Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the best piece of parenting advice I've ever gotten

I have her on speed-dial. And I text her about 13 times a day (and that's just before Aaliya's nap time!). She is my Sally Clarkson of sorts.  I honor and admire her and the fruit her mothering has bore. And she has my mother's name-- Jesus' gentle kiss on my forehead.

I was stealing some of her time on this particular day to talk about routine. I now have a just-about-two-year-old (yikes! Where in Heavens has time gone?) that is very... head-strong bold and loud lively and of course our newest baby addition. Life with two kids is significantly different than life with one. I thought some of the tantrums Aaliya'd been throwing had to do with a lack of routine. Turns out there's more routine to my day than I'd originally thought (boo-yahhh!).  Then she asked me the heart wrenching question... "Do you spend time with her alone, playing?

Mehh. I try. And earlier that morning, as I'd attempted to sit and play with my daughter, I realized that I didn't know how to just sit and play. I was completely at a loss when I went to sit down with her. And that made me feel really really bad. I don't want to be the kind of parent that never plays with her child. When I answered her, I answered her half-heartedly and told her "Yeah, kind of."

She could sense something was kind of wrong and she gently probed. "Were you played with as a child? Did you play a lot as a child? I can tell you're kind of sad."

Yes. No. Sort of. All I know how to do is educational stuff.  I'm a teacher by nature and by profession.  Whether I'm teaching adults about nutrition, teenagers about abstinence and their incredible value or my almost two year old the ABC's and 123's, I am always teaching. I am by definition the "non-fun" parent. I can sit down and teach her while playing any day all day, but my husband is insanely good at just playing with them.  All the kids anticipate Daddy's return home from work because they know Daddy is going to drop everything by the door and run and chase after them.  He will tickle them and tackle them and enjoy their presence as much as they enjoy his.

Sighh. I'm not doing anything right. 

And then she encouraged me and my weary Mama heart...

Just take 10,15,20 minutes every day and run around with her. Have no agenda, nothing to read, nothing to teach her.  Do whatever she likes to do.

"In my child's case that would be running around and screaming."

Well then run and scream too.  Children need to know they are enjoyed and appreciated beyond the practical (my educationally minded brain).

And so, there it is. The best piece of parenting advice I've ever received.  Be intentional about just playing with your kids.  Kick off the shoes every day and be silly for just a bit.  Tickle them, laugh, scream, jump in the mud with them (uhh, I'll build to that one) and just be intentional about being unintentional and spontaneously fun with them-- every single day.

How often do you play with your kids?  What kinds of things do you do?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Haven Justice's Birth Story

I had a planned cesarean section with both Aaliya and Haven.  But I've decided that just because it was a planned C-section didn't mean I didn't have a story to tell. I do have a story to tell.  I am passionate about natural child birthing even though I haven't had the privilege to experience it.  I fully believe a woman's body was designed by God to birth babies.  I also know and understand that the American culture of medicine believes in intervention and sometimes you just can't escape it.
That being said...

It was 330am on a Friday morning. The day before had proven to be, though hectic, very productive.  The previous weeks had been filled with a whole lot of work and very little rest.  I was on a mission to ensure everything got done before Haven Justice made his grand entrance.  His arrival (or at least the beginning there of) was scheduled for 7am on June 1st which meant we had to be at the hospital by 500am.  I had stayed up late the night before preparing bags (most were already packed, it was more of a frantic check and recheck making sure we didn't miss anything), doing last bits of laundry and loading the dishwasher.  I wanted to come home with our new son to a clean house and relaxation.  I wanted to give myself the best chance to actually rest when I got home.

So, it's 330 am on Friday morning and I'm awake. Today is the day I get to meet my son. There's something about having a son. The weight of the responsibility of having a son was becoming more and more real.  As I brushed my teeth and braided my hair I thought less about the surgery and more about the little man that God had entrusted to us to raise for His glory. We get in the car and both Caleb and I are unbelievably groggy and silent.  The ride to the hospital was fairly quiet and I have a feeling he was thinking about meeting the son of his prayers the whole way too.

We arrive at the hospital and everything looks fairly familiar.  We delivered at the same hospital Aaliya was born in and finding our way around was pretty easy.  We arrive at our pre-op room, err area thing and meet our nurse. She was an unbelievably kind soul who put me at ease right away.  At this point, my nerves are starting to kick in.  They ask me the routine questions and send me in the restroom to change into my glamorous hospital gown. Caleb makes himself comfy in the husband-designated chair they have available in the room, errr bed area thing. And on it starts, the poking and prodding of just about every nurse and doctor in the unit. They started with the heart-rate monitor thingies they stick to your chest-- yes, there's actual adhesive involved. Then there's a plastic bity thing for the finger (I can't remember if that one stays on permanently or if it comes on and off every so often), the heartbeat monitor for Haven (I love hearing the galloping horse that tells me this little man is ay-ok!) and the contraction monitor (that one was the quietest-- hehe)  and then comes the IV.  What a glorious miserable experience that was. My incredible nurse was suddenly replaced with a sweet but obviously inexperienced nursing student hoping to gain just a little bit more experience with my veins. Now, I'm not afraid of needles or anything but I'm also not fond of them.  I don't get joy or excitement from being poked and prodded  with sharp objects and this is a good thing because my veins have *never* been difficult to find. Until June 1st, 2012.  This sweet nursing student missed my veins twice and the one time she caught it was done "incorrectly" because of the way the IV would rest on my arm.  So my very juicy veins were bleeding-- a lot. About two rags worth.  At this point I give my amazing, experienced nurse a glance that yells help and she intervenes. Within 30 seconds, she finds the vein that works, pops it in and all is gravy.

At this point, Caleb starts to stir and starts to tell a fasting pregnant woman that he's hungry.  Yeah, word to the wise gentleman, not a good idea. The nurse encourages him to get something to eat before "the surgery" so he doesn't faint with all the commotion.  Ha! She's sweet.  She obviously doesn't know my husband thrives off blood and guts everywhere (No. Really!)  Either way, Caleb leaves his very pregnant and very hungry wife to go eat (I'm kidding. He did leave, but it wasn't a big deal. All I was doing at this point was waiting there, laying down.)  So his left me with a lot of time to anticipate my least favorite part of this whole ordeal-- surprisingly no, it's not the getting cut open part. It's the epidural.  In the meantime though my sweet nurse kept me entertained by making conversation. Turns out she has 3 kids and a husband who owns his own business; the economy affected his business which is what forced her to go back to work.  But she's thankful her kids are older now (middle and high school) and she works at night.  So, she sleeps while they're at school and works while they're asleep just a few nights a week.  Then, the anesthesiologist comes and tells me in medical terms (because apparently we all understand them) what exactly was going on. I look around for Caleb, really really hoping he'd be here at this point.  My sweet nurse seems to have read my thoughts because she offered to stay through the whole procedure and let me lean on her while they do the whole thing.

The epidural with Aaliya was quick, pretty painless and smooth-- it was done by a medical student (apparently Nicole has "experiment with me" tattooed on her forehead) but he nailed it with no complications. This time around, well... it wasn't so simple.  They asked me to let them know if I felt "something like electricity" on either side of my body.  Umm. Ok.  That made me nervous.  So, they insert the giant needle (don't ever look at the doctor's tool thingy when they're gonna perform a procedure) and do whatever else they need to do.  And then, I feel it. What they were talking about. "Umm, I feel like a shock of electricity on my right side."  "Oh, geez, ok." She proceeds to take out whatever in the world it is they insert and I can feel drops of blood dripping down my back.

Eeeek. I'm so not good with blood. I'm not a fan-- in fact blood freaks me out.  The only time I can manage it is when it's on someone else and I absolutely have to react and care for it.  The adrenaline takes over and I'm okay.  But you better believe after the fact, I'm gonna freak out thinking about it. So. There's blood dripping down my back and the anesthesiologist is once again explaining things in medical terms and how it's "common" for them to miss my spine and hit whatever else and not to worry. Umm. I don't care I tell her. Just wipe the blood that's dripping down my back. "Oh." She says.

Round two. No shock, but only half my body numbs.  25 minutes later, I'm feeling extremely nauseous and finally starting to fully numb up.  Or so I thought.  I'm coming in and out of sleep and consciousness and my sweet nurse bids adieu.  It's 7am, they're getting ready to roll me out and her shift's up.  I was beyond bummed but too focused on not vomiting to really respond.  And so it goes... Caleb was back, changed into an also glamorous man-gown and off we go.

"Wait here and we'll come and get you" they tell Caleb.  I always hate that part. I'm about to have major surgery and I feel like I'm going at it alone during those 4 and a half preparation minutes.  My amazing doctor is in the OR though and his bright and shiny smile puts me a little at ease.  "How was your vacation?" I manage to slurr. "It was good, thanks for asking. Now you just relax and let's have ourselves a baby." The next few minutes kind of fly by as I'm still in and out of it. Then, my incredible husband grabs my hand and tells me he's there.  I finally breathe (or so it seems).  And off they go. My doctor and the nurse chat away about his Hawaiian vacation or something like that. I am completely focused at this point on my son. A thousand questions run through my mind-- will he have light hair? dark? green eyes? (I prayed for that, yano)  A sharp pain interrupts my train of thought.  Turns out I was *mostly* numb.  There was a portion all the way to the right side that wasn't numb and so I felt everything. The cut, the tugging, the pulling (which there was a lot of because his foot was caught in my ribs)


But then, I hear it.  The little cat-like whine/cry thing they do when they're just born.  I hear the suctioning and then they show him off over the curtain. I start to cry (just a little bit) and there he is! My son, Haven Justice.

They immediately take him away to get cleaned and measured and all that jazz...  "Eight, Eight and twenty and a half."

"What? "

"Eight pounds, eight ounces! "

"One more time?"

"Eight pounds, eight ounces!"

"He's a football player!"

They bring him over to me and I can hold him. It is love at first sight. I am absolutely in love and infatuated with this son that Jesus blessed me with. The emotions a mother feels when she first meets her child are unlike any on this earth and nearly impossible to describe.  No matter what the method of delivvery or how the little person came to be in your arms, all that matters is that they came to your arms.

And my son, Haven Justice will remain in my heart and arms forever...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I choose health and my 90 Day Challenge

Huff. Puff.

Excuse me as I catch my breath. Phew. That had to be the end of the work out.

"Great job warming up! Now, moving on to the upper body portion of this work out."


Whoever said being skinny and being fit are the same things is a big fat liar and his pants should catch on fire. 

I am on a mission. Actually, it's more of a challenge. A 90-Day Challenge. My six week postpartum check-up has come and gone, and I am cleared to work out.  I have been motivated to get back into shape since my husband started a health and fitness based business.  However having been pregnant, I wasn't sure what was allowed/ok to do during pregnancy. So, I decided to wait and started at six weeks postpartum exactly to work out.  And I have come to a definite conclusion.

I am incredibly out of shapeGranted, I've spent the better half of the last three years pregnant, however I'm pretty sure that has less to do with it than my lack of stewardship in this area. I mean at Day One I was huffing and puffing through a twenty minute DVD! I barely made it out of the warm-up alive! (Yes, the introduction to this post is indeed a real-life conversation in my head) I'm not exactly doing P90X or Insanity here.  Just a sweet little Ballet/Pilates workout.  And I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't finish that first day.

But, I am here at day six and can say that I am making it very much alive through the warm-up, the huffing and puffing has been reduced to the appropriate (loud) inhaling and exhaling they're always talking about and I have made it through the workout 5 out of 6 times.  That first time, it's always the hardest and the most defeating if you let it dictate your motivation.  Thankfully I overcame the first workout blues (though, I have to say... I was a little more than depressed at the my end of it) and am very slowly seeing improvements.  It's all about commitment and baby steps for me.  But, I have a goal. Several goals actually.

Goal number one: The DVD I own is broken up into 3 segments (besides the obvious warm-up and cool down).  By the end of the 90 days I will be able to complete all 3 segments, warm up and cool down.  And look graceful while doing it too. :)

Goal number two:  By the end of the 90 Days, I will have created an "activity" habit.  I will be active every day (though "working out" will happen closer to 4 times a week) and incorporate my babies.

Goal number three:  By the end of the 90 Days I. Will. RUN. a. mile

So. I want to encourage you.  Getting healthy and being fit has less to do with the outward appearance and more to do with an inward change.  It's kind of how Christianity works, the inward change manifests itself in outward appearance. Looking good and being "skinny" are great goals, but won't keep you motivated through those embarrassing and I-just-can't-do-it-please-leave-me-alone-while-I-inhale-an-entire-tub-of-ice-cream moments. I am skinny.  But I am nowhere near fit and healthy.  And that's why I'm choosing the 90 Day Challenge.  Because when I do that, I'm choosing health.