October 30, 2011
October 29, 2011
At first I was all about going the cloth diapering route. I had many friends who cloth diapered, and since I would be staying home it seemed a much smarter and more economical choice. I had no excuse not to. I did some research and decided to use the bumgenius 4.0s. They are considered a pocket diaper. We ordered 12 of them (we already had been given two at a shower).
Then Anna came along with some unexpected surprises. First, she was TINY. They say those diapers fit any baby 7-35 pounds, but not the case. She actually couldn't fit into them until she was 10 pounds. She wasn't 10 pounds until she was 4 MONTHS OLD!!!!! Plus, she had some GI issues and was pooping 7-8 times a day and going through 15+ diapers. Not very conducive to cloth diapering. So we stuck with disposables. Very easy. We returned the previously purchased cloth diapers but kept the two we had received from the shower.
I became unsatisfied with our diaper situation at around 6 months when Anna had her second yeast diaper rash. Those things are not easy to get rid off. Another reason was we had been fortunate enough to use many diapers received as gifts and ones my mom helped us with while staying with her. Now that we were predominantly purchasing diapers on our own, I realized that if Anna was going to be in diapers until she was 2 or 2-and-a-half we still had something like $1000 left to spend on diapers just for Anna. Not cool. So I decided to rethink the cloth option. Even with the up front investment and with starting at 6 months, the cost would be a fraction of disposables. When you factor in the possibility of using your diapers for future children you really start to save money (I estimate each child would cost almost $2000 in disposable diapers before they are potty trained).
Lastly, I would highly recommend creating a drying rack like Sarah's brilliant DIY. (This is her picture, not ours. But we made one like it and use it all the time). Great post Sarah.
October 25, 2011
October 21, 2011
I'm already starting to realize how being different/having a child with a difference can bring a richness to life that being normal often misses out on. A few people with physical differences told me this in the beginning, but I sort of glossed over it. It really is true.
I already feel different than I used to in so many good ways. I feel connected to other parents who have kids with health problems or disabilities, or even another unusual circumstance in their family. I feel compassion and love for them that I never came close to having before. I am now quick to realize when I am judging someone by their outward appearance or making assumptions about a person, and I see potential in people like I never used to. Before Anna, I felt very disconnected from others in these types of situations because I had no idea how to relate to them. I realize now how I was missing out on this whole world of love, compassion, courage, and joy.
And I would never have experienced it if I had been given only perfectly healthy children.
I've met so many amazing people from all over the world who feel like family. One of them, Katie, writes how even if she could change the way things were, she wouldn't. When I first read that I admired her attitude but wondered if I could ever feel the same. It was clear in this post how much I grieved our loss of normalcy and Anna's future challenges. All I had ever known was to be normal. A normal husband, normal family, normal life.
Now, I'm not so sure I would return to normal even if I could. My life is not as I expected it, but I'm starting to wonder if it's actually better this way. I feel so blessed in how much I've changed and experienced life through Anna already, and I believe she will not only have this deep joy that comes from truly learning to love life, but that she will touch other people in the same way. Would I really want to change that just so she can look like everyone else? Is normal really better? Does normal necessarily = happier?
If people are rude or ignorant in their words or actions, love them. Love them fiercely. Often times it is the ones who express harshness that are in need of love the most. Be the one to reach out when others least expect it. The way you treat others will take you much farther in life than any two feet could.
And as one wise mother of a little boy once said,
A loser is not the one who runs last in the race. It is the one who sits and watches and has never tried to run.
I love you my dear, and I wouldn't change a thing about you. "All together beautiful you are, my darling, there is no flaw in you."
October 16, 2011
Well, just the other day Ben informed me that Anna was rolling over by herself with her left leg! We were so excited we got it on video.
October 15, 2011
- It gives you more TIME. I only have to plan once a week for 30 minutes or so, go shopping once, and then I don't have to think about it until the next week.
- Variety. I don't enjoy eating the same meal for 3 days in a row.
- It saves money. You can plan your meals around sale items. And you only buy what you need. Our fridge looks empty most of the time- but it has everything we need for 6-7 dinners. Ben has gotten in the habit of asking "do you need this one half of tomato or can I eat it?" because if it's in the fridge, chances are I'm planning on using it for a meal.
- It's healthy. When you plan ahead, you can plan well balanced meals and don't have to rely on eating out or eating processed food. It's also easier to control your cravings in the grocery store than it is at home. If you don't buy it, you can't eat it.
Here's the method I've found works best for us.
Step 1. I sit down every Saturday. First I look at the weekly ads online at our grocery store and make a mental note of what meat and produce is on sale (chances are if it's on sale it's also seasonal which means it will taste better- bonus).
I'm not very creative, so instead of racking my brain or flipping through endless recipes, I streamline this process by using a spreadsheet. I made a simple table in Microsoft Word with columns like Chicken, Beef, Vegetarian, Pork, Soups, Side Dishes, Other, and Dessert. Every time I make a recipe that we like, I add it to the appropriate column. Then all I have to do is scan the table and see what looks good. Is pork on sale? I look down my pork list. Do I want something vegetarian? Do I feel like making a soup? Easy peazy.
Bonuses to this method: it helps you create a well balanced menu because you are fully aware what the main category of meat/produce is that you are working with, it keeps variety because you don't have to rely on your memory and end up eating the same 7 meals over and over, and since you only list recipes that you want to eat again, you know everything on that spreadsheet is food worth cooking!
Sometimes I ask Ben what he feels like having this week. He'll come look at the spreadsheet and pick a few things out. I also have a list of new recipes that I pick a few recipes to try. If it turns out well, we add it to the spreadsheet.
Here's a rough picture of half of my spreadsheet (you can tell what we like to eat because my vegetarian list is about three times as long as my beef list):
- Use ingredients for multiple dishes to save money. If I'm making homemade pizza one night, I will plan something else at the end of the week, like calzones or baked ravioli, so I can use the rest of the spaghetti sauce and it doesn't go to waste. If a recipe calls for bacon, I will usually make at least two dishes that require bacon because we don't buy it often.
October 14, 2011
A 1996 Oldsmobile- I realize it's a major granny-mobile, but I totally don't care. And neither does Ben. It has the major things we wanted: adequate miles, big and safe, good gas mileage, and was pre-owned by only two people- an oldy lady and a Christian family man- both who took care of it well. Overlooking the fact that it has some dents and a wire-rigged bumper....
We are mostly thrilled that we actually paid for it and don't have a massive car loan hanging over our heads. Living within our means, Dave Ramsey-style.
Strangely enough, buying this car made me appreciate my husband even more and how he doesn't fall into the got-to-have-the-nicest-coolest-best materialistic attitude of America. 'Cause while I would be a little embarassed to drive this thing around, he doesn't care. I admire him for that. I said when he's finished with school and working and we save up enough money, we will have to buy an even NICER used car. Imagine that! :)
Now to figure out how to ghetto-rig this panel that's falling off in the inside...
October 6, 2011
1. Get dressed. It sounds simple, but it's easy to overlook. Some days it seems like a lot of work to get dressed and take a shower in the morning when I have to find a way to keep Anna occupied and have so many other things to do. However, I keep it a priority because if I put myself together it makes a huge difference in my attitude. I feel better. To make the process easier, I skip the makeup and hair styling (I don't generally do these things anyway). You might laugh, but I often still wear the clothes I used to go to work in. I've rebelled against the idea that I can't wear what I like simply because I stay at home for my "job." Anna doesn't spit up or fling baby food (yet) so this makes it easy to wear what I want.
2. Be careful what you read online. There is a lot of bad information out there. Googling something related to your little one and reading up on it can be a nightmare. While it's good to know a certain degree of information, sometimes ignorance is bliss (do you really want to know all the problems other parents had with teething when you may never encounter any of them?). Be careful not to let yourself be consumed by information, good or bad. Instead of googling, go to a few trusted websites that are compatible with your values and search for your questions within them. My personal favorites are Dr. Sears and Kellymom. http://www.askdrsears.com/ and http://www.kellymom.com/.
3. Get outside. If I don't get outside at least twice a day, I get gloomy. I need the sun, wind, and fresh air. We don't have a lot of space outside, but I can still find a way to make it work. Sometimes I put down a blanket on the grass and let Anna play while I read. Other times I take her swinging on the playground. If she's taking a nap I might plop my fold up chair outside the apartment for a little while.
4. Learn when to say no. Gone are the days when you could spend lots of time going out with friends and travelling all over to visit family. This has been one of the biggest adjustments for us as parents of an infant, and I think it's an adjustment for the others in your life, as well. Your friends may not understand why you can't go out to eat last minute at 7:00 at night. Your family members might be surprised that you can't travel and visit as frequently as you used to. We've learned that trying to meet everyone's pre-baby expectations only results in frazzled parents and an unhappy baby. We've realized that since we are the ones who ultimately have to deal with the consequences of a too-packed schedule, we are responsible for putting limits on what we can do at this stage of life. Do what you realistically can, but know when to politely decline and stay home. The people who love you will understand.
5. Maintain a healthy level of socializing. Going out, meeting a friend, or even going to church can seem like too much of a hassle to be worth it sometimes. For example, I met up with my friend Kristen and her baby the other day. Multiple catastrophes ensued resulting in roadsides stops, a delayed timetable that led to unexpected feedings, etc. By the time we were actually in the same location and one of us didn't have to feed, change, or clean up after a baby it had been over an hour and we only had 25 minutes to hang out! While it may not seem worth the trouble, it is. It's worth it to connect. We still had a great time!
6. Don't compare. If you take a minute to look around at other moms, you will surely feel like there is more that you are not doing than you are doing. There are often days when I do not hold long conversations with Anna to "build" her vocabulary, don't read her 4-7 books, and don't try to teach her animal names, colors, or numbers. It's ok. Your child doesn't have to be the next prodigy to be valuable. In the end, I remind myself that loving my child is enough. If I love her she will thrive.
7. Take advice with a grain of salt. Lots of people give advice- some of it is really good, and some of it is really bad. Many times people just see a part of the picture when they are with your child for a few hours or a few days. You have the wider perspective on what your child needs. It's ok if people don't always understand your choices. It's not your job to please others. We received lots of advice regarding not holding Anna too much or getting her to sleep through the night. We did not follow much of this advice, and we are happy with the results of our personal choices. In the same breath, don't be so close minded that you develop a "my way or the highway" attitude either. It's a balance that we're still learning. It helps when it's people you trust giving the advice- Anna's grandparents are all great and we are happy to receive advice from them.
8. Exercise. Just do it. My husband is a runner- he grew up running. I am not. I grew up exercising in a classroom setting with music and movement (ballet). Running is like torture to me. My favorite kind of exercise in Athens was ballroom dancing and Jazzercise. Those things aren't available where we are now, so I do what I can. In the summer I swim laps and walk. In the winter I do some pilates. Anything but run :)
9. Keep things in perspective. I recently had a conversation with a friend about how it's so easy to be up-and-down emotionally if you draw conclusions based on your child's actions over a relatively short period of time. For example, if your baby struggles to gain weight and he hardly had anything that day, you might feel a wreck. Or if your toddler's struggle is temper tantrums and he has several meltdowns after a period of improvement it can be easy to find yourself in a roller coaster of emotion and frustration. I've had to learn to step back and look at the big picture. Is my baby overall eating better? (or is my toddler overall learning to control his behavior more?) Trying to focus on the general pattern is much easier than being an emotional slave to the events of a few days.
10. Don't be afraid to ask people to wash their hands before they hold your baby. I'm generally not too paranoid about germs and never have been. Perhaps it comes from camping in Guatemala or living in India where children play in the dirt and eat food off the floor. But I am a little more wary when it comes to cold and flu season because it's truly miserable to have a sick infant with a cold (who cannot blow their nose). It's ok to ask people to wash their hands before they hold your baby, especially if they just came back from being out at the store or with other people. As Sarah says, "If anyone gets offended, just say that you're thrilled they're willing to come over and take care of a screaming, clingy, sick baby for the next week!" :) Before I had a baby, I wouldn't have thought about washing my hands before holding someone else's, so sometimes people just don't know and don't mind being asked. If it keeps her from getting sick, I figure it's worth being labeled "that parent."
11. She will be fine. My background is working with emotionally disturbed children and adults. Anxiety, depression, psychosis, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, phobias, suicidal tendencies, autism, bipolar disorder, bullying, relational bullying (think 12-year-old girls), you name it. When you see pathology or torment so often, it's easy to be overly worried about it yourself. Especially when I think about Anna's surgery and her future physical difference. I once asked a former mentor counselor how she dealt with this fear in terms of her own children. She said when she makes a mistake of some sort, she just reminds herself that there's grace. And lots of it. And then she lets it go. My personal mantra is "She will be fine. There's grace."
12. Give your spouse a minute. Ben and I realized early on that when he comes home, it's best if I don't bombard him with a million things, asking him to hold the baby so I can do something or even just asking business questions (even if they've been on my mind all day). Instead, when he first comes home, we typically chit-chat about how our days went. Then Ben takes a minute to do a few things and I go about my business. Eventually he's ready to hang out with Anna and help so I can make dinner. Everyone is more happy and relaxed this way.
13. Appreciate what you have. As Kristina says, "these are the best days of your life." Enjoy them. Even the hard days. I try to remember what Graham Cooke always said, "There are no good days and bad days. Only days of grace. Sometimes God gives us the grace to enjoy. Sometimes he gives us the grace to endure."
14. Let go of guilt. Yes, your children are your earthly responsiblity to love, protect, and provide for. But above this, they belong to God, and if you are seeking him then he will care for them better than you ever could. You can't control everything and you can't fix everything (and you don't need to). Let go of your guilt and trust God (easier said then done, I know).
Now let's see if I can remember these things in a few hours, he he...
October 1, 2011
First trip ever to Earth Fare to get some pesticide-free veggies that are friendly to tiny developing brains. A-mazing. Imagine doing all your grocery shopping in this place.
I bought sweet carrots, sweet bell peppers, zuchinni, broccoli and green beans.