Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Constants.

At a time in my life where there are so many uncertainties I feel like I could drown, I have to remind myself to hold on to the constants, to those things I know will remain regardless of.... well, just regardless. I hold three things (soon to be four) as constants in my life. First, that I always come home to and crawl into bed with my best friend. The person who understands me most in this life. And loves me anyway. That is the most comforting feeling in the world to know that at the end of the day, no matter what, I have a partner in this life. Second, that my sweet Mark needs me. As long as he lives and breathes, my sweet baby boy will always need me. He always will. Sure, the "needs" will undoubtedly change, but just as I still need my parents, he will always need me. Hand in hand with that is that I will always need him. Always. That need will  never change or cease, it will only grow, as my love for him does. Third, that I have a wonderful community of love and support in my family and friends. Sure Christmas time gets hectic trying to make sure that we spend time with everyone....but that "hectic-ness" is such a blessing. Something I should not complain about. Number four will undoubtedly be Jack when he arrives in March!

Those are the things in my life that make me feel so unbelievably blessed. I was reminded this week of how short life can be. Two loving parents lost their precious baby boy entirely too early, he was only 20 months old. My heart aches for them. I cannot fathom the pain. When I try to, even for a second, I am overwhelmed with grief. I hate that it took something like that to make me take a step back and realize how blessed I am. How at the end of the day, if I lost the material "things" in my life, I would be rich because of the love that is in it. The reminder could not come at a better time than Christmas, when it's easy to get caught up in the gift aspect of Christmas. Don't me wrong, I love shopping and the whole experience of giving gifts to our loved ones. But at the end of the day, I need to remind myself that if I can't give as much, it's ok. I know Mark could care less if I wrapped up some used tupperware or brought him some plastic toys. What he really wants is love from his mommy and daddy. And since I was so painfully reminded that we are never promised tomorrow, I have been trying to give out love to him more so than usual. To remind myself that this could be the last time we did x, y or z. The short of it is Mark has been getting a lot more kisses (which believe me, he already got a lot), and a lot more rocking at night. I have been making an effort to put my phone down when we sit together to play blocks at night. To hold him when the Christmas movie is on and not sit him in his chair. He is growing up before my eyes. It's a new word every other day and his independent nature is really starting to show. I am loving watching him grow but still trying to cherish these moments when he fits in my arms and wants to be there.

Even though life is pretty uncertain, remembering the constants helps to plant my feet on the ground. For me, that is the love of my family and friends. No matter what life throws at us, as long as I continue to have those relationships, I can handle most anything. Until then, I will cherish those moments and try to create as many special memories as possible. Merry Christmas!!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What did you say?!

Most recent words:

1. That's Yuck

2. Light (while pointing to the light)

3. Bubby

4. Jack (actually comes out "Ja" but we're working on it)

5. Opa (only every now and then)

6. Papa (same as above)

7. Daddy

8. Mommy

9. Lily and Layla

Watching Mark learn how to communicate is so awesome.

Boy oh Boy!

So in case you haven't heard, which I'm sure everyone has by now, we are having another BOY!! We found out yesterday. I was convinced that I was having a girl from the moment I saw the second line. My belief was reaffirmed since this pregnancy began so different from the first. But I guess it is true what everyone says, all pregnancies are differently no matter what. I would have been happy with either, so long as my baby is healthy. When you are younger you think about what gender you prefer and the birth order and so on and so forth. At least I did. Then again, I have wanted to be a mommy since I could tote around a baby doll. That desire took a brief dip circa 1999-2001  but in the back of my head, I always thought about my future children. Then you find out you are going to have a baby and all those concerns about pink or blue don't even matter. Maybe it is because I do a lot of reading, maybe it's because I am married to a doctor, but regardless, I am well aware of how miraculous of a gift a healthy baby is. When so many things can go awry, and they don't, well it is nothing short of a miracle in my eyes. I am not suggesting that a unique child or a child with different needs is in any way not a gift. I do not feel that way at all. I simply mean that for a baby to survive gestation, and be carried to full term with viability, well that leaves me feeling awed. Anyway, so when I got pregnant a second time, I thought it was a girl but it really didn't matter. I would be happy with a boy for a plethora of reasons, mostly, I love little boys and they love their mommas. Since Mark and Jack (yes, we've picked a name, more on that later) will be so close in age, how great that they are of the same sex?! And a small bonus, I don't have  to go shopping. My wallet and husband are very appreciative of that. Now, I do want a little girl at some point. We are not finished having children. They say if you want to be taken care of when you are old, you need a daughter. I agree wholeheartedly. Also, I have such a wonderful loving relationship with my mother, I want to experience that as well. I want to support my daughter as my mom does for me.

So we are having another boy and I am so excited about little Jack. Jack has always been my first pick for a baby boy name. Since before George and I got married, I had my boy and girl names picked. Jack was always it for a boy. But I also always knew that our first son would be named after George's father. And it helps that I love the name Mark. I also love the tradition and honor behind it. Bonus- it suits my little Mark. That being said, I am so excited I get to use my other favorite boy name. I find that once I give the baby a name, I feel more connected to the baby growing inside of me. I know it is nothing compared to the feeling I will experience when they place him in my arms, but for now, I feel even closer and connected to my Jack and that is a wonderful feeling.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Aha Moment....

For those of you who have not heard, our family of three will be a family of four by April 2013. I know what you're thinking as I have heard it all "You two didn't waste any time," "wow, so soon," and "how old is Mark??" Most people were as shocked as we were. I found out on Friday the 13th (of July). To say that I was shocked is an understatement, it was more like jaw-dropping, haze-induced stupor. I just could not believe what that extra line meant. I went through the next few days feeling completely out of control and slightly panicked. I had so much worry it was making me nauseous. This was not part of our plan. I felt this way for several weeks until I had an aha moment. I was pretty stressed about what this would mean for our immediate future. I knew I wanted more kids, that wasn't the stressful part. It was all about the timing, a control-freak's MO. I could ramble on and on about why this isn't the perfect time, and how it changes everything or I could just shut up, and take a moment to realize how unbelievably blessed I am. After my a-ha moment, I decided to choose the latter. Because the fact of the matter is, I was being selfish. I was not seeing that second line for what it meant. Now, to say I am not still stressed would be a lie. I am terrified at times, but I am also over the moon excited more often than I am scared.

I remember saying when I had to have to a C-Section that the powers-that-be must really be trying to tell me that I have no control in this thing called life. Well, apparently, God must have felt I didn't hear his message, because he sent me to my knees with this one. Here I was, complaining about how this wasn't part of the plan, we wont have enough money, where will we live, blah blah blah, when I was deeply humbled by the thought of, "What if the person you are complaining to would give anything just to be in your shoes at this moment." That's when I realized I wasn't being punished, I wasn't being "taught a lesson," instead, I was being given a miraculous gift, and it was my job to love and cherish that gift, just as I did when Mark was first placed in my arms. I'm not sure why that thought popped into my head when it did, but I am certainly happy it did. One of my biggest worries was how Mark would feel with a new baby, and how it would take me away from him. My sister said it so perfectly: "Your love will not be divided, it will multiply." So simple, yet so true.

Now as I enter the 2nd Trimester, it is hard to recall those strong emotions I had initially. Part of that I know is due to the rush of pregnancy hormones that exaggerated EVERY thought, feeling, emotion. Today, I am excited about my "love child" as George so lovingly refers to Baby Bensabat #2. I cannot wait for Mark to discover being a big brother. I cannot wait to hold this sweet little gift and love him or her as strongly and without reservation as I do Mark. Thanks to everyone for their support through this, I have some pretty amazing friends and family who never told me to quit complaining, even though that is exactly what I needed to do. And if I offended anyone, from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. I was being selfish and inward looking and it took a moment of humility to put me back on course.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What did you say??

So Mark is starting to say words. And it is the cutest thing. EVER. Seriously, that little voice. Ah, it just makes me feel so warm inside. As of today, just a little over 13 months old, here is what he can say

1. Dada: his personal favorite. Sometimes he calls the wrong man dada. He kept referring to Uncle Pierce as "dada". This is not as embarrassing as when he said dada to the woman who appeared to be transitioning to a man at a store that shall remain nameless. Talk about awkward!

2. Mama: My favorite! He used to only say it while crying. Now he says it while chasing me around the kitchen when I am trying to get dinner ready.

3. Woof: We kept saying, "what does the dog say" and he would say "woof." Now, whenever he sees a dog, he says "woof." Genius much?! I think so.

4. Roo-Ray: translation "Hooray." Whenever the song "if you're happy and you know it" comes on, he immediately says "rooray." He can't wait to get through the clapping of the hands and the stomping of the feet, he skips straight to his favorite part.

5. Uh-Oh: He has been saying this for at least 5 months but it is still just as precious. The connection he makes with the action is the best part!


That's it for now. I cannot wait for him to speak, and for all the funny things that kids most certainly say!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mark's Year in Review

Happy First Birthday to my sweet sweet  boy. I love you more than words can express. I wonder if the day of your birth will forever feel like it was yesterday. Because that is exactly as it feels now. I can still remember the butterflies in my stomach as daddy drove us to the hospital. I remember him trying to eat cereal out of a Mardi Gras cup and feeling too queasy to finish (you will soon learn that it takes a great deal to curb your father's appetite). I remember so few cars on the road (it was 3:00 am afterall). I remember feeling like I was having an out-of-body experience because unlike a mother who labors and delivers her baby, I knew that within a few hours, I would meet you. The anticipation was paralyzing. The excitement was palpable. I remember walking through those doors to the hospital  when it was still dark outside and stopping immediately to go to the restroom (of course). I remember feeling calm for the 2 hours or so of fetal monitoring and surgery prep. I will never forget the feeling when they said it was time to head to the OR. They could have wheeled me in but I remember telling myself "no, you are scared out of your mind but this, you have control over, you can walk in there with your own two feet." I was terrified but I walked in there, one hand closing my gown from behind and one hand pushing my iv-cart. My blood pressure spiked and it took ALOT  of work to place my epidural (apparently my vertebrae are close together). The nerves got the better of me and soon I became nauseous. I was literally a ball of nerves. I remember daddy coming in and me asking for his hand. I remember him stroking my face and telling me not to be scared, that I would be alright. I remember him standing to look over the curtain even though part of me didn't want him to. Then, I remember your glorious, healthy cry. That is when time stood still. I didn't have a care in the world other than that my baby boy is here at last and he is healthy. I could take a lifetime trying to explain that feeling, but the truth of the matter is I could never do it justice. One day you will understand, but not until they place your first child into your arms and you look into his or her eyes. Then you will know. Then you will understand. 

Although your birth is etched in my memory as if it were yesterday, the surrounding days are a blur of tears (both yours and mine), diaper changes, pain pills, pavlik harnesses and leaky boobs. I remember only feeling at peace when you were in my arms, I could not get enough of you. I could have drank your scent for an eternity. My perfect, healthy, strong baby boy. Those early days turned into weeks and into months. And my tears grew seldom, although yours did not necessarily. Although much of those early days left me with a sense of overwhelming emotions, I would live them over and over again if given the chance. But that is not an option, we must go on as life does and what a joy it has been to watch you grow. This past year has been a whirlwind. I cannot believe how fast it has flown even though we have done so much with you.

I think I always knew you would be strong-willed, I just didn't comprehend the extent. I had an inclination when your Apgar scores were 9 and 9, meaning you came out strong. My first clue should have been when you  wouldn't flip into the normal head down presentation so mommy could deliver you naturally. Oh well. You are a very good baby, happy most of the time. You are challenging when you are sick but I am pretty sure that is part of the male genetic makeup so I do not fault you for this. You love going out in public to people watch. In that respect, you are just like your father. In most other ways, you seem to have my personality. Good luck son, I drive alot of people crazy :) You are strong willed, and you like to be in control. You want to do for yourself. I don't mind letting you either because I strive to raise independent children who can do for themselves. You know what you like and what you don't and you will not be persuaded to do the latter. You could take or leave the whole eating thing. That is not like me or your father. You pretty much only like cheese. In my moments of exasperation, I tell myself that one day I will wonder how I ever complained about your small appetite  because I know in your teenage years, you will probably eat us out of house and home. Even though you aren't that interested in table food, nursing you seem to enjoy.  You have a smile that is infectious and you share it often. At school you have been referred to as the cute baby who is always smiling. I have to agree with their assessment, although I know I am biased. In my eyes, you are the most beautiful baby who ever existed. You love your puppies although the verdict is still out on whether the feeling is mutual. You love being outside or in the water. If you are in a mood, either of those will turn things around immediately. You love trying to figure out things are put together. You can be entertained with a bucket and small objects which you place in the bucket and pull out of repeatedly. The list of your abilities is endless, but it is enough to say that watching you discover this world is the greatest gift I have ever been given.

On your first birthday you are more of a toddler than a baby-baby. However, you will always be my baby. I will never be able to look at you without remembering this time, how you cling to me when you are upset, and how you still at my touch. I know those things will not always happen as you grow, but I will not be able to forget them. Nor would I ever want to. I vow not to treat you like a baby when you are older but in my heart, you will always be just that.

I wish Maw-Maw Boo could have been here physically with us this year. I know in my heart she would have shared my joy at watching you grow. I also know that in reality, she did just that. Albeit from far above. It gives me peace knowing that you have her as your guardian angel. She took excellent care of me in my tender years and I know she will do the same for you. Her love knows no bounds.

Happy Birthday my sweet baby boy. I love you so much and cannot wait to celebrate all of your birthdays as you grow. Love always and forever, Mommy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My (almost) Year in Review

As I approach the celebration of the one year anniversary of my first child's birth, I am contemplative. So much has changed, not much is the same. I am a little teary over how fast my sweet baby is growing but every age and stage is so much fun and I am so excited to watch him grow and develop. But I want to take a moment to reflect on the changes within me over the past year. There are too many to write I am sure of it. But here are a few.

So I run now. Yeah, hard for me to believe as well. If you would have told me that I would find enjoyment in this exercise a year and half ago, I would have laughed in your face. Now, when I say "enjoyment" I don't mean that I enjoy running in all regards. Specifically, I loathe the first 10 minutes or so of the act. I don't know how I find the strength to run past that period, but somehow I have. What I do enjoy is the feeling after the run is complete, the way my clothes fit afterwards, and my general psychological well-being throughout the day. I slightly enjoy the feeling after the first 10 minutes of running, only slightly. Those people who say they get a runner's high, well I don't know what in God's name they speak of. Maybe that is because I haven't run more than 35 minutes straight. Who knows. I don't think I will ever love any form of exercise that much as to get high off of it. I exercise because it makes me feel good afterwards, it makes me sleep better, it increases my endurance, and mostly, because it makes me healthier. That is the overall goal, to stick around as long as possible and spend as much time as possible with my family.

Now, I have always exercised ever since my senior year of high school (which is now more than 10 years ago, tear). I have had periods where I am consistent and stick with a program but overall, I exercise when I felt I needed to shed some pounds. My mentality changed in the summer of 2010 when I was unemployed and looked to P90X as a distraction. I started to feel incredibly strong and that feeling was better than watching the numbers drop on the scale (although that was certainly a good feeling as well). I was losing weight and feeling great and them BAM, I got pregnant. I had not reached my goal weight but who cares when you are going to be a momma!?! I managed to exercise until one week before I had Mark (my OB ordered me to stop). I did cardio and weights and it really helped me feel more comfortable. I did gain 32 pounds, more than I should have though not as bad as it could have been considering I deprived myself of nothing (food wise).  After my c-section, it was weeks before I could walk upright let alone think about exercising. However, I did the best calorie burner available- breast feeding! I lost 20 pounds within the first 2 months. Hallelujah! It took months before I could power/speed walk and being the throws of adjusting to parental life, it just didn't happen with any consistency. Knowing I needed to shed the rest of the baby weight (and then some), I joined weight watchers in January. I started increasing my exercise and would do jog/walk combination approximately 4-5 times per week. I was losing but it was Sllllooooowwww. At the end of April, I decided to try the Couch to 5K app and I couldn't be happier with the results. I am now working in weight training with the running and I feel myself getting stronger every day. That is a feeling that I love. I often ask myself why I think I can run now when I could NEVER do it before? The only change in my life (albeit a huge change) was having Mark. I don't think I really changed physically after having a baby. Well certainly not stronger, maybe weakened by the c-section. No, the change is mental. I view pain and discomfort in a completely different way. My tolerance for uncomfortable things has shifted and I view the entire concept drastically different. I know that like parenting, you have to be incredibly tough and oftentimes perform in a way that is less than pleasant. I also know that every parenting moment is not always "enjoyable," although at the end of the day, the overall experience is definitely such. Clearly, parenting is harder than exercising and obviously the rewards are greater, ten fold. But the truth is that walking through that door and parenting to the best of my ability has given me strength I didn't know I had. And that, is how I get past the first 10 minutes.

So here I am, one year after giving birth and I weigh less than I did before I got pregnant! YAY!!!! I was back in my pre-preggo jeans (which every woman knows is kind of a big deal) in 9 months and back to my pre-preggo weight in 10 months. To date, I have lost 38 pounds since having Mark. Now, I know that Mark weighed 8 pounds and then there are the other incidentals. But regardless, there was a lot of other stuff that wasn't just the baby and the incidentals. It feels so good to be rid of all that extra weight!

As I mentioned before, I have exclusively breastfed Mark since birth and we are still going strong. Not one drop of formula ever touched his perfect little lips, or any juice for that matter. I am extremely grateful that I was able to breastfeed for as long as I have. That is not to say it was always easy. The first few months were really hard. Seriously. I got a couple cases of clogged ducts, one case of mastitis, and I had oversupply issues. Even without those, breastfeeding is not easy at all initially. However, it is one of my finest accomplishments. My body has given my son life for over 22 months. That is powerful knowledge. I look at my body completely different now and am awed by its strength.

I know this post suggests that my biggest change in the past year has been physical. That is a misnomer. In reality, I am most changed in my heart. I am now a mother, which next to being a wife, is my most important role. I did not know I could love someone so much, from the moment I first laid eyes on him. I also didn't understand that this unconditional love grows deeper every day. I am a stronger and better person today because of my son. He has taught me so much about life and love that I will never be able to thank him enough. He makes me want to be a better person. Motherhood is fraught with challenges and is completely overwhelming at times but it gives meaning and purpose to this much-too-short journey of life. I can say without any doubts that it will be my greatest accomplishment and legacy in this earthly life.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Before I forget

Mark,

History has clued me in that my memory will fade and there will be a time when these events escape me. In preparation for the future, here is a list, in no particular order, of what you have been up to as of late:

1. You are happiest when you are outside.




2. You sleep like an angel. You go down for the night at 8 pm and sleep untill 7 am. It is our fear that your future siblings will not sleep as well as you. So far, you take after both mommy and daddy in this respect.


3. You sleep so much sounder in our bed. It is tempting to let you sleep in our bed more often but you are our first child and we are determined not to create too many bad habits. yet. Besides, you do love your bed. So much that you wont let mommy rock you to sleep.



4. You wave bye-bye.




5. You say uh-oh. It's is adorable when you drop something and say it right after.

6. You HATE having your diaper changed, or putting clothes on. I think you'd be naked all the time if you had your way. According to mimi, mommy was the same at your age. I dread when you discover how to take your diaper off.

7. You nurse 4 times per day. I am not sure if you will self-wean, but my inclination is that you will need some urging from me.

8. You pretty much say daddadada all day. Every now and then you look at me and say mama and my heart melts. I have been trying to teach you "duck" and "dog" which I think you are trying to say when it comes out "DA" and not followed by another "da"

9. You dance whenever there is a beat. of any kind. You even danced to the rythmic beat of the dog panting the other day.

10. You have 8 teeth! 4 on top and 4 on bottom. And, no it doesnt hurt when you nurse because you don't use them to nurse. It only hurts when you are done eating and you get bored. OUCH! That rarely happens anymore, thank God.

11. You have discovered that where the dogs sleep is also big bowl of water, perfect for splashing. AND, you want in all. the. time.




12. You are cruising, full speed ahead.



13. You started climbing. So far, it's just on the bumbo...I'm a little nervous about what is to come.



14. You are a happy baby.

15. You chew on your pointer finger...I think this may mean you are getting more teeth!


16. You LOVE the water. The $10 kiddie pool from Target was a wonderful investment.

17. You love being around people. We can take you anywhere because watching people makes you happy. Your particular favorite is the grocery.

18. You are over the "only mama" phase and love your dada. You go to him willingly and with a smile on your face.






19. You play well with others. For now. I attribute this mostly to daycare although I know the no-sharing phase is probably right around the corner.



20. You love water. Just like me! No juice for you yet, only water and you are totally fine with that. 

Video Montage

I haven't blogged in almost a month. The truth is two fold. Mostly, I haven't felt inspired or felt the need/desire to write. Secondly, and probably the primary reason, I have been soaking up the moments spent with this adorable face.


George had weekends off for about 4 weeks in a row and it. was. FABULOUS. Seriously, I forgot what weekends actually feel like and it was so lovely to do things as a family. Have I mentioned how much I CANNOT WAIT for residency to be over with and to have my husband back?! Anyway, I have been trying to really be in the moment with my family. Which means when Mark is awake, he has my attention (for the most part, I do have to keep a house y'all). I find myself staring at him, and feeling so overwhelmed with emotions that are difficult to describe in words. But I'll try. They include love, hope, adoration, anticipation, nervousness, fear, joy, elation, and awe. You get the idea, I am totally head over heels in love with Mark, sad about how fast he is growing, yet simultaneously excited; scared about what the future holds yet equally, if not more, hopeful. I love this little guy so much and I am amazed by him every day. I am so unbelievably blessed to watch him grow. I could go on and on with adjectives because the truth is motherhood, and parenting in general, encapsulates so many varying emotions. At the end of the day, I would say I all of those emotions combine and leave me with a sense of peacefulness.

Other than relishing in raising my baby boy, I have been planning his First Birthday party. I seriously should have been an event planner, it is my passion. Oh well, my kids (and George) will just have to suffer my compulsions turning ordinary activities into events for the rest of their lives. Did you notice I said his FIRST birthday party?!?! How can it be? It does not feel like a year ago that we met our son. It feels more like 6 months. It amazing how my perception of time has shifted.

Mark has been discovering new things like  crazy, and it is so fun to watch. Here are a few videos of his most recent activities....

....You will see a good bit of this going on, and every day, he gets a little better at maneuvering this thing:



 
...this is new and I think he picked this up from Bennett Maloan. We had a wonderful play date with Bennett and his mommy, Lindsay. Bennett is 18 months and was interested in the Bumbo. Mark, who has ignored this thing for as long as I can remember, was somehow fascinated with it the very next day....
 


...And every day, without fail, you will see ALOT of this...


Ok, so now that I am back to writing, I have about 3-4 different posts swirling around in my head....stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A little of this, a little of that

Jeez, I have really fallen behind in my blogging. and just when I promised to do better. Sorry! All I can say is that things have picked up at work (slightly) and at home (tremendously) so I have little time for much else. SO MUCH has been going on. George's work schedule has eased up quite a bit so we are getting a lot more family time. Here are some recent  snip-its of what has been going on in the Bensabat household, in no particular order:

1. We had a trainer evaluate Lilly. She didn't see anything that made her think Lilly needed to be re-homed. We got some training tips that we are trying to fit into our hectic schedules. She noted that re-homing Lilly would be more traumatic to her because of her age than it would be to keep her kenneled 24/7. In the meantime, I am trying to give her extra love when Mark goes to bed, not yelling at her when she is near the baby, and allowing Mark to feed her from his highchair so that she associates positive feelings towards him. We are taking it one day at a time...this I find, is my new mantra.

2. We took an adults-only trip. I highly recommend it for all parents. Even if it is just a night at home with the kiddos at the grandparents. We were refreshed and recharged when we picked up Mark on Sunday. It was really nice to have one day to only think about me. I love my life but at times, a break is nice.

3. Updates about my sweet boy: Mark got another tooth, for a grand total of 7. He is standing on his own for a few seconds at a time. He LOVES music and has quite the rhythym (see video below). He LOVES cheese, and not much else. Food is going to be a battleground I can see. Every morning, after he nurses, he is the sweetest most cuddly baby ever. He just lays on me while I scratch his back.  He loves being around people, the grocery is one of his favorites. He does not like NOT sleeping in his own bed.



4. We have a big decision coming up soon. George is about to begin his third and final year of residency and with that means the job hunt is on. Stay tuned for updates!

Currently, I am planning our vacation to the keys (think grocery lists, packing lists, menus etc.) Yes, I have a problem. I am also planning Mark's first Birthday party which is kind of a big deal. Even if he does not remember it, I always will. I am trying not to think too hard about the fact that my baby boy is almost one! I feel like he just got here. Life goes by way too fast. I am also trying to make a special slideshow of his first year (a tradition I hope to continue until he is 18 as well as for my future children). THAT is taking up a lot of time. I promise (for the fifty-first time) that I will be better about blogging. I have been trying to spend more time with my family since George is home more often now.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Parenthood Dilemma # 1 out of thousands

For those of you who know our dogs well, you all know we have been worried about Lilly's ability to get along with our future children. Well, fast forward to present day and our worst fears have been realized. She is threatened by my sweet baby Mark. We know what must be done but it is breaking our hearts to think about getting rid of Lilly. Melissa said it best when she said "if she only knew what repercussions she just started..."  You see, Lilly is slightly obsessed with me. It is probably my fault as I treated her like my child from day one. I even held her on my hip (my clock has been ticking for a while now :) ). She would nap on my chest. When she got older, she would sleep in my bed, under the covers with one head on the pillow and I would scratch her until we both fell asleep. In short, the dog is rotten. And because I got her when I was in college, I had oodles of time to devote and attention to pour on her. Now, not so much. I feel so guilty about what little time I have to give to my child, that I honestly don't give Lilly much attention at all. Part of me feels bad about it, part of me doesn't. Anyway, Lilly would be content to sit by my side all day and have me scratch her back. It's like she remembers how it used to be. Mind you, we are talking about something that occurred over 5 years ago. But she must remember.

When we brought Mark home I thought things would go great. Lilly wanted to be by Mark and me and she never showed any signs of stress or aggression. Now that he is crawling, it is a different story. Remember how I said Mark is enamoured with Lilly and Layla, well kick it up a notch now that he crawls. I was not home to witness it but he crawled up to Lilly and was pulling her hair and touching her and she snapped at him, but did not bite him. We were freaked out but were willing to discount the event since he was harassing her. However, the next day, when Mark was crawling in her general direction, she bared all of her teeth and was snarling at him. I've seen the look before. She does it to other dogs and if they move any closer she will literally lose her sh* and go psycho until the dog is belly up. That terrified me. Two days in a row, and none of her toys or any food were out. She does not want Mark by her.

We called the vet who recommended a behavioralist but did not seem optimistic about the chances of Lilly and Mark being able to co-exist, unless they are kept entirely separate. She also acknowledged how difficult it is to keep an animal entirely separate from a baby. She confirmed that we were right to take this situation very seriously. Lilly is a big dog- almost 70 pounds. She has made other dogs bleed. She is extremely dog aggressive and the only dog she gets along with is her sister, although there have been times when they fight so bad blood is shed. Although those instances are very seldom, maybe once a year if that. She also bit my little brother when he was 9. He was messing with her collar and when he did not stop, she bit him. On his face. She didn't break skin but he had teeth indentations on his face.

As I sit here typing about her past behavior, I see the writing is on the walls. My dog does not like children, she feels threatened for whatever reason. We are going to try the behavioralist but I am not optimistic. In some ways, it will be easier to hear a detached professional tell us that it would be better if we re-homed her. Then I would feel like we gave Lilly a chance. I can't imagine her in another house, with another family. Or our family without her. I thought my kids would develop a relationship with her, atleast Mark. And remember her fondly. Unfortunately I dont think that will happen anymore. Although Lilly does not like other dogs or small children, she has been a wonderful dog. She LOVES adults. She will literally lay by your feet all day. Of course she expects a little back scratch in return. But in all, she is a wonderful dog in a home of adults. I will be so sad if we have to get rid of her but I have to make the best decision for my child. I cannot and will not put him in danger when I can prevent it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mama's Boy

So my little bit is quite taken with me. If I am within eyesight, he is whining unless I am sitting by him. If I am sitting by him while he plays, every 30 seconds or so, he looks back to makes sure I am still there and then for further verification, reaches out that cute chubby hand to touch me, just to make sure I'm not some figment of his imagination. Or atleast that is what I think he is doing. If I am holding him, you can forget about getting him to go to you willingly. Even if "you" are dada, sadly. If you are holding him and I walk by, he will leap out of your arms towards me. hold tight. 90% of the time, this melts my heart. 10% of the time, I get frustrated because there are things I need to do that are difficult to do with 20 pounds of cuteness in your arms. Also, I realized quickly how much I am like my mother within moments of Mark's first whine. I would rather full-blown tears to the whining. Dear God, it grates on my last nerve. Much like the teeth-grinding Mark currently finds as a good way to amuse himself.  I just cannot take it. That being said, I know I need to appreciate this time because before I know it, he wont want much to do with me and I'll be craving a simple kiss or hug. Or I'll be doing this.  It's easier said that done and it is an undeniable fact that we don't know what we have until it is gone. I could go on and on about how head over heels in love with my sweet Mark but I do that frequently. But being a mother is not all roses and ponies. It's tough. Definitely the hardest thing I've ever done. Coincidentally, it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done and certainly the most meaningful.

Mark is certainly becoming his own little person. I think it is sometimes easy to forget that a tiny little baby who cannot communicate with words can have such a strong personality. My mother put it best when she described him as "willfull." He is very determined, and aside from wanting me with him constantly, he is independent. Although he wants me nearby, he does not want me to hand him his toys. Oh no, he would much rather wiggle and struggle to grab that toy on his own. I consider myself to be a very independent person so I am allowing this personality trait to blossom. I let him do for himself, although feeding at the moment is quite the task. He cannot manage utensils yet so I am always trying to find healthy and nutritious finger foods. We had sweet potato pancakes last night that were a hit!

I have said this for months but I notice that he is frustrated with his limitations. He wants to walk. Desperately. He is happiest when I am holding his hands while he walks or when he is standing at his music table. However, he is wobbly and he gets mad when he falls down. He was so easy going for the first 7-8 months of his life and now that we are nearing month 9, I think we are in for a treat. We got a glimpse of what his temper tantrums might look like this week. It could have been related to teething and a persistent cold but I remember the moment when he was having a meltdown and George and I just looked at each other and although no words were exchanged, we had "uh oh" written all over our faces.

I am bracing myself for the storm and reminding myself that although I used to judge (pre-baby) parents of toddlers who had temper tantrums, karma is  B. Now that I am a mother, I know that all that judgment was my inability to understand. ALL babies have temper tantrums and it in no way reflects good parenting, or the lack thereof. And like everything in life, you cannot truly understand until you have experienced it firsthand. Oh joy.  I am a little nervous of what's to come. I know we'll get through it but the anticipation has me slightly rattled. Yes, I am a control freak so it will be quite interesting to see how this head-strong mama deals with her equally head-strong son who melts her heart one minute but is ripping her hair from its roots the next. Literally.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Must-Have Baby Products

The other day my mom asked, "now that you've had some time to use all of the products you purchased for baby, which do you think were not worth buying?" I had to think a bit on that one and that inspired this post for what I believe are must-have items before you bring that sweet baby home. Since quite of few of my good girl friends have yet to have babies, I hope this post is relevant. You can put some of these items on your registry or just purchase them yourself. Either way, you're going to need them. Again, this is just based on my personal experience, many of you may disagree with me.  Also, all babies are different and I only have one. Most of my links are to Amazon.com products. I strongly recommend subscribing and setting up the delivery system, it is such a time-saver.

**I'll Update as I think of more**

 

Must-Have for New Mommies (in no particular order):


1. Happiest Baby on the Block  Book. The 5 S's are amazing and truly saved our sanity in those early months. Read this preferably before you have the baby, although I read it when Mark was a couple weeks old and we were able to implement the 5 S's pretty quickly. Keep this book at your fingertips in those early months because you may find yourself in a haze and not able to recall all of the tips...especially at 3 am.

3. Diapers. Lots of them. In some of my reading during pregnancy, and believe me I did LOTS of that, it estimated that in the first 6 weeks you would go through 600 diapers. It recommended that you get 100 of newborn size and 500 of size one. Mark weighed 8 pounds at birth and was a big boy. Those amounts worked for us. We tried Pampers, Huggies and Target brand. The Huggies and Target brand leaked often as breastfed babies often have more frequent and looser stools. We are still using Pampers now and love them.

4. Wipes. Buy the non-scented ones initially. New baby skin can be incredibly sensitive and harsh smells can cause irritation. We purchased an extra pack of cheap washcloths and used that with a squirt bottle of water in the beginning to help with the diaper rash. It cleared right up.

5. Laundry Detergent. You will need to wash all of baby's clothes, blankets, burp cloths etc (i.e., anything that will come in contact with baby's skin). We personally used Dreft because I love the smell. However, it is definitely overpriced and All Free and Clear is just as gentle and about $5 cheaper.

6. Laundry Basket. Anything will do, but because baby's clothes need to be washed with the gentle detergent initially, you will want to keep the laundry separate.

7. Diaper Pail. I am a fan of the diaper genie. It kept the odor contained. Then again, Mark was exclusively breast fed and poopy diapers of breastfed babies are so much less foul than their formula fed counterparts. If you get the genie, you will need the refills. Whatever  pail you choose, choose one that contains the odor or else you will be making many trips to the trashcan.


8. Clothes. This is where many people go overboard. Sure, it is very exciting and I fell prey to draw of it all. However, I quickly learned that babies spit up on ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. As well and peepee and poop on it. And trust me, there is a lot of all of the above. So, in the early weeks, invest in casual clothes that can be stained and easily washed. Save the smocked garments for when baby is a little older and isn't pooping 8-10 times per day. I recommend footed pajamas that baby can wear all day and the gowns for at night. The gowns are awesome for middle of the night diaper changes...easier on you and not as disruptive to baby. Onesies are great for warm-weather newborns. If you purchase 8-10 of each of these, you will be set for the first couple of months. Of Course you will need a couple of outfits that you deem appropriate for socializing but dont go overboard. The footed pajamas are acceptable attire for many months. If you do purchase some out-of-the-house wear, I recommend soft, breathable cotton. Avoid harsh materials with irritable fabrics.


9. Bottles. For us, this was trial and error. Mark initially liked the Breast Flow bottles but then we let time lapse (big mistake) and when we tried to reintroduce, he was not having it. He ultimately took to the Tommee Tippee. I have heard good things about the Dr. Browns (except that they are hard to clean) and the biggest pro for the Playtex Drop-Ins is that they are so easy to clean.

10. Bottle cleaner. The brand for this will depend on the bottle you choose. But definitely get one of these as your standard kitchen sponge will not get into the grooves of the bottles/nipples and you want to make sure you are cleaning every inch of your bottle.

11. Nose Freida. This is SO MUCH better than your standard nasal aspirator. That being said, hold on to the one they give you in the hospital. But DO NOT purchase one from the store, as it will not work as well. Trust me, we lost our one from the hospital and purchased 3 different ones, none of which worked. I had to call our pediatrician in a panic and because he is awesome, he gave me another. Then I discovered the Nose Freida. It is awesome. And don't worry, you will not get anything you suction in your mouth-it is protected.


12. Swaddle Blanket. This is part of the 5 S's from the Happiest Baby on the Block Book listed above. I had the muslin blankets (see #40) but I preferred the velcro swaddlers. Mark couldn't break out of those.


13. Burp Cloths. I preferred cloth diapers because they were easy to wash and much more absorbent.

14. Bath Towels

15. Wash Cloths
16. Shampoo, Body Wash and Lotion. There is much debate between organic and non-organic. We use Johnson and Johnson Lavender and I absolutely love it. I think if I smell it when I am 90 years old I will be brought back to the time when I massaged my sweet baby every night following bathtime. You may want to get a sensitive skin brand as backup in the event your baby is allergic to the perfumes.

17. Diaper Rash Cream. There are so many out there but our personal favorites are A&D Ointment and Desitin.

18. Pack N Play. You don't need one with all the bells and whistles and you only need this if you are going to have baby in your room initially. A simple one will do. If you do get one, get a couple of extra sheets for those instances where baby spits up, or the diaper leaks.

19. Swing. This is a polarizing item. Some babies love it, and some absolutely hate it. If possible, borrow someone's to see your babies preference before you dole out the money. If that is not possible, I have heard that most babies enjoy the side-to-side motion offered in the modern swings and that all babies do not like the front-to-back motion of the more tranditional swings.

20. Baby Bath tub. You will need a safe place to bathe baby.

21. Baby Monitor. Some people never use these. I never used it at night because Mark's crib is down the hall and I always heard him. I did use it if I needed to go outside during a nap or if we were watching tv in the living room and his door was shut. I have a traditional monitor that I have had no problems with, although I think I will invest in a video monitor for the next baby. Though I do not think it is necessary.

22. Changing Pad and cover.

23. Rectal Thermometer. According to health professionals, this is the most accurate measure for a baby's temperature. It doesn't seem to bother them when they are small.

24. Infant Car Seat. Do your research here. We have the Chicco Key Fit because it is the easiest to install. We did not opt for the Key Fit 30 ( ours is a 22 pound weight limit) because we were told that although it could last until the baby was 30 pounds, the height requirement was the same for both and most babies would outgrow the height requirement before they attained 30 pounds. We wanted a carseat that was an infant carrier as well because it was easier to pull the entire seat out of the car than to wake the baby.

25. Stroller with adapter for car seat. See above, it is easier in the beginning to just take the entire carseat out of the car, rather than trying to remove the sleeping baby.

26. Baby Carrier. I used a sling in the beginning because it was easier to get stuff done around the house with my hands free. George preferred the Baby Bjorn. During Mark's Colic-ey period, we would wear him and it always soothed him to sleep.

27. Rock and Play Sleeper. This is great for babies with colic or for a change-up from the swing. I used this alot  in the beginning. Then again, I put it away by the time he was 5 months old.


28. Crib Sheets.

29. Sheet savers. These are great to have down because in the middle of the night, when baby spits up or the diaper leaks, you don't want to have to change his sheets as well as baby's clothes. With this, you just replace the sheet saver.

30. Safe nail clippers. Their nails grow so fast and are super soft, like paper. You may want to just use a nail file although that did not work for us. I used the baby clippers in a well-lit room while baby was sleeping and peaceful.

31. Diaper Bag. Do your research here. You'll want one big enough for  a change of clothes, burp cloth, wipes, diaper rash cream, diapers, a few toys etc. but you wont want it so big that it is too bulky to manage. Try out different ones.

32. Activity Mat. Preferably one with a tummy-time option.

33. Toys- Get a few Brightly colored, soft toys.


34. Crib. Buy new here, don't get a hand-me-down. You want to make sure it is up-to-date with current standards.
35. Crib Mattress. Opt for a firmer matress for reducing the rate of SIDS.

36. Changing Table/Dresser Combo. This will eliminate the need for a separate changing table.

37. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

38. Large Dispenser of Hand Sanitizer. Keep it within arms reach for when you have lots of visitors coming to see your new baby. Insist that they apply a generous dose before handling your little one.

39. Infant Tylenol. Use only after consulting with your pediatrician.

40. Receiving Blankets. I recommend the muslin blankets as they can be used as a swaddle, or a light-weight blanket.

41. Teething Toys. Our Personal favorites are Sophie the Giraffe, Razberry, and The Mesh bags filled with either breastmilk icecube or frozen banana.



42. If you have a boy AND you choose to have him circumsized- Gauze and A&D Ointment


44. Baby in Sight Mirror. Put your mind at ease when you are traveling alone with baby in the car by  being able to keep an eye on him/her.

 

For the Breastfeeding Mother:

1.The Breastfeeding Bible aka, "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding." I am a huge breastfeeding advocate. Not only is it best for, and what was intended as baby's first milk, it also has tremendous benefits for mother. It is what nature intended. That being said, it is not easy initially; in fact, it can be really hard for some. It was for me. Fast forward almost 9 months later and parts of me are dreading stopping. I read this book twice before I brought Mark home from the hospital and I consulted it endlessly in the first 3 months. I know you may not plan to breastfeed, but I think you should atleast try. Any amount is better than none at all. This book will help you. It is a little extreme IMO in some instances but the knowledge is invaluable and the tips are helpful to say the least. Keep this book within reach as well, as it is difficult to remember all the information in a sleep-deprived state.

2. Breast Pump. Based on what you can afford, the hospital grade pumps are the better route. I have the Medela Pump in style and it works great. Although I have been told it might not last me through the next child.

3. Nursing Pads. You will leak in the beginning. ALOT. These will save you from having to change your clothes and sheets in the middle of the night.

4. Nursing Bras/Tanks

5. Lanolin.

6. Freezing/Storage Bags if you plan on building up a freezer stash and/or your supply.


8. Extra Pillows: It can be difficult to hold the baby to breast so the extra pillows will support your arms and the baby.

9. Bottles with Slow flow nipples

10. Hands free pumping Bra if you plan on pumping when you return to work.

11. Boppy Pillow or My Breast Friend pillow. I used the Boppy but I have heard alot of people complain about how it does not fit around their waist. I still use it and like it. I have only heard good things about the My BreastFriend Pillow.

Things you Dont Need:

1. Separate Changing Table

2. Bottle Warmer. You do not need this UNLESS your baby is going to be getting all of his/her meals from a bottle. Then you may want it. Remember that if baby goes to daycare, they will be responsible for warming most of baby's bottles.

3. Wipe Warmer

4. Bottle Sterilizer. An old fashioined pot with boiling water works just as well. This is just more stuff, and you'll soon realize you dont need any more of that.

5. Sleep Sheep/Sounds Machine. If you get this as a gift, keep it, but it is not a must-have. We used it alot initally but I used it to help me sleep, not the baby. It can create a dependency and that is something you do not want to do.

6. Bumper Pad. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against their use. Save yourself some money and don't purchase one.

7. Baby Mittens. Your baby needs to use their hands for fine motor development. Do not cover them. If you are worried about them scratching, trim their nails. And if they do scratch themselves, it is not the end of the world, their skins heals remarkably fast.

What do you experienced mom's think? Did I miss anything? Leave any tips in the comments below.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up

Phew! This week has been exhausting. Hell, the past few have been exhausting. George is on a rotation that requires him to sleep at the hospital every 4th night (not nearly as bad as Q3 Call). This means that I am on my own the nights he is on call and depending on the amount of sleep he gets on said shift (Range of 0-4 hours), he is so exhausted the next night that he isn't much help on post-call nights either. I don't blame him, I could NEVER work for that long of a consecutive period and I would be a holy terror if I had to. But I digress. So when George is on these rotations, a lot of the "managing the household" duties falls on me. This means running errands during pretty much every lunch break (cleaners, grocery, dog food, gift for upcoming birthday or party, gas etc). After work, once I pick Mark up from daycare,  he nurses as soon as we get home. I then I try to fit in a walk or exercise of some sort and come home to fix us both dinner. Dinner is followed by bathtime, cuddle time, story time, and prayers. Then I tuck my sweet angel in at 8. That leaves about an hour of time per day of "me" time before bed. After I put Mark to bed I am picking up the mess that has accumulated, making bottles, prepping food for dinner the next day, making Mark's babyfood etc. I love that hour for me, but I am often torn between laying on the couch to watch some DVR with George, updating this blog, or just going to bed early. Usually, an hour of mindless tv watching wins. I can't do the latter yet because I wake Mark at 10pm to eat one more time before I go to bed. I know this will shock a lot of people that I still wake him but I really really really love his 7 am wake time and I dont want to mess with it. And although he is doing much better with solids (more on that later), he still is getting most of his nutrition from milk and so I am not ready to stop. Besides, it is my favorite nursing, he is so peaceful and still which is a rarity these days. and I will miss it when I stop.

Before you think I am complaining, let me clarify that I feel incredibly blessed every day. Not every moment... sometimes I feel stressed... but more often than not, I know just how blessed my life is and am infinitely aware of the joy Mark brings to both of us. And though it is exhausting, I would not trade one second and I would not give any less of my time than I do. If I could, I would give more. I only wish there were more moments. I also know how incredibly lucky I am that I get about 7-8 hours of uniterrupted sleep per night and have been  since Mark was 11 weeks old. As I am constantly reminded, I most likely will not receive this gift with my next child. Mark is such a happy baby, always armed with a smile for everyone (particularly the ladies) and a hug for his momma.

As the title suggests, here are some musings of what we are currently experiencing (in no particular order):

1. We have a CRAWLER!! It started on Wednesday morning and though it was a little slow going for the first 24 hours, he is full-blown crawling now and loving every second. ::::Please ignore the excited parents voices, the dog panting in the background (we had just returned from our afternoon walk) and the messy room (this is what I "clean" after baby goes to bed):::



He also really really wants to walk but that requires assistance and my back is not a fan. Maybe I'll have to invest in this...



2. He is eating so much better. He eats 3 meals a day and one snack. He is still only eating about 8 oz of food per day and some puffs but he is showing more interest. This week we added mangos, apricots, green beans, yogurt and chicken to his diet. He loved everything except for the chicken. Of course if I mix it with fruit, he likes it but I think it is the texture. Sound familiar to anyone familiar with my eating habits??? He is particularly fond of his banana pancakes (whole grain mix, breastmilk, and mashed banana) and at daycare they say they cannot feed him fast enough. Mimi, get ready when he comes to spend the weekend with you in a few weeks- he'll be expecting some of your finest banana pancakes.  He is exactly the same with yogurt. He starts waving his hand at me and grunting if I dont feed him in a constant shoveling motion.

This would make my son very happy, if it were loaded with yogurt
3. I entered Mark into the Gap Baby Contest. Dont judge. I just think he is the cutest baby ever and the $1000 gap gift card sounds pretty good. Not to worry, I am not a pageant mom and this will be the extent of it. Or will it. bahahaha

4. After almost 9 months, I am back in my PRE-preggo skinny jeans!!! Insert happy dance here. I have been doing weight watchers and trying to be more active. That and the calories burned from breastfeeding is what has done it. This breastfeeding is an awesome diet plan. Maybe I'lll just do it forever and donate the milk??? There's a thought!

5. Mark had his first French Quarter Fest Experience. He was so good, never really fussing and just taking it all in. Nursing was interesting because it was warm and he does not understand why we need to be covered. Oh well, he got a little and then he wanted to get back to the party. We even took him to el gato negro and although I'm pretty sure he ate his weight in yogurt melts, we were able to have a couple drinks, appetizers and dinner with Mimi. Good memories.

6. I have discovered that Mark now has a special smile for me and a different but still special one for George. He gives them to noone else except mommy and daddy respectively. It makes my heart swell so much it might burst to see how his face lights up when George rolls over in the morning while Mark is nursing and he pops off to smile at daddy. I get a little misty sometimes when he gives me an entirely different, but just as wonderful smile. Being a mommy is hardwork but I am rewarded tenfold through moments like these.

So there it is, our past week in highlights. There have been plenty other wonderful moments, but I could go on for days and who would want to read that? ha. Even though our life is often fast-paced and busy, I would not trade it for anything. Mark brings so much joy to our lives and makes us better because of it. Thank you son for being you, for being wonderful and for being the highlight of my life. I love you more than words can describe.

Friday, April 13, 2012

20 Things I want my Son to know

So I cannot take credit for this idea or the inspiration for this entry. There are many variations out there but I wanted to write a personal list to my son.

1. I love you. You are one of the great loves of my life. Next to your father, I could not imagine loving another person so completely, without bounds and unconditionally. That is, until they placed you in my arms. I love you times infinity and there is nothing I would not do for you. This unimaginable love continues to grow deeper every day.

2. Be Creative. Draw, write, paint, compose, build. Whatever your heart desires. Don't be afraid to fail.

3. Forgive Others. Forgive yourself. Do not hold onto grudges, you are only hurting yourself. Let go of past hurts. Don't forget them and learn from them, but let them go. Do not let others hold that much power over you.

4. Dance in the Rain. Smile during the sad times, Find good in bad. You will be challenged in this life, but remember that this life is short and it is yours to enjoy.

5. Fall in Love. Love is love is love. It takes all different forms and I will support you regardless of who you love. Love knows no race, creed, gender. It simply is.

6. Find your Passion. Find something that sets your heart on fire and then go after it.

7. Be a Friend. Life is not measured by the moments but by the relationships we have in those moments. Be a true friend to someone, to many. I hope that by my example, you will learn what it means to be a good friend.

8. It's ok to be different. To me, you are perfection incarnate. We are all different, everyone is unique in their own way. That is what makes this world beautiful. Accept others for their differences and appreciate them; you will find that with this attitude, the same courtesy will be afforded to you.

9. You can Let go of your penis. Seriously. It will not fall off.

10. See the world. Not just for aesthetics but also to develop a deeper appreciation for different cultures and people. Seeing different parts of the world will teach you humility, respect and appreciation for what you have. Those are three invaluable lessons.

12. Dream Big. I will support you in whatever path you choose to make your living. However, you will earn your living and you will work for something.

13. If you fall, pick yourself up. Don't throw yourself a pity party, get back up, learn from your mistake and carry on stronger than you were before.

14. Be kind to those less fortunate than you. The true measure of a man is how he treats those who he can get nothing from.

15. Do not regret. anything. You are exactly where you are because of your past, do not regret it. Also, make decisions based on the mantra that you do not want to regret that decision after it is made.

16. Think before you Ink. God please do not destroy your body with ink ever. You will look rediculous. There are plenty of other ways to positively express yourself in this world rather than PERMANENTLY disfiguring your body. It may be the cool thing to do, but please, don't ever make a decision with that rationale. Be independent. And I promise you, the tatoo will not look good when you are 40, 50 and by 60, it will look disgusting.

17. You will always be my baby. No matter what. When you are holding your own baby, you will still be mine. So when I seem overbearing, it is because I will forever remember those long nights when I cradled you in my arms, rocking you and singing to you. I will never forget those nights when you put your tiny hands around my neck and squeezed. The way you looked up at me after filling your tummy with mommy's milk and smiled. I can't undo those memories and to me, you will always be my baby.
18. Learn how to keep house. Your future wife will thank me. You will learn how to do dishes, do the laundry, use a vacuum and mop. This is not a woman's job so you need to learn it.

19. You are never alone. No matter where you are, how many miles away you are from me, or even if I am no longer physically here, you carry my love in your heart. Hold onto it when you are lonely or scared. My love is always right there with you.

20. Know that wherever you are in life, you can come home. I will be there, always.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Goodbye, for now.

Approximately one year ago I said goodbye to the kindest, warmest and gentlest woman I've ever known, my Maw-Maw Boo. One year later and it still feels surreal to think that she is no longer physically with us. I say physically, because I know she is still with me, in my heart. I carry her everyday. I have so many fond memories of time spent with her that it is difficult to place my finger on a particular favorite. My parents divorced when I was very young and when my dad worked and we were not in school, we were at Maw-Maws.

I went to school on her side of the river but lived on the other. In order to help my dad, she would pick me up from school and sometimes, cross the Huey P to bring me home. I will forever cherish those car rides. She would always have a snack ready for me and we would listen to country music. One day, I mentioned that I liked Jimmy Buffett. Shortly thereafter she bought the cassette: Jimmy Buffett- Songs you know my heart. Now, my Maw-Maw was a church going woman and I never heard her say and unkind word, let alone a swear word. She was old fashioned and there were certain topics that just were not discussed. If you are familiar with Jimmy Buffett, you can imagine her horror when the song "Why dont we get drunk" came on while her 8 year old granddaughter was in the car. I'm sure I giggled and from then on, we fast forwarded that song every time. To this day, I think of her every time I hear that song. Weird huh?!

There are so many of her sayings that I recall. One that is vivid happened when we were very young, if we would pick our nose, she would say "habit, habit." I guess she was attempting to thwart this bad "habit." Kind of gross, but it still cracks me up to this day. If we were doing something gross, she would say "couchon" which translates to pig in French. After she would bathe the dog and brush him, he would go crazy running through the house. She would say "charge, Pepper charge" and we would join in, hysterically laughing all along. There was so much laughter in that house.

Some of my fondest memories are of her singing to us. Her particular favorites were Babyface and You are my Sunshine . It took me a long time to be able to sing them to my son. She died when I was pregnant and I am still heartbroken that she never got to hold himand he never got to know her personally. Now, I can get through the songs but all the while I am thinking of her. She also used to sing "Mammy's little baby loves shortin' bread" and I'm pretty sure when she sang it to me she changed Mammy to Mandy. That was what she called me.


She used to do so many thoughtful things for us. For example, I was a terribly picky eater as a child and she would, in an effort to make my food fun, cut my sandwiches in the shape of a star. I loved those star sandwiches. It was as if when they took the shape of a star, they magically transformed into something delicious! She was such a good cook and I can remember sitting in the barstools (which by the way, hurt like hell if you stubbed your toe on, which I frequently did), eating Aunt Shirley's biscuits or Egg in a basket for breakfast, my star sandwich for lunch, and orange sherbet for an afternoon snack. I was nothing if not a creature of habit and I ate the same thing, day in and day out.

God, I miss her. I talk to her alot in prayer but it is not the same. Her smile could light up a room. I remember at her funeral not wanting to leave her casket out of fear that I would forget her face. Well, I worried over nothing, because when I close my eyes, I can see her face clear as day and I can hear her voice as well.

She smiled not only with her mouth but also with her eyes.
I guess you could say that her whole face smiled.


 I can even hear her and my Paw-Paw going back and forth at each other as they did. They were an amazing couple. So in love. They had something so special and it was obvious to all of us who knew them.

I could go on for days with all of my special memories. The truth is that she was such an integral part of my life that my entire childhood is filled with interractions with her. She was tough when she needed to be and the sassy pants that I was, got punished frequently. But she was also so generous with her love and kindness. I miss you every day Maw-Maw and I will keep our special memories in my heart where I can share them with my children.They may not know you personally but they will know how amazing you were and how much I loved you. I know you are watching over us, it is your nature to be a caregiver. I hope you are having fun up in heaven, with your parents and brothers and sisters. Until we meet again, please watch over my baby boy. I tell him that you are his guardian angel. What an incredible angel to have.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Winter is Officially Over!

Here in south Louisiana, we don't really have "seasons" per se. Instead, the weather is pretty much described in 4 ways: (1) Hot; (2) Hot as Hades...this lasts from about end of May through September and it. is. brutal.; (3) Not so hot- this usually occurs during the months of March, October and November; and (4) Cold- this is not most people's definition of cold but for us Southerners, anything under 60, and we are COLD! This usually only occurs during the months of December-February. During this time however, any of the descriptors in numbers 1-3 also occur. April is an all-over-the-place month. Well this year was no exception. I was 9 months pregnant in August. Do you feel my pain?! Miserable. However, we didn't really have much of a winter this year. Sure we had cold days but there were days in December, January and February when shorts were appropriate.

But now, March is ending,  and winter is most certainly over. And with that, I had to pack up Mark's winter wardrobe. I feel like I am constantly packing and unpacking clothes for this child. He isn't overly big- just your average adorable and perfect baby boy. But I swear that boy goes through some clothes! Packing up his clothes is bittersweet for me. I am so excited for all the changes and watching him grow but I would be lying if I didn't say that my heart breaks a little when I think about how fast he is doing so. He is so independent...he wants to get his toys on his own, feed himself etc. George says he is like me, always wanting to do it for myself. I smile a little inside everytime he says this...Mark is a boy after my own heart! Anyway, the sweatshirts, sweaters, and long pants are packed and room was made for his summer rompers and bathing suits.

I know I need to pack up some of his "baby toys," especially the play-gym that he used from birth - 5 months but has not used since. It just sits there collecting dust because Mark is so big that he no longer is entertained while laying on his back with brightly-colored, moving stuffed animals floating overhead. Not him. He would rather be sitting up, holding those said stuffed animals. I asked George several times to pack it up but he never did. Finally, he said he didn't want to because it made him sad to put it away. This was the toy that soothed Mark from the beginning and continued to do so for months. It's music is etched in our memories. When George said this, it melted my heart. He isn't a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve and I am always the one driveling over how fast Mark is growing up. So with this explanation, I did not push him.

I have so many videos of him just staring at these toys.
Just in case I ever forget his love for this mat.
The rocket was his personal favorite!

Instead, there it sits next to Mark's playpen  (which we don't use as much as I thought we would), collecting dust. As far as I am concerned, it can remain there until we are ready to move it because it reminds us of how fast he is growing, to never take one day for granted.

In other news, and in line with the title of this post, I have purchased our first kiddie pool for Mark! George will be working ALL WEEKEND, and I figured it would be so much fun for Mark and I to spend some time outdoors (his favorite) in water (his other favorite).

We're going to have so much fun!!