Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Good Company

I love being a Mummy. It's hard, but it's so worth it. These first months have gone by like a blur. My teeny newborn is gone. In his place is a funny, sweet, fun-loving little baby.

I realised today as I was changing Levi's nappy and "we" were chatting, how much fun it is to have his company. Yes, I am still doing things for him. He is certainly not independent in any way yet, but as his little personality continues to come through I m genuinely enjoying his company during the day.

It was a special revelation as I contemplate the fears I had in parenting a little boy. I admit that as much as God prepared my heart that Levi was going to be a boy, and as flat-out ecstatic I was to be having any baby, there was a tiny part of my heart that was hoping I would have a girl. As soon as the sonographer told us that he was a boy, I was thrilled but I had to walk through a moment of grief for the daughter he wasn't.

I am a girl, and a pretty girly one at that. I like to craft, I get excited about decorating the house for different seasons, I love baking and cooking. Not that boys can't enjoy these activities but I knew it was more likely that a boy would be wanting to rough and tumble, get dirty, play sports (and yes, I know girls can be this way, but please leave me to my stereotyping examples).

I had a fear that I wouldn't know how to connect with a boy. Would we have anything in common? Would I know how to raise him to embrace his passions, gifting and boy-ness? These questions were soon forgotten in the excitement of preparing to welcome our sweet boy but they never really got answered.

Today, as I laughed along with my son, all of those questions were answered. I am not sure what I was so worried about, or how I imagined life would be so different with a daughter. I don't look at Levi just as a boy. He is my baby. End of. And boy, do I love this little stinker.

I love that he is so desperate to be moving and at just 6 months he is getting into crawling position and rocking and hopping like a little bunny.

I love that he thinks peekaboo is so hilarious.

I love that at night when I am rocking him and singing to him, he lifts his sleepy little head off my shoulder and rubs his nose on mine, Eskimo kisses.

I love that he wants to be bouncing all. the. time.

I love that he likes to stick his tongue out between his teeth and just stay that way.

I love that he tries to sing along with music.

I love how willing he is to smile and laugh for friends and strangers alike.

I love that he claps himself when he thinks he has done something clever - including when he rolls his naked butt away from me when I am trying to change his bum!

I love that he thinks sneezing - his or other peoples - is sooo funny.

I love that he wakes up every morning so happy and chatty.

And that is just off the top of my head as I type this. He love to have fun. He wants to explore and thinks life is a big adventure. I love his spirit, so excited and enthusiastic (his middle name Rhys means enthusiasm for life and he certainly personifies that).

I cannot imagine life with a daughter now, even though I know I would have loved her for a million reasons of her own, I am glad to have this sweet, hilarious, ticklish, tenacious, sweet and feisty little man for company each day. I can't wait for all the fun we are going to have as he grows up.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

He heard my cry

This morning we had Levi dedicated at our church. It was a beautiful moment. Hard to believe it was actually happening.

We had sat at church watching families dedicating their children to the Lord for years and wondered if and how we would ever have the opportunity to be standing there ourselves.

We were in the same building when we responded to a call to come forward and receive prayer as part of a service on infertility and our pastor and others prayed that God would make our lives fruitful, that he would be faithful to us in our pain and that one day he would grow our family in some way in His perfect timing. At the time we were feeling pretty dry in our faith and struggling but God renewed us.

He sustained us and gave us hope.

And then he blessed us with our son.

It was an emotional day for me. For all of us. We looked out into the congregation and saw the faces of so many family and friends who celebrated with us. People who had prayed with us and for us, who had comforted and loved us as we struggled through miscarriage after miscarriage and then who were so happy for us when we began the adoption process. The same people who then cried tears of joy with us when we announced our miracle pregnancy.

We are truly blessed. We dedicated our baby to the Lord, recognizing that he is a gift from God and that we need the prayers and support of our faith community to raise him well.

Tonight as I rocked Levi to sleep I felt so very thankful. For him and for the community we are a part of. I love sharing life, the hard parts and the celebrations with such true friends. We are truly beyond blessed.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Back to Life. Back to a New Reality.

This is my entry way at the moment (except there are way fewer M & M's now).

It is decorated for almost every holidy and season through the year. I love to decorate it, and my mantels, and match my kitchen towels...It's a lot of work and since having Levi it takes more effort than I am sometimes willing to give it. I have had to simplify this area of my life to make it work with my new reality.

This is just one area of life that has had to adjust to fit into our new reality but he biggest area of life that has been impacted by being a mother is entertaining. I love to cook, and I love to entertain. I love to plan menus and make a simple dinner into a fabulous event. It's how I show love and I enjoy it when I have the time. Since having Levi we have not done much entertaining. At first it was because evenings with a newborn are just a challenge but after a while, especially since Levi has been going down so well between 6 and 7pm, it's much more about the fact that I feel overwhelmed by trying to put together  perfect gourmet dinner while i am taking care of Levi during the day. I don't want to feel like I am giving less than my best, but I am seeing that I need to swallow my (store bought) pride and recognise that my best looks different today than it did a year ago.

Jeremy's birthday was at the end of January and his birthday was the first event I have thrown while having Levi around. I simplified. I set out a cheese board and salami and crackers - not multiple from scratch pizzas. I made spinach artichoke dip that I set out with tortilla chips - not homemade crustinis - and for dessert...well, now this is where I went a tiny bit crazy. I made this Inside out German Chocolate cake at his request. It was an all day event but it was very worth it. - but this was the only dessert option except for the candy I put out - no 5 dessert choices for this birthday boy this year.

I realised that entertaining like this was not so scary. We had a fab time, we ate, drank, laughed and celebrated another year of my wonderful hubby. And no one minded that I didn't put on a five course meal, or that I hadn't created a signature cocktail for the event. I just had to scale back. It is more important to be with friends than to have the "perfect" party. I thoroughly enjoyed throwing this party Feeling like I had time to have good conversations with our friends.

I love to make things from scratch. I love to create new recipes and have time to trial and error them to perfection to be served for company and in time or for special occasions I can still do that in some way, but for now I am fining peace with a different way of doing things. A new way of thinking that I am starting to be ok with.  I don't have to make the hummus, I can just buy it :) I am not failing, I am simply adjusting to my new reality. It is pride that would prevent me from inviting friends over just because I opened a can or cooked something from the frozen section to serve. So instead of breaking into a cold sweat when I think about people coming over, I hope I can just be excitedly anticipating sharing an evening together rather than obsessing about the details of the food on the menu.

It feels so good to enjoy some adult company again and reconnect with our community of dear friends. It's a new reality but its filled with beauty. It feels like a new identity, a changed one at least but in this new season, the new me is seeing the new lessons to learn. I am not always an eager student but I am trying!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dear Levi - Six months!

Sweet boy, Today marks your six month birthday.

Six whole months! I am so proud of the little man you have become.

With each passing week your sweet personality shines through. You love to be with people, you are very generous with your smiles even if you reserve your laughs for us that delight in working a little harder for them!

Your bright smile and non-stop chatter first thing in the morning is a beautiful thing, please forgive me if I am sometimes slow to tell you that first thing. You have started talking a lot (truly you are your mother's son) and have mastered "da da" in a way that melts my heart every time.

You have started sitting without support and even though I surround you with cushions you are getting more balanced every day and I think the cushions are almost more for my peace of mind than your safety.

You continue to chomp down on everything we give you to eat. We started adding a little baby rice to your purees and you love it. You are so good at drinking water from your cup with a straw, and you even manage not to poke yourself in the eye quite so much! You are becoming such a fun little kid.

You are developing a really good sense of humor already. You love Peek a Boo and can't seem to get enough of it, you laugh so hard. You love to roll around on the floor onto your belly and you still haven;t figured out how to roll back again, maybe next month?!

You have started to scooch around in circles on your tummy. I don't think it's going to be long until you are very mobile. I am not ready. You are my baby and as much as I love to see you learning new skills my heart is also a little sad to see you growing so fast.

You are quite the charmer and really enjoy being with other people especially other kids. Big kids are your favourite. We have left you in the nursery at church and for MOPS and Bible study and you do great, but even if you are exhausted you will not take a nap while there is fun to be had. As soon as we leave to go hone you just crash! It's very sweet but when you miss naps your nights can be unsettled too which isn't so fun. Still, having your little hand stroke my face as you nurse makes even 3am bearable.

I am drinking in all your sweetness because I know these days a passing quickly. You continue to be the light of my life little man. I am so thankful to God for blessing us with the gift of you. This weekend we will dedicate you as Bethany and we are so happy to celebrate you, and God's faithfulness in our lives with all our friends and family who love you so much.

 I love you Bugs
Happy half year birthday

Mama x

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Poop Happens - Our cloth diapering experince

[I wanted to start recording some of the Mama choices I have made as we try to make our lives more eco friendly, and "natural". I will be posting them with the label 'Granola Mama' (sorry Clayre, I totally stole that from you, but it's such a great description) In the future, you could search that term and find all the posts that apply. As a disclaimer, we make these choices because we feel they are the best for our family, they are not a judgement or criticism of the choices you make for yourself and your families, however, if you are considering making some of the same choices I hope these posts will be an honest account and perhaps an encouragement for you to take the plunge and try it!]

Cloth diapers. I confess, when I very first heard people taking about cloth diapers my mind went to the huge scary nappy pins and crunchy plastic pants - as a baby my plastic over pants had ruffles on the bottom to try and disguise their ugliness! I digress. Today we have disposable diapers, why would be go back to using old fashioned cloth?

That's just it, they are no longer old fashioned in fact the cloth diaper industry is bustling again and there are many brands and types of diapers on the market today all ready to snuggle your little ones bottom in soft cotton with the promise of simplicity for the Mama. But could it really be done?

I feel blessed that before I got married I lived with my friends who had a baby and chose to cloth diaper. I saw first hand how the diapers worked and how little extra work they seemed to be. I imagine without this example, even my friend Nikki who is a huge cloth diaper advocate would not have been able to convince me to try them!

 Fast forward a bunch of years and my belly is swelling with baby and we are making our registry. Now's the time to decide, do we want to cloth diaper? I decided that we should bite the bullet and J was willing to support my decision. Pretty sure at this point he was still under the illusion that he would ever be changing diapers of any sort anyway :) The initial output in  much more than  a packet of disposables, I think originally we spent about $200. We were also gifted 4 diapers. But J did the math cloth vs. disposables and figured out that if we used the cloth diapers for 3 months we would break even on our investment. I think this shorter time frame made it seem less daunting for me, if it really didn't work for our schedule then I only had to get through a few months.

I had heard that often newborns who are peeing so much all the time sometimes don't dot hat well with cloth diapers right off the bat because their little buns are just too teeny. We decided that we didn't want to invest in newborn cloth diapers because we were expecting that our little bug would be a pretty big baby who would outgrow those puppies in a heartbeat. We got some newborn disposables which we used foe the first month. At this point, I realised we would be travelling to Florida and then to England in just a few more weeks so I took teh easy route (at least it was that in my mind) and continued to use the disposables. When we returned from all our travels, in mid November we began the cloth diapering in earnest...and we haven't looked back!

I cannot believe how easy it has been to throw in a load of laundry every couple of days which is pretty much all there is to the cloth diapering. I am a little miffed at myself for not biting the bullet and starting earlier, I think I had decided it would be a disaster so I didn't bother trying. If there is a next time, I think we might give ourselves a week or so or until the baby reaches the 8lb limit but then we'll try it.

There are so many options for loth diapers out there but we went with Bum Genius 4.0. Both of my cloth diapering friends used the Bum Genius brand of pocket diaper so when it came to making our choice, I confess I did little further research because they had had such great experiences. Our experience is just an additional good review.

I confess it has got interesting since we started giving Levi solids! The diaper sprayer that J fitted in our upstairs bathroom has come in very handy. I see why you need to wash the diapers with a little bleach every month to keep them fresh but I just mark it on my calendar and wash all the diapers in one go.

Our little man is a heavy wetter through the night an after some experiments we have stuck with overnight disposables for now so he stays dry. I am still researching cloth options. I have found some interesting reviews about using a micro fiber liner so I need to look into that more when we near the end of our disposable packet.

We have a mixture of the snap fasteners and velcro and they both work well. I think I prefer the velcro just because it's simpler and especially if other people are watching him they look very similar to the disposables.

We have hit our 3 month cloth diaper anniversary and I think we are still very much in love. I actually just ordered a few more so that I can make laundry an every 3 day event, ( I guess we are in for another month to break even now?!) Still, I love how soft these diapers are on the inside, against Levi's skin. We have been fortunate too that he hasn't suffered with diaper rash because you can't use the thick creams with the cloth diapers but we haven't had to explore other options because his skin is smooth as a baby's bottom. Literally.

All that to say, I love our cloth diapers and have had a very easy time using them. It works for us If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them from my somewhat limited experience.
Here is my sleepy boy showing off in his diapy diap.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Slowly does it

I always wanted to be the person that made and kept New Years Resolutions but I am not. Far from it.
I used to make a long list of things and habits I wanted to change. I felt as if I could just check off everything on the list, I would be the person I wanted to be. However, it was impossible to change so many things all at once and by about January 6th I felt completely defeated.

As soon as I "messed up" on one of the resolutions I felt like a failure and had no motivation to continue. I would tell myself, "maybe next year?"

I have a FULL life at the moment. Taking care of our sweet baby boy, taking classes to finish up my AA, driving lessons, taking care of our home, losing the baby weight/ getting fit, feeding the family, as well as trying to have some type of social life; seeing friends, participating in a weekly Bible study and MOPS group. Wow. Even writing that down overwhelms me a little.  It's do-able...even if not in the perfect way I dream it :)

I know I need to let go of some of my ideas and ideals about how this time in life should be, or how I should be in life. But at the same time there are some things, small things, that I can change but instead of trying to do it all at once, I need to do it one. small. thing. at. a. time.

Each month I am going to try and make one change. For January, I wanted to work on my oral health. Now, don't worry that I am about to expose some awful habits or neglect (well, I guess that depends on who you ask) but I confess to this point I have not been a regular floss-er! I always wanted to do it more, I know it's good for my teeth, but I wasn't in the habit, I would forget and before I knew it a week (or a month!) would go by and the next time O did it my gums bled and felt uncomfortable and did nothing to increase my desire to subject myself to flossing more often!. All that said, I wanted to make this change and so I decided to make flossing a habit.

Every day in January I flossed at night. At first I had to be very intentional to remember but as the days passed, it truly did become second nature. By the end of the month it was no longer something that required any brain power to remember. I guess it's true that it takes just 6 weeks to make a habit.

So now January is over, my gums feel much better and I am inspired to start another new habit.

Here is my February proposal - Hanging up clothes, or putting them in the laundry at night and getting things out for morning.

Sounds simple enough right? but I am a slob.

At the end of the day I change into pjs and my clothes from that day just fall where they land at the side of our bed. Day by day the pile grows. Laundry loads get washed ad dried without seeing any of my things and I am often found digging through the heap and sniffing to find something clean to wear(!) The discipline of putting dirty clothes in the laundry or clothes for a second wear back in the drawer has eluded me forever. Again, I think about it every now and then but it is usually when I am sitting warm in bed and see the pile growing...getting out of the cozy covers is just not going to happen at that point.

The other half of this habit is getting clothes put out for the morning. Doing all the thinking so even on only a few consecutive hours of sleep I can still look put together. This would also include putting out a work out outfit so that as soon as Levi goes down for a morning nap I can jump on the eliptical, and then as soon as I am done and showered I have another waiting for me to throw on because time is of the essence :)

I am not sure how long it will take to get into this habit and I want to make sure this one is sticking before I move onto something else. Even if I don't get 12 new habits by the end of the year, even conquering 6 or so will be a great accomplishment.

Small steps. But making each one count.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

SuperBowl 2013

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone! We were a family of recovering sickies so we didn't pursue any Bowl party festivities and instead we stayed home and kept it very low key.

We went to church this morning and even put Levi in the nursery for the first time. He did great, Mr. Social was quite happy to entertain and be entertained by pretty much anyone. It was actually really nice to be able to listen to the sermon without distraction. On the way home we did our weekly grocery shop which included a bucket of wings and some celery. We might not have been up to Bowl parties but we could manage Bowl food :)

The wings were delicious. Messy ad sticky and got everywhere and delicious. And the perfect match for the game.

Before the game started I was able to finish my reading for homework and during the game I managed to finish the essay that was due today. I did re read it after the Ravens victory to make sure no football lingo had snuck in while I was multitasking.

It's low-key family full weekends that make my heart so full, but life can make my heart so heavy at the same time,

The past weeks have held some huge sadness and loss for some friends of mine. Sometimes the weight of their pain is so heavy to even try to understand. It can make me feel guilty to feel so content and so happy while they are hurting. Life is full of joy and pain and the true ystery is being able to hold both in your hands at once.

This low-key weekend served as a reminder to be thankful for all I have been given, and not take it for granted. It is a lesson that I keep being reminded of over and over but such an important one all the same. The snuggles with J watching a movie, the smiles from Levi when we picked him up from nursery, his giggles as he bounced his little heart out in his jumper, the deliciousness of chicken wings...such bounty. So much to be thankful for.

P.s. Did anyone else cry as much as I did at the commercial with the horse returning to his owner? It was Blubber city over here!


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