Monday, November 30, 2009

Deployment #4 Underway


I have little to write right now, just that we're in the beginning of Deployment #4 and, as expected, this is harder than any other separation. I love Jonathan so much, my love for him has grown so exponentially, that this ripping apart just doesn't get easier.
We have a God who loves us all, and promises strength and grace for each day... and new mercies every morning. He is not unmoved by our frailness, and He is near to the brokenhearted. Right now, I cling to those truths.
And I cling to the beautiful pictures of all our final happy moments.














Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Breastfeeding!

What to say? Too much!!! I usually just post journal-like entries. But then I rarely post about thoughts on my mind, of which there are many!

I'm going to post about breastfeeding. About my personal journey, but also some very good things to know. Probably because it is dear to my heart. Also because my friend Emily posted recently and I enjoyed it. Also because I don't think there can ever be too many women learning about this and encouraging others about how normal and wonderful it is (101 Reasons to Breastfeed). Before I start, my friend Carolyn has written a much more concise 10 Tips for Breastfeeding Moms. Read that if you don't have time for my post!

(Before Beginning: I don't want to offend anyone, especially those of my friends who have really tried and were not able to continue very long. I know some of you it was in your heart to do, and it just did not happen. I admire your fortitude, and I don't want this to hurt you since I know you feel you haven't gotten to enjoy something you desired. This post hopefully will not upset you, that's my very last intent!)

In our society today, not much information is given on breastfeeding unless you are looking for it. You really have to educate yourself about it. Breastfeeding may be difficult and challenging at first, and if you are unprepared for how to overcome obstacles, you may give up needlessly!

Your hospital may or may not have a lactation consultant, to help you begin your journey, if you're a first time mother. Read books like The New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding or Breastfeeding Make Simple. Go to sites like this. Learn before you give birth, but read often those first few weeks as well!

Know that your first few hours with your new baby are pretty crucial to creating a connection to your baby and developing the breastfeeding bond. Breastfeeding is the closest, most intimately special, comforting, nourishing thing you can do with your baby! You want to nurse as soon after their birth as possible, even if it's a short time. Babies will naturally do this (although, they may need help doing it right). Be aware that after delivery, well-meaning nurses, family, and friends will tell the new labor-tired mother, "You need sleep" as they urge her to send the baby off to the nursery for hours so momma can rest. You easily could miss the baby's first cues for hunger or comfort. Even after an exhausting (natural) labor, your body is ready and able to respond to your child. Sleep is something you can get when your baby is sleeping, but it should not take place over their well-being. I think this is a misguided help people are trying to offer, and new moms who don't know better may not know what to do (respond to baby or to their exhaustion & everyone's advice). Keep your baby nearby, respond to their rooting/stirring/fists in mouth, and any other hunger cues. If the baby is crying, you have waited too long, for they are past hungry! Crying is the last resort to an infant needing food. Learn your little one! You more than anyone else in the world have been designed for this!

Also, newborns are notorious sleepy-heads. You will have to work to make sure your baby stays awake during a feeding, and doesn't sleep too many hours at a time so they nurse frequent enough. I set an alarm my baby's first night of life to make sure she never went more than 3 hours without eating at night. I continued this the first few weeks. Whenever she gave the smallest inclination to eat, I fed her. Throw away the foolish idea to "Never wake a sleeping baby!"  They should be nursing 10-12 times a day at least! You cannot over-feed your newborn!!! Frequent feeding helps your milk come in. Even though I was feeding my baby approx every 2 hours, my milk did not come in until 4 days after she was born. But I did not worry or fret, because she was getting enough dirty and wet diapers and had no signs of dehydration (learning about this, educating yourself, will help you become a more confident breastfeeding mother). I had the pedi check her at 3 days old as well. She was getting colostrum at least. Know when to worry and act, and yet educate yourself so you don't shipwreck yourself by acting on unfounded fears. A good pediatrician will support breastfeeding first, and will want you to call at the least concern! Try not to get one you will be fighting with on your early breastfeeding choices.

Don't even try to get your baby onto a sleep schedule! That is just not even recommended until your milk supply is well established and your baby is gaining weight well to even start trying to schedule them. I didn't try until she was 3 months old (and even then, I fed her whenever she woke at night, I just tried to get her into regular napping). Am I clear? Sleeping, and especially scheduled sleeping, is secondary in importance to establishing a healthy baby with good easting habits. This means you personally putting the child's feeding first before your own sleep, errands, etc.

If you want problems, introduce a pacifier too often/too early (I'd say before your baby is a month old, but I don't really know). They are too little to discern nipple differences, and you will be taking away the child's opportunity to comfort nurse (nursing just for the comfort the sucking and closeness to you gives them). Comfort nursing stimulates your milk production, and continues the bond between you and baby.

You need to become aware of what a good latch looks like, but also discern between a baby sucking and drinking. There is a difference. A baby can be at the breast, sucking, and getting little nutrition for hours! You need to watch that they are drinking, that the chin is coming down to intake the milk (suck - swallow, or suck-suck-suck-swallow before your milk comes in). There are a bunch of great videos that show the difference on here (if you're offended by nursing uncovered, by all means don't go here, but it's important that a mother knows how to identify good nursing).

A breast-pump can be your best friend. Even if you just get a hand-pump, you want to be able to express milk when your baby hasn't taken enough, when you have a reason to be out and need your baby to have a bottle of it ready, or when you are trying to get over a breast infection. Don't assume you won't need one.

Challenges will occur. But if you arm yourself with knowledge, you have a much higher chance of succeeding. Milk production is something you were made to do for your child. Ask, read, and know other mothers have gone through what you may be experiencing. It may come easy or hard, but if you get over the "hard" initial few weeks, you will then be on the other end where breastfeeding is so much easier than bottle. You will experience the amazing love that outpours when you nurse your child. When the oxytocin is released as your baby nurses and your milk lets down, you will feel overcome with the happiest most in-love feeling for your baby. It is a joyful emotional high unlike any other (to be a little bold here, the closest thing I can liken it to is an orgasm... not as good, but just such a rush of wonderful feelings all at once!) You will fall in love with your sweet-smelling, cooing little innocent newborn all over again as you cradle their little head in your arms and provide for their tummies.

I have a 10 month old, and I treasure our little night nursings. Even when she wakes up at 11, 2, 3, 4, and 6 to nurse (like the last few nights - ah teething!) I don't even mind it, because she's so satisfied and comforted by our little time in the chair in her room. (She gets back to more regular feeding once they break through, and I am grateful for uninterrupted sleep.) :)

Do not think of what you are "missing" by having to nurse your baby (sleep, vacation time, family functions, "socialization", etc). Do what you can to forget all that and be a joyful mother in the "now". Your child will feed off your emotions.
(Little story: I found that if I were tense or creating endless "to-do" lists for myself as I nursed Elyana at night, she would get agitated. But I learned to stop, take deep breaths, and envision  quiet/sleepy thoughts going from my head into her as I nursed, she was asleep and peaceful in minutes. It was amazing.)

Ok, I'm done for now. Do know that even if you can only nurse your baby a few weeks or months, you are giving them the best start! It's better to do something than nothing! Feel free to always email me personally if you want to talk more. I am STILL learning myself, but I feel it's such an important thing for mothers and babies, I couldn't not write.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Word Recognition!

Just a little tidbit because I'm so excited about this!

So obviously you know that your child understands some words. At 9 months old, I've never been sure how much Elyana knows. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, she's understood the word "Nurse" for months!! And "no", for a long time. And "book" (or "bookie"). And "light" ("Where's the light? And she points!). But (as far as I can generally recall) beyond that, I have only been able to assume/guess at other words (I know she understands in other ways, like gestures. If I tell her to wave, and do it, she will too. If I show her my wrap/sling, she gets very happy and lunges toward me to be put in it. Etc.) Perhaps she understands "outside", "Dada", "music", because she seems to have recognition over half the time when I use those.

BUT... today we were playing her "Your Baby Can Read" DVD (the 2nd time she's ever seen it, actually), and when it got to "dog" she started excitedly bouncing up and down like she does and kind-of panting (can you tell she loves dogs?!). I was so thrilled. Then it got to "cat" and she did her now-typical fussing/upset/no-like noise she does when she sees a cat on a book or in person or when we "meow." Wow! And just to be sure, when those words came up again, same reaction! No reactions to any other words.

I know this is small, but it made me happy to know that she is grasping words I don't even realize! I talk to her a lot, and I know even moreso that's important.

Just a happy little tidbit from my day!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Elyana - at 9 Months. And Life.

What to say...

Elyana is 9 months old! At her appointment, I had to fill out a developmental form and go through all these things they wanted to know if she's doing at this age. Checked them all off, except I'm not sure I've seen her use a toy to bang against another toy (J says he's seen it). She's eating like she should (both nursing and baby/table foods), weighing 19 lbs! She just changes so much every day! Such as:
- Can identify words & the objects they go with. For example, if I ask for a book (and use a title sometimes) she will go get it for me. She will point to a "light" if we ask her to. She loves lights!
- She will wave hi/bye at request. She said "ba-ba", but only to Aunt Karen and her daddy, and has dropped its use for now. The waving is so cute!
- She found her shadow a little over a month ago (which she LOVES), but now she will wave at it (and mine)! We see it outside, but she even found it inside where a lamp was casting it on the floor. She is so observant, she surprises me with it!
- She has started going "oooh" at things she likes... pictures on her book pages, my pretty jewelry, my coffee make, dogs, trees, wind: pretty much anything she thinks is fun or nice!
- She is still doing wonderfully with using a toilet. We'll have 1 or 2 dirty diapers a week, during a nap or that we missed. Even Jonathan can tell when she needs to go, he's pointed it out to me a number of times. Love this! (I don't even really intend on trying to train her from wetting the diapers for a long time. That's just something I'm not sure she or I are ready for. She will use the toilet to do that, but it's more incidentally b/c she's already going to go.)
- She stands alone for up to 5 seconds now. :)
- She's totally changed her "favorite" books. Seriously, she had 3-4 ones she loooooved, and a night-night book as well. Well she won't sit for any of those anymore. It happened overnight. She has a one new favorite book and one new favorite night-night book. And other ones she may sit for, but not the old favorite. It's so funny, a bit odd, and I'm getting bored of her new favorite. She also fusses if we use animal noises anymore!!! Go figure?!?

Jonathan and I just adore her. So much. Being parents has been such a joy for Jonathan and me. Truly, we feel so overwhelmed with joy that we've been entrusted with her little life!!!

Jonathan and I are also preparing for Deployment #4 at the end of November. That sinking feeling in the pit of our stomaches returns. I find myself with tears close at hand at random times. It's a very emotional process, preparing for the inevitable. Preparing for something you've gone through so many times before, you know the steps, but don't get any better at handling them. We've got a little over 3 weeks left before the window of leave time hits. I pray they will stretch out as long as possible.

We have gone to Saturday night service at our church a few times (it's new). It's much smaller, and we have enjoyed it a lot. It also leaves Sunday more free, which has been so nice. Also, no missed/delayed naps! :) Elyana sat through the entire service last week (which was a good 10 minutes longer than usual) and she did great! She made a little fuss/scream maybe twice. That's it. We both concentrated while she played and ate Puffs. Yes, without Puffs we would not have made it. So what? I can deal with that! One thing I did was call a very dear friend of ours, who Jonathan and I both think has done amazing with their 3 children (who are around 11, 7 and 4). I got her advice about leaving children in nursery, separation anxiety, and some child training. It was so, so good! I really praise God for the wonderful people he's given us in our lives that we can learn from rather than just walk through things with good intentions but only our own limited wisdom. We are in one accord right now in what we're doing. Sure, there will be things to talk about in the future, but right now we're good. :)

That's all for now. :) Except pictures. I'll do those in another post, because Elyana's about to wake up and I need to finish stuff up!

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Love in Action" Blog - Go View It

My dear sister, Karen, has started a new blog titled "Love in Action." She's got some really encouraging and challenging posts up already. They are short writings about which she says:

The intent of this blog is to encourage Christian wives and mothers to show their love to those around them through daily, practical deeds. These ideas stem from things I am trying to apply in my own life. Some may not be applicable all the time, but I hope it plants a seed and ideas in the hearts of those who read to show their love through acts.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Motherhood Challenges

Things have just really been busy around here. I've had at least 3 different blog posts I've wanted to make about my thoughts on some different issues... But time has gotten away from me (as usual!). I'll do what I can here.


Nursery...
Nursery again. While she did really well a few times, she has now full-on entered the "Stranger Anxiety" stage. I attempted to taker her in one week, and she clung to me and cried hard - so of course I did not even try letting her go then (calming her down from that took at least 5-10 minutes). Jonathan and I thought that maybe if he took her she wouldn't do that (she has a strong momma preference!). No, she did that to him. He still let her go (I could never have done that!). But the end result was, when we'd waited the amount of time I felt comfortable with, and checked on her, she was beside herself. (Which meant, I became beside myself!) We agreed nursery is not working now. We are praying about this again, for wisdom to know what is right for her. Jonathan wants to read an article or book on separation anxiety, and I do as well. I feel very conflicted about this, because my mothering instinct tells me one thing (nursery is not something she needs), yet I do want wisdom for how to help her and what will be best for her. I have appreciated all your input and advice, so can I solicit you all for any books/articles you may have read about this?


For example, sleep training is something everyone seems to have an opinion on. Everyone does it differently. If we didn't have a conviction when she was little of how we were to do it, I'd be lost, probably trying bits of this and that, never really sure what was right for our daughter, and being in general confused (rather like how I feel about nursery). Yet, we knew what we thought would be good for her and our family, and we read books that helped enable us to pursue that goal, and feel comfortable with it. I know I need that here!


Using the Toilet!
Elyana is constantly surprising me. Ever since we got home from Labor Day in NC, I decided to try Elimination Communication (EC) with her. I read a little bit about it, and a few people's stories of their implementation. I decided I needed to get her used to the toilet and what it was for. I also had noticed she always went #2 in the morning (usually after the 2nd nursing). So I started giving her naked time on a waterproof sheet on the floor for ~20 minutes. I'd watch her and see her start to go - and then I'd rush her to the toilet. I'd giver her a "cue" word/noise to create an association. Well, a month later and now anytime she will cue me when she's needing to go! I have to be attentive, because otherwise I can think "Aww, how cute, she's grunting" and miss it (it's not obvious unless you know to look for her cue)! This week, three days in a row now, she has "cued" me intentionally, before she even starts going (she cued twice on Tuesday, which is unusual to go twice, so I'm glad I listened to her)! Just today, I was really proud of her, because I was in the kitchen loading a few dishes as she played in the next room for a few minutes. 5 minutes of this (maybe) and she crawled in and came over near to me. Usually she just wants to be with me, so I think nothing of it. Then I noticed she sits down from a crawl, and starts her noises. Takes me a few seconds to put it together, so I take her to the toilet. Sure enough, as I get her set, she starts going! I am so proud of her!! Jonathan's watched this a few times now, and he said, "Wow, it's obvious she prefers this." And I realized he's right - she prefers to go on a toilet than in her diaper. The fact that she has a preference and can accomplish that amazes me. It also makes my heart so glad that we are "communicating" like this. No fussing here!


On communication, I have been working on the sign language, still plugging along. I do not see much recognition of the signs we use (sticking with 4 basic ones), nor is she repeating them back, but consistency and perseverance seem key. I shall plug away as long as I need to. I hope to see the light come on around 9-10 months old, as others have. :)


I will freely admit that this past weekend I definitely struggled a lot with my relating to Jonathan. At one point I felt like "all we do is fight over child-raising..." (which is such an exaggeration). We disagree so infrequently over anything (months at a time) that when we do I feel like it's the end of the world! I was getting incredibly discouraged at our differences and my attitude was so dishonoring to Jonathan (because I felt I was right). We of course talked it through, and by the next morning, my heart was much more aligned and at peace. We still have to come to an agreement, but I know the Lord will provide wisdom. I just have to do my part in reverencing Jonathan as commanded, and speaking my mind in an honoring way. I have so much growth that needs to happen in this area! At least I finally understood the marital challenges people talk about when raising children.


Trip Home!
We leave Friday for 10 days in NC!!! I am so excited to see our families again! What a great time it will be! We also get to take Elyana to the State Fair! I haven't been with Jonathan in a few years, and now we get to take our daughter. I don't know how long she'll last, but with a stroller, my wrap, and many arms to hold her, I'm hoping it's for a few hours! She's at a great age for enjoying it. I am excited because both my sister Crystal, and my brother and his wife will be in town (usually you miss seeing someone). I am bringing my kettlebell because as my sister Karen pointed out, it's compact! And since muscle = metabolism, I need to keep the weights up. (Also, I realized my last post might sound like I've got my pre-baby figure back.... yeah, not yet!!! I just happen to be able to wear my small jeans again, but still need my abs back. I don't know how long that'll take, so I'm still working out consistently and trying my best to eat clean!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

8 Months and Growing...

Life's been busy. Elyana and I have had a lot of nights to ourselves this week. Jonathan's been hunting so we have taken the opportunity to go out. After being at home all day, she can get tired of what we've got to offer here. She loves what we do together, but she does enjoy seeing new things. One evening we went to TJ Maxx together. I wasn't sure how she'd do. Ever since the first of August, she has been going through a fussy phase. At stores, she's been way too fussy for me to want to even TRY to go alone. Even with Jonathan, I didn't like going, because the entire time in a store I seemed to be working on just keeping her happy! But just this past week, as I was writing down what she's doing new, I found myself writing, "I think we're past the fussy phase!" Five weeks! Not too bad. She is really an amazing baby, so wonderfully sweet tempered, happy, easy to entertain, loves me so much.

So we went out to TJ Maxx, and I think I was there an hour and a half! We looked at tons of stuff. She was in the cart, then in my sling, and did wonderfully! It really was like having a little shopping buddy! I'd show her things, let her touch them, identify them, point out "pretty" stuff. We looked at everything. I got her a toy, some great makeup and shampoo, a few presents, and.....

a pair of jeans the smallest pre-pregnancy size I have worn! When I tried them on, I didn't expect to even be able to zip them, but I wanted to see how they looked. I was so surprised at how amazing they fit. This was so encouraging for me. Ever since Elyana was 3 months old, I have worked and worked and worked my butt off! When Jonathan was deployed, I barely took a day off working out those 78 days. I was meticulous about my eating. And I felt like I only saw the tiniest of change. I worked out 60-90 minutes every day. It was more than discouraging. I really felt like my body too was working against me. I felt upset that everyone I heard from before I had Elyana told me that nursing would make the weight fall off... So not true for me! I was actually down to 1lb of my pre-pregnancy weight by 3 weeks post-partem (although I had lots of toning to do). Then, it's as if my body rebelled, and without changing anything, I went back ~6lb up. And stayed that way, no matter what I did. I even went to all the working out and ~800 calories a day. No Change. You can see how frustrating this was. But honestly, I just thought I needed to find the "key" to what my body would require to lose weight and tone up (although I figured I might not be able to until I stopped nursing). I am now more motivated than ever to work hard, never take more than 1 day concurrently off from working out, and watch my eating. When I see progress, I want to continue. When nothing happens, that's when I get discouraged fast. Ah but the pride I had thinking I would be back to my pre-pregnancy body by 3-6 months!!!

Georgia doesn't seem to know that it's suppose to be autumn. It's disgusting how hot, humid, and sunny it is all the time! There are gnats and flies and mosquitoes out still! I'm ready for a change of season, especially the gorgeous turning of the leaves!

 Elyana adores crawling and pulling up! She still has just two teeth on bottom, which melt your heart when she smiles at you. In the morning, when she wakes up, it's the most wonderful heart-warming thing to walk in her room, and have her beautifully cheerful smile flashed as she sees my face! She crawls over and pulls up to be held. Oh how I adore every time she wakes up to see this! She nurses 5 times a day, which I don't see changing until she's about a year old. She grew 1.5 inches and 1.5lb in the last month! At 8 months she was 29 inches long and 19.5 lb (by my measurements, that is). Whenever we go out, she gets oohed and aahed over about 3 times per store. It's adorable. She has developed this "shyness" where she'll smile, bury her face in my neck/arm, and then try to peek out in a few seconds. She'll do it a few times and then finally all-out smile. I feel like everything she does is wonderful! Never a nursing session goes by that I don't pray in thankfulness for her little life, and what a beautiful gift we've been entrusted with!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Somebody is Crawling All Over!

Oh yes - she did her first crawl where she actually moved all of her hands/legs more than once each back on Wednesday, Sep 9th. Now, 10 days later, she is a great crawler! She follows me into different rooms when I "leave" her. It's so fun! It is a new challenge, as the training we've been doing with "no touch" is all of a sudden so much more applicable! She is good at obeying it, but not 100% yet.

The whining suggestions in regards to signing helped. That's what I want - to help her understand sign language so that she won't be frustrated. Her whining I know isn't her being bad on purpose, she wants to communicate and she doesn't know how. I have been looking at different websites, and I decided I'd like to use ASL instead of "baby sign language". The thing I'm having to handle right now is that I'm trying to get her to learn an abstract (vs iconic) sign ("More"). It's a hurdle, but I believe consistency, like you guys talk about, is Key. The reading I've done is very encouraging! I even ordered a book with a quick-reference sheet and DVD to get myself acquainted (gotta love getting items 75% off on eBay).

Can you guys tell me when you were able to teach your children about being "quiet" or not fussing (basically, communicating to them "shh" or "hush" in a non-corrective/gentle way?). I know I've seen Susi's child understand and comply with that at 15 months.

I will post about our alternate vaccine schedule, and the whys behind it all, but I can't currently because I have lent out my vaccine book, which has all my specific info in it. But I'm getting it back in this next month, so I'll post then.

As many of you shared or confirmed with me, I have seen a trend now that with new stages of development her sleep gets disrupted! When we unswaddled her and she learned then to roll over in bed, for 10 days she got up between 3-10 times at night. When her 2nd tooth came in and gave her so much anguish, she woke 5-8 times a night. And now that she has learned to crawl, she has learned to sit up in her crib, and gets up an average of 3-4 times a night. Even though she can lay herself down, I think it's just different for her to relate a crib to sitting (i.e. playing!) so she gets distracted from what she should be doing (sleeping), and eventually cries. But this time, I'm less worried about how long this will take, since I do know it's just a phase!!! :)

Jonathan has been getting some hunting in, but not nearly as much as I wish he could get. Since he's deploying in Nov, he'll miss a good chunk of deer season, and so he really needs opportunities now. I love his hobbies (hunting, fishing, and gunsmithing are top). I think he's so smart and intuitive and good at what he does! I do miss hunting with him like I used to, but I'll get some chances in October when we're back with the family. Nothing like a few uninterrupted time in a deer stand together with a book and the glory of nature surrounding us!

This is long enough... Pictures! Labor Day/Daddy's Birthday! :)

First, a family picture of us in Savannah.


Elyana playing in her new sandbox at Grandma&Grandpa's!


My sweet and beautiful (inside and out!) cousin Savannah holding her... Savannah is probably one of the most gentle, loving, self-sacrificing young lady you've ever met. And she loves children, is adventurous, and plays with them, regardless of their age! I want her to be our babysitter!


Karen holding Michael in her wrap! He loves this (duh!). Sweet Daddy next to her and Katrina in a towel.


This was Daddy's birthday and his cakes! Mary made him his favorite (vanilla with chocolate icing). I made him homemade Banana Pudding (a fave), and Karen made a strawberry cheesecake, because Seth likes them and well, more dessert!!! Granddaddy got to be there and it was so wonderful to see and talk to him. I miss him a lot! His presence there was like special old times!


Katrina being too cute for the camera!


My beautiful mother holding grandbaby #4, her first grandson!!! Is he not a cutie?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Autumn Should Be Here!

Right now, we're all struggling with some sort of sickness! Elyana had a cough and mild fever. She's mostly better. J had congestion and sore throat. I had sore throat and achiness. It's been since Wednesday, but still hanging on. I feel like it's so mild, it's just been hard to shake. Yesterday we all felt better, but J & I didn't wake up feeling too good. I'm grateful we've been so super healthy so far, and have very good immune systems. This is Elyana's 2nd illness, and her first was only 2 days of runny nose, fever, crankiness. I am thinking of buying her the Tri-Vi-Sol finally (a vitamin supplement of Vitamin D, A and C). They're great at boosting your immune system. I haven't gotten it for her yet, because she gets 30 minutes every day outside, if not more. (A walk is one of our non-negotiable daily activities, like music or eating!) But with the changing of the season, and her now getting immunizations every month, it's probably smart. (We're doing a very modified vaccine schedule, based roughly on Dr. Sears alternate schedule, but with my choosing to eliminate some and delay everything from starting until 6 months. I'll post more if anyone has questions.)

This Saturday was opening day of Bow Season for Deer. It's an exciting time for Jonathan! I have been practicing on my bow, but won't get to try until we go home and family can watch Elyana. We did go Labor Day weekend to dove hunt, and I got one. Yes, just one. I was only out about 2 hours, because of a small-group committment, but it was fun! J got 5 so we had our traditionally delicious sauteed dove-breast in salted butter, thyme, and marjoram. So good!

Once Labor Day is over, Jonathan feels like autumn is on its way. I have waited and finally got to put out my fall decor! I think it's my favorite (with Christmas coming in a close second)! I have all sorts of orange and brown flowers, foliage, etc around the house. Then of course there's my wonderful candle collection! I have different scented oils and candles in Mulled Cider, Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin, Autumn Leaves, Harvest, Cinnamon and Cloves, and Creamy Caramel. They all add an ambiance and scent that I love! And ushering the day in with Pumpkin Pancakes with Hot Cider Syrup all the more convinced me that autumn will be here soon!

Elyana is such a beautiful, wonderful, precious baby! I love her so very much!!! She babbles a lot more, saying "dadada" "mamama" "bababa" "lelele" "gagaga" "uhgauhga" and other such noises! I love it! She is crawling around now, which we adore! But I don't think she realizes that if we're in the other room (and she can see us) she can get to us as well! It's more her way of getting to an out-of-reach toy! She continues to love being outside. At Grandma and Grandpa's they had a baby swing she could sit in, as well as a hammock and a sandbox! Can I say she adored all of those? We definitely need a sand box. She'd play for about 30 minutes, loving touching and eating the sand (I know, yuck!). Then we'd bathe off! She loves going HIGH in the swing. Same as when she sits with me on a big-person swing. If I'm not going high she's bored! :)

The eating thing she's gotten kinda funny about. Three times a day is more than she likes. She also now would prefer our food to her own. If we're eating or drinking something, she has no end of curiosity about it! But if it's her own mashed food, I'm good to get her eating a "full" (2-3 TBSP) serving of each at one sitting (oatmeal, fruit, veggie). She used to love it all. I'm not worried, because honestly I think babies are being pushed to start solids a lot sooner than they ever were, and the most nutritious thing for her right now is my milk anyway! It's more I have to stand my ground if I feel intimidated by other mothers who think my baby should be eating more solids. I am getting better at this and for the most part people are kind and non pushy anyway.

I still love cloth diapering!!! But I do wish I'd gone with Fuzzi Bunz, as my BG velcro holder seems to be wearing out. I have been putting off contacting them. Actually, I should be doing that instead of blogging. But what's more fun? Anyway, I know they'll replace it, but there's only a year warranty, and I know I'll just face this again with another baby. :( Ok, I just found out, I have to mail them my diaper covers, but at my cost (bleh). Oh well. I'll tell you how it goes!

We are training Elyana and she understands "no touch" although she doesn't always obey the first time (she understands though!). We realized she "whines" for things (toys, more food, etc) and so I'm working very hard to intentionally use signs every time this happens, and to not give her something at every whine. I try to let her stop whining, and tell her "more" (with the sign) and then immediately give it. Any success with this type of training?

Oh, and she's now quite the car traveler. She's done 8-hour car rides (or more) twice a month for the last 5 months, so she's getting very good in there. Minimal fussing! She plays, watches trees, and sleeps. I'm grateful for our little traveling buddy!

Monday, August 31, 2009

What to Post About???


I find this so hard what to post about! I feel like I have a ton to say!!! I am afraid of missing too much, so if you guys don't mind, I'll post "bullet-point" style so as not to overwhelm you all with wordiness! Also, maybe if I don't, I'll never get to it.

- I feel like I've been making super good meals latey. Everything is good! And more healthy in terms of vegetarian, or using the fresh-caught fish Jonathan's got this year, or relying on spices instead of butter/oil for flavoring. :) For example, some recent meals:
- Black Bean, Caramelized Onion, and Orange Tortillas - so yum! It's from Cooking Light, but I can't find the recipe online.
- Susi's Florribean Shrimp with Island Rice (notes: more curry, coconut milk instead of water in the rice, and use basmati wild rice mixture instead of plain white rice)
- Russian Black Bread - this went well with Borscht, as well as cream cheese/capers/smoked salmon!
- Grilled Honey Shrimp from Joy of Cooking
- Beef and Pumpkin Shepherd's Pie (very autumnal, used our venison instead!)

Anyway, all those turned out to be quite tasty (the mahi mahi needed some extra oomph, but still delicious). I'm sorry I don't have links for everything!

For all of June and July, I pumped 6-7 days a week and was able to save all of it, with a little set aside for "popcicles" for Elyana. I was sending it to a dear friend who has twins and wasn't succeeding in breastfeeding both of them (they were premature and in the NICU for a long time). All of August I feel I've struggled to do 3-4 days a week. I just don't enjoy it. But now I have to, since I add my milk to all of Elyana's cereal and pureed veggies/fruits. I just feel "behind" on it, even though I have stuff in the freezer and enough for each day, I feel I should be stockpiling more. :(

I was convicted that my complaining attitude about my workload was not due to the fact that I have too much to do (though I do have a lot!). But it would be solved if I did two things. #1 Rise Before Elyana! (which means setting an alarm and getting up) and #2 Having my time with the Lord first thing to pray and read Scripture to set Him as my Priority for the day. It's made such a difference. Getting up at 5:30 to get time with Him, then workout, and even get a shower in sometimes before she gets up, really helps. I feel ready to meet her, awake, happy, and as if I've at least gotten the two things that weigh really heavy on me if I miss them (quiet time and working out). And I am so thankful that my knees, which seemed hopelessly damaged from all my working out last deployment, haven't given me a bit of trouble! I don't do chair squats, but I do everything else. So grateful!

We have been out of milk for something like 4 days. I feel really bad about that. But we haven't been out to get any. I do have my Almond Milk around here, but nothing J will drink. He's been having oatmeal and fresh fruit in the mornings. Better that cold cereal in my opinion anyway. But I *do* need to get some.

Jonathan and I did learn he'll be gone for the next deployment this Christmas and Elyana's 1 year old birthday. I'm thinking if it makes any sense to do Christmas early, delay, or just forget it? Elyana's birthday I know we'll just do together after she celebrates big with all her uncles, aunts, and grandparents! The only thing I'm "looking forward" to this deployment is really working hard to get my post-baby body (or better) back. I feel like I can do it with another 10 weeks to work very hard and eat very clean.

I know I post pics of Elyana all the time, but she's just so CUTE! So I'll close, even though I have tons of other thoughts in my head.... Just means I should post later this week as well!

She has fun playing in water!

We've taken her in her push-buggy up to Dollar General, about 1.5 miles from our house (all sidewalk). She loves it!

J's hat (and patches)

Mommy, I love peas! They match my bib!

Love her faces!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nursery Follow-Up

I really want to thank ALL of you for your comments, messages, etc. It meant so much to me to hear from you, as I respect your opinions and thoughts on matters of motherhood. I really wanted to comment to each of you personally, but lack of time and effort has prevented me thus far. Karen: I love how happy your little children are with strangers and friends alike, and I reall value you opinion as a pastor's wife, so please when you get time, let me know what you do with your little ones and how you and your hubby view it. :) You can email or comment, whichever you prefer.

I really felt similar to what Lisi said, about wanting her children to feel a part of the Body of Christ, and learn to participate in the worship, prayer, and message. However, it would be misleading if I didn't say that my hesitancy about putting Elyana in nursery had much more to do with not wanting to leave my precious baby. But I do think that as she is older, it will be important to talk with her and ask her what she learned about the message. I think my dad did this at young ages, to where even at 10 years old, I felt my opinions and observations were given importance and were valid rather than "silly." I don't know what age we'll choose church instead of Sunday school, I guess that will depend on where we're attending church at the time, what they offer, and our children's own preferences.

Susi and my friend Angela both were pointing out how good it is for the child to "fellowship" with their friends or be loved on by nursery staff during church. Also how it's good to get time listening with your husband to the message, undistracted! Especially since this was Jonathan's desire, I wanted to please him and respond positively to this. Even if I don't "mind" the distraction, this is an issue of honoring his wishes and trusting that he has our baby's good in mind as well. Angela also mentioned I could get comfortable with the workers and policies by working there myself! I have been meaning to do that for a long time, and have done it in our previous churches (2 year olds, though).

Oh, and we do keep her with us for the worship, and once the last song is being sung, I took her out. She really enjoyes the singing, and gets into it and "sings" (babbles in a long sing-songy way). This minimizes the time she can get fussy, lets her participate (she adores music), and lets me check her in when it's not so rushed at nursery.

That said, Elyana did pretty well actually. I was shocked to check her in and see three nursery workers and (including Elyana) only about 3-4 babies (I couldn't see for sure). Pretty much a one-to-one ratio. They were very kind and the room was super quiet. Peaceful. Of course it was just one week. Anyway, she did cry some toward the end, they said, but she was resting in a lady's arms as we got her. She came easily to us and was just ready for her nap. It really was nice to sit next to Jonathan during the message and listen with my full attention. I was very ready to go get her, though! I miss my little munchkin, even if it's only 30 minutes apart! (J and I have only ever left her twice for dates, and with family each time.)

Anyway, it will be a good thing, and I intend to watch her each week to see how she adjusts, how her immune system handles it, and if she begins to enjoy it. We both are at peace with having her there, but have agreed that were she to start getting sick a lot or cry a lot, we would reevaluate. For now I know it's good.

She did amazingly well with the shots, never even getting fever. We used tylenol one time the next day, as she seemed fussy in a way unlike herself. The Pc shot left a hard little pink spot that took longer to get rid of, but now it's gone as well. I feel so relieved that now she's gotten the first in a series of three of the 3 vaccines we'll let her get until she's 1.

I know I post a bunch of pictures of Elyana, but she's so cute and she gets the bulk of photo time now (especially since J works a lot more hours now than he used to, booooooo).

Look at her teethies! Two now. They are so cute!

Jonathan likes giving her lemons. Not often and not for long. And I wash her hands right afterwards so she doesn't get acidic juice in her eyes.

Downtown Savannah... Our Georgia Peach we call her. :)

On the boat ride with the uncomfy life preserver.

Reading to herself.... (well, turning a book's pages at least)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Humbly Asking For Your Thoughts

Time has come for me to seek out advice from my dear friends who read this blog. I wish I could actually talk to you all in person, face-to-face, as our little ones play on the floor together. But as that will have to wait for another time, I'll just pretend we are sitting in my living room, toys spread across the floor, inteacting with our children as we try to hold a steady conversation.....

[Now imagine if you will, we're sitting on the floor, because heaven forbid we sit on the couch while our not-perfectly-steady babies explore and reach for the myriad of toys we have out. We must be in range of little baby-hands, that sometimes accidentally claw and push each other. Where were we? Ah yes. We also have Vanilla Lattes in hand, as I've lovingly made them with my Breville espresso maker. We begin a conversation.]

So, I have this concern. My heart is torn about what I should be feeling, and how to have the right perspective on it.

[Do go on...]

It's about church.

[Worried look.]

No, no. More specifically, about Church Nursery. You see, if I had "my" perfect way, Sunday service would not involve separating from my child. Church feels anti-family to me! Not all churches, but ours and many I've attended do. I definitely see the value in a "Nursing Mother's Room" and "Baby Cry Room", but I don't understand the idea that church is for adults and older children only. That babies should be "removed" because they are always disruptive. That it's unacceptable to sit in the back or top balcony and let your baby play quietly, and if they start getting noisy, to take them out. I am not advocating screaming, yelling, or even happily-squealing babies in church. But I do not see why it's inacceptable for generally quiet babies/children to be present if the parents want. I have heard from the pulpit, "we have places for them" (nursery/sunday school), where it's clear they aren't really accepted in the service.

[Horrified Look]

Let me get a little more specific. I do want my (or any) children to have the opportunity to be in nursery/SS if they want it and like it. Growing up, in every church we went to, from the time I can remember (6 years old or so?), I did not enjoy Sunday School. I hated being away from my parents, with a strange teacher with strange classmates. If the Sunday Schools weren't age-separated, and I got to be with my siblings, I wouldn't have minded as much. In contrast, even as a young child, I never remember thinking church was boring or disliking it. I was glad to be there.

Also, my child is still little and cannot communicate what is wrong. As her mother, I know and can read her best. I want to make sure she is happy where I leave her. If she is crying or upset, I want to be able to come attend to her. Tell me, would a nursery agree to tell you pretty quickly if your baby fussed, or would they try for 5-10 minutes before contacting you? Because that seems like a long time for my baby to be upset for "no reason." (i.e. something avoidable) I guess that question depends, but what have your experiences been?

With all that said, we are putting Elyana in the nursery next week. I'd been delaying until she got her DTaP, Pc, and HIB vaccines. By tomorrow she'll have the other two, and that's been my agreement with Jonathan. He wants her in nursery. He wants an uninterrupted service sitting with me (not apart from me) and listening to the message not distracted by her. He is the leader of our family, and I trust his judgement and his desires/preferences on this. So nothing we say here will change what we do.

I just want to know what are your thoughts, as mothers, on this? I am looking for perspective as well, for how nursery can be good for our children. I want to hear things other than what's rattling about in my own head. My heart does not like this, but I trust the leadership Jonathan has in our family is a perfect balancing out of me and my tendencies and weaknesses. So we move on to this new event next week. But until then, I'd appreciate some wisdom from my friends.

[I put my cup to my lips, turn my head in a listening pose, and await your responses....]

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Teething Girlie!

Well, a LOT has happened since the last post. Elyana is growing by leaps and bounds. More on that later. But seriously, this teething thing deserves a post all in and of itself.

So remember how I said on her 6-month birthday, I saw the indentions of a tooth all ready to pop up? It was mainly reddish, but with the craggy outline of a baby tooth beneath. That was on a Sunday. By that Wednesday, the cute little white-cap was up! And it could have happened invisibly, had you only been observing our little Elly-bear. It was so cute. "Aww, the little toothie," we would gleefully exclaim. We never knew the enemy that lurked in the future...

Fast-forward to our beach trip with my family to Tybee Island. 7 glorious days. On this past Sunday, I notice the very same red, toothy-outlined area in her mouth, this time on the bottom left (the other was bottom right). By now her first tooth is a beautious thing to behold, making all her smiles that much cuter! So I was rather happy to see the appearance of another one. But literally, about 10 minutes later, DOOM set in. Without exaggeration, she was like another child! She cried, she fussed, and was upset! Then, by the time she got up from her first VERY short nap (45 minutes instead of her predictable 2 hours), she had a low-grade fever. Add in baby diarrhea (going #2 10-12 times a day instead of the 1 time). This tooth was a bad boy! All day she refused solids, nursed not very well, and needed lots of holding. When she's feeling bad like that, the best way to comfort her while awake is putting her in the wrap so she's near me by comfortable enough to rest. She only gets her paci at nap/night/car, but we let her have it all day, when she'd take it.

This continued all Sunday and Monday. The fever, even with tylenol, was still there occasionally. I was suppose to take her to get her 2nd round of vaccinations (pc and HIB), but called and we decided to get an appointment to see the dr instead. I just didn't want to be "assuming" it's teething and ignoring something else. It probably was just her tooth. The fever was never there Tuesday, but all the other symptoms were, except she'd gotten better at sleeping and nursing.

Today, Thursday, she is almost her normal self. Still rather fussy, but she takes her little pointer-finger and "feels" on her new tooth. It is adorable!

I'm misplaced my camera, so these are all a little grainy since they're from an iPhone.

Playing one day with "Pouf" - a gift from Uncle Carter

In Savannah, Jonathan took us on a boat and we motored downtown, ate, shopped, and walked. Elyana hated the life preserver, but loved the water.

Mom & Elyana downtown Savannah

Jonathan picked a morning-glory and stuck it behind her ear. What a cutie!

Her Daddy took her on her first carousel ride! Nummy, let's eat the pole!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Elyana - at 6 Months

Our little one isn't so little anymore! 6 Month doctor's visit stats:

Weight: 16 lb, 11.5 oz
Height: 26"
Head: 16 3/4
Chest: 16

So in the last 6 weeks (we did her 4 month one at 4 1/2 because I was out of town), she's put on 1lb 9oz (about 1/2 an ounce a day), grown 1 inch in height, and grown 1/2 inch in head, as well as chest. Her percentiles now are in the 76th for weight and 66th for height. Looks like the Graydon side may be catching up with her (all the girls are short), as she's no longer in the upper-top percentiles. But she's healthy! And that makes me happy. Funny how, I never am really convinced she's eating enough, but everywhere I go people tell me what a big/chubby baby she is. I take that as a great compliment and love her chubby cuteness!

Her first tooth appeared on the morning of her 6-month birthday! Well, more-like an abcess, but two days later, the little white-jagged crown of the tooth made its appearance. I have tried to take dozens of pictures of it, to no avail. All too bright (flash) or too blurry (without flash). Ideas? I should say I'm thrilled about the tooth, but honestly it's the first stage I'm a little sad about, as it means those toothless baby-grins will be gone in a little while. I LOVE those drooly smiles! But I want to be glad about every new phase. I just was in no hurry to lose it.

She loves oatmeal! That was her first cereal. She really enjoys eating time and is such a little angel. She laughs, plays, and eats without a fuss. I LOVE it so far! She gets a tablespoon of cereal 2-3 times a day. I am starting to mix in something with one of the "meals" (i.e. veggie or fruit). I mix it all with my milk, of course.

On a typical day, she nurses 5 times a day (7, 11, 3, 8, 12). 7am is her usual wake-up time, which suits me fine. 8:30 is her bedtime, and that works for us well. She does still wake up around midnight for a feeding to make it to 7. I adore our nighttime feedings. I lovelovelove them! I love the sleepy night-time nursing. I love how she's not distracted by anything else, has her eyes closed, and is just so content to be next to me, peacefully nursing and cuddling. I seriously have NO desire for her to sleep through the night and miss this special bonding time. *sighs dreamily*

She is such a happy baby!

We unswaddled her for good about a week ago. She was getting so strong, she was getting out of it and that was disturbing her sleep anyway. She is an active sleeper! She likes to roll, grab her feet, and sleep on her side at times. She seems to do well, except for this new talent: rolling onto her tummy. That, she cannot figure out how to get out of. Definitely happens every night, and usually during a day nap. I've tried to let her figure it out a little more during the day, but we're just not there yet. Until then, oh well. I don't mind helping my precious little one out!

She is so smart and doing everything she should at this age:
- she's been sitting unassisted for a month
- drinking from a sippy cup
- repeating some consonant-vowel sounds ("k" and "g" are her favorite although singing/happy-screaming are her real favorite way to vocalize)
- holding herself in a standing position (unassisted) for up to a minute with a toy/table. Tons longer if we're helping.
- she is understanding object permanance (will look for a person who leaves the room, will look for a toy I've dropped inside something even if she can't see it)
- transfer things from one hand to the other
- work to get out-of-reach toys (she loves sitting in her bumbo, dropping blocks, and working to get them back to her!)
- objects when we take something away (developmental, but not enjoyable)

That's it for now. This tooth is becoming more visible, so that'll be in the next batch of pictures.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pictures!!!

Elyana turns 6 months old on Sunday! I'll do a "what she's doing now" then, but for now, here are some wonderful pictures of the past few weeks....

We are not starting her on solids until she's officially 6-months old, but we give her little "tastes" of things. I let her suck on frozen blueberries we picked, since Jonathan had been feeding them to her (skins off) and she adores them so.


Push-ups!


Snuggled down in Aunt Catherine's robe


Swinging.... they both look happy!


Elyana screeched for joy when we would swing with her in our laps.


Jonathan and I put her to bed, and went out to our first romantic night-out alone since she's been born. His parents kept watch over her, and we were glad to know she would be in good hands were she to wake. We had an amazingly fun evening and loved, loved, loved being together!


Here is my beautiful sister Karen, and little 2 1/2 week old Michael Stuart. He is so precious! And, like usual, Karen just seems to effortlessly and gracefully slide into role of "mother of three" while being a loving wife, sister, daughter, and friend. And she's exercising with weights already - talk about disciplined! I hope I can be this self-motivated and joyful.


Elyana adored this little push-car we found at Nana & Papa's (apparently, Seth & Karen bought it years ago for Katrina). We are getting one for here!


Can you tell the girls loved pushing their cousin all over the courtyard?! They did it for almost an hour! I love to see them playing already.
My wonderful father with his 3rd grandchild. Three granddaughters, and now a 4th, the first grandson. Just like how he had 3 girls before he had a son.


Look at them all playing... I hope and pray these cousins can grow up and be the best of friends.


Elyana again, in the kiddie-car. Lucy (the german shepherd) faithfully followed. Elyana went nuts over her, she loves all animals so far.


She swam in Nana and Papa's hot tub for Two Hours (only mildly heated to bath-like-water for her)! She is a little mermaid! She got splashed in the face a bunch of times, and never cried! See how her feet are like prunes?!


Another shot of Michael Stuart.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Products I'm Living By This Summer....

I know this is not my typical "how life is" post. But if you're like me, you love getting a tip for a great, affordable product as much as the next girl. You love having one go-to product that someone you know personally uses, that they say delivers every time.

And if you're like me, you adore seasonal products. That means, if it's summer it smells of fresh scents, works with the heat and humidity, and isn't a hassle.

So for this entry, allow me to say a few words about the products I'm using now-a-days.

Ah, Envia's Conditioning Hair Masque. My mom got it for me, after Elyana was born. Having long hair, and never being able to resist coloring it every few months, gives me extremely dry/damaged hair. Add in the daily blow-drying in the winter, and the occasional straightning and curling, and you've got even more parched hair. Enter this masque. Most masques make my hair so limp, I won't use on a day I know I've got to go in public. I already have volume issues! That or they leave the scalp super oily by that evening/the next day. This one? My hair is so soft and smooth, and not oily, even the next day. Love it!


I discovered this in January and packed it in my hospital bag for Elyana's birth. The morning after she was born I used it and it felt like I was on an island getaway. Seriously! It brought back memories of my 1 year anniversary getaway with Jonathan to Grenada. It made me envision warmer weather and a suntan! Now that summer's here it is the perfect fragrance for a mini vacation in the shower. Heavenly!


My sister Mary, aka the Fashionista, introduced me to this. I used to love tanning booths, but with a baby they are a thing of the past. So I'm constantly on the lookout for a gradual tanning lotion that will not stink, rub off on clothes, or be sticky. This fits all the but last one, and it's only sticky if you wear jeans. Love this, I can use it even day and it's not horribly obvious I'm faking it. :)

This, I adored when I saw it in the Sephora summer catalog! My brother and sister-in-law had so, so kindly gifted me with a Sephora gift card for my birthday, and I only too happily went in to purchase this lovely bronzed, summer palette! I adore it! When I combine the liner with any three of the shawods, on my already (fake) tanned skin, it looks like I have been to the pool and am now ready for a fun evening out! Super beautiful combination, really my favorite one to date, and easy to stash in the purse in case I couldn't get my whole regimen done at home, to finish up in the rearview mirror (once parked, of course - you know you do it too!). My only wish? That this came with applicator brushes and/or had a spot for them!
There you have it.... Denise's summer survival kit! :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pictures..

Look what our little Princess has been up to...

She met some horses, and loved them...


She swam in a floatie in a big-person pool that was cold (compared to what she's used to).


She found her feet and loves to suck her toes!


She turned 5 months old!


And she got a perfect, handsome, boy cousin!!! Michael Stuart came into the world at 4:30am on June 17th, weighing 9lb12oz (for my petite 5'1'' sister who only weighs $1 dripping wet, that's a feat in and of itself!)