Friday, May 11, 2012

Spring Fun

Sorry I've been slacking on updating the blog lately.  With kids sick and Brandon out of town I just lost some momentum, but my Mom is wondering what's going on so here's a short update with pictures!
Playing in the sprinkler on the first scorcher of the season

The kids newest projects were finding three tadpoles which we took home and raised as our own children.  Two have turned into American toads and they are named Swirly and Flower.  We made a cute little terrarium for them and have been catching bugs to help them grow big and strong enough to be released into our garden.

The last tadpole (doesn't have a name yet)
Amazing transformation that happens in one afternoon.  The toad is so small it can fit on a dime with room to spare.
10 gallon fish tank turned into a toad habitat
Our garden has been growing well.  We decided to plant only flowers since the dog kept eating our veggies.  We had tons of volunteer tomatoes however so we're going to have lots of tomatoes and I have no idea what kind they will be - cherry, grape or beefsteak?  Guess we'll find out.  The other day we went to the park and caught about 20 lady bugs who have been really enjoying the volunteer sunflowers.  Lily has been picking them and enjoying fresh flowers in her room all week.
Lily and her sunflowers.  (best face she could make out of 30 pictures!)

My perpetual motion machine wearing her favorite new dress from Grandma
Tickling brother with a leaf
Lily loves to decorate and had previously covered her large wall with artwork she taped up with scotch tape.  Because I didn't like the way it looks, we made some magnetic boards that she could stick her artwork to.  She picked out the patter and was really proud of herself!  We made them with oil drip pans (Walmart $11) and a cheap twin sheet set we cut up.

My mother's day card from Lily.  (Yeah, she made it EXACTLY like the magazine instructed)
   I also crafted a new dress for Lily since she is growing so fast.  I took a polo that looked hideous on me and made a cute little dress for her.  I think its darling but I don't think she likes it!

So that's what we've been up to in a nutshell.  This is all I probably have time to update for now while the kiddos are asleep!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond: My advice to new moms PART 1

Pregnancy and birth is a subject that is near and dear to my heart.  Having children has profoundly changed me in so many ways.  I have also learned so much (the hard way) since I've become a mother.  I could elaborate all day but most people aren't going to read it so instead, here's a short list I've compiled of things I wish I had known so maybe you can avoid some common pitfalls.  The first three are general rules of thumb to set the framework for a healthy experience and the remaining are more specific.

*Disclaimer - I have had a hospital birth with an OB that included induction and epidural and a natural birth at home with a midwife.  I do not advocate that my way is the only right way.  I want women to make informed decisions and give birth where and with whom they feel safe. The views below are my own with resources are below.*

1. Consider the source - When someone gives you advice they are usually well meaning but not always qualified to dispense the advice. Trust the experts but not blindly.  Do the research and consider your instincts and your child. 

2. Pick your care provider carefully - Find a Dr or midwife you can connect with and trust.  Really research the statistics of safety and interventions for that care provider.  A midwife (in TX) is required to provide those statistics up front.  If your instincts are telling you your provider is not a good fit, do both of you a favor and switch.

3.  Accept responsibility - As tempting as it may be to relinquish your care into the hands of "the experts" you need to be responsible for your own health.  You can get opinions from others but ultimately you must decide what to do.  Its easier to live with the choices you make than the choices you let others make for you especially if things don't go well.  Put on your big girl panties and get the information you need to make the right decisions for you and your baby.

3. Do the research - Experts are people too and can and do make mistakes.  Do not assume any procedure done on you is in your best interest.  Do not assume that your Dr knows what you want without first discussing it. For example, two common procedures that cause more harm than good are immediate cord clamping and episiotomy (1).  Both of these are still routinely done on women and infants without scientific evidence and without consent. These are not the only procedures in this category nor are they the most dangerous or damaging.  A good place to start your research is Henci Goer's book, The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth

4. What you eat matters - What you eat when pregnant really matters and has far reaching health consequences for you and your baby.  Many pregnancy complications can be prevented by careful attention to diet yet most women under OB care are never counseled or referred to a nutritionist.  My personal pregnancy experiences and birth were vastly different when I became aware of this.  A good place to start is, Dr. Brewer's Pregnancy Diet

5. Exercise -  Labor is usually physically exhausting, but it will be smoother if you train for it.  Do as much physical activity as you can during pregnancy.  You will feel better and you won't swell as much.  Do specific exercises like pelvic rocks, squats and tailor sitting to prepare your body for labor and proactively move the baby into optimal position for late pregnancy.
6. Nap - Sleep as much as you can when you can and don't feel guilty for it.  Manufacturing a human is hard work!

7. Know your baby - Take the time to ask your care provider how to tell what position your baby is in.  You should be able to tell what your baby is doing with a little practice.  Once you have this mastered you can do exercises to ensure your baby will stay in a position that will make labor easier. (6)  Talk daily and connect with your baby.  You will be working as a team when the big day gets here.

8.  Natural childbirth - You may be under the impression that women who chose to have a baby naturally are macho masochists.  I know I thought that at one time.  What is the big deal?  What so wrong with an epidural?  Once again I found out the hard way.  It turns out the epidural has side effects that nobody told me about! (2)  After having a baby naturally I would never again chose an epidural.  Most women who have had both kinds of birth also prefer natural.  Does that surprise you?

9. Be prepared - If you do chose to go natural, don't assume it will just happen.  The hospital system is not set up to support a natural birth.  You must be determined and prepared.  I would recommend a Bradley Class(3) or Hypnobabies(4) class.  If you are planning on an epidural, remember that they do not always work or you may have a precipitous labor and not be able to have one.  I would prepare for a natural birth/unassisted childbirth in either case.

10.  Consider a Doula - A doula?  Seriously?  That is what my husband is for!  Ok, well that is what the Dr and nurses are for then.  What came a a shock to me was that my Dr was NOT there until the last 20 minutes of the birth and the nurses were busy and also NOT there for me.  It was just me and my husband all alone without knowing what to do.  Turns out expecting a husband to know when/how to support you is asking too much of someone who is probably just as inexperienced as you are.  A doula will take the pressure off of your husband and will bring knowledge that will make your birth go better.  Studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40% and requests for an epidural by 60% (5).  Don't leave it to chance that you will have a good nurse who will support and spend time with you.  The nurses work for the hospital, not you. 

11. Eat - If you have a long labor you will probably get hungry.  You can eat if you need to and you don't need permission.

12.  Let go - There are many things in labor you cannot control. If you've done your homework, taken care of yourself and prepared as diligently as you can then it is time to surrender to the process and ride it out.  Labor is not the place for fear and anxiety - this is why I'm stressing mental and physical preparation before D-day.  Birth is as safe as life is. Women were made to give birth and you can do it.  Pray for peace and guidance from God and he will be there to help you out.  Enjoy your birth!

Stay tuned for PART 2 - Breastfeeding


Friday, March 2, 2012

February 2012

Is it that time again?  The days are long but the years are short.  I guess February blew by because I was so busy!  Brandon went to Sweden on business again, this time for 13 days!  My dear mother drove down to bring my sister to help me out and then Mom and Dad drove back to pick her up at the end of the week.  Very thankful to have family that LOVE me.

Now that I am 30 and "officially old" I'm going to stop coloring my hair and let it grow into its natural color - gray and all!  I figure if I keep it styled nice and work a little harder on not dressing like a slob then I won't LOOK old.  We shall see!  Oh - I need a GOOD stylist in C/S.  I want to pay for a good haircut but have not found anyone here who I like (even paid $50 for one and it was terrible!)  Please send me your suggestions!

I have been working almost every night this month on my quiet book and it is coming along nicely. I'm very excited!  Don't want to brag but it is the most awesome quiet book I have ever seen.  The kids keep trying to sneak into my closet to play with it. I will post pictures as soon as I am done.  It is ridiculously time consuming because I'm doing everything by hand and using the blanket stitch to join all the felt.

About the kids - My little Ehren has slept until 7 in his bed the entire week!  I am so proud of him and really enjoying getting more rest.  Its so weird sleeping through the night again myself because I haven't done it since Summer 2010!

When Brandon got back from Sweden he decided to take Lily ice skating!  She was really excited about the prospect but not as excited about actually skating.  She and Brandon took one trip around the rink before she called it quits.  She wanted to play with the ice and look around but not skate.  She did say that she had fun though.
Lily and Daddy trying out the ice

Now for my mini rant on breastfeeding (this is here just so I don't have to explain it over and over again).  I am still nursing my 14 month old.  I do not find this unusual in a global or historical context.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding at least 12 months and then however long after that the mother and baby desire.  The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding at least two years and however long after that the mother and baby desire.  I plan on breastfeeding as long as my son wants to.  There are health benefits to my baby and to me the longer I breastfeed that outweigh any minor inconvenience extended breastfeeding may cause.  My pediatrician is fine with my not giving my baby cow milk and his blood tests show him to be perfectly healthy.  Ehren does not even like cow milk because he will suck it up and then spit it out all over himself (for fun!).  He also does not like to eat meat or carbs and prefers veggies and fruit (and chocolate) so I'm filling in the gaps in his nutrition by breastfeeding.  I do not make decisions based on what is popular or what everyone else is doing.  I have good reasons for everything I do.  I have a degree in Biomedical Science and my hobbies include researching health related topics so I'm not going to make a decision that affects my children without due diligence.  I don't think I'm always right - that is why I consult the professionals when necessary. :-) /end rant!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ehren's latest adventures

My boy has grown so much in the past month I can hardly believe the leap in development!  Here's a list of his new accomplishments:

* Walking!  He walks everywhere and he's so proud of himself.  Still can't get him to wear shoes though!  Here's a video of him doing his favorite things - walking and cleaning.

* Self soothing himself to sleep -  For a whole year, Ehren had to nurse himself to sleep, be walked around, or fall asleep next to us.  I have gradually gotten him to read books in his room and then nurse a bit and finally we can put him in his crib and he will quickly fall asleep on his own!  Sweet success with no crying!  I knew it would happen some day and we just had to be patient and not push him to do something he wasn't ready for.

* Sleeping through the night - On 2/2/12 Ehren slept 8 hours from 9:00 - 5:30 am.  So proud of my little man!  The longest he ever slept previously was a 5 hour stretch.

* Sign language -  We started teaching him signs around 9 months or so and he never really seemed interested in learning them.  He really started using them all of the sudden and even seems to want to learn more.  He knows, food, more, thank you, all done, book, please, dog, ball.he also points and says "dat" (that) constantly.

* Reading - Lily wanted to read even as an infant.  With Ehren we were not as diligent about reading to him since things were a bit more chaotic and he didn't seem interested anyway.  BUT now, he has a favorite book.  It's an Eric Carle book about animals and he loves to turn the pages and giggles when I make a lion and sheep sounds.  So glad he wants to read now.  I was thinking he was a dud!

*Bible class - Ehren has had a difficult adjustment getting into Bible class.  He had more separation anxiety issues than Lily and vomits when he's really upset so we had been hesitant to leave him alone in Bible class.  As he's gotten older, he's become less anxious so we tried it again with a lovely grandmotherly lady holding him.  Success!  He made it through class.  Since then he has been spending more and more time in his chair.  Things are looking up.

*Independence - Ehren's separation anxiety issues are completely normal, although he was much more anxious than Lily.  Pushing him to do something that makes him upset is not a "solution" I was willing to try.  From my experience, this exacerbates the problem because the child now doesn't trust the parent and/or suffers from a reassurance deficit and becomes even more anxious and clingy.  With Ehren we needed to be patient and teach him in such a way that would help him learn to be away from us but without making him more anxious or distrustful.  If he will not do what I want him to do, I am willing to be patient and wait until he is ready. I am proud to say that my approach is working and we are seeing great strides toward becoming more independent.

*Playing with Winry - Before I started keeping a little baby, Ehren seemed so much more like a baby.  Now he's helping me entertain the baby and even doing "chores."  He will pick up books, throw away diapers, and play peek-a-boo with the baby.  He will even play by himself and come back to me occasionally for a cuddle and then resume playing.  One day I was holding both of them on the couch and he just took her hand and smiled at her.  It was so sweet!

 Cute little video of Ehren playing a flute!

*Temper tantrums!  Ugh!  I dreaded the day he started these.  He gets mad now and frustrated when denied and will slap the floor with both hands like a little Muslim.  He even threw something when I told him he had to wait.  Poor little dear.  We don't allow this behavior of course and with the way he is, a 1 min time out is working beautifully.  With consistency, I do not think he will be as challenging as Lily was/is.  Ask me in a year if I still think this!

All in all, I'm so proud of my little boy.  He's perfect in every way.  I kissed his head yesterday and he smelled like lavender baby shampoo and chocolate.  I just wanted to drink the moment in and make it last forever.  I am so grateful that God gave me such a precious soul and pray so hard every day that I will be a good mother to him. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 2012

January around here is birthday month.  We've got Brandon's mom on the 5th, Brandon on the 11th, Lily on the 18th and me on the 24th.

Brandon had to work late all during his birthday week, so we didn't have much time to celebrate, but Lily and I did manage to make him a pie.  We used the basic apple pie recipe from Joy of Cooking which is really simple and always turns out great.   I made it after breakfast and it only took around 30 minutes which was good since if I cook anything longer Ehren will start hanging onto my legs and crying.
Birthday pie (with pie bird so it stays pretty!)

January is also the month I started watching Winry (5 months old) during the day time.  It turns out that having three children is not as hard as I thought it would be!  Ehren has done much better than I thought he would.  He really seems interested in the baby although he does not have the motor skills to always be gentle so I have to watch him like a hawk if he can reach her.  He tries to give her toys, replace her pacifier or bottle, and pats her and hugs her.  He even will throw dirty diapers away for me.  It makes me realize how big he is getting compared to the little baby.  Nap time can get a little rocky with the little ones, but she is easier to get down to sleep than Ehren is.  I can usually wait until she's tired and then just put her down and presto - she's asleep.  LOVE that.  (Don't get me wrong - I love my difficult one too!)  Speaking of sleeping.... I am proud to announce that Ehren now will self sooth himself without resorting to letting him cry.  I can put him in his crib when he's tired (but awake) and he will fall asleep on his own.  I just lay down on the floor where he can't see me but he knows I'm there and its enough for him.  Sometimes he watches a crib toy that makes noise and other times he'll roll over and conk out without the toy.

Lily had a nice birthday and party.  She wanted to have a rainbow theme and invite family and her friends.  Since our house space is limited we opted to have her party at McDonalds.  Because I didn't make reservations soon enough the party was at 6:00 pm!  She had fun though and we got to see the family which is always nice.  McDonalds didn't allow outside food and drink so we made rainbow cupcakes and went out to eat at Fazolis with our adopted college students before services on Wednesday.  Not surprisingly, our little firecracker also had a blast at that "party."
Lily's girlfriends Anni and Louise

Cousin Wyatt

Snakey got covered in cakey

Our first batch of rainbow cupcakes (Thanks Pinterest)

Lily also started preschool this month on Tues-Thurs from 9:00 to 1:30.  I decided that she was becoming too bored just hanging out with me and needed some more mental stimulation.  I thought this was especially important since I would be devoting so much time to caring for the babies.  However, having her away for part of the day can be actually harder because when she's here Ehren wants to play with her and will mostly leave me alone to care for the baby.  He'd check in on me from time to time for reassurance and then go back to playing.  When its just me and the little babies, he's a lot more demanding for attention.

Lily loves preschool!  So far it has been exactly as I hoped.  The teacher also seems pleased with her behavior and knowledge.  Apparently Lily knows all her letters though I have not formally taught them to her. 

Ehren's separation anxiety is showing signs of tapering off.  As I mentioned earlier, he no longer must be put to sleep by physical contact with us, but has also survived bible class twice without us being there.  The first time was hard on him and I know he cried, but the second time was better and although he needed to be held periodically, he didn't become as upset.  So there's hope for the little Klingon yet!  I'm so glad he's making these steps because I know independence is an important part of growing up! 

For my birthday we didn't really do anything special since we had a gospel meeting that night with Tim Jennings.  It was an excellent meeting and very timely.  I was glad that I was able to worship on my birthday.  That day had been a little rough but I got a little knock on the door and was surprised to find a chocolate covered fruit bouquet with a balloon and a teddy bear from Anna.  That was a nice treat and made even better since all three kids were asleep and not awakened by the delivery.  I also got a most awesome card from Aly that wished me a Happy "29th" birthday from my "110 lb" friend.  That gave us a good laugh since this is my second "29th" birthday.  ;-) The Saturday after my birthday aunt Angie came over and watched the kids so Brandon and I could go out to eat lunch.  Ehren went down for a late nap and was still sleeping when we got back.  I was glad for that because he might have been upset if he knew we had gone.  Lily had Aunt Angie all to herself which she loved because Aunt Angie always brings books.

That pretty much brings you up to date on the happenings of January.  I've been so busy I haven't had much time for crafting anything except one little panda bear.  I'm also working on a quiet book for Ehren for services.  I've got one page almost finished and it has taking me a LOoooooong time.  Hopefully I can finish it before he outgrows the need for it!
Tolee's panda

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday to Lily!

Today is my dear sweet Lily's fourth birthday!

The other day I was filling out paperwork to enroll her in preschool and I was asked to describe her personality and I thought to myself.... That blank is not nearly big enough!  Brandon and I joked around that we would need to write a book to fully describe her.

I love her spunk and enthusiasm for life, her outgoing and friendly personality, her imagination, her decisiveness, her bravery (sometimes scary).  She's tough yet sweet and forgiving.  She loves to read, paint and color.  She plays hard and sleeps hard and she's like nobody else.  I'm so thankful that God gave her to us!  I pray every day that we can point her in the right direction because she will be able to do whatever she sets her mind on.

This determination can make life with her difficult right now, but I wouldn't change anything about her.  I love her so much!  Happy Birthday Lily!

Lily's birthday
One year
Second year
Third year
Fourth year - You have no idea how many photos we have of her making this face!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

December 2011

December came and went pretty fast. Lily and I kept busy making Christmas presents. Ehren turned a year old! I've been counting my blessings. Brandon has a good job and we have two healthy and happy children and a loving family. 
Some of our Christmas ornaments we made with salt dough.  Yes.  That's a lobster.
Brandon gave me the OK for buying as much yarn as I want and I've been going WILD with the crocheting.  Its been so fun.  If you're looking for a hobby - try crochet.
Hot chocolate mix - we also made spiced tea

Hat for Winry - modeled by a big eyed cat/guinea pig creature

Ho-ho for Wyatt

Yoda for Micheal
Ehren had his well checkup 5 days before Christmas and picked up a virus at the Dr.'s office so he and I stayed home for Christmas while Brandon and Lily went to Lufkin. I was hoping E could get some rest and recover but it was very hard to get anything done because he didn't sleep soundly and whined all day long! He started feeling better after a couple of days and I was so glad!

For Christmas I learned that my sister and her husband are expecting another baby! I'm very excited because I just love babies and look forward to meeting him or her. My poor sister is as sick as she's ever been though. Makes me remember how bad I felt with E, but for her its worse because she's got to chase around Wyatt and vomit all day long - poor thing. Hopefully the nausea will pass soon.

I'm looking forward to January when I will start keeping Winry during the day and Lily will start preschool. I think she will really enjoy preschool and it will give her an opportunity to brush up on her social skills. That's all for now.  I plan on posting a new entry for Lily's birthday so stay tuned!