Monday, November 29, 2010

You are missed, Matt

I promised myself not to write very much on my blog this week, because it's a particularly busy one.  But I couldn't NOT share this.

Today would have been my cousin Matt's 31st birthday.  He's actually not my first cousin, or even my 2nd cousin.  I am, however related to him, as my dad and his mom are 2nd cousins. Maybe some genealogy genius can figure that out.

I didn't have 1st cousins close in age to me, so Matt & I, along with his brother and sister and my sister grew up more like first cousins.  We spent annual holidays together and visited each other during school breaks.  I could go on with memories and funny stories of Matt.

Matt's parents are my godparents - whom I love very, very, very much.

Matt's family is more than distant relatives to our family, they are close friends.

I say it would have been, because Matt passed away when he was barely 17 years old.  I was barely 15.

Matt took his own life.

To this day, I can barely write or speak about Matt without getting emotional.  And every year, as November 29th, Matt's birthday comes closer, I feel a little overwhelmed with sadness. 

And every year, right after Christmas, I am overwhelmed with sadness as we approach the anniversary of Matt's death.

Depression and suicide are tender topics.  And as you read both of those words, I'm sure you know someone who has been personally affected by one, the other, or both.

Maybe that someone is you. 

When Matt took his life he didn't understand what he was doing.  He didn't know how many hundreds of people would be devastated.  He didn't know that he would leave us with so many questions.  He didn't know that still to this day, his 'cousin' still weeps over him. He had no idea that every year, Thanksgiving and Christmas are soiled for his family.  He didn't know that every November 29th, instead of celebrating that he was born, the fact that he died tragically young overshadows it all.  He didn't know.  He couldn't have.

I wonder what he would be doing now.  What his wife and kids would be like (yes, he would be married - he had a FUN personality) .... What career path would he have chosen ....  I wonder how different life would be for his parents and brother and sister who are left with gaping life-size holes in their hearts ....Would he still be my friend .... What would he think of my husband and daughter?

It still makes me sick to my stomach when I see pictures of Matt - especially ones of him smiling.  It still hurts so bad. I'm still processing his death, and I think that's OK.

That's really all I have to say about this.  Depression sucks.  And suicide, well screw it. 

I love you, Matt.  And Happy Birthday.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Starting Young

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I took a chance, and saw a miracle

Do you ever have one of those God moments, where you know that you know that you know, that you are supposed to do something, but it may be a little embarrassing or a lot bit awkward?

I've had a lot of those moments.  For some reason, God likes to pick on me, and routinely chooses me to take part in those uncomfortable times. 

Like the time when I felt like I was supposed to empty out my wallet for a lady shopping in a store. She was dressed nicely and I was sure I was going to offend her.  Turns out, she was trying to buy stuff for her child and didn't have enough money to buy the things she needed. 

Or the time when a girl was telling me some deep stuff, the kind of stuff that needed deep healing, and I felt like I was supposed to hold her and sing over her?  Awkward.  I did it anyways, and she just cried.  Later, my husband was informed by her mom that this girl felt healing during that time and profusely thanked me for doing that.

The list goes on....I don't do these things because I suspect something, because my suspicions could be way off and I don't like to judge.  And I don't do them because they make me feel good.  I do these things because I feel led to. 

Unfortunately, I don't always follow through because of fear.  I would guess more often than not, I ignore

Well, two days ago started one of those awkward, embarrassing God moments for me.

I had seen a post on Facebook from someone that I know but I don't keep in touch with that often.  I saw he was in a relationship and of course, had to go see who this girl is.  I wasn't even a few pictures in, looking at  him and his gorgeous girlfriend, when I knew I needed to contact this girl about something very personal.

I was supposed to contact her, and just support her in this issue that God had spoken to me about.


Go out on a limb and talk to her about an issue that I didn't even know if she was dealing with.

Me, a stranger.

Her, a stranger.

This, a personal issue.

Someone who I hadn't even seen 5 minutes earlier in pictures.


Are you kidding me, GOD???  I've got a reputation to protect here!

Some of you may be thinking right now, "I bet she was supposed to point out sin" or "I wonder if she was going to witness to her".  No, it was nothing like that.  Nothing to condemn, only to reach out and love her and let her know that I was there. 

Yeah, me, the one she doesn't even know, is here to support her.

The least qualified one.

The one behind the computer screen.

This picture-looking-Facebook-stalking happened Sunday, and on Monday I thought about her several times during the day.  I wondered how I could pull it off so she didn't think I was a creeper.  As time went on, I convinced myself more and more that I just needed to leave her alone.  I didn't know who she is.  Who am I to message her about something SO deep?  I was proabably way off anyways.  I stomped out the fire in my mind and decided that was that.  No more thoughts about contacting her.

Monday night, at about 7pm or 8pm, my husband and I took a trip to a store, and intended to be very quick.  We had a tired baby, and the weather wasn't the best, but we figured it would be a good time to go because very few people would be shopping because of the bad weather.

Let this be said: any time either my husband or I go out, it is NEVER quick.  We know way too many people, and love to talk to them all.  This is why we used to drive an hour away from home to do our grocery shopping or shop in the middle of the night because a 10 minute trip to the store equals a 30 minute trip for us.

Our trip to this store proved no different on Monday night.  We saw a couple from our old church. Then we go sidetracked with a funny family from our new church. We then ran into an old friend of mine who has been going through some difficult situations.  We easily spent an extra 40 minutes in the store talking with people - which we LOVE!

Just as we were finishing our conversations, I saw HER.  The girl that I was supposed to contact.  She was with another friend of mine. 


If we would have left even a few minutes earlier, or skipped one previous conversation, I would've never seen this girl.

So there I was, this girl I had NEVER heard of 24 hours earlier, was right there, in front of me, in the SAME town, with a mutual friend there to coordinate some interaction.

I saw just a few minutes of this girl, as I was mostly talking with our mutual friend. But I knew God was definite in His decision to use me in this situation.

As we left the store, I could hardly wait to get home.  But yet at the same time, I was dreading it, because now I knew for sure that God had not forgotten about this girl and He hadn't forgotten about my invovlement with her.

I sat at my computer after India went to bed and typed and thought and deleted and re-typed.  Finally, I pressed the send button, and my words to this girl, left the safety of my delete button, and were now entering her Inbox.

And just like that, I was either about to make a fool of God and myself, and this girl was going to think I was psychotic or this was going to fit perfectly in her life as a source of encouragement.

I went to bed, wondering if some girl, who I didn't even know, was reading a message from me about perhaps one of the most personal areas in her life.  I wondered what she was feeling. 

When I woke up this morning and checked my messages, you cannot imagine the joy I felt when I saw my inbox contained a lengthy message from her, detailing some issues in her life right now, including the issue that I felt I was supposed to talk with her about.  YAY!! I'm not so crazy! :-)

She spoke of how this is quite possibly the craziest thing that has ever happened to her, but she feels like God is reaching out to her, through me, as she sits in some dark depths of despair.

To me, that is a miracle.

I am not bragging about me.  Trust me.  I wanted nothing to do with this at first.  Remember, I didn't contact her for about 24 hours, out of fear?  I was scared and afraid that I had it all wrong.  Or that she would reject me.  Or that I would get labeled a psycho or creeper or intruder. 

Really, this is ALL about God and this beautiful girl.  I just happen to be caught in the midst of it.  And I'm SO GLAD that I am. 

I don't wish to be anywhere else than next to someone, even a stranger, as they walk through dark, messy, heart-wrenching issues.  Because I know what it's like to be there.

Today, God has used the normal me, in a unique way.  Or maybe it's the other way around.  Maybe this is the "normal" way, and it's not so unique after all. 

Maybe we should be taking chances, and seeing miracles. 

Maybe that's the norm. 

How does God want to use you in a normal way today?  Do you ever have "those moments"?

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cloth Diapering - for the environment and on the cheap

Cloth diapering was an easy, natural choice for me. A few years ago, before I even started to think about having a baby, I knew I would cloth diaper. For me, it was a personal conviction as a Christian to take care of the environment. Also included in my decision-making was a major dislike of some of the chemicals in disposable diapers and a desire to save money.

My original intent has been to practice Elimination Communication with India, hoping to eliminate diapers within the first 6 months of her life.

Sounds impossible, right? 

Well, it's not. I've held countless diaperless babies, 6 months and younger all over the world, that go to the bathroom when given a cue by their mothers and don't wet themselves. Diapers are not an option. I also babysat a little boy 6 month old boy a few years back, and I practiced Elimination Communication during the few hours he was with me, and he used the toilet everyday for me, usually once or twice in those couple of hours!  So I personally have seen it work.

India has used the potty, as I've read her cues, but I haven't been very diligent in the diaperless arena YET, so back to cloth diapers.... :)

Many people have asked about me about our decisions in cloth diapering, so fasten your seatbelts folks, I'm about to share a whole lot of opinion with you!

In case you didn't know, the cloth diaper world is ginormous! It's way bigger and more advanced than most people are aware of.  Gone are the days of rubber gloves scrubbing poop chunks into the cold toilet water off of a big piece of fabric!  This no longer has anything to do with your mother's cloth diapers.

Cloth diapers also hold their value. I've seen used diapers being sold for nearly the same price as brand new!

So far I've spent around $307 on cloth diapers and accessories and technically, I can get by with not buying another diaper - IF I chose to do that.

This is what I have (items in green fit from birth to potty training):

9 sized diapers - either AIO's, pockets or fitteds
12 size small prefolds
10 one size diapers - pockets and AIO's
4 one size prefolds
24 one size flats
5 one size diaper covers
several inserts and doublers that I purchased separately
3 snappis
1 wetbag
1 reusable garbage can liner
3-4 dozen cloth wipes (most are sewing scraps)

If I go by all my one size diapers, excluding anything that is specific to size, I have 38 diapers that I can use from birth to potty training.

I will admit, for the amount of diapers I have, I really haven't spent that much. I have scoured the internet for sales: waiting patiently for the best deal on seconds and purchasing several diapers on buy one get one sales. A couple of the diapers I have were given to me by my sister and the one dozen small prefolds were bought by India's Grandma, Shelly - both saving me more money.  If I would have purchased the diapers given to me as gifts, I would need to add another $100 onto my previous total.

Currently, my favorite everyday diaper (and this changes about every two weeks!) is a Little Lions flat, which cost a little over a dollar a piece, folded in the trim kite fold. Side note: it doesn't take that long to fold a diaper, it's just a tutorial video takes a bit longer! :) These diapers are so popular and well-loved that they are sold out and have been for a couple of months. I was afraid to fold a diaper, and was sure I would only use prefolds as my everyday diaper, but I'm in LOVE with these!  I use a BumGenius flip cover on them most of the time.                            
                                         India in a Little Lions flat

I also love my Green Mountain Diaper small organic prefolds, which ended up costing a little over $2 a piece! Yes, $2 for an organic diaper!! These were my favorite before I found the kite fold for my flats and they have become a little small on India sometimes. I would like to get another dozen in a bigger size soon.
I also cover these with a BumGenius flip cover.

         Yellow Edge Green Mountain Diaper, about 13lbs

For going out, or when someone else is watching her, I love my Bumgenius Elemental organic AIO's. They are trim, absorbant and easy to use!

The only negative comments I have gotten about cloth diapering are about not being able to handle scrubbing diapers and "your bills will skyrocket with all that laundering" - both which are misinformed statements.

First, you no longer have to scrub cloth diapers in the cold toilet water with your rubber gloves.  India will be exclusively breastfed for at least the first six months of her life, and breastfed-poo diapers can do straight into the dirty diapers bin - no soaking in water. No rinsing, no scrubbing.

Once she starts solids, they sell diaper sprayers which attach directly to your toilet, so you can rinse off solids, then toss into the dirty diaper bin.  We have an extra long shower head which reaches our toilet, so we will use that to wash off the diapers.  There are also thin, flushable diaper liners, that you can line your diaper with when you learn your baby's poo schedule so you don't have to do any rinsing of the diaper.

Secondly, I expected our bills to go up with cloth diapering, but I'm surprised with what I found!  There has been hardly any change.  In fact, it's been so insignificant, I won't even blog about it!

When we begin talking about the cost of disposable diapers, conservative estimates total about $1,500 from birth to potty training per child to over $3,000, all contingent on brand of diapers and length of time in diapers.

I think I'm pretty blessed spending about $300 (or even $500) on diapers for several children. 

I wash diapers about every 3-4 days, depending on our schedule.  So at the most I'm doing 2 more loads of laundry a week.  Not bad.  Also, I line dry quite often, which saves resources.

There you have it, folks. It's long and detailed, but it's about time I shared with what is working for me and answered some of the questions I've received! 

Feel free to add any information or ask any questions you may have! I am by no means, an expert.  I just want to share what I have learned so far!

Have you ever considered cloth diapers? What influenced your decision to cloth diaper or not cloth diaper? 

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rest for Mom's whose babies AREN'T sleeping through the night

"Is she sleeping through the night yet?"

Not joking, I got asked this question when India was two days old.

Two days old!

I thought it was a joke, until I saw that, no, this was indeed being asked in a serious manner.  I kindly said that no, she's not.

After the question, "Is she a good baby?", the sleeping through the night question is probably one of the questions I get asked the most.  Oh, and I get asked about cloth diapers a lot (post to come about that too)!

Sometimes when asked, I just politely say no, other times I share information about how quickly breastmilk is digested and how most babies aren't designed to sleep through the night in the beginning.  But still, as a mom, I've gotten the stink eye because my baby doesn't sleep through the night yet. *sigh*  Sleeping through the night isn't a badge for good parenting.

It actually may surprise some of you that I DON'T want my baby to sleep through the night yet!  Let me explain.

Nighwaking is for survival in the beginning of a baby's life.  Babies have tiny tummies and breastmilk is absorbed within 1-3 hours of it being ingested.  That's why babies shouldn't normally go longer than 3 hours between feedings. I know I rarely go three hours without eating something!! Between the ages of 3-6 months, you can expect 1-2 nightwakings (more often for some babies). If a baby is missing this, and by missing this, I mean someone other than the baby has decided to skip the feeding, the baby is potentially missing out on vital nutrients. 

I'm a firm believer that just as we listen to our bodies when we are tired or hungry and we know what tiredness and hunger feels like, babies do the same thing.  They are born knowing what hunger is and what it isn't.  If a babies body needs sleep more that it needs a feeding, it's body will decide that. I know some nights when India is very tired, she will sleep for 8 hours(YIKES!) before wanting to eat.  Some babies sleep through the night at 8 weeks, while their older brother who is 3 years old still isn't sleeping through the night.

Which brings me to my next reason that I'm in no rush to get India sleeping longer - I really don't want my fertility back any time soon. As cute as India is, I'd rather just focus on her right now, thankyouverymuch.

God has designed women's body with built-in birth control through breastfeeding.  In practice, it's called lactational amenorrhea method.  Within the first 6 months of a child's life, if the mother is exclusively breastfeeding, not going for longer than 4 hours between day feedings and 6 hours between night feedings, and feeding on cue, not on a schedule, her fertility most likely won't return.  It has less than a 1% failure rate, if followed correctly. 

Some people who follow an even stricter method, don't see a return of their cycles until 14 months or more!  Since I most likely will do natural weaning with India, I wouldn't mind at all if I was that person!

Before you go and pull the goalie, and blame your next pregnancy on me, know that there is always an exception to every rule. Case in point, Michelle Duggar, who has publicly said that she ovulates even while exclusively breastfeeding. 

And I know 80 of you are saying, but so-and-so had kids back to back.  Well, maybe so-and-so is like Michelle Duggar or maybe so-and-so didn't follow the directions and supplemented with table food or added a little cereal to the babies bottle. Or something like that.

Probably the number one reason parents want babies to sleep through the night is so they aren't bothered and can get sleep.  No doubt, good sleep is imperative to mental and physical health.  I've seen the effects of that myself, although not since I've had a baby.  India was naturally a great sleeper, so we have been spoiled. However, we co-sleep, and that has added to the hours we sleep! 

Instead of getting up out of bed and sitting and feeding India, which would make me very tired, and miss much sleep, I (or Dallas) just grab her out of her bassinet that's in our room and bring her into bed at 3am, or whenever she wakes to eat. 

Very little fussing so we don't wake Dallas, and I miss 10 minutes of sleep at the most, as India and I fall right back to sleep together.  If she needs to eat at a later point, we just do some rearranging, and she is back to eating.  She then stays in our bed until she wakes up at 8am or 9am. 

One of my favorite parts of the day is when I'm awakened by my little girl, touching my face, "talking" and smiling at me when I wake up in the morning. 

It's not an inconvenience having her in our bed, and Dallas and I both sleep better when she is with us, but I know some parents can't sleep well with their little one in bed with them. Dallas didn't think he could either, so she was just going to stay near me, but after a week or so, he was very comfrotable with her in our bed and would even "sneak" her out of her bed to come and sleep with us!

Another concern people have about co-sleeping is "you'll never be able to get them out of your bed". Really? How many 13 year olds are still sleeping with their parents?  And I'm even willing to ask how many 4 year olds are still sleeping with their parents nightly, against their parent's wishes? 

Only 70% of babies sleep through the night at 9 months.  So if you are like me, and your little one isn't sleeping through the night, and you feel or have felt pressure that he or she needs to be doing that, don't worry about it so much.  Most likely, it's normal.  And knowing your baby is "normal" and that it's OK, is REST for any mom. :-)

How about you? Has sleep been a difficult subject for your family? When did you kids sleep through the night?  Did you experience many different sleep patterns throughout your child's early years?

Short article on infant sleep
Links about co-sleeping

*Please note, I am by NO means a sleep expert....this is just what has been working for us!! If it helps someone else, great! If not, just disregard it! :)

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Arrrr matey's! I'm squeaky clean!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Process of Forgiveness

I'm normally one who forgives and even forgets pretty quickly. I HATE conflict, and would much rather live at peace. I don't like to stir up controversy. Even though I do have opinions that I share in person and on this blog, I do it because I want to share my heart, not frustrate anyone.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times".
Matthew 18:21-22

I used to read these verses and think about forgiving someone more that 7 times, or 77 times, or 777 times, or as many times as they hurt or offended me, thinking in the context of separate offenses. But maybe this verse is to be thought of as one offense, and you forgive that person 7 times, or 77 times or 777 times, just for that one offense. Maybe forgiveness is a process.

How many times do we think of a time when someone has hurt us, and maybe we have forgiven them, but it still stings?

Or we think poorly of them when their name is mentioned?

Or we walk the other way when we see them in the hallway at church because things are just awkward?

Perhaps that is unforgiveness.

I think that's the example Jesus is talking about here. Everytime we remember an offense, maybe 2 times, maybe 400 times, we need to forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive that ONE offense...because quite often, it is still impacting us.

In sharing my heart, I recently realized that I've been struggling with forgiving someone. I normally get over things pretty quickly, but this has been very difficult for me. Someone in my life was upset that I was having a baby and said some hurtful things about not being able to love my daughter, and talked of anger and hatred towards me and my daughter. Of course, this hurt deep, but also infuriated me. My natural response was not love and forgiveness!

And some days, it still isn't.

I can handle being put down, or people not liking or loving me, but it sure is a lot harder when it's your child, who was innocently born into this.

I know this person is hurting deeply to say those things. Hurting people hurt people.

This morning I realized how much unforgiveness still broods in me when I thought about seeing this person in for future events. I know that I need to try to reconcile in person before more bitterness sweeps in. It won't be an easy task. I will definitely have some very serious things to say, I won't mince words, even though I intend to be kind, but firm and honest.

I'm not saying "forgiveness is forgetting" or letting someone "get away with it" - because it most of the time, it's not.

I know I have forgiven this person tens of times, and have even thought I was "over it". But then this morning, all these emotions came back over me and God spoke to me about how I'm not over it and it still hurts and I need to continue to forgive.

I may feel hurt for a long time, and I may have to forgive hundreds of more times. Am I willing to do that for the sake of relationship and to prevent my own heart from being corroded?

All that I know is that I want to be a woman of grace, love, wisdom and forgiveness. And when I say hurtful things to someone else, and I do, knowingly and unknowingly, I hope others will forgive me over and over and over and over and over and over again - just as I intend to do with this person who has hurt me.

The last thing I want to do is leave a trail of bitterness.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day of my Birth

This weekend, I celebrated my 29th birthday. We spent the weekend in St. Cloud at a United Methodist youth convention. Dallas and the kids made me feel special with little notes and roses! But, as much fun as it is to spend the weekend with hundreds of Junior High students, Dallas does have plans to take me out soon!

I spent a good part of my birthday in a hotel room, by myself, while India napped. Or I fed her. Or I changed her. I did get out to enjoy some of the activities of the day, but I spent most of my day thinking not so much about my birthday, but about my actual day of birth.

I thought a lot about my Mom and how she chose life for me, how much pain she went through with me, and then how much joy she had when she finally held me. I also thought about my Dad, and tried to imagine what it must've felt like for him to have a little girl. I wondered if they could've ever guessed what I was going to be like, or if they knew at that moment how much I would change their lives. I thought a lot about life. About my life, and all the effort that so many people have spent on it. I even felt a bit of guilt and unworthiness at that thought. But mostly, I was overwhelmed with love at the thought of so many people investing in me, with no guarantee of a reward, or even a return. I've never spent my birthday thinking that way before. Perhaps it's because I've got a new perspective on birth and life since I had India.

As India went to bed on my birthday, I cuddled her, kissed her, and told her over and over again how much I love her, probably doing the exact same thing my Mom did with me for the very first time, 29 years ago.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Now that I'm a mom, I understand ________.

Now that I'm a mom, I finally understand naps. Praise God when India gets a good nap in! I used to get a little irked when moms would say that they couldn't partake in such and such activity because their little one needed to nap. I fully understand now. If naptime is missed, my baby may be OK for awhile, but eventually all the missed nap hours compound into mini bits of hell as I try to get my overtired child to sleep later on.

Now that I'm a mom, I finally understand MOMMY'S SHOWER TIME. These precious few minutes are a gift; the only chance to stop working, relax and clear my mind. I get to breathe my own air. I get spit up, pee and poop washed off of me. I actually look in the mirror and look at myself. I shave my legs. I can actually have my boobs exposed, and no one is touching them.

Now that I'm a mom, I finally understand how amazing it is to go to the store, all by yourself. It's WAY more exciting than an anniversary date. Just sayin'.

Now that I'm a mom, I finally understand checking on my baby to make sure she's breathing. I thought moms who did this before were a bit crazy and overprotective. I do it, and actually, even did it as I was typing this.

Now that I'm a mom, I finally understand why moms don't take a lot of time to look super fly. A lot of moms I know didn't workout, wore clothes that didn't fit right, abandoned makeup and started coloring their hair from a box and I swore I would never be that mom. I am. You can usually find me at home, in yesterday's clothes, with the day before yesterday's makeup on, wearing my glasses, with a ponytail in and something stuck in my teeth because I haven't looked in the mirror (other than to look at my babe's reflection) since the night before.

Now that I'm a mom, I finally understand the crazy, throw-yourself-in-front-of-a-moving-bus-to-save-your-child-from-a-pin-prick type of love. I loved my husband (still do!) and am fiercely protective of him, but the voracious need to protect and keep my daughter safe is something unparalleled.

What things have happened in your life that bring you understanding on something you previously didn't understand?

Labels: , , ,