Saturday, February 20, 2010

A new trend?

Think this trend will catch on? Water as finger food!

12 Month Well Baby Check-up

Yesterday we paid a visit to our pediatrician for Thomas' one year appointment.  The result?  Everything looks great!  Here are some highlights:
  • Thomas weighed in at 21 pounds - this number shocks me based on how much this kid can eat.  I am in awe of his metabolism (and  little bit jealous too!).
  • He is 30 inches long.
  • He can "say" these words: cheese, Jesus, dada, Cheerio
  • He's clapping, waving, pointing - completely endearing.
  • He can self-feed...still working on coordinating that spoon a little bit better, but he's getting there!
  • He crawls, pulls up, cruises...I think a little more confidence and practice will have him walking all over the place.
He can start eating berries now and even can try seafood (just in time for Lent!).  We might venture into watching Baby Einstein or the like sometime soon.  Up to this point, we haven't once turned on the TV for him, and we're really in no hurry to do so.  But I think those types of videos can be learning experiences as long as a parent is there to interact with the baby by pointing out shapes, colors, characters, etc.  I know there will be times that I need to sit Thomas in front of the TV with a 30 minute video or something...but for now, I'm hoping to make any TV time just like any other parent-child activity.

Looking forward to this next year of growth and development!   

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Thomas!

On this day exactly one year ago, my son and I were sharing a very close moment - his birth!  What a whirlwind it all was.  I'm in awe of the gift of life and am indebted to my son for teaching me so many things in such a short time. Below are some photos from his birthday party this past weekend...he sure had a blast, and we did too!  Since the highlight of most first birthday parties is the cake-eating, I've featured it here:

The birthday boy

A homemade birthday cake

Let the sugar fest begin!


Taking care of business

Destroyed that cake

Oh, hi!  Did you want some?

A very necessary bath

Necessary indeed

Scrubbing away

I love you, Thomas, and I'm so very proud of you!  Happy 1st Birthday!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

For Better, For Worse

Thanks to some of my mommy blog reading, I stumbled upon a free subscription to a magazine called American Baby.  While I don't adhere to much of what it suggests, I always like gleaning insight about various parenting topics.  One arrived in the mail a few weeks ago, and I started reading an article entitled "For Better, For Worse."  It's about keeping the romance alive in one's marriage after a baby is born.  Parenting magazines are often filled with this type of advice-giving, but one snippet in particular struck me.  "Chances are, having a baby won't bring you closer.  Luckily, you and your spouse can do that on your own.  How?  By turning new-baby challenges into opportunities to strengthen your marriage."

I think almost every parent would agree that parenting challenges a person in ways that nothing else can.  At least that's one thing I've found to be true in my own experience.  But blatantly stating that the odds are against you as far as having a strong marriage as a result of bringing a new life into the world?  Not only does this depict the child as a burden, but it also undermines the strength of the marriage before the baby's arrival.

Clearly there are differences in how a couple can spend their time together when they become parents - maybe they aren't able to go out on as many dates as they used to (though date nights in are a great runner-up), or perhaps the sleepless nights leave couples feeling at odds due to tiredness.  Parents might feel differently about child rearing, thus creating some amount of (often temporary) conflict.  But I would hope these situations do not define marriage but rather give a couple a new way of growing together, thus bringing them closer together than ever before.  The nine month gestational period gives some nice preparation time, and while no one can be prepared for every little thing, parents certainly can talk through the big discussion topics regarding their baby.

But then again, perhaps I'm in the minority on this.  It's supreme honor to share in parenting with Drake, and I firmly believe that our marriage is stronger because of our openness to life.  Through all the bed rest, hospital stays, NICU emotional rollercoaster, and throughout Thomas' first year, we've grown closer than ever before.  Our communication is more open and honest, we're more intentional about spending time as a couple, and our time management has improved drastically (though we still have a long way to go).  We're clear about our needs, our struggles, our joys...and we are able to witness daily the miracle of life before our eyes.  What on this earth could be better than that?   

Monday, February 8, 2010

Retreat Weekend Recap

As some of you know, I was fortunate enough to go on a women's retreat this past weekend.  I made every effort to go in with no expectations - I didn't want a preconceived notion of what I wanted to happen in the event that it was very different than I anticipated.  Without going into every detail of the retreat, I walked away with my eyes open a bit wider to the reality of Christ in my life.  I know that sounds cliche or taken right from some high school theology text book.  But honestly, I finally was able to admit to myself that I wasn't allowing God to be a part of my life - I, as I so often do, was taking everything on by myself.  I'm not sure that I was intentionally pushing God out, but I most definitely was not being in proactive in allowing Him in.  I would be lying, though, if I told you I have a completely different mindset now that will never be shaken...allowing our Lord into my weakest moments is a process.  It's not going to happen overnight, nor will I be anywhere near perfect at this.  I'm taking baby steps, and I'm starting by simply asking God to take down the walls that I've put between myself and Him.  That should be a good start :).

PS. Thanks be to God that Drake was accepted into his first grad school program!  Interview #2 tomorrow...please pray for him!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Women's Retreat

Thanks so much to all of you who commented on some of my recent postings.  I truly do appreciate your thoughts and insights - it helps to know that I'm not alone with these struggles (which is something I have always "known" but needed written reminders!). 

This weekend I'm going on a women's retreat called God's Plan for Prayer, Beauty, and Sexuality.  I'm really looking forward to it and hope it provides a chance for "me" time, meeting other moms/women, and some sort of boost in the midst of so much recent internal unrest.  Please pray for me!

And many thanks to my husband for taking all Thomas-related duties!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sometimes You Just Need Some Perspective...

Here's part of an email from a dear friend...I wrote to her about some of my struggles as of late, and this really helped validate my feelings as well as use them for a greater purpose:

Just remember, these are very real things and it's ok to feel the way you, but you just have to invite God into it. Like for example, you said you feel like you do the same things day in and day out... YOU DO! And although it is natural to think it's lame, it's NOT. So, you need to invite God into it- thank Him for the things you have to do everyday, the things that seem small or insignificant or worthless. Praise Him for the fact that you can't see their value but He gives them to you anyway. It is hard to thank God in those moments, but if you do it life becomes more joyful. Also, tell Him that you hate feeling this way but there is nothing you can do about it- you are too weak to change it, but He is not. It's only when you admit that you are not strong enough to "do what you are supposed to" that you make room for Him to be in it. Praise God for the fact that you fail the expectation of people around you- He did that too, you know ;). Sometimes we want to say, well it doesn't matter, they are just other people, I don't need to be affected by them. But, really, that's a lie. We are affected by other people. It hurts when they look at us like we are failures or like we are crazy- so the only thing to do is say thank you Lord for letting me fail their expectations. It seems crazy (this is the Spirituality of Weakness by the way) but it really helps us to live more joyfully and more WITH God.
Being a mother is the hardest thing you will ever do (for a number of reason, which you know) and it is the most attacked thing in our culture, even if it is attacked subtly. It's the curse (Gen 3:16). The pangs of childbirth aren't just physical. It's much more spiritual. It's the pain a mother faces when someone doesn't want her to have the child. It the pain when a woman is so broken she herself doesn't want a child. It's the pain a mother feels when no one appreciates the gift of motherhood or recognizes that Vocation comes first. It's the pain of a mother who wants to conceive but can't. It's the pain of a mother who sacrifices for her child and is criticized for it. But Christ endured that very pain on the cross for us as he gave birth to the Church. And Mary endured that pain as she received the cross in her heart. They have redeemed it for us, all we have to do is admit we are not strong enough to bear it, and they will for us.
I'll let you pity yourself for a bit and then I help you praise God for all these failures you feel. Then I'll help you find joy in the little things! Which, by the way, is the best way to combat these depressed feelings and anxieties- do something child like. Color a picture. Jump on a bed. Play in the snow. Make a mess of paint. 
Thanks be to God for the gift of friendship and the gift of vocation!

Pity Party...Who Wants In?

I'm in a funk lately...plain and simple.  Ever have those?  Negative feelings that you just can't shake no matter how hard you try?  That's me right now.  And for the sake of getting out some of my melancholic musings, I'll give a list of potential reasons why:
  1. I'm tired.  Why?  Because I'm a mom.
  2. I don't feel incredibly supported in being a stay at home mom.  Finding "mom friends" has been more difficult than I anticipated, despite my continuous attempts.
  3. I've come across several people recently who seem to think that being a mom is nothing more than going about  your day as normal with the exception of toting around a little person with you.  I wouldn't expect someone who doesn't have a family to understand exactly what family life is like, but I would hope that a person in a different life stage would, at minimum, respect people who have given their lives to their families.
  4. Admittedly, I'm sick of hearing how busy everyone is - we're all busy!  Ever notice how people try to "outbusy" you?  It's as if someone with 15 commitments in a given day is "better" than someone who only sees a dozen things on his/her calendar. 
  5. I haven't felt overwhelming support for our family regarding our decision to pursue grad school for Drake, even though it's something that we have prayed about for nearly a year now and take to prayer daily.  We feel strongly that this is the next step for our family and that it is one way that Drake can better serve our family.  It's hard to be hopeful when so many others don't seem to think it's a good idea.   
  6. Sometimes I feel like I do the same things, day in and day out - and it's wearing on me.  Laundry is "done" for what feels like a solid 30 seconds before there is a mountain of clothes growing in our bedroom.  Meals are prepared with much attention to detail and in the time that I find between all that Thomas and the home require, but then the food is eaten, a compliment is given, and it's over until the next meal.  I would make a terrible chef or restaurant owner. 
  7. In my experience, the good majority of activities to do out in the community with kids are geared toward toddlers and older.  Presently, I feel as though I have exhausted the things to do that are age appropriate for Thomas. 
  8. Honestly, reason #1 is likely the most likely reason for the funk.
Sorry for a cranky, picture-less post.  It's just where I'm at right now.  Pray for me, eh?

St. Gianna, Pray for Us!