Carseat Shopping with Preschoolers- Britax Endeavours

As you know, I’ve been confined, a prisoner, if you will, on bed rest for the last month. For someone who LOVES baby things and happens to be pregnant…and in need of baby things…this was torture. So, one of my first stops on my first day of freedom was Buy Buy Baby to check out all that has changed since Bug was cooking in my belly. And, woah! It’s a LOT! One of my favorite things we checked out was the new Britax Endeavours infant carseat. This seat goes from 4-35lbs, which for a mama with a high risk of birthing a premie, this is great news!

 

Obviously, Bug exceeds the max weight limit! But he approves the comfort level!

With the steel anti-rebound bar, there is 30% less rebound in a front or rear crash.

Even Chuck could maneuver its user-friendly design.

“Baby” the cabbage patch doll appreciates the safety measures present both with or without a base. With latch or auto seatbelts, Baby is riding with exceedingly high safety standards.

Chuck really enjoyed learning about how she can help take care of her new baby sibling in this #1 safety-rated seat. Bug, on the other hand, enjoyed torturing his sister. What can I say, they were stoked to get out of the house, too! I dare you to watch to the end without laughing!

Carseat Shopping With Preschoolers- Video

 

*I was compensated to check out this rad seat. All children and their wackado behaviors are my own.

30 Days

Thirty days of confinement, rest, restrictions and caution. Thirty days of figuring out a new normal and a new sense of purpose. Thirty days to dwell in my thoughts and fears and hopes for this baby and our family.

I haven’t done them well. I don’t know how one does. Two young children who need every piece of me that I can’t physically give and one deep-rooted character of pride sitting in my heart; these have been my companions. I didn’t realize how dependent I am on being INdependent until this last month. Ladies from bible study asked 10 times before they finally TOLD me they were coming to clean my kitchen. A meal train that ended up being a literal lifeline for my family was set up without me signing off…and I am so, so glad. Several friends grocery shopped, played mom-taxi and entertained my minions…all just by DOING. Because, you see, if there is one thing us moms are great at, it’s LOOKING as if we have it all under control….even if that’s not logistically possible. So, I dedicate the last thirty days to those who just DO. Thank you.

Now, the next thirty days? Who knows?! I was tentatively released from strict bed rest! It turns out the complete placenta previa that was aggravated by a pretty large subchorionic hematoma just…moved. I mean, last week it was bad. Really, really “you’re gonna have a c-section if you don’t go into preterm labor before,” bad. And this week, God said, “move!” and it did! Even my high risk doctor was surprised at the level of progress. The hematoma is still there and relatively large, but without the concern of the previa, it’s not as big of an issue right now. I am still on “light duty,” but I am able to leave the house. I can take Chuck to our Classical Conversations community day without reprimand and I can resume our normal dance/Awana/mops routine. Most exciting to me….TARGET! I know, so basic, right? But really, Chip and Joanna have been waiting for me. I must go!

I am 18.5 weeks at this point and while spending so much time with my own thoughts, I began to count down to different milestones. The most pivotal of these to me is 24 weeks. Twenty four weeks…the point of viability. The placemarker in gestation where I will never hear the words “there’s nothing we can (will) do. Just go home and manage your expectations.” Those words still burn in my ears after our traumatic night in the ER in Vegas. So, 24 weeks comes, get this, on Dec. 24! My little minnow will be statistically “viable,” a saveable miracle on Christmas Eve. How’s that for divine?!

This Sunday, Bug turns three and I can’t help but remember these milestones with him. His pregnancy was easy, for the most part, until the end. When I was 18 weeks with him, we were camping out in the mountains near Kern river, roasting marshmallows, blissfully unaware of just how much could go wrong. And here we are with this one, thanking God for each day closer to viability. It’s that way with life in general, right? We go along whistling until someone bumps us…and then someone bigger, then maybe a car or truck and then the whole dad-gum train runs us flat over and we are like, “good grief! I get it now! Life isn’t promised. Each day is a complete and utter gift. I get it.”

So, on Sunday, we will celebrate another gift of a day with our baby (middle) boy and we will once again get on our knees to thank our Heavenly Father for all the days we’ve had, and hope to have, to bring glory to Him, raising our tribe, sewing seeds of grace and mercy and working so very hard on clipping those ties to pride. Grateful for days and the ways, He shows us gently (or sometimes not SO gently) the reflection of the parts of ourselves we need to give to Him. I do get it now.

 

Lessons from Sacrifice

The life we are promised…

The only thing we are promised is that we will leave this earth, just as we entered it, someday. Weathered, wiser (hopefully) and having impacted those around us long enough to be remembered for a generation or two, maybe.

And, of course, salvation, if you choose it. Sweet, sweet saving grace from a Father who knows our heart of hearts and still chooses to live with us for eternity. Does that move you? Shake you to the core?

I never fully grasped God’s desire for us until I had Chuck. After all, a parent’s love is difficult to simplify into words. But, I get it now. I get why God would want us with Him forever, despite the marker on the wall or the sleepless nights or the “I hate you-s” slung His way. I get how his perfectly infinite heart could burst at the thought of his child aching and writhing in pain. I can fathom how He would want to wrap my fragile self up in a cozy blanket of grace and set me up on the couch with a Good Book and sweet Word from Him to comfort my grieving soul, all while He works in the background to make all things work together for GOOD.

I get that parenting role because He made me for it. He gave me a mother’s soul. He gave me two precious, beautiful, living children to witness (and practice) His grace through everyday. I am so, so grateful for their role in sanctifying me.

However, He’s also given me six babies I carried, but never knew. Six devastations. Six opportunities to imagine futures and fingers and family portraits…that will never happen.  Six souls to mourn and miss minute by minute. Six disappointments and six losses that have left me ever more  confused about why God does, or doesn’t, do the things He does. Why does He promise in His Word that if we ask for the desires of our hearts, and ask according to His plan, that He will grant them? Why give us desires we cannot have fulfilled? Why does He say that He is always near, if, as of late, I don’t feel Him so close? And the always prevalent, why do bad things happen to good people?

I’ve had lots of months, days, minutes to contemplate my sadness, turned anger, turned bitterness, and finally, turned acceptance. I won’t have my babies in my arms until I get to heaven, but, finally I realized, God gets THAT. How much did He long for Jesus as He did His work on earth? How much did He suffer knowing He couldn’t save him from what was to come? Did He clench and pray and try to will that loss away like I did as I was losing my babies each time? Jesus didn’t desire to die on the cross. He even asked God to take that from Him if it was His will. HIS will. There’s the piece I was missing. Not mine. And desire is a matter of perspective. Jesus desired to save His people, though He didn’t desire to die an excruciating death. I desired to be a mother, but not lose my babies. My desire HAS been granted, if not in the way I wanted. And though I’ve denied Him in anger or wrestled with His will, He was always close. He was only a prayer away. A Word away. This is where the village comes in. Those who stand in the gap when you just. Can’t. Pray. Again. It’s rough. And lonely. But, they are there and He is there, listening, gently rocking and healing. When my daughter is so sad because I won’t let her keep the lizard she caught in the yard, she doesn’t want to talk to me. But, I’ll hug her anyway and console her sweet heart from a distance until she’s ready to talk again. But, I’ve never left her. God gets that.

Jesus was perfect, blameless, sinless…the best of people…yet the WORST thing happened to him. So, I guess, who am I to wonder why bad thing s happen to “good” people? Sin and Satan. That’s why. This world is broken. We are broken. Bad things will always happen, until God takes us home, because we don’t exist in the perfect vacuum of Heaven…yet. I get THAT now. And, I suppose, as I learn lessons of grace and parental love from my earthly babies, perhaps I have also learned THIS lesson of God’s sacrifice and parental pain from my heaven babies.

I can’t wait for the reunion in that perfect place some day. But, until then, I am rejoicing that my babies won’t know the pain of this world. Thank you, Lord, for granting them that sweet grace.

 

Secondary Infertility and losses

Last summer, I decided to take a break from facebook. We had just experienced the heartbreak of our second miscarriage. The ridiculousness of political rants and petty complaints became a very unwelcomed distraction from processing our pain. Leaving was good for me. I learned to cling tighter to my Savior, instead of drowning my mind in constantly refreshing my feed. Brent and I worked through our raw hurt together, again, this second time, and came out on the other side stronger than ever.

Then, it happened again. And again. And again. And again. During this year hiatus, we have grasped to a tiny life, five different times, only to be shattered as it slipped away. That’s six in total. Six babies in heaven. I’m still jaw-dropped at those words. Our most recent beloved went to be with Jesus this month, almost a year to the day of his sibling.

I’ve been reminded over and over again that God put us on this earth to live in community, to glorify Him. His love is only reflected by ours. So, this village, the people who’ve brought coffee or embraced snot-drenched sobs on their shoulders…these are the Hands and Feet. These are the ones who, without always the right words, show with action, the cross. Thank you.

There’ve been other tragedies and joys and endless hours of news, both personal and public, through the last year. It’s documented in my heart, instead of my page. Our actions, and inactions, haven’t always been understood or appreciated by those around us, and that’s ok. Healing and grieving and growing are processes, undertaken in intimacy with Jesus. Everyone does it differently. But, all you who’ve suffered, too, know, I know. And I love, too.

My babies all have names. They’ve all been loved for every second of their existence. Every bit of their being was felt and cherished. They will be remembered at due dates and loss dates…even if I have to reference my “list,” because there are so many. What mother doesn’t remember her baby’s birthday? I’m trying.

So, I suppose the point of this is…well, I’m not really sure. Maybe to try to express courage? Or insight for those who’ve wondered? Or just to document some late night, wine-induced rambling from an aching mama-heart.

Chuck and Bug are our world. They perfectly stretch our parent wings and if they complete our family, we are joy- filled. But, we stand in utter confusion at God’s plans for our family. It’s a sense of paralysis. So, I humbly ask, for those who’ve walked through the fire of secondary infertility or recurrent losses, please reach out. I need some anecdotal hope, one way or the other.

And to my husband, thank you for being mine. Thank you for holding my hand so tightly when I’m crashing to the ground. Thank you for carrying the weight this year. You have. All of it. This life hurts, but it’s also full of sweet, sweet joys and I’m so glad you’re the one by my side for them.

 

5 Reasons I’m the Worst Mom Ever

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I try so hard to not complain about this pregnancy. It’s a blessing and miracle in so many ways, not the least of which is that this baby is sticking! I am 28 weeks along and I feel so much more secure knowing that if all H-E-double hockey sticks broke out and this kid decided to make an early appearance, his/her chances are looking pretty good. Beautiful miracle and all considered, there are a couple of not so awesome things about being pregnant for the second (third) time while wrangling a toddler with the attention span of an ape. This leads me to what I have learned are the top ways to be a truly awful mother….at least in my own mind…and why I’m convincing myself it’s ok.

1. Why I am the worst mom ever: Today is day 15 of the last 30 that will include peanut butter in some form at all three main meals for Chuckles. Creativity around here is at an all time low and unfortunately, her dietary experience suffers. If I have to think up a Pinterest-worthy dinner for this two-year old who will likely turn her nose up before a single bite is chewed ONE MORE TIME, I am going to lose it. So, I won’t.

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Why it’s ok: I mean, peanut butter is totally a protein, right? Nevermind the sugar content…I buy organic, natural, have-to-stir-or-you’re-eating-oil peanut butter, so it can’t be that bad…right? Right?

2. Why I am the worst mom ever: I let Chuck have LOTS of independent play. At least that’s what I am telling myself as I lay on the couch concentrating on breathing through the baby laying on my lungs and trying not to fall asleep so C isn’t TOTALLY unsupervised. Let’s just say we have taken the “Montessori” approach to learning around here. In the last three days, she has poured an entire bottle of water on the carpet in an attempt to “play tea party” with Mickey Mouse, drawn a masterpiece on the laminate wood floor with a dry erase marker and drank half her body weight in soapy water after she begged (and I obliged) to stay in the bath just a LITTLE too long…in the middle of the day.

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Why it’s ok: Hey, she’s learning! Water on the floor= you gotta clean up after yourself. Art on the floor= cause and effect (translate: Mama loses her mind a little before she realizes dry erase marker WILL erase from laminate! Yay!) Drinking bath water= learning about anatomy…and digestion…and soap may lead to less than favorable bathroom experiences. So really, I rock as a pre-school teacher.

3. Why I am the worst mom ever: C has learned and implemented some new phrases. She now speaks like a 15 year-old, angst ridden teenager and I have realized it can only be coming from one place. I mean, how many toddlers look their mother in the face and say with all seriousness, “I just can’t do this right now, Mom.” This is in regards to finishing her cereal, I might add. Perhaps telling her “I just can’t do this right now, C,” in reference to sitting in the bathroom with her while she poops and I try not to gag on heightened pregnancy senses was NOT the wisest, but I had no clue she would soak THAT in. Sure, I throw out plenty of “please” and “thank you’s” but THIS is what she latches to? Sheesh.

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Why it’s ok: She’s advanced. Truly, she has to have a pretty quick little brain to pick up on such things, right? I will just keep believing she is a genius with a stellar vocabulary. That belief makes me feel better when she holds up her hand and says, “Hold it, Mom,” as I sing my rendition of “You are My Sunshine.”

4. Why I am the worst mom ever: She seriously knows all the words to at least three Bubble Guppies episodes and 4 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes. Notice I said all the words to the EPISODES…not songs, not rhymes…entire episodes. Apparently, this kid has been allowed to watch so much TV that she can recite the script for her two favorite animated shows…WITH inflection! Who does that? Who lets their toddler watch so much tv that she could play understudy to the characters? Me. Giant, pregnant me. That’s who.

Why it’s ok: One part of classical education, which is the philosophy behind most homeschooling curriculum, is learning through memorization. I like to pretend that someday, when it’s time (in two years or so, eek!) I will be equipped and prepared to homeschool Chuck and her sibling. Well, we are well ahead of the curve when it comes to memorization because let me tell you, C can recite her ABC’s as well as the whole lunchtime scene from Bubble Guppies episode 1.4. Again, I rock as a preschool teacher!

5. Why I am the worst mom ever: I use other people’s children to wear mine out…so I don’t have to. Back in the olden days…read: pre-pregnancy…the kid and I took daily walks or park dates and I would chase her and squeal and slide right alongside her sweet, smiley little self. I pushed her on the swing endlessly and swam with her in the community pool. Now that I am a whale, such physical exertion feels nearly impossible. Or, I’m just lazy. Either way, my friends’ kids have slipped into this role beautifully! She wants to be pushed on the swing? Set up a park date with my friend and her 7 year old! She wants to be chased? Invite her friend from next door to play tag. She wants to swim? Make friends with the preteens at the community pool who, “just LOVE” babies and watch them all screech with delight as Chuck jumps in and swims to them. These are my solutions to my lacking and her rising energy levels.

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Why it’s ok: She’s socializing! She has a more complete calendar than I do and her social skills have benefitted from it. Isn’t it what we strive for as parents? To help our kiddos grow into caring, empathetic, well-adjusted mini- humans? The only way for that to happen is for them to have regular interaction with other littles. So, in essence, my laziness is just giving her a leg up on overcoming potential social awkwardness.

At the risk of judgment from my pre-parent self, I throw all this out there to let other pregnant moms know you aren’t alone. I’m tired, too. I’m not the same mom to Chuck now as I was 8 months ago and although this makes me sad and hard on myself at times, I know this is a season. The next season of our mother/daughter journey will include another little being and I am sure the dynamic will change once more. What doesn’t change, EVER, is my love and adoration for the sweet cheeks that grin up at me to tell me she feels the same. Hopefully, as I try to go with the flow, C will learn to be a flexible, forgiving human as well. If nothing else, she won’t ever be able to tell a therapist that I ruined her childhood by never letting her express herself…even if that was in dry erase marker!

Silhouette Craft for Mother’s Day

I came up with this really cute idea for the grandparents at Christmas, but I decided to post about my yarn and jute ornament craft at that time instead. So, I thought I would share this with you now for a quick, thoughtful Mother’s Day craft!
 
 Have you ever admired your grandmother’s silhouette plaque from when she was child? Or maybe you have been to Disneyland and considered purchasing the black outline of your little cherub’s face? Well, now you can do it for yourself!
 
What you’ll need:
White/off white wood plaque from craft store
Mod Podge
black paper
About 6 inches ribbon
hot glue gun
scissors
Digital Camera and printer
 
 
First, you need to take a clear profile photo of your child. I lined Chuck up against our white wall and had Hfoe keep her attention looking the correct direction so I could snap a few pics and then decide which was the best to print for our purposes. Once her photo was printed on regular printer paper, I cut it out around the outline of her profile.
 
 
Next, I traced the outline of her sweet little face in pencil on black paper and cut it out. I used construction paper, but I suggest black scrapbook paper or something similar since once I got to the mod podge stage the construction paper started to shed a little. Overall, I liked the flecked look of the final result, but you may not.
 
Once your silhouette has been cut out, it’s time for the mod podge! I’m not gonna lie, this is my favorite part. I love how such a simple crafter’s tool can create such masterpieces! Anyway, swipe a small amount of mod podge on the back of your outline and align it in the middle of your plaque. Once your kiddo’s face is good ‘n stuck, you can begin slowly swiping thin layers of mod podge over the top of the entire plaque. You want a uniform look and because the mod podge will leave faint lines, choose a direction for brush strokes and stick with it. I suggest at least two coats, but I think I did more like four. Just be sure to let it dry between coats so it doesn’t get all goopy.
 
 
Once the front of your piece of art is completely dry, flip it over to attach your ribbon for hanging. I chose a sea foam green color because I figured it would go with most decors, but you can choose any color. Cut the length you want and tie the ends together in a pretty little bow. Next, go crazy with hot glue to attach it…like REALLY attach it! Too much is never enough! You wouldn’t want this little gem to fall off a wall due to a poorly attached ribbon!
 
 
And that’s it! Voila! You have a pretty, nostalgic, thoughtful Mother’s Day gift of your little nugget’s face fit for gifting to every doting grandmother in your life! Enjoy, Share and craft away kids!
 
Oh, and don’t forget to enter my giveaway I’ve got going on here.