Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It Takes a Village

Since our son arrived in February we have had so much help, and it's still been hard to adjust to the dramatic increase in responsibility at times.  Initially we had friends and family bringing meals several times a week, which was wonderful, because otherwise we would have been eating out every single meal (or eating peanut butter sandwiches).  Each month has been easier than the previous one, particularly as Jackson has become more and more predictable and I've cut back on pumping (at one time I was pumping over 3 hours a day combined with 2 hours of bottle feeding). 

Since Jackson's arrival my husband's work travel schedule has increased tremendously.  Blake now  travels anywhere from once a month to every single week in a month.   When Jackson was a month old Blake's travel schedule exploded, and he was gone three out of four weeks in a row and I would get physically sick with anxiety--which even in hindsight I totally understand because things were SO much harder then.  Thankfully I don't feel very anxious anymore when Blake is gone, and I've learned that if he's going to be gone for more than 3 days I have to ask for--and accept help--even when I don't think I need it.

Yesterday my sweet neighbor volunteered to keep Jackson, and it allowed me to go visit my friend who is pregnant and on bed rest in the hospital (and to have a peaceful late lunch).  Last week it was too hot to take Jackson on a walk, thus I couldn't walk our dog who had been inside all day while we were out of town (and Blake was out of town).  So our neighbor offered to take him to the park when she walked her dog.  Tomorrow Blake's dad is watching Jackson for a little while just so I have some kid-free time and they get some one-on-one time.  All of this help not only helps me, but I think it's so good for Jackson to be with people besides me (and I love hearing about all of the different things others do with him that would never occur to me) and it really helps our marriage.  These breaks help me not meet my weary, over-traveled husband at the door with our child and exclaim "here, I am exhausted. Take him please. I am done!"  This help often allows us to have alone time to connect, worship, or even get chores done--and while our baby is with people we admire and trust.  What a blessing to have a village to help because we certainly need one!

p.s. I'm thankful for my crock pot.  I love cooking 8 portions of a meal at one time because that's the only way I avoid eating totally awful when Blake is gone.

Wordless Wednesday: First Trip to the Library

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A List: My New Job (SAHM)

With my last few jobs I written lists of what I do and don't like about the position to serve as a reminder of sorts because over time it's easy to forget or distort the good and the bad.  So now that I have a new "job" (staying at home with my six month old Jackson) I figured it was time to write a new list.

I like:

(1) I get to be with my son all day long, which means I have so many opportunities to have sweet moments with him. Plus I get to decide what he does (and learns) all day long. 

(2)  Being at home makes it SO much easier for our families and friends to be an integral part of Jackson's life.  Because I'm not interacting with people all day in the office and get lots of one-on-one time with Jackson, I'm glad to have family drop by or keep Jackson whenever is convenient for them--even last minute.  It's also easy for Jackson and me to go to my hometown for the day, so we can visit with my parents, sisters, great aunt, and his cousins. And of course, we have plenty of time for play dates with friends (Jackson watching older kids play:)

(3) That I don't have to "work" anymore nor do I have to figure out how to balance parenting and working (or how to get out the door every morning with a baby or pumping at work, etc.).  I didn't love my job and definitely don't miss the stress of my profession. I have no idea how I could focus for hours each day and do quality work with the lack of sleep I often experience.

(4) Because I'm with Jackson at home, Blake (who works at home) gets to spend more time with Jackson.  I think it's such a gift for Jackson to get so much time with both of his parents.  Plus sometimes I get to go to the pool or gym alone during the day!

(5) The dress code (pajamas, shorts, robe).

I don't like: Things that can be hard (I'm hesitant to say don't like because really this is my dream job that I've wanted for so long, and I'm so grateful to be able to do it and have never once wished I wasn't staying at home with Jackson (and Thatch!)):

(1) Loss of income.  I suspect that if I ever go back to "work," this would be 90% of the reason.

(2) Lack of least with an office job you get a peaceful lunch break; you can quietly play on the internet or drink coffee or use the restroom.  I always liked the time in the morning before I started working when I'd sip coffee and check my email, blogs, and Facebook.  Now I'm doing that on my phone while I feed Jackson--often at some unreasonable time of night :)

(3) The constancy can be challenging, especially on the days Jackson doesn't nap or is unusually fussy.  Thankfully this has gotten much easier as he gets older, but there have been periods of time when Jackson didn't nap at all and Blake was out of town for days, and I was really overwhelmed.  I'm learning that when Blake is going to be gone for 3 days or longer, I probably need to arrange some sort of help for a few hours one day.

(4) It's really unpredictable.  I may think we've got an easy day ahead of us, and then I find myself starting the third load of laundry by 10 a.m. because we've had a poo-plosion and projectile vomitting all over the crib/rug/bedding/baby and Jackson refuses to nap longer than 30 minutes. 

p.s. I'm thankful for the time to blog! It's a great way to reflect.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Then & Now

Jackson's response to bananas
I began blogging in 2005 when I was stuck behind a desk from 8-6 every day and needed a little something to keep me entertained.  I wrote a lot about dating and relationships, funny work stories, and my nieces, and I often solicited advice from the blogosphere.  Once I quit my desk job to travel and do mission work for a year, my blogging frequency sharply declined.  Now I'm contemplating what to write about as I have free time at the computer, and I realize this week the biggest "issues" (for lack of a better descriptor) in my life have been introducing solids, working on a budget for our family, cleaning, and my son's sleep regression/getting sleep when I can.  Obviously these aren't super exciting or interesting, but I even find myself being drawn to blogs now that deal with these seemingly more mundane topics. 

My husband thinks I should start a new family blog, which would be a convenient way to share photos/videos and whatnot of our son with our (SEVEN) parents and other family and friends.  I haven't shared this blog link with his family and don't really want to for several reasons.  I sort of like that this blog tracks my life and the various seasons I've experienced (including when I met my husband and our dating), and I always enjoy reading the archives when I find a new blog I enjoy.  So for now I guess this blog will limp along until I get some blogging mojo or give it up.  Maybe I just need new blog friends :)  I miss my old blogging buddies as many have deleted their blogs or just quit writing; they kept me entertained.

p.s. I'm thankful for technology and being able to snap photographs and videos with my phone. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I am

I am now 34 years old.  It's sort of hard to believe I'm in my mid-30s.  Weird.

I am thankful that the transition from swaddling is going fairly well.  Sunday morning Jackson (while double swaddled) rolled over onto his belly for the first time.  When I went into his room he grinned so big--like "look mom, see what I can do now?" 

I am grateful for my husband.  It's a joy to watch him be a daddy to our son and was fun to celebrate his first Father's Day.  I especially like watching him play with Jackson and seeing how differently we interact with him.

I am 5 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight.  I still can't wear my old dresses because they just fit weird now (maybe when I quit nursing they will?), but thankfully I received shopping money for my birthday.

I am still finding things to be stressed out about even though my life is about 92% less stressful than it was a year ago.  When I stop and consciously think about how wonderful my life is now (not that it wasn't before, but I don't have to go to work now!) I calm down, but it doesn't take long for my worrying to take over.  I obviously need to work on relaxing and submitting this sinful tendency to God.

I am glad some of our closest friends live behind us and that Jackson has regular playdates and lunches with his BFF Holden.  Holden's mom is pregnant with twin boys, so soon Jackson won't be the baby in the group.

I am a proud new owner of a Vitamix thanks to my mom.  I'm planning to try it tomorrow and am excited! In the last year I've burned through a regular blender and my mother's old Montel Williams contraption making smoothies.  It's definitely the best way I've found to get my fruits and veggies in each day, and I've missed having a way to make smoothies.

I am going to bed...11:15 is way too late for me now that I have an alarm clock named Jackson :)

p.s. I'm thankful that my mom, sister, and niece came up on Sunday to go to the market with Jackson and me.  We really enjoyed their company.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's Hard to Know Where to Start

So much has changed in the last four months that it's hard to even know where to start this post.  There are so many things I could write about, and they are almost all related to my son and being a mom.  I guess that's because the first few months--especially the first 6 weeks or so of a baby's life are so consuming--especially for the mother if she's nursing (and if her husband is traveling a lot for work).  Since Jackson was eating every two hours for several weeks my life revolved around his feedings, which took about 45 minutes and sometimes longer.  And while my day still largely revolves around Jackson since I'm staying at home with him full-time, it now involves more playing, cooing, and interaction and not just feedings and naps. 

I've felt like being a parent has had such a steep learning curve.  Initially I was constantly texting my mom and sister, researching this or that on the internet, and just trying to figure various things out.  I'd guess 75% or more of the questions related to breastfeeding, which has been a very challenging experience, but something I haven't felt quite comfortable quitting.  I could write several posts on this topic, but I'm not really sure anyone (understandably) cares :) Thankfully I've finally found a groove with feeding Jackson, and he's thriving.  In fact, he's downright chunky, and I absolutely love it.  All in all, I'm finally gaining confidence, and I feel like I really know Jackson and his needs now.

I haven't missed working at all and am so grateful not to have the pressure of filing deadlines, urgent calls from clients, etc.  I guess the only things I miss about working are the hour long lunch break and having time to play on the computer (and blog)...which I guess isn't really missing work! And of course, I miss the paycheck and some of my coworkers.  Jackson and I had lunch with them last week though, so we're keeping in touch. 

Thankfully Jackson is a wonderful sleeper and has been sleeping 8-12 hours straight most nights for at least 6 weeks now (unless he breaks out of his swaddle, which means I reswaddle him and he's back asleep within 5 minutes).  And while I'm still not used to getting up at 5 a.m. that's the beauty of not working--I don't have to focus/concentrate so it's okay if I'm a little groggy plus I can nap when he does.  It's funny to me that I accomplish so much now by the time I use to get up for work (8 a.m.), and I'm not even "working."  Staying at home has also meant more time with my family and having the flexibility of day-trips to my hometown.  And since my husband works from home, I even get to hit the pool for a few hours here and there. 

p.s. I'm thankful that my husband's traveling has slowed down, and he's home much more now.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our Son is Here!

Our son Jackson Ty joined us on Tuesday, February 7, and he's absolutely perfect.  The Lord has answered so many prayers over the last 16 days, and we have been overwhelmed with gratitude for the privilege of having this sweet baby.

Today was our actual due date, but I had progressed so far on my own in terms of dilation and effacement (without ever having felt a contraction) that we expected a fairly quick delivery which was problematic given that I was Group B Strep positive and required two doses of an antibiotic that needed to be administered at least 8 hours apart prior to delivery.  When we went to the doctor on Monday, February 6 I had dilated even further over the weekend (I was almost 5 cm), so the doctor suggested admission that night to begin the antibiotic and then breaking my water the next morning.  Since Group B Strep can be really dangerous for a newborn (and our 36 week ultrasound had shown that Jackson weighed around 7 lbs already) we liked this idea, so I went to work and tried to wrap things up in about 5 hours! My last day of work was suppose to be February 14, so needless to say, it was a whirlwind day at the office. 

I received my epidural the next morning and never felt any contractions until that afternoon  (and even then it was only pressure), and the only pain I felt was the last 30 minutes of pushing.  I threw up a good bit that day (any time I was on my back), but other than that it was an uneventful labor.  The resident said I had the easiest first time delivery he'd ever seen, and needless to say, I felt blessed by the (relatively) easy birth experience and even more blessed by Jackson's safe arrival and good health.  Jackson weighed 7 lbs 2 oz and has brown eyes and dark brown hair just like his daddy.  He has extremely long fingers and toes and loves to sleep.

Jackson had some respiratory issues that resolved within about 7 hours of birth (and later jaundice and weight loss that also resolved within a few days), and then we spent the next 7 days pretty much staring at him and thanking God constantly that he is ours.  And I've spent a lot of time thanking God for my husband too as he's been encouraging, supportive, and incredibly helpful.  Sharing this with him has been absolutely incredible.  The past 16 days, and really pregnancy too, have been the most powerful experience in my life of our Creator's perfection, plan, and goodness.

p.s. I'm thankful for our first non-medical outing with Jackson today (to Mellow Mushroom for lunch :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Things You Shouldn't Say to a Pregnant Person

Pregnancy has been such an interesting experience for so many reasons--one of which is the change in how people treat me.  For the most part this has been a positive change.  For example, my coworkers and my mom frequently ask me how I feel and seem to genuinely care.  A few strangers have asked me when I'm due or congratulated me on expecting a child; I consider them brave as I'm always afraid of mistakenly assuming someone is pregnant which would be terrible for all involved!

And since my body has radically changed over the last 6 months it has received more attention from people than any other time in my life.  Fortunately most people are very kind and say the sort of things they probably think I would like to hear such as "You're all belly," "You're so tiny," etc.  The most negative comments I've received have been from two women who are overweight (and ironically carry their weight in their stomachs), and it's made me sort of dread being around one of them because I know that within five minutes of seeing me she's going to make some negative comment about my appearance.  It's a bit tempting to fire back with an equally ugly comment, particularly since these two individuals have been bigger than me for most of my pregnancy, and even when I'm not tempted to reply with snarkiness, I have no idea how to respond to such inappropriate, unkind comments--even though I may not necessarily disagree with them.  After all, just because something is true doesn't mean you should say it! In case you were wondering here are a few things you should NOT say to a pregnant woman (or any person for that matter):

"Gosh, you look like you've swollen up since I saw you last."

"I don't think you'll be able to wear that dress again."

"How much do you weigh now?" (if a close friend asked me this it's one thing but a casual friend in front of a large group = not very nice)

"You've gained weight all over." 

"That shirt sure is getting tight." 

"What are they feeding you?" (a man actually asked me this)

It's like good sense flies out the window because someone is with child! Thankfully these comments haven't really hurt my feelings so much as they have irked me a little, and regardless all of this is totally worth the immense privilege of having a son...this month! Only 21 more days until my due date and only 13 more days until my last day of work....what fun countdowns!

p.s. I'm thankful for lunch plans with friends.  Trying to do lots of socializing before Jackson arrives!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Best & Worst of Pregnancy

Five of the best things about being pregnant:

(1) Knowing that at the end of 10 months we'll have a child. SO. EXCITING. I just can't wait to meet and hold our son and see Blake be a daddy.  This is such a blessing that I wonder how it is that my mind too often focuses on the worst things about being pregnant.

(2) It gives me an immediate common ground with a lot of women, and it's been fun to see people I don't normally connect with feel excited for me and interested in sharing their pregnancy/parenting experiences. 

(3) It's been a reminder of how loved we are by friends and family as they want to celebrate our son and help us prepare for his arrival.  It's amazing how much stuff such a small person needs, and so many people have given us necessities and adorable baby things.

(4) Feeling Jackson move.  It's still a bit weird to me, but I love wondering what he's doing in there and knowing that he's active.  The other day I had a fluffernutter sandwich for lunch, and he went crazy....I think he may have a sweet tooth like me :)

(5) It means I'm quitting my job soon! Valentine's Day is my last day unless Jackson decides to bless us with his presence before then.

Five of the Worst Things about being Pregnant (that are blog appropriate):

(1) Skin problems.  My skin hasn't been this greasy...ever.  Even my hair is greasier.  And I've had acne on my chest, back, neck, and face....yes, it's lovely.

(2) Fat face...and thighs.  I really notice how chubby my face has gotten when I see photographs of myself.  Not attractive.  I guess I just can't gain 30+ pounds and not expect some of it to be in my face?  This blog post made me feel better and reminded me that I'm not alone.  Fat thighs are also a bummer.  I expected my belly to get bigger, but why are my pants tight in my thighs too?

(3) Backaches.  These started in November and usually begin around 1:00 p.m. on any day that I work or overdo it at home.  Nothing seems to help except leaning back in a fully supported position, which is obviously hard to do at work.

(4) Maternity clothes: Don't even get me started.  I'm sure if I were willing to spend lots of money and hours shopping (and driving to cities that have stores with maternity sections or trying to find regular clothes that cover my growing bump) I could look much more presentable, but since I'm not I'm looking really uncute these days.

(5) Feeling out of control.  I know this is my ugly vanity rearing its head again, but I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit that it's been challenging to adjust to sometimes rapid weight gain and out of control appetite.  There have been days and weeks when I feel like a bottomless pit and never feel satisfied, and then there have been weeks where I really watch what I eat and still gain 2-3 pounds.  It's made me feel out of control at times and has frustrated me, especially since I feel like I should be grateful and not begrudging these pregnancy symptoms.  After all this baby is an absolutely tremendous blessing.  I thought I would watch my weight gain and only gain 25 pounds since I normally manage my weight fairly easily, but I've already gained 35 pounds and don't feel like I've had a lot of control over it. 

Fortunately pregnancy is coming to an end soon.  My due date is February 22, and based on physical exams, my doctor thinks Jackson is likely to come 2-3 weeks early.  I'm so ready to meet him!

p.s. I'm grateful that the Lord has blessed us with this baby and that I've had such an uneventful and relatively easy pregnancy.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2011 Recap

What a year! I thought 2010 was eventful with our engagement, wedding, and first six months of marriage, but 2011 was every bit as exciting and full of memorable events.

January:   The year began with a really fun snow and sledding.  Then we bought a house and immediately began remodeling.  Blake, my step-father, and brother-in-law laid our new hardwood floors. We did lots of painting with help from friends.  While the house needed LOTS of work, it couldn't have been in a more perfect location and we liked the layout and potential...and the price.  So blessed to have found it before it even went on the market and without involving realtors.

February:  We did more remodeling and had beautiful crown molding and baseboards installed.  And then we moved into our home.  Unfortunately 8 days after we moved in a storm came through and blew a very large tree onto our house, causing substantial damage and requiring us to immediately move out.

March:  We lived in a hotel for almost two weeks, and then we moved into an apartment.  March was absolutely exhausting as we met with our first insurance adjuster for over five hours one afternoon, met with a joke of a structural engineer hired by our insurance company, and began meeting with contractors.  Highlights of the month were how well Blake and I worked together during such a stressful situation and how blessed we were by having flexible jobs that allowed us to deal with the constant meetings, phone calls, emails, etc. that were necessary.  We were also assigned a new adjuster as we had gotten nowhere with our first adjuster in the 5 or so weeks since the tree hit our home.

April: This month was another blur as we continued meeting with and emailing our insurance adjuster and contractor in an attempt to begin the repairs our home.  It felt like we were living in a cave as our time continued to be consumed by the insurance battle and the stress.

May: FINALLY construction began on our home (and we came to an agreement with our insurance company that exceeded the company's initial estimate by almost $50,000), and we could see an end in sight.  Such an answer to prayers! We headed to Pawley's Island at the end of the month for my law firm's second annual retreat there and enjoyed having a 3 bedroom condo all to ourselves.  My sister and her family joined us for a few days, and it was a nice get-away even if I did have to work several hours for several days.

June: The day before Father's Day I found out that I was pregnant, which was of course terribly exciting.  Such an absolute blessing, and we couldn't have been more thrilled.  It was wonderful to see Blake's reaction to the news, and we were able to tell his father on Father's Day and he kept exclaiming "You couldn't have given me a better gift."  Since I can't keep a secret we told our close friends and family, which was super fun.  We celebrated our first marriage anniversary, and Blake surprised me with an awesome trip to the Grove Park Inn.  To say I loved the spa would be an understatement.  I spent about 8 hours there and can't wait to go back.  We also saw lots of progress with our home remodeling.

July: We finally got power back to our home and a move-in date seemed imminent.  We ended up paying for a lot of additional renovations to our home like replacing the siding with Hardie board, updating the upstairs bathroom, rescreening the back porch, and adding railings.  Morning sickness also began, but thankfully it wasn't too terrible.  I had my first prenatal/OBGYN appointment, and we were able to see our baby.  That was a relief since the first 12 weeks were definitely a scary time.

August:  Our fantastic friends helped us move for the third time in 6 months, and we couldn't have been more delighted to be back in our home. Thatcher loved having a big yard again, and we liked being back in a house in a neighborhood and next door to our good friends.  We breathed a sigh of relief as the first trimester (and higher risk of miscarriage) came to an end too.

September:  At our 15 week appointment we learned that our baby is a boy! We already had our names chosen, so it was really fun to begin calling our son by his name--Jackson (my maiden name).   And my baby bump began showing.  We bought a lot of backporch furniture this month and began thoroughly enjoying our screened in porch.  We visited my mother's hometown for a family reunion, and Blake finally got to see my family's land (way out in the country) and enjoy the pond and 4-wheeling.  It was fun to see what a country dog Thatcher could be too.

October:  I felt Jackson move for the first exciting! And sort of weird too.  We hosted our neighborhood's "Thirsty Thursday" this month and enjoyed having 20 plus neighbors over for appetizers, dessert, and drinks.  We had our first tricker-or-treaters, which we really enjoyed.

November:  Blake had surgery to correct his deviated septum and open up his sinuses to permit drainage.  He's had terrible problems with sinus infections, breathing, etc. over the last few years, and this painful surgery has really helped.  We're so thankful we could afford to have it done and to finally have some relief for him.  We also hosted our first (two) Thanksgiving traditional with Blake's family (with a lot of help from Fresh Market) and a low-country boil with my family.  And my sisters threw my first baby shower for baby Jackson, and we received absolutely precious clothes, blankets, bibs, and other things to help prepare for his arrival. 

December: We enjoyed our first Christmas in our home and hosted a Christmas party for our friends.  The joys of the third trimester of pregnancy began with backaches and difficulty putting on socks :)  And we realized that next year we're going to have slow down more around Chrstimas Day so we can celebrate Jessus more and not just give each other our "leftovers" after going from one family meal to another.  We ended 2011 with our closest friends in Chattanooga in a cabin--delicious food, wonderful fellowship, and a reminder of God's goodness. 

And as we enter 2012 we eagerly anticipate becoming parents to "baby Jack" as my niece Mallie calls him.  We're working on the nursery, trying to get our ducks in a row, and probably have no idea how much our hearts are going to expand with love and joy when we meet our son.  I can't wait to see Blake as a dad and couldn't be more thankful to begin this journey with him.

p.s. I'm thankful for a new year and hope your 2012 is your best year yet.