Sunday, November 30, 2014

Watchful Waiting

Last year, I was about 7 months pregnant during Advent. I had all these idyllic thoughts of a super spiritual Advent, being that I was waiting the birth of my baby while we were awaiting the birth of Mary's baby. I had a book (which was wonderful) of reflections connecting my pregnancy to Mary but, honestly, that was about all I did besides the penance service. We did a fairly secular advent calendar and generally busied ourselves with life, instead of taking the time to slow down. Advent finished up and I felt like I had wasted an opportunity to grow closer to Mary and to God.

This year, though, I think things will be different. We're in a very different place spiritually than we were last year. Last year, our "norm" was much more intense, despite what I just said about Advent. We were going to daily Mass at least once a week, I was volunteering in the church, we went to confession at least quarterly, we did a weekly rosary, and we did quite a few other things to keep us connected to our faith. I would say that I was the most connected to God during my pregnancy (but unrelated to being pregnant, if that makes sense) than I've ever been. I knew it would change when we had a baby, but I didn't realize how much I'd feel like I was losing on the spiritual front. We didn't say a rosary for MONTHS. I haven't been to daily Mass a single time in the last 9 months. I've been to confession once. Parenthood has of course connected us to God in other ways, like learning sacrificial love in a big, big way, but I lost a lot of those tangible things and activities that I felt kept me connected.

 This Advent feels like a breath of fresh air and a chance to begin reconnecting, or strengthening, our faith. We received 2 different daily reflection books and I'm so excited to go through them. I feel like a daily reflection feels so doable and not at all overwhelming, and is the perfect place for us to start, or re-start. We decided that instead of our typical Advent calendar (where we put some type of activity be it a prayer, board game, show, movie, walk, drive to see lights, etc) for each day, we are going to simplify this year and make the daily devotional be our Advent calendar. After all, isn't that a lot of what Advent is about? Simplifying our lives so we can focus on watchful waiting, instead of adding more busy-ness to our already full lives. I want to share with Felicity that prepping for Christmas is good and fun, but that taking a step back from the holiday chaos to focus on God and each other is so important! So we don't have "big plans" this Advent, but I think that's exactly what we need.... a time to slow down and reconnect with God in comforting, familiar ways. A time to invest in ourselves after 9 beautiful months of investing almost solely in our baby, as we wait for the baby Jesus. Happy and blessed Advent!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Felicity's First Thanksgiving

Felicity's first Thanksgiving was a smashing success. I was worried, I will admit, because we were hosting it this year. My parents graciously offered to come here with my sister since Steven was working until 11pm the day before and at 7am the day after Thanksgiving. I was so happy to not be doing a whirlwind trip to SC for a few hour visit, but I was also nervous about hosting! My mom, again so graciously, offered to bring Thanksgiving to us. She got the Publix dinner so all I was responsible for was some Thanksgiving Eve snacks, a pie, creamed corn, and rolls. I was nervous, though, because my mom makes holidays so special and one thing I knew I'd miss about not being at her house was how everything is decorated within an inch of its life. It's impossible to not feel in the holiday spirit when you're surrounded by her awesome decorations! For Thanksgiving, I just have a few things here or there, but I tried to up my ante with a pumpkin pie wax melt lol. Anyway, it was definitely different this year being at our house instead of my parents', but it was just an amazing day. Of course Felicity makes most days super special, but she really outdid herself during their visit. She was charming, personable, and just so sweet. We all had a blast with her! My normally go-go-go girl sat on my mom's lap for about an hour at one point! It was so sweet.

Though it was somewhat different, we kept elements of family tradition. We watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles during Thanksgiving Eve snack. I let everyone vote between that, Ernest Saves Christmas (a childhood favorite), and White Christmas a la 1954. Dad voted Planes, Mom voted White Christmas, and Rachel voted Ernest. I broke the "tie" with Planes because the Netflix description said it was about him getting home for Thanksgiving and I wanted a Thanksgiving movie! It was slap-stick funny, which is perfect for our family, and we enjoyed our treats. I was sad Steven was working, but glad to be with my family.

Thanksgiving morning we also kept the tradition of staying in jammies all day, and watching the parade and dog show, with our annual dog show contest which my mom won, which she almost always wins!!! Then everyone pitched in to get everything warmed up, made, the table ready, etc. Felicity woke up JUST in time for food, and we all sat around the table stuffing ourselves and talking. It was so, so nice. Felicity required a bath after her feast, and then we relaxed some more before having pie. Then, all too quickly, mom, dad, and Rachel were headed back to SC. It was such a great day and we had so much fun hosting!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Felicity Marian: 9 Months

3 more months until her BIRTHDAY!!! How can that be???

Weight: From our scale, she's still about 19-20 lbs, so very similar to last month. I think her weight hasn't changed much since she is crawling so much. Since Felicity has lots of delicious pudge, I'm not worried :). Her 9 month check up is tomorrow so we'll find out her weight for sure! 

Height: No clue! We find out tomorrow. 

Medical issues: Felicity has had her first cold and, while she seems to not feel bad, I am so ready for the runny nose to be gone! She HATES having her face/nose wiped, and absolutely freaks out at the nose freida. Which by the way is the most amazing and most disgusting thing ever. I think she may FINALLY be getting teeth! I can see one under the gums for sure, and possibly the one beside it. Other than that, Felicity hasn't had any issues this month. 

Sleep: Oh good gravy. On 11/1, Felicity began about 2 weeks of waking up to play around 4 am. Luckily some of those days Steven was getting up for work anyway, so I could stay asleep. But man that was rough! It seemed to coincide with her getting really good at crawling. 

Besides that, I would say maybe her sleep has improved a bit? She seems to be sleeping a bit more/nursing a bit less in the middle of the night, so I'm more rested. She wakes up earlier now, usually between 6-6:30, but still goes to bed at 7, and some mornings will sleep til 7. Felicity dropped a nap this month so we're down to 2. It makes life SO much easier! She usually wakes up around 6:30, goes down for a nap around 9, up around 9:30, naps again at 1:30/2, up around 3-3:30 and then is up until bed time at 7. If she naps past 4, even just by 10-15 minutes, she will not go to bed until at least 8 but doesn't sleep in any later, so I try to always have her up by 4!

Clothes/Diaper Size: She's still in size 3 diapers and 9 month clothes. I may start working some 12 month clothes in as some of the snaps are getting a bit tight on a few outfits. I'm also having to raise the "rise" snap on some of her cloth diapers. 

Likes: Puzzles, balls, Buttercup, computer cords and keyboards, eating, her musical activity table and walker, playing "chase" on the bed or in the kitchen, pulling clothes out of drawers

Dislikes: Having her face cleaned/nose wiped, having her diaper changed, not getting what she wants (trying to reach a toy), when Mommy sits on the couch

Nicknames: Big girl, baby girl, boo, the tickle

10/28 Felicity now throws balls and round objects (the lid to her play kitchen pot) and 'chases' them
10/30 pulling up and taking a few steps while holding on (kind of cruising)
11/1 starts giving me kisses when I say "can I have a kissy?". Sometimes she absolutely pelts me with kisses when I ask, and I die of cuteness!
11/3 can get to a sitting position from laying. She rolls to her belly and then can sit up. I've been dreading this moment for nap and bed time lol! Felicity also started giving high fives this week! 
11/5 really cruised at library story time!!!
11/10 Felicity is waving! She mostly did two hands for a while, but now seems to have the one handed wave down. She cracked some older ladies up at church this past week when they waved at her and she surprised them by waving right back! 
11/14 Felicity walked about 5 steps with her walker toy!
11/16 She stood on her own for a few seconds, and has done it about 5 times since then! 

I don't want to forget this: 

Steven's parents came to visit us and brought this little zebra riding toy. Felicity loves it and is so good about holding onto the handles! She will hold on and I push her all the way down the driveway. It seems like such a big kid thing to do!
Steven was out of town for work from 11/3-11/12. During that time, Felicity had a lot of trouble with sleep because usually Steven "shushes" her from when she goes to bed until when we go to bed. If I do it, she wants to cuddle and/or nurse, but for him she'll go right back to sleep. So on 11/4 when she'd woken for the 9 billionth time, I picked her up and rocked her a bit (which is something we never do... just not her thing). For about 10 minutes she cuddled me with her head on my shoulder. Then when I laid her in the pack n play, she held my hand until she fell asleep, but never cried. It was beyond sweet! 
We took Felicity to Marbles Kids' Museum on 11/13 to celebrate "38 weeks in, 38 weeks out" and had SO much fun! We mostly played in the 2 baby areas, but Steven and I got to see all the cool stuff Felicity will get to do when she's bigger. We are definitely going to go there a lot!
Tonight Steven and I got home from a date night (our wonderful neighbors trade sitting with us) and i was getting a few things done around the house while Steven was working on printing a "9" for Felicity's picture. He was on the bed on the computer, and I was getting something out of the bedroom. Felicity went in the closet, stood up to my shoe bin, and began emptying it one by one. Emptying drawers is her new favorite thing, and something just struck me so cute and sweet about us all doing our own thing in the same room. It's probably a "you had to be there moment" but I just happily sighed, thinking how nice life is with my family :).

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Life These Days

The days with my baby girl lately are very sweet. Also maddening and exhausting. But mostly sweet. Felicity is crawling very quickly, and I've never been happier with our decision for a modest sized house-a decision that was made knowing we'd be giving up our income, but it's a bonus with a curious crawler! So far, we haven't had to put any baby gates up indoors, though I'm considering one in the bathroom since she was sucking on the toilet while I showered the other day. I did put one up outside on the deck, which was an idea I got from my genius neighbor. We only had one nice weather day since I got it, but it was so nice putting her on the deck to crawl around as I sat in a deck chair and enjoyed a book on a slightly cool, but sunny afternoon. I'm looking forward to doing that a lot next spring, with an iced drink in hand and the umbrella up.

I'm babysitting my neighbor's two boys each Monday and Wednesday afternoon. It's great for many reasons. I get experience with multiple small children (I pray to never have twins lol). She has a 3 year old and 1 year old, and the 3 year old and either baby is pretty easy, but the 3 year old with both babies proves challenging. Sometimes her little one is napping and other times Steven is off so Felicity stays with him, It's good for Felicity to have play time with other babies, and probably even to have a short amount of time each week where my attention isn't completely on her. It's also a great opportunity for me to help our finances a bit without having to leave my baby. I was looking for something like that anyway, so it was perfect timing since my neighbor is also my friend, and I'd rather spend time with her kids than a stranger's! I have a feeling Felicity will grow up as fast friends with her boys, as we are there 2 afternoons a week, but we also all walk together about 4 days a week. I need the push to exercise, and I try to get Felicity outside for at least a little while each day, so having a neighbor keep me accountable to walks has been a blessing. It's also really fun to have someone to chit chat with while we walk! I always dreamed of having a friend with kids in the neighborhood, so this is truly a dream come true.

We are still doing story time once a week at the library. Speaking of which, the lady who does story time is also a neighbor of ours! We were going twice a week, but the baby one is two days in a row, so I backed us down to once. If they ever split up the days, we'll probably go twice. I take Felicity 30 minutes early every other week to return books, and play with and check out new books. They keep the board books on a low, non-tippable shelf so the babies can get to them easily. Felicity sits and pulls books out with glee, as I choose some new ones to take home. Then we go to story time and she is usually pretty ready for a nap after that!

We are considering joining a weekly play group. I've done a few different group things in the past, but haven't stuck with any. I'm debating this one only because it's on Thursday, which is almost always one of Steven's days off. This week we are going to go and let Steven have a little "me time", but I will probably only go every other week if he keeps having Thursday off. We meet at local malls (during cold weather) so the babies can crawl/toddle on the soft play structures while the mamas talk. I just found out one of the ladies lives in Garner, so we may set up play dates individually too, since everyone else lives about 30 or so minutes away.

Felicity got a zebra "bike" (ride on toy) from her grandparents, so we have been taking it outside each day to play on. I bundle her in her precious pink jacket with bear ears (can't handle the cute!) and out we go. She impressively holds onto the handles, so I can push her without holding on, though I stay close by just in case. She smiles and coos as she flies down our driveway on her "bike". Sometimes she crawls through our yard, tasting and crunching leaves. I love this time with my girl!

In case you think it's all fun and games :D, I'm still learning to keep house with a baby in tow. I used to religiously clean the house once a week (Steven and I each did half). It's all but impossible to get the whole house clean at once, for now anyway, so I have adopted more of a "clean as I go" policy, even though it pains me to not have that one day each week where everything is clean at the same time. I've gotten laundry under control as Felicity will play in our room long enough for me to sort, fold, and hang clean clothes. Dinner is still a work in progress as it's her most needy time of day, so I'm making mostly simple dishes for now. I try to make more fun, involved things on Steven's days off. Felicity especially loves cat food right now, so doing anything in the kitchen is challenging as she constantly goes for Buttercup's bowls!

Basically, I'm trying to absorb all this time while she's little. It's going so, so fast and (hopefully) we'll add to our family in the next few years, so I want to immerse myself in these one on one memories while I can. I love this little girl so, so much and I'm beyond thankful for the opportunity to spend my days with her. Felicity may be tempermental and demanding, but she is cute, loving, and hilarious. And now I'm off to feed, bathe, and read to my sweet baby!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Nursing My Girl

So, it's been forever (5+ months... close to forever) since I've updated you on my breastfeeding journey with Felicity. And as I said before, I know you all sit there like "hey, whatever happened with that!?". Or, more accurately, I'm writing it for me :). 

Felicity is a nursing champ! When she was a few weeks old, I never thought I'd say that. She LOVES her "nursies"! She continues to nurse before naps and bed, but just over the past month has begun to initiate nursing at other times. It's so sweet to me because Felicity has always enjoyed the pre-sleep nursing sessions, but it's been something I offer and she accepts. Now, she lets me know that she wants to nurse! Felicity will do a few different things to signal this to me. Once, and one time only, she did the sign for "nursies", which was pretty awesome. But otherwise, she either attempts to nurse while I'm fully clothed, or she will bury her head in my chest. I've learned that both of those things signal her wanting to nurse (and yeah, I'm working on her doing the sign instead lol). It's generally when she's getting sleepy or is upset, but sometimes she just does it for (seemingly) no reason and we have a good cuddle and I nurse her. Then we go back to playing. I think those times might be my favorite because I always thought the pre-sleep nursing was about as good as it was going to get- and I was perfectly happy with that, don't get me wrong. But for her to basically say "mom, I want to nurse!" rather than "oh... you're offering the boob? Well, sure!" makes me a happy mama. 

The other good news is that I'm basically not pumping anymore. I thought I'd be pumping until she was 1, so it has been a huge relief to have that burden off my shoulders! Since she was nursing more, and because she basically sat on the floor and cried any time I tried to pump, I slowly began to cut pumps out around 5-6 months. Felicity also spends the majority of the night in bed with us and nurses on and off, so then I naturally cut out my 2 middle of the night pumps. At one point, around 7 months, I was still pumping at 10pm, and then she went through a phase of nursing then, too. So I cut that one out, even though that phase did end. The only time I pump now is if she naps in the car, since she would normally nurse before then. Basically, if she's missing one of our normal nursing sessions, I pump. I find that's only 1-2 times a week, generally. SWEET RELIEF. It is so nice to not be tied tot the pump all the time! My quality of life has shot up big time. And the exciting part? The rare times I do pump, I get the same amount as I did before. Small as it is, I'm extremely excited that she's nursing enough that my supply didn't dip by cutting out like 6-8 pumps a day! 

I think all the time about the breastfeeding journey for someday-baby #2.... sooo many details like will the baby be tied? Will I have to pump around the clock for months? Do I want to even give the SNS a try again after how much we hated it this time? Do I want to try domperidone for a full supply and not having to worry about donor milk, even with the probable weight gain? Will I make more milk the 2nd time around?

And then I make myself turn my brain off, I cuddle up with my girl, and nurse and look at her sweet little face (and facebook because, hey, she is amazing and precious and beautiful, but I get bored sometimes. Just keeping it real).

Monday, November 3, 2014


Steven left today for 10 days for work. Technically he might be able to come home a day or two in there, but we don't know for sure yet. Felicity and I will definitely be going there for a few days! As he was preparing to leave, I began to think about allll the things he does around the house. It's easy for me to get into the train of thought that I do almost everything since a) I chose the vocation of SAHM and homemaker and b) he works 10+ hour days so it makes sense for me to do most of the home stuff. Sometimes I can get a little woe-is-me about it. But as I listed off in my head all the things I will be responsible for while he's gone, I realized he does a lot around the house. I also started having those mushy love feelings. You know, the ones you have a ton while dating, occasionally when married, and are almost too busy to experience with a new-ish baby around the house. Yeah, those! I was flooded with how much I'll miss his hugs, cuddles, company, and conversation. I would never choose to be separated from him for something like a work trip but, I must say, there might be something to that whole "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing! Or, in my case, "Impending absence makes the heart grow fonder". I told him it's a great opportunity to step back and work on not taking one another for granted.

As I've dreaded these 2 weeks arriving, I have often thought of how fortunate I am. So many military moms (or in some cases, dads) are home with their kids while their other half is gone for months, or even a year or more. I cannot imagine. I have one kid and I'm whining about 10 days while there are moms with many children going many months. My own mom had us by herself a lot while my dad would be in different countries for a week at at time for work. It's crazy how all of that sort of flies under your radar until you get the teeniest taste of it and then you're like "wow... those moms are amazing". If you're one of those moms, seriously, you are amazing. I will try to remind myself these days that Steven is gone that there are people in much more difficult solo parenting situations than I. Felicity may be a handful and have rough nights here and there, but I have it pretty good!