Sunday, August 16, 2015

ellery says

Two year-olds say the funniest things.

A few of the latest things Ellery has said:

When Abel kept crawling toward her toys that she did not want him to play with, "Abel's a monster!"

Often if we tell Ellery, "You're a munchkin!" or "You're a monkey!" she answers with, "I not a munchkin, I'm Ellery!"  But then she started saying, "I not a munchkin, I'm a panda bear!"  No idea where this came from, but we're hoping it lasts.

While I was changing my clothes, she said, "Mommy, you're cute!"  That did wonders for my self-esteem that day, and went a long way toward my accepting my flabby, stretch-marked, mom tummy.  (Pretty sure Sam put her up to this one.)

Right before going down the slide at the park, she said, "Mommy, behave for daddy!"  (Pretty sure Sam put her up to this one, too.)

When I asked her if she wanted to go to Target, she said no, which was strange, because she usually loves Target.  I asked her where she wanted to go instead and, after thinking for a moment, she said, "Scotland."  Hashtag futureworldtraveler.

This one is more sweet than funny.  As I was tucking her in one night, she said, "Can you keep me safe?  Can you protect me?  Can you snuggle me to keep me safe?"  Yes, my heart melted.

Abel has been practicing standing a lot, so I was explaining to Ellery that soon he'd be walking and running and playing with her.  She bent down and got close to his face and said, in a very motivational tone, "Oh Abel, you can't give up!"

She's in a toddler bed now, so once when I was tucking her in, I put her comforter over her and said, "You're snug as a bug in a rug."  Now she calls her comforter (and all other big blankets) a "snug-in-bug."  "Where's my snug-in-bug?"  "Put my snug-in-bug on."

Once when she was misbehaving, I scolded her and she started laughing.  Frustrated, I told her, "Ellery, I'm serious, knock it off!  I'm not playing!"  She grinned mischievously and said, "I'm playing!"  And she kept laughing and misbehaving.  (I am totally in control as a  mom.  Also, that sound you hear is my own mother laughing.  It seems I have a daughter who is as sassy as I was.  Mom, if I haven't said it already, I'm sorry for my sassy mouth.)

Here's hoping she also gets my delightful sense of humor, that makes up for the sassiness,  (Now that's Sam laughing.)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Spontaneous Thought on a Rainy Day

He wakes at 4:30 to nurse, and finally falls back to sleep at 5:30.  Resigned, I get out of bed, knowing that I can either sleep a little longer or get a shower and a few minutes to myself before the chaos of the day begins.  It's unlikely I'll get a shower if I don't take make the most of the opportunity.  I make some coffee and read a little in my Bible, and in my book about mothering, while Abel sleeps next to me on the couch.  Ellery wakes at 7, and the day officially begins.  Between the two of them, I hardly have a moment to sit down.  When I get Ellery in her chair for lunch, Abel is finally sleeping and there are toys and books and laundry covering the living room floor.  The living room that was spotless in the still-dark hours this morning when I read my Bible and drank my coffee in the quiet.

It's rainy and gray, and I feel like I haven't accomplished anything.  Yesterday seemed so productive, and I felt like I was able to give enough attention to Ellery and Abel.  Today I feel like I'm failing both of them.  The day isn't even half over and I feel defeated.

I lay her down for her nap, grateful that I can perhaps have a few minutes to eat lunch while they both sleep.  But as I shut the door to her bedroom, I hear Abel stirring.  Time to nurse again.  Finally he sleeps again and I eat lunch, only to be interrupted by a crying girl.  She still hasn't fallen asleep.

So I put down my salad and ignore those hunger pains in my stomach, and go get Ellery.  The nurse in the hospital warned me that my oldest might regress and act like a baby again now that she isn't the baby anymore.  But she hasn't started crawling again or resorted to baby talk.  She's as smart and active as ever.  No, the way she has regressed has been in sleep.

Sleep, easily the biggest challenge we've had with this girl.  From the moment she was born, she hated sleep.  It wasn't until now, having Abel, that I realize just how much Ellery struggled with sleep.  Abel fell asleep during tummy time and I was shocked.  He doesn't spend half an hour crying before falling asleep every single time.  It isn't a battle to get him to go to sleep.  And in talking to friends, I hear that Abel is fairly normal in this newborn sleep game.  I knew Ellery had a hard time with sleep, but I didn't realize just how much of a difference it makes to have a baby that actually sleeps.

So during a life transition, she regresses to her biggest challenge.  And yes, I'm pretty sure that's true of me, too.  A big change, one that I didn't ask for or hope for, always seems to bring forth those parts of me that I struggle with the most.

Ellery is standing in her crib and says, "Rock baby?"  Normally I'd say no, but today I just want her to nap.  She has skipped her nap far too often in the past few weeks, and tonight she'll be up later than normal, so I need her to nap.  I'm in that desperate, whatever-it-takes mode.

And so I pick her up and take her to the glider and we rock.  And within minutes, my sweet, precious baby girl is sleeping.  Her body feels so long across my lap, now that I have a newer baby to compare it to.  I study her face, so innocent and cherub-like while she rests.  And I think my heart will burst with how much I love her.  She's growing so fast, and every time I look at Abel I think that it must have been just a few months ago that Ellery was his size.

And while I rock with her, I read on my Kindle a book that talks about giving thanks to God even when we don't want to, even on our bad days.  Today feels like a bad day, but it really isn't.  It's just a day that hasn't lined up in the easiest way for me, and it's normally a day that I'd call Sam to complain about.  And then I lay her in her crib, and as I shut the door, I remember a poem I read on a friend's blog the other day.  A poem about how we get so excited as parents for our babies' firsts, and we never know when we'll experience the lasts.

I cried when I read the poem, because it's so true.  Right now I'm still in those precious years when my children are so little, and I know someday I'll miss these years.  I'll miss Ellery's tiny baby voice, and the way her hand clasps my finger as we walk down stairs.  I'll miss the way she says "Mommy."  But probably more than anything, I'll miss the way it feels to have my babies fall asleep in my arms, as if I'm their ultimate comfort and place of safety here on earth.

And as I shut the door to her room, it hit me that God allowed at least one more time for me to rock her to sleep.  I thought I'd already experienced the last time she fell asleep in my arms.  Maybe this will happen again, or maybe this really was the last time.  And if it is the last, I want to savor it and be thankful, rather than complain.  No, she didn't fall asleep on her own the way I hoped she would.  But there is still something to be incredibly thankful for - a sweet moment with my first baby, a memory I can recall and appreciate when she's too big to need her mommy to sleep.

Thank you, Lord.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Something Right

It started at the park.

Ellery went down the slide, normally one of her favorite things, but must have bit her tongue when she landed.  She came up screaming, inconsolable, and when I saw the blood in her mouth, I knew she had reason to cry.  She's generally a pretty tough kid, and doesn't cry when she falls, and we try not to make it too dramatic when she takes a spill, especially since she's inherited my klutziness.  But this time I knew she was in pain, and she needed some comfort and extra love.  As I held her close, I realized how cold her tiny hands were, and felt an extra rush of guilt that I hadn't dressed her in more layers.  The bright sunshine today was deceptive - as is our second-floor apartment that always stays really warm.  I hadn't realized just how cold it was outside and now knew it was time to leave the park, since my toddler really wasn't dressed warmly enough.

But you can't explain that to a toddler, who just wants to keep swinging and chasing the friendly bigger kids she's met at the park.  Her bleeding mouth, along with her desire to stay and play longer outside, made it very difficult to get her into the car.  She protested loudly, giant tears spilling down her cheeks, and I felt even worse.  She hasn't had much time outside recently, thanks to her pregnant, sick mom and the rainy weather, so I wished we could have stayed longer, but I also knew it wasn't good for her to be in the cold without warmer clothes.

So we headed home.  We played for a little while, then had dinner together.  Sam had a work dinner, so I knew he wouldn't be home until after the baby was in bed, which was fine.  We're no strangers to Sam having to work late.

But suddenly, after dinner, everything was wrong.  Everything I did made her scream in frustration, and I couldn't figure out what she wanted or needed.  She asked for milk, but then when I gave her milk, she started crying because I realized she wanted the empty milk carton to play with.  She started putting pipe cleaners into a water bottle, then started screaming again when her little plastic cow from her farm set wouldn't fit through the tiny opening of the bottle as well.  When I tried changing her diaper to get her ready for bed, you'd have thought I was performing a root canal on her.  It wasn't normal for her; she can tend to get whiny, but never has these full-on scream-cry tantrums, especially not one right after the other.

I didn't know if she was just having a bad day, or if it's her age and her desire to express her autonomy, and if we are ushering in a new phase of our sweet little girl turning into an independent, defiant, (dare I say stubborn?) child.  I'm praying it was just a bad day, because I'm not sure I'm ready to handle the terrible twos this early, especially with a new baby coming along next month.  Whatever it was, it was rough.  And to feel hugely pregnant with a stupid, lingering head cold, I didn't feel up to the task of being a gracious, patient mother.  I finally got her into her pajamas and declared we'd start our bedtime ritual half an hour early, because her grumpy demeanor meant it was time for bed.

Once we were settled into the glider, reading her books with her milk and blanket, she was fine.  She calmed down quickly, and sweetly snuggled in to me as I read several of her favorites.  I turned off the light and started singing a few songs while we rocked, as is our routine, and then told her goodnight and laid her in her crib.  Minutes later, she was screaming again.  Frustrated that she hadn't quieted down and gone right to sleep (but recognizing that it was earlier than her typical bedtime), I went back in her room to rock with her a little longer, hoping she'd soon be sleeping, because I needed a break, too.  As I rocked in the dark, holding my sweet babe, I went over the details of the day, thinking of all the things I wished had gone differently, the ways I wished I had reacted differently, all the while growing more and more irritated that she still wasn't sleeping.

And then, all of a sudden, into the darkness, Ellery spoke.  "Four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten!"  No, the words weren't perfectly clear, but I knew that "Fo, fie, si, se-en, eight, ny, ten!" equaled her counting to herself.  As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I realized she was holding up her ten fingers.  My frustration quickly melted into pride and overwhelming love, as I realized how fast she's growing up and how unbelievably smart she is.  (Yes, I'm that parent that has no idea how smart other kids are, but I'm convinced my kid is brilliant.)

"Ellery, do you want to practice counting?"

"Yeah!"  (Her "yeah's!" are currently one of my favorite things.)

For the next few minutes, we counted to ten over and over, and I was shocked by the fact that she knew all the numbers.  When did this happen?  She counted from one to ten all on her own (only once, and I'm sure I won't be able to get her to do it again for awhile), but I still couldn't believe it.  I realized that she's learning and growing more every day, and observing and picking up far more than I realize.  It reminded me that time is fleeting, and that she won't be my tiny baby for much longer.  And that, though I often feel the opposite, I must be doing something right.

So for all you other moms out there in the trenches, in that phase when your children are small and still require so much help from you, you moms who feel like most of your time and energy is devoted to these tiny people, who have precious little time to yourself, and who feel that you are messing up, making mistake after mistake in your care for these little ones?  You're doing something right.  

If you love your child and do whatever you can to help your child become who she's meant to be, you're doing something right. 

If you're a stay-at-home mom, putting your own dreams on-hold while your children are young, you're doing something right.

If you're a working mom who is trying to balance work life and home life, all while doing the heroic deed of helping to provide for your family, you're doing something right.

If you're a working mom who loves her job and works because she knows she's happier and healthier, and consequently a better mother because she works, you're doing something right.

If you're a mom who daily tries to make the best decisions for your child based on what you believe is right (not what the books say is right, or what your friends say is right, or what your mother or mother-in-law* says is right), then you are doing something right.

So relax, sweet mothers, because it's too easy to blame ourselves for these bad days.  Sometimes bad days are just bad days.  It doesn't mean we're failing, or we are doing everything wrong.  We just gotta keep loving these babies, and loving ourselves, and most importantly, trusting in God through it all.

If we do that, we're doing something right.

*By the way, I'm lucky to have a mom and mother-in-law who are both amazing and gracious and have never interfered in the way I parent.  The above was just a blanket statement that I thought some people might relate to.  Love you, Mom and Noreen!

Monday, November 10, 2014

the big bad c-section monster (and why it's not that scary)

I'm getting closer and closer to having another baby, and it looks like it will be another c-section.  I really wanted to try for a VBAC (and I still may get the chance!), but the odds are looking like I'll have another huge baby.  My gestational diabetes puts Abel at more risk, and so we can't wait around until 42 weeks to see if he'll come out on his own.  Additionally, my doctor can't use certain induction drugs, so if he comes out on his own, before 40 weeks, it'll really have to be a miracle.  (And believe me, I'm still praying for a miracle and think it's possible!  But I'm also preparing myself for another c-section.)

Lately I've been thinking about women who were like me, who never wanted a c-section, but for medical reasons, were forced to have one.  Unfortunately, many of these women end up dealing with postpartum depression because the birth of their child didn't go exactly "as planned".  I am so grateful that I didn't deal with PPD at all, but I know that when you really hope for a certain type of birth, it's hard to let go of that mental image and let something else happen.

Because of this, I wanted to write a little about my experience so that people aren't so afraid of c-sections.  It doesn't have to be the worst thing in the world.  In fact, it can be the best thing in the world if it saves your baby.  I don't want any woman to feel discouraged or like a failure because she had to have her baby cut out of her.

*Disclaimer: Obviously a natural, vaginal birth is ideal.  If someone can safely deliver a baby, then they should never choose a c-section.  All I'm saying is that sometimes, a c-section is necessary for the health and well-being of the mother and baby, and in those cases, it is the best option!  And it's time for women to stop feeling bad about that.*

These are the misconceptions about c-sections that I want to correct, ideas and beliefs that scare pregnant women when the possibility of needing a c-section presents itself.  I used to be naive, so I used to think these same things.  But then I experienced a c-section for myself, and so now I'm experienced and educated.  Here's the truth about c-sections, from someone who has actually had one.  (Don't listen to people who've never had a c-section - they have no room to speak!)

1. Doctors and hospitals encourage c-sections when they aren't medically necessary.

This may be true for some doctors in certain hospitals, but that was in no way my experience.  In fact, my doctor tried to encourage Sam and I to do one more day of labor induction before resorting to a c-section.  I think the only reason she even agreed to the c-section was because of my diabetes, and the fact that it became more unsafe for Ellery the longer she was in the womb.  If I hadn't had GD, she would have never agreed to do the c-section.  It is unfair and untrue to insinuate that doctors want to do c-sections, and do them when it's not necessary.

2. C-sections are bad for the baby.

This might be the misconception that pisses me off the most.  Because it implies that the mother has allowed something to happen to her child that is not in the child's best interest.  (That untrue, guilt-ridden thought would send any new mother into a depression!)  Obviously a vaginal birth is the best option, but the next best option is a c-section.  In some cases, the only other option left is brain damage or death.  To me, that sounds less appealing.  People seem to forget that prior to modern medicine, childbirth resulted in the death of lots of laboring mothers and infants.  And often it was because of complications during birth that could have been avoided if a c-section had been an option.  Once Ellery came out, my doctor realized that she had been too big to possibly fit through me, and that if we'd tried laboring, Ellery probably would've gotten stuck in the birth canal, which would've resulted in terrible issues, possibly even death.  After speaking with the staff at the hospital, I learned that in many cases of oxygen deprivation and major problems at birth, it was because the mother was so adamant against having a c-section, that the baby suffered.  Issues can often be avoided if people listen to medical advice and let the doctors do their job of safely delivering a baby.

Additionally, Ellery has never experienced any side effects from the c-section.  She's completely healthy, and has always developed perfectly normally, even being advanced in most areas.  If you've ever spent time around my child, there's no way you could insinuate that she suffered any long-term affects from the c-section.  (And if she has, she would have been some magical wonder child if I'd had her naturally.)

3. You're too drugged up during a c-section to remember anything about the birth.

This is ridiculous.  I remember every single detail about Ellery's birth, vividly.  I remember being scared, alone in the operating room while they administered the epidural, before Sam was allowed in.  I remember the anesthesiologist at my head, walking me through what was going on, speaking in gentle tones.  I remember Sam at my side, alternately looking at me and then at the surgery, watching as the doctor cut me open.  I remember the pressure I felt as my midwife pressed on my chest to help the baby out while my doctor pulled her from me.  I remember her first cry, and the complete rush of relief that flooded over me, and the tears that immediately came.  They held her over me for a moment so I could see her before they weighed her, and I remember exactly what that view was like.  I remember thinking she had the cutest little eyes.  I remember my doctor exclaiming, "You're heavy!" when she pulled Ellery out, and all the nurses commenting on how big she was.  I remember Sam being fascinated by my being sewn up, and my anesthesiologist telling me that I'd be back in bikinis in no time (and thinking that was really funny, since I've never had a pretty, flat stomach).  I remember asking for her APGAR score, and, upon hearing how big and long she was, asking the nurse to repeat it because from what I knew of babies, 22 and a half inches was really long, and 9 lbs, 14 oz was really big.  So no, I wasn't too drugged up to experience everything fully, and I remember exactly what happened, down to the smallest detail.  (Like I remember the complete mortification of being totally naked and pregnant, lying on the table, while a male anesthesiologist and another male nurse were in the room.  Obviously that whole "mothers have no shame after birth" thing wasn't true for me, because to this day I still remember how embarrassing it was!)

4. You can't bond immediately with the baby, like in a natural birth.

To be fair, this probably depends on the hospital you deliver at, as well as your doctor.  I was lucky enough to be at a hospital that was very baby friendly, and they placed Ellery on my chest right away.  As soon as they pulled her out, they held her over the partition so I could see her, then took her to be cleaned and weighed and measured, and to make sure there was nothing wrong.  She was on my chest in less than two minutes of being pulled from my uterus.  Sam was right next to me, and we just watched her look around, her sweet little face so close to mine.  She stayed right on my chest while the doctor put me back together, and then we were wheeled into the recovery room.  We were allowed plenty of time as just a family of 3, as I breastfed Ellery and she slept on my skin.  I'm not sure what the protocol is for most hospitals, but they didn't even let my mom come in right away because they knew how important that bonding time was.  The hospital in Portland where I'll deliver Abel is even more baby-friendly.  I'll get immediate skin-to-skin time with Abel, even with a c-section, to encourage mother-baby bonding.  (Apparently this hospital is so encouraging of breastfeeding that they don't provide formula unless medically necessary, and they don't even provide pacifiers.)  So even with a c-section, the staff at this hospital has a goal of doing what is best for baby, which includes immediate skin-to-skin, mother-baby bonding, and breastfeeding.

If you can safely deliver your baby vaginally, that's wonderful!  I'm truly amazed, because my body hasn't worked that way for me.  But if, during your labor, something happens and your doctor suggests a c-section, please be open-minded.  I really hope this post can help people realize that c-sections don't have to be something to be feared.

Yes, the recovery is painful.  But so is labor, right?  At least the pain from a c-section  happens after you've had your baby, so your sweet little person can make everything better!  (And at least it's your abs that hurt, and not your lady parts.)  I'll admit, I did have a particularly good experience with my c-section, and not everyone recovers as quickly as I did.  But just as there are c-section horror stories, there are vaginal birth horror stories as well.  Some vaginal births go super smoothly - so do some c-section births.

Ultimately, I just encourage all pregnant women to be flexible with your birth plan.  Remember that this is one of the first lessons in becoming a mom - that you have no control.  You may have the illusion of control, but you really have no control.  It's a great thing to have an idea of how you want things to go during labor, but if things change, you'll be happier if you can go with the flow and adapt.  Because as any mother will tell you, those babies don't always cooperate out of the womb, either.  And the more flexible you can be, the happier you'll be.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ellery and Halloween

A tutu, handmade by a friend, a simple white onesie, and white tights.  Fairy wings from the dollar store, and a ribbon crown bought at Enchanted Forest around her first birthday.  Total cost about $10, a simple DIY Halloween costume.  But on this little girl, it sparkled.  My little fairy princess.

The other kids were much bigger and faster.  Repeatedly they were told to slow down and wait for Ellery, who was running the whole time, laughing to herself, glancing up at her dad excitedly as we made our way from house to house.  The first house included some confusion.  She didn't know why she was carrying the empty Starbucks paper bag, or why the door was opened for her, so she just tried to walk in.  At the next house, she meekly held out her bag, as the kind inhabitants placed a small piece of candy inside.  By the third or fourth house, she'd figured it out, and was unabashedly reaching in to the bowls of candy to pick what she wanted.  Granted, she had no idea what she wanted, having never tasted any of this candy before.

The joy was impossible to contain.  She was giddy, and when I asked her if she got more candy, she yelled out, "CANDY!"  She struggled any time Sam or I tried to carry her, saying, "Down, down," until we set her back on the sidewalk.  She would then obediently reach out her hand for ours, and wrap her tiny hand around our index fingers while she raced to try and catch up with her cousin and friends.

It was a very family friendly neighborhood, and most houses were well-lit, with kind people inside who constantly commented on what a precious little fairy she was.  One house was dark except for a glowing red light, and three people dressed in very scary looking skeleton masks were sitting on the porch, handing out candy.  We skipped that house and I clenched my teeth, wondering why some people have to take it too far, and make a day that could be fun into something on the verge of evil.  When you know you'll have young children coming to your house all night, what makes you think it's a good idea to be very scary?  Not just creepy in a fun way, but scary?  And similarly, why would you allow your child to dress in such a scary costume?  We saw lots of Princess Elsas and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but occasionally there was the little boy in the demon mask, or the freakish-looking zombie makeup, and I can't help but wonder what these parents are thinking.  I don't typically like to judge other parents, but in this case, I judge.  Parents, quit dressing your kids up in such evil costumes.  Who cares if that's what the child wants?  You're the adult; say no.

Yes, there were some annoyances, but for the most part it was just a fun night.  It was the sweetest thing to watch her experience something new, to figure out that most of the people were simply excited to see the children in costume, and to happily hand out candy.  Personally, I got numerous comments about whether or not my belly was a costume.  Yep, I really am pregnant, and no, I didn't strap on a fake belly just for Halloween.  Sam and I just laughed and laughed at our little girl, who daily gets more entertaining and fun.  It's the perfect age, and if I could, I'd freeze time right now.  I want to keep watching her learn and explore and discover, to laugh when she realizes that she can fake a laugh, and that when she does, we laugh with her.  I want to keep her at this age where she gives us sweet kisses and hugs, her little voice raspy as she repeats every word she hears.  (I also prefer this age where we can dump her candy back in the bowl for more trick-or-treaters, and she is none the wiser.)

Last night was the first time in a long time I had fun on Halloween, and it was all because of Ellery.  She really does make every experience better.  The only thing I can think of that hasn't gotten better with Ellery around is sleeping, but I've slowly learned to live with far less sleep than I ever thought possible.

I'm going to relish these years when Ellery is still young enough to enjoy the simple, fun parts of the day, where it still feels okay and safe to go trick-or-treating.  I still won't decorate my house, though I'm sure when Ellery is a little older she might want to carve a pumpkin.  But I am going to enjoy these years, when I get to see everything through Ellery's eyes, and be reminded again of how fun and special life is, a wide open world ready to be discovered.  This little girl has taken her cynical, somewhat jaded mother and made me softer, happier, and more content.

Thanks, baby girl.  I don't think we could have picked a more perfect name for you, little Ellery, our "bringer of joy".  You bring joy to everyone around you, every day.

Monday, October 27, 2014



Has anyone figured it out yet?  I haven't.  Some days I feel like I'm on top of everything.  Okay, honestly, there have been maybe five days I can remember feeling that way.  Most days my to-do list goes half undone.

After documenting our day on Wednesday, I was discouraged to see how little I actually got done.  I felt busy all day, but in reality, most of the things I had hoped to do that day were left ignored.  It's not for lack of trying; it's for lack of time.  Or, it's for having a toddler that makes normal tasks take twice or three times as long.  Take, for example, getting into the car.  She's at the age where she insists on walking down our flight of stairs all by herself, which understandably takes much longer than it would if I were to just carry her down.

After reading my blog, I also started to feel a bit guilty.  Guilty that I hadn't spent enough time playing with Ellery, that I was too focused on the other "chores" I needed to do.

And I realized I'll never have the perfect balance.  Some days will be much more fun for Ellery, and will include play dates and activities and lots of undivided attention.  Other days will include grocery shopping and cleaning and necessary household tasks.  Some days I'll ignore those household tasks while Ellery naps and simply rest myself.

I've realized that my "balance" simply means my priorities change daily.  And honestly, my priorities aren't always set by me; they are reflected in what needs the most attention that day.  Take, for example, the past few days.  Thursday included a strange nausea that hit whenever I stood up, which meant Ellery and I watched a lot of nursery rhymes on YouTube.  Friday I felt fine, but Saturday and Sunday hit with a terrible sore throat and runny nose, with some lingering nausea that again had me laying down most of the day.  Thank God for Sam, who took Ellery to church and to our small group on Sunday so that I could take a nap and try to get well.

When I literally cannot stand up because of feeling sick, my priority becomes my health.  I'm responsible for another little life inside me right now, so I have to listen to my body when it tells me to slow down.  Housework went undone and Ellery was likely bored most of the past few days because I had no other choice but to take care of myself.

Today Ellery was the priority.  She must have decided to let me know that she was tired of my illness, because she was acting out all day.  She spent about two hours screaming when I tried to get her to nap.  So today, housework went ignored and all my attention was on the kid because I really had no other choice.

I've realized that for me, balance means doing whatever it takes to keep my head above water that day.  When we run out of clean dishes to use, or run out of food in the freezer, the housework and errands will again be prioritized.  And maybe tomorrow will be magical and Ellery will nap perfectly and I'll feel energetic and healthy, and I'll be able to accomplish enough to feel a little bit more on top of things, and a little less behind.  I'm hoping I can feel caught up before this second baby comes, because I'm pretty certain adding another child to the mix won't exactly make things easier.

Speaking of this second child, I finally got around to sorting through some of his clothes today.  This was the first thing I've done to prepare for the arrival of this little guy, which is funny considering that I'll be "full term" in six short weeks.  By this time with Ellery, I'd had tons of crafts and decorations done for her nursery, I had obsessed over a baby registry, and we'd already set up some furniture in her room.  From what I understand, this is pretty normal; with your first baby, you're uber prepared, and with your second, you finally start getting around to doing things at the very end of the pregnancy.  At least I hope this is normal?  I'm not really worried.  As long as he has a place to sleep and something to wear, we should be fine.  Oh, and maybe a few diapers.  I'm trying to figure out how big this kid will be.  With Ellery, I had to give all her newborn clothes to my sister, since Ellery was too big to fit into any of them.  And my mom, who had gifted us with a bunch of newborn diapers, ended up taking those to my sister as well, as Ellery was too big for those.  What if we have a normal-sized baby this time?  What if he feels like a newborn?  What if he could actually fit through the birth canal and I could deliver him like a normal person?!  My mind cannot even fathom it.

What was this blog about again?  Oh yes, balance.  Okay, so am I alone in this?  Is every other mom totally organized?  Do your days go exactly as you plan them?  Have you found a peace about it?  I think I finally have.  I'm okay with admitting I'm not perfect and that I never will be.  Doesn't stop me from trying though!

I found this photo on Pinterest and thought it was hilarious and really fitting today.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Day in the Life of this Mama

*I wrote most of this last night, so this all took place yesterday, October 22nd.  It's actually funny reading this today, since today was completely different.  But more on that later...*

There's a blogger named Hollywood Housewife who started a project called One Day HH.  Basically the idea is to document a normal day in your life through photographs and post them to Instagram.  You're not just showing off the fun, exciting parts of your life - it's just a snapshot of your real daily grind.  I thought this was a fun way to keep up with my theme of living in the present, as this post will be a pretty accurate view of what my present life currently looks like.  I didn't want to do it on Instagram, to avoid annoying all my IG followers, and I thought I'd put it here instead.  Because no one is forcing you to read my blog, right?

I also thought it would be interesting because I know some people wonder what a stay-at-home mom does all day.  I can't speak for all stay-at-home moms, but this is generally what I do every day.  To be honest, today didn't involve a lot of activities out of our home because the weather is crazy gray and rainy, and Ellery has a bit of a runny nose, so I didn't want her outside.  When the weather is nicer, we usually go for a walk, or go to the park, or at least go to the library or something.  Today was more of a hideout-at-home sort of day.

Here goes!  Also, all my pictures were taken on my iphone, and it was super dark and dreary today, so we had very little natural light.  Needless to say, the photos aren't top quality.

First thing I did when I woke up?  Made Sam's lunch.  Super exciting.  

Bible/prayer time while I drink my coffee and knit.  I've learned that if I try to pray early in the morning, I fall asleep.  Knitting helps keep my hands busy while I do some praying.  Only got to do this about fifteen minutes before the little monkey woke up, though.  Still, even that little bit got my day started off on the right foot.

Baby girl gets milk and a little Baby Babble time while I attack some dishes.  I'm a morning cleaner.  I'll totally go to bed with my house a mess, no problem.  But in the morning, I've got energy and so that's when I clean!

While Ellery eats breakfast, I start my workout DVD.  She actually enjoys watching it and tries to copy the movements with her arms.  Funny kid.  Sidenote: I would not be so diligent about exercise if it weren't for this silly diabetes.  Believe me.

Had some fun playing in her room, and then she started throwing Willow's ball for her.  It's pretty great when Willow plays with her.  Would you believe me if I told you Ellery loves it? ;)

Reading books to settle her down before nap time.  

While she sleeps, I start laundry.  I'm beyond thankful that we have a washer and dryer in our apartment.  While we were in Petaluma, Sam and I drove past the laundromat where I used to do our laundry, since our old place didn't have any hookups or machines.  I can't imagine doing that now, especially with a baby, and it just makes me so very grateful.  After living in that little home, with no washer, dryer, or dishwasher, I swore I'd never complain about laundry or dishes again.  With modern conveniences, they're really not bad at all!

Fortunately, she slept long enough for me to finish my workout, take a shower, and chop some veggies in preparation for dinner.  

I browsed Instagram while I had my apple and peanut butter snack. ^^ Then more dishes/straightening up the house/laundry.  Living the dream, am I right?

My back was starting to hurt and I hadn't sat down much by this point, so I decided I'd go read during the rest of her nap.  On my way to get my book, I heard a very angry little girl start to cry.  We were both pretty bummed her nap was over.

But then Willow came to say hi, and Willow always makes things better.  

Poor Willow. ;)  Next was practicing counting on her abacus.  I discovered she knows 5, 6, and 9.  Had no idea she knew those numbers???  She played in her room while I cleaned out her closet.  Packing up summer clothes and clothes that are too small always makes me sad, especially since I don't know if we'll ever be able to use these sweet girl clothes again.

Selfie before we head out to Costco!  Gotta document what we wore, right?  (Also, sometimes I wonder if I'll ever stop dressing like I'm a college student.  I doubt it.)

Our very rainy drive to Costco.  I've decided not to complain about rain, especially since I know California would love to have rain.  So we were thankful for the weather today.  Incidentally, I'm sort of in love with all the farms and fields near our home.  Love this little town!

Rain can't get us down, yo!  On rainy days, sometimes trips to Costco or Target are just fun excursions for the baby.  She was particularly enthralled with all the Christmas decorations displayed at Costco today.  Lots of snowmen and gingerbread men covered in Christmas lights.  Luckily we didn't need a ton of stuff, so it wasn't so bad carting our stuff around in the rain.


At Costco I found some super fun faux leather leggings!  While trying them on, I decided to check and see how big Abel is getting.  I used to go to church with a woman who was completely disgusted by bare pregnant bellies.  And to be honest, they used to weird me out.  But after having one myself, I have realized how miraculous they are, and that makes them beautiful to me.  So my apologies if you're grossed out by pregnant bellies.  Just keep scrolling.

But seriously, I love this stage when he's moving all around, and rather than just feeling random movement I can tell he's kicking or punching.  And how about them leggings?!  I'm impressed, Costco!  Just for the record, I will forever be an advocate for leggings as pants.  They're super comfortable - why wouldn't you wear them as pants?  Are you afraid of being happy?  Plus, I can never find a good pair of jeans that actually fits!  I blame my chicken legs and non-butt.  But those traits happen to work just fine with leggings, so that's what I prefer.  All you haters, keep hating, I'll just wear my Costco leather leggings.

Meanwhile, Ellery read to herself in her room while I unloaded our Costco haul and took ridiculous pictures of my belly.  (I feel obligated to document her day as well, so y'all don't think I just ignore her while I try on clothes.)  :)

 Then Ellery tried to coerce Willow out from under the bed while I folded four loads of laundry.  And no, Willow didn't come out from hiding.  ;)

Next was a song and dance party in the living room.  Super blurry picture, but she was spinning and loving it, and I had to capture it.  Currently she loves singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "If You're Happy and You Know It".  She's also a major fan of playing "Ring Around the Rosie" and requests it by saying, "ashes, ashes," and pulling on my hands until I stand up and play.  How do I resist that little love?

After more puzzles and books, it's nap time again for the monkey.  And mama gets to test her blood sugar again.  Yay.

I was feeling hungry and tired and my blood sugar was a little low, so I decided to take it easy and snuggle with Morty while I read and ate a gluten free pop tart.  Seriously, gluten free pop tarts.  Thank you, Jesus.  Had to set my alarm for twenty minutes, because if I didn't, I'd have sat there reading all day.

Don't let his face fool you.  He loves when I lay on him.  He was totally purring.

Fortunately, Ellery took a great afternoon nap, so I was able to start dinner while she was sleeping.  Typically, she's awake while I'm trying to cook, and really demands attention.  She plays with tupperware in the kitchen with me half the time, but eventually starts acting up to get me to play with her.  So I'm thankful for days when I can just get dinner together in peace.  Not that I don't love playing with her; it's just hard to keep an eye on things on the stove when she's crawling out the cat door onto the balcony.

And when she woke - more books!  She's pretty good about playing on her own, but she lets me know when she wants company.  Plus, I like to use times like these to help her learn.  We point out animals, do animal noises, point out colors and shapes, etc.  I'm responsible for educating this little lamb for now, and I don't take that lightly.  I know her brain is like a sponge right now, so I want to help fill it with as much knowledge as possible.

Sam had a work meeting, so it was just me and the kid for dinner.  Post dinner, pre-bath are generally when she's most hyper.  So while I straightened up her room, she ran around like a crazy child, mostly chasing Willow and trying to lay on her.  Willow's such a champ.  And I really can't blame Ellery for her obsession with cats and the deep-seated need to cuddle them.  (See above picture of me and Morty.) 

Pretty sure we both look forward to bath time the most.  She gets a bath every other day, unless she's particularly dirty, and she loves playing in there.  It's always a bit of a struggle to get her out.  And I like having the chance to simply sit and watch her play.  (Sitting is always very welcome when you're a pregnant, stay-at-home mom.)

Then we snuggled in our glider, baby smelling fresh and clean and perfect, and read books while she drank milk and clutched her blanket and stuffed cat.  And that's another favorite part of my day.

Baby sleeps, and mama has herself a bowl of sugar-free salted caramel ice cream.  Don't let the name fool you - this ice cream is actually not very good at all.  But sometimes you just need ice cream, am I right?

Sam came home and I worked on this blog for a while, then went to bed because I wasn't feeling well.  Exciting life, right?!  It's pretty simple but I really love it.

And if you actually read this far and looked at all the pictures, I'm impressed.  And maybe your life is less exciting than mine? ;)