Wednesday, November 30, 2011

He knows I’m an amateur

I think my almost 2-week old newborn can smell fear.

Jake has actually been a pretty good baby so far. But during his occasional moments of intense fussiness, it seems like those with parenting experience can effortlessly calm him while I stand by and watch in a state of jealous awe.

For example, my husband Brian – who has done this before 11 years ago – is like the Baby Whisperer. I feel like it takes him half the time to calm Jake down compared to me. And don’t get me started on Grandmas’ magic touch. Once you set him in the arms of a Grandma, it’s like someone pressed the mute button on his remote control. And he can stay that way for hours like he's in some sort of baby coma. Are they slipping him a sedative?

It’s hard because I’m his Mother for crying out loud! When it comes to soothing him, shouldn’t I be the best person for the job? That’s what I so naively thought before. But smart little Jake has me all figured out: I have no idea what I’m doing, and he smells my fear.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How epilepsy affects Lily

Lily's excitement at meeting her baby sister, Harper 

This is the hardest part for me in my efforts of creating awareness for Harper.  Our family makes a conscious daily resolution to maintain a positive attitude about the struggles we face.  It is difficult to pull apart the wall for a moment and disclose the emotion behind that daily decision.   It weighs heavy on our hearts to know that this burden is not one we as parents simply carry, but one that affects the entire family, including Lily, age 3.

As my belly size continued to increase and time grew near we began to explain to Lily that she would soon have a baby sister. One day we were discussing Dustin’s name choice of Harper and Lily happened to overhear our conversation.   From that point forward she referred to her baby sister as Harper despite our undecided name choice.  Lily’s persistence solidified the name: Harper for everyone.  When the day finally arrived Lily couldn’t have been happier!

Monday, November 28, 2011

First trip without baby

The countdown to Vegas has officially begun.

Four days from now, Nick and I will be strolling around the shops in the Venetian while I sip my favorite Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf beverage and we leisurely saunter by the stores where the beautiful people shop.

I am looking forward to our trip with very mixed emotions. Though it will be a welcome vacation – we haven’t had one for more than 18 months – it will be our first time to be away from Ava.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shifting to Christmas

Thanksgiving always passes too quickly. I love the holiday and what it represents – time with family and moments to reflect on abundant blessings. But it seems that the minute Thanksgiving plates have been cleared, thoughts turn to finding the perfect holiday gifts for family, friends and loved ones.

As a Mom, I take great pride in finding special gifts for my family to place underneath the Christmas tree. My hope is to not only get some items on the wish list, but to weave in some thoughtful surprises as well. Black Friday marks a big day in the rush to go out and capitalize on the deals and finding the perfect gifts.

All this aside, Christmas is so much more than about gifts, and the other things are what become cherished memories. My family has many holiday traditions. Some of these traditions have evolved as the children have grown a little older.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Memories in the Kitchen

Thanksgiving.  Turkey, dressing, yams, green bean casserole, corn casserole, cranberries, the list goes on and on.  Even with all of that, my favorite has to be the dessert – pecan pies, pumpkin pies, apple pies, peanut butter fudge.  Mmm…does it get any better than that?

Thanksgiving brings up so many memories.  When I was growing up, my mom and I spent many hours in the kitchen preparing for Thanksgiving.  We would start planning days in advance for the goodies we wanted to make for Thanksgiving.  Everyone in the family had his own favorite dessert, and we felt the need to make them all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving for the Working Stepmother

Last Thanksgiving was wonderful. I spent some good quality time with my husband while each of our 4 kids went with their “other” parents. We have a blended family, with no children together. This is our year with kids. Yes, I am excited…BUT how is a working mother supposed to handle the holidays with 3 different families? Both of us come from divorced families so we have to schedule time with his mother’s family, his father’s family, and my mother’s family. 2 years ago we “hosted” the big event at our house and had well over 20 guests from all of our families. Since then my husband lost his job and we downsized to a 3 bedroom apartment with 4 kids, 2 adults, and 2 dogs. Needless to say, hosting at our place this year isn’t happening.

Over the years, I have learned some “shortcuts” in dealing with food, scheduling, and those dreaded holiday cards. Hopefully, some of you working mothers out there will find these useful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Talking turkey leftovers

While we’re busy finalizing preparations for Thanksgiving, many of us don’t think ahead to leftovers. But once the meal has come and gone, leftovers will more than likely consume your fridge space.

There's nothing finer than a turkey-and-stuffing sandwich. But when that's been munched, turn to turkey with hominy and Mexican spice to beat the leftover turkey boredom. This is far from your mother's pot pie, that's for sure.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Patient Zero

When we first became parents, we were flooded with advice, so much that I probably only retained a small amount. One that I remember crystal clear was “Just wait till Elliot brings home the first stomach flu and passes it around the whole family.” Of all the great things people told us about parenting that I quickly forgot, this stuck with me due to my extreme aversion to vomiting. Although I have mellowed since becoming a dad, the act of vomiting is still among the things that I loathe the most.

Vomit was the last thing on my mind Tuesday morning, mere days away from my favorite weekend of the year (my wife gets mad when I say “favorite,” so let’s amend that to “one of my favorite”). In less than 48 hours, my dad and I would be on a plane to Las Vegas for a weekend of professional drag racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and reservations at the new Aria Hotel and Casino. If that wasn’t enough, the Rangers would be playing game 6 of the World Series the night we arrived! Needless to say, I was counting down the hours.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It’s Game Time!

My oldest stepson found a sport he loves – basketball.  I can’t even begin to appropriately explain how much time he spends playing and practicing this sport.  If the sun is out and the weather cooperates, he is pounding the court somewhere.

As I mentioned in my last blog, he entered high school this year.  Just as everything else in high school is a bigger deal, so is the basketball team.  There was no “sure, anyone who wants to play is on the team” this year, but instead-tryouts.  Not just one day of tryouts either-but three.  They were scheduled to begin on Saturday and end on Tuesday.

The week leading up to tryouts was of course filled with anticipation. A popular conversation over dinner and numerous strategies discussed between Josh and his father on making the team.  Then – it happened.  That Tuesday as I was driving home from work my husband called to tell me Josh had turned his ankle.  Uh-oh.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy holidays to the baby (not you)!

With Thanksgiving a few days away and Christmas just around the corner, my husband and I are planning our holiday vacations and deciding how to enjoy the holidays with the little one and make it exciting for her.

Our baby girl continues to grow like a cute little weed and her happy, pleasant demeanor is still intact, despite her bouts with ear infections and congestion.  A few days ago, my husband and I took a trip to Arkansas to visit his parents.  And I don’t know who enjoyed the visit more – our daughter or her grandparents.

As soon as my husband pulled into their driveway, they couldn’t wait for the baby to get out of the car. I walked inside the house with our baby girl and she was quickly whisked out of my arms and smothered with hugs and kisses from her grandparents.  Since she eats up attention, she smiled and cooed, loving every minute of it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Family Traditions

As a child, my family celebrated each holiday habitually every year.

I fondly recall each Christmas.  My mother would pack the car; we’d pick up my dad from work and drive with sponge rollers in our hair five hours to my grandparent’s house.  Christmas Eve was spent at Grandma’s with all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. After a big traditional Christmas lunch we’d all gather in the family room to open presents, which were always clothes. My cousins and I (all girls- seven of us total) would each model our new Christmas digs.  Our fashion show would turn into haste as we quickly got ready for church and attended the Christmas Eve children’s mass. After church we would all gather again for a snack of the days’ leftovers. We’d play and sing Christmas carols and then giddily go to bed anticipating Santa’s arrival.

The memories of my childhood always center on holidays spent with my family.  I will cherish those memories forever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Past my due date

A conversation I had this morning at work:

Man at elevator bank: “Looks like you’re getting ready to have a baby.”

Me, smiling: “Any day now.”

Man at elevator bank, laughing: “More like any hour!”

I have conversations like this daily now. Walking around at work, 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant (so when I say “walking” I mean waddling), I feel like a ticking time bomb. I’ve learned that gigantic pregnant bellies are strangers’ preferred topic of small talk, so I’m reminded constantly of how much I look just like I feel – ridiculously enormous and ready to pop at any given moment.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving: Indulge without guilt!

Did you know the average person gains seven pounds throughout the holidays?!  From Halloween candy to Thanksgiving pies to Christmas baking to New Year’s cocktails…it is easy to add a few pounds.  So let’s check out how you can avoid common nutrition holiday pitfalls this season--starting with the meal that can leave you stuffed and on the couch watching football all afternoon!  There are a variety of Thanksgiving dishes that are scrumptious, but lower in calories.  Take a look at how you can “fine-tune” your indulging , making it easy to treat yourself without killing your waistline!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Trying for an 11-11-11 birth date

Mid-February of this year, I was trying to keep my cool and bat away any baby fever urges that crept up. I’m not really sure why I was so set on the timeframe, but I was determined to wait until the summer to get pregnant. I told myself to savor the freedoms, the self-indulgences, the sleep, the selfish time to myself, the stuff I knew I would soon lament.

And then I saw this:


The date jumped out at me from this news story: Shooting for the coolest birthday ever.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Children and sports in North Texas

North Texas is a hotbed of sports for young children.  They have so many options available to them, and the competition is fierce, and so is the controversy.

We started our son in soccer at the tender age of 4 years old.  Our son attended a day care at the hospital where I am employed, so he was not going to be familiar with any of his future kindergarten classmates, and this was a great opportunity for him to become familiar with them.  We also became good friends with some of the other parents, and established ongoing friendships that we otherwise would not have had.  We also enrolled our son in other sports – basketball and baseball.  We did not want to lock him down to one sport in particular so that he may become well rounded.  He found out on his own that he has an affinity towards soccer and baseball, but still holds a love for basketball.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sock sorting

When you have kids, laundry is never-ending. Whoa, sorry...I slipped into my Captain Obvious uniform for a second there, didn’t I? In my house, certain loads of laundry lead to confusion. How you ask? Well, don't worry, it's pretty easy to tell my clothes from the clothes of all the other occupants in my house. And right now, Sam's clothes are still washed separately from everyone else's so I can use the mild and oh-so-sweet-baby-smelling baby detergent on his clothes.

The confusion lies in the underwear/sock loads! Okay, to better clarify, the confusion really is the socks (as long as I can still read the size on the underwear tags, there's no confusion there…yet). Jacob's and Caleb's socks are finally getting close enough in size that I have to closely inspect them to make sure that 1) I make a true match and 2) I give the right boy the right socks. This adds to my already-compressed laundry time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Telling tall tales

“I went to four haunted houses,” T. proudly told his little sister during a recent drive home.

I immediately looked back at him. “Really?”

Guilty look. “Ummm….”

T. is scared of all things scary. He didn’t want to visit Six Flags because there were too many posters of zombies around. His uncle had an app on the iPhone that zombified pictures. H. loved it. T. didn’t. I can guarantee that up to this point in his life, T. has not visited one haunted house, let alone four.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Skills on the Grill

This weekend we made a quick trip up to the lake.  We had our boat winterized so we had to pick it up from the shop and take it out to the lake to store for the winter.  This trip included myself, Brett and my youngest stepson, Nathan.  There are many reasons that I think my husband is an awesome dad, but this weekend probably highlighted one of the biggest.

Grilling out is a common practice when we are at the lake, and this particular Saturday evening was no different.  When the time to get the grill ready neared, my husband beckoned Nathan.  He has done some grilling before, but this job was from start to finish-and it was with charcoal.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jacob's Montessori Nursery

"So are you still doing that bed on the floor thing?"

I get this a lot from my friends, who probably think I’m nuts but are too nice to say so.

While patiently awaiting Jacob’s arrival, I’ve been preparing his Montessori-inspired nursery, bed on the floor included. What exactly does that mean? This excerpt from “Montessori from the Start” by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen sums it up nicely:

The room is carefully, if minimally, furnished to address the four areas of necessity for the infant: an area for sleeping, for changing, for nursing, and for activity. Almost everything within the child’s room is low to the ground and each item will adjust to her changing needs as she grows.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Playground Politics

It must be human nature to want to create exclusive groups. Otherwise, why would playground politics start as early as Pre-K?

Recently, my daughter took advantage of the quiet of bedtime to share with me that a group of girls in her class wouldn’t let her be part of their “family” at recess. She wasn’t crying or too upset, but I could tell her feelings were hurt. Which, of course, broke my heart. “Elisa* is my special friend and she’s in Amanda’s family, but Amanda* won’t let me be part of their family. They said ‘Go away, Go away!’” she said.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A boy's best friend

John has a best friend and a protector - the first thing he looks for in the morning when he wakes up. His all-purpose word, "Hey-yo!" is most often directed not at me or Daddy, but at Bandit - our dog.

John loves Bandit.

Bandit is 13 years old, and part rat terrier and part something else fluffy and portly. He pre-dates me in our household, and has become quite the creature of habit.

So when we found out that I was pregnant, we did wonder how he would react to a newer, more demanding, louder member of the family. Would he bark all the time? Would he be jealous? Would he like the new baby?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pregnancy, the Flu and YOU

I know.  How mundane.  All the good topics to discuss and I pick the flu.  BORING.

But the flu affects millions each year.  And, one of the hardest hit populations is pregnant women. Why?  You have that delightful little one “wombing in” that lowers your immune system response.  And, pregnant women suffer from more severe consequences from the flu, such as pneumonia, because of decreased lung volume while pregnant.