning to walk, going potty, learning how to drive. Let's face it, people, parenthood is 18 years worth of goodbyes. And it sucks in the most beautiful way possible.

When I want to complain about how uncomfortable I feel, I remind myself of this. Yes, there is a rather large family who already loves you, baby. But, today, I'm the only one who can feel you wiggle. I'm the one keeping you alive. I would be so bold to say that today, I am your favorite person. I don't have to share you with anyone, and it's awesome. You are solely dependent on me, and my ego loves it.  It's just you and me for seven more days. More or less. I'd prefer less, if you'd kindly oblige. I think I've had my moment.

I can't wait to see you, mini man. Even if I do have to share.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Interview with my Madre, the AUTHOR!

My mom's novel, Thirty Days to Glory, is available today! After visiting Felicity's Blog and Serenity's blog this week (my sisters), she has skipped on over to my blog to answer some of my questions about the book and the writing process. And, she answers the most burning question of all...which one of us kids is her favorite.

Me: Publishing a novel has been a lifelong dream of yours. In what ways is it better

that it happened for you now at 50, rather than when you were 20?

Mom: I probably have more realistic expectations now about what publication means.

I’m not looking for fame and riches at this stage. (Although I wouldn’t turn them away).

I can see this more as “what I do” not “who I am.” Also, I think twenty-somethings have

wonderful energy and creative ideas. Some of them even have a clear worldview and

know what they want to say. I didn’t. Like the Glory Circle Sisters, I needed some life

seasoning. As a fifty-something I think I have much more to offer than I did in my early


Me: Your novel is set in a Christmas backdrop, and you are the biggest fan of

Christmas ever. Was this purposeful, or did the characters just tell you it was Christmas


Mom: You know me well. Catherine and Emily did it. I didn’t start out writing a

Christmas story. Then one day I saw the scene where Emily comes in stomping her boots

from the snow. And I saw a Christmas wreath on a door. I knew I wanted to frame the

story around a calendar month, so December became the perfect setting.

Me: The main characters in your book are all older. I think our American culture

makes elderly people feel useless. What can we, as young people, do to change that?

Mom: Marvelous question! I think our culture is terrified of age. We don’t know what to

do with old people, and none of us wants to become one. I’d love to see your generation

restore honor to the white-haired segment of society. As artists, maybe you can find ways

to celebrate the contributions of previous generations. Write songs. Invite us to speak at

your gatherings. Take us out to dinner and listen to our stories. Stand up when we enter a

room. J

Me: Do the 30 days before a novel comes out, and the 30 days before a baby comes

out compare at all? Just curious if we've been sharing similar pains lately.

Mom: Oh, so much! The same restlessness when you can’t make the time go quickly

enough. The same panic when you worry time is going too fast and you don’t have all the

details covered. The same awe at the creative process, and the realization that you only

played your little part. Most of it is mysterious and miraculous, really.

The similarities do break down though. After delivery, I won’t face sleep deprivation.

And you won’t have to post pictures of your baby on Amazon and hope people give him

five stars for cuteness!

Me: Let's get real now. We all know I'm the kid you were homesick for before I even

existed, so I'm the true favorite right? It's ok, I won't tell. Wait, yeah, I will.

Mom: Well, it is true that I was homesick for you before you were even conceived. All

three of you girls are such amazing, talented women. The Poet, The Novelist, The Singer/

Songwriter. And such wonderful wives, mothers, sisters, and friends. The truth is, I really

do love all three of you the same.

Joseph is my favorite.

Here we all are, "There at the end", as Joe is famous for saying (he's the guy in the middle) before we ruined our family unit with marriage and grandbabies.

I'm going to pretend I didn't notice that I'm the only one to which she didn't at least pretend to say, "You're my favorite." And YOU are going to go grab the novel, Thirty Days to Glory, from Amazon or her publisher, CrossRiver Media. I can't wait to get my hands on a real live copy.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thinking about Breastfeeding?

I'm preparing for baby number three to show up in November. I loved breastfeeding my two baby girls and am excited to do it again with my third. It seems as if the whole formula vs. breastfeeding debate has simmered a little, but it can be a pretty sore subject for moms. As part of the Mothering Community's Blog about Breastfeeding and Win! give away, I'm going to share my experience with it, and opinions about it. But hopefully it will just be an interesting read. I don't want anyone to leave this post feeling guilty about not breastfeeding or thinking I think you're crazy if you don't do it. People, I currently feed my children McDonald's on a more-than-occasional basis, so don't think I will ever judge you about what goes in your kids' mouths. Food is fuel, as my dad says. Some of it is just better fuel than others.

I breast fed both my girls until just before their first birthdays. Truthfully, I think I lucked out because I had such great experiences both times. This definitely colors my opinion. I enjoyed it, and had great experiences both times with hardly any complications. Here's my story with some tips and opinions thrown in. (If you're in a rush, when I was in the middle stage of nursing my second I wrote a blog post about breastfeeding that is shorter and sweeter. You can find it here.)

The Early Stage.
I won't lie. It can be quite painful for about the first two weeks. When babies first latch on, holiness. But for me, the discomfort was only a couple seconds as they latched on, then once they settled into a suckling rhythm I was fine. The pain of baby latching on only lasted a week or two. The first few days after delivery, nursing sessions are accompanied by crazy, painful cramps. This is very healthy, the hormone your body releases as you nurse also helps squeeze your uterus back to it's original size. This is good. But it hurts. Like the dickens. The nurses told me it gets more painful with each child so I'm super excited about number three. Another difficulty in the early stage is the frequency. Newborns nurse a lot. People disagree about how often babies should nurse. My personal opinion is that the first couple weeks, during the daytime, you should let your baby nurse when they want. It's a skill you are both learning and it takes practice. It can be hard to be "tied down" to your baby during this time. Remember, it's just a season. Before you know it, your kid will be moving away for college. These first few weeks or months tied down won't kill you. A major complaint most moms have in the early stage is sore and cracked nipples. Just writing those words sounds like some sort of CIA interrogation torture method. I never experienced this (again, I think I lucked out). I read in a book, I think it was "So That's What They're For" by Janet Tamaro, that after you nurse you should squeeze a little milk out and rub it on your nipple, then let it air dry before you cover yourself up. It takes some extra privacy, but it's worth it! It was evidently magic for me. I only did it for the first couple weeks, or maybe less, after that I was fine.

The Middle Stage.
If you can persevere through the difficulties of the early stage, you will reap the rewards of the sweet spot middle stage. Latching on doesn't hurt anymore.  The cramping is over. You can be free to put your baby on a more regular eating schedule. You can pump some extra milk so you can get out of the house for more than two hours. Or, God forbid, even try having Dad give some formula while you're out. Your baby might not like it, but it's worth a shot. You can be legalistic about the breast milk if you want, and forbid your baby to ever drink anything but the gold that pours from your goddess breasts. If I were you, I'd chill a bit though. For your own sanity. If your baby will take a bottle now and then...score! Breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing. It is true that your body needs you to stay mostly in a routine to keep your milk supply going. If you skip a regular feeding, and don't pump, you may get uncomfortable. But sometimes, even with a little discomfort, that extra hour for another lap around Target by yourself is worth it.

I only had one complaint during the middle stage, and it was only with my second. The entire time I nursed her, it was a little uncomfortable when my milk let down. What happens is, your baby latches on and starts sucking. Then your boobs realize, "OH! Baby wants milk!" And after a few sucks, your milk "lets down". For me, this sensation felt like pins and needles sticking my boobs. Just for a few seconds, then it was fine. It wasn't painful exactly, just uncomfortable.

The Ending Stage.
Eventually your baby starts eating people food. They don't NEED your milk like they needed it when it was all they were able to digest. Some people say you shouldn't give any table food at all until one year. Here we go with our opinions again. I did the typical baby food around six months method. So around that time, my babies started changing how often they wanted/needed to nurse. Breast milk is still gold for babies at this time, but they don't always drink it as if it's all they want. Sometimes they're too busy to nurse, sometimes they're not in the mood, sometimes they play while you try to nurse them. I stopped nursing both girls around eleven months.  I went away on a long weekend trip, and it seemed like a logical time for my body to dry up. By that time I was mostly nursing them twice a day, so it wasn't difficult for my body to stop. If you decide to quit nursing when your body has been supplying milk 4-6 times a day, it can be painful to wean your baby. If you wait until they naturally don't really need you anymore, it's pretty easy and painless.

A Final Thought about Hippies.
I think the LOUD supporters of breastfeeding, with very good intentions, are ruining it a little for the first time moms who are on the fence about the issue. I'm sure you've seen pictures of women stripping bare in public places to feed their babies. You don't have to be like that, unless you want to. I'm a woman, and it makes me feel awkward. I can't imagine how it makes the men feel. I always used one of those Hooter Hiders covers when I nursed in public. Still, I could tell even that sometimes made people feel uncomfortable. That's understandable. I mean, it is boobs after all. And boobs are a private matter. I totally agree that women should be allowed to nurse anywhere, but I do not agree that women can forget all others needs during this time, and force us all to try and not stare at their exposed boobs or tummies. Sorry, ladies, I just don't think it's fair of us. In other cultures, totally acceptable. Not in the United States. Move to Africa if you must. But my baby shouldn't have to be covered up while they eat! No one else does! Well then, it can be your babies' first lesson in considering others. Never too soon to start that. I guess I am a little opinionated about the nursing in public issue, but the point I'm trying to get across is that you can successfully nurse your baby for an entire year, without becoming the hippie mom you think is weird. But if you want to be that hippie mom, more power to you!

Breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding and beautiful things I've experienced. Not to mention empowering to the female spirit. Hey, world! Not only did I grow a human being inside my body in just nine months, I then kept it alive for an entire year using only my boobs! Beat that contribution to human kind, boys.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Number Three's Big Ultrasound

We found out this week, at our 20 week ultrasound, that baby number three is a boy! I feel so happy that I almost feel guilty. As if somewhere the girl-that-might-have-been is crying tears of rejection in response to my happiness.

When the ultrasound tech found the gender for us, I cried. I was just so happy. I wanted it to be a boy, but it just seemed too good to be true. The King and I both went in pretty much expecting it to be a girl. I mean, that's what we do. We parent girls.

We had a newbie for the first part of the ultrasound. She was great, and I don't mind student techs or doctors, but I was really hoping for an experienced tech to find the gender. We lucked out. For the last few minutes, an experienced tech came in to finish up. She found the gender, not once, but twice. And in getting shots of other anatomy, she said a couple of times, "Oh! There he is again. He's not a shy little guy." Here's a tip, pregnant ladies. I ate an oreo and a pack of fruit snacks in the waiting room just before going in so that the baby would be active. It worked. He moved around like crazy the whole time.

Oh, yeah. The ultrasound also showed that the little guy is very healthy. No red flags appeared. In our excitement we kind of forgot that this is an actual medical test, not just a chance to find out what gender your baby is.

Both girls were excited to find out the gender. Squiggle was happy because she wanted a brother, and Squeeze was happy just to know. After the hullabaloo of telling everyone, and making a little video to tell our friends online, Squeeze said to me, "Can we open it?" I didn't know what she meant until she patted my tummy and said, "The baby. Can we open it now?" I told her we couldn't open the baby until Thanksgiving. She then promptly asked if she could go back to bed.

We watched the video of the ultrasound, which I realize is not fun for anyone except mothers and grandmas. Squiggle said, in her most grown up voice "My baby brother is so adorable." A few minutes later she followed up with, "Whoa. This is kind of creepy." I feel 'ya, sister. Most of the time, babies on ultrasound look like ghosts and aliens.

Squiggle also said recently, "We have to get our baby some trucks...and some warrior guys." As we passed the toy aisle in Target, she saw some typical boy stuff and said, "Mom, when the baby comes out...when we're coming home from the hospital...we'll have to stop and get him some of those toys."

We're so excited to meet our little alien!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Training

 The King and I have been planning to adopt our third child through the foster care system. We haven't been waiting long, honestly. But remember how I wanted a due date so badly? Well, now we've got one. November 27, 2013 baby number three will join the family, biologically.

Without getting too personal, (who am I kidding? Of course, I'm going to get too personal) I'll just say that we still feel we have children who will join our family through adoption. Or, The King might say, a child will join us through adoption. We're still silently fighting that one out. We decided that if I wanted to be pregnant once more in my life, we should try to make that happen while I'm 31 instead of five years down the road when I'm 36. We've put ourselves on hold with our agency, which means we no longer receive calls for available children looking for placement. Our foster care license is still active, and we plan to renew it. But other than that, we're not quite sure what the future will bring, aside from the newborn baby at Thanksgiving. We're taking one day at a time, one kid at a time, and see what happens.

The girls are super excited. It is fun to be able to tell them when the baby is coming, and tell them how big the baby is in my tummy. They both, especially Squeeze, love to talk to the baby. She also randomly announces to the world, "We gonna have a baby!" Squiggle went with me to see the midwife and heard the baby's heart beat. She said it sounded like a giraffe eating leaves. Which, crazily enough, it kind of does.

I feel extremely blessed right now. Blessed to have two awesome girls. Blessed to be pregnant. Blessed to have The King making life decisions with me. We're in a happy season, and I'm soaking it up.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Art Station for the Girls

Look! I actually accomplished a domesticated idea. I have been dreaming for a while about setting up a place for the girls with art supplies always available. I've found lots of great ideas on Pinterest, but never pulled anything off. But now I have!

I put a table in our piano room (it's the room you enter right away from our front door) and made it a craft station for the girls. It's a pub height table with counter height bar stools. They are both old enough to get up and down the stools on their own. I put a tension rod between two of the legs, got five "s" hooks, and hung five buckets from the hooks. I filled the buckets with their art stuff that they never use because it's always stuffed in a box or closet. They have oil pastels, colored pencils, paper tape, stamps, and crayons always available now. I'm pretty proud.

It was cheap two. We already had the furniture. The tension rod was maybe 7 bucks? The buckets are from the Target dollar spot so I spent 5 bucks. The five "s" hooks I got at Lowe's for less than 2 bucks. (Hint: If you walk farther down the aisle and buy loose hardware rather than prepackaged hardware, you'll save quite a bit. I bought five hooks for under two dollars, rather than buying a six pack for five dollars.) So I got this set up for around 14 bucks. I still need a cute solution for paper to be available.

I feel so proud of actually doing something in my home from the zillion ideas I pin on Pinterest. That place can be a black hole of gorgeous ideas with no accountability for follow through. Here's to domestication!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Christmas Season Random Photos from my Phone

Christmas jammies from Grandma.

Squiggle and me at the hotel in Kansas.

Squiggle missed the party in Kansas because of a fever. We hung out at the hotel all day.

Squiggle, her sweet friend, and Squeeze watch our church talent show "Carols & Cocoa".

Pappa and The King clear the snow off the driveway while the girls watch.

Grandma tells the Christmas story at our hotel get away in St. Joe.
Opening the daily December gift from Grandma. The King is excited. It's chocolate.

Visiting Santa at the Durham Museum. Highlight of The King's year. Sarcasm.

Sisters in winter coats.