Friday, December 30, 2011

Get Your Facts in Gear for 2012

It is almost January 1 - do you know what that means?  New Year's Resolutions.  For most people, this means a time for weight loss, hitting the gym, and the out with the old, in with the new mentality.  After all- the typical 'I'll start my diet on Monday' phrase probably turned into 'I'll start my diet in January' during the holidays. 

In reality, most people, including myself, want a quick fix. The result is getting caught up in all of the popular fad diets and temporary weight-loss eating programs.  The problem is exactly what I mean when I say temporary.  These crazy eating habits and weight loss ideas will work for a short time- but I can almost predict that one cannot maintain it and end up gaining the weight back.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Breastfeeding Blues

There was never a question in my mind about whether I’d breastfeed. I was very passionate about doing it, though I’d heard enough anecdotes from other Moms to know it was not going to be easy. I just never expected it to be quite so hard. I think, deep down, I still expected it to come naturally for my son and me.

Within an hour of Jake’s birth, we did skin-to-skin contact and he breastfed beautifully. We were off to a great start.

But later, in postpartum at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, I was having trouble getting him to latch. And when he did latch, he wouldn’t stay on for very long. He’d just stop and start screaming at my nipple angrily. One of the nurses brought me a nipple shield to help, but this made his latch feel very painful. I wasn’t sure if it was an incorrect latch pain or a just a new-to-breastfeeding pain. Either way, I grit my teeth and kept at it hoping he was getting some colostrum.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What a difference a holiday makes

Holidays growing up when we’d visit my extended family were almost always full of a boisterous crowd of lots of aunts and uncles and cousins.

My mom is one of eight and all of her siblings have had children so you can probably do the math. Our attendance at holiday gatherings pushes past 40 and is rapidly approaching 50 as the cousins keep adding boyfriends, girlfriends, and children, to the crazy mix. So that’s what I’m used to.

Then I met my husband. He’s got little pockets of family scattered across five states, but in terms of holiday get togethers we reliably draw a crowd of 10 to 12 people. We get to stay here in town with an easy commute over to Keller to celebrate. Contributing to the family dinner is easy because the proportions are normal. It’s not hard to figure out how many sides are needed for less than a dozen people.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mommy, my head is itchy

“Mommy, my head is itchy.”

Ut oh.

Please God, don’t let it be...


Monday, December 26, 2011

Not a Crafty Momma

I’m not a crafty Momma. Well, perhaps I should rephrase that, lest someone attempt to call dispute that.

I do counted cross-stitch when I can; I can make simple projects on the sewing machine. I enjoy both of those things very much, but I find I don't often have the time I'd like to devote to it (ask me about the 6 unfinished baby blankets in my dining room).

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Rebel

We met Santa and his wife in the basement of the building. They had been doing this for a while. Today was our first time, and our children (then 11 and 17) were eager for the experience. We pulled on our sweltering Santa hats with the white pompoms on top and followed the big guy up the elevator.

The Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital representative met us on the pediatric oncology floor. We pushed our rolling tray of stuffed bears and tiny blankets down the hall and had to sanitize our hands at every corner. As elves, we were allowed to hand Santa the gifts but we couldn’t enter where the children lay.

We stood by the window of each room and watched the gentle man cheerfully make each child smile and laugh...perhaps even forget her or his pain for a moment. Some were so sick that all they could manage was thanking him through wide eyes and weak smiles.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa Explanations

Christmas time with four year old, Preston, and 15 month old, Emory, has been tons of fun this year.  Teaching them that the real meaning of Christmas is the birth of our Lord and Savior is very important to us, but they are also learning that the spirit of Christmas is very much alive in Santa Claus.

Santa comes to visit Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville each year.  Preston first saw Santa in Stephenville at five weeks old.  Emory was 12 weeks old when she first met him there last year.

This year, though, was a little different.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What my children have taught me

Since the birth of my first child Lily (three and a half years ago) my husband and I have bent over backwards to entertain this child. Weekends have been chalked full with festivals, museums, zoo days, fairs, etc.  We worked hard to enrich Lily and to treat her to new experiences. The funny thing is, one of her favorite things to do is sit in the driveway with me and draw with chalk.  She also loves to lay in the living room floor with me and color. Lily has taught me that it doesn’t matter what we do or where we go, she just likes spending one on one time with me.

My second child, Logan (still a baby) has taught me so much in his short life. He seems to be growing at warp speed and he’s taught me to hold on to the moment and cherish all the precious time we have together.   He’s also taught me to relax and not be so uptight about everything. He brings to light the neurosis I had as a first time mother and teaches me that everything doesn’t always have to be perfect.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Recovering from an embarrassing moment

In the past couple of years, T. has become very sensitive to what people around him think of him. He won’t do certain things because he’s worried people will laugh, but he’ll do other things because he gets good feedback from the crowd. But when he’s been embarrassed, it sometimes takes a while to try something again.

His class recently had a recital along with two other grades. It was a loud, busy crowd when the second grade class finally came on to do their show. T. had a role where he was lifting a poster board with a word on it. His job was to hold up the board when the word was sung.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Baby’s first Christmas

Christmas is mere days away, and so our first holiday season as parents is about to come to a close.

Many times during the last nine months of parenthood, I find myself wishing for milestones to occur faster than they should. I have wished so many times that Elliot could talk so I could explain to him why crawling on top of our cat and pulling out handfuls of his fur is not ideal, or that he was old enough to go out and mow the lawn or get up and make himself breakfast so Mom and Dad could sleep in for once.

But this Christmas season has given me perspective. Perhaps I shouldn’t be in such a hurry and instead enjoy the little things that have made this Christmas different from any other. Here is just a quick sampling of things we’ve encountered this Christmas:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Concert

I’d written some time back about my youngest stepson Nathan and his lack of interest in any type of sports.  He had played some baseball but wasn’t passionate about it enough to want to go out and practice each day which is what it takes when kids get older and the sport all of the sudden becomes much more serious.

In the past year, we have seen him try out an activity – playing the saxophone.  His mom searched out a teacher who could provide lessons, bought the instrument and we hoped that this might be something he really liked.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Home-baked Memories

I feel very fortunate to come from a long line of good cooks.

Growing up, my mom and grandmother were excellent in the kitchen, and shared their recipes and cooking techniques with me over the years. My mom was (and still is) a great cook. You can truly feel the love in her cooking and she is always looking for new recipes to try. My grandmother was equally talented in the kitchen, and I feel very fortunate to have inherited her recipes. It is particularly special to see her handwritten notes about each dish. She had an uncanny ability to identify ingredients in something at a restaurant, and then she'd go home and perfect the recipe, usually adding her own flair.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas crafting through a crisis

I finished putting up all my Christmas decorations after three days, 16 Diet Cokes and only one emergency trip to Michael’s.

Putting all our ornaments on the tree was quite a feat and made me think about the fact that every ornament has a story. Probably the most interesting/pitiful/tragic story on my tree is the gaudy green felt bird decked in sequins and gold trim. It was my Grandma’s.

When my Grandma died several years after my Grandpa, the family had to clear out their house. Walking through during the clean out, I noticed that all of my Grandma’s ornate green felt birds had been thrown in the trash. These weren’t just any felt birds – these were the birds that had hung on my Grandma’s tree for as long as I could remember. Yes, the tree looked a bit odd covered in only strange green felt birds, but it is what I remember of their tree on so many Christmas Eves.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh the places Sam will go…

We’ve done the Elf on the Shelf for about two years now and up to now we really haven’t been very creative. It wasn’t until I saw some really creative ideas on another site that I started realizing the potential of the Elf.

The kids named our elf Sam. I don’t remember the why, but that was the name they came up with together. Sam had been hiding in different spots around the house, but he wasn’t overly adventurous.

This year, I decided that Sam was going to be a little mischievous. And the kids have loved it. As a matter of fact, this past Sunday morning my son got up at 4 a.m. to try to hunt Sam down. (We had a talk; I hope this doesn’t happen again.) They have been telling everyone that will listen that “Sam has gone CRAZY and doing funny things this year.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

To believe or not to believe?

My son is 8 years old, and as much as I hate to admit it, on the cusp of not believing in Santa Claus anymore.  Friends at school, commercials, movies, and TV programs allude to the reality of this jolly old fellow, but never really reveal the truth.  It only seems to make our children ask us “Is Santa Claus real?”

Now this question is usually asked with big puppy dog eyes and a familiar look on their face - a look of hope.  In the back of their minds, they are thinking “Please let him be real, please let him be real!”  At this very moment in time, we, as mothers, wake up the hamster in the brain to get running.  Come on … I need the right answer!

Friday, December 9, 2011

So much personality!

When it comes to raising a child, the phrase, “Time sure flies when you’re having fun,” couldn’t be closer to the truth! And at six and a half months, my little lady offers plenty of entertainment, day and night.

Like clockwork, she’ll wake up early in the morning (yes, even on weekends) full of baby talk. That sing-song sound never ceases to make me smile. So what do I do? If I’m not already up, I’ll hug her, give her tons of kisses (she doesn’t mind my morning breath), talk to her and check her diaper. Her Dad will usually prepare her food, and then run in and shower her with kisses (and yes, I believe she thinks her Daddy’s breath smells worse than Mommy’s). But she seems to enjoy the attention – flashing us a toothless grin, along with that signature dimple on her right cheek.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It requires faith

My husband and I started attending church regularly when we got engaged. We found a great church in Waco, one where we found a caring community that allowed us to explore our faith in a way that never made you feel bad for asking questions. Lakeshore Baptist Church will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where we got married, dedicated our first born son, and shared lots of laughs with friends.

When we moved back to the DFW area, we were church shopping for quite a while. We visited lots of churches before we found the right one for us. We had criteria we wanted in a church: not too big, intergenerational, a place where questions are welcome, a place where our kid (we only had one at the time) could feel at home.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So Proud ... But Seriously, Go To Sleep

At eight months old, John amazes his daddy and me on a daily basis with the new things he's learned. One week he'll be tentatively pulling up in his crib, and the next week he'll be confidently cruising everything he can pull up on. What were just random babbles are now purposeful attempts at words. He knows "Ma, Mama, or Mom-Mom" will get me, that "Dada" gets Daddy, "Bob" gets him his bottle, and "Das!" will get someone to turn on the radio for a dance party. He also knows that "Hi!" will get any old lady in a restaurant to smile at him.

But all this new stuff apparently comes at a price - sleep. It just seems like yesterday that we were basking in the glow of a good night's rest because our baby was sleeping through the night. From the hours of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., John could be counted on to saw logs with no disruption.

But I sit here writing this at 3:30 a.m. We've just gotten John to sleep for the fourth time tonight, and I'm wide, wide awake again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I've been Googled

Not too long after school started (yes, I really am THAT behind sometimes - welcome to my world), I walked into the kitchen and Jacob said, "Julie, I didn't know you wrote for the Texas Health Moms." 

Me, perplexed, (but also sort of jazzed that he sounded...was it? Yes! Proud!) : Yes, I try to send them a couple posts a month. But what makes you say that, J?

J: I just didn't know. I saw Sam's picture on the "Room of His Own" story.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lookin' for love

My son and I had a discussion about how a man should treat his wife the other day, and it seemed to suck the air right out of my lungs. I tried to explain, but frankly, we all know that to learn how to have a relationship, to learn how a husband should treat a wife, you really need to see it. Not just on TV, not just once a week with your grandparents, not by watching the neighbors, but by living it. And therein lies the dilemma for single moms. My kid just isn’t seeing it.

It’s enough to make me want to find a photo from 10 years and 10 pounds ago, think up some amazing hobbies and post myself online.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Car craze

I cannot believe my baby boy turns 4 years old next month! It seems like only yesterday that I was carrying him in my tummy. Now he's a little boy who says and does little boy things - with a particular love of automobiles.

When I say Dylan loves automobiles, I mean L-O-V-E-S them. And I'm not just talking about the toy cars he carries around or the characters from that infamous movie. He knows all the actual makes and models. For example, any time we are in my car, he names all the vehicles we drive past: "Toyota Corolla... Honda Odyssey... Nissan Ultima...Buick LaSabre..." Yes, he even knows Buicks.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Of Lice and Kin

So far this school year, my first grader has managed to avoid strep throat, stomach flu, and every other communicable disease known to elementary students. She has skipped steadily through the first semester with barely a cough or sneeze. A couple of weekends ago, however, I literally ran head first into an obsessive compulsive mother’s worst nightmare.

While on a visit to my sister’s home (who by the way also has OCD), we made the gruesome discovery. We had been wrestling with my daughter and nephew in the living room when we saw it. My sweet little girl, who bathes every evening at 6:30PM sharp and thoroughly washes and conditions every lock of her long, curly hair, was crawling with critters. It was all my sister and I could do to not bolt and run.