Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday--Things for Which I'm Thankful

Thanksgiving has come and gone...

... but every single day should be a day of thanks.  So today, I'm joining Katie at Sluiter Nation for one of her famous Top Ten Tuesdays.  Today, Things for Which I'm Thankful.
1. I am thankful for my husband and three beautiful, healthy, brilliant kids.  In my eyes, they are perfect.  I love their quirkiness, I love their wisdom, and, yes, I even love their moods (we'll see if I stand by that later).  Brandon came along and allowed me to love someone completely for the first time, and when I gave life to my children, they gave me life, as well.

You knew the sappy stuff was gonna be there.  I pretty much gush over these people constantly, and that's the way it should be.  You knew I was thankful before I even said it, huh?

2.  I am thankful for the rest of my crazy family.  I am surrounded by a group of creative, neurotic, outspoken family members.  They are spectacular.  My kids couldn't ask for better grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  Do they spoil my kids?  Yes.  Do I get frustrated with them more often than I should?  Probably.  But do they know how much I love them and appreciate them?  Absolutely.

3.  I am thankful that I get to be a stay-at-home mom.  I probably don't say that one enough.  Honestly, we are a paycheck-to-paycheck family so that I can have the luxury of staying home and being with my kids every second of every day...and so they can have the luxury of me being here, I suppose.  I am pretty much always covered in spit-up or spilled juice or markers or thrown food.  I yearn for conversation that does not involve Disney Princesses or Dora.  But I would never, NEVER want another job.

4.  I am thankful for coffee.  I wouldn't make it through the day if it weren't for my daily cup of caffeine and creamer.  I love the way it smells and the way it warms my throat and belly.  I love it on ice during the warm months.  I love ice cream flavored with it and don't mind the stinky breath at all.

Brandon might mind that.

But I don't care, because I loved it before I loved him, and I'm not giving up my Joe!

5.  I am thankful for my childhood.  Now, this might shock some of you.  I admit that I did not like my mom and biological father being divorced and schlepping over to his house every other weekend and two weeks in the summer.  To this day, I still complain about that.  But my step-dad, my DAD, more than made up for that whole debacle.  He's the dad I remember, since I was only three when he married my mom and we moved over to his farm.  I'm thankful for that farm, too.  Growing up in the middle of nowhere, with the mountains and animals and quiet...well, that pretty much formed my personality.  And now, my kids love visiting this place that shaped my life and they love the people that shaped it, too.

I wanted for nothing.  I was given love and never harmed.  I had a mom, a dad, a brother, and several steps.  I was able to be involved in just about every extracurricular activity, though that didn't always turn out so well (hello, softball, basketball...any kind of sport).  Hopefully my kids will get the same warm-fuzzies I get when thinking back on childhood.

6.  I am thankful for my boobs (talk about your warm-fuzzies!).  As a teenager, this is something I would have never said.  I always complained about their size (or lack of size, rather) and thought I'd hate them forever.
And then they fed my first child, and I watched her get chubby and be healthy and glowing.
And then they fed my second child, and I watched as she grew quickly and never got sick and loved to eat.
And now they are feeding my son, and I'm watching him turning into a cute, chunky, strong little boy.
I've looked at these radiant, thriving, fat roll-covered babies and thought, I DID THAT.  On milk they got from only me, they gained all that wonderful weight and were satisfied.  They fell asleep in that amazing milk-drunk stupor that I've cherished since the first time I witnessed it.  They got immunities they wouldn't have otherwise had.
Not bad for a chest that used to embarrass me.  Now I think of them as my best feature.

7.  I am thankful for Disney World.  Those of you who know me knew that was coming.  It really is the most magical place on earth.  We already have amazing family memories from this place (I'm sure you'll be hearing more about that as our next trip approaches), and I can't wait to make more.  I actually LIKE the commercialism of this place.  Go figure.  The Mouse knew what he was doing.  Every day is happier with a little Disney in it.
And my kids are really happy I think so.

8.  I am thankful for bathtubs.  
Oh, Heavens. 
I do love me a long soak.
My husband knows that if he ever wants me to relax (ahem.), he should just buy me some bath salts and send me upstairs with no kids and a book.
My kids have inherited this from me; we all stay in the water until we're pruny, and we love it.

9.   I am thankful for books.  I have loved to read since I was three years old.  I own more books than should be allowed, but I will NEVER give any away.  I love each of them as individuals.  I smell them, I thumb through them, I highlight passages.  I am getting all weepy just thinking about it.  Books were my friends when I didn't have any human friends.  My childhood books have been passed down to my own children, and Julia started reading at age 3, too.  Hopefully, my love of books passes on to them (so far, so good). 
Here's some trivia for those of you who don't know me, or those who don't know me well.  Brynn's middle name (Elizabeth) is after Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.  Sawyer is named for Tom Sawyer, and his middle name is Bennett (from that same Pride and Prejudice family, but with an added 't'...my husband insisted, for some reason).
Poor Julia.  She's named after a Beatles song.

10.  I am thankful for my friends.  That means all of you.  You know who you are.
Honestly, I don't have that many friends IRL (in real life).  Trust issues?  Maybe.  If you're reading here, chances are that I do consider you a friend, online or IRL.  When I'm feeling down, you lift me up, and I hope to do the same for you.

So, there's my first Top Ten, and I could honestly go on and on.  You probably know me a little better now, and as you can see, I am one blessed lady.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday--Almost Thanksgiving. Let's Get Cooking!

My two year old is a better cook than I am.  And see that dirty face?  She's good at eating the food, too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Super Sunday--Fancy Pants

Not Super...Just Mom


So, it's so late on Sunday that it's almost Monday, but I still wanted to join http://notsuperjustmom.blogspot.com/ for Super Sunday!

Y'all, I've gotta say...I did have a Super Sunday.  I knew it would be thanks to my little shopping trip last night.

The trip was supposed to be for buying Brandon some work pants, but, alas, that was not in the cards.  I, however, found myself something I swore I'd never even try in a million years...


Oh, yes, you read that right.  Mom of three had the guts to buy a pair of skinny jeans.  And I have to say that the beauty of these is not that you have to BE skinny to wear them, but that they actually make you LOOK skinny.  I'd had completely the wrong idea about them all along.  First of all, they're freaking comfortable!  All that stretch?  Sign me up!  Secondly, pair them up with some clearance-rack ballet flats that rock and a sweater you found in the closet, and you've got yourself a semi-stylish outfit.  (I actually got two pairs of ballet flats, but I can only wear one pair at a time, obviously.)

So, here's my pants and awesome shoes...shiny zebra-print ballet flats!  WOOT!  And only $6 for the shoes!  DOUBLE WOOT!  (Is that even a thing?)

Now, what makes this translate into a Super Sunday is not that I got new pants and shoes, necessarily.  It's that I haven't had new pants and shoes in years.  Okay, I've had new maternity clothes in those years, but I don't think that quite counts somehow.  They're pretty useless to me now.  I literally live in jeans my step-sister graciously donated to me when she lost weight and had to buy new ones for herself, and in shirts that I've had since high school.  My favorite sweater is from when I was fourteen years old, folks.  That's THIRTEEN years old!

Some of you may relate to this.  As a mom, I find it really hard to spend money on myself...like...ever.  Even last night, I was wandering around the stores and looking at kid clothes.  Things I need are never in the forefront of my mind.  And you know what?  Spending $30 on myself made me feel great.  And wearing those new goodies today?  That made me feel spectacular.  For the first time in a long time, I was caring about myself.  I'm pretty sure that sparkly shoes give me an extra bounce in my step.

Ahhhh...sigh of contentment.

To make this Sunday even more Super, I got to go on a photo shoot with my hubby.  He works for an engineering firm by weekday, and on weeknights and weekends he does some side photography for a little extra cash.  My nursling came along, of course, and here we are being happy to be out in the wonderful, warm sunshine.  That's one cute baby, if I do say so myself.

Brandon, the kids, and I spent the rest of the day with his parents, sister, and nephew.  We do this every Sunday, and that in itself is pretty darn super.  Kids everywhere, wonderful chaos, grandparents, and food.  All this equals family bliss.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Who Needs Sleep??


Miranda and Kimberly are doing Secret Mommyhood Confession Saturday today, and as that seems right up my alley (cause, let's face it, I've got tons to confess!), I'm jumping on board, too!

My confession is this:  I like sleep.  I like sleep a lot.  In fact, I'd say I'm in love with sleep.  It probably ranks number three in things I'm in love with, right behind my husband and kids.  See, the problem is, I have three kids ages four and under, so sleep is always a goal and not a promise. 
And here's my even bigger confession:  This love of sleep is why we co-sleep.  I would really love to say that I fully understood the benefits of co-sleeping when we began practicing it with our oldest daughter nearly five years ago.  I would love to take all the credit and say I researched it and decided to do it because it is shown to help babies regulate babies' respiration (it does) or keep their levels of cortisol low (yep) or encourages them to sleep on their backs or sides more than on their stomachs, which helps reduce SIDS deaths (that, too).  I wish I had been that cool of a mom, but honestly, I wasn't. 

When Julia was born in 2006, we had her nursery all set up months before her arrival.  We put a Pack-n-Play next to our bed, but we just thought that'd be where she would sleep when she first arrived home from the hospital or where we could put her for naps occasionally.  Imagine our surprise when we got home and she showed absolutely no interest in sleeping anywhere besides our arms or her car seat.  Almost immediately, she began bed-sharing with us.  This is obviously not for everyone, but it worked for her.  She later moved to the Pack-n-Play, and then a few months later would take naps in her crib and spent part of the night in there.  Once her little sister came along, she wanted nothing to do with sleeping in our bed anymore.  Cause that baby was LOUD.

Brynn was born in 2008, and she just didn't sleep.  Period.  She was colicky from the start.  I wish I could say that co-sleeping helped her, but nothing did.  We still had her next to us, but that's just because she woke up so often we would have been exhausted toting her from her nursery (which, again, we set up months before her birth) to our room, and we're lazy like that.  At about 18 months, when my kidneys were sick of being bludgeoned by her several times a night, we put her in her nursery, and (GASP!) she only woke up one time that night.  She liked the crib.  And since that gave me more sleep, I went with it.  We put an AngelCare monitor in there so I could be assured of her respiration from another room, and then we slept mostly through the night.

Enter Sawyer four months ago.  This time around, we didn't even bother with a nursery.  We knew better! (Side note: he will get a room of his own when he's ready, so don't feel sorry for him!)  Sawyer is a great baby.  He only wants to wake up to eat and then go back to sleep.

And did I mention that I'm lazy?  So he totally shares the bed with us. 
I have gotten more sleep with this kid than any of the others.  Before he can even fully awaken, I pop a boob in his mouth, he chows down, and we all settle back to sleep within a few minutes.  No getting out of the warm bed.  It.  Is.  Heaven.  (And also, this feeding on demand makes for chunky, healthy babies--Sawyer is 19 lbs. at 4 months!--and a great milk supply.)

When I want to check on his breathing, I just open my eyes or listen closely.  I have suffered from Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) with all my kids, so this actually helps me sleep, too.  Instead of convincing myself that I must stay awake and watch him sleep every second, I can allow myself to drift off knowing that it's easy to check on him and knowing that our breathing and sleep cycles will most likely be in sync.  Calm nerves are a good thing.

I must say that we are super-safe with our bed-sharing, and it works for us.  That means minimal covers on the bed, and they stay tucked in below a level where he can get to them.  That means pillows are kept far away from him, as well.  And obviously, parents can't be intoxicated and sleep with a baby, but that's not an issue here.  Believe it or not, we all have our own space in the bed.  When he becomes more mobile, we'll have to revisit where he'll sleep.  I'm guessing he'll move into the Pack-n-Play that we have situated next to our bed now (it did have a cradle piece in it that he liked, but alas, he outgrew it).  People sometimes get confused and say, "Hey, that's not co-sleeping!"  Yes, it is.  Co-sleeping just means within reaching distance.  Bed-sharing is actually sharing a bed.  Clever name, really.  And, as a disclaimer, I'm adding that THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!!  Nor is it up for debate.  It is what it is.  I'm a mommy in the middle, remember?  I don't really care where you put your kid to sleep.  Honestly.  I just wish you good sleep.  And if you decide bed-sharing is for you, please be safe about it.

Now, when kids are older, sleep problems change.  Case in point: 

This is Julia's bed, which has now been transformed into a tent.  The tent is the only way she will stay in her bed at night.  It's a kind of a combo bribe/threat.  We bribed her by setting up the cool tent, and we've threatened to take it down if she doesn't just GO TO SLEEP, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

And Brynn?  The one who gave us the most trouble and the least sleep?
Well, she's a precious-darling-princess-of-a-sleeper now.  We lay her in her bed, cover her with her three favorite blankies, give her her Dumbo, and she's asleep within moments.

So, there's my confession.  I'll do anything for a few minutes of shut-eye.  We've got Julia's tent, Brynn's blankies and lovey, and Sawyer curled up next to us.  And in the middle of the night, everyone's quiet and happy and calm, and that's just how I like it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I've seen several blogs lately doing "Wordless Wednesday," which is where you post a picture that pretty much sums up your week.  So I decided that today, since I don't have much to say, I'm all over this.  But you know me, I can't be completely wordless!  I'll just say that this is my eldest, Julia, at our recent parents' night at her ballet/tap class.  And I am the proudest Mama in the world.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dirty Laundry

The title makes it sound like this might be some juicy gossip, right??
Well, wrong.
This is literally about dirty laundry--cloth diapers, in particular.  If you don't want to read anything to do with bodily functions of babies, then stop reading.  And if that's you, I'm guessing you're not a Mom, cause we're pretty immune to gross-outs.

I may have just lost some readers.  But for those of you who decided that you came to read and might as well continue, I thank you.

People are always asking me about my decision to use cloth diapers.  They're curious about the cost difference, how they affect diaper rash, and whether or not I have to touch poop (for the record--no, Silly!).  The thing I get asked about the most is how much extra work they are and how I keep them clean.  Today, I'm gonna fill you in on my simple wash routine.

First of all, if you know me, you know I would never do ANYTHING that was extra work!  I have three kids, and I think that's plenty of work in and of itself.  So when I say that this is simple, you have to trust me that it really is.

We use pocket diapers.  For those of you who don't have much experience with cloth (face it, most people), these things are literally pockets.  See, clever name, isn't it?  They consist of a cover with an outside layer made of some waterproof material and an inside layer of something soft to go against baby's bum, usually microfleece or suedecloth.  Between the layers, you stuff an insert into the "pocket."  Ours are mostly made of microfibre or hempcloth.  All these materials work together to wick moisture away from the baby's bum and into the absorbent insert, and all is kept from leaking by the waterproof layer.  Ours are mostly closed with easy snaps, and Velcro (or Aplix) is also an option.  They are just as easy to put on as a disposable diaper, and they are just as easy to deal with.  I promise.

Say you've got a dirty diaper situation.  All you have to do is take it off the baby (duh.), pull out the insert, and place insert and cover into a wet bag.  This is ours:

If there's any poop, I do not touch it (silly).  I really don't know how this idea came about, but that's kind of gross, folks.  If it's a newborn poo from an exclusively breastfed baby (mine), you do nothing to it.  NOTHING.  Just throw it in the bag with the rest.  EBF poo has no smell and washes easily.  Once a baby starts solids, things get...well...more solid.  Just dump solids it in the toilet, then put the diaper and insert in the wet bag.  You can spray it with a diaper sprayer if you need to.  Yes, they make these, and we have one made by BumGenius.  And it is genius.  No touching of nasty stuff, and if you do, we might not be friends.

And that whole process seems to be where people take issue.  Dumping things?  Really?
And were you aware that you are supposed to do that even if you use disposable diapers???  HMMM??  On disposable diaper sites and packages, you can often find words along the lines of "IMPORTANT:  When disposing of soiled diaper, empty contents into toilet.So, you should be doing this already.  I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want that sitting in my trash can OR in a landfill, so I've always been a dumper.  How appropriate.

After I get two or three days' worth of diapers in the wet bag, it's time to wash.  I take the bag to the washing machine, dump all the diapers in, and throw the bag in.  I first do a cold/cold wash and rinse to get rid of all the stuff those diapers have been soaking up.  Then it's time to really clean them.  I put in 1 tbs. of Charlie's Soap:

This stuff rinses clean.  Most detergents stay in your clothes.  That's not good, especially for sensitive skin.  You can test it out sometime--just throw your clothes in the washer with no soap and wash it, and you will definitely see soap suds in the water from leftover soap.  Charlie's Soap rinses out completely, so you won't have this issue.  I also use this on our kids' clothes, as they all have sensitive skin.

I have my water heater cranked up just before I wash (make sure to turn it back down for safety purposes), and I just program my washer for a hot wash/cold rinse/heavy soil with an extra rinse at the end.  And then I walk away.  That's it.

When they're done washing, I either hang them to dry or pop them into the dryer on a low heat for a while.  When they come out, I stuff those inserts back into their appropriate pockets and I am all set to diaper for the next few days.  Here's what Sawyer's stash looks like, minus a couple days' worth of diapers. 

They're ready for me to quickly grab, taking no more time than a disposable diaper.  An extra load of laundry every few days is also not much work.

I don't want to argue for or against cloth in this post...in fact, I don't want to argue it ever...but just show you that it's much easier than people believe.  If Lazy Jennifer can do it, so can you.  I fully admit that I do not cloth diaper 100% of the time (nights I use 'sposies, usually, when Sawyer was in-between cloth diaper sizes I used them, and my firstborn didn't ever use cloth!), which kind of leaves me in the middle of the two extreme parenting positions...again.  Kinda hanging out there on my own.  Which is one reason I'm the Middle of Mommyhood.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Let's Get Together...Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Let me start out by saying that I realize I haven't posted in over a year.  And I also realize that I only had one post to begin with.  That kind of makes me want to bury my head in the sand, but instead I'll just promise that I'll be more diligent in my post-writing.  Since the last time, we've added a new addition to our crew.  He's 4 months old now, and his name is Sawyer.  Julia is 4 (5 in January...YIKES!) and Brynn is now 2.5 years old.  Our family is growing in size, as well as growing up.  And that's all of us, not just the kids!

I decided to start up this whole blog thing because of my friend Miranda, who is the genius behind Not Super...Just Mom.  I will not pretend that my blog will be half as interesting as hers; in fact, I can guarantee that it might be pretty dull in comparison.  However, I realized today in talking with her that if I've got anything at all, I've got stories about my kids.  And these stories need to be documented...maybe not for lots of people to read, but so that I'll have them in the future.  I mean, just tonight I looked at my one (for shame, Jennifer!) post from over a year ago and was so happy to read it.  I remember that day!  My kids were tiny, and fewer in number!  I forgot about that video of Julia reading!  And, yes, I got a little weepy.

It's been nearly five years since I became a mom, and reading a post of Miranda's the other day, it dawned on me that I have had almost no "me time" since then.  It's not because I couldn't have it...I definitely could, as I have an extremely supportive husband.  But I'm just that sort of obsessive parent who hates to leave her kids, even if it's for the benefit of my sanity.  And writing that down makes me realize what a stupid thing that is.  Miranda offered up a coffee meeting, and I jumped on the offer.

Today we met at a Starbucks.  It was me, Miranda, and my nursling son.  No, not total mommy-alone time, but with only 1/3 of my normal distractions.  Brandon was keeping the girls--Brynn was (supposed to be) napping, Julia was playing Legos-- and Sawyer thankfully fell asleep on the drive.  I was thanking the Heavens that I *might* just get a peaceful meeting, but before I even got there I realized it might not be.  Let's all keep in mind that it's rare that I have much adult interaction, especially away from my kids.  I kind of started feeling like I was going on a first date...Would I say something stupid?  Do I look okay?  Will she like me?  Guys, you also have to realize that I've known her for a long time.  Like over ten years.  Safe to assume she thinks I'm okay.  But I am so out of practice, and I was shaking without even having the caffeine yet.

Coffee and cake ordered, we sat down to talk.  I kind of felt like I was missing an appendage without the girls climbing all over me and with Sawyer napping peacefully.  We talked about, what else, our kids.  I started feeling a tiny bit embarrassed because I realized that this is pretty much all I know.  I don't have a job.  My brain doesn't function like it used to.  I'm sort of boring like that.  But she gets it. 

Sawyer woke up and decided to be his cute self and drool all over the place.  He cooed and gooed on me, and he cooed and gooed on her.  After an hour and a half (gasp!  Where did that time go??), I took him to the bathroom to change his diaper.  Okay, Starbucks.  Big fail on your part--there's no changing table.  There was a little table I can only assume housed cleaning products or tampons or something.  And Sawyer was pissed that I had the audacity to change him on that tiny thing.  I dropped his cloth diaper on the floor, then realized I had no wet bag for it, so I just stuffed it in the diaper bag in a plastic bag and hoped for the best.  Then I looked in the mirror and realized that I had completely sweated through my shirt.  I had no time to be embarrassed...okay, I was a little bit embarrassed...but you know what?  I was out of the house.  So I didn't much care.  But I just have to give a big shout-out to my post-pregnancy, currently-breastfeeding, whacked-out hormones for making me all out of sorts, cause doesn't everyone like to look gross on their first date of adult interaction in quite some time??  So the human heater baby may have contributed to the fact that I was burning up, or maybe it was the nerves, or the caffeine, or the fact that it's nearly 80 degrees in November, but I'll do as I usually do and just blame hormones.

We packed up our things (Sawyer's gazillion toys.  And Sawyer.)  and headed to our respective vehicles, and I knew that the ride home couldn't possibly go as smoothly as the one down.  It just never happens that way.  I made it about two minutes down the road before Sawyer was crying.

He was hungry.  And so was I, but babies can't wait, so I pulled into a Chevron to feed him.  I pulled up my shirt, only to realize that I had never even buckled back my nursing bra after feeding him the last time.  Which means I sat through the entire coffee chat with Miranda sans-support.  Just some flaps hanging wide open.  Again, I didn't get too embarrassed, cause I was still not only out of the house, but hyped up on caffeine!

I got Sawyer buckled up again and we were on our way.  Less than a minute later, he was crying.  He had just been changed and fed after waking from a nap, so all that was left was that he wanted to see a human face.  I don't know about you, but I HATE my babies to be crying at all, especially that helpless cry when they feel abandoned in the back seat.  Luckily, Sawyer usually sees his sisters back there, but this time they weren't there, and I felt awful.  I turned on lights for him.  I sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," which is usually my go-to song for him.  I did The Reach.

You know The Reach, yes?  When you are driving with one arm while reaching behind you to try to bounce the car seat the less-than-a-centimeter it will budge in hopes of calming the baby?  I was doing The Reach (which wasn't working, by the way) when I realized that I couldn't be the best driver that way.  And luckily about that time I realized that I was already at the red light in front of my house.  I kept up with the singing, and he stopped, of course, as we turned into the neighborhood.

And so I returned home to two girls who acted like I was gone for ages (I love that.), still hot and sweaty and still with my nursing bra flaps open (yeah, so it turns out I'm not great at remembering to fasten those...).  I made some dinner, and I felt relaxed for a few minutes.

I realize that "me time" can be extremely beneficial to the psyche, and even though this was kind of a first attempt at it, I enjoyed it without much guilt of leaving the girls, which is progress.  Once I can fully learn that moms are better when they're refreshed and fulfilled, I think I'll be all set.  And then maybe I'll learn to start fastening my bra.