May 29, 2012

Taking Time to Just Be

Like I mentioned in a recent post, I'm working on taking better care of my skin. And, as a new mama, I think it's important to take time to pamper yourself (is it scary that the first thing that comes to mind now when I write the word "pamper" is diapers?), relax, and be refreshed. Whether I do this once a week and have a DIY spa day or take a moment before bed to indulge in my favorite new moisturizer (Josie Maran's Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter in Vanilla Apricot), it just feels good. Of course, it's not every day I find a Sephora gift card in the mailbox, so here are few other ways I take time to slow down and just be.

Read. I find that reading calms my mind from racing a million different directions.
Pray. When I notice frustration setting in or I see Miles is having a hard day, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Taking a moment to pray and recognize what I'm thankful for and to refocus on what's important helps me to get over those hurdles with a clear head and happy spirit.
Exercise. Going for a walk, enjoying a yoga class, or taking advantage of naptime to get in a long overdue workout- some days it's a struggle against myself to get off the couch, but I know how good I feel afterward and that is a motivator to get moving! (Of course, some days take more motivating than others...) Don't think about it too long, just do it!
DIY spa day...on the cheap. TJ Maxx or Ross often have a great selection of products for a lot less than their retail price. It's a great way to treat yourself without breaking the bank.

What ways can you set aside time to just be?
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May 28, 2012

Sunday Thoughts and Our Week (In a Nutshell)

Helping mama with laundry (photo taken by Parker)
It brought a smile to my face today when one of my favorite people at church told me she reads my blog. Sometimes I wonder how many readers stop by; sometimes it's a little scary to know who exactly is reading some of these thoughts o' mine. I hope, though, that sharing my stories, opinions and musings will bring positivity to anyone who is reading.

While we were at church today, I was sitting in the cry room with a sleeping Miles when another mom walked in with her little girl whose first birthday is next week. Seeing her playing and smiling made me so excited for Miles to be at that age (which will be around Christmas!), when he will be learning to walk and interact more and more as a little person. I'm still amazed at how much he's changed in the nearly five months he's been here.

My happy boy!

So what's been happening this week? Well, things have gotten a little crunchy around here. Miles has been rocking an amber teething necklace- which doesn't seem to bother him at all and is very cute- in hopes of easing his discomfort as he enters the teething phase of life. I think it's adorable in a flower child sort of way, although I've had a lot more strangers think he is a girl because he's wearing a necklace. Also, this week we have begun using cloth diapers- mostly at night, but sometimes during the day- as a gradual shift away from disposable diapers. I can tell you that Parker is not thrilled (but I think he'll come around)! I've been using the BumGenius Freetime diaper during the night (no leaks and Miles seems a lot more comfortable), and switching between the BumGenius 4.0 and the Flip pocket diapers, using cotton prefolds as the inserts. I have to give a shout-out to my friend Morgan who guided me through Cloth Diapering 101 a while back (I was still pregnant with Miles!)- it's been so helpful! We'll have to see how excited I am about them once we've started Miles on solid food...

I've had a lot of fun this week with my favorite sister-in-law; we went shopping, and enjoyed some really good food at Ai Love Sushi (although eating there was bittersweet since it's in the space where Chef Rick's used to be). Miles loves seeing Jessica, too- it's great being able to spend more time with her instead of only a few times a year!

Concentrating before the race.
My brother Ernie had a BMX race yesterday and it was intense. I brought Miles towards the end and he was fascinated, watching all the bikes speed past on the track. I had been recording the two qualifying events on Ernie's iPod for him and it was tricky to cheer and record at the same time, but I managed (I have a feeling I will be very vocal at Miles's future sporting events...he's going to be so embarrassed!). Earlier in the day, one of the riders had crashed pretty badly and had to be taken away by ambulance, so when my brother crashed in the main event I felt my heart jump a little but he got back up and finished the race, and I cheered the whole time. I could tell he was annoyed when we met up after the race, which I completely understand, because we both hate losing (must be a family trait). At the end of the day, though, there will be more races and I know he'll keep getting better and better since sometimes it seems as if he needs to ride like he needs air to breathe! I even took home a sunburn as a souvenir (shame on me- I know I need to wear sunscreen!), and I think I learned my lesson because my ears are literally burning.

I'm thinking of starting a section of the blog called The Reluctant Crafter. I am not by nature a craft-lover; however, Pinterest somehow keeps managing to find ideas that catch my eye. I've got a few ideas lined up and just might start crafting soon!

Have a good week!
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May 21, 2012

Life (Or Something Like It)

Today has been pretty rough. Two people I know passed away- and as of last week, they were both healthy. One of them was a family friend; the other was a friend's fiancé. I'm not going to lie, it felt like I got punched in the stomach, twice. To imagine people I care about being in grief hurts to the point where I can feel it. (It's embarrassing, but sometimes I get so comfortable and complacent in my day-to-day activities that I forget that life is fleeting and shouldn't be treated so mundanely.) It's like getting a bucket of cold water splashed in your face- it's shock to your system, but once you open your eyes, brings clarity.

How can I live each day better in full appreciation of the life I've been given? It's a question I've been working through, and I've come to the conclusion that it would be much easier to make a general pledge to "live life to the fullest". The actual effort to savor life is in the details. When Miles wakes during the night, I can embrace the limited time he needs me to comfort him rather than wearily care for him with a bad attitude. I can take time to do something special with my husband, just the two of us. 

Here's to the little things that make life so special.
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May 18, 2012

Our Week (In a Nutshell)

This week has been all about family. I think it's easy to take family for granted, but there are few times I laugh more, feel as connected, or more protective than when I'm with my family- I want Miles to know that feeling and find comfort in it as he's growing up. Here's what happened this week:

  • My sister-in-law Jessica has moved back from San Jose and she, Miles, and I had a hilarious coffee date at Starbucks
  • I had a great dinner with my side of the family on Monday night, full of laughter and delicious pizza
  • I officially received an A in my class and it is a huge boost in my confidence that I was able to attain my goal!
  • My sisters and I spent the today doing some major retail damage in Pismo Beach in honor of Krystal's thirteenth (!) birthday. To be honest, I think she's more excited that Mom is letting her wear mascara now than any other present she received- although a little spending money never hurts! 
Well, Miles is asleep and I'm following shortly. Have a great weekend!
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May 16, 2012

Mad Men and Ladies of Literature

I've been in an interesting mood lately- a combination of wanting to try new things and finding comfort in old favorites. Now that the spring semester is over, I have a full month before summer session starts and I plan on enjoying it fully. I want to take the first of many trips to the beach, reconnect with my piano (which has been sorely overlooked until very recently), and read. I dug out some of my cherished books from our various bookshelves around the house and was thinking of just how much I particularly enjoy an older read. The way they're written is almost like an entirely different dialect than the English I speak in my day-to-day life. Some of my most prized hardcovers are a first edition of Age of Fables from 1855 (I still cannot believe I found it for twenty-five cents at a thrift store) and The Emperor's Lady, a novel based on the life of Josephine Bonaparte

I'm antsy to dive into these treasures; however, I've been spending most of my time scouring The Baby Book by Dr. Sears and other infant guides in search of some answers for my sweet baby. Firstly, he's been sleeping so terribly the last month or so- it's not that he's hard to convince to go to sleep in the first place, it's just that he wakes up so many times during the night- and I don't know what's bothering him or how to fix it (before I had Miles I thought we'd just go the Ferber route but I just can't swallow the idea of letting him cry himself to sleep). Secondly, I'm still supplementing with formula and nothing I've tried thus far (including a $46 bottle of an herbal supplement- ouch) seems to be making a difference. I've read Ina May's book from start to finish at least three times while I wait to hear back from Kathleen, who is recovering from surgery. Obviously, I just want Miles to be happy and healthy- anyone have any suggestions?
Rolling around. :)

One idea I received was to spend as much time as possible nursing Miles throughout the day, so we've been flying through episodes of Mad Men like nobody's business. I actually like the show a lot more than I thought I would.

What are your summer plans?
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May 13, 2012

My First Mother's Day

Today I got to experience my very first Mother's Day with my baby boy! Although he did exist this time last year (the size of a peanut or something similar), it's so much more fun to be able to cuddle and hold him as we celebrated today.

My day started after a full night's rest- Parker took care of Miles during the night so I could get uninterrupted sleep- and we all sat together in bed. I was directed to the kitchen, where a sweet message was written to me from my guys in alphabet magnet letters on the refrigerator pointing to a card and some of my favorite treats, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate covered cherries. Parker even brought me a pretzel! (Is it bad that most of my treats were food? Probably.)

We met up with my mom, brother, and sisters at Red Lobster and exchanged presents while we enjoyed a tasty lunch. Miles was all grins and behaved like a perfect little gentleman; afterward, we went to Parker's parents house to spend time with his family.

I'm so thankful for the mothers in my life; the more I go through as a wife and young mom, the more I appreciate what they've experienced and the knowledge they are passing on to me as Miles grows. Over the last year or so, I've learned so much about my own mom's inner strength and determination through some of the worst circumstances our family has ever experienced. I enjoy being able to talk to her about what's going on in our lives and see her not only as my mom, but as a friend. She means so much to me!

I hope you've all had a wonderful Mother's Day- I've definitely taken time today to reflect on the women who have made such an important impact in my life from childhood until now and hope I can be as motherly and supportive an influence to Miles as they have been to me.

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May 12, 2012

This Week the Trend: "Are You Mom Enough?"

Photo credit here
Before I head off to bed tonight, I wanted to take a moment to write about the trending TIME magazine article on extended breastfeeding and "attachment parenting". I've read plenty of blogs and comments about the article (and I know for a fact that there's many more than I had time to read), and it's safe to say that emotions are flying all over the place.

My initial open-mouthed reaction to the cover was actually not in regards the photo, but to the bold letters of the title, "Are You Mom Enough?" I couldn't help but wonder how much more damage this article will do between mothers who should be building each other up rather than tearing each other down (as I wrote about here). I've recently come to the understanding that it is possible to have genuinely good friendships with people who may have very different views on bringing up babies- as long as you can agree to disagree- but most of my experiences are that conversations on parenting and motherhood easily lean toward a no-holds-barred scrimmage to determine who's got it all wrong (cue Woman Guilt). It shouldn't be this way. As Huffington Post columnist Lisa Belkin wrote:

"Breastfeeding is not a macho test of motherhood, with the winner being the one who nurses the longest. In fact there ARE no macho tests of motherhood. Motherhood is -- should be -- a village, where we explore each other's choices, learn from them, respect them, and then go off and make our ownWomen who breastfeed their children for three years are outliers, but they are not spectacles, and we shouldn't hold them up as either Madonnas or freaks. Women who do not breastfeed are not monsters, and we should not condemn them, or really have any opinion about their decision at all."

I think it is a good thing that TIME is bringing the issue of breastfeeding into the public awareness; however, I don't think it's as wonderful as some would make it out to be. In my opinion, an article like this will have a negative effect of keeping breastfeeding from becoming a normal, healthy part of American culture when TIME has these parents and children on display like some sort of outlandish exhibit at a museum- a curious, foreign display of human behavior to shock the masses. Mothers who aren't afraid to nurse in public- a great example is Joanna from A Cup of Jo- and stand their ground (after all, the law gives a mother the freedom to breastfeed anywhere she is legally allowed to be) are the ones making the real shift toward a positive attitude about breastfeeding.

As for "attachment parenting"- I just know that, personally, the only label I want to fall under is Miles's Mama. When my son smiles and lights up as soon as he sees me, when he laughs at a silly game we're playing, when he snuggles up against me and falls peacefully asleep...all is right with the world, whether or not I fall into a fabricated category of mothering.

To each their own.
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May 11, 2012

Our Week (In a Nutshell)

I've decided that for busy weeks- when I don't have much time to blog as regularly as I'd like- I will do a Friday posting called "Our Week (In a Nutshell)": just a brief summary of words and photos from our happenings and adventures. Here's this week's highlights:

  • We discovered Miles is teething and are experimenting with an amber teething necklace (AKA hippie magic) and a cool fish teething toy which he loves to chomp on
  • I had a cold (still feeling a bit stuffy but lots better than a couple of days ago) and decided to make the best of it by spending time outdoors and walking around downtown SLO with Miles
  • My dear little munchkin has gained a good amount of weight this week and is a champ going between nursing and taking a bottle
  • Starbucks has been having frappucino Happy Hour- or "Frappy Hour", as I like to call it- and I've been taking full advantage of it this week. Half off, baby!
  • Last, but not least, Parker and I have been immensely cheered up by a certain little smile this week in the midst of being sick and working on various projects (his work, my school)

So, that's our week in a nutshell! 
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May 7, 2012

Sweet N' Low Moments

May is here! It's hard to believe that by the end of next month, Miles will be six months old. Sometimes I just shake my head in amazement at how much my sweet little boy is changing each day. He rolls all over the place now, and is very wriggly at diaper changes. He loves going on walks or pseudo-runs (the actual "running" is very limited) in the stroller My heart just wants to burst when breaks out his dimpled, toothless smile or when he rests his little hand on my chest during his midnight nursing. I'm constantly surprised at how much he's developing and learning about the world around him and I just want him to soak it all up.

Last week, we took Miles to his four-month doctor's appointment and were shocked to discover that he hadn't gained any weight since his two-month checkup. Long story short, he wasn't getting enough milk from me to gain the weight he needed. The doctor brought in some cans of formula and my initial thoughts were a mixture of sadness (because, although at times I feel like breastfeeding is inconvenient, I really enjoy the bonding, snuggles, and knowledge that it's best for Miles), anger (because I felt like my body had failed me and Miles), and relief (because no matter what, I don't want my son to go hungry!). After the doctor's appointment, I met with Kathleen- my straightforward and motherly, honest-to-goodness Godsend of a lactation consultant- and even she felt I needed to supplement with formula while we worked things out. Admittedly, I was disappointed at this situation at first, but it just sparked this feeling in me that I don't want to give up on breastfeeding until I've done everything I can since this will be the only time in Miles's life that he will need me in this way.

The spring semester is almost over, and my days are busy with studying and finishing the term on a high note. Summer session starts in about a month, and I'll be taking four classes. I was surprised to find that I received a scholarship covering tuition for my courses and I have been smiling ever since.

Excited for things to come!
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