Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Distractions & The Christmas Miracle!

I checked my bag for my phone last night as I was leaving my Sister-in-law's house with Zoe. It was in the front pouch. I told her Jon makes fun of me for not keeping track of my stuff better. I tell him it's because I am trying to keep track of Zoe and I haven't lost her yet! The truth is I have never been good at keeping track of my things. Ask me about the time I lost my wallet on the CTA in Chicago or the time I came out of Trader Joe's after shopping there to find my phone on the roof of my car!  But, really I think it has gotten worse now that I am totally distracted with a toddler.

After I found my phone, I loaded up Zoe in the car and my Sister-in law and I chatted a little longer. Then we left and drove home. Zoe fell asleep in the car on the way home, I tried to transport her into the house without waking her up. I was unsuccessful and rocked her like we normally do and fed her some more milk. I put her to bed and went to the kitchen and looked for my phone. I looked in my bag, on the table, in all of the usual places. No luck. I went out to the car did a quick search. Not there. Went back inside looked deeper in the bag, dumped everything out, looked in the rooms I didn't remember going into just in case I went in there, not there either. I thought it might be in Zoe's room. I crept in there hoping to not wake her up, it was not there either. She was out completely. I went back the car with a flash light and looked everywhere. It was not there. Jon was not home, so I couldn't have him call it like I normally would. I went back in and looked some more. It was not there. I remembered I had bought an App for my phone called "Find iPhone", because I do know myself and thought this could come in handy someday. I had to update it first. I tried to message my phone from my iPad while it was updating. No sound was made in the house. Finally I signed in on the App and it started searching. It showed me that my phone was here:

This is the on-ramp for the freeway that we got onto go home tonight! Fifteen miles away! S!@#!! Now what? I decided I had to wake up Zoe and go get Jon to help me. I knew I could not do this alone and it would be better if we went now while there was no traffic and no one else could see it. I got Zoe and loaded her in the car and she cried most of the way over to Jon's friend's house. She was happy to see Jon and smiled lots! Luckily Jon was just getting ready to leave when we got there, so he parked his car again and got in with us. We headed off and made a plan of attack. I didn't know what the range of the App was. So, we decided to search the whole on-ramp. I turned on the four-way flashers and drove slow down the on-ramp. We pulled over close to where it was shown on the App. Jon got out and walked the side of the road and called my phone and listened for it. He got back in and we check the App again. It showed it was just after the overpass. The problem was it was darker and narrower down there and cars were passing us at a high speed to get on the freeway. We stayed over as best as we could and went under the overpass and Jon started calling it again. Then he yelled, "There it is!" He got out and grabbed it and quickly got back in. Jon handed it to me it looked like this:

The case I had on it was completely knocked off and on the road destroyed, the glass on the back was broken, but then I turned it over and shouted, "IT'S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!" It looked like this: 


Amazing! Not only was it amazing that we found it, but that the front was completely fine and the phone is fully functioning, camera working, and back in my hands! We were totally surprised with how this turned out and how accurate the App was! I want to write a review for the App now, because if I had not gotten it I am sure we would have never found my phone. I learned a lesson tonight. I will try keep better track of my things and I ordered a new case that is not black, so that I can see it better! It will be here tomorrow.

Do you have trouble keeping track of things?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Milk As Manna!

Friendly Warning: This blog post is about breastfeeding and breast milk!

Sorry for my absence. I started to write a blog post over a month ago about the first month as a stay at home mom and I never finished it! I have a girl on the move, walking that is, and it seems like there is not enough time in the day to sit and blog or just sit! In a week I will have been home for three months. Where does the time go?

This last month we hit a monumental milestone, Zoe is now fully weaned from breast milk! You may remember my previous post here, where I talked about the struggles we were having breastfeeding and that we were getting donated breast milk to help supplement my supply. If not you can go to the link and read our story. Zoe was six weeks old when I wrote that post and we didn't know where are journey would take us or how long we would be able to get donated milk. It was a huge test of faith for Jon and I. We were able to see God's hand at work many times throughout the year through all of this. I personally saw how God cares about the desires of my heart. It was my desire to breastfeed until Zoe was one years old, it didn't necessarily work out the way we planned, but we were able to give Zoe breast milk not only to her first year, but for 14 months. I was able to breastfeed Zoe until seven months. She was growing increasingly frustrated with it and just wanted the bottle. My supply was never enough for her and was quickly up when she stopped. After that I wasn't sure if we should still ask for milk from those that we were getting it from, but we prayed about it and was humbled by the generosity of people, some of who we only just met. I got an email around that time my supply ended from someone who saw a post I had put up on a milk forum. She said that she had a lot of milk in her freezer and was running out of room and wanted to know if I still needed it. I went met her and was blown away at the volume of milk she was giving us. Her and her husband just kept bring more and more out of the freezer and the basement freezer! This was the beginning of a friendship between her and I and our girls! Our girls are best friends now and we go visit them usually on a weekly basis. I think about how we would not know them if it weren't for milk sharing.

Throughout this year one I have been humbled by not being able to provide milk for Zoe and having to ask for help, but it's even more humbling to see God working for your child. I think it is all the more humbling to see when prayers are answered for them, than it is to see prayers answered for you. Last night I decided to finally count all of the milk donations that I remembered to write down. I know there was more than this, but even this number is jaw dropping and amazing. Over the last fourteen months we were given over 8736 ounces of breast milk, which is about 68.25 gallons, from15 different mom's we either knew, were referred to by our midwives or lactation consultant, or met through milk forums. That is a lot of milk! It is also a lot of work coordinating. Lots of miles of driving. Lots of emails, texts, and phone calls. Lots of prayers. Some people have asked why we didn't just give her formula or if it is safe giving them other momma's milk. I will say that this is just what unfolded over time. Initially it was our decision to go this route, because she was so young, only three days old when we found out there was a problem with her weight and my supply. There was many many times I thought of just giving her formula over the last year. There were times we were running low and didn't know if we would be able to get more. I would ask Jon what we should do, he would say pray about it, call the midwives, and see what happens. It was here our needs, Zoe's needs, were always provided for. It was here that new doors opened up where there weren't before. It was here that we would reach out and even sometimes people would reach out to us without us asking. I remember one time we had just picked up some milk from a mom and I knew it would be only enough for one or two days. I remember praying the same prayer we prayed many times, "Lord, we need more milk."  A few minutes I pulled off to at drive through coffee shop and ordered some coffee. I looked at my phone while I was waiting and saw I had an email from a mom we had gotten milk from before. She was asking if we needed more milk, because her daughter was fully weaned and she had a lot extra. I called her and arranged to pick it up on our way home. The email was sent before we had even left our house that day, which is amazing because God had already answered my prayer before I prayed it! The breast milk became like our manna for Zoe.

Zoe "helping" put the groceries away!
Our experience is not rare, in that we have used donated milk, what it rare is that we were able to exclusively use breast milk without using any formula. Here is more information on how rare our experience was. I am still in awe that we made it to our goal. On the question of the safety of using donated breast milk, I think what we have felt all along is that we are using the safest means possible. By going through friends and family, our midwives. With the forums that we used there is some question of safety, but most of the mommas who are donating give details about there health history, medications, foods and drinks they consume, etc. Some have given us a medical history from their doctors. There is a certain amount of faith you give to the Mom's that they wouldn't donate if there was a issue. I think what eased my mind was knowing the milk is coming from generous mommas who are trying to provide the best for their little ones and have extra to share. They aren't asking for anything in return, except maybe replacement storage bags that can get expensive. This was the most humbling thing of all, in that we were being given such a gift and were not able to give them anything in return. One day I noticed the lid of milk container we had been given, it said 2:35am and had a heart drawn on it. This gift came from the wee hours of the morning with a lot of hard work with a lot of love. To say we had been given an amazing gift is an understatement and one we are always going to be thankful for. Some people have asked how it all turned out with the milk. I thought now that we have finally ended this chapter of our lives that a update was due. I also hope it might give hope to others who are struggling with the same thing or to encourage other mommas to give the extra they have to other moms in need.

If you are interest in the milk forums that we used here are the links to them:

Eats on Feets (OR)
Eats on Feets (WA)
Human Milk For Human Babies (WA)
Milkshare Forum

Friday, June 01, 2012

Last Day Of Work Done.

Well, yesterday was my last day of work. It was pretty anti-climatic, because I worked from home. No last drive into work, no box of personal items to take pack, no one to take me out to lunch, or for drinks after works. Instead this is how my day went... 6:30 am alarm goes off for Jon to get up for work. Hit the snooze, 6:45am, second alarm goes off, we struggle to get up. I start making Jon's breakfast and lunch and he starts getting ready. Right as he is leaving he gets a text from his boss that says he needs him at the other location, which means he doesn't have to leave for 45 min. We go back to bed and fall asleep for 30 minutes, alarm goes off again, we struggle to get up again. Jon leaves. I wave goodbye. I start the coffee, Zoe wakes up. I change her, I start warming her milk and pour myself some coffee. We sit on the couch under a blanket. I hold her bottle for her with one hand and drink coffee with other hand, we are watching the TODAY show. Zoe is done with her milk and quickly wiggles to get out of my lap. With her feet on the floor she stands next to me half watching the TODAY show half looking for something to touch on the couch. I finish my coffee and pull things out of her hands that she isn't suppose to have, i.e. the TV remote, papers I am going through on the couch, my glasses. I walk into the kitchen and come back to find her licking ketchup off of the plate I forgot to take into the kitchen last night. Ketchup is everywhere, on my computer, on her hands and face, on her pj's, on the couch. I grab the plate and run for a paper towel to clean her up. I learn from this that she likes ketchup! I take her into the kitchen with me. She opens all of the cabinets that she can reach and empties out what looks interesting. She is also using an empty laundry basket as a walker to move from one side of the room to another. I am making her breakfast, scrambled eggs. This morning we are also eating sausage patties, oh and blueberries. I finished the eggs, grab items from her that she isn't suppose to have: an envelope, a piece of the door molding she managed to break off and almost put into her mouth. I put her into her high chair, give her some food, I eat some too and then she starts clearing her tray one piece at a time by throwing it onto the floor, she does this when she needs a drink or is bored or done. I clean up the mess with the broom, this has to be done while she is in the high chair or she will chase after it to touch it or eat whatever is on the floor. I finish sweeping, wash her hands and face and throw the pile of dishes and tray into the ever mounting pile of dishes from the day before. I didn't have time to get to them yet. I take her into her room and change her and close the door to rock her and give her her milk. She drank it all. Jon calls and we talk to him, Zoe is laughing at his contact picture on my iphone and whenever she hears his voice. I put her in her bed and finish talking to Jon. I warm up more milk, because I can hear that she is not sleeping. I go pick her back up and feed her more milk, she finished the bottle again. She not moving, but is looking at the ceiling or wall, or something behind me. Her eyes flutter, she opens them and looks at the ceiling again. She is tenacious. Of all of the days I need her to go to sleep, this is the one she decides to go off of schedule. I have about 25 things on my to-do list and none of them are getting done, I am trying to be okay with this. An hour and a half later, she finally is asleep. I grabbed the baby monitor, computer, coffee, and two cookies and a banana (I'm starving) and head for my office in the basement. I start chipping away at my to-do list. Three hours later I hear Jon's car pull up. I wave from the window, while I'm still looking at the computer. Jon comes into the office, we talk a little, I am trying to finish one more thing, and then I go up stairs with him. I have to pee, I haven't peed in the last four hours and I am dying, because of all of the coffee I had. Zoe wakes up from us coming upstairs. Jon holds Zoe, I make us sandwiches, his is "to-go", and mine is on a plate. I also warm up more milk. Jon gives us kisses and leaves for school about 30 minutes after he got home. We wave goodbye from the window, Zoe waves this time. We go back inside and sit under the blanket I feed her milk until she wiggles to get down. I start eating my sandwich and she wants a bite. We finish my sandwich and then head to the car to take final work stuff to the post office and to return the movie that is three days late. I am in my sweats, not my best look, but at this point I don't care, but I do make sure I am wearing a bra! We go and come back. I give Zoe more food in her high chair, while I finish work. At 6:45pm I finally finish my list. I am wrecked and now have to think about what we are going to have for dinner. I am brain-dead, Zoe is not. I decide to order pizza with a Groupon we bought awhile ago. I didn't want to over spend, but I also didn't want to cook. I load Zoe into the car and we head off and picked up the pizza. I remember to go to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription, I had called it in a week ago. We got there they had to fill it again. We wondered the store and found the basket of rubber balls I show them to Zoe she laughs and spanks it to make funny sounds. I decide to buy it for her she holds it as we walk through the store, laughing and spanking it! I have to laugh too. I bought a bottle of wine and some Milk Duds for Jon and I. My prescription is done, we pay for everything and leave. We got home. I have my arms full trying to carry Zoe, the pizza, and the pharmacy bags into the house, I promise her I will not drop her. We got in the house in one piece and in one trip. I set her down to play and get dinner on a plate for us. She sat in her high chair, I sat in the chair next to her and we listened to Pandora station- Of Monsters and Men. She laughs and dances as she is eating. She throws the food on the floor. I clean her and the floor. Then I fill her bath tub with water, she screams, because she wants down and wants into her bath. I make her wait until it's ready. I undress her and bathe her and tell her "sit on your bottom" about 30 times. She is flinging water everywhere with the wash cloth. I take it away, she cries, bath time is done! I put her into her pj's and feed her another bottle of milk and hand her her "Softie" to snuggle. She finishes her bottle and snuggles in with her eyes closed. I kiss her head and put her into her bed and clean up her bath and wash her cloth diaper off in the toilet. I hear Jon drive up. He comes in with a smile on his face saying, "I'm home early to celebrate your last day of work!" I smile and we hug. I heat him up some pizza and we go sit on the couch. I drink some wine. We are watching TV and both of us are on our lap-tops. Two hours and two TV episodes later we go to bed, both of us are out in a few minutes. The day is finally done.

This is how much of how May went for us. I am exhausted. Jon is exhausted. Zoe is not! We got through it. Today is June 1st, a new month, a new day, a new season, and no more "work" on top of the work at home for me. I couldn't be more relieved. I think it is going to take me a couple of weeks to unwind from the stress of this last year and last month in particular. I am so grateful for Jon, for taking on more, so I could have less on my plate. I feel so blessed to have him. I might one day share more about how this transition all came about, but for now, I am going to do the recommended sleep when your baby sleeps, because I can!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Change Is In The Air!

Our lives here have turned up a notch in the last two weeks, we were busy before, but now if feels as if we are in a sprint everyday. Jon was hired at a pretty awesome place last week and started working the day after he was hired. He is working as a welder-fabricator at a small shop that makes supplies, ovens, and furnaces for glass blowing. He is happy to be working there, because it combines many of his interests! It was a fast transition from stay at home Dad and full-time night student, to full time worker and full time night student. Jon leaves early in the morning for work and comes home for a quick bite of dinner and heads quickly off for school. To say we miss him would be an understatement! Zoe doesn't get to see much of her Daddy, because she is usually sleeping when gets home. We look forward to the weekends even more now. We are thankful for all of his hard work. Today we got a letter in the mail from his school congratulating him for achieving another 4.0 GPA last quarter and for making the Dean's list again, which he has been on every quarter since he went back to school!  He is doing amazing work and we are so proud of him!

Zoe and I stay home together. I am still working having to shuffle things around and get help watching her for the appointments and travel days. I put in my notice at work and will be finishing on May 31st to be a full-time stay at home mom! I am excited about it, but I am also nervous. I have been at my job for six years and the stability, pay, and benefits are nice to have! Those things are small in comparison to the gift of being able to be at home with my sweet girl and being able to support Jon. I have realized how important it is to Jon that I do this, he is exhausted and usually in running mode all day. He needs clean clothes, warm meals, encouragement, smiles from his girls and a place to sit when he comes home! I am going to be glad when I am done with work and can do that better. I also have a huge list of things I want to do during my new "free-time"! These are things I have neglected this last year, because of getting used to this whole parenting gig and working full-time too. What do I want to do you ask? High on the list is lose the pregnancy weight, start running again, have a garage sale, deep clean the house, read, blog, sew, and most importantly enjoy being home with Zoe and make new memories with her! More to come about all of that, because change is in the air!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

At Home Hair Makeover!

Tonight while Z was sleeping and the Husband was at school, I liberated myself from a bad haircut. To be fair it wasn't that bad, it was just not what I wanted. There are a few of things you should know before you read on:

1. We are on a fixed income right now, so going to get a haircut is a expense that is not really in the budget.
2. My hair stylist was 32 weeks pregnant  at the time of my haircut.
3. The last time I saw her she wasn't pregnant and I was!
4. Do the math=I really needed a haircut.
5. I have issues with going to a salon to get my hair cut.

All through my childhood until I graduated high school I only went to a salon once to get my haircut. I was in the 6th grade and it only happened because I won a free haircut in a Vacation Bible School raffle, random I know! All of my other haircuts were given to me by my Mom, who gave our whole family haircuts, because she went to beauty school, as they called it then. When I went off to college I had a friend who lived down the hall from me who was going to cosmetology school for hair. Some of you will remember this era of my life, where my hair color or style would change almost every week! I tried every shade of color possible and probably every short style imaginable. I started cutting and coloring my own hair, because I didn't think it was that hard and if I got in trouble I could call up my friend and have her help me fix it. I will say I have given myself many bad hair cuts and once accidentally dyed my hair a greenish tint! I found out from my friend that you can easily fix a greenish tint by putting ketchup in your hair (like you would shampoo or a conditioning mask), leave it in for 30-45 min and rinse. It looks like a blood bath while you are rinsing and it smells horrible, but it will take the green out!

When I went off to Chicago to finish college I even gave haircuts to the other students around campus who were willing to pay $10 or $12 for a cut! I still cut the Husband's hair and my Mom's from time to time, and I still give myself haircuts. If I find myself in a style rut I have gone to a salon to get my haircut. This usually doesn't go very well, I have issues like I said! It usually begins with me sweating with nervousness when I enter the salon, this coupled with all of my muscles being stiff with tension. I sit down in the chair and try to explain to the poor stylist what I would like. I say poor stylist, because they are doomed to fail and I am doomed to get a bad haircut! I either have a hard time explaining what I want or I am too picky or nervous. I have tried be relaxed and say "do whatever you think!" I have learned is the worst thing you can say to a stylist!

I don't like to spend a lot on my hair, because I never have had to. I can't imagine that people actually pay the prices the salon charges on a 6 week basis. I am more of a 6 month salon goer! I sit through the haircut and when it's finished I try to smile for the stylist, rarely it's not fake, and then I leave feeling bad that I just spent that much on a haircut that I don't really like.

So, here I am about a month later. I still didn't like my haircut, which didn't make me feel any better about myself.  Having a baby makes you feel different about yourself, it takes awhile to get used to the new you and your new baby. Six months later, I still am trying to lose the pregnancy weight, find clothes that fit and that I feel good in, and come to terms with me not feeling like myself. Tonight I decided I had enough. I walked into the bathroom and started cutting. I cut the top, the sides, and the back and when I was done I had a smile on my face. I felt liberated, free, better. I like my hair now. Lesson learned.  It was cheap, it was tension free, and it's the way I wanted it all along. It may not be perfect, but it works and I feel more like myself again.Oh, and the Husband likes it too! Priceless.

Do you have salon issues? 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What My Daughter Has Taught Me About Being A Mom...So Far!

I read a lot while pregnant and still pick up my Dr. Sears, The Baby Book from time to time to check in on how we are doing. There are things I did not learn from books about being a mom, many of those things I have learned from my daughter surprisingly enough! I thought I would share some of those things with you.

1. Listen To Your Children- I will always remember the evening when I was trying to console Zoe's fussiness. All of my normal tricks were not working and I decided I would put her in the Ergo and take her on a walk. I put her down on her bed and went to put on my shoes and came back to find her sound asleep with her thumb in her mouth! "What? You didn't need me to help you fall asleep?" I learned then I was keeping her awake, by trying to comfort her. I learned to listen to her from then on and to read her ques. She yawns, rubs her eyes, squawks, then cries if I haven't caught onto her earlier signs of baby communication. This lesson made my job so much easier and Zoe much happier!

2. Don't Over Parent- This goes along well with lesson number 1. One morning I was having a hard time waking up. I heard Zoe had woken up, but I just wanted a little more sleep. I decided since she wasn't crying or making her pre-cry squawks I would wait and keep my eyes closed a little longer, until she let me know she was ready! What happened? She fell back to sleep and so did I. I woke up after about another hour or so of sleep and realized then at I was over complicating things by over parenting. The next mornings to come I tried this new waiting to get up thing until I heard her ques of "I'm ready for my breakfast Mama!" I learned that when she wakes up she needs a little time to wake up before she is ready to be picked up and fed. This has become one of my favorite parts of the day. Zoe will play for about 20 minutes in her bed as she is waking up (see video number 1). She examines and turn her hands in the air and looks at the ceiling or pictures on the wall. She also scoots around in her bed and kicks. It's really fun to secretly watch her playtime. I get up and get ready for her feeding and when I come back into our room and she greets me with a huge smile and kicks and waves her arms in excitement! How could I not enjoy the morning with such a welcome!

The important thing in these lessons I have learned is to respond to ques of I'm ready, done, finished, hungry, tired, etc. It's amazing when you can learn their ques and respond to their needs quickly! This is not over parenting, but communicating with your baby, in doing this there are less tears and more trust. I never let her "cry it out" as some methods of parenting suggest, because I believe it breaks the trust your child has in you. I will say by "cry it out" I don't mean fussy tears, I mean screaming upset crying. I don't believe you are spoiling them by helping them and reacting to their cries. Your natural response is there for a reason.

Video 1.
3. Most Baby Milestones Happen Without Your Help. When Zoe was turning four months old I pulled The Baby Book off of the shelf to check in on how we were doing. I read the four month old milestones and felt a little guilty that I hadn't been doing the recommended 15 minutes of tummy time per day. I didn't make her have tummy time is because she hated it and cried within a few seconds of being put in that position. I decided to listen to her and give her small amounts of tummy time here and there when she would go for it. Once she cried I ended it. The day after she turned four months old. I decided we had better have some tummy time. I placed her on her tummy and within a couple of minutes she rolled over! I was shocked and proud of my little girl for figuring it out on her own (see video 2)! I learned milestones like rolling will happen without you teaching them how to do it, just like teeth and smiles and laughter will come on their own. That is not to say you aren't there to encourage them, but you don't have to worry so much about it! Enjoy where they are at today and what they can or cannot do. If they are not crawling or walking yet, don't worry, enjoy the time you have before you have to start chasing them! It will happen when they are ready.

Video 2.

I will say five months of being a parent has not made me an expert by any means! These are things I have learned from my experience with Zoe so far, our next baby (someday) will probably be different and I will write another blog entry then! I know everyone's situation is different. There are things I do wrong! What I have learned from Zoe is listen to your baby and try to learn their ques, parenting will become easier when you do. If you can, try to let go of some of the worry, guilt, and control and enjoy whatever your baby is doing today, because tomorrow it will be different!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

My house is a metaphor for my mind.

This week I had a daydream that I took everything out of our house and only let a few things come back in. Ideally I would sell off the excess and make some extra money for us, but really that would just be more work and stress. I crave freedom from the burden of stress and stuff. My mind is as cluttered as the house we live in and I can't seem to organize my thoughts to find the next step or what is truly the priority. A blank canvas is what I dreamt of. I tried to stall my mind to think of what I would put back on it. I would put Jon and Zoe of course, but they also bring stuff with them. Jon and I have common goals of what we want and what we want to do in life, but I'm not sure he shares my goals for minimalism! Zoe comes with diapers and clothes, lotions and toys, and more things than any three month old probably knows she needs or probably needs. I know we need things like food, shelter, and clothing, but I would like us just to have a place setting each and a frying pan and a pot. For less dishes to need to be done. Less stuff to worry about. It may sound extreme, but something about it sounds wonderful. Really I just want to store less and free ourselves of the burdens of managing and cleaning stuff, when we could be doing other things with our time.

If you cannot tell my life is feels chaotic right now. Maybe me looking for a new house to rent or buy this week is less about our rent getting raised next month and more about wanting some new headspace? Or my desire for less stuff and a minimalistic life is about wanting to clean out the burdens we carry each day. Work family, baby, cancer, meals, bills, pregnancy weight, weight of our burdens. The day to day of life is hard, it hurts, it's busy. There is joy and blessings, there is much to be thankful for and much to pray for. I dream of a day when we have less in our house and in our lives, less stress. I don't know if that day will ever come. I hope, pray, wait, sit and rest when I can, and then get up and get going again. Other times I just let it wait until tomorrow.