Friday, May 9, 2014

Enjoy Every Minute

It all started when Luke was born. They put him on my chest, and I waited for the feeling. You know, the euphoric feeling that you are supposed to have. "I know you!" "Love at first sight!" "You're mine, and I'm yours." But that feeling didn't come. And instead of spending that time meeting someone for the first time (it is the beginning of a relationship after all), I spent that time questioning -- why wasn't I feeling the way that I was supposed to be feeling?

Before I had my son, and in the first few months of his life, I had countless people tell me: "Enjoy every moment!" Well, I definitely did not enjoy every moment. I suffered from postpartum anxiety for the first couple of months after Luke was born. I would get panic attacks every night around 6pm that would last for hours accompanied by horrible insomnia. Luke was "normal" in pretty much every way, but of course nothing is normal when you have your first child. My thoughts were consumed with if he was getting enough to eat (even though I was producing plenty of milk), having enough wet diapers, if he had GERD or reflux issues, etc. etc. etc.

When I was in the depths of these issues, we returned back to church. Without fail, everyone I talked to said something along the lines of "savor every minute! They grow up so fast!" I left in tears. On top of everything else my mind was preoccupied with, I was now racked with consuming guilt. Why wasn't I enjoying every minute? Why was this so much harder for me than for everyone else who can have and infant and enjoy every minute? I was enjoying some moments, sure. His first smile. Falling asleep in my arms. Nursing him (well, sometimes). But was I enjoying every moment? Was I savoring it? Definitely not. In my first-time mom mind at the time, this meant I was failing at motherhood.

In the midst of all of this, I happened upon an e-mail that my cousin sent me a couple of months before Luke was born. 

"Some people enjoy motherhood right away. I did not :)  If you have a struggle at first, just know that it gets better and better.  And give yourself a year of vastly lowered expectations per baby."

Those words spoke to my soul. I suddenly had someone telling me that it was okay to struggle with this! Looking back on it now, I'm pretty sure that other people had told me similar things, but this note was so simple, sincere and vulnerable that I finally felt like I wasn't alone in my journey. It was a turning point for me, and (just like she said!) things did get better from there.

Luke is now 18 months! He is absolutely hilarious and makes me laugh every day. Plus he sleeps through the night. Hallelujah! We still have our hard days -- and I'm sure there will be plenty of hard days yet to come -- but for the most part now I'm enjoying it, certainly more than that first year.

So to sum it up, I honestly believe that the rhetoric of "enjoy every minute" is well-intentioned advice, usually from older women with grown children who miss the days of having little ones in the house. I get it. It's easy to suppress memories of the all-night cry sessions, the horrible sleep deprivation, and the confusion and just remember the coos, smiles, and that adorable, straight-from-God tiny body. I, however, found it to be destructive and guilt-inducing. Let's be real with each other instead, like my cousin was with me. Please, let's admit when times are hard, so that others won't feel so alone when their times are hard. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Luke's 1-year Pictures

My sister-in-law Brittany worked her magic once again for Luke's one year (actually 14 months, but shhh) pictures. Seriously, I married into a very talented family! Here are a few of our favorites:

PS - Yes, I am wearing false eyelashes and yes, I regret that decision. Oh well.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Long Awaited House Tour

Several months after moving in, we are finally ready to unveil our new townhouse! Enjoy this three-part series, with your favorite host... Richard!

Main Level:

Top Floor:

Basement (sorry, part of this one is sideways):

Saturday, September 7, 2013

BYU v. UVA Trip

Richard here:

Several months ago our friend and real estate agent, Steve Hales, asked us (and about 200 others) whether we wanted him to get us tickets to the BYU-UVA game. We most certainly did.

With that our fate was set.

We had purchased tickets for the 31st day of August in the 2013th year of our Lord.

Now planning trips these days is not like what it used to be. Some of you may know Luke's dislike for car rides and sleeping in the car. So we did our best to plan out the day to accommodate Luke's nap schedule.

The drive was quite nice and Luke ended up actually taking a 30-minute nap, for which were were grateful.

We arrived in Charlottesville around game time and with a distinct lack of parking available, we paid a local for the privilege of parking in the backyard with several other latecomers. A nice bonus, though, was that it was quite close to the stadium.

The stadium was a sweltering 95 degrees with no wind and high humidity. Just a tad uncomfortable. We decided we would take turns with Luke in the shade of the concourse. Just as we had finished watching two plays and as Emily was walking up the steps toward the concourse, an announcement was made that there was lightning in the area and that the stadium had to be emptied. I chased Emily down (for fear of losing her in the crowd) and we headed to the concourse with everyone else.

After a few minutes, Emily suggested returning to the car to get some of the odds and ends we forgot in the first trip to the stadium.

A few minutes after we got to the car, it started to ran with thunder and lightning. We spent the next two hours safe and dry but also cramped and listening to update after update that the players could retake the field soon.

After the rain had let up for some time (about two hours later), we decided we may as well walk around the grounds at UVA. But by the time we were passing the stadium a steady stream of fans was heading in. The players were back on the field. And so we followed them in. We then had about five minutes of football watching until half time.

Then started the rain. "Hey, this isn't so bad," we thought. "Good thing we brought an umbrella." Well the umbrella worked for maybe two minutes. With the umbrella failing to save us from the downpour, we headed to the concourse. As it turns out, that is where everyone else was too. With the assistance of some kindly folk, we were able to shimmy our way into a corner out of the rain but with a view of the game on the scoreboard.

Despite our desire to work our way out and head home, we were not well equipped with stroller in tow to spawn upstream through the masses. We waited instead for the rain to let up. And when it did, we decided it was time to get our tired selves home for bed.

Again, Luke surprised us by falling asleep in his car seat on the way home. He slept the whole way. And when we got home, he went straight to sleep in his crib. Huzzah!

We later learned that the Cougars had not prevailed against the Cavaliers. Alas!

Busy Bag Swap (12-24 Months)

In a moment of Pinterest-like inspiration, I organized a busy bag swap with some friends. What are busy bags, you may ask? 

Busy bags are simple, age-appropriate learning activities for babies/toddlers that are stored in gallon zip-lock bags. They can be anything, really, but the basic characteristics is that they are:

- Self-Contained (meaning, you can just grab a ziplock bag and go -- you don't have to add in other supplies to make it useful)
- Transportable (so they can be used in waiting rooms, the airport, car rides, etc., as well as at home)
- Convenient (no major set-up or clean-up)
- Inexpensive/easy to make
- Re-usable (avoid activities where you have to "restock" -- this is where lamination can be helpful!)

There are lots of Busy Bag ideas out there, but most are designed for older kids. I invited friends who had babies currently under 1 year (or who are pregnant) to make bags targeted toward toddlers ages 12-24 months.

There were 11 of us in the swap, so we each made 11 duplicates of the same activity. Thus, we each ended up with 11 different activities. I am super impressed with the creativity from the women in the swap.

Here's what everyone came up with (Sorry, some of the pictures are upside down and I am too lazy to correct them):

Julie made 12 "texture cards" -- craft foam with different textures glued on. 

(P.S. Luke is OBSESSED with these cards. Yesterday I stuck him in the kitchen pack 'n play with these and he played independently for 15 minutes while I prepped dinner. That is unheard of for Luke!)

Lindsay made a "piggy bank" with poker chips and a (clean) pint-sized ice-cream container with a slit in it. Great for fine motor skills development.


 Chelsea made an adorable mini felt board -- she freehand cut those fish. I would never be able to do that!

 Elissa made a cute button snake to practice fine motor skills. Each of the felt squares has a slit in it that you can thread through the "snake":

Britni made 5 "sensory bottles," each with a different theme. They're like snow globes, only cooler!

 And, because you can't have too much sensory fun at this age, Jocelyn made sensory "squish" bags (it is squishy because of hair gel): 

Lynleigh came up with a sponge-curler game:

Ali made adorable "Ollie Blocks" -- It comes in a set of 3, and each block had 6 options for the the head, the body and the feet.

Erin made a counting wheel with clothespins:

Jenny made a laminated flip-book, like these:

Finally, I made a magnetic fishing game with stiff felt pieces. I was going to try to cut actual fish shapes like [this], but I ran out of time. It is much easier to cut/sew straight lines!


 We had the swap at our house on Thursday and it was fun to see all of the great activities. Someone commented that it was a bit like Christmas or Halloween, because after someone would explain their activity they would go around and put one in each of our big grocery bags to take home. I would definitely be up for another Busy Bag swap next fall!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Annapolis Trip

Richard was having a slow week at work, so we decided to take a mid-week trip to Annapolis before school starts. It's only about an hour away from us, but we decided to splurge a little and stay overnight at a hotel. 

My road trip buddy!

We didn't plan our trip as well as we could have, so we missed some tours and such. But Annapolis is a pretty small city, so we were still able to do everything we wanted to.

Luke appropriately dressed in his crab onesie

On a narrated boat tour

We also went on a tour of the Naval Academy (not pictured) and learned how to eat crabs at Cantlers.

We've been wanting to go to Annapolis for a long time, and it was great to go and explore the city.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Swimming Class!

Luke just had his last swimming class (1x/week for 9 weeks)! We've got the next Michael Phelps on our hands, folks! Errr... maybe not quite yet.

During the class, we practiced such skills as:
-- Not crying when getting in the water
-- Not constantly hitting the other babies in the pool
-- Splashing water as enthusiastically as possible

But seriously, I think that he is a little more comfortable in the water now -- during the last class we were even able to dunk him under water for a second without him crying. Progress!

Richard and I took turns taking him to the class every Friday afternoon. For the last class, we both went and I was the designated photographer. It was a fun summer activity!