Sunday, July 21, 2013
To write this post, I have to delve into those areas I tend to keep to myself.
I love my husband. He loves his career. I love that he loves his career.
I don't always like what he has to do in his career--this applies, of course, to the deployments that take him so very far away from our family.
Now, with that said, I fully and completely support him in what the Lord has called him to do. He is following his heart and where the Lord has lead him and it is my duty and delight to support him in that.
But, being honest, sometimes it stinks.
I have, in essence, been a single mother for the past six months. I am blessed that I am currently nearby family, so I at least have that help available most days if I need it. But, for all intents and purposes, I am a single mom. I work full-time. I volunteer several places. I try to stay social. I do my best to keep my house clean and running smoothly.
and sometimes, it gets very, very hard.
Comparing this deployment to our last one would be like trying to compare apples and oranges. We were childless and had been married less than 4 months when he left last time. We lived in a one bedroom apartment. I worked in a job I didn't particularly care for. I was also a full time student.
That one was hard, but we learned a lot through the process.
This deployment, if we do want to compare, has been leaps and bounds easier. These last six months have flown by, mostly in part due to our adorable daughter. Most days, I feel like I've blinked and the time has disappeared.
But, it's also been harder in different respects. A child changes everything.
My husband is doing significantly more things during this particular tour. We are blessed if we get a phone call once every two weeks. Skype has been unreliable, and I could probably count the times we've gotten it to work on my fingers and toes.
But I also felt more prepared this time around. I have consciously chosen to cherish the moments. I don't dwell on the sadness that, on some days, threatens to overwhelm me. I actively chose joy and rely on the Lord to be my strength and husband.
But there are times when I just want to give up. There are times when I get tired.
and I'm not one to ask for help or pity.
Most military spouses aren't looking for handouts or attention or "poor you". We are happy to stand by our military husbands and wives without much fanfare.
As a wife who is called to support her husband, I gladly do this on a day to day basis.
This is why the story I'm about to tell you matters so much.
This past week, I was burnt out. My daughter hadn't been sleeping. I hadn't heard from my husband in a couple of weeks. Work was busy. I was tired. I felt, for a lack of a better word, invisible. Usually, I am good at hiding it, but it had been a trying few days and I was exhausted of fighting it anymore.
On Wednesday this week, my mom was watching my daughter while I was at work and needed to keep her late, so I decided to go look for a homecoming dress for my husband's return that is going to be here soon. While I have lost a lot of the baby weight, none of my old, cute dresses fit very well and I wanted to feel pretty for when he returned. I decided to take the extra couple of hours for myself and do some shopping.
I went to several stores and couldn't find anything that I liked (or that fit). I finally found some dresses I liked at JCPenny's so I went to try them on. Again, nothing fit, nothing stuck out to me, but I kept trying.
Finally, I found a light blue one I "kind of" liked. I went out to where the three way mirror was in the hallway and was checking my image to see if this was "the one".
An older woman and her daughter (who was about my age) were also in the dressing room so I asked them if I could have their opinion on my dress.
The mom asked what the occasion was so I told her.
The daughter peeked her head out of the dressing room and said, "Oh no, you need to look sassy. That dress isn't sassy".
I laughed and explained that I had a baby recently so I wasn't feeling very "sassy". The two women smiled and said they would help me find a dress that was perfect.
We spent 15 minutes having me try on different dresses. We talked and I found out the daughter was pregnant with twins! We conversed about babies, pregnancy and twins, and they asked about my little family as well.
Finally, we found THE dress. It was dark blue and very much my style. I felt good, they loved it, and we all agreed my husband would like it. I thanked them over and over for taking time out of their busy evening to help me find the perfect outfit to welcome my husband home in....and they went on their way.
I got dressed, browsed a bit more and then headed up to the register. The two women were four people ahead of me in line and already checking out.
The mother waved at me and said, "Would you come here for a moment?"
I walked toward them, not sure why she wanted me to come up there.
She took the dress out of my hands before I could say anything and said, "We're paying for this."
Knee-jerk reaction. "No! You don't have to do that! Really!"
She smiled, placed her hand on my shoulder, and looked me in the eyes, "Yes. We do. People so often forget about the spouses left behind. Supporting our troops goes beyond those overseas. Let us thank you and your family in this way."
I didn't know what to say. My eyes started welling up with tears. The daughter was already crying. I could see the mom getting misty eyed too.
"No, really, it's okay", I said.
The dress was already bagged up, the mom had swiped her card.
"Let this be our thank you," she said. "Really, it's the least we can do".
I was sobbing, "You have no idea how much this blesses me," I said.
The daughter looked at me and smiled, "You blessed us tonight."
The transaction ended. They handed me my bag and gave me one last hug. I tried to thank them again and they wouldn't let me.
"People need to tell you thank you," they said.
Then they left.
I stood at my car and wept. God had sent those women to me, of that I am fully convinced. They were shopping for maternity clothes the same night I chose to look for my homecoming dress because God knew that I felt forgotten. He knew I was tired. He knew I felt lonely.
And through that blue dress, He reminded me that I'm not alone and that it's okay to admit to hard days and that, even when it's hard, there are people in the world who support us and who can show us love.
My blue dress is hanging in our closet where I can see it until the day K comes home. I never asked for someone to pay for my dress. I would never expect a thank you or recognition for our life that we live.
but by someone blessing me in that way I'm reminded that we aren't forgotten.
I wish I knew the names of those two women. They appeared in my life right when I needed it.
Next time you meet a military spouse or family member, please thank them. We would never, ever, ask for that....
but you never know if they would need to hear it that day.
I will never forget what happened this week and it is my hope that I can one day run into these women again so that I can thank them and let them know that the Lord used them that day to brighten the tired heart of a young military wife.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Brands: Moby, Boba (Sleepy Wrap), Wrapsody (Gypsymama)
Ring Slings (RS)
Brands: Maya Wrap, SweetPea, Psling, Sleeping Baby Productions (SBP)
Brands: Girasol (Gira), Kokadi (KKD), Oscha, Natibaby (Nati), Didymos (Didy), Easycare, Ellaroo, Lenny Lamb (LL), Dolcino, Vatanai (Vat), Hoppediz (Hopp), Little Frog
Size 6=4.6 meters
Size 7=5.2 meters
Size 8=5.6 meters
Soft Structured Carriers (SSC)
Brands: Ergo, Boba 3G, Beco, Kinderpack (KP), Tula, Action Baby Carrier (ABC)
Brands: BabyHawk, Bamberoo
So you want to give it a try?
FTO: For Trade Only
FSOT: For Sale or Trade
BNWT: Brand new with tags
ISO: In Search of
DISO: Dream/Desperate In Search of
MMARO: Make me a reasonable offer
PPD: Postage Paid Domestic
PM: Private/Personal Message
One, final word on cost. As you begin your search for the right carrier for your family, you may face some sticker shock. Yes, some of these can get very pricey. I had a difficult time with that at first. It was hard for me to understand why a mama would drop $300+ on a "piece of fabric". As I got more into the community, it became much clearer why these are pricer than what we would normally think to pay.
These are quality products and created to last. They are designed to be comfortable for the wearer and the wearee.
Many of these wraps are hand woven or limited edition.
These keep their resale value.
now, with that said, spending lots of money isn't a requirement to babywear. It is very possible to do on a budget. While I personally haven't spent several hundreds of dollars on a wrap, I know several people who have. Do what works for your family and budget.
Ultimately, think of it like people who collect purses or coins or designer items. At its roots, many mamas really just like having these wraps as well, many self proclaiming that they "collect" them in a similar manner.
Cost should never keep you from wearing. There are many affordable options available so that you can enjoy having your baby close to you.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
This parenting thing? I really have no clue what I'm doing. You want to be humbled? Become a mom.
I've always been the person with the answers, the person who can do it herself, miss "has everything together".
Then I became a mom.
Parenthood doesn't come with a manual.
I promise not to get on my soapbox, as we all have opinions, but one thing I want to mention is that part of parenting is learning what works for you. The reason there are so many child rearing books out there is because there hasn't been one method that suddenly works for every single child. Part of the adventure in parenting is discovering what works for your child.
With that said, I have my way of doing things as a mom. Others may do it differently. Neither is more right or wrong than the other.
It's just what works.
Because, let's be honest, half the time we are pseudo-zombies just trying to function in polite society. On those occasions when we discover that "VOILA" this works for my child, we're going to hold onto that and go with it....
....even though we know it will change within a week or two.
So this parenting thing? I have no clue what I'm doing
but it's completely and utterly awesome.
and humbling. seriously humbling.
E is now 15 weeks old and, as you can probably guess from my lack of blogging, taking up most of my spare time. She is an absolute joy and probably the easiest baby on the planet....and no, I'm not just saying that because I'm her mom and I'm biased...I worked childcare for years, she really is an easy baby.
We are still exclusively breastfeeding minus the pumped milk she gets when I'm at work. I am incredibly proud of the fact we've made it this far already. My hope it to make it to at least one year so each day is one step closer to that. I could get all birth nerd mushy gushy here since I'm a bit obsessed with all things pregnancy/birth/nursing related, but, I'll spare you the sordid details for now. Just know I'm cherishing every moment that the Lord allows us to continue that part of our relationship.
E now smiles like crazy, laughs out loud (lols?), rolls both directions and reaches for things that she wants.
She is a terrible napper.
Can't win them all, I guess.
She is wearing 3-6 month clothing and doesn't appear to be slowing down in her growth anytime soon. I'm really looking forward to her 4 month appointment at the end of this month to find out just how big our little miss has gotten. She's not as rollie pollie as some babies, but she definitely has some chunk on her.
Goodness, I love marshmallow babies.
I have the best alarm clock in the world considering E likes to wake me up by laughing (or punching me in the face, if she's managed to wake me at that magical hour when my zombie self somehow decides that putting her in bed with me will grant me a few extra moments of sleep instead of feeding her and putting her back in her crib). She is a morning person.
Mommy is not a morning person.
Daddy is a morning person when coffee is involved.
guess who is going to take over mornings when he returns from his deployment?
Each day brings new and exciting adventures. I can hardly fathom that I am watching the cognitive, emotional, physical and even spiritual development of a tiny human being. When they say that each day is different, they're completely right. It's incredible.
The dignified me is long gone. I will spend an hour making funny noises, dancing like a monkey or blowing raspberries with my mouth if it will garner me a chuckle from little miss.
I haven't worn my hair down since E's newborn pictures.
I put makeup on for the first time when I went back to work.
I'm still in my fat pants.
and it's so awesome.
It's incredible to me how priorities change so much after you become a mom. I absolutely love my job, but when the hour hits that I get to go pick up my daughter, you better believe that I hustle myself out of there as quickly as I can just so I can hold her.
Even though I know I should put her down for bed earlier, I keep her up until 8:30 or 9, just so I can get a few extra snuggles.
It's not about dressing "cool" or having my hair done perfectly anymore. It's about what's quick, easy and makes me look somewhat capable of functioning in polite society. It's learning to laugh at myself when I can't find my cell phone when I'm having a conversation with someone on the other line. Laughing when I walk into a door frame because I am attempting to entertain a 3 month old while simultaneously getting ready for work.
and it's awesome.
In the past 3 or so months, I have continued to learn and grow in so many incredible ways. I have learned to suck up my pride and ask for help when I need it. With K deployed, I had to come to a point of realizing that, while I'd like to think it's possible, I'm just not superwoman, and there was no way I'd be able to take care of mowing.
so I called the squadron and they will be helping with that until he returns.
There have been nights where E won't stop crying and I call my mom or sister crying right along with her just because I need someone to tell me that it's okay.
It's definitely not the easiest thing I've ever done.
Parenting is helping to change that.
Words cannot describe how much I with my husband could be here to enjoy every up and down that this journey has brought. I try my hardest to send multiple pictures/videos to him per day. Update him on all the new and exciting things going on with our daughter. Letting him know that we really are doing okay without him.
but that doesn't mean I haven't cried wishing with my whole heart he could walk this path with us right now.
I cried the first time E smiled because he wasn't able to see it.
I cried the first time I heard her laugh because it was so beautiful that trying to video record it just couldn't convey how beautiful the sound was.
I've cried during 3am feedings when the stress, pressure, anxiety and overwhelming responsibility I have pressing on me constantly is too much to bear.
but I have also learned to lean on the Lord because He is molding us in beautiful ways during this time.
Parenting is a beautiful, scary, overwhelmingly awesome journey. I can honestly say I have loved every up and down of this adventure so far. Words cannot describe the love I have for our daughter or the joy that she has brought into my life.
It'd be great if parenthood had a manual, but, then again, I think that would take some of the fun out of it.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
How is it that 6 weeks ago I had never met this tiny human, but today, can't imagine a world without her? Our sweet, precious E, who has changed every aspect of my life for the better, is already a month old.
The time goes too quickly.
Photo Courtesy of Cherished: Portraits by Michelle
Ten months ago, I became a mother. We conceived a tiny life. I grew her in my belly. Nourished her, protected her, prayed for her. Loved her.
Five weeks ago, I became a mommy.
I came face to face with this little person who I had grown to love and know over nine months. I fell in love with her in a new way.
While absolutely terrified about being capable of caring for her, there was nothing in the world that mattered as much as our daughter in that moment. K and I were (and are) so in love with E. We were parents, we were responsible for her entire being.
The car ride home from the hospital was one of the scariest of my life.
Little E in her carseat for our ride home from the hospital. I still can't get over how teeny tiny she was.But in five weeks time, I have come to understand what it means to be a mother and, even more important, what it means to be a mommy.
Being a mother has allowed me to meet my daughter's needs. I am able to care for her, change her, clothe her, feed her. I am able to tell when her cries are cries of hunger or hold me. I have learned her routine and do my best to keep consistency in our household.
Being a mommy has allowed me to joyfully wake with my daughter late at night when she decides that 3:30am is a wonderful time for a party. It lets me find no greater joy than simply staring at my daughter's face for hours on end. It has caused me to go through multiple SD camera cards filled with pictures of my princess.
It has shown me a whole new kind of love that I never could have fathomed.
A very wise person once told me, "Kim, you will never be a perfect mom, but God has made you the perfect mom for E".
I hold to that truth every day. I pray that God equips me to be the mother that E needs. Not the mother of the year, not the June Cleaver mother, not the crunchy mother, not the working mother, not the helicopter mother, not the permissive mother.
Just E's mother.
People are right when they say that you just know what to do when you have a child. I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to care for her, to know what she needs and to meet those needs. Yet something just clicked the moment I met her.
I'm not perfect. There are still days I have no clue what she wants or needs. I still get flustered and frustrated. There are still moments when the only thing I know to do is cry.
But in all of that is a love I can't explain. This sweet, precious life...this gift....is ours. How blessed we are!
So...what has happened in the last 5 weeks?
E was 8 pounds 4 ounces when she was born. I weighed her yesterday and we are up to 11 pounds. As her Auntie Kylie has said, she will be a marshmallow baby! We're quite thrilled.
She is officially out of newborn sizes. I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry a little when I packed those away. Time goes so quickly. I feel like it was yesterday she was still in my belly.
We are cloth diapering and loving it. I can't get over how easy it is and how much money we are saving. Right now we use mostly prefolds, but once she's a bit bigger, we're going to move to pocket diapers. I might have a slight problem as our stash is growing larger than what we probably need. My excuse is that I need to try different kinds of diapers to know exactly what I want to use (or that's what I tell my husband).
I have discovered the joys of babywearing. E loves being snuggled up close and I love having my hands free. I'm partial to my Maya ring sling, but have found several carriers that I like. This might turn into a similar problem like the cloth diapers...
My wonderful sister has spent lots of time with us in the last 5 weeks. I am so blessed to have her so close right now and enjoy every moment she is able to spare us. There really isn't anything that compares to a sister. She has been such a big help and it's great spending the whole day with your best friend!
E is a champion sleeper (you realize that now I've said this, she is going to stop, right?). She usually only wakes up once per night and sleeps great in her cradle. I look forward to the mornings though when we get our breakfast in bed snuggles.
Some big news in our family appeared shortly after we arrived home from the hospital. We will be moving to Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas at the end of this year. These orders were a bit unexpected, but we are so looking forward to the new adventure. Because of the knowledge that I won't get a white Christmas this year, I'm not even complaining about the snow we've gotten this week! I'm nervous, excited and all sorts of in between about the move, but know that God is having us go there for a reason! What a fun thing to look forward to!
In the last 5 weeks I have also fallen in love with my husband all over again. I've seen a whole new side to him that I never even imagined existed and, let me tell you, there is nothing more attractive than a man who loves being a daddy. I have realized how blessed I am to have him in my life and appreciate him so much more. I really hit the husband jackpot with him!
Sorry ladies, he's taken.
Photo courtesy of Cherished: Portraits by Michelle
Even with everything going on with our sweet little E, we've started yet another chapter in our family's book. K deployed one week ago, just a few days shy of E's one month birthday. We miss him terribly but know he will be home in time. I'm looking at it as an excuse to lose this baby weight and as a free pass to decorate and organize the house as I please (as well as paint our little one's toes without anyone laughing at me)..
Our last family photo for a few monthsTo be frank, I'm doing much better this deployment than I did for the last one. I feel like this one snuck up on us with the flurry of having a baby and being pregnant and all. In all honesty, I tried not to think about it because it would just make me sad. I'm doing my best not to focus on what K is going to miss during his time away, but instead focusing on all of the exciting things he will get to come home to. E will be crawling, sitting up, be cutting her teeth, have a little personality, be able to play....what wonderful things for us to look forward to sharing together!
I miss my husband though. I'd be lying if I said this is easy. Thankfully, I am blessed to have wonderful friends and family around to help out when things become too much, but no one replaces my husband. I don't like going to bed alone. I don't like how quiet the house is. I miss him teasing me. I miss his kisses. I want to share in E's cuteness with him. She smiled for the first time 3 days after he left. I cried.
But, truthfully, it's not all bad. I have spent a lot of time praying about this deployment, asking God to give me the strength to handle it with grace, peace and sanity. He, as always, has been gracious and given me far beyond that. I've had several sweet people ask me how I'm doing and seem surprised when I honestly reply that I'm doing just fine. Yes, I miss him. Yes, sometimes I'm sad. But life is too short to dwell on it. Instead, I give my energy to our daughter, to preserving each moment for my husband in pictures and videos and phone calls. Cherishing each special second for the both of us.
My role has changed so much in five weeks. My role as a wife, as an employee, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister...they have all evolved and will continue to do so as time goes on.
In five weeks, I have learned to love in a whole new way. I have learned to appreciate my husband on a whole new level. I have learned to cherish each moment of every day. I have realized how blessed I am in friendships. I have gained a new confidence in myself. I have a deeper trust in the Lord.
and, above all, I have started to learn what it means to be E's mommy
and there is nothing else I'd rather do. There's no other place I'd rather be.