Wednesday, April 30, 2008

questions and answers

Maybe some of all you SAHMs out there can help me with this.
I've been "not working" for 3 months now. We're out of the "newborn" phase (although we have moved into a strange new land of random fussiness). I'm getting "the hang" of this Mama thing. (And apparently, I'm "loving" using quotation marks for emphasis).
The question I get a LOT these days goes something like this:

"So what else have you been up to?"
"Does it feel strange to not be working anymore?"
"How are you filling your days?"
Folks, I just don't know what to say at that point. There are hundreds of sassy responses that run through my mind - but I'm thinking that might not be the very best way to go, especially since it doesn't really offend me. And sassy responses generally give that impression.
On the other hand, everything polite sounds awfully lame. For the sake of whoever is asking the question, I feel as though I want to give a glamorous, interesting answer. To fulfill the fantasy that exists in their minds' eyes of "Staying At Home."
Plus, most people aren't consciously trying to insinuate anything or to make me feel small. They don't mean anything by it. Just that they don't really understand. I know I didn't really understand this job before I was living it every day.
It's not glamorous. It's not all that exciting. It's repetitive. It involves things like "chores" and "housework." At the end of the day, my accomplishment is this:
(note that the pile on the left is Mark's, the pile on the right is mine. I'm just saying...)
And this:I am not ashamed of the way I spend my days. It is slow and busy, small and huge, calm and rambunctious, quiet and noisy. But mostly, it's meaningful. And I wouldn't trade it for the world. Somehow, the time flies. And even though I don't have a great answer to all the questions, I know there is value in whatever it is I "do all day."

Monday, April 28, 2008


We were teasing my sister-in-law yesterday about being in a grumpy mood. You know the kind - where there is nothing that will make you feel better, no suggestion worth acting on, and a very good reason not to smile no matter what anyone says... the Just Let Me Stay Grumpy kind of mood. She was (ironically) a great sport about it - mostly because all of us doing the teasing fully admitted to practicing the same behavior at one point or another.
Well folks. Today my daughter is in that mood. Or at least - this afternoon. There is no comfort worth responding to - just fussiness. She's in her bed now, because "Mama Knows Best" (haha) - and what Mama knows is that Mama needs a break for a bit. And that Baby is probably quite tired and will benefit from a nice long nap.
Quite honestly, I'm never sure what to do when she gets like this. She squirms ferociously when you hold her, but screams when you put her down. She chews on your shoulder, but spits everything up when you feed her. Her eyes droop but she is inexplicably awake the second she hits the crib mattress. These are the moments when I grit my teeth and pray.
I wonder what God is thinking when He hears those prayers... because how often has that cranky baby been me? When God answers my plea, but I will have none of it. When I know I want something, but I don't know what it is, and nothing anyone offers is right.
How much time does He spend smiling down on me, waiting for me to figure out that what He's offering (what He's been offering) is exactly what I need? That I will feel immensely better as soon as I trust His wisdom and just give in to it?
I'm sure glad our Lord is perfect in His patience and unending grace. This Mama benefits from His example.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

i am learning

Isn't bathtime fun? Hazel started out detesting bathtime, and has come a long way to a level of "Tolerate, Almost Enjoy." She is learning to accept and make the best of this fixture in her life.
I've now had almost 10 weeks of on-the-job Mama Training, and I too, am learning.
Learning when to let my baby cry herself back to sleep, and when to pick her up.
Learning that you really should (if at all possible) NEVER wake a sleeping baby.
I am learning about her personality, and that although she looks quite a bit like me & my side of the family - she bears a few of her daddy's character traits.
Learning that a two-hour nap for baby in the afternoon means crossing 12 things off Mama's to-do-list.
And one of the biggest lessons - I've learned that we're always learning. I'll never know everything, never do it all perfectly. And so, I'll try to take joy in the process of learning, and give myself a teeny pat on the back when I realize that I've mastered a lesson.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

home again, home again

We are back.
This old news, as we've been back since Sunday evening.
I, however, have been swimming through suitcases, laundry & dishes, and enjoying the fact that I am sleeping in my own bed, changing my baby in her own room, and eating at my own table.
Thus, my blog has been neglected.
But here we are - and without one single picture of The Girl in her cute HOSA outfit. It turns out that taking a 2-month-old to her daddy's biggest conference of the year is not quite an easy-as-pie adventure. Overall, it went really really well - but I was a wee bit busy. She was the hit of the conference too - we couldn't walk more than 25 feet without someone stopping to say hi to her. Very fun.
And after interrupting her normal routine for a few nights - our girl is back, as of last night, to sleeping well again. She got 7.5 hours in the first stretch, and is still in her bed right now. Phew! She's been cranky the past few days from being SO. TIRED. Hopefully this will help, because the crankiness - oh my.
It's driven me to a few Mama moments in the past week that have gotten me thinking.
When I'm dealing with a cranky baby, mostly, I feel bad for the poor kid. She's tired, or gassy, or generally bothered by something - and all she can do is cry. And since she has no words, the best I can do is guess at what's bothering her. But I cannot make her sleep. I cannot always fix it. I know God must feel that way a lot of the time when He watches us, when He listens to our prayers and pleas.
But is there a teeny, tiny part of His brain that wishes we would just stop?? Does that little corner ever peep, "Remember what it was like before You made Adam?" Never to wish away His creations, but to remember with a smile The Days Before. To want a day, an hour or even a minute where He wasn't The One in Charge.
I don't know the answer to that question. Maybe He never feels that way. Which is totally awesome and impressive to me.
Or maybe He does. Which is still totally awesome and impressive because that means that in spite of us driving Him nutty sometimes, His arms are still always open, there is no I told you so... He is simply filled with compassion and grace.
I'm a little ashamed to admit that I do sometimes wish for release. Just for a moment, to not be the Mama. To be selfish and lazy and only have to worry about myself. But I'd never, ever wish her away. God is using motherhood to teach me more about me and more about Him than ever before. Sometimes, I think - more than I care to know. *wink*
And oh, the beautiful, sweet little package these lessons come in - she has stolen my heart.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

500th post (plus 2)

Awhile back, I'd noticed that I was coming up on my 500th blog post. I thought I would do something interesting to commemorate the occasion.
I didn't.
So here's to my 502nd blog post! Wahoo!
I took my daughter to the doctor for her 2 month well-baby check-up today. I allowed the nurse to jam 2 needles into her beautiful, chubby thighs. It was sad. There were red faces. Screaming. Tears. And of course Hazel wasn't happy either. (I kid - she actually did great - screamed and cried, of course - what kid wouldn't?? - but came around quickly and has been a happy camper ever since. And although it made me sad to see her in pain - there were no Mama tears. We pulled through like champs. Whew!)
Tomorrow is another landmark - she and I are heading up to Traverse City (Mark left today) to help with the annual state-wide HOSA conference. (It's Mark's job. Go here for more info). It's his 9th state conference, and I've been at every single one. I love going - it's at a beautiful resort, I get a kick out of being on staff at busy events like this, and I get to see my hubby in action. And he is GREAT at his job.
This year, Hazel gets to come enjoy the show (and stay in a hotel room with her Mama)- so we're packing up the car and heading north tomorrow, along with a couple of friends who are also helping. It should be great!
See you when we get back!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

evidence of her obsession

Follow the line of her eyes. She is looking not at the fun dangly toy. Not at her mama with the camera. She's looking at the calendar on the wall. Goofy girl.
But she's our goofy girl, and we love her. She's getting SO BIG (the doctor's appointment tomorrow will tell us exactly how big). And last night, she slept for 7.5 hours straight!! Granted, she was a cranky little lady the whole day prior and didn't take more than a 30 minute nap the whole day... but I do like sleeping for multiple straight hours at night!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

progress, we are a'makin'

Progress. It's a good thing.
14 thank-you notes have been mailed. There are still, oh, 27 or so left to go, but hey. It's better than before.
I cleaned out my dressers and put away (most of) my maternity clothes. You can pretty much see the floor in our bedroom again. And I'm not kidding when I say that for awhile there, it was not visible. Even a little bit.
I cleaned both bathrooms, did a load of laundry, ran the dishwasher & got dinner out of the freezer to thaw.
And Hazel is asleep in her crib.
And last night was the second night out of the past four nights that she slept for 6 straight hours. For anyone that's still curious, here's the update on her sleeping:
Sometimes she'll fall asleep on her side or her back for a nap. Sometimes she'll sleep in her swing, pack & play or bouncy seat (but not for that long). At night, we warm up a spot for her with her heating pad, turn on the white noise machine, plug in the vaporizer and lay her down on her tummy. It made me a little nervous for awhile, but she's an incredibly light sleeper (so am I) and she has great head control. She's doing great, and we're *all* getting more rest.
Now I just need to find time to do the really important things... like painting my toenails (oh, they're in sad shape, my friends).

Monday, April 07, 2008

adventures in cloth diapering

Organic. Crunchy. Environmentally-friendly.
All words I'd heard before, understood, but never really thought they applied to me. And I still don't really think they do... not as a general rule.
But now, I fall into a category of Crunchy Moms - moms who cloth diaper their babies. (Or baby, as I only have one).
During pregnancy, I did all kinds of research. I talked to (or emailed) people who use cloth. I read a LOT online. I purchased a stash of both pocket diapers and prefolds & covers. I read about using cloth wipes. I bought some nice cloth wipes, and some cheapo washcloths to use (until I decided if I really liked them, then I'd buy more of the quality ones).
And then Hazel was born. Even at nine pounds, she swam in the cloth diapers. And to be perfectly honest - I was a bit overwhelmed with, you know, MOTHERHOOD, to be bothered with trying too hard. I told myself I'd give it a whirl again when she had grown a bit, and I felt a little more "at home" in my new role.
Up until last Wednesday (almost seven weeks) Hazel had only been in & out of cloth diapers occasionally. However - I am now excited to say that Hazel has been almost exclusively in cloth since Wednesday afternoon (I know - a whole five days... woo!!)
She's got soft cotton wrapped around her sweet little bum. They're easy to clean (really!), easy to use. They work really well, even on big messes. And there is the depressing sight of your diaper stash shrinking quickly as the days go by, and knowing you need to buy more.
If I'm gonna be at home, she wears a prefold & a cover. At night & going out, it's the pocket diapers or a disposable (I still have a bunch left to use up).
It's kind of minor, but I'm proud of myself. Most people looked at me like I was crazy when they heard I wanted to mainly use cloth. But I really thought I'd like it, and I do. It's not hard for me, it's way cheaper, and it's chemical-free for my little girl. Win-win-win.
I'm a little surprised at this "crunchiness" that's popped up - natural childbirth, cloth diapers, planning to make my own baby food... but it works for us, and I really like it. We'll see how I do if/when I have two kids in diapers, though... :)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


It sounds a little funny to say "there's a lot to be learned from a baby." I mean, it's not like they can pour out knowledge borne of their vast life experiences...
But when I watch my daughter smile so easily at such simple things - funny faces, interesting sounds, or just the face of someone she knows - I realize what a gift it is to learn from this little girl.
She is uninhibited - she is not worried that anyone will think she's a goofball for laughing at something a little stupid. She's not afraid to show her excitement at seeing someone she loves. She smiles easily.
It's a shame that as we get older, the "ease" tends to be less smiley and more cranky. We are easily frustrated. Easily discouraged. Easily hurt. I'd like to switch back and take a page out of my baby's book... to find an easy joy in the small, simple things.
I won't follow her uninhibited lead entirely though... I think routinely drooling on myself and filling my pants in public would be a turn off.
I'll stick to the easy laughter.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

still around

It's been over a week since my last post, and there are a few reasons for that.
One is that it's hard to find time to type more than 3 sentences back to back... my darling daughter has a 6th sense for when I'm trying to get things done.
But the other (bigger) reason is that I can feel this blog changing. It is becoming a mama's blog. And I don't think that is a bad thing AT ALL - but it is new for me. Part of me doesn't want to become that person who can only think/talk about her kids. But truth be told - right now, Hazel is consuming. She and I are together pretty much 24/7, and my days are filled with her.
Filled with bathtimes. Diaper changes. Feeding. Burping. Laundry. Changing clothes (hers and mine both).
Part of me wants to apologize for the change. I know some of you may not find my "new" blog all that interesting.
The other part of me says "no apology is needed." This IS my life, and it is a gift from God. And I am thankful.
Things change. And my experience is that the toughtest changes, the ones that send us reeling... those are the ones that, when all is said and done, leave an impact I would never wish undone. So sure, sometimes I miss my job. Sometimes I miss my freedom. Sometimes I miss my paycheck. Sometimes I miss not feeling like the burpcloth is stapled to my shoulder.
But I cannot begin to fathom wishing away Hazel. And experiencing motherhood. Sharing parenthood with Mark. Watching people love my daughter. It's all so good.
So welcome. Welcome to my "new" blog.
(P.S. Please note that Hazel's arms are blurry in the second picture. Her changing pad is the happiest place ever for her (not because of the diaper changes, but because of the calendar on the wall above her head). We have no idea why, but she loves loves loves staring at that thing. And kicking her legs and wiggling her arms. I mean, who wouldn't enjoy that?)