Thursday, June 28, 2012

8 Months and 4 years

4 years ago, Jonathan and I got married. 16 months ago, we learned we were pregnant with the child we prayed for.  8 months ago, I gave birth to a giant baby via a peacefully planned C-section and an annoying recovery.

Today I'm counting my blessings and counting my hours of sleep as I prepare for a crawler and talker. She's so close to chaos. SO close.

Joanna is heavier and taller but I have no clue how much she weighs. She eats anything she can get to her mouth, especially buckles and straps. Her hand eye coordination is improving everyday. We give her food puffs each day and I can notice a difference every time - her little brain sponge is getting denser! I'm getting better about giving her solids each day. A bowl of cereal and a full fruit each day. Sometimes I'm really fancy and I'll mix them together and feed it to her twice. But that's only when I'm fancy.

Her words include Mama, MaMaMaaa, Mmmaaaaaa, meh, YaYa, Pffft, and she said Da Da one time. Jonathan was so proud!

She's a pro at this now.
Can you tell that daddy walked into the room?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bath Time Be Damned

Never have I met a child that complains so quickly when her bum is submerged in water. My child eats anything, sleeps beautifully, and laughs like Santa - but bath time be damned! She will not be duped into the tub!

Why do you hate me, mom?
Why are you letting her do this to me, Grandma?
I thought you loved me?

We've tried toys, we've tried happy faces and songs, we've tried more water, less water, more soap, less soap, etc. The only thing that semi-works is to clean her as quickly as possible while singing Rogers and Hammerstein in a Julie Andrews voice.

She is thrilled when she escapes her liquid torture chamber to cuddle with daddy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Abnormal Baby

I debated writing this post for fear that it would discourage many mothers. I also debated naming this post "Freak Baby".

There are millions of mothers with normal children that have normal baby problems. There are thousands of mothers with children that have exceptional baby problems. Rather than cower in a corner and keep my mouth shut, I wanted to take a moment to publicly thank God for my healthy, happy, and abnormal baby daughter.

[Sleeping] Joanna started sleeping through the night (4-5 hours) when she was a few weeks old. (This was likely one of the contributors to her diminishing fluff in her first weeks because I wasn't waking her up for feedings.) As soon as she started formula, her sleep increased to 6-7 hours a night. She slept through the night the first time she was in her crib at 6 weeks, too. When we started solid foods at 4 months, she started sleeping a whopping 10-12 hours a night. I don't know what we did right, but hopefully we can repeat it.  [Note: all of you mommies to be - don't expect your baby to sleep like this. We have a strange baby.]

[Solids] When we started solids, she took to it like cats to cream. Every food we try is greeted with an eagerly awaiting open mouth. (Avocados took a few tries, but she doesn't mind it anymore). Most children don't eat everything on the first try. Some kids have very specific taste and texture preferences, too. [I still do]. Our freak of nature enjoys everything we give her.

[Going Out] We started taking Joanna out to restaurants when she was one week old. She first went to Target at 2 weeks old. I now take her out about twice a week and she is very accustomed to strangers and new environments. She also doesn't even mind the creepy old people that come up and touch her face without an invitation.

[Schedules] We don't follow a schedule; we follow her lead when it comes to eating, sleeping, or wanting to roll around. Her body has its own schedule that she follows. When it comes to teething and growth spurts, forcing a schedule on a tiny babe seems counter productive and leaves everyone in tears. I've learned to read her so I know what she needs and when she needs it. She is also learning her own cues, like when she feels tired, it's time to go to sleep. If she rubs her eyes, I'm not going to keep her awake for another 30 minutes if she's ready to sleep now.

I think the biggest help in "training" a child to be easy going and open to change is to incorporate your child into your life rather than incorporating yourself into your child's life. If they think the world revolves around them, they will act accordingly. If they think they are a puzzle piece of a bigger picture, they will act accordingly.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Guest Blogger: Joanna

"Dad-dee, you're my favorite dad-dee. 

You tickle me, fly me in the air, give me mohawks, wipe my butt, and give me lots of kisses. You're pretty cool. Thanks for always carrying me to the car in my plastic basket. I like it. I can tell by the noise you make when you strain to lift me that you like it, too. Thanks for letting me grab that weird fuzzy hat you wear all of the time. I saw that some of it fell off of your head and is stuck to your arm so I'm glad I can help you by pulling it off. I can't wait to play with your legos and Star Wars ships. I also can't wait to ask you for things after mommy tells me no."

Now that mommy has regained control of the keyboard, I wanted to state that I adore my husband. It is because of this that we bought our little princess a Darth Vader shirt that she could wear on Father's Day.

And so I present:

Princess Vader 
Dark Overloard of Cuteness and Master of Squee

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baby Wearing - ratings by shoe

I love wearing Joanna! Now that she's 20+ pounds, her car seat carrier is a pain in the back. "Wearing" her is far more comfortable and promotes bonding that we don't get from my lack of nursing. I don't cover many technical details about each carrier, I just speak about my personal experiences with them. If you're looking for a detailed review that talks about the measurements and where it's made, I'm not your girl. If you want just a quick play by play of the carriers we've used and how we like them, then ta da!

Each carrier was given a rating of 1 out of 10, 1 being the "this is worse than lugging her in a carseat" and 10 being "omg this is the best thing in the world".  I'm also going to compare each one to shoes, because I like comfortable shoes and I wear shoes everyday. 

Moby stretchy wrap - 8 out of 10
Like a well-made comfortable canvas shoe

From 0-4 months, my olive green Moby was my favorite. It took about 30 minutes to master but it was well worth the practicing and frustration. It's incredibly versatile and stretchy - so its great for beginner mamas and beginner babies. They retail from $25 - $40 and are found at most major baby stores. When I was looking through photos to find what to post, I realized that I have more photos of me wearing the Moby than any other carrier. Joanna could fall asleep within minutes of me putting it on. I also liked it because it fit over my large chest and didn't irritate my C-section incision. 

Seven Sling - 4 out of 10
Like a strappy flat sandal: cute but not great for long-term use.
Seven Sling and Joanna at 4 months
My yellow and red Seven Sling was my emergency sling when Joanna was under 20lbs.  It's valued at $40, which is a rip off, but it was "free" with $12 shipping and $5 fee of some kind. I'd say it's worth $17 so I didn't feel cheated. It was great when I was in a pinch and needed something but forgot to bring a carrier. It's basically a cheaply sewn piece of fabric with no adjustment opportunities. They come in sizes and I read that they run small, so I bought a size 5 even though they said I needed a size 3. It fit perfectly for several months. Now it's in my big bag of baby carriers that I don't use.

Bjorn - 1 out of 10
Like a flip-flop: zero support, can cause immediate and long-term discomfort
The Bjorn with Joanna at 2 months
The Bjorn is like the 1980s cadillac of carriers. They retail for $100 - $150+. The price makes it seem like a good carrier, but it's honestly awful for the wearer and the baby. It hurts your back and doesn't support the baby's hips and legs like it should. (If you have a boy, its especially uncomfortable for their little one, too). I could last maybe 10 minutes before I would want to put her back in her car seat and carry her. I only used the Bjorn a handful of times.

Girasol Woven Wrap - 8 out of 10
Like one of those weird "foot shoes": it takes time to get used to before it feels like a second skin.

Girasol Woven Wrap and 10 day old Joanna
Woven wraps have a cult following. I'm not very good at them and they aren't as easy to use for beginners. However, woven wraps are the most versatile way to carry your babe. I have a Girasol wrap and I love what I can do with it, but I am eager to learn more. You can also do a back carry with woven wraps - you cannot do a back carry with a stretchy wrap. Woven wraps are good for post C-section mamas, too because it helps support the tummy while it supports the behbeh. They're also great for pregnant women that are still carrying other little ones outside of their body, too. 

Boba (3rd generation) - 9 out of 10
Like a supportive canvas shoe: I can wear it all day but it can get a little warm and sweaty.

Boba 3G - Kangaroo Print (Joanna at 6 months)
This is my go-to carrier when I need something quick, easy, and comfortable. It stays in the car at all times so I always have it on hand. This Boba is a structured carrier with buckles. There are multiple points of support (unlike the Bjorn) so it doesn't hurt after 5 minutes of wearing it. I've been able to wear her for hours of walking without pain. They can retail from $130-$150 but sometimes you can snag great deals and get them for $80 - $90. It is WELL worth the investment! This carrier will fit Joanna until 35 pounds. I can also do a back carry later on. The only reason this didn't get a 10 out of 10 is it gets a little warm in the Virginia humidity. It's all cotton and black, so that was my fault for not choosing a lighter color. 

Onya Carrier - 10 out of 10
Like a sturdy sneaker: all-day wearability with great support and breathability

I'm on the left wearing my Onya and Crystal is wearing little Micah in a Kozy. 
I don't own a Kozy so I can't speak to its awesomeness, but I've heard wonderful things. 
It's a structured carrier for people who prefer a mei tei style. I'm a buckle kind of girl. 

The Onya is one of my favorite purchases. When we first got it, it seemed too big for her. It collected dust until she was 6 months old. When I brushed it off and put her in, it was perfect! I bought the Onya Outback, which is a more rugged structured carrier. It's mesh and nylon compared to my cotton Boba. It breathes beautifully in hot weather (YAY!) and it even comes with an attachment so she can sit in a chair safely! Genius. Jonathan prefers this carrier because it looks more manly. It's super comfortable, breathes well, looks nice, and Joanna loves it. Here is a great review of the Onya. 

We lucked out and got it for $80 on Zulilly instead of the usual $150. It's a newer company on the market so if you're wanting one, you can keep your eyes open for baby sites offering killer deals.

If you want to buy just one carrier, why? Do you only own one pair of shoes? I think two is a great number for most people to have. The Moby is perfect for newborns and little behbehs because they are so versatile, cost effective, and comfortable. When the baby is older, a structured buckle carrier is easy to use, quick to put on, and some dads won't feel overwhelmed by it.

The best thing to do is find a retailer that sells multiple brands. Just like finding a good pair of shoes - you have to try them on to find the best fit. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I'm pregnant again!!

First let me answer your questions:

  1. Yes it was planned.. we just didn't think it would happen so quickly!
  2. They'll be 15 months apart.

Weeee! Let the nausea begin!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lasik: Pre-Op

If you've known me since the 2nd grade, you've known me with glasses or contacts. I wore my first pair of contacts in the 5th grade and never looked back.  Now that I'm 27, I realized that I've spent over 20 of those years in corrective lenses. Holy crap. I'm so blind, I can't see the giant E at the top of the eye chart. (And I'm not being sarcastic.)

Lasik eye surgery was always something I wanted to pursue but wasn't sure when I would have it done. I always thought I would wait until my vision was really awful - but why wait? Jonathan and I discussed it, researched it, and realized it would save us money in the long run, especially if the procedure is done while we're in Lynchburg.

Today was my consultation at Piedmont Eye Center. I had 7 different tests done to my baby blues. Nothing was painful but most were very annoying. On top of my awful eyesight, their light color makes them uber sensitive to light. It's the perfect storm that makes me a perfect candidate for Lasik.

After the results were computed, the nurse spoke with us about all of the nitty gritty details. The total cost for lasik procedure for both eyes, a post-op consultation, Rx eyedrops, and any additional surgery within one year that may be needed is $4,500. (The same procedure in Northern VA can be around $6,000.) But wait, there's more - we're getting a 15% discount because our friend referred us and another 5% off if we're able to do it in one payment. 20% off of $4,500 means we're paying $3,400 and saving $900! We were budgeting about $5,000 and we were pleasantly surprised to have some finances left over to chuck at Jonathan's school loans! Huzzah!

So July 19th is L-Day. It's a 15 minute procedure, one day of recovery, one week of taking it easy, one month of no swimming or eye makeup. The doctor and nurse answered all of our questions and made us feel comfortable in making a decision rather than pushing us into it. They were honest that some of their patients experienced issues but it was often a result of not following post-op instructions. I think the hardest part for me will be not wearing eye makeup for a month. It's like having naked fingernails - homie don't play that. But alas, the benefits far outweigh the risk. Even if I'm not given 20/20 vision, it will be far better than my current vision.

[Note: Please don't picture us rolling in money like Joanna rolled in her cloth diapers last week. We are far from rich. We live below our means, clip coupons, cloth diaper, and buy second hand. At this point in our lives, we've chosen to make investments in people and making memories rather than shiny cars and big houses. Lasik is a long-term investment that has immediate and long-term benefits - and I'm really excited about it!]

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fathering a Bride

We attended a beautiful wedding recently of two wonderful people, Derek and Michelle.

Michelle's dad fought back tears as he walked his daughter down a small path in a wooded area and into the covered patio to meet her new husband. Everyone smiled. Every women cried. The New River Gorge bore witness to the occasion as they exchanged vows and prayed. Andrew and I sang "I Have and I Always Will" while everyone cried again. The pastor pronounced, the 1812 overture boomed, and the couple began their march up the aisle as husband and wife! Awesome.

Originally we were going to leave Joanna with someone for the weekend but we decided to bring her along for the ride. People spoke with us about how adorable she is (duh) and made comments like "that will be her soon!" or "enjoy this time before she finds the love of her life." Jonathan usually replies with "Stop it. She won't get older" or "She's going to grow just old enough to run to the door when I get home from work, then she'll stop."

I'm praying that my daughter meets a man that dotes on her the way that Jonathan dotes on me. I'm praying that my daughter falls in love with a man that respects her the way that Jonathan respects me. The quality of man that my daughter seeks will be in direct relation to how she perceives our marriage. The best thing I can do for my daughter is put my marriage first. When a home is built on a strong foundation, it will stand for generations.