25 September 2011

Book give away on Tervo Times :)

I have SO MUCH to blog about, and I have been practically dying to blog for weeks, but life is not really allowing me to get much writing in lately . . . I hope that will change soon though!

In the meantime, my friend Sierra over at the Tervo Times is giving away a great book: A Heart for Freedom by Chai Ling. From Sierra's blog:
"The book is called "A Heart for Freedom" by Chai Ling. This woman was one of the key student leaders at Tiananmen Square when the massacre happened. Chai Ling shares her story with intimate detail and necessary background history. You feel like you know her. She tells of her childhood, what led her to become so involved with the student movement for more freedom in China, fleeing her country as a fugitive, and her life afterwards."

I hope you'll head on over to Sierra's blog and enter her give away!

In the meantime, after lunch and the kids go down for naps and after I nurse Daphne, but before we leave for Community Group, I will try to get some blogging in. I sure have missed all my blogger friends in the blogger world and I have really missed writing about life. :) Til then!

06 September 2011

Stepping Stone Update

After I had Sophie, I had fully intended to use my blog to update family and friends far, far away on how the children are doing and major milestones and cute things they do, etc. Unfortunately, I am a terrible slacker when it comes to writing about that.

I'm not really sure why . . . if it is just because I haven't had a chance when big things happen, or by the time I do have a chance, I've already told everyone about it in person (or no FB). Anyway, I really want to get better at that.

So here is a Stepping Stone Update (I call my children my Little Stepping Stones (thanks to my Mom) because they are so close together in age, born in 2009, 2010, and 2011.). (I am still completely amazed that I had three children in 28 months . . . just amazed . . . )

Sophie is saying more and more sentences and interacting a lot more to the environment around her, verbally that is. For example, tonight she threw her sippy (which she isn't supposed to do), and then said "get it, get it" to me, as I was nursing Daphne on the couch. It was right by my feet. I didn't comply and she came and got it. She also loves to talk about the rain. Being monsoon season here in the high desert, we have actually gone a bit of rain here this summer. So every afternoon when the clouds roll in (the big, dark ones), she gets all excited and points outside and says "rain, rain, rain" or asks "Is it raining?" She is also learning her colors and has mastered blue (her first color to learn), green, yellow and brown. She knows red, pink and purple, but gets them mixed up quite a bit. We're working on shapes. . . . Sophie also has a love of black pepper (like her mama) and if she sees the pepper, wants pepper on her food. Lots and lots of pepper. I don't have a problem with this. If it were salt, that would be a different story . . . Sophie is also a HUGE fan of cottage cheese (which she calls pepper because she puts so much pepper on it), sour cream (she'll it by itself for her entire meal if we let her) and honey. As a big sister, Sophie absolutely adores her little sister. When I am nursing Daphne on the couch, she'll come up to Daphne and very gently pat her back (like she sees me do when I'm burping her) and sing to her. It is so adorable. I'll have to get it on video sometime. We're hoping to get into some serious potty training soon. Sophie asks to go potty, it's us parents who need to be more serious and consistent. Two common questions right now that Sophie asks are "Is it cute?", referring to an outfit or hairbow, or "Is it cool?" - though with this she might be referring to temperature, because she sometimes asks "Is it hot?" I may be a bit early with this fear, but I hope she isn't getting to be too superficial. I don't want her to think that her worth is based on her looks. Sophie has also become very attached to her pillows (shaped like a butterfly and a flower) and likes to carry them around with her everywhere.

Sophie likes us to wrap her up in a blanket, like above, and then she'll plop down on her pillow.

Edward brought his blanket over and decided to come and join Sophie.

Edward is also learning his colors, but he is much more interested in shapes, specially circles. He refers to all circles as balls - for example, the wheels on the shopping cart are "balls". He loves to kick a ball around and will play soccer with Mike as often as he gets the chance. I think he's going to be quite athletic. Edward is also interested in the potty and tonight he told us he had a poopy diaper. The conversation went like this:

Me, holding Sophie, asked "Do you have a poopy diaper?".
Sophie remains silent, not wanting to be put down.
Edward, a few feet away pipes up and says "I do!" and pats his bottom. I checked his diaper and sure enough, he had a poopy diaper.

I think we'll be doing double potty training duty.

Edward also loves to read. He'll got and get a book or two and sit and read books for quite some time. I love it when Sophie and Edward are sitting together under the window by the bookshelf reading books together. Sometimes I"ll come over and join them and read to them or we'll sing some songs. Edward's lovies right now are Squawky, a Dr. Suess bird from Kohl's that he got for Christmas, and his green John Deere blanket that he got from my friend Lila. He has to have those to go to sleep and is often seen carrying them around in the house (sometimes high above his head).

Both Sophie and Edward love to dance. They will often ask Mike or myself to put on some music so that they can dance. Sophie will point to the TV and say "dance? dance?" If you mention dancing around Edward, he'll start dancing immediately, music playing or not. They also have a huge smile on their face and giggle and laugh when dancing. They even dance at the dining room table if you say the word "dance". And of course, there's the tickle monster. If I say "I'm going to get you . . " and hold out my index finger like a hook, they start giggling and drop to the floor laughing, usually before I get a chance to actually tickle them. It's a great mood changer when they are upset about something.

Daphne is getting bigger and bigger. She's gained a pound past her birth weight and is alert more and more often during the day. She's still eating every 1-4 hours, around the clock (read: no more than 3 hours sleep max at a time). She is one month old today and rolled over for the first time. We were doing tummy time, and she just rolled right over onto her back. I put her back on her tummy and she rolled over again. She repeated this a total of six times, two of which I caught on video. And she's already getting pretty talkative when she's awake. The first three weeks of her life, she just ate and slept and I was a little worried that she wasn't awake and alert very much. Turns out that's normal (my other two didn't do that), and she's finally having more awake, alert time. She's also tracking objects very well when I put infant toys in front her.


I am hoping to have finished her birth announcements pretty soon so I can mail those out to family and friends. I've been really scattered brain lately, and I have to find my notes at the same time that I have the computer on and time to finish the project. :)

Well, that's the update on the Stepping Stones. Hopefully I'll be more diligent about this. You know, now that I have my third child and all . . . :)

05 September 2011

Food Budgeting Thoughts

Just a quick post about food budgeting. :)

My friend Michelle told me about this really cool blog called 100 Days of Real Food, so I checked it out and it's a blog all about eating "real" food (i.e. natural or organic only, or less than six ingredients). There are a lot of recipes on there, one of which I have tried (banana bread), and it was pretty good. And very healthy. The author took a pledge to do 100 days of real food only - which she accomplished (she has rules listed on her site). Since organic food and other "real" foods are often expensive, she also did a 100 days of real food on a budget pledge. I liked the idea of that - except that her budget was $125/week for a family of four (two children under the age of 5).

Hmm . . .$125 . . . that would be about $50/week over my food budget right now. Not exactly what I call saving money. I do feel like I make healthy food for my family - we eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and eat whole grain breads, pastas and tortillas and brown rice. We don't eat boxed meals like Hamburger Helper. So I did feel better than I can feed my family a healthy diet (though not strictly organic or "real" food) for $75/week.

I do use coupons. I save on average 10% off my grocery bill with coupons. And $75/week doesn't include all toiletries, just some. In the age of extreme couponing though, I have felt like I don't do an adequate job saving money with my coupons. I get coupons from online, fliers and occasionally the newspaper. However, I won't use a coupon to buy something I normally wouldn't (like sugary cereals or three jars of mayo which we hardly ever eat), and I won't use a coupon just because I have it - i.e. if the store brand is cheaper, which is sometimes is, I'll buy the store brand. As I said, sometimes I just don't feel like I do a good enough job saving money. So after reading the 100 days of real food on a budget pledge, I felt better about how much I spend on groceries.

I will say that I participate in the WIC program, so I get my milk, eggs, cheese, cereal, juice, beans, fish and $23 of produce a month through them. I know that if I didn't participate in WIC, my grocery budget would have to greatly increase. I am grateful for the WIC program, although my political conscience is starting to get to me on that issue . . . more on that another day.

Well, I need to go and nurse Daphne. (Still nursing - she'll be one month old tomorrow! Praise the Lord!)

So what about you - what's your food budget? How do you stick to it?

04 September 2011

Book Review - Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

When I picked up Surprised By Oxford by Carolyn Weber, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was definitely pleasantly surprised. Weber’s book is a memoir of her journey to faith during her first year at Oxford in England.

Weber walks her readers through her first year at Oxford, where she received a scholarship to study Romantic literature.  Through an unlikely circumstance, she starts having ever-deeper conversations regarding faith with a new friend, TDH, which leads her to start asking questions about faith, the meaning of life and what it truly means to be a Christian and have a relationship with the Lord. Weber walks her readers through her questions, her doubts, her discoveries, her understanding covering the year in her life in which she found God.

I found Surprised By Oxford to be a refreshing view of the search for God through the eyes of an intelligent writer who diligently pursued her desire for deeper meaning. Weber’s book is witty and insightful; she writes honestly, voicing her doubt and working through it. Being a Romantic literature scholar, she frequently quoted poems and more from authors of that genre, always bringing everything back to her search for the Lord.  She gives a portrait drawn from the heart of what it means to come to grips with faith and what it means to you.

I would highly recommend this book. I found it very hard to put down and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I would especially recommend this book for those who are on their own search for the Lord and the meaning of life. Weber brings thoughtful insight to some big questions that many people out there are asking.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

03 September 2011

I'm back! Thoughts breastfeeding, bonding and mothering

Well, it has definitely been a while, but I am back. I should be napping, but I haven't blogged in so long and I was really missing blogging and connecting with the blog community.

Things are going well. I'm tired, but that's too be expected. Daphne is doing really well and has already gained a pound past her birth weight, which I am really excited about. (Also, just a note, when I am super tired, I tend to mix up words and skip words in sentences, and repeat myself, so if any of the afore mentioned happens in my blog, I apologize in advance.)

Daddy and Daphne (2 wks) napping together.

Love the expression! :)

The best news: I am breastfeeding! I am so excited that Daphne is four weeks old today and we are still breast feeding! This is a huge answered prayer for me, especially after the first week of trying to breast feed Daphne. I had so many problems with Sophie and ended up losing my milk supply at five weeks and I wasn't able to breast feed Edward at all, so I am just so happy that I am breast feeding, and NOT PUMPING! Yahoo! I don't have to pump to increase my supply and we're not supplementing anymore and I am just so excited.

Me, Daphne (under the nursing cover) (3 wks), Sophie (2 yrs) and Edward (17 mo) at the zoo.
The first week was pretty hard. After we got the home from the hospital, Daphne started fighting me when I would try to latch her on. Every single time. And by fighting, I mean refusing to latch on and screaming for up to 30 minutes, even when after she had eaten on one side already. I was getting so stressed out about it. The night before I had a lactation consultant appointment, we were up literally until 0500 (and by we, I mean myself, Daphne and Mike) because she was fighting me so badly. When I would finally get her on the breast, she would eat a little, come off and then we would start all over again. I ended up giving her a bottle at 0300, but she refuses to take a bottle for the most part, so that wasn't much of a help. In the late morning when I was trying to feed her, the fighting started up again and I just got so upset. I was crying and crying and I asked Mike to bring me a bottle to give her to, which she took and I literally just cried out to the Lord to please let me be able to breast feed her, I wanted so desperately to be able to breastfeed, especially knowing that she is most likely my last baby. Poor Mike felt so bad and he just hugged me, which I really needed.

So then we went to our lactation appointment and when the nurse asked me how things were going, the crying started all over again. I was pretty embarrassed, but I couldn't help it. She worked with us though and suggested that I have a 5 cc syringe of pumped breastmilk or formula ready and when I would try to latch Daphne on, give her a few drops to get her to start sucking. So we did that for the next week  or so and gradually, slowly, she needed less and less cc's to get her to latch on and she fought me less and less. Now I don't have to do that at all, and she doesn't fight me, unless I'm really tense (like when I went to the movies) or she's really hot under the nursing cover (like when we were at the zoo and it was 90* outside yesterday morning). I also joined a breast feeding support group at the hospital, and that has really helped too. And I've met some really cool moms there too.

Breast feeding is just such a unique, intimate bond between a mom and a baby. Even though I did breastfeed Sophie for five weeks, I don't think I really understood that until now, with Daphne. Daphne actually prefers me to a bottle. I love that. Like I wrote above, I'm not pumping at all, so I don't have anything saved up for if I'm out or something, so I end up taking Daphne with me everywhere. I don't mind that at all. I love that I have been able to breastfeed her in public. It's hard, but we've been able to do it. I've fed her at Target, at Waffle House, at the zoo, at PWOC at the chapel, at church, at a friend's house - and I didn't give up and just give her formula. I have a beautiful nursing cover that Sierra made for me and it has been great. I'm still getting the hang of using it super efficiently, but I think I'm getting better at it every time I use it.

I have also come to see why the Lord made it so demanding on the mom when you have a baby - you and that new baby go through a lot together the first few months of life. You go through the experience of pregnancy, then labor and delivery, which is one of the hardest things a woman may do in her life, regardless of how she delivers, and then after doing all that work, you're up every 1-3 hours for the next several weeks and/or months. You have the baby with you all the time. I kind of equate it to going through a really tough, grueling experience with another person in which you forge a bond of trust and mutual understanding. It's hard, it's tough, but you're both there, all the time. You learn from each other, and in the case of a mom and new baby, the baby is totally dependent on you for everything. Such a strong bond is forged during this time. Throw in the all the new mom hormones and you've got the super glue that holds it all together and sets it in for life. It's really pretty amazing when you think about it.

Mike and Daphne (3 wks)

Wearing Daphne at the zoo. I wear her everywhere in this wrap - it's great!

Daphne in the wrap. As you can see, she is quite content! :)
I am also doing more attachment parenting with Daphne than I did with Sophie and Edward. And I have to say that I really love how attachment parenting makes for a more content baby. Like with Sophie and Edward, I feed on demand going off of hunger cues (not crying), and I wear Daphne a lot. The biggest difference is that Daphne is co-sleeping with Mike and I. Sophie did sleep in bed with Mike and I for the first month, but we had made her a little pallet in between us (after she graduated from the basket after the first 10 days). With Daphne, I just swaddle her and lay her right down in between us. I actually sleep better with her there. And so does she. I do have a co-sleeper next to the bed, but she doesn't sleep as well in it, and every little sound that she makes, I would wake up and check on her to see if she was ready to eat. Well, newborn babies make all kinds of little cooing sounds in their sleep, so you can imagine how little sleep I was getting. I needed to sleep. So I put her down next to me in bed. I do sleep with my arm in such a way that I can't physically roll over in the direction of Daphne. And I don't sleep with my back to her. And sometimes I sleep with her in the crook of my arm, or on top of me (when I'm propped up on a lot of pillows). With Sophie and Edward, I was too paranoid to just put them down in bed with us, but I don't feel as paranoid with Daphne. Although with Edward, after a few months, I would end up falling asleep feeding him, so he did end up sleeping in bed with us for part of the night, I just didn't start off that way. I do pray before we go to sleep, just like I have just about every night since Sophie was born. I don't know if I would advocate co-sleeping for everyone - I would say that it is a very personal decision. Sophie slept fantastically in the pack n play next to the bed, as did Edward. I'm sure Daphne will too, when she's a little older. For now though, I'm just enjoying cuddling with my precious baby all night. And at nap time. :)

Daphne this morning (4 wks old)

Speaking of Sophie and Edward, they are a great big sister and brother. Sophie is especially interested in Daphne. She likes to stroke her hair and she holds up toys for her to look at, which is so sweet. She really likes to hold her as well. Edward likes to put his head down next to Daphne when I'm feeding her, although I have to watch him. Both of them say "baby, baby" when I come in the room with Daphne. They have even asked about her when I came downstairs without her once. It's really sweet. I'm so glad that they are interested in Daphne and don't ignore her and don't try to hurt her. I know that when Daphne gets older, they are all going to get along so well. It's going to be so awesome watching them grow up together. I'm pretty excited about it. :)

Nikki bought me a new wrap, which I really love. It's a Wrapsody by WearYourBaby. It's very similar to the Moby wrap, but the fabric is lighter, so you and baby don't get as hot in it. And it's really beautiful. I'm so grateful to have it! And Daphne loves being worn in it too. :)

Well, that's it for now. I need to give Daphne a bath and hopefully I can still get a nap in. :) I'll be posting Daphne's birth story pretty soon. :)