Friday, February 28, 2014

{Real Mom Life} Things Inherited

I guess God knew I needed a little extra time with my girl today, so He made it where Maylin only napped this morning if I held her. 

Last night, I had a huge, major ugly-cry meltdown as a result of a bit of frustration over Maylin's temperment and the realization that today she turns 11 months old. Pregnancy hormones could have also played a tiny part. Tiny.

Maylin didn't nap, like, at all yesterday, which means that by the time 4:15 rolled around and I was trying to get supper started she was a hot mess clinging to my ankles and screaming at the top of her lungs. The following text conversation commenced between my dear husband and me::

Me: I am about to lose my ever loving mind.
Michael: Headed Home!
Me: Thank the LORD

Michael pacified Maylin {to an extent} as I finished supper. We ate, and at 6:00 PM sharp, Michael offered to give her a bottle and put her to bed. Lord knows I was in no frame of mind to do so. I plopped my tired, top-heavy body on top of the bed to catch up on some blog reading, and came across this post titled "When Satan Steals Your Motherhood." This is when the waterworks started because I could so relate to everything this mom was writing. It was all so fresh for me coming off the afternoon I had with Maylin. It's a great reminder and I bookmarked it {and her blog!} because I know I'll probably want to reread it later, probably many times over. 

After reading the post, all I could think about was the type of mother I'm being to Maylin. Have I done enough in her first year? Am I currently doing enough for her? Meeting all her emotional needs? Have I made enough memories? Have I intentionally spent my time with her like I wanted? What will I remember about these precious, fleeting, one-time-only months of her life? Am I being a mama who is good enough for this gift God gave me?

There are times when evaluation is healthy, and other times when regret and remorse kidnap logical thought, which is probably what happened to me last night. It took Michael to pull me out of my near hysteria over being a "terrible mother" and the guilt I felt for getting frustrated with my daughter an hour earlier. {He's a champ, by the way, soothing two inconsolable females in less than two hours. Oh how I love that man. Somehow God groomed him specifically for a household of women.}

Today, my mind is much clearer, and I am able to actually process thought rather than melting into a puddle of mascara.

My mammaw recently pulled this dress out the back of her closet where it'd been hiding for the last 25 or so years. 

It's a dress my sister and I wore when we were babies that had been tucked away when it didn't sell in a garage sale after we outgrew it. At one glance I knew it was perfect for my girl. She wore it to church last Sunday, and it's probably one of my favorites she's ever worn.

I've been thinking about that dress all week, about how it had been saved {maybe inadvertently, maybe not} and preserved to be passed on to the next generation. It got me pondering the things we pass to our children. What am I passing down to Maylin? What is she inheriting from me? I sincerely want her to receive the important things, the good things, the things that matter. I don't want her inheriting my frustration, which she sees when supper isn't ready at 5:30 on the dot. I don't want to pass her my insecurities I harbor over myself, which she sees when I berate my image in the mirror. Or that terrible habit I have of rolling my eyes, which she sees when I'm being disrespectful {that one may come back to bite me when she's 14}. Nor my stubbornness, which she sees probably all day every day. She's already stubborn enough, I dearly don't want to teach her any further.

I want to pass on whatever few positive traits I have and not the abundance of negative ones. Honestly right now I can't even think of any of my "good" characteristics I want her to have, but I sure as hell know which ones I don't want her to learn from me.

And, while I'm on the subject, what am I passing to my future self? The self that years from now will look back on these first few Maylin-months and sift through the memories that my current self has made. She will have only the memories I'm giving giving her at this moment. Will my future self see only hours spent on social media and a life void of the sweet baby Maylin face? Or will she see the times we went to the park or made an inside fort or played with dolls or read under a blanket or climbed up and down the stairs or had pallet parties in the living room on Friday nights? Those are things I want Maylin to remember, and those are moments I want to give myself to remember, too.

Somehow, all of these thoughts got wrapped around each other this morning as I sat for over an hour rocking my sleeping 11 month old baby. The past week has been a reality check, the effects of which I hope will ring in my mind for many years to come. I know what I want to inherit from myself, and I know what I want Maylin to get from me. May those things always be in the forefront of my mind, directing my attitudes, actions, and decisions. And may I have the grace to forgive myself on the days that I fail.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

{Baby Davis #2} Dear Baby | 04

Dear Baby,

Your sister is napping. Your daddy is at work. You future best-friend-forever Deuce the dog is curled at my feet {you're going to love him; he's going to barely tolerate you- talk to your sis about this}. You are squirming and flipping and kicking, probably from that extra large cup of coffee I had this morning. So, what better time to take a break from my day to have a little chat?

As we saw at your anatomy scan, you are quite the mover. You're big enough now that I can see you kicking from the outside, and I can see the somersaults you're doing too because my belly will go into weird looking contortions that I desperately hope aren't noticeable to the dear people sitting next to us on the pew at church. They might be a bit disconcerted by seeing my belly move at random, and then I'd have to try to not look too embarrassed at being a distraction from the sermon. So, Baby, do ya think you could keep the moving to a minimum from, say, 11:00-12:00 noon on Sundays? I'd appreciate it if you worked on that. 

You're still liking grapefruit and mango the most out of any food. I am now buying grapefruit juice at the store, too, so on those occasions when you just HAVE to have grapefruit right that very instant but I'm kinda busy doing other things, all I have to do is pour a glass instead of segmenting out pieces of fruit with a spoon. Pretty handy. Another thing I'm {ahem, we're} liking lately is coffee. Which is a bit of a conundrum due to the fact I'm {we're} not really supposed to drink lots of caffein while we're cohabiting. I'm a little fuzzy on the details of why that's so, therefore I will continue to drink my large cup in the mornings and sometimes a smaller, but equally delicious, cup in the afternoons. I'm assuming you're thanking me for that when your movements increase to a frenzy. Right? Okay, good. At least it's just coffee and not something crazy like, say sushi or Feta cheese {both of which I love and can't wait to eat again}. I'm really considering this coffee craving a perk, no pun intended, because I WILL be drinking it after being up with you three and four times a night once you're born. And you'll be getting some anyway since we're going to breastfeed, so you might as well already be used to drinking it while in the womb.

Also, Baby, we're reaching the point that sleeping at night is a toss up. {And we're both in agreement that this couldn't possibly be due to the amount of coffee we're consuming, right? Right. Besides I don't drink it after 3:00 PM, so we're in the clear. Obviously.} I think this is due to the fact that pesky spot in my back between my shoulder blades is aching again {which you couldn't possibly have anything to do with}, and the fact I feel like all the blood in my body rushes to my head when I lie laterally, and that my mind works itself into a stressed out frenzy of things I need to do before you come as soon as my head hits the pillow. I think some people refer to the last one as "nesting." Ask your daddy about that. Some nights I get a long night of deep sleep. Other nights I toss and turn and pretty much force myself to stay in bed and not look at my nursery inspiration board on Pinterest. I will say, though, the body pillow we got for Christmas is our very best friend sent from heaven and we looooooove it. 

Your daddy is saying more and more often these days, "Babe, I love your belly." Which in my mind is a clue that you're looking more and more like a baby and less and less like I've eaten a few too many Oreos and milk. Which really is debatable considering you also love Oreos and milk. Like really love them. Every night. I do feel like one day late last week I woke up {from a great night's sleep, I'm sure} and suddenly there was a basketball sized baby bump where there hadn't been one the day before. That was the day I cracked open my Wild Carrot Growing Belly Balm and Stretch Salve and started applying liberally. Your sis cooperated with me and didn't give me any stretch marks, so do you think you could oblige that one small request, too? I'm not above offering a bribe or making a deal... So let me know what ya want and I'll make it happen.

Exciting news this week is that our family upgraded from a single stroller to a double. And we got it used at a very relieving price from a sweet friend whose kiddos are 13 months apart. {She and I have had lots of chats.} You also procured your very own teeny tiny 0-3 month size swimsuit in the event that you come with me to the pool later this summer. Also new is the first addition/change to the nursery, which is right now all about Maylin, but very soon you'll be kicking her out so it will be all about you. See print below. 

Also, Baby, for your viewing pleasure, I'll include bump pics of the last two weeks of your growth. You know, in case you're interested in that sort of thing one day. You're female, so I'll bet you will be.

Now it's time for me to get some lunch ready for your daddy, and your sister will be awake in a few minutes, so duty calls. You're becoming more real each day, and I'm getting more and more anxious to meet you as your due date draws closer.

Hartlie, Baby, I love you so so much.

Monday, February 24, 2014

{Weekend Recap} A Breather

Our little family has had a pretty different schedule over the past couple of weeks, and I haven't been able to regularly write. Michael's dear grandmother passed away, leaving behind sweet memories and a large family full of legacy. We spent many hours with out-of-town relatives, visiting and reminiscing, going through old pictures and family albums, and celebrating the life she lived and the impact she left behind. Myrtle Morris was truly a great woman, and although due to her illness I didn't know her personally as well as I would have liked, her lifestyle has inspired me to be a more intentional, present, spontaneous, relaxed, loving, and more playful mother than I am naturally inclined to be. I can be pretty rigid at times, you know, so I'm going to try to work these attributes into my mothering habits. 

This past weekend the weather was clear and mild for the first time in a long time. Also for the first time in a long time, Michael and I had a free Saturday with nothing on the calendar except whatever we wanted to do.

We decided to take Maylin to the park. It was the best decision we've made in a long while. Surprisingly we had the park pretty much to ourselves the whole morning. We leisurely walked the path around the pond, stopping to feed the ducks bits of Maylin's Ritz crackers. She didn't seem to mind the ducks were getting her snack because she kept pointing at them and smiling at their funny antics. Deuce the dog came too, which the ducks weren't fond of, but he relished being in the fresh air.

After our stroll, we walked to the playground area. Maylin has finally reached the age that she can interact with us and enjoy some of the playground features. Her favorites were the bucket swings and the slide. The see-saw, eh, not so much. It was nice that Michael was there, because usually when I take Maylin to the park I'm by myself or with my friend Kelsey and her baby. It was neat to see Michael interact with Maylin by pushing her on the swing and sliding with her. She responds differently to him than me, and it's refreshing to see that.

At around noon, we decided it was time for lunch, so we packed up and headed out. Later we realized we could have had an impromptu picnic, and kicked ourselves for not being prepared. It was so nice out I think all of us were hesitant to go back indoors. Ah well, we'll be more prepared next time.

We ended the day sitting outside at a local college baseball game, eating popcorn and sipping on chocolate shakes. It was pretty much the perfect day to kick off the spring season, although it's supposed to turn cool again this week. This weekend whet our appetites for the end of winter, and now we are hungry for those mild, sunny days. It was so nice to spend the entire day just as our little family of three, with no other obligations. This breather reminded me that I need to make "us" more of a priority, and not get so busy with other activities. These are the days that matter.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

{Real Mom Life} 10 Entertaining Activities for My 10 Month Old

For any of you mamas out there who have babies younger than 10 months old, I thought I'd share a bit of what I've found to be fool-proof ways of entertaining your Boddler {aka the human in the phase between Baby and Toddler, one that is usually crawling, pulling up, and putting everything in the mouth}. If you come to my home, these are activities you will find Maylin doing on an hourly basis. She rotates from one of these activities to the next, all faster than I can keep up with her saggy-diapered booty. I've never said the word "no" more often in my life, even when I was teaching.

Pulling Out/Off::
  1. Pulling all the magnets OFF the fridge.
  2. Pulling folded clothes out of drawers.
  3. Pulling books off shelves.
  1. Splashing in the dog's water bowl.
  2. Throwing Cheerios on the floor for the dog to eat. {Yes, this is intentional. She loves watching him eat.}
  3. Chewing on the dog's bones.
Pulling Up::
  1. Pulling up on the lips of trashcans.
  2. Pulling up on the diaper pail.
  1. Touching electrical outlets and playing with power cords.
  2. Playing near the edge of the brick hearth while a fire rages temptingly in the grate.
I believe experts refer to Maylin's favorite activities as "exploring the environment." I call it driving a Mama mad.

There is a story to accompany each of these activities, each of which has been done many times, but I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say the endings of said stories are usually as follows:: Maylin ends up flat on her back underneath a trashcan covered in trash/food; Maylin ends up crying in frustration or in pain; Maylin ends up soaking wet with water all over the floor.

Greatest fears at this point are that {1}she'll  discover she can pull up on the toilet seat, and {2}that she'll discover the dog food is edible. Please, dear God, delay those developmental milestones just a liiiiitle longer. Thank you.

What are your Boddlers into right now? Any tips for a struggling mama who has said the word "no" a thousand times but still gets clueless looks and smiles? And why, oh why, won't she play with the many brightly-colored musical toys scattered around the house??

Friday, February 7, 2014

{Miss Maylin} Bath Time Battle

Not sure when the mama-daughter battle for control begins for most people, but I already feel that Maylin and I have commenced this epic struggle. 

I have so many examples of stand-offs based on our mutual stubbornness, which {unfortunately?} is a strong trait in all of the females on my side of the family. Maylin comes from a long line of stubborn, so why should I be so surprised when we push at each other in silent, unbendable battles of will? I suppose I just expected that not to start until she turned 13. Again, another first time mom mis-assumption. That's okay. I'm sure there'll be plenty.

One of the longest lasting power struggles we have going between the two of is bath time. Oh, how we both hate that word. 

Maylin looooved baths until she was about 8 months old. She'd splash, and play with her bath toys, and laugh, and pretty much just hang out until the already tepid water turned cold. It was one of her favorite ways to pass the time. I have to admit that on more than one occasion when she was fussy I plopped her into a tub full of water, which immediately washed away the fuss and left her with a squeaky clean attitude.

Then, she started getting mad at me when I interrupted her water play to actually bathe her. Oh, she loved playing in the water, but the moment the Aveeno baby shampooed rag even slightly touched her head, back, belly, foot, or any other part of her body, she'd wail. Not just upset, pouty lip cry. I'm talking a flat out screaming wail. Then she'd pitch herself forward so that I was afraid her face would submerge itself in the inch of water in the tub and she'd drown from gulping water into her lungs to get herself ready for the next scream. 

This escalated so that every time her big toe touched the water in the tub she started protesting with the infamous Maylin-wail-and-flail. She didn't even want to play in the water anymore. Water became evil.

Thus, the battle of wills commenced.

I tried sponge bathing her. Wail-and-flail like she was being flogged rather than bathed.

I tried bathing her in the bathroom sink. Wail-and-flail.

I tried bathing her in the kitchen sink. Wail-and-flail.

I began to dread bath time. And, terrible mother than I may be, I started pushing her baths to every other day, or even every three days, or just when her hair looked like a greasy mop stuck to her head. Or, okay, pushing it back to bathing Saturday night before church the next morning. Shameful I know. Don't judge.

No matter what combination of tricks I tried, nothing worked. Sister didn't even want to play with her bath toys outside the tub anymore. I was about to resign myself to mothering a stinky baby for the next few years. It was that bad. 

Then, lo and behold, I somehow fell upon the right combination of bath time antics that actually kept the wail-and-flail at bay.

Kitchen sink. Don't put the soap on the rag. Instead, make a bubble bath. Then, gently, ever so slightly, bathe the baby with the soapy water while she's eyeing the sprayer and dish soap on the edge of the sink. Leave the hair for last and be prepared to snatch her up with a hooded towel the minute the soap's out of her hair. Mom wins.

For now, Maylin is back to semi-enjoying very short baths. I even caught her on camera with a smile on her face. 

Mom 1. Baby 0. {Not that I'm keeping score or anything}

I love Maylin to my core. Even her stubbornness. Even her strong attitude. But I can tell there will be times when Daddy will step in to smooth things out between us. Hopefully I will be adult enough, and parent enough, to keep these times to a minimum. 

Speaking of, Maylin's up from her nap now so I'm off to play. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

{Real Mom Life} Wake Up Calls

Maylin is generally a good sleeper.

We did sleep training when she was about 4 months old, and since then she's been a champ at sleeping through the night. 

However, this sister has woken three out of the last four nights, which is a stellar football record, but a terrible baby-sleep one. 

I could say that I'm a bit annoyed at her for interrupting my REM cycles, and probably would've been about six months ago, but honestly I'm not. I'm not annoyed at all. 

There's no feeling quite like the one I get when I'm awakened in the middle of the night by my baby's cry. This cry that she's been doing is very different from her middle-of-the-night-I'm-hungry-Mama cry that she had when she was littler. The cry that's woken me lately is more like a distressed, startled cry similar to, but not exactly like, the one I blogged about here. It makes my heart jump to my throat and squeeze a little bit in my chest while I shake the sleep from my brain and put my robe on so I can get up the stairs. And by the time I've scooped her up from her crib and planted us safely inside the arms of the glider, my heart is pounding and I'm out of breath. 

There's nothing in the world that can keep me from my baby when her cry is distressed. The force that drives me to get out of bed and up to the nursery is so strong I'm not sure I could be stopped.

I've been thinking about that as I've soothed and rocked her in the dark over the past several nights, curled up in a warm blanket together in a room illuminated only by the nightlight in the hall and the street lights coming through the closed blinds.

God is like that with us. When we are distressed, or startled, or maybe a little frightened He's immediately scooping us up in His arms, soothing our hearts and whispering comforting words to calm us down. There's no power in heaven or on earth that can keep Him from His children when they've cried to Him. 

Just like Maylin has different cries that I respond to in different ways, I believe our cries are different to God, too. It's something I've never considered before the past couple of days, but the more I think about it the more I'm convinced. Our distressed cry sounds different than our "hungry" cry, which sounds different from our "I need You cry," which is different from our "I'm sad" or "I'm hurting" or "I don't understand" cries. And God responds in a way that is unique to each one. 

As a mother, I use my discretion as to when and how to comfort Maylin when she's upset. Sometimes if she's bumped her head and I can tell she's not seriously injured, I let her get up and get going on her own with minimal assistance from me, and it's a lesson learned. Sometimes she doesn't need to be coddled, she needs to figure things out on her own to help her mature and learn life lessons. Other times when Maylin is upset in an aggravated way, like after I've told her "no," she doesn't need me to coo over her and baby her. She pushes me away and wants to be left alone until she's come to terms with the boundaries. I believe our Father responds to us in similar ways. He's always with us, but sometimes we don't need to be soothed and babied.  

Distress is different though. Psalm 120:1 promises that when we cry to Him in distress, He answers. Every time. He won't be stopped from reaching us. No matter what. His heart probably feels similar to mine when I hear Maylin's startled, middle-of-the-night cry when she's supposed to be sleeping safe and sound. I doubt that our cries ever catch Him off guard though. And He's with us faster than I can get my sleep-muddled, stumbling self up the stairs.

Another reason I haven't been annoyed at being woken in the middle of the night is I'm coming to the realization that Maylin's baby days are numbered. I now have far fewer baby days ahead of me with her that I do behind me. That's a sobering thought. So when I'm sitting up with her for an hour or two of uninterrupted time at night, all I can think is that I've been given the gift of having time for just her and me. Nobody else. No distractions. 

It's been a sweet, sweet couple of hours these past four nights. I hope that these are the nighttime moments I remember instead of the fussy ones. {Although I would also be okay with her just sleeping all through the night again, too.}