Monday, February 28, 2011

Joys of being the Mommy

We have been having a rough weekend around our house. The monkey has had a terrible cold and like most of us when we are sick doesn't seem to know what she wants. As a mom it is hard because I so badly want to make her feel better but I don't really know what she wants either.

Through the frustration of a sick, overtired, cranky baby I began thinking about the joys of being a mom. It is probably because I need something to pull me out of the grumpiness I found myself in, but I find that as moms we often spend a lot of time thinking about, talking about, and focusing on the frustrations. I don't want to be that kind of mom. I want to focus on the little things. The daily joys that come even in the most frustrating moments, because they are always there if we stop to look at them.

So, here is my list of joys from the weekend:
  -the sound of my daughter's sweet baby's magical!
  -the sweet baby kisses I get after a diaper change
  -the chance to rock and sing my baby to sleep (The monkey is not a great cuddler, so any moment I can get cuddling her is precious to me.)
  -watching my daughter play with her books first thing out of bed in the morning
  -Chai tea lattes and quiet moments before the baby gets up for the day
  -the amazing peace and quiet of nap time
  -a wonderful husband who tells me to go take a break and nap if I need to
  -the way the monkey snuggles her head into my shoulder when she is upset or tired
  -a cute new hat for the monkey made by a precious friend. I can't wait for her to wear it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Whine

We have entered into a new phase with the monkey. The phase of the whine! is terrible. I have no patience for simply dives me batty!

The monkey is smart, independent, and just a little stubborn (OK, a lot stubborn, she get's it from me :( ). The problem is, she isn't talking yet. So, this is a little girl knows what she wants, but can't communicate it. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for her. We have taught her some sign language, but only a few words, which are no longer sufficient. So, her default has become the whine and point.

For me, the whining is something we need to put a stop to ASAP. I know that rewarding the whine by responding to it will only reinforce it. However, I am not sure how to stop it. I ignore it as much as I can. Sometimes that helps and sometimes that stops it, but not enough of the time. I ask her to use her words and sometimes she makes the right sounds and/or signs, but since she doesn't know enough that doesn't always help either.

So, here's my question how do you stop the whining at this stage? I am open to any suggestions!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Favorite Things Friday

The Monkey's Favorite Things

I love it the that monkey likes to read. In fact, more often than not she will choose to have us read to her rather than play with her. I think it is fantastic and a trend I hope will continue as she grows. Right now one of her favorite things is Baby Einstein Alphabooks:

The monkey LOVES these books. I think she likes them because they are small and more baby sized than some of her other books. There is a book for each letter of the alphabet and each one has three words that start with that letter. Each word also has a corresponding picture. Small, short, and colorful, they are a big hit around here. If fact we read them multiple time in a given day. So much so that yesterday I was able to list out all the ones that are missing off the top of my head....

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Big Debate

So, A and I are currently having the big have more kids or not. It is interesting how that question changed after we had the monkey.

Before we had kids I wanted to have four! I knew I wanted more than two and I didn't want to have an odd number, so four seemed like a good compromise. Plus, I come from a big family. While I only have two siblings, my mom has eight brothers and sisters and I have 24 cousins. We all grew up together and I love the big family feel.

A on the other hand only ever wanted two. His family is significantly smaller than mine and in reality my family overwhelms him every time we are home. He has no desire for a large family and since he only has one brother he was comfortable with two.

However, after my pregnancy with the monkey our thoughts on our family size have changed drastically. As I mentioned before, I had a terrible pregnancy with the monkey. I had terrible morning sickness my entire pregnancy, or as I like to call it, all day sickness. I was nauseous 24/7 for 9 months. I also had terrible back pain that landed me in physical therapy, and to top it all off I ended my pregnancy with a terrible PUPPS rash! Luckily, there were never any problems with the monkey, but it was still hard on both A and I.

So, that leads us to our current debate. In some ways we have a lot of fear of having another terrible pregnancy (I know it could be totally different this time around). It was difficult to have a rough pregnancy when I didn't have a toddler running around. I can't imagine handling another one when the monkey still needs so much of my attention. Plus, in a lot of ways we are happy with our family of three. We feel content here and there are days when the monkey needs so much attention that I can't imagine having two little ones at once.

But, on the other hand, I am not sure that I want the monkey to be an only child. Not that it is a horrible thing, but I love having siblings. There were times we hated each other growing up but now my sister is my best friend. We lean on each other in ways you can only depend on a sibling and I want the monkey to have that. Plus, if it weren't for the rough pregnancy I don't think it would be a debate as we had both wanted more from the beginning.

So, where does that leave us? Still debating. Still praying. I am not sure if their is a right or wrong answer. But it is not a decision we take lightly and there are a lot of questions to consider. But we will continue to talk and more importantly pray, trusting that God will lead us in the right path for our family.

What influenced your decision on whether or not to have more kids?

Friday, February 11, 2011

What I'm Reading

I love to read but have gotten a little out of the habit. Partially because let's face it, I have a toddler running around, it makes reading difficulty. But I think another reason is that I have gotten pulled into the ease and mindlessness of reading things on the internet. It just seems easier to pull up my blogs and read for a few minutes here and there when I have a free moment than it does to pick up a book and at the end of the day blogs require very little thought.

But I do love to read and really want to get more in the habit of reading after the monkey goes to bed at night. Plus, I actually have 3-4 books that I have started reading recently and haven't been able to finish, which makes me crazy!

Since I am going to try reading more I thought I would share my reading list with you in case any of you are trying to get more reading in as well.

Right now I am reading a book called The Feast of Christmas by Joseph Kelly. My husband, A, picked this up at the library after the holidays and said it was interesting. Since I love history and understanding the origins of things I asked him to keep it for me.

I have really enjoyed reading about how the Christmas holiday came to be celebrated throughout the world. This book looks at both religious and pagan influences on the holiday. I think it is so interesting!

What are you reading right now?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Discipline: it sounds so simple when talking about it in theory but in actuality it is anything but simple. A and I want to be good disciplinarians so we can teach the monkey respect for others and healthy boundaries. Before the monkey was born we would talk about discipline and it seemed pretty straight forward: set good boundaries,  evaluate the reason behind the rule before establishing it, and communicate constantly about it as parents. Simple.

In fact, up to this point it hasn't been that hard. Most of our discipline has had to do with things that were dangerous for the monkey or keeping her out of things we don't want her to ruin. She learned to listen to no early and is generally a good baby so it hasn't been a huge problem. However, now that she is older and we are trying to teach her more responsibility, things are getting a bit more challenging.

For one thing, the monkey has quiet a bit of a stubborn streak (sadly she got that from her mother). She knows what she wants and what she doesn't and sticks to it. For another thing the monkey isn't really talking yet. For me it makes it hard to know how much of what we are trying to teach her she actually understands.

This week we have had some major battles with her over picking up her toys. The monkey has never been great at picking up, she has no problem pulling out every single one of her toys in a given day, but picking up isn't her thing. We have been working at it with her along the way and over the last few months we have gotten a lot more consistent with it. Well, this week she decided she wanted nothing to do with it. So, we started time outs.

We put her in the chair in her room for a minute, ask her if she is ready to go pick up, when she says yes we take her back out to her toys and ask her to pick up again. Should be simple, put her in time out and then she will pick up. Not so much. We went through this cycle for a hour the first night. Time out, take her back to her toys to pick up, she refuses, we put her back in time out. The poor baby wore herself out crying and I felt so bad. At many points I think we were both tempted to give in and just put her to bed, but in the end she did pick up her toys and I cuddled her as she fell asleep.

My take away? Discipline is hard. There are no easy answers and it likely looks different for every child. But consistency and follow through are important. The next night we had another round of the picking up the toys battle but it was much shorter, only about 15 minutes, and every night since she has picked up her toys without problem. I don't by any means think we are done with this particular battle, but it makes me feel better about not giving up.

The thing is, discipline is hard, and it is easy to want to give up. But I also know we are working to raise the monkey to be the woman that God has called her to be and consistent discipline is part of that process. I know it won't be easy, and I am sure we will make mistakes along the way. But I also know that the reward in the end will be worth the work we put into it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The measuring stick

Last night I was laying in bed and praying before I fell asleep when I realized that I was feeling discouraged about being a mom. Then I had to stop and ask myself “Why?”

We had a good day yesterday. I went to work for a few hours and then ran a couple errands. A took the monkey to school with him for a bit and then we all landed at home for lunch. After lunch A and the monkey both took naps while I watched a movie and worked on a couple projects. We skipped church (I know, we’re sinners ;) ) in order to have a relaxing evening at home after a long week and it was just that. The monkey was happy and didn’t throw any major fits. We played and cuddled and then put her to bed. All in all, a good day.

So what was the problem? Why was I feeling like I was failing as a mom? As I laid there on pondered this I realized the problem is there is no measuring stick for success as a mom. How do I know if I am doing it right? If I did all the best for her that I could that day? This is especially hard when I can think of a million things I could have done better at the end of any given day. I could have read to her more, I could have played with her more, I could have gotten her to eat more veggies...the list goes on. But, I can’t always think of a lot of things I did really well, I mean I can think of things I did OK, but really well? Not as much.

This lack of a measuring stick is hard for me as a perfectionist. I want to know what I am being measured against and how I can tell if I am succeeding. I want to know when I have done it right and when I am exceeding expectations. Basically, I want to know when I am being a good mom. I want to be able to point to that measuring stick and say “see, I’m doing it right.” When there is no measure of success it feels like failure.

So what does it mean to be successful as a mom? How do I measure it? I am not sure that there are answers to these questions, but I am pondering them for now. I am sure I will eventually come to the realization that I need to give up the measuring stick and be content with giving mothering my best every day. Unfortunately, I’m not there yet, but I am realizing the need and that is a start.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Scenes From A Snow Day

Like everyone, we were hit with the snowstorm of 2011. Here in Indy we got a ton of ice which has led to a lot of snow days. A was off of school for 4 days this week. Due to the ice outside most of those 4 days were spent at home in our jammies. I mean when the house looks like this:
 And the ice looks like this:
 And the entire side of our house is coated in ice:
Who really wants to go outside? Not us, the monkey cried when we took her out in the snow the last time. So we stayed safe and warm playing inside. But I think someone is trying to tell us she is ready for summer...

We did try to get a few things done at home while we were off...the monkey tried her hand at vacuuming:
She didn't get very far.
And just to keep it real for you all, this is what our living room looks like at the end of a day at home:

I hope that you all enjoyed the storm and were able to stay cozy and warm at home. Next week, it's back to reality.

The Perfect Mom

What does it mean to be the perfect mom? It’s an interesting question, one with a hundred different answers, but I am not sure that all of them are right. In fact, I am not sure any of them are right. Because, the truth is there is no such thing as being a perfect mom. But there sure is a lot of hype telling you that being the perfect mom is attainable. There are so many things you should do to be a perfect mom. You have to breastfeed for a least a year. You have to be a stay at home mom. You have get your babies on a perfect sleep schedule as soon as possible. You have to...

Before I became a mom I thought I would be the perfect mom. I have always wanted to be a mom after all, being a perfectionist and high achiever I had no doubt I would excel in this area of my life as well. Sure, it would be hard, but I like hard, I like the challenge. Yeah, that thought was quickly put to rest. In fact, I began to feel like a failure as a mom while I was still pregnant.

You see, I had a terrible pregnancy. I was sick 24/7 for nine months. Not to mention many other complications that I won't go into now, but needless to say I was miserable. Because of this, I wasn't able to do all the things the perfect mommy should. I couldn't eat healthy, honestly I was just happy if I could keep anything down. Which for me was primarily frozen coke and carbs (yup, super healthy right?). I didn't exercise well, there was no prenatal yoga for me, in fact I spent most of my time not at work lying on the couch feeling miserable. I was already failing and I hadn't even started yet! How on earth was I going to make it as a mom?

The imperfection didn't stop when the monkey was born. Right away I had trouble nursing her and was about to give up after a week (luckily we both got the hang of it). Plus, she wasn't a great napper right from the start. She was a great night time sleeper, but not so great at the naps. In fact, I couldn't get her on a solid nap schedule until she was 5 months old and even then I forced it because I needed some consistency. My friend had gotten her daughter on a perfect nap schedule quickly, why couldn't I?

But, here is what I started to think about through my pregnancy and early days of motherhood. What if there is no such thing as a perfect mom? I mean perfectionism hasn't always worked great for me in everyday life why would it be a great thing for me as a mom? And what if what is right for someone else isn't right for me? And what if your baby has a different personality and needs than my baby does? And maybe it is OK if every piece of "expert advice" doesn't work for me, I mean they can't even agree with each other half the time.

So what does that mean? Maybe that means that I need to stop striving for the unattainable goal. Maybe it means I need to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and what everyone else is thinking and focus on what works best for me and my family. Maybe it means I take the advice of all of those well meaning people and ignore it. Maybe it means I focus on being the best mom I can be every day and find contentment in that.

I am not great at this, I still struggle with feeling like a failure. I still hate not having all the right answers or feeling like I have no idea what I am doing. But I am trying to let go of the need to be perfect and focus on loving my daughter well and doing the best I can for her. This is my journey into motherhood and my thoughts. Take them or leave them, and please feel free to share your own.