Thursday, October 25, 2012

Memories Made

Life as a mother, I am discovering over and over, is full of so many sweet moments.

Can I even find words to describe the delight that fills my soul when I look at my own child? That little face that is too curious to smile in front of the camera these days.

Today we took a walk, like we do nearly every day, down to Glen Cairn. The leaves smiled, the sun glistened, the green grass welcomed us, and we sat down beneath a tree arrayed in all the splendor of autumn.

Isn't there just something delicious about that squishy baby chub?

Curiosity, discovery, wonder are all part of his life right now. What is it like to be mesmerized with one single object so completely that nothing can distract you? Before I was a mother, I did not know. While my baby spends hours exploring what realms of the world he can reach with his fingers, I spend hours fixated on his person. Totally, completely, entirely mesmerized.

The moments slip by far too quickly. Yet, with each memory made, the story of his life becomes more beautiful, and I know a little more how much I am blessed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Project 365

What I love about Project 365 is that it is a snapshot of life every single day. At the end of this year of pictures, it will be so fun to see not only how my photography has grown, but how our life has grown and changed.

Here are a few favorites from the past 3 weeks.

One: It rained.

Three: Morning Light.
Four: Naptime.
Six: Pomegranate.
Eight: Hot Tea. Fall Colors.

Ten: Final mow of the year?

Eleven: Drop of golden sun.
Thirteen: Pumpkins!

Fourteen: Nursery duty. :)

Fifteen: Laundry day.
Sixteen: Pages to fill.
Twenty: Soaking up the sunlight.
Twenty-One: Bedtime.
Twenty-two: Bokeh.
Taking a picture every day has forced me to look for the lovliness in everything. To find the beauty and light at 7am or 11pm. To observe, admire, capture, and create. It's been fun.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pregnancy and Beyond: Top 10 Myths

While I'm certainly no expert at pregnancy, I have experienced it. I also witnessed my mom carry and give birth to my eight younger siblings (no, I did not literally witness the births). I actually only remember five of those pregnancies, but still - that counts for something. As my sister and I have grown up, and started families of our own, we have remarked to one another often, how thankful we are to have a mother who had such a balanced approach to pregnancy and motherhood.

You bump into a lot of wacky things while pregnant. Old wives tales to reveal your baby's gender, foods you must avoid like the black plaque, and symptoms that raise your eyebrows - funny story: While waiting for my midwife during a routine prenatal visit, I heard another patient remark to the nurse, "So that discoloration on my toe isn't a pregnancy symptom?" :D No, Honey, probably not that one. But there are some weird symptoms out there!

Some of the wacky stuff is true. Let's face it, growing a whole little person inside of you is unique, sometimes a little weird (did any other women laugh at their naked silhouette?).

But, pregnancy is totally, absolutely, remarkably beautiful

Even still, the wacky stuff is just wacky. Below are the myths I heard most during my pregnancy and post partum days. There are only 9. I want you to leave a comment with another wacky myth you can't stand!

1. Your grandmother smiles, "You're eating for two now." Sure, you're eating for two. But that second person is only the size of an olive, and needs so very little that that second scoop of mashed potatoes is more likely to go to your hips and thighs than it is to your little "bump." Just a fact. 300 calories extra per day is more than sufficient to grow a healthy baby. Put into perspective, that's a 1/2 cup of granola with 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt; an apple with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter; or a handful of almonds and chocolate chips. Not exactly double what you're used to, huh?

2. Right along with Grandma's Myth #1 is Great Aunt Martha's "A big baby is a healthy baby!"

So not true. Don't gorge yourself and hope it'll mean your baby will be strong and healthy! Your baby only needs so much. However, growing a six pound baby on french fries and ice cream does not mean he is healthy! Even growing a baby on an excess of good fooddoes not mean he is healthy. Remember Myth #1.

Baby size, actually, it's mostly all genetic. Chances are, if you are healthy and active, you will deliver a baby close in size to what you and your siblings weighed at birth. Throw in the daddy factor and your babies could be a tad bigger/taller, or a tad smaller. Some women just have big babies, some women just have small babies. The size of your baby is not as important as how and on what he grew.

3. It's just a little morning sickness. Yeah, riiight. Like a "Aw, that baby elephant is so little!" No. Thanks for trying, though. No matter how you slice it, that morning sickness is just plain nasty. And don't expect it to go away after all the restaurants stop serving breakfast. Some women have it worse - and for those of you who are sick your entire pregnancies, even while on medication. Hats off to you! You rock. But, really, no matter how it hits you, it's gross, and the glorious morning that it's gone I'm sure than one expectant mother has burst into the hallelujah chorus.

3. You'll have to pee every hour.... Actually, it's more like every half hour.

4. "Just nurse that baby, the pounds will fall right off!" or "you'll bounce right back, just wait." This is a half truth. Yes, nursing helps you burn a lot of calories. I was horrified by the amount of food I could consume in one sitting, and even more horrified to find myself hungry an hour later, during the first few months of nursing Ralphie. But nursing also takes a lot of calories, and as your metabolism eats more, you'll want, and need, to eat more, too. I found the last five-ten pounds hung around despite full time nursing, a healthy diet, and regular exercise, and I've heard this to be true for many, many women. I actually gained weight while nursing! (about 5 additional pounds)

The truth is: Don't rely on nursing to  help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight - or shape. Like losing any kind of weight, you're going to have to make yourself uncomfortable if you want your body to change.

6. Don't work out too hard, you'll hurt the baby! I cringe every time I hear or read this. Honestly! Pregnancy is not an excuse to sit on your butt for 9 months! For centuries, women worked in the fields, on the farm, in their homes, doing what they had to do day in and day out, whether they were 10 weeks pregnant, or 38. And suddenly, today, you get pregnant, and your positive test result is treated like a disorder. Actually, working out - and breaking a sweat! - during pregnancy can help ease morning sickness, keep blood pressure down, regulate fluids, ease muscle and back aches, prepare you for labor, and induce labor at the end of your term. My question is why pregnant women don't move more! I'm not saying you should go run a marathon, but don't buy the bit that walking is the only safe thing you can do.

7. Contractions are the worst. Come again? Did anyone read my son's birth story? Have the doctors who are telling us this given birth? Contractions, yeah, they're awful. Once your water breaks, they kill. I was prepared for contractions. I labored like a pro through those contractions. Then I had to start pushing... and suddenly it was like my body didn't know what it was doing. Pushing is hard. You're exhausted. Contractions get all the attention, but next time, I am going to be prepared to push and push well. So, yes, pushing is worse than contractions, yet...

Nothing can come even close to that ring of fire. Just the name makes me cross my legs, and think about the possibility of having just one child.

8. Pregnancy is an excuse to give in to every craving. This one seems obvious, but I hear this so often! Healthy, active women get pregnant and exclaim, "Yes! Now I can eat whatever I want and not worry about gaining weight!" 

Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is actually unhealthy for you, and for your baby. Just ask your OB. Gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, excessive fluid, swelling, complications during labor, and increased birth weight for baby, not to mention even more weight for you to lose post partum are all risks you take when you choose to eat however and whatever you want. The cravings do come, and you can enjoy them, but portion sizes and self control should not disappear just because you're pregnant.

9. If you gain more than 30 pounds you're a fat pregnant person. My heart just aches at this statement. Basically everything I've said up until this point has been to counter the mindset that your body doesn't need taken care of during pregnancy, that it's OK to just sit back and relax. That weight gain = healthy mom and healthy baby. But if any other women are like me, my pregnancy (and post pregnancy) melt downs were not worries that my baby was going to be malnourished, or too small. They were worries that I was gaining weight "in the wrong places," "too quickly," or "from the wrong food." 

Our culture saturates us with the need to be thin. Everywhere we look, it's there. I was pregnant in Charlotte, North Carolina. The land of skinny yuppies in running shorts and $150 Nikes. I couldn't even go grocery shopping without feeling out of place. (Please remember pregnancy hormones play into this). While I was a nanny, I sometimes wondered if the women waiting in the carpool line with me actually birthed their children - was it possible the entire school was adopted?

Let's go back to my opening statement: Pregnancy is beautiful. You are growing a whole, complete person. You are growing your beautiful baby. 

Yes, you'll gain weight. It's ok. Yes, you'll have cravings. Enjoy a few. No, you shouldn't sit on your butt for 40 weeks, but some days, you'll just be too tired, and that's OK, too. At the end of those nine months the number on that scale will just be that - a number. Staying fit and healthy is important, especially through pregnancy, but a generous scoop of chocolate ice cream isn't going to kill you either.

Pregnancy, like most things in life is a balancing act. Walk carefully, but give yourself - and other pregnant mamas - some grace. 

Your turn now - what's a pregnancy myth you've busted?

Monday, October 15, 2012


We've been enjoying fall the last week. Grandma came to visit, and we had loads of fun! Spent every day out side, and went searching for pumpkins. 

 I swear, Ralphie knows he turned 8 months, and has just taken off! Overnight he is sitting taller, and crawling faster. He's now using his knees a little more, and lifting his belly - he'll be a full-fledge crawler soon!

Aren't these two pictures just pitiful? This is what happened when he turned 'round and caught sight of me. He scooted his little self to me as quickly as he could. Silly baby, Mama can't hold you forever.

These next three pictures Ralphie was shouting and yelling, making us all laugh. Then he decided to slap Daniel's head, and pull his hair. His personality has exploded recently, and it is so fun to see his little person emerge.

 It's the Ralphie Swing!

Ralphie was so tickled by these piglets. He would only take his eyes off of them briefly to look up at us and smiling, to make sure we thought they were as cool as he did. Adorable.

Cider slushies and cinnamon cider donuts. O, man.

How tall this Fall? 

Thankful for a happy fall, a healthy boy, and fun memories with family!