November 04, 2009

The Big 4!

Julian's 4th birthday party was on October 16th, and we had a party for him the next day. I was really excited about this birthday for a few reasons:
1. HE was really excited about it. He's finally old enough to really understand what's going on, and the anticipation the month before was killing him! His last couple of birthdays here in Ohio have been sort of lame, so I was determined to make this one fun, since it would be the first he would probably remember.
2. He started preschool this year, so I was really excited at the idea of him having some friends attend! The last couple of years he hasn't had very many real friends, and I expected him to make some good friends at school and for them to be able to come.
3. Melody's birthday party in August was a huge success, and I thought I'd be able to replicate the awesomeness.

So, we all went into this expecting the best. I ordered the cutest pirate invitations from Etsy and invited all 10 kids in his preschool class. I also invited all of my friends, who for some reason each seem to have at least 2 kids of their own! I knew we were going to have a good turn out, but I didn't anticipate how good...

On, I traded another mom for what she described as "pirate ship cake decorations". I assumed it would be a small pirate ship, and I had planned to make the cake look like a treasure map with the ship off to the side in the "water". My friend Amanda and I started working on the cake a few nights before. When we took out the pieces, it didn't look complete. There were a few boards and flags, but it wasn't a ship. So we searched online for some pictures of pirate cakes, and found a number of pictures that used the exact pieces we had. These cakes were actually shaped into pirate ships themselves, which was not at all what I had planned to do. But we did it. And...the kids loved it. Amanda and I knew it wasn't nearly as well made as Melody's cake had been, and we were kind of disappointed in it, but everybody else thought it looked great.

The whole theme of the party was a pirate theme, so I was very excited when I found a bunch of small wooden pirate figurines and markers for $1 each at Michael's. I bought enough for all the kids, and planned to have them decorate their pirates as an activity at the party, and then take them home. I didn't get any more planned for activites. I had wanted to do a treasure hunt in the sand box in the back yard, but it was too cold out :(

On the day of the party, there were literally 18 kids in my house. Yes. 18. Children. And their parents. Now, if you haven't been to my house, you don't know just how small it is. 18 kids was insane. And they all just wanted to play in the play room. Nobody wanted to color the pirates, and I had no other activities, so it was an hour of noise and chaos until we cut the cake and opened presents. Everybody was impressed with the cake, and Julian got some great presents. We bought him a Buzz Lightyear that talks to you and lights up...I think I was just as excited about it as he was :) He did have a great time, so I'm happy. But it was a bit chaotic.

Here's what I learned:
1. Don't invite everybody you know. There is an off-chance that they will all come.
2. Don't buy decorations without looking at them.
3. Have acvtivities planned.
4. Make it clear on the invites that parents need to stay, and should not bring other guests without asking beforehand. I was very surprised that these issues even came up!

October 15, 2009

The Return!

I haven't posted in a while, which is very frustrating because this blog is not something I wanted to only add to once a month! I don't want this to dwindle away! I know if I don't post regularly, you'll stop checking, and then when I do post you won't think to check! So I'm sorry for not posting in a while. but please check back regularly because I plan to post more often. My goal is once a week, at least.

I'll start off by saying that I am in a great mood, because I literally spent the last hour laughing hysterically at this blog:
If you need a laugh go check it out! I was actually laughing so hard I was crying at a few of these cakes!

Now to catch you up on our lives!

August 25, 2009

The Big Day

Julian started preschool last Tuesday! To be truthful, it was really Wednesday, because Tuesday was more of a meet and greet experience. Julian was so disappointed when we left on Tuesday. But he loves it! School is Monday through Thursday from 12:15 to 2:45 pm. This is the Mad River preschool, which is public. I struggled with putting him in a private or public preschool, but at the end it came down to money. This public preschool was far cheaper than all of the other options, and I asked around the area and it got a lot of good reviews. His teacher is nice. She's pregnant, and I'm trying my hardest not to attack her with "who is your doctor" and "oh, by the way, did you know this and this and this...". I hope to get to a point where I can tactfully bring some of this up later, after we've developed some sort of relationship.

I can't believe I have a son in preschool. He loves it so much - it was the right decision for us right now. I am so excited about the art projects he will be bringing me home, and the friends he will make. So far, he has made friends, but can't tell me any of their names. Today he finally remembered the name of his teacher!

I also love coming home and putting Melody down for a nap while he's at school, and having a quiet house to myself. It's pretty much the most amazing thing ever :)

We had actually lost the camera battery to our camera (which doesn't take AA's) a few days before school started. I was so upset! I need pictures of his very first day of school! Thankfully, my friend Amanda let me borrow her camera for the day.
Here's my big boy!

In other news, Melody chose Julian's first day of school (August 18th) to start walking! She started off with 2 tiny steps, and before the end of the day she took 5 consecutive steps! This was a week ago, and she still crawls everywhere. She walks a few short steps, maybe, to get a big round of applause from us, but then she's had enough and falls down and start crawling again. It's exciting, though. This year went by so fast. She loves to push things while she's walking - something I don't really remember Julian doing. And it was such a blessing that she started walking on this day, because Amanda had let me borrow her camera, so I caught it on film! If Melody had picked one day before or after the 18th I would have no video, or even pictures of it. I'm so happy I got these!

(this one's really blurry; I'm not sure why)

(this one is clear)

August 06, 2009

The End

The end of Melody's babyhood. She is 1. And I am sad.

We celebrated her birthday party on Saturday morning with some of our closest friends. It was really nice. She was gorgeous, as always. I chose a pink ladybug theme for the party, and she wore a cute Gymboree dress with pink ladybugs, and my friend Amanda made two adorable pink ladybug hair bows/clips for her hair, which she would not keep in. I'm so sad; the thought of my daughter not letting me do adorable things to her hair sort of contradicts the very reason I wanted a little girl! Decorations were simple, because she is only one. In retrospect, everything was really just for me. I used pink paper lanterns in place of balloons, and Dominic put up pink and black streamers. The kids played with bubbles in the front yard most of the time, as I took millions of pictures.

The cake was fabulous. My friend Amanda knows how to make and use fondant (homemade, not the yucky store bought stuff), so we made fondant together the week before the party and she decorated the cake. I made the ladybug! It was really fun, and came out much better than we had expected. I made the cake myself, and it was an oatmeal chocolate recipe that sadly wasn't very good. So we had a beautiful cake that didn't get eaten, because I didn't test out the recipe before the party :( We also had way too much. It's still sitting in my fridge, and I think I'm going to have to throw it away tomorrow.

Melody had fun and got some great gifts. This was the cheapest and most organized, but still relaxing, party I've ever thrown! Everything was simple, and every gift we bought was bought on clearance (score!). It was the nicest party I've thrown so far :)

I'm already excited about Julian's party in October. We're going to do a Treasure Hunt theme! He is really into treasure hunts right now (an episode of Blue's Clues had a treasure hunt) and I know he will love it.

I want to thank all my friends that made it! It meant a lot to me. Here are some pictures from the party this weekend!
Julian opened her presents for her :)

Enjoying the goodness..

The fabulous cake!

The party room

This is so cute - but Julian was too busy to join us!

Mommy and the birthday girl!

Kids and bubbles!

July 14, 2009

The Decision

Dominic and I have decided to put Julian in preschool this fall. I had originally planned to homeschool him, but I'm pretty sure I would fail miserably. At least right now. There's still a very good chance that I will homeschool in the future, but with Melody so young and needy, my current inability to have a remotely clean house, and the fact that Julian actually cries when I tell him that he will stay home for school and I'll be his teacher, we've realized it's in everybody's best interest if Julian starts at a part- time preschool.

Now I am frantically researching every preschool in the area! I don't know how I'll be able to make this kind of decision. I'm horrified of picking a school that he doesn't like, or that doesn't have good, kind teachers. I am glad he'll be around other kids his age on a regular basis. I think he needs that. I know he wants it. And there's a chance I may even get my house clean!

But he's my first! And I'm so sad that he's growing up! I wish I could stop him! If I would keep him at home it would be easier for me to ignore the fact that he's getting so big. But actually taking him to a school and dropping him off...I'll lose it. There's no way I'll get through this without losing it. I'll know to wear waterproof mascara that day.

And here's my biggest worry: what if the other kids are mean to him? That is something I absolutely cannot handle. He is so incredibly sensitive, and I don't know how to be strong for him. He doesn't have any really close friends right now. There are some kids he likes that are his age, but when they get together he is sort of dismissed by them. They aren't as interested in him as he is in them. And it breaks my heart! I just want to keep him in a bubble. And I've tried. But he doens't want to be in a bubble. He wants to be out there with the other kids. Oh Lord I'm going to need Your strength through this. I need to know if this affects other moms as badly. I'm sitting here just crying. I don't know how to let him grow up.

July 04, 2009

The Fuzzy Pink Flip Flops

Yesterday we took a family trip to the Columbus Zoo. They were having a promotion this week allowing military families to visit for free! The weather was very nice; not too hot, not too sunny, but warm and breezy with some clouds. Perfect zoo weather. We all had fun except for Melody, but she's not been having much fun with anything recently. We did, however, hit a very unexpected bump in our trip.

Being the disorganized mom that I am, I forgot something. It wasn't something normal, like a diaper or the camera. I shoes. Dominic loaded the kids in the car before we left and I was responsible for getting everything else, which took a few trips (books, snacks, diapers, money, hats, sunblock, bug spray, and Melody's shoes). I remembered that I needed shoes, and while I was upstairs I grabbed my socks because I was planning on wear my Converse. Why didn't I just wear my flip flops? I don't know. But over the course of my trips to the car I forgot to grab my shoes. I had planned to put my shoes on in the car, but Dominic surprised me by being in the passenger seat, so I drove us to the gas station. Melody was throwing a fit so I crawled in the back and soothed her to sleep, forgetting all about my shoes.

We live about an hour and 20 minutes away from the Columbus Zoo. We drove and parked (very far away from the entrance because it was pretty packed). I immediately remembered that I had no shoes. I froze. I had no idea what to do. How can I be at the zoo, over an hour away from home, and have no shoes?? The kids were getting antsy and Julian knew that we were here. I searched the car for anything I could make into a shoe, but had no luck! I put on my white socks, but I was wearing capri pants so it was pretty hard to hide the fact that I wasn't wearing shoes. We got out and began the long walk to the entrance, in my socks. We planned to try and find some shoes in the gift shop if we could get into the zoo. The lines for tickets were very long. We stood out there for at least 20 minutes waiting to get tickets. I tried to hide my feet under the stroller. Then I saw it. A big sign with the zoo rules, one of which being that shoes must be worn at all times. I panicked. I could not load the kids up again in the car. They'd freak out. I could not go by myself all the way back to the car and try to find somewhere to buy shoes and then come back and find my family because we only had one cell phone. I didn't know what to do. So I just stood there in line, panicking and nervous and feeling completely stupid. We tried to come up with stories to tell the zoo workers if somebody stopped me, but ultimately we decided that the truth would be the best idea. I was really worried that we wouldn't be able to find any shoes. We finally got our tickets and then tried to hurry our way in. Nobody said anything about my feet. We made a bee-line for the gift shop and to my horror all we could find were children's crocs. The biggest was a size 12 and it wouldn't fit on my foot (not to mention that I hate crocs)! I was upset, and I stayed there while Dominic went off to look a little more thoroughly. Then he appeared with some fuzzy pink flip flops! In adult sizes! So I happily bought them and wore them all day :)

Here are the shoes that saved the day:

The day was fairly uneventful after we found some shoes. It was very crowded, so the cooler exhibits (like the aquarium, reptiles, and tide pools) were too crowded to really enjoy (especially with a stroller). Melody yelled at random people most of the day. Julian had fun, and I wore my cute sun hat. Dominic stayed calm and collected even when I got irritated and wanted to yell at everyone. He's been doing that a lot lately :)
Here are some pictures of our day:

June 24, 2009

The Secret

I attended my first home birth this week. I am part of a small group of friends in Dayton that support healthy home birth, and want to help expecting moms however possible. Some of us are more educated than the others, so we try to have at least 2, if not 3 of us at a birth. We are not midwives, and do not practice medicine; we are not licensed. Natural birth is best left alone. So we don't do much but encourage the mom to keep her sounds productive, drink fluids and move around, and warm the blankets for the baby's arrival. The mom knows this, and wants to home birth anyway, so when we're invited to be a part of it, we're truly honored. This was my first experience as a doula (birth attendant/mother's helper, encourager, etc) at a birth. The mom's labor was very similar to my own with Melody last year. The night wasn't at all what I had expected, and it taught me a lot. But it was wonderful.
The mom went into labor in the evening, and by about midnight we were convinced it was the real thing, so I made it over there a little after then. She was laboring perfectly, contracting normally (and frequently), and truly beautiful. I was in awe of her true, natural beauty, as her body worked and she allowed it to. I felt utterly helpless. I knew her pain; I remembered exactly how it felt. How there is nothing you can do to escape it, nothing really to ease it. I just wanted to hug her and cry for her. I couldn't think of anything else to do, so I began to hold her hand during contractions. When she squeezed back, I felt good about my presence. She began pushing around 3. It was intense. When we saw the head, we couldn't help but to start yelling, excitedly telling her to keep going, he's coming! I vividly rember being positive that there was no way she could stretch more the get the entire baby out. It seemed impossible. But she did stretch, and the baby's head was born! It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Then it became scary, as the baby's head looked very blue. The other doula didn't look at all concerned, so I didn't say anything. The last thing you want to do is worry the laboring mom. Get the baby out, and then deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. But inside, I was in knots. The rest of the baby was born in one push, and he was perfect. He immediately pinked up and looked completely healthy. Talking about it after the fact, I was informed that a blue or white head is normal at birth, as long as it becomes pink soon after the rest of the body is born. Since the baby is still receiving all of it's oxygen through the umbilical cord at this point, there's no need for concern. I don't know how I missed this in all the books I've read, but apparently I did! I can't wait to experience another birth without that worry.
After the birth, the mom had a slow trickle of blood for the hour before the placenta was born. This was a little worrisome, but after the placenta came out, the blood loss decreased. Since she was feeling dizzy that first day, we told her to go to the hospital if she felt bad for the next day, because she did lose a good amount of blood. I was worried about her that first day, because I didn't want her to go through what I did. Eight days after Melody was born I went to the hospital and had a D&C procedure to remove some placenta pieces that broke off in the uterus and didn't come out on their own after the birth. The retained placenta was making me very sick. I remember how awful I felt that first week, so I was praying that she wouldn't have the same experience. Thankfully, today she looks great and is feeling much better. I do think her body expelled the entire placenta the first day, and that she will be just fine. The baby boy is perfectly healthy and beautiful, and nursing well. All in all, the birth was a complete success! Healthy and happy mom and baby, as well as the comfort of their own bed.
I was so honored to be a part of this, and I can't wait to experience more.
As she labored, I remember thinking "I feel so bad for her; I'm so glad I'm not going through that right now". But as soon as the baby was born, and lay nursing in her arms, I was envious of her. As much as I don't want another baby any time soon (I really don't), there is something so wonderful and powerful about the presence of a newborn. I would go through the 9 months of discomfort, and the hours of pain, just for that first week after the birth with the endorphins and the brand new baby. I guess it's how God wired us as women.
I'll close with a great quote:

"We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful; it's that women are strong." -Laura Stavoe Harm

June 22, 2009

The Slug

I deserve a round of applause. This week, on my own, I took the garbage and recycle to the front for the weekly pick up. Why is this an accomplishment you ask? Let me explain. Dominic always takes the garbage out. I am terrified of our back patio. There's a lot of bugs, and a lot of things that looks like bugs! I'm terrified of bugs. Really. Scared. I'm even scared of dead bugs. Dominic suggested that I put on the "reptile handling gloves" we have leftover from our pet snake (that Dominic killed, possibly on accident, but it's yet to be confirmed). I am so squeamish that I'm even scared to put on the gloves for fear that there may be bugs in the fingers of the gloves! Anyway, I managed to take a deep breath (or a couple), put on the gloves, and take out the garbage. It took me about a half an hour. We recycle a lot, and the little tiny bin that they supply us with doesn't even begin to hold it all, so we have a number of paper bags filled to walk out as well. The sun was going down, which made everything look spookier and more bug-like, and there was even a giant disgusting slug in my way. This thing was huge, and spotted. I was so grossed out. I stood there for a while trying to decide how to get around it. And finally I did it, all by myself :)

Dominic is gone all this week, training for his deployment later this year. I miss him so much. I depend on him a lot, and I've been having a rough time without him. I am not good with my kids. It's depressing, but I really do need help. I can't wait until he comes home. I'm not sure how things will go when he's actually gone for 6 months. I'm not prepared for this. We weren't supposed to ever have to deal with it. But this is what God's placed in out laps, and I'm trying to remember that he has a plan and will take care of us. We can use all of your support, and most importantly, prayers.

June 15, 2009

The Deception

I hate high fructose corn syrup because it's in everything! Bread, yogurt, crackers, ketchup, canned tomatoes even! Why on earth do my diced tomatoes need any kind of syrup in them? has this to say about the controversy over HFCS:

-Research confirms that high fructose corn syrup is safe and nutritionally the same as table sugar and honey.
-High fructose corn syrup has the same number of calories as table sugar and is equal in sweetness. It contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients.
-Because they are nearly compositionally equivalent, the human body cannot tell the difference between high fructose corn syrup and sugar.

I can accept all of that. My big problem is that it's deceptive. The corn companies keep saying that HFCS is not the cause of obesity, and should be consumed in moderation along with any other natural sugar derivative. When I sit down to eat a candy bar or a donut, I know that I'm eating a sugary food and know to limit my intake of it. I am okay with eating a sweet snack that has HFCS in it, because I'm aware of what I'm eating. It's a treat. But when I am adding diced tomatoes to my spaghetti sauce, I'm not thinking of that as a sugary treat! The same with bread. I generally think of a turkey sandwich as a healthy lunch, but in reality there is HFCS in the bread (in shockingly high quantities, based on its location in the ingredients list), making it an item with sugar in it I wouldn't expect. How are we supposed to mindfully acknowledge the amount of sugar we're eating if it's in foods that aren't supposed to be sugary? I now read the labels of everything I buy, and almost never purchase items with HFCS in them, (or High Maltose Corn Syrup, or any syrups if I can help it) mostly out of spite. I don't like the company(ies) behind this product because their marketing is deceptive and they're treating Americans like we're stupid. I'm not stupid, and many big brands are losing my loyalty because of their decision to use this cheap and convenient lab created ingredient that is adding calories where they shouldn't be.

June 14, 2009

Can We Survive Without Love?

This is a work in progress. It's a topic that I think is very interesting, and I'm dying to write about. But for some reason it's not coming out like I want. So I'll keep changing it as I feel like.

The following quotes are from the documentary "The Business of Being Born".

"One of the things we think happens during the whole labor and delivery process is that the oxytocin neurons start squirting out lots of oxytocin in the brain, which is the bonding, protective hormone. And the oxytocin travels in the bloodstream, down to the uterus to start triggering the contractions of labor. And that's when the switch to the maternal brain circuits, the "mommy brain", gets flipped on, and the whole brain cocktail of hormones and chemicals has for millions of year been developed to keep the mommy absolutely riveted on protection of the helpless infant. One of the things to remember is Pitocin is a synthetic version of oxytocin that you put intravenously in a woman when she's in labor. However, Pitocin doesn't act as natural oxytocin would in the brain. So there's all kinds of things about modern medical intervention; sometimes they need to be done, but they also inhibit this natural maternal aggression to protect the baby and to nourish the baby right after birth that is normal for mammals and for human moms."
-Louann Brizendine, M.D. Author, "The Female Brain"

"Until recently, love was a topic for poets, novelists, philosophers. Today it is studied from multiple scientific perspectives. With mammals in general, there is immediately after birth a short period of time which will never happen again, and which is critical in mother/baby attachment. Until recently, in order to give birth a woman, like all mammals, is supposed to release a complex cocktail of love hormones as soon as baby is born. When mother and baby are together, both of them are under the effect of a sort of ... opiate, natural morphine endorphins. We know the properties; they create states of dependency, addiction. When mother and baby are close to each other, it is the beginning of an attachment. But today, most women have babies without releasing this flow of hormones. I'll just give an example of animal experience. In general, if you disturb the hormonal balance of the female giving birth, it's simple: the mother does not take care of her baby. It's simple. If monkey's give birth by cesarean section, the mother is not interested in the baby. It's simple, easy to detect on an individual level. So you wonder, what about our civilization? What about the future of humanity? If most women have babies without releasing this cocktail of love hormones, can we survive without love?"
-Michel Odent, M.D.

"Today in the United States we know that there is serious increase in minimal neurological problems in children ... in attention deficit disorders, in autism. All of these things are increasing at the same period of time we're increasing all these obstetric interventions. And we don't know ... maybe next year or next decade we'll discover, to our horror, that what happens at birth is very important to the future development of that child."
-Marsden Wagner M.D. M.S. Author, "Born in the USA"

When I first heard that last statement by Michel Odent, "can we survive without love?", I didn't get it. I fully support natural birth, but the sentence struck me funny and I thought the statement was a weak attempt to initiate a response. However, while I was grocery shopping today, I had a revelation that enabled me to understand what I think he is talking about.

There was a newborn, probably in its first or second week of life, that was in an infant car seat, seated in the front of the shopping cart, while the mother shopped. The baby began to cry, and it wasn't consoled by her gentle "shhh". The baby cried for some minutes, and my heart began to ache so badly for it. I just wanted to scream at her, "Pick up your baby!" We went along the same path through the store, so I heard the baby cry on and off for quite some time. After a little while I noticed she had picked him up and he was still a bit fussy. He was rooting, so probably hungry. I had such a strong desire to nurse that baby. All he wanted was to be comforted. Now, I am not accusing the mother of being a bad mom or anything like that. It just struck me odd that I was so much more affected by her child's cries than she was. I thought about this for a while, and recalled that I've developed a strong sort of passion for all babies in the last year. I become very upset when I hear stories of babies hurt, which is typical. But I feel equally upset when I think about a new baby crying in the hands of a doctor after birth, instead of nestled against its mother where it belongs. Or of a newborn being weighed, measured, and wrapped up before ever feeling its mother's warmth. I am heartbroken when thinking about babies that are "crying it out", and being forced to soothe themselves. The baby is scared and helpless, and I don't understand why the general public isn't as concerned about the well-being of a crying baby as I am. I do know great mothers that chose to have c-sections, formula feed, let babies "cry it out" and sleep separately, etc. But as accepted as these choices are in society, they're not normal.

It is very hard for a mother to listen to her baby cry, let alone chose to do nothing about it. Our instincts tell us to care for the crying baby. It's painful for me to think about letting Melody cry and not tending to her. She is completely helpless - what more important role could I have as a mother that to make her feel safe? All an upset baby can think is "Where is my mommy to make everything better?" How on earth has it become acceptable to let a baby cry? Ideas of detached parenting are so prevalent that I can't help but wonder how much of it is caused by the startling number of induced births and cesarean sections. Interventions in birth mean the mother doesn't naturally release the hormones that make her fierce about the protection and nourishment of her baby. I'm not saying that mothers who don't have natural births don't love and care for their children. I am saying that it would make sense if the dramatic rise in the number of medical births attributed to the rise in detached parenting styles. I don't think feeding a baby formula is normal. Neither is making a baby sleep in a crib in their own room, or eat on a schedule, or self soothe. Even though these things are widely accepted as okay, they're not natural. And what happens when we fight biology? These changes in the way we're treating children must be a reaction to the way birth is handled in the U.S., because medical birth directly affects the hormones of the mother and baby, directly altering the biological plan.

Rarely do mothers that choose natural births also choose to formula feed. There is a side to mothering that I think can be altered too easily by hormonal interruptions during birth. And this side to mothering that is being lost is our instinctual, animalistic attachment to our babies. Natural birth is about as common as attached parenting (baby wearing, co sleeping, breastfeeding past a year, etc). Based on the scientific research on the hormones that are released after natural birth, and the fact that these hormones are not released in augmented labor, it seems like the numbers pretty clearly correspond.

There's also the sad truth about the amount of child abuse, neglect, and irresponsible parenting today. I do not believe it was like this a couple hundred years ago, when mothers had babies at home and breastfed. I feel like society was helping you and encouraging you in the proper way to care for your children. Now nobody says anything about another's choice, even if it's true, out of fear of offending them! Mothers were also unable to just "choose to stop breastfeeding". That was the only option, so even though it was more work, maybe it hurt or they didn't get to sleep - it's what they did! Now we have so many options in caring for our children, but is it for the best? In the long run, for the continuation of our species, are these numerous options good for us? Obviously in the rare cases where mother has serious problems and can't breastfeed, or dies, or the baby is adopted, and so on, it's great that we now have a relatively decent alternative available to breast milk. But it's a fact that breast milk is better for the baby. Formula is simply becoming too available, too acceptable, and allowing us to be lazy. In the last 80 years, mothers have forgotten how to sacrifice for their children. "Oh, breastfeeding hurts, so I'll give him formula", or "These contractions hurt, so I'll have some drugs". This is the norm, but research shows it to be unsafe! It is second best to what nature, biology, God intended. We're not making the best decisions for our babies. I wonder if this dwindling desire and willingness to sacrifice in order to give our children the absolute best in birth, security, and nourishment, is another reflection of the damage modern obstetrics is doing humanity. I don't think we are as passionate about the well being of our children as we're supposed to be. We seem more passionate about making everyone feel okay about their choices, good or bad. What is normally accepted in our society as okay is often something that goes against our nature. So what could have allowed us to get to this point - as an entire nation? This hormone (and lack there of) seems to be a possible explanation of the change in our actions as mothers. In this generation, we have some of the most unhealthy and ill-behaved children with detached parents. I believe in biology, so it makes perfect sense.

Now, I am not looking to make anyone mad at me, because I know plenty of great moms who do the things I mentioned that aren't "good for children". I myself was induced with Julian's labor and formula fed him when nursing was too painful. He was in a crib at 6 months old and is a perfectly healthy little boy. But looking back I see things I wish I had known and done differently. I wasn't as educated about what I was doing, I was just playing follow-the-leader. I wasn't taught to believe that my body knew what it was doing and should be trusted. As a society, we have to start being able to admit when we're wrong. As long as we are too proud to accept that our current system isn't working, our children will continue get sicker and have more strange neurological and social problems. The general population's idea that "whatever works for that family is fine" is very flawed and unhealthy, and I think will ultimately be our downfall. As moms, we need to be accountable to others, and to our children. We need to start sacrificing for them again. And we need to stop birthing in hospitals, where our most primitive urge to love and protect our baby at all costs is being lost.

June 12, 2009

Staying up late makes you sad and lonely!

I am feeling depressed tonight.

I don't know what made me think of it, but I decided to get online tonight and look up information on an old friend from high school that died in 2006 (Corey Mason). I still don't really know how he died; I was in Ohio at the time and I don't know his family. I wasn't really close with him, but I was close enough. I knew him primarily from my church youth group, and after that we crossed paths frequently enough. He was at my wedding only a few months before he died. And within the same month, another high school friend (Brian Wicks) died . He took his own life.

Dominic's Grandma Bea passed away this year, and that's been very hard on us all. She is the closest person to me that's ever died. During my pregnancy last year, Dominic and I often talked about naming Melody after Bea. It's ironic, because Melody looks so much like Grandma Bea! She makes these faces, and I can see Bea. But for whatever stupid reason we didn't give her the name. "Melody Grace" sounded prettier. Of course now I'm so mad we didn't name her after Bea. I briefly considered changing her name (middle name, obviously) after the fact. Her death was heartbreaking. She had cancer, and she kept telling us she would be gone soon. We didn't grasp that, and we thought she'd at least have a few more years. It's such an odd feeling. A concept I can't grasp. One day she's there, and the next day I can't call her to thank her for the Christmas card. I'll never forget how I kept putting off calling her that month, and then I lost the chance.

And then I began looking through some pictures from the past, and I found the disk from Julian's 1st birthday. He was so little. So close in age to Melody right now. I loved him so much. Now he bugs me so much. I'm always yelling at him, trying to get him to hear me, listen to me, stay quiet, don't jump on the couch, don't sneak candy, don't talk back, don't throw in the house. We don't have fun anymore. I don't play with him. I don't even know how. I wonder if it is because I have another baby, or if it would have happened even if he'd remained an only child. I feel like a horrible mother, almost like I've fallen out of love with my son. Obviously I still love him. I think about him every second of the day, and know him inside and out; what he wants, what he needs, if he's safe, hungry, sleepy...But it's not like when he was little. It's not like how I am with Melody. Something is missing. The excitement about being his mom every day. The joy in seeing him accomplish things. The fun of making him laugh. It's there, just not as strong. And it's not fair to him. And I don't know how to get it back. Is this some sort of biological reaction to having another child? Or is it just who I am? If it's just me, that's horrible. I don't want to be that person.

On a happier note, I have kept my kitchen clean for two nights in a row! And I'll be going to bed before midnight tonight. Hopefully, I will have something more cheerful for my next entry. I've been experiencing some writer's block recently.

Pictures from Julian's 1st birthday (October 16, 2006)

May 24, 2009

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

I'm not quite as bad as Monica from "Friends", but I am pretty bad. This year I've been seeing it a lot in my marriage. Not only am I always right, but I always have to win. I have to be better. Than my husband? How did I get this bad? He's the person I should be equal with, and the one who clearly loves me unconditionally. I guess I don't know what that is. It's incredibly embarrassing.

Dominic and I got together in high school, and I became pregnant my senior year. He had already been out of school for a year, and wasn't working or going to college. He was doing nothing. I was pregnant, so I was better. Then he joined the Air Force to support Julian and I, so that I could stay at home and do nothing. But he had a hard time adjusting, and was very flaky with his work responsibilities, and we fought a lot. I was ready to accept that we had to grow up, and he was not. So I was better. I struggled a lot over the next 3 years, but I was always more mature than Dominic and more concerned with the kids, more concerned with the house. He was still interested in playing World of Warcraft and other video and computer games, so I was better. Girls mature faster than boys, so I knew I was better. I was raised in an environment to believe that there was only one right way to do everything: one right way to do the dishes, fold the clothes, clean a sink. Since Dominic wasn't raised to think that way (and ironically was raised in the exact opposite fashion), I was better. At everything. Poor guy. I was so awful. My thought process was so messed up. I have not always loved Dominic the way I should, because I now understood the concept that love is an action, not a feeling.

Now I'm realizing all of this, because I am not better. He is growing, and has officially surpassed me in...everything. He is a better cook than me. He cleans more often and more efficiently. He plays with our children when I don't know how to or even want to. And he wakes up every day at 5:30 to go to work. He has stopped fighting with me. He doesn't beat me down for doing things wrong, or not doing them at all. On the weekends he lets me sleep in until 11 or 12. He is better than me, and also better to me. And I don't know how to handle it, or what to do. Not that I need to be better than him again. For a long time I've been praying, asking God to make Dominic into a strong leader for our family, as God intends. Generally, I've wanted Dominic to be "better". But now that he's there, I don't know how to let him be, and I don't know how to be okay with myself being "less than". I feel like such a failure. The goal is to get to an equal place with him in our separate roles. But I'm always so tired. And I worry that he is noticing it, and won't be okay with it soon.

I owe you an apology, Dominic, for how I've treated you all these years. And I am so lucky, so blessed that you are mine. Please be patient with me, even though I have regrettably always been impatient with you.

May 18, 2009

No Pain, No Gain

I am breastfeeding Melody. I had wanted to breastfeed Julian, but I was uneducated about it and had little help and support, so after 2 weeks of excruciating pain I gave him a bottle of formula. While pregnant with Melody, I came into contact with a number of breastfeeding resources (WIC, La Leche Leage) so that I wouldn't be alone if I had problems again. I knew that getting help right away would be really important. Once Melody was born I had the exact same pain that nobody could explain. We checked mine and her anatomy, the latch always looked fine, and I made plenty of milk. But she made me bleed. It's about as painful as it gets, I think - I mean that's an incredibly sensitive area to begin with.

At the 8 day mark I gave her some formula. I thought I was done with nursing again. I felt like such a failure. But I had a bit of relief, because when you're dealing with the kind of pain I was, bottles of formula are easier. For the next month I gave Melody formula about 75% of the time, and nursed and pumped the other 25%. I don't really know how I didn't dry up; I was really lazy with the pumping. I consider it a blessing. And when she was 8 weeks old I decided to nurse her full time and see what happened. Somehow after a couple of weeks it didn't hurt at all anymore! It was so exciting! All I had wanted to do was nurse my daughter, because it is what God intended, and it's proven to be so much better for the baby. For a number of months life got easier, as my baby nursed normally. Then, at 8 months, I began having pain again. We thought I had a yeast infection, so we tried medications, probiotics, and Gentian Violet (an alternative treatment that stains everything purple for a couple of days - very messy and annoying). I didn't know what to do. This time I didn't feel like a failure - I felt mad! "I worked so hard for this, God! And then you allowed me to think everything was fine. Didn't I prove myself? Didn't I earn it? Why does it hurt again?" Over a few weeks the pain lessened to a more manageable level. It's been about a month since the pain began again, and it isn't too bad anymore. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn't. I don't know why. My friend and La Leche League leader (Bobbi) thinks I may just have an over production of yeast, and to get rid of it I would need to get really crazy about my diet and eliminate white sugars, milk, and breads. I'm not doing that. I already have no self control over my diet. I won't succeed. So I deal with the on-again-off-again pain.

It's very frustrating. I'm to the point where I've decided I don't want to have anymore children - solely because I do not like breastfeeding. Beyond the pain, there's the fact that I can't be away from her, ever, for more than 2 hours without pumping beforehand. I hate pumping. And the last 2 times I've pumped, she wouldn't take the bottle anyway. I do feel this is part of the design, though - I don't feel moms should work (when it's possible), because I believe the infant should be with the mother continuously the first year at least. So that fits hand in hand with the way infants nurse. But that doesn't mean I enjoy it every minute, or that it doesn't get exhausting! So for these reasons (but really, mostly the pain) I cannot imagine having to go through this again, and Melody's probably not going to be done for a year or so from now. I don't want to do it again. But knowing what I know now, and experiencing it when it doesn't hurt, I know that I also couldn't have another baby and formula feed. So for now, fear of the pain is keeping me from having any more kids. Not that I'm ready now, but in 5 years or so this fear will still lay heavily on my mind. And I'm fairly sure there would be the same pain, since I had it with both kids and there was never an explanation for it.

I have a real love-hate relationship with breastfeeding Melody. I am a serious breastfeeding advocate, though. I think it's incredibly sad how many babies aren't breastfed for the mother's convenience, or just because she doesn't know better. There is something wrong with our country that first time mother's are choosing formula, out of preference and not need, and pediatricians don't say "You know, if you're interested I could explain to you how much more beneficial breast milk is to your baby". Formula is just accepted. But I can't help but think of formula as the biggest experiment on mankind with unknown long term results. Human babies were not made to drink this man made concoction.

However, having said all that, I couldn't possibly blame someone that has tried to breastfeed and struggled for turning to formula. Because I've been there, and even last month it crossed my mind. I sometimes envy moms that I see who just hand their child a bottle. It would be so much easier at times. But I know what is best, and I can't take that away from her. Even though it's sort of a pain, in more ways than one.

(Purple Melody after a Gentian Violet application)

May 17, 2009

I'm a mess, I'm a mess, I'm a big old messy mess!

Thanks Laurie Berkner.
I cannot keep my house clean! And it's not like "Oh, I have some laundry and dishes to do, my house is a mess"; it's "You have to watch where you step because there is literally stuff all over the floor and it's probably not that safe. " Good thing Julian is with Robin all weekend. I don't know how it gets this bad so quickly. Dominic and I usually do a pretty thorough house cleaning on the weekends, and then by Thursday it's a complete disaster. It's so overwhelming, I don't even know where to start.

I wish I could keep things organized. But for some reason I'm very bad at cleaning up after myself and the kids. I just...I think I'm just so incredibly tired all the time. Melody still nurses 3 or 4 times a night, so that means I haven't slept for a full night in over 9 months. All day long, during the week, my thought is "Stay awake, try to find something to entertain the kids until Dominic gets home". It's never "What can I clean today?" I have to get it figured out though, because I'm sick of living like this. It makes me crazy. I can never find anything. And if I'm in a kind of bad mood, and then I step in a hunk of old banana that Melody threw on the floor the day before, it generally puts me in a really bad mood. So I'm always in a really bad mood! I feel bad for my kids. Growing up my home was never messy. I think adults are supposed to be able to keep their homes picked up, right? I feel like a huge failure in that area. Now I'm just rambling. I'm tired. I need to go to bed so I can forget about my disgusting house.

May 16, 2009

Unpaper? The quest to family cloth.

In my quest to go green, I stumbled upon a novel but somewhat unconventional idea - paperless living. The idea is basically this: How often do you see toilet paper, napkin, kleenex, and paper towel commercials that claim to have cloth like softness, thickness, or absorbency? Well wouldn't it make more sense, and save a ton of money, to use actual cloth? Considering the fact that I already cloth diaper Melody, the idea wasn't too huge of a leap for me. Dominic, on the other hand, doesn't get it. His concerns are that:

1. It's weird
2. It's gross
3. It causes more work [for me]

I know it's weird; I grew up in the mainstream, too. But I birthed my daughter at home, so I'm not very much in agreement with what the rest of the U.S. deems acceptable, anymore. I don't think it's that gross, because I cloth diaper. I trust that when I put something in the washer, whether it has bodily fluids, food, or dirt on it, that when it comes out of the washer it will be clean. So the ick/cleanliness factor doesn't bother me at all. And it's not too much more work, because I'll just wash all the "unpaper" products together every third day with the diapers. Since Dominic is grossed out by the idea of cloth toilet paper (sometimes referred to as "family cloth") I've decided to try it out for myself, Julian and Melody. So far so good. And why should we use paper? Now we use luxuriously soft products like organic bamboo velour and natural sherpa, and it feels good! Laugh all you want, but I think I'm getting the better deal :) Using cloth (flannel, terry, and cotton) for kitchen things like napkins and paper towels just makes more sense, because it's so much more versatile. And velour against an irritated nose is so much softer than paper. I love that I can choose adorable prints for the flannel and cotton knit blends. Even cooler is that if I knew how to sew I could make my own for even cheaper. But I don't know how to sew, so I buy them from WAHMs (work at home moms) who can, for generally less than a dollar each.

In case you're curious, the used cloth products get put in a "wet bag", a zippered bag that is lined with a waterproof material called PUL, with a cotton print on the outside and a handle to hang it on the door knobs. They just discreetly stay in these cute bags until laundry time, and then the bags are washable, too. All in all, I like it so far! Dominic never has to make the switch - I wouldn't force these things on him. But our household's consumption of paper products will decrease a lot if I use the cloth on myself and the kids, so we'll be saving a lot of money with or without Dominic. And I think... he'll come around :)

Here is part of my stash of super cute family/baby/nose wipes!

And here are some of my cute wet bags:

May 15, 2009

In the beginning...

I've started a blog! I've wanted to for a while, but apparently the 10 minutes of set up was too much for me :)

I'll start with some recent news. Dominic is going to Iraq in October. Well, either Iraq or Afghanistan. We don't know which yet, and we don't know when we'll know. It will be for about 6 months. I'm planning to take the kids back to California for a few months during that time, in an attempt to not lose my mind. I probably won't be talking about this very much, because technically I'm not supposed to. It's all very hush hush - when exactly he's leaving, when he's coming home, what he's doing, where he will actually be - for their safety I can't really tell anyone the little bit of information they'll give me. So please don't ask! I just ask that everyone keep his safety in your prayers.

Julian is now 3 and a half years old. He is such a boy. I did everything in my power for the first 2 years of his life to baby and coddle him, but he still ended up rough and aggressive! It must be unavoidable. He is still such a sweetheart, when he wants to be. He's growing so fast. I can't believe how smart he is. Preschool would generally start in the fall, and I'm seriously considering homeschooling. Since we're planning to leave the state for a number of months during the winter I think homeschooling is more of a necessity. But I'm also doing this out of a sense of duty - I chose to have children right now, and we can survive on one income, so I feel it's my responsibility to "do the mom thing" in its entirety. In my opinion, God holds us all as parents accountable for what our children learn. If I can stay at home, why should my children be taught by someone else? I'm sort of excited about it, but considering the messy state my house is generally in, and my amazing abilities to procrastinate and lose everything I'm looking for, this could be very hard for me. Hopefully I'll learn and grow from it.

Melody is 9 months old, and she's started crawling. None of that "army crawl" stuff - she went straight from scooting backwards to up on all fours crawling! She continues to amaze me.
I am developing a Gymboree clothing obsession. There is seriously nothing cuter than little girl clothes! However, I am good about it and only purchase items cheap and/or used. Ebay is my friend :)
Melody is still nursing every few hours, and only eating table foods in very small amounts once or twice a day. I'm okay with it, and so is she, so I see no need to rush her into table foods any quicker.

I am...not doing too much. It's something that bothers me - how little I do. I don't really want to go to school or work, but I also don't like the inactive state I'm in right now. I did join a gym, and I could feel and see results. But recently both the kids got really sick, so I haven't gone to the gym in a week, and now I'm sure I can't do it anymore :( I feel so yucky.
I am most likely going to be assisting some ladies this summer with home births, so that is VERY exciting! I have such a passion for home birth, and I'm so honored to even be considered to get to help them out.

Well, there's my first post :) Time to go shopping while the kids are sleeping!