Saturday, March 31, 2012

Toss the clock?

A friend of mine shared a WONDERFUL blog post with me yesterday after she read my "Raw Confessions" blog on sleep!!  I am a firm believer that God places specific people in your life at specific times to share wisdom to help you along in your journey! I hope you will pause reading this blog, head over HERE and read "Counting the Hours," then come back to read my thoughts and reflections!

Here are a few excerpts that were especially meaningful in the midst of my current trials!! (Yes, I say current because after writing Raw Confessions, we are back to horrible sleep for the past two nights.  I am hoping I can blame it on a new cold, but scared about the possibility of that not being it!)

"When I was a younger mom, I used to count the hours.  I counted the meager number of hours I slept each night, the number of hours I spent rocking a screaming baby, and the number of hours I spent nursing.  I counted the number of hours I spent making meals and cleaning up the kitchen, the number of hours spent folding laundry and vacuuming.  I counted the number of hours my boss was late in picking up her son, and how many hours I spent in traffic trying to get home.  I counted the number of hours I spent editing my husband’s papers and the hours he spent away at class each day.  I counted the hours until he came home. With all the hours counted, I knew just how tired I could be, or irritated, or unproductive.  I knew how much to require of other people and how much to coddle myself.   I knew what I could or could not do."  

Have you done that?  Do you count the hours??  I do this every day, all day LONG! I start my Itzbeen timer for naps, night sleep, etc.  I start, check, reset, start, check, check, check!  I never thought how mentally taxing that could be on a mama?  Or how it could really work against you throughout the day!  Until reading this blog post, I thought of it as "collecting data," but now, it seems like a very self-centered practice!!  It was so convicting when she said, "I knew what I could or could not do."  YIKES!  She put into words what I have been thinking!

Here is a final excerpt that really spoke to me ...

"I couldn’t even handle two.
“The first two are the hardest,” Bryn said apologetically, as if she could read my mind.  The cry room had emptied out and we were alone.
Her words melted me.  Stupid super-powers.
“How do you do it?”  I blurted out, even though I didn’t really mean to.  “When was the last time you got any sleep?”
Bryn brushed a wisp of long hair behind her ear thoughtfully.  “I don’t know.  I’ve never really worried about that,” she said quietly as she rocked her baby back and forth.  “I figure God is big enough to give me just what I need for each day.  Maybe it’s not as much as I would like or as much as I think I need, but I have to believe that it’s sufficient for the moment.  He promises that, you know?”

Once again, I am learning that He is sufficient and His mercies are new every morning!  I have to admit it is hard not setting the clock.  Out of habit, I did it today for an afternoon nap, but quickly remembered this most meaningful blog post!  I think it is time to return my Itzbeen timer to my dear friend Jenn so that I do not have the temptation.  I also need to put the clock in my drawer, and forget about how long of a stretch I get from Jackson, and dwell on the fact I am ONE VERY BLESSED mama that has the privilege to get up with a healthy baby boy at night!  
If you haven't done so yet, please head over to "Five In Tow" and read her whole post!  You will be blessed!  It is so beautiful and please make sure to have some tissues for the end!!  It is a tear-jearker!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Trying to be more like Jesus

I am quickly learning how God has an awesome way of humbling us through the innocence of our kids.  Many of you probably read my previous blog post Raw Confessions.  I mentioned I have been really short on patience over the past two months.  It seems that Sophia always knows what buttons to push at that perfect time!  I am sure your children probably know your "zero to very hot" buttons to push as well!  I have been so disappointed in myself on how I am handling her "button-pushing."  I know I have been short with her, which then leads to many tears and frustrations!  Nevertheless, I am fighting clear disobedience and disrespect, both of which need addressed, but in a better manner.

I can't remember what she did (or didn't do) yesterday that irritated me, but I told her she needed to go sit in her bed for a reflection time.  A dear friend of mine shared with me that she uses the word reflection time, but she wants her daughter to reflect on what she SHOULD be doing, instead of what she did that was wrong.  She said that she felt reflection time provided for learning and growth.  I told Sophia she was to pray to ask God to help her to be more respectful and obedient to her mommy!  I always tell her that she can get out of her bed when she can come out and show me a happy heart.  She honestly will sit in her bed until she can come out with a happy heart (= a huge smile).  It is hard to be in a bad mood when you are forced to smile!

She had been back in her room for awhile and I went back there, peeked my head around the corner, and found her praying to God that she would be more obedient!  It just melted my heart.  I gave her another 10 minutes, then asked her if she had a happy heart.  She said "No mommy I don't have a happy heart yet.  Can I please get my bible and bring it into my bed so that I can learn how to be more like Jesus."  I was so humbled by my 3 year old.  I told her she could read her bible in her bed and she came out 20 minutes later with a delightful attitude and very happy heart!

Wow, if only I took the time to search myself and have a happy heart when I am frustrated with my day/situation/life.  I need to take my 3 year old daughters advice and learn how to be more like Jesus!
Playing babies and acting like the mommy!

Has God used your children to humble you?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring has sprung and more fun ...

How about some fun pictures after such a long, raw blog post?

Mom and Cousin Lori at Hannah's 1st birthday party.  Jax loved meeting cousin Lori

Ummm ... I have to be done eating my cake? 

Sophia loved the cake and ice cream!

Sophia realized how much fun it could be to smash her face against  the shower glass door and look like a PIG!

My sweet friend Erin!!  We went to BRus and registered for her lil one on the way!
We had such a wonderful time catching up and laughing!!  What we do best ... laugh and talk!

We have been close friends since we first met during a Campus Crusade Summer Project!  VA BEACH 2000

My sweet baby girl is getting so big!!  

She loves giving every single one of her babies shots!!  I wonder if I should be worried!

Love this face!

Painting my friend Isaiah a picture!

Best buds!

6 months ALREADY!!  

My hands are always in my mouth or around my face!!

Jackson's first wagon ride EVER!  Sophia had a really good time with him!
She sang to him the whole way around the block!

Awww ... love that boy!  Love him MORE when he sleeps long stretches!

"I love eating ... well, most days and when mommy feeds me!"

Laughing at sissy ... she is so funny!

Finally at 6 1/2 months, I am learning to sleep better ...
 I am free of my swaddle, no longer freak out b/c I don't know what to
 do with my arms/hands, plus learned to sleep on my side and tummy!

Love this face!!
 and one final picture .... who can resist a SWEET POTATO SMILE?

Sweet potato smile!

RAW confessions

SLEEP ... it is what this child of ours does so well ... now her brother on the other  hand ....

I have been trying to write a blog post for seriously 2 weeks now ... other things seem to get in the way ... life just happens.  I look at the blog as a time that I can sit down and journal.  It is quite therapeutic for me, and maybe, just maybe, it helps someone out there in blogger world.

The month of February into the first few weeks of March were extremely hard for us.  Jackson's sleep was worse than it had been the previous month, I was exhausted, my patience level was nil, and I wasn't enjoying life.  I have learned sleep deprivation can literally sap the love of life right out of a person.  A mom can handle it for those first few months, but when it keeps dragging on for 6 or more months, it begins to really ware on you.

Two weeks ago, after Jackson's dedication, I felt like I really hit rock bottom.  I was an emotional mess due mostly to lack of sleep!  (Thank you son!)  I broke down that Sunday afternoon and felt like my life was determined by Jackson's sleep or lack there of.  The tears just kept coming!  (Crying is so exhausting!)  I went to bed every night not knowing what time I would be getting up, thus I always tried to hit the sack early (I am talking 8:30-9:15pm).  Nap times never seemed to be synchronized any more, so I couldn't count on a personal nap!  I wasn't able to spend quality time with Nate because I was in such deep need for sleep.  Obviously without quality time put into your marriage, your marriage feels the weight and stress of your current situation.  The thing was I knew Jackson could sleep longer stretches because he had showed it many times in the past. (Heck, the kid was sleeping better during months 3 and 4 than he was at 6 months!) I think that was the most frustrating part.  His sleep was getting worse instead of better! :(  Also, I could never count on a good nap from him.  I would literally spend 30 minutes trying to get him to sleep and he would wake up 30-45 minutes later.  All of this being said, that Sunday afternoon I KNEW something had to change or I was going to go insane!!  I know lack of sleep doesn't bother many people, but I am a 8-9hr/night kind of girl.  If I don't have that much sleep, I am very cranky and honestly don't do very well.  All of this being said, you can understand why 6 months of poor, broken sleep literally BROKE me!

My parents took Sophia for 4 days and I knew I had to tackle this huge problem!!  I spent a lot of time in prayer on Sunday night and throughout the next week.  I realize now those 4 days without Sophia were a breath of fresh air.  I could concentrate 100% on Jackson and give him every ounce of energy I had.  I was able to make headway with his sleeping, specifically his naps, which then began to help at night.  We had to (a) break him of the swaddle (b) teach him to go to sleep on his own for every nap/bed (c) teach him to go back to sleep after wake up's (d) disassociate nursing and sleep.  The first week was a lot of work, but I (through God's grace) began to see results faster than I anticipated.  Naps seemed to get more consistent, scheduled, and "easier" all around after a week.  We have had a few good nights of sleep in a row this week, so maybe, just maybe, we are on the right track!

I am so thankful for my parents and in-laws who came to the rescue in a very critical time!!  They were all so giving of their time and energy helping out!

After going through that really difficult time, I felt the presence of God like no other!  It was truly amazing!  I know what Paul meant by this verse in 2 Cor 12:9 "And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."   I had to rely on God's grace to get me through.  I couldn't solve this problem in the power of my own strength!  Looking back, I also learned that God truly does care about the "small things" in life.  The past few nights have been wonderful and I feel like a new person.  I hope we are on our way to a better place, but if we regress, I pray that I will remember His mercies are new EVERY morning and that His grace is sufficient!  

I know sleep is the beginning of the parent struggles we will have with Jackson, but what an amazing lesson in trust, faith, and obedience to get us refocused and remember God will be the one to guide us in raising our children!  Goodness knows we NEED His help!

I hope you will seek the peace and guidance of a very powerful God in your daily struggles!  It is the only thing that can give you true comfort in the midst of chaos!

Isn't it hard to believe an adorable lil guy with that beautiful
 smile could cause such joy and grief at the same time?
Have you ever had any times during life where you began to understand Paul's message that God's grace is sufficient?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

6 months and loving my first food: AVOCADO!

I can't believe 6 months has passed so quickly, yet in the midst of a recent HORRIBLE week of sleep, it seems so long!!  Isn't it crazy how they both can co-exist?

We go Tuesday for Jackson's 6 month well-child check!  I am anxious to get all his stats, but mostly his length!  This boy is already busting out of the 9 month outfits.  I need to cut out holes for his feet! Ha!!

Tonight we enjoyed a 3 mile walk with Jackson!   We lost Sophie the Giraffe during out walk and didn't realize she was missing until we were packing up!  We had to retrace all of our steps which was a LOT!  However, no worries, I found her on one of the last trails we walked.  Thank heavens b/c Sophie is part of this family!! Ha!!  She has probably been the favorite toy of both kids and cousin Hannah!  Looking for a good baby shower gift, give the gift of Sophie the Giraffe!!

Once we got home, we decided to take the plunge and give Jackson his first food!!  I wanted so badly to exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months with baby #2 and I MADE IT!!  Woot Woot!!  Such a big accomplishment for myself, considering my many struggles with Sophia! I always skip cereal (if you would like to know my reasons, don't hesitate to contact me or leave a blog comment!), so we started with avocado!  This boy could stand to have a little more fat in his thighs and tummy!  Plus avocado is very easy to digest and loaded with healthy fats and protein!!  I mixed it with a little breast milk and Jackson went to town!!  He LOVED it!!  He actually started fussing for more!!  It is amazing the difference in how well a 6 month old can handle a spoon vs a 4 1/2 month old (when we started with Sophia!)  This KID loves to eat.  By the way he handled the spoon and the food, you would have thought he had been eating for the past month!!  I see why they recommend you try to wait till 6 months for food!  I am excited to start making his food again and explore many options!  I love feeding my babies real food!!   Check out the video!!


I quickly learned how to lick my lips!! Ha!

One final, but VERY important special event today was Jackson's baby dedication at church!  This was a very special time for our family!  My parents, Nate's parents, Sarah, Brandon, and Hannah all were there to witness this act before the Lord!!  My father-in-law reminded me of this awesome verse in 1 Samuel 1:27-28.
27 For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him.28So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there. 
Oh this is a perfect description of our hearts!!  Let us remember these all the days of our life!  How we pray that our children will grow strong in the Lord and serve them all the days of their lives as well!!

Papa and Jax were twins today!  (This was totally not planned!)

Grandpa Long, Sophia, Jax, and Grandma Long

Love my "little man" outfit from our friend Erin!

Yes, this was the best picture of all three grandkids out of 10 that were taken!  Oh what did parents do in the days of film? Waste tons of money on horrible pictures .... that's what!

Enjoy this beautiful week of weather that is ahead and join me in THANKFULNESS for the goodness of our GOD!  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spring Fun!

All I have to say is this has been THE.BEST.WINTER.EVER in Indiana!!  I am so grateful for this mild winter so my hubby doesn't have to face horrible weather in his 120 mile daily commute!!  It has allowed us more family time and less stress for Nate!  Praise God!!  

We celebrated Leap Day by heading to the park in 61 degree weather!!!  It was VERY windy, but so mild outside!!  I put Jackson in the swing at the park for the first time ever and he LOVED it!  Sophia did an awesome job pushing him!  He would giggle and cackle at her each time she gave him a little push!! 

It was hard to get a good picture due to the crazy wind, but I am not complaining!!

I'm a big boy now!  Look at me!
We were so blessed with this adorable Adias track suit from our dear friends in Russia, Jeff and Amy!!  I am so glad Jackson can now fit into it!  I have to say, he is one heart breaker, huh?

Doesn't my smile melt your heart?
Yesterday, March came in like a lamb ... Sunny and 54 degrees!  I will take that!!  We headed to the park again for more swinging and also walking with friends!

Sophia is such a good big sister!

heart breaker ... dream maker ...
The group of kids after our walk ....

Isaiah, Andrew, Jackson, Sophia, and Josiah

She really wouldn't look at the camera ... ugh!!
I hope you have been enjoying this MILD winter!!  Bring on spring, bulbs, flowers, and warm evening weather for park trips and walks!!!