Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Masterpiece

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.  Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

This is definitely a tape-to-the-mirror worthy verse.

Whenever I decide to take a leap into something, my first instinct is to list all the reasons why I will fail, why there are countless others who are more worthy/talented/equipped, and how it's ridiculous that I'm about to attempt this.  But it's a first instinct that I've been chipping away at for years.  It's not a productive attitude and quite frankly, not an attractive quality.

And if I believe what I say I believe, then that way of thinking is pretty hypocritical.

If I look back at my greatest accomplishments, they all started with a little voice that put a desire or an idea into my heart and then once I would start in that direction, fear and doubt would consume me.  I would be frozen for a moment.  Afraid to open my eyes, afraid to move, wondering what in the world had I done. 

Then would come the deep breath and the surrender to God.  I hate that it was always my last resort.  That I would wait until I had absolute no strength and courage to move forward before just resting in God.  I'm still working on skipping straight to the surrender part when I'm faced with new challenges and opportunities.

The thing about the surrendering, is that all of those scary, challenging moments, became some of the most incredible, life-changing experiences of my life.  So it really does make since for me to just skip over the fear and self-deprecating thoughts.

I would think that if there was ever a time I'd have to battle those old ways of thinking, it would be with the birth of Lucy.   I mean, entrusted to raise another human being??  Crazy! 

But I've jumped straight to surrendering.  I don't even waste time on fear and doubt.  I know that I am so ill-equipped on my own, I have had to cling to God since the day she was born.  My strength and my ability to raise Lucy, has to come from Him. 

I wake up asking God to hold my hand.  I go to bed asking God to wrap His arms around Lucy. 

And that's my plan.

So back to that verse.

It's not difficult to look at my little girl and believe in every fiber of my being that she is God's masterpiece.  I'm in awe of her daily.  God has so much in store for her my heart sings!  So it would break my heart if she grew up not fully believing the words of that verse.

The truth is, the best way for me to make that happen is to believe it about myself. 

Hence, taping the verse on the mirror.

I'm so thankful HE planned on me being Lucy's mother.

But back to my favorite masterpiece.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Music Class

You loved it.

So many new babies to smile at.  Many an example of what's in store for you in the next few months as your balance improves and you step away from assistance.

Swaying and rocking and clapping.

Banging drums, swirling scarfs, and reaching for bubbles.

New songs, new sounds, and new movements.

You listened, you danced, and you explored.

I am so proud of you.

Yes, you loved it. You will settle in to this quite nicely.

We'll see you next week!

I am linking up with Just Write today. Stop by to read other posts or to add your own.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The White Flag

The White Flag has been waved.

I surrender.

The Nap War is over.

For one month, actually a little over one month, I have followed every method and system out there to teach Lucy to nap in her crib. I read every book, scoured the internet, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed. And for a month I have listened to my baby cry in her crib for her hour ‘nap’ in the morning and her ‘hour’ nap in the afternoon. And yes, I followed every rule. I was methodical and consistent with the routine. She wasn’t budging. The best we could hope for was 10-15 minutes of her slumped over, face smooshed against the bars of her crib “resting.”

I started praying that God would help me with patience and perseverance through this or either give me the wisdom to know when to stop and try something else. But there was my dilemma. Each morning I would think, today is going to be the day! She’s going to get it! And then she wouldn’t. So I would wonder, is this the teaching of patience and perseverance and I push through another day? Or is this the flashing neon sign of wisdom shouting, THIS IS NOT WORKING.

Maybe I’ll wait one more day, tomorrow she’ll get it.

Then today, halfway through the morning tears, something inside me gave. Like a carefully stacked Jenga tower, the one piece was removed and it all came crashing down. I was done. I started asking myself why I had even done this. It was ridiculous. I had turned naptime into a war. Why? In the name of needing time to be productive? How productive is it for me to spend those two hours huddled in a corner of the house curled up in the fetal position with my hands over my ears going, lalalalalalalalalala? And then spending most of the day with Lucy glued to my side because my happy adventurous girl is so tired that she just wants to be held. No, no more. Starting tomorrow I will spend the next few days helping Lucy catch up on all of her day time sleep.

A book, a cup of tea, and a napping baby in my arms? That is productive.

Just by having this revelation, I already feel lighter and the anxiety has lessened its grip on me. Is holding her for her naps the best thing to do? I have no idea. But it's the decision I'm making for my little girl. To make sure she continues to grow and explore her world, alert and well-rested, without puffy dark circles under her eyes.

For this fleeting time, I will hold her. It's why I became a mother. It's moments like this I'm thankful I didn't go back to work. So that while she goes through a phase where she can't nap on her own, I'm here to hold her.

There is a silver lining to all of this. A week into the nap training, we decided to transition Lucy from our bed to her crib at night as well. We weren’t sure if we were ready (notice I said we weren’t ready.) But we thought it would be less confusing to her if all of her sleeping was now done in her crib. After a few nights, she took to it beautifully! She’s getting a full 12 hour night sleep without waking to nurse or anything. The irony, it didn’t help her adjust to napping in her crib at all. The girl has never confused her nights with days.  She has always loved a good night's sleep.

This also opened my eyes to how little of a daily schedule I had with Lucy. I am well aware of the benefits of having a structured daily routine and I enjoy having one. It just doesn’t happen naturally for me. So this has allowed me to create one for Lucy and I think we’re all benefitting from it. I am thankful for the strides made this last month. But Lucy needs me to help her nap right now.

Even my cup of tea today affirmed my new nap time philosophy.

 Do you see what it says?

Wisdom becomes knowledge when it is personal experience.

Pretty profound.

You can have your theories, read all the books and follow all the advice on how to do something right. But seeing how it applies to you, your situation, and your child, is a whole other story.

So I will tuck away everything I've learned from this experience with Lucy. I'm sure a lot of it will come in handy with future babies, and a lot of it won't.

Someone asked me, "What will you do if your next baby is the same way, but you'll also have a toddler to take care of?"

Well, I have no idea. I guess I'll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. But I do have faith that God will provide the rest needed to all of His children, however it comes.

And right now, for Lucy Pearl, that provision is a rocking chair and her Mama's arms.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Diapers...

This might seem like a strange post, but every time I pull these bad boys out of the wash, I think..."I should take a picture!"

It cracks me up that just by being pretty, it's made cloth diapering dare I say...fun?!  But it's true.  I love my baby's diapers.  And they're just so pretty.

While I was pregnant I thought, "It'd be so cool to use cloth diapers."

Then I thought, "So why don't we?"

But then we became a little overwhelmed with diaper information and trying to decide what kind we would go with and if we could really do it.

After some personal recommendations from some friends, we went with fuzzibunz.  I love them.

I would like to say that our decision to cloth diaper was strictly for environmental reasons and that we sleep better at night knowing that we have drastically cut back on the amount of diaper trash that leaves our household.  Which that is partly true.

But if you ask Steven, it was a little bit more like, I want to stay home with my baby and if we're going to learn to live on one pay check then we need to figure out ways to cut costs even with a new baby coming into the house.

We spent a few hundred dollars building up our supply of 15 diapers that will grow with her until she is potty trained.  That's a LOT of disposal diapers that we won't have to buy over the next couple of years.

Yay for a happy planet and a happy wallet.

So if you're wondering if you can do cloth diapers, you can.  Go for it.

My advice is, what you do simply becomes what you do.

And what we do is a basket full of colorful diapers.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Winter Day

One of my favorite things about Lucy is her resilience to the elements.  Cold, wet, hot, dirty, muddy, sandy, rocky; the girl is not phased.  Nor does it slow her down.  She loves to be outside.  Some days may take a little creativity, but I feel it is my duty to get her out there.  And I'm not just talking about being in nature, Lucy has to be in contact with nature.  Lucky for us, we received some great hand-me-down outdoor clothes from my sister!  So here's to the many bundle up days ahead of us...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

10 Months

Dear Lucy,

You are 10 months old sweet girl. And what a month it’s been. Although I think I say that every time.

Somehow in the midst of all the travel, family, and excitement of Christmas, you managed to grow like a weed and start looking more like a little girl than a baby.

You have a distinct neck and only 1 chin. Instead of 7 rolls down your arms, there’s only 1. Your outer thighs can no longer pass for a shelf and your bubble butt is not quite as bubbly. You are long and lean my friend. Pants that were too long for you but too tight in the waist, are now the perfect length with plenty of room around your tummy. You’ve been busy using your new sleek body to practice standing without assistance. You’re up to 5 seconds with no hands. And you have the bruises to prove it.

You’re now up to 6 teeth. They didn’t quite make it in time for Christmas, but you finally have your two front teeth. Although I was growing pretty fond of your little fangs.

And speaking of teeth, you are eating like a champ. I’m talking three meals a day, anything I put in front of you. Which may seem like a no-brainer for a 10 month old, but you took your time becoming interested in solid foods. I think you’re making up for lost time though. Every time I watch you clean your bowl, I feel like throwing a party.

Another huge feat this month (as mentioned last week)…you are sleeping in your own bed, in your own room. Two nights ago was night 7. I laid you down, and before I made it down the hall you were asleep! I was so excited and happy for you, that I wanted to run in and wake you up so that I could kiss and love on you and tell you how amazing and wonderful you are. You are however, my little fighter, still refusing to nap.

Lucy, I'm calling your 10th month, the month of P's.  Patience, Perseverance, Prayer and Pride.  I have a feeling, this is parenthood.  I welcome it.  You make me such a better person.  I look forward to growing with you Lucy Pearl.  It's an honor to teach you things and a blessing to be taught by you.  

I love you, I love you, I love you.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This sucks...

Dear Lucy,

You'll be 10 months old in a week, but I couldn't wait that long to tell you about this...

Let me start by saying that your dad and I talked about co-sleeping while I was pregnant and liked the idea and thought it made sense.  Then once you got here, we couldn't imagine doing anything else.  You were our little bear cub and belonged snuggled in between us.  And it was perfect for our family.  In a month, you were already sleeping through the night.  And the next 6 or 7 months was actually the most rested I had felt in a long time.

But over the last month or two, a restlessness started to grow.  You began waking a couple of times a night and either wanted to nurse yourself back to sleep or pull yourself on top of me or your dad.  And I stopped being able to fall back asleep and would commonly stay awake from 2, 3, or 4 am on.

A shift was happening and we needed to adjust.

But I was terrified.  On one hand, I didn't want you to leave our bed.  But I knew that wasn't going to equip you for anything.  And secondly, the memory of trying to 'nap train' you a couple of weeks ago is still fresh.  TWO hours of you standing in your crib, first crying, then fussing, and then what I was pretty sure was you cussing at me.  So I couldn't even imagine how long you would fight with a 12 hour stretch in front of you.

But ready or not, here we go.

I had done my research and chose to use a more 'gentle'  gradual approach.  So the first night we both slept on an air mattress in your nursery.  No problem, you can handle that.  The next night, I stay on the air mattress with you in the crib.  It was do or die.

Before I even released you, the tears began.  And so did mine.  I laid down on the mattress fighting back tears, trying to make sure my face looked peaceful and serene for you. Everything in me wanted to crawl into that crib and breathe in your scent and curl you into me so that you could drift to sleep.  Who cares if you sleep in my arms for your entire childhood?!  Then I realized that was neither rational nor beneficial for either of us.

Then I tried to remember, crying is communication.  I get really frustrated when I'm tired but can't fall asleep.  So that's  probably what you're trying to tell me too.  But that only holds me together for a brief moment.

Then I revert back to full force prayer.  I pray for strength, patience, and wisdom.  And I pray for you Lucy, to be wrapped in God's peace and comfort, and rest.  And Psalm 23 starts playing through my mind over, and over, and over again.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.

Here's the short story:

On your first night in your crib, after almost 10 months of napping and bedtime in my arms or by my side, you only cried for 45 minutes.  And then my stubborn little angel, you slept on and off sitting up with your head resting on the crib bars for 2 1/2 hours. A couple of times I even caught you just staring at me, no tears.  Then you finally decided to allow yourself to lie down, and it was off to dreamland.

I couldn't believe it was done.  And then a little sadness crept in with the thought and realization that gone are the infant days of laying down with you as you nuzzle into me to nurse and I watch your eyes start to roll back and your eye lids flutter until you are drunk on milk and sleep.  Poof.  Just like that we've moved past it.

Oh but soon after, immense pride and joy swells inside of me.  Look at you!  Big girl learning how to sleep on her own, in her own bed.

Night Two.

Not so well.  It was as if my presence was just setting you off.  The crying was more intense and went from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.  I was a wreck!  But your dad and I were realizing that you didn't always respond well to our presence.  You didn't take comfort in it, it just frustrated you that you could see me but not get to me.  So I left.  And went straight down the hall into your dad's arms and cried until you finished crying.  And he let me be emotional and completely irrational.  And then like that, you were done.  Nothing coming from your room but your little breaths and Jewel's lullaby CD.

Lucy, here you are learning how to sleep.  But I can't help but feel like I might have learned the bigger lesson.  I wanted to hold you and sleep next to you forever.  I could handle some of the inconveniences to prevent tears and sobs.  But I was watching you become more and more completely reliant on me or your dad to put you to sleep and help you stay asleep and that is a disservice to you.

One of the most basic and fundamental skills I can teach you is how to fall asleep.  That's the journey we are on now.  But with all my worry, and reading, and preparation, you turned around and taught me that sometimes I might just have to get out of your way and let you do it, my smart little girl.

So to mark such a big occasion, we went out and bought you...your first bow.

I will always be here for you Lucy.