Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Since I just spent a few minutes perusing past years' New Year's Eve blog entries, I figured I should write down a few thoughts tonight. I love looking back over my blog and remembering what was going on each year. We celebrated early again tonight, taking the bus (still no train!) to Austin's First Night. And we ate wings for dinner. I guess that's our tradition now.

We had a BIG 2009, starting the year by adding a new family member! Mary Elizabeth was born January 8, and she has spent the past year reminding me that, despite my ego, I do not have this parenting thing all figured out. I just had Caroline figured out. :-) It is taking me a bit longer to figure out Miss Elizabeth. But, that is my goal for the new year-- to bring more order to our lives, routine. I tried to be a really laid back mama this time, but it just isn't working. For next year, Elizabeth and I will have our morning activities followed by nap, picking up sister and do something together followed by nap. I do see things getting a bit easier with her even over the last few days now that she has figured out walking and two molars have poked through. (I do anticipate those next two molars any moment now, so I know we're aren't smooth sailing just yet.)

Caroline's big change of 09 would have to be her glasses. Well, becoming a big sister and her glasses. She has just melded both into her identity so seamlessly. I am so proud of her. Sometimes, easily frustrated with her. Always amazed at her.

For John and me, our big 09 change has been transitioning from our beloved St. Matthew's to the new and growing St. Julian's Episcopal Church. I still have pangs of doubt about this significant decision, but I am so excited, too. I made a list last week of what is important to me in a church -- what I love at St. Matthew's -- and realized that I can have all of that, community, a social outlet, spiritual growth, at St. Julian's. (My two blog readers might be sick of my back and forth over this move, but really, it is such a big decision.)

Also on my mind this holiday season has been that I can fully celebrate (um, wine...champagne) this year since I am not pregnant. Last year, I was SO pregnant with Elizabeth, and the year before, I was halfway through a doomed pregnancy. Since so many of my holiday memories are tied to being pregnant these last two years, that lost baby boy has been on my mind and in my heart. So, tonight is the first New Year's Eve in three years that I am not wearing maternity pants and can indulge in the bubbly. :-)

Sure, next year, I want to be more organized, more healthy, more present in each moment. I'm not one for resolutions though. At least not at the beginning of the year. I enjoy many rebirths throughout the year and will wait until the gyms are not so crowded to tackle new goals.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Diversity hits home

I've never doubted the importance of showing human diversity in media, and after reading the chapter on discussing race with children in Nurture Shock, I've made it a point to actually point out diversity with Caroline. She and John just finished Meet Addie in the American Girl series. Addie is a young slave living just after the Emancipation Proclamation. I actually checked out Nurture Shock and this book at the same time, not even realizing what I'd learn from the race studies mentioned in the book about the importance of actually discussing, not ignoring, racial differences.

The thing is: kids notice. And they notice even more, I see now, when *they* are seeking to find someone portrayed who looks like they do. Now that Caroline has her glasses, she points out kids with glasses in picture books we read. I'm so glad those are there for her to see. Sometimes I've though it awkward to see books that seem to go overboard including diversity -- kids of various racial backgrounds, kids with various disabilities. I've always known it was important, but I guess until it was my child looking for a child "like her," it just didn't mean as much. Yes, the middle class, Christian, white girl has had a pretty easy life.

And thus is the nature of humans.

If you haven't taken a gander at Nurture Shock, do! I just discovered the writers' blog at newsweek and will be following that now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

First Dream Dinners Review

I bought the Groupon a couple of weeks ago for the Dream Dinners sampler for $50. Technically, the six meals were $25 and the non-optional assembly was an additional $25. I had wanted to try one of these places, and I figured $8.33 per meal for some convenience meals for the freezer was a decent deal. And the descriptions looked scrumptious!




Our busy day today of three doctor's appointments that took up about five hours of my day (mama has pink eye; mama was fitted for a temporary crown at the dentist; baby has a mystery fever that is not strep or flu) plus above-mentioned clingy baby made today a good time to try out one of these convenience meals. Cheaper, yummier, and healthier than ordering a pizza.

First, the menu selection is good. Lots of chicken, a bit of beef, and a bit of pork. I think there was one fish and one vegetarian entree as well (but I did not try those.) The online ordering system is

easy to navigate. I was not expecting baggies of the pre-assembled meals. For some reason, I pictured casseroles that would be pre-made and just need to be cooked in the oven. The meal components are in individual Ziplocs (meat / chicken; sauce; etc) placed inside a larger Ziploc. It was a little more work than I expected (this particular meal was a stove-top meal, so I had to brown the chicken and add the season/sauce). Taste was exceptional! Of course, the dish I chose for tonight is one of my all-time favorite restaurant meals -- chicken picatta (well, veal picatta is my favorite. This is close.) Portion size -- this was supposed to serve three. John and I ate it all ourselves. I served it with garlic bread and whole wheat pasta (Caroline and Elizabeth just ate the pasta.)

All in all, the Groupon deal was just perfect! If I had the chance to order at this price (about half price) again, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I am not sure that I would spend the $10-16 normal price for the meals, though. I reserve the right to change my mind, though, if I become spoiled by the other five meals in my freezer. :-)

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Paralyzed by Options

That is how I've felt lately. Paralyzed by options. What a good "tough" situation to be in, right? I realize it is a blessing to have multiple options -- all good -- from which to choose. It just makes each decision so much more fretful.

In my social-emotional development of gifted students classes in graduate school, we discussed a common issue, especially for gifted girls, is being paralyzed by options. So many choices -- career, activities, etc -- that it is easy to become so fraught with making the "wrong" decision that one can't make any decision.

Really, every day we are faced with too many options -- as consumers, especially. Even the wealth of information the internet puts at our fingertips creates countless options on the information we take in and how we spend our time.

Day-t0-day, I don't let the options paralyze me. I make a decision and go with it and don't let myself get bogged down in the what-could-have-beens. I'm happy with my life and what I get.

Lately, though, two very important areas of my existence -- education and church -- have been on my mind. Caroline's education, specifically. I've always said "public school all the way, baby!" but now that I'm actually faced with that decision, I am getting nervous. Private school is not an option, but homeschooling is. I have plenty of friends who do it. I know that I could give her just as good of an education myself, and I know that, in Austin especially, the social network for homeschooling families fill up the calendar and then some. Neither of those are my concerns. I know that we could achieve in an hour a day (or as we go about our daily routine, not even that) what happens in school over the course of a full school day. I like that we wouldn't be on someone else's time table. But I'd miss the sense of community that school brings. School parties, carnivals, football games, having kids in the same class year after year.

And I've been craving community lately. Not just in the emotional sense, but also in the physical and geographical sense. I live in a wonderful "master planned" neighborhood, but I don't feel a sense of community. When I think of my community, it is my church. And that brings me to my other paralyzing option lately -- leaving that church, the place both my babies were baptized, to join an up-and-coming community closer to home, with the hopes that it will become that community for me, both in the emotional sense and in the geographical sense, with a physical church building in my neighborhood. What a dream! I am so excited for this and pray for it to happen successfully and quickly. But it is so hard to leave behind the community that we love and that loves us.

My decisions are made -- we are moving to the new church and we are sending Caroline to our neighborhood school. I will become more a part of my physical, geographical community and build here that emotional community I crave. I wish I could wrap up these thoughts with a clapping dusting of my hands as in that's that. But I still find myself questioning these decisions and searching austinhomesearch for homes in neighborhoods in town where we would not change churches. But that wouldn't solve my school problem and would open up more issues concerning quality of school.

So, no nice, neat conclusion here. Just me feeling overwhelmed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The view from the backseat





A glimpse from Caroline's perspective of what a car ride too close to naptime is like for us.
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Monday, September 07, 2009

Family History

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to visit with my Nanny Jenkins this weekend at our family reunion and get a little more information about my family -- specifically her siblings. Nanny is the last of her siblings still living. Of the nine children my great grandmother, Ma Susan (Susan Rebecca) gave birth to, only three lived to become grandparents themselves. My grandmother, Joyce Bea (pronounced Joysa) was the youngest.

Grandma Susan married a Hazelton and had six children. Nanny tells me that Grandma Susan never liked to talk about the past, so she didn't know many details. When the 1918 flu, which Nanny called the WWI flu) struck, Grandma Susan lost three children and her husband. Grandma Susan herself was so sick that she did not learn of the deaths until they were all buried.

Grandma Susan's oldest daughter, Ollie May, did live into early adulthood but suffered from diabetes during her pregnancies. She had four daughters but died a few days after the fourth daughter was born. Grandma Susan took these girls in and raised them alongside her own children as she continued giving birth herself. These nieces are older than my nanny.

Grandma Susan also lost a son, Garvin "Snook", who was electrocuted in the gravel pits. Snook had one son and never met his younger son as his wife was pregnant when he was killed. That son, Herman Jenkins, was killed in Vietnam when his wife was also pregnant with their son. Two generations never met their fathers.

After Hazelton's death in the flu pandemic, Grandma Susan remarried a man named McCarty and went on to have three more children -- Barbara, Joyce Bea (my nanny), and a baby boy, Wade Richard, who died of pneumonia when he was a few months old.

Grandma Susan died a few months shy of her 100th birthday. (1891-1991)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Staycation 2009


John and I had talked before about the idea of a "staycation" -- time where he takes off work but we "stay" home and visit our hometown as tourists. We've had a few fun Saturdays out exploring that caused us to think more seriously about the idea. Then I realized what I truly want in a vaction -- time away from my day-to-day chores (cooking), time with my family. And what I don't enjoy about going on trips -- packing, all the laundry upon return, getting there and back. A staycation would give me what I wanted without the stresses of what I didn't. So, with just a few days' notice, John scheduled some time off, and I planned some events for the family. I worked through Austin by "area", choosing activities and restaurants. We stayed home for Elizabeth's morning nap some days. Mostly, she napped as we went along our activities.

Day One: South Central
brunch at Kerby Lane
Austin Science and Nature Center
Zephyr at Zilker; explore Zilker and Barton Springs
dinner at Shady Grove
Bat cruise

(We were hot and exhausted after day one and scaled back the other days)

Day Two: Central
lunch at Central Market
afternoon at Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
walk around The Triangle
dinner at Mandola's
gelato at Teo's

Day Three: Round Rock
breakfast at Lone Star Bakery (Round Rock Donuts)
Inner Space Caverns -- we saw lots of bats and were the only guests on our early tour
lunch at Rudy's
afternoon at Rock 'n' River -- John and I took turns watching the girls while the other went on the slides. FUN for all of us with shallow splash areas for Elizabeth, kiddie slides for Caroline, fun slides for the grown-ups, and a lazy river for the whole family.
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Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Wiggles! Tips for maximizing your kid's enjoyment of the show

Caroline checks out a movie each week from the library, and one show or another by The Wiggles is usually her choice. About the same time she began identifying Australia on the globe and asking when we could go see them, I read that they were coming to Austin. So, way back in May, I bought tickets. And I told her about it.

Tip One: You might want to wait a bit before you share the good news.

We created a countdown calendar and she began telling everyone we encountered that she was going to see The Wiggles in August. Today was the day!

This is the Goin' Bananas tour, so we watched the Goin' Bananas show a few times on Netflix, thinking we'd need to learn those songs.

Tip Two: They sing a variety of songs from all their albums, so you don't need to learn a bunch of new ones. It's fun to know them all, of course. But you can count on favorites like Fruit Salad and Hot Potato, too.

These guys are fantastic. Really, it is a good show. They interject humor for the adults. They do some pretty athletic feats. They're cute. You'll enjoy the show alongside your kids.

I had read online to take roses for Dorothy the Dinosaur and doggie treats for Wags the Dog. At our show, they did sent the dancers out to collect roses for Dorothy. The dancers then presented the flowers to her after doing a dance from their heritage. I though, though, it said flowers, not roses. We brought some purple flowers. The neat thing about that, though, was that we knew which were our flowers when they were given to Dorothy.

Tip Three: bring flowers and dog treats, just in case.

I thought the woman in front of us was really annoying, bring this big sign to hold up. Well, it turns out, that is another part of the show. The Wiggles take a few moments and read aloud all the signs that the kids made. They really put effort into this and tried to read the signs in the balcony even.

Tip Four: make a sign to take -- big letters! My favorite was Keep Austin Wiggly!

Here are our pictures.
My final tip is just enjoy the show!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Deep Thoughts

I have now lived longer without my mother than I did with her.

It hit me hard just before my birthday, and I was pretty nervous about the actual date approaching (because I like to torture myself and used an online date calculator to actually figure out the exact date.) I have been busy, so I have not dwelt on it, which is good. I want a few moments now to journal and reflect and perhaps reveal some of my neurosis to the blogger world.

I turned 18 on June 14, 1991. My mom died on September 2, 1991. I am now 36, the age she was when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Loosing her made me grow up. I was a typical self-centered teenage bitch before that. If, before I was 18, I had to tell you my biggest fear, it would have been loosing my mom. Then it happened. And I survived. And I laughed again. And I had fun again. And life went on. Sure I cried a lot. I remember at one point wondering if I would cry every day for the rest of my life...then if I would cry every week...then if I would cry every month...or special occasion. I am sure that I will cry every Mother's Day, even though I am now a mother myself and it is my day, it is still a day that she will at the forefront of my mind.

I was a pretty nervous kid. I worried a lot. As an adult, I am much more laid back than the norm, and if I have to look on the bright side of losing my mom at a young age, that would be it. I know that even if the worst thing I can possibly imagine happening were to happen, I would be OK. When you put it in perspective, the little things that stress us out aren't really all that important.

No, it was not "God's will" that my mom die. She did not die so that I could learn to be more chill. I do find solace, though, in knowing that we will be reunited someday. That is how Caroline understands death, too, and for that I am thankful. She knows that she has two grandmas that she never got to meet. She knows that they are with God and she tells me that she'll meet them when Jesus returns, and that she'll her grandpa then, too.

I look back on how much I have changed since I was 18, and my mom would not know me now. I have changed so much. The letters she wrote my sister and me were very different. Mary's (even though Mary was only 15) talks about what a wonderful mother she will be. That was not in my plans at 18, so my mom encouraged me in my education and career. That is what I needed to hear at the time, of course. Here I am now, mom of two girls, staying home with them just as she did with us. I would not trade the years she spent with us for the world, so I am thankful I have these years at home with my girls.

Half my life. Wow.
Miss you mommy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Homegrown Basil = Yummy Pecan Pesto!


Had it last night with tortellini and grilled chicken. Oh. so. yummy!
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Today's Beauty


We were surprised at this butterfly's unique colors. The others have been yellow and black.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Cooking -- a month of salads, grill, and crockpot

Technically, it is not yet summer, but temps are already topping 100! Nobody wants to stand in front of the stove or open the oven door, so I brainstormed a month of meals using the grill or crockpot along with some fun salads. (This isn't a full 30 days of meals as a few days will call for leftovers or eating out/being out of town, or John cooking :-) .)

CROCKPOT

ribs with baked potato and (canned) baked beans
roast beef with potatoes and carrots
pork roast with root veggies
chicken and rice casserole
chicken lettuce wraps
lasagna
I'm excited to try out some new recipes in the crockpot. The ribs are cooking right now for tonight's dinner.

SALADS
chicken salad (I'm a sucker for Costco's chicken salad, so this will come from there and be used for a week's lunches, too.)
pasta salad (with leftover crockpot pork)
panzanella
deviled eggs and green salad
chinese chopped chicken salad
chicken caesar salad
spinach salad with bacon
cobb salad
hopefully, some of this will come from our garden

GRILL

ribeyes
beef filets
pork chops
chicken
sausage
burgers
hot dogs
salmon
catfish
fajitas
Grill meals served with baked potato, baked sweet potato, wild rice, or chips and a veggie foil-wrap cooked on the grill

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Thirty-three years ago today, my parents gave me the best birthday present ever (a few days early) -- my little sister, Mary Janette. I've always loved her, but I do think it has taken me a few years to appreciate her as much as I do now. I can not imagine my life without her, and I am so thankful my girls have each other because I know how great having a sister can be. And yeah, I admit here in print, I am older. She loves it when you ask that, though, so go ahead and ask next time you see us together which of us is older.

Love you, sis! Happy Birthday!!
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm a mom, always and forever and foremost, but I'm not *just* a mom

Caroline: When I grow up, I want to be a daddy.
John: Why?
Caroline: Because I want to go to work.

Even writing it now, I feel a stab of pain in my chest and a little bile in my throat.

I am a proud stay-at-home mom. I feel very, very strongly about my decision to stay home. It is, without a doubt, the only way I will raise my kids.

But I am an adamant feminist. I want my daughters to know they have choices. I want my daughters to have it all. Hell, I want to have it all.

And I believe that I do have it all. I had a career. Even now, I put my degree to use and earn a little bit of income. For a short period, I'm at home raising my girls, but I will return to work someday. I hope then that Caroline can see that women, mommies even, have careers.

I think what bothers me most about her comment is that she sees what John does as better... more fun. That makes me worry that I do not seem, to her, at least, to love what I am doing every day. I think of all the times I must seem rushed and frustrated to her. I am going to imprint her words into my brain to remind myself to show her how much I love what I do.

Because I do. And I hope someday she gets to have a career. And be home with her babies. And then continue her career. It is a wonderful life!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bargain Shopping Updates

As you may have noticed, I'm not hitting the CVS/Walgreens freebies so often lately. First, I'm pretty well stocked from that past year. Second, the deals aren't so grand lately. Walgreens has even changed its program, so there is not so much free or almost-free stuff to be had. And third, I've joined a cooperative buying group of moms here in Austin (and a few others online) that is totally feeding my hunger for a good deal.

Our coop, using volume of numbers and sometimes a resale license of a member, buys at wholesale or special coop pricing from vendors. We've coop-ed bras, slings, shoes, fabric, toys...and more. Each month, we do a group buy of products like bath and household stuff, so I'm getting my deals there. Granted, this is natural/organic stuff, so it is pricier (therefore NOT free) but it is much cheaper than I'd get at a retailer.

There are two brands, though, that do not sell to coops that I must have for my girls and am always on the lookout for a good deal on. California Baby body wash/shampoo is the only soap I've found that keeps Caroline's eczema in check. It is all that has touched Elizabeth's skin and we've not had any problems with her yet (knock wood.) And Badger sunscreen is rated safest by the Cosmetics Database. Both are pricey! I've found that diapers.com has the best prices on California Baby, though, and just discovered that they price match. Since drugstore.com is running Badger on special right now, I emailed diapers.com about their sale, and they honored the sale price on Badger. Therefore, I was able to order California Baby soaps and some Badger sunscreen at sale prices and get free shipping. Remember, if you use my code, AMAN0432, at diapers.com, you can get $10 off your first purchase (and I get a bonus, too!)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our Swallow Tail Butterfly


We brought in a tiny caterpillar and fed him dill from the garden. He spun himself a nice little cocoon, and today, he broke free and became a beautiful butterfly. Caroline's excitement was such a joy to watch! She was the one who discovered the butterfly was out of the cocoon. We have one more chrysalis waiting, probably a few more days.
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Secrets of my Slingess


If you have seen me out and about on multiple occasions, you may ask yourself, "How many slings does this girl have?" My secret: not as many as it would appear. You see, I have discovered the art of buying, selling, and trading. And it is a hobby that leads to obsession.

Visit The Babywearer forums For Sale or Trade section, and you may become hooked, too!

I started with one sling. That black pouch sling, a Hotslings (still my favorite brand!) when Caroline was just a few weeks old. I tried many other types of carriers throughout her carrier-hood, so by the time I was shopping for Elizabeth, I knew just what I wanted. I traded and sold some of my Caroline carriers to create my "perfect" stash for Elizabeth. But then, I didn't love it so much. So I did some more trading. And I realized that I never had to get bored with a carrier or a print again. As soon as I was bored or saw something else that caught my fancy, I could trade!

At the moment, I have the perfect stash for me. (Interestingly, I have or am in the process of trading all of the above pictured slings but the Mei Tei)
One reversible Babyhawk Mei Tei
One camel Ergo
Two Hotslings (Solstice -- a black pattern and Pashmina Pink -- obviously pinks)
One WAHM pouch sling in Mocca
(this gives me three pouch slings that cover my wardrobe of colors--brown, black, and pink)

Now, that is the stash today. You never know what you'll see tomorrow!
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Girls' Blogs

I have restricted access to the girls' blogs to authors only (that would be me, but I added John to the list as well.) I set up Caroline's blog shortly after she was born to allow out-of-town family to watch her grow. It has evolved into her baby book, really, since I am not a scrapbooker. I love putting new pictures of the girls on the blog, and I really enjoy looking back over the past weeks, months, years remembering. It was meant to be fun and to bring joy. It is not meant to create more work for me. I'm mom to a new baby and am not taking on additional tasks right now. It is not meant to be a competition for who is featured in the most pictures. And it is not meant to hurt feelings.

I'll continue to update the blog, but it will be visible only to me and John and serve as a memory album for our family. I have enjoyed sharing pictures with you these past almost four years. If you want to see them, come visit us! Perhaps I'll be able to open them up again someday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Twilight Series: Now I get it

I finally gave in and read the much-hyped Twilight series. I like to read, and so many people said these were good. What really prompted me to pick them up with interest, though, was how many conservative Christian friends raved about them. I'm talking friends who are of the mind that they would not read the Harry Potter series. And these folks LOVED Twilight. Which is about vampires. So, kid wizards--NO. teen vampires--Yes. I was baffled. I was curious.

I asked a friend why she thought that was, and she said SEX. I'm not giving anything big away by saying that Edward and Bella save it for marriage.

SPOILERS BELOW:







I finished the last book in the series last night, and I can see many levels of Christian imagery. Denial of sinful nature (these vampires don't suck human blood, though it is a constant struggle to abstain.) Self-sacrifice (though not in the Christ sense as it is all about saving their only child.) Good (and one is good because denying his sinful nature allows him to love others as he loves himself) versus evil (who is only looking out for his best interests.) There was also the mormon idea of being bound for eternity in marriage.

So much to discuss, really. This is great for bookclub fodder. Or for a literary analysis thesis.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Beauty of Playdates

When Caroline was smaller, we had plenty of playdates. I enjoyed visiting with other moms while the kids played. Now that she is older, I have a whole new appreciation for playdates. Now, you see, it's a drop and go kind of thing. And either way (as host or guest) playdates are FABULOUS! If you're the one dropping your kid to play with someone else's for a few hours, the beauty is obvious. What is not as obvious is how great it is to be the host, too. Mom can get quite a bit done (or just relax with a few moments that don't involve Candyland) without constant interuptions from a lone preschooler. Two is better than one.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Reflections on a Night Out

John and I had our first night out since Elizabeth's birth last night. That means it was the the first time Elizabeth was in care of someone besides her momma or daddy. She was with her Uncle Tony and Aunt Mary, though, so she was in excellent care!

We had a nice time -- drinks, dinner, auction bidding, and adult conversation (even though the dinner conversation was about schools. The Bindels are one of maybe three families at St. Matts who won't be sending our kiddos to private school.)

On getting dressed up:
I wore lots of makeup, tried to go curly with the hair, and wore a jazzy top from White House/Black Market (outlet, of course!). I think I ended up looking more scary than what I was going for. Caroline, Megan, and Sophi all kept staring at me. I asked them if I looked scary, and they said "No. You look fancy." I don't believe them, though. By the time I was halfway through my Cosmo, I didn't care how I looked anyway.

On Elizabeth's first bottle:
She refused to take a bottle from Mary, so Tony had to give it to her. I imagine the internal monologue in Elizabeth's head went like this (in a Stewie from Family Guy voice):
"Get that blasted contraption of glass and rubber away from me, woman, and put those mammaries to some use!"

On mama's good luck:
I won the grand prize of the Shuttle Prizes (tickets bought to choose a shuttle, each with a prize) at La Noche, St. Matt's fundraiser last night. $500 worth of jewelry from Tracy Tenpenny. Gorgeous stuff. Just in time for Elizabeth's grabby stage. I wore on necklace to church this morning and felt really pretty. Elizabeth did grab it a few times, but I was able to break her free without breaking the necklace.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lenten Table


We have our same activities set up on our Lenten table again this year. Caroline really enjoys retelling the stories of Jesus's ministry using the story board, and she has been really insightful in the blessings she has chosen to thank God for each night (the trees, our home, our church, her sister). The blessing tree started as a bare branch. Each day, we thank God for a blessing he has given us and add a ribbon to the tree. We'll have a beautiful ribbon-filled tree by Easter to remind us of God's blessings. I have the Lenten coloring book out for her, too. She's colored a few pages and we discuss those, but she doesn't color in it every day.

She's done some neat activities at church, too, in Sunday School and on Wednesday nights.

(the links to the coloring book and story board no longer work. Looks like they are out of print or unavailable now.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sleep Cycles

Newborn: you wake them every few hours to nurse to make sure they grow strong and healthy.
Infant and Toddler: you do whatever you can to keep them from waking so they can be rested and not cranky.
Preschooler: you want them not to sleep so deeply that they don't wake up when they have to pee or else you end up waking them up in the middle of the night to preserve a dry bed.

And then you get pregnant and never sleep well again in your life because pregnant women don't sleep well and once you give birth, you become a mother who hears every little sound that goes bump in the night. Which is a good thing because you have to wake up to feed the baby and potty the big sister!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Post Partum Lessons

This time around, I've learned:
-- second c-section recovery is much easier (and not because of forgoing labor, as many assume, since I did labor)
-- the value of meals from friends
-- the importance of the big sibling gift
-- that paid paternity leave is a wonderful benefit
-- that getting a bit of baby fever is common when you know this is your last (several friends have confirmed they felt that way, and my doctor said she did, too.)

My experience with Caroline taught me
-- how to maximize my sleep (nurse the baby in your own bed and sleep!)
-- not to fret over the state of the moment but rather to enjoy it. Each stage has its time and passes quickly
-- that it is easy to take a newborn with you anywhere and everywhere, so enjoy *that* while it lasts
-- the value of a sling (oh, who am I kiddin') many slings
-- not to bother with pumping regularly

But, of course, Elizabeth has already taught me that every baby is different. Unlike her sister, she is not a nurse-all-day kind of girl. Now, that may have been difficult to handle at first with Caroline, but I adjusted. I watched lots of shows. I read lots of internet boards. I was actually looking forward to that life of leisure again. Well, Little Miss Elizabeth is a much less intense and a much more efficient nurser.

She has taught me that I have been wrong in touting swaddling as THE sleep solution. She doesn't care to be swaddled at all. It seems to give her gas.

She has shown me that she is her own little person already. She has taught me that, contrary to Brown v. Board of Education's ruling, love for our kids can be different but equal.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mommy of Two

Two nights ago, we were initiated into the two-child-needing-parenting-at-the-same-time realm. Around 10 p.m., I went in to check on sleeping Caroline. As I walked into her room, I was struck by the stench of cheese. As I was poking around, she woke up and asked for water. As she sat up, I noticed little bits of vomit on her nightgown, on her pillow, on her sheets. I got her up out of bed, and then she really threw up. So, I pulled her sheets off and tried to figure out sleeping arrangements. Elizabeth spends much of the night in bed with me nursing. Since Caroline was sick enough to throw up and not awaken, we were nervous about leaving her alone in bed lest she aspirate on vomit. So, John and Caroline slept in the guest bed, and Elizabeth and I took the master suite. I'm so lucky that John has this extended paternity leave to help with nights like that. And I realize this is the slow initiation into parenting two, as all Elizabeth does these early days is sleep, nurse, and poop, and sleep again!

On another note, I've discovered the really fun part of parenting two girls--MATCHING OUTFITS!! I used my Gymbucks last week to get them matching Valentine dresses, and I shopped a sale at my favorite smocked dress store online and got them matching Easter dresses, too. Expect to see lots of coordinating outfits pictured on their blogs. It's just too fun to resist! (I know some of you know just what I mean.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Diapers -- save $10

Use this code, AMAN0432, to save $10 at diapers.com. They sell both cloth and disposable diapers and other baby products, too. You get free shipping with orders over $49, too -- no sales tax in Texas either, so a good deal. I just bought some California Baby shampoo / body wash, a Bum Genius diaper, and Triple Paste diaper cream there.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Babymoon

I had not heard the term "babymoon" until after Caroline was born and I started running in the mommy circles. This time around, I am fully enjoying my babymoon, savoring every moment! If you aren't familiar with a babymoon, it is very similar to a honeymoon. Here's how to enjoy your moon--be it a baby or honey.

Spend lots of time in bed with your new love. Obviously on a honeymoon, no explanation needed. With a newborn, cuddle up in bed together for frequent naps and a much easier nighttime. I take at least one nap a day with Elizabeth, and we sleep the night away, getting up for a diaper change or two along with a dose of pain meds.

Don't worry with chores and food. On a honeymoon, eat out in nice restaurants. John and I saved the receipt from our "fancy" dinner out on our honeymoon. Like $63, which we thought was so expensive. Those were our lightweight drinking days. I'm sure he wishes I was still such a cheap date. On a babymoon, don't worry about housework. We have been so blessed to have some friends organize a food tree. We've had dinner brought to us nearly every night so far, and we'll have meals every other night for a couple more weeks. It is so wonderful not to have to worry with that detail.

Wear lingerie. Again, honeymoon obvious. That's what lingerie parties are for. For your babymoon, I recommend a few comfy pjs that you'd wear in front of company along with a nursing tank. I shower and put on a new set of pjs each day. It is comfy and makes those daily naps much easier.

Enjoy every minute of it! If it's a honeymoon, it will hopefully be your only one. If it's a babymoon, you may get more than one, but it won't be too often.

Now, doesn't the "moon" part indicate a full 28 days? I've got 20 days left to enjoy my babymoon!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Get your natural toys now!

http://ourdayourjourney.blogspot.com/2009/01/natural-kids-toys-free-giveaway.html

I just discovered a fun imaginative toys blog and discovered the give-a-way linked above. Now (until early February) is the time to shop for natural toys made by small toymakers as these folks may be pushed out of business when the CPSIA goes into effect.

Story of Elizabeth's Birth

Even just four days later, I'm having trouble remembering details, so I want to get this written down now before I forget even more.

At my weekly doctor’s appointment Tuesday, my doctor asked about scheduling a c-section sometime after 40 weeks. She said she’d let me go as long as I wanted to 42 weeks but that we should get an OR scheduled as they book up quickly. I choose January 19 – I’d be 40 weeks 5 days then. But then I started praying. I prayed and asked others to pray for labor to begin soon.

I’ve been researching VBAC since after Caroline’s birth and knew that my priority was going in to labor on my own. I had come to peace with the possibility of another c-section, but I really wanted to go into labor on my own to ensure the baby was ready and to give baby the benefit of as many labor hormones as possible.

I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions for months, but they had been coming, at times in the last weeks, in regular intervals with a bit more discomfort. While I wanted baby to be born soon, I had a few dates in mind that I preferred not to have as baby’s birthday. I didn’t want the baby to be born on Epiphany, January 6, because we like to do a final Christmas gift on that day in observance of the Kings bringing gifts to the Christ Child. That would take away from a kid’s birthday and vice-versa. Our wedding anniversary is Jan. 7, and though, that would not be as much of a problem, I’d rather everyone have her own special day. Then, the 10 and 11th of January were the days we found out about and delivered the pregnancy I lost. I would have dealt with that had I given birth those days, but I just didn’t really want to. So, that left January 8 and 9 if I wanted to get the baby out sooner rather than later.

The morning of our anniversary, I was home alone. John dropped Caroline at school, and I set to taking down Christmas decorations. I noticed some cramping and would sit down often. I also had some bloody show but not a lot. I knew that could mean labor was coming or it could still be a week, so I tried not to get excited. The contractions continued, so I took a walk around the block to get the mail and see if that would change them at all. Contractions continued, so I called and asked John to pick Caroline up at 1:00 and work from home the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t want him to get all excited yet because I wasn’t positive, but he did come home and work / occupy her for me for a few hours. I rested on our bed through contractions, taking breaks to get things together for the hospital and a few days away from home. I called my dad and sister and alerted them but told them not to get on the road yet. I wanted to wait until the hospital admitted me or my water broke. I called my friend Stancey to see if she was free to watch Caroline for a couple of hours until my sister could get here. She didn’t have her son with her but was getting a pedicure down the street. We dropped Caroline off at the nail salon. John walked in and just sat Caroline down on Stancey’s lap as she sat in the massage chair.

At the hospital, I was encouraged to hear that my nurse had a VBAC herself. We got through a few questions in the triage room and headed to Labor and Delivery. I got settled in the bed there but could not get comfortable with the monitors and being on the bed. I tried to stand and sway through a few contractions but we’d loose the monitoring then. I knew that was a possibility but was not going to refuse continuous fetal monitoring. I got into bed, asked for the epidural and some Stadol to hold me over until then. We did get a shift change of nurses during this time, and I liked my new nurse, too. My contractions were coming regularly, but the baby was still really high. I had a different doctor since it was the middle of the night – Dr. Scheiffer. She broke my water and put a contraction monitor internally. The external fetal monitor was working fine so we didn’t need to place that internally. When I was around five centimeters dilated, I got really uncomfortable – almost like I was having a panic attack. I was freezing, shaking. I was uncomfortable. I just wanted it to all be over. I wondered if that could be transition, but I was only five centimeters dilated. The baby’s heartrate was not responsive during contractions at that point, either, so they recommended a c-section. I immediately said yes. I just wanted it to be over.

In retrospect, I think that panicking my body did was a sign. In the operating room, I could hear the doctor and nurses whispering and talking. I had specified in my c-section birth plan that I wanted to be talked through the operation, so I asked what was going on. The nurse came to my head and said that they got me in just in time as I was near rupture. When the doctor broke my water (it had been broken during labor but the baby’s head sometimes put pressure in areas so that it doesn’t all break), there was blood in the water. She said that indicated either a small placental abruption or the beginning of uterine rupture. Baby is absolutely fine, though, as am I! It seemed like it took hours for them to get to the baby and get HER out. John called it when he saw her! “We have another daughter!” he said. The pediatric nurse came over and introduced herself to me and said she had read my birth requests for after delivery and they would honor all of those. John went with Elizabeth and the nurse to the nursery, and I stayed behind to get sewn up. I was FREEZING! The anesthesiologist was great. I kept asking him to bring me more warm blankets and eventually he brought me a blanket that they hooked up to a sort-of hair dryer and just continuously blew it full of hot air. At some point, someone came in and informed us the baby’s weight was nine pounds two ounces.

I did get warmer in the recovery room. I chatted with my nurse and waited for my baby. I had a slight fever, I think due to being under that blanket, for a little bit, but it didn’t last long. They brought my baby girl, Mary Elizabeth, to me, and she latched on and nursed right away. John called my dad and sister and daddy got there shortly after.

It was such a busy night in Labor and Delivery that there were no Postpartum rooms available. They cleaned up my labor room and put us back in there for the night. It was a nice big room, so it was good to be there for a while. In the early afternoon, they removed my IV and catheter. I was able to walk around a bit then. I had a few visitors in my labor room before we were moved to the postpartum wing (and smaller room) just before 7 p.m. shift change. My recovery went well, and we came home on Saturday.

We are doing great! We are so much more confident and relaxed with this second baby, and I think our state of mind makes it easier.