Friday, October 7, 2011

Everyone needs pictures of Michaela

I know a lot of people check this blog and are sorely disappointed with how little I've updated it. But I've been keeping up with my 365 Project blog faithfully, so if you feel like you've been missing out, go check that one out instead. The link is right over there to the right!

Just a few minutes ago, I posted a little story about putting Michaela in a long sleeve bathing suit today to go swimming in our somewhat chilly pool. I put up one really cute picture, but I had a few others that I thought were blog-worthy, so I figured I'd get 'em up over here. Go see the other blog for the story, and just enjoy the pictures here!

(She got a little bored with the whole ta-da, show off my bathing suit "fun" by the time we got to this one.)
(And pay no attention to the less-than-stellar editing on these. My settings were all off on my camera and I just did a few quick tweaks to these to get them up.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

The sacrifices of a mother

Over the past couple of days, a few things have happened, and Jason and I have had a few conversations, that have me thinking about the sacrifices you make as a mom (or a dad, but, honestly, I think more so as a mom). They aren’t necessarily huge things, but it’s funny how motherhood makes a woman sort of morph into this person who puts this other person first, without even necessarily thinking about it. I honestly never thought I’d become one of those people, but I sort of have.

Today, I gave up the chance at about 3 hours alone while Michaela should’ve been at her Mom’s Day Out to do the right thing – which was to put her back to bed when she got up in time to go because she was definitely still too tired to be awake yet. She just started the MDO program on Wednesday - about three months after we originally planned to get her into something like that – and I was definitely looking forward to my second day of being able to do what I needed to without having to drag a toddler along. But it wasn’t to be for today. In fact, another one of the things I gave up was more time alone over this past summer because I (we) chose to spread out Michaela’s vaccines a bit so she had to wait until the Fall term instead of doing the summer program like we’d originally planned. Then there’s the money that’s spent on cute shoes and clothes for her instead of me, the hours spent in the pool when the last thing I want to do is swim again but it makes her so happy, the endless loop of the “First Nursery Rhymes” CD in the car, the… well, you get it. And, really, these aren’t conscious decisions to put her first. They really just happen. And honestly I’m a little surprised to realize how often I do this stuff!

One of the biggest reasons why we waited so long to have a child was because I was totally not ready (read: unwilling) to give up a lot of the things that I wanted to do for myself. We were enjoying unencumbered travel. We were advancing in our careers. We were dropping everything at a moment’s notice (or as “moment’s notice” as you can get when trying to coordinate two military schedules) to go away for a weekend, or just to head out in the morning and not come back all day. We were enjoying two paychecks and only two people to spend them on. We were having FUN.

And then one day, having a kid seemed like a good idea all of a sudden (ask me about my favorite red wine analogy on being ready for a kid sometime). I think I finally realized that giving up some of those things would be ok. Because I knew from the start that motherhood would mean giving things up. (Ever met someone who didn’t realize that? It’s a sure sign of not really being ready, if you ask me… thinking that your whole life will go along like it was!) But I don’t think I realized how far the “giving up” goes.

Like I said, it’s not necessarily the big things. Really, with the exception of the unencumbered travel and the second paycheck, we haven’t really given up a whole lot of big things. It’s just all the little things… the things that made me even think about this in the first place. The things that make me wonder where this mom in me came from. And the things that make me wonder why I’m ok with all this sacrifice as long as it keeps my kid happy and healthy.

Who the heck is this me and where did she come from? I have to say; I don’t hate this me, though. I’m pleasantly surprised with myself and the fact that all of that not being ready (again, read: willing) to have a baby for a really long time (for the love of Pete – we’d been married for 10 years when she finally got here!) all disappeared as soon as she got here. I’m not going to say I don’t have my own little internal tantrum every now and again when I can’t do something I want to do just for me, but for the most part, this is just the way it goes – the mommy sacrificing - and it’s all good in my book.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer fun!

I hope you've all been keeping up with me/us on my 365 blog. With all the story-telling I've been doing over there, I've been completely neglecting this blog.

But I had too many pictures from our trip to the splash pad today, and I've been putting entirely too many pictures of Michaela over there, so I defaulted to the old stomping grounds so I can overcome both those issues.

So here's Michaela having fun at the splash pad. She's a big fan of playing in the "fountain." There were tears when it was time to go.

When we first got there, Michaela was very excited to have her own bucket (last week, she literally cruised the perimeter of the splash pad looking for other kids' buckets). She soon abandoned the bucket in favor of other activities. She's so fickle.

This was one of those activities.... standing in the steady-stream from this one fountain. She told us, "This feels good!"

She also thought it would be funny to stick her finger into one of the fountains when there was no water coming out....
Guess how well that turned out.

Standing on the fountain was definitely a much safer bet.

And running through it was even better! (Note the very droopy swim suit. We left shortly after this... the diaper and suit were both water-logged and Michaela's fingers were all "sprinkled" (that would be wrinkled to you and me).
That's all I've got for today. I've been keeping our family happenings updated on the 365 blog, so go check that one out if you haven't lately!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My little model

I posted one of these pictures on Facebook today, but I had to put the rest of them out there, too, because Michaela is just such a goofball!!

This is a series of pictures I took of her this morning on our way out the door to go to a big Easter egg drop. She wanted her sunglasses... and she wanted to put them up on her head "like Mommy" (perched on the top of her head, like you would do with your glasses when you go inside or something), but then they fell down.

Staring into space, trying to find the glasses....

Working to get them back where they belong, and unhooked from the bunny bow....

Ha! They fell down completely! And upside down!

This would be when I told her to look up at me so I could take a picture since she kept looking at the ground. Yeah, I maybe should've said, "Look at Mommy." She looked up alright....

Perfect! Glasses are on and she's ready to go!

Oh, but wait! She thought maybe she'd just strike a quick pose for me! Why she equates looking at the camera with tilting her head like this, I don't know... but she's done it a couple times in the past few weeks!

I've had a few ideas floating around in my head about things I'd like to just write about, but haven't quite gotten to them yet. As you can imagine, this kid keeps me more than a little busy, so I don't get a lot of time to do things for myself! It's enough that I get my 365 blog updated every night. Sometimes it's right before midnight, but I've at least been getting it done every day! I know I always say I'm not going to neglect this blog so much, and I really don't mean to, but it's tough to find the time!!

Hopefully these pictures help make up for it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

365 Overflow

I had way too many options for my 365 Blog today. Since the rule over there is one picture (though I've been known to post two on occasion), I figured I'd make use out of this blog for once and get some updated pictures posted. So here are a few from today.

Getting ready to head out to the park...

Free-fall from the monkey bars... one of her new favorite past times...

Checking out the flowers....

Stopping and looking at the camera for 3 seconds for a rare picture with Mommy...

Rockin' away on the spring toys...

Hope you enjoy the picture update!

Friday, March 4, 2011

I am a nursing mom.

(*Disclaimer* If you don't want to hear a long story with some details about my nursing relationship with Michaela, don't keep reading! I'll come back next week or something with more pictures or a video or something!!)

I am a nursing mom.


Once upon a time, way before I even thought about having kids, I was pretty sure I would breastfeed, but I KNEW I wouldn’t go past infancy (technically, a year). To be honest, I was a little weirded out by people who nursed toddlers. Well, I should say, I was weirded out by the idea of a toddler nursing. I really felt like, once a child was walking and talking – the old “if they can ask for it, they’re too old” idea – how could there be any need to continue nursing. Ok, who am I kidding… I was weirded out by the idea of nursing at all. Really.

And then I got pregnant. Being in Kodiak, I was exposed to a lot more natural parenting ideas than I think I would’ve been in the real world. It wasn’t that I sought them out, it just seemed that I was around people who knew things about doulas and minimal-intervention childbirth, and nursing. I think going to a family practice clinic rather than an OB for my prenatal care probably helped that along.

The more I heard about these things, though, the more I looked into them. We took a childbirth class with a natural childbirth educator, who we also hired as our doula. She was also the volunteer with the Kodiak Kindness Project (a breastfeeding support program) who did our follow-up for breastfeeding. I watched “The Business of Being Born” while Jason was deployed one time (and promptly decided that homebirth was not for me, but that an unmedicated, minimal-intervention birth was). I started reading the kellymom website to learn about all things related to breastfeeding. And I decided I would nurse for a year.

To be honest, there were a few reasons why I chose to nurse, and not all of them were noble. Sure, it’s the food made just especially for a baby! But I’m cheap. And formula costs a lot. Assuming I’d be able to nurse with no problems, why would I pay for something I was making for free? Even with the expensive pump I’d need for going back to work, I was still going to come out way ahead. Also, nursing helps you lose baby weight faster. I had a uniform to get back into. Within a week of getting back to work after having Michaela, I submitted my paperwork to do the temporary separation program. There was no way I was buying all new uniforms for a year. So, although I knew that breastmilk was the best, most complete, source of nutrition I could offer my child, I liked the other benefits of breastfeeding just as much.

And then Michaela was born. And then she hit the 3-week growth spurt. And then I was a crying, blubbering, sore, touched-out, tired-of-feeding-the-child-every-hour-from-7-to-11-pm-just-to-wake-up-in-two-hours-to-do-it-again mess. And I wanted to quit. I didn’t want to be a snack machine. I wanted my child to see me as something other than just the lady with the food. But a wonderful group of ladies I know from an online community talked me off the ledge. They assured me that, if I could get to six weeks, it would all get easier. I doubted them, but I’m too stubborn to give up that easily (and I hadn’t lost enough weight yet, and I’m cheap), so I kept going.

And then it was 6 weeks. And then 8 weeks, when I went back to work. Nursing Michaela gave me an excuse to get to go see her every day at lunchtime so I could feed her once a day myself… something I was loathing at 3 weeks became my lifeline at 8 weeks. And then it was 6 months and we were still going, but she started to eat some real food, too. And then she was 11 months old and we were getting ready to move. There were some transitional issues going on at daycare and I found myself in a place I never thought I’d be… arguing for my choice – my right – to dictate that breastmilk would still be my child’s primary source of nutrition, regardless of the schedule at daycare. Who was this mom I’d become?

Then we moved. While we were on the trip, she turned one. I was going to stop at one. But through 23 days of cross-country driving, being able to nurse my – what??? – toddler was the one thing that made things a little easier for us all. Cranky afternoon in the car? Let’s pull over and let her nurse! She didn’t want to go to sleep at night? That’s fine, we’ll just nurse a little extra! Needing a little morning snuggle to get the day started right? Absolutely! Let’s nurse! Getting all set up in the new house with no furniture for a week or so was also made easier by the fact that we had a schedule of meals and nursing and naps and bedtime. I think the toddler was the one who dealt with all of it better than Jason and me!

But I was sure that as soon as we were settled, we’d wean. I was still a little weirded out by the idea of nursing this older child. By the time she was a year, she was able to sign “milk” so we kind of got passed that “old enough to ask for it” thing. So I’d moved past that. But I still didn’t like the idea of nursing a toddler, a real kid. But then we were settled and, although we started to drop some of the times we’d normally nurse as her schedule started to change, we were still nursing. Then she turned 14 months. 15 months. 16 months. By then, we were down to only two nursing sessions a day as she went to only one nap a day – nap and bedtime. Every once in a while, on a particularly cranky day, we’d throw an extra one in to calm her down.

But at 16 months, she still seemed so young to me. I knew she was a full-on toddler, but she just didn’t seem like she was “too old” to nurse. And then she was 17 months. And then 18. Somewhere along the line, we made our plans to go to the Mardi Gras Ball and have an overnight away from her in February. I just figured we’d be done nursing by then so it wouldn’t be a big deal at all. I mean, I was never going to nurse a toddler. And then she was 19 months. And then we went to that Mardi Gras Ball last weekend (and she was fine without me overnight!).

And now she’s less than 2 weeks away from turning 20 months and I’m a nursing mom.


And I don’t know when we’re going to stop. And I don’t know how I became someone who nurses a toddler. The strange thing is that, when I look down at her, I don’t see a toddler. I don’t see a baby, by any means, but I don’t see a toddler. I just see my girl, the one who has just always been a nursling. I don’t see a girl who’s “too old” or who “doesn’t need it” anymore. I see a girl who now says (or signs) “Milk, please!” when I get her ready for a nap or bedtime. I see the girl who stops eating to say random words as they pop into her head. Or to turn her head to see if she’s missing something on our bazillionth viewing of “Finding Nemo” in the past month. Or to get up and run around for a minute like she did tonight because she’s just not ready to settle down yet. I just see my girl.

Maybe she doesn’t *need* breastmilk anymore. She’s certainly getting great nutrition from all the food she eats. But some days, she doesn’t feel like eating much and I am comforted by the fact that she’s getting so much good stuff from me. And it’s not just the nutrition. Though we’re more scheduled in our nursing than a lot of other people are, and it can sometimes seem like more habit than comfort, I know that I am still her comfort and her constant. As she gets more and more independent every day, I know that coming to me to nurse grounds her and lets her know that she is safe and secure. That will help her spread her wings even more!

I don’t know how it happened. But I am a nursing mom.


Monday, February 21, 2011

We've got a climber!!

Thankfully, we also have a near-by outlet to put all those climbing skills to work and we can minimize the things she climbs on in the house. She's partial to getting into her highchair on her own, climbing up on stools (big and small), and even getting onto the kitchen chairs (which are stools - we have one of those higher tables).

But at a couple of the local parks, including my favorite one, there's a little "rock" wall to get up to part of the play structure. She wore herself out today climbing up the rocks and going down the big slide over and over again. It was great until she was crying and asking for her "pahce-fy" (pacifier) all the way home!

She found the handle!

This big step is no problem!

Almost to the top!!

I would like to point out that she couldn't even get up the short steps over to the right of where she is in the picture just a month ago. It's amazing to me how quickly she's growing and changing!
(And don't worry, I wasn't just standing back and taking pictures and hoping for the best - Jason was with me today to spot her and make sure she didn't tumble backwards!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Taking a turn in a new direction....

You'll probably notice that I've been especially terrible at keeping up with this blog recently. With posting a picture to my 365 project blog every night, and usually sharing a little story about it, I haven't felt a big push to get over here and keep things updated.

If you haven't checked out my 365 project blog yet, you should! You'll get pretty well caught up with what's been going on around here. And who doesn't like pictures?

Meanwhile, I've decided maybe I can use this space for more than just keeping you all updated on what's going and maybe just get some of my own thoughts and ramblings out. I thought about just starting another blog for that, but then I'd have three to worry about and you've all seen how good I've always been about keeping ONE updated... maybe three would be a bad idea! I'll still post updates here (I seriously need to get some video up!), but I need an outlet, too. Skip the wordy ones if you don't feel like hearing it!!

Since I'm coming up on the 6 month anniversary of my last official day in the Coast Guard, I've been thinking a lot lately about my new role in life as "just" a wife and mom. (And I put the word *just* in quotes like that because it's long been a huge pet-peeve of mine when people in the Coast Guard talked about someone's spouse or child and called them "just a dependent." As if, some how, by being a dependent and not the active duty member, your life is less effected by the craziness that is military life.) In my case I went from being a career woman, wife and, most recently, mother, to being "just" a wife and mother, as if, somehow the last two are less important than my former career life.

I have to be honest, in the last 6 months, there have been MANY times when I've felt like I lost my "real" (there's those quotes again) identity and became defined by who I'm related to, rather than who I really am. Some days are worse than others. Some days, the absolute last thing I want to be is Michaela's mom. (Most of the time I don't mind being Jason's wife, though... I think I'm more used to that one!) It sounds terrible to say that, but any parent out there knows exactly what I mean. Somedays they just make it so HARD to be a parent! But I'm slowly learning that it's not that bad to be identified as wife and mom instead of active duty Coastie, or any other career title for that matter.

I've found myself making excuses for giving up my career (which I haven't really given up, I'm technically on a sabbatical, so I could go back still!) when people ask. Or laughing it off and joking about how I'm still getting used to being at home and how difficult it's been to adjust. I think I really had myself convinced that I shouldn't like being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), that I'd invested so much of my life and time into being a Coastie that I should be devastated or feel like less of a person by giving that up.

And then, one day a few weeks ago, Jason showed up at the park while Michaela and I were there playing and we decided to grab lunch together. We invited a friend along, one I hadn't seen since right before Christmas. As we were walking into Moe's, Matt told me I was looking good (who doesn't like to hear that!), and commented on my suburban mom outfit. Then, a couple days later, when Jason's dad was here, we were at the base and ran into Matt again. This time he told me that what he meant when we were at Moe's was that I looked happy, happier than I'd been in a while, and that it seemed like being out of the Coast Guard was agreeing with me. I felt like I'd been smacked upside the head! I mean, here I'd been trying to convince myself that I didn't really enjoy being out of the Coast Guard, or being a SAHM, and yet my attitude and demeanor were apparently telling a good friend something completely different!

Since that day, I have to admit, I seem to have turned a corner. I don't know if I needed "permission" to admit that I like being out of the CG, that I LOVE being home with my girl (most of the time... then there are those days....), or if I just didn't realize it, but it's true! I am truly enjoying this new phase my life. It's certainly not all sunshine and roses (like, I seriously miss my paycheck. A lot. Especially now that we live in a place where it's a lot easier to spend it!), but we've fallen into a nice little routine and we're having fun. I'm learning to be more patient than I ever thought possible, I'm falling in love with my little girl all over again every single day, and I kind of like being home enough to know what's going on and to make it really a home around here. (Jason might argue that I'm getting a little too controlling of the house and everything in it, but I'm trying to work on easing up on the Type-A-ness a little, too. Really.)

So there ya go. That's a lot to share on the first time out of the gate, huh? I just really had to get that out. Part of me is still trying to believe that I should still be missing the CG so much that I couldn't possibly be happy doing what I'm doing now, so maybe writing it down and being able to come back and re-read this will help me out with that.

But who wouldn't love the chance to catch every moment of this little girl's life? And she's growing up so stinkin' fast that I feel truly blessed to be seeing all of it and not just bits and pieces!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Angry birds....

I thought about posting these three pictures on my 365 Project blog, but I think they fit better here. Mostly because I have more of a story to tell about them than I've been sharing on the 365 blog, but also because it's supposed to be ONE picture per day, and I HAVE to post all three of these.

While waiting for our food at lunch today, we were trying to come up with something to keep the toddler occupied. I suggested letting her "play" angry birds on Jason's phone. Needless to say, she didn't really get what she was supposed to do, but she had no problem with Daddy helping out with making the birds fly. I never thought we'd get the reaction we did....

Watching the birds fly....


And then they flew into the wall.... and she said, "Ouch!!" over and over again.

And I laughed so hard that tears came out of my eyes. And Jason laughed so hard that he had tears. And my father in law thought maybe we were raising the world's weirdest child. And that maybe he should be concerned about the trauma we're causing our child in her early formative years.

But then I laughed all over again tonight while I was going through the pictures. Because it was hilarious!

I'll probably have to come up with some more toddler-friendly apps for my phone in the near future, but I know what I'll be doing if I need a little pick-me-up in the meantime!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What I did on my Christmas Vacation (extended version)

So I don't really get a vacation. Afterall, my job is to be home taking care of the kid and until I can find someone else to step in and do that for a few days, I don't get a vacation. But we did get away for Christmas, at least for a few days, so Jason got a vacation.

Where did we go? Why didn't I say anything about it before? We flew to CT on Christmas. To surprise my parents. And it worked. They were surprised. We had a great time. We're never doing it again. That might not be totally true, but we don't plan to do it again. This year was easy because Michaela was too young to know that Santa came to our house a day early, but we might not be able to swing that again in the future. We sort of decided spur-of-the-moment to go (I think 3 weeks before counts as spur-of-the-moment when you're talking Christmas travel) and it was absolutely worth all the craziness of the whole thing!

The first bit of craziness was Christmas on Christmas Eve. This is what our tree looked like after Santa came:
This is all that came from Santa:
The rest was from family and friends. We feel very loved and very blessed.

It took three hours to open presents. With only one child (if you don't count Jason). That might not have happened had it not been for this:
That was from Mimi and Papa. They graciously got the one with the red accents so it would match my living room decor. I've resigned myself to the fact that children's toys have officially taken over my living room. But I'm crazy enough to want them to match. Michaela really likes it, too, which made it very difficult to get her to come back to the pile of presents to open anything else.

You'll notice the Powerwheels car in the picture above. Guess how many times she's actually ridden in it. Go ahead, guess.
Thank goodness I got a picture. This was it. It hasn't happened again. Before we moved it to the garage so the kids who came to our brunch yesterday wouldn't run into the furniture, she spent a lot of time standing by it saying, "I drive." But then as soon as we'd try to coax her into it and try to get her to actually drive it, she'd run away saying, "noooo." Good thing Santa brought her that!

I guess this guy is a little more her speed.

And monkey bread. Monkey bread was definitely a hit. We have monkey bread two times a year - Christmas and Easter. We couldn't let Christmas on Christmas Eve stop the tradition. I think Michaela is all for the tradition.

After all the craziness of Christmas Eve Christmas, we got to the business of actual Christmas Eve, which means church for us. On the way to church, the second bit of craziness hit us - our flights the next day were cancelled. Delta cancelled something like 300 flights through Atlanta due to the predicted bad weather. I'm not sure how bad it actually got, but at least they rebooked us through Charlotte on USAir. We were very pleasantly shocked about that. The only bad part of the whole thing was that our 9:15am flight was now a 6am flight. That meant getting up at 3am ourselves to get things going, and then waking the baby up at 4am. Thank goodness for a flight out of Mobile (the airport is literally less than 5 minutes from our house) and not Pensacola (which would've been an hour+ drive). And thank goodness for the USO in Charlotte. We had a long layover there and spent the bulk of it in the USO lounge relaxing and letting Michaela play in a gated-off area. And it was a quiet spot to call Mom and Dad so they wouldn't get suspicious!

Of course the next craziness was just trying to get to the front door at Mom and Dad's without them seeing us. It didn't work since Mom walked by the door right as I was running up to it. I heard "Oh my gosh! No way! No way!" from outside as she ran to the door. Definitely a successful surprise! Ryan was in on it, so he snapped a couple pictures. Not great ones, but better than nothing.

Then it got less busy and crazy for a few days. We got snowed on (not sure I liked that), but made it out just as easily as we made it in. All was going well on the return trip until the last bit of craziness. The kid puked. On final into Atlanta. All over herself. On her carseat. On her dad (thankfully I wasn't sitting next to her - he was!). So we used up a chunk of our short layover getting her cleaned up and changed (prepared mommy that I am, I packed extra clothes for her). We hoofed it to a different terminal for our flight to Mobile, with me carrying Michaela in the Beco carrier, and then took advantage of the early boarding for people with children. And then we were the last people on the plane anyway because she puked. Again. In the jetway. On me. Because she was attached to me and there was no way around it. Something made me leave her sweatshirt off when we changed her, so she only puked on her t-shirt and then rode shirtless to Mobile because we needed to make sure she had something to wear home. I guess with all the traveling we've done with her in her short life we're lucky this is the first time we've had this happen. I REALLY hope it's the last time. And for the record, she was totally fine by the next morning.

Since we got home last Wednesday, we just spent a lot of time getting the house ready for company. We hosted a New Year's Day brunch yesterday, so we had to get everything prepped (ie clean the house) for that and then enjoy some more craziness of having 15 adults and 8 kids ranging from 17 months (ours) to 9 years old in the house. It was definitely fun!

But it wore us out so we didn't get the Christmas decorations down like we planned. That worked out for the best, though, since I didn't have a single picture of Michaela in front of the tree this year and was able to get one of her in her cute church dress this morning before we took it all down.
So the dress isn't Christmas-y, but it's cute. And she's cute. And the tree is in the background.

Now the craziness is all over. Jason goes back to normal schedule at work tomorrow after being in a holiday status for the last two weeks (only working once every 3 days), and I'm back to the fun of entertaining the energizer bunny by myself!

Oh, and if you look over there to the right, you'll see a link to a new blog. I'm doing the 365 project if I can stay with it (Thanks for the idea, Melissa), so I started up a new blog tonight. I already started a day late, but I'm really going to try to stick with that one for the whole year!

So that's what I did on my Christmas vacation!