Monday, December 19, 2011

How my toddler feels about food.

45 seconds of Austen's thought process regarding food. Also, you should know that Austen calls our dog (Izzy) by the name of my in-law's dog, Molly.:

O-M-G. I am hungry!
Can I have that? What's that? I want that. NOW.
Ya know, now that I have sucked on it...I don't love it.
I bet if I spit it out, Izzy will love it.
Peas? I love peas!
oooooh. Dis pea is hot!
Whooooooo. Whoooooooo. Two blows should cool it.
I had no choice but to spit those flaming balls of green out.
I would love a cheese stick.
Is that meat? Don't you know I hate meat?!
What are these green things?
Wheres my milk? All I want is milk.
I am not even hungry.
I want down.
I want up.
Fine, I will climb back up myself.
I bet the food would taste better if I was sitting in that chair.
No, this chair.
Daddy, can I have a bite?
Everything is better when Daddy eats it.
I will only eat raisins. Forever and Amen.

Austen rocking the mullet at mealtime.

Friday, December 2, 2011

oh yeah, I have a blog.

Zomg, guys. I swear I really want to make this blog into something but some days it just seems so daunting. The writing part I love--the making it pretty, trying like hell to get people to read it, and wondering how I come across parts--eh, not so much. So, I have come to peace with the fact that I will write when moved to do so and maybe 5 people will read it. Maybe 50. It doesn't change the words or their meaning to me and so I am okay with that.

Moving on...

I want to talk about judgment for a second. It is not fun. Being judged, judging, watching people get judged. It is all so draining. I am not one to normally get all up in arms about stuff, but I follow a blog called Heir to Blair
and totally respect and admire Beth Anne's blazing honesty and bravery. Sometimes I read people's blogs and I am all "they are better than life than me". When I read this blog, I feel like "man, I want to get coffee with that girl because she is legit". So, needless to say I was really bummed when I saw the reaction that her latest endeavor got. If you read the post you will see what I mean.

To attack someone simply for sharing with the world their honest to goodness struggles is baffling to me. And we aren't talking about earth-shattering stuff here, people. We are talking about naps! I felt the need to defend this person I have never met--simply because I admire her for baring her soul. If you take the time to investigate her site, you will see--she has probably helped SO many women by sharing her PPD story, just for starters.

After I commented on the Babble post, I was kind of mad at myself. By responding to ToddlerMama, had I just fueled her fire? Validated her bullying? Perhaps. But worse, I had cast my own judgment. What she said to and about Blair was uncalled for. But I don't know the shoes she wears or the day she's had. Now, I recognize that ToddlerMama is probably having a hard time right now. Maybe her marriage is failing, or her finances are in shambles, or she wants another baby so bad that she feels like she must hold this one even tighter. But her comments are unbelievable to me.Perhaps it would have been best to reach out to her privately, offering a chance to listen. In life, it is usually those who wear the the strongest armor who are the most deeply wounded.

So, when we judge the mom who doesn't pick her screaming toddler up off the floor, who writes a blog post about needing 2 hours of quiet time, who lashes out in the comments section--we just contribute to the vicious cycle of nonacceptance. I think that as mothers, we are called to reach a higher level of understanding and acceptance. We are raising a generation, and so we must strive to see what is not readily visible. We have to speak from a place of compassion and patience when at all possible. That means you too, ToddlerMama.

That being said, judgment is inevitable. Its a hair-trigger response to forge an opinion when we encounter things out in the world. However, I think what I am learning more and more (as a mother, at my job, particularly as a wife) is that there truly is an "A" for effort. If you can simply make it a priority to try to lead with a compassionate heart, then you will eventually see a fundamental change in your tendency to judge. While I may still see a parent doing something I disagree with and form a quick opinion, I now try to reason with myself as to what else is going on that I can't see.

I am no saint. That is very very clear. However, I hope and pray that by trying to be a little more forgiving in my judgments that the same will be done to me. So, when you see my toddler throwing herself on the pavement--please know that I am doing the very best I can. And that I am praying for a nap (sorry, ToddlerMama).

Friday, October 14, 2011

oh, dear God.

I am going to need some kind of protective vest to shield against these eyes. I am the mommy. I am in charge. I must say no...I must say no....I must...okay, fine. You win.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We moved!

We moved. And it is freakin' awesome. I keep trying to take pictures but the lighting isn't quite right and theres always a blur of a baby or dog running through--but soon, friends. Soon.

Moving turned out to be a Chad & Jamie production. Our "help", God bless them, showed up after we had completely loaded the truck at the old house. They left shortly after helping us carry the last box into the new house. I have to say, packing and moving practically without any help was actually kind of rewarding. I felt like Chad and I really shined as a team. I could not be proud to say that we did not argue once, we unpacked every box, and hit IKEA and the liquor store...all in just 13 hours!

 playtime with the Grams!

Granted, it was made a heck of a lot easier by the absence of littlest gal. She was with Grammy...and thank heavens for that! It felt so good to bring her in the house with it all set up and introduce her to every room. She ran around pointing and yelling with glee. My play kitchen--in the kitchen!? My ball pit?! The TV--on the wall?! This is awesome! My heart melted into a little puddle of happy.

 eating a creation from her new play kitchen! 
(it was supposed to be for Christmas, by the mister wanted to give it to her now :)

I had talked to some of you about my concern over the fact that the new house doesn't have a bathtub. It seemed okay though--I bathed her in the extra large sink in the kitchen last night and she totally dug it. I am sure I will attempt a shower with her in the near future but I am a little nervous. 

Since that went off without a hitch, I decided to go ahead and try to put her to bed without her nighttime bottle. I warmed up some milk and put it in a sippy cup....and to my surprise, it wasn't the epic meltdown I anticipated. She fussed a little and didn't drink as much milk as she would have but she did go to sleep rather quickly. That being said, she woke up at 2 am and 4 am screaming like the world was ending. It's hard for me to know if this is "new house" behavior, repercussions from ditching the bottle or just normal stuff...since shes only slept through the night a handful of times anyway.

Now that Chad is down 4 wisdom teeth, we have a new address, and Austen's ear infection has gone away (although the remnants of her off-balance week can still be seen on her face in the shape of a bruise *sad face*), I hoping our little family can enjoy some peace and quiet and some much needed bonding time in the coming weeks.

So, that's what we have been up to. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I still don't get it.

We have all heard it before. Your mom does something a little bit kooky and you give her that teenage, judgemental look and she says "When you're a mom, you'll understand".

Fair enough. A lot of things my mom did that I thought were annoying when I was a child are now very clearly necessary. The crying (oh, hormones). The constant trips to the bathroom (children of the world, you have no one to blame but yourselves). The hoarding of art projects, the pushing of vegetables and fruits, the hovering at the playground. The incessant picture taking. I get it.

But there are still a few things I don't get. Maybe my mom is just weird, but the following things still leave me puzzled:

1. The snot rag. What is up with that? Your nose is running and she passes you this wadded up tissue and doesn't understand why you look repulsed. Every mom has one of these in her purse. Just throw it away. Even if it is an unused tissue that somehow got crumpled into a ball, it will still feel like a snot-covered vomit-inducing rag when you hand it to me. So, no thanks. God gave me sleeves for a reason. Desperate times.

2. The hugging. Now if you know me, you know I don't really love to hug. I blame this on my mother. She is suuuuch a hugger. We had to hug out everything at my house. More than two people involved in the emotional exchange? Well, then a group hug it is! No, no, no. Too much hugging and the hugs lose their special. Lets save hugs for scarped knees and reunions after time apart. Perfectly acceptable alternatives are lap-sitting (for babies, of course), hand holding and verbal affirmation of love.

3. The voice mails. Oh, the voice mails. My mom leaves them no matter how many times I tell her I don't listen to them. Sometimes she will just say, "hey, call me". Um, the missed call notification on my phone that displayed your name and number were enough to alert me to the fact that I need to call you. You either have this kind of mom or the kind that leaves lengthy, entertaining voice mails. My aunt Donna leaves my cousin Alason the best voice mails. Seriously, her whole day's events condensed into 30 seconds. Amazing.

I have the greatest mom in the world and I would probably be an absolute train-wreck without her. But the things above, I will probably never get. I am willing to bet Austen will have the same kind of list. What drives you crazy about your mom?

Things I don't get about Austen? Why she loves spilling things.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, dear friend.

Let me tell you about my friend, Liz
First of all, its her birthday...everyone say...HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIZ!

Who wouldnt want a mom like this!?

In honor of her birthday, I want to share with you guys just how much this fellow ginger means to me.

First of all, shes raising two pretty kick ass kids with the help of her cutie pie husband, Ryan. She actively serves the community through efforts at the free store and by welcoming four neighborhood boys into her home a daily basis for homework help, warm food, and most importantly--a chance to be heard and loved. As if that's not enough, she serves on the board where our kids go to preschool.

When shes not busy taking on the neighborhood's needs, shes crafting away. Making beautiful things from next to nothing--seriously, do you have a left over box? She will teach you to make this. If you are like me and can't make a stick figure look cute, you can buy her creations and feel good about cute stuff in your house that has little to no environmental impact.

hanging out with my little gal.

Liz is not perfect--but she will be the first one to admit it. She can be a "strong" personality, she can let a few days go by without touching the laundry, she absolutely cannot resist a plate of brownies. Who can?

However, the truth is, I can honestly say that I have met very few people like her. Who are continually striving for improvement. Perhaps the best part about my dear friend is that she sees her own flaws and wants to change them. It is an amazing and rewarding thing to see her dig deeper spiritually to find answers--something she has taught me to do for myself.

I love her for her talents, her sincerity, and her willingness to always show up. She may not have the answer...but she shows up. And she helps. Best of all, she does not keep tabs. She gives selflessly.

 I love her because despite all of the awesomeness she has going on, she never makes me feel like I need to match up. When I do something cool, she really does think its noteworthy. She supports me. Something I always figured was normal---but I am quickly realizing it just isn't. A true blue friend without ulterior motives is hard to find. I feel blessed to have found her.

Oh, just looking cute with a baby on her back.

I am so proud of who she has become over the past few years. 
I look forward to many years of watching her grow as a person, becoming an even better wife, mother and friend.
To you, Liz. On your Birthday. I love you! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do what's best--then do what works.

One of my best friends from college, Emily, and I had this motto: "When in doubt, do nothing."

This motto served me very well in college. When aren't sure if you should drunk dial that guy you met yesterday, don't. When you aren't sure if you should do that shot of Jim Beam when you have class at 8 am, don't. When you aren't sure if you should spend your last $5 on a forty of beer and some cheeseburgers, don't.

 The motto didn't always work the way it was intended.

I do well when I can regularly repeat a mantra to myself. The old college saying still serves me well (when you aren't sure if you should take your child out when she hasn't napped, dont.) but I got to thinking about what my "parenting" motto would be. I decided that the overall theme of my parenting journey thus far has been "Do what's best--then do what works"

I really wanted to nurse Austen for a long period of time. If I had to list my greatest disappointment to date, my nursing experience would probably rank very close to the top. I wanted to do what was best for her. I wanted us to find the perfect latch, get supply issues under control, and have that intimate bond. In reality, at 5 weeks into our journey, a lactation consultant and Austen's pediatrician urged me to introduce formula. In the end, we did what worked to keep her happy and healthy. I still have some regrets in that area, but I know that I tried with my whole heart--and then I adapted to my child's needs.

I want Austen to sit at the table every night and eat a well balanced meal. I want her to participate in our dinner time experience and be happy to be there. I want that because it is what's best. In reality, sometimes the only thing that works is standing at the kitchen counter making airplane noises while trying to shove yogurt in her mouth. But she eats, and that's what counts.

I wanted to be there for every broken heart, every scraped knee and every prize-winning smile when she is filled with accomplishment. After all, a mother's love is best. However, it's not what worked for our family. As a stay-at-home mom, I was restless and bored. I missed working. Do I necessarily think that Austen is better off at preschool? Well, more and more--I am starting think so. She is thriving there! In the end, doing what worked ended up being what was best...

I am learning not to be so hard on myself. My intentions could not be better when it comes to my family, but sometimes our execution of our goals just falls short. And that's okay. Austen is almost 14 months old and still takes a nightly bottle, still sucks a pacifier--things I swore we would be done with on her first birthday. Sure, its probably best to be done with them sooner rather than later--but I am letting go of worrying about what someone will think of me or of it's the perfect way of parenting--and learning to just do what works.

Parenting is a commitment, a life-long promise to care for someone else. It is impossible to think that we will always do what is best when in reality, it just might not work. Adaptability is our greatest ally.

When in doubt, don't give a cranky toddler spaghetti.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let's establish some ground rules.

Okay, so Facebook has once again "improved" their layout (whatever happened to "if its not broke, don't fix it"?). It now appears that we will all be able to see not only what everyone is doing every single second, but also which activities are deemed most popular. Yaaay!?

claps for Facebook!

That being said, lets go ahead and review some Facebook etiquette:

1. I know it has been said a lot lately (my friend Liz Eagle had a pretty funny post on it). But for the love of cheese and rice, enough with the "Nine out of ten people won't repost that they love Jesus..." and "Everyone is dying of such and such disease, so repost this for awareness...". Particularly awful are the cryptic statuses about what color your bra is. Seriously, enough is enough. Jesus does not care about my Facebook status, of this I know. Facebook is a place to tell us what you are doing or how you are feeling. Not for you to tell everyone else what to do and feel.

2. Now, about your feelings. I enjoy reading about  ramblings onpolitical and ESPN-related thoughts. It gives me insight and helps me see things differently. It's okay to tell us you had a bad day at work or that you're having the best day ever because you just scored $300 worth of groceries for $.15. These are acceptable, shareable emotions. The fact that you hate your baby daddy, your boss is a total retard, or your best friend slept with yo man are not. Your drama is making my head hurt.

3. I am not even going to ask that you speak English. Just speak some semblance of a language. "If you do dis n den u say dat, itz annoying to read, ya herd?"

4. No one believes that your name is James Igotthesickestflow McDonald. So, just stop. Seriously. (I really do automatically defriend these people when I see this happening. Someone has to make a stand.)

5. We get it. You love your man. Your girlfriend is the best thing that has ever happened to you. Blah blah. Stop posting it on each other's walls every 15 minutes, look up from your phones and tell each other in person. Recognize that your Facebook interactions appear on everyone's mini-feed and sort of makes us all want to throw up in our mouths.

5. Lastly, we all do annoying things. I post an obscene amount of pictures of my kid. I could give you some excuse about how I started uploading them to Facebook to clear memory from my phone...but really, you don't care about my excuses. And I don't care about yours. So, if I do something annoying--go ahead and defriend me/take me off your feed. Now, I will be exercising the same right. Don't ask me to be your friend again repeatedly. And if we are friends in real life and you ask "did you see my post about blah blah" and I give you a blank stare...well, sorry. I just couldn't take one more picture of you posing in your bathroom mirror. No hard feelings. Sometimes (*gasp*) people make better real-life friends than Internet friends!

Lets meet at the park and discuss. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Yummy Mummy?

Ohmygosh. Can we talk about the park? I feel like as the air becomes crisp and Austen's sweet little jackets beg to be worn its the only place I want to be.


That is, until I get there. Maybe it's just my neighborhood, but every time I walk to our local park, I feel a sense of dread when I see certain moms. I "know" them in the sense that we have all been swinging our kids side by side for a few months. Some of them know one another much better--they have kids who don the same private school uniforms, they lease the same make and model of SUV, they serve the same organic grass-fed beef. Whatever it is, they just aren't overly friendly or nice--despite my repeated attempts to make small talk.

A few days ago, I took Austen to the park. Those moms were there. I did my best to join in their conversation while also trying to make sure that Austen did not kill herself in a feeble attempt to keep up with the big kids (seriously, she thinks shes ten years old). They all gave half hearted smiles and sort of reply to my attempts at conversation. So, feeling defeated, I went and put my gal on the swings.

One of the moms broke from the crowd and came over to me. "You're a very yummy mummy", she said. Wha?! What does that mean? Then she says, "I like your daughter's pants". Oh Good! A chance to bond. "Thank you," I said, "We basically only put her in hand-me-downs..." I would have continued, explaining that I am lucky to have so many friends with such stylish children that I would be crazy to buy new things for her at this point. I couldn't finish my thought because she very condescendingly says, "Ooooh. Let me get your information. We are always looking to help someone in need and I have girls clothes her size."

Whaaaat?! Whoa, lady. I will be the first to graciously accept a hand-me-down. We aren't "in need" but we aren't rock stars either. Regardless, the point is--she jumped to conclusions about me and my child rather than simply trying to be our friend.
Austen rocking the hand-me-down pants

I thought about her comments on the walk home. Yummy Mummy? In Need? Did she feel threatened by me? Or did she feel sorry for me? I find myself increasingly frustrated over the overwhelming competition between mothers. I think that's what this, and many of my interactions with other moms, boils down to. "Oh! You have a problem? Let me be the one to fix it/show you how to do it better/brag about how I never had that problem." Its silly and ridiculous.

Why are "mom blogs" so popular? Because becoming a mother is a universal experience. We all feel the same love for our children and desire to raise them in the best way possible. Now, how that manifests itself in real life is clearly different across generations, neighborhoods and classes. Why can't we just be okay with that? Why can't we embrace the community of mothers around us and utilize the wealth of information it could serve to be without feeling defensive?

The ironic part is, the kids all play freely and without hesitation. All I am saying is, open the circle at the park. Stop judging.

I will now exit my soap box. Thank you, thank you very much.

Friday, September 16, 2011

oh...hey there!

You guys! How did I go MONTHS without posting??

Oh, I got a job and Austen turned one and started preschool and we have been trying to find a new house and oh I still have that evil dog that pees in my house?!

Gotcha. Guess I have been kind of busy. Well, have no fear...I am back! I didn't really stop writing, I just stopped editing things and putting things up here for your enjoyment. I have had a few a-ha moments in the past few days and one of them is that I really miss blogging. So, lets get this party started--again!

About the job--its awesome. It's so perfectly suited for our lives and our situation and I am infinitely grateful to be somewhere that makes me feel appreciated and also gives me flexibility.

Clearly, the dog can't be trusted to pee outside so we didn't feel very comfortable trusting her to care for our infant (toddler?! It's getting harder and harder to tell). Go figure. We opted instead to enroll her at St. Martin's Episcopal Preschool which is from 9-1. It is freakin' awesome ya'll. She LOVES her teacher, doesn't even cry when I drop her off and comes home chit-chatting like she can't wait to tell me all about her day.

After school, the world's most amazing nanny, Chelsea, picks her up and takes her home. Sometimes the go to the park and sometimes she just crashes for nap time. Regardless, Chelsea sends me updates and adorable pictures. I regularly stop and thank God for this awesome arrangement and for bringing her into our lives (thanks, Bethany!).

I struggled with this whole "back to work" thing. We didn't necessarily desperately need me to work for incomes sake (although we certainly weren't cruising along like the Jeffersons or anything). It was more that I was at a crossroads where I felt like I was missing a crucial piece of my former self--the part of me that really takes pride in a job well done and enjoys getting dressed to go somewhere every day. I recognize that for lots of women, they find that same type of satisfaction working within the home. For me, I felt like I needed that outside connection. To each their own? Doesn't mean I didn'tshed a lot of tears over leaving her with someone else. I still do.

I also feel like the stimulation Austen is getting from being around other kids was very needed. She is super busy, social, and very intelligent. I think she is thriving in an environment where she can try new things and learn from others--something I tried to cultivate when I was at home but was never able to be very consistent with.

So, there ya have it. We are all alive, well, and happy. And I am baaaaaack.
Oh, and an added bonus? Preschool keeps Austen worn out--and sleeping like a champ! :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

my 10 month old is a bully.

Dear Austen,

Today was a little difficult for us. You are walking now--everywhere. That leaves you little time for much else. You do not really want to sit down to eat, take a nap, or play with any other babies. You just want to walk. It is really sweet to watch your teeny legs carry you all over the house--but it can also be exhausting for your mommy who is quickly running out of diversions.

This morning, we went to the library where there are other babies for you to play with and room for you to walk as much as you please. Being the curious little gal you are, you wandered over to a few "big kids" playing at a train table. I know you just wanted to see what they were doing. Maybe play with a train yourself. Unfortunately, my dear, those big boys did not know what to make of your teensy self. They were not very nice to you. One of them even pushed you down. Did you cry? No, my sweet Austen, in your typical style--you got back up. You went back to that table. And you took that boy's train.

We had to leave soon after that. It appears some little boys and their mommies do not appreciate your fiesty spirit. I couldn't even scold you--there will be time to learn about sharing. I was just so proud of your determination. Please always go after what you want, ignore those that push you down, and do not ever think that you can't do something the boys are doing.

Oh, and tomorrow....lets try a nap! :)

I love you. Endlessly,


The scene of the crime.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Let's get real.

"When a woman has a kingdom heart, she has an active understanding of what matters most to the heart of God. She lives in the balance of passion and contentment. She learns to love well, give without regard to self, and forgive without hesitation. The woman with a kingdom heart may have a duffel bag full of possessions or enough treasures to fill a mansion, but she has learned to hold them with an open hand. Hold everything with open hands. I don't think we are ever allowed to grab hold of anything or anyone as though they matter more than the kingdom of heaven. When you hold relationships with open hands, then people come in and out of your life as gifts of grace to be cherished and enjoyed, not objects to be owned and manipulated. And then when you hold your dreams with open hands, you get to watch God resurrect what seemed dead and multiply what seemed small."

Ok, so I just stumbled upon this awesome blog and in it the Casey wrote about how she worries about how her children would be cared for if she was gone. I think this is a natural fear for any woman. She included this quote at the end of her blog, and it sang to me. I am not going to get super preachy on you. Sometimes I go to church, sometimes I dont. How I feel about God is a vibrant, colorful conversation that we can have over coffee someday. But--open hands--open hands...I needed those words, today.

Now, let me be really honest. Not only do I have this fear, I have many fears. Too many fears. Chad has to constantly remind me how fruitless my worry is. It doesn't keep me from worrying if we will ever be out of debt, if Austen is okay, if he is happy, if I weigh too much, if the floors are clean enough...on and on. After Austen was born my anxiety became unbearable. I couldn't watch thenes because I would literally bawl as I pictured myself trying to protect m sweet, new baby from the evils of the world. It was overwhelming. Being responsible for another person suddenly made me feel incapable of even going to the grocery store. It was bad.

Since that time, I have worked hard to gain perspective. I think being a stay at home makes this especially difficult. Austen is my all-day, everyday concern. I have begun to learn that having other interests can really go a long way to ease the pressure of feeling like I have to be one step ahead of the next disaster. However, sometimes I still find myself back to my old ways.

When I read the quote above, I really got it. Open hands. Ther harder I try to hold, control and perfect the things around me...the worse I feel. Holding the things that matter most with open hands means trusting god...and myself. It means believing that I can do a good job at my marriage, my parenting, my blog...whatever. And when I fall short, it is okay. Because I am not measured by the things I hold in my hands. Trying to define my life by material things or other people is a recipe for failure and I know that. It just happens so quickly. You get married, have a baby (or vice versa) and suddenly it becomes an do I keep everyone happy, give them what they need and want, and never let them down.

The things I hold so close, particularly my sweet baby and my dear husband, are not enjoyed fully when I am worrying over them. My worry is felt by those around me and creates a cycle of anxiety. It something I need to harness. To stop. Part of that means replacing the time I spend thinking of them and worrying about petty things with writing, becoming better. That is so so scary. I know I need to write. And not two paragraph blog posts. I need to allow myself to turn off the "mommy" hat and be who I have always been. I'm not sure why this is so terrifying. Its like it if i take the time to be who I always was, I will neglect who I am now. I will drop the ball.

I have to learn balance. I have to learn release, and about the positive side of change and the unknown. I need to give myself permission to stop worrying and start really living. For Austen and Chads sake, I shouldn't just be the worrier of things. I think I feel like by doing that I am showing them love. However, I am asking them to never ever bring to light my fears--and that is an unfair expectation, particularly on a child. The only way to stop it is to have open hands. To relinquish control and spend my time growing, writing, becoming...instead of rocking in a chair of worry.

Open hands. I will try. Everyday. To let go. Let will be, be. To have open hands.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It gets easier....right?

This whole parenting business is no joke. It is hard. No, this isn't my usual rant about sleepless nights and teething monsters. As the end of year one looms, I find myself faced with transitions like formula weaning, pacifier removal, and somewhere in the not too distance future--potty training! I try to read what the experts say, ask my mom friends, ask my actual mom (she did a pretty good job). Sometimes the advice is helpful, sometimes it stresses me out even more and sometimes it just doesnt seem applicable to our lives.

I find myself wondering if it really matters if Austen is still waking for a 4 am bottle at a year or using a pacifier at 2 years. Sure, it is not ideal. But will she face a college board one day, where a solemn faced dean will profess her unworthy of further educational pursuits based on previous pacifier use? I try to reassure myself there are bigger fish to fry. Ya know, larger issues such as teaching her compassion, a good work ethic, and...the big one....sharing! Seeing as how most of these virtues are taught by leading through example, I am working on accepting that I may not always do perfectly at them either.

I will, however, always get an "A" for effort. I really do want what is best for Austen. I am learning that a great deal of parenting is about patience (which everyone told me) but i think it is also largely about seeing the big pictures. Things happen in stages. There are frustrations, concerns, and great joys. Then that stage ends and there are new wonderful and awful things to dwell on. Spending too much time worrying about doing the right thing now usual means being blindsided by the next thing. Which leads me to realize that somehow, the next 18 years are going to go by so fast--yet so so slowly.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

9 months on--9 months off?

That is what I weighed the day I went to the doctor to find out i was with child. Over the past 18 months (18 months?!?) I have watched my weight reach heights I never imagined and then return to a relative state of normalcy after Austen made her exit.

Let me tell ya something. They say 9 months on, 9 months off--pssh. Let me clarify. Some things. Will. Never. Be. The. Same.

I will never forget mustering the courage to lift my shirt and inspect my inflated belly for the first time. I think I honestly expected to see Mother theresa or an old man face in the abundance of wrinkles that were surely there. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. Thanks to my new milk-laden boobs, my waist looked surprisingly small. It took a few months for everything to settle into a new definition of normal.

My current weight is just a few pound shy of the number on the scale two Decembers ago. However, my jeans do not fit. My bras do not fit. I have a road map of stretch marks and varicose veins. The truth is....this is the new me. I have real hips now. A body that tells a story.

Now I am not going to sit here and type some mama mantra about how I love my body because it gave birth to my daughter. I am grateful that God provided me with a healthy vehicle to bring her into the world. However, I would not say that I love my newfound muffin top or the loss of the ablity to go bra-less. I can say, however, that I have reached a point of acceptance. This is what I have to work with. My husband likes it, it looks kinda cute dressed up, and it still carries Austen just about everywhere.

As with every single facet of my life, my body did not escape the effects of motherhood. And thats ok. :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Guess what.

I am baby free!

Wait. Shouldn't I be doing something fabulous? Drinking red wine on some patio while reading a novel on my iPad. Or getting my hair done and meeting friends for lunch. Perhaps taking a hike with my husband before we go out to a fantastic dinner.

Well, folks. That is just not the scene I have going on here. As is a theme lately, Chad is at work. I have cleaned this house pretty thoroughly (whens the last time you soaked and scrubbed those little plates under your stove burners?). I took a nap. Made some pasta. Now what?

I find that my life has settled into a little groove...and I like it best when my husband and littlest girl are grooving with me. When they are gone, my first thought is--sleep! But once that is done I find myself a little lost. Because, quite frankly, anything thing i think to do seems worth saving to do with Chad. I guess thats why I married him. I really do love him with my whole entire heart.

As far as Austen is concerned, it is nice to leave the house without packing 8374928734 things. And letting my mom change diapers for awhile doesn't suck. But really, one day away is enough. Today she is one day closer to walking, running, growing up. Call me selfish, but i don't like sharing her.

I am going to go force myself to do something I could only enjoy alone (unfortunately shopping is not an option. Damn you, budget.). Ideas?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ok, I admit it.

I have not loved motherhood the past few days. I love Austen. Lots and lots. However, her complete disregard for sleep has really begun to wear on me.

It occurred to me how far on this journey we have come when I ran into the worlds cutest pre go lady today on my walk. Ohmygosh. You should have seen her and her little basketball belly. When she said she had just 3 weeks left (yep. I stopped her and tried to make her be my best friend because she was that great) I seriously wanted to hug her an tell her to go home and take a nap. Because, I remember those days. When I would stretch a cute little tank top over my swollen bump and walk the dog so people could see me in my motherly glory (or, seeing how Austen was born in august, in my motherly sweat). Tonight, I was walking the dog in the same leggings I wore yesterday while pushing my 9 month old all over the neighborhood attempting to wear her out. I felt my face get all red and stingy when I noticed her noticing the green beans smushed on my pants.

You guys know our issues with sleep. Add to that the fact that Chad has literally become a slave to the restaurant this week (shout out to Mindy Houston whose baby daddy has also been swept up the chaos...the end is near!) and that we are deep in the throws of the "mommy attached" stage and I find myself trying to rememeber the days when I thought I was as rested as I could ever be...bring on that baby! Well, how times have changed my friends. Because, this weekend Austen is going to Grammys and I, well, I am going to sleeeeeep. Bring on that wine, fluffy pillow, and uninterrupted showers!

Sometimes I feel guilty for needing a break but then my mom says awesome things to me like "you can only be her best mommy when you're rested and happy". And I want to kiss her on the face. Then I get kinda squishy thinking about how one day I can comfort Austen that way...and i love motherhood again! Ahhhhhh.

Monday, May 9, 2011

To my littlest girl.

The "letter to my baby" section of Austens baby book has been haunting me since I learned I was expecting. At first, I wanted to gather my thoughts. Then, as my pregnancy evolved I became intimidated by the idea of talking to this little person who I hoped would one day admire me and respect my every word. When she came, my heart was so swollen with love that it seemed I could no longer write anything, much less words that she may read in search of a summation of her mothers love.

Tonight, I went to see Liz because she was a little under the weather. We watched as our two babes "talked" and we talked about how it all goes so fast. I told her how I just want to memorize each moment (and you wonder why I tAke so many pictures). She told me I should write that down, in a poem or something. I thought about what she said and it occurred to me on the way home--if I don't write to her now, in the thick of all of these moments, I may not be able to put it into words later. The magnitude of being her mother is overwhelming, immensely rewarding and beyond my wildest dreams. So, tonight I will tuck this little poem in her baby book. I hope when she reAds it, she knows just how well I know her and who she was born to be.

One day.
You will think I do not know you.
So I must,
I have to
Remember today.
Soggy cheerios betweeen amateur fingers.
Bare feet with bubble toes.
I cannot forget.
Your fearless spirit,
Your toothless grin
The wisps of hair on your velvet head.
I have counted
Those hairs,
These moments.
One day.
You will no longer be my littlest girl.
So, I won't,
I will not
Forget today.
You are precisely who I knew you'd be.
Your joys,
Your gifts.
The angles of your face.
I have known it all.
All along.

I will remember today.
So you never forget.

Love, Mommy.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Post #5.

I have officially had a bonafide run in with "the glare". You know what I am talking about. I am out in public, specifically the grocery store (mind you, I was in Kings Mountain, a much more common place to receive "the glare" than the big ol city of Charlotte where people mind there business a teeny bit more--but not much). Austen coughs because she is teething/has a cold/shoves her entire fist in her mouth whenever the paci is out of sight for more than a second. This lady next to me in the frozen pizza aisle (yep, not only do I allow my child to cough, I also feed my family processed foods) shoots me "the glare". The "Why is your baby sick, did you expose her to germs? Why is she in public if she's sick? Do you want her to get pneumonia? I never took my kids out in the wintertime. I bet she wouldnt be sick if she was wearing a hat. You should immediately leave the frozen food aisle and aim for warmer aisles." glare.

So, just for fun I looked at Austen as said "Oh, stop faking it" and kept walking.

Take that.

My little darling, who at 6 months has already kind of perfected an angsty return glare. Ha.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Post #4.

"No matter how careful you are, there's going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn't experience it all. There's that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should've been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That's how your whole life will feel some day. This is all practice."
Chuck Palahniuk

I wrote this quote down in a journal a long, long time ago and tonight I came across it again. This blog is intended to be about Austen Lily, but this post in particular is more about the (my) journey to motherhood. I remember when I first read this quote, it seemed wistful to think of how one day, the fabulous life I was leading, would all seem like a distant memory. The idea of it was quite abstract to me--I knew that one day we would all change course, the parties would end, and there would be a decision we all made to settle down.

Well, as seems to be the case with most aspects of my life, that grand change did not go quite the way I envisioned it--and was not nearly as far off in the future as I had imagined. I got pregnant. I quit my job(s). I had a beautiful baby girl. I got married. I made decisions, lots of very big, irreversible decisions. And tonight, after a hell of a whirlwind, I revisted the girl who sat in her apartment in University(just ask Alason, that really was the best little apartment) and wrote down quotes about how life was going to fly by, all the while being pretty certain that it would never slip past me--after all, I read the quote. I was prepared.

Well, I have that sunken feeling Mr. Palahniuk describes. I feel like I did not appreciate so many of the little moments that lead up to the life I now have. I feel like I did not spend nearly enough time counting the tiny kicks in my ribs and eating ice cream over the sink at midnight. I was reminded today, when holding Mindy's sweet baby Brad, that I did not stare at Austen's quivering newborn lip nearly enough. Nor did I cherish the moments when I nursed her at 3 am and tried to stifle my laughs as I watched informercials about the shake weight. All of these moments that seem so fleeting--and that was just the past six months. Theres an entire lifetime before that of tiny things that I forgot to notice.

Today, at the park, Liz's fearless little girl, Adalai, tried a trick on the jungle gym that was...well, a bit too tricky. She landed flat on her back and the instant she hit, I knew the feeling that overcame her. That feeling when you hit the cold, hard ground and all the air escapes your lungs. For a split second, you really wonder and worry if you will breathe again. You look around, like Addie did, for someone to hold you and breathe for you until you can regain your bearings. Seeing her struggle to stop stifle her tears, all to aware of the power of embarassment at her tender age, I knew exactly how she felt. It occurred to me, while reading that college journal, that I have sort of been living in a perpetual state of waiting to breathe again. I have been fearful of what turns my life has taken. When I was pregnant, I held my breathe until I held that sweet girl. But as soon as my lungs were full, they emptied again as I lay awake in my bed--anticipating her next cries. Since then, it has simply been one thing after another. My "breathing" has been labored and I have been so focused on making sure that each moment goes according to plan, that I fear I have been failing to actually live those moments.

Chad constantly chides me for my picture taking. He tells me that I am missing the moment in an attempt to capture it. To an extent, I know he is correct. But I read that quote. I know that one day, there will be a feeling that I missed it all--that I never quite caught my breath. I guess I feel that in those moments I will look at the pictures and I will somehow be there again. Although, as much as I stare at this picture--I know that moment, so many beautiful moments with wonderful people (i hope, i dearly hope, you all know how much you have meant to me and how much you still do), are beyond my grasp.

I take solace in knowing the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Post #3.

Austen really really wants to crawl. She can actually scoot a few feet over the course of a couple of minutes, but she wants to really get going. It is an interesting thing to watch. She gets up on her hands and knees and starts rocking back and forth. You can see it in her eyes--she thinks if she can just get enough momentum, she will be off. It sort of reminds me of one of those toy cars you had as a kid that if you pulled it back and let go it would take off. I am just waiting on her to jet across the floor. However, as of today, all that revving back and forth usually just ends in a face plant. Yet, she immediately gets back up and does it again. She will repeat this process over and over until she reaches the things she most desires (current favorites are her own reflection in the floor length mirror, my cell phone, or the TV remote).

There are two things I have noticed since she has begun her mission to crawl. First, as a parent, this is the first time I have no been able to readily give her what she wants. When she is hungry, I give her food. When she is upset, I comfort her. Only she, however, can put one foot (or in this case, knee) in front of the other and move. This scenario is a little disconcerting for me. I know that I face a lifetime of sitting on the sidelines while I watch her figure it out. I know that when she is 16 (and hopefully no sooner), she will come to me and tell me that I absolutely do not understand her love for a particular boy. I will have to sympathize, offer advice, etc...but I cannot prevent the heartbreak. Just like I can't decide what her chosen path in life is. I am her mother. Not her master. At five months, she already shows signs of a fierce independent streak. I am bracing myself for what this means to me as a parent.

The other thing about watching her figure things out is that it is inspiring. Cliche as it may sound, she never gives up or gets discouraged. She does get frustrated but instictively, she is not satisfied to remain stationary. If she sees something she wants, she will exhaust herself to get it. When do we lose that instinct? I cannot remember the last time I labored for something I really wanted (except when I actually labored--but then again, what choice did I have?). I remind myself that pre-baby, pre-marriage, pre-college--I had an idea of what my adult self would be like. I recognize that life throws us various curveballs and so we must shift our plans but the difference between the woman I am now and the girl I was then is that I don't yearn for things the way I did before. I have aspirations and goals, but I have lost the intensity that I see in Austen's eyes when she is trying to crawl. I have always heard that your children teach you endless lessons and so it is no surprise that I find myself learning a very important lesson from that litle tyke. Staying in one place is boring--growing, discovering, finding adventure--those are the things worth doing. I guess that I will have to join Austen in learning to move towards big, exciting goals again. Afterall, soon she will crawl--and walk, and run--and I want to keep up.

My little mover. I have never been so proud of something or someone in my life.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Post #2.

I have noticed that there are a few things that are universal about motherhood. We all feel guilty for leaving our children no matter how desperately we wanted a break, we all peek in on them when they are sleeping, and we all do the following things to insure that we are in fact "good mothers":

--No matter what kind of flooring surface it is, no matter how dirty the floor or the blanket--if we lay a blanket down before we put our kid on the floor, we are good mothers. (Bonus points if the flooring surface is cleaned and disinfected with vinegar and hot water as opposed to harmful chemicals. I am lucky if the floor has been mopped this week.).

--No matter where the paci fell, if we rinse it off before giving it back to the baby(or in some cases, put it in our own mouths), we are good mothers. (Bonus points if you use those little pacifier wipes. I never have.)

--No matter the temperature or circumstances, if our children are wearing socks and/or shoes AND we manage to keep both socks/shoes on for the duration of the day, we are good mothers. (Bonus points if all of these things coordinate with the childs outfit. Austen has one pair of shoes that fit and they are the weirdest shade of purple and pink. Which match nothing.)

--No matter the temperature or circumstances, if we drape a blanket across our child's lap in the carseat or stoller, we are good mothers. (Bonus points if you made the blanket. I can't sew.)

--If we carry enough diapers and wipes to clean the behinds of every person at our destination, even though our child will most likely only need one, we are good mothers. (Bonus points if they're cloth diapers--mine are not).

As I venture further into motherhood, I am sure that I will discover more things that we do for our own peace of mind--that more than likely are not always necessary. I think it is amusing that we can love these little people so much that we are willing to do absolutely anything for them--even if it takes us 15 minutes to pack them up to leave the house.

As you can see here, I am practicing "good motherhood"--Austen's socks match and she has on mittens. However, nothing really goes together so I lost the bonus points. Dang.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Post #1.

This blog is about Austen Lily—and all of her silliness, awesomeness, and occasional defiance. If you are already annoyed with my incessant picture posting, this blog is not for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Austen Lily is now almost half way through her first year. She is trying to crawl, learning the art of smacking and hair pulling, and loving green beans and squash. She does not love fruits, car seats, or not being able to see her Mommy. Oh, and sleeping. She really hates sleeping.
For the past few weeks, her sleep patterns have been sporadic. For a little while, she slept 8-10 hour stretches and a total of about 12 hours nightly. That was glorious. But more often than not, she is waking every hour or so. It seems to Chad and I that it is because she has become some proficient at rolling back and forth, that she often does it in her sleep—which scares her or leaves her trapped against the crib rail. So, she yells until one of us flips her backs over and reinserts her pacifier. The entire soothing process usually takes 30 seconds, but when it’s your 15th time doing the soothing—it can become somewhat bothersome.
The past three nights, Austen has upped the ante by refusing to be soothed by the usual flip and soothe. She wants to eat, sometimes twice a night, and just cuddle in general. Now, let me tell you something about this child. She does not cuddle. She wants to be at arm’s length, figuring out the world. I will never forget when I lovingly swaddled her when she was just a few days old, read y to lay her tenderly in her bassinet. She responded by thrashing about until she freed herself from the swaddle and screaming until I placed her on her tummy. So, there’s that.
This all brings me to “crying it out”. I have considered it. I have sort of tried it. I have done the five minute increments of letting her scream (Let’s get real, Austen does not cry. Crying is for babies. She screams like a two year old. Many of you may remember that her pediatrician thought he had the wrong room at her two month check up because her cry was so “adult”).  The problem is that until this point Austen has been so “independent” (I recognize that this is a relative term for a five month old), that I feel like when she is crying for me at night it is because she genuinely needs something. I just can’t convince myself that she needs “tough love” at this point. I know this is a controversial topic and many people will disagree with me. Maybe I just need another week of no sleep to recognize the value of letting her CIO—only time will tell.
What I have come to realize about parenting is I seriously have no idea what I am doing and the fantastic advice I receive is only so helpful, as every baby is different. Luckily (or not so luckily), it seems that my baby and I have similar personalities and maybe this will serve me in figuring out her needs. Or possibly, I will be sentenced to an 18 year repayment for all of the times I promised to call my mom and didn’t, leaving her sleepless and worried. Ah, a feeling I know all too well these days. Sorry, Mom!!

Austen, this morning. She looks sleepy...go figure.