Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weirdness in my Life

Last week I was on the phone with a friend. From the family room I could hear water dripping on to the floor - nay, pouring onto the floor - in the kitchen. So I stood up to go and inspect but before I even took two steps I heard a huge crash.  I knew it before I even saw it - the dish rack had slowly been getting pushed off the counter by a heavy cutting board that was placed at the very back. Eventually everything, and when I say everything I mean a ridiculous amount of dishes that should never have been piled that high, succombed to gravitational forces and down they went on to the hard slate flooring. I'm positive I heard the sound of ceramic shattering. All the while I'm still on the phone and tried not to sound too worried. After all, running to clean up the mess wasn't going to save any casulaties. So I finished my conversation and prepared myself for the worst and this is what I found:

Do you see anything odd here? Notice the height from which they fell and the way they scattered all over the floor? And that all the glass/ceramic dishes landed right side up? And that the only broken dish was a PLASTIC PLATE (bottom left corner)? How does that even happen? I accidently bump a drinking glass the wrong way and BAM the whole thing shatters. Whoops, I just let this cup slip from my hand two centimeters from the sink - CRACK, there's another chip on the rim. But half my dishes fall three feet down onto a hard slate floor? Yeah they're fine. Oh except for the plastic plate. Don't get me wrong, I saw it as a gift from God that I didn't have a huge mess to clean up and lots of dishes to replace. But it still boggles my mind.

Other weird things happening around here: Moses sweating - a lot - whenever he eats, whether breastfed or bottle. I mean, to the point where the hair on the back of his head is damp. I don't get it. I really don't get it. This past Sunday at church, the lady in the nursery came to get me because she thought Moses felt feverish and seemed lethargic. I told her that he's normally warm but came back to check on him anyways. Sure enough, he was fine. And as for the lethargy? Yeah, that's just Moses being his normal calm and collected self.

Also weird? Jack's new thing of coming out of his room after a nap (or while he's supposed to be napping or going to bed) with his blanket covering his body, like some sort of ghost. On one hand it's humorous but on the other it totally creeps me out. I can often hear him coming and my stomach aways gets nervous flutters when his shrouded figure comes walking around the corner. We think he is under the assumption that by hiding under his blanket, noone can see him and thus he is free to move about "undetected." Who knows. All I know is, it's weird.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Moses is King and Jack is a Dream

Has it really been over a week since I last posted? Where has the time gone? I think sometimes I also just don't feel like writing because keeping this blog seems like kind of a fruitless endeavor. I'm not sure what purpose it serves except to document the everydayness of our life in hopes that one day I'll want to look back and here it all will be, in one place at this address.

At the same time, sometimes I feel like there's so much I want to share on so many different topics but lack the words to do so, so I just leave it and wait until I have something good to say. Does that even make sense? I don't know. I just woke up from a nap and then ate crackers and honey and I think that combo is making me feel drowsy and incoherent.

But here's a picture of Moses to help make this post worthwhile...

Moses is SO king. I mean, first of all he's super cute (this picture doesn't do him justice). Secondly, he wears that awesome treehugger's "hug me" shirt so well, especially when it's paired with just a diaper. Thirdly, the child is a dream. I brought him to a wedding a few weekends ago and he sat in the stroller silently - wide awake - for almost two hours. It was a hot day and an outdoor wedding and he just sat there, sweating. Don't worry peeps, I know you're having visions of a poor Moses sitting in the sun and heat, silently suffering, while I looked on thinking he was having the time of his life. He was always in the shade and was fed part way through. THE POINT IS - he was so good. He's so good that I even considered bringing him to a movie theatre so I could go see a movie. I wouldn't be surprised if he slept through the whole thing. But of course... I talked some sense into myself and realized I'd be pushing his good nature into unmarked territory that I'm not quite ready to explore. Let's just say, we've come a long way from here.

And then there's Jack :) Jack is overall a very very well behaved little boy. But he's also very vibrant and determined. "Feisty" is the word two different people used to describe him while he was still in the womb and I think it's pretty spot on! He's fun, but he's also really intense sometimes (what two year old isn't?!) That said, I've been trying to remind myself about the importance of celebrating Jack's personality and "rejoicing over him" as I felt God tell me to do a few months ago. After all, on the scale of how the average two year old behaves, Jack - much like his little brother - is a dream. 

Of course, now I'm going to come to your house with my children in tow and Moses will cry the whole time and Jack will terrorize your cat or break your priceless antique vase and you'll hold me accountable to this post. I can see it now.

Moving on.... can I just say thank you to my sister Andrea for informing me about picmonkey?!?! Ever since Picnik shut down I have been missing fun photo editors - especially since everyone and their mother has Instagram and I'm jealous in my little heart over it. Well guess what? Picmonkey is Instagram for poor, iPhoneless people like me. Also a great idea from Andrea? - these glow worm jars. So cute. 

Alright folks, I got some livin' to do. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

For Tim

I laughed at Tim a lot today because, for whatever reason, his internal thermostat is way off and he has been sweating profusely even though the rest of us are fine. His skin is just straight up damp to the touch and his face is lit-er-ally dripping with perspiration. Night and day. Not sure what's going on there but it makes me laugh a little. But in all seriousness, I want to take just a moment to recognize Tim for the incredible dad that he is to our little guys. So amazing. So patient. So loving. So dad-of-the-year.

For Tim - 

Your steadfast servant-heart keeps us warm and fed and full of love.
Your calming presence is what carries us through the end of a hard day.
Our strength is found in the security of your always open arms.

We have everything we need.
Because we have God.
Because we have eachother.
Because we have you. 

I love our little family. 
And we love you.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Milk Matters

Today's topic: breastfeeding.
If you're a guy and this topic makes you uncomfortable, read no further!

I'm sharing the following for three reasons:

1. In hopes that mothers with similar experiences will be encouraged that they're not alone.
Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for the way you need to feed your child
We're all doing our best here.

2. For new or soon-to-be moms who are staunch breastfeeding advocates like I was:
sometimes things don't work out in the way that you planned, and you need to give yourself the grace to accept that and move forward.

3. To generate further understanding that unless you've experienced the challenges of breastfeeding and worked through them (or if someone outwardly asks your thoughts on the matter) you have no place to be encouraging others to avoid using formula. Period. 

I've always been an advocate for exclusive breastfeeding. It just makes sense to me that what a woman's body was made to produce for her child's nourishment is best and that formula should only be used if absolutely necessary (i.e. not simply for convenience sake).  What I don't support is what feels like a growing intolerance for mother's who choose to use formula. If you're a mom who formula feeds, you know what I mean. It seems this intolerance operates under the assumption that the main reason mothers choose formula is simply for the convenience of it, when the truth is (I believe) only a very small portion of mothers fall into that category. Most commonly, after at least attempting to breastfeed, mothers choose formula for one of the following reasons:

1. Their bodies cannot, despite their best efforts, produce enough milk to meet their baby's demand.

2. It's physically painful, too challenging, or too stressful.

3. Their child can't latch properly or suffers from acid reflux or gas pains (hence challenging/stressful).

I'd suggest that there are certainly ways to try and work through any of these scenarios - and I think it's important to give it your best shot and not give up at the first sign of difficulty - but those efforts often come with a fair amount of mental stress and exhaustion. I know because I've dealt with all three challenges, most recently with Moses. 

Here's my experience:

With Jack, it was always a huge challenge. First, it was because his latch was wrong, which made breastfeeding excrutiatingly painful. Two weeks in, I just could not endure it anymore - by that point, breastfeeding would bring me to tears and cause me to bleed. In a moment of weakness, I made Tim go and get some formula. Here's where the voices of all those well-intentioned breastfeeding advocates started creeping into my head, telling me I was a bad mother. So I saw a lactation consultant who helped correct his latch and things got better for a while and I stopped using the formula. About a month in, Jack started suffering from acid reflux and gas pains. This equated to lots of screaming during and after he'd eat, which also equated to high stress for me. We started giving him baby Zantac, which helped a bit, but being the "granola" mom that I am, I wanted a more natural remedy. We tried gripe water and gas drops and I started an elimination diet which meant only eating plain ground turkey and rice for two weeks. I was determined to breastfeed. Eventually, he just grew out of the gassiness. But by that time, I was working full-time again and was pumping more than I was actually feeding him directly. And let me tell you, when you're working full-time and trying to get things done, but have to stop every two hours to pump for half an's not easy. Not surprisingly my supply went way down and I had to start supplementing with formula. By the time he was weaned, he was mostly drinking formula. And I felt like I failed him.

With Moses, it started off just fine. He had a great latch and breastfeeding was a dream. For about two weeks. And then on came the acid reflux and the gas pains, just like Jack. And once more, I turned to Zantac (for immediate relief) but switched to the gripe water/gas drops solution again. I didn't have the mental energy to try the elimination diet, now that I was caring for two children instead of one. I knew I just had to wait for him to grow out of it and around 4 months he did. He's 5 months now, and for the last 4 weeks his latch has slowly been getting lazier and lazier and his feeding time has been getting shorter and shorter. I didn't see it as a problem until I brought him to the doctor for his wellness check and learned that he'd fallen from the 20th percentile for weight into the less than third percentile. In just under two months. With the words "possible failure to thrive" and "you've got to supplement" ringing in my ears, I went home with two cans of soy formula (now that we're no longer eating dairy). As soon as I got home, I nursed and then made him a bottle. And then another bottle. And then a third. In one sitting he drank about 9 oz. That's a lot, considering he only eats 3-4 oz at a time on average. It was as if he hadn't eaten in a month (and I guess you could say he hadn't!) In my head, I told myself that the supplementing would just be temporary. That as soon as I could get my supply back up and his latch corrected, we'd be back to exclusive breastfeeding. Over the course of the last two weeks I have taken the following steps to try to make this happen:

  • Started taking high doses of Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, and something called More Milk Special Blend as well as drinking a Lactation Tea blend - all of which are meant to stimulate milk production. So far, not much change.
  • When supplementing, I only used feeding tubes (I won't go into how this works) to avoid nipple confusion. It was really frustrating and made breastfeeding really awkard.
  • I learned he was tongue-tied, which is why his latch was all wrong, and had a midwife friend of mine clip his tongue. Twice (the first time wasn't deep enough). Please be reassured that this is a totally normal procedure that is done to many babies (including my nephew), is realtively painless and is in their best interest not only for breastfeeding purposes but also later in life to avoid speech impedements. 
  • I started upping my calories to try and promote more milk production.
  • Brought Moses to the chiropracter to adjust his spine to help with positioning during feeding.

Can you tell that I'm once again determined to breastfeed? But I am also exhausted. Mentally, I am just so exhausted. Breastfeeding has become so stressful because Moses struggles the whole time and gets frustrated when he has to work to get the milk. He pushes against me and whines and squirms. And I have to set him down and go out of the room and try not to punch a wall.  I have yet to see a lactation consultant and I could definitely be better about drinking fluids. But I've done everything else I can and still haven't seen results, so I've somewhat resigned myself to the fact that I'm just going to have to supplement for the rest of the year. I've agonized over this for weeks and it pains me and I feel guilty, but my baby needs to eat so praise the Lord that formula exists.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Muffins (that taste like Autumn)

Last week we came into the possession of a ridiculously large amount of summer (yellow) squash. I've only ever had squash grilled or in a stir fry, so I was thankful to learn that it can be used in baking. I also had some over ripe bananas lying around (story of my life) and figured I'd whip up some muffins this morning after Jack fell asleep on his bed on accident - I say on accident because this has never happened outside of naptime hours.

Here is the recipe (adapted from here) in all its glory, and might I point out that it's vegan, oil free and plant-strong? AND DELICIOUS. Don't ignore the delicious part, because I know all you foodies out there are immediately writing these off because they have the dreaded vegan label. Eat em' before you judge em' mmmk? Yah box em', ya ship em'. (Mrs. Doubtfire, anyone?)

Summer Muffins
(makes about 18 muffins)

Dry ingredients:
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg + allspice to taste)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chia seeds (optional - but so good for you - and it adds a nice texture)

Wet ingredients:
2 cups summer squash, peeled and coarsely grated (about two medium size squash)
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 1/2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 large carrot, finely grated
Zest of one lime (secret "taste of summer" ingredient!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use paper muffin liners if you have them, otherwise I just use a non-stick muffin pan and flour the bottoms. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in the middle and set aside. Mix wet ingredients in another large bowl. Pour wet ingredients into center of dry ingredients and stir until just moistened (don't over-stir, otherwise muffins will be tough). Spoon batter into muffin tin - batter should be just below level with the top of the pan. Bake for 25-30 mins (check at 25 mins) until toothpick comes out clean from center of muffin. Loosen the sides of the muffin from the pan as soon as they come out of the oven and turn them on their sides (in the tin) to cool - it will prevent them from sticking. Enjoy!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fort Initiation

Today we built Jack his first fort under the dining room table. 
It was about 110 degrees in there but he loved it anyway.

Yes. Amazing. Good.

''What is the cry of your heart? Pay attention to that. Listen to what makes you angry, honour what makes your blood pump faster, what makes you come fully alive. Now go. And do. You know Jesus, you have experienced the power and the grace with your own life, you have felt it in your own heart, now go, heal, disciple, minister, love, and do likewise. Speak, breathe, prophesy, preach, get behind a pulpit, mark exam papers, run a company or a non-profit, clean your kitchen, put paint on a canvas, organize, rabble-rouse, work the Love out and in and around you, however God has made you to do it, just do it. Don’t let them fence you in or hold you back.Love your husband, love your babies, love the poor, love the orphans, love the widows, love the powerful, love the broken and the hurting, love your friends, love yourself, love your enemies, come to love the whole world in the fullness of God, in the full expression of the woman that he has created you to be, just that, no more, but certainly no less. 
Choose freedom. Choose the freedom of living loved, far from theirtables and debates and fence lines and name-callings, theirbelittling, divisive stereotypes. Extend the gift of freedom andgrace, second chances, and more grace, just as you have received them. As E.E. Cummings wrote, "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." You really are created, you really are chosen, you really are cherished, so you really can be who you are. Live counterculture when the culture does not affirm truth, love, faith, mercy, and justice. 
It matters because you matter, because your daughters matter, because your sisters matter, because the people of God, and the entirety of his created world matters, because redemption matters. The kingdom of God would be better with your voice, your hands, your experiences, your stories, your truth. You can go where I cannot go, and someone needs to hear you sing your song, you are someone’s invitation. 
You are loved. 
Rest in your God-breathed worth. Stop holding your breath, hiding your gifts, ducking your head, dulling your roar, distracting your soul, stilling your hands, quieting your voice, dulling your mind, satiating your hunger with the lesser things of this world.''
-Sarah Bessey

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Survival Mode.

Friends, can I be honest? Over the course of the last 12 months, we have been stretched in a way I've never experienced before. Mentally, financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally. All areas of our life at some point or another have been in a state of crisis, sometimes simultaneously. All have left us living in what feels like survival mode. And by that I mean, our eyes have been taken off the leisureness of life and have been fixed on just making it through the day or making it to the next pay check.

In the three years we've been married we've moved three times, had two children, changed jobs more times than I can count, mourned the death of Tim's dad, step dad and both our grandmothers, faced a myriad of health concerns and accrued a serious amount of medical debt. In just three years. Today I finished an application for government assistance (food stamps, medicaid etc.) which I started a number of times over the past year but wasn't forced to submit until recently.

For the past ten days I've been fighting a losing battle to continue breastfeeding that's driven me to tears (and into a closet) more than once. For the past three days Jack has had a fever which turned into a case of hand, foot and mouth disease. On his birthday.

I feel like I keep being brought to the edge of either punching something or screaming and pulling my hair out. On a lighter note, if any of you watched the show Daria on MTV years ago, you might remember that the dad's eye would pop out whenever he'd get overwhelmed:

I feel like I've reached this point in my heart at least once every day this week. 
(hilarious but also kind of miserable)

I'm not sharing this to complain or to ellicit sympathy or pity or charity. Far from it. I say all this because I realize much of what I post is a glossy, squeaky clean view of our life. Not that it's dishonest - it's just as easy for me to find the joy and the blessings in our situation as well. It's not hard to put a positive spin on our situation. Let me be loud and clear when I say that

God is good and worthy to be praised for all that He has done for us.

However, I know it's easy to feel as though everyone else's life is a cake walk compared to your own, especially if you read a lot of blogs. And I think we as bloggers like to fool ourselves into believing that our lives are truly as put together as the staged pictures we post convey. But of course, they are just that - staged. Set up. A brief moment of neat and tidy, just as much in the metaphorical sense as in the literal sense. Because you know that the time on either side of the moment the photo was taken a mess was either being cleaned up or created. Somewhere in that day I yelled at my kids. Somewhere in that day I left the dishes for another twelve hours. Or failed to put a load of laundry on for the upteenth time. Somewhere in that day I lost my patience. Somewhere in that day I wished my life was easier.  Somewhere in that day I cried out to God to help because it all felt like too much.

But you only saw the part where I briefly had it all together.
So this is me saying I don't have it all together.
This is me saying that life is messy and hard, sometimes agonizingly so.

And those happy memories and moments I post about? Those are truth too. Those are the ways God blesses me and reminds me that amidst the trial, there is joy and more joy is coming and that truly, above all, my family and I have everything we need because we have Him and we have eachother.

In the light of what others in this world are facing, what others have faced but also just because, I have so much to thank Him for. It is in having hardships that we are greater aware of His goodness to us.
 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
2 Corinthians 12: 9,10

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jack is Two!

Dear Jack, 

It's officially your second birthday. It's been a busy year. You started walking. You started talking! Your baby brother was born. You truly came into being the little boy we know and love. The little boy who loves to dance. and laugh. and play. and eat snacks. and kick balls. and take baths. and lots of other things that little boys like to do.

Recently, you've started using full sentences. Your favorite sentence starts something like "I want" and ends with "now." Just like me, you want things to happen as soon as the thought enters your head.

You are such a good little boy. I don't think I give you enough praise for how well you listen. How fexible you can be. How helpful you are. The compassion and concern you show for others. Your quickness to say "sorry." The way you always give me a kiss, no matter how many times I ask.

It's a beautiful thing to see the understanding you have of God. I know you've witnessed things of the faith through Daddy and I, you seem to have an inherant knowledge of who He is and the spiritual world that surrounds us. You pray. You insist on saying grace before meals. You like to read your Bible. You were one of the only children in your age group to sit and listen to the whole Bible lesson at church last week. You even recognized a picture of Jesus without our initiative. And your two. That's pretty amazing. And while we encourage this, there is a genuine desire from within your little heart to seek these things. I can't wait to see how your relationship with God continues to blossom as you grow older.

You are such a joy in our lives, little man. I'm sorry for the times I squash your enthusiasm, grow inpatient with your needs, or try to rush you past your sadness and anger instead of comforting or counseling you through it. You are so advanced in so many ways, that sometimes I forget you are still just a little boy with so much to learn.

We love you Jack Elijah. As often as I remember to, I pray for your protection and salvation. That you would be a righteous man, blameless among the people of your time, and that you would live to love and serve the Lord.

May all your days be lived out in peace and with much joy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Submit Your Suggestions!

It's Jack's birthday on Saturday. He'll be two.  Tim's mom is buying him a little chair for the reading corner we decided to create for him. Is that a crazy price for such a nice chair or what?!

Jack also got some money in the mail from his great-grandmother and since she is one of the best story-readers ever, I thought I'd use it to buy some new books to go with his little reading space.


I can't seem to decide which books to get! There are so many great options, but since Jack is finally getting into reading, I want to make sure I pick ones that he'll love and want to read more than once.

So I'm asking you, dear readers, to list your top three favorite children's books  (or just one if you prefer) in the comment section. Keep in mind it has to entertain a two year old, so books with a lot of text won't work.

Here are a few I'm considering:

I need to order the books no later than tomorrow night so that they'll arrive here in time for his birthday, so don't wait to give me your suggestions - do it now! (p.s. we already have Where the Wild Things Are and The Very Hungry Caterpillar which are two often named classics)

Go, go, go!

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