Back From Maternity Leave

A couple weeks ago, I had a bit of an emotional meltdown.

And then, of course, following the emotional meltdown, I had an epiphany.

I started back to work at the beginning of the year, and I haven’t had the easiest transition coming back. I love my job and the people I work with, but it doesn’t feel right that I’m spending my days away from my babies. It’s been a very emotional return, and fortunately the Lord has blessed me with many friends (old and new) who have been so understanding and have reassured me that I am not alone in this. Being a working mom is hard enough without my own pressures, guilt, and longings to be with my kids flooding my mind most days.

To make matters worse, when I get home, I am overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” that needs to be done. Housework needs to be done, dinner needs to be cooked and eaten, kids need to be bathed, and it all needs to be done the moment I walk in the door. This is in my mind, of course. Caleb is a wonderful husband and is more than supportive and helpful–but he can’t change the things that sneak into my mind every evening.

We had a night of prayer at youth group a few weeks ago, and everyone shared the things in their lives that needed prayer. Some were needing physical healing, some were struggling with things, and I shared that I needed help managing my time. That was the only thing I could come up with to describe my constant dilemma, but it’s more like I feel the need to try and control my life, when I really don’t have any control at all.

I can’t clean my house every day. Not the whole thing… that’s so unrealistic. I need to be smarter in the way I do things so I’m not running around doing a whole lot of nothing. In the midst of trying to clean (or saying “I’d really like to get THIS done before going to bed”), I’m trying to spend time with my kids, but sometimes I get so distracted that they get even less of my attention. I’m already gone all day, and I come home and try to get a bunch of other stuff done. I can’t do it all. I hate that it bothers me, too.

I am going to try to not stress about some things in my life. If the laundry doesn’t get folded, it doesn’t get folded. I’d rather spend my energy on my kids. Until our life circumstances change, I will make the most of what God has blessed us with.

I know I’m not alone in this. I know many other moms who feel the same way. I’ve been reading Esther recently, thanks to the SheReadsTruth app (which I love, by the way), and one verse really stuck with me.

“…And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Mordecai was talking to Queen Esther about how she could be the one to save her people. Basically, no one knows why we’re put in the positions we are in, but we need to be brave enough (or strong enough, or humble enough, etc…) to accept the task God puts before us. I need to remember this as well. I may not have the role I want to be in, but God never promised I would be perfectly happy in life, based on my definition of happiness anyway. This may still very well be where God wants me, and until that changes, I need to be joyful in my position and make the most of my time with my kids. And until then, I need to pray for contentment and that I would desire his plan over my own.

 

Happy Babies Have Tears Too

Dr's Visit

Yesterday was Ava’s traumatic 15-month checkup. Traumatic isn’t even an exaggeration. Nothing happened out of the usual… she just knew what was going on.

She knew she didn’t know this lady. She knew the crinkly paper was loud and not nice. She knew she didn’t like the cold stethoscope on her chest. She knew it wasn’t normal when mama held her head still so this lady could stick something in her ears. She knew this was not fun.

And then the shots happened, and that didn’t help her trust the Dr any more. Three shots, to be exact. MMR, chicken pox, and flu. One of those they said really hurt, and even left a bruise. Poor thing.

The nurse practitioner we saw today explained that this is completely normal, and most kids even go through phases of trusting/not-trusting the doctor, but that this age and 3-year-olds are the worst. At least we made it through the first “worst”.

Long story short, Ava is “perfect” weight-wise! I guess we no longer need to fatten her up, huh. We were actually told to “keep doing what we’re doing” and not worry about her weight. She’s found her new curve at the 10-12th percentile, and she’s 20lbs 4oz. She’s 30.5″ long, at the 50th percentile. She’s walking and talking (31 words!), has 6 full teeth and is working on her molars. She likes reading and picking out hair bows and shoes to wear. What a big girl.

Just for fun, I wanted to share Ava’s list of words. She says these on almost a daily basis, and it doesn’t include the words she repeats just because we say them.

  1. Zorro (or ZorZor)
  2. pancake
  3. highchair
  4. mama
  5. dada
  6. hi
  7. bye
  8. cat
  9. dog
  10. milk
  11. up
  12. hotdog
  13. baby
  14. stir
  15. cupcake
  16. ball
  17. bow
  18. shoe
  19. hat
  20. no (“nooo nooo noooo” while shaking her head)
  21. book
  22. nose
  23. toe
  24. eyes
  25. knock (she says “knock knock” while knocking on her head. Thanks, Granny!)
  26. head butt (Daddy taught her this–she actually bumps heads with him)
  27. sock
  28. Hey Jack (yeah… Daddy is a Duck Dynasty fan)
  29. night night
  30. bath
  31. star

Avie’s also working on using tissues, and it coaxed a smile out of her after her tear-fest at the doctor’s office. Enjoy your day! May you have someone this adorable to wipe your tears, too.

tissue

The last time I take my toddler camping.

Sorry for my brief absence. I was too lazy to turn on the computer. Seriously.

But here I am! I follow the blog Cloudy with a Chance of Wine, and she just started a series called Priceless Mom Moments. After ready a couple of her posts in the series, and just her blog in general (seriously you guys, this chick is hysterical!), I decided it would be kinda fun to document some of my less-than-proud moments as a mom.

Last weekend we decided to take Ava camping for the first time. Tent camping. Roughing it. Outdoors. Overall, she did well. Except for the sleeping part–that was pretty awful.

Let me start at the beginning of the evening. We got to the campsite where we would be sharing a 10 person tent with our friends and their two dogs, and we began setting up camp. Rather, everyone else started setting up while I tried to keep Ava on a blanket (I didn’t grow up outdoorsy, so I kept freaking out about bugs, etc). That was pointless. Once everything was set, we started on dinner. It was a delicious meal of smoked sausage, red potatoes, and green beans, and Ava enjoyed it. Next came bedtime.

Ava is a fantastic sleeper.

In her own crib.

Anywhere else, she prefers to scream instead of sleep. And I couldn’t (or I chose not to) let her scream at 10pm in the quiet campground. So instead of keeping her in her pack ‘n play, I decided to try letting her fall asleep on the air mattress next to me.

It was an hour of her sitting up, sucking her fingers, then falling over due to sleepiness. She would toss and turn, try to get comfy, then sit up again.

At one point, she flopped down on me, noticed I was there, and gave me kisses, which she found hilarious and made us both crack up.

Daddy and our friends heard us laughing in the tent, so he came in to see what was going on.

Here’s where I mess up: Caleb joined us and I told him what happened. Ava, of course was more awake now, and was back to exploring all corners of the air mattress. As Ava approached the side of the mattress, Caleb told her to come away from the edge. I said “Oh, she’ll be fine. The mattress is pushed up against the side of the tent. She’s been doing this all night.” No sooner had the words left my mouth did Ava go right over the edge–literally head over heels. Like, I saw her fall, and her feet went straight into the air.

I peeked over the side and saw her sprawled out on the floor, and all of a sudden, the shrieking started. At 11pm. In a SILENT campground. I gathered her up, took her outside, and gave her kisses and distractions (and made sure she was okay… holy cow I felt awful!).

Caleb was able to get her to sleep a while later, and she slept until 4am. We did more of the tossing and turning on the air mattress (safely lodged between two adults) before Caleb took her home.

I think it’ll be awhile before we attempt camping again.

My social skills suck..

….Unless you’re a mom too. Then I could talk all day. But apparently I don’t know how to talk to anyone else. And I’m totally exaggerating for effect.

Wondering what happened? Okay….

On our last full day in PA, I met up with a new friend whom I hadn’t seen in over a year. In fact, I believe the last time I saw her was at my wedding over two years ago.

We had a great time catching up, and she got to meet Ava and vise verse. It was so good to see her. She recently got married herself, so it was great to hear all about her wedding.

However, I noticed that I am no longer a good conversationalist. Was I really ever that great at it? Probably not… but now I am definitely worse.

I’m sure other mamas can relate, but my main topic of conversation is Ava, or something Ava related. Is that surprising? I mean seriously… I have a blog devoted to motherhood. If she was talking or starting the conversations, I was fine, but if there was a lull that I tried to end, I defaulted to baby. I just felt bad that although I haven’t seen this friend for years, my brain couldn’t think of anything other than teething babies and cloth diapers. Fortunately, she didn’t mind the baby talk. She is a newlywed and welcomed (or at least was gracious enough to act like it) the peek into life with a baby. However, I definitely apologized for my lack of conversation.

Baby brain should be a diagnosable condition to excuse mamas for rusty social skills. Will it get better as Ava gets older? Will I get hit with a new dose of it when another kid comes around? Geez, something’s gotta give!

Update: How to Fatten a Toddler

I can tell you right now… this task is not for the faint of heart!

I’m just kidding. But it’s definitely not easy.

I started out giving Ava whole milk cheeses, veggies slathered with butter, nut butters, muffins, banana bread and ice cream. Things were going well for awhile (a week or so) but she wasn’t gaining weight as quickly as I wanted (only a 1/2 lb), so I added carnation instant to her milk for one meal of the day.

You guys. Don’t do that.

My girl went from being a great eater to preferring her meal substitute drink. You might be like me and think she can just eat it along with her meal, but that doesn’t quite work. It kinda fills her up to the point of not wanting anything else. You might say “Don’t give it to her at meal time,” and I will say to you that it still doesn’t work. If you give the yummy milk in between meals, she still won’t be hungry for the next one. We tried giving her diluted carnation, but she would still suck it down in the blink of an eye. And ask for more.

Our doctor recommended we give this to her, and I can honestly say we tried it. But it didn’t help her gain weight. She started out at 18.5 lbs and she remains 19lbs.

So Friday we decided to take away the carnation and see how she did.

When she woke up that morning, I offered her peaches and french toast (with butter) right away, and she ate an entire fruit cup and a half a piece of the french toast. And she seriously inhaled it. Once she seems to be slowing down, I let her have her milkies. Trade off is that she only drank about half her cup verses the whole thing.

Lunch time rolled around, and she ate better again, although she still didn’t eat the way she used to. Dinner was also better than it has been, but she was functioning with no afternoon nap, so I’m hoping that played into her smaller appetite.

This is a very frustrating process. Especially since it seems as though we’ve broken what didn’t need fixed.

Oh, I do have to add that all this extra food is going somewhere… We measured her length the other night, and she has grown an extra inch longer since her appointment. The doctor can’t tell me she’s not growing. This also means we’ll be moving Ava up to a convertible car seat this week, so that’s pretty exciting! I’ll let you know which one we go with!

Long Distance Family

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve realized a lot about family dynamics. Long distance family, specifically.

When we come visit Caleb’s family in Pennsylvania, it takes us about a day to realize how much we miss out on because we live so far away.

It’s no one’s fault; we live far away from them because it’s where God called us for this time. And this just happens when you live lives separate. I can’t imagine being in a long distance marriage! The relationships that form between those that live nearer are so much tighter and more developed than between those who don’t.

And it’s not because we don’t talk or keep in touch; we talk several times a week and try to FaceTime when possible (which I’ll admit is much harder than phone calls). We just don’t get the live interaction. Leading up to the trip, we were so excited to see everyone, thinking it would be like how it was when we lived out here, but it’s not.

And I found myself getting hurt and jealous because things aren’t the same. I felt like my baby doesn’t have the same relationship with her grandparents that my nephew does, and I felt like my relationship with my mother-in-law isn’t as close as it use to be either. I am so extremely blessed with a mother-in-law who I can talk to about just about anything, and we talked about this and she put my feelings as ease. Things haven’t changed between us except for the fact that we don’t see each other every day. And Ava gets the same love that her cousins get, just they have more frequent interactions.

And apparently it goes the other way as well. I didn’t realize how hard it has been on my in-laws when they hear stories about my parents visiting Ava or keeping her overnight. The same for my parents when we go on and on about Caleb’s parents and family. And frankly, I know a lot of grandparents and great-grandparents who don’t get along with the other side. I don’t know why we get jealous so easily, and it really makes me wonder why we feel that insecure, especially when it comes to our own families. You’d think we would know we all love each other enough to not feel that way, but it still happens.

Isn’t it funny how much things change as you get older? As kids, we are so carefree. Our feelings don’t get hurt by assumptions, they get hurt when another kid says something mean. But now, our minds think too much and we let our imaginations and assumptions take over.

And maybe this is just me and all the rest of us over-thinkers, but I have a feeling this is more common than not. Is this true? Are these feelings solely in long-distance families, or do families face these jealous feelings regardless?

Stroller Parents

It’s taken me awhile to write this post… I wanted to make sure I wasn’t writing a whole lot of hot-headed words I didn’t mean, just because I was irritated. I think this is actually a level-headed rant now, so read on. 

Remember Ava’s first trip to the zoo? It was a memorable experience for us, not only because it was Ava’s first time at the zoo, but also because I realized that stroller parents are a thing.

I can’t stress this enough, I was shocked at how rude, impatient, and aggressive stroller moms (mostly) and dads are. We were waiting patiently in a line of strollers to get to the front of the walrus window, so we could see one swim by, and as we were nearing the front, about three families rushed around us and took the spots that were there. I assumed they just didn’t see that we were waiting, so we tried to find another spot, and sure enough, it happened again. What. the. heck.

And then, you know how you’re driving along the road, and let’s say it’s a 2-lane highway. A car speeds up behind you and, although there’s no one in the other lane, they refuse to pass you, and instead insist on riding your tail?

Yeah, stroller parents.

Grrrr.

I didn’t think the zoo was a race track, but apparently there’s no leisurely strolling allowed. I can’t tell you how many times we stopped and forced those in a hurry around us to avoid getting our heels clipped. 

Caleb and I were talking about it after the fact, and he was just as shocked as I was. Are people so intent on getting their child “the best” that they forfeit manners to do so? I mean, they could just be having a bad day, or their kid is annoying them, and I get that, but do they have to be rude to the rest of the world? Or are we just so laid back and non-aggressive that we will never really understand how or why people insist on getting their way first? Who knows. Never once did we hear an “excuse me”.

I sure hope they realize their kids are going to act the way their parents do. These parents could very well be raising a generation of “me first” children. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means. In fact, I mess up daily just as much as the next mom. But I do try to be aware of how I’m behaving because my child is observing me. I don’t want her learning my bad habits, and even more, I want her to grow up respecting others, and caring about other people rather than always thinking of herself. It’s a hard task, and I wonder how aware parents are of their actions sometimes.

People, please remember to be kind to other people, especially when your kids are present. You never know how being nice could make someone’s day, or reversely, how being rude and pushy can make a memorable trip memorable for the wrong reasons. End rant.

Things you shouldn’t forget to tell your babysitters…

Even parents who stay at home or work from home have days where they need childcare.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Since Caleb works with the church, he has a yearly conference he has to attend. Last year, I was on maternity leave, so we didn’t have any problems. This year it snuck up on us, and we had one day to find someone to watch Ava.

We have fantastic friends and church family, so between three of them, we got the whole day covered. We wrote out Ava’s schedule, what to feed her, etc; she’s a pretty easy baby. We thought we prepared everyone well.

We thought.

Fail #1: Not telling your sitter how to turn off the motion-detecting baby monitor.My FAVORITE big ticket item we got for Ava is the AngelCare Movement and Sound Monitor. In a nutshell, when the monitor is on and doesn’t detect any movement in the crib, it makes a horribly loud beeping noise from the monitor base, and beeps and vibrates on the parent unit. Our sitter for this moment, our pastor’s wife, was not expecting that. Caleb forgot to tell her how to turn it off, so she just unplugged it to get the horrendous noise to stop! We got a humorous text explaining the situation, which kinda made my day.

Fail #2: Hiding the bibs.
This is pretty self-explanatory.

Fail #3: Hiding the disposables you bought for the day so the sitters don’t have to learn cloth. AND not showing them how to use cloth.
Yep. We hung our friends out to dry. But it was hilarious! Check out the picture. This is what totally made my day. I came home, started changing her diaper, and couldn’t stop laughing for about 10 minutes.

Diaper fail

How to Fatten a Toddler

We took Ava to her 1 year check up yesterday, and despite the fact that we thought she has grown so much, the doctor told us yet again that she needs to gain weight. We’ll see him again in 6 weeks for a weight check, and if she hasn’t gained, she will be tested for different things.

It’s a little concerning, she eats quite a bit for every meal, and drinks her whole milk like a pro. We don’t have to push her at all. 

The doctor’s concern comes from the lack of consistency in her weight curve. When she was 2-4 months, she was in the 90th percentile, and she’s slowly trimmed down, and now she’s in the 12th percentile at 12 months. At first, I must admit I got very defensive. She’s a very active baby, and I assume that’s probably the reason why she’s so lean. However, I looked up “how to fatten up a toddler” on Google, and came across this board on The Bump. Turns out, a lot of babies have this issue. Someone explained that the doctor is concerned that the baby’s body isn’t able absorb the nutrients to make them grow. Our doc didn’t explain it like that. I promise I wouldn’t have gotten so defensive if he had. 

So it makes sense. Mission Fatten Up Ava commences! In the board, mommies from all over share what has worked for them, and I feel a whole lot more confident that we can give Ava the chance to gain weight by eating healthy fats. I also referred to this site for picky eaters (even though she’s not picky, it gives great tips on how to slip in more calories!) The Poop Whisperer is a blog I just came across as well, and her post here was extremely helpful and confirmed what the other two sites said, only with more specifics. So great. Here’s what I’ve compiled…

Good fatty foods include: 

  • Dairy products made of whole fat milk- I have been giving Ava yogurt made for babies, but I’m gonna skip that and go with regular whole fat yogurt. 
  • The Poop Whisperer mentioned mixing whole milk with half and half. It’s worth trying!
  • Put those whole dairy products on everything: veggies, breads, pastas, etc.
  • Avocados – guacamole works too.
  • Hummus
  • Almond or Sun Butter – These have more healthy fats that even peanut butter!
  • Olive Oil – cook veggies in it, drizzle over pasta, etc.

Other foods to help weight gain:

  • Butter. On everything.
  • Carnation Instant Breakfast in milk at least once a day.
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Rich pasta sauces, like Alfredo
  • Baked goods such as banana/zucchini bread, muffins, etc.
  • Ice cream =)

So, after work today, I’ll head out to the store. I have hope that she can gain weight. Most importantly, she’s still the happiest baby I’ve ever met, regardless of her size. 

I’ll update as the weeks go on. We’re going to try to weigh her periodically. Ever dealt with this? If you have tips I didn’t include, please share!

 

Teething Sucks.

It’s 11:50pm as I start to write this, but I didn’t want to start the week off with no post! This week, due to the craziness that comes with a FIRST BIRTHDAY, I may not post daily. I’ll do my best but just giving fair warning!

We’ve had a rough couple of days with Ava. Father’s Day was wonderful, but Ava got her very first fever. I promise, this girl has never been warmer than 98 degree in her life, and 4 days to go she got a fever of 101. I mean, when I got her up from her nap she was burning to the touch. It was the weirdest thing I’ve felt in my life. And even weirder, because she has never had one, I just assumed it was because she was covered with her blanket during nap time. I gave her Tylenol anyway, but mainly because she’s been teething. The day went on as normal, and she didn’t complain. She wasn’t happy but she didn’t complain. Hours later, when we were done running around and back at my parents’ house for a Father’s Day cookout, I came into the house to find Ava laying with my mom on the couch. Ava didn’t lift her head or anything when I walked in, so I knew she was feeling bad. Again, she was burning up, and sure enough her temp was high.

This has continued through today, though her temp is between 99 and 100. She seems happier but I still feel bad for her. We see the tooth culprit coming in next to the first one, so we’re hoping it comes through without many more days of this, and without any ear infections. How awful would that be to celebrate your first birthday?

While caring for a sick baby, we’re trying to tie up the last details of Ava’s party. It’s been rough. But it will be great.

Thanks for bearing with me through the woes of teething. All you mamas and daddies out there know what I’m talking about! You want to know the funniest part? I thought we were in the clear when Ava got her first tooth with minimal symptoms. I thought they were bad, but she was mainly just fussy and achy. Never before feverish. Good grief.