Saturday, January 30, 2016

I'm an Aunt: Baby Quilt for Nephew

I'm an Aunt again!! My sister had her second child last month, a baby boy named Alexander. He arrived a little on the late side, but healthy and is known as the most calm baby in the world. My sister decided this time to keep the gender unknown until the birth which for this DIY quilter, meant I could either send a belated baby gift or make it a gender neutral color.

Well, my weekends got a little crazy and I ended up not being able to start it until nearly the due date anyway, so I opted to wait and find out if I had a nephew or a niece. I had my pattern picked out (I love Pinterest for this) and all I had left to do was make a stop at the fabric store. And because I knew what I was making ahead of time, the fabric shopping only took me 15 minutes. I know, because that's all the money I had for the parking meter!

Anyway, Alexander arrived and Christmas was only two weeks away. Needless to say, I didn't get it ready in time for that holiday, nor did I make it in time for his one month birthday. Sorry little guy. But, I did make it before he turned two months old and I love it.

I used a pattern called Herringbone which is made of half squares or triangles. It's actually the same type of square that I used for his sister's quilt but set up a little differently. I choose a navy blue and off white fabric as that really caught my eye when I was looking at photos online. Its so sharp and great for contrast for those precious baby eyes.

Since the front was so "serious" and two-toned I decided to use a brighter fabric for the back. I saw the whale pattern and thought, "Well, William would love it, so I bet this little man will too!"

But as I do with most of my projects, I had to try something new too. I found this pattern online for the braided strip. It went pretty quickly and was just what I needed to add some length to the back fabric. I had the solid fabric on hand from a previous quilt . . . it sort of matched.

The finished quilt is 36" x 36" which is a little smaller than what I had hoped for, but worked best with the amount of fabric I had (no leftovers). Hopefully this growing boy will be able to use it for a little while at least.

Welcome to the world Alexander! I cannot wait to meet you.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

MOPS Talk: Embracing Rest

Last week, I was asked to share my thoughts about "Embracing Rest" to my MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers). A few friends have asked me what I shared, so I thought it might be worth sharing here too. 

When I told my husband that I was sharing today about embracing rest, he said “but you don’t do that.” And he’s right. But it’s something that I’ve been drawn to lately. So, I come here this morning, humbled, and fully aware I have no answers to give. Only my own thoughts and hopes for finding and embracing rest with you.

How many of you heard this advice when you became new moms? “Sleep when the baby sleeps.”  I can’t even count how many people told me that. But I couldn’t do it. When the baby slept, that was my chance, sometimes my only chance to use the bathroom or eat a meal. Sometimes I just wanted to read or journal about my frustrations. And when I did lie down to sleep, my mind was racing with thoughts about what I needed to be doing or reliving some terrible memories of my labor. Even when my husband, mom and mother-in-law took turns watching the baby so I could rest, I just couldn’t let my mind stop.

When I started working from home after my maternity leave, rest was the furthest thing from reality. Between nursing, pumping, diaper changes, getting baby to sleep, feeding myself and fitting in six hours behind the computer and phone, the only thing left to do at the end of the day was collapse into bed praying baby slept for at least two more hours. There were many weeks where I felt like a zombie.

And I remember exactly when that feeling changed.  After I reduced my work hours and William started sleeping through the night, I felt alive. Those were two major changes that coincidentally happened at the same time. And the combination was life changing. I was beginning to feel like a real person again. 

There were a few other things that added to this restoration: I made some changes in how I spent my time with my son. Instead of trying to multi-task watching him and working at the same time, I made the decision that when he was awake, I was with him. When he was sleeping I was working. This didn’t open up a lot of time for ME per say, but it made me able to focus on both things better. This also opened my schedule up for taking walks outside every day, and meeting up with friends for play dates and coffee. Having this new flexible space really helped rejuvenate my soul. I still haven’t figured out how to spend more time with my husband as I typically work in the early morning and in the evenings.

Would I say I’m rested? No. If you asked me how I’m doing today, I’d say, “tired . . . busy.” This schedule of mine has gotten a little more challenging as William doesn’t nap as often now. So, it seems like an ongoing battle.

My husband has tried as hard as he can to give me space to “rest” but what I end up doing is more work, more cleaning, and finding more ways to keep busy. He even arranged for me to have a weekend by myself, no midnight feedings or early wake up calls! Did I sleep? No! Did I work? Yes!

I just don’t sit still very well.

But is that what rest means? Sitting still? That has to be part of it, I’m sure. We need physical rest! Sleep, reading a book, writing in a journal and spending time in prayer are all things that rank high up on my “rest” list. Unfortunately, they aren’t things that happen often in my week. So what else is considered rest?

Getting a break from running around with our to-do lists and children is definitely an important part of it. We need time to ourselves – maybe an extra nap, or an afternoon getting our nails done or a massage or something. Maybe we need to sit alone at a café with our favorite drink and a book. Or we pull out an old hobby we desperately miss! We do need to feel like more than “mom” and we need space for ourselves.

I also think “play or fun” can be a part of rest. Maybe what really gives us the feeling of being alive and rejuvenated isn’t always solitude. Having a date night or a girls night can fill that need too! Having meaningful conversations with adults, talking about fun things or even hard things can be just what our soul needs to feel refreshed. Today, MOPS is my time of rest!
Sometimes, when the days are too full for an actual appointment with rest, we need to find ways of creating that space in the midst of our routine, even including our little ones. Before my son started walking and he’d sit in the stroller for a while, I would choose to take him to a park a little farther away, pushing the stroller while listening to music on my phone would be a mental break, and getting outside and walking was a good physical push at the same time. I arrived at the park happier and ready for more play.

My son loves reading books and often I feel stressed because I have a lot to get done that I don’t feel like I should sit there and read another Dr. Suess book . . . but, if I take a deeper breath, grab my tea, and realize I’m sitting down on a fairly nice couch, with a pretty handsome guy, it doesn’t have to be a stressful time and it can feel pretty restful. A change in perspective, a pause, a breath, can really help in creating that space for rest.

I have never had an easy time resting. And if I am resting, I probably feel bad about it and I’d call it “lazy” instead of resting. But as I’ve been reflecting the idea of embracing rest, I have seen its value. If we are rested, or at least giving ourselves regular opportunities to find rest, we are better able to love and care for our families, homes, and ourselves. So, I do think it’s important to figure out what our needs are for rest. How we feel most rested and do what we can to make that happen in the midst of our ever-changing routines. I think it’s important to look for ways to truly embrace rest.

So, as we begin this new year, I want to ask you, what does rest mean? And how can you make space and time for that to happen on a regular basis?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Baby B2: Week 19

How far along: 19 weeks 

How big is the baby: about 8.5 ounces and 6 inches (according to those lovely Internet statistics)

Sleep:  I haven't been sleeping great for a long time. I'm really not very big yet so it's mostly because I have to use the bathroom every three hours. I'm seriously getting up twice or even three times every night. And there really is no such thing as "sleeping in" when you have a two year old who wakes up before dawn every day. During the first trimester, I was dog-tired all day long, now I can usually manage to keep going until bedtime. I heard William saying "Momma tired" a lot during those first few weeks. Yes, Toddler Boy, I was so very tired.

Best moment of the week: Getting to tell more people!

Worst thing: fatigue/not sleeping 

Symptoms: I still have bouts of nauseousness even now. Usually for a little while after breakfast and then again after dinner. Eating a snack usually helps and drinking more water is a must. 

Movement: I have felt Baby B2 move quite a few times in the last few days! I'm excited for more!

What I miss: Wine, energy and sleep

Food Cravings: Chocolate -- always (but that was even before I was pregnant)

Food Aversions: Orange juice is the biggest one . . . but I still drink it with my vitamins

Maternity Clothes: Not yet. I think this points out more than anything that the last few pairs of jeans I bought (online) were not a great fit . . . and should have been returned. But hey, I get to wear them now!

Things People Say: The funniest story so far is a good friend asked me if I was feeling okay (prior to her knowing my news). I said, "Yeah, just a little tired." She says "Are you sure? You're glowing" I had to laugh. She knew. Exhaustion never really looks "glowing" does it? She was so sweet to use such a nice word to describe it!

Exercise: I wish. I'm back to physical therapy for pain I was having in my foot and back six months ago. So, there's some core strengthening happening, and walks to the park, it's been cold and rainy so even that isn't happening much.
Last Appointment: December 16th with a midwife (who was just about as tired as I was). I hadn't even thought to think of questions to ask. We both just kind of sat there and then she let me hear the heart beat (our first time hearing it) which was amazing.

Next Appointment: 20-ish week ultrasound on January 22**We won't be finding out the gender of our little one until he or she enters the world in June**

He really wanted to be in the picture with me!
*This update is eerily similar to this one.

Big News!

William has some big news to share! Okay, we all have some big news to share, but we like using William to do it. We will have a new addition to our family in June!

We let the shirt do all the talking with our families over Skype and we finally broke the news to our co-workers this week. I attempted to announce it the same way I did last time -- onesie and baby carriage sugar cookies. It was a project William wanted to be a part of, so he ate did most of the sprinkles and even frosted a cookie. 

I don't think he quite understands the message he's telling people quite yet, but we're starting to talk about it more and get some books from the library to help. We've been reading a lot about potty training and sleeping in a big bed so there is a lot of growing up to do in his near future.

The "I helped" make cookies photo

We're due June 4, but if history repeats itself, we may end up having a May baby.
You can read more about my pregnancy here.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Should I set Goals?

It's a new year, time for a fresh start right? I went over the goals I told you about for 2015 and I had to laugh. The fitness goal I had set, didn't stick more than 15 days I swear. Now I feel really silly that I even admitted I had a fitness goal to begin with!

My Bible reading goal went really well until summer hit and we traveled and then had visitors. I found myself a few days behind, then a few weeks and all of a sudden the plan was books ahead of me! I was almost caught up when I returned from Australia, but life got busy and well, I stopped completely. I made it through the New Testament completely and I'd say half way through the Old Testament before I gave up. I was really glad I stuck with it as long as I did. It was a great discipline to get into, I just couldn't keep it up.

This year, I wanted to set goals, but I don't want to set myself to fail either. It will be another busy year for sure. When I reflected on the past year and my hopes for this year, I found myself setting goals for my attitude, not necessarily my actions.

I want to be more grateful and thankful for everything. I don't want to complain. I can look ahead and see the challenges this year will hold and I know I will be ever so tired and I just want to be content and live in the moment. I did one of those Facebook apps where it gives you a word for the year. My word was TRUTH. I have no idea how they come up with this word or what personal stuff they know about you to obtain the word, but it hit home. I want my year to be based on truth, genuine, honest truth. I want to know truth, but I also want to be true to myself and others.

So, there you go. My hopes for 2016 are to be genuinely thankful for everything and everyone in my life and to be filled with and share Truth. 

What are your hopes for this year? Are you setting new goals? Rekindling old ones?